On Reviews: The Tricky Three-Star Review

On Reviews When to Write a Three-Star Review

Always Write proudly hosts Kevin Cooper for the third of his series on writing the three-star review. How do you handle reviewing average books, especially when you know people in the writing community? How do you feel when you get one? Kevin gives comforting advice to both the reviewers and the authors. Read on to find out the tricks to the trade when giving or receiving a three-star review.

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three-Star Reviews


Series Three

The Tricky Three-Star Review

Three-star reviews are probably the trickiest of all reviews. Few people like to write them, and even fewer like to receive them. Personally, I don’t mind receiving a three-star review as long as it’s honest and has something to say which I can learn from, albeit, like all authors, I do prefer five-star and four-star reviews.
First and foremost as with all reviews, when writing the three-star review, one should be perfectly honest without being offensive. One way we can achieve this is by looking at reviews in the same manner as one’s perspective of the school/university rating systems. E.g.: A five-star review would be equivalent to an A… for excellent work; Four-star reviews are equivalent to receiving a B… for very good work. This brings us to the three-star review… (You’ve guessed it!) C.
So what’s wrong with a C or a three-star review? It actually means that the work is equally as good as most everybody else’s!

Nobody Likes Being Average

It’s a funny old world we live in. We love democracy because it provides everyone with a voice. We fight for equality and a fairer society. But, nobody likes being average.

The key to writing a good three-star review is the same as that of receiving one: Firstly, remember that three-stars, still means your work has been viewed by your reviewer to be as good as most anyone else’s they have read or anyone’s else’s out there. Don’t take offense to it. Instead look for why the reviewer decided to give you a three-star rating. Even if you don’t agree with the reviewer, try to be open-minded about the reasons they give for their rating. If they haven’t given any reasons and/or it’s one of those reviews that are not really a review, (Less than a simple paragraph with no detail) ignore it.

Give Some Indication As to Why You Gave the Book a Three-Star Review

All reviews should consist of at least one paragraph with some important detail included. However, one doesn’t have to write a full summary of the work which could end up as long as one of the chapters, if not longer, in said work either. Bear this in mind when writing your three-stars review and at the very least give some indication as to why you decided to give it three stars, and if possible what changes would be necessary to improve the rating you gave.

That’s it for now folks. Join me later as I discuss two and one-star reviews in my final episode of On Reviews.

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Displacement, Anne Stormont’s Romance

How Do You Survive Quadruple Losses ?

Displacement, Anne Stormont’s romance plus, featured quadruple losses. Authors often weigh their characters down with problems. But real people may be overcome trying to cope with multiple tragedies, too.

Brenda, married to her third husband, turned fifty-six the year her ten-year-old daughter drown in the river that ran through the local park. Her cancer which had been in remission for five years returned. Her older daughter, Toni, battled with drugs and her marriage hung by threads. When Brenda’s brother Ted died the next year, she couldn’t cry. “This doesn’t seem real. I don’t have any tears left in me to cry,” she told her friend.

DisplacementAnne Stormont’s Romance Plus

Displacement, Anne Stormont's Romance Plus
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Hopefully, you have not had to experience this much sorrow in your life.

Brenda looked like she had lost touch with reality. During a church field trip to Crystal Cave in Sequoia National Park Brenda walked out of the cave so slowly that her teenaged son looped her three times during the mile walk. He thought he would have to carry her up the path. She acted eighty years old.

No one at church could identify with Brenda and her problems. There was no solace. The sermons didn’t help. The parishioners brought food, but Brenda couldn’t eat. She couldn’t control her four children, some of them still in school. She could not work.  Women in the church were busy. No one had or took the time to sit with her.

What do you do when tragedy piles sorrow and responsibility onto your shoulders? Do you accept unsubstantiated blame when family members accuse you?

In Displacement, Ann Stormont allows her heroine, Rachael Campbell, to suffer from multiple losses and traces her slow but steady progress of emotional healing.

Life Deals Unbearable Woes That Time Won’t Heal

Research shows that stresses in life compound over time resulting in symptoms like depression, memory loss, weight changes, tears, sleeplessness, and grouchiness. Unlike one popular belief, time does not heal all human woes.

The character, Rachael Campbell, lost her husband to another woman, her son to war. On top of that, her daughter blamed her for everything and refused to talk to her. When her mother died, she became agoraphobic. She would have lost her grip on life and drown saving one of her sheep. However, her dog Bonnie alerted her new neighbor in time to rescue her.

Is Rachel Campbell a Total Nutcase?

As you read Displacement, you identify with the heroine’s emotions and how she reacts to her situations. Her new neighbor, Jack described her to his daughter as a nutcase at the beginning of the book. She’s reclusive, tearful and short-tempered with even her best friend.

But slowly Jack as wins her trust he discovers an accomplished woman weighted down with sorrow and began to fall in love with her. After her near-death experience, Rachael’s brother and her close friends convince her to get help. She realizes with the help of a counselor that she is not coping with her losses and moving forward with her life.

Over the course of the book, you watch how Rachael reaches out to life and responds to the people around her. You notice how she interacts with Jack’s granddaughter, who recognizes her as an author.  A Palestinian innkeeper advises her in the middle of a sleepless night.  Eitan, a rogue Israeli artist friend of her brother, helps her move slowly out of her stagnated grief. As Rachel starts healing from multiple life stresses, her new friendships with Jack and Eitan add meaning to her life.

Displacement, Anne Stormont’s Romance PluIs More Than a Love Story

Displacement, Anne Stormont's Romance Plus

However, if you start reading Displacement, Anne Stormont’s romance plus as a frothy romance, you may get stuck. At 352 pages it is longer tha n the average chick book, with multiple complex characters and situations. The heroine, Rachael, works as an author-illustrator of children’s books as well as a crofter in the Hebrides of Scotland.

Rachael connected with her brother, Jonathan after twenty years, when their mother died. He had followed his Jewish ancestry and established a life in Israel. Their mother, a Holocaust survivor, had not been pleased about the move, and never wanted Rachael even to visit. With her mother gone, Rachael decided to find out if her new life included immigrating to Israel.

Light-hearted American readers might not enjoy the geographical and historical background information that Stormont includes in this “romance plus” written primarily about Rachael’s recovery from multiple losses. Those who enjoy learning as they read will love Displacement.

For example, a croft, as Rachael owns, is a small unit of agricultural land including any houses, agricultural buildings, and fences.  “Crofting is a traditional social system in Scotland defined by small-scale food production.” Wikipedia Over 19,000 crofts exist in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.  A large estate owner may rent out several crofts on his property.

Middle-Aged Romances Are Complicated with Families, Jobs, and Other Baggage.

After her marriage ended, Rachael had moved back to her family’s croft where she had grown up, to help her father with his sheep. Like most crofters, she continued working in her profession. As a children’s author, Rachael incorporated crofting and caring for sheep in her stories.

After her father passed, she remained on the croft to care for her aging mother. But when her mother died, she felt adrift. She no longer knew whether she wanted to continue crofting, writing or even living in Scotland.

Like her brother, she decided to investigate her Jewish heritage. Against objections from her ex-husband and estranged daughter, she made plans to take a break from her routines and visit Israel. Meanwhile, her new friend, Jack stays behind to help neighbors care for Rachael’s croft while she travels.

In a relationship with a married woman, Jack begins to take account of his life.  He needs to care for his pregnant daughter and granddaughter while building a new home in the Scottish Hebrides.

It Is Not Easy To Talk About Mental Health Issues.

People talk more about mental health issues than they used to. For many, it is difficult to recognize or admit when there is a problem.

Sorrow over a loss is universal. However, when the depression or obsession doesn’t go away, it may be time to reach out for professional help. Rachael finally admits that five years has not changed the way she feels about her ex-husband, her daughter or her son.

If you are going through tragedy, Reading Displacement might help you. Those who have experienced overwhelming disasters will recognize the stages of Rachael’s healing.

Four Star Rating

Displacement, Anne Stormont's Romance Plus

There were a disappointing number of reviews on Amazon for  Displacement, Anne Stormont’s Romance Plus. Not much prevented it from being a five-star book in my opinion.

Throughout the book, there were some grammar errors. Even if the mistakes were unintentional, they did not detract from the heart of the story. However, they were frequent enough that you might notice them.

Anne does a fabulous job of telling Rachael’s and Jack’s love story. Displacement has the potential to be much more than a romance between a middle-aged couple with problems. Anne defines her writing as “Romance Plus.” Read it and see if you agree. You will want a sequel.

Amazon Best Seller’s Rank

Displacement, Anne Stormont's Romance Plus

Amazon Bibliography

Displacement, Anne Stormont's Romance Plus

Anne Stormont is a Scot and lives in the Scottish Hebrides. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother. For thirty-six years she taught primary school but has now left teaching to write full-time.

Anne has written since she could first make squiggles on paper. She also enjoys gardening, hiking and riding pillion on her husband’s motor-bike.

Even though she can be a subversive old bat, she maintains a kind heart.

Her books portray her belief that there is life after fifty and she writes thoughtful, grown-up, romantic fiction where the main characters are older but no wiser. Anne thinks of her genre as Romance Plus. Plus what? Plus intelligence, insight, and grit.

Anne has also published a children’s novel for nine-to-twelve-year-olds called ‘The Silver Locket’ under her other writing name of Anne McAlpine, and it is also available as e-book and paperback on Amazon.

She also he contributes to the online magazine for writers, ‘Words with Jam’.

You can find out more about Anne by visiting her blog at https://putitinwriting.me


Twitter @writeanne

What Are You Waiting For?

Displacement, Anne Stormont's Romance Plus

If you’d like to review or write a guest post for Always Write, contact me on by email at tchistorygal@gmail.com.

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Thirty-Two Going on Spinster by Becky Monson

How do you get over being single even though you’re thirty-two and almost a spinster?

Young and single, you’re caught up in life’s routines, and suddenly you realize you’ve become a spinster. You lost track of time, and it’s starting to show.

What do you do?

Whose life doesn’t seem routine and drab at times? Sleep-inducing even, wouldn’t you say?

Read on to find out how Julia Dorning woke up and realized she’d been laundering her life in the spinster cycle.

32 Book Cover
Thirty-Two Going on Spinster

Routine Results

Julia Dorning epitomizes the unfortunate results of letting time slipping by into a comfortable routine. In 285 pages Becky Monson cleverly weaves together hilarious details of a mundane life. She keeps the reader laughing instead of yawning throughout her book, Thirty-Two Going on Spinster.  Ms. Spinster, Julia Dorning, writes in first person, diary style, as though she just woke up, and realized that clock had ticked a few too many times, and she had overslept her destiny.

“He (Julia’s doctor) actually told me that I should seriously consider finding someone and settling down and that my eggs ‘weren’t getting any younger.'”

Spinster Mind Candy
George Costanza

Many heroes and heroines are beautiful, young, athletic, and good at everything.  Like George Costanza, there is little about this star that is heroesque. She sleeps on the job, remains out of shape, lives in her parent’s basement, garners few marketable skills, and lives a dull life with no hopes that the future would change the course of her life.  When her boss and a new employee on tour find her scrambling to explain why she would be crawling out from under a table in the spare room of the office building where she works, the drama begins.  But oh so slowly, because this woman is no heroine.

Spinster Mind Candy
Amazon Best Seller’s Rank: October 30, 2017

Spinster Mind Candy – Predictable But Oh So Fun!

Of course, the reviewer of this novel, can’t tell you whether she lost her job or if she quit sleeping under the table in the spare room. If you want to know if she came up with a good excuse about why she was there, you’ll have to read the book.  You know there must be more hooks out for the male model-type, Jarod Moody, mid-thirties, ring-free, male. What you don’t know is how she tries to catch him. Like every other person on the planet, Julia also has more competition and complications at home than she does at work.

 In her own words, “I have a feeling it’s going to be harder before it gets easier.”

Her premonition is correct, or the book would meander into the boring category.  And boring, this book is not.

Everything about this romantic novel, even the first words, a definition of a spinster, is highly unexpected and unsettling.  The reader is like the poor kid that is just waiting in line to order lunch when his friend, playing the clown, comes up behind him and flexes his knees into the back of the daydreamer’s locked unsuspecting legs.  The action doesn’t topple the victim but throws them slightly off balance.  So does this book.

Reviewer’s Rating of Book One in the Spinster Mind Candy Series

Spinster Mind Candy
Four Star Rating
Spinster Mind Candy
Becky Monson

By day, Becky Monson is a mother to three young children and a wife. By night, she escapes with reading books and writing. An award-winning* author, Becky uses humor and true-life experiences to bring her characters to life. She loves all things chick-lit (movies, books, etc.), and wishes she had a British accent. She has recently given up Diet Coke for the fiftieth time and is hopeful this time will last… but it probably won’t.

*Winner: Readers’ Favorite Book Award 2016

To find out more of what Becky is up to, check out her Facebook page:

What Are You Waiting For?

Spinster Mind Candy

If you’d like to review or write a guest post for Always Write, contact me by email at tchistorygal@gmail.com