Sunday, February 23, 2014

A View of Reviews (or What I Like About You, You Really Know How to Write*)

*with apologies to The Romantics

Tip of the Day: Only 82 days until the Rochester Teen Book Festival! If you are anywhere near Rochester, NY on May 17th, you must come to this FREE event featuring 30 authors!

As a book reviewer for VOYAGenesee Valley Parent Magazine, and the RACWI newsletter, and after commenting on a thread about starred reviews in the SCBWI Discussion Board (as created by picture book author Verla Kay), I've been thinking lately a lot about how I approach reviews.

Of course we all have favorite genres of books, topics we'll gravitate towards without question, and authors we'll pick up no matter what the book is about. But within those books there are aspects that make us really, really like some more than others.

*Please note that I'm focusing on novels in this discussion.*

And in books that are not part of my usual repertoire, I can still fall in love with them if they rock in one or more of three areas.

What are those three things?

Why voice, characters, and page-turning plots of course!

So if a book in any genre stands out in any of these areas as compared to the 150-200 other books I read each year, then I'll give it an above average rating or review. And if it stands out so much that I can't stop talking about it or telling others that they must read it, then I'll give it a glowing review.

A recent read that has made this most latter list?

Not only is main character Mo LeBeau smart, funny, honest, and caring with a sharp voice that makes me smile on every page, but she's joined by a cast of additional fabulous characters. If you enjoy middle grade novels at all, you must read this book and THREE TIMES LUCKY (the first Mo LeBeau book) as well.

For the sake of more examples, I'll tell you what I love about each of the Author2Author Misses' work and why they stand out to me. :)

Kate -- her plots are smart and make me think about new worlds, and her characters have witty lines that make me laugh out loud and want them to succeed.

Emily -- her plots are high concept and seem to write themselves, and her first-person voice is hilarious.

Tina -- her plots are well-crafted and fit together like a sharp puzzle, and her characters' honesty and naivete are refreshing and fun to follow as they get into hijinks.

Megg -- her characters kick butt and lead the plots instead of letting the plots lead them.

What aspect of a novel make you love them more than others you have read lately?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

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