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On Book Reviews and Tips to Being a Book Critic

I have read my entire life. But I only started reviewing books about a year ago. My, how things have progressed.

This is one beautiful thing about the internet. It puts everyone on (almost) all equal ground, and provide them with almost all the same tools. You just have to use them. I used this opportunity, and I took a risk. Now, this blog is my greatest and proudest achievement (at least currently).

I am going to be perfectly honest, I know how to write, but I much more prefer to be the critic that just gets to sit back and judge everyone and everything *sinister laugh*. As awful as that sounds, I can guarantee you all critics feel this way. It’s because we’re critics, we know especially well how hard it is to create something like a complete book. The time needed and the stress involved, I am perfectly happy where I am now.

Reviewers get a lot of benefits, but they do always have to do their job under the pressure of not completely ripping apart the creator with their criticism (even when they want to), but at the same time tell their true opinions. It’s especially awkward when you receive an ARC directly from an author, and that book was just an absolute atrocity. Let’s be honest here, we all had that moment *cough*.

But this is truly heaven for me. I love reading, I get to express my thoughts and talk about books I love (or hate), and I get free books in exchange. How can I complain about that?

Not to add on in this one short year, my journey as a reviewer and my experience level had grown so much, and I just know it’ll keep growing, and that though arouses me. The fact that I am a content creator and I’m to a point this point in my life as a reader really means a lot to me.

Being a reviewer is to review someone else work, but the reviewer themselves grow a lot as well. As their experiences go on, they learn and experiences a wider variety of works that can help them to identify and judge works more even more accurately in the future.

The main advantage of being a reviewer is that you read a lot. A lot of books get sent to you, and you have an amazing vantage point from which to observe what’s going on in contemporary fiction – not only genre stuff, the whole spectrum.

-Lev Grossman

Of course, then there’s the matter of receiving free passes from being a book reviewer. This is probably what I loved most about being a reviewer, and that is getting free books without having to pay. I honestly cannot remember the last time I actually bought a book myself because 1) I receive books for free often from most of my favorite authors and books I want to review, and 2) I’m already trying to finish and clean up my ARC pile (so there is no way I have time to read “other” books).

So what do I do when I write a review?

Every reviewer and critic has their own distinct voice. Some have a stronger one than the other, and everyone’s review style and opinion is different. For me, whenever I read a book, a big factor is how much I enjoy the book. I will make it clear in my review if I feel like this book is not good, but I still really enjoyed it. The quality, writing style, and how much I enjoyed the book all play huge roles in what review I give to a piece of work.

I know some reviewers don’t like to mix their own emotion with their “technical” reviews, because they feel like them they critic, they should only focus on the technical part of the piece. I disagree. I feel like a big part of a work such as a book is also how much the reader and audience perceive and receive the final product.

“As for literary criticism in general: I have long felt that any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel or a play or a poem is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae or a banana split.”

― Kurt Vonnegut

I also really prioritize character portrayal, developments/arcs, story-line, story flow, and tone/atmosphere in my reviews. All these reflect not only on the enjoyment of the book, but the technical aspect and the general quality of the literature piece.

What do you feel about book reviewers, and your opinion on book reviews and criticism in general? What do you feel about how I review my books? Tell me in the comments below!

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