Discussion: What do you look for in a book review?

Just a quick discussion post today, friends. I’m struggling to keep up with all the ARCs I requested and going through a bit of a reading slump where I don’t want to read any of the books I “have to.” Oh well! I am a book hoarder and apparently that extends to digital copies of books, because I just keep requesting more ARCs, so the pile just keeps getting deeper and heavier and burying more firmly under…

ANYWAY, back to the actual purpose of this post. I want to know what you look for in a book review. Personally, I look for some hints as to the quality of the writing. When it comes to historical romance (especially Regency romance) I want to know if there are any glaring anachronisms – that’s my pet peeve and will make me DNF a book so bad if a Regency romance has, say, a gentleman and a lady alone in a room with a closed door and NOBODY EVEN CARES. That just would not happen. DNF. Done. Also if the book seems like it just goes on and on and never actually goes anywhere.

I also like to see some thoughts on the world building, especially in fantasy and sci-fi novels, as well as an assessment of the characters. Are they flat cardboard cut-outs, or are they fully developed, multi-faceted characters? What are they like? Would I want to be friends with them? (I’m much more likely to want to read a book about characters I’d like to be friends with… or about characters I love to hate!) Are there interesting side characters? Is the dialogue fast-paced and witty? Is the tone dark and gritty? Is it definitely going to make me cry, or have a stupid silly grin on my face that makes my husband ask me what on earth I’m reading? (Yes, as you can tell, that happens a lot…)

Another really useful fact is if a book is part of a series, and if I need to read other books prior to reading this one in order to really appreciate it. Many romance series, for example, are really individual stories than can be read as stand-alone novels that are interconnected (at varying levels of complexity) to the other books in the series. You can totally read Lenora Bell’s Disgraceful Dukes books in any order without missing out on a lot. I would not advise reading Eloisa James’ Desperate Duchesses series out of order as there is an ongoing plot/chess game with three of the side characters that would really confuse you as it weaves in and out of the books leading up to the ones that actually deal with said characters (and you’d have missed out on a LOT of important back story once you finally do read their books).

So that’s me! Not too demanding in what I’m looking for, eh? Heh. OH! And I HATE spoilers! If it’s a plot point I can’t learn from reading the blurb on the back of the cover, in the first few pages, is obvious, or doesn’t actually spoil anything – then I don’t want to see it!! *covers eyes*

What about you? What do you look for when reading a book review? What do you hate to see? What do you wish reviewers would include more of?

12 thoughts on “Discussion: What do you look for in a book review?

  1. I hate spoilers in reviews when they're not clearly marked! But I do look for how the writing is and since characters are the most important part of a book to me, I always want to know how they are. Are they relatable? Are they properly fleshed out and not one-dimensional? That kind of thing. Though obviously world-building is important too.


  2. I don’t want unmarked spoilers! I’ve had too many books spoiled by reviewers. In a review, I like to know about the quality of the writing, the character development, and what the book is about. Sometimes the synopsis is vague or not accurate, and I’d like to know that. Interesting discussion! Aj @ Read All The Things!


  3. I am all about the voice of the review. If someone is like \”I liked it. This happened, and this happened, and blah blah\”, I get a little turned off. But if the writer puts a bit of their own voice into the review, makes it almost a conversation about the book (as you do!!!), I am here for it.


  4. I love knowing whether it's part of a series-right off the bat! I am currently reading two HR's that are both part of a series-the first one I knew-but the second one, I had no idea!! I HATE spoilers-there is no reason for that-to me!! And I enjoy characters that are well defined-lke getting to know a person. And I love a little humor where you least expect it. For instance, when I read the first book in the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich-I literally bust out laughing!! Parts of it were just hilarious! Now I do enjoy reading something I know absolutely nothing about too-that can be refreshing!! I have just DNF'd my first book of the year because I just couldn't get interested in the story at all. Terrible-I hate not finishing, but hopefully I won't have too many of them this year. I have a discussion post also (my first one) and it's kinda similar to this one. Hope you will visit!!https://justmeandmyblogreviews.blogspot.com/2018/03/why-wednesday.html


  5. Hmmm. Since every book is different, I guess I don't really know what I want to know lol. Like, there might be something in the blurb that has caught my attention, and I'll want to know about that, what it means, if it was done well, etc. But I guess the one thing I do usually want to know is what the characters are like, if they're complex and developed, if they're flawed, their personalities, that sort of thing, since characters are the most important thing to me! And I hate spoilers too.


  6. I read (and reviewed) a book not long ago where the synopsis on Goodreads was downright WRONG with some basic facts about the story! A don't normally talk too much about what the book is about, because I also include the blurb from Goodreads in my review and I feel like they paid someone to write that so they clearly will do a better job of it than me, right? Except apparently they don't always! haha. a


  7. Thanks for your comment, and for linking to your discussion post, Joann. I'll definitely go check it out!I ALWAYS include in my reviews if the book is part of a series (if I don't say it is, it means it either isn't or it's the first book in the series) as well as if you need to read the previous books or not before reading that one. As you clearly already know, HR's are notorious for having series that may or may not need to be read in order! I try to include if it can be read as a stand alone, and the possibility of spoilers for any earlier books as well. \”Can this be read as a stand alone?\” must be my most asked question on Goodreads, haha. 🙂


  8. It seems like there's definitely a general consensus that spoilers = bad, stuff about the characters = good. 🙂 I get what you mean about wanting to know more about something in the blurb that catches your attention – but usually that ends up pushing me to read the book to find out more, rather than reviews, because I'm SO afraid of spoilers!


  9. Thanks for your comment, Nicole! There are so many times I want to talk about things that stand out, but then they'd be SPOILERS! That's why I love buddy reads, so I can gush about the WHOLE book with someone without worrying about possibly spoiling anything. 🙂


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