Monday, September 6, 2010

Reviewing Like A Madman

Adele, from Persnickety Snark, did a post on how she reviews and invited the rest of us bloggers to also share our processes.

So, TA-DA! here is my process.

Before anything else, I read the book. I take mental notes while I'm reading, but I don't write anything down. Because obviously I think I'm the memory woman. Mentally, I take note of if the book takes a while to get going and when it hooks me. I note the characters that don't seem real, the pacing and plot holes, the feel of the setting. Basically everything. As much as I love reading for fun and not thinking about any of this stuff, I naturally read as a writer and that comes in handy when I'm reviewing -- even if it is annoying at times.

I write the review very soon after finishing the book. Sometimes the same day, but always within one or two days. Since I keep all my notes in my mind it's easy to forget things if I wait too long. Plus, reading other books before reviewing the last one kind of muddles things up for me. It's like brain overload.

When I sit down to write the review, I go through my rubric first and give a score for each of the book's elements. This is the basis of my whole review, because otherwise what I write would end up being too subjective and not objective enough. Thinking about things in concrete, numbered, terms really helps to focus my review.

I don't write drafts of my review before posting it, but I do a lot of reading over and revising. I try to start with a general statement about the book -- what I was or wasn't expecting, if the book surprised me in a good or bad way, etc. -- and then move onto discussing other things. I don't post summaries, mostly because I explain the premise of the book in the review so I don't really see a need for it. After I finish writing the review I read it over, clarify what needs clarification and revise so that everything runs smoothly and the review is cohesive. My reviews are often pretty long, which I'm sure means that there are people who won't read them. But I also think that if you're interested in a book, you'd rather read a longer, more in-depth review than one that's only a paragraph or two long. Plus, I have lots of thoughts. Usually more than even end up in the review.

So, that's basically it. How do you write your reviews? Do you like shorter or longer reviews? Do you read my reviews?


  1. I love your reviews! You have led me to check out several books you've covered--or at least add them to my list. They've also helped me be more aware in my own writing of what readers look for in a book (like setting!).
    When I write reviews I don't focus on the same things you do--which I think is a good thing. I look at them from a writing perspective and usually try to focus on the positive--like what I got out of it and can use in my writing.
    There are so many different ways you can review a book!

  2. I like long reviews. If I wanted a short review I could just read the summary of the book on GoodReads. I love the way you do your reviews and wish I could be as critical and precise as you, but I get so emotionally involved in the book that I write with my emotions. I'm wordy and probably very boring. And I write a lot. I'm not sure anyone reads them because I've had people leave odd comments that don't pertain to my review at all. I'm just grateful for those that do read and comment intelligently. Like you!