Why do I review books: I review books for a few reasons. The first is that it’s a way to get new titles without buying them. Don’t get me wrong, I will always buy books when I’m able to. I use the Library a lot and often put in requests for the Library to purchases books that I want. (I also put in requests for the Library to buy books I have read and loved.)
Another very important reason that I review books is that I work at a library. There are a lot of damn books in a Library and our customers often ask for recommendations. If I haven’t read a book, I rely on the reviews of others to help me recommend titles. In the categories that I enjoy… I try to review as many titles as I can.
Some of my favorite books are in niche genres. I love to read LGBTQIA content … pretty much regardless of what it is and I love to give books more exposure when they are great.
At the Library, I’ve developed an interest in Non-fiction and Young adult… so I will often try to review books in those categories.
What plays into a review?: Who is the intended audience? What is the quality of the writing? What are some of the details that make the book what it is? Is the author consistent throughout the story? Are the characters well developed? Is the world-building believable? What is unique about the book? Does the story flow? Do I want to read more by the author?
What books do I review and how do I choose?: I always do a bit of investigation before I apply to review, or agree to review a book. I will often do a bit of research about a book to find out if I am the right audience for it. There’s nothing worse than trying to review a book that I’m not an audience for! It’s frustrating. I review books that are interesting subjects or premises. I will usually review books that fall into the standard categories that I enjoy reading.
If I’m looking for something new, I will explore categories that I have read in the past. If there’s a lot of buzz about a book, I will often seek it out. It makes sense for my work at the library that I try and read popular books as well as the niche ones I love.
When I first began reviewing books a few years ago I had to read a lot of books that I didn’t necessarily choose for myself. Now that I’ve been doing it for a while, I’m a bit more able to choose the ones that I like. It’s like anything else, the more that you work at reviewing, the better things become.
What is an ARC? What does having one mean?: An ARC is an Advanced Review Copy of a book. Most of the time, these are e-files. That makes the most sense as it reduces the cost of shipping the books! Occasionally, physical copies will be sent out. It’s really important to remember that when you are given an ARC an author and publisher are putting a great deal of trust in you. Do not give your ARCs away to anyone under any circumstances.
What do my ratings mean?: I rate books using a 5-star system. I try to stick to a pattern in terms of what I’m looking for in books when I choose a rating.
- 1-star review: means that I didn’t like it at all and that I have serious questions about whether it should have been published. I can’t recall the last time I gave a book a 1-star review. My experience is that most books have been through a lot of hands before they get to reviewers.
- 2-star review: means that I didn’t like the book and I felt as though there were some serious flaws in it. The flaws are the kind of things that really take me out of the story because they’re so distracting.
- 3-star review: means a really good story that may have a few flaws or things that got in the way of me enjoying it. This definitely means that I liked the story I was reading… but that I wished that some different choices were made. This really does mean that I liked a book thought. I consider 3, 4 and 5s all positive ratings.
- 4-star review: A great story! Something I would recommend to other readers. Just not quite enough to be on my favorites list!
- 5-star review: This is a story that sticks with me. There haven’t been all that many of these. Maybe it’s best for me to say that these are the kind of books that I will never forget, that I will recommend to people and that I will keep on my shelf. A good example of this is “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.
If I give a low rating: I’m willing to bet that no one who reviews books wants to actually give out low reviews. I don’t enjoy it. I certainly don’t tag authors in low reviews. There are a few reasons for that. I follow a lot of authors on social media and they pretty consistently say that they don’t want to be tagged in bad reviews. They all know where to find them if they’re interested.
My goal is to help get the right books to the right audience. Giving a low review should simply be a way for some people to determine that they don’t’ want to read the book I’m reviewing. It’s really that simple.
Most important! I always tell the truth. If I don’t enjoy a book, then I don’t enjoy it. I never think that a publisher is owed a good review. I owe publishers and authors respect, thanks and my honesty.
If you are interested in reviewing books, join goodreads.com then head over to NetGalley to sign up for some ARCS.