Friday, February 15, 2008

Writing Book Reviews: Post Two

I'm going to finish the official week of posts with the second on how I write book reviews. However, be sure to check back Saturday for a review of Rattled by Trish Berg and a chance to win a copy of this fantastic book that's targeted at new parents.

Last time, I walked you through my review of ADAM by Ted Dekker. I enjoyed Blessings by Kim Sawyer equally as much, yet the genre is completely different. Rather than suspense with strong supernatural overtones, Blessings is the last book in a trilogy set in Old World sect in Kansas.
Hopefully, you'll see that the tone is different. As is the way I approach the book. Bottomline, I want the reader to tell from the review why I liked the book, what I didn't like. How the book moved me. Did I interact with the book? Did it challenge me? Did I cry? Get mad? Heave it across the room? Want to shake a character? Or am I still thinking about the book and its message days later?
Blessings by Kim Sawyer
When I received a copy of Kim Sawyer’s latest book Blessings in the mail, I couldn’t wait to start reading it. Unlike the first two that I let linger on my to be read pile, this one got consumed within a couple days of entering my house. (My earlier reviews let readers know that I am not a fan of these Amish type tales. In fact, even though I loved Kim's other books, I'd let the first two in this series languish in my TBR pile for months! In contrast, this book got picked up the moment it arrived.) And Kim did not disappoint. I LOVED this book and am sad to see the series end.
Blessings is the third book in the Sommerfeld Trilogy and it was a delight to step back into Sommerfeld, Kansas and rejoin characters from the prior books. At the same time, I loved getting to know Trina Mueller better. She’s been a strong secondary character in the other books, but this time we get to see into her heart and mind. (This paragraph let's readers know how this book fits into the series and which character steps to the forefront. Trina has been a very likable character all along and one readers will root for. Now they know she's the star!)
For as long as she could remember, Trina has loved caring for animals. Now as a young woman of 19 her heart’s desire is to become a vet. The problem? Her order does not allow young people to be educated past the 9th grade. (Tiny character sketch) Trina struggles – in a very real way – with how to reconcile this desire that she firmly believes is God-given with the constraints of the order. (Quick spiritual struggle) What I love about Trina is she doesn’t do everything perfectly, and she bears the consequences for her actions, yet I couldn’t stop rooting for and crying with her throughout the book. (The strength of this books lies in the amazing way Kim handles this struggle. Trina isn't a perfect character, which it would have been easy to let her become. Instead, Kim gives her very real responses that I could relate to -- those in turn made the character more real and believable.)
Graham Ortmann can’t wait to get Trina’s agreement and have their relationship published, one small step away from marriage. Yet, as she chases this dream, she changes, and he’s not sure he can continue the relationship. (quick character sketch on the hero with a quick highlight of his big conflict. I did not give a synopsis per se but a look at the characters' growth and development this time.)
The progression and growth that these characters and the community embark on is real. Not everything works out wonderfully and there’s no miraculous moment where everything suddenly changes. Instead, it’s a gradual and painful process for all involved. (anything less wouldn't ring true.)
The writing is superb as I’ve come to expect from Kim’s books, but it’s the emotional and spiritual journey of the main characters and community that made this a book I could not put down. (Short summary of what makes this book a keeper.)
That's how I do it. I hope this helps!

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