Rosie’s Review-A-Book Challenge #RRABC – How To Write A Review For A Book That You Didn’t Like

Alison joins us today to talk about reviewing a book that you didn’t enjoy.

As part of Rosie’s Review-A-Book Challenge #RRABC, we continue our week of advice posts. See the link at the bottom of the page for details of the challenge and where you can sign up for a free book in exchange for a review.

Honest but fair – how to review a book you didn’t like

If you read books and write reviews, the chances are that you’re going to eventually be faced with writing a review for a book that you didn’t like. So what do you do?

Before you write and post that review, consider the following:

What didn’t you like? Be specific – was it the story itself? The characterisation? The plot? The pace?

Once you’ve nailed that down, ask yourself why you didn’t like that particular aspect or aspects. Was the plot too complicated? Were there plot holes? Were the characters not believable enough? Did they act without a reasonable motivation?

Now you have a clear idea of what you didn’t like, be honest with yourself. Was your dislike because there was an actual issue with the book itself or was it more to do with personal preference?

If it’s the former, then you need to decide if you’re going to review or not. Some readers and reviewers don’t like to leave a review if they can’t give a certain number of stars, for example, or can’t think of anything nice to say at all. You are under no obligation to review and you are not an author’s editor, beta reader, or critique partner. If you have been gifted a book in exchange for a review, then make clear before you even agree to take on a book that your review will be honest or that you will not review if you can’t award more than a certain star rating.

My personal opinion is that if someone has written a book, published it, and expects people to pay money for it, and there are fundamental issues, such as bad writing, grammatical mistakes, typos etc. then there is nothing wrong with leaving a negative review. If you decide to do this, then make sure that you aren’t rude or insulting, just say exactly what was wrong. For example:

‘The characters didn’t behave in a consistent way.’

‘The plot didn’t make sense.’

‘The novel needs a thorough proofread.’

Give examples if you can – they don’t need to be long or incredibly detailed, just give a flavour of what the issue is.

And if there was anything at all that you did like, however small, do try to mention this. So you could say that the main character was relatable, but unfortunately, they didn’t always behave in a consistent way. Or that while the settings were beautifully described, this description sometimes got in the way of the story. Or you loved the storyline, but that there were a few too many typos.

If there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the book, but you just didn’t like the content, then you need to handle this in a different way, in order to be fair to the author. If the characters swear, for example, and you don’t like swearing, then that isn’t a reason to review negatively – it just means that the book wasn’t for you. If there’s lots of sex, and you like ‘clean’ romance, then again, it just means the book isn’t for you. The same applies to violence, horror, the supernatural.

I would suggest that, in these circumstances, you either don’t review, or you try not to let those personal opinions cloud your judgement.

For example, when I finally read ‘Last Exit to Brooklyn’ by Hubert Selby Jr., I was faced with this dilemma. Reading it was, without doubt, uncomfortable, and unpleasant. I hated reading it, to be honest. But I can’t deny that it is absolutely a work of art. So despite the fact that I didn’t enjoy it, I can’t criticise it for the skill of the writing, or the talent that lies behind it. It deserves a fabulous review (okay, I did knock off half a star!).

So the key thing here is that you need to be objective. Yes, say that something made you uncomfortable, say there is a lot of sex, or swearing or violence, or whatever it was that you didn’t like, but also make it clear that this is a personal opinion and that even though the book wasn’t for you, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good, or that someone else might not love it.

Remember how important reviews are for authors, but also remember that the review isn’t for the author, it is for any potential reader who wants to know what they’re going to get for their money, and if a book is worth that money or the reader’s time. So do be honest, but do be fair.

If you’d like to read more about Rosie’s Review-A-Book Challenge #RRABC click here

Tomorrow John will be writing about why book reviews are so important to authors.

Rosie’s Review-A-Book Challenge #RRABC – How To Write A More Detailed #Bookreview by @OlgaNM7

Our next post to help readers write more book reviews, comes from Olga.

As part of Rosie’s Review-A-Book Challenge #RRABC, we continue our week of advice posts. See the link at the bottom of the page for details of the challenge and where you can sign up for a free book in exchange for a review.

Writing More Detailed Book Reviews

I tend to write fairly long reviews, but there isn’t an ideal length. Some readers prefer them short and sweet, others longer, but there is a lot of information that we can include even in a shorter review.

I compiled a list of the things I like to include in my reviews that you might find helpful.

1.            Author

If I’ve reviewed other books by the same author, I like to include a link to one of them, or the latest in the series, when I share the review on my blog. Talking about the author and how I came across the book can work as an introduction to the review, and other information (awards, media attention, etc.) can also be included.

2.            Plot

A brief overview only; potential readers can read the blurb if they want to know more.  Avoid spoilers.  Mention the genre, or the mix of them.  A ‘thriller’ can mean all sorts of different things!

3.            Themes

This is different from genre.  This means the themes included in the story, e.g., family loyalty, abandonment, deception.  I talk about the themes when they are not evident in the blurb or my plot description, particularly if I think that those themes make the book more interesting or distinctive – and also if I think some people might prefer to be warned about those kinds of subjects.

4.            Characters

Not all, but main and secondary.  I will also mention which were my favourites.

5.            Point of view

Whether each character’s point of view is written in the 3rd or 1st person.  It is important to mention these as some people prefer one or the other, or don’t like changes in POV.

6)            Writing Style

It is not necessary to be technical when talking about the writing style, but commenting on the pace of the story, how well it flows, the type of language, (many people also talk about spelling or grammatical mistakes, especially if they are distracting), and sometimes sharing some short quotes can help readers get a good idea of how well suited the book is to their tastes.

7)             Ending

I tell readers about my subjective impression of the ending, of course, not about how it ends (not revealing any spoilers is fundamental, especially for certain genres). Ah, some people hate cliff-hangers, so I mention that if the story ends like that.  Was the ending a shocker?  A disappointment?  Happy?  Was there a great twist in the tale?

8)             Summary

I summarise my opinion and recommend it to the type of readers I think will enjoy it. We have all read books that were well-written but perhaps didn’t suit our taste, and sometimes we might think of a person who would have enjoyed it much more. I am a firm believer that most books have readers who’d love them out there, and I hope I can help them find each other.

In a series, it is worth mentioning if you think the book can be read independently or it is better to read the books in the intended order.  It is a good idea to include a disclaimer if you’ve received an ARC copy of the book for review. And, if you’ve accessed the book in a particular format (audio, hardback, etc.), you might want to add extra information if you feel it is relevant (a comment about the narrator, photos, maps…).

These are some suggestions, but remember that you are writing your review and the most important thing is to enjoy writing it and to let other people know what you have thought about the book. If you’ve loved the book, shower them with your love for it. If you decide to write a negative review, don’t just write you hate it. Explain why. The reasons that made you hate it might be precisely the reasons that will make somebody else love it.

I hope this has been useful to you, and happy reviewing!

If you’d like to read more about Rosie’s Review-A-Book Challenge #RRABC click here

Tomorrow Alison will be giving advice about how to write a review for a book which you didn’t enjoy.

Rosie’s Review-A-Book Challenge #RRABC – How To Write A Review For #NonFiction or #Poetry

Georgia joins us today to talk about reviewing non fiction and poetry.

As part of Rosie’s Review-A-Book Challenge #RRABC, we continue our week of advice posts. See the link at the bottom of the page for details of the challenge and where you can sign up for a free book in exchange for a review.

I find non-fiction and poetry easier to review than fiction; I’ll explain why. If you have chosen to read a non-fiction book, you will presumably have done so because the subject matter is of interest to you. For example, the non-fiction books I read are usually on the subject of writing, although one recently was all about poisonous plants in the hedgerow… research, of course!

When you have finished the book, you will know if it has satisfied the question you were hoping to have answered, and you can write your review accordingly. Consider these questions:

Did this book educate or enlighten you in the way you had hoped?

Was the information presented in a way that was easy to digest?

Was it enjoyable to read?

Having read this book are you left with more questions than answers and therefore in need of further research?

Would you recommend this book to someone else seeking similar information?

If you can write the answer to each of those questions, then you have your review and anything else you can add is a bonus. Remember, reviews are for the benefit of other readers, to help them decide whether or not to pick up that book.

Reviewing a book of poetry is slightly different, although, I believe, it’s easier than a novel. This is because it is generally a shorter, quicker read, and one that you may pick up and put down over a period of time.

Poetry is, of course, subjective, so when you’ve finished just think about how it made you feel, generally. Were there particular poems in the book that you enjoyed more than others? Mention them if so, and give a general sense of the mood of the book – upbeat, romantic, depressing or scary – that is the sort of information readers would find useful. Again, any other detail you want to add is terrific but don’t be put off by feeling you have to write something of great length. Readers will appreciate your feedback and authors will be delighted you’ve taken the time to read their work and the trouble to review it.

If you’d like to read more about Rosie’s Review-A-Book Challenge #RRABC click here

Tomorrow Olga will be giving advice about how to write a more detailed book review.

Rosie’s Review-A-Book Challenge #RRABC – Those All Important Star Ratings! #TuesdayBookBlog

Terry kindly agreed to tell us how she chooses to rate the books that she reads.

As part of Rosie’s Review-A-Book Challenge #RRABC, we continue our week of advice posts. See the link at the bottom of the page for details of the challenge and where you can sign up for a free book in exchange for a review.
 
Book Reviews: How do I choose the star rating?
Here is a basic guide to what they mean to me, and what they signify to readers.
Some reviewers give lots of 5* reviews, for any book they liked, to be kind to the author.  Others are more discerning; it’s up to you, but for your reviews to be authentic, it’s best that the star rating reflects your true feelings.  I only give 5* if I can honestly say ‘I loved it’.  As it’s not possible to go higher than 5*, I think it is best to award this rating only if you found the book truly memorable.  It doesn’t have to be great literature; it might be a zombie novella or even a short story, but if it left you wanting more, you would recommend it without hesitation and would be happy to read it again – that’s your 5*!
 
4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐
I use four stars in two different ways.  The first is when I enjoyed a book, enough to say, yes, it was good, I’d recommend it, though it wasn’t one of my absolute favourites.  The second is the objective viewpoint: when it didn’t suit my personal preferences, but I can see that it’s very good of its type, with a great plot, characters that come alive, a good pace, a great structure, etc.  For instance, a historical novel that is more romance-orientated than I had hoped; I am not keen on romance.  So I might think, well, it wasn’t really my sort of thing, but I can see that lovers of the genre would adore it.
 
3 ⭐⭐⭐
I look on the 3* rating as a combination of positive and negative.  I might give this rating for a story that is basically well-written but the plot needs more thinking through, or for a great book that needs a serious edit or proofread.  It could mean a terrific plot, but one-dimensional characters that you never grew to care about, or for a story that didn’t live up to the promise of the blurb and first few chapters.  For those ‘I quite liked it, but…’ books!
 
2 ⭐⭐
Most people use 2* for books that they didn’t like, although they weren’t awful; there were aspects that you liked or could be worked on.  They might be not ready for publication (badly edited or proofread), or have dull writing, an unconvincing plot, unrealistic dialogue – or they might simply be rather boring, and fail to grab your attention.
 
1 ⭐
Generally, a 1* book is one you consider truly dreadful, and would only continue reading if you had to, or out of appalled fascination.

If you’d like to read more about Rosie’s Review-A-Book Challenge #RRABC click here

Tomorrow Georgia will be giving advice about how to write a review for a non-fiction book.

 

Rosie’s Review-A-Book Challenge #RRABC How To Write A Simple Book Review. #MondayBlogs

Our week of book reviewing posts starts with advice from Terry.

How to write a book review – an easy, step-by-step guide.

First of all, thank you if you’ve already signed up for the Rosie’s Review-A-Book Challenge #RRABC – if you haven’t seen the post yet and your interest is piqued (lots of great books to choose from!), you can see our introductory post HERE

Have you often wanted to write a review for a book, but are not sure how to go about it?  This is a basic guide that can be adapted to suit any book.  A tip to help: think about what YOU would want to know – I’ve asked you questions to help you on your way, and shown you how to tell someone what the book is like without giving spoilers!

What is the book about? A simple sentence to give an overview.

Example #1: The Last Warrior is historical fiction set in 18th Century Scotland, about the struggle between the Highlanders and the English landowners.

Example #2: The Banker’s Daughter is a romantic thriller set in London and New York.

Can you tell me more? A short paragraph to show the main characters and basic plot outline. In this part, you can let the reader know if the book is particularly violent or has sexual content, if you wish, or anything else that you think needs mentioning.

Example #1: In the hills of Sutherland, Rob McDougall, a crofter’s son, grows increasingly angry as the clan’s landlord aims to evict them from the homes in which they have lived for centuries.  He comes up against the landlord’s fixer, Jamie Strong, who will stop at nothing. There are a few battle scenes that are quite gory. 

Example #2: Emma Blake has lived the good life since she was a child, in her wealthy banker father’s world.  Then she meets up with Sam Williams, a New York financial whizz-kid who turns her world upside down.  Problems arise when Emma’s father tells her that Sam is working against the bank. Contains some non-graphic sex scenes.

What did you like about it?

Example #1: I loved every minute of this book.  The descriptions of the 18th Century Scotland made me feel as if I was there, and I was rooting for Rob all the way through.  The characters were so realistic, and the story was a real page-turner.  The relationship between Rob and his father was so touching, and brought a tear to my eye.

Example #2: I really felt the atmosphere of Emma’s London life – it was great to read about all the glamorous settings, the wheeling and dealing.  At first I was on her father’s side, but as the book went on I found that I liked Sam more and more.  Emma was lovely; I so wanted her to do the right thing. I liked how the suspense builds throughout the book – I found myself turning the pages faster and faster.

What were you less sure about?

Example #1:  There wasn’t anything I didn’t like about the book.  I enjoyed it all the way through.  At first I found the Scottish dialect a bit hard to read, but I soon got used to it, and it’s not overdone.

Example #2:  At times, I thought it concentrated more on the romance angle than I would have liked, and I was looking forward to getting back to the plot, with all of its clever twists. The two chapters when Emma and Sam were being loved-up in New York slowed it down too much. 

Can you sum the book up?  Would you recommend it?

Example #1: This is a terrific, well-researched novel that I recommend to all lovers of historical fiction, or even those who don’t usually read this genre. 

Example #2: I’d definitely recommend this book to readers who love romantic suspense thrillers – it’s about half romantic suspense, half thriller.

These are very basic examples for a short review, and you may want to write more if you have a lot to say!  I hope this helps; please stay tuned for more advice from Rosie and her team. 🏵

Coming up tomorrow: Star Ratings.

99% Of The Reading Public Never Post A Review. Rosie’s Review-A-Book-Challenge #RRABC

It’s true!  99% of the reading public don’t post reviews for the books they’ve read. If you’re an avid reader, you probably take a look at the reviews for a book before you decide whether or not to buy.  The average … Continue reading

Rosie’s #BookReview Of #Autobiography An Improbable Life by Sir Trevor McDonald

An Improbable Life: The AutobiographyAn Improbable Life: The Autobiography by Trevor McDonald

4 stars

An Improbable Life is the autobiography of journalist and broadcaster Sir Trevor McDonald. Born in Trinidad in 1939, Trevor talks candidly about his humble beginnings and his love for reporting. He opens his story with thoughts about what drives a journalist, and how seeking the truth, however difficult or shocking it may be, has been a fundamental part of his broadcasting life. 

This was a fascinating book that offered a great insight into multiple themes from cricket to politics. I enjoyed reading about some of the people Trevor interviewed, as much as his work as a front line journalist. I smiled when he said that he always took his passport and toothbrush to work because he never knew where he might be sent for a newsworthy event. 

This was one of those books which I kept going back to, dipping back into the next chapter when I had a few spare minutes.  It is well worth the read. 

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

Sir Trevor McDonald is an extraordinary man – and he has led an improbable life. Now in his 80th year, he is known and loved by people the world over for his humility, charm and natural ease. As a natural storyteller and communicator, he has few equals.

In An Improbable Life, Sir Trevor recounts his personal experience of world events and interviews with globally famous – or notorious – figures. He has witnessed war and death and risked his own life to meet and talk with despots and liberators. We read about his first trip to South Africa, and obtaining the first British television interview with Nelson Mandela; his reflections on the Windrush generation; and experiencing Barack Obama’s momentous inauguration as President of the USA. We are also present at his dramatic meetings with Saddam Hussein (the first and only one by a British television correspondent) and Muammar Gaddafi.

Engaging, intimate and moving, this is the life story of an exceptional journalist and broadcaster who over decades has expertly revealed to us history in the making.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #BookReview Of #HistoricalFiction PROSPECTS OF A WOMAN by Wendy Voorsanger

Prospects of a Woman: A NovelProspects of a Woman: A Novel by Wendy Voorsanger

3.5 stars

Prospects Of A Women is an historical novel set in the Gold Rush era, which begins in 1850. Elisabeth Parker has come to California in search of her father who came out West to prospect. However, he wants nothing more to do with his old life and he leaves Elisabeth his claim.

Elisabeth is a resourceful woman and begins working the claim with her new husband, while providing mending for other gold prospectors. Elisabeth teachers herself new skills and is not afraid of hard work; later, she moves into town alone to make her own living. As Californian laws change, Elisabeth strives to become an independent woman, earning her own money.

The author’s knowledge and research into the era shines through and the idea of the Gold Rush story seen through the eyes of a woman is a good choice. However, it was hard to gain any interest and empathy with Elisabeth because there wasn’t the same depth of character to Elisabeth as there was to the historical detail. I understand that the author was trying to show Elisabeth as independent and forward-thinking but on several occasions her actions or word choice felt jarring rather than complimentary to the main narrative. There were also several sexual threads running though the story which seemed out of place and unnecessary.

Overall, an interesting idea, but it didn’t hold my attention as much as I had hoped.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

Elisabeth Parker comes to California from Massachusetts in 1849 with her new husband, Nate, to reunite with her father, who’s struck gold on the American River. But she soon realizes her husband is not the man she thought—and neither is her father, who abandons them shortly after they arrive. As Nate struggles with his sexuality, Elisabeth is forced to confront her preconceived notions of family, love, and opportunity. She finds comfort in corresponding with her childhood friend back home, writer Louisa May Alcott, and spending time in the company of a mysterious Californio. Armed with Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self-Reliance, she sets out to determine her role in building the West, even as she comes to terms with the sacrifices she must make to achieve independence and happiness. A gripping and illuminating window into life in the Old West, Prospects of a Woman is the story of one woman’s passionate quest to carve out a place for herself in the liberal and bewildering society that emerged during the California gold rush frenzy.

AmazonUk | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Historical Saga Set In Wales THE COVENANT by @ThorneMoore @honno

Today’s team review is from Alison, she blogs here https://alisonwilliamswriting.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Alison has been reading The Covenant by Thorne Moore

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What a fabulous book! The way women were expected to live in the not all that distant past has always fascinated me, and I love stories about those who endeavour to live their best lives in the face of so much misogyny and poverty.

The location appealed to me too as the novel is set close to where I live – the villages of Cilgerran and Boncath are both ten minutes away so it was very easy for me to imagine Leah’s world.

The author depicts this world so clearly, with beautiful, evocative description that doesn’t weigh the narrative down. There’s such a strong sense of time and place and a real authenticity throughout.

The novel shows how precarious life was for tenanted farmers; an accident, an illness, and everything could be lost. And no matter how strong, how intelligent, how capable, if you were a woman, your life was defined by duty – to your father, to your husband, your brother, the church.

Despite this, Leah is so full of life – she’s an absolute pleasure to read. She’s strong, she’s intelligent, she’s resourceful and determined, but she also dreams and laughs and loves. You’re willing her to find the life and the happiness she so deserves.

This is the first book I’ve read by this author, and it definitely won’t be the last.

Highly recommended.

Five stars.

Book description

The Owens are tied to this Pembrokeshire land – no-one will part them from it.

Leah is tied to home and hearth by debts of love and duty – duty to her father, turned religious zealot after the tragic death of his eldest son, Tom; love for her wastrel younger brother Frank’s two motherless children. One of them will escape, the other will be doomed to follow in their grandfather’s footsteps.

At the close of the 19th century, Cwmderwen’stwenty-four acres, one rood and eight perches are hardwon, the holding run down over the years by debt and poor harvest. But they are all the Owens have and their rent is always paid on time. With Tom’s death a crack is opened up and into this chink in the fabric of the family step Jacob John and his wayward son Eli, always on the lookout for an opportunity.

Saving her family, good and bad, saving Cwmderwen, will change Leah forever and steal her dreams, perhaps even her life…

The Covenant is the shocking prequel to the bestselling A Time For Silence.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Of #NonFiction Hunting The Last Great Pirate by Michael E. A. Ford @penswordpub

Hunting the Last Great Pirate: Benito de Soto and the Rape of the Morning StarHunting the Last Great Pirate: Benito de Soto and the Rape of the Morning Star by Michael Edward Ashton Ford

4 stars

Hunting The Last Pirate is non-fiction and focuses on Benito De Soto and his attack on an unarmed Quaker boat and its passengers, the Morning Star, in 1828 near the Ascension Islands.  

The author has put together an interesting tale which allows the reader to understand some of the historical evidence which surrounded attacks of ships in the Atlantic Ocean at this time. More specifically, the National Archives have been used as a source of information on De Soto and his attack on the Morning Star. 

I went into this book expecting swashbuckling images to match my thoughts of Jack Sparrow, rather than the more gruesome real-life portrayal of the dangers of nineteenth century sea voyages. With the main focus on the one ship and its story I did find that the book dragged at times, with overlaps of information in places. So the book wasn’t quite what I had hoped for; however, if you are interested in true-stories of the period, or life at sea, then this book may well be an ideal fit.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

In 1827 the Duke of Wellington – former Commander-in-Chief of the British Army and British Prime Minister – ordered the withdrawal of British soldiers from the island of Ceylon after years of bloody conflict there. English cargo vessels, including the unarmed English Quaker ship Morning Star, were dispatched to sail to Colombo to repatriate wounded British soldiers and a cargo of sealed crates containing captured treasure.

By January 1828, Morning Star was anchored at Table Bay, Cape Town, before joining an armed British convoy of East Indiamen, heading north. Heavily laden, she struggled to keep up with the ships ahead.

The notorious pirate Benito de Soto was the master of a heavily armed pirate ship, lying in wait off Ascension Island in the mid-Atlantic to pick-off stragglers from passing convoys. Morning Star was easily overhauled by the pirate and stopped with cannon fire. Her captain and officers were executed and the attackers fled to Spain with cargo stolen from the stricken ship.

Later de Soto buried the treasure and traveled to British-ruled Gibraltar with forged identity documents to sell the spoils. The authorities, however, discovered his identity and he was arrested. Despite the absence of eyewitness evidence that he was the pirate captain, he was convicted of piracy before a British judge and jury and hanged at Gibraltar in early 1830. It is clear that proof of de Soto’s guilt in court was lacking, but astonishingly, when renovations were being carried out at de Soto’s former home village in Galicia, Spain, in 1926, much of the treasures he had plundered from Morning Star were found buried in the grounds there.

Almost 100 years later, British justice administered in London and Gibraltar was vindicated.

Pen And Sword | AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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