Sunday Salon: What’s Your Review Style?

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Are your reviews more of a rehash of the story or do you comment on writing style, characters, and reflection?

When I started writing this blog, and going through my book reviews on other sites (e.g. Bookcrossing, LibraryThing and Goodreads) for some source material, it was a shock how poor some of my reviews were – in some situations I couldn’t work out whether I liked a particular book or not, and in some cases, couldn’t remember what the book was about or even whether I had read it or not. I knew I had read most – if not ALL – of the books I had claimed to have read, but you couldn’t have told as such based on my review.

Because of this I now attempt to put down a basic précis of the story, and try to balance reminding myself of what the story was about with not re-writing the whole story for anyone who may want to subsequently read the book.

After the basic précis, I then try and capture what I thought of the book overall, whether I liked the writing style, presentation (when reviewing ebooks in particular), and, if a new writer, if there was anything I believe was noticeably good or needs a little work. I try not to give a spoiler, rather *hint* at something. Sometimes the review ends up being short as the “surprise” is so huge that you cant give a fuller review without giving the surprise away.

My review style has certainly changed therefore as a result of becoming a blogger. I dont always hit the mark with what I want to achieve (I’m still making my way through some of my older reviews) but I hope I’ve become better with what I write.

In the last year or so I’ve had a list of questions as a basic prompt – these I’ve culled from various reading group pages online. I dont follow them explicitly but have them as a rough guide to give me something to think about.  I also try and give some additional “items of interest” to the post – e.g. a little about the author, links to their page or that of their publisher. I have also been known to include videos on the odd occasion – where there’s been a film of the book for instance and I can get hold of the trailer

So what is your review style and has it changed over the years? Has it changed since becoming a blogger?

 

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10 thoughts on “Sunday Salon: What’s Your Review Style?

  1. I love how you use the questions to guide your reviews. Very nice.

    Alas, I am a very poor reviewer. If I had to use one word to describe my reviews, I would say “short.” And I really don’t think I’ll ever write a whole lot more.

    Here’s my Sunday Salon!

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    • Ultimately if the reviews are for you then perhaps “short” is good and “appropriate to me” is a better phrase than “poor”.

      Mine used to be short – but then I couldn’t remember reading the book, never mind what I thought about it! If I couldnt remember the book, how can I express to others what I thought?!

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  2. I used to not like my reviews either. They were too simple and short for my tastes and I didn’t think I was giving enough. I’ve kind of changed my style over the years, yes. Some reviews may still be short, but I try to hit on certain types of posts… things I think make a good book, to me. For example, I always make sure to mention what I thought of the characters, and whether I felt connected with them, liked them, or was at least sympathetic to them. Then I might comment about what worked or didn’t work for me. Finally, I’ll talk about what the pacing was like, whether it drew me in and kept me going or not…. and lastly anything that stood out to me about the authors writing.

    In cases, I can’t mention all of these things. But I try to at least follow that guide. 🙂

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  3. Yeah, looking back at old reviews can make you cringe if your review style has changed a lot! Having a list of prompt questions to help the review along sounds like a fantastic idea. Do you think you’ll ever share your list of questions here on your blog?

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    • I just might do something along those lines (though I will admit I have procured them from various sites along the way, so I’ll have to do something to stop any calls of plagiarism!)

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  4. I feel my review style has changed. Like if I go back and read my older reviews, I seem kinda shallow and very very gushy. Reading more books and writing more reviews can help you deduce a pattern and can enable you to review a book more efficiently. It enables you to look at a book from a critic’s point of view, hence noticing more details worth quoting in reviews.
    Right now, I go with sarcasm and homour. I personally think the negative points can be brought out through humour instead of being blunt (and downright rude).

    Good post, btw. It helps reviewers question their style and look for ways to improve.

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    • Sometimes your review reflects you as a person at the time you wrote it. For example – do you read a book like Jane Eyre the same way you did when you were 11? No? You’re going to be picking up on different things as you get older, so any review will be different. Older ones are not less valid just because the tone is different

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  5. I am not a big fan of long reviews where the person rehashes the whole book. If I want that much information I don’t need to read the book, right? Have you ever noticed when you are talking to people about books that some people do the same thing? They go on and on about the book telling way too many details? Boring. Quick synopsis and then review is what I want. Do you like the book why or why not? And give good reasons. Do a bit a homework. Try to make the review interesting and unique. That is what I aim for. Sometimes I do a better job than other times.

    My Sunday Salon

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  6. I think my reviews have become more coherent since becoming a blogger, but I would still say they are a collection of thoughts more than anything. I think it’s a matter of practice more than anything which has made my reviews better- I should still proofread more frequently though!

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