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Discussion: The Art of Reviews

By Literaryexploration @Lit_Explorer
Discussion: The Art of Reviews
The Art of Reviews
"Hi, I love these posts! I am kind of a new blogger, been blogging since February 19 and I feel that sometimes I forget what to include in a review. I know plot, writing style, characters, and overall but sometimes the reviews are still short and I feel like I should add something more." -Taylor
I think reviews are something we all struggle with at one point or another in our blogging careers. I know I have a hard time just writing them sometimes. I have to take notes unless I plan on writing my reviews immediately after reading the book, and I have to follow the same format for each review because I'm a horrible writer when I don't structure myself in one way or another. I think that as long as you say what you want in your reviews than that's all that matters.
How do I structure my reviews?
I follow a four paragraph format for every review that goes something like this:
  1. Overview of what I thought - This is where I lead into my review. I give some more details as to what the story was about, whether I liked the book or not, and whether or not I'd recommend it. It's basically my introductory paragraph. Here is where you'll get some quick insight into what I thought without having to read the whole review.
  2. Characters - In the second paragraph I go into detail about the characters. Who was my favorite? Least favorite? Did I connect with the characters? Were they easy to relate to? Was the romance realistic or was it some crappy insta-love? Anything I could possibly want you to know about the characters will be in this paragraph.
  3. Plot lines, world building, and writing style - In the third paragraph I'll move into the actual story line and what I thought about it. I'll let you know about the author's writing style and whether or not they captured me with elegant similes or had me trudging through choppy sentence structures. I'll also give some details about the world building and whether or not I'd like to live there (Hunger Games? Way too realistic for me! I'd hate to live there only because Suzanne Collins did an awesome job of creating Panem). The best books will have you living inside of them for as long as it takes you to read them. 
  4. Overall I thought... - My last paragraph is basically my conclusion. This is where I say, "Hey, here are some bullets of all the things I just talked about and what my overall thoughts are about this book." I'll basically repeat what I've already said with possibly a little more flare. At the end, I'll give some comparisons to other stories, "Fans of Twilight will be sure to love this one!" and then I'll give you my final recommendation. Basically, this paragraph wraps up my whole review.
Honestly, I don't think there's really a right or wrong way to write a review. If you get your point across then that's all that matters. I know some people like to write really long reviews and some people like to keep them short and sweet. You just kind of have to experiment and figure out what works for you. However, I will admit that I have a few pet peeves when it comes to reviews...
What I can't stand about your review:
  1. It's longer than the book - I get that you absolutely loved the book and you want to go on and on and on about how amazing it was, but do you really need to write an entire paragraph about your likes and dislikes of every chapter? Honestly, if a review is over 6 long paragraphs I tend to get bored and impatient. I follow a lot blogs and I don't have time to read a review that long. 
  2. You didn't give any of your own opinions - A three paragraph review that's literally just recap of what happened isn't actually a review. I read the synopsis you provided, I don't need to read what happened in your own words as well. I want to know what you thought. A review should be your personal opinions about the book, not just a summary.
  3. It's called proofreading - I get that most bloggers aren't professional writers. I'm an English major and I still make grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, but is it really that big of an inconvenience for you to to proofread your review a couple times? I usually read through mine at least twice before I post them and I still find errors after they're up. When I start reading a review and the first paragraph has tons of obvious spelling mistakes or grammatical errors I just close the screen. I don't have the patience to sit through anything that poorly written.
Maybe I'm a bit picky, but like I said, I follow hundreds of blogs. I think I actually have close to 500 blogs in my Google reader. In order for me to sit through reading a review I need to be wow'd. I need to know by the first paragraph where you're headed. Sometimes, if the review is just too long, I'll skip to the end and hope you summarized your thoughts in one paragraph. Ratings are nice too... for some people.
Why I both love and loathe rating systems.I had a rating system for a really long time before I finally nixed it. I found people were skipping what I actually wrote and just assuming my rating said it all. It didn't, of course. For me, three stars is good! It meant I liked the book. Maybe I didn't love it, maybe it had some flaws, maybe it didn't have the best writing or the best characters, but I still liked it. However, people would leave comments that would say things like, "Oh, too bad you didn't enjoy this one!" when I clearly stated in my review that I did like the book and I am now eagerly awaiting the sequel!! So, yes, rating systems didn't work out too well for me. However, I like when other people have rating systems because then I can skim through a review and pair what I read with the rating system in order to understand what the reviewer's opinions are. So, I love them, but I also loathe them. 
What are your opinions about reviews? What are some staples you must put in every review?

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