Hi friends! I’m super excited to announce that I’m starting a new segment on my blog called “She Says, She Says”, where I’ll be discussing certain topics with other bloggers! Today I’m lucky to be joined by Angel from Angel Reads — one of my absolute favourite book bloggers — and we’ll be chatting a bit about the blogging basics. We talked on Angel’s blog earlier about how we started our blogs, which you can check out here, and for part two on my blog we’ll be discussing the importance of book reviews and how to write a great review!
Thanks so much for joining me, Angel! Let’s talk a bit about our reviewing styles first. For me, my reviewing style has changed quite a lot this year, in comparison to what I’d been doing up until 2017. I used to think that all my reviews had to be long and eloquent, explaining what I liked and disliked about a book without including much of my personality. But I found that I was getting tired of simply using this structure and I found myself falling into a blogging slump. So I decided that I would start reviewing my way. If I wanted to rant about a book, I would. If I wanted to fangirl and include gifs in my reviews, I would. If I simply wanted to use the themes in a book as the basis for a discussion, I would. Realising that I had the freedom to change my reviewing style has made me fall in love with blogging all over again. How do you usually review books on your blog, Angel? Do you have a specific style or format that you follow?
Hey everyone, hope that everyone is well. Thank you Sarah for letting me join you here. I have to say I really enjoy your reviews and how you don’t just talk about the book, but bring other elements into the review. There is no real format to my reviews, it all really depends on the book. But there a few basic elements I talk about. I give a quick recap of the book, not enough for spoilers, but my own little synopsis. I then go into the protagonist and talk a little bit about them, how I feel, if I connected with them. I do this again if there is more than one protagonist. And then I talk about themes that might come up in the book; romance, friendship, family and so on. I also try and talk about the plot and writing style. Giving an overview with what I think. Then finally a quick paragraph of my overall feeling of the book. And that is about it. One hint that I would give with blogging is not to summarise the book, give your readers your thoughts, your feelings.
I completely agree. You know, my first review was one that gave a summary of the book and then I just wrote ‘I really liked this book’. It was terrible! Thank goodness I started following other blogs and seeing how they did their reviews. That’s another great tip — follow other blogs and talk to other reviewers. Everyone in the blogging community is really friendly and are always happy to help out. After first starting out, my book reviews began to grow in size and naturally, my writing got a lot better as I progressed. I went from writing one line about a book — whether I liked it and would recommend it or not — to critiquing it and sharing my thoughts on a wide array of elements. Do you think your reviewing style has changed much over the years?
I am pretty sure that is how mine starting out. I just talked about the book, more than what I liked or disliked about the book and why. A lot has changed – my writing style for one. I go back to some of my first reviews and want to cry – but it’s the same with my writing. When I look at things that I wrote when I was in year, compared to now – wow what a difference. Along with my writing changing, the way that I think has changed a lot since I was 15. And that has a lot of influence on the way that I write. The way that I set out my reviews also change over time, right now I am loving including aesthetics in my reviews, but sometimes it’s quote. What is your favourite thing to see in a review? What don’t you like seeing?
Ooh, interesting question! I think that my favourite thing to see in a review is the blogger’s personality. I love getting to know someone through what they say in their posts and how their personality comes across. If you want to see someone who I think does this really well, I recommend checking out Cait’s blog — Paper Fury! So for me, my favourite thing to see is you being yourself in a review or post. Fangirl, rant, write a scathing review… it doesn’t matter as long as you’re writing something you’re passionate about. My least favourite thing to see would definitely have to be reviews that are almost robotic in their lack of emotion. Reviews that just summarise the book and involve little to no personal input aren’t the type of reviews that I find interesting to read. So pour your heart out! Write why you loved a book, or why you hated it! Speaking of hating a book, how do you usually go about writing scathing reviews, Angel?
Yes defiantly agree about personally, I try and get mine across, don’t know if that works – but hey. Here is the thing, I hate writing reviews for books I don’t like. I don’t know what it is, but up until an hour or so ago, I didn’t write them. One of the main reasons I don’t write reviews of books I dislike or hate is because I don’t read many books like that. I have a very good incline about a book before I read it. I also do some research about the book before I pick it up. So that helps with not writing the review. However, If I do have to write the review – I try and be as nice as I can, unless I really hate it. What is one thing that you think should be included in a review?
Fair enough! I usually scope Goodreads before I pick something up, but even if a synopsis sounds interesting, there’s always a chance I won’t enjoy it or it won’t be my thing. I’m often unafraid to write scathing reviews and I actually find them really therapeutic! I’m strange like that. If there’s one thing that should be included in a review, it’s your honest opinion. I don’t care if your best friend hated a book or if a publisher sent you their most anticipated read of the year — if you’re not honest in your review, there’s little point to writing it at all. Reviewing is meant to help potential readers decide if the book you’ve written about is worth picking up and even if your opinion is thought to be an unpopular one, that’s okay. Don’t try to be someone your not, because your opinion is just as valid and important as every other blogger’s. If you had to pick your favourite review you’ve written, which one would you choose and why?
Totally understandable. And totally agree if someone is not honest why are they writing reviews. People read reviews to hear about a book, to decide if they should read the book and if the person isn’t honest – it’s just not right. I think I am stuck on two reviews from this year that I simply adore. And they would have to be my The Hate U Give and Strange the Dreamer review. I love both of these reviews so much because I think they express how much love I have for these books, and the impact that they have made. What is one of your favourite reviews and why?
I love both of those reviews you’ve written! It’s so rewarding to write about books you love, even if I struggle to find the right words to describe my love for a book sometimes. My favourite review I’ve written is probably my discussion surrounding Our Own Private Universe, which is one I loved writing because I got to discuss bisexuality in YA fiction and how I was able to relate to the characters in that novel so closely. My other favourite posts include When Love Cures Mental Illness and The “Gay Best Friend” Trope. Writing discussions on topics I’m passionate about is always really enjoyable, and I think that definitely comes across in my writing.
Well, thanks so much for joining me, Angel! I loved hearing all about how you review books and what you think is most important in a review. Don’t forget to check out what we wrote on Angel’s blog, and we’re looking forward to writing more posts like this one in the future!
Thank you so much for having me here Sarah, it’s been a great talking with you. And yes I loved hearing how you write your reviews.
What’s your ultimate tip for how to write a great book review? What do you think is the most important thing to consider? Link me to your favourite book review and I’ll leave you a nice comment on your blog!
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