The Pub Corner: The Art of Reviewing (discussion post)

Hello! It turns out the Orenda Month had a bigger impact on me than I thought and I did not feel like writing… Until today! Instead of a review, I wanted to grab a glass and chat about what I call the Art of Reviewing, or how we blogger put our hearts and souls into a demanding exercise!

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When I started blogging, I only had a vague idea of what reviewing was. I had read a few posts in which readers were sharing their thoughts but couldn’t figure out what it really took and how to do it right. You only need to go back to my first reviews to see I had no experience (don’t go and check, please, it’s really bad!) and I felt as though it should be as painful and boring as an high school essay. Still, I wanted to write, so I was ready to sweat and tire my fingers until nice looking posts appeared on my screen.

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One year later, I no longer suffer. Reviews have become a way to be creative and to set my emotions free after every reading experience. Yes, I still get stuck staring at a blank page, eating too much chocolate in the hope it magically triggers something in my brain and inspired words type themselves. I found a format I like, I love to experiment and match the review to its book, I take the time I need and the pressure is (mostly) gone. I have learned from reading thousands of reviews, and writing dozens of them. I don’t pretend I mastered the art, but I’m comfortable with it and there’s no better feeling!

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Things I have learned after a year and three months of writing reviews-Things I have learned after a year and three months of writing reviews-.png


The blog-changing lesson is over, but it brings me to a particular subject I discussed with an author friend of mine (I sound very cool saying this, right?) I love reading reviews but after coming across a few “special” ones, I started thinking about what made a good review, or better, what made a useful review, because there are a hundred different definitions of “good”, aren’t they?

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Remember when I said there was no “right” way to review a story? I truly believe it. Two sentences or a three-page essay, both are okay as long as it is sincere and without grammar errors.

But can we really say whatever we want the way we want it? Take spoilers for instance. Should reviews include them or steer clear from them? What about criticism? Are we allowed to disagree and say it? How do you tell an author you think his story is a disaster?

I don’t think there is a set of rules carved in marble that you must follow, but I do feel a guideline is handy to make a review useful for both the reviewer and the author. Everyone is different but here are the “rules” I follow to make sure the reviews I write fit what I expect from them.

#1 Say it but say it right

Lists, long reviews, gif reviews, I choose! But there is one thing they have in common. Respect.

You did not like the story? It’s fine. You hated the characters? No problem. You found the writing dull? Why not. You are allowed to say all of this if that is what you think. But you can’t just shoot negative points at the author or publisher as if you were throwing your dirty laundry into the washing machine’s belly. There is a way to say you did not like something.

“The writing sucks so bad, the author shouldn’t call themselves a writer. They should hide into their basement and never leave again. It’s all stupid, an elementary school kid could have written better.”

“The plot was so shitty I wanted to use the book to rekindle the fire.”

Okay, you made yourself very clear. Too clear. I apologize if you feel those comments weren’t so bad, it’s not a habit of mine to shoot at writers.

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Attacking a writer won’t benefit anyone. Reviews are made so that other readers can know what to expect, and writers can understand what their strong and weak points are. If you feel the need to use violent statements to make your case, then you miss the whole point of the exercise.

#2 No spoilers.

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I hate spoilers in reviews and I do my best to avoid them, which results in my being so vague you guys probably have no idea what I’m talking about sometimes, haha! I barely touch plots, as you can never really mention them without giving away hints that ruins the reading experience for the next person. I focus on how said plots have made me feel, but I don’t discuss them. Discussing plots in details are what comments are for! I always appreciate when a reviewer mentions if there are any spoilers in their reviews, thanks guys, you rock!

#3 Justify.

I hated the book? Okay, but saying it isn’t enough for you to have a clear view on the story! You deserve to know why it did not work for me, and I deserve to vent and be angry and rant! After all, I spent hours on this book!

But whatever point I make, I try my best to find examples and make a true case about what went wrong. “I couldn’t connect to the main character as her whining prevented me from enjoying the plot.” “There were too many typos and grammar errors for me to finish this book. You’re and your are different. There are only so many times you can handle this mistake in a chapter.” I am guilty of being part of the grammar army, despite my own grammar mistakes (this is the only case where I use the excuse of not being a native speaker :p )

When I say I like something, I like to pinpoint exactly what made it so good for me. That is where I allow myself small details, a reference to a character, a couple of quotes to let the author know just what they did to me. If I did not like a story, I find it useful to take examples of what left me unmoved and cold.

#4 Leave the ending to those who are brave enough to get there on their own!

I never say anything more than “I liked the ending” / “the last chapters left me speechless” / “ It was a let down” /
Feelings again instead of concrete descriptions of what happens. Some people like to jump to the last chapters to see how it ends. It’s totally fine, but it should be your decision. I don’t want to read about the ending of a book in a review. To me, it is a means of deciding whether or not a book deserves my attention and time. If you tell me how it ends, why should I even bother read the damn book?

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#5 Honesty.

You received a book for review from an author or a publisher, congratulations!! You can make a happy dance and devour the book, you deserve it. I have smiled every time it has happened to me. I still do. I probably always will. I never take ARCs for granted and I know how lucky I am.
But receiving a book doesn’t mean selling your opinion. Receiving a book is an engagement to read and try to connect to a story and its characters. Receiving a book means you take it as it is, you experience it, and you report on it. Nothing more. Just like you did for 50 Shades of Grey. You don’t owe the author or publisher a raving review because you got the story for free. You owe them to be honest and to express your feelings, just like in therapy.

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Those are the points I always make sure to find in my reviews. If one is missing, I go back and rewrite. I rewrite until I can be satisfied and present a fair and respectful review, hopefully with plenty of fangirling moments, or big fat rants (those are easier to write!)

And after this very long post, you now probably think…

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Do you have rules when you review? Do you disagree with any of the points I made? Let me know all about your review routine!

96 thoughts on “The Pub Corner: The Art of Reviewing (discussion post)

    • You have been doing this forever 🙂 I don’t know how you do it! Your reviews feel so fresh and interesting! 🙂 I think that’s why I sometimes play with the format, to avoid falling into a pattern and become boring.

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    • I had been waiting forever to use that gif xD
      I don’t when it happened, but suddenly all the pressure I was putting on myself to make sure my reviews would be interesting and pleasing disappeared overnight. Now, I only feel I need to be satisfied with them to share, and see what happens! So much easier!!

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    • Oh no! I hope this helps you kick the syndrome away! When it happened to me, I came up with the Quickies, shorter reviews, just to get the words flowing again 🙂 Good luck!!! xxx

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    • Thank you! I came across a few reviews I disagreed with and which were full of spoilers and disrespectful comments so I felt the need to think and talk about it 🙂 xx

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  1. I try to do all the things you’ve mentioned. I try be respectful when I review at least. I might tell a bit about the plot because I like reading about plot myself in reviews but I try not to give spoilers either. I do feel kind of guilty if I receive a book and I don’t like it all that much but I won’t write a raving review because of that (I usually don’t tag the author then ;-)). I’m happy you’ve really found your way around writing reviews, I still struggle sometimes but as you said, it’s my personal opinion and the most important thing is getting my point across that I liked it or not. Great discussion post. Now I am curious who your author friend is with whom you’ve discussed this ;-).

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    • Your reviews are always well thought-out, fair and respectful, they are a delight to read 🙂 And I never swore at one of your pages for a case of spoilers, haha! I also feel guilty when I review a book I received and it was not a big success. It is always a bit more difficult than when you dislike a book you bought yourself. I feel I need to be extra careful when that happens, and the balance between honesty and fairness is needed!
      I still struggle, but mostly at the start, and too often because of a vocabulary issue, but I’m relieved the exercise has become a joy, and not something I lose sleep over, wondering if it’s good enough.
      Haha, a smutty writer!

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  2. I meant to leave a comment, but I was reading this on my phone earlier and hate writing on the teensy-weensy keyboard.
    You are very wise about reviewing. We can’t like all the books, but it would be unfair to other readers to gush about all of them. Sometimes we can choose not to review them at all if we don’t like them and stop reading them. But there’s no need to give negative, unmotivated reviews. It’s much easier to be cruel than kind, but it’s just one person’s opinion and very often what doesn’t work for me will work very well for others.

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    • Me too! My fingers always disobey when I comment on my phone, and then I’m ashamed of what’s published!
      I don’t mind writing negative reviews as long as they are constructed and not only meant to hurt the book or author. I never review a book I give up on, but I can post to let my friends know what did not work for me. I very often have a different opinion than the majority, so I know all about the importance to remember one review is only one opinion. Thank you for taking the time to chime in!

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  3. I love this post! There really are like a gazillion ways to review a book, but you are right, there are certain aspects that should always be considered. I don’t necessarily agree on the spoiler part, because as long as it’s clearly marked or hidden and only for those who have read it as well, I am totally okay with it. I often read reviews for books I have already at home only after I read the book, so I quite enjoy talking about certain parts of the story that might be spoilery.

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  4. OK, let’s leave bad grammar out of the equation, some of us suck at grammar, but it doesn’t make us bad reviewers!😂

    Other than that, great post, there’s no set way or rule to review and there shouldn’t be, a review is personal to the person reviewing.

    I hate spoilers, vile things, that’s why I only skirt over the plot in my reviews, you don’t need to know all the story, a book is a journey that the reader undertakes. Same for the ending, completely agree with you there, don’t want in-depth analysis of the ending in a review, it’s something that you need to experience for yourself.

    Very true about ARC’s, there’s people out there who reviews praising books that are bad just to get free books, nah, honesty people, honesty.

    Also agree about justifying what you’ve wrote, especially when it’s negative, you can’t just say it’s crap, we want to know why.

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    • 😂😂 Marchie the Bad Grammar Terror!
      I wrote this because I saw a few reviews written with lots of spoilers, no consideration for the author, and absolutely no justification for their complaints and I thought it was unfair to us, regular reviewers, who don’t have rules per se but do follow a common sense guideline to make the best of the reading experience we have. Spoilers are evil!!!

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  5. It’s always a nice change to read bookish thoughts on your page. These are the types of posts I will be aiming to write rather than always reviews. ( just need ideas). I really enjoyed reading this and I agree with you totally. I hate reading spoilers though haven’t found that many luckily. I find when I read amazing books with amazing ends, I struggle to put into words how and why it was so great except for saying ‘wow that ending’. But as you say, there are many ways to write reviews and all are good ( mostly). 😉.
    I think this post will be very helpful to newer bloggers. I think the most important points you’ve made are that are reviews should be fair and respectful. No need to be rude to any authors. And writing them should be enjoyable not stressy.
    One point I struggle on is when I am given books by Authors that I don’t like so much. I find these reviews really hard to write, luckily there haven’t been that many as now I am very picky about which books I accept to review.
    Great and thoughtful post.
    Amanda.

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    • I am so pleased you enjoy those posts 🙂 I don’t often have ideas so I was really excited to share this with everyone. The post came to me yesterday and was written in twenty minutes, it was pure fun, and I could only hope you’d be interested in the subject too 🙂 Ideas… When I see all those fantastic discussion posts around, I wonder how bloggers get so many great ideas! I think the more I try to find one, the less it happens, so I just wait until something clicks in my head 🙂
      This was written because I noticed a few reviews which were disrespectful and made me uncomfortable as a reviewer and blogger, as most of us follow common sense to write proper reviews. Maybe some of those reviews came from inexperienced reviewers, that is why I decided to make this simple list, and I was curious about how everyone decides on what to add to their review.
      The reviews requested by authors are the worst when you don’t really enjoy the story. I have found myself worried sick about what to write. Fortunately, it doesn’t happen too often.
      Thank you so much for taking part in the discussion! xx

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  6. Love this post Donna and it couldn’t have come at a better time for me! I’ve been having a little bit of review writing block, not quite burnout but I’m finding myself not feeling like writing reviews lately and I don’t know why. I suspect it’s because I spend entirely to much time writing them. I like your comment about writing short, quickies to get things flowing again…I think that’s what I need to do. I completely agree with all your points. Thank you for reminding me I need to get back to Suits and Harvey…I haven’t watched since mid season 4😬

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    • I’d love it if this post could help you in any way! 🙂 I have been through the writing block a couple of times, it’s so frustrating when the words won’t come to you! *hugs* I felt a bit worn out after Orenda Month and only wrote my latest review today! It had been 15 days, I feel rusty, haha! The time we devote to reviews is so big that sometimes you just can’t muster the strength to get to it or the fact that you know it’ll take you that long acts like a shield between you and the words! I just spent one hour on my review of Exquisite, and I can’t say if I’m happy with it yet. My problem is I often like what I write but I wonder if it is useful at all as I ramble a lot!
      Quickies really helped me when I was stuck with reviews, as well as the Lazy Saturday reviews, with a timer set to 30 minutes!
      Go back to Suits!! 😀 Some episodes are better than others, especially in the latter seasons, but I love those characters so much I’m ready to accept bad episodes!

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      • I LOVE the idea of setting a timer to 30 min and just writing a shorter review and being done!! Your reviews don’t ramble, they’re super entertaining and you always have useful thoughts about the story. I’m also taking a blog tour break which I think will help as well. Thanks for the advice:)

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        • The idea isn’t mine, I stole it to Lipsy :p Her Lazy Reviews have been a life saver when I did not have the energy to commit to a full review! Aw thanks ❤ I feel I'm not truly saying anything at all, which makes me laugh but isn't so useful xD I'm glad you find them interesting enough!! Yeah, blog tours add pressure, the break is a good idea! xx

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  7. Very well said! I too use reviews to release my thoughts and emotions after a book. Sometimes that’s hard to do when there are so many emotions and you don’t want to spoil the book for everyone! LOL But the point where you mentioned negative reviews was spot on. Everyone is allowed to not like a book. But state your reason why!! Don’t just slam the author and point blank say you didn’t like it. I need to know WHY. That author put their heart and soul into that book so slamming them isn’t fair. Also, just because you didn’t like it, doesn’t mean that the next person won’t love it!

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    • Haha, yes! You have all those emotions triggered by specific things in the book but you just can’t say a thing about them and it’s so hard!! I really don’t like ranting reviews based on thin air. “It was shit” is not a review, it’s a personal statement you make with anything to convince me you’re right!! I’m not asking for university essays, I just need reasons, put in simple words!
      Thank you for commenting! 🙂

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  8. Fantastic post , Glad to know I am not the only one who writes down new fancy words they see on others blog /book and make a mental note to use some of them in future

    I think , i may have been guilty of not respecting a few authors and i realise that if i have done so ,than its a very shitty thing to do on my part , I may have to re check my old post and see if i have done so and make sure i never do it again

    Also i have to disagree with the point about the ending. I have felt many a book have actually had some of the best endings and some of those endings are what make a book great or worst for me . I do stay away from spoilers but considering that some endings have a huge impact on my final feelings about a book , it’s justifies me writing about those endings without giving away spoilers

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    • Thank you!
      Haha, you’re definitely not alone, I find my beautiful words in others’ reviews!!
      Well, if you did not intend to be disrespectful, or if you feel like there’s something you’d like to do differently now, it’s a good thing, we learn from our mistakes 🙂 It can be difficult to balance our views and feelings sometimes to avoid hurting people.
      I agree on the ending, I remember mentioning the ending of The Stepmother as being a real letdown to me after such a great story, and I gave the OMG Twist Award to the ending of My Husband’s Son. It’s okay to mention your feelings for me, as long as I never come across reviews that give me what said ending exactly consists of!
      Thank you for your comment!

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  9. I so agree with all of your points, but especially on the “no spoilers” in reviews. There’s nothing worse than reading a review for a book you’re interested in where the reviewer reveals a major plot point or spills the beans about romantic connections in the story.

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    • It’s the worst, right? I never saw reviews as a deep analysis of a book, so I don’t see the point in revealing big twists! If I want to discuss a particular interesting plot or twist or whatever, I can make a separate post!

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  10. Great post! I’ve been finding sometimes that I feel like my reviews get repetitive in what I’m saying, I’ve been playing about with how I structure the posts and thats helped a little 🙂

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  11. As an author and reader who likes to review, I think you have to tell it as you see it. The only thing I can add to your list is that I like to think about my reviews for a few days before writing them, but you guys read so many books, I guess it’s not that simple.

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    • At first, I took some times after reading a book before I could write anything about it, but now with the numbers of book I eat, I need to have the story fresh in my mind to fully convey my feelings 🙂 Although when a story has moved me in a particular way, it can take me up to two weeks to manage to jot down anything!

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  12. Consider me a regular at your Pub Corner.. 🙂 Loved this post and gave me plenty of food for thought, something to keep in mind as I write my future reviews and a bit of panic to try and think back how many of YOUR rules have I broken 😀 hahaha… great, balanced post and helpful for newbs as well as pro book bloggers 🙂

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    • Yay, my first regular! You get privileges! 😀
      Hahahah, rules are made to be broken, they say! I love your reviews and I don’t think I’ever complained about them, they’re too awesome for the rules :p
      Thank you 🙂 It was weird to write this as I thought I did not have enough background to do so, but it felt important and let’s be honest, it was really fun to do!

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  13. Great post my sweechie! Also, if I remember right, I wrote a blog post about reviews a while ago – like a year or so haha, and I think it was titled the art of talking about books or something, so seeing your post’s title made me smile so big. I love how we consider this an art. IT REALLY IS.
    I read reviews both before and after I read a book, so I’m not okay with spoilers just being there unannounced, it ruins everything but if they are announced and / or hidden from plain view I guess that’s okay for me 🙂

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    • OMG I did not remember, I’ll have to go check your post!!!! I’m sorry! But kindred spirits ❤ Yep, it's definitely an art, we put so much of ourselves into our blogs and reviews that the task takes a whole new meaning 🙂
      I always appreciate when the spoilers are announced, as like you, I read reviews of books I've read and have yet to read, and it's so frustrating when you learn about a big twist in a review!!!

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      • Haha oh no no no, no need to apologize AT ALL my Sweechie! It made me smile because it feels like we share a brain here haha 😀 Also, I wrote that post ages ago, I don’t even remember hahaha.
        Oh yes, I hate when that happens. I always read carefully every review and everything because I’m scared of spoilers, and SO MAD whenever I accidentally read one – kind of ruins the book at times :/

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  14. This is a great post Donna, and I’d love to see more like this as well. I’ll admit I didn’t really struggle with reviews when I first starting this blog, but seeing as I had three other blogs before this one I kind of had the whole reviewing thing down already. 🙂
    I definitely agree with all the points you made. Even when I hated a book I never attack the author, publisher, fans, etc. Just because I didn’t like a book doesn’t mean the author didn’t work really hard to write it, and doesn’t mean there aren’t people out there who loved it. Also I agree about spoilers too. I always puts warnings at the beginning of my reviews when there could be spoilers because I’d never want to ruin a book for someone, especially if it’s one they’d love otherwise you know?
    Again great post! 😀 ❤

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    • Thanks so much, Beth! ❤ I'm trying to branch out and I was lucky to have an idea which lead to a post written so fast it took me by surprise!!
      Exactly! You can only pinpoint the things that did not work for you backed up with reasons without attacking the person behind the story. I was thinking maybe extremely controversial or racist books would be different, but I don't see myself publishing anything disrespectful, even if the author actually is a twat with a wrong message, haha! I love you for the spoiler warnings! 🙂 xx

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      • That’s all right, and hey it’s great to branch out, even better when you have an idea that pretty much writes itself! 🙂
        Yep, not everyone is going to love every story but every story you don’t love some else is going to. You don’t want to hurt people just because you’re disappointed with how a book turned out. I guess controversial books can be different, but there’s got to be a way to write reviews without attacking anyone at the same time!
        Good to hear! 😀 ❤

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  15. Great post, and I agree with all your points. I do include spoilers when I review classics, because so many people have read them, and I find that what people want with them is not so much a recommendation (who hasn’t already heard of Pride and Prejudice??) but a discussion about why we love it, or don’t. I do mention at the beginning that my review will be spoilerish though. But for new releases or recent books, I think people who give away spoilers should be banned from eating chocolate for a year!!

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    • Classics are different… I don’t read them mouhahaha! I agree that even though I’ve never read Pride and Prejudice, I’ve heard enough of it to not be bothered by “spoilers”. EXACTLY! No chocolate and no tea!!!

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  16. Great post! I agree with your points! I tend not to write negative reviews these days, mainly due to the fact that I know my tastes and stick well with them these days and will just give up on a book I don’t like. When I first started blogging I would try and force my way through it…not so much now. I always find the first paragraph the hardest! I usually start with the middle of the review and go back to it to save staring at a blank page!

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    • Thank you! 🙂 I sometimes write negative reviews because I decided to step out of my comfort zone a lot more recently, but I find them easy to write as long as I remember those rules 🙂
      The beginning is ALWAYS the hardest! I also struggle with the very last line! 🙂

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  17. Great post Donna!! Well said!! I agree with all five points. I try to to stick to these “rules” but my problem is actually coming up with what to say about a book. I have the hardest time writing reviews because of this and they always end up being really short.

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  18. Oh my gosh Twin Pea! I have so much respect and love for this post ❤ It is no wonder we have found one another! This is one of my very favorite discussion posts of late.

    I laughed because I also cringe when I look back at my earliest reviews. I hate the formatting, everything. I sound almost silly because I felt so uncertain. But it is amazing to see just how much more comfortable I have become over the months. It is a more relaxed and natural process at this point for sure!

    Fun! Fun! Fun! This is such a crucial element to blogging and reviewing. This is a hobby, so without the enjoyment.. what would be the point? Could not agree more on this.

    Definitely giving a huge thumbs up regarding number 2 here! I have literally seen posts from bloggers telling other bloggers how they should be writing their reviews and I could not disagree more when I see that! Reviewing should be an individualized processes that mirrors the readers own personal thoughts and personalities. There is not "correct" template. Thank you for pointing this out 🙂

    Respect and honesty first and foremost. Always be true to your thoughts and ALWAYS remember we are reviewing books not the authors. I will instantly stop following someone if I feel they are attacking and author maliciously or unfairly. Big no no with me.

    And lastly.. those dirty spoilers. I detest them and do not believe in them. But if you include them for the sake of discussion and have the decency to forewarn, then we are all good 😉

    Love this post! Sorry for rambling!

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    • NEVER BE SORRY TO RAMBLE I LOVE IT WHEN YOU TALK TO ME! 😀

      I’m so so so happy you like this post! I stumbled across a few reviews I felt were “wrong” because they were disrespectful, spoilerish and just weird, and I thought “why not try and discuss it!” I’m still uncomfortable with discussion posts as I fear no one will be interested in what I have to say xD But you’re here ❤

      It's crazy, right? The more "work" we put into our reviews and blogs; the more it becomes second nature and we can use it as a stress-relief and enjoyable tool instead of freaking out at every review! 🙂
      I did not know for so long that reviewing should be fun that now I feel so free and happy about writing them, even when words don't come and it's tricky, I just leave and come back to it later. Reviews are our friends!
      I feel each of my review is a part of me, so I can't go and say reviewing is like cooking, you follow the same recipe as everyone else and it works, because it doesn't!
      Love you! Thanks so so so much for everything ❤

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  19. Brilliant post, Donna.

    Reviews are definitely what I struggle with the most because I can never seem to get the thoughts in my head to make sense when I start typing 😂 I used to feel insecure because everyone would always write so eloquently and I’d be over here like “well, this book was good!!!” haha. I’m slowly learning to be easier on myself now though. A lot of times I’ll just write list reviews because my brain works better that way 😀

    Loved all the tips you mentioned and I’ll definitely be keeping them in mind ♥

    Also, your English is AMAZING.

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    • Thank you! ❤
      Hahaha, I vomit all thoughts on my page and then see if I can make it pretty xD I still feel insecure, which is silly because usually I'm happy with my work but I still fear the judgement of others and I don't want to disappoint the authors and publishers when it's a blog tour. But I keep repeating to myself that as long as I'm satisfied, it's okay 🙂
      THANK YOUUUUUU! That's so sweet! I feel more confident about my English since I started blogging and therefore using the language daily, but I'm still so frustrated by all the work I still need to do to improve!

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  20. Great post Donna and I agree with you on all the five points. When I first started blogging, I used to post spoilers because I was using the NY Times and Guardian review formats which basically gives a summary of the plot and reader’s opinion at the end. Now I cringe when I read those reviews. They were terrible. I try to stay away from spoilers now. I like what you said about being respectful. I usually write reviews with the thought that the author may read them. Doesn’t add anything to a post to put down someone because you didn’t like their book.

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    • Haha, going back to our old writings is a terrible idea!!! I think the respect is my number 1 rule. If it were me, I would like people to be honest, but not brutal or attacking me. It takes so much to put your work out there, there’s no need to shoot the writer!

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  21. 1.) At least 300 words in the body of the review itself. (Good SEO practice.)
    2.) No stating the plot of the book (or rehashing the synopsis) with a few adjectives thrown in and calling it a review. (I’ve had books spoiled for me this way and HATE IT.)
    3.) Touch on plot, dialogue, pacing, believability of characters.
    4.) Hit up friends like you when I know I’m being uber b*tchy to help me scale it back.

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  22. You have a great set of rules for yourself. I’ve had some practice in critiquing writing since I was a creative writing major, so I think that helped me be able to go into negative critiques without outright insulting authors, which is not okay; that’s definitely something that needs to be a universal thing. The point is to review the book, not be offensive. I am also a no-spoilers person, which makes reviewing some books super difficult, but it’s a good writing exercise and I really don’t like the idea of spoiling it for someone else.

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    • I don’t understand what drives reviewers to attack the person behind a story. Books are awesome things to discuss, but should never used to bash somebody. The non-spoiler part is so difficult, especially for my favorite genre, psychological thrillers, as you can barely say anything about the plot!

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  23. Read this post yesterday but didn’t have time to comment! I simply try to write about what I’d like to know when choosing a book. A bit of what it’s about, the genre, the writing, the connection and if it has a good ending!

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  24. Excellent post! First of all, I don’t think there is such thing as eating too much chocolate. 😉 And yes, I definitely agree with everything you mentioned above. Writing should be fun and everyone has their own way of reviewing books… When I first started blogging, I tried many different things (like long complciated essays for example), but they just weren’t ‘me’. I mostly talk about emotions and superficial details rather than a complicated literary analysis… And honesty is definitely a key element. Like you said, it’s an honor to receive ARCs and I know how much time goes into a story, but I won’t lie in a review if I don’t like the story. I actually have a draft sitting around about negative reviews right now. 😉 Because like you said negative doesn’t mean disrespectful, and I always try to explain why I didn’t like a story… But I’ve had it happen that authors were upset/angry and wanted me to change or delete a review for not being 4/5 stars, and that is definitely NOT ok either.

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    • Thank you lovely ❤
      I think the most important thing about book blogging is the fun and finding your own voice. Books can be talked about in so many different ways because each reader is different and we all have something to add to it. I've never had the experience of having issues with an author about a negative review (yet!) but it's not okay. Just because we agree to read a story doesn't mean we owe the author anything except our honest view!
      Thank you for that awesome comment! xx

      Liked by 1 person

      • My thoughts exactly! And lucky you for not having that experience… It only happened to my twice before (although just the one was that extreme), but it is without doubt annoying… It has definitely made me more hesitant to accept some books, especially since some expect me to promote their books all the time, give 5 star ratings etc. Like you said, even though it’s obvious they spend a lot of work on their stories, we really only owe them our honest opinion! Your post actually inspired me to try and finish my own post about negative reviews this month. 😉 ❤

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  25. What a terrific post! I am completely with you on not wishing anyone visiting my blog to go and hunt out my early reviews (ouch!) and I love the fact you don’t give spoilers. I’ve had a couple of reviews that did just that and it’s been hard to grit my teeth and take it. The reviews of yours I’ve seen so far have been well-balanced and thoughtful, noting the good and less good, what more could any author want 🙂 Oh, and I also didn’t realise you weren’t a native English speaker 🙂

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    • And what a wonderful comment! 🙂 Thank you 🙂 I’m really pleased my Frenchiness doesn’t show on the blog! I’m proud to be French but I like my English too much to want to ruin it with my accent, either in speaking or writing, haha!
      I think everyone’s firsts reviews are experiments, and we should never go back, for everyone’s sake! Thank you so much for your sweet words about my reviews, I have learned to like the exercise and I no longer fear them, which makes it easier!

      Liked by 1 person

  26. I really enjoyed this post, especially “But receiving a book doesn’t mean selling your opinion. Receiving a book means you take it as it is, you experience it, and you report on it. Nothing more. Just like you did for 50 Shades of Grey. You don’t owe the author or publisher a raving review because you got the story for free. You owe them to be honest and to express your feelings, just like in therapy.”
    My thoughts on this subject are expressed further here:
    https://fictionophile.wordpress.com/2017/02/06/objectivity-in-book-reviews-can-you-be-honest-and-objective/

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  27. I LOVE THIS POST!! I agree with you so much- there’s no “right way” to review- and I always love the fact that you mix it up to try and tailor your review to the specific book- it makes it so much better and more interesting to read!! And yes, I agree with you about not taking pot shots at authors (no need to get personal!!) or publishers (that’s just wrong on so many levels- they publish books!!) I know my negative reviews can be a little harsh on the book at times, but I hope I never have crossed that line of attacking people. I’m the same about spoilers- I don’t like to read them and I don’t like to write them- but if it is ever necessary there will be a big fat juicy spoiler warning. Haha *high five* for being a part of the grammar army!! We’ve got to stick together 😉

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    • THANK YOU, THIS POST AND I LOVE YOU TOO 😀
      I got tired after reading a couple of things saying there was only ONE right way to review. I mean, I hate The Guardian’s, and I definitely prefer my way! I don’t review to discuss the entire book, I review to share feelings and inform others of what I thought! I’m not one for long essays torturing every word of a story and attacking the person behind it. You’ve never crossed the line and your reviews are so informative, interesting and so good and fun!
      Haha, yay for the grammar army! Although I feel I shouldn’t be allowed in it because I sometimes let a mistake or two around!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • YOU’RE WELCOME!!! 😀 Oh absolutely- not a fan of the guardian in general, so I doubt I’d agree with them on that 😉 Yes absolutely- it’s why I don’t enjoy stuffy reviews in newspapers and magazines- I want to hear what people thought about the book and how it made them feel!! Ah thank you very much- I’m glad- cos of course I do worry about that (and everything else 😉 )
        Haha doesn’t everyone? The grammar army welcomes all members! 😉 It’s more about preserving the sanctity that is grammar than never making a mistake (or something… that sounded somewhat profound, didn’t it? 😉 )

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  28. Fantastic post, Donna 💕
    I agree with everything you’ve said, but specifically the part where you have to be respectful towards the author. Also you most definitely have to give a reason as to why you didn’t like something in a book, you can’t just say I didn’t like it. I absolutely hate reviews that include spoilers, especially if they didn’t add a spoiler warning. If I do intend to post a spoiler, I always post a warning 😊

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    • Thank you so much! ❤
      I am ashamed when I see people who claim to "review" bash an author and destroy a story with no justification but plenty of spoilers. That is not the work of someone cares as much as we do about books.

      Like

  29. Brilliant and complete post, Donna! Can’t believe there’s no Donna gifs in this though!!! 😛 I totally agree with everything you’ve said though. I strongly believe honesty is the best way to go with any and all reviews. You got to stay true to yourself in life. I also always enjoy reading your reviews as they ALWAYS have a piece of your OWN personality in it. No review will every be the same, and that’s why they are so amazing and interesting! Once again, awesome discussion post! 😀

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    • I know, it’s crazy but I thought there was enough Donna in this and that it did not need another layer of awesomeness mouhahahah! Thank you SO MUCH! I try to match the reviews to the book, but most importantly, I want my reviews to have a piece of me 🙂 I don’t want to sound like an emotionless robot or a marketing genius, I just want my words and an honest interaction with others 🙂 THANK YOU ❤ Lots of love and chocolate for you!

      Liked by 1 person

  30. Pingback: Sunday Sum-Up – Books, Vertigo and Tea

  31. Great post! There’s definitely an art to reviewing – I rarely write reviews myself and am not very good at them, but I like reading well written, honest reviews. I appreciate it when reviewers do all the things you listed, especially avoiding spoilers… not only because it can ruin the book, but because I’m more interested in hearing how a reviewer felt about the book and what they found interesting, enjoyable, or annoying than exactly what happens in it (if I want to know the details of the plot I’ll read the book!). I also agree with you about saying it right, I won’t take a review seriously if it’s just made up of insults like in your example – not only is it disrespectful, it doesn’t really tell me anything about why they didn’t like it!

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    • I used to be terrible at writing reviews, but with practice comes … less terrible reviews, haha! I don’t understand spoilers in reviews, as reviews are made to make others want to read the book, not reveal what the story has to offer. I tolerate them when there’s a warning in the review, this way I can avoid the paragraph. I truly believe there’s a need for diplomacy in reviews, one cannot just throw attacks 🙂 Thank you so much for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

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