BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Monday, August 20, 2012

Blog Hop Discussion: What Do You Look For You In A Review?

Nat at Reading Romances is hosting another discussion blog hop, this time around the topic of reviews. All of the participants will discuss what they look for in a review: Whether you're writing or reading one, there are certain things you always look for. What are those? What do you think are the most important elements you think the reviewer should include? What would you like see more? Less? What is the role of a review? How important is it? 

review

So, what do I as a reader look for? There are 4 basic types of information that I want:

  1. Is the story well written? For instance, are there plot holes, inconsistencies, grammatical issues, are the characters believable? Is the plot banal but the writer has a gift for language or story telling? Does it hold your interest or does it start off slowly then grab you? Is there an excess of details? A dearth of details? Is it original? A well done take on a old theme?
  2. A brief recap or synopsis of the story. However, the recap should not be the bulk of the review. I have no use for reviews that are 90% recap and 10% review. Use examples from the story to illustrate points or show off the author's writing, sure, that's excellent. But if your "review" is mostly story recap, I won't be back.
  3. What worked and didn't work for the reviewer and why? What did they love? What did they hate? It may be that what worked for the reviewer pushes one of my buttons and vice versa.
  4. And, because it's one on my pet peeves, how well done is the copy editing and proof reading? If it's done well, with no problems or only minor ones, then I don't expect to see it mentioned in the review. But it constantly amazes me when I read a book with huge editing and proof reading issues yet when I look at reviews, there's no mention. I've read books where I have had to untangle and rewrite sentences, or whole paragraphs, to make sense of them and yet, there is NO MENTION in the review. I am not your beta reader nor should I have to untangle your mangled spelling and grammar to understand a sentence. As you can see, I get very cranky. There's a reason I work as a copy editor. :D

Those are the main things I look for. I also enjoy some humor in a review, even some mild snark, but no meanness and no attacks on the author. I also like to know why a reviewer chose a book but it's not essential. One of my personal criteria for a good book, at least the genre ones, is whether or not I'd read it again. However, not everyone enjoys re-reading so while I like to see a reviewer mention if they'd re-read it, I don't need it. Also, I don't want spoilers; unless, it's a book I probably won't read, then I don't care. In general though, I avoid blogs if their reviews typically contain spoilers. I don't do spoilers usually in my own reviews; when I do, it's to illustrate a point, or it may be a book in a series and discussing it would spoil an earlier book. In those cases, I'll post a spoiler warning so readers can decide to continue reading or skip that review.

Now the role of a review. Well, at it's most basic it's a critique of the book; the writing, the story, etc. But reviews are no longer limited to print sources such as newspapers and magazines. These days, we have blogs, goodreads, twitter, facebook, tumblr, etc. They are more casual and have immediate impact. To an extent, these have both replaced and complemented the traditional personal recommendations that we used to get from friends and family. Now, we have extended our circle of friends to include all these online resources. So, some reviews are "I really liked this. The story is fun and character X is hawt." while others are more critical and some read like traditional print "serious" reviews. So, a review is an opinion as well as a critique. If four bloggers/reviewers whose opinions I trust tell me to stay away from a book, don't waste my time; I'm going to listen and pass on that book. I may share that info with others who ask me about that book. Because these opinions and critiques are online, they have the potential to reach thousands of readers and they remain available for as long as that blog or site is online. That affects the buzz around a book, and even the sales. So, a review can share information about a book, praise a book, trash a book, sell a book or steer away a potential buyer. It's a recommendation, a critique, a sharing of information, a sales tool. It's a way for a reader to learn about a book, to gather information and decide if they want to invest their time, money or both in reading it.

How about you? What do you look for? What are your must-haves and what are the things you'd like to see but don't require? What do you think is the role of reviews?






20 comments:

  1. Hi!

    Stopping in from the hop. Your point about "why a reviewer chose a book" is very interesting -- something I don't usually see in online reviews but I am sometimes curious about why/how reviewers/bloggers choose which book to read and review.

    I like reading through the synopsis provided by the reviewer -- I know that books already contain a summary at the back but I really enjoy how each reader re-interprets/re-tells the story for their reviews.

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  2. Great thoughts - thank you for sharing. I particularly liked your take on the copy editing - yes, it's very important!

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  3. PROOF READING! Hells yea! I know stuff slips by occasionally, at least it does with me. But I get so totally annoyed with "text speak" in reviews. We are adults, not 12 year olds talking to our boyfriends!

    The Brunette Librarian Blog

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    1. Valerie and Brunette, I get IMMENSELY cranky at poor proofing and editing. And text speak in reviews? Gak, not for me.

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  4. This is probably the best blog hop ever. Of course, I generally don't like either blog hops or reviews, yet somehow, you put them together and I find it brilliant. Reading reviews tends to seem just this side of useless to me--I do it, and I compare the good and the bad searching for the kernel of...usefullness. That attitude gives me a problem with writing them, though I have done so. I'm going to use this blog hop as a lesson plan of sorts.

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    1. I can't take the credit Ang, Nat at Reading Romances did. She puts together some good ones. Some people don't find reviews useful and there's nothing wrong with that; whatever works for you.

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  5. I really appreciate it when reviewers tell me about any typos or formatting issues. I think that a good review needs to have a book cover at a short blurb.

    I enjoy author interviews a lot, especially if they are funny or candid. I am following you, thanks!

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  6. Really enjoyed your post! Proofing/editing is hard and one reason I don't really enjoy reviewing ARCs. I know it's not ready... what worries me is it still won't be ready when it goes to print and they're asking me to overlook things that might still be there when it's on the shelves. Hmm!

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    1. Oh, ARCs! As much as I enjoy the chance to read a book early, I have a hard time with the typos they can contain and I do wonder if the finished product will have been fixed. I try to give ARCs more leeway on typos, etc., since they aren't a finished product and I grit my teeth.

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  7. Lots of people who don't like those typos and errors! It takes you right away from the story, doesn't it? I like your four basic things to look for in a review.

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  8. Excellent post! You and I are very similar in our opinions on this subject. I like just enough synopsis to get a feel for the characters, plot, structure, and style of the book, with most of the post devoted to the blogger's thoughts about the book, so I can decide for myself whether this is likely to be something I'd enjoy. I like your style -- I'm adding myself as a follower.

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    1. I'm glad you like. :) Welcome aboard.

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  9. I definitely want (as a reader) the review to tell me some specific things about the story.

    What genre is it? - I don't need to see "urban fantasy/paranormal romance/mystery/action-adventure/vampires only" detail, but come on; is it fantasy or detective or what? Is it a mystery in a fantasy setting? Good enough, now let's move on.

    Is it partway through a series? Or the beginning/end of a series? What other titles should I be looking for to get the full & chronological sequence?

    Like you, I want to know if it's going to be full of formatting/hard writing skill errors that are going to put me off. I don't have money to waste on books that don't make sense because the writer & her editing staff don't do their groundwork. I don't need that damage to my temper, either. *pets fragile temper*

    I want some idea what's happening in the story beyond "it's the second book about Joe and Jill in the magic school house." That's dandy, but what's the point of this particular book; are they just having hard lessons, or are they coping with personal tragedy, or is there a supernatural/mundane threat that they as students shouldn't have to deal with? Are there limitations on how they can deal with whatever is going on that make the magic useless/dangerous? Give me something beyond "Joe and Jill are hawt and developing a good chemistry. Fred's there too, & I wonder if he's going to end up with Betty." Unless it's "Sweet Supernatural Valley High", that's not the point of it! And if that IS the point, let me know that, so I don't go into it thinking there's more than teen angst & hormones to make it worth my time.

    A few quotes are good, and no, don't beat the author up. Most of the poor souls aren't prepared for bad reviews, not really. And you don't want to lead to Authors Behaving Badly. That's a waste for everyone.

    If the subject matter is not so serious (hate crimes, for example) that it's in bad taste, humor is good. If it's in the toolbox of the reviewer in question. Snark can be good, but it's awfully easy to turn that into beating up on the ...mentally challenged kid.

    So... the question remains, should I try my hand at book reviews?

    Patti L.

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  10. Hmm, I admit I usually put genre in the tags but it should be fairly obvious from my reviews what genre a book is. I hope.

    "Fred and Betty are so hawt reviews" drive me nuts too; that tells me NOTHING! Tell me about the book and the writing!

    I also want to know if it's a series and where it falls; I have a habit of starting mid-stream, lol.

    I think we pretty much agree on what we are looking for in a review.

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  11. Well, I guess that means I don't have to worry about getting slugged by my twin & sending her into an asthma flare.
    Whew!

    Patti

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    1. Don't make me laugh, dang it! :D

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  12. It wasn't me, I didn't do it! It was our evil twin.
    I should let you get some sleep, and see about doing a bit of cleaning in case I have someone here to do prayer with me in the morning.
    Books. Um.
    Something that bothers me is when a series is taken over by someone else & they turn some of the ground rules on end.
    Ever see the "Miss Seeton" books? Specifically stated in the earliest ones, by the (deceased) originating author that there's nothing supernatural involved. Unfortunately, the THIRD author to try their hand at it has flipped that. Ugh.
    Patti

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  13. Great post, my biggest pet peeve is spoilers. Reading is a joy and discovery..no one should take that away from another reader. Like you I do not want all recap. I try very hard to keep my reviews error free..but i am hopeless. LOL

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Thanks for taking the time to comment. I enjoy hearing from my readers. Let's talk!