Friday, 17 February 2017

The Blog Squad: A Blogger Collaboration - Part II


We are a group of three book bloggers situated on different continents but brought together by our love for books and a penchant for talking about them. We’ve joined our forces to create a collaborative series of posts about book blogging and we hope you’ll enjoy the discussions.


BOOK REVIEWS BY DI - Di Hewlett






Di says....

Absolutely NOT!! In fact, I’ve visited blogs that don’t accept (or request) any ARCs at all - they are totally dedicated to the backlist.


In my opinion if you have a blog and you talk about books for the majority of your posts then you are a ‘proper’ book blogger. It does also help to have a mildly serious book acquisition problem - you borrow, buy or get books thrown at you left, right and center but let me just tell you that if you START a blog you’re going to have an even bigger problem than the one you have now. I acquire WAAAAY more books now than before I had a blog, which is saying something….


Uma says...

Absolutely not! Like Di says, I’ve seen blogs who don’t accept or request ARCs. I think a ‘proper’ book blogger is one who talks about books for the most of their blog posts.

That being said, I do understand it feels ‘important’ or ‘cool’ to be reading and reviewing an ARC. I’m guilty of that feeling. Everytime I get approved for ARCs on NetGalley it just feels so awesome but it’s because of this feeling that I now have tons of ARCs piled up and no time! An advice to new (and old) bloggers, kindly exercise caution and control while using Netgalley or you might just find yourself buried in a mountain of ARCs!

Amy says...

Definitely not! Clue’s in the name ;) If you love books, blog about them; whether you receive them for review or not. I still get library books and blog about them, even when I do receive review copies (or ARCs). As Di says, if the majority of your posts are about books, then you’re  a book blogger. It doesn’t matter where you get the books from.

Since I blog about movies too, I guess I’m not strictly a book blogger. I call myself that because I accept review copies and the majority of my posts about about books, but I use the term loosely. Movies are just as important as books on my blog, so I guess I’m half-half :)   




Di says....

In general I will take a few notes while I read a book (if I remember!!) and I also try to pick out the quotes that mean the most to me while I’m reading and save those away for later too.

I always try to rate a book as soon as I finish it so that I’m rating it on ‘feel’. I might note glaring technical errors in my review, but I don’t want the writing of the review to affect my rating which is based on how the book made me feel and the overall enjoyment factor at the end.

Due to my less than stellar organization skills at the moment AND lack of spare time (in which I do my reading and blogging) I have been totally failing at writing my reviews timeously. I always try to get them out as soon as possible (before I forget any of the details) but sometimes I’ll have to flick back through the book while I’m doing the review.

Uma says...

Alright! Confession time. I don’t take notes while reading. I tried a couple of times but decided that I couldn’t treat the process of reading a book like a job. Having to take notes distracts me from the joy of just reading. I try to do my reviews as soon as I finish reading to capture exactly what I think and feel as I close the book.

I know I’m currently a bit behind on my reviews. I blame the thousand and hundred assignments and tests my Professors at college are throwing at me. But I’ve come up with a new time management plan and will hopefully have all my missed reviews up by the end of the month.

Anyways, while I write a review I focus on three main aspects of the book - Characters. Plot, and Writing. I also make a list of things I liked and didn’t like about the book (I’ve had people tell me they find the list really helpful) and then I conclude by mentioning what I thought of the book in a maximum of 3-4 sentences.

Amy says...

*coughs* I may or may not but totally do OCD about my blog schedule and review process ;) I’m a freak when it comes to organising, and blogging and reviewing just takes that a huge step further.
I take a lot of notes when I’m reading. Always. I have a folder with review notes, and I also write down the dates I started and finished the book. Then, when I’m finished it, I’ll mark it as read on Goodreads with a short “review to come” as the review.  After that, I’ll look in my diary and fit the review in, so I always know at least three days before when I’m going to type the review out and post it on my blog. I try not to hold off longer than two weeks.
Confession: I never write a review as soon as I’ve finished the book. Never. It’s just never worked like that for me. And personally, I don’t find  the review changes because I’ve waited - as soon as I start the review (notes in front of me) all the feeling comes back, so I’m able to type from the heart. (Hopefully).

As for the review itself, I usually do the same as Uma does: divide it into sections of Character, Plot, and Writing.  And occasionally, depending on the book (or movie), I’ll do a “Liked” and “Disliked” list, although I think that can sometimes make the review seem too impersonal and “lazy”. Thus I try to avoid doing that.  

Like Uma, I also provide a three sentence (give or take) concise summary of my overall thoughts, at the end of my review.  



Di says....

I mostly do - even if it’s going to be a horribly negative review. I do this for a number of reasons:
  • Publishers and authors NEED honest feedback - if you have no constructive criticism from your audience it is very difficult to improve. In my reviews I’m not going to attack the author or just say that ‘This book is AWFUL: don’t read it’ and leave it at that - I will back up my reasoning and I will EXPLAIN why I didn’t enjoy something. No matter what, an author has worked on their book a heck of a lot longer than I will work on my review and I will respect that.
  • A lot of readers that first want to check out the reviews of a book will not trust a book that only has highly rated reviews (myself included).
  • I have pretty high standards in a lot of cases and I don’t want to fool any people that read my reviews into thinking that I will rate everything highly - I will not. I am an honest reviewer and I think that’s so important to have any sort of credibility.

At the end of the day, reading is so subjective and no reader will enjoy everything. Publicity is important for a book and I still want to put it out there for other people to hear about something that they might like to read. If a publisher or author asked me to pull a book from my blog - I would do it - but I would still leave the review on my Goodreads because that’s just who I am.

Uma says...

YES! (Please let it slide that I’m currently behind on writing reviews and so technically, I haven’t written reviews for all the books I’ve read. I promise to get to them soon.) But as for whether I write negative reviews or not, I DEFINITELY DO. I’ve written reviews for book I gave 2 stars or almost DNFed.

I think negative reviews are important for readers ,authors and publishers. Authors and publishers are looking for honest feedback and readers are looking for reasons why they might or might not like a book. A a reader, before I begin reading a book (especially a hyped book), I go onto Goodreads and look for spoiler free positive AND negative reviews.

As a reviewer, I make my negative reviews as detailed as I would a positive one. I explain why I didn’t like certain aspects of the book. I also mention the positive aspects about every book I review. I understand that as an author it’s scary to put your book out there and let people judge it so I never just say “OMG, the book was horrible guys. Skip it.” That’s not fair. I never tell people in my reviews not to read a book just because it wasn’t my cup of tea and also I give concrete reasons as to why I didn’t enjoy the book.

Amy says...

Yes and no. If it’s a school book, then no. But if it’s a library book or review copy or simply a book I’ve bought myself, then yes.
Negative reviews are really hard - and awkward - to do, especially if you’ve received the book for review. In that case, I try to focus on the positives while still being honest. I’m also much more aware of what I’m saying and I try not to rant.  
In short, having to write a negative review doesn’t stop me from reviewing the book. But I’ll try not to rant (even when it’s REALLY hard!) and, if it’s a review copy, I’ll be a lot more “gentle” - while still being honest.

So I do review every book I read, unless it’s a school book.



That's all for this week! I hope you will check out the other collaborative posts too!


We hope you’ve enjoyed our discussion post! Please talk to us and let us know YOUR answers below. What do you think of our responses? If you have any specific questions you’d like us to address in the future, please let us know in the comments section below. Stay tuned for next week’s questions!

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