What Do You Look For In A Book Review?

As a lover of all things BOOKISH, I love love LOVE to read book reviews by book bloggers.  Many of the books I read I have discovered by reading a review on a blog about said book.  I appreciate a warm and honest review, and like to know how that book made the reviewer feel…. be it emotionally charged, angry, sad, happy, ready to do battle – whatever… books and emotions to me go hand in hand and I like to know how the reader feels when immersed in a book.

While the above is what I enjoy, I absolutely am turned off by reviews that tell me the book from start to end – the beginning, the big plot line, the solution and the ending… really, why do I need to read the book now?    I do not care if the review is long (although there is clearly such a thing as too long..) as long as it is interesting, or short, as long as it gives me a feel for the book.  I enjoy knowing a bit about the author, a bit about the history of the book, and really like the reviews that go the bit extra with perhaps a definition of something in the book along with a picture of that said word and its meaning. 

As a reviewer, I want to write a good honest review that will cause my readers to know if this book is a good fit for them.  For those of us that do review, we know this is not always as easy as gushing out “I loved it” as much as I love those reviews, there are also the ones that we have to say….. hmmmm…. not so much loving it here. 

This may or may not apply to the post here... I just thought this was funny. It reminds me that we want... what we want.

Here is my question(s) today:

1.  As a reader, what do you like to see in a review of a book you may be interested in?  What do you not like to see in a review?

2.  As a reviewer (for those of us who are), what do you like to be sure are in your own reviews you write? 

About Sheila (Book Journey)

Bookaholic * Audio Book Fan *Bike Rider *Rollerblader *Adventure Seeker *Runner*Coffee lover *Fitness Fan * Movie junkie

Posted on May 29, 2011, in Book Stuff and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 31 Comments.

  1. What you liked or disliked about the book. Author, Title, what else you may have read from them. Other similar books

  2. I love short emotion filled reviews… I do not even read reviews that are so long that they dissect every part of the book…I want the review to grip me and grab me and make me feel as though I would be at a loss if I did not put this book into my life. I don’t even want a huge summary…I can read all of that on goodreads…

  3. I don’t like spoilers either, but some reviews are hard to write without them.

  4. I sometimes think my reviews are too long and they probably are. I try to get the read hooked in some way. Not a complete summary, but something to give an idea of how the book starts. I sometimes include a quote that is meaningful or lately, I’ve been giving a quote from the start of the book – another hook sort of. If I can, I suggest authors that would be similar and mention what group of people might most enjoy the read.

    I do try to include my reactions in some way. I liked this or that or this part made me think of this incident in my life. I know that I read mostly for the characters and love when I can relate in some way.

    I’m a little turned off of reviews that sound like a masters thesis. I don’t like dry analysis of themes and structure and picking apart the writing. Some may love this. I don’t want to feel that I’m reading an assignment. 🙂

  5. Great question! I like it when the reviewer is passionate about the book and they are not afraid to show their excitment. Don’t give me any spoilers, just a general overview of the story and what you did and didn’t like about it. Couldn’t agree more with you about too much detail, as some reviews are simply too long.

    Will be curious to see what others say, as I’m never really sure what to include in my reviews.

  6. As a reader, I like a review that tells me what the book is about (without spoilers of course) and what the reviewer thought of the book as far as how it was written, character development or anything else that stood out for them good or bad. I have read reviews that only tell what the book is about (not really a review) and reviews that just gush about how awesome the book is. While it is good to know that someone loved a book, I’d like to know why-was it because the dialog was funny, the romance was electric, the suspense gave the reader goosebumps, etc.

    When I write reviews I like to give readers a description of the book’s synopsis and what I liked/disliked. I also try to include some “readalikes”-other books that remind me of the one I am reviewing either by subject, writing style, characters, setting, etc. I hope that helps the reader decide if the book is something they’d like.

  7. When reading a review, I like to see a few details about the storyline, but mostly I enjoy knowing about the characterizations, themes, and the questions raised by the book’s issues. How the reader feels about the book and its message is another thing I like to know.

  8. Jackie Paulson Author

    I am a book lover, paralegal, and I now know you hate book reviews that writes the book etc… that is helpful as I am over analytical. I am going to change the way I do reviews now.

  9. I like to include in my reviews and see in other people’s reviews the same things: a brief summary of the plot, genre, a rating, and why the rating was given.

  10. It sounds like what you want and what I want is pretty similar. 🙂

  11. Great questions. I love when the blogger tells me how they felt and what they took away from the book, this helps me get to know bloggers and if we have similar interest. I also like when bloggers include interest about the cover, title and definitely if a series book can be read as a stand alone. I am not interested in a blogger rewriting what the book is about.

    I try to include my favourite part of a book, sometimes a teaser sentence and what I felt was missing to explain my rating better.

  12. Above all else I try to give honest objective reviews. Never ever include spoilers, like to include a sentence or two of the authors descriptive language, only books that I would consider reading a second time get the highest ratings, warn readers if the book has adult language and themes, give strengths and also weakness concerning — readability, plot (beginning, core, ending), character development, and descriptive language.

  13. I like to read about why someone liked the book, what sort of genre it is (if applicable) and maybe what other books it is like. I don’t want to know too much about the plot (even what’s on the back of the book can be too much sometimes)- a very brief outline is enough.

  14. As a reader, in fact, I’d like to know a bit about the outline of the story. Not too much .. and especially a warning if the story doesn’t follow the given premise … which has happened in my experience. 🙂

    As a reviewer, I think it’s important to let others know what I liked or didn’t like about the story because these are also the things I look for when I read reviews.

  15. I like the personal touch to a review. I want to know what feelings it evoked in you. What it reminded you of. If I wanted to read a straight review with just info on the book I could do that on book websites. Reviews should be unique to each blogger.

  16. As a reader of reviews, I’d like to see a rating, NO spoilers, an overview of some of the events, and pros/cons. If I have a book in my TBR or review pile, especially if it’s in my review pile, I don’t really want to read other people’s reviews until I’ve formed my own opinion, so being able to scan down to a rating is a huge help – it gives me an idea of what to expect without influencing me too much.

    As a reviewer, I don’t include spoilers (ever, even if I feel it might kill me not to) – I DO include a bit of the events that happen (unless the description does a good enough job of that-but it usually doesn’t). I include information like: editing errors, how I feel about the writing itself, and of course, how I felt about the book. If the book made me laugh or made me cry or both, I include that, too. Sometimes I’ll get really interested in something I read about in the book, and will include information and/or links about it. Since I’m a mom, grandmom, and an eclectic reader, I also include which type of reader the book would appeal to as well as content warnings (sensitive reader/parents). And ratings, of course.

    • I have a hard time with ratings (from my end)… I dont mind seeing them on reviews, I just struggled doing them myself. I have to when I post to Amazon but I dont like doing it on my blog for some reason…. 😀

  17. I like to see a short summary –and the back of the book blurb is fine, it’s what I use most of the time. Then I want to know if you liked it, and why or why not. I personally like it if reviewers go off on a tangent, make the book their own somehow. By this I mean something like you saying that you are from MN and the author nailed what it is like to wake up and find snow up to your windows.

  18. I want to know what genre the book is, whether the reviewer liked it, and why. I want to know if the characters are well-drawn. If the reviewer didn’t like it, I want to know why since I may well love it. As a reviewer, I want to give readers that same information although I do tend to get wordy and thus too long.

  19. I don’t like knowing too much about a plot before I read the book, so I avoid cover blurbs and won’t read synopsis paragraphs. A few lines describing the plot are fine but I prefer to read about the reviewers opinions.

  20. I like to get the full information. Like how many pages a book has, that is important to me. I hate it when I think a book is good and when I click to goodreads the book is like 600 pages because I know I probably won’t finish. I try to make my reviews complete and I use a set template so that people can get the info they want straight away. I think this way, it is also easy for people to skip to the part they want to read. For example only my personal opinion. I also love to like to reviews from other bookbloggers I know 🙂

  21. I like to know a bit about the storyline (though not much more than what the back of a book would tell a reader). I also want to know if the book is exciting, what made the reader love it or hate it. If it’s part of a series, can it be read as a standalone. Things like that.

  22. I think story summaries are unneccesary. I’d prefer bloggers just post the book blurb at the end or beginning of their review. No need to reinvent the wheel, right? I either read the blurb or skip the blurb based on the blogger’s opinion of the book.

  23. I only want to know if you recommend a book and why – I don’t want to read a ‘book report’ in less I don’t plan to read the book. This is why I put why I picked the book and just a brief description to share if I enjoyed the book.

    confession: I hardly ever read blog reviews in full…. I hate to admit that but I’m so concerned that the plot will be revealed if I read the entire post! 🙂 So I scan the review – if it’s a terrible review I will usually read the complete post to understand why the reader didn’t like it.

  24. I so agree–I don’t like plot synopsis reviews. I can go to Amazon to find out what the book is about. I like reviews that give me enough plot to have an idea of the book, and then focus on what they liked, or didn’t like, or how they felt, or what the best character was… I like opinions, not facts!

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