Thursday, May 17, 2012

What Makes a Good Book Review?

Recently, my awesome blogger-buddy Jenni brought up a Great Question!!  She titled it The Problem with Book Reviews and wondered What Makes a Good Book Review?

What a great question!!

I'm totally curious what your answer is. I have very specific goals about my reviews that I got off of some other book blogger's Survey way back in November, or something. 

I wanted a guideline and these survey results helped a lot as a starting point.  For me.  I totally wish I knew who had originally posted this... if it was YOU, please speak up!! I'd like to Thank You for being some of my INSPIRATION to writing Awesome Reviews!!!

...'cause my reviews are AWESOME, right?  *crickets*

Well... we all try. No one's claimin' to be "Professional" as Parjunkee so aptly clarifies, otherwise we'd all be makin' a little more Moolah and buying more books and the entire world economy would turn around. (Speaking of which, do remember to click every Google ad you see!!  Right?!)

So here are the Results from the Survey from which I charted my Reviews:

Ok... in order of importance (what got the most votes) on the survey of unknown origin:
1 - Book Picture
2 - Giveaway
3 - Book Blurb
4 - Book Trailers, Goodreads Link, Short -n- Sweet
5 - Recommendation, Rating, Summary in own words, Character Break-down
Then it starts getting  messier:
6 - Book Stats, Plot Break Down, author link, deep thoughts, quotes
7 - Content alerts
8 - How to Buy, Romantic Break down, Reason Read
No votes at all:
Book spoofs, author info, where discovered book

OBVIOUSLY this is a survey completed by book review readers, not publishers & authors. Lol.

I used the information here and adjusted it to fit my style... and, um, my favorite reviewer's style. *ahem*

Calico Reaction: BlitzBefore blogging I followed Calico Reaction and I love her reviews - she has a consistent pattern, lots of attitude/personality, random lengths, spoiler disclosure and this confidence. It's like she knows which genres are which, is clear about her opinion, and launches fearlessly into odd tirades. I love it. I follow her example as closely as possible without stepping on her heels. I hope.

Back to Survey Results & Putting them to Good Use:

penFor starters, I add what I think Pubs-n-Authors want, too, like how to buy & links, but I make them as compact as possible so they don't detract from my review. They are, after all, my source for free books. And one of my main goals is supporting books & authors. So logical it's almost queasy!!

I always make sure to add the pic & blurb... and usually the character breakdown, 'cause I like that.

The rest I add to my review when it applies or I feel it.

I try to add a Cover Commentary, too. Everyone has an opinion about the look of the cover!!  :-D

penOh!!  And I pay lots of attention to Skim-ability by bolding key phrases. Sometimes I feel kind of dumb picking out some of my own "outstanding" words, but if someone was in a hurry, they could grab the gist of my review by hopping thru the bolded bits.  I'm careful to make clear sentences at the beginning of every paragraph for the same reason.  Basically, I'm a fanatical skimmer myself, see, and as much as I LOVE going off into the wild blue yonder on some fun tangent, I realize that not everyone wants to read all that. So I TRY to keep my wild bunny trails to the end of paragraphs. So if you're a skimmer, you just missed this entire tirade.  :-D  However, if you're reading every word I write, you're chuckling. I hope. And we now have a private joke between the two of us that skimmers missed out on. ha!

So, here's our very own Survey!! 

This SURVEY will remain in the right-hand side-bar for 2 weeks. Aren't you curious?!

Question Mark


  1. I like your survey. It's kind of interesting to pick and choose what matters to me when reading a review.

    And, I like your thoughts on reviews. I like that you gave an example of someone whose reviews you like. I have a hard time adding my personality into reviews, other than liking a specific character or actor if it's a movie review.

    One of the things I like about your blog is that you have little tangents and you write things like "*crickets*" or those types of things. For whatever reason, maybe because I was a technical writer for almost seven years, I have a hard time doing that. Every now and then I will. I need to work on that more.

    Thanks for your thoughts, recommendations, and post!

    1. That's like... giving me chocolate, saying you like my tangents!! Lol Woohoo!!

      I didn't know you were a technical writer. That's pretty cool. Maybe that's why all your stuff flows so logically and makes sense. Easy to read!!

  2. Great question! I'm an informal, short and sweet review kind of person, although sometimes I do get carried away ;) But I figure people are busy and I just want to give them the *feel* of the book -maybe with some quotes- to help them decide whether it's something they'd like to read or not. I sometimes add links to author websites, and spoiler alerts when needed, and always add a picture of the book cover - and that's pretty much it.

    1. I like that, the *feel* of the book!! Great point!!

  3. Not sure if it's just me but I got this when I tried to vote on the survey: Cannot process request

    I don't know to me what makes a good or bad review. I don't want spoilers of any kind though, and sometimes I feel people actually spoil stuff without knowing/intending (ie: they think it's not a big deal but when I know something is going to happen already from the review it makes it less enjoyable for me)

    What I do love in reviews though is WHY. Why you did or didn't like whatever. That way I can get a better feel for if I will like or dislike that too.

    I noticed that sometimes when I write my reviews on GR I'll write my own little "what happens" that might be different than the goodreads synopsis because sometimes I think synopsis' are not very good at telling you what you're getting into. I try to not do that as much though because yeah, the synopsis IS right there. Although sometimes I feel they can tie in with how you felt, describe it a bit and put how you felt at those moments. Good stuff!

    I also struggle with why I LIKE things. Which is weird to me, because I can go on for hours about what I didn't like (ie: my angelfall review which I had to force myself to STOP) but when I love something I'm just like "I fricking love it!!! Simple as that!"

    I really enjoy your reviews though because of your personality shining through. I feel like when I read your reviews it's us talking over tea and bread. And knowing that whenever I read a review from you, I pretty much already know what I'm going into so I can enjoy the review that much more. Even if they're different lengths or you highlight different things from books, I always know I'm going to be getting your honest feelings and personality in them! I can really tell how you feel about the book you're reviewing by how you write, and that's what I like from reviews!

    1. Oh, man!! I hear you on the spoiler spills!!! I totally cringed when I read that 'cause as soon as you read a book, it's hard to not give something away. Especially those synopses that cover the first 5 pages, you know? Whatya say after that?!

      I thought for sure you were going to remind me when I gave something away, 'cause I know I have. I've recently forgotten to even say *spoiler alert* before blurtin' stuff out. But no... you're super-nice instead!!

      And I'm so glad you think of the discussions as over a cup of tea 'cause YESSS!!!! That's exactly right!!

      What did I do with all those ideas of tea types?! I still have 'em here somewhere... thx for reminding me!

    2. Actually, I don't think you've spoiled a book for me...yet! ^_~

      But if you put "spoilers" I probably might have skipped it.

      And yeah, it is hard to not give stuff away in reviews. I remember accidentally reading a review of a series book before and I read the review of book like..6? or 7 and they mentioned a character that had been in from book 2, and it totally gave away the entire plot to book 4.(In book 4 youre not sure if the character is gonna live or die and it's supposed to be SUSPENSEFUL!!) Had they prefaced it with "Hey dummyhead, don't read if you haven't read the previous books" I would have steered clear but their review said "spoiler free" :( Spoiler free for book 6 didn't mean spoiler free for books 1-5. Haha.

  4. uh oh, got the dreaded unable to process message when I tried to vote. Great post! I loved it. I am like Kali, I want to know why you didn't like it. I too can go on forever with why I didn't like it, but just want to put loved it, you should read it! I have actually run into a few people who have the same problem. So, that makes me feel better. I don't like to summarize in my own words, that is what the blurb is for. If I feel the blurb didn't do it justice, then I try something of my own. I mostly like to put why I did or didn't like it, and leave it at that. I just started reviewing in March, and I can tell by reading my posts, I have gotten better, and hopefully will get better as times goes on! Thanks for the very thought provoking post!!!!!

    1. That's so funny. I think I can do that kinda privately, like mssging or emailing, but not on a post. I try to say something the author could read without me hiding under a rock.

      ALTHOUGH... I just read the horriblest scene last night and I could have STRANGLED the author for even putting it in there. At the very LEAST there should've been blinking red lights on the cover warning about the content. I am scheduled to review, and all I want to do is pick the first 10% of the book to pieces in my outrage.

      I'm just sitting on it, though... thinking...

    2. Ha!!

      Have you read Robin McKinley's Deerskin? There's a major-huge rape scene in it. I knew that, so I was careful before I dived in, you know? I had quiet time, for starters, so I didn't FREAK OUT if someone interrupted my reading at a bad place. And I entered ready to CRY MY HEART OUT. Which I did. I love that book, it's incredible.

      When I happened upon a MAJOR RAPE SCENE last night, reading late 'cause I couldn't get to sleep, I was caught totally off guard. It was horrible. And the consequences were devastating... and then the witness started glorifying the memory of the victim at which point I nearly threw my Nook.

      I just have so many problems on so many levels. One - some heads up from the author if there aren't any reviews out, yet. Two - well, I just didn't like the scene. Three - turning the victim into a saint does not make anything better AT ALL. There was insufficient grounds for the glorification. And I just don't know that I care where this guy goes, now, or what he does. Even if he turns into Batman and giving the Bad Guys wedgies, it would not turn this into "good".

      I'm letting my emotions settle and then I'll look at the book again, 'cause I committed to Review. If I still feel the same, though, I'm bowing out, or something. Or posting my first angry review!!

    3. Hahah, post your first angry review! It will be therapeutic and you can celebrate with kit-kats. "Wrote first angry review today." CHECK!

      And yeah, I understand completely. I wasn't allowed to read Clan of the Cavebear until I was 16 because it had rape scenes in it, and I knew going in what to prepare for. I don't think I've ever read a series/book besides Clan of the Cave bear books that had scenes like that though. Well, I read Sleeping Beauty by Anne Rice and...yeah. But that's the whole book, hahah.

    4. Ah... I forgot about that one. Somehow that author made it almost tolerable, being common tribal. Even Don't Breathe a Word created an entire situation. The Rapes I mean were startling, sudden & really bad, reducing my memory down to 2.

      Maybe I will just let the anger fly!!

  5. Wow!! This is such great feedback!! I didn't even intend that, but I'm totally excited hearing your opinions! Especially the nice stuff you say about mine. I feel like kickin' the dirt & blushing *shucks* but really I'm glad I said WHY I do stuff, 'cause I followed some great examples.

    I'm removing the survey from this post. It'll just be in the right sidebar. I think copying & pasting dropped some functionality. Otherwise... I'm clueless. Maybe some of you are being picked on by the Great Google?!

  6. i like the idea of bolding for scanning :D hehe i scan a lot

  7. Thank you so much for the kind words! If I can ever be of help, let me know. :)

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  9. Thanks for posting this. I'm just getting started in doing reviews and I've been thinking about this topic. I wasn't sure what to include or exclude.


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