When I first started writing book reviews, they were mostly for myself in an effort to get the whirlwind of thoughts out of my head after reading a book, whether they were good or bad. Since I’ve expanded why I’m doing them, though the base reason is still mostly the same, I’m curious as to what others find are the critical pieces when they read a review. What are the parts you look for first?
I have a handful that I think are important, but I don’t see in every review. Granted, these pieces also vary depending on where that review is posted. I have certain things I expect to see from a blog review that aren’t going to be the same for reviews posted on places like Goodreads or Amazon. That is the reason I do my reviews in sections so that I can just post parts in other places.
For me, blog reviews need to have more information because that information isn’t already there, like blurb and genre. When you are on most other sites those pieces are right there up front, so having them again in every single review tends to be annoying for me. I don’t want to weed through 100 reviews all posting the blurb or a reworded summary of it when it is already there in front of you. When it is on a blog, I think this is so much more important to include.
Genre is another one I really need to see on a blog. You simply can’t always tell just from a blurb or from someone’s opinion what genre a book falls into. For me, I’m more likely to choose to skip that review if I know the book isn’t even in a genre I read. Like the blurb, this isn’t necessary in most other locations because those are just as easily found, though it isn’t nearly as annoying to have listed as a revamp of the blurb over and over again (didn’t I say this annoys me?).
I’ve seen a lot of other things that people tend to post that I could take or leave, though some have been more interesting than others. Something like a page count really doesn’t matter to me in most situations because I do nearly all of my reading digitally and those don’t always have page numbers. I can see how this would be really helpful to some readers. I do like to know if the book is really just a short story as opposed to a full length novel or even some massive tomb that is going to take days for me to read, but a specific page count isn’t that important to me.
Listing the publisher is another one that really doesn’t make a difference to me. I used to feel the same about release dates, but now that I’m reviewing ARCs I’ve started including it to make it clear that the book may not even be available just yet.
Something that kind of bothers me is when, at least in blog posts, there isn’t a link to the book. This can be a link back to the book on an author’s website, to Goodreads or any of the places it can be purchased, but I like to be able to find a book without having to go hunt it down. It isn’t all that common an event, but I’ve actually ran into some problems finding a few books I wanted to look into more because there wasn’t a link provided and a simple search didn’t bring it up without digging deeper (thank you algorithms that tell us what we want to look at rather than giving us what we asked for).
I REALLY need to see the cover of the book. It doesn’t even have to be huge or overly prominent. It just needs to be there. Book covers are nearly as important as having a blurb and leaving that out tends to make me want to skip over a review. Again, this is only a blog thing, but I do think it is hugely important. Kind of like the link to the book.
Then there is the obvious, your opinion. I wouldn’t think this would be necessary to point out, but I’ve actually seen reviews that never really get to this point. They only consist of a slightly expanded revamp of the blurb and that is all you get out of it. When I read a review, I really want to know what someone thought of it. What they liked. What they didn’t like. Did it make them laugh or cry? Where the characters dull and lifeless or did you want to become best friends with them? I’m not talking just a simple star rating either. I do think those are important as well, but it doesn’t tell you much if you don’t have the words to go with it and to back it up. I’ve never really understood the point in summarizing a book and not giving your opinion on it in a book review.
Everyone is different and look for different things in a book review. Some really like a much shorter review, some like really detailed, in depth reviews. I tend to fall somewhere in the middle and tip either direction on occasion, both in how I write and what I want to see. Is there anything in particular you need to see in a review? Are there certain tendencies that you sometimes see that bug you and wish people would just stop doing? (I’m refraining from showing my grumpy old hag mode and avoiding the topic of .gifs here) Do you have different expectations depending on where the review is posted?