Support Latino Authors! How to Write a Book Review That Matters

Interested in reading? Interested in supporting authors who write what you read? Do it today with a book review!

Reviews can make a book hugely popular. Lack of reviews can consign a book to oblivion.

The publishing industry has changed in recent years. Readers like you now have the unprecedented power to share opinions about books through reviews on amazon.com, the biggest book retailer in the US, and on goodreads.com.

Related post: How to Find Latino Reads on Goodread.com

Book reviews are hugely important to lesser-known authors and those who write for niche audiences. Many Latino authors and those who write Latino-themed content fall into both categories. If we want these books to continue to be published, reviews are needed to:

  • help others find the books
  • demonstrate that there is a vibrant community for this type of book
  • offer up honest opinions and get a dialogue going

Amazon requires a review to be at least 20 words long, plus include a 1-5 star rating. But most of us are readers, not writers. Writing a review seems hard.

The secret to a good reviewis 5 simple sentences! Use this formula and soon you’ll be writing reviews that help friends discover new books and support authors in your community.

The personal touch

Start your review with a personal comment such as why you chose this book or the feeling it left you with. Was it for a class, a book club, or because a friend recommended it, etc.

Fiction example: I picked up The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters by Lorraine M. López because it has an eye-catching cover. The story inside was just as mesmerizing.

Nonfiction example: I enjoy reading memoirs and found Take Me With You by Carlos Frías to be one of the best contemporary memoirs I have read lately.

Plot

What was the book about? Try to capture this in 1 or 2 sentences. If it was clearly a genre like mystery or a romance, say so. If it was literary fiction you can refer to it as a “story” or “tale.” If it has a twist ending don’t give it away! For a non-fiction book state the basic premise and some idea of the context.

Fiction example: The story traces the lives of four sisters, who each seem endowed with a magical ability or “gift.” But it’s not fairy tale magic and it shapes their lives in unexpected ways.

Nonfiction example: A Miami-based journalist, Frías recounts his own 2006 trip to Cuba to cover the political scene, which allowed him to trace his father’s life there before the revolution.

Style

How was the writing? Was it mostly dialogue that crackled with the characters’ personalities? Was there a lot of action? Did it bore you with long paragraphs or keep you turning the pages with a sharp, staccato pace?

Fiction example: The story swings between the lives of the sisters, and the official account of government research into the Puebla tribe. At first I didn’t understand the connection but after a few chapters realized that the research was the background story of Fermina, the girls’ caretaker after the death of their mother. Fermina is the one who gives the girls their “gifts.”

Nonfiction example: Frías writes simply and smoothly and his descriptions put the reader right into today’s Cuba, with its decayed buildings, poverty, and lack of so many things we consider normal. Although the book moves around between the author’s family in Miami, his father’s life in pre-revolution Cuba, and the author’s own experiences in today’s Cuba, the reader never gets confused.

Characters

Who are the main characters? What stood out about them? Did they experience change during the book? If there was tension, how did they deal with it? Did you have a favorite character?

Fiction example: The sisters are all named after Hollywood stars from the 40’s and 50’s, which made it easy to keep track of their different gifts and what they did with them. My favorite character was Bette David Gabaldón, who believes her “gift” is the ability to persuade people to do what she wants.

Nonfiction example: Frías is able to show us real people and how their lives were damaged by Cuba’s revolution, including his father as well as family members who stayed behind.

Recommendation

Who do you think would enjoy this book? If it is a book for a certain age group, note it here.

Fiction example: This book is recommended for anyone who likes Latino literature, stories with a bit of magic in them, as well as those who like fiction that draws on history.

Non-fiction example: This book is recommended for anyone interested in Cuba or for those who like to read memoirs.

Rating

Both amazon.com and goodreads.com use a 5 star rating. Here’s how I interpret the stars:

  • Likely to recommend: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Memorable: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Worth the time: 3 out of 5 stars
  • Feeling vaguely dissatisfied: 2 out of 5 stars
  • Want my money back: 1 out of 5 stars

I rate both The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters and Take Me With You as 5 Star reads! To support authors, I usually only post book reviews with a 4 or a 5 rating. The exception is if I’ve been specifically requested to review a book and honesty demands a lower rating.

To find books you might want to read and review, check out my virtual Latino Library on Pinterest.

What book did you last read? Show your power as a reader and give it 5 sentences! Maybe 5 stars, too!

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Carmen Amato is the author of political thriller THE HIDDEN LIGHT OF MEXICO CITY and the Emilia Cruz mystery series set in Acapulco. Both draw on her experiences living in Mexico and Central America where she discovered the best coffee on earth. She currently divides her time between the United States and Central America, using travel time to work on her next novel. Join her on Goodreads at http://www.goodreads.com/authorcarmenamato, visit her amazon author page at http:www.amazon.com/author/carmenamato, and check out her blog at http://carmenamato.net. She can also be found on Twitter @CarmenConnects.

Comments

  1. says

    Great article!! I make so many decisions based off reviews and I love finding ones that are well written and really delve into the characters and book.

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