Saturday, May 2, 2009

Weekly Geeks 2009.16: Review Formats

This week's Weekly Geek edition is guest-hosted by Care where she asks us to detail our reviewing system with the following questions:

1. Explain your review format - if you have one. Or maybe your rating system?

My reviews are very simple little things. But I do have a bit of format I guess. I bold the title, author, genre, rating, and if I'm reading it for a challenge, right at the top. Also, I always add a picture of the cover.

Then I usually start out by saying what led me to the book in the first place, followed by a very very brief description of the book, only a sentence or two. I'm paranoid of spoilers, and so I won't go into very much detail at all. But hopefully just enough to make readers curious to learn more.

Then, I'll say what my reaction was to the book. Did I like it, and why? Did anything bug me about the book? Was I particularly impressed with the style or any other aspect? Sometimes I'll say how it compares to others I've read by the same author, or if I plan on reading more by the same author.

My rating system is on a letter grade scale. Perfect books get an A+. Most books get an A if I really totally enjoyed them, or an A- if I just enjoyed them. B+ and B's are for okay books, good but not great. I rarely give out anything less than that, because I usually like everything at least a little!

Oh, and I try to remember to link to a few other reviews! I have a hard time remembering that little detail, and sometimes I'll go back and edit that in.

Bottom line, my format is to pretend I'm talking to a friend, one who's asked about why they should read a particular book.

2. Highlight another book-blogger's review format by linking to a favorite example - don't forget to tell us why they are a fave!

Many of you put TONS of work into book reviews. They are wonderful. But like I said, I'm paranoid of spoilers, so if I can tell that the description seems to be getting too detailed, I'll skip it, and I look for just your reactions. So, reviews that I especially like focus on this, more than the actual book.

One review I liked very recently was by Melissa at Book Nut for a book called Aurelia. She hasn't used a specific format necessarily, but she definitely gets the point across that she very much enjoyed this book. And I could tell right off, that it was the exact kind of book that I would like. (Words like "swoon" and "nail biting" and "intrigue" are all I need!) I immediately looked to see if my two libraries had it... which was NO. Well, no fair!

One thing she does do, is to share the first line of the book. I think this is fun.

3. Do a review in another book-blogger's format of your latest read.

As soon as I have a latest read, I'll do this! I'm having a hard time finishing anything this week!

4. Highlight a past review that you are particularly proud of and why the format or structure may have had something to do with it.

Hmmm... well. None of them are that spectacular. I do like the ones I put more work into (for blog tours and such) but that doesn't really show my above mentioned "format" really. Last month, I reviewed Jellicoe Road and just now re-reading that one over again, I like that my enthusiasm comes across quite clearly. If you have no confusion over whether I liked a book or not, then I've fulfilled my purpose in doing a review!

What's your purpose for reviewing books and do you have a format for that? Share at Weekly Geeks, or here in comments.


  1. I don't really have a format _ my reviews/responses to books tend to be visceral. Not always helpful, I guess, but always honest :)

  2. I never thought of myself having a format (I like to do lots of different things), but I'm glad you liked my review of Aurelia. Sorry your libraries don't have it though.

  3. Wonderful entry for this week's geek! I'm really enjoying reading about everyone's style. I think I, too, might try including first lines.

  4. I never heard of Jellicoe Road. Your review made it sound interesting.

  5. Maree: Yes, honest is better than helpful I think.

    Melissa: Maybe it will show up somewhere. Maybe I'll just buy it! :)

    Care: Thanks! It is fun to see what everyone's take on reviews.

    Shannon: Oh, it's really good. Really.

  6. I'm worried that I reveal too much. Part of the problem is that I'm so enthusiastic about the book or so annoyed by it that I can't shut up. There's probably also a deep-seated thing where I've got to prove to you that I really really really DID read the book. Thanks for your insights.

  7. I like that you tell how you came to read the book. I used to add a "thank you" at the end of the review if it came from a publicist, but I did away with that (it seemed dis-jointed, tagged on the end like that).

    Hmm, I do mention if I read the book as part of a book group discussion, so I guess I do this some of the time ...



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