Lola’s Ramblings: Reviewing Book Series

Posted November 24, 2016 by Lola in Lola's Ramblings / 20 Comments


Lola’s Ramblings is a feature on my blog Lola’s Reviews where I ramble on about a book related or a non-book related topic. These are discussion type of posts where I talk about a topic and readers can weigh in on the topic in the comments. Usually these posts are everything that doesn’t fall under any standard header, like tours, cover reveals, memes, challenges, recaps or reviews. Lola’s Ramblings posts are discussions of a certain topic and my point of view on them. The banner for this feature is designed by Michelle from Limabean Designs.

I love reading series and I read a lot of series in general. I do feel that reviewing series always seems to pose some special challenges or maybe not really challenges, but reviewing a series is different than reviewing standalone books. Just like reviewing anthologies is different than one long book. So for today’s post I wanted to talk about reviewing series and commenting on reviews for the same series.
This post is partly inspired by Metaphors and Moonlight her review for Unbound, she had been reviewing this series in the past few weeks and after reading and commenting on her review I suddenly came up with this discussion topic and it made me think about my own reviews. I read a lot of series, but normally I am the type of person to read books in a series space far apart so I never thought about reviewing series as much. Recently I read and reviewed Faerie Realm (Changeling Chronicles #3) and Faerie Wrath (Changeling Chronicles #4) close together. When writing my reviews and when reading the comment on it I was made aware how close together I read and reviewed these two. That caused me think about reviewing books in a series close together and how that impacts my reviews.

Things I notice when reviewing books in a series

I enjoy reading books in a series close together and it’s fun to read the next book in the series while you can still remember the previous book well. But writing your review for later books in the series can be a bit of a challenge sometimes. I notice that in the first book in a series I got into depth about different things than with later books in a series. And I often find that my reviews for later books in a series get shorter, this is probably because I already mentioned some things in previous reviews and things like the characters and setting isn’t new anymore in later books so I usually only talk about the changes and new things in that book. Things like what I thought of the characters I often limit to the first review in the series, unless ofcourse each book features a different couple/ character. In reviews for later books in the series I might mention it was fun to catch-up on characters and say what I thought of any changes or new character behavior, but I usually don’t go as into depth about the characters as in my first review. Or I just mention I still like a certain characters. It also depends on how close together I read a book as the more time goes between reading books in the same series the more likely I am to say more about topics I might’ve addressed already in earlier reviews. I also find that sometime sit can be harder to come up with new things to say about later books in a series, I might go into depth about the great setting of the book in book 1 and then in later books only mention it was fun to return there and I still liked it. I think this is mostly because as a reviewer those things aren’t new to me in a later book in a series anymore and I feel less the need to point that out in my review.

Another difference I notice when reviewing books in a series compared to standalones is that with series you always have other books to compare it with. Especially with later books in a series you already have certain expectations and certain tropes, plot lines and themes you expect. With standalones you can have this in a way as well if it’s an author you read more books by, but it still feels different than a series. Expectations of books by the same author are more broad or global than expectations for a later book in a series. And even though I am pretty author loyal when it comes to reading I also understand I might not enjoy every book or series by an author while in a series I do expect to keep enjoying the series.

On the other hand I also like reviewing series as I feel that I can share my thoughts about the series more often and have more chances to have my followers hear about this series and maybe pick them up. Which is a good thing. And I do enjoy reviewing later books in the series as there is always something new to say as well, new things that happen and other plot twists, so I would never go as far as not reviewing later books. I just wanted to bring up how it feels like review for later books in a series seem to be different than reviews for the first book or sometimes even the last book as then you have things to say about how it wraps up. And for someone like me who usually writes very long reviews I always notice it when my reviews are suddenly shorter.

Reading reviews of series on other blogs

I enjoy reading reviews of series on other people their blogs, although sometimes it can be more difficult to comment on later books in the series. Sometimes I skim reviews for later books in a series when it’s a series I plan on reading myself and other times it can feel a bit strange to comment on a later book in a series when you never read any of the books yourself. On the other hand I love hearing people their thoughts over later books as well as it’s nice to know if a series keeps being strong or if there are weaker books in the series and it’s nice to read their thoughts as they progress through the series, whether I plan to read it myself or not. While on the one hand I usually only read reviews for the first book in a series when deciding whether I want to read it or not I do enjoy reading reviews for later books in the series as well and when I do read them I do realize they can influence my decisions as well, whether it’s to start a series or not, but also whether to continue the series. And reviews for later books in a series where I’ve fallen behind can make me excited about that series again.

Do you review books in a series differently than standalones? Do you like reading reviews for series on other people their blog?


20 responses to “Lola’s Ramblings: Reviewing Book Series

  1. You wanna know something REALLY funny? My discussion post last week about reviewing finished series and ongoing series differently was also inspired while I was reading/review that series you mentioned, hahahaha. Our weird mind sync strikes again.

    But anyway, for me this is another one of those things that it just depends. For some series, I do kind of run out of things to say because I feel like I’m just saying the same things over and over. For other series, I never run out of things to say because there’s always something new or exciting, or the characters are growing and changing and my feelings toward them are changing, etc. And when a series is really good, I get more and more into it as I go, and I think my reviews end up longer.

    This discussion is timely since I’m doing a series binge-read right now and have been finishing a book, writing the review, then starting the next one. So far though, I’ve definitely not run out of things to say because my feelings toward the characters keep changing as I get to know them more and see more of them, and sometimes there are new characters, and I’m just getting more invested.

    Before I was a book blogger, I always figured reviews for later books were just for people who had already read the previous books and were considering whether to continue. So on the occasion that I did leave a review on Amazon, it was short and geared toward those people. But now that I blog, I agree with what you said about how reviewing later books is just more chances for followers to see them. So I try to kind of briefly restate the things I liked even if it’s repetitive from previous reviews since people might not have read those. Or I might mention something I said in the previous review so that people aren’t confused if I talk about how this book was different/better/etc.

    But you’re right, reviewing standalones is a lot simpler, isn’t it? Lol.
    Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight recently posted…Book Review: Labyrinth by Alex BeecroftMy Profile

    • Wow that’s a weird coincidence indeed how we got inspired for a discussion topic by the same reviews. I actually wrote and scheduled this post quite some time ago and then saw your discussion post last week about series and I thought what a coincidence it was I had a post about that topic scheduled this week.

      I agree it definitely depends on the series, I have series where I keep having enough to say and others where I have less to say with each book and notice my reviews getting shorter and there are also series which only get better as they progress.

      With the Changeling Chornicles I referred to I mostly noticed that my reviews where getting shorter. I know what to expect and I like the books, but it can be hard to say something new. While with other series, like for example Cainsville that i reviewed earlier this week I do feel like I am repeating myself, but at the same time I also keep writing long reviews as I still have a lot to say.

      I thought the same before I became a book blogger and thought reviews for first book in a series were most important. But nowadays I think reviews for later books in a series can be just as important and even reviews of later books can convince people to pick up the series. And good point re that not everyone might have read your previous reviews so repenting or briefly restating things isn’t necessarily a bad thin g.

  2. I do agree that when reviewing later books in the series you do focus less on things you went into in depth in your first review ie introducing the characters. You assume that people have read your first review or read the book and don’t need a recap in later reviews. I don’t get many standalone books now-most seem to be part of long series!
    chucklesthescot recently posted…Book Review: Into Thin Air by Jon KrakauerMy Profile

    • I read a lot of series nowadays too, although also a lot of first books in a series which do seem to be a bit different than reviewing later books in a series. Although it also depends on the series.

  3. The hard thing for me when writing review for books later in a series is avoiding spoilers from previous books. I also try to put a bit of a summary of the series, so that people can get the gist of the overall story. I haven’t read a large number of stand alone stories. Most authors (more likely even the publishers) want them to write series because you have more of guarantee for sales in other books. I don’t mind stand alones, authors just don’t write as many of them in the genres that I like.
    Melanie Simmons @mlsimmons recently posted…The Warlord Wants Forever Audiobook by Kresley Cole (REVIEW)My Profile

    • Same here, I sometimes end up with some small spoilers for previous books when reviewing a later book in a series. It’s difficult to avoid those altogether with some books. I think I mostly read series nowadays too, but I do read a standalone now and then. Series do seem more common nowadays.

  4. oh I do love reading a series and I don’t mind reviewing for them. I really liked your thoughts here and I definitely agree. It can be hard if you are reviewing a series and depending on how it is written, can reveal too much. So for me, it really depends on the series which determined how I write the reviews for them. Although I do feel like it is easier to write a book if its a stand a lone instead of one in a series, especially if its connected.

    • Same here I love series and reviewing them, but reviews for books in a series can be tricky at times. Standalone reviews can be easier at times.

  5. I think you’re right about how reading later books in a series can be a challenge, and I think your discussion dovetails of Kristen’s post nicely. I’ve recently read a series and did have a bit of trouble reviewing the third and fourth books- the story was kind of strung out as the author was obviously filling out a five book series, and I wasn’t quite sure what to say. When I pointed out a few issues I had with those middle books, some commenters got the impression the whole sries wasn’t that good, or that I didn’t recommend it when I actually did. So that got me thinking about this, and about the challenges of series reviewing.

    I do agree also that my middle of the series reviews do tend to be shorter too, or I’m not always sure what to say. Like you said, if I’ve already covered the characters in an earlier post, I may only touch on what happened in the current book- which might not give enough information if someone is not reading the earlier review.
    Greg recently posted…Send In The ClownsMy Profile

    • Yeah it was an interesting coincidence how e both talked about series so soon after each other and it seems we both got the idea for the topic by the same review son her blog as well.

      With some series I have enough to say about later books, but sometimes it’s just we got more of the same and that’s good. Or indeed series like you mentioned that go on a bit too long. I feel that when i point out a lot of issues in my reviews it often sounds way more negative than i intended and despite all the issues I usually did enjoy the book. but I still want to point out the issues as well. So I get what you’re saying. Reviewing sure has it’s own challenged.

      I usually will mention character changes or that I still liked them, but it also feels off to just repeat things from previous reviews. Like you said people who are reading the review might not have read those earlier reviews and miss things if you don’t repeat things, but I have written them and always keep that in mind a bit when reviewing.

  6. I think I do review books in series a little differently, and I think that is partly because I don’t want to spoil even the first book for another reader / blogger – even if I’m reviewing the 7th book. And that makes me quite vague in many ways.
    Some series also lay the ground for a lot of sub-plots in the first instalment, and then, the full plot based on that only comes to fruition much later (in Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series, something that was mentioned in the first book unfolded fully in book 11 or 12!!). And that is something I will mention, because it’s one of the reasons why I love series so much.
    Great topic, Lola 🙂 xoxo
    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews recently posted…Up Close and (un)Conventional – Romance Heroes… or not?My Profile

    • Good point! I often do that as well, I try to stay vague in reviews for later books and spoil as little as possible for previous books as well.
      I love it when sub plots are set up early and then unfold later. Definitely something I would mention in my reviews as well as it’s one of the things I enjoy about series too.

  7. I don’t think I do reviews different. Most reviews for series I do are like standalones so each is a different story. I’ll mention the fact if there is a common plot that binds the books together. As for reading reviews for series, I would like to know if they can be read as standalones, but if it’s interesting enough, I do check out the first book in the series. Great topic.~Aleen

    • With those kind of series they are more similar to reviewing standalones indeed. For the purpose of this post I meant more series where you have to read the previous books first. And for those series that feature a different couple each book it’s good to know if they can be read as standalone indeed, although I usually still prefer to read them in order.

  8. Great post. I don’t really read series that follow the same character. Mainly because I end up getting bored by the third book. I like meeting new characters every time. So, the series I tend to read and review are ones that [for the most part] be read as a stand-alone. That way I get something new and fresh every book, but I know I’m going to love the story because it’s in a setting that I’m already familiar with.
    Kristin (Book Sniffers Anonymous) recently posted…Oy With The Poodles Already!My Profile

    • I read a lot of both type of series, the ones that also work as standalone won’t have some of the issues I mentioned here because of that. I do like those type of series where you meet a new couple/ character each book, but keep the familiar setting and side characters. But I also enjoy a series where you keep following the same main character and if written well they can definitely keep my attention.

  9. Ooo interesting. Yeah I read books far enough apart it’s not been an issue for too many of them when it comes to reviewing. Once or twice maybe they posted close together. It is hard sometimes commenting on blogs that read and review back to back to back to back (one I follow read like 9 books in a series in a row) and I honestly ran out of new things to comment. lol
    anna @ herding cats & burning soup recently posted…Crafting with Kitties– Christmas Ornament WreathMy Profile

    • I often do read the quite some time apart as well, which makes it less of an issue. Which is also why when I did read two books in a series so close together it suddenly occurred to me how that felt different. And yes commenting or reading reviews of a long series can be fun, but sometimes it’s also a bit difficult to come up with new things to say.

  10. I discovered a while back that I am one of those people who do much better when I don’t binge read a series. Things that I barely notice in the first book become glaring annoyances or boring repetition by the third or fourth book if I read them right in a row.

    Now as to reviewing books in a series, I find it more difficult than to review standalones. Sometimes its because I don’t think I have much to add that I didn’t say in the first books review, but usually it’s because I don’t want to spoiler for earlier books.

    I’ve taken two approach to reviewing series books at the blog. Some I review separately mostly because I read them far enough apart or because the author wanted them separate, but if I got them as a bundle, sometimes I’ll just do one big review and talk about overall impressions with short summaries of the series/books.

    It’s a challenge for sure. 🙂
    Sophia Rose recently posted…Pets In Space AnthologyMy Profile

    • I rarely binge series anymore, but I can see how I might run into that issue if I would. It’s strange how some issues become bigger or more annoying depending on when you read a book.

      It really can be difficult not to mention spoilers for earlier books in a series when reviewing a later book, especially with series that continue onward and can’t be read as standalones.

      I never have done the series review and I don’t think I ever will as I don’t read fast enough for that, but I can see how sometimes that would be a nice way to handle it.

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