Book Review: Heathens by Jonah Bergan

“I get it. In my own work, I often talk with students who feel like they are pushed down and pushed down by life. This is often a manifestation of the power and oppression dynamics that exist in our own world.” -From the Gaming For Justice review of Heathens.

Reading and Gaming for Justice

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TW: death, oppression and violence based on sexual orientation

Can one angry boy save the world?

I have not read a more accurate tagline in a very long time. Heathens by Jonah Bergan follows Holden, an extremely angry teenager in the aftermath of the fall of civilization as we know it. This is a ‘young adult’ low fantasy, dystopian novel, but is definitely more on the violent and explicit side of young adult novels.

The book follows a teen Holden as he bands with others in a dystopian world in order to survive. The United States fractured over the polarized fight for LGBTQ+ rights. Once the government fell, Texas took most of the Midwest, creating the Republic of Texas, and a Christian based faction took over the Northeast. The United States retained some land in the south. And for Holden and other members of the LGBTQ+ community it is all…

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A Letter to Aspiring Book Reviewers A Blog Series

8: The Long Form Book Review:

In the last post we discussed the structure of the review and looked more closely at the commercial format. We discussed the appropriateness of posting a commercially formatted review at a retail website, and we very briefly discussed the long form review and why it belongs at your blog. If you’ll remember, the distinction between these two formats is that the commercial review serves as an endorsement of a book, whereas the long form review serves as the discussion of a book.

In the long form review you can explore the characters and the plot far more deeply than the author could or should in the blurb. In the long form review you can discuss some of the questions raised and some of your emotional experience of the story. You can and should discuss how the book related to something in your own life. In the long form review you are at liberty to expand on what you feel is important for a reader to know—about the story, the theme, or whatever it was that touched you or inspired you about the book. Remember, when looking for a book to review you are looking for a gem. You are looking for a thoughtful novel that provokes an emotional response. Among the many reasons for seeking such novels is the fact that you will be required to think about it, to write about it and to spend your time with the novel in question. Another good reason is the opportunities such a novel provides to you. Continue reading

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A Letter to Aspiring Book Reviewers A Blog Series

7 Two Texts For One Review: The Structure of the Indie Book Review

You have your notes, you have contemplated and considered and gathered your thoughts. Now it’s time to write. Don’t write directly onto your blog. Don’t write directly into the form field at Goodreads or Amazon. Use your word processor, or a pen and paper if you’re that sort, and write. Just write. If the book was great, no doubt you have a lot to say, and you should write every word of it now. Then edit. Then revise and rewrite and reconsider. Then do it again. Remember, reviewing is like writing because it is writing. Writing is drafting and editing and polishing over and over and over again. Do this until you have two finely polished texts.

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I’m Not Ashamed to Admit…

A fun and earnest commentary by Kelly Jensen, a fun and earnest author!

Kelly Jensen

There’s a link floating around Facebook that takes you to a list of books you should be probably be embarrassed to admit to reading. I ticked off sixteen out of the hundred. My score would have been way higher if they’d listed every book by some of the authors, particularly John Grisham and Jackie Collins.

I’m not one to brag about having read anything, mostly because I read for pleasure and really hate the idea of judging anyone for what they do for pleasure. (Plucking the heads off kittens and equally disgusting and bizarre hobbies would be the exceptions here.)

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How to Review Books on a Book Blog

A Letter to Aspiring Book Reviewers A Blog Series

6: Reading to Review:

At the outset, quite a few aspiring reviewers will read the full book, and then set out to summarize the story and the experience as though “the reading” and “the reviewing” are separate functions. They are not separate functions at all. You are not reading for entertainment, you’re reading toward a purpose. You’re reading to prepare yourself to write on a topic, that being the book you chose. You’ll need to express the emotional experience presented in the book and although you may also need to discuss the way the book made you think about this or that, in the review of any work of fiction, it is the emotional experience that is key. Your own thoughts and feelings should guide you to your conclusion regarding the work. It should guide you to how many stars you offer, and it should guide you to what you have to say in your review. Here’s how to do that: Continue reading

How to Review Books on a Book Blog

A Letter to Aspiring Book Reviewers A Blog Series

5: Responding to Book Review Requests:

You’re reading now. You’re reading a lot. If you do too much in one sitting, if you read too many blurbs and previews, one after the other, you may find that instead of reading with a sense of hopeful anticipation, you are beginning to feel impatient and maybe you’ve started dismissing books without giving them a fair chance to capture your imagination. If you find yourself in this situation, you can give yourself a break while still making progress. You can respond to some of the authors who requested reviews of books that you’ve decided not to review. Continue reading