Wednesday, August 28, 2019
ARTICLE - Is There a Right Way to Review?
I have been thinking about putting my thoughts down as a reviewer for quite some time. It was after reading a difficult book while dealing with ill health that these thoughts came to mind.
When you read a book for the sake of content, your review might sound entirely different from the next reader or reviewer. Why do so many reviews of the same book sound so differently?
Do some read just to read?
Do some read for content? For connection? For continuity?
How about author connection, though far and wide, the majority of authors will always be strangers to us? So, why mention said connection? What is the author doing in their intent when writing a book? That is something that I seriously consider with just about every book that I read.
When a reader seeks out an author’s motivation, it might just color the affect the book had on them.
Research is imperative to me. When an author ties in reality with fiction, I am often affected to a larger degree.
Some August reads give an example that I care about what I read and, by extension, what I write in my reviews.
Amazing Grace by Kim Nash ... makes my heart cry when I think of how much I miss my mother. (https://www.robinlovesreading.com/2019/08/review-amazing-grace.html)
Dead Inside by Noelle Holten ... makes my heart cry for victims of domestic abuse. (https://www.robinlovesreading.com/2019/08/review-dead-inside.html)
The Paris Orphan by Natasha Lester ... makes my heart cry for victims of war and those powerless to change things (review to come)
Let me tell you about a connected series...one I read in December and one this month. Both are by Marie Force. Let’s start with Five Years Gone (https://www.robinlovesreading.com/2018/10/blog-tour-five-years-gone.html). Here a woman waited five years for a man, John, when he went to war. She finally found love with a Eric. What happens when John is discovered to have survived? Well, readers will see what happens to him in One Year Home (https://www.robinlovesreading.com/2019/08/blog-tour-one-year-home_12.html). I recently read that book, and in the first few words had all the feels that I had when reading Five Years Gone. John, the man lost in the first book, has his own chance at love. Not fluff, not flowery, but sensitivity and hope flowed through the pages. Not just for John and Julianne, but for Ava, the woman from the first book.
Books like I have just mentioned will stay with me for a long, long time. I become emotionally connected with the characters and the related scenarios played throughout the pages.
Because of my entanglement, I have to take more time to read certain books. I know all books and genres are not for everyone, but I think the genres that I choose give me a rounded outlook on what I read.
Now, let me go off in another direction. How do reviewers feel about what they do? Is it a hobby, for fun, or a job?
I am going to refer to myself as a professional reviewer, so a job. Yet, it is a “job” that I enjoy. So, I take myself very seriously. I fact check, watch for spelling and grammatical errors. And, of course, I work extremely hard at avoiding spoilers.
Let me tell you a bit about myself as a reader and a reviewer. I have been reading since the age of four. By my teen years I had read hundreds and hundreds of books. I kept on reading until I became a reviewer for my own site, and several others. I even wrote for the Romantic Times BookClub magazine for two years. I had my own byline. But then, I started having multiple surgeries, marital difficulties and had a mental break. I stopped reading for years. It wasn’t reading/reviewing burnout, but life got to be too much.
During this drought, however, I kept up with the Alex Cross series by James Patterson and the FBI series by Catherine Coulter as they were released each year.
The one day, early in 2018, I realized that I wanted to review again. I asked a reviewer, but she said she couldn’t help. I asked a second reviewer, and got the same response. A month or so later, I heard about NetGalley. That was March, 2018. In May of 2018, I began this blog. Between posted, scheduled and draft reviews, I have about 720 blog posts. I would say that I have found my way.
Where am I today? My social media reach is over 3,300. (https://booksirens.com/reviewer/5H2XBSE) My blog gets 4,000 - 5000 views monthly. I spiked at 8,000 views in July.
Since I brought up numbers, let's talk about why they are so important to me. For starters, I avidly use Goodreads. I don't simply post my reviews, but I set a yearly goal, watch my pages read, which at 364/365 read for 2019 is over 123,000 pages. (https://www.goodreads.com/user/year_in_books/2019/4484885). I also keep several detailed spreadsheets. I love that part of my life. I am a detail-oriented person and having tools such as Google Sheets and Goodreads is a tremendous bonus to me.
Another enjoyable part of reviewing is Blog Tours. I have completed over 100 so far, and have nearly 30 scheduled through the end of November. This is something extremely enjoyable and I feel honored to include these tours as part of my blogging.
I still have a lot to learn and a long way to go. Will I reach burnout? Well? What is the average lifespan of a reviewer? Can I grow further without losing my love and zeal? I think I can and I hope that those near and dear to me can see that.