Jessica's Review Policy
I have been a professional writer for about 8 years, as of 2014. I think that stemmed from my love of reading growing up. I was always reading books ahead of other kids my age. By the time I was 10 or so, I was practically going through them like candy. I couldn't get enough of them. It would be fair to say I was addicted, but I can certainly think of far worse addictions.
I am the type of person who has always thought of a good book as a loyal, trusted friend. While I'll try reading almost anything once, I have a habit of returning to my oldest friends quite often. Even at the age of 33, I can often be seen curled up reading the Chronicles of Narnia, Anne of Green Gables, or a Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys mystery.
I don't own a Kindle or any sort of e-reader, and I don't really want to. I love the feel of a good book in my hands. I have never lost the child-like giddiness that comes from wondering what I'll find on the next page and actually feeling myself turn that page. However, I am capable of reading manuscripts on my laptop, as needed.
My tastes range from children's classics (anything from Anne of Green Gables to Alice in Wonderland to Robinson Crusoe) to mysteries and suspense (anything from Murder She Wrote novels to the DaVinci Code) into the realms of science fiction and fantasy (anything from Star Wars to The Lord of the Rings to Harry Potter).
Actually, Harry Potter is the perfect example of a book that spans just about all of my literary interests. It's a child-like fantasy, it contains a lot of action and adventure, it takes place in a (mostly) fantasy world, and it doesn't hurt that there's an occasional mystery or secret passageway thrown in for good measure. I love books with secrets, codes, and things that make me think.
My tastes definitely don't include romance novels. However, I don't mind a good sci-fi or mystery novel with a touch of romance weaved in, if it's done properly and tastefully. I will not review erotic stories.
I'm also much more interested in fiction than non-fiction. However, a semi-historical fiction story is always a good thing. For example, the DaVinci Code is one of my favorite books. It includes historical elements, but puts them together in new and interesting ways. If you would like me to review a non-fiction or semi-non-fiction book, it needs to be something along the lines of exploring the JFK assassination from a new angle, putting a new spin on the search for the Loch Ness Monster, or something else with an element of whodunnit or intrigue. Otherwise, it probably won't be up my alley.
As for how I review a book, I start with the general structure. Since I am in the professional writing and editing field, I am likely to notice any glaring typos or misuse of words in the books that I review. If your book has too many of those issues, I may list some examples of those issues and decline to review the book until it has undergone further editing. However, I am willing to review the book after those issues have been fixed. Another problem would be language that is just too cerebral. Reading is a hobby for me, not a chore. So, I may reject your book if I simply can't get into it. It needs to be straightforward and entertaining.
Your book also needs to make some degree of sense. The characters need to be clear, and the plot needs to flow (more or less). It's one thing to immerse me in a fantasy realm by making up certain things (for example, Tolkien's Hobbits or Rowling's Quidditch), but it's quite another to simply expect me to accept certain random things as true. Mrs Smith can't just pull a button out of her pocket and go “Here's the answer to the mystery.” How did she get the button in question? Again, if I find too many glaring holes in your logic or reasoning, I'll be happy to review the book after those problems are corrected.
Finally, it's important for you to know your demographic. For example, if you want me to review a book that is supposed to be for children ages 5 to 10, the vocabulary and the plot points should be appropriate for that age group.
If your book passes those major tests, I'll give it one of these ratings:
3: The book is structurally sound and age appropriate, but it has some issues with plot, setting, or general concept that distract or annoy me. It may not make sense in certain areas, and it may not hold my attention well.
4: The book is clear, to the point, structurally sound, age appropriate, etc. It's an enjoyable read, but it doesn't immerse me in the story or hold my attention enough. I don't have that “I can't put this down.” sort of feeling when I read it. It's likely that there's too much or not enough of something, such as dialog or scene descriptions. If I feel that way, I'll explain why.
5: The book is beautifully written, enthralling, and has elements that draw the reader in. In other words, it's a real page turner. The story has to be more than just believable. The plot and characters have to completely suck me in. A rating of 5 may also mean that I feel as if the book could potentially turn into a series or become a classic later down the line. However, it doesn't necessarily mean that I think the book is perfect. I'm not sure that there's any such thing as a perfect book, even among some of my favorite classics. So, I may still indicate an area or two where I see room for improvement.
If you want me to read a book that is meant for small children, it needs to be fun and entertaining. It needs to be something that I think children will actually like, not just something that contains age-appropriate words.
If you want me to read a book that is meant for teens or adults, it needs to make me think or use my imagination in some way. Like I said, a good book is like a good friend taking me on an exciting journey. So, please take me on an interesting trip.