Finding My Style

Posted October 5, 2015 by Elizabeth in blogging, discussion/ 9 Comments

How I Found My Own Style for Book Reviews

Writing book reviews can be difficult, balancing the storyline with one’s opinions and excluding spoilers is often a sharp course to navigate. If it’s too gushingly positive I worry about the hype and disappointing someone who chooses to read it based on my review. If it’s too negative I might give the impression of being a picky b*tch. (Which I am, but I don’t want you to know it!) And doesn’t it seem that books that have one problem actually have many? It’s difficult to determine if the things that bother me in a book will bother others enough that I shouldn’t recommend it, so if I really was annoyed and wouldn’t pick up anything else by the author I write something polite about the problem and  give the qualifier, “It’s not for me, but.” When I am looking for new books for myself, there are about ten blogs I read where the blogger and I have very similar taste, so I rely on them, even if the review is extra gushy or negative.a window opens book cover

Like most people, I don’t want my reviews to look and sound like everyone else’s. Many people are using the Ultimate Book Blogger plug-in which is great, but can make your review posts look the same as those at other blogs. I often revise the synopsis, cutting out spoilers or comparisons to other books and authors the publisher thinks are similar. I also played around with the layout of the basic book info to fit it into the smallest possible space instead of being one long column. I also don’t do stars or other forms of ratings like most reviewers and I try to have images that enhance the story to give readers a stronger vibe on the book.

Doing Some Research

After reading Mishma’s post about discovering her reviewing style at Chasing Faerytales, I started really reading reviews critically, not just as a source of possible books to read. I also looked for posts about the process other bloggers went through for their reviews. Shannon from It Starts @ Midnight shared her process, which is very funny and similar to mine, but tends to not get a lot done.  She recommended a post by Kaitlin @ Reading is My Treasure, and I was able to get a few ideas from her. Brittany from Book Bumblings had a great post breaking down ideas for creative reviews, which gave me an idea. She suggests writing what she calls a “listicle” writing about “5 scenes that made me laugh” or “3 things I learned from this book.” I liked the idea of doing this with quotes from the book, and since I was now highlighting and taking notes thanks to Kaitlin I often had a lot of thoughtful passages to share without giving away spoilers.The Evil Overlord has found her style for book reviews. Have you? Come by & pick up some ideas. Click To Tweet

sweet forgivenessI didn’t realize when I wrote my review of  Sweet Forgiveness by Lori Nielson Spielman that I had stumbled upon what would become my review style. Sometimes I write a lot of opinions and give a lot of story within the review and only have two quotes, and sometimes the entire post is quotes with brief explanations, like I did with Laura Dave’s Eight Hundred Grapes. Sharing quotes worked well with The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows because I didn’t want to give any spoilers but wanted to be sure my enjoyment of the book came across. The same with A Window Opens by Elizabeth Egan, there was so much in that book I didn’t want to give away.

Since that first quote-tastic review, 1/3 of my reviews have been choc-a-bloc with quotations. It doesn’t always work, especially with books that are formulaic like cosy mysteries, poorly written or that I just don’t like, but it’s nice to feel like I have discovered a way to make my reviews stand out a little bit, without rambling or giving away spoilers. So thanks to Kaitlin for her “listicle” idea which gave me the jumping off point I needed.

Do you have a certain way you like to structure your review posts? Why do you think it works well for you?
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9 responses to “Finding My Style

  1. This has given me such food for thought because my styles always differ according to the type of book and how it made me feel. Hm. Definitely things to think about here.

  2. My review style is still a work in progress. I find that I feel more comfortable reviewing older books than ARCs, because I’m not so worried about spoilers, and can go more in-depth about what I liked. However, I don’t necessarily think I go as in-depth as I used to now that I now review more than one book a week.

  3. I had a whole formula for writing my reviews, and it worked for me for a long time. Then I started thinking about my favorite reviews to read and so I changed my style. Now I try to just make it more like I am telling someone what I liked (or disliked) about a book. I always picture my daughter for this when I write. She gets it when I fangirl and can relate when I tell her I hate something. I do use stars because I am forced to rate things by Amazon and Goodreads anyways.
    Great post!

  4. My style changes a lot depending on the book and what all I have to say. I’m starting to add more quotes too. I’m also trying to break up long paragraphs of writing with quotes or lists or headlines.

  5. I always love the pictures you add to your reviews to help paint a picture. I think it depends on the book for me on how I review. When I have a tough time with one because I don’t have strong feelings I tend to do the Likes and Dislikes I have for the book. Ones I have more concrete feelings – good or bad – I tend to write a more traditional review.

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