Discussion: Book Review Quirks

Posted 1 February, 2013 by Amanda / 39 Comments


Let me explain how this discussion post came to be. I was in the process of writing a review for a book when I shared the following lines with Kelly:

Jumping back into this series is like sliding into your favorite pair of quirky pajamas. You find yourself in a state of amused contentment.

And she replied, “You talk about your comfy pajamas as often as I talk about clowns*. LOL!”

It’s true. I do. I talk about comfy pajamas because it’s cold in Minnesota and the feeling of putting on your pajamas is AMAZING. I find it to be an apt comparison for reading a really good book. But then I realized that we all have our book review quirks: word or phrases we use frequently in our reviews.

In addition to talking about pajamas, I often employ some variation of the phrase “THINGS HAPPEN!” to talk about the plot without giving away any details. It’s like saying, “Shit gets real, yo.” But I don’t want to spoil anyone by, you know, saying what happens.

But then I also have general writing quirks: starting my sentences with “So,” a lot, over-employing the use of the word “also”, using parenthesis like my life depends on it (What? I like parenthesis.) (Though I do forget to close them sometimes. Oops.), using ALL CAPS! whenever I want to place emphasis on something, and making lists. (Lists! I love LISTS!)

So my question(s) for you…

What are YOUR book review quirks? What are your general writing quirks? 

(Bonus points for informing me of any of my writing quirks not listed here.)

*Kelly has requested that I inform everyone that she talks about clowns because she fears them. It is not, as my pajamas comparison will have you believe, because she likes wearing them. Now you know.


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39 Responses to “Discussion: Book Review Quirks”

  1. I apparently like to describe actions in a way that doesn’t make sense. Like a character doing things with ‘silent grace.’ I also have a terrible habit of over-describing, and then re-describing a paragraph later, the same facial features. Usually eyes. I like eyes. I especially like to describe eyes… Thankfully, I have a kick-ass editor to catch all that before the rest of the world sees it. And for the record, this comment was executed with silent grace (it’s totally a thing. My imagination says so).

  2. “So” is an incredibly important word and should be used well and often. My quirks include babbling incessantly, waffling between sounding like one of my teenaged students and an actual English teacher with big words and all, and, yes, the use of “so” (which I attempt to edit out during my read-through). I’m tellin’ you. This shit just got real, yo.

    • lol! I can totally see how spending a lot of time with your students would mean that you pick up their speech habits. (I swear that my grammar always got worse when I was teaching for similar reasons.)

      I usually have to stop myself from using “so.” I do it more in emails than reviews, but man. It pops up A LOT.

  3. I have so many…….

    I use the word However a LOT. I mean even when speaking but especially when writing.

    I LOVE blockquotes and try to figure ways to use them all over the place.

    “I can’t get into to much detail” is kind of like Kelly’s “Things Happen”—I don’t want to give spoilers so that is my filler.

    Even though I don’t often write it—“GAH” pops in my head a lot while writing reviews. Like almost every time I am trying to think of the perfect thing to say.

    I could go on and on and on but quirks…yep I got em!

  4. I use “…” and ( ) A LOT… oh and CAPS… and “so” and “however”… and I ramble. Most of my editing is going back to break everything into real sentences.

    I’m pretty sure the words “kick ass” describe all of my female leads. And an “alpha male” search would take you to all of my posts.

    (Great discussion idea!)

    • “Most of my editing is going back to break everything into real sentences.”

      Not sure why, but that comment made me laugh. Real sentences are good!

      Kick ass female leads are awesome. As are alpha males. (Side note: I probably use ‘awesome’ far too much as well.)

    • Felicia

      Oh I do that too! Kick Ass is something I use to describe everything (kind of used it a few minutes ago at work too)

  5. I tend to forget to even synopsyze the book, assuming the everybody already knows what it’s about, because pfft get outta here if you can’t even hang. :D
    There are *also lots of *sos and *anyways.

    • I often forget to read the synopsis portion of people’s reviews. I don’t know why that is. I just jump into the review and then read the synopsis if I need/want more.

      Oh! Anyways is a word I used to use A LOT in emails. It’s such a good, useful word.

  6. First, I just want to say that I’m relieved Kelly does not in fact like to wear clowns. Phew.

    Now, on to my review quirks! I have lots of them:) The first is I somehow over time slipped into using “we” and “our” when I write my reviews as opposed to “I”. I have no idea how that happened or when, but I feel like it’s been at least two years that I’ve been doing it so I just sort of keep on keep on:) I also have a tendency to be super vague in my reviews as to not give anything away, and I cover that vagueness with sometimes absurd analogies. I don’t know. They just come out when I start typing and then I stare at them and go “I’m just going to go with it”. *pats self on back*

  7. I definitely have book review quirks. When I’m talking about something that a lot of people do (like when everyone’s writing a book about vampires), I say “everyone and their pet turtle.” And when I get on a roll while writing a review I start using the same transition every other sentence. And I love to remind people how honest I’m being—”to be honest” or “honestly” ALL the time, lol.

    Hmm. I should start paying more attention to my reviews!

    • HA! “Everyone and their pet turtle.” Love it! I use “actually” a lot. (When I respond to comments, I also use “True story” and “Not gonna lie” often. Ready?)

      True story, after I wrote this post, I finished writing a review and managed to hit almost every single one of my quirks. I liked seeing how my quirks are a big part of my review style, though.

  8. I’m with you on use of THINGS when spoilery stuff needs to be referred to but can’t be described. I sometimes think I’m completely vague about some books.

  9. Oddmonster

    I had to forcibly break myself of the habit of confining topic transitions to “Anyway…” or “So,”

    However, I refuse to be broken of my habit of including long and often incendiary quotes from the book I’m reviewing. I feel like it’s a fair way to offer a reader the opportunity to judge an author’s writing style for themselves, especially when I bust out the old chestnut, “I didn’t care for the author’s writing style but…”

  10. Oh my goodness I have SO MANY of these! I can’t think of anything specific right now, but I do tend to repeat myself – I may not have an overall, EVERY SINGLE REVIEW quirk (though I probably do and can’t think of it) but I’ve noticed that within a single review I’ll get hold of a word or phrase and then use it to death. This is double worse when I write up a bunch of reviews in a row – suddenly my review of Diviners sounds exactly like Discovery of Witches which sounds exactly like the movie review I just did etc. It’s definitely bad news bears! Of course, it helps that I write my reviews long-hand and then while I’m typing them in I notice when something has been overused and try to edit it into better shape.

    I shall have to pay closer attention to what exactly my quirks are! I feel bad that I don’t know them well enough to name them lol.

    • *shrugs* With editing, I just seem to be excessively aware of what I do, at least with general writing quirks. When I train myself to catch that stuff in others’ writing, I pick up on some of it myself, too.

      I didn’t see the pajamas thing until Kelly pointed it out, though.

  11. I do the ‘so’, ‘also’ and paranthesis thing a lot too. …And refer to things as the ‘something thing’. And overuse the …

    But everyone loves a good …

    I’m not sure I really notice other reviewers’ quirks that much. I’ll definitely look out more now.

    And comfy pyjamas are the greatest and they are EXACTLY like a good book that’s also an old friend. So warm and fuzzy and cosy and happy. <3

    • I am curious what people start seeing AFTER this post. Writing this was a good way for me to reflect on my own writing. (I seem to have a lot of quirks. Ha.)

      YAY! I’m glad I’m not the only one. You know, I think the pajamas obsession is just because it’s so freaking cold right now. Being warm and comfy are very important. I wonder if I focus on something different in the summer. Hmm.

  12. Quirky is a kind way of describing my lack of formality.

    I love to use “…”. Mostly I do it because I suck at punctuation. This sentence is Exhibit A.

    I start sentences with “but,” “and,” and “so” way too often. But it sounds right in my head.

    I’m a hot mess.

    • Amy, bashing your own writing is not acceptable. That’s not what this post is about.

      I start my sentences with ‘but’ and ‘and’ all the time, too. In fact, I often have to stop myself from starting my sentences with ‘and’ because I’d done it in the previous sentence.

  13. I think I need to expand my vocabulary when it comes to writing reviews … I’ll be all, ‘It was AMAZING!’ or ‘This book was awesome.’ I really need to find other ways of describing my thoughts!

    I like using caps when I’m excited about a certain thing in a book — and exclamation points! I use them a lot.