I just recently got off my hind end and started my book review blog. It is a task to say the least, but I enjoy the things I have been able to do with it so far. Being new to the book review world, I decided to seek out other book review blogs, and what I found was confusing and intimidating and way different than I had envisioned. Naturally I want to become a reviewer that Authors and readers alike, will turn to about books. I am just not sure how to achieve that. lol
So here is my question: "What makes a great review?"
I have noticed that my reviews are "Holy Crap!" long, and they differ (although not that much) from other reviewers. This is discouraging. =/ Then I think to myself... Am I making them too long? Am I doing it wrong? Does anyone really sit through the whoooooooole post till the end? Should I even keep going??
So I would like to know, as an author, what do you hope to see from reviewers (aside from the obvious good review)? Do you want them to delve into the story and report back on everything they think and feel and see? Is it over the top to go through all the characters and summarize them, then add a storyline summary in? Or would you prefer that they just keep it short and sweet and simple?
As someone who reviews books, what do you look for in a review? Do you want a lengthy article or something short that you can fly through? Will you read a long article till the end? Do you want to be informed or just touch base?
I have seen reviews that are pretty much a remix of the synopsis and that makes me sad. When I look for books to read, I first check out the cover art and then I read reviews. I seek out the review that has meat to it. One that really gets me in there and lets me sneak a peek at this literary world that I might not have been able to access just from the synopsis. If I can't find a review like that then chances are I won't pick it up. That almost feels like a cardinal sin in the review world, but I can't help it. So, since I seem to have a preference for a certain type of review, I tend to write in almost the same way, but its becoming awkward for me. >.< I want to run and hide under a rock and not review anymore. I don't know... maybe I just need some sort of justification that there are readers out there who appreciate the type of review I write. Mind you, I have only done two actual reviews, so my footing is still a bit wobbly, but I don't want to doom myself before I get started. Ya know what I mean?
Okay, so now that I have rambled, I would like to know what both authors and reviewers alike, think. Please leave me some feedback! :)
Great topic! I try to take a slightly different approach. I like to say that I usually do not do reviews, instead I write commentary and express opinions. I usually include a short synopsis as well as a little about my opinion on the book as a whole. The bulk of my post is usually dedicated to one idea or theme that I found in the book that interested me. Some times it is a major point that the author was trying to make, sometimes it is not, but rather just something in the work that interests me. I often try to relate the topic to history, culture, religion, politics, etc. I tend to read older classic works as well a popular non fiction so I figure there is no shortage of straight reviews out there, thus I try to provide something new. I like my blog to be a place where my visitors and myself can think about and discuss books as well as the ideas that they spark.
In addition I must admit that at times I get a little long winded on my blog.
Brian from Babbling Books
i like that, commentary rather than review - because for the most part my commentaries are why i did or did not like portions of the book, why I choose to read it etc
250 to 300 words is good length. Any more than that and people won't read it.
And just to add my two cents worth ;o)
Treat your blog like a mini bookstore. Someone comes along not sure what to read...so why not give a synopsis of the book? The format for my reviews is my own synopsis (no spoilers at all - I've occasionally copied the blurb from the back but have stated so), general view on characterization, language, flow of sentences etc and then my opinion. (Remember, everyone's entitled to hear your opinion)
Your blog is a reflection of you...don't read something that is completely against who you are because you won't give a good review and every author regardless of them being independent or well known would like to receive a decent review.
I've read a lot of independent authors and they've approached me to critique their work because of my reviews. I'm concise and fair, even when it's not been a great read.
Take a look at the bloggers here on Book Blogs - its a great place for inspiration. Plus, as you read more, you'll get into a rhythm that works for you.
Hope this helps! And good luck.
I go in too deep I feel. But people have been saying they like the detail I give, so I don't know. I have been trying to cut back on my ramblings because some of mine can go on, and on (and on ;D ) but I think its more of your preference, though I would say not more than five paragraphs or people will stray.
Original Poetry Blog: VV
Book Review blog: VV
When I decided to start a blog, I wanted to do something a little different than what's out there...to the point, short capsule reviews with some quirky comments. It 's probably not what you would choose to do, but it works for me and my 11,800 (as of today) page viewers! It also works with my schedule and is a lot of fun as well as informative, I hope.
I have blog readers, guest reviewers and friends who often write more detailed reviews. So it's often a mix...of the long and short commentary. I always include images of the book and a short author bio...short is the keyword.
Don't give up..Find a niche that's comfortable for you.. That's what I did and it's working....(so far)
Joyce at Joyce's Choices
As an author and a reader, my opinion would be short and sweet and simple for the review, and send any other things you have in detail to the author, personally. That way, all is laid out on the table, but not out for the public. Remember, what one person dislikes, another adores. I would leave the critique for the author.
This is just my opinion. Take it with a grain of salt and do what the heck you want to do. Hey, it's a free country, right?
I hate reading reviews that practically retell the whole story for you, it spoils your enjoyment of the book if you then decide to read it! I nearly always skip straight to what the reviewer really thinks, whether they liked it or not.
I think a good review would have a short synopsis, perhaps a brief note about the main characters, were they believable/realistic? and most importantly the reviewers thoughts and feelings about whether they liked the book or not and why.
H.L. Mencken wrote many essays. One of the best is called Criticism of Criticism of Criticism. Read it.
A lot of folks think a book review has to be positive or has to be negative. Truth is, it could be both or neither. The best reviews express one or more definite opinions and make one or more arguments to support each of them. The worst reviews noodle around in circles. Statements such as "I liked this. I didn't like that." "I love this. I hate that." are nonspecific and serve no purpose except to prove that the author of the review has a limited number of modifiers in his/her pen and probably isn't able to form an intelligent, useful opinion on the subject at issue.