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Book Review, Books, Netgalley

Book Reviews and General Bookishness

It’s no secret that I am such a bookworm. From a young age, I’ve had this love affair with the books in our school library and although there are no more library cards for me, and bookstores have replaced libraries, the passion for books have stayed the same (and this is something I hope to pass onto my children/grandchildren someday).

It’s no wonder that I am beyond happy when I came across Netgalley. To know more about what goes on at Netgalley, visit their “How it works” page. I’m not a professional reader… I do it more for leisure, but this is a very interesting concept to get into.

It’s been a looooooong time since I made a book review of any kind so I decided to do some research on how to go about this… just as a refresher. Here are some of the things I found useful:

“A book review is a description, critical analysis, and an evaluation on the quality, meaning, and significance of a book, not a retelling. It should focus on the book’s purpose, content, and authority. A critical book review is not a book report or a summary. It is a reaction paper in which strengths and weaknesses of the material are analyzed…”

Some Considerations When Reviewing Fiction (above all, do not give away the story):

Character

1. From what sources are the characters drawn?
2. What is the author’s attitude toward his characters?
3. Are the characters flat or three-dimensional?
4. Does character development occur?
5. Is character delineation direct or indirect?

Theme

1. What is/are the major theme(s)?
2. How are they revealed and developed?
3. Is the theme traditional and familiar, or new and original?
4. Is the theme didactic, psychological, social, entertaining, escapist, etc. in purpose or intent?

Plot

1. How are the various elements of plot (eg, introduction, suspense, climax, conclusion) handled?
2. What is the relationship of plot to character delineation?
3. To what extent, and how, is accident employed as a complicating and/or resolving force?
4. What are the elements of mystery and suspense?
5. What other devices of plot complication and resolution are employed?
6. Is there a sub-plot and how is it related to the main plot?
7. Is the plot primary or secondary to some of the other essential elements of the story (character, setting, style, etc.)?

Style

1. What are the “intellectual qualities” of the writing (e.g., simplicity, clarity)?
2. What are the “emotional qualities” of the writing (e.g., humour, wit, satire)?
3. What are the “aesthetic qualities” of the writing (e.g., harmony, rhythm)?
4. What stylistic devices are employed (e.g., symbolism, motifs, parody, allegory)?
5. How effective is dialogue?

Setting

1. What is the setting and does it play a significant role in the work?
2. Is a sense of atmosphere evoked, and how?
3. What scenic effects are used and how important and effective are they?
4. Does the setting influence or impinge on the characters and/or plot?

[source]

And then there’s this article: How to Write a Book Review in 10 Easy Steps (outlined below)

    1. Don’t read the book. At least, not yet. Instead, start by looking at it.
    2. Don’t read the book. At least, not quite yet. Instead, open the book and flip through it.
    3. Build a framework for taking notes.
    4. Read the book. And as you do so…
    5. Pay attention… pay attention to your reading experience.
    6. Review the book and take notes that let you explain its effects.
    7. Sum up the book.
    8. Pass judgment.
    9. Put the book in context.
    10. Check your aim.

[source]

Armed with these knowledge, I might as well start my book review with the latest book I read… “The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Volume 1: Charmed Life / The Lives of Christopher Chant” by Diana Wynne Jones. Posting my review soon…

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