Sunday, October 06, 2013

Book Review - Sort Of

Since I have no review ready and my friend Carl Brookins has not sent a review recently, I decided I would connect you to a few book review sites.

I have always enjoyed the reviews in newspapers and was even known to write a few for a couple of Dallas newspapers. Of course, that was back in the day when reviews were really reviews with a bit of critical analysis. Not what some people call a review on online book retail sites. I don't want someone to just tell me "This book was wonderful and you should read it." I want to know why he or she thought it was wonderful. What was compelling about the writing, the characters, and the plot?

Those were the questions that reviewers answered in the newspaper reviews. Unfortunately many of the newspapers have cut back on reviews, and even more unfortunately many of the newspapers have ceased publication. However, the The New York Times is still in business and every author I know would love to be reviewed there. A few have made it, but among my circle of close writing friends most of us are still waiting.

Trade magazines such as Publisher's Weekly and Library Journal  also evaluate the writing and are well-respected in the industry. The websites for both publications carry some of the same reviews that are in the magazines, so that is a good source for finding new books to read.

As an author, getting your book reviewed there carries some bragging rights, so let me take a moment to do some humble bragging - is that an oxymoron? I do believe it is. Anyway, I am thrilled that both publications have given the first two books in my Seasons Mystery Series, Open Season and Stalking Season,  strong reviews. I also want to brag on one of my sons who has written reviews for Library Journal. No, he did not review my books. He only reviews history books and biographies. Just want to make sure you know there was no nepotism involved. (smile)


 Another place that authors would love to be featured is National Public Radio (NPR). On air there are reviews, author interviews, and interesting commentaries about the latest fiction and nonfiction books. I always enjoy listening to the shows when I can tune in to them. (NPR reception is spotty out here in the boonies) But I recently discovered the online presence for them. There you can find lists of the best-selling books in hardback, paperback, and electronic, as well as the interviews and commentary.

7 comments:

D.G. Hudson said...

There is an ongoing discussion on what comprises a book review, on many blogs. Is it a review of the book itself, the story, or is it a critique of the author's writing or subject matter?

I want reviews of the book/storyline, not the critic's point of view.

I review books on my blog that I've read. My style is to tell a bit about the book, the time or era it's written, and some background on the author if relevant. It's easy to criticize, harder to create.

Maryann Miller said...

D.G. , I agree that a review is more than just a critique, and I never give a negative review of the subject matter. If I don't like the subject matter of a book, I don't accept it for review. I do, however, think that letting other readers know about any weakness in the writing that takes away from the story is important. I do point out what worked well and what I enjoyed about a book, then let the reader decide if they want to try the book. That way they are making a more informed decision than had I just posted a glowing review of a book that had some problems.

LD Masterson said...

I don't do many reviews because, frankly, I suck at it. But I enjoy reading reviews that discuss the merits of the story and the writing - not the subject.

Congratulations on getting good reviews from a couple of the biggies.

Maryann Miller said...

Thanks, LD. You are a good writer so I'm sure you can write reviews. They don't have to be long, and I like what D.G. does in terms of telling a bit about the book - the storyline - without giving anything away. I would just add a bit about what works in terms of the writing, and then point out any problems if there are any. Carl Brookins does an excellent job with his reviews, and I follow that pattern.

Yolanda Renee said...

So true, it is easier to criticize, and I remember thinking when watching Siskel and Ebert the thumbs up guys. Some of the movies they 'hated' I loved. Simply for the entertainment value. And some of the movies they loved, I hated! Again, subjective, and yes I read today's post before this one. Good subject!

Mike said...

As a regular LJ reviewer (and referenced son in the blog), I'm finding this interesting, mostly to hear about folks choosing which books to review. For LJ, we get assigned a book, so we don't have a choice (though, we are volunteers and can just not write the review, but I'm guessing they won't send us anymore books to review if we do that). Under this procedure, no one can cry "foul" and say a review was done for any reason other than to review the book. Also, we cannot review books of people we know - again to avoid any concern of favoritism. Though I can say I helped a friend sell a lot of books with one of my reviews, but that was before we met (and indeed, it was my review that led to our meeting and eventual friendship). We also have some guidelines on what to include in the review, though we have some leeway, including giving negative reviews. But mainly, we just try to give a sense of the book and who it may appeal to, with the idea that the main audience of our reviews are librarians making selections for their libraries. In that sense, it shifts into the critique category, mostly because most libraries have limited budgets, and our reviews are helping spend these limited budgets. I wish I could tell you how LJ selects which books to review - that's above my pay grade.

Mike said...

As a regular LJ reviewer (and referenced son in the blog), I'm finding this interesting, mostly to hear about folks choosing which books to review. For LJ, we get assigned a book, so we don't have a choice (though, we are volunteers and can just not write the review, but I'm guessing they won't send us anymore books to review if we do that). Under this procedure, no one can cry "foul" and say a review was done for any reason other than to review the book. Also, we cannot review books of people we know - again to avoid any concern of favoritism. Though I can say I helped a friend sell a lot of books with one of my reviews, but that was before we met (and indeed, it was my review that led to our meeting and eventual friendship). We also have some guidelines on what to include in the review, though we have some leeway, including giving negative reviews. But mainly, we just try to give a sense of the book and who it may appeal to, with the idea that the main audience of our reviews are librarians making selections for their libraries. In that sense, it shifts into the critique category, mostly because most libraries have limited budgets, and our reviews are helping spend these limited budgets. I wish I could tell you how LJ selects which books to review - that's above my pay grade.