The Next Best Book Club discussion

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Book Related Banter > How do you write your book reviews?

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message 1: by Saf (new)

Saf  (saph95) I usually give a quick run through about what the book was about, then what I liked and didn't like about the book, sometimes how it could have been improved too and whether I'd recommend it to people. I never include spoilers and I make sure I make it fair so whoever reading it can make a decision about whether they want to pick it up or not keeping my thoughts and opinions in mind.

It's usually the same layout for every genre, except for maybe poems!

Check it out for yourself if you'd like -
http://originalbooker.blogspot.co.uk


message 2: by Danita (new)

Danita Brown | 57 comments I agree with the person who wrote the last post. Basically a brief description, how I felt, what was wrong and what would have been better.


message 3: by Steve (new)

Steve Valiquette (purplemoonpublishing) I keep my reviews positive. I try to look for the best in what I'm reading so I comment on what it was about the book that I liked. Hopefully, if the reader of the review will relate to those good parts, they will get a similar experience. If the book is not worth reading I wouldn't finish it, so I couldn't really comment on it at that point.


message 4: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) I review every book I read ... a habit I developed in earnest after joining Shelfari.com and Goodreads.com.

Usually I start with a brief synopsis to give a general idea of the book/plot. Then I move on to what I like and/or didn't like about the book ... basically I'm explaining why I rated it a certain way.

If it's an audio book I also make sure I comment on the performance of the reader of the book.


message 5: by Dee (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 616 comments I use the book cover synopsis for my main reviews...and then talk about initial impressions (i.e. why did I choose the book); what I liked, didn't like - I try to keep spoiler free if possible - normally if I really hate a book that I will put a warning at the beginning that says review will be spoilerific (or something to that extent); at the end I give my rating and who I think would enjoy the book


message 6: by Mitsy (new)

Mitsy (mitsyc) I'm usually so excited when I finish a book I love, I just start writing. Whatever comes out is more from how I felt about the book. Then I slow down and write what I thought about the book. I try to never include spoilers. Most of the time I don't write a review for series, past book one, because I don't know want to reveal too much. How I feel and what I think are usually so different, it makes my reviews more personal. I hope, anyway.


message 7: by Esther (new)

Esther (eshchory) | 573 comments By the seat of my pants!
I'm normally more eloquent when I dislike a book.
I try to write reviews for my favourites because I feel 5 stars is not enough but it can take a while before I get over the stunned 'That was fantastic!' stage.
Most books I don't bother with a summary. (GR already offers that) and my reviews tend to be personal, dealing with how the book made me feel.


message 8: by Tisha (new)

Tisha Starr | 2 comments I haven't nailed my process just yet because so far it has fluctuated. But basically when I write reviews my first goal is fairness. Authors are sensitive about their work and deserve a FAIR review.

Then I grapple with content. Did it flow? Was the story compelling? Etc. Etc.

I also like to talk about emotions. How did the book make me feel. Did it leave me thinking or clearly entertained.

But most of all FAIRNESS, LoL

Hello everyone, I'm Tisha Starr an HIV activist from Chicago

www.authortishastarr.com

Review Blog - www.saucyscribbler.com


message 9: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) I usually review all books the same with a few good thorough pragraphs either good or bad depending on whether or not I liked the book. I never thought about writing different reviews for different genres, never really considered it and don't know if it would impact or change anything.


message 10: by Saf (new)

Saf  (saph95) Check out my blog! And click the ad on it, I'm donating all the money to charity! It means a lot thanks!!

Http://originalbooker.blogspot.co.uk/


message 11: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Lawston (andrewlawston) | 17 comments I don't really have a set process, it depends in part on how much time I have. I read an Aliette de Bodard novella recently which I really enjoyed, and I wanted to share that enjoyment, but what with one thing and another I only had time to jot down a couple of sentences and a five star rating. At the other end of the scale when I reviewed Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes, I had a bit more thinking space, so went into detail about stuff I really enjoyed about the book, and how important it was in terms of its influence on later generations of writers (I called the review "Neil Gaiman's Sourcebook" I think).


Gitte - Bookworm's Closet (gittetofte) I write whatever comes into my mind. If I have trouble writing a review, I always think: what would I say if a friend asked me about this book? I don't always include a synopsis.

You can check out my reviews here: The Bookworm's Closet


message 13: by Sakshi (new)

Sakshi Agarwal (sakshiagarwal) | 39 comments I write whatever I feel when the book ends.
If I am disappointed, I write so, If I am happy then the review is a happy one.
Instead of going through the whole book and my likes and dislikes, I prefer my feelings after the book is finished.


Gitte - Bookworm's Closet (gittetofte) Sakshi wrote: "I write whatever I feel when the book ends.
If I am disappointed, I write so, If I am happy then the review is a happy one.
Instead of going through the whole book and my likes and dislikes, I pref..."


I prefer reading that kind of reviews, Sakshi! I tend to read a handful reviews if I'm in doubt about buying a book, and it can be annoying if they all have a full plot description.


message 15: by Caitlin (new)

Caitlin Lillie (kiwibookworm) | 33 comments I don't often include a synopsis, or if I do it's just a sentence or two. I say what I thought about the author, the characters, the writing, and rate based on how much I liked it, not on how technically good it was.


message 16: by Stan (last edited Feb 02, 2014 12:46PM) (new)

Stan Morris (morriss003) I have a terrible time deciding how to write a review. Sometimes the book is written very professionally and with very few grammatical or punctuation errors, and yet I just can't get enthused about the book. Am I having a bad day? Should I downrate it because I don't like a character?
I know I should review, but I find myself hating the process.


message 17: by Wilmar (new)

Wilmar Luna (wilmarluna) | 24 comments Stan wrote: "I have a terrible time deciding how to write a review. Sometimes the book is written very professionally and with very few grammatical or punctuation errors, and yet I just can't get enthused abou..."

Absolutely. If you don't like a character portrayal, other readers may agree with you.

I've gotten reamed out by reviewers for having unlikeable characters. Ah well, it happens.

However, if you're hating the reviewing process, then it might not be for you. When I write reviews for films or books, I just tell it like it is.

"Where was the plot?"
"These characters are boring."
"Why is it so repetitive?" etc.

If other people agree with you, great, you have influenced their purchase decision. If not? It's not the end of the world.


message 18: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolvv) | 10 comments One of my goals this year is to make more of an effort on reviews. Esp after going they last years list and not remembering several. I only put a synopsis of I feel that the std synopsis is severely lacking. I avoid spoilers except sometimes most strongest reactions are to items that might be considered spoilers. I mainly include my impressions as I finished the book. Whether I enjoyed the story, plot, characters. If part of a series how it played within that scheme of the series. In the private comments I sometimes list significant plot points ( esp w series) so I can keep track of when certain milestones occurred.


message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

To do justice to the book AND the author I think it is only fair to review the book as a whole. Concentrating upon one aspect, whether positive or negative, is hardly fair.

Synopsis: Personally I think we should take care. I do not want to spoil the read for a potential reader. Unless the book's own synopsis contains detailed information I keep my synopsis to a minimum. Just enough for the review to give some idea of the story style and genre.

Content: How well the book is written does, in my opinion, play an important role in any review. If there are minor errors we should say they are 'minor' and how they impact upon the read. Of course if there are major errors which interfere with the read we should say so.

Author: I think it is very unfair and totally INAPROPRIATE to comment upon the author themselves. That is of course unless we actually know them personally. How on earth can we comment upon an individual we do not know? Also the sort of person they are is immaterial to the book. e.g. Mozart was not a particularly moral or kind person. Nevertheless, his music is superb.

Rating: The differing definitions between social media sites i.e. Amazon and Goodreads does make rating a book difficult. I believe the basis for a rating is three fold. 1. How much we liked it ourselves. 2. How well it is written and presented. 3. Whether the story/plot is engaging and develops in a manner to hold a readers attention.

I also see a review as an opportunity not only to inform potential readers of the book but also to help the author. We can choose whether to make suggestions that may improve the book or not. Four and five star ratings when not merited do no one any favours.

Above all we must remember that reading is a subjective experience and that we are all different. To coin a phrase: One man's dinner may be another man's poison.

Be fair. Do not totally rubbish something because YOU did not like it. Be objective with your review.

These are the aspects I endeavour to employ and include in any review.


message 20: by Ashley (new)

Ashley (morethanfairytales) | 63 comments I don't rate books, mostly because my feelings about them tend to change with time. I try to jot down any impressions I felt while reading, any points I strongly agreed or disagreed with, and convey my general feelings about the plot (or analysis/findings, if it's nonfiction).

I aim to be objective, but that can be difficult to do. If I really didn't like something, I try to add a disclaimer that effectively says "This is just my opinion" and then point out something the reader might connect with. About 90% of the books I review are ones I would recommend to other readers.


message 21: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl (Gwyneiira's Book Blog) (gwyneiira) | 1 comments I mainly talk about how I felt while I read the book and at the end of it, how I feel about the characters, plot & character development, what I love about the characters and stuff like that.

I try to refrain from giving out spoilers or talk about the plot. (If it was me, I'd like to know what the reader felt about the book but not be given any information about the plot itself). So just what I love or dislike about it :)

And if I love the authors' writing style and stuff like that, I'll probably rave about it and start recommending her other books :D


message 22: by Mark (new)

Mark Likes | 19 comments I agree with your approach. I hate to read what happens in a review. I just want to know how the reader feels about the story. What makes you like or dislike the tale.


message 23: by Dawn (new)

Dawn | 547 comments Cheryl, great approach. I agree with you re: plot. Usually plot discussion is pointless because the book page already provides a summary. However, I don't mind reviews that include plot spoilers as long as that part of the review is hidden with a spoiler tag. If I've already read the book in question I like to click through to read reactions/opinions re: major plot developments/twists.


message 24: by Alma Q (new)

Alma Q (staticatku) I don't really have a formula for my reviews, I just can't stick to them as each book makes me want to write a differently formatted one :D But I like to start with stating what I expected from a book and then proceed to discuss about the actual content and my reactions to it.

I agree that providing a summary seems often pointless on here, but sometimes it's just easier to show (possibly w/actual quotes) why the book did or did not work - after all, that's essentially what I want to know and think about when it comes to books.


message 25: by Carmen (new)

Carmen Fox (carmenfox) | 5 comments When it's time for me to review, all eloquence takes its leave. First, I stare at the blank box, trying to put order into my thoughts. But what comes out is so banal it's not worth the bytes needed to store it. It's so annoying, because I want to do the books justice. I've read so many great books, it will take me years to mark them as "read," so why can't I write a useful review?

I'm new here, so I hope I will learn from the reviews I see. And I'm determined to write at least four reviews this month. Perhaps it'll get easier with practice? Is that your experience?


message 26: by Alma Q (new)

Alma Q (staticatku) Carmen wrote: "Perhaps it'll get easier with practice? Is that your experience? "

Somewhat, yes. I think reading others' reviews helps me to remember what I want to say and how I could construct it into a pleasing review. Also, in reading new books an during rereadings... note-taking really does the magic as you can write down the best and worst parts and go back to your reading experience later on. :)


message 27: by Carmen (new)

Carmen Fox (carmenfox) | 5 comments Thank you, Aavis. Note-taking sounds like a great idea.


message 28: by GeekyRiks (new)

GeekyRiks Mine is basically same as most people, but I usually note down what I think about the book even before I finished it. I'd like to share my impression of the book and how it changes.


message 29: by Kandice (new)

Kandice I tend to leave out a synopsis, because like everyone has said, you can find that anywhere. I do include one when the book was NOT what the synopsis made it seem to be. I've been tricked that way and hate (usually) going into a book expecting dystopia and getting a mushy romance, or expecting comedy and getting complete sadness with a few quips thrown in.

I'm not very good at reviewing but I have tried to make myself do it after every book I add on GR because sometimes I forget.

I'm also a re-reader. My feelings about a book often change upon the second or tenth (yes, sometimes I really do!) reading so I like to note that.


message 30: by Dina (new)

Dina Roberts Kandice wrote: "I tend to leave out a synopsis, because like everyone has said, you can find that anywhere. I do include one when the book was NOT what the synopsis made it seem to be. I've been tricked that way a..."

I will sometimes write a sentence or two about the plot, but not paragraphs. When I first started reviewing, I thought my reviews were lacking because they weren't several paragraphs like some I had been seeing. But then I realized I don't really like reading long reviews, so why should I write them?

I like your idea though of telling people you thought the book didn't live up to the expectations the synopsis provided.


message 31: by Dina (new)

Dina Roberts Carmen wrote: "When it's time for me to review, all eloquence takes its leave. First, I stare at the blank box, trying to put order into my thoughts. But what comes out is so banal it's not worth the bytes needed..."

I can relate. I'm self-conscious about my reviews. But I'm starting to be more accepting of them. There's all different types of styles. Maybe yours aren't as bad as you think. Or maybe you don't like them, but who knows...someone else might.


message 32: by Carmen (new)

Carmen Fox (carmenfox) | 5 comments Thank you, guys. Good to know I'm not alone. I reviewed my first book - Neil Gaiman's Graveyard Book. I picked it because it's one of my favorite books. I hope I did it justice. I'll be trying my hand again at something new this week. I'll strive to do one a week. Hopefully in a few months, I'll have improved.


message 33: by Darrin (new)

Darrin Perez (winterfate) | 6 comments I don't really have a form or function for my reviews most of the time. With that said, I think back to my time reading the book and explain how it made me feel, as well as how certain core elements were handled. Did a character feel under-characterized? Did a certain plot point blow me away?

With that said, if I dislike a book enough to give it less than 3 stars, I usually pass on reviewing it. I know all about how much damage a 1-2 star review can do.

Also, unless the author intentionally published a text of drivel, I don't see how the average book (of fiction, at least; non-fiction can be a different beast) deserves a 1, ever. A 1 to me is only for a terrible, terrible book that made me stop reading within a chapter. Yet to find a book that bad.


message 34: by Dina (new)

Dina Roberts Darrin wrote:
Also, unless the author intentionally published a text of drivel, I don't see how the average book (of fiction, at least; non-fiction can be a different beast) deserves a 1, ever. A 1 to me is only for a terrible, terrible book that made me stop reading within a chapter. Yet to find a book that bad.


I like your attitude. Lately I've been doing what you've been doing...giving books at least 3 stars. If I don't like the book at least that much, I stop reading.


message 35: by Carmen (new)

Carmen Fox (carmenfox) | 5 comments Darrin and Dina, that's my sentiment exactly. I don't often give up on a book, but it happens. So I wouldn't even be qualified to review it. So if I make it through to the end, I will have found something about the book I liked, making it deserving of at least three stars.


message 36: by Alma Q (new)

Alma Q (staticatku) Well, to each his or her own, but I certainly one-star books that I feel are for example unnecessarily insulting... I rarely DNF books and when I do, I feel like I should explain myself even if I don't rate these.

Negative reviews migh not help in selling books, but as a reader who buys them, I do feel "qualified" to honestly tell others if they're worth the money - in my opinion, of course - or not, at least as long as I also try to acknowledge the good. =)


message 37: by Dee (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 616 comments sometimes negative reviews may help sell books...like if I read a review that said too much sex...well, then i'm likely to grab the book and see just what is too much sex ;)


message 38: by Alma Q (last edited Jun 12, 2014 07:35AM) (new)

Alma Q (staticatku) Dee wrote: "sometimes negative reviews may help sell books...like if I read a review that said too much sex...well, then i'm likely to grab the book and see just what is too much sex ;)"

Haha. Admittedly, they can attract attention and make some of us read the book (guilty!), but if for example all of my goodreads friends hate a book, I would rather check if it's available in my local library than spend money on it... of course no review is purely objective, so it's sometimes stupid to take them as such. Still, most of them really are helpful, especially if they contain something more than just uncritical gushing.


message 39: by [deleted user] (new)

Dee wrote: "sometimes negative reviews may help sell books...like if I read a review that said too much sex...well, then i'm likely to grab the book and see just what is too much sex ;)"

I think this point also highlights the fact that reading is a subjective experience. We are different and what is 'one man's dinner is another man's poison.' (Not sure I got the quote right and hope no one is affronted by the use of 'man'. But this is in the quote.)

In writing reviews we, to be fair to author and reader, should try and be a little objective. But inevitably the review is a reflection of how we 'personally' found the book. And in most cases they should be read accordingly.


message 40: by Carmen (new)

Carmen Fox (carmenfox) | 5 comments I imagine "too much sex" in itself is pretty subjective. Are we talking about frequency, in which case I'd be put off because I quite like reading books for their plots, or are we talking about how far the intimacy goes, in which case I wouldn't be put off. That's why a variety of reviews are needed to convince me whether or not I actually want to read a book. There you go, I finally understand why leaving reviews is so important. :-)


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