Friday, May 11, 2012

BookTalk101: How to write reviews!


Hi, everyone. :) I decided to do something new today where I talk a little about blogging, so I hope you'll hear me out! Today's topic is:  

How To Write Reviews

I know what you're thinking: "Pshh, what does Mimi know about writing reviews? She's no pro!" And that's totally true! But I'm not here to talk about how you should write your reviews; I just wanted to talk about how I've learned to write MY reviews, and what I've noticed about everyone else's. :)

I've been blogging for a while now, and one thing I've noticed is how every single person writes their reviews differently! To name a few: Sophie's are sweet, simple, and to the point; Hilda's reviews are always so easy and fun yet informative to read; I can always trust Sam for an honest and thorough review; Jenny writes the most beautifully worded reviews ever; Heidi actually splits her reviews up between what she likes an what she doesn't; and more! For bloggers I've been following for a while, I can easily tell their reviews apart!

And me? The way I've been writing my reviews has changed so much from before I started blogging to now! I like to think they've changed for the better, but I guess I'm kind of biased. x)

A Breakdown:

MY REVIEWS (when I first started blogging): Quick, simple, and 100% gushing! I'm pretty sure the majority of my sentences ended in exclamation marks and I went on for paragraphs just about how hot the love interest was... It was sort of like I was yelling in your face! And they were looooooooooong. Like, I went back a few months ago and edited out entire paragraphs to shorten them and they were still long! Not my best. :P

MY REVIEWS (a few months ago): Easier on the exclamation marks, but so much shorter now almost too short! They were still more enthusiastic gushing than review-worthy material, but they weren't as terrible as my first few and they improved overtime! These were so easy and fun to write :)

MY REVIEWS (now-ish): Now I've learned to include more purchase links in my reviews, a little more information on the book, and more critique! I still struggle with trying to keep my reviews fun and informative at the exact same time, because I want to be able to convince people who have no idea what the book is about without boring people who DO know what it's about too. Because my wort fear is that I bore you with my reviews. Please slap me if I ever do!

And sometimes when I love a book so much, it's hard to contain those exclamation points! (They just pop out of nowhere!)

My recent reviews have been much harder to write because I keep second-guessing myself: Should my review be longer? Is it too long that it will be boring to read? Do I have enough information? Am I gushing about the hotness of Character X too much?? 

(I've also become a little harder with how I rate books too. I mean, I recently rated City of Lost Souls as a 4.5 out of 5 and Cassandra Clare is one of my favourite authors, so you know something is up! 5 star books don't come as often as they used to.)

But here's what I've learned...

Even though I always try my best to write reviews that will appeal to my readers, it works best if you try to write the kind of reviews that YOU would like to read! Think: What info would I want to know about this book before reading it? Writing your thoughts on a book comes easier that way, I find.

Everyone may write their reviews differently, but that just makes it so much more fun! ;) ♥ That's how we get to read different opinions. Don't worry about making your reviews like anybody else's. Just find your own reviewing style, and people will start remembering you for that!

How do you like to write your reviews? And which kinds do you like to READ best: short and sweet, long and detailed, completely professional, or totally hilarious? :)

Sorry for the Mimi babble there! I hope I didn't bore you too much. x) 

-Mimi

46 comments:

  1. Loving the new post Mimi! My reviews also used to be full with over the top gushing and exclamation marks! I think I've calmed down quite a bit now. Also now that I've started by blog I'm always double checking mine. I like to add in my reviews what worked and didn't work for me. I love honest reviews, so that it gives me a better idea of whether a particular book will work for me or not, I also like ones with a bit of humour in them. You already know this but I adore your reviews! :)

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  2. I always love seeing your explaination points! and as i told you weeks ago, I love how many heart feelings you put in your Until I die review. <3
    I'm glad you decided to tell your review writing process!
    My review writing process involves - brainstorming, making what i am saying understandable/feasible then i publish it.I still need to work on making my reviews more intersting and shorter.
    I always like the hilarious reviews you and others make the best! (i love laughing)
    Its fun reflexing on reviewing.
    I'm so glad you decided to do a discussion post!

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  3. Thanks for this cute post Mimi! I actually 'reviewed' my reviews recently (ironic, huh?!) and I realised that they are quite long and a bit too formal-ish, I had the misconception when I first started blogging that I'd have to be (semi) professional and keep reviews more serious. I was just thinking how I love reading reviews on other blogs that are short, sweet and fun (like yours!) and I've set some goals (for after my exams, of course!) to inject more personality and express my enthusiasm more in my own reviews so that I don't bore my readers haha! Hope you have a great weekend :)

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  4. Absolutely wonderful post, Mimi. I LOVE discussions like this. It's always really interesting to watch everyone's reviews evolve as they get more into blogging. I think it's all about having confidence in what you're writing, too. It would be very boring if all our reviews mirrored each other.

    How do I like to write my reviews? It changes all the time and REALLY depends on the book. With some books, there just isn't much I can say about them. With others I actually have to tell myself to STOP WRITING because I could gush (or rant) forever. I'm not a great writer and I've never pretended to be. My reviews are just a snapshot of my thoughts after finishing a good or bad book.

    What type of reviews do I like to read? Ones that aren't too long and aren't too short. I'll admit I usually click out of a page if I see the review is barely a paragraph long. I have some pretty short reviews on my blog but those were ones I copied over from my Goodreads account just to have SOME content on my blog while I got it up and running. If they're really really long, by the time I reach the end, it feels like I've already read the book!

    Oh, and I use exclamation points all the time and sometimes have to go back and edit some out because I've used them in EVERY sentence. But I love them and I think they add some personality and fun to a review.

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  5. I love your reviews Mimi! ALWAYS interesting to read and really concise and to the point too. :) I always go on and on in my reviews, but even then, I feel like I haven't said what I set out to say! I wonder if my reviews should be shorter. ;) And you can't resist an exclamation mark! I always sound a bit desperate when I'm reviewing a book I LOVED as I want everyone else in the world to read it and love it too. I like reading a bag of different types of reviews. Hilarious ones are always great, but informative ones are also really helpful. That's why I love the fact all the bloggers I follow have completely different review styles. :)

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  6. Hey, what a fantabulous post, Mimi! I really, really loved it <3

    Omg I literally stopped breathing when I saw my name. Thank you so much! <3 And what a great post. I've lately been wondering how to improve my reviews, too. The ones I wrote first make me want to run and hide somewhere. I don't like them at all! But I believe everything comes from practice and experience, so I never give up.

    Lately I've been writing my reviews on a paper first. I've discovered it's better than writing directly on the computer, since I give more thought to how I write. It's been a bit hard since English is not my first language, so I continuously have to research more vocabulary (mostly adjectives) so my reviews aren't monotone. And what I'm planning on doing next is writing the review, and a couple of days later, go over it again. That's how I'll try to spot errors or things that I didn't explain right.

    I hope you do another of this Booktalk 101 soon!
    Have a wonderful Friday! <3 *sends sun from sunny Spain*

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  7. Thanks for the advice I really needed some as i always seem to put off reviewing books because i think i wont write them very well" ;( x

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  8. Great advice Mimi! And the more you write, the better they will be. I reread my review of last year sometimes and I'm like Ewww haha. I always make my husband read them before i post them too he sometimes finds typos or mistakes I don't see even after rereading 3 times.

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  9. Love the topic of discussion. The more I blog the more I've come to believe that the short and sweet reviews are the best ones. Both for the blogger and the reader. As much as I love to read all of the details, sometimes the longer reviews read like books themselves and I think a shorter review written concisely could have said much the same. Of course, I could just be lazy :) Your reviews are the perfect length Mimi. Don't doubt yourself. It's hard not to gush when you enjoy a book.

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  10. Wow...I love this topic<333 Thanks for the fabulous advice :) I absolutely LOVE your last line!!! I've always been bad at writing essays/creative writing tasks since...well...I'm more of a maths girl than an english/lit girl; and half the time, I'm always like " Goshh...how on earth do they write SUCH AMAZINGLY WORDED reviews?" & then sit there wondering why on earth I can't write such fantastic reviews:/ - but you're totally right! We should all have our own style, and that's how people will remember our reviews :))

    heheee I LOVE putting exclamation marks in my reviews, and then start worrying that I'm being TOO enthusiastic :/ LOL But I totally LOVE your exclamation marks in your reviews!!! hahaaa I LOVEE it when you gush about how much you like the characters/story etc so don't second guess what you've written! We all love your enthusiasm <333

    As for my preferencee...I really don't mind! I love short, straight-to-the point reviews AND i also love detailed reviews:) (just...as long as I don't have to search up every second word in their review since I have the vocabulary of a 10 year old! LOL) Oh and I sorta umm...also enjoy reading those snarky reviews on goodreads :/ They're like...HILARIOUS<3 Anywayy...I LOVE THIS TOPIC MIMIIIIII! Thank you once again for your awesome advice<3

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  11. Thanks for sharing your review writing process Mimi! It's always interesting to see how other people work and I agree that it can be hard to balance writing for those who haven't read the book and for those who have (I think I tend to write for those who have read the book) but you do a great job of getting me pumped up about books I've never even heard of it!

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  12. For the record, I absolutely adore you're reviews. THEY'RE PERFECT <3 As for mine, I try to keep them interesting, informative and fun. If I loved the book then I want it to show! Usually I enjoy reviews that are a medium length that are informative and fun. I don't like serious and professional reviews that much :P (Don't even talk about my early reviews... *hides under rock*) Great post!

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  13. Wow, how timely are your posts, Mimi! I needed this! Even though my blog is more of a personal blog now, I'm hoping I could post more book reviews. So, really, thank you for posting this!

    To answer your question, I prefer reading "a little bit of everything" reviews. Reviews that mention the best and worst elements of the book that way I get an idea of what to expect of a book. But sometimes, I like reading just the incredibly funny ones. It depends on my mood. =))

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  14. "Because my wort fear is that I bore you with my reviews. Please slap me if I ever do!"

    I've had this same fear Mimi! Especially given how long my reviews can sometimes get, and I know some people are just going to skim and look at the rating. Not much I can do about that though, and like you said, it helps to think about what would help you as a reader and go from there. I adore you and your always enthusiastic reviews, even when you didn't care as much for something, and coming here always puts a smile on my face:) HUGE HUGS MIMI!

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  15. I LOVE THIS POST, MIMI! It's so funny because your reviews are among my favourites. I never get tired of reading them and you definitely have your own unique voice. Writing reviews is really tricky, I feel like mine are BORING. Since I first started blogging, my reviews have gotten shorter and I'm still trying to find my 'voice'. I don't think mine is distinguishable from others yet, haha. I like short & sweet reviews/hilarious! By short, I mean around three paragraphs so yours is the perfect length! I also like to read longer reviews too if they're insightful/entertaining. :)

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  16. Your reviews are always fun and informative, and I happen to love your enthusiasm and I really hope you'll never stop being so adorably enthusiastic. It's pretty catching and it always makes me smile.

    I am an emotional reader, and even though I have a degree in literature, I rarely use any of the things I've learned in Uni. I see no point, I leave that to professional reviewers and I mostly just try to express how a book made me feel. I do add a book description in my own words because sometimes official ones can be pretty uninformative, and I usually include some quotes because I love quotes so much. So that's that.

    I realize your review will probably change some more with experience, mine do, too, but I hope you'll keep your unique voice. That's why I come here.

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  17. I think we definitely all have our own style. And we change so much! Ive been reviewing for a few years and my reviews still change. A lot of my problem with consistancy is my lack of time as well as my enthusiasm for a book. Some books I could go on and on about. Others I just don't have much to say. Then sometimes I have a ton of reviews piled up to write and so little time to write them and those tend to lack passion. So you never know what length my reviews will be or how detailed. But I have decided its okay. I just do what I can!

    One thing I love about YOUR reviews is your enthusiasm. I love those exclamation points girl! A good review, IMO, lets us know how the book made you feel. And you do that well!

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  18. Thank you so much for this post, Mimi! As a new blogger, I often struggle with how I want to review a book. Sometimes a review will literally take me hours because I have such a hard time getting my thoughts down and then I overanalyze it. LOL I am hoping to improve but it is good to hear that others second guess themselves as well. :)

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  19. You know Mimi, your reviews are always so cute with all the gushing and enthusiasm and I think it's perfect just the way it is.
    We aren't professional reviewers or anything, so I strongly believe that reviewing should be about expressing your love or dislike for books. :)
    Anyways, I'm still trying to find a review that fits me, but reviewing sure use up neurons ! :)
    Great post! :)

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  20. I like to read short reviews. But sometimes my reviews get long because I just really have a lot to say

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  21. Isn't it funmy tomgo back and read some of your firsrt reviews. I am going to post one of my on the blog soon. I used to struggle writing them it would take a couple of hours and I played around with the formart. I have a short attention span and I know I am not the only one. That is why I break my reviews up into sections that way a reader can pop in read the rating and the first grab sentence and go or read the likes or the dislikes or the whole review. I try to do informative and constructive reviews something for everyone, but bottom line, find what works for you and practice practice, right? Thanks for the shout out, Mimi! Have a great weeknd :)

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  22. Mimi you really are one of the best reviewers. I feel like they have just the right amount of sweetness, gushing, exclamation marks, talking about HOTNESS, and being very informative of how you felt and why people should read the book.
    I personally don't like it when the review is loooooong and not very interesting or fun, and is just about all the technical aspects of the book. I do, however, love long reviews written by reviewers such as Small Review. Whenever she writes a long review, it never once bothers me and is always easy to read.
    I love reading reviews and learning how to be a better reviewer. My reviews have changed SO MUCH since I started 2 years ago...like, CRAZY. I know they'll always need boosting and inspiration and help and change, but that's the fun of it, right? :)

    This is a GREAT post Mimi! Thank you for sharing! Personally, I think you could write as short or as long as a review as you want and everyone would read read read and love love love and comment comment comment! :D I can't wait for whatever reviews you have in store in the future! :D

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  23. I love this! I don't really think that there's a specific type of review of prefer over others. For me, it's really just about the blogger in question and the type of style that they have. I can count on some for BEAUTIFULLY written and in-depth ones and then I can go to others for ones that are a lot more... "it rocks, I looooove it!" I'm mostly just kind of discouraged by the extremes of those, where some are super super long and analytical and others are like a paragraph of "loved it! he was hot!" Can't handle that.

    I don't know about your reviews from before but I LOVE your current style :) Fabulous post!

    Sonia

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  24. Actually Mimi I love your reviews because you are so enthusiastic about them. I can feel the love you have for a novel just through your reviews, and you're part of the reason by TBR is out of control and especially overflowing with YA titles.

    I love the passion that is exuded through your reviews, you have a great voice. It makes me picture you young and full of energy.

    Writing review isn't easy though. Sometimes the words just flow and other times I struggle on what to say. But as far as reading reviews, length is not a concern of mine. I could go for short or long as long as they are informative and keeps my interest. Great discussion post.

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  25. I adore your reviews, Mimi!! The exclamation marks and the gushing over the hot boys are my favorite bits! Not only that, you have convinced me to add books to my TBR that I'd never thought to consider before. Your enthusiasms and charm just rubs off, and I'm grateful for it.

    I used to freak over every word I wrote because English and I don't always get along. But then I decided to just let myself relax and think of my blog as more of a diary of thoughts I'd like to remember. What was I thinking when I read this? That's helped me out a lot.

    Love this new feature. Thanks for sharing.

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  26. Loved your post. I agree my reviews have evolved over time too (or so I think).

    I write and like to read reviews that focus on how the book made you feel instead of what the book was about. I am one of those few who dive into a book without reading the book blurb and love the element of surprise even though it backfires at times. I like reviews that are short, sweet, fun and avoid what's in the book, per se.

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  27. I love to read funny ones, but still a little serious of course! (Like a gushing and funny review isn't the same as a funny one making fun of a book for example!) I want some details about it, but mainly how they found pacing, plot, characters, recommendation etc. Why they like some things or dislike others... How it's done, isn't really something I care about though as long as I find those things that can make me want to run to the store or decide to bump a book down a bit on the TBR pile. ;)

    I try to mention all of that myself as well and hope they're helpful to people! I'm more interested in content than layout though and love seeing so many ways out there! Though I'm totally with you on questioning my way sometimes. Especially when I always seem to see the grass greener on the other side! Lol. ;)

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  28. I love love love this post. It makes me want to do an edition of my "If I Could Write a Letter to Me" on this subject because I really think that my reviews - both format and how I sound and what I include - have really improved since I began my blog.

    Personally, I adore your review, Mimi. You get so excited about a book that you loved, but you're always able to point out if there was something you didn't like.

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  29. I love your reviews! They give enough information to make me curious about a book, without spoilering. There is also a real 'you' aspect in it. I can really see the Mimi in there and I love that! It's always so much fun to read a personality between the lines. Most of the time, I prefer a review that's between short and long. Short can give me too much a 'straight to the point' feeling, while I scan the text if a review is very long. I also love a balance between having fun and being serious.

    I always try to write something I would like to read, at least, I do my best :p I'm still trying and figuring out what works best for me. Blogging is learning and that's fun.

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  30. Short and sweet and totally hilarious! Um, Mimi, if I am honest.. I read just your reviews before I pick up a book. I never read others .. because lets face it, they are too long in my opinion. I mean, if I wanted to read a loooooong review, well, I would pick the book up :P You get what I mean? When I finish the book, THEN I read also other reviews :P Crazy I know. But if there is someone I trust about books, well, then it would be YOU! And I don't think you need to worry if they are to long or to short, because to me? Your review ARE perfect. And your enthusiasm is what makes me pick a book up. So the exlamations really ARE important to me :P And OMG when you "gush" about the HOTTEST X GUY - believe me, it's totally awesome and it makes me want to pick the book up right away and leave ANYTHING I was doing in that moment.

    I love you Mimi! And for me, you'll always be the best blogger EVER! And it's forever ;)

    And also.. I look up to you ;) Because you're just that awesome Sweetie <3 <3

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  31. Aww, Mimi! Who would actually get bored with your reviews? It's really fun reading your reviews. I like your points up there. At least, you're getting better right! And don't worry about gushing! Girls love to read reviews like that, of course. :p Keep up your beautiful blog, Mimi! :3

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  32. Mimi this is great! I totally get you! and Thanks for sharing and the advice! <3 LIke Giselle Ive also read those first reviews and i feel icky reading it lol, it was really short and i dont know, nonsense i guess? But im still trying to improve and still learning and trying to learn new things in blogging. I love this post Mimi<3 xxx

    Ƹ̴Ӂ̴ƷFICBOOKREVIEWSƸ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ

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  33. I ADORED this post, Mimi :D Such a great breakdown of how your reviews were and are and it's awesome that we all have different review-voices. I'm still finding mine! I'm still finding that balance between too-much and just-enough background information and I've been trying to get stricter with my ratings as well. 5 stars go to books that make me feel extra-extra-swoony or awed towards the end- and a book that does everything right but doesn't have that extra awesome gets only 4.5 or 4.

    And I LOVE your reviews, exclamation points and all! When you gush about a book, it makes me want to put everything else down and buy it! I love that they are short and sweet, too! Keep it up, Mimi doll <33

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  34. This is very insightful, Mimi! One of my favorite things about the book blogosphere is that everyone's review writing style is just a little bit different. I totally understand what you mean about getting more critical as you blog longer and longer. I've definitely gotten more critical over the last (almost) three years, but I think part of that has to do with me getting a degree in English literature as well. Still, great post! :)

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  35. Oh, Mimi, this is such a GREAT post!! You not only point out how everyone reviews differently, but you also analyze your own reviews very thoroughly and objectively. GREAT job! The fact that you've broken down your reviews into "reviewing periods" is particularly effective. It seems that your reviewing style has evolved. That shows you've grown as a reviewer, and I congratulate you for that!

    As for what kind of reviews I enjoy, I have to say that I do like them lengthy and detailed. That's the style I use myself. However, I do think it's a good idea to avoid writing unnecessarily drawn-out reviews. So I would say that a happy medium would be best.

    I definitely do not like very short reviews, because I can't get a good feel for the book from those. You need more than three short paragraphs in order to present a comprehensive picture of the book, and what you liked/disliked about it.

    Oh, wow...my comments also tend to be rather long...Lol. Guess I can't help myself! : )

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  36. I like a sort of mix I guess. And honest ... as in if the reviewer didn't like the book, then say so! I don't mean trash the book, I mean actual honesty. Because, to me, the purpose of a review is to tell others weather the book is worth their time or not. I tend to avoid writing long reviews, as a rule do not provide a lengthy summary of the book in my review.

    I liked this post ~ great idea.

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  37. Oh, Mimi, you really are the best! I was stunned when I read my name on this post - you always know how to make my day! <3 You should see how much I'm blushing right now LOL! Thank you so much for the compliment, sweetheart. <3

    I love reading your reviews, they always make me eager to read whatever books you reviewed! Your reviews are sweet, fun, and full of enthusiasm! I always feel like buying every book you recommend, Mimi, but sadly it's not good for my wallet and my tiring eyes LOL! x)

    LOVE this discussion post!! Funny reviews make me smile, but long, informative reviews are amazing too! I generally love reviews that make me want to read the book (thankfully there are many!)! :) Isn't it amazing that every blogger have their own voices and their unique signatures? x)

    I hope you have wonderful weekend, Mimi-doll! <3

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  38. What a great post, Mimi! Thanks so much for writing it, because now I know that I am not alone! :) I feel like that all the time! And I'm a new blogger, and it's SO TRUE! My reviews are way too long and gushy... I guess only time will fix them. And I think you write amazing reviews!! I love them! And, I also love your exclamation marks! (See, I'm following your trend) LOL.

    Thanks once again for getting this out there! :)

    Mimi, hon, you are truly amazing. <3

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  39. Oh this is a great post and I think there is no real answer to this because everyone has their own style which I LOVE. Jenny writes the most eloquent reviews on the net, seriosuly and I love her for this! I also like Heidi's style in dividing between the good and the bad's and including quotes...

    I do not think I write real reviews myself, I'm more of a "how I feel about a book" I'm always emotionally driven when I write a review. But, i guess this works for me. If someone is looking for a real review and a great critique that's not me. Specially when I'm super excited about a book I can't hold back on my fangirly gushing.

    And you know what ? I adore your reviews! They have the perfect lengths are not to long and not to short. For me you do not have to change anything because the way you write your reviews is full of your personality and this is what I want to see :)) I adore you Sweetie! Happy Weekend!

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  40. I tend to use exclamation points a lot in general, so it's all good. I like reviews in the middle...I'm not looking for really long reviews, as mine aren't usually THAT long, but I don't know. I like a variety. It's just fun to see how people do different things with their reviews, and I try and switch mine up in different ways as much as I can to make it more interesting for readers...but I agree with you, find what works best and what you enjoy the most, and go for it!

    -Lauren

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  41. Wonderful post, Mimi! I seriously adore your reviews because they're always bubbly and short. Easy to read, easy to smile at! I totally understand what you mean when you say that your reviews have changed. My very first reviews were utter trash. I've definitely improved since then, but I still have a lot of work to do! I guess it all just comes with time. I really like honest reviews that aren't too, too long. I like when bloggers are critical, because I'm like that as well. But all in all, I love reviews that honestly show the blogger's opinion, whether it's negative or positive! Seriously amazing post, Mimi! <3 <3

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  42. Mimi, I read this post when you first put it up but I was at work with a few minutes to spare. So I never had the chance to leave a comment. Finally, I've remembered to come back on to tell you how much I LOVE this post. I love how you broke it down. You're spot on with your descriptions for the other reviewers. I've told you before, but I'll tell you again, I love how you review. Not to long (I really hate it when they're too long) but just enough to give me the information I need to decide if I want to read something. I try to do the same. Plus, I like to add a quote that my whet the appetite for the book! Keep doing what your doing! :)

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  43. Mimi, THIS: "My recent reviews have been much harder to write because I keep second-guessing myself: Should my review be longer? Is it too long that it will be boring to read? Do I have enough information? Am I gushing about the hotness of Character X too much??" I second guess EVERYTHING I write, I swear. And they get harder as I go along. But YOURS? Yours are WONDERFUL! I genuinely enjoy reading them.

    As for what type of review I liked to read? I DON'T KNOW. What I *DO* love is seeing a little bit of my favorite people in each of my fave peeps reviews :D

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  44. Oh, this post is amazing and so spot on! I have started to worry about my reviews too! Apparently I used to write them like I was having a conversation but I think that's changed now.. I don't know :| But I don't like my reviews at the moment because I haven't had time to write them and I'm out of practice :( I WILL get better, I WILL!
    I don't mind whether reviews are long or short, but I appreciate honesty, humour and (most of the time) a critical view of the book. I just like reading reviews though :) I enjoy it!

    I love YOUR reviews :D

    Lovely post <3

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  45. Thanks for showing how to write reviews! This is very important for a first time bloggers and people who want to earn from it.

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Thanks so much for leaving your thoughts! I love hearing what you have to say, and I always try to comment on one of your blog posts in return! :)

It's really nice to meet you!