My Thoughts on Reviewing... - Vilma Iris | Lifestyle Blogger

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My Thoughts on Reviewing…

I’ve been in book heaven lately, gearing up for a host of reviews to go live on the first week of May, which seems to be yet another epic week of releases. I’ve been reading some great books, lots of 4- and 5-star reviews and it got me thinking that it had been awhile since I discussed my review philosophy. I definitely consider myself a reviewer first and foremost, and that is most definitely the focus of my blog. I hope you find my reviews valuable and the ratings a good indicator of how I feel about the books I’ve read, and most importantly, how YOU might feel upon reading them. That being said, my advice is to take a look at ratings rather loosely. Here are some of my thoughts on this whole reviewing thing and how I approach what I do.

  • Reviews are subjective. Sometimes I think a book is so ingeniously written, I give it 5 stars. Sometimes, the book has me so obsessed, I give it 5 stars. Sometimes it’s even its ability to evoke a strong reaction in me that’s noteworthy. Most of the time, it’s a mix of good writing and good storytelling that will earn a 5-star rating, but my point is, not always. There’s no scientific formula and we all have different tastes. Sometimes reading too many books of the same genre impacts how I absorb a story, for example. There are simply too many factors that affect the experience of reading a novel. A rating is a general feeling of how I’ve perceived the book at the time I’ve read it and if you see we have pretty similar reading tastes, then it’s a good indicator for your experience as well.
  • I put a lot of thought into my reviews. Despite what I said above about absorbing reviews pretty loosely, I do take reviewing really, really seriously. I admit that I am a bit of a writing snob, so I want the story to have solid editing, strong character development and a pacing that keeps me captivated from beginning to end. I work hard to avoid spoilers, but try and give you a good sense of how you might feel when you read the book. My reviews usually take longer than 30 minutes to write (which may simply be an indicator of my own inability to write quickly, my verbosity or my propensity to over-analyze a given narrative). I toil over them and I typically go back and re-edit before publishing. I want them to be respectful always, and valuable to you.
  • I know what I like. Why don’t you see a lot of 2 and 3 star reviews on my blog? Because I’ve become really good at choosing books I like. I can usually tell from the synopsis and the writing of it whether it may be a book I will enjoy. I’m obviously not always right, but I’m usually pretty good at it. I read really diversely and bounce from genre to genre often. I don’t read a lot of Erotica, which is why I don’t review a lot of it either. I do think, however, there are some awesome erotic romances out there with enough story to keep me riveted. I favor emotional reads and books that have an additional something. That something may be a paranormal element or a thrilling mystery or nutty vision of the future that is entirely too intriguing to put down.
  • I don’t review everything. If I start a book and it’s not working for me at all, I’ll put it down and move on. My schedule is insanely tight and it’s okay to not like a book and not tell the whole world about it too.
  • I read what I want to read. I work full-time in a demanding role that typically requires more than 40 hours of work time. I have two kids and a husband and I volunteer at my children’s school. I try to work out every day and enjoy eating and sleeping, even if it’s just a bit. 🙂 That being said, I have a limited amount of hours a day that I devote to my blog and it’s typically when everyone else at home is asleep. “Blog time” includes reading, reviewing, posting, calendaring, graphic making, beta reading, responding to emails, social media messages etc etc etc. And because this is a hobby, albeit one that I’m extremely passionate about, I choose the books with which I really want to immerse myself. I have a queued review request list of hundreds (both Indie and traditionally published) that I go through when there’s a hole in my schedule, but the reality is I don’t always get to it because I am perpetually behind. (sigh) I absolutely get a thrill each time I find a gem from an author that isn’t very well known and I so wish I had more time to read.
  • I don’t do mean. I just don’t. Ultimately, for me, it’s about being a ‘professional’ reviewer. I’m not here to be the harshest critic on the block. I’m honest, but respectful. I don’t get paid for reviewing, I do it for the love of reading and sharing the joy I get when I read an awesome book. I want authors to feel respected and I want to earn your trust and respect as well. It takes an insane amount of bravery to hit publish on your work and have it out there for the world to critique, and who am I, with my specific tastes and idiosyncrasies, to judge if a book is “good” or not. I can simply be honest and say whether or not it was a good fit for me.

Anyway, I hope this too-long note gives you an idea of how I approach reviewing. Sometimes I feel that there is pressure to be harsh with ratings or with words so that you’re known as a tough reviewer. I will always be honest in a review and typically present the element(s) that didn’t work for me in the story and explain in a respectful way why it didn’t. That actually happens a lot and you’ll see it often in my reviews. It’s not fun seeing your work torn apart. It’s happened to me a few times when someone has been mean about one of my reviews and it’s not cool, peeps. We are all entitled to our own opinions and I want my blog to represent positivity and professionalism. I care about reading and because of that, I’m going to love lots of things about lots of books. That’s why this is fun! I’m so grateful for the authors, readers and bloggers I’ve come to know and I hope you continue to find my blog a valuable place for you to visit when you have some time.



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  1. Paula Novack said:

    I love this. I enjoy your reviews and how you seem to like to interact with fans of your blog. I’ve found many great books through your reviews!


    1. VBB Post author said:

      Thank you Paula!!! I love chatting with you and so glad you are in the Vixen group too!!! <3


  2. Smut Book Junkie said:

    I am a blogger myself and I love your reviews. You set the bar high Vilma. Congrats on your column in USA today.


    1. VBB Post author said:

      Thank you!!! That means a lot 🙂


    1. VBB Post author said:

      Thanks Stacy!!! 🙂


  3. Andi M said:

    Thank you for sharing your philosophy on blogging and reading. I love your reviews, because they are honest yet respectful. I am a voracious reader and have an enormous list of books that I’d love to read. Like you it’s impossible to fit it all in. Following your reviews helps me narrow down my choices. I’ve gotten pretty good at reading books that I like — mainly books that I would rate a 4 or 5 star. I enjoy sharing this hobby with you!


    1. VBB Post author said:

      Thank you Andi! I feel the same way. There are so many great books out there and the recommendations you all give me also help narrow the list down 🙂


  4. Livia said:

    Thank you so much for taking the time to explain your process, Vilma. Your blog is the first one that I started following on FB thanks to JLA interviewing you on her own blog. I love your professional approach and your non-spoiler reviews. I’m seriously in awe of how you manage to juggle the needs of your corporate job and family, life, etc. with your love for book blogging and interacting with fellow book addicts like me. I hope it stays fun for you forever! 🙂


    1. rfehostadmin said:

      Thank you Livia!!! You have truly become one of my favorite people to interact with and I’m so happy we found each other! Your kind words are so very appreciated! ❤️


  5. Patricia Lee said:

    I consider you my go-to source most of the time when it comes to being on the fence about a book. While I also review books, my reviews are nowhere near as eloquent or well written as yours. I appreciate that you took the time to put this out there. Keep up the fantastic reviews and congrats on your column.


    1. VBB Post author said:

      Thank you Patricia!!! You are so kind! ❤️


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