Monday, July 3, 2017

Why Write Reviews

So Joood - Hooligan of Platypire Reviews tagged me in some post about why she writes reviews, so now I have to tell all y'all why I write reviews (because that's apparently the rules). This is a topic that I've covered before, to an extent, but she included some specific questions in her post, so I guess I'll talk about it, again, and make sure I answer all of the questions. So here we go.

This may surprise you, but Just Another Girl and Her Books is not my first book blog. I had another blog several years ago, before I found Goodreads I think, where I shared my thoughts about books that I was reading. Those reviews were short, stupid, and not very well thought out (so basically like my reviews now, but shorter). I didn't include photos of the book covers, or links to the book on Amazon, and it was a good review if it was actually a full paragraph long. But I wasn't serious about blogging then, and I didn't care if anyone actually read my reviews (I was actually shocked when I saw that my posts were getting views to begin with because I didn't share them anywhere). At this point, I don't even remember the name of the blog and couldn't get it back if I wanted to, but that's alright. But I really started writing reviews because it was a way for me to keep track of the books I had read and what I thought about them, and being online, it wouldn't get lost the next time we moved (because I have a knack for losing shit every time we move.)

So I was writing reviews but I wasn't really sharing them with the world. They were there if someone stumbled upon them, but they were largely lost in the abyss that is the internet. Then one of my husband's cousins wrote and published a book, and his sister let me know that it was free on Amazon because she knows how much I like to read. And being the self-centered ass that I am, I decided to do this cousin a favor and actually read the book and even maybe leave a review for it on Amazon. You need to understand that at that point in time, I was avoiding indie books like the plague because of an absolutely horrible experience with a self-published book a few years prior. I had a very low opinion of what to expect from a self-published book, and not much desire to subject myself to what I expected to be essentially torture for my inner grammar nazi. Then I ended up actually liking the book, and it wasn't torture. And following her on Facebook led me to the indie book community on Facebook where I learned just how important reviews are for indie authors. So I became more determined to not only review all the books I read, but to post them on Goodreads and Amazon as well. And I started this blog because Courtney forced me to.

My reviewing "style" has evolved over time. When we first started the blog, I was only reviewing indie books here, and mostly only books that we received requests to review. So even though I was also reading George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones series during that time, you don't know what I think about them because they're not indie so I didn't review them here (and the reviews were short, and stupid, and not well thought out much like on my previous blog.) Over time I started to realize that there wasn't really a good reason for me to not review all of the books that I read here. This isn't a blog with a certain theme (like fantasy or romance only), it has always had an eclectic assortment of genres covered, so I started to also post reviews for books that I read just for fun. Then when I started proofreading, I also started posting reviews for those books here as well. And yes, I realize that some people would argue that I shouldn't review books that I've been paid to work on because my opinion is suspect, but I make it a point to be very up front about my connection with the books, and I don't post those reviews on Amazon. But this is my blog and I can do what I want, regardless of how others feel about it.

While my reviewing style has evolved, my rating criteria has remained pretty much the same. I have come to realize that my criteria for determining rating is a bit odd compared to most bloggers, but it works for me. See, every single book starts out as a 5 star read for me, but then books can lose stars for things like too many spelling and grammar errors, not completely sucking me into the story, having major plot inconsistencies...Basically I rate books like a teacher would grade an essay. Since I have a wide range of literary interests and most books are fairly well edited and proofed, I end up giving a lot of 4 and 5 star reviews. I find a wide variety of story lines engaging, and get fairly easily sucked in to most tales. If a book goes above and beyond keeping me engaged and being well-edited, I call it a diamond in the rough and add it to a special page here on the blog. That doesn't mean that I don't post reviews for books I didn't like though. I do post those reviews, there just aren't that many books that don't appeal to me, and I tend to avoid the sub-genres that I know I'm not fond of, so it probably seems like I don't review books that I didn't like. Rest assured, I do review them, there just aren't that many of them.

But Katie, what about DNFs? That's almost like a trick question for me. There have only been two books I've ever DNFed in my entire life; The Hobbit, and The Paynes Prairie Murders. Sure there are books on my currently reading list that I have been "currently reading" for over two years, but I still have every intention of finishing them even though I haven't touched them for almost two full years. The books that I have officially DNFed, I have very little interest in ever finishing (although I am going to give The Hobbit another go, maybe. I was in high school when I first tried to read it, and it just did not click for me at all, but things may be different now.) But, if I do happen to encounter a book that I just can't force myself to finish, I would absolutely write a review stating why I couldn't finish it. Because seriously, if I can't bring myself to finish a book, that's saying something.

I realize I'm talking a big game here about how I do what I want and I review everything I read...but, well, that's not quite true. I do refrain from reviewing straight up erotica, which I do read on occasion. And I'm not talking about erotic romance like 50 Shades of Grey. I have no problem reviewing books with a actual storylines that aren't centered around sex and orgasms. But the books that I read in place of watching porn, I don't review those, because I'm pretty sure you have no desire to learn how many times I achieved my objective while reading that type of "literature" and there's just not a whole lot else to talk about in a review for that type of book most of the time. (I do sometimes review them on Amazon though, to help keep my verified purchase review percentage up, but they are short, stupid, and not very well thought out reviews.)

And that brings me to the final question, where do I post my reviews. Technically I've already covered this, but in case you weren't paying attention and because I love the fact that my response to Joood is at least twice as long as her original post (she's a slacker!), I'm going to go over it again. Obviously I post my reviews here on the blog, all of them except for most of the straight up erotica. Then I also post them on Goodreads, because I gotta' track my reading for reasons. And as long as the book isn't one that I was paid to proofread, I post my reviews on Amazon as well.

So there you have it. My incredibly long winded response to Joood's post about why I write reviews. Now I'm supposed to tag some people to respond as well. And here are the rules. - Katie


Caroline Andrus Blogger
The Bohemian Housewife

Discussion Challenge

​Here’s how to play.  Once you’re tagged, write an article using the questions listed at the bottom.   You can always expand as much as you’d like, but it isn’t a requirement.  (Don’t forget to acknowledge the blog that you got the prompt from!) Under the article, tag a blogger or three to participate after you and make sure to include the questions at the bottom.  Oh, and you can post it wherever you feel comfortable.  This means your facebook/blog/tumblr/whatever else I’m forgetting.
If you want to start your own just make sure to come up with a handful of questions to help encourage a rounded out article.  Don’t forget to include the rules as well.  Also, and this isn’t required, you should totally tag me on FACEBOOK or TWITTER so I can participate with yours.
Please feel free to submit your article to our weekly review/article/giveaway roundup.  This would be considered a response article, unless you’ve come up with the topic yourself.  You can submit them here:

Questions Used

  1. What got you into writing reviews?
  2. Do you post reviews for books you didn’t like?  Why or why not?
  3. Do you write reviews for books you didn’t finish?  Why or why not?
  4. How do you decide what rating to give a book?
  5. Have you ever read certain books you’re too embarrassed to review?
  6. Where do you post your reviews?


  1. I'd be impressed yours is longer than mine but you DNF'ed the Hobbit, and so your coolness points with this post are now in the negatives.

    I was the opposite of you. I was a strictly indie snob for a while. Then Sofia introduced me to Overdrive, and that's a whole lotta audiobooks I can listen without paying for 'em.

    1. Hey, I'm willing to give The Hobbit another go, when I have time. - Katie