Tag Archive | reviews

Best Worst Review

It started out fairly well but then I realized that it was written from a woman’s perspective. As a male I could not connect with it.

Apparently it was only when this fellow “realized” that Bernardine Bishop’s Unexpected Lessons in Love was written from a female perspective — <hint, hint> it opens in a nunnery, is written by a female author, and features a cat and a child’s toy on the cover — that he suddenly “could not connect” to it!

Bishop had written 2 novels in the early sixties, but abandoned writing to bring up a family, teach and practice as a psychotherapist. For her final book, she was able to draw on her lifetime’s worth of experiences, which is evident as the central character is also a retired psychotherapist coping with anal cancer and a colostomy.

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Bishop, who died this past July  at age 73, made her mark as a novelist posthumously with the publication of Unexpected Lessons in Love, which was recently nominated for the Costas prize. The Costas is given both for high literary merit but also for works that are enjoyable reading and whose aim is to convey the enjoyment of reading to the widest possible audience.

You can read the first chapter of the book here.

The Bad Good Review

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When one writes books for a living, a good review can be a godsend. But there is a type of review which is good, but bad.  Allow me to explain.

  • You like a book and give it 5 out of 5 stars. That’s good.
  • You don’t explain why. That’s bad.

A review helps people find books that they will like and avoid books they won’t. I firmly believe that 75% of books written could be successful good books, if they reached the right people. The problem is getting the people to find the book right for them. This where reviews come in.

If I love a book, I tell you why. If I hate it, I tell you why.  Now, you might disagree with my review, but it at least informs you about the book and helps you discern whether it’s a book that’s right for you.

One need not give away plot details to laud or excoriate a read. It doesn’t even take much time to review a book. In fact, you can give any book the perfect 5-point review in 30 words or less. Just follow this template.

  1. I found the pacing (exciting, just right, a bit slow, terrible).
  2. I was (disappointed, interested, fascinated) by the characters.
  3. The plot twists were (predictable, amazing,  ridiculous).
  4. This book would be perfect for (romance, sci fi, history) readers.
  5. This book would be deadly for (feminists,  people who dislike violence/sex/obscene language).

If a book has typos or grammatical oddities, I tend to overlook them because my interest is the story. If they are really bad and seem unintentional, I might send a note to the author. It’s not something I mention in a review because it rarely bothers me. If it bothers another review enough to mention it, I tend to assume that reviewer is a frustrated, unpublished, probably jealous writer (or holds an English degree but is now working a job he/she considers beneath him/her).