After reading a book, I like writing down my thoughts about the story, organizing and re-organizing those thoughts, figuring out what I liked or didn’t like, analyzing which parts “worked” for me and which ones didn’t. A personal reading journal, so to speak, and I organize them into a short review that I share online. Sometimes people respond and share their views; other times they read my reviews and it helps them make a decision to read (or not to read!) a specific story.

These two elements together — writing the notes, sharing the reviews — mean that I take them seriously. I’m not a “paid professional” reviewer, but I try to do my reviews as professionally as I can. Which leads me to what I think of as my first and only duty as a public reviewer:

Write a personal, honest, attributable review of the book within its genre and assign an overall rating.

From this duty, I have derived my approach to writing book reviews. 

  1. My reviews will never be anonymous…If I write the review, my name goes with it.
  2. Reviews will be honest and unbiased but respectful…My duty includes honesty to the author and to other readers and I will always publish my reviews here on my website. I also share those reviews on other sites too — GoodReads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Chapters, Google, my local library, Library Thing, and Savvy Reader. However, if my review is only a 1 or  2 (which is considered “bad” on most sites) and the book doesn’t already have 10+ reviews on a site, I likely won’t publish mine there. I don’t like the idea of sharing my reviews at the expense of a budding author. Of course, if they’re a well-established author, with lots of books and reviews, then they’re fair game. Other than a complimentary or advanced reader copy of a book, I will not accept any compensation for writing a review.  I acknowledge that I rarely give only a 1 or 2, not because a book might not deserve it, but because if I am not enjoying it, I will likely not finish it. And I only review those I finish.
  3. I will review the book, not the author. While reviews may take into account other books in the genre, or even other books by the author particularly if it’s part of a series, the reviews should not be biased by information about the author or the publisher. The book must stand or fall on its own merit.
  4. My opinions will be my own, not consensus…Each review will be the opinion I have come to after reading the book and may include its readability; character development; plot and pacing; point of view; genre; dialogue; and setting. I might even focus on my own satisfaction with the ending.
  5. Books will be reviewed in context…I will review action books against other action books; mystery stories against other mystery stories. I will not review the latest mystery against the great works of fiction of the past in other genres — so, this means that a supposed great work of classic fiction might end up with a lower rating (against other great works of fiction) than the latest mystery (against other mystery books). Context matters, as most books are not aiming to be the latest and greatest literary masterpiece.
  6. Reviews will include my rating…I would be far more comfortable providing a rating out of ten or even twenty, rather than five. But all the major sites use five-point scales, and sub-points are not allowed. With that in mind, I will use the following scale: 
    • Rating of 0 — Did not finish (only for my own tracking, no review is done for zero!);
    • Rating of 1 — Finished, but not recommended;
    • Rating of 2 — Not bad, readable;
    • Rating of 3 — Good, worth reading but some issues;
    • Rating of 4 — Enjoyable, solid outing with minor issues;
    • Rating of 5 — Excellent.

That’s it, that’s my approach to reviews. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them, or at least that the review helps you figure out if a book is one that you might enjoy. The lists include a link to each book review that I have completed and posted, along with the title, author, number of the review, year that the book was published, any series information and the order in the series, the date of writing my online review, and my rating.

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TitleAuthorReview #PublishedSeriesOrderReviewedRatingStatus
Fire on HighPeter DavidPWBR000011998Star Trek, The New Frontier62001/01/20🐸🐸🐸⚪⚪RRE
Red SectorDiane CareyPWBR000021999Star Trek, The Next Generation53, 32001/01/20🐸🐸🐸🐸⚪RRE
VectorsDean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn RuschPWBR000031999Star Trek, Deep Space Nine, The Next Generation53, 22001/01/20🐸🐸🐸⚪⚪RRE
InfectionJohn Gregory BetancourtPWBR000041999Star Trek, The Next Generation51, 12001/01/20🐸🐸🐸⚪⚪RRE
Perchance to DreamRobert B. ParkerPWBR000051991Marlowe2001/01/20🐸🐸🐸⚪⚪RRE
DeathrightDev StrykerPWBR000061993Pierce12001/01/21🐸🐸🐸⚪⚪RRXP
Where The Bodies Are BuriedJanet DawsonPWBR000071998Howard82001/01/21🐸🐸🐸🐸⚪RRE
End GameDev StrykerPWBR0000819942001/01/21🐸🐸🐸🐸⚪RRXP
Motion to SuppressPerri O'ShaugnessyPWBR000091995Reilly12001/01/21🐸🐸🐸⚪⚪RRE
Ruined by Reading: A life in booksLynne Sharon SchwartzPWBR0001019962001/02/18🐸🐸🐸⚪⚪RRE
The Black ShoreGreg CoxPWBR000111997Star Trek, Voyager132001/02/18🐸🐸🐸⚪⚪RRE
The House on Mulberry StreetMaan MeyersPWBR000121996Tonneman62001/02/18🐸🐸🐸🐸🐸RRE
Biblioholism: The Literary AddictionTom RaabePWBR0001319962001/02/18🐸🐸⚪⚪⚪RRD
By the Rivers of BabylonNelson DeMillePWBR0001419782001/02/18🐸🐸🐸🐸🐸RRE
Hit ManLawrence BlockPWBR000151998Keller12001/02/18🐸🐸🐸⚪⚪RRE
Devil in a Blue DressWalter MosleyPWBR000161990Rawlins12001/02/18🐸🐸🐸🐸⚪RRE
Dying To Get EvenJudy FitzwaterPWBR000171999Marsh22001/03/04🐸🐸🐸🐸🐸RRE
Field of ThirteenDick FrancisPWBR0001819982001/03/04🐸🐸🐸⚪⚪RRE
Perilous RelationsCarole EpsteinPWBR000191997Simons22001/03/04🐸🐸🐸🐸⚪RRD
The ConqueredDaffyd ab HughPWBR000201999Star Trek24, 12001/03/04🐸🐸⚪⚪⚪RRE
Perish TwiceRobert B. ParkerPWBR000212000Randall22001/03/04🐸🐸🐸🐸⚪RRE
Hearts and BonesMargaret LawrencePWBR000221997Hannah Trevor12001/03/04🐸🐸🐸🐸⚪RRD
The First VirtueMichael Jan Friedman and Christie GoldenPWBR000231999Star Trek56, 62001/03/04🐸🐸🐸⚪⚪RRE
Deadly DecisionsKathy ReichsPWBR000242000Brennan32001/03/04🐸🐸🐸⚪⚪RRE
The MistDean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn RuschPWBR000251998Star Trek, Captain's Table32001/03/04🐸🐸🐸⚪⚪RRE
Double or NothingPeter DavidPWBR000261999Star Trek55, 32001/03/04🐸🐸🐸⚪⚪RRE
The Collected Short StoriesJeffrey ArcherPWBR0002719982003/07/27🐸🐸🐸🐸⚪RRE
Coffee Break MysteriesWilliam S. ShepherdPWBR0002820112011/04/26🐸🐸🐸⚪⚪RRE
When Is Enough, EnoughLaurie Ashner and Mitch MeyersonPWBR0002919962004/10/27🐸🐸🐸🐸🐸RRD
ShadowlandMeg CabotPWBR000302000Mediator12004/03/07🐸🐸🐸🐸🐸RRE
Darkest HourMeg CabotBR000312001Mediator42004/03/28🐸🐸🐸🐸⚪RRE
Keziah DaneSue GraftonBR0003219672007/03/17🐸🐸🐸🐸⚪RRD
SanctuaryMeg CabotBR000332002Missing42004/10/28🐸⚪⚪⚪⚪RRE
Equal to the ChallengeDepartment of National Defence (Canada)BR0003420012007/04/14🐸🐸🐸🐸⚪RRD
An Open Book: Coming of Age in the HeartlandMichael DirdaBR0003520032007/05/03🐸🐸🐸🐸⚪RRD
Killing FloorLee ChildBR000361997Reacher12004/10/05🐸🐸🐸🐸⚪RRE
The Staked GoatJeremiah HealyBR000371986Cuddy21998/06/21🐸🐸🐸🐸🐸RRE
So Like SleepJeremiah HealyBR000381987Cuddy32003/10/09🐸🐸🐸🐸⚪RRE
Blunt DartsJeremiah HealyBR000391984Cuddy12003/10/09🐸🐸🐸🐸⚪RRE
The PunisherD.A. SternBR000402004Punisher12004/10/28🐸⚪⚪⚪⚪RRE
Fresh Blood 3Mike Ripley and Maxim Jakubowski (Editors) with Lee ChildBR000411999Reacher2004/10/28🐸🐸⚪⚪⚪RRD
Under the Dragon's TailMaureen JenningsBR000421998Murdoch22004/10/28🐸🐸🐸⚪⚪RRE
Poor Tom is ColdMaureen JenningsBR000432001Murdoch32004/10/28🐸🐸⚪⚪⚪RRE
Let Loose the DogsMaureen JenningsBR000442003Murdoch42004/10/28🐸🐸🐸🐸🐸RRE
Blood MoneyThomas PerryBR000451999Whitefield52005/05/25🐸🐸🐸🐸⚪RRE
Until Proven GuiltyJ.A. JanceBR000461985Beaumont12005/05/25🐸🐸🐸🐸⚪RRE
Payment in KindJ.A. JanceBR000471991Beaumont92005/05/25🐸🐸🐸🐸⚪RRE
Grave SecretsKathy ReichsBR000482002Brennan52005/05/25🐸🐸⚪⚪⚪RRE
Snap ShotMeg ChittendenBR000492003Gordon12005/05/25🐸🐸🐸🐸⚪RRD
Beyond the Great Snow MountainsLouis L'AmourBR0005019991999/08/11🐸🐸🐸🐸⚪RRE
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Comments

Book Reviews — 3 Comments

  1. From Lindsey B: That’s definitely a meaty list, but I’ll bet it gives you a good guideline for putting together consistently quality reviews. I’m sure readers will appreciate your thoroughness!

  2. Thanks to some feedback I got from a listserve discussion, I added to the “disclosure” clause above that I will identify if it is a genre that I don’t usually read and/or don’t usually enjoy. I suspect that will be rare, as if it isn’t something that interests me, I probably won’t read it in the first place! For example, I rarely enjoy horror so that is probably out, as is historical romance. Most of my reads will likely either be classic literature (part of a personal challenge to myself), mystery / crime fiction, or science fiction.

    There was also a great debate on another discussion forum about only posting elsewhere if it was a “4.00 or 5.00” star review. The argument was that you weren’t helping authors if you posted less than that. I can’t imagine a concept more offensive to me as a reviewer to say “only post glowing reviews” or “only 5 stars”. If I read it, I review it; if I review it, I rate it. There are no other factors in there that can / should / would influence the outcome. I don’t care if it is a book by my wife even, I’m honestly going to read and rate it.

    As for my “duty to authors”, I’m not a PR person. I’m not their agent. I’m not their editor, publisher, midwife, lover or third-grade teacher. I’m reviewing the book — my primary duty is to the reader, not the author. And, even if there is a “secondary” duty to the author, those obligations are already met by (a) being impartial; (b) being honest but respectful; and (c) considering the book on its merits. After that, my duty (such as it is) to the author is done.

    PolyWogg

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