Talk To Me 11: Attention-grabbing Phrases

When I’m looking at book synopses, certain phrases tend to jump out at me right away that either pique my interest in this book or make me wary of it. I mean, certain things like seeing that the genre is fantasy or mystery automatically make me go “Oh, how interesting, let me read on!” But I wonder if certain phrases or words have the same effect.

I asked this question on Twitter and the lovely Stormy replied that “time travel” gets her attention, so I want to hear what you readers have to say too! So let’s say that I’m flying around the blogosphere, checking out reviews. I forget to notice the genre and skip straight to looking at the synopsis, what words jump out at me?

My interest, it is piqued!


#1: “dealing with the loss of…”

When done well, I really love books that are able to show how the main characters deal with grief and the loss of a loved one. Reading about their pain, their healing process, and their eventual getting-better, I really like it when an author can do justice to something so personal and real.

#2: “go on a cross-country road trip”

In my review of Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour (Morgan Matson), I said that I have a really soft spot for road trips. I love them, even if my plans get thrown out of the window. I love books that cover a place that I haven’t been to, because the book ends up kind of like a travel guide? I just really love travel, you guys!

#3: “must prove their innocence”

This usually happens in mystery books when a body is discovered and our MC is incriminated. The most common kind that I find is that the reader knows that the MC CLEARLY and 100% totally did not do it, and must spend the novel finding the real culprit. One that I would really be interested in is a book where we don’t really know if the MC did it or not, or we want to think that the MC is innocent but just cannot be sure until the end of the book.

#4: “before they end up dead too”

Something similar to #3, I find this kind of phrase in mystery books. This time, the MC is not being incriminated but is investigating the crime. Maybe they’re a real detective like Poirot or someone just caught up in the case. Either way, they might land on the culprit’s hit-list and must find the culprit before anything happens to THEM.

My interest, I have lost it.


#1: “a mysterious but strongly attractive stranger”

I commented about this on a review of Charlotte’s where the book’s synopsis had something similar. Any time it is implied that the MC is going to need a mysterious and extremely attractive stranger, my little warning bells go off. Is it going to end up as insta-love? Is the MC going to become a completely different person because of him? I sure hope not!

#2: “must decide between her childhood best friend and the new bad boy in town”

Or, any real mention of a love triangle, really. Sometimes love triangles can be done really well, fleshing out the different characters and making sure that the book isn’t just a complete angst-fest or scene after scene of tonsil hockey. If the book focuses on something ELSE besides “omg how can I choose between these hot dudes who want me oh nooo,” I might like it more.

#3: “but he has a girlfriend”

Okay, something that I have a problem with is this. MC meets a hot guy, but hot guy is already in a serious relationship. Am I supposed to root for the MC and hot guy as a couple? Am I supposed to wish for a serious couple to be torn apart so MC can get a guy? Will this story be one where the MC and hot guy can’t control themselves and hot guy ends up cheating on his girlfriend? Am I then supposed to be OKAY with this hot guy and be like “Oh yeah, he’s great!”?

However, a disclaimer! These words/phrases will jump out at me but they are not a guarantee that I will/won’t read the book. Sometimes the synopsis gets worse or better, and then I’ll kind of make a decision.

So, what about you, dear reader?

What phrases grab your attention in synopses?

Let me know in the comments!

*None of the gifs used in this post are mine.


21 thoughts on “Talk To Me 11: Attention-grabbing Phrases

  1. Hm…interesting topic. I’ve never given this much thought, but I know that if I see “vampire” in the synopsis I’m probably adding it to my to-read. πŸ˜›

    Although just today I decided to read a book based on one phrase in the synopsis. I had gotten Darkside Sun for review without knowing anything about it (it’s NA, Paranormal, and published by Entangled which is enough for me). I was trying to decide what to read next, so I finally read what it’s about and stopped at “…hot professor…” I am intrigued by the possibility of student-teacher relationships! Any hint or mention of them and I immediately add the book.

  2. Oh boy when there’s a ‘mysterious stranger’ I know instalove is imminent. I cringe at that and try to avoid the book or when I know there will be a love triangle. RED FLAGS IMMEDIATELY. I’m not too sure if specific phrases really make me want to read a book more but I am always a sucker for high fantasy and royalty πŸ˜› and of course Asian MCs!

  3. I only skim through synopses that I don’t really notice these kinds of things. Lol. I just read and when I think it’s interesting than I will gladly add it to my TBR. :)) but I guess there are those that call out to me depending on what I like and want (i.e. travel/adventure books, etc.)

  4. I agree with the phrases that make you uninterested! As far as what does catch my interest, though I haven’t read many books like this (some because they end up sounding lame once I’ve read the whole synopsis) but seeing “genetic engineering ” immediately catches my interest!

  5. Great post! I love this. I also love a good mystery so anytime I see the words “suspenseful” or, like you said, the phrase “before something happens to him/her”, I’ll definitely take notice. I also love the words “eerie” or “creepy” or, and this can backfire, when a book is compared to a beloved favorite like Anna and the French Kiss, I’ll probably pick it up.

  6. Great topic Ana, I’m definitely a sucker for key words and key settings too. If I see the words ‘shocking twist’ or similar, then I immediately want it. Same with boarding school or ballet settings.
    Although I do think that nowadays I pay more attention to friends ratings and reviews on GR than I do to the actual blurb.

  7. Know what grabs my attention:: Anything Doctor Who. Thank you for bringing some Doctor 10 into my life today! πŸ˜€
    Anywho, I don’t think I have thought about what DOES grab my attention before. But I have thought about what I usually stay away from. I’ll have to think more about this! Thanks for the thought!

  8. It’s fun to see what book habits we have that we don’t pay attention to, isn’t it? πŸ™‚

    Well, I am intrigued by stories with student-teacher relationships too. Have you read Drowning Instinct by Ilsa Bick?

  9. Sometimes I like that, but I can sometimes end up comparing the new book to the books that I already like. Sometimes the new book falls short. 😦

  10. When I see “mysterious stranger,” I go “YOU BETTER NOT FALL IN LOVE WITH HIM AFTER LIKE A WEEK, MC. I’m watching you!” Yay for Asian MCs! πŸ™‚

  11. I’m a little more discerning with synopses after being burned by books that I picked up at random. Travel/adventure books call me too! πŸ˜€

  12. Oh, genetic engineering stories are pretty cool too! πŸ˜€ Have you read Altar of Eden by James Rollins? I definitely remember something involving genetics in that book. πŸ™‚

  13. Thanks, Natalie! I’m on the fence about books that get compared to favourites. Sometimes they don’t live up to it, and end up seeming like a cheaper copy, then I get disappointed. 😦

  14. Thanks, Trish! Shocking twist is something that gets me intrigued too. Have you read On the Jellicoe Road? I know it has a boarding school setting.

    I pay attention to the blurb first, then look at friends’ ratings to see if I change my mind. πŸ™‚

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