Picture drawn by Maggie Stiefvater, 2009. Header made by S.F. Robertson, 2010.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

How I Write Reviews

So in going around to my favorite blogs this morning, I stumbled across this post from John of Dreaming in Books. In that post, he linked back to the origin of all this- Adele of Persnickety Snark (I seriously wrote Snack instead of Snark originally. No, I'm not hungry. What makes you think that?). Adele is usually the cause of these sorts of things that make us think and share our processes because she likes to think and then torture us all by making us (or, at least me) think about what we do.

This makes me sound as if I hate Adele for making me do this thinking, but really, I'm trying to be sarcastic and probably failing at it. So let's just get started.

How do I write reviews? The simple answer is that I sit at my laptop (or work computer), open up a new post in Blogger, and just have at it until I finish.

But if we left it at that, that's just no fun. So here's a little breakdown of how I put a review together with some explanation of my thought process.

The essential things I need for a review are (in this order): The cover, the link to Amazon (with my Associate tag in it), the summary from Amazon or the author's website, my actual review, and then where I got the book from as part of FTC guidelines.

I'm not gonna go through each one as most are self-explanatory. I'll just focus on the summary and actual review. With the summary, I used to write my own back in the Myspace days if I could actually figure out how to summarize the book and get my readers interested. It took a lot of time to write these and I didn't do them for all of them, but I do think I did a good job with the ones I did them for. Nowadays, I am way too busy to summarize a book so I've just been using the ones given on Amazon or the author's websites. It's just easier for me and besides, everyone's here to read my review not what the book is about. Right?

On to the review, some reviews are easier than others. While I'm reading a book, sometimes thoughts formulate about what I'll include in my review. Most of the time though, I don't think about it until I finish the book. I try to write the review shortly after I finish, like within 24 hours. But now that I'm at least slightly ahead of my schedule, I can take a few days before sitting down to review a book.

I wanted to quickly touch on some reviews being easier than others. Some reviews I know EXACTLY what I want to say and they come out very quickly. Others not so much and they can take a day or so because I have to think about what I want to touch on in the review and what I thought about it and how to expand on it. It doesn't necessarily have to do with whether or not I liked a book but rather how much I have to say about it. I really loved You Wish by Mandy Hubbard but that's one of my shortest reviews because I didn't necessarily have a whole lot of specifics to expand on. With Paranormalcy by Kiersten White posted yesterday (btw, go comment! Only 1 comment is there!), I had a ton to say and it's probably one of my longest reviews. Both are books I loved but the length is vastly different.

I don't have any specific process to follow. Like, I don't always talk about characters, plot, setting, or whatever else. Each book is different and has it own pros and cons. So I may spend more time talking about the characters in one book, whereas another I may focus on how original the plot is. It really just depends on the book and how I feel about it. A lot of it is kinda stream-of-consciousness and I write down whatever pops into my head. Occasionally, I'll set up a post while I'm reading and make a note or two of something I want to mention in the review.

In recent months, I feel like I'm being at least a little bit more critical and I do end up finding things I don't like in the book and mention those in my reviews. I usually don't spend a whole lot of time on them (unless of course it's the ending of Will Grayson, Will Grayson in which case I will spend hours upon hours on how much I hate it).

I end the reviews now with an Overall sentence or two so people in a rush can see it and get my overall feeling of a book quickly.

I hope this is somewhat enlightening but it probably won't be. But hey, I have a post for Sunday! :) lol.


  1. Thank you for your post. I've a very new blogger and your review process helps. So far I have only posted 2 reviews and originally I wanted that to be the focus of my blog. I am still working on it. Anyway, thanks for the ideas, and by the way, I hated the ending of Will Grayson, Will Grayson too! I love John Green and David Levithan, but I think they could have given us something more than that.

  2. LOL Thanks James! I haven't read WG, WG yet but now you've made me keen to check it out :)

    It's interesting that you've changed from writing summaries to using publisher ones. Is it purely a time saving measure?

  3. Actin Up- Glad you enjoyed it!! Check on Adele's post for links to all the other posts. There's tons of ideas out there, but just do whatever works best for you. :) And exactly!! There should've been more closure with the book. I understand why they ended it the way they did, but I don't like it.

    Adele- I'd love to read your thoughts on WGWG! Definitely check it out. It's a great book but with a crap ending, IMO. I think, like you, I'm just lazy and it grew to be too much for me to do. I like just sitting down and writing my review rather than having to do the summary and review.

  4. Love love love this post, I totally agree with you on so many of your points, and I'm with you with the summary being taken from somewhere other than my own thoughts, I can always put those in the review right? I'm with Adele as far as Will Grayson, Will Grayson, I haven't read it but it's been on my TBR forever and I'm thinking I need to bump it up to the top and check it out!