Guest Post: Anastasia Hopcus (Shadow Hills)

The neatest thing about blogging, besides making friends with so many other like-minded readers, has been interacting with authors.  I still get butterflies in my stomach when I get an email from an author---it's just so exciting!  Today we have Anastasia Hopcus on the blog to tell us what makes a great review.  
What makes a book review great?

I think most authors would have to admit that they enjoy rave reviews. But whether it's a rave or a pan or somewhere in between, for me the most important thing is that the review is specific and expresses an opinion---while remaining neutral enough to give readers an accurate depiction of the book. One way I find new books is by reading reviews of a book I already love. If a reviewer loves the same qualities that I enjoyed in the book, then I know I can rely on them for future recommendations.

One of my favorite books from 2010 was Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready.  I’d read so many good reviews of it on Goodreads, and it seemed to have all things I look for in a book. For instance:  A. likable potential love interests; B. a main character who can take care of herself;  C. a unique supernatural element. (And though it isn’t a necessity, the music-centric side plot was a big draw too.) Not surprisingly, these all came together to create a book that I loved.

There are several other elements that are nice to see covered in a review.  1. What is the tone? Is it a book that will lift me up after a bad week or should I save it for a rainy day when I need a good emotional read? 2. What is the POV? I prefer a book that is in first-person, but I also enjoy third person as long as it’s not too removed feeling. 3. What is the pace? Is it an involved and complex ‘long weekend’ type of story or is it a ‘stay up until 3 am to figure out the mystery’ book?  And the final thing I like to learn is: What other books does it compare to?

This point probably deserves more explanation.   I’m not talking about the ‘don’t read this, it’s is too much like Romeo & Juliet, Wuthering Heights, or Twilight’ sort of statement.  What I like to see is whether the book has the same appeal as another.  For instance, a statement like this is helpful to me:  "This book’s fast pace and strong romance with a sweet guy make it a perfect read for fans of The Body Finder."

Even a bad review can be enticing---if written in an impartial way. I can form my own opinion from something like: ‘I didn’t enjoy the bland ‘other world’ or the formulaic hero’s quest set-up. But I can see how the witty sidekicks and the action-packed chase scenes might appeal to a reader who is looking for a quick, fun read and doesn’t mind a certain lack of originality.’ It’s not a glowing recommendation, but it might make the potential reader think, ‘I could enjoy this because humor’s more important to me than world building.’

Obviously, different things matter more to different people; but, if you can give someone an idea of how they would feel about a book, then you’ve written a very good review indeed. Even if it isn’t a rave.

What great points!  I think I'm going to start adding some elements to my reviews now...thank you Anastasia!  We look forward to your next book and are very honored to have you here at I'd So Rather Be Reading!


  1. Great guest post & certainly some points to think about!

    I loved Shadow Hills. Hope my review did that one justice! :)

  2. This was such a great guest post! I love her thoughts on POV. I'm partial to first person - but it definitely has to be done right :)

    I've yet to read this book, but I'm excited to!

  3. This was a great topic! Thank you Ms. Hopcus for giving us your insight and your opinion on what makes a book review serve its purpose. I'm going to incorporate some of the things you mentioned in my reviews.

  4. Hi :)
    Thank you to Anastasia Hopcus for sharing here today. I got a great deal of help in reviewing by reading this post.
    Merry Christmas!
    RK Charron

  5. Awesome post. She seems way cool and I LOVE her hair!

  6. Oh, this post is so helpful. I love to know what authors want to see included in a review.

  7. Great guest post and going to add this one to my TBR list.

    Thanks for coming by today Anastasia.

    Girls you always have the most interesting authors here :)

  8. This is such a great guest post. I'm going to be thinking about a lot of these things next time I write a review. Thanks Anastasia Hopcus!


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