A warm welcome this Tuesday to Candace from Candace's Book Blog and CBB book promotions! I have always been impressed by Candace's review writing skills and today she has been generous enough to share her 8+ years of reviewing expertise with the following tips.
First of all, I don’t really think there’s a right way or a wrong way to review. We all need to find our voice and practice usually does that. If you write enough reviews you start to find your own style and once you have that style and your voice is down people will start to realize your own uniqueness and will come back time and time again to read your fabulous reviews!
I have been reviewing books for almost 5 years (on my blog) and even longer on other sites. Once I found my voice (which has changed over the years, BTW) I discovered it’s best for me to write like I talk. This isn’t always easy. I mean, sometimes we just don’t have much to say, right? Well this is where I have a few things that I purposely try to point out.
- My Emotions ~ What did I feel when I finished reading the book? Recently I said in a review that I had so much love for the book that I hugged it close after finishing that last page. I stroked it tenderly while tears ran down my face. Yeah, that might sound a little creepy to non-readers, but any avid reader will understand. (What? You don’t hug and stroke your books?!)
- Characters ~ I talk about what I like and what I didn’t like. Did I connect with them? Did they annoy me?
- Plot~ Did it move at a smooth and steady pace? Were there surprises I didn’t see coming? Was I satisfied with the resolution?
- Romance ~ If relevant, of course. Was I ‘feeling’ it? Did I fall for him/her? Did the romance have anything that bugged me?
- Setting~ Sometimes the setting has a lot to do with how much I enjoy a book while other times it doesn’t really matter at all. If it does make a difference, I point it out. I love small town stories, I love European settings, and I love the Southern settings.
After all that I wrap things up with whether I was happy with how the book ended, if I’m excited to read more by the author and who I would recommend the book to. If it’s YA and needs some warnings for content I usually say whether it’s more for mature YA readers, or if it’s appropriate for all MG and YA readers (for example). I end things on a happy note every time.
I do not take notes while reading. But I do try to review as soon as I finish a book if at all possible. If I wait too long the book fades from my memory, the excitement I felt has dwindled and my review ends up sounding blah.
I avoid spoilers in my reviews. If you ever have a spoiler in a review you should always label it, but since I read a lot of series books and later books in a series will obviously have spoilers for the first books, I usually just do a review about the emotions I felt when reading and whether I was satisfied and leave out any content to avoid spoilers for previous books.
Reviewing books I feel negatively about:
I’ll be honest; I rarely ever write negative reviews. This isn’t because I’m opposed to them, but more because I don’t finish the book. I have hundreds of books on my shelves to read. If a book isn’t catching my attention in the first 50-100 pages I set it aside. And while I often intend to pick it back up, I rarely ever do. However, if I do write up a review that’s at all negative I always remember to not bash the author. I’m not a snarky person anyway, so my reviews are usually pretty mild. I’m careful to be kind while pointing out the things that didn’t work for me. I know that some things I consider a negative, others may consider a positive.
Q&A with Candace
About how long do you spend writing each review?
I take forever to write my reviews! Sometimes I can type up a review in 5-10 minutes and other times it takes me 30-45 minutes. It just depends on the book and if I have plenty to talk about.
On average, how many books do you review per month?
Every month is different but I think it’s about 20 or so. I like to have at least 5 reviews a week and sometimes it’s a double review, especially for middle grade or children’s books.
How long have you been writing reviews? (Not how long blogging, but writing reviews, like if you started out submitting to Amazon or Goodreads before you began blogging.)
I’ve been blogging for 4 ½ years but I was really active on Shelfari since 2005. I didn’t write real great reviews there, but usually a very short and general review. So I guess I’ve been writing reviews around 8 years or so?
Thanks so much for having me on today Nikki! I hope that my ‘tips’ are helpful for some new reviewers still seeking their ‘voice’.
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