Tuesday 17 February 2015

What Makes The Perfect Review?

Though I don't always come out with something insightful, I like to think that once in a while I'll get a bee in my bonnet about something and the end result is something half way decent. Today, or more so recently, I've been left with the thought of what makes the best book review. I've been blogging for a few years, and in my short but colourful life I've seen people do it so many different ways that I'm not sure there is a right or wrong answer, everyone has found a way that works for them so why should it be wrong?

Over the years I've tried it all. I've tried the process, like so many others, of breaking down the book in the review into sections talking about the plot first, then the characters and so on. I've tried mini reviews, I've tried just talking about what I liked and disliked about the book as opposed to giving anything away. I don't think the ways I've done it before or the way I do it now is that different to others, but I can't help thinking sometimes that I'm doing something wrong.
My first question for you is about length.

It's something that differs the most. I've seen people write no more than around 150 words and then some that seem to go on forever. Does the length of the review really matter if it's direct and to the point? Or do we need to have everything explained in depth to us?. Personally myself I think that it's hard to give anyone a real idea about how you felt about the book without explaining why or giving them a detailed reason. I'm no saying that those who choose to do consistently small reviews are wrong or that they should change the way they do it, but though reviewing books is for fun at the end of the day it serves a higher purpose, to get as many people talking about the book as possible and how can you convince anyone to go out and read said book if they couldn't get a feel for it from what you've said?. Does anyone agree with me or am I on my own with this one because I would really love to know.
The next question: content.

Is it completely necessary to outline the ins and outs of what happens in the book creating a review that may get boring and tedious or is it acceptable to speak only briefly about the story and mainly about the good and bad parts?. Personally myself I much prefer a review that covers the plot for a while but is filled up of fangirling, swooning or reasons why things could have been better. I know everyone has different preferences and that’s fine, but is there a way for people to cater to everyone’s tastes?
Lastly is about gifs.

Something that a lot of people use these days (myself included) and where as you have people who seem to know exactly what ones to use to go with their review (I'm looking at you Cait and Charnell) what about the people who like to use them, though the ones they've picked may be only relevant and make sense to them, is it still worth having them or should they opt for having none at all? Or are you of the thought that gifs hold no place in a review?. When I first started blogging, I hardly ever saw them, now it's like everyone and their dog are using them as a way to make their review stand out and add humour when sadly sometimes it's just overkill. I'm not saying that people shouldn't use them unless they know how, hell I seem to be in the group that sometimes use non relevant ones to anyone else but me, but if I'm happy with it should it matter to anyone else?

My intention here is not to poke wholes in the way people choose to review books, even though we may or may not be reviewing it for a publisher or author at the bare bones of it this is still a hobby (no matter how seriously you take it) and you should be able to have fun and do it how you wish, but even the person with the best intentions in the word might find themselves judging a review on it's layout, look or content. I just wanted to get an idea of what everyone else thinks makes a good if not perfect review, because as I've already said it's something I've thought about if not struggled with for a while.

Do you ever struggle writing reviews?


  1. I love the idea of this post - I agree with you, I always wonder whether to keep my review long or short. Even, if I might love a book, I'm not sure where to get started sometimes. I think the best reviews are honest, and well written with actual details. I hate spoilers though lol. Lovely post <3 Your layout is so beautiful btw :)

    Benish | Feminist Reflections

    1. Thank you , I think a lot of people struggle with putting words to paper because you either liked it, loved it or didn’t like it one bit and either way it's hard to express that something without giving too much away. You're right, honest reviews with little bit of details about the book are the best.

      Haha thank you, the layout is all thanks to my lovely co-blogger Amanda, she designed and did all of it :D

  2. I like to think I set the trend of gif usage in posts. *blushes modestly* BAHAHAHA. Okay NOT. But still! I didn't see them being used a lot until recently and I've always gifed all over the place. Gifing = life. But I don't like it when a review has so many flashing gifs that I can't focus on the content. I like to have enough room to scroll down the screen and NOT see a gif so I can focus on the content. But I'm not too fussed.

    I like short reviews that talk about whether the reviewer liked or hated the book. I pretty much don't care what the book is about...I want to know what it made the reader feeeeel. XD I might be strange though and probably a minority. I don't like lengthy recaps. I love flailing!

    1. oh you did, don't worry ;).
      I know how much you love your gifs and you mange to use them so well because its second nature. I know what you mean, the people who don't know how to use them can sometimes go over the top and it take your focus away.

      LOL I'm the same, honestly. I can get an idea bout the book from the summary, what I'm looking for in a reviews is how it effected you.

  3. I definitely prefer shorter reviews, cause most of the time I don't want to read a long post. I like ones that are quick and easy to pick out points, so short paragraphs and lists are better than one long ramble. I do like when various aspects are discussed - plot, characters, love interest, audio narration if applicable, but most importantly I want to know did you like it, and what worked and did not work.

    1. seems to be the trend to be honest. I think as readers theses day we are more focused on finding that book that made someone they now feel all the feels, and then reading it hoping to feel the same or if not, have something to discuss with their friend. That and because our TBR shelves are so over run its much easier to pick a book that everyone is loving and hope for the best then one that people are mixed about. (I do it myself sometimes, but then I think that can lead to great books being overlooked)

  4. My BIGGEST pet peeve is when people tell me the plot in the review. I mean, it's just a waste of good review space when they should be giving me their opinion, not a synopsis. I WANT TO KNOW THE FEELS, PEOPLE!!

    I quite like short reviews though, as long as they're full of all ze emotions. I chop and change the length of my reviews, depending on the book. If I didn't like it, my reviews are likely to be on the shorter side, if I loved it, they're likely to be more essay-length haha

    1. Hahah I agree, I used to go into great detail about what happened in the book (well as much as I could without giving away spoilers) but over time I just started writing them how I like to read reviews, to the point.

      I like short reviews too, sometimes my reviews will be shorter than normal and lately I've tossed around the idea of just doing a few bullet points about the best things in the book and going into detail about them. I think the key to a great review is to just mix around with different styles now and again, keep it fresh and just write it the way you like them.

  5. I struggle to write long reviews. I usually just talk about the characters, plot (not giving any spoilers), writing style and whether the book held my attention.
    Longer reviews can be good but sometimes they do drag.
    I must admit that I do like using gifs but I don't use them very often.
    Great post! :)

    1. So do I, if I start struggling to write is when I know it's time to stop and change some things around . I think that sounds like the generic way, a lot of people focus a lot of though factors of the book. :)

      Thank you .

  6. I love reading reviews with gifs but am uncomfortable using them myself --- they just don't seem to fit my writing.

    And I honestly never share anything about the plot in my posts unless I absolutely have to in order to convey something I really liked or whatnot.

    And my length varies ... Sometimes I struggle to come up with much more than a paragraph or so; other times I just let the words flow. I don't really think there's anything wrong with either length, as long as it feels honest.

    Great post!

    ~ Liza @ Classy Cat Books

  7. In terms of length, I think it completely depends on the book and your thoughts. Sometimes I read a book and I don't have a lot to say. I feel like I can convey my thoughts in just two or three short paragraphs. Other times (usually with books I really hated) I have TONS AND TONS to say. I want to provide "evidence" and explanations and thoughts... I go on and on and on.

    I think both methods work great. If you can say all you need to say in 2-3 paragraphs, then don't elaborate just for the sake of making it longer. That's when you get words for the sake of words, and honestly that's not fun to read. But if you have a ton that you need to say, don't hold back.

    As for plot, I prefer zero discussion about the plot unless it's completely relevant. In my opinion, the synopsis is for learning about the plot and the review is for learning about whether or not the book was good or bad (and why). Some reviews are literally just a more detailed recap of the plot and what happened, and I hate reading those reviews. :( It's just a longer synopsis, rather than an actual review.

    I'm not a fan of GIFs. One here and there is okay, but in general they're not for me. That being said, I think each person should do whatever they want. Loads of people adore GIFs. So if you want to include them, go ahead! If you want to include GIFs that only make sense to you, that's fine too. You shouldn't cater to other people; they should be YOUR reviews.

  8. I think length depends on how much you have to talk about. I have to admit to not really liking short reviews, those that are only one paragraph and then a rating. But then I guess essay long reviews can be rather dull to read. I'm trying to make changes to how I review books, I'm not loving mine as much as I used to,

    I love gifs, as you know! I know some people hate them but I don't care. I love them. So I always include at least one in my review.

    I don't mind a tiny bit of plot discussion, but not too much otherwise I get a little bored.

  9. Interesting discussion! Over time I've noticed that my reviews keep getting longer and longer, even when I try to write mini-reviews! I keep them focused on my overall feeling about the characters, plot, writing style, etc and avoid spoilers at all costs. I got some good advice once to try and write your review as if you were talking about the book with a friend. You wouldn't go detail by detail with a friend, so why do that in a review? While I don't use gifs, I get a kick out of seeing them in reviews.

    Terri @ Alexia's Books and Such...


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