Saturday, January 19, 2013

Saturday Discussion: How do you review?

This week I want to talk how you review books. After doing it for almost three years now (holy cow!), my review methods have definitely changed and I wanted to take you into my process and would love to learn about yours.

When I'm reading:
I used to read and pray I'd remember my favorite spots in the book but as I kept reviewing, I got a little smarter about the whole thing. Now I have little post-its on my bookmark and as I read and find a sentence I like, I pull the sticky tab off and stick it to anything that catches my eye. That way I can mark my favorite lines!

I also make sure to read the book all the way through and try not to make up my mind until I've read ever single word.

 After I've read:
The most important thing for me to do after I shut a book is to wait a few days. I need some time to form an opinion about the book. My gut reaction is good but sometimes as the story settles with me, I end up drawing new conclusions I hadn't been able to see before.

After a couple of days, I go to write my review.

While writing:
When I form my review, I make sure I have all the info on the top. Over the years I've added my opinion on the cover and I always include the first line since that usually sells me on a book I'm purchasing. Then I dive into the meat of the review. I like to start with a "catch-y" first paragraph that summarizes my feelings on the book in two or three sentences in case people just want a snap shot of what I thought about the book.

After, I write about my opinions of the characters, the plot and the writing. If I have anything negative to say, I add it at the very end. But if I didn't like something, I try to be respectful about why I didn't like it and I was state that it is only my opinion and others might havr a different opinion. After that paragraph, I do another paragraph that summarizes my thoughts and all the points I made in the meat of my review and add the rating.

I always make sure to add my favorite lines and check to see if they have a book trailer.

The result:
I end up doing pretty long reviews. I like to dissect characters and my reactions to the novel in depth because it helps me understand what I like about novels and what I don't. I know long reviews are harder to read. I even did a poll and most said they prefer four paragraphs for reading reviews but I just can't make them that short.

So that's my process for reviewing. It isn't the "only" way to do it but it is working for me.

I'd love for you to take me through your review process! Do you do anything different? Anything I do that you might steal or do the same as me?


  1. I do long reviews too, but how I think about it is they will read enough to get a snap shot of how I felt about the book and if they are interested enough they will read the entire review. What always helps as well when it comes to long reviews is to have various paragraphs instead of just one long never ending block. It helps the eyes and puts the reader more at ease when getting ready to read a review.

    Nooks and e readers have a nice thing where you can bookmark and highlight your favorite passages. Makes life easier!

  2. What a great discussion post! It's really interesting to get an insight into others' review processes.
    I'm not very organised with mine. I use Goodreads sometimes to make note of things I liked with their status updates, but I don't mark anything IRL. I keep thinking maybe I should but that's just not how I read.
    I tend to write my review straight away. I go with my gut reaction. Plus if I leave it any longer the reviews pile up and I feel stressed.

  3. Great post! I'm always curious how other bloggers put together their reviews, so appreciate you taking us through your process! I use post-it bookmarks too and absolutely love them!

    I've tried writing reviews both immediately after reading and later, and found that I need to write them immediately as I'm somewhat forgetful. If I come across a passage I want to make sure I mention, I make a note in my draft. Like Belle, I usually go with my gut reaction.

    Looking forward to seeing how others review!

  4. This is an awesome post!
    So, how do I go about my reviews?
    Well, I review books, audiobooks and movies and the nature of the post dictates the process of putting my reviews together.

    For instance - with an audiobook review, I listen very carefully. I take notes on the narrator, his/her pace, voices, ability to hold my attention, whilst I'm listening to it. When I finish an audiobook, I'll marinate on it for a few days. I then put my post together.
    Audiobook and book posts have something in common in that they will always have a quote from the book that has stuck with me. I would have chosen this whilst reading or listening. My first paragraph for both will always contain a brief synopsis in my own style (i.e. what I felt the book was about, not what the author has told me it's about in the blurb).
    I will then, if it's an audiobook, critique the production and narrator and how believable the voices were. After that I will critique the story - i.e. discuss the author's ability to tell or not tell a good story. I try to be as honest as possible, even if it can sometimes seem a little blunt.
    If it is a 'real life' book, then I will just discuss the story and author etc etc. Did I like it? Was it in first person etc etc. What was the writing like? Any command of language/characters. etc etc.
    I don't have a set length but I do try not to write anything too long, but it depends on the nature of the book too and how it has marinated over the few days - for instance Macbeth: A Novel by AJ Hartley and Hewson was sooo long, whilst Flash Gold by Lindsay Buroker was a lot shorter.

    For movies it is totally different. It is a lot less structured and can sometimes just look like I opened up my brain and wrote any and all thoughts! Haha!

    Thanks for being brilliant! This really made me think! Oh... and sorry for writing a little too much.


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