Let’s Talk About #BookReviews Day 4

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We are well over half way through “Write a book review on Amazon ” month and this week I’ve been supporting the campaign with some book reviewing themed posts.

Readers reviewers

At some point in book reviewing everyone will come across a book they really didn’t like, could you still write a review and how could you write it?

Negative and Bad Reviews

I can guarantee this is going to cause a scene.

So what do you do if you really didn’t like a book? People who slam a book and its author publically are often called Book Trolls. Like wise authors who have fans who bully anyone who dares to post a low star rated review, are also connected to the troll label. I suspect this is one of the top reasons why people fear to post a review and it damages the industry as a whole.

Firstly put yourself in the shoes of an author, someone who has toiled hard over their book, you don’t know the mountains they’ve climbed to get this far. Personal, physical, emotional mountains, how would you feel if this was your life’s work?

So you can still write a review, it will be challenging. Find points that you did like, perhaps the overall story, a strong character, a funny moment. You might have liked the first chapter, perhaps it was full of promise, even if it all went down hill from there, still say what you liked.

You can say things didn’t work for you like a fight scene or a love scene. Or you had trouble picturing the mystery building. Some fantasy and sci-fi books need to really make the reader understand new imaginary planets and realms. I once read a book which read like an arcade game with characters leaping from level to level in huge cavernous spaces, it felt 2-D and I longed for depth in the form of the descriptions and the senses, like smell and hearing.

My best advice for a book you don’t like, is LESS IS MORE. If I wrote my favourite character was the mother-in-law and she had a minor part in the book, then I’m hoping the author might pick up that the main characters hadn’t hit the mark. If I said I really like the first three chapters, then there is a hint that the rest of the book may not have lived up to my expectations. If you’ve struggled to write perhaps 10 lines then there probably wasn’t much that made you jump up and down, leave a shorter review.  However you still haven’t been rude about the book.

Ultimately the top LESS is MORE tip. If you can’t find anything nice to say don’t say anything at all. A no review speaks volumes. If you’ve been asked to write a review and really feel you can’t, be polite and say the book wasn’t for you. If you bought the book and didn’t like it, move on there are billions more books out there.

Reading Original

A little note to authors.

All authors who put there work out in the public eye, cannot reasonably expect every single person to like their work. We all read a book differently and a range of book reviews and their star ratings is a healthy thing on review sites. I do understand the hours spent on creating a book and often the author is so attached to their work that they cannot stand, that anyone might not love it as they do and see it as they wrote it.

I’ve come across authors who want to disagree with a book review and try to “heavily suggest” that the reader can’t possibly have read the entire book, if they didn’t enjoy, “the romance between the characters”, or they didn’t comment on the brilliant ending. You can’t tell someone how they should read your book.

I have an author who came back to me several times in the last year, to tell me how brilliant some other readers have thought his work, he doesn’t tell me about the other readers who gave it a 3* review as I did, instead he is insistent that I couldn’t have read the book as it was intended, that I “didn’t get it” and I feel he is trying to wear me down, either to withdraw my review or to reconsider. Nope, nada, not happening, don’t do this authors, it makes you look petty and word gets around the book community that you are to be avoided.

Minstrel Loveheart

Tomorrow I shall be looking at my book community.

Catch up with posts from:
There’s still time to join the #AugustReviews campaign.
1) Write a review for a book you’ve read,
2) Post it on Amazon,
3) Tweet the URL of the Amazon review and add #AugustReviews and @TerryTyler4
4) Not on Twitter? No Problem, send me the link using the contact form above and I’ll send it on to Terry, she’ll get it up on her Halls of Fame.

Let’s Talk About #BookReviews Day 3 #wwwblogs

August is “Write a book review on Amazon” month and I’m helping support this with a series of book reviewing themed posts.

Make an Author's Day

Most author’s understand the value of  book reviews, our real challenge is reaching the average book reader, for whom writing a book review is not a high priority.

Writing that book review – Rosie’s own Point of View. **WARNING – we’re going in deep**  Don’t feel shocked, below are lots of points to consider, but only use a selection in a book review. Otherwise you’ll feel out of your depth.
rosie gardening
So when I wrote my very first book reviews they were only about a couple of lines long. (Good news: Amazon now accepts really short reviews) I would finish a book, think about what I’d read but I only remembered bits especially if I’d read the book over a week or two. I might write something like this “I really liked the American court room drama. There were lots of twists and turns and the ending really surprised me.”
Looking back, all I can say is that it’s a starting place. My reviews slowly got longer and more detailed. However it wasn’t until I grabbed a piece of paper and a pen and wrote down small notes whilst I read the book that things really took off and I began feeling proud of the pieces I was writing.
Now when I’ve finished a book, there are lots of details for me to fall back on when I go to write a review. You could look at it as writing practise. Or your own form of Flash Fiction. Ask yourself how can I make someone want to pick up this book to read without giving away too much of the plot? You are in fact creating a unique selling point. You have the potential to make or break a sale. Ever thought about yourself being a salesman? I Haven’t until now.
Here’s something else too. If you are a writer yourself or want to be, reading other people’s work is like taking a free writing course. Make a note of styles you like, how did the dialogue work? Too much?  Too little? Did it sound genuine? What voices did you hear in your head as you read the book? Did they have accents because of the way the author wrote the piece? For me ” ‘eh up young Charlie, me lad, how’s tha’ doin’?”  can only be a strong Yorkshire dialect.
 
Take a look at the start of a book. Look at the Title, when you’ve finished the book, ask yourself how the title fitted the book, what expectations about the book does it give you? Book covers sell books. If you are in a bookstore, library or looking at an on-line bookstore, book covers sell books! Think about how you make a choice about a book you know nothing about.
Book genres: You might want to make a note of the book genre and see if you agree after you’ve read it. Many books will cross genres, you might have a romantic mystery, a paranormal thriller, a historical crime, there are very few set genre lines. However when you read books for younger readers these are often more defined, children, teens, young adult, new adult. Even then books will depend on the maturity of the reader.
Let’s begin reading. Did the book begin with a Prologue? Or were you plunged straight into a dramatic opening scene? Which works for you? Your answer might vary depending on the storyline of the book.
Now have a look at the chapters. How does one chapter end and another start? Does it leave you with a “hook” which has you rushing to find out what happened in the next chapter? Or does it have a natural end, one where you feel you can take a break now, get up and make a cup of tea or switch off the bedside light? Every book is different. It will also depend on what mood you, as the reader, are in.  I’ve read books that I can’t put down and have ended up reading long into the night, getting to the end exhausted but on a high from the storyline.
What about a back story? These are used to explain people, places and reasons for the current situations. They can be very useful to flesh out the story and the characters. A Back story can make you have more empathy for a person or a situation. If the book you’re reading has a back story how useful was it? Too much? Too Little? Did it disrupt the main storyline or did it add to the value of the book? Perhaps there wasn’t a back story and you would have liked to know more about the characters.
Reading Soft edge
Descriptive words. There’s a lot of talk about over use of descriptive passages. Should you put them in? Are they just filling space? A lot depends on how the book has caught the imagination of the reader. An author writes a book and all the pictures are in their head as they write down the words, but have they successful transformed those images to the head of the reader? Think about this; “Chloe walked down the stairs” what image did you get in your head? “Chloe descended the stairs” Did your image change? ” Chloe took a breath before descending the formidable spiral staircase”, now what picture do you have? Sometimes an author might over-kill a description. “Chloe walked down the twenty-four evenly spaced steps of the stairway, one step at a time”, do you get my drift? – Descriptive words can make or break a picture in you head and your enjoyment of a book.
Book pace. I love Dan Brown books, but sometimes they frustrate me. All the action is in a very short period, often forty-eight hours. His characters hardly ever eat, sleep or rest for a second. The books leave me exhausted. However the style works, Dan is extremely popular. On the other hand I don’t want to be bored reading about every meal break, cup of coffee and bathroom visit, I want to get on with the story. In real life we do all the boring things like eat and sleep, but in books we often want to escape to a more exciting life. Think about the pace of the book, did it work with the story-line?
The Ending. The all important ending. Was the book a happy ever after (HEA)? Did you guess the ending way before you got there? Was there an unexpected twist which left you gasping? Did the book make you sad? Emotional? Did you need a box of tissues? Did you feel you’d learnt a life-lesson from the book? Was the ending a cliff-hanger which leads you on to the next book in the series? Is there an epilogue? The first three Harry Potter Books all have a neat ending at the end of the school term, yet because there are more in the series a reader might look forward to the next book. Towards the end of the series the books certainly enticed me onwards I wanted to know more and when the last one finished I still wanted more.
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That moves me on to my last point. Would you ever be able to read this book again? Ask yourself that question. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve read all the Harry Potter series. There is so much in each book that every time I read them I feel like I discover more. The same goes for the Twilight series. In between book reviews I’m re-reading the Wardstone Chronicles by Joseph Delaney. These are actually aimed at children (mature readers who can cope with Harry Potter) but I really enjoy them. – So what were your very last impressions of the book? Would you read it again? Or perhaps you could recommend it? Often I’ll end a review with, “This book would suit someone who enjoys….”
Tomorrow I’m talking about bad book reviews.
Catch up with posts from Day 1 here http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-9iV
There’s still time to join the #AugustReviews campaign.
1) Write a review for a book you’ve read,
2) Post it on Amazon,
3) Tweet the URL of the Amazon review and add #AugustReviews and @TerryTyler4
4) Not on Twitter? No Problem, send me the link using the contact form above and I’ll send it on to Terry, she’ll get it up on her Halls of Fame.

Book Review Challenge Series – A Woman’s Wisdom

Day 2

Today as part of our book review challenge series we will hear from book reviewer and good friend, Bodicia about how she writes a book review. Plus there are tips on downloading a PDF file of a book to your Kindle and my thoughts on writing non-fiction book reviews.

A Woman's Wisdom

Take it away Bodicia.

Where can readers and writers find your blog?

http://awomanswisdom.wordpress.com/

 

Where do you post your book reviews as well as your blog?

I post my reviews on Amazon UK, Amazon US and Goodreads.

 

What type of books will you consider for review?

I will consider most books for review except erotica, those which are overtly religious and those filled with too much gore and violence.

 

What format do you like books to be in for review?

As a rule I normally only accept mobi and PDF formats.

 

What’s the first thing you do when beginning a book review?

First of all I make a cup of tea!

 

How do you proceed after that?

I then sit down, refer to any notes I have made on the book itself and then I start to draft out the review.

 

Is there an average time you spend reading a book?

This will depend on the length of the book! I try to read a book every day depending on how long it is. I make a point of finishing every book I get sent for review whether or not I end up reviewing that book. Although I’ve heard this is fairly unusual I think that if the author has taken the time to send me the book for review the least I can do is finish it. Whether that is to the bitter end or the triumphant conclusion is always luck of the draw 😉

 

When you’ve finished a book do you write the review immediately? Or wait a while?

I always try to write a review as soon as possible after I have finished the book. This means that the plot and characters are fresh in my mind but more importantly my emotional response to the book is still tangible and real. There have been a couple of books which I have thought longer about before I have written a review. I am known for my instant decision making (!) but there has been the odd book which has demanded greater absorption before a review can be drafted up. I won’t name names as discretion is everything when book blogging 😉

 

Do you start a new book before writing up a review? Or do you ever read more than one book at a time?

I don’t start a new book for the blog before writing up a review but I often have more than one book on the go at a time because I read a lot of science related books, literature and papers. The books I read for my book review blog are read singularly off the list in date submission order and if I intend to review I nearly always write that review before I go onto the next one.

 

What points would you try to write in a review?

What I am looking for are excellent storytellers. I love to be moved by a story and to be entertained. I like to be surprised by an ending, to be made to care about the characters and to feel the emotions which the author is trying to convey. My reviews tend to be centred on how the book made me feel and how much I enjoyed the story itself. I don’t give ratings on the blog itself but when I post a review up on Amazon and Goodreads I will give it a four or five star rating. I don’t write reviews for books which are three stars or less as at that level there is more negativity to be written about the book than I feel is necessary.

 

What would you try to avoid putting in any review?

I don’t write reviews for books I have read that I didn’t like. So I never write reviews which point out negative aspects because for me it’s all about the story, how well it was told and my reaction to it. The one thing I do avoid putting in a review is any falseness. Although I am friendly with many writers I don’t review a book just because I know the person who has written it. If I don’t like it then it means I have to write an uncomfortable email telling my friend that but at least it means the blog stays objective and for me it is very important it does. I always say that at the onset though and so far nobody has stopped speaking to me or sent me anything nasty in the post 😉

 

If you find you really dislike a book, would you write a negative review?

I don’t write negative reviews because I don’t feel it is necessary. Reading is subjective; what I may have really disliked in a book somebody else may find really appealing. Negative reviews have their place, the ying and yang of the book world, but for me personally I am just happy to promote those books on my blog which have been a pleasure to read. I read many more books than I actually post reviews for on the blog. I probably read about six books a week on average and I may only review one or two of those.

 

Do you work with any publishers or groups who regularly ask you to review books?

I don’t at the moment. I prefer to communicate directly with the authors themselves. I have such a long list of books which I have accepted for review that, for now, I don’t have to go outside of that list. I really like to champion the self-published author and find those books which are currently lost in the deluge but which deserve more recognition.

Tell us about any book which you’ve recently read and reviewed which really impressed you.

It’s really difficult to pick just one book as there are five which, for me, really stand out as brilliantly written novels – you can click on the links below to see my reviews.

 

1. The Calling of the Raven by Jenny Lloyd.

2. A Woman’s Choice by Annie Thomas.

3. Sari Caste by Catherine Kirby.

4. Aunt Coco And the Marionette Man by Lynn G Moorhouse.

5. The Black Hours by Alison Williams. The Black Hours is one of the books available to readers for the review challenge.

 

I feel these historical books are really important reads because they are all beautifully researched novels which highlight the plight, hardship and courage of women throughout the world and through time. Personally I think every woman should read them, if only to be reminded how lucky we are and how far we’ve come.

Thank you Bodicia.

Did you know that you can download a PDF file of a book to your kindle?

1) Every Kindle has it’s own e-mail address which is different to your personal e-mail.

2) Find yours easily. Go to Manage my Kindle on your Amazon account.

3) From the side bar choose Personal document settings

4) The name of your kindle and it’s own e-mail address will appear. You can edit this address if you want.

5) Add the kindle e-mail  address to your contacts in your own personal e-mail.

6) If someone then sends you a book in PDF, save it. Then compose a new Mail to your kindle’s address, Type “Convert” into the subject line. Attach the PDF document and send.

7) In just a few moments the book should appear on your device. Be patient!

Book Review Challenge

Book reviews for a Non-Fiction Book by Rosie Amber.

So could you write a review for a non-fiction book? Answer YES YOU CAN. Ok, Hands up who’s ever read a non-fiction book cover to cover? Hmm not so many of you.

Non-fiction needs a slightly different approach.

1) You still need to be armed with a paper and pen to jot down the book title, author, notes, characters and observations.

2) What’s really important is that you get the gist or the substance of the book. Many non-fiction books start out by telling you that you might want to dip in and out of chapters. Good News for a reviewer they give you permission to skip bits that are of no interest.

3) To help me explain, I’ve just grabbed a copy of “Farm Office Handbook” from my shelves it’s written by The Institute of Agricultural Secretaries and Administrators. (I’m a part-time farm secretary here in the UK in case you’re wondering) So I’d jot down book title and who created/ wrote the book.

4 Next look for a  forward or dedication and read it, it often gives you good clues about the book and may sum the whole book up in a few good words which you might be able to use to guide you when you write your own review. BUT never just copy passages from the forward, write your review and never open the book again, that would be plain rude and disrespectful.

5) Next check out the contents page. Here you’ll find out more about the book. The one I’m using today has a list of 15 chapters ranging from The Farm office, accounting, balance sheets, statutory farm record keeping, staffing and payroll and the Professional Farm administrator (That’s a posh name for my job) At the end of the book are a list of appendix with more details. Many non-fiction books have appendix covering books they’ve quoted from, relevant scientific data, studies, further reading etc. It’s always good to add to your book review that these appendix exist saying a bit about what they are.

6) So back to the non-fiction review. If the subject of the book really interests you, you will most likely read a good 80/100%. make notes on each chapter about what they contain and perhaps write no more than a sentence or two on 5-6 chapters from the book. If you get bogged down in academic details or the subject is written about very deeply and you get lost don’t panic. If you can read at least 50% of a non-fiction book, I believe you can still write a review.  Most chapters will either start with an overview of the subject to be discussed or end with a summary. Use these to find positive points to write about. You can also say; “This book dealt with “X” really deeply” or “There was a great in-depth discussion about….”

7) For a non-fiction review the challenge is to learn something new, discover new people, places and information. You might find a useful website that was mentioned, or a holiday destination, or a museum that would interest you. “I didn’t know that…” It’s those moments of discovery that you are looking for and can add to your review. Or did the book inspire you do something? I’m reading  In Praise Of Lilith, Eve And The Serpent In The Garden Of Eden And Other Stories by Susan Scott. It’s a series of essays. After the first essay I was inspired to go and clean my house and tidy up my garden. I shall say that in my review. I felt so proud of my house after I’d given it some loving attention and it lifted my spirits. It’s little personal details like this that will make a review really genuine.

8) So don’t be frightened of writing a non-fiction review. Approach it slightly differently, with a very open mind. Don’t panic about having to read every single word. Authors of non-fiction may well have an even harder time selling their books that fiction authors. Often their potential customers may come from a very narrow niche, so your review will be valued just as much as a review for a fiction book.

 Tomorrow we’ll be speaking to author Terry Tyler on how important book reviews are to authors. The Goodreads community and Bad Book reviews.

Friday 27th June – The Importance of book reviews by author Terry Tyler + a look at Goodreads + A bad or negative review, should you write it?

Saturday 28th June – Book Reviewing by Diane Coto from Fictionzeal + Shelfari + Going in deep, talking more about reviews.

Sunday 29th June – Book reviewing by Ionia Martin from Readfulthings + The importance of book reviews by author Adrienne Vaughan +Reviewing to Amazon + Gearing up to write that review.

Monday 30th June – The Importance of book reviews by Lizzie Lamb + Authors should walk to the book reviewers side of the fence.

All books have now been sent out and book requests are now closed.

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