My first mystery, Judge vs Nuts, will celebrate its first birthday, in February.  Before the release, I conjured up images of reviews raving about the magnificence of my book, written by literary scholars who begged for more. My potential reviewers included authors who write wildly popular non-fiction books about the law or famous Chicago figures.  Of course the occasional celebrity author or librarian would stop me on the street and ask about doing a review.

At the Printers Row Lit Fest in 2011, I attended a panel discussion with three women authors who talked about the low numbers of women reviewers.  My list of hopefuls were all men.  Later I approached one of the authors to thank her and asked if she was interested in taking a look at my book. I’ll come back to this.

At the early stage “book review” was synonymous with “book report.”  Reading reviews daily I understand they are opinions.  Most are generous, with gentle notation of areas for improvement while others are petty.  Reviews can cover plot, characters, pace, grammar and more.  One review blamed the publisher for faulty editing.

My understanding continues to grow along with my confusion, skepticism and evaluation of the quality of a review.  Reviews come from many sources:  readers, friends, and professional reviewers.  If you look closely, some books are reviewed by one review reviewers.  “Book cover blurbs” are short, three or four sentences that would appear on the back cover or inside the book.  These are my favorite version of a review.  The author benefits and the reviewer benefits

Amazon uncovered “purchased” reviews and announced authors could not review books of other authors.  What?  Writers are prolific readers and well suited to review books.  The “exchange” book reviews are too often meaningless.  I don’t make these pacts.  If your friend has a book, read it before you give an opinion.  We know they are wonderful, that’s why you call them a friend.

Of the two categories, requested and spontaneous reviews, I think authors need to be specific when requesting a review.  Items to consider are:  receipt of manuscript; word count; time frame; how you will use the review and what you want.  Will the reviewer post the review on their blog or website?   Invite the reviewer to tell you if they can’t meet the time frame.  If your release date is pushed back, let them know.

My pet peeve of the requested reviews are the hiders.  Those folks make an agreement to review your book and then avoid you when you follow up.  Did they hate the book?  Want it for free?  Lose it?  Change their tiny minds about doing the review?  You won’t be able to get the answer, because the hiders, well, hide.

There are also people in the ambiguous category.  When you ask them to take a look at your book they tell you they give you a dozen reasons why they can’t read your book.  I’m a little naïve, so if you want me to print it out and drive it over please tell me.  If the answer is no…

One of my favorite reviews is from Author Barbara D’Amato.  I love her writing and her review was delightful.  Her review means more to me because Ms. D’Amato went out of her way to help a stranger who approached her at a book fair, showing me how authors help authors.

Every review thrills me.  When I send a sample, and get a note back saying they started the book and are laughing, even editing becomes less painful. Reviews from other authors are awesome and the reader reviews are very special.  Some reviews are written in a note to the author and others are posted on blogs, sales sites and book review sites I’ve never seen.

Thank you to those who took the time to help me.     Best, Una Tiers.


The review:

Judge vs Nuts is a hilariously funny take on judges, but also a scathing indictment of judicial politics.  Lawyer Fiona Gavelle narrates with a wonderful, self-deprecating wit, as she goes about unraveling the murder of a Cook County judge.

Barbara D’Amato

Author of Other Eyes

Buy the Book: Amazon:
B & N:

Judge vs Nuts, by Una Tiers was released in February of 2012 and posted on Ellis Vidler’s blog:

This blog has been updated.



15 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEWS and BOOK BIRTHDAY CAKE by Una Tiers

  1. I love to read and review books. My problem is, I’m terribly behind in it. I will read all the books and I will give fair reviews – I never post anything negative. Because a book doesn’t appeal to me, doesn’t give me the right to judge someone else’s opinion. For them, it may be the perfect book. I always say what I LIKE about a book, not what I don’t. Even if a book is a complete dog (in my opinion) I won’t denigrate it. Snarky, rude, nasty, critical reviews are unprofessional. My two cents worth.

    • I agree wholeheartedly, Dellani. Being an English teacher, I sometimes see errors most people wouldn’t, and if I think I can help another author with something, I tell them directly. Not all books are great, but most have something to recommend them. I look for those positive things to say publicly, and when my books are reviewed, I appreciate the input, even if there is something “constructive” – Ain’t none of us perfect, ya know!.*GRIN* WRITE on!

    • Oh how I agree with you Dellani, and oddly this was the gem of my favorite rejection letter before I sold Judge vs Nuts. The letter said my book wasn’t what they were looking for but that I should keep writing because it would likely appeal to someone else. If I could find that letter, I would send them a copy of the book.

    • Dellani, I have the same philosophy. Knowing how hard it is to write a book and how subjective the reading process is, I only write about the elements I like. If I really don’t like the book, I don’t review it.
      But not seeing a review from me doesn’t mean anything–I’m so far behind that if I took a year off to do nothing but read, I wouldn’t catch up.

  2. Pingback: BOOK REVIEWS and BOOK BIRTHDAY CAKE by Una Tiers « Dellani's Choice – Book Reviews

  3. Reviews are not my thing and I seldom write them, but ironically I just wrote a short (very short) review of Judge vs Nuts today Una Tiers. You’ll find it on Goodreads (: Which brings me to a point of confusion – for me that is. Star rankings. I wish there was no such thing. I wish we could just give our opinion of a book and leave it at that. When my book came out this year, I was puzzled by the 5 star rankings it got – not that I’m not deeply appreciative of every 5-star badge, Dellani. But since we’re on this topic, if we give a book we thoroughly enjoyed five stars, what do we give a blow your socks off Pulitzer Prize worthy piece of genius? Six? I’m completely confused. For me, 3 stars = well written and enjoyable. 5 = the creme de la creme of literature. Have I got this all wrong?

    • Joan, I complete some books for no other reason than to see how the plot is resolved. In this vein I read unbelievable story lines and books that take the court and laws into the story without any understanding at all.
      That said, I believe readers, and I am in this group, may be more inclined toward the books with 4 and 5 star averages. As to the pulitzers, they don’t need reviews as much as the newer authors.

  4. As always, Una has done a top-notch job of writing this post. Her views on reviews and reviewers is right on the money. I find it very frustrating getting reviews for my book. Una’s book, JUDGE VS. NUTS, is excellent and well written as is all her writings. Great post, Una!

    • Don’t you just love friends who are kind and generous? Thank you Faye you are terrific. And thank you for the shares and tweets of this post. Now get back to The Bible Murders.

  5. Good post, Una. I hate the star ratings, but there’s no avoiding them. I believe readers are attracted to books with 4 and 5 star ratings, so I think people will enjoy the book, that’s what I give.
    That said, Judge vs Nuts is really a delight to read. It’s unusual and your voice is strong and clear. I’m looking forward to another from you, so get busy!

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