Tag Archives: informational


TGIF at GReads!Created and hosted by GReads!, TGIF is a weekly feature that recaps the past week’s posts and poses a question to book bloggers. Each week features a new question, and anyone may participate. This week’s question is…

Writing Reviews 101: What’s your process for writing book reviews? And are there any tips or suggestions you have for other bloggers?

For me, the key to writing a solid review is to write about a book within a week of finishing it. Every single time I wait more than a week, I end up frustrated by my inability to remember everything I’d wanted to say. Book blogging is my hobby of choice, so I do what I can to keep it as fun as possible—including forcing myself to write reviews in a timely manner.

Of course, it’s not always possible for me to write immediately after I’ve finished reading, but I try to have a basic outline going ASAP. Usually, this is as simple as setting up the post—cover image, Goodreads summary, “My Response,” “My Recommendation,” and “My Rating” headings, and bibliographic information—in WordPress and adding very rough notes about the things I might want to include. Occasionally, just setting up the outline is enough to get me started on the “real” writing. Other times, it’ll take me several false starts to get going.

No matter what, I always want my finished review to include (1) my overall impression of the book; (2) how the book stands in comparison to others of its genre; (3) what I did and did not like about the writing and characters; and (4) at least one or two specific details that stood out to me, for whatever reason.

If I feel the need to include anything that even remotely resembles a spoiler, I’ll make sure to type it in white text so that anybody who reads it has done so by choice. Nothing’s worse than an unexpected spoiler! And my one to four star ratings are pretty self explanatory, so I leave them off until the very end because I prefer they not overshadow my actual commentary and opinions.

As for the reviews that I read, I always prefer book blogs whose authors write longer, more detailed reviews, and who support their claims with specifics of the book in question. “OMG I LOVE THIS BOOK” only goes so far. I also love, love, love when bloggers include links to other titles mentioned in a review. Yes, there’s always Google, but direct links are so much more convenient.

What about you? Is there anything you make a point to include when reviewing a book? Alternatively, as a reader, what do you look for in reviews?

Recap of November 28 to December 2 at YA in the Second City:


2012 Debut Author Challenge

With 2012 looming on the horizon (seriously, how and when did that happen?), I’ve started poking around the Internet for reading challenges that sound both interesting and doable. It’s important to me that they be both, because I see them as an opportunity to discover new books, meet new people, and ultimately grow this blog in the way that feeds my long-term goal of being actively involved in the online literary community.

2012 Debut Author Challenge Button

Anyway. Committing to The Story Siren’s Debut Author Challenge was a no-brainer, especially when I consider how many of my favorite books from 2011 were debuts. (Answer: many.) Reading one per month next year should be manageable, and full challenge details are as follows.


  • To read & review a minimum of twelve young adult or middle grade debut novels between the dates of January 1, 2012 – January 31, 2013.*

*The 2013 extension is so that December debuts can be read & counted toward the challenge.


  • You must have a blog to post your reviews, or be a member of Goodreads.
  • Your blog must be written in English.
  • Deadline to join is May 31, 2012.


  • Must be a young adult or middle grade title.
  • Must be the author’s YA or MG debut, released in 2012.
  • If an author has a previous novel published for adults or children, they can still qualify for the challenge.
  • If an author has a previously published YA or MG title, they do not qualify for the challenge.

…Are there any 2012 debuts that you’re particularly excited to read? So far, I’m most looking forward to Marissa Meyer’s Cinder, to be released January 3rd:

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . . 

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future. [Goodreads]