Reviewing the Written Word

In today’s world, individuality is touted and thinking for oneself is encouraged in most cultures. But, when it comes to making a choice for ourselves, most still like to hear opinions from others. Or, in today’s age of cyberspace, they want to read about their options.

5-Star_rating_system_PCAR_01Very little people nowadays will visit a retail site and click on the “Proceed to Checkout” button without first reading the provided revues of said product. The amount of 5-star ratings more often than not makes the consumer’s decision for them. Let’s face it, when having to choose between two similar items, going with the one more people like just makes sense.

This is also true in the book industry. You’ll hear about the die-hard readers who go to book stores and read a few pages before opting for a volume. Most on-line book outlets give you that same option, letting you read a preview. I will proudly admit I am one of these. You can tell if the story will interest you with a quick scan of a paragraph or two.

But what if you’re picking up a novel for someone else? What if that person prefers to read in a genre you would rather not know even exists? Let’s face it. Some readers would prefer to forget there was ever a Twilight, while others will hunt me down to pay for this slander. Personally, I find Stephenie Meyer‘s plot twist illogical and detrimental to the story, no matter how well she writes.  But other members of my family love her books, so I would still buy her novels as gifts.

It’s in these situations when I would rely on revues. Not knowing which volume to pick, I would let the masses guide me. Many do this, as well, when they just want to read the latest best seller. Sometimes all you know is you want a thriller. You don’t care who wrote it or whether it contains vampires or not. In this case, it makes sense to go for the book liked by the most amount of readers.

And that’s why we have reviews!

2301723_sPart of my previous blog dealt with book reviews. I was always open to trading opinions. I know, many disapprove of authors swapping works for revues. A lot of novelists abused the system, using each other to boost their ratings. I never took part in that sort of scam. The authors I worked with knew exactly where I stood. I wanted an honest revue from them, and I would give them the same. I wasn’t looking for a perfect rating. If they didn’t like the story, I wanted them to say so. And they knew I would do the same.

I neglected my blog shortly after that, so I didn’t revue that many books. In the next few posts, I will share those reviews again. Most of these stories are worth the read and deserve the reminder they are still out there, available to the masses. I’m sure the authors won’t mind the extra exposure.

Before we get to those, however, I feel I should explain how I rate the stories. Many sites use different methods and scales, so a 4-star review from on site could mean something totally different than a 4 out of 5 rating somewhere else.

This is how I work:

First, I need to emphasize I rate novels on readability. The important thing is the story, the flow of events and how the author manages to keep my attention. Syntax and grammatical errors only register with me if they detract from the tale. I will not call out a writer for their use of the passive voice, unless it makes me put the book down. I won’t, like, you know, say anything about, well, using the totally unnecessary filler words that dramatically slows down the 10232322_salready languishing pace of the story, like in this sentence, unless it happens way too often. I do not teach the English language and will not pretend to know all the obscure rules nobody seems to follow any more. I’m looking for a narrative that captivates the reader, forcing them to turn one more page despite their need to put the book down.

On this blog, I use the expected 5-point system. Each score designates a specific opinion on the book, as follows:

  1. Did Not Finish — The novel was so bad I put it down without getting to the last page. I loath not finishing what I start, so it takes a lot for me to give up on a story. You should not see many 1’s, but if you do, I strongly suggest to keep away.
  2. Would Not Recommend — Though able to read the entire story, it did nothing to impress me. My copy of this book would be on the list to donate. It would have no place in my personal library. It would not be mentioned when someone asks me what I think they should read next.
  3. An Okay Story — I know a 3 out of 5 doesn’t look that good, but these stories still have some gems scattered through the pebbles. Novels in this categories are those I enjoyed reading, but would most likely not read again. There was something missing, and sometimes it will be so subtle I can’t put my finger on it. The novel may be interesting while I read it, but not enough that I will want to read it again. I might still suggest these books to someone I think would enjoy them.
  4. Excellent Book! — Captivating stories and exciting climaxes get you in this category. These are the tales I will talk about to like-minded readers. There will be minor glitches I dislike, but nothing too glaring to detract from the overall awesomeness of the narrative. These books will find their way onto my shelves, either physical or electronic.
  5. Oh My God! Perfection! — Rarely will I give this rating. When I say perfection, I mean perfection (in my opinion). There has to be nothing in the novel I wish to change. These are the stories you wish to pick up again, even if you just finished reading them a week ago. Not only will these books grace my shelves, I’ll be looking for a second, signed copy, to lock away in a display case.

That, in a nutshell, is how it works here. You will see the structure of my reviews when I post the first one in a few days. I have rambled on long enough to bore you with those details.

I will offer myself to authors out there who wish to have their books reviewed. Simply get in touch with me through my website, MarcLabelle.com. Or send me a private message using Facebook or Twitter.

Spread the word!