After reading the excellent post at Abby the Librarian, Why it's Critical to Review (and Read) Critically, I started getting worried that my reviews on this blog were less than useful.
I have always acknowledged that I am not the most talented writer (or reviewer) out there. I notice that I tend to repeat phrases (I'm trying to be better about that) and I rarely delve deeply into the plot of the books. On the one hand, I don't see the point of re-inventing the wheel. If someone has already written a great plot review, why not just link to it in the "Want More?" section of each post? Similarly, I make a point of (for the most part) not reviewing books that many other people have already reviewed or are extremely well-known. Why review Ezra Jack Keats' The Snowy Day, for example?
On the other hand, I hope to craft a review post that introduces a book in such a way that the reader (i.e. you) will know whether or not she wants to further investigate the book, either by reading other opinions of it, or by putting it on hold at the library. How do I do that? Well, I don't have a formula, and no doubt some posts are less successful that others -- depending on various factors such as my own fatigue level, time constraints or that mysterious thing we call inspiration.
This blog has a very limited focus, too: books with an urban setting. I always try to include my perspective on how the urban setting is represented in the book, what role it plays, and so forth. I suppose that is my unique take on a book -- what I see as making my reviews "useful" ... or not. It's probably also the factor that keeps my blog's readership low. In the beginning, I thought it would also be what would draw people to the blog. Shows you how much I know. I love books and I love the city, however, so I keep plugging away.
But back to my original point. I'd always love to know if there is anything in my individual reviews that you would like more of. What would make them more useful?