Ariion Kathleen Brindley

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Writers Free Reference

Book Reviews

This is a collection of websites offering book reviews.

Maintained by Charley Brindley

Grants for English Education can help you when you're try to gain more knowledge about writing book reviews .  There you can find exciting english lessons and take a career test to assure you that you're in the right field!

A book review is a description, critical analysis, and an evaluation on the quality, meaning, and significance of a book, not a retelling. It should focus on the book's purpose, content, and authority. A critical book review is not a book report or a summary. It is a reaction paper in which strengths and weaknesses of the material are analyzed. It should include a statement of what the author has tried to do, evaluates how well (in the opinion of the reviewer) the author has succeeded, and presents evidence to support this evaluation.

There is no right way to write a book review. Book reviews are highly personal and reflect the opinions of the reviewer. A review can be as short as 50-100 words, or as long as 1500 words, depending on the purpose of the review.

The following are standard procedures for writing book reviews; they are suggestions, not formulae that must be used.

1. Write a statement giving essential information about the book: title, author, first copyright date, type of book, general subject matter, special features (maps, color plates, etc.), price and ISBN.

2. State the authorís purpose in writing the book. Sometimes authors state their purpose in the preface or the first chapter. When they do not, you may arrive at an understanding of the bookís purpose by asking yourself these questions:

a. Why did the author write on this subject rather than on some other subject?

b. From what point of view is the work written?

c. Was the author trying to give information, to explain something technical, to convince the reader of a beliefís validity by dramatizing it in action?

d. What is the general field or genre, and how does the book fit into it? (Use outside sources to familiarize yourself with the field, if necessary.) Knowledge of the genre means understanding the art form. and how it functions.

e. Who is the intended audience?

f. What is the author's style? Is it formal or informal? Evaluate the quality of the writing style by using some of the following standards: coherence, clarity, originality, forcefulness, correct use of technical words, conciseness, fullness of development, fluidity. Does it suit the intended audience?

g. Scan the Table of Contents, it can help understand how the book is organized and will aid in determining the author's main ideas and how they are developed - chronologically, topically, etc.

g. How did the book affect you? Were any previous ideas you had on the subject changed, abandoned, or reinforced due to this book? How is the book related to your own course or personal agenda? What personal experiences you've had relate to the subject?

h. How well has the book achieved its goal?

i. Would you recommend this book or article to others? Why?

3. State the theme and the thesis of the book.

a. Theme: The theme is the subject or topic. It is not necessarily the title, and it is usually not expressed in a complete sentence. It expresses a specific phase of the general subject matter.

b. Thesis: The thesis is an authorís generalization about the theme, the authorís beliefs about something important, the bookís philosophical conclusion, or the proposition the author means to prove. Express it without metaphor or other figurative language, in one declarative sentence.


Title: We Had it Made

General Subject Matter: Religious Intolerance

Theme: The effects of religious intolerance on a small town

Thesis: Religious intolerance, a sickness of individuals, contaminates an entire social group

4. Explain the method of development-the way the author supports the thesis. Illustrate your remarks with specific references and quotations. In general, authors tend to use the following methods, exclusively or in combination.

a. Description: The author presents word-pictures of scenes and events by giving specific details that appeal to the five senses, or to the readerís imagination. Description presents background and setting. Its primary purpose is to help the reader realize, through as many sensuous details as possible, the way things (and people) are, in the episodes being described.

b. Narration: The author tells the story of a series of events, usually presented in chronological order. In a novel however, chronological order may be violated for the sake of the plot. The emphasis in narration, in both fiction and non-fiction, is on the events. Narration tells what has happened. Its primary purpose is to tell a story.

c. Exposition: The author uses explanation and analysis to present a subject or to clarify an idea. Exposition presents the facts about a subject or an issue as clearly and impartially as possible. Its primary purpose is to explain.

d. Argument: The author uses the techniques of persuasion to establish the truth of a statement or to convince the reader of its falsity. The purpose is to persuade the reader to believe something and perhaps to act on that belief. Argument takes sides on an issue. Its primary purpose is to convince.

5. Evaluate the book for interest, accuracy, objectivity, importance, thoroughness, and usefulness to its intended audience. Show whether the author's main arguments are true. Respond to the author's opinions. What do you agree or disagree with? And why? Illustrate whether or not any conclusions drawn are derived logically from the evidence. Explore issues the book raises. What possibilities does the book suggest? What has the author omitted or what problems were left unsolved? What specific points are not convincing? Compare it with other books on similar subjects or other books by the same as well as different authors. Is it only a reworking of earlier books; a refutation of previous positions? Have newly uncovered sources justified a new approach by the author? Comment on parts of particular interest, and point out anything that seems to give the book literary merit. Relate the book to larger issues.

Story Credit: Los Angeles Valley College

Ramsey's Reviews Reviews of Fantasy, Science Fiction, Mystery, Paranormal, Supernatural, Thriller and Romance.

Book Reviews by J. M. Clark Submit your book for review

The Boox Review All genres are welcome -- poetry and audiobooks too

Book Browse Reviews of many current books

Book Spot Long list of review resources

Mostly Fiction We love to read and to share our opinions and discoveries of literary gems and top-notch genre novels

Overbooked A resource for readers providing timely information about fiction (all genres) and readable nonfiction

Midwest Book Review Book Reviews, Book Lover Resources, Advice for Writers and Publishers

Page One Lit Author Interviews, Contests, Writer's Wisdoms, Writer's Pages, Writer's Resources and Reflections

National Assoc. of Women Writers Weekly Helping to educate through books, CDs, tele-events and chapter events

CoffeeHouse For Writers An internet-based community of writers from all genres with ten thousand members

Absolute Write Freelance, screenwriting, playwriting, novels, nonfiction, comic books, greeting cards, poetry, songwriting, and more

Case Solvers A real-world application of a real-world philosophical principle at the foundation of the Sime~Gen fictional universe

Book Ideas Book reviews, recommendations, and commentary

All Readers Features detailed book reviews from many different genres of books

Compulsive Reader Reviews of books by some of the hottest writers working today, exclusive author interviews, literary news and criticism

Authors Den Where Authors & Readers come together

How to Spot a Phony Book Reviewer

I've been a practicing book reviewer and a keenly interested observer of the publishing industry since the fall of 1976. My more than 20 years as a reviewer, monthly book review newsletter editor, radio and television producer of weekly book review programs, and Editor-in-Chief of the Midwest Book Review supervising the work of 37 volunteer book reviewers across the United States and Canada has taught me a great deal as both a creator of book reviews, an editor of the reviews of others, and the needs and problems of the independent small press publisher with respect to being reviewed.

For the publisher, the primary purpose of the book review is to extract from it publicity and promotion values which will, in turn, result in an increase of sales for the reviewed book. The principal hazard facing the publisher with respect to reviews is getting panned by an honest book reviewer or scammed by a phony book reviewer.

With respect to an unfavorable review by a legitimate reviewer, I can offer the publisher nothing but my sympathy. But with respect to getting taken by the dishonest scam artist posing as a reviewer of books, I can offer some very practical advice on how to avoid getting "taken" by alerting the publisher as to what to look for, what to ask, and how to verify.

This is important money-saving information for every tight budget, every-penny-counts, small press publisher. This is because not only is there the loss of the book (and the shipping and handling costs to send the book), but there is also the absence of the hoped-for publicity and promotion boost for the published book in a very competitive retail marketplace.

Plus, there is the lost opportunity to send that same book (and expend those same limited postage monies) to a legitimate reviewer and thereby reaping the marketplace benefits of a legitimate review set before a prospective audience of potential buyers.

Book Reviewers can be categorized much the same as the books they are sent for review: there are the good, the bad, and the mediocre.

The hallmarks of any good book reviewer begin with feedback to the publisher. This is ultimately expressed with the reviewer furnishing the publisher a copy of the review. Typically this is in the form of a tear sheet from their publication or a script from their radio or television program. This tear sheet or review script is usually accompanied by a cover letter giving any additional details such as the date of publication or the time of broadcast.

There is new phenomena in book reviewing having to do with the Internet and the World Wide Web. When reviews are posted on the Internet, the reviewer's publisher notification letter will include the text of the review post, and indicate what Web sites, newsgroups, online bookstores, or e-mail lists (Internet discussion groups) were posted to so that the publisher can verify the postings accordingly.

A bad reviewer isn't the one who pans your book with an honest (albeit negative) judgement, it's the one who solicits a review copy of a publisher's book under false pretenses. Someone who wants a free copy of your book with no intention of fulfilling their side of the marketplace bargain to furnish an opinion for the publisher with regard to publicity and promotional needs, or for use of the potential book buyer in determining what is recommended for their reading pleasures or purposes.

In short, a bad reviewer is someone out to get something for nothing, a scam artist, a thief.

The mediocre reviewer is simply someone of good intentions but poor performance. Never underestimate the ability of a given book reviewer to be basically inept and a failure at the trade and craft of reviewing, just as there are those well-intentioned authors who couldn't write their way out of a paper bag, or those well-meaning publishers who can't seem to proof a text, or design a saleable cover, or balance a publishing budget.

Story Credit: Jim Cox, Midwest Book Review

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