Saturday, 8 June 2013

Reader's View: On The Subject Of Reviews


I've been spending a lot of time stalking Amazon reviews lately and one thing I've come across which has been interesting is the helpful or not helpful tags at the beginning of the reviews. It's got me thinking about what makes a good review.
       I'll be the first to admit I don't have any kind of plan when I sit down to review a book. Often I just type whatever comes to mind and hope that in the end it's coherent. I've gone through some of the reviews I've written on this blog and although they're okay, I wonder if they are what would be considered "helpful."
       As a reader of reviews I appreciate the time and effort that some reviewers put into writing a really lengthy piece. It's true that the longer the review the more likely there will be helpful thoughts in there, but do we necessarily have to always write an essay to get the point across? A lot of bloggers have short sub-headings in their reviews to give a one or two word summary of certain aspects of the book. For example explicit language, romance level, violence level and so on. Is this a more efficient way of approaching reviews, especially if you're strapped for time? Or does it not provide enough context?
      Clearly I am still have problems deciding how to structure my reviews so that they are both easier to write and so that readers get the most out of them. So give me a hand guys, what about reviews do you find most helpful? 

9 comments:

  1. I think just listing what you liked or didn't and why, even if it's just a paragraph, makes for a good review.

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  2. These days, with so many citizen reviewers it doesn't have to be an essay. Those are for literary magazines. The likes of us just need to say what the books is about, what worked for us and what didn't, and let the reader decide. In my case, as I write about books fr children and teens, I may sometimes suggest that boys or girls of a certain age upwards might especially enjoy it. And that's about it. I have discovered a delightful Steampunk series from a fairly simple review,

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  3. I think the only way I get what I want out of reviews is to read more than one for each book I'm researching. No one reviewer can get it all in one review because there isn't enough room. Just writing what you liked and didn't like is the best way to add to the others' opinions of what they liked and didn't like. I eventually see everything I need to see from putting them all together.

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  4. For me it depends a lot on the book reviewed. Some books I appreciate a long review, but on others I can't be bothered to read that much. I just need to know, briefly, if I might like it.

    The same applies when I write reviews. Some I have a lot to say about, some I don't. Usually I still manage to get the point across no matter what.

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  5. I have tried to keep my reviews to 3-5 paragraphs, on the lower end for novellas and the higher end for books I really loved. I will focus my attention on the things I enjoyed the most, or if I didn't like it I'll explain a couple reasons why. I have a brief intro that tells the basics about my initial thoughts, and then the conclusion will wrap up the main loves/hates of the story.

    When it comes to reading reviews, the longer they are, the more likely I'll skim or not read it. Breaking it up into sections is nice, that keeps my mind focused and I don't get bored. The simpler the better is what I say. Not that I don't mind some longer reviews sometimes. :)

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  6. I think just things you like and dont like are the ones I like the most. Perhaps also a strong first sentence that sums up how you feel about the book as a whole also helps when there's a long review that I dont feel like reading in it's entirety. I also like when reviewers say something about what kind of people will be interested in this book.

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  7. I like reviews that are mostly the reviewer's opinion. Some people's reviews are 3/4 plot summary and then only the last paragraph is what they thought about the book. That always drives me kinda crazy because if I wanted to know the plot, I could just read the GoodReads or Amazon summary. I go to reviews to find out what's beneath and beyond the summary.

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  8. Hm. Interesting topic. I guess it all depends on who's reading the reviews. One time someone on Amazon got annoyed on my review because I gave a small paragraph of the description of the book based on my own words. But I'm exactly like you, when I write a review, I don't have an outline or anything, and it usually just comes at the top of my head. I've seen people on Amazon who write nasty comments to reviewers who write a lengthy review. Some people like lengthy reviews, some don't. I guess it depends on the reader.

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  9. I like reading reviews that are well-written and kinda snappy. I try really hard to write that way, too, but I'm not sure I succeed lol. But whenever I'm looking at say Goodreads, I always skip down to the passionately for or passionately against a book. I figure those people get to the heart of the matter the quickest. Actually, to be honest, I usually go to the bad ones first. Don't know why, but I think it's harder for people to write negative reviews--especially REALLY negative reviews--and put them out there. It kind of opens those reviewers up for...well, for lack of a better word bullying by other reviewers. But sometimes I think the people really just didn't like the book. And I definitely know how it feels to see that everyone else LOVED this book, and I'm just like "Really?!?!?!?!?!? I so do not agree". Shrugs. Anyway, though I stay away from writing negative reviews, even about those books that seriously let me down, I can't really fault those people who do.
    Ninja Girl

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