What Do You Look for in a Review?

Based on an invitation I received via GoodReads, I decided to join a Blog Hop describing what it is I look for in a review–and what it is I try to include in my own reviews–even though this represents a bonus post for this week. ๐Ÿ˜‰


If you read the results from the poll that inspired the hop, you’ll see most of what I like to see in reviews: Cover, blurb, additional description, link to purchase, etc. The thing I like to see in addition: a bit of an excerpt that gives me some of the voice of the author and introduces me to how the characters interact.

I avoid spoilers like the plague (though I’m typically the goof who reads the end of the book before I read the book as part of my enticement to buy the book outright–when I have that option in a book store). I’ve added books to my to-read pile based on enthusiastic, thoughtful reviews, and I really like playing book match-maker: Addressing a particular friend who has enjoyed something I’ve enjoyed and sharing books from my library with them to add to our shared vocabulary of fictional characters.

So while my reviews have some “liked this, didn’t like this” elements to them, I’m leery about putting a specific star rating on a review because my goal is to address the people who would like this kind of book based on other kinds of books that fall within the same broad spectrum. I know my taste doesn’t match everyone else’s, so my goal is not to impose what appeals to me so much as draw parallels and vet new books as being worth the purchase price (as opposed to a library trip).

I also know everyone has limited time for reviews, so I try to keep things short–unless the particular quote from a given book runs long. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I don’t like writing negative reviews; someone put time and effort into generating this collection of words. But I’m getting to the point where I have less and less patience for the massive plot holes and indifferent editing that I’ve seen in some books (including from Big 6 publishers). So where it’s merited, I’ve started tagging books “incompetent” for those failures in preparation. I’ve finished the book (otherwise I wouldn’t review it at all), and some readers might be able to overlook those persistent problems, but I can’t, in good conscience, recommend the book for purchase without that level of extreme disclaimer.

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6 thoughts on “What Do You Look for in a Review?

  1. Hi Tonya, I enjoyed your post, and appreciate your thoughts on constructive criticism. I also like your term “book match-maker,” and it’s one I intend to borrow. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.

    1. ๐Ÿ™‚
      *I started something…* (happy dance!)
      Indeed, most often I think of my reviews as talking to a particular friend would like this particular book, so my job is just to explain why.

  2. Great post. I think we’re pretty much on the same wavelength about most things. I do have a hard time doing 1*/2* reviews but only because I see blogging as ‘fun’ and writing those reviews definitely isn’t. You’re right, though – sometimes it has to be done!

    1. The real challenge comes when the plot had something to it! But if I’m spending all my time debating why a person on a teacher’s salary can afford multiple intercontinental trips in a year or a plot line preview that’s been mentioned in three previous books is not tied up (for instance), I’m already so far outside the story that additional errors (like typos a basic spell check should have caught) start adding up to the equivalent of a red cape to a bull. Even in those instances, though, my goal is to offer constructive criticism and eschew personal attacks–it’s probably the editor in me, who’s hoping the critiques help the author improve their craft rather than kill their dreams. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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