A Review Style Restructure

Hello lovelies!

I hope you’re all doing well as we start off another week. Life is about to get really hectic for me (I’ll have to write about that in another post!), so we’ll have to see how everything goes and how much of a balancing act I can pull off with everything. I’m also struggling because fall is my favorite time of year (please, can get stop with the 90+ degree weather dogs and start getting to the 70s?!), but I’m also a bit terrified for fall to come this year, since I doubt the pandemic is going to get better during the introduction of flu season…

But, I digress. That’s actually not what I’m hear to talk about today! Instead, I wanted to touch on a topic that I’m not really sure how to approach, so I think this post is just going to be a bunch of rambling until I figure shit out, so…apologies in advance? I want to talk about writing reviews and how I think I want my review style to change, but I’m not sure how to do that or what it’s going to look like (though, I hope I might figure it out, by the end of this post; spoiler alert: totally did).

You see, if you’re familiar with my reviews, they aren’t very structured–and I don’t think I’m looking to make that traditionally structured in any sort of way. I’m not trying to break down the plot, the characters, the structure, the pacing or anything like that (though, I do enjoy it when people are able to write something so in-depth!). I still really enjoy the fact that my reviews are centered in how a book makes me feel, rather than trying to read it critically, like I did for school.

It’s usually just a word vomit of my thoughts (which, all reviews are, in a sense). And I’ve been feeling…a little let down with my reviews, lately? They have always been the lowest in terms of engagement (and, let’s be real: they always will be, because they just aren’t as interesting in terms of the other content I write and publish). I just feel like they aren’t doing very much and they don’t really hit exactly where I want them to, because they are feeling…too generic, across all of my reviews? I dunno if that even makes sense, but that’s sort of what I’m feeling.

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So, I want to improve. As someone who has a platform (I am almost up to 800 followers!? How did this happen!? Even though I’m sure a 1/4 of that is bots, thank you so much for being here. Perhaps I’ll even get up to 1,000, one day?!!?), I think I need to recognize that and know that my reviews could potentially carry weight. As someone who reviews ARCs, I need to honor that agreement I made with the publisher and write quality reviews (and do a better job of reading them on time; but that’s for a later post). As someone who wants to create a safe space in her blog, I want to write reviews that people can trust and enjoy reading.

However, there are few things I don’t want to do, either:

  • I’m still really not into the specific breakdowns of narrative structures and craft. While I do recognize that can be really helpful in highlighting strengths and weaknesses within a story, it’s honestly not my style. And I don’t want to sacrifice that.
  • I don’t want to take notes while I read? Reading is one of the few things I do because I love it, for pure enjoyment. And while, through blogging, it has, at times, felt like a job and started to transition from a hobby to a responsibility, I want to try and hold onto making reading feel like a break from all of my responsibilities as much as possible.

So, where does that leave me?

I think I have an idea.

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I definitely want to start incorporating trigger warnings at the start of every review. I think it is important to help protect readers to let them know what might trigger them before they read a book. I’m going to start utilizing Lauren Hannah’s Book Trigger list, as well as start adding books that I’ve read to this amazing database, created by Fadwa and Laura that aren’t there already.

(I recognize that some people don’t see the need for them or are worried about potential spoilers. But, even as someone who HATES SPOILERS, I’d rather spoiler someone than have them be accidentally triggered by a book they only read because my review made them want to. Plus, if your book is using a trigger as a major plot twist or reveal, perhaps you should look into why that is happening in the first place and make sure there is a valid reason to be doing that? 👀)

I also like including the details of the book (the title and author, of course, but also the publisher and the blurb), as well as any general notes (if it’s an ARC, if there are spoilers, that sort of thing). This I have always done, but I think I want to format it a different way. I’m not sure exactly how, yet, but I might mess with this, so stay tuned!

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The main thing I think I’m going to change is how I write my reviews. Instead of writing a review in the way I usually do (free form thoughts), I’m going to try and break it down by my main three likes I enjoyed about the book and main three dislikes. That way, I can try and be a little more focused and a little less generic, it still focuses on my emotions (and I think I can do this without taking notes), but also gives me a little more structure, while also encouraging me to review the book ASAP after I finish it, so all of my thoughts are fresh!

I made a template blog post of what I think I’m going to include and how I want to structure it and I’m excited about this change! I’ve not been feeling as confident in my reviews as late and I’m hoping this change in format and restructuring, slightly, will spice them up in a way that I need to make writing them enjoyable again (and hopefully make them more enjoyable for you, too).

I’ll try this out with The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K.S. Villoso, hopefully later this week, if not early not week, so please, let me know what you think of the new approach! And I’d love to hear about what you think about reviews in the comments below. Do you enjoy writing them? Do you have a certain style or way you approach them that you prefer to use? Anything you’d like to see differently, about mine? Let me know!

Thanks for reading!

Cheers.post signature

19 thoughts on “A Review Style Restructure”

  1. Like you, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my reviews and if they’re even any good. I use an outline, the past couple of months I’ve been using the CAWPILE method to rate/review and I find that’s helping me to really hash out what I think of a book. While reading digital ARCS I’ve been enjoying using the highlight and note tools on the Kindle APP. I find that makes it much easier to keep track of quotes, thoughts, questions, triggers, etc…Thanks for sharing that trigger list and book list, I’ll be adding a link to these in my reviews! And you’re right – WHY is a trigger being used to move the plot forward? Hmmm…I never thought to question it before.

    1. Reviews are so hard to judge too, you know? And, of course, we are our worst critics, so…*shrugs* But, it sounds like you have a good system down, which is awesome!! And you’re welcome, I hope they are helpful!

  2. Personally, I really enjoy your book reviews, but I get that need to change things up. I’ve changed mine a few times, and they just seem to be getting longer, haha. Writing reviews used to be more fun for me, but since some authors have started using pieces of my reviews in their promotional materials, I now freak out about every word I write, which is probably why I enjoy your reviews so much because it feels like there’s a piece of your heart in them. I’m really excited to see the changes you’ll be making, though!

    1. Aww, Kat, thank you SO MUCH. The idea that anyone enjoys them is still mind-blowing to me, so I appreciate you greatly! Oh, mine definitely get longer (and I feel this format might even make them longer, while it’ll just be broken up a little bit more). Oh gosh, I can’t even imagine that kind of pressure! I don’t think I’ve ever been used in promotional tools before, but my goodness; that’s exciting and terrifying at the same time!

      Thank you! Me too. 😛

  3. Good luck! I’d much rather read review that focus on overall feelings, likes/dislikes, etc than the ones that break down character, plot, pacing. So long as there’s some basic info included (page count, publisher, whether it’s an ARC), I like reviews that show a blogger’s personal approach, so your new idea sounds great — looking forward to seeing it!

  4. I understand why you want to make these changes. The trigger bit sounds like a good idea, especially if you’re vague enough about it (like just a list of the triggers’ names like: “rape, abuse, suicide”). As for the structure, while I go for the free form, I know some people prefer to be more structured. That’s fine as long as the summary of the plot is still as short as you can make it (I try for only one paragraph). Personally, I’m starting to think I should put the genres and reading age at the top of all my reviews. Not sure if that’s important or not, as it usually comes out in the review anyway.

    1. Yeah, I wouldn’t go so in-depth with triggers to be like, “abuse on this page to this character” type of thing, but more to highlight that it is present. I definitely have read a handful of styles, from structured to freeform! I think you just gotta find the one that works best for you!

  5. This was a really thought provoking write. My reviews are so long and detailed I don’t think anyone really reads them. Maybe writing freely rather than critically is the best idea. Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. Aw, thank you so much!! While I think detailed reviews are AWESOME, I have been guilty of not reading those when I come across them. I think you just gotta find the review style that works for you!

  6. I’ve had my blog for what like 3 years? I still haven’t figured out what I want my review structure to be yet either. Ive been doing a variation of the same thing for a while but I don’t know that I like it. I do like your idea of 3 things yku like and dislike. One day I’ll settle on something. I feel like when I do my reviews will be better and come more naturally.

    1. Right? I’ve been blogging for almost 9 YEARS and I still don’t have it sorted. *facepalm* At least we know we can always experiment and try things out, right?

  7. Best of luck for your new reviews, Nicole, I’m sure they will be fantastic. ❤ I am so happy to hear about the trigger warnings addition, this is a resource that's so, so helpful and I think, so important to include in book reviews, too, so thank you for doing that. I hope that these little changes will inspire you for your reviews, you can do this! As long as you write with your heart, that's the most important 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Marie!! I think I’ll get a chance to try it out next week, which will be really fantastic. I’m really excited for it, so we’ll see how it goes! ❤

  8. I’ve actually ended up doing the opposite and simplifying my reviews, just because I found myself getting tired. Most of my reviews these days are bite-sized reviews. But honestly, I think sometimes you just have to change things up in order to keep things fresh. Who knows, maybe I’ll end up going back to my bullet point reviews at some point (I used to do the same as what you’re proposing, with bullets for what I loved and didn’t love). I hope it inspires you to enjoy the review process more!

    1. I think that’s so interesting, because I experience the same: reviews just have a weird way of becoming challenging and I think I have to mix it up, every once in a while, in order to get the steam going in writing them! 😛

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