Daily Archives: Sunday 27 May 2012

Honest book reviews

From a writer’s point of view, reviews have one purpose. Make people read the damn book and now. But when approaching reviews with my reader’s hat (you should see it, it’s a thing of wonder) on, I have different demands. Tell me: is this book worth a punt, what was the writer trying to do, did they achieve it? Give me enough to go on to decide whether to embark upon reading it, without spoiling the best bits.

By those criteria, Madam Miaow’s excellent dissection of Julia Lovell’s The Opium Wars is more worthy of a read than the tome it is reviewing. I confess to not knowing as much as I perhaps should do of this inglorious period of British history, but Madam Miaow’s review makes me determined to address that, even if it is unlikely I will be starting with Lovell’s book when I do.

Similarly, I am not sure that I am ever going to add the Twilight fan fiction publishing sensation that is 50 Shades of Grey to my ever-expanding reading list. The little I know of Twilight (once half-dozed through the first movie) and 50 Shades… (my high school students are passing it around like my friends and I once shared Judy Blume books) has led me to believe that I won’t get much enjoyment from them. That said, I found plenty to enjoy and ponder in Jennifer Armintrout’s consideration of whether the relationships depicted in these novels are, in fact, abusive.

While I could see that the publishers would be less than happy with these reviews, for readers I consider them to be invaluable.  If you have any other examples of similarly useful reviews, do please share them in the comments.

Happy reading! (Or not.)

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