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message 1: by Jason (new)

Jason Oliver | 2063 comments When you read a review of a book, do your prefer to have an overview of what the book is about? If you do like reading an overview, do you like it copied and pasted from goodreads or the inside flap of the book, or do you prefer the readers own overview?

What do you like most in a review? What turns you off from a review? Are you more likely to read reviews of books you've read, want to read, never heard of, or particular PBT members?


message 2: by Booknblues (new)

Booknblues | 5295 comments I want a brief overview that the reviewer writes that lets me know a bit of what the book is about and the kind of book it is, without giving away spoilers.

I read all reviews, but am more likely to read full review if it is a book I read or want to read. For books I've never heard of it depends on my time, or if it sounds like something in my wheelhouse. If it is fantasy, romance, celebrity (who I've never heard of and there are a lot of those)memoir, self help space sci-fi, or several other categories, I'm likely to skip, because I don't really read those.


message 3: by Joanne (new)

Joanne (joabroda1) | 7097 comments I like just a hint of the story-I do not want any spoilers. I would rather read the words of the reader, How they felt about the writing, the authors skill, etc. if I want more I will go the GR's Main Page and learn more there.

In the past I would have only looked at reviews of books I was interested in. However, since being here at PBT, I now try to read every review that is posted in the threads here. I may not read the whole thing, but I feel that if this person took the time to share the book, than I can take a minute or two and check to see what it is about. Those that I don't usually make it through are Mystery's and Sci-Fi and that's just because those are books I'm pretty sure I will never pick up-nothing to do with writer of the review.


message 4: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8136 comments You guys know I am so careful about spoilers myself. I do tend to glaze over when others are writing a review that I think is sharing too much, and more than I want to know. I know for myself that there are absolutely themes I stay away from. Incest, abuse and neglect of children, bipolar although it always seems to Lurk and pop up. Alzheimers, cancer, rape and pillaging and plundering. I end up reading it all anyway, but I do try to be a little bit discriminating. I have always described myself as a mid-brow reader, neither Fan Girl, nor Anna Karenina. I have been so much more discriminating about the TBR lately. Sometimes something just draws me. Other times I know I can pass. I do like to see other peoples ratings and why. I’m often interested in the overall feel of a book. PBT has caused me to pick up things I never would have dreamed I would have picked up, and have deeply enjoyed many of those reads. So I trust you guys. And have been broadened by you guys.


message 5: by Holly R W (new)

Holly R W | 1106 comments I do enjoy both reading other people's reviews and writing reviews myself. I read other people's reviews for various reasons: to learn about new books, to see how others have reacted to a book that I've read and to learn how to write a more interesting review. It's been fascinating too, to see how others categorize their books.

I appreciate a brief description of the general story, in the reader's own words. I want to know what they really thought. Did it capture their interest? What did they like about the story and what didn't they like? Did the characters seem real and multi-dimensional?

As for spoilers, I do try to avoid them when writing a review. However, since I'm not in a face to face book group, I wish there was a better way here to talk more in depth about a book to readers who have all finished the same book. Any ideas? I know that we can use the spoiler alert tag (although I have yet to try it).


message 6: by Jason (new)

Jason Oliver | 2063 comments Holly, there are group read threads when many are reading the same book. Feel free to always start a discussion thread on a particular topic or book.


message 7: by Joanne (new)

Joanne (joabroda1) | 7097 comments Holly-absolutely, what Jason said. If there is a book you would like to talk about just open a thread in the Footnotes "Hey has anyone read "whatever book""-more than likely someone here has read it and will reply-probably more than one person! (everyone here loves to gab!-LOL)


message 8: by LibraryCin (last edited Sep 08, 2019 12:34PM) (new)

LibraryCin | 8012 comments I like to add in a summary (I usually try to keep it obvious in that my first paragraph is the summary and 2nd paragraph is my review), for when I post it to various groups. There is no context otherwise. On the book's page, sure, someone is there because somehow they knew of the book, so maybe not needed there, but since I just write the one review and copy/paste everywhere, I just leave it with both.

With that being said, on the other side of things, I also like to have other people give a short summary, for the same reasons. If I'm just in a group looking at reviews, I may not have any context for that book, so a summary really helps.

I don't care if someone likes or doesn't like something IF the book doesn't sound interesting to me to begin with. So, I need to know what the book is about before reading the person's review.


message 9: by LibraryCin (new)

LibraryCin | 8012 comments I will add that I really try not to give spoilers in my reviews. If I do, I will put it behind the spoiler tag.


message 10: by LibraryCin (new)

LibraryCin | 8012 comments I also wish I had more time to read all the reviews, but sadly I don't. So, I will often look at ones I recognize. Or, if I see a book reviewed multiple times, I'll probably check it out at some point. Or, if the title sounds particularly interesting.

I think shelfari made this easier, though, in that we had all our reviews in one thread. Have to admit, I'm less likely to open new threads for each review, the way we have had to set things up here on GR.


message 11: by Barbara M (new)

Barbara M (barbara-m) | 2149 comments I like a review that briefly describes the story. Then I like to hear the reader's reaction to the story. I love to read the review of a person with good insight into writing style, etc. I don't necessarily feel I do will in that respect. I don't like a review that is too long because I feel that might just give away too much of the book. I like to discover that myself but I love insights.

If I'm in the midst of reading a book and someone does a review right then on that book, I'll usually skim it very fast or not read it at all so that I won't be swayed in writing my own review, then I'll go back and read it in depth to see how close we came in our reviews or to find something I may have left out or didn't even realize! I love ah-ha moments!


message 12: by Jason (new)

Jason Oliver | 2063 comments I guess I am a bit of an outlier. I don't like a brief synopsis of the book before the review. There are so many places to get a synopsis. My reviews normally do not include a synopsis but since every seems to like that, I will start including them.

I stay away from spoilers as well. My reviews tend to be how I felt about the story, writing style, and overall feeling of the book along with themes I noticed. I will also throw in some interesting history or research I've found about the author or story.


message 13: by Booknblues (new)

Booknblues | 5295 comments Jason, I definitely like a short synopsis first, because that really tells me if I might like the book. I need to know a little of what it is all about. There are some story lines that I really love and others not so much.


message 14: by Jason (new)

Jason Oliver | 2063 comments Booknblues wrote: "Jason, I definitely like a short synopsis first, because that really tells me if I might like the book. I need to know a little of what it is all about. There are some story lines that I really lov..."

I get it. It leads to another question I think we had conversation topic on in the past. What is more important to you. The writing style or story. Would you rather read a story you don't really care about if the writing style and presentation of the story is great, or would you rather read a great story line, but the writing is lacking?

I love writing style and story presentation over story line. So I will read almost anything that is written well, so I guess the story or what a book is about is not as important to me.


message 15: by Idit (last edited Sep 08, 2019 05:56PM) (new)

Idit | 1028 comments I think I'm similar to you Jason

I really avoid reading the synopsis before I read the book.
I even avoid reading the blurb at the back of the book (which sometimes lead to a huge confusion into what the hell I'm reading - should I fall in love with the hero because it's gonna be romantic, should I prepare for the worse because there will be blood etc)

So when I read reviews here I just skip any paragraph that looks like description, and look for ones that talk about what kind of book it is, what feelings, thoughts and ideas it evoked, what other books/films/cultural things it made the reviewer think of.

But I understand that if someone doesn't have a clue what book I read, it might be confusing/frustrating if I don't tell the story first.
I actually battle with it every time. I either tell just the exposition and leave it at that, or tell too much and too disjointedly and confuse the hell of everyone, or some times - just to be done with that part - I would copy the book blurb, so I can move to the parts that interest me - my opinion :D

As for which I like best -
Out of (1) a good story line, (2) well written book, and(3) good characters (be it rounded, flawed, funny, whatever) - I can survive if one of the three is not too good - if the others are. (although overload of thoughtless cliches are really hard for me to survive)


message 16: by Booknblues (new)

Booknblues | 5295 comments Jason wrote: "Booknblues wrote: "Jason, I definitely like a short synopsis first, because that really tells me if I might like the book. I need to know a little of what it is all about. There are some story line..."

For me if it isn't a good story, it would have to be absolutely exceptional writing. I know, I know that people always say they love a character driven novel, but if nothing happens, I don't care how special the character is, it is usually a fail for me.

Now if the writing is absolutely lacking it can't save a good story line as Amy has demonstrated with her reading ofThe Song of the Jade Lily .


message 17: by LibraryCin (new)

LibraryCin | 8012 comments Jason wrote: "What is more important to you. The writing style or story. Would you rather read a story you don't really care about if the writing style and presentation of the story is great, or would you rather read a great story line, but the writing is lacking? .."

I suspect a lot of people in PBT might go for the writing style, but if I was to choose one over the other, it's the story, guaranteed!


message 18: by NancyJ (last edited Sep 08, 2019 09:20PM) (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 4883 comments I love reading the reviews in this group, because I learn about books I might not otherwise discover. I'm getting a sense of other member's tastes, which really helps. I don't always have time (especially at the end of the month), but I try to at least scan through the reviews in the tag folder.

I don't need to know a lot about the plot, but if it's not a well known book, I'll want something. It's more important to know WHY someone loved it or hated a book. There are certain topics, key words, and even adjectives that will help me decide if a book is likely to be one I'll like (or not).

My biggest disappointment with goodreads in general is that most discussions don't go very deep, even in group reads where spoilers are specifically allowed. Granted, many books (and genres) just don't inspire deep discussion, so choosing the right books is a key. It's very hit or miss.


message 19: by NancyJ (last edited Sep 08, 2019 09:35PM) (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 4883 comments If I see that most of the reviews for a book have embedded stuff like this, I know the book probably isn't for me, due to the gender gap alone. Is anyone impressed that I (at my age) was able to figure out how to do this? That last one is pretty nice.










message 20: by Joy D (last edited Sep 08, 2019 11:57PM) (new)

Joy D | 3037 comments I also prefer to start with a brief overview of the storyline. I like to get the reviewer's take on what the book is about (since "blurbs" are notorious for trying to market to an audience and some can be significantly misleading). So no, I would not want it copied and pasted.

What do you like most in a review? I like to get a sense of the plot, characterization, writing style, themes, how engrossing it was, structure, originality, and what feelings it engendered in the reader. What did the reviewer see as its strengths and weaknesses.

What turns you off from a review? I don't care for those where too much of the plot is revealed. A brief summary of the first half will do. Anything past half-way should be told in very general terms or not covered at all.

Are you more likely to read reviews of books you've read, want to read, never heard of, or particular PBT members? I tend to read reviews for books I have already read to get other opinions. I like to chime in and discuss.

Additionally, If a book contains content that could be disturbing to read, I like to get a heads up. I know some people consider this a spoiler, but I think it can be worded in such a way as to give an idea without going into a great deal of detail.


message 21: by Joy D (new)

Joy D | 3037 comments I just saw the next question: What is more important to you. The writing style or story. Would you rather read a story you don't really care about if the writing style and presentation of the story is great, or would you rather read a great story line, but the writing is lacking?

I am all about the writing. I love beautifully written works. I tend to prefer deeply drawn characters over plot. In fact, I am often tempted to stop reading a work where the writing is lacking, though most of the time I push through, but it usually gets a lower star-rating. As an example, I don't care for thrillers, where the focus is all about the plot and "action."


message 22: by Meli (last edited Sep 09, 2019 06:16AM) (new)

Meli (melihooker) | 3028 comments OMG, the gif reviews! 😒 No thanks...

There was a thread on Goodreads a while back that was completely railing against the synopsis in reviews and it was pretty harsh. I love to give a brief synopsis but this ranting thread kinda scared me off from it for a while. I almost always cannot help myself from including a brief overview, but depending on the book it can be repetitive. There are only so many ways you can describe a plot that already has a synopsis here and on their cover and in tons of reviews especially if it is a popular book.

I typically don't read reviews of book I haven't read yet on GR outside of PBT because I don't trust they won't spoil the book. Outlets I trust to be informative and not spoil the book are NY Times Book Reviews, NPR, Kirkus and some others.

I like a review to give me an idea of the feel of it, and include enough detail so that even if the reviewer doesn't like the book I can tell if I will or not. I've read bad reviews and thought "oh yeah, that's for me."

Roxanne Gay is probably my favorite book reviewer on GR. Short, but so informative. I want to write reviews like her. She captures the essence of a book in a very efficient way.

Personal pet peeve - stars with no review. Not everybody likes to write reviews or has the time, but it's just not informative for other readers. 3 stars with no description leaves me with so many questions!


message 23: by Joanne (new)

Joanne (joabroda1) | 7097 comments NancyJ wrote: "I love reading the reviews in this group, because I learn about books I might not otherwise discover. I'm getting a sense of other member's tastes, which really helps. I don't always have time (esp..."

I am impressed Nancy!~and the last meme is my favorite-Love a snapshot of a "hottie"😂


message 24: by LibraryCin (new)

LibraryCin | 8012 comments NancyJ wrote: "Is anyone impressed that I (at my age) was able to figure out how to do this? That last one is pretty nice...."

LOL! And yes it is. :-)


message 25: by Theresa (last edited Sep 14, 2019 10:12AM) (new)

Theresa | 6054 comments I'm a very haphazard reader of reviews, and tend to read more AFTER I have read a book, than before or in choosing. I really don't like knowing too much before I read.

That said, I do like to have some general idea what the story is about, but only what's in the promo blurbs or on the back cover or such. I actually skip over long story summaries --- or let's say skim them. I want to know enough to see if this is a book I want to read, and what genre/style of read it will be -- will it have disturbing sections that invade my dreams, does it sound like such a complex plot that I need to read it in big sections, not a few pages here or there.

I do not like reviews, especially negative reviews, where the tone is one of being negative for the sake of being negative. I've seen plenty of reviews on GR where the person writing it clearly is fostering a reputation as a witty, sarcastic, negative reviewer. Um, no.

I like reviews that feel sincere -- and I hope I write ones that feel sincere. I don't like reviews where it feels like the person wanted the book to be X story but it was Y story so it gets panned. For example, panning a book written in 1930s because it doesn't show women being more independent to me is specious. A book written in 1930 is going to reflect the beliefs of the day; not those we now have. That to me is something to mention in passing, not consider a reason to pan it. However, a book written now covering contemporary times that reflects those views -- sorry but that's bad.

I know people who consider Little Women to be poorly written because the male characters in them are thinly developed, rather cardboard. My answer is that you are missing the point of the book as evidenced by the title, plus the father for example is absent most of the story.

I guess in short I appreciate reviews that judge the book that was written, don't push a personal agenda, and do sincerely share the reviewer's reaction and thoughts - even NicoleR's hilarious romance reviews!


message 26: by Karin (new)

Karin | 6876 comments Jason wrote: "When you read a review of a book, do your prefer to have an overview of what the book is about? If you do like reading an overview, do you like it copied and pasted from goodreads or the inside fla..."

It depends--I don't like too much of an overview or there is not point in reading the book even if I do usually peak at the ending after I haven't read that much. Even if I know the ending, I like surprises on the way there.


message 27: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 5526 comments I do start each review with a brief synopsis ... I write my reviews mainly for myself, so I'll remember the books. I admit that I could be even briefer. After all, in the excel spreadsheet I use for my TBR I write just a phrase, e.g. "The March sisters in Civil War era Massachusetts" ... I suppose this might be enough, but I feel compelled to say a bit more.

I also try very hard to avoid spoilers, but if I MUST comment on a key part of the book, I will use the spoiler alert html coding to hide that portion of the review from those who choose not to read it.


message 28: by LibraryCin (new)

LibraryCin | 8012 comments Book Concierge wrote: "I do start each review with a brief synopsis ... I write my reviews mainly for myself, so I'll remember the books...."

Yes! This is another reason I add summaries.


message 29: by Jason (new)

Jason Oliver | 2063 comments Theresa wrote: "I'm a very haphazard reader of reviews, and tend to read more AFTER I have read a book, than before or in choosing. I really don't like knowing too much before I read.

That said, I do like have s..."


I am with you. I read reviews after I have read the book. It also frustrates me that every review starts with a synopsis.


message 30: by Jason (new)

Jason Oliver | 2063 comments Karin wrote: "Jason wrote: "When you read a review of a book, do your prefer to have an overview of what the book is about? If you do like reading an overview, do you like it copied and pasted from goodreads or ..."

You peak at the end? I wonder how many do this. I am not one.


message 31: by Joy D (last edited Sep 15, 2019 11:13AM) (new)

Joy D | 3037 comments I never look ahead. I figure I'll get there eventually.

Jason wrote: "I am with you. I read reviews after I have read the book. It also frustrates me that every review starts with a synopsis."

I do the same and I write my review before reading others' thoughts.

You have given me something to think about, Jason. I know when reading a number of reviews in a row on the same book, it tends to get tedious to read similar synopses over and over, but when posting on PBT, I tend to write a review that can be read as a standalone, since I want to make my review a single stop for a reader to help in making a decision. I know I never go to the books being reviewed here to read each book description - it just takes too much time.

I tend to be suspect of the publishers writing these book summaries, since their goal is to sell books. I hate it when I read a summary that says "this is the 'next Gone Girl" or "if you enjoyed book X, you will like this one." I believe it's done to drag on the coattails of a book that has sold well. My experiences in reading these books have been less than stellar, in general.


message 32: by Karin (new)

Karin | 6876 comments Jason wrote: "Karin wrote: "Jason wrote: "When you read a review of a book, do your prefer to have an overview of what the book is about? If you do like reading an overview, do you like it copied and pasted from..."


Even though I would have sworn up and down that I'd never, ever be one to peek at the end of a novel for many years, I began doing this at some point over the age of 40. I am no longer interested in reading most books that will have a sad or bad ending even if it is realistic--life has enough of that already. BUT, it has changed how I enjoy books, and has helped me get a better appreciation for the story arc, etc--before that I was simply racing through to see what happened.


message 33: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 6054 comments I rarely peak at the end..especially since so often I read mysteries or thrillers. But once in a while when I am trying to figure out if I want to abandon the book, I look ahead just to know if it is worth pesevering.


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