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Challenges of Yesteryear > How to Write a Good Review (Challenge?)

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message 1: by Sashana (last edited Nov 08, 2010 05:29PM) (new)

Sashana Okay so I’m not sure if this qualifies as a challenge but I really want to get better at writing reviews. In your opinion what’s the most important thing to include in a review? How do I write a good review? All tips and examples will be appreciated.

So far I have written 31 reviews and I think this one is the best. Please feel free to (constructively!) critique...


Refreshing, blatantly honest, and funny. I'm tempted to leave this review at that but in the sake of getting the word out about this book I will say more. If you're faint of heart and completely delusional about the realities of life then I suggest you read something else.

Jen says what everyone is thinking and no one has the balls to say. Being a woman, she's obviously labeled a bitch. She lives a good life in an extravagant apartment, has a six figure salary, and is the VP at her company. But wait! That's just the cake and the icing needs to be added; Jen has just been offered a promotion at work-can you say raise?!

But in the midst of her fairytale, life happens. Jen is fired instead of promoted and she is forced to live off the "dole" (aka unemployment). Things aren't too bad because her boyfriend of seven years, Fletch, has a well paying job.

However the economy has come crashing down and pretty soon Fletch is out of a job. Forced to move out of her upscale apartment and into the *gasp!* ghetto, Jen is forced to re-evaluate her life and the financial decisions she had made.



message 2: by Rachel (new)

Rachel (treychel) | 1484 comments I like this review. I also would like to write better reviews. Some of them I read on here leaves me feeling awestruck and inferior. The kind of reviews I like tend to not tell me what the book was about (I can get that off the back cover and I feel like it spoils the book anyways--I never read the summaries) but more what the reader thought about the book. Favorite parts, feelings, annoyances, writing style, too short, too drawn out, etc.


message 3: by Stacy (new)

Stacy (stacybinnj) | 57 comments I too would like to be able to write a good review but I get a little stuck on what I want to write about. I figure I don't want to focuse too much on a book summary since that's what the back cover is for. I like to focus more n how I felt about the book and whether and why I thought it was a good read. For me character development is really important. If a book has weak characters I'll say so. That and style. I like to write about the style of the book... how it drew my emotions out. That being said, that's what I strive for, not what I necessarily achieve!


message 4: by Sashana (new)

Sashana The problem that I have is either telling too much or telling too little. Obviously you don’t want to have too many spoilers. And sometimes I don’t know how much of my personal feelings to include in the review. Anyway, I plan to continue writing more reviews and hopefully I will get better with each one. Here’s my most recent.


A light, airy read that will have you laughing out loud until the very end.
When Giovanna’s twin brother, Dante, decides to run for Student Government President her life is turned upside down. What’s so difficult about this election you ask?

Tired of the elitist snobs running the School, Dante devises a plan to take them down a notch (or two!); becoming Student Government President. Problem is Giovanna’s boyfriend happens to be one of those snobs. Stuck between her boyfriend and her twin, Giovanna has some hard decisions to make.
After dumping her boyfriend to become her brother’s campaign manager, Giovanna and Jessie soon lose sight of the election and focus on the battle of the exes... Banter quickly becomes flirting and Giovanna along with her best friend (of course) comes up with a crazy plan to take the ex out of ex-boyfriend, and win Jessie back. But Jessie is hiding a huge secret that will threaten to keep these two apart forever.


message 5: by Shannon (new)

Shannon (iandssmom) | 215 comments I also wish I could write better reviews but since I'm not much of a writer it is a problem. I agree that I don't like to recap the book since you can read the synopsis if you want to know what it is about to that extent. I like to write and read reviews that say how I feel about the book the characters how easy or hard it is to read. I don't really read long drawn out ones because then I might as well just read the book. Sashana I absolutely adore the first paragraph of your top review and based off of that would really love to read that book! :)


message 6: by Sashana (new)

Sashana Shannon wrote: "I also wish I could write better reviews but since I'm not much of a writer it is a problem. I agree that I don't like to recap the book since you can read the synopsis if you want to know what it ..."

Thanks, Shannon. So would you say I need less of summary and more personal thoughts?


message 7: by Shannon (new)

Shannon (iandssmom) | 215 comments Well that's how I've always thought of it when doing them -less summary and more personal thoughts but like I say I don't think I'm very good at them at all! :) Also now that I'm reading yours I'm thinking- with a little summary like you have then you aren't having to flip to another page and read the books offical summary if it isn't a book I'm already familiar with. I just don't read them if it is really long -some people re-go-over the entire book it seems like! All in all if someones review gives constructive, concrete reason (usually personal feeling) for or against the book it influences me- sometimes the opposite of what they intended but oh well!! :)


message 8: by Robin (new)

Robin (ladybirdrobi) Sashana wrote: "The problem that I have is either telling too much or telling too little. Obviously you don’t want to have too many spoilers. And sometimes I don’t know how much of my personal feelings to include ..."

Sashana,
I think what you did here was good. You used enough of the book to intrigue the reader without giving too much of a spoiler. I miss my reviewing days and once I have both computers set up for wireless I will get back into the reviewing. Anyway what I used to do is to only read the first three chapters then I will stop and write my review before reading the rest of the book and finish off my review with the opinion paragraph. In this way I had hoped to garner the readers interest in the book using only what I learned in the first three chapters. And my formula before one of my editors complained about it sounding like I didn't read it was to use questions that I think would arise during the first three chapters. The one editor said by using questions the reader would think I did not read the book and since I couldn't get my reasons for the questions to be understood by her I had to do away with those questions.

Anyway if you would like to see any of my reviews go to romancejunkies.com and look under the name of ladybirdrobi and I also did some for mybookcravings.com but since I have not heard from Melinda the owner in over a year now I do not know if the website is still active, if it is you can find those reviews under my name Robin Smith.

You will see differences in the two sites because Melinda allowed me to critique with my review and if something was wrong I could say it in an encouraging way so that that author could improve her writing by knowing what I felt was good and bad with her story. RomanceJunkies did not allow that, it only wanted encouraging remarks. I got the feeling that they only wanted good opinions with no criticisms whatsoever. So the author only knows what I liked about the book not what I didn't and why so I felt as if my reviews only said half of what they should. But you can be your own judge of that if you care to go and check out my reviews. I know once I get back into doing them it will be with a different site because I just had too many personality clashes with my content editors.

Robin


message 9: by Kelley (new)

Kelley (kelleyand) Just a little comment - no critique. When I am looking at reviews other people wrote about books I may be interested in, I always skip the ones with cliches. "Page turner", "joyride", etc. If I see these, I know the reviewers will not be original enough to tell me their opinion of a book and are trying to sound "professional"(?). Just a personal preference.


message 10: by The UHQ Nasanta (last edited Dec 16, 2010 12:00AM) (new)

The UHQ Nasanta (uhqs) | 829 comments Nice thread! I too would like to improve on writing reviews (or to improve my writing in general).

What I personally like to see in reviews that I read are:
- short summary that is not the back cover blurb
- what the reader liked and didn't like
- why the reader liked or didn't like the above
- (optional) quotes from the books that may give me an insight to what the author's writing style is like (this sometimes gets me to purchase or try out a book)

It's a bonus if the reviews are as light-hearted as your reviews, and/or funny.

I actually dislike writing, and focusing and organizing my thoughts about what I'd just read so I don't really like to write reviews (although for someone who dislikes writing, my reviews tend to be rather long -_-;). Therefore, I end up writing about what I liked, what I didn't like, and why. As for summary, I figure that anyone on Goodreads probably read the little blurb of the book first before scrolling down to the reviews so I skip the summary unless a little bit is necessary in order to explain a point noted in Likes/Dislikes.

Unless it's an e-book and it has quotes that I'd like to share, I typically don't put in quotes either.


message 11: by Sashana (new)

Sashana niquae wrote: "Nice thread! I too would like to improve on writing reviews (or to improve my writing in general).

What I personally like to see in reviews that I read are:
- short summary that is not the back c..."


Those all also things I like to see in a review. I'm going to use this as a future reference.


message 12: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Tuell (booksloveme) | 112 comments when ever i write a review, i feel like i am just writing the back of the book. for some reason i am really nervous about putting in my own opinions.


message 13: by Sans (new)

Sans I hope you overcome your nervousness! I love reviews that are full of the reviewers opinions and reflections.

Of course, I love snarky reviews that trash books too. I've noticed it's definitely easier to say what I didn't like about a book than explain what I did like about it.


message 14: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Tuell (booksloveme) | 112 comments Thanks! Now I feel better about writing them and will write more!


message 15: by Chelly (new)

Chelly (teamderek13) | 62 comments Sashana, It's a good review plot-wise, but I always find that I like to know about the main characters (i.e. main traits)...what makes them interesting? what makes them a worthy MC and why should I care about him/her?...for character readers, (like myself) that can be the most important part of the review.


message 16: by Sashana (new)

Sashana Chelsea wrote: "Sashana, It's a good review plot-wise, but I always find that I like to know about the main characters (i.e. main traits)...what makes them interesting? what makes them a worthy MC and why should I..."

Thanks for the critique/input, Chelsea. I'll definitely take that into account when I write my next review.


message 17: by Zippymae (new)

Zippymae | 3 comments My problem is that I know what I wan't to say, but I have trouble putting it into words. I know what I liked and disliked about a book it just finding the proper words to share what I'm thinking.


message 18: by Jim (last edited May 04, 2015 12:12PM) (new)

Jim Vuksic Zippymae wrote: "My problem is that I know what I wan't to say, but I have trouble putting it into words. I know what I liked and disliked about a book it just finding the proper words to share what I'm thinking."

Zippymae,

Only professional reviewers, employed by or sub-contracted to a well-established newspaper or periodical, need be overly concerned about the style or wording of their work.

Like most Goodreads members, who post reviews, you are a reader who happens to occasionally post a review; you are not a professional reviewer. So don't fret or obsess over what you wish to say. Express your thoughts as clearly and succinctly as you are able. What you have to say is much more important than how you say it.

I look forward to reading your opinions of books.


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