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Critics Corner

ken barber

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Critics Corner

An exciting new idea from The Castle which needs your help:

The Critics Corner will be launching soon. The concept is to highlight completed works and give readers and members some talking points and recommendations.  and we need some critics. Forum member and author William King has agreed to take the lead on this venture. But we need at least two more critics.

If you would like to help out here’s what to do:

Read this story Ken Barber's "Snow Angels"

Write a review of the story using the guidelines below and email it to



William King will read your review and respond. The critics will be chosen on the basis of their reviews. You must be prepared to commit to six book reviews minimum. Each critic gets to choose a book to review.

The Book Review.
Aim for between 200 and 400 words.

Start by describing what the book is about.
No spoilers, do not give away the plot.

Say what you liked about the book.
Consider the following:
Who was your favorite character, and why?
Did the characters feel real to you?
Did the story keep you guessing?
What was your favorite part of the book, and why?

Quote a part of the story, a couple of sentences or short paragraph, that you feel captures the mood and style.

Were certain types of scene written particularly well - sad scenes, action scenes, mysterious ones...?
Was the dialogue good, fitted the character, their age?
Were the descriptions good, well done?
Did the book make you laugh or cry?
Did the story grip you and keep you reading?

Mention anything you disliked about the book.
Talk about why you think something didn't work for you:

Did you wish the ending had been different or was it not the right place to end the story?
Did you find it difficult to care about a main character, could you say why?

Here we want to know what might have been done better.

Round up your review.
Summarize some of your thoughts on the book by suggesting the type of reader you'd recommend the book to. For example: younger readers, older readers, fans of relationship drama/mystery stories/comedy. Are there any books or series you would compare it to?

These guidelines are not exhaustive, you might want to talk about the writing style of the author, compare with other books you have read, by the same or different authors, but you need to avoid statements like “X did this so much better.”

There is an art to good reviews, their purpose is to aid the reader in deciding if they want to read the book. It is also a personal view, hence the need for other critics.

Here is how The Critics Choice will work.

The Castle Critics will select one work per month. They will all read and write a review of that book. Short stories are not included unless we decide to do an anthology special. The reviews will be posted in the Critic's Corner of the Forum.

The Author will receive an email from the Critics asking a series of questions about the work. These questions and answers will be posted with the reviews giving the readers more insight on that Author.

The Critics will be autonomous. The Administrators and Forum Moderators will not guide, urge or even know which books have been selected until after the reviews are published. The only established rules are:

1.The chosen books must be complete.

2. The chosen books should have been posted at no less than 6 months prior to the review.

3. The same author should not have multiple books reviews in a 6 month period.

The Reviews will not be screened or filtered by any staff members, with one exception: blatant negative reviews that appear to only attack the Author and/or his/her work will be removed and the Critic will not be asked to participate any further. (Reminder the Author is always in full control of their stories and if they asked for a review to be removed for any reason, we will be obligated to do so.)

Once the reviews and interviews are posted the discussion will be opened to everyone. The Critics Choice story will be featured on the Website taking the place of the readers choice.

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So As I understand it and William King will correct me if I am wrong. You can submit trail reviews right up until 12/31 for consideration. The First review and featured story will posted at the beginning of February. If your interested in joining the team its not hard and isn't a huge commitment just one story and review per month. The more critics there are the less of a commitment, meaning if you wanted to skip a month or two that would be fine as long as we have at least 2 reviews per story.

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Ken is more or less correct - we really need people to take part, but at the same time I know everyone has real life and other commitments. So, we are asking for six reviews, which means reading six books, but not necessarily one every month, I just want to know you will be sticking around to take part.

As Ken said the more people in the team the lighter the burden, the more flexible the timescale.

There is no deadline for submitting a trial, test, review. You can do this at anytime, anyone is welcome to join the team of critics whenever they feel able.

You get to select one book you would like reviewed and that gets added to the list. You don't need to be brilliant, we will help.

As well as the book reviews there is an interview each month with the author, so you also get to ask questions.

The first Critics Choice book review is for February. If you have any questions, not sure if you should join, write to me.


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