4 Reasons Why I Write Book Reviews

I know, it’s terribly unpopular for authors to write book reviews right now, particularly if the review isn’t favorable.

open old book, a rose in a vase and a feather
Except if you’re an author.

I’ve chosen to write a few reviews anyway, and here are four reasons why.


1. I Accept my Limitations

A no point am I going to claim to be an expert. I don’t assign stars, because I don’t feel qualified to do that. I will also not be like Gottlieb at the New York Times reviewing books I don’t love in a genre I don’t love.

I love romance novels, sci fiction and fantasy novels, and books with strong female leads. Because I love them, I feel like I try to give them all a fair shake within the confines of what one expects from the genre.

I don’t review horror books or thrillers or a slew of others because I, personally, don’t love them.


2. Validity of Review Process

If I only ever write good things in book reviews, you won’t trust me. My goal is to give a balance interpretation through the lens of my experience. Your interpretation could always vary.  For example, the book North of Need had a few triggers for me. The set-up for the story had the feel of a horror novel to me (being trapped in a snowstorm with a stranger who is much bigger and stronger). Others, didn’t find this triggering. If you didn’t, you might like it more than me.

Emphasis on fair.


3.  I Learn Something When I Write Them

Sometimes it’s something about myself. Like, I have stranger danger even as an adult. Sometimes, I learn more about story structure.

I love Lisa Kleypas as a romance author. There’s a reason why she’s one of the top names in historical romance. Her characters actually have character (something you don’t always find in romance). She lets women be friends, and sisters be sisters. It’s not all convoluted jealousy that I see too often. Her steamy scenes are very good, and her descriptions are amazing without using tired cliches. Like I said, she’s one of the best. By reading her and studying what I like, I learn a little more. Both for my own work, but also what to look for when selecting a new book.

Same is true of books I don’t like. I can learn a lot about plot and character development by figuring out why I don’t like something. After reading Lisa Kleypas, picking up another author that had every woman jealous of every other woman really brought to light how much I dislike that.


4. I Never Post to Amazon

As a fellow author, I don’t post my reviews on Amazon. Partly, because this is against Amazon’s terms and conditions, but more because I don’t ever want a review to be taken as an “attack” against another author.

A reason to not give a bad review. Unless you’re a certain kind of romance writer.

Honestly, there are times I wish I could call some of the authors and tell them I like their work, but I’d love it if they could fix a few things. Do they want me to beta read for them?

Hubris, clearly, but in my opinion, book like the Queen of Swords could’ve been spectacular instead of just good with a bit of revision. This takes me back to Point 3. I learned a lot by reading Queen of Swords. More than I learned reading all of Lisa Kleypas’s books, probably because she makes it look so effortless.


How about you? Do you write book reviews on Amazon, knowing writers need them to succeed? Do you only ever write positive reviews?

3 Things I Have Learned


I have not yet published anything, but I thought I would share a few things I have learned in my writing journey.



I have read that professional authors use outlines, so I need to use outlines. I tried to use them in a variety of formats with no success. Might be my personality. I used the outline more like a list to check off. Yeah, it kept me on track, but it also felt forced. And so did the story it generated.

I have found a stream of consciousness “outline” works best for me. What’s that? A Word document I throw all my thoughts and ideas into. Snippets of conversations, things I want to have happen, and a vague direction of the story I can solidify as I write. This worked well enough I was able to write a 55,000 word story in about 2 months.

Part of why this works well for me is because my first drafts are so skeletal. I tend to underwrite and need to go back and flesh it out. Add deeper descriptions, let you see more into the character’s thoughts, expand transitions so they aren’t so abrupt. These notes remind me of those details.

Clearly, your mileage may vary. The “outline” each author needs, I believe, is as unique as their personality and writing style.




I don’t really need as much time to write as I say I do. I want more, yes, but I have managed an almost complete, including revisions, manuscript in just over a year. I have 2 failed attempts at other novels that I may rework into different stories. I like the story ideas, they just didn’t work for the male lead. And I have managed a full rough draft of a new manuscript. All since January of 2015.

Plus, I started this blog in January 2016.

Only having an hour or so to write a day forces me to focus. It also forces me to use time more efficiently (I am writing this during breakfast while I watch the kids play). It also means I write almost daily as I won’t have “make-up” time later.


A Writer Does Not Write Alone

This is something I am still working on. Storytelling started as a group affair. People sitting around a campfire at night and making stuff up. It made the stories richer, better.

I tend to be very self critical and not want anyone to see my work until it is polished. But I have seen that my stories are better when I talk about the characters, their motivations, and what’s happening with one or two trusted people as I write. They offer another perspective and help make the story deeper. This is especially nice in the early phase of writing as it tends to reduce rewriting.