Sunday, 28 May 2017

The Thing About Book Reviews...

I've read so many reviews for books over the years and I can honestly say that I don't really care about what other people think about a book. 
Not really. 
I mean, yes, if people are ranting about how awesome a book is I'll check it out but it wouldn't be enough to make me buy it. Conversely, if people were slamming a book it wouldn't stop me reading it.
That probably sounds a bit strange coming from a book blogger, right? 

Reviews are the book blogger staple. A minimum requirement. What's the point of doing them if, based upon my own example, people don't care about reviews?
Well, I DON'T believe that is the case. 
I think some people are heavily influenced by what others think, by people's reviews, therefore I feel it's my duty to shout about the books that I enjoyed to help authors reach those people. That's also why I won't trash a book I didn't like on this blog... Everyone is different. People like different things. People look for different things in what they read even if they read the same kinds of books.
I also think that this applies to what people look for in a book review. 

Where am I going with this?
Well, I'm trying to work out how my reviews are going to work.
I don't want to write lengthy spiels on what a book is about, dissecting every nuance and describing every thought and feeling experienced while reading it, and I doubt I have the patience or the skill to do so either. 
Not to mention, I don't have the time.
What I am going to do instead is write reviews that I'd find useful. 
I'm going to capture what matters to me, as a prospective reader, in the belief that there are others out there like me. Those who believe that if people want to find out all the ins and outs of a story they should find out for themselves by actually reading the story and not by reading an overly detailed review the length of a masters dissertation. 

That said, how do I chose my books? 

I chose my books based on the following factors:

The Cover
The cover is the first thing I look at. Yes, yes, you should never judge a book by it's cover and that's true! I've read some amazing books with truly god-awful covers... But it was the God-awful cover that made me look at the blurb. The same goes for beautiful or interesting covers. They draw me in and make me ask, "What's that about?" That's why in all my reviews there will be discussion on the book cover. 

The Blurb
I like book blurbs. They're like speed-dating except you have thirty seconds to convince the browser that they really want to spend their hard-earned cash, and precious free time, on your story instead of someone else's. 
You have to suck them in without scaring them away.  
Some blurbs are perfection. 
They have everything that appeals to me and I 1-click immediately because I've just got to know.
Some bore me or turn me off so completely that there is nothing on this earth that could convince me to give the book a try.
However, I find the majority of blurbs (in genres I enjoy) pique the curiosity but leave me suspicious. I want to know more before I invest and that is where a review comes in.

People's Reviews
If I want to know more about a book, I check out the reviews. However, I don't check out the reviews to find out whether people liked the book. I pour over reviews for information.

I find quotes, what people liked and what people didn't like to be most useful. 
Sometimes what someone loves most about a book, or a character, will be enough for me to decide that the book is not for me, and sometimes what someone hates most can tell me that the book should be mine.
I do not need to know that the reviewer's heart broke when person x said quote y for I'd want to experience that for myself. 
What I want to know are things like, is the book part of a series? Is there cheating? A love triangle? Nasty, and irrevocable, things that happen to beloved characters? Is it X-rated? Or is it PG? First person narration or third? Multiple POV or single? Heavy reading or light and fluffy? 

I don't expect a review to be purely factual, that'd be soulless, but as I said, I want info, not a minuted account of all the feels. 

Is that too much to ask?
I guess we'll find out.

What I don't find useful is a book's 'star' rating. 

They're too subjective. A book can be freakin' awesome but poorly edited / formatted so someone - after waxing lyrical about how awesome it is in the review - gives it a 1-star rating! 
It makes me want to rip my hair out.
There's also the many reviews that say things like, "It would have been a 5 star for me except blah happened so it's a 2." 
Everyone is entitled to an opinion but I just feel that when it comes to ratings there should be more objectivity. 

I've debated not having star ratings on the blog - since they irk me so much - but figure I need to seeing as I can't really post my reviews on places like amazon without one and thus I wouldn't be being much help to authors.

To try be fair, I'm going to rate different aspects of the book and then tally them up for an overall rating that way awesome characters and/or story will balance out shitty editing and/or formatting and I'd need to think a book was bad across the board for it to have a really low overall rating. 
I'll flesh this out a bit more as I go, I think...


So there you have it!
I hope that this gives you an idea of what's to expect from reviews on this blog and I hope that people find them useful!

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  1. I kind of feel the same about reviews. I use them more as a jumping off point - to know what worked and didn't work for others. I won't read or not read based solely on one or two reviews.

    I do have trusted blogger friends that I rely on more. If they tell me to read something I do because they know me and my reading tastes.

    I still rate on Goodreads but that's more for me so I can remember how I felt. I stopped rating on my blog years ago because I don't want the rating to be the focus more than my overall thoughts.

    Welcome to the Blogoshere!

    For What It's Worth

  2. I do enjoy a good review, but I am so with you on stars. They mean nothing to me. I mean, *my* stars mean something to me, but no one else knows what I mean by 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5...

  3. I'm with you on some of it. reviews won't totally sway me but I have my bloggers I have followed for years and know we have similar taste so if they mention loving a book it's one I may look into more. Same if they HATED it. Because we like similar things that's important to know when someone disliked it and why.

    That's why I think negative reviews are important. I put them on my blog and appreciate when others do as well since it helps me get an idea of the book. I know people say but it's just my opinion. But that's true of positive reviews. I personally don't trust a book if it only has 5 star reviews. To me that's fishy and I'll likely avoid it. Stars work for me as well because I know how a blogger works. I don't pay much attention to random ones on Amazon/Goodreads. But if Sophia gives something a 5 (for example) I know it's one I need to check out. If it only gets a three then, yeah, I may still read just not rush to it. But I know her reviews and how she views books. I think that's key. Jane No Name on Goodreads...couldn't care less what she rated it. lol