So your writer friend asked for a review. You read the book – and maybe even liked it. But you’re not ready to declare it the next great novel.

So what do you do?

Reviews may be key to writers, but the purpose is to help potential readers find books. With that in mind, you might try a little more story description and a little less agonizing over stars.

What’s it actually about? Who is the hero, who is the villain? Where and when does it take place, and what is the genre? What do you wish somebody had told you before you read it?

Gone with the Wind might rate four out of five stars, or the full five. There are a few folks who put it in the two category. In deciding to read it, it’s more useful to know it’s about a sheltered southern bell thrust into the civil war. That she’s selfish, but strong enough to fight back and survive rather than wring her hands as so many of those surrounding her do. There’s the love story, and how Rhett Butler is exactly the sort to rescue her because she expects it – and then turn back in his own guilt to fight in a cause he knows is lost.

And the stars? Mix a little kindness with a little honesty, and hope for the best.

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