Friday, April 14, 2017


Patricia A. Guthrie, Chicago, Illinois 


THE COTTAGE OF BLOG and a soon-to-be revised website: (you may also know me by Anniecollie as a "handle." I hope you're enjoying the RRBC blog tour. I've been fascinated by some of the blogs and have discovered books I'd like to read but didn't know existed. Now I know. 

I'd like to introduce you to my books and my blog. In the right column you'll find all kinds of fun information about my books and a FREE SHORT STORY "THE FAIR LADY."  

This stop focuses on HOW TO WRITE THE PERFECT BOOK REVIEW and some of the books I've reviewed. Hope you have a good time. 


PRIZES:  Here's what I'm giving away:


Number of winners for this stop:  3

 This is a great group of authors, readers and reviewers. Unlike some book clubs, we promote each other's works. Some of our activities are: read and review books by RRBC authors, blog radio, forum discussions, conventions blog and website parties. COME JOIN OUR MEMBERS' SPRING FLING BLOG TOUR

By Patricia A. Guthrie 
Beem Weeks 

You might be a professional book reviewer, an Amazon super or sporadic reviewer, or a student writing for class. You still should write a professional book review. You are performing a service for the reading community. You want them to know what kind of book it is, what it’s about and how you, as a reviewer, felt about its strengths and weaknesses. 

Book reviews are opinions and nothing else. But these are valued opinions (when done correctly) that can guide readers to—or away from—an author’s hard work. Opinions will always vary when it comes to books, movies, restaurants, or anything else that is often the target of reviews. I may not have enjoyed the mashed potatoes at Cracker Barrel, but those same spuds may stir recollections of Granny’s home-cooked Sunday dinners from way back in another patron. So, does that make my opinion any greater than another’s? Not a chance. My opinion is just an option for those reading reviews of dinner choices at the local Cracker Barrel.

I’m an author, but I also take delight in writing book reviews for other authors. No, I do NOT write for the New York Times, New York Journal of books, Kirkus Publications, Midwest Review, The Romantic Times, or Affaire du Coeur (the last two for romance novels.) I’m sure you can think of more, hidden in the back pages of major and minor publications. Keep in mind, book reviews are showing up less and less (except over at Amazon.)

Whether your review is for a novel, play, film, or a non-fiction book, certain elements are applicable to all. 


The first thing we need to see is the title. Self-explanatory? Maybe, but I was writing a book review and forgot to put the AUTHOR’S NAME after the title. Embarrassed, well yeah. So, make  sure you have the TITLE, AUTHOR’S NAME, GENRE, PUBLISHER, PUBLISHING DATE, FORMAT STYLES (Kindle or Ebook, hardcover, soft cover) NUMBER OF PAGES, ISBN numbers, and COPYRIGHT information. Is that all? Well, no. Read on. 

The next thing you should probably do is READ THE BOOK. There are professional reviewers who read the beginning, the end and a few places in the middle. I guess some film critics do the same thing, when they miss the first hour, or the theater critic who has to run out before the end to keep his or her deadline. However, they miss so many nuances of plot, character and author’s style. I don’t do it. 

You might also take notes. The eBooks are fun that way, because they have touch highlights. At the end, the reviewer can go back and check them. It helps with plot changes and developments, interesting characterizations, scenery paintings, weaknesses, grammatical errors. 

A reader wants to know what the book is about. If the first scene is electrifying, you might present a few quotes from the first lines. 

“I was murdered,” is the first sentence from my book “Legacy of Danger.” 
“It was the best of times and the worst of times,” from Charles Dickens “A Tale of Two Cities.” 
In Suzanne Burke’s “Acts Beyond Redemption” a short paragraph in the beginning came from Revelation 6:8 from “The Bible.” A chilling beginning that hooks the reader from the start. 

Give the reader a short description/ story line and reveal the central issues. In Suzanne Burke’s book, the central issue is 17 people murdered and an FBI unit who can’t get close to the killers. Keep your summary short and to the point. 

The first (and most important) item to remember is: NO SPOILERS! Not even with a “spoiler alert” attached to the front end of your review. If there’s a twist at the end of the story that really blew your mind, then please allow the next mind to be equally blown. I hate it when such things are divulged—even with a warning. I may choose to not read beyond the warning, but that doesn’t mean a friend will stop at that point. This friend then decides to bring up the twist as I’m mentioning the new book I just added to my Kindle. 

I’ve read the novel Me & Emma by Elizabeth Flock. This wonderful story contains a twist at the end that spins the entire story into a whole new perspective from the one through which I’d viewed it right up to the final two chapters. Good writers will do these things. Good reviewers will leave those things hidden, allowing the next readers to discover those gems for themselves. So please leave the spoiler alerts out of your reviews.

I call to mind the first time I saw the movie The Others. I hadn’t even heard of this film prior to my viewing it one lazy afternoon. I remember thinking that the film trotted along at a rather slow pace—so much so that I nearly turned the channel. I’m glad I didn’t. As the film progressed, I became even more invested. And as it reached its conclusion, POW! I honestly did not see that twist coming. And thankfully, I was able to be floored by the brilliance of the writing and the acting because nobody spoiled it for me.

Next, we might focus on the author’s writing style. If this is a young adult book, does the language, narratives and dialogue fit with that genre? In my first novel “In the Arms of the Enemy” the length is perfect Young Adult. However, the content not so much. (A publicist told me there was far too much sex for a YA.  (She might have been right) It was my first book, how did I know? I was writing a romantic suspense novel.  I’m very careful now. Who’s telling the story? Is this in first person or third. If it’s in second, why? Does the author stick to someone’s point of view or vacillate between characters? (In other words, does the author head-hop? (Nora Roberts does, and it doesn’t seem to bother anybody) It did bother me, though. 

How does the author develop the story through its major points or climaxes? Think about the plot structure and its development, how it twists and grows, gets more climactic as the book goes along.

Remember, your book review is short. So keep the story line to the point, short with maybe one or two development points. Don’t go overboard.

The next thing to keep in mind is: DITCH THE PLAY-BY-PLAY! A review is never meant to be an outline spilling plot details. Neither is it supposed to be a road map through the story. If I can gather most of what’s going on between those book covers from your review, what reason do I have in investing money and time in reading it for myself? This only serves to cheat the reader out of a good read, and it snuffs out a sale for the author.

A well-written review will give us just a taste of the plot, a glimpse into the lives of the characters, and offer opinions on whether or not the author has what it takes to tell a fine story. It should be a critique of story and style.

This leads us to another very important point: ATTACKING CONTENT MISSES THE MARK! Okay, so what exactly am I talking about? Saying you didn’t like the story in question because the girl was raped or a child died says more about the reviewer than it says about the book. If we’re voracious readers, we’ll eventually run into a story that may, at points, make us feel uncomfortable. My skin was crawling at times while reading The End of Alice by A. M. Homes. It’s a dark read, this story. But Miss Homes is one of my favorite writers. Her stories are vivid with living characters. She, as a writer, is skilled at yanking the reader from his or her comfort zone. The best writers are able to do these things without a second thought.

You need to evaluate the book. What you liked about it. What could have been better? I wouldn’t batter the poor author. If he/she is famous, maybe you can hit a little harder, if necessary. Don’t find fault just because you think you should, but don’t avoid being critical either. That’s what you’re there for. If the grammar is bad, you need to point that out. You might mention the story is fantastic, but the grammar took you out of the narration and disappointed you. (Try not using the word “I”) If the characters are wooden sticks, you might suggest the author make them a little more three dimensional. Do the characters intrigue you? Would you like to get to know them better? Would you like to put them onto a slow boat to China? You get my point. If you're going to give the book a two or three star rating, you need to say why. If a book deserves a five, but something bugs you, tell the author why. If it is a five, what makes it a five? 

Did the writing captivate you? Are the characters believable? What sort of emotions did you experience while reading? Did the author pull you out of your comfort zone? Is it a well-written story without punctuation or spelling errors? Did you care about the characters or were they worthy of being hated? These are the sorts of questions we should ponder while determining our opinions of the works of others.

Not all reviews warrant four and five stars. But that’s not license to attack an author’s work either. An honest review should be constructive in its criticism, not destructive. Social media is rife with mean and nasty comments that are designed to tear down rather than build up. Take into consideration the author may learn something from your review, and thus become a better writer because of you! Be honest, be tactful, be kind—even if it’s a 1-, 2-, or 3-star review. If you don’t like a particular story, explain the reasons behind your opinion. 
As reviews coordinator for RRBC, (Beem Weeks) I have heard from members who found issues with books they’ve read. They tell me they feel guilty writing a one or two-star review. Well, if that’s their honest opinion, then that’s what they should award. I challenge them to offer the author—as well as potential future readers—an explanation on why they arrived at this rating. Are there punctuation problems? Plot holes? Is the story just too unbelievable? Share these details—but do so in a way that teaches. Be encouraging rather than discouraging.

Is this book successful in the market place? How does the overall quality of the book take it there? Think about the famous authors you’ve read. How does this story compare in quality, interest, and development to other books in its genre. One technique Amazon uses is: If you liked (well- known book) you might like this story.

And finally, when posting your reviews, be sure to proofread before sharing with the world via Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Nothing is quite as ridiculous as a critique of another’s work in a review filled with misspellings, missing or poor punctuation, and sentences that make little or no sense at all. If need be, allow another pair of eyes to do the proofreading for you—before you hit the post button. Your words represent you as a writer—whether they’re reviews, blog articles, essays, or novels. Always strive to make a strong impression. And remember, writing reviews is another way to make connections in the indie author world. If you’re needlessly harsh in your criticisms, that’s a reflection on you. 

That’s pretty much the basics of writing a book review. 

Patricia A. Guthrie
Beem Weeks 

How to Write a Book Review from Wiki How to Write a Book Review
How to Write a Review by Three New York Times Reviewers (Book Reviews) Neil Genzlinger, Televsion Critic 
On Book Reviews by Micki Peluso 
How to Write a Book Review by Allena Tapia 
How to Write a Book Review by Bill Asenjo


Jessica, the Autobiography of an Infant
By Jeffrey Von Glahn, PHD
               This is the true psychological process of a troubled young woman who had no sense of “self” no sense of deserving of love, attention or anything good that came her way. Taken throughout over three years of psychotherapy, patient and therapist weave a true story that peels layer upon layer, until all she’s left with is her “me,” her inner self. The therapy sessions take us back throughout her life until we reach the core of her birth and a bit beyond.
               This is an incredible journey. Not frightening, but intense none the less. We see her progress and regressions: one step forward, two back as we’re privileged to peek into their sessions and discover a trip few ever see.
                I didn’t realize anyone could remember back so far. Few have. It makes me wonder, could I with the proper guidance? It also makes me wonder, do I want to?
               Excellently written, as some other reviews pointed out, it reads like a novel, and it does. It was hard to put down.

Patricia A. Guthrie Reviewer 

Been reading a lot lately. Mainly from the book catalog of Rave Review Book Clubs. Some very interesting and unique gems. Here's one I just reviewed. I hope you read the review, are so taken with the book that you will go ahead, buy, read and review it.

Heaven’s Waiting Room
Clare Wilson
What if heaven didn’t have room for the general public, but only “top drawer” candidates who’d made something of their lives (not necessarily public officials, politicians and CEOs.) What if these spirits who leave the living realm are forced to lead a non-life existence on earth floundering to find a sense of belonging, learning who’s a good ghost and who's evil.
Portia is a young deceased teenager who must pick her own way throughout her new life.
We learn about how she finds her way, meets a new family and engages in battles of good vs evil helping her new and old family along the way.
This is a different kind of ghost story, told from the ghosts point-of-view, delightfully funny in some spots, but engaging throughout. Yes, there are some uh-oh moments where she and her friends must find a way out of situations.
This is a delightful YA fantasy that can be enjoyed by all ages. (well, maybe not toddlers). The scene where Portia goes to heaven by mistake (grabbing hold of a dying person who’s bound for heaven) and where she tells God’s first Lieutenants what she thinks of their system is great fun to read. She comes to learn why she’s earth bound, who’s she’s destine for, and what her life might be like for the rest of eternity.
Four stars. Excellent simple story.

Patricia A. Guthrie Reviewer 

Sugar Coatin' is for Candy; Pacifyin' is for Little Kids
By Nonnie Jules  

Ever feel so down, you don’t think you can pull yourself up by the boot straps? Or get so angry at someone, but back down from confrontation, because that person might be A. hurt you or B. have so strong a personality, you’re humiliated and can’t defend yourself? 

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” A quote from Dr. Suess.

And so begins Nonnie Jules’ gem of a book; a collection of inspirational blog posts intended to education, inspire, persuade and entertain us on how to stand up for ourselves and others. 
Nonnie Jules has taken these jewels to a new level and instructs us to be strong in our beliefs and not be afraid to say what we mean and mean what we say.” That’s a hard achievement for any of us. 

This simple but elegant collection gives us insight into the world of Jules writings, meanderings and thoughts as she instructs, but more than that, never belittles, but encourages and entertains.

This book is well-written and keeps you interested and engrossed from the beginning to the end. We can float back into our own lives and discover the times we were beaten down, humiliated, lost and didn’t know where to go.  

The Table of Contents breaks down to:

Maybe Nonnie Jules does, because her book shows us she believes in us. 

This is a book you might want to keep by your bed stand. I gave this book five stars, because I loved it, I will keep it handy, and it was well written. 

Review by Patricia A. Guthrie

Lisa Kirazian
“You are the music while the music lasts.”
T.S. Eliot
Taken from Part Six of Bravura

The decade is the 60’s into the 70’s. The years of Kennedy and Nixon, Viet Nam and The Beatles. The Metropolitan Opera has just moved into Lincoln Center, Van Claiburn has exploded onto the classical music scene and Grace Bumbry, Maria Callas, Renata Tabaldi are gracing the operatic stages. Rudolph Bing is the Director of the Metropolitan Opera House.  Life is a struggle for young musicians as it is and has been for all ages.

Kate and Neil Driscoll, a violinist and pianist have joined the throngs of students at the Royal Academy in London and meet up with lifetime friends and colleagues, Anne, Colin, Jeremy and Maggie who will take this epic journey with them. This is the story of their lives from conservatory students to accomplished musicians, their day-to-day struggles to reach the top of the music world and how that intermingles with love, loss, disgrace and redemption.

A beautifully woven tale takes you into the inner sanctum of the music world. For the musician it is sublime. Ms Kazian strokes her words like a conductor might pen a manuscript with highs lows, crescendos and decrescendos. In describing her opera singer she writes the arias in the original language then gives us the translations so we can comprehend her emotions, personally and professionally while singing to ever more glowing audiences.

The book contains the joys and sorrows of each character so you might want to keep a box of tissues nearby.

Well done. It will be interesting to see what she does with the next two books of her three part series.

Patricia A. Guthrie Reviewer 



Linda Mims said...

Good Easter Morning, Patricia! What a 'before brunch' treat this article has been. It's a pleasure to find out more about you and your books from this site. I am especially interested in reading" In the Arms of the Enemy"! Also, great article on writing reviews! You are Uber supportive and I wish Awesome support for you! Thanks and enjoy this beautiful party day!

Patricia Guthrie said...

Thank you Linda. That was very nice of you.


Joy Lo-Bamijoko said...

Hi Patricia, may the Easter blessings rest upon you and yours. I like and agree with your teaching on How To Write a review. You made some really great and useful points. I don't think I have read and reviewed any of your books. I had to check to be sure of that, so now I will take note of that and put one of your books on my TBR list. :) Enjoy your party.

Marjorie Hembroff said...

Thank you for sharing your post about doing reviews. It was very informative.

D.L. Finn said...

Hi Patricia! Love your post! Great advice on writing reviews! Interesting books you reviewed, too
"Heavens Waiting Room"caught my eye. I love the idea of entering your cottage with blueberry muffins waiting...I can smell them from here:) i can not wait to read more of your work. Have a wonderful day!!

Lynn Miclea said...

What a great post - I love the advice and insight you offer on writing reviews, that is very helpful. And I love your bio - we have a lot in common, as in addition to being a writer and author, I am also a musician (pianist) and have dogs. Your books sound fascinating - I would love to read them! I am so glad I stopped by. Have a great day! :)

Jan Hawke said...

Hi, Patricia! :-D That's the A-Z of posting reviews from you and Beem - thanks for sharing (again? - this was at the convention wasn't it? :-D)! Love your own reviews as well - have a great day with all your visitors <3

D.E Howard said...

Great post and good advice there :) Hope you enjoy the rest of your party day - now did I see a mention of muffins????

Anonymous said...

Great post about book reviews, and a wonderful inclusion of RRBC into the topic. Hope you get a bunch of visitors, and have a wonderful Easter.

Rhani D'Chae said...

Happy Easter, Patricia. Wow, what an informative post! I hope you have a fantastic tour day. I'm not a coffee drinker, but can you please throw me a muffin?

Lizzie Chantree said...

Hi Patricia. A really informative blog post on reviews. I always say that receiving a good review is like being given a rainbow! Finding out that someone has enjoyed your work is a wonderful feeling. Wishing you success in all that you do!

Kim Cox said...

Thank you, Patricia for the article on how to write a book review. I'm going to save it. I really don't like writing reviews and have a hard time choosing the words I want to use. Sometimes I give a summary of the book but most of the time I don't. I'm so afraid I'll give something away. That said, I understand the importance and force myself to write the best, honest review that I can. I hope you're having a great party. Btw, I loved Waterlilies Over My Grave.

Yvette M. Calleiro said...

Thanks for sharing your tips on writing a review. I make sure to always write reviews for the books that I read. I tend not to write a summary of the book because I don't want to spoil what will happen for potential readers. (That's also the reason I tend to stay away from reading other people's reviews. I hate spoilers. lol!)

Gwen Plano said...

Thank you for the helpful information on writing a review, Patricia. Sometimes it seems the basic story has been told through other reviewers, so I try to approach it a little differently. There is always so much more we can do. Happy Easter!

B. Weeks said...

I just love your blog, Patricia. It has a fantastic look. Great blog piece you've shared here. Reviews are important to writers. Thanks for sharing this. Happy Easter to you.

Jan Sikes said...

Happy Easter, Patricia! This is such great advice about writing reviews. I find myself depending on reviews to help me decide more than what books to read, but what products to purchase. So far, the reviewers have not lead me astray. :) Thanks for posting and hope you've had a fun party day!

Michael Lynes said...

Hi Pat! Happy Easter - a great RRBC Blog post day to you as well!

Great post - very interesting insights - always good to give review tips.

Best - MikeL

Natalie Ducey said...

A fantastic post, Patricia, and thanks to Beem as well. Before I joined RRBC I never left reviews. I've learned so much from fellow members like yourself, and I never take it for granted. Thanks very much for sharing this with us today. :)

Patricia Guthrie said...

Thanks everyone for your great and very useful comments. i'm taking them to heart to decide what I might change. Beem, glad you like the blog.


Patricia Guthrie said...

Virtual blueberry muffins coming the way for all that made comments. LOL

John Howell said...

I loved the article by You and Beem. I also enjoyed your reviews, Patricia. Good job.

Wendy Scott said...

Thanks Patricia and Beem for your detailed advice on reviewing. So many times I come across reviews for my and others' books where the reviewer has given away the entire plot! I can't understand why they would do that. A well thought out review with constructive points is gold for an author.

S Burke said...

Great post, Patricia! I agree with the advice 100% I review every book that I read cover to cover. However if I have persevered (never a good indicator) and am still unable to finish a book ... I will NOT review it. Thanks for sharing these words of wisdom with us.

Micki Peluso is the author of "And the Whippoorwill Sang" said...

Hi Patricia, your blog looks cozy and enticing as always. As a book reviewer, I particularly enjoyed your article. It's especially difficult when writing many reviews to keep them fresh and not repeat other reviews with names and places changed. I look at a book review as a piece of writing, in much the way I look at all my works. I find that writing an interesting, well-written review reflects back on me as well as the writer I'm reviewing. Good reviews are good promo for both author and reviewer. Good job! I've read and reviewed all your works so get busy!!

Karen Ingalls said...

Your article was most informative. I have much to learn about writing a good review and I will take your advice to heart.
Thank you for sharing.

Patricia Guthrie said...

thank you Sooz. I certainly agree with that. If I hate a book, I just won't review it. Unless, (there are always exceptions) if the author is well-known and should know better.

Patricia Guthrie said...

thank you Micki. I appreciate your words. I think many reviewers (esp on Amazon) don't take pride in the writing they represent. A well-written piece does reflect on its writer.


Patricia Guthrie said...

thanks Karen,

I still have much to learn about reviews too.


Patricia Green Room With Books said...

Good evening, Pat! It's so wonderful to be here with you. As a book reviewer, I applaud you, and Beem, for writing this piece. I do hope more people with reward authors with an honest, well-written review!

Thank you for the #RRBC Springtime Book & Blog Block Party post!

~Patricia Green

Patricia Guthrie said...

Thanks Patricia. Me too!

Patricia Guthrie (also know as Annie collie--not sure why.)

Patricia Guthrie said...

Hi Joy,

thank you so much!

Patricia Guthrie (also known as Annie collie)

Patricia Guthrie said...

thanks John!


Harmony Kent said...

What a lovely post, Patricia, with some great advice about reviewing. Sorry I'm late to your party, but wanted to make sure I definitely came to your blog now I'm online again! Best wishes with everything! :)

Shirley Harris Slaughter said...

I was trying to figure out how to post my comment. Hello Patricia! You gave some interesting pointers on how to write a review. I read your sample reviews and it looks like you almost blurred the lines when it comes to being a spoiler. It really is easy to blur lines without realizing it. You have to master not crossing that line.

I have read some fantastic reads and there were some distraction with misspellings, or misplaced words, but if it doesn't distract from the read and I really enjoyed it, no points are taken away. If it becomes a distraction then I give it lower points and explain why.

Its difficult to track errors when you don't have book numbers while reading on kindle or some other reader. If its a really good book I will recommend that the author get another edit, but do it in private so you don't become a spoiler. I almost became spoiler by doing this.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this controversial topic.

Shirley Harris Slaughter said...

I meant to say..... NOT doing this.

Anonymous said...

I'm late catching up due to the Easter holiday, but I wanted to pop in and let you know how much I enjoyed this post. I think the more you review the more experienced you become at doing it well. I know several readers who are intimidated by the thought of leaving reviews but even a few sentences can and does help. I have also read lengthy reviews only to find the reviewer has simply rehashed the blurb or plot. And, of course, the worst--those with spoilers.

Unknown said...

you immediately got my attention with coffee and blueberry muffins....
Great stop!

Suzanne Kelman said...

Hi Patricia,
Happy Monday, Im a little late. Loved the information about reviewing, very helpful, thank you!

Have a great day

Maggie Thom said...

Hi Patricia. A really good article on writing reviews. Something that many struggle with what to include and not include. How detailed to get. I love that you mention not to do a play-by-play. I think in my early days of writing reviews that is what I did but soon learned that it wasn't helpful or really tell anything. Thank you.

Mar said...

Great post, Patricia! Hope you enjoyed your party day!

Michelle Abbott said...

I often struggle with writing reviews, so thank you for sharing this informative post.

Flossie Benton Rogers said...

I am in the boat mentioned by Mae Clair, a tad intimidated at doing book reviews. Mine are usually short and sweet. I don't particularly like putting my two cents in on other people's work. Thank you truly for this timely post, as I recently joined RRBC and want to support the authors involved in more ways than sharing their posts and commenting. Best of luck with your books!

Patricia Guthrie said...

thank you Flossie. I appreciate your comments.