Category Archives: reviews

How you write a book review

WHAT the world needs now are reviews, book reviews; they’re the only things (apart from fresh water, social justice and quite a bit of other stuff) that there’s just too little of: reviews, book reviews.
Please do not ask! I am not volunteering to review your book. After penning, publishing and promoting the damn things, I have no time to review any books other than ones that come my way serendipitously.
But ask any book lover out there and they will tell you trying to decide whether a book is a wise buy is more important than its price. A lousy book is a bad investment even if it is free.
I am unable to come to the party with extra book reviews but if you want to have a go, you will become a servant of humanity when you learn to do a competent job.
Before we start, check out Ionia Martin’s review of my novel Iraqi Icicle. (Whaddya mean that is self-promotion? You expect me to send you to a review of someone else’s novel. Sheesh, you can find your own example, if you must.)
Ionia is a Top 500 Reviewer so she knows what the task is all about. Check out her review HERE  
Ionia is also a pianist so she can play along to out featured video. (Don’t scroll down to see what it is; I am creating a structured piece on book reviews and we cannot anarchic readings of it.)
The rest of this informative rant is a list of my ideas on your writing a half-decent review.
Make it entertaining.  ­ No cheap shots at the author’s expense are needed, but if you are a lover of books, you should be able to string together a few pleasant sentences yourself.

22. Try to give the reader a flavor of the book you are reviewing from your get-go.
33. Don’t tie yourself in a knot avoiding spoilers. Of course, you will not be invited around to brunch if you announce you knew the butler did it after chapter 3. But neither will you be doing brunch with a grateful reader of your review, if it is so general, that, at the end of your critique, the reader is none the wiser what the book is about.
44. Talk about whether characters are well crafted and whether the plot works for you.
55. Somewhere around the middle of the review, comment on what you liked about the book and what you did not like. You need not mention what you regard as minor faults in some sort of unnecessary notion of balance.
66. Towards the end of the review, you can say who might not like this book. If, for example, you are reviewing a Gore Vidal novel, you might say members of the Tea Party may not love it.
77.  Next, you say who might enjoy the book.
88. You should finish in your own style but there should be some sort of summary, not of the book so much as of your review. As the reviewer, you are entitled to the last words Make them good so the reader will come back for more when they see your name attached to your next piece of excellent criticism.
99.  If there are too many rules above, just have a go. Always aim to select a quality book of whatever genre you are reviewing.
110.  It is your call whether you submit a negative review. Whatever your reasons, you can with-hold a review, but every review you submit should be honest.
Three reviews
Walter Kerr on the play I am a Camera: Me no Leica.
Dorothy Parker on Katherine Hepburn in the play The Lake. Miss Hepburn delivered a striking performance that ran the gamut of emotions, from A to B.
Leo Robson on Rachel Bradford’s book Martin Amis: The Biography. “spectacularly bad writing — about spectacularly good writing.”
Here is our celebratory song: Cheers, Bernie


Celia Shorojk film previews II

Film reviews
Film previews with Celia Shorojk 

Blow up stuff including the planet
Forget it
Total Recall
THE producers of Total Recall must have forgotten that not long ago (1990, not long ago for some) the original sci-fi shoot&blowemup starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone collected much of its handy profits through mystery and suspense.  
Maybe it is just me, but surprise is somewhat limp when you know what is coming.
Maybe the producers of the re-do were mesmerised by the numbers of the original. It cost $50M and brought in more than $250 mill. That’s good business, not likely to be replicated in relative terms by Total Recall 2012.
You can hardly blame the cast which includes top Brit thespos Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale and Bill Nighy.

Director Len Wiseman along with writers Kurt Wimmer and Mark Bombark muck about with some of the more memorable scenes of the original but that is more cute than clever.

At least they have ditched the ultra-violence of the firstie but they have also thrown out much of the wit and intelligence of the 1990 vehicle.

This one is bound to disappoint but I would suggest a strategy to save the film. See it in the cinema one night and watch the 1990 on vid the next. That should be fun.


Dick joke in the title; little other fun
The Dark Knight Rises
THEgeneral public who have posted reviews of this film have in general been enraptured with the latest in the Batman series.
Professional critics, in the main, have also been kind but some have suggested the movie is too long (2hr 45 m).
Others have said you cannot hear what the masked villain, Bane is saying. Maybe a sizeable chunk of the audience, teenage boys who communicate in grunts and monosyllables, don’t worry about that sort of thing. 
Most of your average punters are loving it unreservedly, but Huff Post reviewer   Scott Mendelson gave it a bit of a pasting. Perhaps Ms Huff&puff lost total recall of the protocols of industrial relations and forgot to pay critic Mendo.
Personally I prefer my Batman grey and coloured with streaks of  humour so director Christopher Nolan does not do it for me most of the time.
If you can take a lengthy nap in the boring middle of this epic, the whole experience should be rewarding.
Steve Carrell deserves better than this: 
the film not the boobs, I mean
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
DO not let the title fool you: this one is not a shoot&blowemup. Of course, there are modest 
explosions. It is the end of the world, after all. Due respects to Tissy Eliot, we are more likely to go out the way we came in, with a bang not a whimper. 
More’s the pity this alleged rom-com did not have a tonne of TNT under it to re-ignite the humour.
Poor Steve Steve Carell!.
He gets lumbered with a straight role in one rom-com, Hope Springs and in this one, the scriptwriters knife him in the back after a promising start.
Britchick Keira Knightley is the love interest but of little other interest.
Steve Carrell is one of the funniest actors on the planet. Come on Hollywood, give him something to work with.