HOW AND WHY I REVIEW BOOKS

I don’t review books I don’t like. I’ve been called a ‘wimp’ and also ‘too nice’ but the truth of the matter is I am just old-fashioned. I always treat other people the way I myself would like to be treated. And as an author, the thought of a bad review is enough to keep me up all night drafting and redrafting my current project. Perhaps that’s not a bad thing! So while I do agree reviews must be honest – and I always am – and that there is a need for reviews that say if a book is flawed or unsuitable or tedious – that’s not a review I’m going to write.

However, I don’t pick and choose titles. I take what I am given and this has opened my eyes to genres and authors I would not previously have thought of reading. If I don’t like the book, I still read it although I will pass it on to another reviewer. There is only one book I have never finished – The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. But I was only 14 at the time and I suspect if I read it now as an adult I would at least get to the end.

I try to review through my own and the target audience eyes – especially if it is a book for children or young adults or one which might have a particular gender appeal. Some books are great kick-starters for getting boys to read. I am surrounded by keen readers and kids of all ages so that’s not as hard as it sounds. Take for example, Colin Thompson’s The Floods: Top Gear, which I have almost finished. I see humorous, clever and quirky. I know my young primary school son will see silly, funny and a big giggle. I’m going to read it to him next week so I’ll be able to test my prediction!

I review books because I love to read and I get access to more new titles than my budget would allow. I also like to write reviews and to share a book I enjoyed. It’s good research for myself as an author to read a wide range and variety. But perhaps the best part is I feel good when I pass the children’s and adult books along to our underfunded public school libraries. They need all the new books they can get!

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