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On Writing Book Reviews

A while ago I discovered the wonderful and brilliant blog Emily Reads. Aside from having the best take on Greg Heffley EVER Emily’s blog is interesting because she posts review haikus. As far as I know she’s the only book blogger who posts reviews in haiku form (maybe in poem form period). Then I started looking around and realized everyone has very different review methods.

One of my best friends, The Book Bandit, features a book of the week (like this one) in a list kind of format (what it is, why she liked it, etc.) along with other reviews.

Blogs run by groups of people like Stacked or The Book Smugglers might have review conversations or multiple reviews with different takes on the same book.

Dog Ear often includes quotes in her reviews to support her stance.

I’m also really enjoying booked up‘s reviews because aside from having a really clean site, Nicole also takes her own pictures of each book instead of just posting the cover image.

You get the idea.

Anyway, that got me thinking about how I put reviews together–a process I thought I’d share with you below:

All of my reviews start with a summary–always written by me. I structure them much like a booktalk. Summaries never have spoilers or feature information beyond page 20 of the book (give or take for longer titles) or information not featured in the blurb found on the actual book.

Reviews also feature title, publication date and author. If I discuss a cover I try to mention the designers/artists involved.

Sometimes reviews are negative. I am always honest in my reviews and part of that includes reviewing books I didn’t love in a professional manner. Honestly, reviewing nothing but the books I loved would get boring. Reviews, especially negative ones, often help me as a reader to hash out what exactly frustrated me or turned me off in a book.

The end of a review will feature possible pairings. These include books, movies, tv shows, songs, etc. I feel fit with the book at hand. Sometimes that means there is a similar plot, genre or basic premise. In other instances the items will deal with similar themes or feature similar language and style. The pairings are, of course, subjective but I do put thought into it and try to put things readers will enjoy if like the book featured in the review.

Sometimes, if I have a lot to say about a topic not directly related to the review or my feelings about the book (often about the cover but sometimes other things) I will also place Exclusive Bonus Content at the end of a review. I cross post a lot of my reviews but that bonus content can only be found here.

Then, of course, every Wednesday I apply all of these guidelines to a Chick Lit Wednesday review which features a strong female character (or more!) and is often written by a female author.

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2 thoughts on “On Writing Book Reviews

  1. Some bloggers, like SLJ’s “A Chair, a Fireplace and a Tea Cozy” don’t review books they didn’t like. “Fuse #8″ rarely gives a book a negative review (only “Mockingbird” comes to mind).

    But I agree with you; it’s boring to constantly review books I liked. I think, as a professional, you can easily limit yourself reading only books that appeal to you.
    I also think too many Librarian bloggers/reviewers are too accepting of poor literature (“Hush, Hush,” “Beautiful Creatures,” etc.). That really grates me.

    And, as a blog reader, I tend to distrust reviews from professionals who are a) receiving free copies of books – arcs and published works, and b) only writing positive reviews. I tend to elevate reviews from librarians who are picking up their acrs from conferences willy-nilly or relying on their public library for copies (like me!).

    Ah, well. Here’s to many great reads in 2011!

    • It would be a very boring blog world with only glowing reviews. I always feel bad picking up arcs and then having to give a negative review because I didn’t like the book, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. Speaking of, I still have a copy of Hush, Hush sitting in my to read pile. I really need to try that one and just get it over with!

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