Writer Wednesday–How Do You Review?

So, I’ve been watching my writer friend, Kendall Gray, on her journey of self-publishing. I’ve been lucky enough to read an ARC of INHALE, the first novel in her JUST BREATHE trilogy and, man, I just want to shout it out to the world how AWESOME Kendall’s writing is.

If you don’t believe me, check out the book trailer HERE.

Awesome, right? Seriously, you need to pre-order the entire series NOW. *waits while you go to Amazon*

*squints at screen to make sure you’re at Amazon’s website*

Okay. Glad you’re back.

What makes me love INHALE so much?

The characters are clear. They are goal-directed (sorry, that’s a psych term, but you’d be surprised how many characters are just wandering around their novels like post-lobotomy schizophrenics). They have faults. There’s great smexy scenes. There’s a TON of action and conflict.

All those things keep me reading on. It keeps me thinking about the characters when I’m not reading. I even picture myself hanging out with the main characters, Gavin and Zoe. In Australia. On the beach. Yeah. And heck, if I can picture myself hanging out with the characters, that means their writer has made it into my inner circle of favorite authors.

(Pssst, that includes YOU, KENDALL!!!!!!)

We know books sell based on word of mouth (yes, there are other things, but go with me on this one). So, I wanted to review INHALE. I wanted to support Kendall.

I wanted to really capture how I felt and why it was important for me to recommend INHALE to other people.

…And then I realized I kind of suck at writing reviews.


I worry about writing spoilers. I worry about sounding trite or saccharine. I worry about rambling aimlessly (sort of like what I’m doing now). I worry about not conveying the essence of my reaction.

So, I wrote about what I liked (as I just did above) and left it at that. Better to be short and sweet, than ambling and confusing, no?

Still, I feel like my review fell short.


Now I open the forum to you.

How do you review? Is there a certain template you follow? Do you only write positive reviews? Or do you “tell it like it is?”

Check out Lydia’s response to the Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog topic of the uses (or misuses) of Prologues!

12 comments on “Writer Wednesday–How Do You Review?

  1. I actually just did a review on my website. I talk about how the book affected me, my connection to the characters and the writing, with some juicy tidbits from Chapter One that don’t include any spoilers.


  2. I think it was a great review. You gave your impressions, which seemed enthusiastic and honest, and I am just about to go hop over to Amazon. Yes, I know you told me to do it earlier but – no, just put the broom down, I’m going, I’m going.

    As for my reviews. I worry sometimes that I focus on the positive in all of them, but that’s just me. I generally find something to like or else I wouldn’t have kept reading it. And I have no formula – I go off my gut and give impressions like you did. And hope you continue to do!

  3. I’m so flattered that you wrote about INHALE today. Thank you, Laura! Wow.

    I know EXACTLY what you mean about writing reviews. I wrote one last night and felt that I didn’t do the story justice. I shared my opinions about the characters (which I think should drive a story), a tiny bit about the plot and voice, and that was about it.

    When I read other people’s reviews, I feel very inadequate. How do they convey so much in so few words? You’d think as a writer I could do that like nobody’s business, but nope. I suck at review writing!

    FYI, the Amazon link to INHALE isn’t live yet – it shows as out of print. 😦 Amazon doesn’t allow self-pubbers to have pre-order buttons, but the book will be ready to roll in paperback and ebook on May 1.

    Thanks again for this awesome shout-out. What a great way to start my day!

  4. Lynn Rush says:

    Reviews. Those are tricky. I’m not one who enjoys a recap of the entire book. A little teaser, sure, but a blow by blow…then I pretty much don’t have to read the book. LOL. I like the chatting kinds of reviews. You know, like I’m chatting with my friend about this really cool (or sucky) book I just read. I’m sure the reviews I write are lame, but I, too, am scared to share too much with people so I keep them short and sweet.

    And I thought writing novels was difficult. I don’t know how book reviewers and book blogging sites do it. THEY ROCK!

  5. Carol Riggs says:

    Hey! Thanks for the review on INHALE! I will have to put that on my TBR list. 🙂 Sounds intriguing! Great that you even imagine yourself hanging out with those characters–that definitely says something!

    Hey! Also, I have a meme award for you on my blog:
    Artzicarol Ramblings

  6. Karen Lange says:

    I did a post about this a while back, and it’s something I am often pondering because I review for several companies. I try and only take on reviews if I think I will like the book. I provide a summary and add my thoughts at the end. I agree with you – short and sweet is good, although somehow I end up a little more rambly! If I don’t like the book, I try and find the positives and sandwich gentle negatives with that. I figure not every book is everyone’s cup of tea, but I do like to be supportive of the authors.

  7. I’m terrible about reviews – when I even remember to write them. My last said: “Fast paced and exciting.” What’s with a writer who can’t seem to spit out words?

    Oh, well. At least I never write spoilers. 🙂

  8. Krispy says:

    You’ve seen our reviews, so I think you can tell we are of the “tell it like it is” mind. We don’t really follow a template, and we try to avoid spoilers (by being deliberately vague about plot points). We just try to cover what we liked and didn’t like, and we focus on the text and story itself. We may sometimes be critical (one of us more than the other), but we try to explain our criticisms and we strive to be even-handed about it. We both tend to be ramblers though because we want to be clear as to why something did or didn’t work for us!

  9. I admit I don’t do a lot of reviews. I certainly don’t do one unless I enjoyed the book. I’ll at least give it stars on Goodread.

  10. Donna Hole says:

    That was an excellent review. I always like to know what a reader found interesting in a novel. Your’s makes me want to read the book. Great job.


  11. Yeah, I feel the same as you. But as more and more of my friends get published, I guess I’ll have to get over that. Because supporting good books and good friends is more important. On my blog, I don’t call them reviews, I call them talks. That frees me to say whatever comes to mind.

  12. Ciara Knight says:

    Reviews are tough. I never like to write spoilers. I even struggle with giving my honest opinion. I’m not one to criticize. I’ve skipped a review here or there because the book wasn’t for me. I didn’t believe it was a bad book because I’m only one opinion. I love writing reviews for books I connect with.

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