How Do You Review?

True story, I was going to write this post about a month ago. I had it scheduled, and partially written (let’s not even try to pretend I had finished it), and then I saw that Kaitlin at Reading is My Treasure had posted this post with kind of the same idea. The difference was, that Kaitlin’s review process was impressive, and well thought out, and kind of awesome in general. So not only did I not want to post because the post ideas were so similar (I know, not like we are the only two people on a book blog who’ve discussed how they review, but two days apart seemed rather silly!), but because she has her act together. And I do not.

But the more I thought about it, I realized that maybe it doesn’t matter that I am not as organized (read: not organized in any way) or that I don’t have a set reviewing style (unless winging it counts as a “style”). It might just be fun for us to see both sides of the reviewing spectrum: from organized, to a slovenly mess, to everything in between. So, I am going to show you what happens when I attempt to review!

Part One: Reading the book 

This is fairly obvious, because how could I review something I hadn’t read? So I pretty much always read in my bed. It is comfy, and it makes me happy. Also, this picture is staged, I am not reading. Why is my hair such a mess if I staged it? I have no excuses, other than I simply didn’t look in a mirror. 
Anyway, so I read. And as a lot of you do, I jot down a few notes while I read. But when I say “jot down”, I mean scribble some random thoughts that I know my mind will absolutely lose if I don’t write them down. For some books, especially those that I know I am not writing reviews of anytime soon, I write a bit more. For some, I am lucky if there’s one comprehensible thought on paper. 

 See? Lots of thoughts on Falls the Shadow, but Pandemic didn’t seem to require the same amount of note-taking. For comparison, these are about the same rating, in relatively the same genre, so there wasn’t anything drastically different about either.

Part Two: Writing the Review
At some point, generally about two hours after I plan on publishing the review because my children have finally fallen asleep, I leap into a panicked state and run to the computer to get myself together. No worries, my desk is in as many shambles as my reviews and my hair. I sense a pattern. 



So here is how the process goes:
1. Go onto Goodreads to get all the book info. Spent an inordinate amount of time playing around on Goodreads, checking what friends have added, looking up random books that have nothing to do with the one I’m reviewing. Finally stop playing around long enough to get the information into the post. 
2. Assemble the post “basics”, the stuff that requires a minimal amount of intelligent thinking. If I’m having an exceptionally good week, this part may already be done! (This is quite rare, but it does happen!) 
3. Sit around for a long while staring at this part of the post, the part that provides me with a nice allotment of anxiety. What am I going to say? Is anything going to make sense? Am I going to sound like a moron? Then I will just start looking around the room. 

4. Hop on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram. Check my email. Check the day’s news. Maybe I will pin some Hunger Games stuff on Pinterest, maybe I will tweet someone. I will visit other blogs, and comment on your posts! This can vary, but rest assured that this has less than nothing to do with the book review. Step 4 is better labeled as “procrastination”. 

5. Write the review! I will reach an inspired moment at some juncture during which I will be able to form thoughts that make at least some sense. I generally write the review in one sitting, because once I start, it is best not to stop. I don’t know how long it will be before another bout of motivation comes along. I wrap it up, do a quick scan for mistakes, and hit “schedule” before I start second guessing every word I’ve wrote. And then I am pretty pleased with myself.

So, fellow reviewers, do tell: How do YOU review? 

Posted August 22, 2014 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in Discussion / 33 Comments


33 responses to “How Do You Review?

  1. My “system” for reviewing varies but most the time I write reviews right away so I don’t forget anything, unless it’s a book I would classify as meh, if I don’t hate it and don’t love it then I procrastinate sometimes for two weeks before forcing myself to finally review it. Besides that I get all my thoughts out as quick as possible in the review trying to make as much sense as I can(which isn’t a lot mind you) and after reading it three of four times to try and catch all my mistakes I schedule it before I think of more things to gush/rant about. =)
    I have a chaotic “system”.

    • Ohh see, I procrastinate much longer. Like, months. I have been stewing in this review of Tabula Rasa for months now. It’s hard when I liked a book, but can’t quite put into words why (looking at Tabula Rasa, of course!), and then as time goes by, I remember even less! It’s a mess.

      Also, I cannot read what I wrote more than once! If I do, I freak out and start picking it apart. So fingers crossed that there aren’t *too* many glaring errors!

  2. Your system is a lot more organised than me. YOU TAKE NOTES. *applauds loudly* My note taking, if I’m feeling really industrious, is taking a picture of the page number with my iPod. That’s right, folks, I don’t even write it down. I take a picture. do I get an award for laziness, perhaps?? Yes? Yes.
    I write my reviews like as SOON as I finished the book, otherwise I forget all I want to say. Sometimes I wait, maybe, an hour. Mostly it’s ASAP though. I spend most of my time looking for gifs though. The actual review I just blurt whatever pops into my head, hence it’s so random. 😉
    Step #4 definitely made me giggle. XD This was an epic post!!

    • Aw thanks! You can totally have an award! The only reason I started taking notes is because my brain, which used to be pretty good at remembering stuff, seems to have failed me.

      My problem is, I usually read WAY too late, so it is like, 3 or 4am when I finally finish a book. So I don’t think I could muster up a review that would be much more than gibberish at that point.

      Also, I spend forever trying to find the right gif too! I need like, a gif maker or something. I’ll be taking applications.

  3. My system consist of me hopping on Goodreads and typing away. Sometimes I let my thoughts simmer a bit before I write up a review. Yep that’s not a system at all. I’m always very impressed with people who write down notes or mark their books with sticky notes. I want to do that too but honestly, when I’m reading, I just read. I feel like I’ll miss important parts of the books if I don’t jot it down but then if it’s not memorable enough for me to remember, it’s probably not important to my review. And I procrastinate A LOT when I’m writing my reviews hahaha 🙂

    • That is a really good point! It probably isn’t that important if I don’t remember it! Usually what I write down is like, a passing thought that I just know I won’t remember the next day. It sounds like procrastination is the theme of the day 🙂

  4. I think we are twins, yep that is the only explanation I have for the similarities in our review process 😀 You my dear ROCK! Thank you so much for sharing, I am not alone!

  5. My reviewing process is actually not as organized as it seems in my post. 😀 I’ve realized that I forgot to mention just how much I procrastinate while writing a review (it’s a LOT). It can take me weeks to finally decide to write my review. I still have a review to write for a book I read last month. . . . D:

    This was a fun post to read! It’s always interesting to see how other blogger’s go about reviewing.

    • Sure, sure, you just don’t want all the slackers knowing you are on top of things 😉 And I am right there with you- it has seriously been several months since I have read a few books I need to review, I will have to end up practically rereading them!

  6. Haha your post is so cute 🙂 I love the fact that you totally admitted that you staged the reading photo! So funny.

    Our reviewing styles aren’t really anything alike…but I love your honesty and I think that, as long as it works for you, it’s great!

    • Haha thanks! I agree with you- different things work for different people! Like in school, if I studied a lot, it made me nervous and I did worse. So I just went with winging it, just like I do now 😉

  7. Hahaha! This is me! 🙂 Its a lot easier for me to write my review right after I finish the book, but, when I finish the book at 1 in the morning (on my kindle) I can’t exactly turn on the light and get to work. Mu parentds would kill me! So I write it later.

  8. You are adorable! And really, your reviewing process is not that different from mine. I’m not consistent or organized at all, except I take notes (I have notebooks filled with quotes, weird words, and info I think I’ll need to remember). I actually always took notes, even before I became a book blogger and started writing reviews. I also differ in how long it takes to write a review (Goodreads procrastination is the wooooorst). Sometimes I’ll do it right after I finish the book; other times, I wait a few days or even a week. And maybe I’ll write half of it one day and half the next. Just depends on how long it takes me to find the right words. 🙂 I’m usually fairly happy with my reviews, until I start wanting to change things and that leads to rechecking them. Maybe more than a few times. (I know, I know. It’s bad).

    • That’s why I never recheck. Unless I think of something I want to add. Which always spells disaster. Also, I am kind of enormously relieved that not everyone is super organized! I was so scared that it would only be me 🙂

  9. Hhahah! Hmm, when I read a book, I usually write the name of the characters and their role so I don’t end up forgetting those but that’s pretty much all. 😛 Then, when I finish the book, I directly write my review (if possible) since it’s all fresh in my memory. I also go on Goodreads to check some info about the book. I write my review on Word though, not directly in my blog thingy. After, I post it on Goodreads and do copy/past into a new post. Then, take the book cover from Goodreads and blurb and write some information about it and tag it and voilà! It’s not long haha. Maybe two hours max. I usually take 30-50 minutes to write a review. 😛

    • Um, that is SUCH a good idea. How did I not think of that!? I always forget the names (especially of the more minor characters) and end up having to go back and look. And I am always double-checking info on Goodreads! Like “wait, am I SURE that was how she spelled her name?” or whatever.

      I probably take about 30 minutes too, start to finish, if I am not procrastinating 😉 I find that when I actually write, it is pretty fast, but all the prep stuff takes the longest!

  10. I find it interesting to read how other people review and what their style is. btw I think winging it is totally a style.
    My method for reviewing is: read the book, right after I finish the book or at least before I start the next book I write my review on goodreads, then make the post on my blog and schedule it. then if I am lucky enough to remember or a author explicetly asked for it I cross post my review on Amazon and B&N. I don’t take notes during reading as I feel like that keeps me out of the flow of the book. I only take noties with beta reads and I find those take more time and energy then normal reads.

    • I agree about notes taking you out of the flow. I usually take mine during a break I was taking anyway. Like, if I have to put the book down for the night, run to the bathroom, whatever, I will scribble a few things if need be then. Otherwise, yeah, I would feel weird, like it was an assignment or something!

    • ah okay, that makes sense. I usually take mental notes of things I want to mention in my review or things that really grab my attention. I sometimes forget things though, so I can see how writing those things down during breaks could help!

  11. BUAHAHAHAHAHA! I LOVE THIS POST! Yup, you basically just wrote down my exact same review writing process. Except… sometimes it takes me like 3 weeks to get a review done. I definitely need to really improve on that, but I find it so hard. I used to be a lot better but now I am getting worse at writing them.

    • Aw, thanks! Oh, I am SO bad with time! I started a review in MAY and still haven’t finished it (I think that may be my goal for tonight, actually). I find that as I get more books, things are getting harder and harder to manage. It’s great on one hand (more books!) but rough because I am going to have to get much better at time management and organization!

  12. haha! I like your system, especially number four. I always try to plan ahead, but it rarely works. My notes would seem insane if read by anyone else, but they get the job done. I always edit my reviews several times, but I try not to put too much pressure on myself, this is supposed to be fun, right?

    • I am terrible at planning ahead. No matter what I try, it never works out! And yes, definitely for fun! I don’t even think twice if there’s an error in someone else’s post or something, because it isn’t like, some professional endeavor, and maybe they were busy goofing around on Twitter too 😉

  13. You know, my reviewing process sounds an awful lot like yours. The major difference is I almost never schedule a review. I hit post after spell-checking and hold my breath that I’ve caught all those weird typos. (Which, usually I don’t, so I scramble back to the edit button to fix the error, and I hope that no one notices).

    – Jackie

    • The only real reason I schedule ahead is because I have some kind of weird compulsion with posts having to go live at midnight. I haven’t a clue why, I just always have! And I do the same thing with the edit button too (and I am so, so afraid someone will see the error before I can fix it!).

  14. This is pretty much how I review, too. I’ve been writing the same review for three days. I want to post it tomorrow, but I’ve been sitting here all afternoon and I don’t really want to sit here any longer. What to do? I’m probably going to power through and get it done so I can have the evening to do something else.

    • Yes! I do the same thing, and it is such a struggle. Often, I end up abandoning the post in question for the time being, and end up writing a completely different review! So weird, but like you said, I want to be finished!

  15. Lol, that sounds a bit like how I write my reviews. First I stall for a day or two. Sometimes I’ll write down initial points, thoughts, topics, feelings that I’d like to bring up in my review right after finishing the book. After stalling for a day or two, I sit down with my laptop and put down all the information (publisher, author, page length, pub. date, cover pic, etc..). Then I check my email, go on twitter. Stall. Then I get panicked when I realize how much time has past and that I haven’t posted a review for awhile. I frantically writing down everything I’m feeling. Read it over once. Stop reviewing. Watch tv. Live. Come back the next day, reread and revise. Publish or schedule the post. Voila! Quite unprofessional, but it gets the job done. xD

    • Hahha yes! I am stalling right now in writing one actually! I have all the info down, but I am checking twitter, email (where I realized I missed your comment for a few days- sorry!), and actually, I was literally staring at the wall for a few minutes! I find that with middle-of-the-road books, I have the WORST time, because I don’t feel passionately one way or the other. Right now, I am stalling on like, a 3.5 star 😉

Leave a Reply