Writing a Review
As a reviewer, you are the first set of eyes to evaluate a member's book. Your role is to write an honest assessment of the piece that the member can use to market his/her book and to score his/her work against MWSA established standards. You are responsible for posting a writen review to the website and to complete a critique of the book and the standard scoresheet and return them to the Lead Reviewer.
Here are the recommended guidelines for writing an MWSA-sanctioned review. The asterisks denote required fields. The remaining items should to be covered in the review somewhere.
NOTE: Reviewers are not to discuss books they are reviewing with anyone beyond the Lead Reviewer prior to the posting of the review. No discussion of scores by reviewers or judges is permitted to take place with anyone.
Reviewers are encouraged to post reviews to Amazon and B&N etc. but may not until the review is published on the web site (reviewers post to the website the Lead Reviewer publishes them).
* Book Title:
* Reviewed by:
* Genre and Sub-Category:
- Write a short (3-4 line) synopsis of the book. What is the book about? Where does it take place? This would be similar to what we call the "elevator conversation" in marketing yourself. Make it short and interesting.
- Write a short evaluation of how the book fits criteria 1 although don’t make any mention of scoring on the review itself. (2-3 lines) Example: This book discusses the relationship between Marines and the Corpsmen who take care of them. It’s easy to read and moving.
- Write a short discussion of any issues you discovered as related to criteria 2 without making mention of scoring. For both criteria 1 & 2, you are actually analyzing the book with respect to the issues associated with them. (2-3 lines.) Example: I really enjoyed the cover of this book, but I can’t figure out what it has to do with the content. Also, the maps are too small to be useful.
- Comment on the elements of the book that make it believable or unbelievable. Example: While the image of Yossarian sitting in a tree eating chocolate-covered cotton is amusing, I personally have never been tempted by that particular snack. However, the famous passage where Yossarian screams “they are trying to kill me,” followed by his fellow airman’s response, “they are trying to kill everyone,” followed by Yossarian’s “and what difference does THAT make?” rings true and makes me chuckle every time I read it.
- Comment on the elements of the book that typifies the genre. Example: At the climax of this novel, I was almost afraid to turn the page lest the scar-faced Viet Cong soldier who had been following the protagonist might leap out of a tree and cut my throat. Breathtaking to the end, this book is filled with chills and thrills.
- If you feel it’s worth recommending to a specific audience, say so...however most books delight certain audiences and leave others cold. Example, I’m not going to like a Romance no matter if it’s the best Romance ever written. So say something that would endear it to the audience it was written to reach. Example: If you are looking for a strategic military book, look elsewhere. However, “The Wizard of Oz” is a charming allegory that will move children everywhere.
- Issues to avoid:
- Dishonesty – if you can’t find anything good to say about the book, write a summary. If you can’t do that, then tell the Lead Reviewer who will reassign the book. Do NOT praise a book that doesn’t meet MWSA standards or compromise your own sense of integrity.
- Hypercritical comments – this is a marketing review, not a critique. Focus on what it is, not what it isn’t. Tell the reader what to expect from the book, honestly – without embarrassing the author. Reviews are not the place to “teach” new authors. MWSA will have other options for that. Careful scoring can help us identify the educational needs of our members.
- Overpraising – whether you like the book or not is immaterial. The question is, does it live up to the requirements of its genre? Does it live up to the requirements of MWSA?
- Personal comments are okay, but be wary of making the review about you and not about the book.
Here is an example of a written review.
Title: The Military Father: A Hands-on Guide for Deployed Dads
Author: Armin A. Brott
ISBN: 978-0789210319 (paperback) / 978-0-7892-1030-2 (hardcover)
Genre: Non-Fiction, Reference, Children
Reviewer: Pat McGrath Avery
An excellent reference for dads, The Military Father covers issues pertinent to men. Much broader than the title implies, the book covers military and civilian fathers who face a “long-distance” relationship with their wife and children.
The book encompasses a wide spectrum of possible reactions to deployment – from the view of the dad being deployed, the spouse, children at various age levels, single dads, dual military families and the dad at home when the mom is deployed. It covers active-duty military, reservists and civilian/government workers.
What makes this book exceptional is Brott’s attention to the details of family life. Written is an easy-to-read and easy-to-follow format, the author lays it on the line. His advice ranges from telling fathers to record their voices for their unborn children and planning online games with teenagers to comforting and preparing spouses.
He deals with fathers from pre-deployment through coming back home and facing PTSD. Appendices cover a wide aspect of issues including a pre-deployment checklist, stages of childhood development and available resources.
Brott writes with respect for all family members, their emotions and the problems they encounter. He is straight-forward and specific, addressing tough and personal issues. He never assumes that all dads, marriages, children and situations can be “buttered with the same knife.” He speaks of regret, guilt and loneliness as well as independence, commitment and love.
Dads will relate to the preparation, feelings and problems addressed. Mothers and children will better understand that deployment is as hard for the one far away, as it is for those waiting at home.
I would recommend this book to every person facing the deployment of a spouse or partner.
Review by Pat McGrath Avery, MWSA Reviewer (July 2010)