Sample Book Review

The Tropics

Sample book review comments given for my novel, The Tropics, are presented to help you compose your own recommendations.

Keep in mind that a book review and a book summary have two completely different formats and purposes.

Each sample book review presented here is a great example of descriptive writing. They come from the heart. They represent what people think about this particular book, my first novel, The Tropics.

Near the bottom of the page you’ll find comments from a Hollywood screenwriter who got hold of my book. Wow! It’s more than just a sample book review.

Read and analyze the first chapter of The Tropics.

Read and analyze the characters in The Tropics.

My paranormal Egyptian fantasy has also accumulated some revealing book reviews containing very descriptive writing. You may wish to read that sample book review page as well.

Also included on The Ka reviews page are the Dos and Don’ts of writing book reviews.

    Between the Ka page and this, you should find a sample book review to help you develop your knack for writing a great blurb.

Also, watch for a new sample book review page for each of my fiction and nonfiction books


The Tropics

Child of a Storm

Caught in a Rip

Hurricane Secret

Two women fall prey to nature's wrath during inclement tropical weather, face death at sea, and are tested to the limits of survival.

My son is my most severe critic who reads all my first drafts. Of The Tropics, after giving me some great pointers to improve the book overall, his review said:

    “I’m amazed at how you caught the flavor of the Caribbean in the Caribbean section, and the very distinct and different flavor of the Hawaiian Islands in the Hawaii portion.”

You can write a review simply by honestly expressing what you feel about the story you have read.

Before I published this book, I sought out two local writers to read and review the novel. Here is a sample book review from each of them:

1) Dramatic sea survival and island life stories set in the Caribbean and Hawaiian Islands.

~~ David Penhallow, author of "After the Ball", "The Betrayers", and "The Story of the Coco Palms".

2) Amazing adventure stories heralding the courage of everyday people coping through tragedy.

~~ Jan Oshiro, author of Divorce Through the Hearts of Women

    Both of these writers already had books out and knew about giving and receiving reviews. That’s why what they say is short and succinct.

    That doesn’t mean your blurb need be brief when you write a book review.

A book review is a way of telling the public what you thought of a certain author’s work.


Here is a sample book review for The Tropics that was posted on the Barnes & Noble Web site:

3) Exotic Tropical Adventures - A friend told me about this author's website. I checked it out and, after reading the write-ups, bought the book. My passion is island living and that includes reading books about island life.

I read The Tropics in one evening then read it again a week later.

    This writer has a very fertile imagination. It's no wonder the people who bought 'The Tropics' also read the more publicized ones listed below. That includes me.

Since we live on the same island, I hope to meet her sometime, maybe at a local book signing. While I'm waiting for her next book, I highly recommend this one to everyone.

This person did not leave a name but signed,

~~ “A reviewer, I am retired and an avid reader.”

NOTE: Yes, I did meet this person. He’s quite reclusive, an avid reader, and now a fan of this author!

As far as I can tell, most people leave more reviews on Amazon than on Barnes & Noble. A sample book review for nearly any book can be found on Amazon.

4) Great Drama in the Tropics - Although living on the mainland, I have been a regular visitor to Kauai for many years. The love that I feel for the beauty of this island, its culture, and people is one of a growing depth.

    So, it was with absolute excitement that I embarked on reading Mary Deal's book, The Tropics, in which two of the three short stories take place on Kauai. Once I began reading it, I was hooked and devoured the entire book in a few days.

Ms. Deal tells stories with such beauty, passion, and insight into humanity interconnected with the broader forces of nature. An ocean storm, a rip current, and a hurricane form the drama of the elements intertwined with stories of two strong women.

I am grateful for Mary Deal and her book, The Tropics for bringing alive such rich experiences.

~~ L. J. Suzuki, Los Angeles, CA


I knew Bill Robinson from an online workshop. He ordered a book directly from me so I could autograph his copy. His sample book review gives a hint that he might be somewhat widely read.

5) Fantastic, Descriptive Story Telling - Mary! Just finished your book. It occupied my mind and took me on a remarkable journey.

    I swam with Lilly in the rip and saw what she saw. Her relationship with Glen reminded me of Jake and the boat's crew in the Sand Pebbles. I have known a few Glens in my time.

The hurricane actually had me believing I'm missing out by living in the almost storm-less desert.

Congratulations. I'm proud to have this book on my shelf, especially with your personal inscription.

~~ Bill Robinson, Bishop, CA


The following sample book review is a descriptive writing example of one woman’s exuberance and satisfaction with my novels.

Notice that she holds nothing back. These words come from her heart and emotions. She even goes so far as to direct readers to my second novel. The Ka was just finishing the publication process at the time.

6) “The Tropics" and Mary Deal are both tropical treasures! - I sent this review to Mary Deal at her web site. I meant every word of it and more people need to discover Mary's fantastic writing talent! Mary Deal is a true treasure to the writer's community!!!

I just finished your book about a half hour ago and my mind is still spinning!

    I can't ever remember a book actually making me cry ever, close but not actually crying, but in Child of A Storm, I cried.

I love the way your writing had that nice little surprise when I realized you were tying the stories together. Nice touch! I went into the book thinking it was three separate short stories and loved the way you played that out!!!

I REALLY enjoyed Caught in a Rip.

Your writing had me "sucked right in there" and I had to read that one straight through even when my eyes were rolling back in my head from lack of sleep!

    It was well worth it. When I did have to make myself put the book down to go to work or do some other task that couldn't wait any longer, I hated it.

Question: Were you ever caught in a rip personally? From your descriptive text, you almost couldn't make me believe otherwise. Fantastic!

Hurricane Secret had me right there with Lilly, too, and has definitely left me wanting to read more of your work. I can't wait!!!

    I honestly can't express how much I truly enjoyed it. Your talent as a writer is something the world (and me too) needs to capture our attention and whisk us away for the enjoyable hours spent reading your creations!


Mary's second published book "The Ka" is now available and I've just ordered it and can't wait to read it! She has chapter excerpts on her web site if you want a taste of what is contained within Ka. It promises to be a great read!!!

~~ Mary Porter, “Indian Wolf Spirit”, Grass Lake, MI


Sample Book Review Comments

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Do these fit as a sample book review or two or...?

From here to the end, these sample book review blurbs were sent directly to me. I put them on my Web sites.

The following sample book review was from a woman I hadn’t seen for decades, since our school years.

    Notice that she bought both my books. She also left a longer book review that is listed as a sample book review on The Ka page.

7) I ordered your two books and read them. I went back and read Hurricane Secret two times. Wonderful story! Please...are you going to write more about Ciara and her secrets? I sure hope so.

Your details and descriptions of the rip current are so real I was wondering...did you experience some of this yourself? It was certainly gripping and drew me right into the water with your character. I truly enjoyed it.

~~ Wanda Lindquist, North Bend, Oregon


8) I love Tropics! You have a beautiful mind. Keep doing what you’re doing for us readers. I try to tell my husband about the book but it’s too much too explain. I’m not much of a reader, but thanks to you, I keep thinking about it wherever I go.

    I can’t wait till I get your other books. Hopefully, you will in the future have a book signing here in California so I can meet you and talk with you in person. I would really like that.

When I read your book, it’s not only that I love reading it, it teaches me, too, not to take things for granted, meaning my husband, my children and friends. You never know when you are going to lose someone very dear to you. I know it’s only a book but I really do enjoy reading it.

I feel that I have somewhat changed from reading your book. I’m glad that I found you.

~~ Mele Lokotui, Ontario, CA


I donated two copies to an adult detention center’s library. This sample book review is what I received almost immediately:

9) Nancy took one of the two copies of The Tropics you donated to Goodhue County Adult Detention Center detainees in to the library last week. I kept the other here to get a feeling for your writing.

    WOW!! I read "Child of a Storm." May you always be able to write this well!! Powerful. Vital.

And may you never know such forces other than from your mind/spirit. Nance and I are sure your two copies of The Tropics will be read avidly. For now, Glenn, on behalf of Nancy and the detainees...

~~ Nancy and Glenn Bowie, Red Wing, MN


Reviews may arrive from anywhere. This is a great sample book review because the person quotes her own experience and relates it to the novel.

10) Once I began to read these stories, I could not stop. They contain great lessons of love, compassion and true friendship.

    Another thing is that for those who do not know the sea, it is a great example of respecting nature's elements. By experience, I learned on a sailboat I once owned for twelve years. Great respect you acquire for the forces of nature. We learn never to underestimate the power of the elements, water, wind, fire and earth.

I love the way these stories are written with the reality of the power of nature.

~~ Marcelle Bisson, Quebec, Canada


The writer of the next sample book review was the winner of our very own First Chapter of a Novel contest, with his novel, A Room in Ueno. He was so surprised to win that he had to purchase my book to see who I was. His all-inclusive, mind-boggling, review came as a total and welcomed surprise.

11) To read Mary Deal's The Tropics is to be immediately transported into a world where the tropical sun is warm and the sky is blue and the breeze is soft and fragrant.

    This would be a great book to read anywhere but the ideal place would be in a northern clime so that to open the book would be to step into a tropical paradise.

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There are three sections, actually three novella or novelettes, the first one set in Puerto Rico, the second two in the Hawaiian Islands. All three of them deal both with the internal conflicts that we all experience and with the conflict of man with nature.

    My reading of the stories brought to mind Stephen Crane's story, The Open Boat, in which he writes, 'When it occurs to a man that nature does not regard him as important, and she feels that it would not maim the universe by disposing of him, he at first wishes to throw books at the temple...'

    The meaning of the story is that we humans are merely a part of nature, and what nature does to us is neither done to hurt us or help us. We are simply a small part of its mighty force.

In Mary Deal's first story, Child of a Storm, that force is a storm that catches a woman, Ciara, and her husband-to-be and his young son, at sea when a sea storm hits. A good deal of this enthralling story is about the struggle of these three characters to survive that storm.

The second story, Caught in a Rip, is about Lilly, a strong woman who loves the ocean and loves to swim, but when she's caught in a rip tide that takes her so far out that she begins to think she can't survive, nature chooses to rescue her in a strange and surprising way.

Finally, in the third story, Hurricane Secret, both Ciara and Lilly are together in the Hawaiian Islands, and this time the force of nature is a hurricane and the struggle, on the part of both these strong women, is to live through the hurricane.

    The endings of all three of the stories are not contrived, as such story endings often are, but are in keeping with the idea of nature being a force that treats sometimes roughly, sometimes gently, but never with vindictiveness. We are simply there.

    Besides the emotions experienced by the reader as a result of this conflict with nature, there are also the feelings experienced in reading about the wonderfully developed characters in this book and the personal conflicts they experience.

The characters come alive, so that the reader feels both their pain and their joy and comes to care about what happens to them. They are characters that you think about after you finish reading the book, think about and wonder about and care about. It's a great book!

~~ Paul Perry, author of the short story collections, "Street People," and "The Ontiveros Street Trilogy," and the award-winning novel, "A Room In Ueno," San Antonio, TX


The next sample book review came from a friend. Due to his extensive travels, I haven’t yet heard from him regarding my Egyptian novel.

12) I finished reading your three stories in just a few days after I started reading them. I thoroughly enjoyed all three of them, but mostly the two that were set on Kauai.

    I only wish that I had read them prior to our visit to the island. I'm sure that I would have spent some time finding out the locale of the settings for both of the stories, as it was I only knew of a couple of the locations, and then only in a general way.

I am going to have to keep track of what is happening with your [upcoming] novel on the Egyptians by checking periodically on your website. Having been to Egypt makes it all the more interesting for me.

~~ Tom Wilberding, Fairfield, CA


Here’s a sample book review from a writer of mysteries.

13) The other day I was 'browsing' around Border's looking for a new book...

    Eventually I ended up in the Hawaiian section and there it was; a book by Mary Deal. I picked it up and with a jubilant spirit walked to the front desk and purchased it.

My wife read it first and enjoyed it very much.

I have finished the first story of the trilogy and found it to be an excellent short story. I could picture the characters in my mind but your description of the remote island where they were marooned was especially vivid. A writer who can convey that to a reader is a good writer."

~~ Paul Daffinrud, Kapaa, HI


Does the next sample book review tell you anything about how The Tropics affected this reader? (Caps are hers.)


~~ Yadira (Yady) Lara, So. San Francisco, CA


The following sample book review comes from a friend I hadn’t seen in years. Her appreciation shows up in this bit of descriptive writing.

15) Raj ordered your book for me at Barnes and Noble, and when I got it, I was so excited, I kept looking at the front and back cover. I was trying not to read it, because I really had to study my orientation packet

    Well, instead of the packet being on my bed when I should be studying, it's been in my car instead. And your book is under my pillow!

    I haven't gotten that far in the book yet, but when I get home from work and after I eat my dinner, I jump in bed and snuggle under my flannel sheets and your book is like Calgon. It takes me awayyyyyyyyy!

I'm trying not to jump ahead, but I'm at the part where Ciara and Rico are walking along the beach (after they're rescued) and Pablo has made H-E-L-P out of the rocks.

I keep flipping to the back cover to look at your picture! I just can't believe it! It's so good!

    And you're so good when you describe things like the way the raindrops hit the leaves and the sounds it makes. And how you make Rico sound so probably make every female reader wish she had a boyfriend like Rico. Mary, you are so talented, and I'm SO PROUD OF YOU!

I'm going to order additional copies of your book for my sisters and friends. I promise I won't read ahead (the suspense is getting to me), and I won't tell anyone what the book is about. You go Mary! You go, Girl.

~~ Esther Rose Carolino, San Francisco, California


A sample book review from another local woman:

16) I read your book last week. Once I got into it, I couldn't put it down and ended up staying up very late and reading most of it in one sitting. I love books like that!

    It is very well written and I'm recommending it to everyone. It was so realistic that I wondered afterward if you'd actually had these experiences. If not, you have an amazingly fertile imagination.

The characters were well developed and the action never quit. Characters are important, but I really like novels that move along. Thanks again for writing it. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

~~ Peggy Kemp, Kapa`a, Kauai, Hawaii


A Screenwriter discusses The Tropics. He critiqued several of my short stories posted in an Internet workshop. This sample book review is what he wrote after reading part of the book:

17) Dear Mary,

By all means you should turn your stories into screenplays. I studied screenwriting at USC - graduate school -- and can and will readily say that your stories (I read part of 'Child' last night) would make fine films, better than most out there today, which I find thin.

    I recently did an adaptation of a book by a man named Denne Petticlerc. You can look him up on (International Movie Database).

    Denne adapted Hemingway's 'Islands in the Stream' for Paramount back in '78. The movie stars George C. Scott and Claire Bloom. Denne wrote a book about his experiences at Hem's finca back in '58. He went there to celebrate Hem's 59th birthday.

    It's great stuff and reminds me in some ways of your writing, although you do not shy away from the emotion in your stories.

That's what I mean when I told you some weeks back that you're 'the real' thing. I meant writer, a real writer really writing, not someone who is just talking about it, but one who is making the kinds of sacrifices one needs to make in order to 'be' a writer.

So, there's plenty of strong dialogue in your story; and strong emotion; also, great visuals; adventure; uncertainty; the exotic struggle to overcome so many different obstacles going on simultaneously -- a real reward reading your work.

    Great job. I can honestly say that I look forward to reading more of it. It's like returning to a good friend, a good book. You know?

Great job, Mary. You really nailed it.


P.S. If you need any advice re screenwriting please let me know. I'd be glad to help.

~~ Ziggy Darlow, Screenwriter, Los Angeles, CA

Ziggy Darlow sent this in a second email:

I'm liking your book such that I chucked Robert Stone's 'Damascus Gate' aside in favor of reading yours.

I like the way you tackle emotions. I like your descriptions of natural beauty based on your surroundings, too. I feel alive when I read your work. Your sense of enjoyment is never ending. You really enjoy life. It's infectious and cheers me up, which is great!

~~ Ziggy Darlow, Screenwriter, Los Angeles, CA

NOTE: As mentioned, Ziggy Darlow and I did work on a screenplay of the first story, Child of a Storm, via the Internet. However, about halfway through, I lost track of him in his busy life.

I completed the screenplay alone and entered it into the Moondance International Film Festival competition. It made the Semi-Finals.

Screenwriting is an exciting form of expression. I’ll be writing a few more for some of my novels.


The following sample book review came from a local man who read the first draft of the manuscript. This was actually the first reader review I received. Later, he gave another review, posted on The Ka page.

18) Finished your book last night - wonderful. I couldn't put it down the night before with Book 2 and last night with Book 3. You do have a gift. Can I still touch you when you become famous?

    2 & 3 especially held me, probably because of the familiarity with the areas. We took our kids when they were small (30 years ago? - I must have been a teenager then !!!) to the small beach where Lily washed ashore, before it was discovered by tourists and not a footprint on the sand. Your description of the beach and the waves on the pali there is so real to me.

The hurricane description was so real it gave me chicken skin, having lived through Iniki. Do you identify with either or both of these women? You seem to be a very strong woman yourself.

    I can't wait for your next book. Joanne is just starting to read this one - she'll likely have some comments on it later. Then I intend to read it again.

~~ Joe Ursprung, Kapa`a, Hawaii

When I asked Joe if I might use his comments as a review, he responded by adding:

    "Yes, you may use my comments anyway you like. I meant every word. You have great talent as a writer. I hope to see much more from you. I believe I'm being objective on this.... I'm a fairly harsh critic as I do read a lot."


The following are comments from the initial review offered by an editor at iUniverse, the publisher. These comments make a good sample book review with a technical slant.

19) Clear strong voice.

    Ideas well developed. Interesting characters/subject. Logical, sequential order. Good beginning/held interest consistently. Accepted for Writer's Showcase."

This is wonderful work. Actually, this is probably some of the best literary fiction we've had through this imprint. I'm not surprised you got the good reviews you share at the start of the manuscript.

    I am always partial to strong women characters, and yours are no exception. You have definitely developed them and made them extremely relatable while still allowing them to be admired. The conflicts they face are both internal and external, and this gives your writing a sense of maturity.

    You also use your settings and diction to truly symbolize all of the feelings of your characters.

You do have talent and your writing merits publishing. I hope it garners the audience it deserves.

~~ Elizabeth vonRentzell, Editor,


One after another, each sample book review presented here is among the best, the most exciting, received to date.

    As you can see, you may use as much descriptive writing as is necessary to get your point across. That doesn't mean that you should make your prose flowery, but instead, well described.

Your opinion counts.

One after another, sample book review presented is an example of loose format and opinions.

You may use any of these sample book review examples to help you compose any book reviews you wish to write. But do write your own, in your words. Book reviews are part of the life’s breath for any writer.

A great way to learn is to write a sample book review for a book you've read, but without any intention of sending it out.

    Write what you feel about the book. Compare it to a sample book review presented here or one on The Ka sample book review page.

    Once you write one sample book review, your hesitation to write another will be eliminated.

Go ahead. Try writing a sample book review and remember to use descriptive writing.

Pick one sample book review that appeals to you from among those presented and emulate it. It takes no time to write a sample book review. Who knows? You may have written the real thing and will post it somewhere.


SPECIAL NOTE: The Tropics is out of print. Used copies are still around, mostly on Amazon. However, I have rewritten the book and published it as an eBook. Read about the exciting expansion of the stories under the new title and cover, Legacy of the Tropics

Find it here:

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