Today I present Susan Allison-Dean, my good friend who splits her time between Cary, North Carolina and Armonk, New York. Sue started taking writing classes with me three years ago and last year debuted her novel, I KNOW YOU’RE THERE. She’s a former nurse, a current landscaper/gardener and is currently working on her second novel. As a new novelist, Sue learned a lot on the job and she’s here to share some of her insights with you on book reviews. Enjoy!

Susan Allison-Dean

Susan Allison-Dean

Finding out about the latest and greatest restaurants, hotels, and books has gone far beyond the traditional word of mouth recommendations from friends, family and colleagues. Written online reviews are helping consumers’ decide quickly whether they want to purchase a service or item based on what total strangers are saying.

Why might you want to join in this conversation? When it comes to your favorite local small business, a great online review on Google or Yelp can help the business thrive without spending a fortune in advertising, thereby decreasing overhead cost and the price to you the consumer. Sharing what a great vacation you just had on helps build a resource for travelers that they can trust, and you may want to reference in the future. When it comes to books, online reviews can help your favorite authors get noticed and sell books in the competitive world of publishing that includes over six million titles.

So how do you, the everyday reader, get involved? There are some formal ways to write a book review, such as this guideline from, but most readers appreciate authentic feedback from readers like themselves.

Here are 3 simple tips:

1.     Create an online account on at least one popular book website such as,, or

2.     Create a basic formula that you think you can easily follow. For example, pretend a friend approaches you as you are reading the book you will review and asks you these questions:

-“Hey, what are you reading?” Give her a short, less than a paragraph, description of what you think the book is about without spoiling the ending or key points.

-“Did you like it?” Again, brief summation of what you thought about the book. Would you recommend that she read it?

-Lastly, any personal points you want to add; it helped you see the culture in a new light, it made you feel better about a similar situation you went through, or maybe it made you laugh so hard you woke up your sleeping child.

 3.  Rating:

Each online review site has a star rating system consisting usually of   4 or 5 stars. Rating books can be a simple way to express your opinion of  a particular book. This is my personal guideline to rating a book; you can    create your own.

1 or 2 Stars: My father always said, “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” generally use this rule for books that I do not like or have trouble getting into. Therefore, I rarely give a book a one or two star rating. The only exception is if I REALLY tried to get into a book, like Barbara Kingsolver’s recent novel, Flight Behavior. I know Mrs. Kingsolver is a classic writer, but despite many attempts at reading this particular book, I did not connect with the characters or the vibe of the book. On the other hand, I gave her book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle a 5 star rating.

 –3 Star:  Enjoyed the book, average

4 Star:  Really enjoyed the book, would probably recommend it to friends

5 Star:  I save this level for my favorites!  Books that moved me deeply, taught me something, I keep on my bookshelf and I loved so much I share my copy with a friend or buy them one.

Your opinion is important, please don’t be afraid to share it.

Would you like an opportunity to read, review and rate I KNOW YOU’RE THERE?  For a limited time, I am offering a free copy of my novel in return for an honest review of the book on and If you are interested, please email me at HERE.

Susan Allison-Dean published her debut novel in 2013, I KNOW YOU’RE THERE. If you’re looking for an easy read that will keep you turning pages long into the night, check Susan’s book out here: