Writing Book Reviews: Part 3
Carolyn from Book Chick City is here today sharing her thoughts on writing good book reviews. She has a nice clean style in writing reviews and I think you’ll enjoy her interview.
FV: Do you review every book you read?
BCC: At the moment yes. I have so many books to review sent by publishers and authors that I don’t have time to read a book just for pleasure. Saying that, all the books I’m reading for review are in the genres I like so that helps.
FV: If not, how do you choose what books you’ll review?
BCC: Although I review every book I read at present, I still find it difficult to decide which book to read next. I do try and review by a ‘first come first served’ method, but sometimes I find that hard, especially if I have quite a few books lined up that are in the same genre. I had about four weeks of back to back chick-lit and I just felt overloaded. So now I mix it up a bit.
FV: Unfavorable reviews; do you do them or just skip it out of fear of a blog flogging?
BCC: My policy is always honesty. If I don’t like a book I will say so. I try to write my reviews constructively though, rather than just book bash, and I hope that this comes across in my reviews, but I still find the process difficult. I’m not fearful of people disagreeing with me, that’s part and parcel of reviewing, each person will take away something different from a book, so it’s always subjective. But what I am really mindful of is making the review constructive, as I’ve said, as I know it takes a lot of time and passion to write a novel. I always let the publisher know as well and I still get books sent for review, so I think everyone appreciates and respects honesty in a review.
FV: To rate or not to rate. Some bloggers have a rating system or prefer not to rate. Do you rate the books you review? Why or why not?
BCC: I’m still finding what works best for me. I started out with no rating and hoped that the review spoke for itself but I found that when I read a review by another blogger I liked to see a rating, so I added the ‘out of ten system’ and this seems to be working well. I’m happy with it at the moment, but that could all change
FV: Do you follow a set outline in your reviews or do you like to change it up each time?
BCC: I like structure, so I like to follow the same format each time if I can. I have changed this as well a few times over the weeks, but I think I’m getting closer to how I want it. I usually use the synopsis as the intro and then my review is really just my thoughts on the book, then I finish with a verdict, such as if I think it’s worth buying or if I recommend it or not. I know there’s a lot of things I would like to add to my reviews but I haven’t gotten around to it yet.
FV: Sometimes I avoid reading reviews before I’ve read a book simply because some reviewers reveal too much about the story. Where do you draw the line on information about the book you’re reviewing and how do you avoid spoiling the reader?
BCC: To be honest I don’t really care about spoilers, unless it’s a huge one, like if they tell me who the killer is in a crime novel etc. But if it’s small details about the book and they gave the book a good review it usually just makes me want to read the book more. I understand how annoying it can be though if a review gives away too much, so I hope I don’t do that.
FV: When you’re reading a book, do you think about the review you’ll write and/or take notes? Or do you prefer to sit back, enjoy and just write the review later.
BCC: I think most people who write reviews find themselves making mental notes while reading a book, I know I do. Sometimes I can just read the book and then write the review, but if a lot of thoughts come to me while reading it then I will jot them down as I know I will probably forget them when the time comes to write the review, especially if I enjoyed a particular passage or if something really annoyed me or a quote I loved. It’s harder to go back and find all these things when I’ve finished the book. Once I’ve finished the book I will write a first draft adding all the notes I jotted down and then work with it from there.
FV: Do you need to go back re-read portions of the book for your review or do you just go with what made an impression?
BCC: It really depends on the book. If I loathed it then I will give my opinion and that’s it as I know re-reading it wont make a difference to how I felt about it.
FV: In this great bookish community authors and bookworms interact regularly via twitter, facebook and other social networks. How do you feel about authors reading reviews you’ve done on their books?
BCC: I don’t mind at all if an author reads my reviews, in fact I think it’s kind of cool. Whenever I write a review I always learn something, so if someone gave me constructive criticism and I agreed with it, then it would make my next review better. I think this is the same with writing a book and authors can learn a lot from reading all the reviews out there, as this may help with writing their next novel. Once my review is up I will always email the author and publisher to let them now it’s up.
FV: I’d like to thank you for being here today and for sharing your thoughts on writing good book reviews. Is there anything you’d like to say before you go?
BCC: I have only been blogging for three months so I am still finding it difficult to find my own voice, especially when there are so many big personalities out there. But I think I’m getting there. I have never written reviews before setting up my blog so I know there will be teething problems. But I really enjoy it and I hope my personality is coming through bit by bit. Thanks for inviting me!
Be sure to stop by and visit Book Chick City to read her book reviews and to check out her recent blog redesign. She is having an All Hallows Eve event so there’s lots of fun stuff going on. You can also follow her on Twitter.