Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Lisl's Choice for The Review's Book of the Month Award: Get Ready!

Lisl discusses how she chose The Review's March 2015 
Book of the Month Award

By now, many of you have heard of The Review’s still-somewhat-new initiative wherein we choose and confer on handpicked independent books an honor distinguishing them as quality works that stand head and shoulders above others. They are not chosen by any submission process; instead each of us individually selects on merits of our own determination. Rather than being an autocratic process, this works well with our team for two main reasons:

  • As a group review blog, there are a number of “judges,” as it were, which translates into consideration of more than that which any one given individual on a consistent basis might gravitate towards, a reality that increases the range of books from which to select
  • Our group is extremely fortunate in that every one of us, while having in common an historical fiction bent, also maintains interest in a startlingly wide array of subject matter, which exponentially increases the pool of candidates

Given the above, that our winners are selected by us rather than readers adds to our unique vision and role of support for a diverse group of independent authors, and also continues to reflect our standard that readers can count on The Review for great recommendations towards books worthy of the time, money and energy they invest in reading them. We only review works that meet this criteria.

That said, what exactly does it take to meet this criteria? As mentioned above, each reviewer has his or her own tastes, some of which may overlap with others’. Ultimately it comes down to the question of Would you tell others they should read this? with a breakdown to the following points:

  • The blurb describes a plot that captures my attention and develops within the book in a well-written, logical and authentic style. It is researched well.
  • The work maintains a reasonable balance between being reader- and writer-friendly. That is to say it doesn’t spoon feed me information or isn’t dumbed down, but also doesn’t rely on referential material the author is withholding or unreasonably expecting me to know already.
  • Characters are developed and meaningful; I grow to care for and remember them long after the book is finished.
  • The language is lovely—the words needn’t be posh or expensive, but they are more than mere vehicles for the transfer of information. Instead they touch me in a way that draws me in and makes me think. I also appreciate words that flow like water off my tongue as I read them aloud.
  • I become so invested with the book I don’t want to put it down.
  • Economy: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” As short as Hemingway’s six-word short story is, it tells a tale that even can be interpreted in more ways than one, and that impresses me. It’s a somewhat extreme example of how someone can say a lot with very few words, but it gets the point across rather well, no? I very much admire authors who can do this.
  • Literary techniques are utilized so seamlessly the links they create seem part of the natural landscape

With all this in mind I appraised the books I’d read and reviewed in the past and made a decision as to one that constitutes excellence. It was not an easy task, but then again, measuring what comes from the soul of another never is. I hope I can do this wonderful tale, which has found a spot of its own in my reader’s heart, the justice it deserves. I am pleased and proud, but also humbled and honored to have been a part of its journey. 

I am giddy with excitement to pass on that I shall announce the winner tomorrow, and hope you will return to help me honor it.

Just a little hint as to the book's identity!

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