Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Title: The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing
Authors: Mayra Calvani, Anne K. Edwards
Publisher: Twilight Times Books
Publishers website: http://twilighttimesbooks.com/
Copyright: 2008
ISBN: 13: 978-1-933353-22-7
10: 1-933353-22-8
Format: Trade Paperback, 190 pages
Genre: Non-fiction/Writing

Reviewed by Kathy Stemke

As you dive into the pages of The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing, you quickly realize there is far more to skillfully reviewing a book then you might have previously thought. As experienced authors and reviewers, Mayra Calvani and Anne K. Edwards guide you through the pitfalls and joys of reviewing. Soon you realize that every book review is full of nuances, and has a different intent and impact.

Part I, The Art of Reviewing, takes you through clarity of thought, grammar skills, objectivity, honesty, and tactful reviewing. The authors reveal the secrets of what separates amateurs from pros. The following is an example of the invaluable list of don’ts that should hang on every reviewer’s wall. “Don’t sugar-coat a review. Using phrases like ‘This is the best book I’ve ever read in my life’ will raise incredulity and suspicion in the intelligent reader. Facile praise is for ad copies, not reviews. Never be afraid to criticize when you feel you have to. Remember your main duty is to the reader.”

As an author, I appreciate the detail Calvani and Edwards put forth on critical reading. They suggest several practical methods of note taking to mark positive or negative points about plot, narrative, pacing, characterization, dialogue, description, symbolism, point of view, theme, tone, spelling, and grammar.

The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing also deconstructs actual reviews, explaining why certain points are needed and work well, or in the case of poorly written reviews, why some points must be eliminated altogether to ensure a professional, objective presentation.

Calvani and Edwards give a step by step guide to setting up your own review website with information on types of review sites, budget, choosing a domain name, selecting an internet provider, designing your site, becoming an affiliate, defining your submission guidelines, recruiting reviewers, making contacts, promoting, and keeping a detailed log. The authors list common problems you may have with authors, publishers or publicists, and practical suggestions on how to handle them. Calvani and Edwards even include sample letters, emails, and phone responses that will explain and soften reactions to negative reviews.

The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing sheds light on ethical questions like: “Who has the ownership and print rights to the review?” “Should a reviewer show a review to the author before its publication?”

Part II, The Influence of Book Reviews, delves into the uses and impact of a book review for librarians, booksellers, authors, publicists, book clubs and readers in general.

How and where to post reviews is the thrust of Part III. These 31 pages are packed with tips and contact information to help every participant in the book industry to zero in on the genre you like the best.

It’s easy to see why The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing is a finalist in Foreward Magazine’s Book of the Year Award, and the 2009 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. This book also has the esteemed honor of being listed as required reading at several universities.

Although a small amount of the material seems repetitive, I recommend The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing to amateur and professional book reviewers, book review editors, publishers, booksellers, librarians, authors, and readers alike. Take advantage of this engaging, well organized, thought provoking, and user-friendly reference tool. You will refer to it for years to come.

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Nicole weaver said...


Seems to me you have definitely mastered what Mayra had to share in her book. Your review is by far the most detailed I have ever read about her book. Bravo for a job well done!

Nicole Weaver

Karen Cioffi said...

Kathy, great review! Reviewing can be tricky. This book looks like it is a wonderful resource for new and experienced reviewers.

Cheryl said...

I've reviewed this one too. I love this book. So much helpful information.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Kathy, thanks for the review. It’s very timely for me as I recently wrote a blog post asking for hints for writing reviews, so this book sounds like exactly what I need.

Margo Dill said...

Thanks for sharing this book with us. :)


terri.forehand said...

Thanks for sharing. This book sounds like something I need for my own office. It offers reviewing tips but also will help an author zero in on what the reader needs. Good review.


kathy stemke said...

Thanks for stopping by and leaving your wonderful comments.