I will be posting reviews every Thursday for at least one book. It’s possible that I will have more than one review some weeks, but I can’t guarantee that will happen all the time. Most of my reviews will (hopefully) come from requests sent to me, but I will occasionally review books I’ve found and read on my own. In the interests of fairness, however, books sent to me will always be reviewed and posted before anything I personally find. Self-published or small press novels are always welcome–in fact I would prefer to focus mostly on those novels. That being said, I want to stress that I will strive to always give books thoughtful, HONEST reviews. I’m not going to sugarcoat issues; if a book is bad, I will say it is bad. This does not mean I will be rude or insulting about it. I will point out what works, and what doesn’t work, and why.
My reviews will include a long and a short, TL;DR version. The long version will be posted on this blog. The TL;DR version is what I will post to Amazon, Goodreads, and any other site I might post a review on. The criteria I will use to rate a book are listed below:
- Character and Dialogue: Are your characters interesting and believable? Do they sound like real people when they speak to other characters? Am I likely to remember them after I’ve finished the book? Is it clear why they say and do what I see them saying and doing? Do they each have a distinct ‘voice’? In other words, can I tell your characters apart by their mannerisms and speech, or does everyone sound the same in my head? Do I have a sense of where the characters come from, and what they want in life?
- Setting and Description: Does your book give me a good mental image of where it’s taking place? Do I know what your characters look like? Can I picture the city, town, village, cavern, mountaintop, etc that’s being written about? If the characters are traveling, can I tell the difference between the places they visit? Are all of the character’s senses involved when a scene is presented to the reader?
- Plot and Creativity: Can I follow what is going on in your book? I’m not talking about predictability here, it’s great if a story can surprise me, but I should at least be able to understand what’s driving your characters, including any antagonists. Have I read this story a hundred times before, or is it something new and interesting? Or if it’s a familiar story, what separates it from all the other stories like it?
- Technical Ability: Are your sentences clear, without typos and/or misused words? Do your tenses agree? Is the point of view clear? Obviously, it’s easier on the reader if the book is written from a single character’s point of view, but in cases where the POV switches, is there a clear and logical transition? (For example, only switching POV at the beginning of a new chapter.) Do you repeat certain words constantly? Does your story flow, or do I have to stop frequently and try to figure out what’s going on. Note: I understand that we all make mistakes, and I’m not going to ding you for a typo or two. If I’m pulled out of the story by spelling and grammar errors over and over, that’s when it’ll be a problem.
- Cover and Blurb: Based on my own research into other review sites, this isn’t an area that gets scrutiny very often, but is, in my opinion, extremely important. I know, I know, don’t judge a book by it’s cover, right? Except, we all do. Interesting covers make people more likely to pick the book up. The same goes for the blurb. It’s your best shot at hooking a reader and pulling them into your story.
Each of the above categories is worth 20 points. The overall score of the book will be the five category scores added together. The higher the score, the better the book. A perfect book would get 100 points. Perfect books don’t come around often, though, so don’t be disappointed if I give you a 95. (If it sounds like being graded on a test, well, working in the education field has had an effect on me.)