I've been participating in Early Reviewers for almost a year now, and I've received three books. I was actually lucky enough to get one my first time around: the book was The Winter Rose by Jennifer Donnelly. The two other books I've received are Imagine Me and You by Billy Mernit, and Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland. Of the three, so far The Winter Rose has been my favorite, but that's really not saying much. I found the first book in the series, The Tea Rose, to be much more i
I was really disappointed with Imagine Me and You. I wanted so badly to like it, and I think I really could have. The plot was right up my alley. But Mernit is a screenwriter, and I think that was detrimental to the novel. My theory is this: when you write for actors, part of the burden of making the characters convincing is on the actors. A screenwriter can do amazing things with a character, but if the actor doesn't sell it, the character falls flat. However, in a novel, the burden is entirely on the author. And I'm the type of reader that is dependent on strong characters. I can overlook a subpar plot if the characters are excellent. I'm not so good at overlooking weak characters in the case of a good plot. And that's where Mernit's novel failed to capture me: I just couldn't make myself care about the characters. Jordan, the main character, was so flat, and it just killed me.
I really, really, had no business requesting Any Given Doomsday. It's not a very good fit for me as a reader. My experience with paranormal stories is pretty limited, and this is the type of book that relies pretty heavily on plot rather than characterization. That's fine, and I'm sure for some readers, this book will be just what they're looking for. But for me, it's not. In this case, I got carried away with the idea of having 1000 copies available.
I've learned my lesson: I've been trying to use a lot more discretion when requesting books. If I don't think I'm going to love a book, I don't request it. I've been requesting enough books through other means, that it's not worth it to me to read books I don't like. Particularly when not reviewing a book for LT could mean not getting any more in the future.
I've also requested quite a few books I didn't get, but I read them once they came out and loved them. I wish I could get more of those books, rather than ones I just like (or am disappointed with, in the case of Imagine).
I don't participate too much in the Early Reviewers group on LT. I'm a member, but I just find the discussions in other groups to be more interesting and detailed. For me the Early Reviewers group has too many posts listing what people requested and what people got, and a LOT of complaining by people who think it's unfair when they don't get more books, and don't appreciate the great program Abby and Tim put together (I haven't had the best luck, but it's not their fault. It's my own fault for not always being careful with what I request).