Book Reviews

Ready to Read in 2015

2015 Book Review Team

One of my favorite things about being a writer is that reading a good book can actually be considered research. ; ) This is why I spend just as much time reading as I do writing. As a result, I have written dozens of book reviews, mostly on Amazon up until I recently became a Goodreads member. Starting in 2015, I will also be posting reviews here as a member of Jo Michaels’ 2015 Review Team.

I have pledged to read and review 21-40 books, so you can expect at least two reviews per month. If you have any book recommendations, please let me know. I am open to any genre, and I especially love books that make me cringe, cry and/or laugh out loud. If you are interested in being part of the Time for Books 2015 Review Team, check out Jo’s blog for details.

I am so excited to be a part of this review team and look forward to spreading the word about some great reads in 2015!

Book Reviews

Book Review: Birdbrain by Virginia Arthur

Don’t let the cover of this book fool you. Not only does Birdbrain chronicle a young woman’s path to self-discovery, but it is also thought-provoking in regards to nature and the environment. Virginia Arthur took me on an emotional roller coaster. If you enjoy books that make you laugh, cry, analyze your beliefs, and reflect on relationships, then this one is for you.

The first half focuses a lot on Ellie leaving her husband of six years. She goes back and forth with her decision, driving her best friend Patty crazy. There were times when even I became annoyed with her, but then it occurred to me that I have been in her shoes. In fact, I don’t know many women who haven’t had their hearts broken by emotionally stunted men. The indecision Ellie suffers from is so relatable, and her discussions with Patty about her ex reminded me of so many discussions I have had with friends. I could see myself in both Ellie’s and Patty’s shoes. Despite Ellie’s lingering sadness over the divorce, she is still an extremely endearing character.

If reading about failed-relationship-induced heartache is not your cup of tea, don’t worry, there’s so much more to this book. Ellowyn’s inadvertent journey into the world of bird watching is another theme that will keep you entertained. It begins as something that helps her through the divorce and evolves into a fierce passion for nature. I loved reading about Ellie’s bird watching and about all the eco-related things in this book. In fact, it is doubtful that some of the ideas presented in this book will ever leave my mind or my heart.

Quotes from Birdbrain that I loved:

“if we would only plant a tree when someone dies instead of erecting dead stone monuments…”

“…is calculated freedom really freedom?”

“Materialism was the order of the day in the race to see who could become even more superficial.”

Note to readers: The author was kind enough to provide me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I am so glad to have read it. I may even take up bird watching.



Book Reviews

To Read or Not to Read?

When choosing books to read, I rely heavily on reviews. Sure, I also consider covers and blurbs, but in the end, it really is what’s on the inside that counts.

Why do I read multiple reviews when choosing a book?

Reading a variety of reviews increases the odds of me choosing a book that I will enjoy. I can’t stand feeling ripped off after investing time in a book that didn’t impress me, even if I got it for free.

Another reason I read reviews is simply for enjoyment. To be honest, I’ve come across a lot of reviews that are more entertaining than some of the books I’ve read! (Check out the one- and two-star reviews for Fifty Shade of Grey to see for yourself.)

Review Snippet

What do I consider when looking at reviews?

Breakdown of Ratings – I understand that people like different things. As my stepmother always says, “That’s why they make chocolate and vanilla ice cream.” With that in mind, I never dismiss a book simply because it has one- and two-star reviews. However, if more than 50 percent of a book’s reviews are lower than three, I won’t read it unless a Goodreads friend with similar reading interests gave it a positive review.

Length – I ignore one-sentence reviews that give zero insight into why specific ratings were chosen. I at least need to understand why a person liked or disliked a book. Did it move too slowly? Was the dialogue realistic? Did it end with a cliffhanger?

Mention of Typos – If a reviewer mentions the need for more editing, I generally won’t read a book. I can handle a few errors, but if there are so many that a reviewer feels the need to mention them, I am likely to pass. I might make an exception if I notice that the author has responded (in a non-combative way) to the reviewer asking for help locating the typos or simply stating that the errors have been/will be rectified. I’ve even seen authors offer to provide a refund to reviewers who mentioned being distracted by typos. Seeing authors reach out in this way tells me that they are passionate about providing the best possible reading experience to customers.

Disclosures – If a reviewer mentions being provided with a free copy in exchange for an honest review, I take the review seriously. The fact that someone is disclosing this in the first place tells me that the review is likely to be genuine.

Reviewer History – If a book doesn’t have very many reviews (or if a particular review strikes me as bogus), I investigate the histories of reviewers. On Amazon, this can be done by clicking on a reviewer’s name. In most cases, I can tell if someone’s review is genuine based on his review history. For example, if someone has only completed one book review (for the book I’m trying to decide on), then his opinion doesn’t mean much to me.

Is Amazon my only source for book reviews?

No, but it is the source I refer to most. If a book has very few reviews on Amazon, I also check to see what people have said on Goodreads and certain book blogs. I have seen books with only a few reviews on Amazon and dozens of reviews on Goodreads, and vice versa.

How important are book reviews to you when deciding what to read?