How to Do a Proper Amazon Book Review

I copied this review directly from Amazon.

I recieved the book, and in good time. I don’t remember ordering a used one. Much to my surprise when I opened the front cover, there was a note glued to it that appeared to be something that indicated this book was a present to someone for many years of service to a synagogue. I don’t mind, I consider it nostalgic, and sort of a “this book finds the right home” kind of thing. Just curious is all.

Does this indicate what the book is about? Does it tell you if the book was useful? Well-written? Full of inaccuracies?
Can you even tell what kind of book this review applies to? Do I have any idea why this reviewer gave the book only 3 stars?

For the love of Pete, Amazon book reviews are not a place to leave seller reviews! I don’t care if your book arrived late or more used than expected. Ding your seller. E-mail Amazon and complain.

Book reviews are for reviewing books. Shouldn’t be a hard concept for literate people to understand, should it?

The following is a review for a very similar book (unfortunately, there wasn’t a useful review for the book I was looking at originally):

Hebrew shares with Arabic a logical organization around three-letter roots. Languages like English have a little bit of this: it’s easy to see both a letter-relationship and a meaning-relationship between, say, the two words “lunar” and “lunatic.” But in Hebrew, the *whole language* is built around these relationships: they’re not just incidental they way they are in English.

This makes Hebrew vocabulary easy to learn and remember, because lots of words flow from each root, following more-or-less uniform patterns. The logic of it, once you “get it,” makes it easier to learn. It’s as though all the words are connected in intricate vines.

But it’s also fun, because there is plenty of cleverness, wit, and cultural flavor to the twists and turns of meanings flowing through the connections. And this book is about the fun, funny, sarcastic, and joyful bits of the language. Far from being a dry, analytical work, it’s full of stories, quips, jokes, and overall love and reverence for Hebrew.

It’s also very easy to read and to come back to. Each root is covered in a page or two, with half a dozen or so words colorfully presented. Pick it up when you have a few minutes to spare, open to a random page, read a bit and chuckle, put it down and come back later again. If you happen to revisit a root you’ve seen before, well you’ll just enjoy it again.

Includes both transliterations and vowelized Hebrew letters.

Do I know what the book is about, just from reading the review? Yes, it’s about Hebrew root words. Do I know why the reviewer gave it a 5-star review? Yes, because he clearly states why he liked it. He also describes the format of the book–very helpful when books are not searchable online. I also know that all the words are transliterated (i.e. written in Roman characters) and in Hebrew with vowels (All Torahs and most Israeli Hebrew is written without any vowels). That means I can see the Hebrew word, but can also use the transliteration to pronounce it.

Perfect.

When reviewing a book on Amazon (or similar), keep these rules in mind:

  1. For non-fiction, briefly mention what topic(s) the book covers. If something is obviously missing that’s normally included (e.g. a book on dolls does not mention Barbies), mention that.
  2. Justify your rating (stars).
  3. (As related to #1) List what you did and did not like.
  4. If you can be a reasonable judge, state who the book would be good for (e.g. beginners, children, etc.)

On slightly related notes (hey, this blog wouldn’t be potpourri-ish if I didn’t digress):

Long before I started studying Hebrew, I created a language for my vampires which is based on root words. They’re not exclusively 3-4 letter root words, but they work the same way.

I felt that creating a language out of whole cloth was daunting, and I thought that the simpler I could make the rules, the easier it would be for me to create the words I needed (and not break my own rules). So there are no gendered nouns, no irregular verbs, and there are a limited number of root words. The vast majority of Cainite that you read in the book–such as Canichmehah, Yaechahre, and Imuechmehah–are compound words.

ls, ths s wht nglsh lks lk wtht vwls. ‘m nt s sre bt lrnng Hbrw wtht vwls. Sms knd f crzy dsn’t t?

 

Random Tidbits

E-Books now outselling print books on Amazon UK.

My friend Cedric issued a challenge to sum up my three books in haiku, so here it is:

Teen girl, easy life.
Shit hits the fan. People die.
Growing up’s painful.

Heart’s desire reached.
But there’s a complication.
Life is hard choices.

The foe is revealed.
When all you have left is death,
How you die matters.

Yeah, I know I’m behind on “Vampire Lawyers” again. I have a vague idea floating around in my head, but I haven’t sat down and forced it to gel. I’ve actually *gasp* been taking a break from writing for the last several days! I can’t afford a real vacation from work, but I can at least take a break from my second job.

…Just in time to try and tame the mess in the house. I think most writers must have messy, disorganized houses (unless they can afford a housekeeper). You just don’t have time to clean when there’s so much reading and writing to be done. (This may be why my two lead protagonists are neat-freaks: living vicariously!)

On a side note, I was in a local shop today, and I’ve already picked out the antique furniture and Victorian prints that I want in my writer’s cottage. Now, besides needing the cottage, I need $1,000 to drop on the furnishings.

Obsessing About Books and Music

Anselm drove to the North Carolina border before swapping driving duty with Micah. Kalyn had fallen asleep in the back seat, but woke when the car stopped and Anselm and Micah wrangled over the music selection in whispers.

“I can’t listen to classical music and stay awake,” Micah complained.

“I want to sleep,” Anselm countered. “No techno.”

“Do you want me to drive or not?”

Kalyn closed her eyes and smiled, listening to them argue for a full minute before they finally compromised with Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album. Micah stuck it in the CD player and they got on their way again.

While I’m now in agony over the fact that I have probably abused the hell out of em-dashes (I love them til it hurts), I take comfort in the fact that I can at least name that tune.

Speaking of which, I actually have a playlist for my book. If you want to cue the music while reading certain chapters, it will help set the mood.

Accepted – Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) by Greenday
Waiting to Say Goodbye – Lullaby by Billy Joel
They Are Waiting – Gloomy Sunday by Sarah McLachlan
Old Soldiers – Wild Boys by Duran Duran
Trouble Comes in Fives – Breathe by Pink Floyd
Master Joshua – הפרויקט של עיד (Say God) by The Idan Raichel Project
The Basement – Cursum Perficio by Enya
The Enemy Among us – Oculus Ex Inferni by Symphony X

You may ask why on earth did I bother to make a soundtrack for my book? Well, actually, when I write, I imagine (read: fantasize about) my book playing out as a movie. And sometimes there’s a soundtrack that accompanies that sweeping shot, slow motion action, or zoom in. I have it in my head anyways, so why not share?

“Acceptance” Is Not “Twlight.” I Swear.

Reasoning with Vampires does make a good point: Bella is perpetually whiny and/or moody. I did get tired of her poor self-esteem. (While most teens go through similar insecurities at some point, I hope that Twilight doesn’t encourage teens to be like that. It’s bad enough when it happens naturally; I’d hate for it to be purposefully cultivated.)

My protagonist maintains more dignity when she doesn’t have contact with her crush for a week:

Kalyn had been a little surprised she hadn’t heard from Anselm all week, but when she said something to her mother about it, Alice shrugged it off. “He knows your exams are coming up. He won’t bother you during the school week—not when there are enough other people to do it instead.”

Still, Kalyn felt rather deflated. Her parents and Isaac had all spent quite a bit of time talking to her about her Acceptance before it happened. Then there was everything in the ceremony itself: it had sounded as if she was selling herself into life-long slavery. But now that it had happened once, that seemed to be it. It was rather like her experience with Anselm: it was much less dramatic than she had expected.

Ah, well, such is life. You think coming of age is going to be this big, world-changing event, but as soon as your birthday’s over, everything goes back to normal. (Guess what. Losing your virginity is like that, too.)

I really need to quit reading RwV, though. I’ve already gone back and changed some punctuation around. This could easily get out of hand and lead to an eleventh edit (at the eleventh hour, no less). At some point you’ve just got to stop and step away from the word processor.

But I care. I really do.

Fifteen Words or Less

Annie Cardi does book summaries in 15 words or less. Summing up your own book in one or two sentences is quite hard (or maybe it’s just hard for me). So I thought I’d play around with some options. Feel free to comment on my choices or, even better, do the same for your book in the comments below.

Acceptance
(Book One)

When your debutante party includes vampires, coming of age is going to be bloody.

Devotion
(Book Two)

Don’t ever trust life when things are going well; you’re about to get screwed.

Sacrifice
(Book Three)

Mayhem. Genocide. Torture. Bitter, bitter conclusion.

The Acceptance Trilogy
(overall plot)

Vampires in yarmulkes.

Epic good-versus-evil coming-of-age romance with Jewish vampires.

 

Done!

It’s done! Done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done,  done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done!

I’ve finished the last edit of my book! The pre-release copy has been sent off to my Kickstarter backers! I’m moving the actual publication date up to August 31, 2012! Exclamation points!!!

“This is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”