Why I Dislike Reviewing Books and Why I Should Do So (and 2 reviews)

I will admit it – I am terrible at book reviews. I love reading, I love talking about books, I love smelling books. I don’t like reviewing them. Mainly because I don’t think I’m very good at it. Can I really say anything truly meaningful beyond ‘this is good’ or ‘this had some problems’? Do my reviews sound scholarly enough? Did I miss some important point? Will the author be insulted if I mentioned some points which bothered me? This ever-questioning batty dialogue circulates in mind every time I sit down to write a review.

BUT book reviews are important – they provide authors with feedback and they help other readers decide whether or not to read something. Even a so-so review can trigger someone to check out a book. Reviews let authors and publishers know people are reading. That the words aren’t wasted, set free into an infinite vacuum never to be read, enjoyed, or savored.

With that in mind, I have been trying to review more books as I read them or even several months after the fact. Here are a few recent reviews I did. As you can see, they are short because I never know what to say!  I have more to write which I shall do in the upcoming weeks and post them here, as well as on Goodreads and Amazon. If you haven’t read them, hopefully this will pique your interest!

 

Blood in the Paint by Jordanna East

Blood in the Paint
Read this in one night! Suspenseful, chilling, and dark Blood in the Paint will keep you turning the pages. Right from the start we know the murderer but what happened so many years ago which makes Lyla Kyle lure men to their murders? And what does Dr. Atford, her psychologist, know about Lyla’s past that even Lyla does not know? Will Officer Brighthouse solve the murders and be made detective?

The characters were rich, fully drawn and evoked both empathy and sometimes horror as we navigated the twisting mazes of their minds and their pasts. The last several chapters left me speechless as we find out just how much the past can affect the present and change the future.

The Art of Falling by Kathryn Craft 

art of falling
I will be upfront here when I say that the books I read usually contain aliens, elves, monsters or other fantasy/scifi elements. I don’t real a lot of “mainstream” literary fiction. However, I found this book enchanting and read it within one night. We start off seeing dancer Penelope Sparrow unable to move in a hospital bed after a disastrous 14-story fall. In the hospital she meets Angela, a woman dying from cystic fibrosis and Marty, the man on whose bakery truck she ell. What follows is a touching and evocative journey from depression and despair to friendship and hope and finally to new heights.

What amazed me was how my reactions to Penny changed over the course of the book. At first I saw her as a tragic figure, then mad at her despair and unreliable view of the world, especially when it came to appearances. As Penny grew, i began to understand how her sometimes twisted views were shaped by her profession as a dancer and our expectations of women’s bodies in society.

The secondary characters were well-rounded also and I loved them all. The story is set in Philadelphia and being a native Philadelphian, I also loved seeing the landmarks I grew up with incorporated into the story. I’m glad I read this because it is not only a great story of redemption but also a damning criticism of what is acceptable for a woman’s body to look like in the modern world, not just the dance world.

Next Up – Second Verse by Jennifer Walkup and Starglass by Phoebe North

 

 

Jennifer R. Hubbard visits the South Jersey Writers

Thursday night was the monthly South Jersey Writers’ Group discussion meeting. Usually we have a specific topic on which someone from the group speaks or we have a guest speaker. So far in 2014 we’ve been pleased to host Kristin Battestella and Kathryn Craft.

This month Jennifer R. Hubbard, author of several YA novels, including 2013’s Until It Hurts to Stop, joined us with a talk entitled “It Was Sunny A Minute Ago: Weathering the Storms of Writing and Publishing.” Her talk was informative and engaging as she covered some of the pitfalls of the publishing world such as rejection, bad reviews, agents leaving, and books being pulled among others. Jennifer also spent some time covering some of the blocks we have as writers and possible ways to deal with them. I especially loved her acknowledgment of depression and the important of professional help if needed, something people tend to shy away from talking about.

One of my favorite quotes from the night came when Jennifer was talking about avoiding competition and jealousy with other writers and she said to remember that supporting other writers is a “rising tide that lifts all boats.” How true it is! It is one thing I am so grateful to the SJWG for – the support and friendship that has built over the past few years since I joined.

The main takeaway from her talk was that as writers, we should savor the good times and understand that the bad times will pass and that a writing career is not a straight line but an adventure that we build with many paths, twists, and turns.

You can visit Jennifer at her website, as well as find out where to buy her books, here: www.jenniferhubbard.com

If you’re interested in speaking at a South Jersey Writers’ Group meeting, please contact me through our meetup site by selecting Contact Organizers:  http://www.meetup.com/South-Jersey-Writers/.