Guest Post: To Review… Or Not

This is another question from the guest post hat. Janet (of BuddhaKat fractaliciousness) found one which grabbed her fancy.

Do you read the reviews of a book you are interested in reading? If so, why? If not, why not?

If I may, I’d like to share my perspective of reviews both as a reader and as an author.

ReadingFrom all perspectives, yes, I do read reviews. I even go in search of them. Before I decide whether a book is for me (finally having realized I can’t read every book out there) I love to see what others have to say.  I don’t let them decide for me, but a concept or idea that might just catch my imagination could be the reason I decide to open up a book and read it.

For one reason, I want to write reviews myself, so I want to get a feel of how a good (or not) review should look. This has been most helpful to me in reviewing a book of poetry (Pathways to Illumination) – which I hadn’t done before. What I found most helpful was the style of quoting bits of the book in my review, especially to make a point. For example, if I’m talking about strong and active words, I should show what I mean by showing such words from the book that made me think of that feature.

Something else to write.

I love to read reviews of book I’ve yet to read. Not so I decide to or not to read the book, rather so that some facts are presented that help me decide if the book is well written enough to move me. I want to find an emotional connection in every book I read, as well as every book I publish. Whether that connection be through poetry, prose or images, a good book to me captures not only my attention but my heart. Are the characters believable and interesting, such that I care about what happens to them? How about the plot? Of course, I don’t want any spoilers, but I’ve got to have some idea of what happens in the book. I’m more interested in what happens in a book than what the book is “about”.

A good review can actually inspire me to read a book I might not have otherwise read. That has happened more than once, and I’m glad it did. Tell me about how a shy guy will save the world.  Tell me how an abuse victim frees him/herself from the cycle of abuse. Tell me in prosaic words that unfold into a beautiful, heartwarming story. Or in original and powerful poetry that allows me to see the experiences being described.

This is why anyone and (hopefully) everyone would be a good reviewer. Each of us has our own perspective. By seeing what someone else found in the work, the sadness or joy experienced I have been given another set of eyes with which to see the book. And that is why I read reviews before and after I’ve read a book. Before, it gives me landmarks to keep an eye out for. After, I look back at the passages, activity that might not have impressed me, but I see it enhanced by someone else’s perspective.

Fractal Dreams CoverNow, my book is slightly different, in that there are very few words to read, rather it is a collection of some of my art, specifically fractal-based art, the few words being their titles. I have been passionately working with fractal and digital art for so long I can’t remember when I didn’t. And each individual piece, as it progressed and became a “finished” (is any art really finished?) piece. There were many emotions involved, many yearnings, many fantasies, many colors that have touched me deeply. And my goal is to share these captured emotions with others that they might also be inspired to these feelings or even to try out the art form itself.

So, to wrap this up, I’ll offer a free e-book of Fractal Dreams to anyone willing to trade a free ebook for a review posted to Just send your email address to me at and watch for a .pdf download link to follow shortly.

Janet Russell

Put a face with the name.

Of course, should you choose to buy the book (that would be über cool!), I would still love to hear what you have to say about it. Did you like the art? How did it make you feel. How about the titles. Were they helpful or inspiring? Did you have any favorites? Which ones (if any) did you not care for?

The hardest part of writing a review is making the time to read the book! I have so many books on my “to read” list. I finally thought I would decide what books do I want to write reviews for and make time daily to read at least a few pages of the book I next want to review.


I have written reviews for the books listed below (except my own)…

Janet Russell: Fractal Dreams

Christy Birmingham: Pathways to Illumination
Red Dwyer: Killing Us Softly
Gail Thornton: The Girl in the Iron Lung
Robert Hookey: The Bellman Chronicles
H. E. Ellis: The Gods of the Asphalt

Give Janet a warm round of applause and tell her what you think.

Do you review books? Why or why not? Would you review Fractal Dreams?

Hashtags: #guestposts #amreading #WW

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  1. Thanks, Red, for letting me spout off a bit… twas fun…

    BuddhaKat recently posted..On the Road Again…My Profile

  2. I’ve reviewed a number of books, mostly for friends and for my websites (usually wombat-based books). I used to do a lot of script reviewing/critiques many years ago. It can be difficult to accurately capture the essence of a book in a relatively short review, which always makes writing them a challenge.
    Binky recently posted..Platinum LemonadeMy Profile

  3. Janet, your book is awesome. My child with NO attention span got caught up in it.

    I review books, sometimes. If I absolutely love one, I review it. If I absolutely hate one I try to keep my mouth shut until asked specifically, I have trouble saying something other than yuck, yuck, yuck in those cases.
    Laurie recently posted..Interview: Christy Birmingham Author of Pathways to IlluminationMy Profile

  4. Janet, this was a wonderful guest post and lets me know your interest in and process for reviewing. I think it’s a wonderful idea to trade an ebook for a review. I owe you one, I have your print book and it’s fantastic! Such a high quality art book impresses me as I collect art books.

    Thank you for your perspective,
    Gail <3
    Gail Thornton recently posted..Prose – Love in a TornadoMy Profile

    • Hi Gail… it appears my comments are all over the place here this morning… just stopped in on my way out to a Dr appt – hope it all straightens itself out!
      Thanks for you comment and I do like the reviews you have written as well!

      BuddhaKat recently posted..On the Road Again…My Profile

  5. Hi Bimnky… good morning… thanks for stopping by… you are right, they can be a challenge to write – not only do you want to be honest about your popinions, you also don’t usually want to hurt someone’s feelings…
    In my old school days, I never appreciated their value, like I do now!

    BuddhaKat recently posted..On the Road Again…My Profile

  6. Janet, really enjoyed your take both on how to use reviews and how to write them. I only use reviews when I am looking at authors I have never read or technical tomes, both of these I usually find the reviews helpful. Oddly I usually look at the 1 and 2 stars first.
    Valentine Logar recently posted..Fall Flash – 10My Profile

    • That’s interesting, Valentine… I’d not thought about it… I seem to read reviews in chronological order, first showing, first read, etc. I do like to get a mix of thoughts on why people liked a book or not!
      Thanks for sharing!
      On one of my reviews, it seems the features I considered positive were in fact thought of as negatives by others (I found out after writing it)…

      BuddhaKat recently posted..On the Road Again…My Profile

  7. Hi, Red!! 🙂
    I do read reviews before buying a book. I just did a few hours ago. Sometimes people give really interesting information as you said.
    Hope you’re doing great. Loved those shoes you bought (liked the pic on Facebook ;)).

  8. This may seem weird but I rarely read books of any kind these days, but I can agree that reading a review can have a positive or negative effect on whether one will purchase a book.

    Of course reading several reviews is much better, being that one opinion on a piece of writing, art or anything that one is considering buying is rather useless singularly.

    I enjoyed the read tonight Janet and good luck with your artistic flair, your Fractals are always so much fun, exquisitely offered and carefully orientated for everyone’s viewing pleasures.

    Andro xxxx

  9. Sometimes reviews don’t do anything for me and other times I absolutely Must read that book. I always read the front flat and back jacket. I then compare it to any review I’ve read.

    Other times, none of that helps. I flip through the pages and read at random several times and if what I read agrees with me, I’ll grab the book and r.u.n. 🙂

    Good article, Janet!

    I do agree, though, that reviews pull you in. Reviews make you aware about this book or that so reviews do a necessary job.
    Tess Kann recently posted..Flash in the Pan – UpMy Profile

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