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Topic: WRITING A REVIEW

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Subject: WRITING A REVIEW
Date Posted: 1/28/2010 5:18 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2010
Posts: 400
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Some feel, and I can see their viewpoint, that I am coming across as too strict in my wording.  I am going to leave most of it up, but clarify it, I hope that is it understood better.

A review is important, it provides information for an individual to determine if they would like or dislike a book.  Opinions are important, and I respect the opinion of others, even if I disagree with them.  The difference of opinion (BG)  that I see here is the perception of what a review and an opinion is.  (I hope that made sense).

What I have stated, following, are guidelines for writing a review, and yes, it is geared more toward a professional type of review.  I am going to revize it, but if it still comes across to strict, snotty (put in the word you think fits),  please realize, that this is an example, a format, you don't have to follow it exactly, but if you want do write a review, PLEASE consider these guidelines. 

I think another confusion that I am seeing or it could be totally me that is confused is that I am asking for these review for my own personal information.

I have used the term  "I" when I was mean anyone, everyone, no one, someone.  It would have been better understood if the term individuals or people so that my meaning was clearer that this is for the benefit for all, not just for me.

 

A review can help readers to know if they want to read/buy a book.  But lots of times individuals  have clicked on reviews and have read:

"I think it was great, I just loved the book"

" I love this author, she writes such great books"

"This book was horrible I had to toss it in the trash"

I don't mean to sound harsh, but that IS NOT A REVIEW; it IS an opinion and basically a waste of space and my time.  ( I know, I just ticked off some people)  this is an area that I disagree with others on, and I apologize, but I see an opinion in an area that is for reviews as a waste of time.  My opinion and you have EVERY right to disagree with me.

I don't write reviews professionally, but I have talked with a few that do; they read a copy before it's final publish/draft or released and post it at Amazon or other sites.  again, this is an example, there is no law or requirement that says you have to do it this way, so I have this in bold to clarify that, this is a guideline, template for you to use; use what you want, ignore what you want, but hopefully, it will help you understand what a review is.

I guess it first helps to understand what a REVIEW is.  It is a critical evaluation of a book, play, movie or other (tv show, music . . .).  It a clarification of the positive and negative aspect of that book, play, movie or other. 

Here are the guidelines they told me is generally followed.  PLEASE use some of these when you give a review

Give a BRIEF idea of the story; state if it is a stand alone book or part of a series and if so, what its location is; it the first, or the fifth or what so the reader can know if they need to backtrack.

Give information on the sexual content in the book, is it a young adult and is very clean, or is it "soft porn",, smutt. erotic, mild?  Is there m/m, m/f/m or menages, (I spent $14 dollars on a book that was bragged about at Amazon, to find out it was m/m and menages, I don't read such books, even though it is a good story, well written and one I would recommend for those who don't mind such actions), does it have BDSM in it?  And remember, perception of sexual relationship is subjective.  What some see as acceptable someone else may see as too much; so try to give an idea of the level.  here I am not asking for a detail of what happens, but maybe comparisons, it is similar to Harry Potter series, or is similar to Lora Leigh, or a similar type, that helps the individual to understand what is going on. 

Character development:  Did it fit, was the actions of the character fitting for their age, was it believable, did you or did you not  like hero/heroine, and WHY .   why did you like or not like the characters, just a sentence or two.

Setting:  Believable, realistic?  Do you feel as if you are there in that place, time period, situation?

Did the author go overboard, or not give enough info? 

When you read it did you feel totally confused and if so WHY?

Is it a romance, does it have a Happy Ever After, or does it set it up for another book, does it leave too many questions unanswered?

What was the type of book, was it humorous,  angst story, thriller, gothic, uber alpha males, weak, submissive heroine, or a take charge woman, what was good and bad about the characters, were the secondary more appealing than the main characters? 

Was the suspense believable, did it end with a bang, or leave you feeling deprived and WHY?  If part of a series, are you anxious to read the next book? 

Is it a fast pace, slow pace or both and correct in the pace for the setting?

DO NOT give the ending away, don't give a spoiler unless you give plenty of warning.  Readers don't want to know that so and so dies in this book.  Did the butler do it in the library?  They want to find out for themselves,   so don't tell in your review and thus ruin it for others. 

I hope this helps those who like to write reviews.  If all you have to say is I love this book I think the author is great, or I hated the book, it waste of money, well,  you just wasted my time because that isn't a review, that is an opinion. 

I again want to clarify, to me, personally, I feel it was a waste of my time.  For those who see this as too harsh a statement, that is your  right and I support your right in saying so. 

Someone stated, rightly so, that this came across as a homework assignment, and I am sorry for that.  I am not asking a group of students to write a 10 page paper comparing Gestalt and Person-Centered theories, the pros and cons of each, requiring 12 references with accurate APA formatting. 

I am just asking that you try to give a good idea of what the book is about, why you like it, why you didn't and some info of what happens so a reader can decide, from that information provided, that they want to request it.

Again, if I come across as being snotty, snippy, please accept my apologies and I will try to do more changes to make it easier to understand what I, anyone, someone, whoever is hoping to find in a review.

This is an example to help explain WHY I feel a review is important.  I read a "review" that a book was great, the reader really loved it, had lots of romance and was steamy.  I read it and thought, wow, I want to get this book.  Ordered it, got it and in the first chapter I am reading of m/f/m.  This is one of three books I have been stuck with; out $20 + now for a book I don't want.  Yes, I can trade it here, but I will still lose out time and money wise.

 Janette

Again, I apologize if this comes across in a negative manner.  My goal was to hope that those who post a review would add more information so that an individual would have a better idea of what is in the book, not just they like or hate it, or the sexual content, but abuse, degrading, belittling of others due to race, religion, sexual orientation, size ,whatever is in that book that is found offensive and on the flip side, the postive aspects of the book. Reviews tell not just the negtive aspects, but also positive ones.     



Last Edited on: 1/29/10 2:37 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Rick B. (bup) - ,
Date Posted: 1/28/2010 5:29 PM ET
Member Since: 11/2/2007
Posts: 2,625
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All information is valuable, no matter the name one gives it.

Date Posted: 1/28/2010 5:43 PM ET
Member Since: 6/25/2007
Posts: 5,637
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Personally, when I read reviews by PBS members I don't expect to find professional calibre reviews (or on Amazon or anywhere that is not a professional book review outlet). Yes, a little meat to a review is nice, but a 3 word review takes only a few seconds to read. I don't rely on PBS for critical evaulations of a work.

ETA: I'd also assume that the majority of the reviews you describe as "wastes of time" were written by members who simply want to share their opinion on a particular book and chose not to turn a simple review on a bookswap site into a homework assignment. And you know what? That's perfectly fine, IMO.



Last Edited on: 1/28/10 5:53 PM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 1/28/2010 5:54 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
Posts: 5,696
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I've written lots of reviews professionally, and I believe the book feedback on this site really doesn't serve the same purpose as professional reviews written to the critical standards you outline above.  Not everyone has the time, inclination or ability to do so.  That does not mean that the people who have read  a book and loved it, or hated it, or whatever should be squelched.  Everyone has a right to voice their opinion however they wish to express it.  Just as you have a right to skip over them or find them maddening.

And "type of sex" is seriously not considered a necessary inclusion in the world of professional reviewing.  Most of what you list as ideal review inclusions sound like your personal opinions of what you would like to read in a review.  Which is fine.  But I don't think these review priorities are universal.

Date Posted: 1/28/2010 5:56 PM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2005
Posts: 7,977
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Give a BRIEF synopsis of the story; state if it is a stand alone book or part of a series and if so, what its location is; it the first, or the fifth or what so the reader can know if they need to backtrack.

I think this information would be better placed in either the title of the book by using the Book Edit option, or in the book data included on the order screen which can be easily added. If it's not there, I think the reviewer is better off adding it in those two places than in their review. If it is there, then it's not needed in the review. And if the book has a book description, then I don't think a brief snyopsis of the story is needed.

Note the type of sex, is it "soft porn",, smutt. erotic, mild, young adult where the door is closed? 

I think this is way too much info, and not realist to expect readers to get that detailed in any review. If they want to, sure. But that's way too much work for a lot of the books I read. I'm not inclinded to hold another reader's hand when it comes to sex scenes.

All information is valuable, no matter the name one gives it.

I agree with Rick. What ever info we get, as long as it's not about the condition of that individual book, is valuable. Reviews should be about the info on the book readers want to share with others. Not what others are demanding they tell them.

If you're not paying me, you'll be stuck with what I want to share. Bottom line.

 

 

 

 

 

Date Posted: 1/28/2010 6:41 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2010
Posts: 400
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hummm,

When I look at as how those so far have perceived my post, I can see how it seems that I want a more "professional" review.  And I do apologize for that misconception.  I was trying to give people an idea of what a review consist off.  To state  a few words isn't a review, it is an opinion.  To me, that is a waste of time.  That is each persons viewpoint.  And I respect the right of anyone to perceive it differently than I do.  Information IS valuable, but not when I hear that a book is great and I spend $14 on a book that I didn't have that valuable information that is has menages in it; which makes the book worthless to me.  Now, I have paid shipping charges on a book I can't read.  I can and have swapped it here at PBS, but that is still another shipping charge, especially as it is a trade size book. 

I am not meaning to sound irate, and if I am coming across that way, I apologize for it, but that lack of valuable information that cost me money that I would rather have spend on a book I could enjoy reading and keeping.   

I was/am hoping that those who want to do a review and have no idea of what is comprises of will have a guideline.  I will edit it and clarify it so that it does not come across as that stringent. 

As for homework assignment, well, I can see how that is perceived, and I guess that fits into a professional role, I have taught college classes and so may have slipped, without intending, into the role of instructor.   I was earlier today thinking of how I would instructor some students on how to write a correct APA format in a research paper, due to so many not knowing what to do, correctly.  I guess that bled over into my description of a guideline. 

That was unintentional I assure you. 

I don't know the hierarchy here, so if those who are high up don't like my post, they are more than welcome to remove it, ot ask me to, I have no problem with that if they feel I am out of line.  

The problem is here, as in any faceless form of communication, it can be hard to get across the meaning of something.  If I were face to face with someone, they could see my facial expressions, hear my tone of voice, interpret my body language and understand better what I want to state.   

I appreciate any feedback, critique of what I have stated, I want others to understand that a good review is helpful to a person trying to decide if they want a certain book or not. 

Janette

Date Posted: 1/28/2010 6:43 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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My only pet peeves in book reviews are the ones that are book condition from the "reviewer's" shelf, and the copied & pasted book synopsis.  I've looked at many book pages where two or three people did this, & the same information is posted above under the book data.  My own reviews range from as little as one sentence (one out of 73) to several paragraphs, with quite a few being a single paragraph.  The details listed above are fine if you're writing reviews professionally, and that's what people expect to find when they look at them,  This is a used book swap, not a book review blog, so if people are looking for professionally written reviews, as opposed to reader opinions, they're looking in the wrong place.  Reviews posted here are more like member contributions of information, and IMO, the only requirement that needs to be placed on them is that they be the member's own words  - not a pasted synopsis or review from elsewhere - and not comments about a specific copy or edition, that the member should have posted under notes or tags.  Helpful is in the eye of the beholder; my single sentence "review" got 5 helpful votes, so what is & is not helpful is clearly subjective.  The level of detail in my reviews varies, and depends on how much detail about the book there already is available on that page.  Sometimes I include a synopsis, but if there are already several of them to choose from, or a very detailed one posted under the book data, I don't feel the need to repeat it, or make someone trying to decide if they want to order that book read an essay.  I say what I liked & didn't like; strengths & weaknesses, etc.  Grade it (A through F), and give it a sexual content rating using the film ratings system most people know & understand.  I'm writing reviews primarily for PBS and often Goodreads, and IMO, these are opinions and that's all anyone should expect from someone who doesn't write them for a living, or get paid to post them.  If we all stood back & left it to the professionals, there would be few, if any, reviews posted here at all.

And Janette - before I buy or order books from here, I check professionally done reviews on book review blogs, sometimes even at Amazon, if I can't find them elsewhere.  This is just one more place to look, but like Amazon, the reviews should be looked at differently than something written for a newspaper or a review blog.



Last Edited on: 1/28/10 6:45 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/28/2010 6:46 PM ET
Member Since: 6/25/2007
Posts: 5,637
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I understand what you're saying, but I do think that each person would have a different interpretation of what to include in a review. I, for one, would never think to include that a book has a threesome. It's not on my radar, as I have no problem reading a book like that. I am not meaning to sound snarky, or snippy, but I think what you are looking for would be best found some place else. Perhaps a place that reviews clean romance books or something similar. Ultimately, PBS members have no responsibility to warn you of something within a book that may offend you.

Date Posted: 1/28/2010 6:55 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
Posts: 5,696
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I hear that a book is great and I spend $14 on a book that I didn't have that valuable information that is has menages in it; which makes the book worthless to me.  Now, I have paid shipping charges on a book I can't read.  I can and have swapped it here at PBS, but that is still another shipping charge, especially as it is a trade size book. 

This would be a valid argument if PBS reviews were one's only source of information, but this is not the case.  Online information on nearly anything is vast and detailed.  If you don't like some happy reader shouting (virtually) "I loved it!", than look elsewhere for information. A tip:  you seem to be awfully concerned about the presence of menage á trois in the books you read.  This is not the sort of information you can commonly expect to find in any review, professional or not.  Since this is a particular concern of yours perhaps you can put the title of a book into google along with "threesomes"  see if there are any hits. 

The forums are also a wonderful resource.  You can start a thread in the Romance forum titled "Books Without Threesomes!" and get some suggestions.  Really, there are so many options.

edited to fix typos

 




Last Edited on: 1/28/10 6:57 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 1/28/2010 7:30 PM ET
Member Since: 9/25/2008
Posts: 3,520
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I don't think there is a right way or a wrong way to write a review. Sometimes a sentence says more than many paragraphs. The criteria listed above doesn't apply to any of the books I read or write reviews on. There is no point of my mentioning sex in a review when it doesn't pertain to the book I've read.

Some of my reviews are short and some are more detailed. It just depends what the book is about. If I review a cookbook then someone else might want to know if it uses common ingredients or hard to find ingredients. So I tailor my reviews/opinions to what would help me make a decision about a book.

Date Posted: 1/28/2010 7:39 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
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Wowee Janette,

Use the thumbs up and down symbols. I use 'em all the time. Just don't use on my reviews, mmmmkay? I put a lot of work into them.

 

 

Give a BRIEF synopsis of the story.

I don't always do this if the synopsis is properly in the description above reviews.

Note the type of sex, is it "soft porn",, smutt. erotic, mild, young adult where the door is closed? 

I don't read that kind of junk so it doesn't apply to me. That info belongs in the description anyway. 

Character development:  Did it fit, was the actions of the character fitting for their age, was it believable, did you or did you not  like hero/heroine, and WHY.

Yes. check.

Setting:  Believable, realistic?....Are the mannerism, behaviors fitting?

Anachronistic, you mean?

Is it fleshed out?  Or too much? 

Yes. check.

Were you immersed in the story, did you feel as if you were there, or felt totally confused and if so WHY?

Yes. Check.

Is it a romance, does it have a Happy Ever After, or does it set it up for another book, does it leave too many questions unanswered?

Careful! Don't give too much away. Although there are some rare exceptions such as the crap ending of When We Were Orphans

What was the type of book, was it humorous,  angst story, thriller, gothic, uber alpha males, weak, submissive heroine, or a take charge woman, what was good and bad about the characters, were the secondary more appealing than the main characters? 

Yes. check.

Was the suspense believable, did it end with a bang, or leave you feeling deprived and WHY?  If part of a series, are you anxious to read the next book? 

Yes. Check.

Is it a fast pace, slow pace or both and correct in the pace for the setting?

Yes. Check.

DO NOT give the ending away.

Yes. Check.

 

Also agreeing with Cav when she says that there are other places to get info on a book besides PBS. Amazon for instance. I never order or purchase a book w/out reading reviews.

Date Posted: 1/28/2010 7:48 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
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Information IS valuable, but not when I hear that a book is great and I spend $14 on a book that I didn't have that valuable information that is has menages in it; which makes the book worthless to me

I understand your frustration. A couple years ago I purchased Thirteenth Tale based on rave review of various quality. Well turns out the story features incest which is a topic I can't stand to read about ever. I'll stop right in the middle of a book if it has it. I am not entertained by incest.

Charlaine Harris aside from her Sookie Stackhouse novels has a new series called Grave Sights and others in the sequel. The relationship between the protagonist and her step brother borders on incest.  PASS.

Date Posted: 1/28/2010 7:49 PM ET
Member Since: 4/7/2007
Posts: 663
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My reviews are basically what I think of the book, and most of them list both positive and negative points. I also comment when a book seems to start slowly, but then grabs my attention - or not. I've posted reviews for books I didn't like enough to finish, because I think that's a valid viewpoint. I don't see any point in posting a synopsis, because most books already have descriptions that serve that purpose.

I read the reviews posted here when I'm thinking of ordering a book, and mark whether or not I think they're helpful. I also look at the reviews and book details at Amazon.

Date Posted: 1/28/2010 8:31 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2010
Posts: 400
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In the aspect that I seem to be focused on the menages and the level of sexual content, my only explanation is this.  I read all types of reviews that go on and on about how steamy, hot, sexy, the book is but not once did they say that there was m/f/m in it, or menages.  Is it that hard to say, explicit sex with m/f/m or menages in it?

My "reason" is that I DON'T want to read such books, and I don't see what the problem is in noting that in a review.  I  have posted a revision of what I would like to see.  I took the guidelines from a person who wrote books and she was asked by an individual what to put in a review and she said this was given to her, I copied it down and try to do as close as possible when I review a book. 

I don't review a lot, but I do read them a lot before I buy a book.  I check out Amazon and a couple of other places on reviews before I buy a book and as any place, such as here, there are good reviews that are informative and some that are not.  Still, they don't give enough information to  know the content of some books, and personal reviews such as readers at Amazon and here don't seem to touch on it.

I guess I am weird, when I buy something I want to check it out; after being burned too many times, and I include books in there, I now find out what I can.  Maybe it is silly, but I will now check out a book the same as I would a car, dishwasher or other item I am going to use often.

Read the back, the blurbs, well, that doesn't always work.  I bought one, it told of a woman who was a starter wife, her marriage was going downhill.  She goes on a vacation and decided to let her inner wanton self out.  It has the word exhibition in it, but when I read reviews it talked about being on a nude beach.  I buy the book, pay $15 and get it signed.

It is non stop public displays, threesomes of her with other men and her watching a male with another male.  Sorry, I just can't stomach that.  If I don't know before I buy  it, how can I avoid such books?  I am not alone in this I have talked to several others who feel the same way, Just don't buy the book, well, I wouldn't, if I knew what was in it before I bought it!  It was used to start a fire with. 

 

I re-read my books, very few books are bought with the aspect of giving away or trading them, they are keepers.  I am a WHOLE lot more careful now of what I buy, but how many others spend money they don't have for a book that they don't want, but didn't know what was in it?  

 Janette

Date Posted: 1/28/2010 8:49 PM ET
Member Since: 4/7/2008
Posts: 15,690
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I see your point Janette...I don't like reviews that only say 'loved this book' because it really doesn't help me learn anything about why the reviewer liked the book. That said, if that's all the reviewer wants to say, then of course they can write whatever they want.

However, it's my policy NEVER to trust reviews of people I don't know. I feel people have such different tastes that what another loves may not be my cup of tea so I usually just buy books if something about the blurb catches my eye or if somebody I trust recommends it. For instance, I know Kim (hi Kim!) and I think I've liked every book she has recommended. So when I see a review by Kim, I pay attention (and always give .)

Now, regarding the issue of erotica (which are those books with very explicit sex and unusual couples, etc.) you can mostly avoid it by not buying from certain publishers (Ellora's Cave, New Concepts Publishing, Loose Id, Samhain to name a few.) Also, you should be on the lookout for warnings in the back covers like this one (this is a real warning printed in the back of a book): Warning: this book contains: raunchy sex scenes, graphic language, resourceful use of baling twine, menage a trois, menage a quatage, and hot nekkid man-on-man-lovin'.

Date Posted: 1/28/2010 9:05 PM ET
Member Since: 12/9/2007
Posts: 9,601
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I use the "thumbs" to help weed out the reviews that aren't really working.  There is a volunteer group who tries to clean them up,

My complaint is that so few non-fiction books have any type of review. 

I don't really like most "pro" reviews.  They come off sounding either "paid for"  or "snobphisticated" (my word".  I really hate the "endorsements" by other authors. 

Most people writing reviews know not to put "spoilers" in them.  I try very hard to not tell the story.  I think the addition of the Wiki was to help people know what is in the book without guessing from badly written reviews.  But it really takes a lot of time to fill all that in.

Ruth

Date Posted: 1/28/2010 10:25 PM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2007
Posts: 2,690
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WOW, the original post just makes me want to go out and write some one liner reviews...

Amy
Date Posted: 1/28/2010 10:44 PM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
Posts: 1,716
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I think you need to understand that not all of the books you read are going to be wonderful, regardless of how any review paints it.

You'll never know whether or not you'll like a book until you read the book itself, not the review (even if it's a review that fits your requirements).

It seems as if you want to reject responsibility when it comes to purchasing a book you didn't like. A book that you didn't adequately research to see if it met your qualifications of being a "good" book.



Last Edited on: 1/28/10 10:46 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 1/29/2010 12:30 AM ET
Member Since: 8/15/2007
Posts: 3,044
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You say reviews aren't opinions but aren't they? I've never read a review that isn't an opinion. I think if that was the case they would simply be book reports only proving that you've read a book.

I think it's important to always take a grain of salt with all reviews, professional or otherwise. I don't mind the "loved this book" reviews (the two reviews I have on this site are pretty much that, lol). If I see most say that they loved it then I think, "maybe I will too." I also try not to read negative reviews on Amazon or anywhere that gives you a choice of reading reviews based on overall rating. I find it can taint my reading experience. I read the negatives after I've read the book.

I think it's important to rely on your own tastes and if you think a book sounds good, try it out! You might like it. Listening to friends and people you actually know is helpful too. My family and friends have a lot more influence on a book I might read than if I came across a random review for it.

Basically, you can't control what others write for reviews. It's their opinion. You can either trust it or not. Also, life is about taking risks. Sometimes you risk the $15 for a book and are a disappointed, sometimes you hit the jackpot. :)

Date Posted: 1/29/2010 12:35 AM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2010
Posts: 400
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I don't expect every book I read to be wonderful. And I don't want a review to paint a book wonderful, I want an honest, truthful critique of  what is in the book; then I can decide if it is the type I will like or won't like.  I want to be able to make an "educated guess"  on if it is the type I will like or not.  That still doesn't guarantee that I will like it, but it gives me better odds of making the right decision.

I have bought and read some horrible books, and they are all my "fault" if you want to label it as that for buying it.   I would think it would be in total bad grace, fairness, and morally wrong for me to trash the book because of personal likes dislikes. 

I do think it acceptable to be informed of certain types of contents so a person can make a decision, and then the rest is up to the person to make the final decision of wether it is what they like or not.   

There is a paranormal series that a lot of people enjoy, by K. Cole, Immortals After Dark.  Many in the PN genre really like that series.  I don't care much for it.  But I would never trash it because it is of a personal aspect, it just didn't click with me.  I tell people that is a good series, writing is good, plot make sense, the pace matches events that are happening, the language, interactions of characters feels true to the setting, the alpha males are great in that they don't degrade the heroine, so it would be a good series to read. It just didn't click with me and I don't blame the reviewers for that.  It's no one fault. 

I am reading a book right now about a young girl who's aunt is wealthy.  She is visiting when her aunt has to leave, leaving her there alone with a strange family who takes care of the house and a large group of various animals.  The young woman's interest in the past history of the town is causing unwanted attention, of present and past residents. 

That blurb doesn't tell me how well it is written, is the heroine a silly girl who doesn't know how to get out of the rain, does the hero ridicule her fears?  Does the book keep my attention so that I don't want to put it down until I finish it?  Was it so slow that I would fall asleep while reading it.  Yes, those can be subjective, but a well written review can give a better idea of what the book is about.  Then, the person can make a judgment call and decide if they want to buy it or not. 

My goal in my posting of a review is not just to get people to write a review so only I can know what I want to buy, but to  help a lot of others. I am not the only one who pick out a book and finds out later it wasn't what they thought it was.  I actually have learned how, after many mistakes, to find out better what the book is about.  That doesn't mean I can't and won't make a mistake and pick out a wrong book.

As for publishers putting out the info of the content, some do, some don't.  I don't read a lot of erotica, but I do read some from Ellora Cave and others.  And I just took time to check out a few.  None of the ones I have have a warning on the blurb.  There is a notice about the   S (sensual)  E (erotic)  X (extreme)   labeling, and that the books falls under one of the letters .  Unfortunately, that is on the second or third page of the book.  Not outside, where I could see it.

This is not just about me, and I don't understand how it has come about that I want the reviews for myself only.

I would like to change this from WHAT JANETTE WANTS to what anyone would want, what your sister, friend, niece, brother, aunt, mother or anyone else would want to know about in a book they are interested in.  Would you want to give your daughter a book where the author has the hero constantly putting down the heroine, telling her she is of no value, that it serves her right if he abuses her, emotionally, physically and sexually?  It is not going to say that on the blurb, and if I  just state, I didn't like the book, that doesn't tell me either, it just tells me you don't like the book.  It could be, as I stated, in first person and you never mention that; or it could be that the hero told the heroine that if she loved him she would let the other men in the group have sex with her. 

This isn't about just little ole me, it is about anyone one who wants to read a book and has the right to have some idea of what it is about.  Blurbs do not provide enough info.  And it is great to have a good friend who can provide you with information, but what about those who aren't lucky enough to have someone like that? 

Janette

Date Posted: 1/29/2010 1:27 AM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
Posts: 5,696
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You say reviews aren't opinions but aren't they? I've never read a review that isn't an opinion. I think if that was the case they would simply be book reports only proving that you've read a book.

+1.  So beautifully put.  Dorothy Parker and John Updike's reviews are beautifully written, yet still just their opinions.  It is your responsibility to discover whether a book will interest you or not.  Or to find out how dire the threesome quotient is.



Last Edited on: 1/29/10 1:28 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/29/2010 10:23 AM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2010
Posts: 400
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I can agree that a review is an opinion, but at least it is backed by information that I can make an evaluation from more than a remark that "I liked the book" provides.  I know that a LOT of people here see that as adequate.  I also understand that those here who write such statements feel upset by what I have stated.  I knew when I wrote that it would affect some negatively.  I had hoped to help them realize that more information is needed and here is a guideline that they can overlook and give that info.  It is fine for those who believe that a statement of " I like/hate the book" is acceptable, adequate.  Ignore for one minute that this is what, supposedly JANETTE WANTS and think about what does someone else want.  Maybe they want more.

I used the "I" at the first post to give it some personality.  I should have found a way to make it impersonal.  "Individuals would like to read . . ." might have been better accepted, instead of everyone assuming that is is just for me. 

An emphasis has been on the sexual content, and a large majority (don't know the stats so I can't give them) of romances have some level of "making love".  I am not talking about just that aspect.  There is emotional, psychological abuse that some of the characters are exposed to.  Bigotry, profiling, are just a few that many have read in books. 

Granted, those are my opinions, but many think a book that states a women should remain in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant shows a unacceptable attitude we all DON'T want for our daughter (or sons) to be exposed to.

And if you think your 13 year old daughter/sister/cousin isn't reading a book that is geared for adults; well a LARGE majority do.  Because you don't see them in their bedroom doesn't mean they doesn't read them.  Would you hand your 14 year old son a Playboy magazine and tell to fantasy about himself with those women?  What is the difference when a young girl is given a book that is geared for adults and reads the book and thinks such behavior is acceptable.

We go to movies, allow our children to go to movies, buy video games that are rated, and the rating is on the OUTSIDE of the package.  When you go to rent a movie, do you go," it's okay to get this movie in the XXX section for my 14 year old son/daughter to watch"?  Legally, you may be allowed (I don't know the laws in that area)  to rent a R or X rated movie and watch it in front of your child, although many would frown at it.

Why then shouldn't it be acceptable to state this book would fall somewhere into the area of X, R, GP, Gl due to sexual level, violence and language and other contents if rating if it was a movie?  Why is it wrong to ask that the reader state that " this book seems to approve of the purple people eater eating green people instead". 

If there are six reviews, and four of them remark that the book is good and why, give some information, and two others others state it is awful and give information then an individual can make again, and educated guess if they will like it.  If I buy or request such a book from that information and I don't then like it; that is my problem -- not the posters or the writer, it is just my tastes in books is different. 

Janette

Date Posted: 1/29/2010 11:22 AM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
Posts: 1,588
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Janette, I can sympathize with your desire for more information in reviews, so as to avoid books you KNOW you wouldn't like, if only you had that little bit of information.  Particularly when you think many other people would like that same bit of information.  Unfortunately, "it ain't a gonna happen."  Not more than occassionally, coincidentally. 

It seems to me that your best option is simply not to buy a book unless you've physically held in your hands, paged through it, and spot read.  Personally, my habit is to read the first chapter, the last chapter, and randomly throughout--typically 50 pages or so.  (Unless it's a book by an author I already know and like.)  Then I can be confident that I'll like the book enough to plunk down my hard-earned cash.  Since joining PBS and switching to on-line purchasing, that's not an option.  But I'm much more willing to take that risk with $2.38-2.77, compared to $15-28.

Date Posted: 1/29/2010 12:14 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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I think most people understand your point, Janette, and I totally sympathize with the problem you're having.  This is pretty much the reason why I have links so many book review blogs bookmarked and I pretty much always check them before I order something from here or put a new book on my "to buy" list.  It's great to find a detailed review here, but since this is not exactly the type of venue I would expect to rely on for detailed reviews, it doesn't bother me when I don't find them here.  The same with Amazon.  I know that the reviews there are mostly from readers posting their opinions & not from professional writers, so I don't rely on them as much; it's more a matter of making do with what info is available.  I write my reviews with the intention of being helpful to someone else who is trying to decide if they want to try that book or not - watching my homegirls' backs, as it were:P   I imagine it's the same for most people, whether they go into great detail in their reviews or not.  And there are a lot of resources available on the web, especially if your taste in books falls somewhere in the romance genre.  Starting with the Love & Romance forum here on this site.  The ladies who use that forum are veritable founts of information & they don't mind sharing it to anyone who cares to join them.  Understanding, of course, that all they can really offer is their opinions on the books they're currently reading - mostly on the What are we reading this week? threads.  I'm also going to post some links to the review blogs that I use regularly myself.  Hopefully you will find them useful as well...

 

Goodreads:  http://http://www.goodreads.com/  There are lots of reviews & book recommendations, but you'll get the most out of it if you add people to your friends list, so that you can follow what they're reading & get email alerts when they post comments & reviews. Lots of ladies from the L&R forum use Goodreads, so it's probably easiest to start building your friends list from there.

This is All About Romance, which has discussion boards & lots of other features.  The link is to their review archives: http://www.likesbooks.com/archivesindex.html  You'll need to know a title or author's last name to search for reviews.

The Romance Reader: http://http://www.theromancereader.com/newarchive.html  Similar to AAR, but they use a slightly different format & archive reviews alphabetically by author.

Dear Author: http://dearauthor.com/  Reviews written in the format of letters to the author.  Plus comments posted by readers posted below.  There's a dropdown menu to search their archives by grade.

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books:  Another handy romance review blog, and like the others listed, they review erotica, paranormals, etc.  Also archives book reviews by grade, but if you read the blog regularly, you can keep up with them as they're posted.  Also allows reader comments.  They have lots of contests & giveaways, so it's worthwhile to follow the daily postings.

The Good, The Bad, and the Unread: http://goodbadandunread.com/ Similar to Dear Author & Smart Bitches. Allows reader comments & has other interesting articles & features.



Last Edited on: 1/29/10 12:21 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 1/29/2010 12:47 PM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2007
Posts: 13,182
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This place is supposed to be fun. I don't think we all need to learn how to write the "perfect" review because this is not a place for professional reviews. 

As a professional writer, I think you have some good ideas, however, there is a time and a place for everything and this is not the place. 

I don't think the one-word reviews are worthwhile either but I'm not getting why you would think an education is necessary. Let it go, enjoy the place. 

And welcome, I notice you're new! Don't take PBS so seriously. ;)

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