Thursday, October 11, 2012

My Book is Reviewed on Meridian! And What Makes a Good Review?

I was so thrilled to see my book reviewed by Jennie Hansen in Meridian Magazine this morning.  Here's a little of what she had to say.  "Kidnappings, terrorist threats, confusion over who to trust, explosions, and the added element of personal and family dynamics keep the plot of Julie Bellon's latest novel rolling at breakneck speed."

So I'm doing a little happy dance over it.  You can click here to read the entire review and then tell me what you think.

As a book reviewer and someone who's been on the other end and had their books reviewed, I've been thinking a lot about what makes a good book review.  For me, it has three things.

1.  A good book review is more than a recap.  It talks about what you liked and didn't like about the plot, characters, setting, or whatever else moved you as a reader.

2.  A good book review offers more than, "I really liked it," or "I hated it."  I think readers want to know why you liked it.  Or why you didn't like it.  Were the villains particularly well-written?  Was the setting easily imagined?  Were there too many typos?  What spoke to you?

3.  A good book review will couch criticism in a positive sandwich.  Like, I really enjoyed this about the book, this didn't work for me, but overall it was something I would read again.  Does that make sense?  Even in books I don't particularly care for I can find something positive to comment on.  Of course not everyone believes this is a must, but in today's world, I think emphasizing positives without diminishing constructive criticisms is sorely needed.

What do you think?  What makes a good review to you?


Debra Allen Erfert said...

And this is why I will never be a good reviewer, and why I don't like to do them. I don't like to break down the nuances of the writing and tell the readers the parts I didn't like because what I like or dislike and what someone else likes might be totally different.

I can easily tell what spoke to me, what grabbed my attention in a book because if there isn't anything, then I won't write the review.

I have read many, many books, too many to even count, but I won't write a review on a lot of them for the poor writing. Not that the story, itself, was bad necessarily, but when I can compare my first manuscripts to them with all the head-hopping and such newbie mistakes, then I won't embarrass the author and point them out, and I won't encourage others to spend their money or their time on those books.

When I do come across worthy books that are well written, either indie-published or traditionally published, I get enthusiastic and want to spread the word. I've even tossed around the idea of reviewing a book once a week on my blog. I've since nixed that idea. (It's too much work!)

You are a work-a-holic, Julie. You do a grand job keeping your blog up and still continue to write such exciting thrillers novels. I look up to you in so many ways. I'd say when I grow up I want to be just like you, but I'm older than you! *sighs*

I missed telling you yesterday that I wrote over 10,000 words this week. And I'm about 3 chapters away from finishing the rough draft of a second book in a mystery series for Walnut Springs Press (if they accept it, of course).

I didn't mean to miss out on the flash fiction, either. I had a huge migraine and a doctor's appointment, and a on-line book group meeting, and I listened to the C-Span explanation of what happened over in Libya--oh, what a headache!

Melanie Goldmund said...

I think you've pretty much nailed it, Julie. I, too, want to know the whys and wherefores that caused the reviewer to have a certain opinion about the book, and I want specifics. What worked for them, what didn't, were they able to overlook weaknesses, and why? I also like reviews that try to be fair and point out the good with the bad, not just show the negative so that you come away thinking there is nothing redeeming about the book whatsoever.

The flash fiction part of my brain is cold and dark at the moment, no sparks at all. :-(

Stephanie Black said...

Congrats on the great review, Julie!

Emily Gray Clawson said...

Great review! Congratulations. I'm not very good at reviews. I can express my opinion only but as often as not that book may be loved or hated as much on my mood as on its own merits. That being said, I sure rely on the reviews of other trusted sources when choosing what I read. I guess a great reviewer as as important as a great author!