Monday, August 8, 2011

The Imperfection of My Reviews

So recently I read this book and OH MY GOODNESS, it was sort of like listening to Band of Horses and drinking hot chocolate with salt and caramel. In other words, I loved it. If I'd reviewed the book according to how I felt about it, there would have probably just been a picture of me hugging the book. Because there are those books you just want to hug, right? (I am not crazy.)

The thing is though, I try hard not to review books based purely on how I felt about them, because not only is it often hard to turn feelings to words, but more importantly, I'm not reviewing just for me. I'm reviewing for other readers who may or may not have the same tastes as I do, who might know nothing about the book, who might love that book or might love one that I couldn't stand. I don't want to say this book was good and this book was bad, but rather here's what you should know about this book and here's what I thought was done well, not well, different, etc. This means that even when I absolutely love a book the review is sometimes/often more neutral, more... even-keeled.

If the pace is slow, I mention that. If the writing style is one not everyone will appreciate, I mention that. Same if the dialogue feels stilted or subplots feel contrived.

But I'm also going to mention if the relationships are great, if there's a well-written family element, if the writing is beautiful. And often, for me, these things will far outweigh the weaker points. But I'm not every reader; I'm just me. Which means that the books I love don't always get perfect reviews. And the ones I don't love sometimes get better reviews than I'd give if I were going off of just how I feel about the book.

This doesn't mean my reviews aren't honest, because they are, 100%. But they're also more logical and thought-out than how I instinctively feel toward the books. They're critical. The books I absolutely love, regardless of review, are in bold over here. (And, of course, on my ace-list shelf on Goodreads.)

And what about you, fellow book bloggers? Do your reviews always reflect how you feel about a book or is there sometimes discrepancy?


  1. My reviews are always just a reflection of how it made me feel. I figure people can find a synopsis just about anywhere on the internet. Of course, how well the writing and characters are done are all part of how the book made me feel at the end but I don't really worry about being 'balanced' - if a book makes me want to hug it then I will hug it regardless of some of the faults it may have had. Likewise, if I hated it, I won't hesitate to say so either.

  2. I like to try to include some personal elements -some of how I felt - in my reviews, because I really enjoy it when some recommends a book to me specifically because they think I would like it and not just because it was a good book. And when I recommend books to others, I try to personalize recommendations based on how I think they will enjoy and feel about that book. I try to think more broadly than just my own taste and will sometimes try to suggest the audience to which I think a book might appeal.

    I try to be objective, constructive and postitive. I don't do entirely negative reviews, on the theory that if I have nothing nice to say, I'm just not going to blog about it. But I will comment on areas that I felt could have been stronger or seemed out of place. I also - confession time - have been known to totally gush like a fangirl when I just fall in love with something. Those reviews aren't my most objective, but oh well. If I were telling someone about those books in real life - that would be the area where I lapsed from suggesting someone should read it because they would like straight into "you should read this because it's amazing" anyway! ;)

  3. I do both. My reviews are what I thought about the book and what I felt about the book. If a book makes me want to pet it, I often mention that :P But I do also look at other things too.

  4. It's really difficult to find a well-rounded review in the YA blogosphere. I've seen so many talk about how they feel versus how the writing is. I care about both, of course. And more importantly, this is how I recommend books to friends. I say "I love this about the MC" or "it'll make you cry" or "the pacing is great" or "it raises questions you never would've thought of and makes you HURT." There's a lovely balance between the two, and it's a difficult one to achieve. But I think you do a great job of it here at TCN.

  5. Trish
    I think I see synopsis as different from a "balanced" review. A synopsis is what happens in the book - the pitch you can find on Goodreads or Amazon, whereas a review that explains the book goes into detail on how well certain aspects of the book were done. That said, how-I-feel reviews can be some of the best, especially when you find a blogger who has similar taste to your own and you can be fairly sure that what they like, you'll like. Those are some of my favorite bloggers.

    I still do negative/critical reviews, but I have been phasing a bit out. If the review's going to end up sounding like there was nothing good about the book (even if I enjoyed the book) or if it's just going to be snarky, I usually don't post it.

    I think that mix is really good.

    Your comment is so great and spot-on. Also, thank you. :)