TSS - Book Reviews

Morning folks. I am fully rested after a long couple of weeks. My biggest goal this weekend was to relax and reduce my stress load. I think that I've accomplished it.

And while on this restful weekend splurge, I got to thinking about the structure of book reviews. Book bloggers each have their own cool formula and I know that I've mentioned before that I'd like to find a format that works for me, so this is s a wee bit redundant. It's just, I haven't found that niche yet and I guess I sorta expected I would already.

For instance, how do you feel about ratings? Do you rate books and if you do, do you use stars as your rating? How do you base your ratings? I have trouble rating a book because I figure that book ratings are in context. I might give a fun loving book a 4 (think Sookie Stackhouse books) but that doesn't mean it would compare to a classic which I rated a 4. This is where I think I overthink things? Anyways, I absolutely love how Trisha over at eclectic/eccentric. If you haven't checked her out, you should.

I think that I'm leaning toward rating my books, but more in a general abstract way. I'm playing with ____(verbage here)_____ it. So, it'd look something like: loved it, liked it, skip it, try it. Work in progress. We'll see.

And what about pictures of the books on the post? I *always* upload a picture of the front cover. I'm immediately caught up in the eye candy of a cover. I don't solely base my decision on the cover, mind you, but it is important to me. Deep down I think that's probably wrong because I don't think that the authors have an opportunity to decide on their covers. (Do they?) Obviously that's not fair but it's still a very real thing I (and many others?) do.

Summarize or not? Overall I summarize through my reaction to the book. I know many of you break up your summary and your thoughts but they go so hand in hand with me, it's easier if I don't. I wonder if this is bothersome. In the beginning I (think?) separated my review from the summary. That quickly fell to the wayside. I hate summarizing. I don't think I do it very well (so do I hate it because I don't do it well or vice versa? Who knows?) I teach my students to write as if the audience is stupid. Because they think it is funny (But Miss! You're our audience, heehee) they tend to remember that their audience has not always read what they are talking about. That's what I figure summaries are - assuming the audience has no clue and you're generalizing to catch them up to speed. Man, I'd much rather you know what I'm talking about. I'm the type of gal that if I could have "inside" one word conversations with you, I'm in love. Seriously. There should be a magic wand where I can wave it and an understanding would just occur. We'd be on the same page and I'd be all, "Yeah, so Katniss, that time when she sang" and you'd be all like "Oh yeah I know what you're talking about...." *le sigh* I guess that's not life in the real world though, huh? My tangent simply means I'm probably not gonna have a long winded summary.

What do you look for in book reviews?

[Image from the Guardian]


  1. I think everyone should do what they want in their own blog.

    That said, I have always tried to limit summaries as much as possible. I don't like it when a review is all summary. Currently, I try to limit it to one paragraph as much as possible. I think of it as telling what the book is about, not summarizing.

    I used to rate books on a five point scale. Eventually, I got a bit tired of it. Like you said, it's difficult when you have to rate so many disparate books. But, I have found it very helpful when I go back and look at an old review. After three years I may have forgotten the book but I can see how many stars I gave it.

  2. I used to rate, but had some problems when I was trying to rate nonfiction, and eventually quit. I still do it on Goodreads, but not on the blog. I have to admit, while there are several bloggers I know who do things like Trisha, I actually don't pay attention to that kind of rating at all. I don't mind it, of course, but it doesn't help me place the book at all.

    I do like pictures on a post. it's not because the cover helps me make up my mind, but that it gives me an indication of what I'm about to read about. If I see a cover with a headless woman in a renaissance dress, I know it's a historical romance novel and that I'm not interested. I read so many blogs that the covers really help me decide which blog posts to read. I think marketing people tend to do a good job with covers for the most part, at least targeting them to a certain audience (and no, authors have no say at all).

    As for summary, I try to include as little of it as possible, but I prefer it as part of the review rather than separated out. I use my mini-summary as a lead in to the rest of my thoughts. When they are separated out, I don't read them.

  3. I totally loved that time when Katniss sang! ;)

    I don't write my own summary, I just use the publisher's blurb and then post my thoughts about the book. But in the process of writing my review and my thoughts there is a small amount of summary that goes on in order to have things make sense.

    I read both kinds of reviews, those where the summary is separate and those where it is incorporated, and it doesn't make much of a difference to me.

    I do like seeing a rating system though. I rate using a 5/5 system (in .5 increments). When I rate I am rating the book against others in the same genre, not against each other so much. So for me The Great Gatsby, The Hunger Games, Bridget Jones's Diary, and Harry Potter would all have 5 stars, but they are so different that I wouldn't rate them against each other.

    But I find that seeing a rating on someone else's review helps me to understand their take on the book. If they said nice things about it but gave it a three instead of a five it helps me to gauge the level of their enthusiasm.

    I agree with what Amanda said about the covers - they are a must for me. They help me to identify which genre the book is in. If I see a paranormal cover with zombies or vampires I know it's not a book I'm going to want to read.

  4. I rate, but only on my 'Books Read' page: I don't mention the rating when I'm talking about the book (I do call things 'five star books,' but for me that's kind of shorthand for 'really awesome). And I explain on my books read page that the stars aren't comparative, which gets around the 4-star classic v. 4-star fluff read.

    I love covers in posts!

    I skip publisher blurb summaries when I'm reading other peoples' blogs. Sometimes I do a plot summary in my own posts, sometimes I don't: depends on what I'm talking about!

  5. I love seeing book covers in posts, but I am too lazy to do it myself, I'm afraid. As for ratings, I love the ratings system that Lu at Regular Ruminations uses: She rates a book by how soon she thinks you need to read it (right now; tomorrow; next week; when your TBR pile is all gone). I have seriously considered stealing that ratings system myself. :)

  6. I notice ratings, and I use them on Goodreads, but I don't use them on my blog. After thinking about a book for a while, I sometimes edit my initial rating on Goodreads, so I think including a rating within a blog post would make me feel too much pressure, too much commitment!

    I like book pictures, even if they're not of the covers. Sometimes I end up noticing what's around the book... coffee, other books, cats... in a picture more than the book itself.

    I've wondered about summarizing, too. I guess I like to know briefly what the book's about, but I tend to skim over long summaries and pay more attention to a blogger's reaction to the book.

  7. I like it when people write in their own style. I don't particularly like summaries -- I can get that from the back of the book (or a website) -- but I do want to know the gist of it. What did you get out of it? What was frustrating? What was loveable?

    I personal find most books rewarding, even if it's a book I didn't particularly like. So I cannot rate books, since everything has value. But to each his own.

  8. I like to see ratings others give books. I do not rate books.

    I'm a person of contraditions.


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