In posting this, I have officially written three times as many discussions as I did last year! (I wrote three. That isn’t really great commentary on this year, just a really sad commentary on last.) Anyway, I have been thinking lately about how weird some of the stuff I write in reviews is. I kind of want to say “my reviews are stupid” but I don’t know if they’re actually stupid, just… different. Because they aren’t just about the books, or the content. They’re about random stuff that I cannot seem to help my fingers from typing.

In the past several batches of reviews I have written, I have discussed the following:

Guys. These are not book reviews. These are… I have no idea what these are. Some rambling nonsense about my own life, shoved together with a few dissociated thoughts about the actual book, at best. Can you imagine what publicists think when they see these? “Wow I so did not care about this lady’s bird problem.” I say often that I never write enough discussion posts anymore, but… maybe I do? Only, I throw little bits of them into every single thing I compose? Even though they actually have nothing to do with anything, frankly.

So obviously, I needed to ask questions of both me and you, as I do. Do you do this? Do you drop random bits of yourself into your reviews? Or do you keep them strictly “professional grade”? I realized early on that I could never write for any kind of legitimate outlet. Can you even imagine heading over to Kirkus, reading nonsense where some bitch is trying to tell you that “moths are just as bad as birds, really”? No, because it would be silly and I think sites like Kirkus generally do not enjoy silly.

So chat with me, friends! Do you keep your reviews totally book-focused? Or do you… wander, like I seem to? Do you have a preference when reading reviews?

Posted November 3, 2023 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in Discussion, Discussion Challenge / 22 Comments


22 responses to “Are My Reviews Even Reviews?

  1. I used to feel like I had to have a lot of structure to my “reviews”, but I adore some people’s free form reviews, and I have loosened up a bit. I always can “feel” how much you liked a book when I read your reviews, and I am the type of reader that picks up a book to feel and be entertained. I would say your reviews are helpful. I also like that your avoid retelling the story, and you get a lot communicated about a book without going on for 72 paragraphs. I like your style.

    • Aw thank you! I feel like different formats probably work for different people, and this just happens to be mine, and if people don’t connect with that, no worries, I am sure there is someone out there who has the kind of reviews they will connect with. I refuse to retell stories, which I think is why there becomes so much weird nonsense in there- otherwise some reviews would just me me shouting ‘I LOVE THIS” for 3 paragraphs 😂

  2. I think you’re good. As time goes on I realize that we’re not “reviewers” in the sense of, like you say, Kirkus lol. As bloggers it’s way more fun to have some individuality and personality to the reviews. Yours are entertaining but you also get lots of good points across about the story and really help one to know if it’s a good book for them.

    • I mean, you are not wrong! I feel like- I have some admiration for folks who can separate themselves from the review, but at the same time, it also bums me out. Because I feel like if you cannot connect to the reviewer you can’t really tell whether you have the same vibe and therefore whether you’ll like the same crap they do, right? I mean regardless, I am still always going to tell dumb weird stories, so it matters not 😂

  3. Danielle Hammelef

    I’ve always loved your reviews because of the personal connection you discuss in them. Reading them is like talking about the books and therefore, fun. The worst reviews are those that either regurgitate the premise, which nobody needs, or toss out big, fluffy words that really say nothing. I miss not doing dual reviews with you.

    • Aw thank you, that is very sweet! I agree about regurgitation reviews- they are the worst, because they have told me nothing that the synopsis hadn’t told me already! AW I know we should do one sometime on just some random book! I have some time because I only have 3 December books, I should see what you have read recently and we can do one!

  4. Ok, listen: in a world where businesses frequently utilize AI to write mildly plagiarized blog posts to increase SEO and engagement in the hunt for conversions/money (including in the book sphere…with my editing gig, I’m seeing a lot), a blog where the personality of the poster shines through and they’re a real, funny, multi-dimensional person is GOLDEN. Don’t stop posting as a real person, not a bookbot, and any publishers who judge you for it are idiots because it better serves them if people trust your blog and WE DO.
    Ok, off my soapbox.

    I also appreciate that your blog makes me laugh, has introduced me to shows and other bloggers, and has made me think.

    • Aw that is very kind of you! I have no plans to ever try to be… mundane, if that helps! I think I tried it for a minute back around 2016 but it didn’t go well because YAWN. Good news is, I do not care if publishers don’t like it (and honestly, I suspect some do not- but I should say, not publishers, but specific publicists? Which is kind of stupid IMO, and a whole other conversation, but alas) so we’re all set 😂

  5. “Can you imagine what publicists think when they see these? “Wow I so did not care about this lady’s bird problem.””

    “Do you drop random bits of yourself into your reviews? Or do you keep them strictly “professional grade”?”
    I’d say I tend to have a more “professional” approach, but at the same time a personal one, if it makes sense. I write highly structured reviews, too, and I think my style both suits me and makes my reviews recognisable – but at the same time, it makes it harder (and sometimes more boring) to actually write them. I do envy your more unrestricted, fresh approach, and honestly, I think those “random bits of yourself” make your reviews all the more enjoyable!

  6. Most times I stick to just talking about the book but at times I put a small tidbit about myself like if the book is set in Las Vegas I love that since I live there. I don’t mind how someone writes their reviews, it’s their blog and we can do what we want. lol

  7. I’ve always written my reviews as if I were talking to a friend about why they should read this book! So yes, it’s very unprofessional. I try to throw in nice little bits here and there, the kind of things I think publishers like seeing. On rare occasions I do get quoted from my review on these bits that make it into books! But for the most part, I am rambling. I just got finished writing one review that’s up on my blog now in which I didn’t really care for the book and I go on and on about why.

    My reviews for when I do really like the book (which is usually the majority of my reviews) I still go on and on about why. I sometimes find myself drifting and I’ve deleted a few things here and there. Especially if I get ranty about spoilers and such. It’s nice to write it all out and then delete it because I’m like nope, don’t go there, if they think Y about that X then they will totally put together a spoiler! A big one! Lol.

    But yes, I tend to put quite a bit of myself into my reviews. As I treat them like conversations! Like this is what you’d get if you let me talk with no interruptions about the book I just read. I throw in a few “scholarly” comments on occasion, which are still things I totally believe and feel about the story, but for the most part it’s totally me having a conversation…usually with myself! Lol.

  8. Compared to the book reviews you’d see in a college class or a newspaper, no, my reviews aren’t reviews. But, who wants to read a college essay? Nobody. Your reviews are fun, and that’s more interesting than being “real.”

  9. My style has changed so much over the years but my favorite reviews to both write and read are the random ass ones where your personality and love (or dislike) of a book shines through. It gets me the most interested in actually reading a book as well.

    Karen @For What It’s Worth

  10. Jessica

    I write book and movie reviews. For the book I just listened to (Jubilee by Jennifer Givhan) I wrote at the end of the review about how the book reminds me of a semi-similar situation that happened to my best friend.

  11. Oh believe me, I know my reviews suck. I ramble and talk about how the book relates to me personally and how I felt about it. It’s why I know I never get quoted by blog tours or authors or publishers, lol. But hey, I like reading all different kinds of reviews and I think the personal ones can be more fun to read!

  12. Yes, I do drop random crap into my reviews. Stuff probably no one cares about but me. Doesn’t that make each commentary on our book thoughts our own? Sometimes I think…wow, I wrote that? Other times I think, I wrote that :-(?
    sherry @ fundinmental

  13. I try to review books but I usually insert myself. For example, I’ll talk about my reading experiences with the book — book club discussions, audiobook listening with husband, me dragging my feet about length, etc. If I’ve seen a movie (unlikely) I might do a comparison.

    One point about book reviews on blogs, though, is that the effort is for me alone. Very few people read other people’s reviews.


    My discussion post on rereading

  14. Nah I gave up on “professional” a long time ago lol. I think reviews are fun when they have a bit of the reviewer in them. I do occasionally ramble off on a tangent in a review, but sometimes I actually take that tangent and turn it into a discussion post, so you could totally do that!

  15. Snapdragon

    As long as the essence, plot, characters, writing are talk about its a book review. sometimes I do go off on a limb and that usually with the science fiction I read. Particularly the older Sci-fic can get deep into philosophy and science. I like picking that stuff out and talking about it. .

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