What does a book reviewer do…. Part two

So, you might have read part one, about the start of my reviewing journey and how a book ends up on in my review queue …. If not, you can find it here.

 

So… I’ve read the book – how do I write the review and what can you expect from me?

Well, as I read a book I keep a small notebook with me so I can jot down any thoughts as I go through. These can vary from things such as a great plot twist to something that I felt was unnecessary and ruined the flow of the book.

If there are consistent typing, spelling or grammatical errors I’ll more a few of these down and more recently I’ve begun to mark these using the ‘highlight’ tool on my Kindle… when I feedback to an author about an editing mishap it’s helpful to be able to give them precise examples.

 

So… when it comes to writing the actual review, I’ll log onto Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk and have a read through the reviews on there. If there’s something that’s a common theme then I’ll try to address that in my review, either agreeing or disagreeing.

It’s important for me that my reviews are balanced and fair. I’ll a think about what was the main thing that stood out for me with the book; was it a particular character, the style of writing, a plot twist or the ending? Were these good or bad things? If there was something I thought was unusual, for example a different style of writing or perhaps a thriller with an unusually slow pace I’ll try and make reference to this, and explain whether I thought it worked or not.

I’ll also have a think about how the book made me feel. Did I empathise with the good guys and dislike the bad guys? Did I feel tense (if a thriller), was I able to lose myself in the book and visualise the scenes? How desperate was I to continue reading? For example a book I’m reading at the moment is fantastic, and I’m frustrated that this week will be a slow reading week for me as I’m so busy in the evenings after work – I’m finding any excuse to sit down and read, which for me is the sign of a great book. If I find it a chore to read then I try to think of the reasons why.

The next step is to write the review, taking into account all these things and trying to be constructive. I rarely give five star reviews.  For me, for a five star review the book has to be perfection. This includes good editing, believable characters, neat ending (with all loose ends tired up) and a book that I would go back and read again. I rarely read books twice, the exceptions being Memoirs of  Geisha by Arthur Golden, Rich Man Poor Man by Irwin Shaw and Lord of the Flies by William Golding.

 

What you can expect from me is an honest review. Many authors have thanked me for my candidness and honesty with their books. It’s all too easy to say a book was outstanding and perfect, it’s much harder to offer constructive and honest feedback. When offering a three star review I take time to send an email to the author and explain the reasons why, particularly if they have received five star reviews previously.

On the off occasion I haven’t been able to offer at least a three star review I have been in touch with the author and explained the reasons why. I try to only take on books that I know I’m likely to enjoy, so for example I won’t read sci-fi or fantasy as it’s just not my thing, and it’s not fair to mark down a book just because I don’t ‘get it’.

I try to provide a fair and honest assessment to authors and I think that, on the whole, that’s appreciated and helps authors hone their writing style and story telling techniques. I think this is appreciated by authors, and readers, alike.

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