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Monday, March 19, 2012

Book Review and Feature: The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing - Bewitching Blog Tour

This book is a wonderful resource for current reviewers and a must read for anyone who is contemplating  becoming a reviewer.
On March 19th, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing will be on sale for that day only for $2.99 instead of the regular price.  The purchase links:

by Mayra Calvani and Anne K. Edwards

Publisher: Twilight Times Books
ISBN: 978-1-933353-22-7
Genre: Reference/Writing
Format: Trade paperback
Price: $16.95 print, $4.99 ebook
Pages: 180
Chapter excerpt:
Are you passionate about books? Do you have the desire to share your thoughts about a book with readers, yet are unsure about what makes a good review? Are you curious about the influence reviews have on readers, booksellers, and librarians?
If you’re an experienced reviewer, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing will serve as an excellent reference tool and amalgam of resources. If you’re a beginner, this book will show you how to write a well-written, honest, objective and professional book review. It will also teach you:
·        How to read critically
·        How to differentiate the various types of reviews
·        How to rate books
·        How to prevent amateurish mistakes
·        How to deal with the ethics and legalities of reviewing
·        How to tell the difference between a review, a book report, and a critique
·        How to start your own review site
·        How to publish your reviews on dozens of sites and even make money while you’re at it, and much more
If you’re an author, publisher, publicist, bookseller, librarian, or reader, this book will also bring to light the importance and influence of book reviews within a wider spectrum.
Amazon                               BN

ForeWord Best Book of the Year Award Winner under the Writing Category!
2011 Global Ebooks Awards Winner for Nonfiction/Reference!
*US Book News National Best Book Award Finalist!
*Next Generation Indie Book Award Finalist!
*EPPIE Award Finalist!
*Used for reviewing course at 3 US universities and 1 university in the Netherlands.
For more information, visit Amazon or Twilight Times Books.
Authors’ bios:
Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults. She’s had over 300 stories, articles, interviews and reviews published both online and in print, in publications such as The Writer, Writer's Journal, Acentos Review, Bloomsbury Review, Mosaic, and Multicultural Review, among many others. A reviewer for more than a decade, she now offers numerous book reviewing workshops online. She also offers workshops on the art of picture book writing. She's represented by Mansion Street Literary and Savvy Literary. Visit her website at  

Anne K. Edwards is an award-winning multi-genre author, reviewer and editor of Voice in the Dark Ezine. Her latest novel is the suspense thriller, Shadows Over Paradise, published by Twilight Times Books. Visit her website at
Genre: Non Fiction; Resource
My Rating: 4.25 of 5.0

Product Description (from Amazon)
This book was written not only with the aspiring reviewer in mind, but also for the established reviewer who needs a bit of refreshing and also for anybody--be they author, publisher, reader, bookseller, librarian or publicist--who wants to become more informed about the value, purpose and effectiveness of reviews.

2011 Global eBook Award Winner in the category of Reference Non-Fiction 

MBS Review:
The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing provides a lot of information in easy to read and follow chapters. The text is divided into three parts and the presentation flows well.

The longest section, and most “hands on” helpful, is Part One: The Art of Reviewing. The authors first identify five important keys to becoming a good reviewer: command of language; clarity of thought; honesty; objectivity and tact. The authors then discuss the parts of a book that may be covered for a careful and objective review. These elements to be aware of include: plot, setting, writing, characterizations, construction, point of view, “showing v. telling”, the mood of the book and the audience for the book.  The length of the review, the reviewer and the site instructions for where the review is to be posted will effect which elements are included. 

I like how the authors lay out steps and elements and then present specific formats for short or in-depth critique reviews.  They also give guidelines and examples of positive, negative, overly praising and inappropriate 'slamming' reviews. There are tips for specific types of reviews including audio, technical or non-fiction reviews and more. The authors discuss the different entities who might seek reviews, such as publishers, authors or publicists, as well as when and where reviews may be posted.  Ms. Calvani and Ms. Edwards even have a chapter comparing Reviewers and Bloggers, acknowledging that there are varying levels of formality or informality in reviews.

Part Two of the book provides information on The Influence of Book Reviews.  Many different points of view from various sources are discussed. I found the details and poll results interesting.

Part Three, Resources, contains very little narrative but provides an extensive listing of specific sites that can be researched for print, online and even paid reviews. This portion is useful for looking up sites for specific genres or purposes. 

There is a lot of very good information provided in this book. I believe that there were some updates added in 2010 to the original 2008 manuscript.  I was surprised however that sites like Goodreads, particularly but also Library Thing and Shelfari were not discussed but it seemed that the links were added as after thoughts in the resource section. One completely missing site for reviewers that I thought was a glaring error is NetGalley

Although I felt the book may have been missing some up-to-date data, it is still an excellent learning and resource tool.  I plan to use a brief checklist of the tips to help keep me on track with my own reviewing. This is a book that any existing reviewer could glean from for improvement and anyone interested in reviewing would want to read for guidance and insight.

Thank you to the authors and Bewitching Books Blitz Tour for providing the pdf for review.

Practical Advice to Remember When Reviewing
Mayra Calvani

•           Keep your writing style concise, direct and reader-friendly. Don’t try to impress readers with fancy words.

•           Whenever possible, try to specify the intended readership. Some books are specialized and appeal to only one group of people.

•           Stay away from clichés like “A real page-turner!” “Un-put-down-able!” It’s a pity, but even big newspaper reviewers sometimes use these expressions. You see them on the back of paperbacks all the time.

•           Don’t let a few typos affect your review if the book is good. Even books published by major houses sometimes have small errors.

•           Be advised that the most commonly preferred tense when writing a review is the present.

•           Read different types of reviews to get a feel of what a review should be like. Soon you’ll be able to differentiate the well-written reviews from the mediocre.

•           Try not to review books from family members, friends or people you know. The less you know about the author or publisher, the less chance of conflict of interest and the more freedom you have to be honest.

•           If you read all kinds of books, then review all kinds of books, but if you mostly read books in one genre, then it’s more sensible to only review books in that genre. Your reviews will have more insight, more ‘meat’ when you’re familiar with other authors and books in that particular genre.

•           Try to review books in the order in which you receive them. This will help in keeping up with deadlines and is only fair to the person who submitted it.

•           If you plan to review books in all categories, make sure you understand the various types of genres and subgenres. It’s embarrassing to complain in your review that a story has highly improbably situations if the story in question happens to be a parody!

•           Don’t be prejudiced. Don’t assume that a self-published or small press book will be poorly written. Give it a fair chance and let it speak for itself. Likewise, never assume a book published by a major NY house has to be good.

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