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Reviewers Wanted!!

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Reviewers Wanted!!

Postby Squiggle » Fri Jun 23, 2017 5:22 pm

Dear Boltholers.

We would like to relaunch our blog. I am in the process of lining up a review with Guy Haley, author of Dark Imperium and I intend to accompany it with a review of the book.

Have you read any Black Library books recently? Would you be able to write a review, bearing in mind not to include too many spoilers, for us to put on the blog and advertise via the twitter feed?

More the merrier.

Max length 500 words.

Please submit to me if you are interested, or just straight up send me the review via private message.

Thanks!
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Re: Reviewers Wanted!!

Postby Chun the Unavoidable » Sat Jun 24, 2017 4:02 pm

Would this apply to older BL stuff, too? Or are we just talking recent publications? I ask, 'caus I'm happily ploughing through a reread of Space Marine atm, and they don't come much older than that!
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Re: Reviewers Wanted!!

Postby Squiggle » Sun Jun 25, 2017 6:00 pm

No, not confined to only recent books. More the merrier. I just want something up on the blog on a regular basis - say fortnightly. I'd even consider reviews of non-Black Library but genre books.
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Re: Reviewers Wanted!!

Postby Rob P » Sun Jun 25, 2017 8:36 pm

Me being a thicko; can you explain what you mean by 'genre' books?

I read quite a bit of genre fiction (of the sci-fi, fantasy, horror variety) - and, on occasion, some of it I like enough to write a review.

For example: Corax https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1 ... iew_page=1

The Last Days of Jack Sparks: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1 ... iew_page=1

If I don't like I tend to be brief:

Shadowmagic: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1865933522

I take it you wouldn't be interested in negative BL reviews given that the intention is to attract authors.
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Re: Reviewers Wanted!!

Postby Athelassan » Sun Jun 25, 2017 11:33 pm

Tone of reviews is important, I think, but so is integrity. You don't want to put authors off by publishing hatchet jobs, but neither do you want to get a reputation for saying everything is awesome regardless of quality. If almost nothing gets below a 7/10 then pretty quickly people just stop reading the reviews, in my experience. Except sometimes to mock them.

I think we'd want reviews to be positive in attitude, but nevertheless honest. Of course I'm not the one in charge!

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Re: Reviewers Wanted!!

Postby Xisor » Mon Jun 26, 2017 12:42 am

Athelassan wrote:
I think we'd want reviews to be positive in attitude, but nevertheless honest. Of course I'm not the one in charge!

And with an attitude & dearth of Skaven like that, you never will be. 2/10.

---

I'm keen to. I've been really enjoying the World Engine and thinking up a brief review for it. It's new (ish), but not widely read, so could be a candidate for what's needed. Smilarly, I've Jan Zar to get into shortly, and it'd be nice to flex the word-brain-finger muscles.

As for genre, I think a sweet spot might be a not too far from 1:1 BL:non-BL books, looking at the edge case between liking BL but also liking lots of other stuff too. Heavens, getting non-BL authors could be a lot of fun too. Or 'at least one BL review a week', with any number of others as they come?

Or something like that.
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Re: Reviewers Wanted!!

Postby Rob P » Mon Jun 26, 2017 9:46 pm

To be honest, i've been pretty critical in the past (i've always tried to focus on the book and not the author) and it still make me feel bad to some extent. So I tend to put more effort into my positive reviews and just post something very brief on negative reviews that goes to the heart of the issue.

So I can create positive reviews for the blog without lacking integrity by not blog reviewing books I didn't like.

To go back to my earlier post - I take it we're talking reviews of books that have some resemblance to BL (e.g. fantasy, horror and sci-fi)? For example, would you be looking to sidestep reviews of crime novels?

Also, it'd be fun to talk about what makes a good review.
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Re: Reviewers Wanted!!

Postby Athelassan » Tue Jun 27, 2017 6:57 pm

I've always - well, since I became an adult and started reading proper reviews - felt that telling you what a book is about is incidental to the reviewing process*. It might be necessary to give context, but especially where BL is concerned, you can tell what it's about from the cover and the blurb. "This book is all about Space Wolves, and I love Space Wolves and the Space Wolves are etc." - beyond the first comma this is almost entirely dead space in a review, especially for a genre review.

What, to my mind, the review should be doing is telling you how well the concepts in it are realised. How well it is written, how richly, or sparsely, the characters are drawn, whether the plot is told well, whether the imagery is compelling, whether the tone of the book is in keeping with its theme, drawing your attention to certain aspects of the writing so that people with stylistic preferences know whether or not the book will be to their taste. Whether it sags under its own weight or whether it's enjoyable trash, or neither.

And maybe put it into a wider context in terms of its influences and inspiration. How it fits into the zeitgeist, whether it recalls classic works, seems derivative of them, or tries to forge its own path.

Unfortunately, all too many reviews, especially amateur ones, only give lip service to any of that. It might be because the reviewer doesn't have the experience, literary education or vocabulary to express it properly, but I feel like a review should at least have a good go at doing it. Instead reviews have a tendency to spend a couple of paragraphs telling us the subject matter of the book, summarise the first two thirds or three quarters of the plot, possibly dropping casual spoilers, if you're lucky draw a comparison with a mainstream pop culture staple like Star Wars or Game of Thrones, and then give a conclusion of "I liked it/I didn't like it" based almost entirely on personal taste, often capped with a score out of ten or star rating which means very little in the absence of any scale to judge it by, and often one which has a much smaller range than advertised (e.g. the 1-10 rating that only gives out ratings of 7 or higher).

Not saying my reviews are perfect, by any means. Reviewing isn't easy, and reviewing without sounding pretentious is even harder. But I think in order to be useful to the reader and not just an ego-trip/free book scam for the reviewer, at least some of the above should be addressed.

Ath

*Indeed, I used to get frustrated with a former housemate of mine because she was so narrow-minded about only watching films where she had a pre-existing interest in the subject matter. She wouldn't watch The Godfather or Jaws, for instance. By contrast at the same time I tried to stop myself almost completely from asking "what's a film about?" in order to judge whether I wanted to see it. The important question was rather "is it any good?" If it's good enough, it'll make me interested in the subject matter, and many films did where I had had no such interest before.
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Re: Reviewers Wanted!!

Postby Rob P » Tue Jun 27, 2017 7:47 pm

Good points, Ath.

I fall into lots of those traps.

I'm terrible at the literary review side of things.

Satisfying plot + good characters - overly/flowery descriptive language = I'm sold.

Making notes whilst reading can be good. I've found that when I make notes I have a more reounded view of a book whilst when I don't note take my overall impression is usually unbalanced and tipped by my satisfaction (or lack of) at the end of the book.
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Re: Reviewers Wanted!!

Postby Squiggle » Tue Jun 27, 2017 9:24 pm

Let me try and answer some of the queries...

- I do not mind if the reviews are positive or negative. But they should be balanced and the strength of the review should rest on how the reviewer rates the quality of the writing. If this dislike can be put into words then I don't have an issue with the reviews appearing on the blog. But clearly I reserve the right to reject reviews which are badly worded, abusive, or otherwise unsuitable.
- The books reviewed do not have to be current new releases. Reviews of new releases will generate more traffic, I would hope - but there are plenty of classic Black Library releases which deserve another look and this would provide another avenue for us.
- By genre, yes, I meant science fiction and fantasy novels, comics, novellas, short stories and so on. I read much more widely than Black Library and it is reasonable to suggest that our readership do also.
- As for what makes a good review, that is something of a matter of opinion. I think that Ath's post above is pretty much the lines on which I am going to fall. I don't want a summary of what happens in the novel. For some reason plenty of reviewers seem to think that this is what a review is. I equally don't want a discourse on literary theory.
What I want is quite straight forward. How good is the book? Would you recommend it? If you would, or you wouldn't, why not. If the plot paper-thin? Are the characters 2-dimensional cliched cut outs? Is the world building excellent or terrible. Is there a climax? An ending? Is it riddled with poor grammar and typos?

And remember, these reviews do not have to be very long. I just want thoughts on paper in a coherent form.
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Re: Reviewers Wanted!!

Postby Obscura Boy » Tue Jun 27, 2017 10:39 pm

I'm happy to help out with this, work permitting! I was planning a re-read of Xenos, and possibly the rest of the Eisenhorn trilogy. I'm also intrigued by Fire and Ice.

Are you looking mainly for reviews of novels and novel-length books (ie. short story anthologies), or would you accept a piece on, say, a novella/short story?
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Re: Reviewers Wanted!!

Postby Squiggle » Wed Jun 28, 2017 6:05 pm

any and all reviews that are suitable.
I don't want to make it too wide-ranging because then we lose our niche but yeah shorts or novellas would be fine.
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Re: Reviewers Wanted!!

Postby Vivia » Sat Jul 01, 2017 1:32 pm

Athelassan wrote:

Not saying my reviews are perfect, by any means. Reviewing isn't easy, and reviewing without sounding pretentious is even harder. But I think in order to be useful to the reader and not just an ego-trip/free book scam for the reviewer, at least some of the above should be addressed.

In the age of Goodreads this couldn't be more important. I wrote to them about the onslaught of so-called reviews stating "This book was good and it was given to me for free by Annoying Book site".

Things that are super important in reviews is to have a personality. Don't be afraid of putting in personal experiences, if you were reading on the subway and you were so engrossed that you forgot to get off the train, write about it. Coming across as a generic and humourless spambot is off-putting (Inspirobot, anyone). Very important to focus own your own personal experience with the book, what made you go oh or meh.

A bad book doesn't mean an overly negative review, it's possible to make it light-hearted and humorous. It always tempting to write "this book had the most dreadful words ever written!", but it's better to avoid it. Also, humour doesn't mean outright mocking the writing or the author, either.
A friend and I were discussing Stephen King, we thought that Pet Sematary was his better work because it had none of have his usual trope of a religious fanatic. Observations such as this are useful for the reader.
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Re: Reviewers Wanted!!

Postby Vivia » Sat Jul 01, 2017 3:00 pm

Double post!

I have my old Fulgrim review, filled with mayhem. It's a wordy one.
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