Writing a book review once you’ve finished a book is a great idea. It helps the author, of course, but it also helps you to hone your skills in many ways, including learning to get more out of the stories you read.
First of all, when you write book reviews, target the major story line.
Characterization of villains and heroines come to mind, as well as the plot.
In the case of River Bones, the story takes place in my home town area of the Sacramento River Delta in California. Some of my classmates who’ve read the novel have written their comments. I am forever indebted.
When writing this story, I wanted to make sure that not only the above points were accurate, but also the culture of the area, the ambiance, and even the weather and other natural elements.
You might want to read Some Dos and Don'ts of Writing Book Reviews before proceeding. They are on one of the pages for another of my novels, The Ka, but those rules apply to all reviews. Then return to read the reviews and discussions below.
Some great photos below too.
To help you in writing a book review, let's analyze some reviews I've received.
This 1st Review is a brief summary of River Bones by the US Review of Books, pending their forthcoming, lengthier review:
Gerard Smith from South Carolina posted his review on amazon.com. It’s posted here as an example of writing a book review when you loved the story.
He elaborates on some of the main points of the plot – the villains, heroines and characterization. His description serves to deepen the interest of the reader. Then he closes with a spectacular statement of his personal feelings about the book.
In addition to telling what the book is about, a thorough example of writing a book review is always enhanced by including positive personal opinions.
Life should be simple for Sara Mason recently returned to the Sacramento Delta of her orphaned and impoverished youth. Now a successful developer of computer games she plans the good life in a lovingly restored Victorian mansion. But, long buried bodies start turning up. It becomes obvious that a serial killer still stalks the Delta and has zeroed in on Sara.
There are plenty of suspects: Crazy Ike and his shovel, Huxley the man who has romantically intrigued Sara, Pierce a man who apparently died from a lightning strike but returned, Tripp the odd groundskeeper at an old folks home, Fredrik, a man obsessed with death. Sara cannot live her envisioned life until the killer is caught and the police don't seem up to the job, so Sara has no choice but to seek the solution.
Following this thriller will keep you up until the murders are solved. That's okay, you'll find staying up for the resolution of this most satisfying mystery worth the sleep deprivation. It's that good.
~ Gerard C. Smith, Beaufort, South Carolina
Here’s another review by Susan Whitfield, a published author: Before placing her review on amazon, she sent me these comments:
The review she placed on amazon:
Deal's River Bones has all that and more. She kept me in suspense from the time Sara moved back home until the last page. My kind of book!
~ Susan Whitfield, author of The Logan Hunter Mystery Series
Notice that Susan’s jubilance jumps out at you. Sometimes in writing a book review, all that’s needed to be said, or shown, is appreciation for the book.
Two ladies from my former hometown area read River Bones. Talk about writing a book review with a punch....
~ Sherrye Boyer Dix, Delta native, London, England
Sherrye has always had a descriptive way about her. Did you notice that her statement says the book had a negative effect on her? Sherrye turns a negative statement to a positive one. In this case, River Bones being a thriller, you’d expect to be frightened. Sherrye’s simple statement tells how deeply this story affected her. For a thriller, that’s so good!
Here’s the other classmate who took a first stab at writing a book review. She addresses characterization too.
~ Genie Luna, Delta native, Galt, California
This type of review, with the reader able to identify areas we both know, tells me that I got it right. I had intended to portray the Sacramento River Delta as it is wanting that people familiar with the area would either feel connected. If not, they’d be asking “Does she remember the Delta at all?”
I’ve been told that after having been away for decades - with a few jaunts through now and again - that I got it right. The Delta is a spectacular area and I wanted to do it justice, in spite of placing a serial killer in the midst of quiet farming towns.
I hope you'll soon be involved in writing a book review for your favorite author.
NOTE: New Photos will be forthcoming.)
This book signing was at the local Border’s Books in Lihue during which Larry Rivera, Kauai’s premier entertainer, joined me for a casual afternoon of fun. (Border's is, of course, no more anywhere.)
In the first picture, Larry and I had only one microphone between us, so we made a game of stealing the mic from each other. The photographer caught a great shot.
I get so thrilled when I see people standing in the aisles at one of my presentations.
Then, since this book takes place in my hometown area of the Sacramento River Delta, I looked forward to presenting my thriller there as well.
When I returned to the Delta for a presentation at the Rio Vista Library, not only did local people attend, but also many former classmates, one I had not seen in over fifth years! All the seats were taken early and people stood in the doorways to listen.
During my presentations I encourage comments, questions and interaction. One person (gray shirt in center) at the hometown signing spoke to the group:
“It didn’t matter that I knew the area where this story takes place. Even without that, I like this writer’s style. I’d have read the book anyway. Now I’m ready for her next one.”
~ Phoebe Nicolette, Delta native, Santa Rosa, CA
Phoebe wrote hers before the reunion. I believe Phoebe and some of her friends in Santa Rosa have now read all three of my books.
During the class reunion, a raffle was held. I had previously donated two hardcover copies of River Bones. Don Dozier won one of these. Days later, when he finished reading, he wrote:
A comment like this is a measure of how the story drew him in and kept him turning pages.
Then he continued on, writing a book review on amazon.com.
River Bones is a great mystery thriller and the fast pace of the story keeps you turning page after page! This book will easily become a "one-nighter" for many readers. It is hard to stop reading! Mary's character, Sara, is very believable and the descriptions of the delta area, towns and seasons are right on the mark.
The rest of the cast of characters in the book are excellent and the reader will not be able to determine who the real villain is until the last few pages of the book.
Let us all hope that we will see Sara Mason in future books.
~ Don Dozier, Redding CA
After having returned home, the Rio Vista Librarian sent these comments:
“I learned a lot about your craft and the discipline it requires. And you are clearly inspired, yet modest about your gifts.
“Looking forward to your next visit.”
With all best wishes,
~Susan Reeve, Supervising Librarian, Rio Vista, CA
That's Susan Reeve second from the left in the picture below.
Writing a book review can help an author when the statements are positive.
When writing a book review, if you have nothing positive to say, it is advisable to say nothing. The little faults so noticeable in reviews make the writer of the review seem nit-picky and inexperienced.
If the book you just read or tried to read was an abomination against humanity, something really bad, then you should be writing your review to send to the publisher requesting that they withdraw the book.
In any case, writing a book review such as those you find on any of my book pages helps a writer. The easiest to point out and write about are the villains, heroines and characterization. I would suggest, however that you not limit your remarks to only these topics. More to include when writing a book review might be –
If you are also a writer, writing a book review is some of the best publicity for your own work. Your titles and links can be included with any review, as I have done with Susan Whitfield's links above with her review.
I am grateful and welcome any reviews and would love to have a few more to post and examine.