How do you review?

09/12/2015 Discussions, Reading, Reviews 35

How do you review?

A staple post on any book blog is of course the humble book review: after all, the entire point of a book blog is to discuss your thoughts on books, and a review is one of the best ways to do this. However, if you’ve been hanging round the blogosphere for any length of time you’ll surely have noticed the massive variation in review styles, with different bloggers taking totally different approaches (and let’s not get started on the different rating systems!).

Here’s a few common types of review I’ve noticed:

  • The short and snappy review

Some bloggers just aren’t big on long-winded reviews, sticking to a few hundred words in which they concisely tell you what they liked or didn’t. I totally envy those who can write these kind of reviews! Seen as reviews tend to be the least popular type of post anyway it probably pays to be brief and not lose your readers attention by rambling. I find these really help me decide whether or not I want to read a book, as they give you a quick flavour of the story, and an honest opinion.

  • The sprawling, in-depth review

Whilst some bloggers like to keep it brief, others can’t seem to limit themselves to a few hundred words, and I’m certainly one of them! Despite reviews being my least favourite type of post to write, once I get going I can’t seem to stop and can go on for anywhere between 800 to over 1000 words, looking at the various characters in-depths, and commenting heavily on the writing style and the world-building. I think these are the kind of reviews it’s best to read once you’ve read the book, then you can understand what it’s talking about when it discusses the plot/characters/style (plus you avoid accidental spoilers), and you can get a good discussion going in the comments!

  • The GIF review

Some bloggers like to use a series of GIFs to relate their feelings about a book, and I love this types of review. Not only are they easy to scan through, but they also tend to be fun and pretty hilarious! I do always wonder just how long it takes the blogger to find just the right GIFs though.

  • The bullet-point review

One quick and simple way of reviewing a book is to simply write a bullet-pointed list of what you liked and what you didn’t. I haven’t seen this done too often, but seen as it’s easy to read and to the point, it tends to work quite well from what I’ve seen!

  • The mini review

I have seen quite a lot of ‘mini-review’ posts recently, where the blogger does a post with a few mini-reviews of their latest reads in the same post. These reviews tend to be a paragraph or two long, and very briefly summarise the blogger’s opinion on the book. This is probably a pretty good way to review if you’re a very fast reader or only want to do a review post every month or so, as it allows you to cover several books in one go.

I have also found that different bloggers tend to focus on different things in their reviews: I for one am very character focused, generally dedicating a paragraph per main character, whilst other common focuses are themes and issues, romance, world-building, pace and plotting. I guess it all depends on what you look for in a book!

So what kind of reviewer are you? Do you enjoy writing reviews? And what do you tend to focus on?

35 Responses to “How do you review?”

  1. nordie

    I’m in between “short and snappy” and “Indepth”. The format is generally the same:

    Book Blurb
    A summary of the plot, avoiding spoilers and regurgitation of the entire story
    A Commentary on the story – this is the bit that varies in length and depth the most. Some books are easy to do in depth, where character development etc is easy to discuss. Some books are novellas and general “fluff”, obeying a formula, so they dont lend themselves to indepth analysis (though I bet the authors think differently!)

    • Laura

      The structure of your reviews sounds similar to mine, only I must just ramble on a bit more! I totally agree that review length can depend on the book though. Shorter or ‘fluffier’ books can mean there’s a lot less to say than if it’s a huge, several thousand page epic fantasy, as they tend to be less complex and have less character development etc.

  2. Renee

    Mine are all short. Only one or two paragraphs and I make sure I avoid spoilers. Most of them would fit in “short and snappy”, a few in “mini review” and for the kids books, I post an interview with my kids asking them what they thought of the book (word for word and usually quite funny).

    • Laura

      Haha, I’ll definitely have to take a look at the reviews you do with your kids! That’s such a cool idea, and I can imagine they’re very funny.

  3. Jee Ann

    Ooh, I definitely love me gifs 🙂 I usually start with a summary or premise in my own words, then start with the characters, the setting, the pacing, or the conflict, etc. I pick ’em apart and point out the good with the bad. I also make it a point to emphasize that I might not have liked the story because I wasn’t very into the genre/type.

    • Laura

      Sounds like you have great system of reviewing books! I think it’s so much easier once you’ve really grasped your review style 🙂

  4. Silvara

    I don’t know? *laughs* I’ve never paid attention to how LONG the review is, past making sure it doesn’t look horribly skimpy. Sometimes I babble on for paragraphs and sometimes the review is only 3 paragraphs or so long.

    I also am not sure I focus on anything in particular. It depends on what stood out in the book to me. If the world building was spectacular, I’ll comment on that in the review. If the characters were flat, I’ll say that. Sometimes if the characters didn’t have something I could specifically point out and say “this was wrong”, but they didn’t grab me either, I might just say “I liked so-and-so.” And go on with some other part of the review.

    I suppose that means I might need to work on how I review! (Will I? Maybe, maybe not… *lol*)

    I can’t go gifs, too much animated stuff in one page sets off my vertigo. And even if it didn’t, I’m not sure I’d go that route.

    I think I review the same way I leave comments. Rambling on until I can’t think of anything else to say on the subject (avoiding spoilers when at all possible!) and if I don’t have anything to say really, picking out the most need-to-know stuff and moving on to something else!

    • Laura

      I don’t think you necessarily need a specific review format, or a specific review style. It all of yours are fairly different depending on the book, then that’s your style! 🙂
      Even though I do have a loose format for my own reviews I’m definitely a rambler too (both in reviews and in comments!), hence why my reviews usually end up being way longer than I intend for them to be (and that’s with me just trying to pick out the need-to-know stuff!).

  5. Lory @ Emerald City Book Review

    All of the above, I suppose…I tend to keep reviews pretty short with a paragraph or so of introduction and 1-3 paragraphs of evaluation. But at times I’ve gone on at more length and at other times I’ve done short reviews. It all depends on how much I have to say; sometimes there are questions or issues I’m pondering, but at other times I just want to get quickly to the point. I’m blown away by some bloggers who regularly do lengthy, in-depth reviews and analysis. I can’t write that fast!

    • Laura

      I totally agree that it can depend on the book: there’s just so much more to say about some books. I also find it way easier to review a book that I either loved or hated, because I end up at a loss for what to say about mediocre books.
      Even though I have a tendency to write lengthy reviews, I wouldn’t really say it’s much of a skill…it tends to just be my rambling thoughts, and they do take me quite a while to write!

  6. Kaja

    I like your classification! 🙂
    I think my reviews mostly fall between your first two categories, depending on how much I liked the book, my current mood, etc. I like reading short ones more, probably, unless they’re about a book I’ve read and loved – I’m not much for reading long-winded reviews for unknown books.
    I don’t particularly like gif reviews either – I like gifs if they’re used sparingly, so to say, because multiple moving pictures on my screen just make it impossible to focus on the text in between. Eh, I guess tastes differ and that’s okay! 🙂

    • Laura

      Oddly seen as I tend to write really long reviews I much prefer to read short ones too, unless it was a book I really loved. I certainly wouldn’t waste however many minutes it would take me to read a long review on a book I either hadn’t read or heard about and had no interest in reading.
      I do quite like the GIF reviews though, although I totally agree that there’s a limit on how many should be used. They can make me a little dizzy if there’s too many on a page! 🙂

  7. Paloma @ Pages and Pineapples

    I’m somewhat new to blogging, so I haven’t definitively settled on a book review style yet – but I try to keep them on the shorter side. I know that attention spans are limited on the internet, and I hope to keep people engaged. (I may fail a bit at keeping it short – I’m a rambler by nature!)

    I’m not a huge gif-lover in reviews, myself. They can be fun when used sparingly (as Kaja above mentioned), but I find too many of them on one page distract me from the text!

    • Laura

      That’s definitely true about people having short attention spans, which is why I do worry about whether or not anyone actually makes it to the end of mine! 🙂
      I can totally understand that with the GIFs as well. Although I quite like those sorts of reviews there’s definitely a point where I’m like ‘TOO MANY GIFS! MY POOR EYES!’

  8. Lucia @Reading Is My Breathing

    I love writing reviews! It is my favorite kind of posts to write and to read on other blogs.
    Usually, I focus on themes, writing, world-building and what book made me feel. I never pay attention to how much words my reviews have. Sometimes I am able to express myself in one paragraph, sometimes I need lots and lots of words to capture how book made me feel. But either way, I always enjoy writing review posts 🙂

    • Laura

      I think just writing and not worrying about the length is probably the best approach to review writing. If mine look shorter than usual I usually just add more rambling, which really isn’t necessary. It can be as long or as short as it needs to be!
      I’m glad you enjoy writing reviews so much! 🙂

  9. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    I tend to write long reviews, but then I incorporate bullet points to make them more digestible (hopefully!). I also occasionally write mini reviews when I just don’t feel like I have enough to say. (That’s new for me, but I think it’s working well.)

    • Laura

      That’s such a good idea to use bullet points to break up longer reviews! Mine tend to be really long and I do worry that people lose interest half way through them.

  10. Zoe @ Stories on Stage

    I’m definitely a “short and snappy” type of reviewer. 🙂 I try to say as much as I can in as few words as I can, if that makes any sense at all. 😉 It’s funny because when I first started blogging my reviews were really “sprawling and in-depth.” It’s funny how things change over time. Thanks for sharing Laura and, as always, fabulous discussion! ♥

    • Laura

      It’s so weird how your review style can change isn’t it? My reviews have always been pretty long, but I think I used to write way more formally than I do now, so in that way my style has definitely changed too.

  11. Rachel

    I started out with a bullet point style, which has turned into a standard short format. Sometimes I use gifs and quotes, and sometimes not. It depends on the book I’m reviewing and the tone of my review to be honest. I’d like to shake it up a little and try some new styles in 2016. I’ve thought about doing mini-reviews and never do – I like having individual reviews on my blog and don’t want to bunch them together. I do bold key phrases and terms in my reviews, it’s something I’ve been doing for a while. The idea being if someone would like to skim read, I’ve made it super easy for them, as the bold phrases should summarise my main thoughts. R xx

    • Laura

      I love your idea of having bold key phrases! It does make it so much easier to get a flavour of the review as you scan down, and I guess it breaks up the text a lot. Mine tend to have huge block paragraphs, which I imagine can be kind of off-putting!
      I like reading mini reviews but can never imagine doing them myself either. I always have way too much to say, and like you I don’t want my reviews bunched up together. They each deserve their own review in my opinion! 🙂

  12. Lola

    I write long review myself as well, although I like seeing all the other styles on other blogs, they just don’t work for me when I am writing a review. I often have so much to say I can’t stick to a short review. I usually discuss story, characters, romance and world building in my reviews and then summarize it for those who don’t want to read my whole review (which I cna totally understand as some are wya too long).

    The mini reviews and bullet point reviews can be pretty neat and I am seeing themmroe often recently. I don’t mind the gif’s reviews and they can be fun, but indeed I can’t imagine how long it must take to find the exact right gif for your review. Great post!

    • Laura

      I’m totally like that too: although I like reading the short and snappy reviews I always have way too much to say and can’t stick to a short format! I really don’t know how other bloggers manage to reign themselves in to writing short reviews.
      I am definitely seeing more different types of review around the blogosphere lately though, and I do quite like the whole bullet point thing, although there’s no way I could manage to write a review like that myself. All my bullet points would basically be paragraphs! 🙂

  13. Cait @ Paper Fury

    I’m a bit of a long-winded reviewer actually! hehe. I TRY TO BE CONCISE THOUGH, but omg, I did a 2,000-word review at the beginning of the year *facepalm* I really like bullet list reviews and do a lot of them. And I adore gif reviews because they’re so funny. And going from takes HOURS to find the right gifs. xD I just love the variety and creativity amongst bloggers!
    Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!

    • Laura

      I love the variety too, as it means that whenever you find a new blog you have no idea what to expect with the reviews, and I kind of like the surprise! 🙂
      I love the GIF reviews, but I kind of thought the GIF-hunting was probably time-consuming and it takes me long enough to write a review as it is (what with all the rambling). Thanks for commenting!

  14. Joséphine @ Word Revel

    I generally border on the sprawling, in-depth review but it varies from 600 to 100 words. Depends on how much I have to say. Haha. I’m more thematically oriented and when it comes to character, setting, etc, I try to address these equally and objectively. Although, if I’m particularly upset by a book, I delve into spoiler-induced rants. Heh. Because that’s when I’m looking for a conversation to understand why others liked said book, especially if it’s a hyped one.

    • Laura

      I tend to go on more of a rant if I’m upset by a book too. I seem to have so much more to say when it’s negative for some reason! Especially if it’s a hyped book, because as you say, it’s hard to understand how so many other people can love it if you personally dislike it.

  15. Jackie

    I used to be a long, sprawling reviewer, but that has changed this year. I’d say they are still medium-length reviews, but I make use of bold headers and lists to break up long, flowing paragraphs. People read differently online usually. Or at least, that’s what I’ve heard.

    • Laura

      I have heard that too. I think these days people must just have a shorter attention span so huge chunks of text can be off-putting (something I really need to bear in mind in my own reviews!). The idea of bold headers sounds like a good one. I’d imagine that breaks it up nicely and highlights some of your key thoughts.

  16. Brmaycock

    I think I’m like a lot above, in between ‘short and snappy’ and more lengthy. I really enjoy reading quick bite posts, though only if they tell me a little more than the blurb, you find some people just rehash what’s been given to them already! Oh and I love when people can put a face to a character, I think that’s a great talent to have!

    • Laura

      I have definitely seen that too where people basically just give you the blurb, and I don’t see the point of that at all. I want to know what they think! 🙂

  17. Jillian

    The chatty review! Where whatever random thought I have ends up on the page. (My blog is more a journal than a review site.) 🙂

    • Laura

      I love chatty reviews! Mine always end up being annoyingly formal, so I really wish I could just do a review sometime where all my random thoughts about the book just come out.

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