Friday, December 2, 2011

TGIF (9): Thoughts on Reviewing

TGIF at GReads is a feature by the fabulous Ginger, who asks us a fun question to answer every week. It's always a joy to be a part of this, and I think everyone certainly should try it out!

What's your process for writing book reviews? Any tips or suggestions you would recommend to other bloggers?

This is actually a tough question for me to answer, as I have no particular method when it comes to writing my reviews.  Because I write my book reviews as an expression of my passion for the books I read and come to love, I really write them from a personal standpoint.  I don't usually take physical notes on the books I read, though I try to keep in mind a few key points I want to mention in my review.

Normally, apart from including relevant information (title, author, publishing info, summary), I try to write what I thought of the book's story, character or writing.  The length of my reviews usually depends on how affected I am by a book.  It also varies on whether I took down notes or the time period between reading the book and writing the review.

That having been said, I do have some tips when it comes to writing book reviews:
  • Try not to put any spoilers. And if you have to, have a warning please! There's nothing worse that accidentally coming across a spoiler in a review.  If it's absolutely necessary that you express your feelings about that one particular scene or plot twist, please warn your readers beforehand.
  • Personalize it! It's always nice to hear what you thought, and not just the generic stuff that anyone could say.  I like when a book brings out a particular response or memory from a reader's mind and that can be shared (in a minimal way) in the review.
  • Don't just summarize the book. That's what the book synopsis is for. It's not a review if you're just rehashing what happened in the story.
  • Gush, but make sure there's more to your review than that. As a community passionate about the books we read, it is wonderful to read a review that lavishes praise on a book. However, I do believe that the gushing should be done in moderation - just so that it's not all about you saying I loved this book! I loved this book! I loved this book! It's always nice to know why I, a fellow reader, would love it too.
  • Be honest and objective.  Though this is a given for all reviews, I'd like to focus in particular on negative reviews, should you choose to include them on your blog.  There is no reason for you to be nasty or attack the novel; instead, be diplomatic.  Try to find something you did like.  Also try to explain why you didn't like the book or why it didn't particularly appeal to you.  Be courteous and respectful about your opinions.
  • Stick to your guns. Love a book that everyone else hated? Hate a book everyone else loved? Well, I say, personally, you should stand by your opinion! Not everyone will agree with how you feel - this however, does not mean that your feelings or opinions about the book are invalid. You feel the way you feel - just be objective (see previous item) about expressing those feelings.
This is my two cents on writing book reviews. What's your advice?

Reviews:
Hunted by Cheryl Rainfield

Features/Memes:
Top 10 Tuesday: 10 Books TBR in Winter
Author Interview: Cheryl Rainfield

19 comments:

  1. Thanks for the comment! That's an even better way of putting it :)

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  2. I definitely agree. It's always so much better for me if they explain why they loved a book instead of only telling me they love it. :p

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  3. Thank you! And yes, we should all definitely try to point out the good things (and there has to be something if you actually finished the book) about books we may not have loved.

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  4. Totally. Honesty is ALWAYS the best policy. But it doesn't mean you can't be polite about it.

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  5. Thanks for the great comment Katelyn! I'm glad that you agree with my tips though as I said, I'm no expert. These are just things that I personally prefer. :)

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  6. Gushing isn't a bad thing, mind you. I just prefer gushing where there's an actual explanation as to why you're gushing, you know? ;)

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  7. Absolutely agree with everything you've listed above. Although, sometimes I can gush a bit much. Totally guilty of that one *blushes*. Fantastic tips!

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  8. I totally agree with you! But particularly about writing negative reviews. A lot of times you see people either right a shining review for a book that wasn't that great, which leaves me to believe they were lying in their review, or you see people attacking books they hated, instead of just pointing out the things they didn't like. There's no need to lie or attack. Just be honest and write what you thought.

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  9. great advice, especially about sticking to your guns, say what you think not what you think your readers want to hear. Be honest.
    Thanks for visiting my blog. Have a great weekend.

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  10. If I could create an award for the best tips to give bloggers, you would be the winner of it! Seriously, I LOVE IT!!! It is not always about using big words, and sounding all deep about books. I am guilty of personalizing (well I hope!), summarizing (if you are looking for a good laugh one day, read my earlier reviews. They are ALL summaries. Summaries with a gushing, dramatic sentence thrown right in the middle), gushing (but I do like to think I include a little bit about why I love the book. Honestly though, my favorite thing to do is gush....in moderation), being honest (I've seen authors compliment on a negative review of their book because it was exactly that, honest. It's hard to do but that is what sets a good review apart from a phoney one), and sticking to my guns (in my book club, I am often the odd person out. If they hate a book and threw it across the room while reading it, odds are I devoured it!) See, your tips are so wonderful and if people can stick to them it makes them a freaking awesome book blogger :P

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  11. great suggestions. some people think that being mean will get their point across, but you're not helping anyone by saying "this book sucked"--someone somewhere must have liked it. please explain. :) great list, as usual!

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  12. Excellent tips! I hate spoilers. I try to be honest and fair, but I'm sure I could use some work on that now and again.

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  13. Great tips! I can't stand it when a book review is basically just a summary, like it's a book report instead of a review. Ugh!

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  14. Great hints there, forgot about mentioning spoilers. I try very hard not to give away anything that I wouldn't have wanted to know.

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  15. I forgot about the spoiler thing -- that's a good one. Thanks for visiting my blog!

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  16. I'm right there with you when it comes to personality, feeling, and uniqueness in reviews. And I HATE when all a person says is: "This book was totally a ME book, so good! *squish* the boy was so cute *sexytimes* I could just hang with these characters, The End"

    Blah

    Uhm, could you possibly stop gushing for a second and perhaps pick out a few anyalytical comments so I can judge if, as a reader, I might too like this book.

    Pet Peeve, lol.

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  17. I like your tips for reviewers. All things I try to adhere to in my own reviews. Thought, admittedly, sometimes I probably should try a little harder. And I agree, length varies from book to book, depending on circumstances and the book itself.

    Hopping back from PiF! Now following. :)

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  18. Awesome. Stick to your guns. I feel weird when I don't agree with the masses, but all POVs deserve a voice. That is what is great about art, music, movies & books. There is something for everyone. We don't all have the same life experiences, so we shouldn't all have stepford reactions to the same books.

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  19. That's a great summary of review standards! Thanks :)

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Thanks for leaving a comment! I love seeing what you have to say, and will try to reply (here or on Twitter) as soon as I can :)

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