Wednesday, April 26, 2017

What Makes a Good Review?

I've been getting more review copies lately, so I've been writing a lot more long reviews than I was a while ago. And I've learned that they can either be my hardest or my easiest posts to write. Once in a blue moon, my thoughts about a particular book just come flowing out. But most of the time, I really struggle to put my feelings into words. I haven't been able to figure out why that is yet, but it's made me spend a lot of time thinking: what makes a good review? So far, I've come up with a few specifics:
  • Overall impressions. The first thing I want to know when I'm reading a review is whether or not the person liked the book. After that, I want to know the two or three best or worst things about it.
  • What stuck out? What are the things that make this book different, whether it's in a good or a bad way? Or is it that nothing stuck out? A few intriguing tidbits can really get me interested in a book or turn me away from it, and that's one of the big reasons I read reviews.
  • All of the feelings. This one gets a bit complicated, because I like my reviews pretty spoiler-free, but I also like to know whether a book made you laugh or cry or scream with rage. On the other hand, maybe you didn't have any strong feelings at all, and that says something too.
But the thing is, that's all I've really come up with. And that's not really a lot to go on. To be fair, all of the above points are really vague and can be expanded and broken down and worked with, but I just can't shake the feeling that I'm missing something that could make my reviews better.

So I'm turning this one over to you guys. What do you like to see when reading reviews? What don't you like to see? What can I do to make my reviews more interesting?

8 comments:

  1. I'm the same!! The main thing I want to know when I read a review is: did they like it or not.😂 I really like star-ratings for that reason, because they're a handy overview! I also want to know feeeeels. I'd rather not have a review be a 90% recap of the book, because I just want to know how it made you feel basically.😂😂

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    1. Exactly! The only problem I've found with that is that different people use the star rating system differently. A 3-star book for me is good, but nothing to get excited about, but some people give 3 stars to books they really enjoyed and just had a couple of problems with.

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  2. I used to feel like reviews just flowed out of me, but the longer I've been blogging the harder it seems to get to come up with things to say. Which seems weird. I think it boils down to the fact that I kind of feel like I've said everything there is to say about books in general, and my reviews are starting to feel repetitive. Yikes!! Still, I'm not giving up on reviewing by a long shot---hopefully those creative juices will be flowing again soon!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. I definitely get what you mean. I just try to remind myself that just because I've said something for one book doesn't mean it's not true for another one! Of course, if you're not saying anything new ever, there might be an issue, but I don't think there's any problem with repeating yourself once or twice.

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  3. This is the eternal question of a blogger and it's difficult to say anyone thing because different reviews work for different reasons and we all look for different things. I like to see some kind of rating, be it star rating or whatever, so I can immediately see where the book sits on a bloggers rating scale. Then, I just want to see people's thoughts in a reasonably clear way. I don't tend to want a load of recap but a little in the review can be good, especially when you don't know much about the book. Mostly, I just like to be able to see a blogger liked/disliked a book and why. If you're flailing about how brilliant it is you like to be able to tell the passion from the words and if you hated it say why. I need the whys.

    I still find reviewing really hard but I've found the less time I spend a on a review the better because otherwise I over think and really kill the review with too many words and repetition and less passion. Just write what you think and try not to overthink. That's what I try. I also try and avoid reviews of the book I'm reviewing until I've finished so I don't let others influences my thoughts.

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    1. This is really interesting! I know I have trouble with the whys sometimes, especially for books I really like. I'm trying to get better at that, though!

      Not overthinking is always good advice.

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  4. This is something I constantly struggle with too! You've talked about all the things I like to see and like to write about in my reviews. I like to know about the more technical things like well-rounded characters and writing style, but I also want to know how the book has made the reviewer feel too. Sometimes I think what makes a review interesting is just the reviewer's voice coming through, which can be a hard variable to nail because it's so different for everyone!

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    1. I tend to really only talk about the technical things when they were either especially good or especially bad, but that's definitely something I'll keep in mind! And I agree about the reviewer's voice coming through - I'm not entirely sure I have a voice yet, but I'm trying.

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