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Topic: Spin-off on "Do you use the reviews on PBS?"

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Subject: Spin-off on "Do you use the reviews on PBS?"
Date Posted: 2/16/2012 4:07 PM ET
Member Since: 8/19/2007
Posts: 4,398
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This topic reminded me of something I've been meaning to ask.  I've written a few reviews on books here at PBS.  I don't write many as I really don't know what a 'good review' should consist of.  I've seen some where they've about given away the plot (don't like those at all) and  those that just write what the book jacket or back of the book has  - this to me is not a review by the reader.

So, if you write reviews, what are some of the points that you include?   If I thought I could write a fairly decent one more often, I might write more of them.  Thanks. Pat

Date Posted: 2/16/2012 6:12 PM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2007
Posts: 2,276
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For me, I do not want to read a synopsis of the book, but I also want a touch more than "good read". My own reviews might be only two or three sentences but will include something about the storyline, or the characterizations like, "Very enjoyable read, intriguing plotline. Wonderful Cornish setting for a decades old mystery" or "First off, this is not my usual genre at all, but I absolutely loved this book. I found it intriguing, suspenseful, involving, and very well researched. I can hardly wait for the next installment in this trilogy!" In other words, just enough to give another member a taste of what I thought of it. But that is just my take on it.

Date Posted: 2/16/2012 6:29 PM ET
Member Since: 4/24/2008
Posts: 310
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I read the reviews quite a bit but mainly on Amazon.  If it has a lot of low stars I am inclined to pass it over and not read it.  I like to get the reveiwer's perspective if the characters are developed or if the latest writing is up the the author's usual good writing.  I read reviews because who wants to waste their points on books that are not that good?  I write reviews too but I don't put anything in the review that would potentially spoil it for the reader.


Bruce -
Date Posted: 2/16/2012 7:38 PM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2008
Posts: 3,412
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I agree with Sally. I don't want a summary of the plot, I can find that anywhere. Is the book good, bad, or mediocre and why do you think so. That's what I look for. Doesn't need to be wordy or long. And I have ordered books based on a PBS review.

Date Posted: 2/16/2012 7:43 PM ET
Member Since: 1/21/2009
Posts: 11,898
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I do not like those that just print what is already on the book as a review; it is not a review, IMO.  I like to know something more than good read but do not give away the ending, please.

Date Posted: 2/16/2012 9:33 PM ET
Member Since: 8/19/2007
Posts: 4,398
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Thanks everyone.  That's what I look for in a review also.  Now to be able to write a decent one.  LOL. Pat

Date Posted: 2/16/2012 9:41 PM ET
Member Since: 2/2/2009
Posts: 3,789
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I don't write many reviews (though like to read what others have posted about a book I'm considering ordering). When I do write them, I keep them fairly simple, pointing out what I liked or didn't like about the book.  I find that I do usually like books that others have recommended and given four stars, so I find the review/star system very useful.

Date Posted: 2/16/2012 10:04 PM ET
Member Since: 4/28/2009
Posts: 10,086
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When considering ordering a book, I use reviews usually only when the book synopsis doesn't say a whole lot or when the average star rating here doesn't seem to jive with what I've heard about the book from members here who suggested it.  Often I find no or few reviews of a book here so then I go to Amazon reviews to read the true type of review.  But I try to advocate for members to write more proper reviews-- not repeat the synopsis, not just say "best book they ever wrote" or "couldn't put it down". I'm OK with a short 2-4 sentence review, but it must have substance!

Last Edited on: 2/16/12 10:06 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/16/2012 10:26 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 10,130
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I write reviews when I have something significant to say.  The only plot points that I specifically mention might be things that happen in the first 20 or 30 pages (as long as they are not either major spoilers OR spoilers for a previous book) or something so general that someone ought to know before they are picking up the book anyway. I try to write about 2 shortish paragraphs but I don't always make it.

Date Posted: 2/17/2012 6:09 AM ET
Member Since: 1/22/2011
Posts: 2,413
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I remember a while back reading a great post on the PBS Blog about writing a crackerjack book review. I am not sure how to post a link, but maybe a PBS blogger knows what I am referring to?

Date Posted: 2/17/2012 9:47 AM ET
Member Since: 4/29/2009
Posts: 7,897
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I think this is it, Lori.

Last Edited on: 2/17/12 9:47 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Rick B. (bup) - ,
Date Posted: 2/17/2012 10:42 AM ET
Member Since: 11/2/2007
Posts: 2,625
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Pat O - I agree with everyone else that plot summaries bum me out (I especially don't want spoilers, even on classics).

But something is better than nothing. If you're worried that your review isn't good enough, don't worry. Anything that tells more than a star rating is useful. Like, even 'it was funny' or 'the ending was a real surprise' is better than nothing.

Date Posted: 2/17/2012 10:49 AM ET
Member Since: 2/2/2010
Posts: 1,207
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Thanks for that link Whitney and Lori B - I think I will print that for my daughter to use for HS book reviews! 

I wish I had the time to do that on every book I read here!  I do appreciate the people that put the time and thought into an interesting review of their books.  At best mine are short and hopefully “witty”.  I love it when someone gives one of my reviews a thumbs up, childish of me I know.

I agree with what everyone above has said.  I like to read the "new" reviews on the main HOME page, a good review will some times make me look at a book I would have never thought of on my own. 

Date Posted: 2/17/2012 2:44 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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"For me, I do not want to read a synopsis of the book..."  yes  Unless it's one of those rare book pages without a synopsis and no other reviews covered it yet. 

Personally I look for reviews that incorporate what the reader liked and didn't like about the book.  World building, plot, editing, writing style, characterizations...what worked, what didn't, why? 

Avoid spoilers, makes people very, very cranky if you spoil a good book or series for them.

Don't think only 4 and 5 star reviews are helpful, I often get my most useful information tidbits from 1 and 2 star reviews.

Last Edited on: 2/17/12 2:44 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/17/2012 3:44 PM ET
Member Since: 1/28/2009
Posts: 15,129
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I don't write a lot of reviews but have written a few. 

Someone read the last one that I had posted and took the time to send me a PM to let me know that they liked the review and it noted a couple of things that helped them to decide on the book.  It made me feel really good that I had taken the time to write it.

If you come across reviews that either you just like the way they are written or if they helped you decide about the book, maybe let the reviewer know.  It might encourage them to write more. smiley

Date Posted: 2/24/2012 12:20 AM ET
Member Since: 8/8/2007
Posts: 4,460
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I read reviews for almost every book. If the PBS ones aren't adequate, I will read Amazon. I really appreciate it when a book has a star review and an accompanying written review. I have written a few, but I tend not to when the book has been reviewed to death and mine would be redundant.

Review on my friends!

Date Posted: 2/24/2012 9:55 AM ET
Member Since: 4/7/2008
Posts: 15,690
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I write tons of reviews but on Goodreads, not on PBS.

Usually I write a few paragraphs saying what I liked, didn't like and something about the main characters and whether I'll read this series/author again. If I'm listening to an audiobook, I also write something about the narrator.

For me, it's easier to write reviews about books I loved and/or hated. Sometimes I can't find anything to say if the book is just average.