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Book reviews and trolls As a reporter and a novel writer I’ve written reviews of other authors’ books. I have established a few rules when I write a review. First, I read the book. I have received a few troll reviews – every author does where it is clear the critic did not read the entire book or even a good portion of the book. I had a laughable review where the critic said she bought the book because the cover had a picture of a sternwheeler. She then complained that the boat wasn’t part of the story. Anyone who has read “Impending Love and Promise” knows the sternwheeler, the Jenny Lee, is a big part of the story, but the hero, Dr. Roe Greystone, isn’t introduced until chapter 3 aboard the Jenny Lee as part owner. The heroine, Jules Beecher, has to leave home in chapter 1 and travel to Cincinnati where she encounters the villain in chapter 2 and boards the Jenny Lee in chapter 4. Of the 30 chapters, most are on the sternwheeler. So, I repeat rule 1 – read the book. Rule 2 – If I cannot read the entire book, and there have only been a couple of books that were so bad, I had to put them down, I will not write a review. That does not mean I will write a good review for every book I read. If I see flaws in the writing, plot, character development or logic, I will point them out and warn the reader they may encounter some stumbling blocks to the story. I try to make my criticism specific and helpful to the writer of the story as well as other writers. We can all learn from other writing – even stories with flaws. Rule 3 – If I enjoy a book, I point out why. Again I try to be specific about a well-developed and entertaining character, a surprising twist to a plot, or vivid description. I hate critics who say, I liked it, but can’t tell you why. Figure out what makes it a good story and share that information. The writer will appreciate she is doing something right and other readers will trust your judgment when choosing books you recommend. You can spot a troll by the lack of detail in the review. It’s all about whether she liked the story or not. She can’t tell you why. When you look at reviews, judge them by content and dismiss the ones that rate a book low without giving a valid reason. Also be wary of 5-star reviews that don’t give a reason why you should love it. Rule 4 – Realize that every reader has different taste. I like romance, mysteries, and thrillers. I don’t read much supernatural, fantasy, or science fiction. That doesn’t mean I won’t read them, but I recognize my own prejudice of certain genres and try to be objective when I write a review. Other readers may love a story I was lukewarm about. That’s when I point out something interesting in the story or what may appeal to a reader who is looking for that type of story. Reviews are for helping other readers find books that fit their interest. They are not for killing the hopes and dreams of writers or insulting others who don’t fit your personal taste. Recognize trolls for what they are and ignore their reviews, but if you like a book, write a review. If you can’t post it on Amazon or a book selling site, post it on the author’s social media site so she can share it with her followers. With so many books to choose from, reviews should help readers find the ones worth reading. Do you write reviews or have you been the victim of a troll? Please share your experience.