Let’s Talk: Book Reviews

Posted 16 June, 2012 | Mary @ TheBookSwarm | | 22 Comments

Let’s Talk is a meme hosted by i swim for oceans 

that features questions or prompts about books and blogging. Love it or hate it, weigh in or don’t, Let’s Talk will get you thinking–and talking!

Question: What do you look for in a book review, 
and what makes it good?
Following as many blogs as I do, I run across some amazing and well-written reviews and some pretty crappy ones–ones you know were just called in rather than thought out. Now, everyone does have bad days (I’ll admit it–there are some reviews I wrote super-fast, last minute, and with half a brain. But those are few and far between.), but if poorly-written reviews are the norm, I won’t follow anymore. 
So, what makes reviews stand out:
  • Details–what did you like, what didn’t you like and why
  • Passion–whether you liked the book or not, be passionate about it (that’s why you’re blogging about books, right?)
  • Voice–you infuse the review with your personality
  • Consideration–you spent time with the book, thought about it, and really put effort into your review
What makes reviews sink:
  • Opinion without support–I want to know why-why-why (much like a two-year-old)
  • Bland–no excitement or dislike or passion of any kind
  • Every review is an endless parade of gifs–while I’ve seen gifs used very effectively, if that’s all you’ve got…meh
  • Every review is just a few lines that give little to no insight into your actual thoughts
  • Every review is a rave review because every book you read is AWESOME with no faults
  • Every review is a rant because every book you read SUCKS and there’s nothing good about it
Of course, I’m not a professional reviewer (that would be a very cool thing!)–this is just a hobby for me. And every blogger has his or her own personal style, which is what I like, why I follow the blogs I do I want to see a blogger’s personality come through in their reviews, like to see a review that’s infused with that blogger’s passion and love of books. Because that’s why we do this, isn’t it? Because we love books?
Check out my sidebar for some of my very favorite blogs, ones that provide consistent, fabulous reviews and keep my TBR shelf and wishlist bursting with great books *hugs sidebar buddies*.—>
So, what do you think: what makes a good review? Any blogs I should follow that have great reviews?

About Mary @ TheBookSwarm

22 Responses to “Let’s Talk: Book Reviews”

  1. I am the same way–I want specifics on what you liked/didn’t like. However, I will say that I find it hard to be specific because I don’t want to post spoilers. That is always a hard line to straddle.

    We follow pretty much the same blogs so nope I got nothing on who else to follow LOL

  2. I totally agree with you about “bland” reviews although I know that I have definitely written some in my time. Sometimes there are just books that don’t strike me in any particular way. I can’t recommend it because I didn’t like it; I didn’t loathe it with a passion; I just read it and it was a pleasant enough way to pass the time. Any recommendations on how to review those books?

    • Oh, I know I’ve written some very meh reviews! When you don’t feel strongly one way or the other (like the two- or three-star-type books), it’s hard to get that passion in there. At that point, I usually do a couple of positives and a couple of wishes and do point out that, while it wasn’t a favorite, it was, like you said, a pleasant way to pass the time.

  3. Reviews are like boobs. They need support.

    Anyway, I totally agree with you on these. For me, I need to know why someone liked or didn’t like a book. I’ve also been noticing an increase in gifs in reviews, and I just… it doesn’t sit right with me. I want to see the words, I think.

  4. I definitely agree, which is why I usually stick to the same blog sites. Here are a few of my favorites:

    Forever YA – http://foreveryoungadult.com/
    Stacked – http://www.stackedbooks.org/

    Also, I was curious, I write book reviews on my blog, but I’m not sure if they are well written reviews… No one has actually told me if they like them or not. Would anyone be interested to look at my site and let me know if they are well or poorly written so I can make changes/improvements? Here’s the link if you are interested: http://jeracalea.blogspot.com/ I’d appreciate any feedback! 🙂

    • I don’t mind a short review every once in a while. But ALL THE TIME? Gah. So annoying. Makes me question why they even have a review blog–is it for “free” books? Unfollow!

  5. Lots of good point, Mary! I particularly agree about reviewers who only seem to ever LOVE or HATE their books. Although, for me the pet peeve is more about reviews that seem to be more about being mean about a book they didn’t like rather than being clear and constructive about it. But that’s me.

    Love the post!!!

  6. I am also a big fan of detail and passion. Like, to me a good review has substance. I think that one can use gifs as long as they back them up, like, as long as the review is more than just the GIFS, but actually has some words too.

    I will have to also keep a lot of this in mind when reviewing on my blog.

  7. Yes, I agree with your list. If you want people to read your reviews, you have to make them entertaining and informative. It’s not easy, I know. And I agree, everyone is entitled to an off day, especially since we are not getting paid to do this, but you do need to let people know why it didn’t work for you.

  8. Definitely agree (and not just cos I’m on your sidebar =b)… I like reviews with actual reasons and where I leave the review with a clear feeling if the reviewer liked the book or not. Sometimes I read reviews and actually don’t really know how the person felt about the book, which, to me, is a big problem.

  9. I’m with you, I agree with the points you made. The worst is reviews that are only a sentence or two. That’s not a review! Sometimes I don’t have a lot to say about a book, but I try to get the gist across of how the book made me feel, etc. I wrote up a post back in January about this but its still waiting to be posted. I should do that soon!