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Ellen Bosman

 
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Various Religions | Christian | Jewish | Science Fiction/Fantasy

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Reviews of Electronic Resources

Various Religions

ALAN Review
The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents (ALAN) is part of the National Council of Teachers of English. Their review journal is published three times per year and contains a book review section. ALAN's web site, which is an electronic version of the print journal, contains issues arranged by date. Select and issue and browse the book reviews. Reviews are signed by credentialed education personnel, and contain bibliographic data and analysis of approximately 50 words per entry. Unfortunately, the presence of religious reviews is negligible and lacks a religious perspective. Locating actual reviews takes a little time and use of the site's search engine. A search using the term "religion" returns forty-nine results. The most interesting are several literature review articles with enticing titles such as: Spiritual Themes in Young Adult Books, The Treatment of Religion and the Independent Investigation of Spiritual Truth in Fiction for Adolescents and Hard Religious Questions in Knee-Knock Rise and Tuck Everlasting. If it were not for the search engine, this site would have little value to those seeking religious reviews. Last visited: 05/2013.


American Religious Experience
This snappy-looking site is "a collaborative effort involving the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Louisiana State University, and West Virginia University... [and is intended to provide] students of American religion and culture a publication forum for their academic projects." As a result of the site's academic mission, the book review section concentrates on nonfiction titles and academic press publications. All of the reviews are signed and average 500-800 words. Most appear to be written by religious scholars, although this would be clearer if the reviewer's credentials were noted. Overlooking the date of the review, as well as the date the web page was updated, is a drawback. Including a statement on review selection criteria would be beneficial to those visiting the site. Site has not been recently updated. Last visited: 05/2013.


BookPage. Nashville, TN: ProMotion, Inc.
"A monthly general interest book review, BookPage covers the best in new releases, typically containing up to 100 reviews of new fiction, nonfiction, business, children's, spoken word audio, and how-to books. The tone is upbeat and literate, focusing on bestsellers as well as new discoveries. BookPage is...designed specifically to be distributed by booksellers and libraries to consumers." Signed reviews are arranged by genre and subject. Average reviews are 350 words, include cover art, and basic bibliographic data. Use the search or browse by genre features. A snappy publication which is also available in print. Recommended. Last visited: 05/2011.

Bookwire. Bowker.
A product of one of the leading providers of information to libraries, BookWire makes it easy "to discover, evaluate, order, and experience books." Search over 20 million book titles in all formats. Use the Religion category pages for quick browsing or conduct a search. Results will be of three types: publisher's product description, a review from Publisher's Weekly or author information. "SEO Title Cards" facilitate sharing via social networks and online purchasing. Last visited: 05/2011.

Children's Literature.
Designed to help educators and parents locate "appropriate literary choices for children" this site reviews more than 3,000 books annually. Those seeking religious book reviews are advised to look in the Features section under themed reviews. At the time of review, only materials for Jewish holidays and Jewish interests provided relevant religious content. Bibliographic information is provided, along with cover art when available, for each 50-75 word signed review. Reviewers credentials are provided, and a suggested reading age rounds out each review. A search engine would greatly improve this site, allowing visitors to search for specific subjects by keyword. Last visited: 05/2013.

CM Magazine: Canadian Review of Materials. Manitoba Library Association. ISSN 1201-9364
Established in 1995, CM is an electronic reviewing journal focusing exclusively on "...Canadiana of interest to children and young adults...." Clearly stated selection criteria include "...publications produced in Canada, or published elsewhere but of special interest or significance to Canada, such as those having a Canadian writer, illustrator or subject." A variety of formats are reviewed, including books, video and audio recordings and CD-ROMs. Graphic symbols provide a quick way to differentiate Canadiana from non-Canadian materials represented by Canadian publishers; the latter category is selectively reviewed. Cover art and complete bibliographic information accompany each 100-200 word signed review. Depending on the review, additional perks may include recommended reading/grade level and suggested subject headings. Reviewers, whose credentials are included, are primarily descriptive in their analysis of a work, although mild criticisms are noted. Each review ends with a purchasing recommendation. Reviews are arranged by author, title, media format. To find reviews by subject, try the search engine using keywords such as religion, Christianity, or Jewish. All issues are archived, including those for the print version of CM which dates from 1971. Finally, the site is bilingual. Although religious content is limited, this site sets the standard for other review-based sites. Highly Recommended. Last visited: 05/2013.

Danny Yee's Book Reviews.
Mr. Yee is an avid reader who calls his reviews the "ramblings of a pathologically eclectic generalist." Site contains over five hundred reviews arranged by subject, title, author, publisher, and chronologically. Keyword searching is added advantage. Subject index incorporates "see also" links, title index indicates subject and is consistent with subject index terms, chronological index records length of review. Check the subject index under RELIGION, as well as under specific religions. Recommended books appear in italics and bold type face indicates highly recommended. "Ramblings" range in length from 100-1500 words and may be descriptive and/or critical. Each entry is dated and concludes with complete bibliographic data and links to subjects, authors, and publishers. Frequently asked question section states review policy. Recommended for excellent cross-referencing and indexing. Last visited: 05/2013.

Fiction_L List. Morton Grove Public Library: Morton Grove, Illinois.
This subscriber-based listserv, founded in 1995, is "devoted to reader's advisory topics...and a wide variety of other topics of interest to librarians, book discussion leaders, and others.... Fiction_L was developed for and by librarians dealing with fiction collections and requests; however fiction lovers worldwide are welcome to join the discussion." The purpose of Fiction_L is discussion and communication, so visitors should not expect to find book reviews, but rather reading suggestions. Check out the Booklist section to find books arranged by genre, character, setting, subject, author, audience, "best-of", and miscellaneous. Each Booklist section includes a last updated notation. Religious thrillers and puzzlers can be located in the genre area. Once an area has been selected, the visitor is presented with a title and/or author list. Proceed to the Archives area and conduct a search for either title, author, or keyword. For example, a keyword search using "Christian" produced 5 results. Not updated since 2001. Last visited: 05/2013.

ForeWord Magazine.
Dedicated to news and reviews for the "independent publishing and bookselling industry", the slick and colorful print version debuted in June 1998. Similar to the print version in many ways, the web site's reviews contain a subject category, bibliographic and purchasing data. The signed reviews average 100-300 words, and are best described as a mixture of plot summary and mild critical analysis. Reviews are accessed via a search engine, or by browsing the publisher's or categories indexes. Searching the articles archives may yield additional results. Book of the Year Awards list includes religion and spirituality. Last Visited: 05/2013.


H-Net Reviews. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University, H-Net, Humanities OnLine.
An "interdisciplinary organization of volunteers dedicated to developing the enormous educational potential of the Internet" offers materials reviews in the humanities and social sciences. The reviews, which include book, software, film, and video, are culled from a consortium of scholarly electronic mailing lists. Signed, dated reviews are lengthy, critical, and contain all bibliographic data. Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication information is an added bonus. Links to reviewer provided and comments welcomed. Searchable by author, title, date, publisher, ISBN, LC number, reviewer, material's format, and electronic mailing list name. An excellent resource. Last visited: 05/2013.


Medieval Review. Kalamazoo, MI: The Medieval Institute and Western Michigan University.
Publishes "reviews of current work in all areas of Medieval Studies." Browse reviews since 1993 or conduct a keyword search by author, title or full text. Results limitation and simultaneous searching of the Bryn Mawr Classical Review are provided. A keyword title search using "religion" produced nineteen results, "Christianity" yielded five, while "Judaism" and "Judaica" produced no reviews. Subject access and author-title indexes would be helpful. Complete bibliographic data precedes each signed, scholarly article, averaging 800-1,500 words. Also available via electronic mail. Recommended for scholarly nature, search capability, backfile availability, and multiple delivery methods. Last visited: 05/2013.

Midwest Book Review. Oregon, WI: Midwest Book Review.
This well organized site sponsors several monthly newsletters, which rely on volunteer reviewers. The Internet Bookwatch, Children's Bookwatch, Small Press Bookwatch, and Reviewer's Bookwatch are available online and include back issues. Divided by subjects, such as spirituality, Judaic studies, and Christian Studies, the number and length of reviews vary, although complete purchasing data is provided. Generally, reviews are brief, descriptive, and unsigned. Audiovisual formats also covered. Reliance on volunteers creates unevenness, and signed reviews linking to reviewer's credentials would be beneficial. However, the site includes areas of interest to congregational librarians, provides keyword access via a search engine, and, therefore, stands out in the relatively limited field of electronic reviewing options. Recommended. Last visited: 05/2013.

Notes from the Windowsill.
Children's books are the theme of this electronic journal with each monthly issue focusing on a selected subject. Religious book reviews are sparse, but can be counted on during the winter holiday seasons. Volunteer reviewers, credentials stated, and provides brief, primarily descriptive abstracts. Cover art and complete bibliographic information accompanies unsigned reviews. Unfortunately, the only way to access relevant reviews is by browsing each issue. A search engine would be useful. Last visited: 05/2013.

Oppenheim Toy Portfolio
This "...independent consumer review of children's media" includes all forms of media, from books and videos to software and toys. The site's purpose is clearly stated, as well as the reviewer's names and credentials. Similarly, a section explains how items are selected for review, testing methods, and evaluation criteria. To locate reviews, visitors must first choose an age group ranging from infants to later elementary school (birth - 10 years old.) Scroll past the toy reviews to the book reviews, which are conveniently arranged by subject. Subject headings vary depending on the availability of reviews for the age group selected. Religious books are not readily evident, so check under "Bible Stories" and "Holidays". All books in the selected category appear with title, publisher, and price noted, although author is not always provided. The reviews are quite brief, approximately 20-40 words, and inclusion suggests award-winning quality. A suggested reading age is included, which seems a bit redundant since items are already grouped by age. Religious materials are sparsely covered, so the site is best for those seeking reviews of loosely religious materials. A search engine has been added. Standardizing subject categories would be a helpful site additions Last visited: 05/2013.

Reader's Club
A service of the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County in North Carolina the Club was born in November 1998 and today contains nearly 2,000 reviews. Most of our reviews are written by library staff, but anyone may contribute a review. The criteria for inclusion of a review is simple and clearly stated: the library must already own the book being reviewed. The award-winning web site is very attractive, with each entry containing cover art, links to borrow the book, or to buy the book. Purchasing partners with Amazon.com, any book purchased would benefit the library. Those looking for religious reviews should use the search feature and in the Reading Interest box pull down select "Inspirational fiction." Visitors will find approximately 35 signed, undated reviews averaging 50 words in length. Only author, title, and publication date are provided. Some of the titles included in this section are clearly books with a religious theme by heavy-hitting authors such as Tim LaHaye, Jerry B. Jenkins, Catherine Marshall, Frank Peretti, and Francine Rivers. Other titles are less religious in nature, but might be considered "inspirational." Visit the nonfiction and teen areas for more inspirational titles. An attractive web site with a decent selection of relevant reviews. Last visited: 05/2013.

Religion Bookline (RB). Cahners Business Information.
Based on the short-lived print version (1996) the reputable Publisher's Weekly (PW) began offering this e-mail version in September 2000. "Delivers news, features and expert commentary to religion professionals...and all who are interested in religion books and publishing." Book and other media reviews can be found in the twice-a-month publication, which represents materials from all faiths. Most content is unique to RB, although some is duplicated from PW's religion columns. The sample issue on the web reveals that the signed reviews average 100 words, and, indeed, cover a variety of religious practices and faiths. Although RB does not do a regular column on religious fiction, PW reviews these books in the Forecasts fiction section (not in religion) and does a feature article on the topic once a year. Currently RB has about 5,000 subscribers. Last visited: 05/2013.

Review of Biblical Literature. Society Of Biblical Literature. ISSN: 1099-0321
The review sections of Journal of Biblical Literature and Critical Review of Books in Religion in electronic form since 1996. Browse by subject or search all available years. Cover art and complete bibliographic data accompany signed critical reviews averaging 1,000 words. Coverage of popular commentaries, multi-author works, reviews of books for the religious studies classroom and non-English language publications. Intended for biblical studies professors, students, seminarians, or anyone seeking reviews of biblical studies materials. Receive a free e-mail notification when new reviews have been added to the database. Recommended for scholarly nature and search capabilities. Last visited: 05/2013.


Wordtrade
After nine years as a printed publication, Wordtrade became an electronic publication in January 2001. A section describes the site's purpose and scope as "...an independent review agency serving the public, scholars, libraries, and booksellers" and goes on to explain their reviewing policy and approach to reviews. The reviewing policy is a nice inclusion in a field generally lacking such information, however, the policy is unclear and seems to imply that review constitutes recommendation. Rather than approach reviewing on a title-by-title basis, bibliographic essays highlighting several titles are arranged around themes and subjects. Essay quality is somewhat scholarly. Partial bibliographic data includes title, author, publisher, and publication year. Links under every title mentioned, encouraging a visit to purchasing partner Amazon.com, and are a major distraction causing the reader to think a new title is about to be reviewed. The search engine may be useful in finding reviews. Last visited: 05/2013.
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