Thursday, August 25, 2011

On the subject of reviews

As many of my readers know, I write a weekly review column for Meridian Magazine.  Some time ago I extended my Wish List contest to include comments made about my reviews on the magazine's web site.  Today I'm going a step farther and including a link to today's review right here.  All you have to do to read my review is position your clicker over the word's highlighted and click.

Reviews can be a great resource for deciding where to spend book dollars. Paying $24.99 for a book then discovering it's boring or disgusting is a painful experience.  Some people never bother to read reviews and that's okay.  Some would like to read reviews if they felt they could trust the reviewer.  The blogosphere is clogged with reviews these days by friends of authors who agree to post sales pitch reviews for their friends' books.  That's okay too as long as you know the source of the review and understand the purpose behind the review.  There are also independent reviewers who choose which books to review and make an honest attempt to be impartial; some are very good too.  There are also print newspaper and magazine reviews.  Most of these reviewers are very good, though some have become a bit jaded and negative.  A new trend in some newspapers is to print amateur reviews of varying degrees of quality and often are no better than "friend's reviews".

I make no pretense of being the best reviewer around, but I've been at it for a long time and there are a few things I can promise my readers.  At Meridian I only review books intended for an adult LDS audience.  Occasionally I will review one that crosses the line between adult and teen interests.  I don't review books that are offensive in language or content. I read and consider both print and electronic formats.  And I'm honest.  Sometimes I hurt people's feelings, though never intentionally.  My goal is to let readers know just enough about a book to make an informed decision before they buy it, and to generally let readers know which new books are now available.  I don't review every book sent to me, but I read them all--unless they're so awful I can ony get through the first fifty pages.  I try to choose books to review that are fresh, well written, and have interesting characters and plots. I welcome comments from readers who let me know what they're looking for in a review.  So that's your cue.  What do you want to see in a review?


taylorfamily83316 said...

I am a review reader, because as you mentioned it is nice to know what the book is about and what others think of t before I spend book dollars on it. I appreciate an honest review also. I can't tell you just exactly how many times I have purchased a book, usually hard cover, based on a review that was written and it sounded like something I would enjoy, but once I started reading, I end up flipping back to the last 2-3 chapters and finishing the book, just to see what happens. The lulls of the book where my attention gets lost, or it becomes, for lack of a better word, boring is something I would like to know before I spend the money on a book. I for one thank you for your honest reviews, my book budget thanks you too!

Sara said...

I love your reviews the way you do them. I feel like I can get a feel for if the book is a must purchase or a wait for the library or don't bother. I want to know if there is content I will find offensive, and how the plot goes, and if I need a few days to be glued to the book :) Thanks for all you do so the rest of us can be entertained!

Liz Adair said...

I know among the writing community, being reviewed by you is a definite plus. You do a great service to both readers and writers. Thanks!