ionR: Reviews: Short versus Long?

Posted April 27th, 2018 by in Blog, Features, ionR / 27 comments



Reviews: Short versus Long?

Reviewing books can be quite the challenge, but it can also be a lot of fun, especially when you’ve finished reading a book by a new-to-me author or have just read a book by an author you’re an absolute fan of and believe the story has surpassed their previous one.
This happens more often than not for me, which is why when writing reviews, I tend to go overboard and emphasize how brilliant and satisfying a book is or if I’ve found it didn’t meet my expectations I’m not afraid to give my opinion to the best of my ability without being insulting. It’s why my reviews end up being anywhere from 600 to just over 1000 words. Too long in the eyes of some — I’m sure — but then I have a set method, which is as follows:

  • Write an introduction that is similar to the blurb
  • Talk about the dialogue and plot. Was it compelling or did it not entertain you?
  • Talk about the characters. What was it you liked about the characters? If you didn’t like them, what was it about them you didn’t enjoy? ; and lastly,
  • Do an overall summary, talk about the ending of the book and possibly give recommendations. (My recommendations come from the ‘customers who bought this book might like’ list on Amazon or whatever trope the story I’ve read encompasses).

However, I can see the value of short reviews too. It means you’re less likely to give away spoilers and only need to think up a sentence or two. But there’s one thing that’s absolutely important when writing a review and that’s to give reasons of why you liked or didn’t like the story you’re reviewing. I can’t stress this enough. Since giving constructive feedback (whether its good or bad) can help authors to improve their craft or so I’ve been told.

So what’s your take on reviews? Long? Short? Do you give reasons for why you like or dislike the story? Do you get excited when an author shows appreciation for a review you’ve written?



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27 Responses to “ionR: Reviews: Short versus Long?”

  1. dholcomb1

    On a blog or website, I expect them to be more than a few sentences, but when I write them on review platforms, I keep them to a few sentences.


    • Bec (@BookMagicReview)

      Keeping it to a few sentences would be nice. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to write a review that small. Unfortunately, when you review for a blog like I do, it doesn’t seem likely. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  2. Monique D

    There are two blogs I really like but often their reviews are so long, I guess 2000-3000 words+ that I just lose interest along the way. I really don’t need to know the whole story with comments. HJ ‘s reviews are fine. I usually stick to 300-500 words, but as you say, it depends and I sometimes go overboard. One of my favourite reviewers on Goodreads goes straight to the point, often fewer than 100 words, but she’s funny and direct. And I hate quotes! Once in a while, there’s one or two sentences that will bowl you over, but that’s it. Besides, to quote ARCs, you need a publisher’s agreement. And nevet, evet, ever give away spoilers unless indicated.

    That’s about how long a review should be, LOL!

    • Bec (@BookMagicReview)

      2000-3000 words is way too long and no doubt would be hard to not spoil part of a story. Certainly, I find it hard to write a long review without spoilers, but I do my best. And, of course, you are right in that a review should only be as long as to not give away spoilers. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  3. Terrill R.

    I’m neurotic about going into a new story nearly blind. I like to have a general idea of a book’s worth through reviews, but I tend to skim and look for key words. That way I can try to avoid any spoiler info. What I view as spoilers, other’s may not. It doesn’t take much to ruin a book for me, because I have an uncanny ability to read between the lines. Most reviews say too much, even if they’re trying to be vague. Mostly, I want to know why they did and didn’t enjoy certain aspects, but especially in regards to character development and writing style. Since a book blurb gives me the general idea of the storyline, I really don’t need a repeat of it. Just get to the meat of what you want to say.

    • Bec (@BookMagicReview)

      The site I used to review for only ever published the review, although it did have everything you needed to know about the book on another section of the site. There was no book blurb or anything on the review page like here at HJ, so giving an introduction felt like a requirement and I guess I just continue to do that. But you’re right, getting to the meat of the story in a review is always handy. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  4. Tonya Lucas

    I love to write reviews for each book I read, but I WILL NOT Giveaway the ending nor will I Giveaway the plot. I for one do not like someone to retell the story in a review. If they do.. I stop reading it. I love the total surprise. I just want enough info to draw me into wanting to read the book. So in my reviews I try to do that as well. I love medium size reviews. A little longer than short, but not so long that I lose the attention of someone.

    • Elaine Hathaway

      you give such great reviews, so emotional. Me i don’t try to give any details away.

    • Bec (@BookMagicReview)

      Retelling a story in a review is just plain wrong. Who would want to read a book after reading a review like that? I know I certainly wouldn’t. Writing reviews for me is trying my best to tease others to want to read the book without going too far. Yet, sometimes I feel maybe I’m going too far and venturing into what could be considered a spoiler. Then again, I do get some really good feedback from authors, so I must be doing something right. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  5. Tonya Lucas

    And one more thing, I get many responses from authors in all genres from my reviews, thanking me for not giving away too much info.
    So yes when an author reaches out to thank me for reviewing their book. I do the happy dance!!

  6. Christine Maria Rose (@cmhrose)

    Reviews that I personally write vary for me depending on the place they are written for. Here at HJ, my reviews tend to average around 500-700 words. At All About Romance, they are longer, anywhere from 800 to a max of 1200 words. If I’m not reviewing for a blog, I tend to be shorter, like 300 words. As for reading them, the length doesn’t matter so much to me but I rarely read the reviews that put gifs in them on Goodreads for example, I find those annoying.

    • Bec (@BookMagicReview)

      Why do people insist on putting gifs in their reviews? I’m with you, it is seriously annoying. And I think I need to start writing shorter reviews for books I don’t read for a blog. That would give me a bit more time in my day. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  7. Joanna M.

    It’s always nice when an author gives a shout out to any of my review although that hasn’t happened too often lol
    About the length of reviews, If it’s a long one I normally just read the last paragraph, which is more often than not the paragraph where they specify whether or not they liked the book and why. I skip reviews that summarize the book. I really don’t need another blurb.

    • Bec (@BookMagicReview)

      Yes, shout outs are always nice. I’m curious… do you mean you skip reviews that start with a summary of the book for the opening paragraph? Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      • Joanna M

        Oh, no. The opening paragraph is fine. It’s when the review pretty much summarizes the book for paragraphs and paragraphs and then the final one is something like ” I really liked this book and I recommend it.” Ok, then, but what did you like about it? Is there anything in particular you didn’t like? I’ve learned to skim through them so now I kind of know which ones to skip entirely 😉

        • Bec (@BookMagicReview)

          Yes, I totally agree. I get annoyed when I read some reviews that summarize the whole story. It’s like ‘Why would I want to read the book now that you’ve just ruined the story for me.’

  8. Michele H

    I pretty much follow the same format as you, Bec, when I review for the blog. It’s usually the books I really love or really don’t love that are the longest because I also feel it’s important to explain *why* the book did or did not work for me. As far as reading other reviews, I’m down for anyone’s individual style as long as there are no huge spoilers.

    • Bec (@BookMagicReview)

      Books I love definitely end up with a longer word count and I’m with you on no huge spoilers. Sometimes, I’ve found I’ve written minor ones after the review has been posted here at HJ. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Michelle!

  9. Teresa Williams

    I don’t write many reviews but I appreciate the author thanking me for one when I do it.I don’t read reviews .

    • Bec (@BookMagicReview)

      Writing reviews is important, but it’s hard to get around to writing a review for every book you read. As for reading reviews, some can end up spoiling a book for a reader. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  10. Kathleen Bylsma

    I prefer short…I give a general outline, include whether it has humor, heart, sesuality and likable characters and most importantly, whether I’d read this author again….

  11. Amy Rickman

    When I leave a review on Goodreads it’s typically just a few sentences. When I read a review it’s usually because it’s a new to me author or I’m looking for things I’m not a fan of and I want to make sure I’m not wasting my time when I pick up the book. I appreciate the longer review but short and sweet is good as long as the point has been made.

    • Bec (@BookMagicReview)

      Yes. I appreciate both short and long reviews, as long as the long review isn’t too long. Since I find some really long reviews just make me want to not take a chance on a book, even if it has lots of 5 Star reviews. New-to-me authors are always a fun find. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  12. irishpax

    Honestly, I follow a similar pattern as you do. I tend to summarize plot, then talk and end with either a go buy the book, library it or don’t bother… though the hardest reviews for me, are those I don’t like I try to never leave a completely negative review but there are definitely times where that is way harder than others.

    • Bec (@BookMagicReview)

      I know what you mean that it’s hard to write a negative review sometimes. I had to write two recently that were posted here at Harlequin Junkie and I never want to have to do that again since it took me way longer than normal to write. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!