Sunday, October 25, 2009

What's in a Review?

So I've been thinking at bit as I've been working through my towering "to be reviewed" pile. I definitely have my own style when it comes to reviews, but what do you (my readers) think? Obviously I write reviews for my own benefit as well as yours, but I'm curious what everyone else thinks too.

So what do YOU look for in a review? Here's a few things that I've been tossing around in my head lately to get you thinking:

Summary from Amazon, or originally written summary?

Longer or shorter reviews?

Only positive or both good and bad things? (I don't do purely negative reviews. If I hate something it won't end up here.)

Ratings or no ratings?

Quotes or no quotes?

Links to other reviews or no links?

So I'm not going to mention my opinion on any of these since I want to know what you think. So leave me a comment and let me know. Even if you're one of those readers who just hangs in the background, please comment and share your opinion on this. I really want to get a wide response from my readers, and I promise I won't bite!

11 comments:

A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

Reviews are tough for me sometimes. It takes a delicate balance to write the way I want to write to include certain information while also writing in a style that others will appreciate. I usually keep my reviews on the short side since I know that most people are reading dozens of blogs a day. I like to distill the summary down to one sentence. As for negativity, nothing earns my respect more than an honest reviewer.
I like to see a rating, but it isn't a make-or-break issue with me.

Sheryl said...

Summary from Amazon, or originally written summary?
I guess it depends upon your time-crunch, but an original summary would probably be better, since the advertising summaries do not always actually reflect the book's content. Sometimes I read individual reviewers' comments just to get a real idea of the book's content.

Longer or shorter reviews?
I only just started following, but your current review length seems quite good.

Only positive or both good and bad things?
Only positive would feel fake and seem a bit misleading. As you noted yourself, you don't post things that you absolutely dislike. Including your candid thoughts, including failings of books, gives me a better idea of what to expect. Just because you can find a flaw or generally felt unimpressed with a book does not mean that it is a complete waste of time.

Ratings or no ratings?
No ratings, please. If I am not smart enough to figure out whether I want to try something from your description, then how will a ratings system help? Also, any ratings system would have to be skewed, since you would not include things that hit the 0 mark (things that you hate) on a 0-10 scale.

Quotes or no quotes?
I think that this would be a whopping, "It depends." I wouldn't sweat finding a quote every time and having to work towards a quotes... uh... quota, but if you have one then you find worth sharing, then you should not be stuck with a "No quotes" rule, either.

Melanie said...

With reviews, I like to see people come up with their own summaries because it shows how they personally see a book.

I definitely like an honest review and whether or not it's positive or negative I want to know why the reviewer feels that way. Sometimes something that annoys one person may not annoy me at all. One thing I don't like, though, is when a reviewer flat out says not to read a book.

queen of entropy said...

I actually like Amazon summaries, because I have a horrible memory so I might not remember a cover, title, or author, but if I read the same blurb, I can be like "OMG YES THIS IS THAT ONE BOOK I WANTED TO READ BUT TOTALLY FORGOT ABOUT [SQUEEEE]!!!!!" (And yes, I've done this. :)

I prefer longer reviews, because I don't just want to know a reviewer's opinion on whether or not the book was good - I want to know *why* they thought it was good. Different people like different things, so it is very helpful to me to read what you liked/disliked about the characters, the storyline, the writing style, etc. A review that says "This book was great. It was well-written and I liked the main character" is just so vague! I prefer a detailed, more informative review.

I agree with the previous poster that you should mention both good and bad things about the books. It keeps your reviews honest. Oh, I suppose you could just not mention the negative parts, but then we're left wondering why you rated a book 6/10 if you only have good things to say about it!

I like ratings, but it wouldn't bother me if you decided not to have them. Same with quotes. :)

Ashley @ Ashley's Library said...

I have found that I write reviews very inconsistently. I sometimes use a format I created and sometimes I just start writing. If quotes stick out at me while I'm reading, I might include them. It really depends on the mood I'm in when I start writing! I can usually find one positive thing to say about each book I read, and if I can't, I usually don't finish the book anyway. I don't personally have a rating system because I find it hard to be consistent when using one. I think that great book reviews come in all shapes and sizes and formats!

purplg8r said...

Summary--honestly, unless its a book I've never heard of before, I skip over the summary...so I don't see the harm in an Amazon summary (and thats what I use)

Length--I like the shorter, to the point reviews

Only positive? Nope...I think they should definitely be honest.

Ratings--definitely! It's what initially catches my eye to stop and read the post....if there's no rating then I usually skip it!

Quotes---doesn't matter to me!

Liyana said...

Summary from Amazon, or originally written summary?
It doesn't matter to me, if I know nothing about the book, I'll read it.

Longer or shorter reviews?
Longer is better. I want to read YOUR opinion.

Only positive or both good and bad things?
Both. I like reading snarky reviews more because it's better than all positive reviews.

Ratings or no ratings?
It'll be a good gauge, but I don't really care either way.

Quotes or no quotes?
Your choice! But I'd rather have more inklings of the book!

Links to other reviews or no links?
Again, it doesn't matter. I'll do a good search if I'm interested.

You know what I really want? Honest reviews that tell me MORE about the book. I don't want to read generic reviews about the plot, the writing, how everything flows. I don't care! I want to know more about the story, even if it means some spoilers. I can stop myself from reading spoilers if I want. :D

Liyana said...

Ooh, I meant a Google search.

celi.a said...

I tend to like the Amazon/product description. If I wouldn't know the info you're giving me from a quick first page skim and the back cover summary, it's called a spoiler, and I don't like it.

Ratings are subjective. I read through a blogger's previous reviews to see if our tastes coincide, and then I decide whether or not to believe the ratings. Yours are perfect. :)

And...I can't stand quotes. Refer to bit about spoilers above. Excluding Teaser Tuesdays, which are obviously already spoiler-free. :)

Of course, that is all very opinionated of me, and may not coincide with your thoughts at all. But you did ask! Great questions, by the way!

MissAttitude said...

If you don't like a book, do tell. Honesty is the best policy (its a cliche for a reason).
Also I always like reading quotes (especially funny ones). Something that drives me crazy (but you never do it) is when people paste pictures with the white background (I did that in my first days of blogging, now I've learned), it looks awful.
Your current review length is good :)
im a ratings person too. especially if it's a book I've heard of or liked. It'll catch my eye and I'll definitely read the review.

Book Lady said...

Personally I write my reviews short and honest. I like a little summary of the book (either amazon or hand written, it doesn't matter to me) then the review. I like to read the reviewer's opinion. It doesn't matter to me how long the review is as long as it's honest I'm good.