The Art of the Review

What makes for a good book review? It’s kind of like the old saying, “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like.”

Even as an author I struggle with writing book reviews: How much do I say? What will help someone else decide if this particular book is a good fit for them? I think carefully before posting a review of another author’s book. Here’s a good article on the topic by Kelly Gallucci:

Recently one of my books received a 2-star review. Then the reviewer went on to provide a spoiler without giving any warning. So, now what might have come as a shock or surprise to a potential reader is now revealed to anyone who reads the review.

Then just a day later, a reviewer gave the book 5-stars, and went on to tell a good deal of the story. Sigh. Might as well save a few bucks and just read the review, right?

In both cases if the reviewer had offered a brief Spoiler Alert caveat at the beginning of the review, the potential reader could decide whether to risk reading the review or not.

I know I’d save myself a few headaches if I just didn’t read the reviews of my own books, but a) the good ones stroke my needy ego, and b) the negative ones often help me improve my writing.

As a reader how much attention do you give reviews before reading a book? Do they matter more if it’s a new-to-you author?

Peace, people!

Just no spoilers, please!

Author: nananoyz

I'm a semi-retired crazy person with one husband and two cats.

18 thoughts on “The Art of the Review”

  1. This is an interesting post because I buy mostly older books at our local indy bookstore and just bought a ton at their book sale last weekend. Sometimes I will start a book, and if it seems a bit slow, I will Google it to see if others said the same thing. But if a reviewer says ‘spoiler alert’ I stop right there and just go back reading the book. I don’t want a synopsis of the book, I just want to know if it is a good book. And don’t tell me how it ends!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I don’t do much reading of reviews anymore. If the synopsis doesn’t tell me enough, and it’s an unknown author I will usually just book the book title on a “think more about it” list and move on. That way it’s there, and noted so I don’t completely forget it and I can revisit and decide about it later. I’m not doing a whole lot of fiction reading lately anyway so it’s been easier to determine a Yay or Nay with the non-fiction topics I’m choosing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good post. I personally do NOT reveal spoilers when I write a review. BUT IF On a rare occasion in the future, I think it might be necessary, then I would say SPOILER ALERT. Spoilers are not fair to the readers or the author. So it’s important to post a warning.

    Plus, I don’t feel it’s helpful to be negative. However, being a retired teacher sometimes I can’t help myself. I once commented on the editing of a self published book because it was indeed, poorly edited. The actual story was excellent, as were the characters. But, I felt it would be helpful to the author to re-edit her work. Hopefully, that person wasn’t offended when I commented how much I enjoyed the story but was distracted by editing errors. My comment was truthful.

    On another occasion the author was male and wrote about a female protagonist. This book hadn’t been published yet and was written by a friend. He asked for my input before he self published, so I read it. I explained to him his female character thought like a man, not a woman. Her subtext was male. Yet, he tried to create a very feminine character yet he missed the boat with his character’s actions and definitely in her dialogue. At first he was taken aback by my comment. I asked him if he ever met a woman who talked like that? Or in fact a man other than Clint Eastwood who was making someone’s day? He got the message. His character was out of sync with her actions and words. He realized his error. So he rewrote and softened her dialogue a bit which was way more in character with the protagonist he was trying to portray. He thanked me. Now I never would have written any of that in a review. But this was a friend who asked for my input. So I reluctantly gave it to him.

    What I have learned is that every writer has a specific writing style. But grammar, spelling, dialogue, showing not telling, all can be helpful hints. However, do you really need to write that in a review? Not really.

    The one time I wrote a semi negative review for a book was not about their book, which was well written. It was how it was marketed or distributed . It was supposed to be a paranormal mystery, however instead it was a faith based novel where every single character was super religious. And EVERYONE in the story was of one particular faith, had exactly the same super duper right wing religious beliefs. I mean every single person in the city! Now that’s fine if it was described as a faith based novel. I wouldn’t have bothered reading it if I had known that. So, I said all the positives I could about the story, because it was fast paced and suspenseful. But I was distracted by all the religious references. And so I suggested to the author that her book should be marketed as faith based as well as a mystery.

    I have read two of your books and enjoyed them both. I have downloaded two others and only because I’m currently in chemo and have difficulty reading and concentrating right now, I haven’t read your newest novels. But I will.
    From the ones I have read I feel you have a talent for writing three dimensional, believable characters. Plus, your dialogue flows extremely well and good dialogue is not easy to write. So don’t let people get you down. Your stories are charming. Keep up the good work kiddo. I think you are doing a great job! Bravo! 👍❤️

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you. And I admire your accomplishments. Keep writing. I know it’s hard to ignore what negative Nilly’s say. Heck, I get my feeling hurt when strangers on Facebook don’t like my opinions on my favorite British detectives. Lol

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t read reviews in detail, but I am more likely to read a book if I see positive and negative reviews. All positive reviews make me feel like the author just marketed their book through a lot of book tours, which isn’t a bad thing but those shouldn’t be the only reviews!
    But I would want a reviewer to say that there will be spoilers so that I can prepare myself or move onto another review!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ditto! And to make things worse, Amazon has decided that the 5-star spoiler review is not just the most recent, but also the top review. Sigh. At least they used that one and not the 2-star.

      Liked by 1 person

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