Sep 3, 2012

Posted by in Question | 13 Comments

Question – What Do You Look For In A Review?

A few weeks back, Cabin Goddess posted a question that immediately caught my attention.   She asked:  “What do you look for in a review?”  See?  Great question!  When I read that I knew I had to bring it over here to see what you all had to say about it.

I know when I write my reviews, I write what feels right to me.  I write what I like to read in a review.

I do not agree with bashing an author in a review.  You are not there to talk about the author personally; you are supposed to write about his/her book.  In fact, I don’t like bashing reviews in general.  If all someone does in a review is go on and on about how terrible a book it was and fills their review with snarky remarks and too many puns, I just can’t take it seriously.  When I read a review like that, I assume that the reviewer is only out to get a rise out of people and therefore isn’t offering her true opinion of the book.  In that case, I ignore the review.  Kriss, who wrote the original post for Cabin Goddess wrote “Have a sense of duty and professionalism when you write them” and I completely, absolutely, 100% agree with that statement.  Whether you are a blogger or a reader, that is something to remember while you are writing your review.

I also do not like reviews that just say “I liked it” or “I didn’t like it”.  I need to know why the reviewer felt the way she felt.  That does not mean the review needs to be long, it just needs a ‘why’ here and there.  It’s good to write the reasons because sometimes the one reason you didn’t like a book is the exact reason why someone might.  So it’s important to tell your readers the reasons behind your rating.

I like to see a little personality in the review.  Just as every author has his or her won writing voice, so does every reviewer.  It’s nice to see a little bit of them shine through – it makes the review more fun and interesting to read.

As for how the reviews are posted – whether or a blog or Goodread or what have you – I like the book’s cover to be there, where the book belongs if it’s part of a series (what # it is) and I like the release date to be listed too.  And I like a rating.  Number or letter, don’t matter, I just like to see a rating.  For me, that’s important.  Don’t know why…it just is.  *shrugs* Other than that, I don’t really look for other information.  I know many blogs post links to other reviews for the same title but I’m just not sure if enough people actually use those links to bother doing the same with my reviews.  I know myself; I rarely use them since I have my regular ‘too many blogs to count’ that I check a few times a week to see what they had to say about what they’ve been reading.  And of course there is always Goodreads.  I love that site.

So there you have it: what I look for in a review.  Now it’s your turn to answer…

What do you look for in a review? 

And just a little side question here:  Do authors look for different things than readers/bloggers?

  1. This is a great question that you answered perfectly. And, you’re right! One that I always enjoy reading from bloggers I admire, and one that I may answer in length myself over at Rabid Reads… I love to read reviews, in fact they do determine whether or not I am going to read a book. If I find a reviewer who seems to have the same reading taste, then I trust the reviews. I hate reviews with spoilers. I need a review that gives me reasons to read without just summarizing the story. Nastiness has no part in my reviews, but honesty does.

  2. Mrs. Missive says:

    I don’t know if I agree 100% here. I think people who review books don’t have a responsibility to anyone. People use the review function on sites like Goodreads for a lot of diffrrent reasons. How they want to explain how they feel is up to them. An author I really respect said he would rather have a 1 star review than a 3star. Creating emotion in a reader, good or bad, means your writing reached someone on another level besides “meh”.

    I look to be entertained as well as informed in a review. I don’t need or want a summary or blurb. I can look that up on the retail site. I want to know if you reacted. I want to know if you meandered through the story or if the author pulled you along with such force that you couldn’t put it down. And I want to know if you enjoyed the jouney enough to do it again or if it was so traumatic that you need to hide under your covers with a bottle of liquor.

    I review when I want to share what I read. Sometimes I share because the book was great. Sometimes I share because I don’t want my friends to waste their money.

  3. I look for exactly the same thing you do. Additionally I 100% agree about bashing. I’ve rated plenty of books 2 stars but I feel as a book review blogger, it is my duty to explain why I disliked the author’s book. If I start a book, I almost always finish it. I am picky about what I decide to read. I have far too many books on my TBR shelf to be wasting time reading a book I totally do not like.

    In addition to what you indicated that you like in a review, if a book it part of a series, I want to know which book number it is in the series. I also want to know if the books need to be read in order.
    I also like to know the heat level in the book. I read all levels but I do like to know what to expect going in so I am not disappointed either way. I’ve read supposed erotic that was lame and I’ve read books I thought were going to be mild yet were blazing. The book themselves rarely indicate the heat level so I always look to the reviews for that information.

  4. I would also add what I totally dislike about a book review is when the reviewer just recaps the entire story for me. I don’t want a run down of the story I want to know how you liked or didn’t like the story.

  5. I like detailed reviews that tell me things about the books like characters, tropes, etc. I’ve read negative reviews that make me want to read a book just because the reviewers explain exactly why the book didn’t work for them, things that happen to be exactly what I look for in a book. So details are important, I don’t like snarky reviews as much, once in a while is fine, but not as a rule. I also love sensuality ratings and grades, it’s very subjective, but once you get to know a reviewer you understand what those ratings mean.

  6. I guess I am with you on personality, I’d like it to shine through. And not for them to be way too long, and not too short either for that matter.

    As for grades, nah, maybe cos I do not do them. I just can’t! Cos some books are a 3, but then other books that are actually better are also a 3, it’s just messy for me

  7. I look for some substance about the book, why would I like it? Characters,plot.

  8. Sue – I don’t love spoilers either. But there are a few books that I remember not caring if I read spoilers. lol

    Mrs. Missive – I can totally see your point. I guess it depends on how you want to be perceived as a reviewer. I want publishers, authors and readers to take me seriously. I love it when authors read and appreciate my reviews – whether they are 5 star or 2 star reviews – and when publishers ask me to read a book because they like how I write my reviews. So for that, I need to write them without the snark and with reasons behind my rating. But if that’s not what a reader/blogger cares about, so be it. They can write their review however they want – you are write about that. 🙂

    Michelle – Ooo if the books need to be read in order… That is a good one!

    Brie – You make an excellent point about getting to know the reviewer. It’s true that after you read a few of her reviews and you get a taste of what they find good, great, sexy and subtle. Very good point.

    blodeuedd – You don’t have a rating but you have a quick word or two telling your readers what you thought. That right there is your rating and that I like. 🙂

    Relene – Yes, yes, yes and yes.

  9. I totally agree with you, but I don’t know if I manage to do it, I hope so. I like to know the person’s feelings mainly when I know she like the same books as I am. It’s always so interesting to have an opinion. SOme persones only describe the story and I confess it doesn’t help me a lot, but as soon as the person also explain what she liked or dislike in the story it’s really interesting.

  10. Great question Julie. I know I write lengthy reviews myself. What I want to know up front, is the genre. So if it is erotica or m/m I can skip it at once. I don’t care about the publisher info but I do like to know the publishing date to see if the book could be still available. I read a lot of oldies myself. Yes, please tell me how hot it is, so I can decide if it is for me, or not. And sometimes I really regret that, as the story itself sounds soo good, but just too hot for my tastes.
    I really do want a cover and a blurb, and I want to konw what you liked and or disliked. A rating is preferred as well.

  11. Interesting… I read a review so I get a little more then the back of the book summary (i find them never to be right). But I dont like spoilers, even the hidden ones. I have to disagree with the “bashing review” if this is done in a professional way then I think it’s good to post. Sometimes the worst reviews give me more feedback then the best and I will turn around and even read the book!

    The most annoying review to me is the “I love this author”. It just does not give enough information and sometimes one book or series is very different then another and it is written by the same person.

    As for the side note of do authors look for something different, I would think yes. When I am “reviewed” for my job I look at the bad points and think of how I can do it better. I look at the good points and pat myself on the back 🙂 I would think authors would be the same.

  12. I LOVE this question, Julie. Reading everyone’s responses has given me a lot of food for thought when it comes to writing my own reviews (which definitely need work since I’m a relatively new reviewer).

    I’m going to have to agree with the general sentiment here and say I really like to see ratings when I’m reading a review. It’s a quick instant indicator of how a reviewer felt about the book. And it allows me to set my expectations for what I’m going to see in the review.

    I’m a character reader. Nothing will make me love a book quicker than an amazing protagonist. Of course, nothing fills me with greater loathing then a poorly thought out character, or one that doesn’t have a clear and well planned character development arc. Because of this, I like to see a personality description of the main character and any important side characters (especially of the romantic variety). There are certain types of protagonists I know drive me nuts (namely weak female heroines that are always looking for a man to save them – grr), and I’ll avoid books if I see a review describing the character this way.

    In the same spirit, I love it when reviews include notes on the character’s development throughout the book or series. I’ll give an example here – Mac from Darkfever is a fairly annoying character. If you were to write a review and describe her as she was at the start of the story, I’d never read the book. Pretty pink Barbie girls just don’t work for me. If you talk about Mac, you HAVE to mention the utterly amazing growth her character underwent through the series. Most of my favorite novels have profoundly flawed protagonists that grow throughout the series. I love seeing reviews that mention the character’s weaknesses and how they grow.

    This one is huge for me too – when reading books written by female authors in the YA/PNR/UF genres, I really love seeing a description of the romance in the book. Was there a love triangle? If so, was it handled honorably? Does the book have instalove? *wince* Do the characters have realistic chemistry (in other words, could you see them falling in love if two such people existed in RL). Are all the characters involved likeable? How sizzling was the romance? Is the romantic progression in the book believable?

    I like book quotes. It’s nice to get a feel for the language the author uses. I have absolutely picked up books just based on quotes alone. I especially love quotes that highlight the romantic interactions between the characters.

    For the most part, I don’t need blurbs – I can get those from goodreads or Amazon. But if reviews do include blurbs, it’s nice if they are set apart by a heading so I can easily skip over them if I know what the book is about.

    While I don’t need a play by play of the books premise, I do appreciate a brief analysis of the plot. Was the novel surprising or predictable? Was the plot pace slow or break neck? Is the story more of a mystery, a epic, or a romantic drama?

    And I’m going to have to go against the general consensus here and say I do enjoy reading snarky negative reviews as long as they are well thought out. I know we’ve all experienced reading a book everyone loved and just not getting why it was so popular. After finishing a book like that, I like to go out and see if any other reviewers shared my feelings on the novel. It’s my “crazy” check. 😀 Was I the only one that hated it? Am I nuts? Nope – there’s another reviewer that disliked it as much as me. It’s comforting to find people of similar mindset. I like reading their thoughts – they often point out problem areas I hadn’t noticed in the book.

    Shesh – that’s a lot of stuff. Now I need to start making sure I’m following my own suggestions in my reviews. : )

  13. One more thing – even with glowing reviews, I like to hear some nitpicks or things that didn’t quite work for the story. Every story has flaws – it’s nice to know what they are going in so I can determine if those flaws are ones I can live with. 🙂

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