Lola’s Rambings is a feature on Lola’s Review where I talk about me. Usually these posts are everything that doesn’t fall under any standard header, like blog tours, book blitzes, cover reveals or reviews. Lola’s Ramblings posts are are personal discussions of a certain topic. Sometimes about book related topics and sometimes about non-book related topics. If an Lola’s Ramblings post is about a non-book topic it gets the non-book content posts tag. This feature was previously knows as About Me. The banner for this feature is designed by Michelle from Limabean Design.
A while ago Anna from Herding Cats and Burning Soup asked on her facebook page if people enjoy writing reviews. Ofcourse I had to reply and tell her my opinion of writing reviews. That made me realize I never actually wrote apost about that topic on my blog and so the topic for this week’s Lola’s Ramblings post was born. I actually wrote this post a day after I saw that question on her facebook page, but scheduled it a few weeks in advance.
How did I start writing reviews?
When I started reading more frequently a few years back I bought most of my books on a dutch site called Bol.com and I noticed people could leave reviews there. Sometimes when I really loved a book or thought I had something to say I would write a review and publish it there. Needless to say those reviews where very different from how I write reviews now, I just wrote down my thoughts without order and structure and just wanted to share my opinion of the book and help people decide whether to read it. Those reviews where pretty short and sporadic, I only wrote a review when I felt like it. And also mostly because you could win a gift card when you reviewed a lot as every review you wrote was counted towards the gift card giveaway.
A while later I found goodreads and even then it still took me a while to start reviewing. I just enjoyed taling about books and occasionaly wrote a review. I liked being able t keep track of what I read. Gradually I started reviewing more and more, I even did some guest reviews for K-Books. Eventually I came towards a point where I reviewed every book I read and developed my system for reviewing.
When do I write my reviews?
I am someone who loves structure and being organized, so I don’t think it’s surprising that the way I review is very organized and even a tad disciplined. I always write my review of a book after I finish the book and before I start a new book. I won’t start a new book, without having written the review for the book I just finished. I guess this system works well with the fact that I am always reading only one book at a time, maybe two if one the books I am reading is a Fate Core roleplay book or a non-fiction book or manga. I can’t read two books at the same time, unless one of them is an informative book or like Fate a roleplay book, as those a very different from fiction books.
I am not sure why exactly I choose to always write my review before I start a new book, when I started reviewing every book I read I adapted this method and it seems to work well for me. If I write my review before starting a new book the book is still fresh in my thoughts and I can still remember most of it. Also it just doesn’t feel like I really ‘finished’ a book until I write the review for it.
How do I review?
I always use the same structure for my reviews. In the first alinea I just write whatever comes to mind, this can be why the book appealed to me in the first place, if I knew the author, what I think of the cover or a general impression about the book. Then in the second alinea I mostly focus on the story, the pace, what I thought of the story, what I liked or didn’t like, whether it was predictable etc. The third alinea is for characters, did I like the characters? what did I like about them? did they have enough personality? Did I like how they acted? Did they act believeable or predictable? How I feel about the characters and their actions? Did they grow or change during the book? What about the side characters? Did they have enough depth?
Then if there was noticeable romance in the book or I have a lot to say about the romance I use the fourth alinea for romance. Sometimes I add the romance to the characters alinea if I don’t have much to say. I usually talk about if the romance felt believeable, if there was insta love or not, how fast or slow did the romance develop, did I feel the romance? Did I feel the heat? If there where any noticeable tropes I might mention them here as well.
If I don’t talk about romance the fourth alinea will be for world building. In contemporary books there is no world building, so I then skip this alinea and go right through to the conclusion. In the world building alinea I usually talk about what I think about the world building, was it done well? Where there holes or questions that weren’t answered? I might list some big questions that I wish where answered here as well. I also might mention what I thought of the world itself.
The last alinea is always the conclusion, I like to give a short summary of my review there and write in a few short sentences my most important thoughts or feelings about the book. If people don’t want to read my whole review, they can just read the summary. I also like to add here whether I’ll be continuing the series or not in case it is a series.
It’s not like I mention every point I mentioned here in every review, I just write what feels natural for that book and what comes to mind. It’s more like I focus my mind to write about the topics in that order. More like “hmm let’s talk about the story in this book” and then I write whatever comes to mind about the story in that book. I even realized I felt myself start talking about characters when I was still in the story alinea, then I just make it into a new alinea and write about characters first and then go back to the story alinea. It also happens sometimes that I write more then one alinea about the same topic, it can happen that I have a lot to say about one topic and find one alinea looks too long and then I split it up in two.
I always write honest reviews without spoilers. I try not to bash authors and try to emphasize that it’s my opinion. I like writing reviews as it helps me put my thought in words. And I like writing in general and it just feels nice to be able to write my thoughts down about a book. And ofcourse I hope people will read my review or maybe that my review can help them decide whether or not to read the book.
I admire you : reading one book at a time then write the review before starting another, that’s how it should be done ! That’s how I do it most of the time, but sometimes (often), I procrastinate… and start reading another before writing. Fortunately, I take notes as I’m reading, so it helps me build the review afterward. I first loved writing reviews when I started the blog, but now, I read so many books it’s hard to keep up 🙂
Red Iza recently posted…The sunday post #2 : What’s up ?
It just works for me, I can’t start a new book without having written my review. It feels like writing my review after having read the book is a natural way to end it. I never write notes while reading, so I can understand it would be easier to write your review later if you take notes. I read about 1 or 2 books a week nowadays, so it’s easy to keep up. I can understand it can get a bit overwhelming when you read a lot of books.
I read and then review, but I am not very organized or structured. I wish I was..lol. I know some people take notes and I often wish I did that but I don’t ever do it. 🙂 So then I set at my computer and go..okay now what..lol. 🙂
I think taking notes can help, but for me it takes me out of the book. I only take notes when beta reading. I usually don’t really have trouble writing my reviews, but for some books I have no idea what to write, that doesn’t happen often though and the structure really helps with that.
When I read, I highlight quite a lot with my kindle – both so I can find some cool quotes to include in my review, and because it’s easier that way to remember more things about the book.
Because I don’t always review straight after finishing to read a book. And I often read more than one book at the same time, most of the time one or two books for classes, and one or two books for my pleasure 🙂 When I start writing my review, first I try to find a catch-phrase to start off with.
Then I write the actual review, including something about the writing, the tense and the POV, the character development, and what I liked or didn’t like.
In the end, I include three quotes.
Great post, Lola!
Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews recently posted…Up Close and (un)Conventional #11 – Bought vs ARCs
I like how you include quotes in your reviews and I think a function like highlighting is very handy for that. I don’t think my e-reader has a highlight function and I am not one to search for quotes to include in my review, but I do like seieng quotes in other people their reviews. It’s a way to get a feel for the book in a few sentences.
I find that if I don’t write a review right after I’ve finished the book, I tend to forget some things that I had really wanted to focus on. And if I wait too long, forget it, I have to skim the book again just to make sure I’m not forgetting key parts of the book nor adding bits from other books. I’m very bad about adding quotes, but I do use the highlight and note feature on my ereader for certain things that I may want to touch on in my review.
Marni J recently posted…Book Blitz ~ Angeli – The Pirate, the Angel & the Irishman by Amy Vansant
I never tried waiting longer to write a review, so I am actually not sure what would happen if I do, but I am afraid I would forget things as well. So I just write my reviews as soon as possible.
I have to write my review as soon as I finish a book, I can’t go on to a different one until the review is done. I have been doing that from the beginning, because if I went through so many books and then had to sit down and write reviews for each one of them, they would be scattered all over the place, that’s assuming I could remember what happened in each one haha.
Christy @ Novel Ink recently posted…Find My Home
Same here, I can’t imagine not writign my review directly after I finish a book.
Ooh this is always interesting to read. I have the same problem. I cannot truly start another book without writing a review for the previous one. I JUST CAN’T. I’ll have this guilty nagging feeling until I finish that review.
Nice post, Lola! <33
Melanie (YA Midnight Reads) recently posted…Discussing Through Midnight (48): What Makes a Character a Hero?
Glad to hear I am not the only one who has to write their review before starting a new book. Although I think it’s not really a problem and it actually is handy as I never am hebind with reviews.
Great post, Lola! It’s very interesting to see how you got your start in reviewing and how you go about it. I began writing reviews when I started keeping book journals ~ sometime after my second child was born. Then I became more active at leaving reviews when I joined Goodreads. Then I began blogging… Like you, I always write my review of a book as soon as I’ve finished it. I can’t go onto a new book until I’ve written a review. (and I still keep a book journal so all of my reviews are handwritten first – then typed) I do sometimes edit my review a few days later, if I’ve thought of something else I want to relay or if upon reflection, I change my mind about something I put in my review. As for format, I usually follow a loose format in my reviews. But if a book affects me deeply, my review may be nothing but my gushing over how the story affected me. 🙂
Bookworm Brandee recently posted…**Review ~ Hunting in Bruges ~ E.J. Stevens**
I only use a book journal for beta reading, actually the journal in the cpiture is my beta read journal. Just finished a beta read so it saw some use.
It’s fun to hear there are more reviewers who like me write their review after finishing the book. I only write my review sby hand first if I don’t have access to a computer at the time.
It was so interesting to read about your process! I identified with a lot of what you said – with writing structured reviews, keeping them spoiler free, and especially keeping the focus on the book and not the author. It’s great that you review the book before you start a new one because that must keep you productive! You can’t procrastinate when there is a new book you want to read. 😀
Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy recently posted…Star Trek Convention San Francisco
It’s productive indeed to write my reviews before starting a new book, although it can be a bit frustrating at times when I want to start a new book, but haven’t had time to write my review yet. It works for me and I never have a backlog of reviews I need to write.
Whew I wish I had your discipline on the review writing Lola! I tend to jump on right away and do a rough draft but I usually don’t actually finish finish the review until a few days later or sometimes even long then that then I go through and clean up a bunch of rough drafts all at once. It’s so interesting to see everyone’s different methods 😀
anna (herding cats & burning soup) recently posted…#AFTH2014–Interview w/ Vivian Arend and Elle Kennedy–puppies, dirty talkers and…naughty cookies!
I just want to have my review right the first time, so i get it all out, re-read it and correct a few things and then schedule my posts on my blog. And I agree it’s nice to see how everyone’s style of writign reviews differs.