Book Reviews – the backlog

I like to hear what others think of books they’ve read or would recommend to me. This is the best way for me to find new things to read. I also try to share my thoughts so others can check out the things I read and enjoy. I actually also post reviews of military science fiction over at MilSciFi.com. It’s exciting that I can do that for folks.

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I have a personal philosophy about my reviews. It’s important to start by stating the fact that I am a fan first. Yes, I help to publish a monthly fanzine. It’s also true that I’m an author and artist when I can squeeze that in along with my day job. It’s important to state these things because I make every effort to be honest and fair with my reviews. If I like something, I’ll tell you. If I don’t like something, I’ll try to figure out what it is exactly that bothers me, but I’m going to say I don’t like it. I don’t intend criticism to be personal about any author. I know how hard it is to make it work when you’re writing a novel.

I intend to stick with the five star rating system. I’ve always considered stars to be very limited, but I can’t really come up with a better system on my own. I’ll make them work. I am a terrible grader, in that I don’t consider average to be a horrible thing. I don’t just give five star ratings away. I consider five stars to be something rarely achievable. I also believe a book has to have gone really wrong to end up in the one star category. I can only recall two I’ve read that have landed at a single star. Getting it really right is tough, but it’s just as challenging to get it really wrong.

An example is probably best here. I would give The Hobbit five stars. The writing style struck a chord with me. The story is one that stands up to a reread despite the fact that I read it the first time when I was nine or ten. I’ve gone back and read the book more than once. The depth of world building shows through the writing without becoming a bludgeon. I feel that is a standard for the full five star rating. It moved me. It changed something in my outlook and really made me think. I haven’t put any others up to that level yet. I say “yet” not because I haven’t read other excellent and moving books, but because I’m not going to rate backwards in time. I will only rate/review a book should I read it *again*. While I consider The Good Earth another five star book, I’m not going to put something like that out for consideration until I read it again.

Having said all that about stars, I will also be upfront about any book (or books) where my own work shows up. Pretty easy to say that a book of my own, or an anthology containing a story of mine would get a five star rating from me. You should know that up front if I expect you to care about my reviews. I’ve seen others that give everything they read a four or five star rating. I don’t give those reviews much weight. I don’t expect you would either.

That’s my non legal disclaimer. I’m a fan. I try to be fair about what I read. I can’t wait to see the next cool story headed my way.

I was supposed to review a book for MilSciFi called Destroyer Men. I got a free copy of the book and dug in. That was April. It’s now December and the phrase “what are you waiting for, Christmas?” springs to mind. I totally stalled while reading that book. It didn’t seem right to review other books when I was supposed to be doing that for a web site that was not mine and they’d given me a copy of the book and how could I bump these others…

I hit something of a mental road block. I normally post my personal reviews here and on Goodreads as I read, but I put a couple off. The couple became a few. The few became everything I’ve read since May. I should have been posting them one at a time, but now they’ve become this giant task all piled up and waiting. I’m going to cheat. I’m going to make one post here in the near future and just list them all at once. It’s the only way I’m going to catch up.

If you happen to be on Goodreads, look me up. I might post longer stuff there – maybe not – but it’s worth making the connection anyway.

Have you read anything good lately?

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