From Category: Reviews and Criticism
[Spoiler Alert] is the online book club of The American Scholar, a well-respected magazine of literary criticism and essays. "We're a forum for swapping book recommendations, meeting editors and authors, and connecting with other readers across the country, culminating in regular livestreamed discussions about our book of the month." Read the forum guidelines and submit a request to join their private Facebook group.
Kaitlin Curtice is a poet and spirituality writer, and an enrolled member of the Potawatomi Citizen Band Nation. Her book Glory Happening: Finding the Divine in Everyday Places was published in 2017 by Paraclete Press. In this article on her blog, she recommends contemporary books of poetry, fiction, spirituality, and children's literature by indigenous authors. "If you want to break cycles of colonization and assimilation, you must take the time to learn from Indigenous experiences, through our own words."
Carolyn Howard-Johnson is the author of the How to Do It Frugally series of books on marketing and editing for indie authors. Her blog The New Book Review reprints positive reviews submitted by authors and reviewers. In this blog post, she explains the basics of writing a helpful review on Amazon, Goodreads, or similar sites to promote your favorite books by other authors.
Kind of a Hurricane Press publishes this webzine devoted to reviews of poetry books and chapbooks.
Bloom is a website that showcases authors whose first book was published at age 40 or older. Contemporary authors can contact the site to request a feature. There are also articles on late-blooming greats of the past. Editors say, "Bloom's mission and intention are not to critique or detract from the success of young writers; our interest is in contributing to the conversation about literary life and creative process, offering up a diverse range of paths as models. Our hope is to present some counter-balance to the disproportionate attention paid to precocity by exploring and presenting stories of slower, zig-zag, later-life, development...Bloom seeks to challenge any narrow or uniform ideas about what constitutes literary success or authenticity."
Book Series Recaps helps fans catch up on details they have forgotten, in preparation for reading the next book in a series. The site also features spoiler-free book reviews, fan art, discussions, and book quotes. Authors they follow include Leigh Bardugo, Holly Black, Roshani Chokshi, Sarah J. Maas, and Toni Adeyemi. Focus is on YA and fantasy.
Launched in 2010, Brittle Paper aims to promote and discuss the best in contemporary African literature. They publish original fiction and poetry, literary news and commentary, book reviews, and craft articles. They also compile a list of notable African books published each year. Among the useful resources on this site, we recommend Kenyan author and Cornell University professor Mukoma Wa Ngugi's article "Writing Your Other: A Concise Guide for White Writers".
Sophisticated poetry reviews sponsored by Fence magazine. Any site that appreciates Gabriel Gudding's A Defense of Poetry gets our approval. Sign up for the mailing list to be notified of new reviews.
Literary news, reviews and interviews help you take the pulse of the art without getting bogged down in jargon or ideology. Good links to work in other journals as well, such as this article on Classical Arabic Poetry.
Disability in Kidlit is a multi-author website dedicated to discussing and improving the portrayal of disability in middle grade and young adult literature. They publish critical essays, reviews, and interviews. Their goals are to help readers, editors, and libraries find books with accurate and respectful treatment of disability, and to educate writers and editors about problematic portrayals. All contributors and editors identify as disabled.
Fiction Southeast is an online journal of short fiction (particularly flash), craft essays, literary criticism, and reviews of short story collections. They sponsor the Hell’s Belles Short Fiction Prize for stories by women, and the Ernest Hemingway Flash Fiction Prize. Services offered include web design, critiques, editing, and online workshops.
The blog can be read by the general public. To join the social network, you need to request an invite via the link on their website.
In this blog post, Amazon Top Reviewer "Bassocantor", a/k/a Chris Lawson, gives advice on how to craft a professional, targeted pitch to solicit book reviews.
In this 2017 essay from Current Affairs, Brianna Rennix takes a skeptical look at popular experimental devices in contemporary literary novels. She argues that these tricks have become cliché, interfering with the genre's unique potential to entertain and provoke empathy. For fun, test your MFA syllabus or this week's New York Times Book Review against the Postmodern Novel Bingo card: "Entire chapter is just a list of ironic brand names"; "Tepid marriage ruined by unsatisfying infidelity"; "A lumbering comedic setpiece is suddenly interrupted by horrific violence"; and more.
Dahlia Adler, author of several Young Adult and New Adult novels including Under the Lights, writes this book review blog that spotlights queer-themed fiction for teens and adults.
Established in 1976, the Midwest Book Review is an organization committed to promoting literacy, library usage, and small press publishing. Reviews are posted monthly on their affiliated websites and distributed to libraries, literary websites, databases, and online discussion groups. MBR welcomes small press and self-published authors.
Midwest Book Review is a monthly online publication that reviews self-published, small press, and mainstream books in a variety of genres. Their site includes additional resources for author marketing, such as this vetted list of other review organizations and publications that are open to indie books.
A large, collaborative collection of critical essays. Background and analysis of many of today's most interesting American poems and poets. Submissions welcome. Click here for information.
The Neglected Books blog spotlights "thousands of books that have been neglected, overlooked, forgotten, or stranded by changing tides in critical or popular taste." Posts include reviews, lists, and brief excerpts. Many of the featured works are literary fiction and poetry from the early and mid-20th century, though older works also make an appearance.
This book review series is broadcast on WNIJ and WNIU, the public radio station affiliated with Northern Illinois University. The website includes book reviews and audio clips of author readings and interviews.
Founded in 2012, Public Books is an online journal that aims to "unite the best of the university with the openness of the internet." Featuring accessible articles by scholars in a variety of disciplines, from anthropology and history to literature and television, the journal brings academic research to a general audience. They have an extensive book review archive.
In this 2017 essay from the LA Review of Books blog, widely published poet and critic Kristina Marie Darling advises reviewers how to be mindful of privilege and subjectivity when critiquing a poetry book, particularly one by a less-established author. She warns against inferring psychological or autobiographical details from authors' published work. The essay contends that the best reviews are those that situate the book in its own aesthetic tradition and point the book toward the audience most likely to appreciate it.
Reedsy is a networking and resource site for book marketing. This curated list features 174 book review blogs that were active as of 2017, searchable by genre and openness to indie books (self-published and print-on-demand).
Poets & Writers Magazine maintains this searchable database of periodicals and websites that publish book reviews. Find out where to send review copies, what genres are accepted, whether self-published books will be reviewed, and more.
Literary scholar and fantasy novelist Katherine Langrish blogs about folklore, fantasy, and ballads from an academic perspective. Topics include C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Hans Christian Andersen, and contemporary authors such as Terry Pratchett and Ursula K. LeGuin. Her book Seven Miles of Steel Thistles: Reflections on Fairy Tales (Greystones Press, 2016) collects some of the top essays from this site. In addition to providing insight about beloved classics, the site is a good resource for fantasy authors wishing to think critically about problematic tropes in their genre.
ShoutAbout is a curated product review site. Their list of their favorite 30 book review blogs includes ones specializing in romance, crime, fantasy, and juvenile literature. Winning Writers is honored to be on the list.
Sistah Scifi promotes speculative fiction by black women. Site founder Isis Asare says, "Sistah Scifi is a cauldron of all things afrofuturism; afro-mysticism; Black sci-fi; and voodoo casting spells to uplift literature written by Black women."
Edited by award-winning poet William Woolfitt, Speaking of Marvels is a blog that features interviews with authors of chapbooks, novellas, singles, and other shorter forms. Past interviewees have included Allison Joseph, Karen An-hwei Lee, Rajiv Mohabir, Carl Phillips, Cecilia Woloch, and many other notables.
Spine is an online journal profiling contemporary authors, illustrators, and book designers. In-depth pieces on great cover designs will be useful to self-published authors in packaging their own work.
Story Circle Book Reviews provides a review venue for women author-publishers and for women's work published by independent and university presses. The site's sponsor, Story Circle Network, also offers the Sarton Women's Book Awards for small press and self-published books by and about women, published in the US or Canada.
Founded by award-winning poet Rochelle Hurt, The Bind is an online journal that reviews poetry books by women and nonbinary authors. They review chapbooks, full-length collections, hybrid works, and translations. The Bind is interested in intersectional and feminist writing. Read a 2017 interview with Hurt on Trish Hopkinson's blog. Visit their website for guidelines for pitching articles and requesting reviews.
Published by the Southern Collective, the Blue Mountain Review is a quarterly journal of arts and culture. They publish interviews with writers, lit mag editors, artists, and musicians, plus original poetry, fiction, and essays. See their website for the current theme for their annual poetry chapbook contest.
Founded in 2012 by creative writing and composition professor Jordan Blum, The Bookends Review is an online journal publishing fiction, nonfiction, poetry, author interviews, essays, book reviews, and visual/musical works from around the world.
Reviews for over 900 books new and old. Concise and opinionated. Good at calling attention to obscure but worthy books. Genres include poetry. We also enjoy their blog, the Literary Saloon.
Founded in 2011, The Lit Pub website features recommendations of new literary fiction and nonfiction books, with brief reviews. The Lit Pub also publishes three full-length prose books per year through their open submissions period in June. Manuscripts may be novels, novellas, memoirs, lyric essays, story collections, prose poems and/or flash fictions.
Scott Evans a/k/a "Mr. E", an elementary school teacher in Wales, reviews and recommends children's books for parents and teachers on his site The Reader Teacher. His main focus is middle-grade fiction (ages 8-12).
In this 2018 essay for The Paris Review, literary scholar RL Goldberg recommends contemporary books by transgender and gender-nonconforming writers. Highlighted authors include Eli Clare, Leslie Feinberg, Andrea Lawlor, and Vivek Shraya.