Sunday, 7 August 2011

Monster Review-a-Thon Mini Challenge #1

The Book Monsters are hosting a week-long event that revolves around your reviews - how you do them, what you like to write about and why you do so. There are great prizes to win, to boot! I accidentally stumbled across their blog on the very first day, so I'm taking it as a sign and joining up.

This is today's mini-challenge: 

Are you happy with your review format currently?

I was about to reply with how I don't really have a set review format, but thinking about it, I guess I do. I tend to post a picture of the book cover on the left and then a few lines as an introduction. Maybe something about what I've been up to, what made me pick up that book... you know, something personal.
Then I'll post the synopsis from Amazon (or somewhere similar) in italics, which is usually followed by my own version as they invariably get it wrong.

After that, it's on to the review! I'm terrible at writing unbiased reviews - they turn into rants more often than I'd like, even after I've gone back and edited. See my reviews of Cinderella Ate My Daughter and So Many Books, So Little Time to see what I mean.

That's usually with non-fiction though. I can find something nice to say about most fiction I read. I don't often get stuck with what to say, but it does happen. I read Neil Gaiman's Graveyard Book last week though, and was completely blank even though I enjoyed reading it.

2. Scrutinize it a little more, maybe compare it to other blogs you like, anything you think you might change?

I do want to change the layout. Well, no, not the layout, but maybe implement some shinier graphics. I was actually downloading the photoshop trial before I started writing this, so I should begin doing that either tonight or tomorrow. I used to be fairly decent photoshop-wise, so I'll give it a go.
I know that the majority of blogs use some sort of rating system and I started my blog by doing that too. But you know what? I loathe marking things out of ten. It got to the point where I was giving everything three stars and it makes the whole concept redundant. I appreciate how it can be helpful to readers so I'm considering starting again, but.... ugh.

3. Implement some basic changes and tell us what you think. Or, you can tell us one or two aspects of your reviews that you like.

Haha, come back in a few days and see my new header! Or, more likely, come back in a few days and remind me to make one...

I do like how my reviews are quite personal (aside from the ranty ones, anyway). I often write about how I could relate to a book or why a book particularly affected me, or how reading the book in a particular place/time made a difference. I think my Making History review (by Stephen Fry) would be a good example. I didn't want to read it until I ended up sat on the doorstep with nothing else to read, and then I loved it.


  1. I kind of hate ratings, too. I have a system up on the blog but I so often forget to use it as i'm usually busy rambling about how I loved something so much and it's absolutely the best thing ever.... I'm thinking about re-doing it into like a 'keep,borrow,chuck out' sort of thing if I EVER get my internet to work for more than five minutes again!

  2. I'm so glad you stumbled onto the challenge. I look forward to reading your posts.

    Lupus and law student? Yikes, you're an inspiration!

    @ Bex I like the "keep, borrow, chuck out" sort of rating system

  3. I'm wishy-washy about ratings. Just because I'd have to have like three ratings.. did not finish, liked it, loved it. (I used to have five and I would only rate 3,4,5 lol). It's really all about the review for me.

    Oh, if you want some free software that is similar to Photoshop, check out GIMP 2. It's free and I use it all the time for buttons and whatnot. Thanks for joining us! :)

  4. @Bex - I find ratings like that much more useful - that way everybody that reads it is working on the same scale and it's much lesss subjective. I swear though, your internet!

    @Kristen - I was the same when I used a five star rating system. I almost felt sorry for the stars so I always made sure to give them at least three and that kind of defeated the entire purpose!

    Gimp 2? Wow, that's great! It'd be easier than my current plan which was to continuously install the photoshop trial on different computers round the house! :)


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