A Look At Book Reviews

Reader Reviews: A Collage of Lively Opinions

Image by Ben Kerckx at Pixabay

Do you write book reviews?
Do you read book reviews?
How much do reviews affect your choice of stories?
Have you ever been prompted to read a book just because the reviews were all over the map and you wanted to find out for yourself if it’s good or not?

Browsing on Amazon recently, I stopped to read the listing for a new western, then the reviews. And what a mixed bag!
“Childish time waster…start-to-finish nonsense…simplistic…lumbering text.”
While other reviewers said, “Good quick read…thrilling characters…

“Well-written traditional western…hero with high standards.”

Since I’ve started paying more attention to book reviews, I’ve marveled at the variety of adjectives used to describe a story — sometimes the same story!
implausible
poorly edited
unbelievable
far-fetched
ludicrous
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
acceptable
okay
satisfying
slow to start, but the pace picks up
adequate
good escapism
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
compelling
suspenseful
lovely
superb
touching

Some people wax eloquent with their descriptions:
“The inconsistencies are continual and grating…”
“Dialogue vaguely reminiscent of the Trixie Beldon series”
“The execution of the story was more like slaughter.”
I’m not sure what to make of a “western” reviewer’s point-in-favour, though: “Clean fighting by hand instead of shooting and wasting bullets.”

Sometimes a crossing of the Atlantic works, and sometimes it doesn’t. One of the British readers’ most frequent complaints is about American/Canadian writers who didn’t do their homework.
“Complete lack of research into English spoken in the UK.”
“Full of Americanisms.”
But the next reviewer, obviously not up on those differences, says:
“Brilliant read. Cannot wait for the next book!”

For me, the age of the main character makes a difference. If she’s a teen, I expect some immaturity, emotional explosions and moody, self-centered behavior. We’ve all been there. But when the character is thirty-one, has been in the work force for over ten years, and still behaves like a volatile teen, I note that in my review.

The situation of the main character appeals more to some readers, even if the character herself is kind of blah. One reader says, “I like the way a senior woman starts out on a new adventure.”
Other reviewers say that the story drags:
“Glad it was over. Not very interesting.”
“Reads like a travel brochure.”
“If you suffer from insomnia, read this book.”

I believe that some reviewers think more of encouraging the writer, and leave reviews that focus on the positives and skip over glaring faults like poor research, inconsistent behaviour or plot holes. Other reviewers are obviously writing to inform potential buyers.

A writer who wants good reviews must keep up-to-date notes on characters and changes made. Reviewers often note it when a writer hasn’t kept her facts straight:
“In the first chapter we read that her father died two years ago and she still misses him. In Chapter five we learn that he died almost ten years ago.

“In the first book of the series, her nephew was Peter. In the second book his name was Richard. But in the third book he was back to Peter again!”

Sometimes I wonder about the motive of the reviewer. After the majority of reviewers found the above book slow and the MC rather a dim bulb, along comes this enthusiastic:
“Fascinating and poignant story with lovely characters who made you want to know them as friends.”
Was this submitted by the writer’s best friend or beloved niece? Is this her honest opinion, or has someone been paid to write this review?

Now I’d like to hear what you think of reviews and how much you pay attention to them?

Another Fence Down

According to Sue Mattingly’s post this morning, April has been designated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as “Distracted Driving Month.”

This is a very important message and I couldn’t help but do a few senryu-of-sorts for the cause.

as she turns a corner
her boy in the back seat barfs
new car shopping

oncoming headlights
insistent cell phone jangling
fender bender

the GPS says
turn here! brakes –
and more brakes

get a load of that
chick mowing her lawn!
another fence down

Rainbow of Random Smarts

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is the word RANDOM. In response I’ve put together an odd number, and an odd assortment, of quick quotes:

A good word never broke a tooth.

You begin to appreciate you elders as you become one.

An ounce of don’t say it is worth a pound of didn’t mean it. – L McBoyd

An aim in life is the only fortune worth finding.

If the sea were always calm, it would poison the universe.

Whatever your lot in life, build something on it.

Habit is a person’s best friend or worst enemy.

Love will find a way. Indifference will find an excuse.

We’re only young once; that’s all society can stand. – Abner W Smith

You don’t get the breaks unless you play with the team instead of against it. – Lou Gehrig

There is no mistake so great as that of always being right. –Samuel Butler

Remembering Tuffy

We have another beautiful day ahead of us. Our two older cats have been out exploring and just came in for breakfast.

A month since he left us, I’m remembering our little Tuffy on this beautiful spring morning that he would have loved.

such a small creature
such a big hole left
to catch all the rain

Painting Pizzazz

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is PIZZAZZ, and I will add my little contribution to the collection.

“Paint with PIZZAZZ,” the book instructor encouraged. “Be BOLD and BOHEMIAN! Don’t let yourself be bound by the need to render realistically.”

So I slashed, swirled and daubed bold colors on the canvas — and it was so much fun! I whipped up a sea of wild waves and whitecaps, then swizzled in a sky full of menacing clouds. Lastly I added a small sailing ship in the distance, plowing its way through this terrible fury.

I proudly showed my painting to my first art critic.
“Are those white things supposed to be fish?” he asked.
“Fish? Those are whitecaps.”
“They look like white fish trying to jump into the boat.”
Back at the easel, I tried to make the waves more realistic.

I proudly showed my stormy scene to the next art critic.
“Your ship is too level. The bow should be dipping into the trough of that wave.”
“Maybe,” I replied.

Concluding I don’t possess enough pizzazz, my next effort was a vase that looked like a vase and flowers that looked like flowers. Someday I’ll try doing the boat-on-stormy-sea again – with proper whitecaps – and dip its bow down into the trough of a big wave.

Curiously enough, that painting is one of my favorites. Maybe because it looks WILD — and was FUN. I may just do wild and fun again sometime. 🙂

Bath Time Down the Drain

RUSH, RUSH, RUSH

Shower in a hurry,
toss on some clothes and go!
I still recall those deeper soaks
enjoyed so long ago.

I’d fill the tub to brimming
soak til I was a prune
recalling ancient jingles,
rehashing them off-tune.

“Nothin’ says lovin’ like somethin’ from the oven…”
Blub…blub… “Life is a Mutual Affair!”
“Wherever you go…trust Texaco.”
“…they’ll love to run their fingers through your hair.”

Always in a hurry now,
no time for bubble bathing;
pursuing self-set deadlines,
must forego marinating.

For I’ve become a cyber scribe,
at my computer slogging;
from early morn ’til midnight
composing posts and blogging.

Image: Kevin Phillips — Pixabay