What goes into a book review? Does it involve multiple bookmarks and furious note taking or is it a casual post read summation of thoughts and opinions? To find out we’ll be asking book reviewers about their processes. To start us off we have interviewed Ova from Excuse My Reading.
What are the platforms you use for book reviewing?
Which one is your favourite?
Instagram is my favourite as it seems to have more engagement. On WordPress, a post is seen 100-200 times on the day it’s published, but on Instagram it is seen by thousands of unique accounts – if not tens of thousands!
How do you decide which books to review?
I use NetGalley to see and request upcoming releases. I read the book description and look at the author’s previous books. The publisher is also important for me. Some publishers immediately attract me!
What is your process when reading books for review?
If it’s something I loved that left me in awe, I don’t leave too much time between finishing the book and writing the review. You have to blurt it out when you fall in love with a book – there’s no other way for me. For other books I generally wait a few days to write on social media. Sometimes my initial rating bumps up or down – taking some time to think about the book works for me.
Is this different from how you read books you’re not planning to review?
I read every book the same way, regardless of whether I’m reviewing it or not. On my blog and on Instagram, I don’t just review new releases, I talk about everything I’ve read, although upcoming releases dominate my posts.
What do you look out for in a book?
That really depends on the genre of the book. I read a variety of books, from crime to literary fiction, historical to science fiction. In literary fiction, the tone of voice and writing style are very important. It has to be daring and different, has to grab my attention – a good plot isn’t always necessary. But when it comes to science fiction or crime fiction, I would say the most crucial thing will be a good plot!
I find books that can be read in one sitting very attractive. Why shouldn’t we enjoy a book like we do with a movie? My definition of true literary talent is telling a story with the least possible combination of words. Not many writers can do this.
Does what you look for change depending on the platform you’ll be posting your review on?
No, it doesn’t.
Do you post negative reviews? Why or why not?
I post negative reviews, because I feel obliged to be honest. I read over a hundred books a year and it’s not possible and realistic to like every book I read. A reading experience depends on the individual reader and we cannot all like the same things.
I buy books depending on the reviews, and to be honest I can’t think of one negative review that has made me say ‘OK, I won’t buy this book’. I don’t believe a negative review will damage book sales – isn’t it more publicity in the end, more buzz? I have bought or requested some books based on negative reviews, as they tickled my curiosity, and I know a few other people who have done this! I love reading about what people didn’t like in books. I think writing about the things you didn’t enjoy brings a personal twist to the review.
What is your biggest pet peeve in a book?
Graphic, gross abuse, especially towards children or animals, is something I cannot stand reading. If it’s too detailed I feel like the writer has opted for emotional porn, which I think drops the quality of the book.
What do you think makes a good book?
This is a very difficult question that will have millions of answers! But for me, a book has to have unique DNA – like an individual person. It has to be different in its own way. Or think of it like a fingerprint. A good novel has to leave a mark on me in a way no other book has. If that mark isn’t temporary but stuck in me, if I still remember the book no matter how many years ago I read it, then for me it’s a good book! A good book will be remembered.