Friday, May 22, 2015

Feature & Follow Friday #1: How do you write your reviews?




Welcome to Feature & Follow Friday!!

This weekly hop is hosted by  
Rachel @ Parajunkee's View, and 
Alison @ Alison Can Read!!


You can find the rules at the links above.
Join in the fun and make new blogging friends!


Every week, 2 new blogs are featured!

This week's featured blogs are:

Books * Coffee * Life * Adventures *

and 

Book Blog Bird !!



Here is this week's question, 
contributed by

http://bluebooksandbutterflies.blogspot.com/



How do you write your reviews?

This is a very interesting question! I see book reviews as essays in which I can freely express my feelings and opinions regarding the book in question. 

Some bloggers use a style in which they list the pros and cons of a book. Others give a book stars for each of the various elements -- plot, characterization, world-building, and writing style -- including the cover's visual appeal, as well. They then give the book an overall rating. Still other reviewers use an essay style, punctuated by gifs. Many reviewers also include quotes from the book.

I prefer to use a straight essay style. The first paragraph usually lets my readers know my overall impression of a book. For instance, I'll write things like, "I wasn't sure I would like this novel, as it's not my usual type of read. However, I've been very pleasantly surprised!"  So, this tells my readers, right away, whether or not I'm giving the book my wholehearted approval.

Next, I briefly discuss the overall plot and why I like or dislike it.  I try not to go into too much detail, though, since I do include a plot synopsis along with my reviews, so why repeat it in the actual review? I do refer to the plot, but very loosely.

Then I go on to describe the characters, without giving too much away. I tell my readers exactly why I love or hate the most important characters. Characterization is, in my opinion, one of the most important things about fiction, whether it's a short story or a full-length novel. If characters fall flat, if readers can't relate to them, the whole novel or story fails to immerse the reader in the writer's invented world, and the characters won't seem to be real people to the reader.

Another very important aspect of a novel is  the world-building,  and especially so in the fantasy, historical fiction, PNR, UF, or SF genres.  

If the world-building doesn't ring true, then the readers won't be able to get lost in the story. I point out such details as possible anachronisms, in the case of fantasy or historical fiction. This is obviously not applicable to Steampunk novels, since they take place in alternate universes. Thus, anachronisms are supposed to be a part of the settings in these books. 

It's very obvious when the author has done meticulous research, if necessary, for the world  they have created. On the other hand, such research is not always essential, as in the case of fantasy and SF. Writers in these genres, are, of course, free to invent entirely new worlds.

Writing style is very important to me, as well. I take into account the different styles in literary and popular fiction. I love descriptive, poetic passages in literary fiction. As for popular fiction, I do like some description, but I understand that the way the plot moves is considered even more important in this type of fiction. Readers expect more action and plot twists, for example, so I mention these elements in my reviews. If these are illogical, or not particularly effective, I will be sure to mention that; again, without spoilers.

I occasionally review nonfiction, too. This type of book requires a different approach. I not only give my overall impression of the book, but analyze the validity and helpfulness of the author's points. Research is even  more crucial for this type of book, as nonfiction usually presents facts in order to prove the author's thesis. So, if there are any inconsistencies, I will point these out. 

In the case of nonfiction, the writing style is also very important to my appreciation of the book. Some authors can  be very boring in the presentation of their material. Others are so simplistic in their style, it provides little to no intellectual enjoyment at all. I believe in a happy medium!

As an eclectic reader, I like to review several different genres, although, for a long time now, I've been reading and reviewing mostly Young Adult Fiction. No matter what I'm reading, though, I take my reviews very seriously. When the time comes to actually write the review, I feel a little nervous, wondering what I'm going to write, how I'm going to express my views. However, when I start typing, the words just seem to flow, and surprising insights find their way onto the "page". Still, in spite of my initial ease in setting down the words, that doesn't mean I will publish the review just as I've written it the first time. I will usually re-read it and revise it at least twice before publishing it. Even after it's posted, though, I will tweak it a few more times. I'm constantly on the lookout for typos, for instance, as I hate to publish anything that does not look professional. I'm also very aware of awkward sentences or phrases.

Most of the reviews I've done have been about books that I have picked out and purchased myself. Sometimes, I write reviews as part of a blog tour. Whether it's a personal review, or one intended for a blog tour, I make sure it reads well and has no obvious mistakes before I publish it.

To me, one of the most enjoyable things involved in blogging about books is writing reviews! The process of writing one  not  only makes me think, but it also gets me feeling about all the aspects of the book I've read. Thus, writing book reviews is a perfect combination of left and right-brain activities. It's a creative activity, which puts me in a state of mind in which everything just flows, and I lose track of time....

As for my review policies and rating system, you can find them -- together with sparkly stars provided by Parajunkee -- HERE.

I hope to be writing and publishing book reviews for a long time to come!
     


Next Week's Question

How many books have you got 
on your TBR list?
Suggested by:
Obsessive Compulsive Reader




These are my follow preferences.
The links are in my sidebar.







 Be sure to visit the rest of
the participating blogs!!

 

32 comments:

  1. I try to focus on most of the same themes you do. I put a lot of emphasis on characters because for me they can either make or break a book.
    New bloglovin' follower :)

    Joana @ The Boundless Book List

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    1. Hi, Joana!

      That's exactly how I feel about characters. Without great characters, the plot and everything else in the book will simply NOT work. I've had to stop reading some books because of weak, unbelievable characters.

      Thanks for the comment and the follow! Gonna go comment and follow back!! : )

      Delete
    2. Sorry, messed up on my link. Here's the right one: The Boundless Book List

      Delete
    3. No worries, Joana! I just clicked on the link provided in the Linky list. : )

      Delete
  2. I tend to write my reviews as essays as well, something in common :) I usually write them as soon as I finish reading the book, that why the thoughts are fresh in my mind. I do focus more on the characterization part of the novel, that's one of the most important factors in determining if the novel works for me or not. I agree about writing style as well, if the writing is boring but the story is good, usually I end up not finishing that novel :/ I loved reading your post though, thank you for sharing your thoughts! <3 Benish | Feminist Reflections

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    1. Hi, Benish!!

      I agree -- it's best to write a review as soon as you finish a book. Sometimes, though, I don't get a chance to review right away. In the case of nonfiction books, I sometimes need to process my thoughts about the book, so I don't review right away. But then I do need to go back to the book and re-read certain sections in order to make sure i have understood all the concepts discussed.

      Characterization is EXTREMELY important in fiction writing! Cardboard characters just don't cut it for most readers! As for writing style, that's very important too, of course, but I think it's even MORE important for nonfiction books. As for fiction, if the story and characters are great, I can overlook a less poetic type of style. However, I can think of one AWESOME exception to that: "Daughter of Smoke and Bone", by Laini Taylor. The prose in that novel is incredibly beautiful!! So that was a huge plus for me!

      Glad you liked my post! You're very welcome for the share! Thanks for dropping by and leaving such a nice comment!! : )

      Delete
  3. My reviews tend to be a bit like an essay. And I've never got the hang of gifs!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog :)

    Claire @ Book Blog Bird

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    1. Hi, Claire!

      I don't know how to do gifs, either, but I think they're also just not my style. I can enjoy them on other blogs, though! A straightforward essay is what I do best.

      You're very welcome for my visit! Thanks for commenting back!! : )

      Delete
  4. Hopping through. I'd say my reviews are basically essays too. Although not really well written essays since I just throw words out onto a page without thinking as much as I should.
    My FF

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    1. Hi, Alison!

      Yeah, sometimes I feel as if I were writing a book report.....lol. But seriously, I do enjoy writing reviews! Especially if I LOVED the book. I don't like to write negative reviews, but sometimes it's necessary.

      Thanks so much for commenting back!! : )

      Delete
  5. I'm such a perfectionist that it takes me a while to think of what to write and then I just hope that I can get it down the way I had it in my head.

    My FF: http://onceuntold.blogspot.com/2015/05/feature-follow-friday-writing-reviews.html

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    1. Hi, Stina!

      I can relate to that, as I'm a perfectionist myself. So I do a LOT of revising. I make sure all words are spelled correctly, and there are no typos. I also frequently change sentence structures if I think part of of the review need it. I want to make sure I explain things clearly!

      Thanks for dropping by and commenting!! : )

      Delete
  6. Thank you so much for your comment and your follow!
    I'm really loving you post on how you are writing your reviews. Amazing approach! :)

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    1. Hi, there!

      You're very welcome! And thanks for dropping by and commenting back! Thanks especially for the compliment!! : )

      Delete
  7. I like to keep notes while I read. This makes creating a review post a little less daunting. New Bolglovin' follower :)

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    1. Hi, there!

      Hey, that's a great idea! It sure beats grabbing the book every few seconds to check something, while writing a review. That's what I sometimes find myself doing! Lol.

      Thanks for the visit, the comment, and the follow! Will return the favor!! : )

      Delete
  8. I tend to really focus on the characters in my reviews, I feel like they make or break a book for me. But overall, I love how you write out your reviews. I'm a new follower so I look forward to reading your reviews.

    Tina, The Bookworm

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    1. Hi, Tina!

      For me, well-developed characters are probably THE most important ingredient in a novel.

      I'm glad you liked my post! Yes, I work pretty hard on my reviews. I'm always tweaking them, even after I have published them. Lol.

      Thanks for the follow, as well as the lovely comment!! I'm heading your way to return the favor!! : )

      Delete
  9. Your Definitely more organized then I am when it comes to book reviews. I would have never thought of using the essay style, but that actually is pretty smart and neat idea. Great response new GFC follower :D

    Maura @ Monsterofbooks.blogspot.com

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    1. Hi, Maura!

      Well, thank you!! Actually, I'm only loosely organized, lol. But yeah, I consider my reviews to be essays in which I express my views and feelings about a book. Although I tend to write them by just letting the words flow at first, they do go through several revisions, before and after I publish them.

      Thanks so much for the comment and the follow! Coming over to return the favor!! : )

      Delete
  10. I agree that characters are super important! If I don't like them, I'm going to have trouble liking the book. Thanks for visiting my blog!

    Lizzie @ lizziethesarcasticblonde.blogspot.com

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    1. Hi, Lizzie!

      Characters are indeed super important!! Cardboard characters will definitely cause readers to lose interest in a novel. I always state my honest liking or dislike for characters in my reviews, as I feel I owe it to my readers to let them know, so they can decide to avoid the book if they want to.

      Thanks so much for the return comment!! : ),

      Delete
  11. Great post Maria.

    I always find your reviews to be fantastic. You seem to get into the essence of book. You communicate so very effectively not just what makes a book important, but what the book means to you. I even enjoy reading your reviews of books that I am not sure that I would like.

    You raise such a good point about how blogging helps to think and feel so much about the book that one is reading. It has made me such a better reader. I always thought a lot about what I read. But not I organize my thoughts more efficiently and I think that I think in a deeper way.

    As I am planning on posting something on my own style of blogging in about a month I will not give away too much of my own thoughts on my posts yet :)

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    1. Hey, Brian!

      Gosh, THANK YOU for saying such nice things about my reviews!! Much appreciated!! I do strive to write interesting reviews that will truly express my thoughts and feelings about a book, be it fiction or nonfiction. And, of course, it's very important for me to bring across to my readers just what a book means to me.

      Blogging undoubtedly makes you a better reader. That's because the very fact that you know you're going to be writing a review automatically puts your brain on alert to be watching for excellence -- or lack thereof -- in that book. You become very much aware of all the things I've mentioned in my post above. And yes, you have to ponder what the author says through the book, and how it will probably affect you and your life. I'm glad you concur!

      Let me point out, as well, that your own reviews are excellent and thought-provoking, and, as you stated above, I always enjoy them, even if I'm not interested in the book you might be reviewing! : )

      The post you're planning on your blogging style will, I know, be highly interesting to read! I'm looking forward to it!

      Thanks for coming by and leaving such a wonderful, super nice comment!! : )

      Delete
  12. I like the idea of writing reviews in short essay form too! :)

    New Bloglovin' follower! :)

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    1. Hi, Maggie!

      Glad you like my reviewing style!

      Thanks for the comment and the follow! Now I'll return the favor!! : )

      Delete
  13. I take a pretty similar approach to my reviews as well, except I always finish by talking about the author and my overall impression of their style, etc... Nice answer. New GFC follower. :-)

    Shannon @ The Tale Temptress' FF

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    1. Hi, Shannon!

      Oh, that sounds like a great way to do it! I have been including a short author bio at the end of my reviews, along with a picture and contact links.

      Thanks for the follow and nice comment!! Now I'm going to return the favor!! : )

      Delete
  14. I write my reviews in a very similar way. I tend to write essay-like reviews and I usually just write what I feel and let the words flow. I do start with a short blurb about the book and it's plot but then I essentially follow the same type of format you do, starting with how I felt overall about the book. I occasionally break mine up into "good" and "bad" aspects but normally I'll just write an essay. I'm glad there are other verbose people out there. I'm always worried that my reviews will be too long and the one thing I do is try to make sure I'm not rambling for ages.

    New follower!
    My FF!

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    1. Hi, Cayt!

      Oh, what a GREAT comment!! We verbose people really do need to stick together! Lol.

      I, too, sometimes worry that my reviews might be too long, so I really do try to make my points as succinctly as possible. However, I do enjoy writing, so somewhat longer reviews are typical for me.

      Thanks for the follow and the great comment!! Now I'm going to return the favor!!

      Delete
  15. That's awesome that you're so organized in your reviews! I just kind of slap my thoughts together and call it a day heh

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    1. Hi, Julie!

      Oh, THANK YOU so much!! I love to write reviews, so I really work hard at them! i greatly appreciate your visit and this lovely comment!! :

      Delete

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