22 January 2009

Reviewing

Once I finish reading the last 50 or so pages of To Darkness and to Death (Julia Spencer-Fleming) I will be turning my attentions to Demon Angel (Meljean Brook). As promised earlier, I am going to attempt (please note this last word as it is rather important) to review it. And this has got me to thinking: how does one actually go about reviewing a book? What should I be specifically looking at/for? Or is it just intuitive?

orannia
Updated to add: A friend has kindly lent me Wicked Gentlemen (Ginn Hale) so I will be starting that tonight before turning my attention to the joys of Demon Angel.

4 comments:

  1. I would talk about the plot of the book and the characters and what you liked and dislikes about the book.

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  2. I started reviewing less than a year ago, and found myself agonizing over my first few reviews, asking pretty much the same questions you are asking.

    This is what I did to get unstuck from my angst :grin: I chose another title I had read more than once, and looked at several reviews for that book by bloggers/reviewers I like, and tried to see what I would have done differently.

    More plot detail? Less plot detail? Spoilers or not? (in my case, definitely not) Excerpts/quotes? If so, how long or short? from early or later in the novel?

    I wrote my own version of that review a couple of times, changing stuff here and there until I was happy that it was as good as any of those by people whose reviews I like--regardless of the difference in grade, because well, we each have different tastes, yes? And it seems I'm rather stingy with my grading :-0

    That excercise gave me much needed confidence, but it is still a work in progress--some reviews I agonize more than others, because at times I cannot articulate exactly why or how a particular novel (or passage therein) affects me in a particular way. Other times, the review flows in a matter of minutes.

    Either way, I usually wait at least a full day before re-reading it, to make sure I catch both typos and mistakes (like forgetting to mention something I wanted to mention, or putting in something that really shouldn't be there--perhaps something spoilerish, what have you). Then I schedule the review and try to let go :grin:

    Easier said than done, but... *shrug* One has to start somewhere, right?

    Best of luck, orannia!

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  3. Thank you KB and azteclady! Very sound advice :)

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  4. Heya kechara - I don't know if this will help, as it will probably lead to fairly long reviews and not everyone likes that, but this is the way I do it.

    I start by giving a paragraph or so overview of the book - why I picked it up/who recommended it to me/what genre or subject matter it fits into - that kind of thing.

    Then I try to give a brief plot overview and quickly introduce the lead characters and the world in which it's set (for fiction), or a summary of the contents (for non-fiction)

    Then I cover the main points I liked about it; and follow that with anything I didn't like about it (I try to be as fair as I can with dislikes, and separate out what I think of as objective flaws from what simply doesn't work for me)

    Then finally, I finish with an overal impression, a note of who (if anyone) I'd recommend the book for or not for, and lastly, a rating out of 10.

    So yeah... that can sometimes lead to a pretty long review, but there's nothing compulsory in there, so if there are things you don't want to include, then by all means... they're your reviews so you get to leave them out if you don't want to.

    Other people will have other formulae though... so feel free to pick and choose from different people's styles until you find one that works for you.

    WTTW, and I hope you're OK

    T

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