Potato Strip #5: The Struggles of Writing a Positive Review

Hi, guys! Welcome to the awesome feature here on The Social Potato! Here, we feature sporadic “comic strips”, drawn and told by yours truly, talking about whatever stories we want to tell. Right now, I’ve decided to draw about how The Social Potato came to be, right from the very beginning! Once this “volume” finishes, we’ll try out different other stories! In any case, I really hope you like it!

Potato Strip #5: The Struggles of Writing a Positive Review


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Before I could write the reviews I write today, I was a very messy reviewer (read: a N00B!). I initially wanted to review books just so I can keep a tab of what I felt after reading books, but it was such a struggle for me to write, especially them positive reviews. All I knew was that the book was AMAZING. That I LOVED the characters. And I COULDN’T get enough of the writing. Saying any reasons morethan that was just beyond me. How could you explicably explain WHY you love something? I mean, just saying WHY you love someone is already a hard task, because you just… do. 

That’s what I had to deal with when I first started reviewing (not blogging per se, I started that like 8 months later) – being able to articulate WHY I loved certain elements in a book, and trust me, it was hard finding that voice. I had to learn how to read the book in small parts, dissecting every possible scene and development, and then analyze them as a whole. I had to understand chapter by chapter and how each one built up to the next. I had to start thinking while reading, because if I mindlessly read a book and loved it as a whole, I wouldn’t be able to truly and articulately explain the things I love (and well, hated, but that’s a strip for another day).

I’m definitely better at it now. In fact, if I were very passionate about a book (negatively or positively), I tend to ramble… like, a lot. It wasn’t an easy road getting here, though! So if you have trouble reviewing and putting into words those flails and feels and gushes and raves, DON’T FRET! You’re not alone! I’ve been there! Just practice reviewing though and you’ll be a pro at it eventually!

What about you? Did or do you struggle reviewing positive books? What have you done to deal with it, or what are you doing to cope with it? 

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A 21 years old Filipina who loves books, games, languages, and most especially, food. Secretly wishes to be an astronaut so she can explore the stars. Has a love-hate relationship with Philippine politics. To get in her good graces, offer her Foie Gras, Or shrimp. Or a JRPG. A YA sci-fi book works, too. You can follow her on twitter here: @kawaiileena


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  1. says

    I’ve been been blogging about books for quite a while now, and I STILL struggle writing about books I love. It’s easy to read and write critically about a book I didn’t love, but it’s incredibly challenging to read a book critically when I’m being swept away by an amazing story. I think that’s what makes writing reviews with substance hard. Sometimes I will take a step back and ponder what about the I love and why, but sometimes I just want to immerse myself in the story, and if that means writing a review about how the characters were AMAZING and the storyline was PREFECT and ACTION-PACKED, so be it. It’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make!
    Jackie recently posted…Going to the Library with a Theme in Mind is Like Going on a Scavenger HuntMy Profile

  2. says

    YES! I AGREE! My very first book review was a positive one, actually, and oh my God it was sooooo difficult to write it without sounding too dense and fangirly. Lol, I tend to ramble too. Sometimes my reviews end up realllllly long and they’re mostly a BIG introduction that has nothing to do with the book and some nonsense, hahaha, so I understand your struggle. I try to separate the review in what I thought about writing, characters, plot, etc, and if I can, then I save some quotes! I know this is no “real” advice, but that’s what I do. :)
    Vane J. recently posted…I am the age of your typical NA heroine!My Profile

  3. says

    I’ve been blogging for a year now actually, and I am still at a stage where sometimes I have no idea what to write, other than, OH MY THIS BOOK IS FREAKING FANTASTIC. Funny thing though, I could write a more in-depth review for books I hated, than for books that I totally loved. I understand the part about dissecting each and every one of the chapters. For me now, if a book is REALLY good, there were times when the reasons and points about the book came to my mind immediately. Other times though, I would have to stew over the books for a few days, and sometimes even though the moment I put down the book and was like OHMYGOD, LOVE IT, after much thinking, I realise that that’s just the euphoria feeling of a damn good ending, which doesn’t necessarily mean the whole book is super duper good. So, yeah. HAHA it takes time, I guess. :)
    Maryam recently posted…Review: A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen BaldwinMy Profile

  4. says

    Oh, I am pretty terrible that this! I think I have given up? I mean, I don’t think I am so good at the “coherent thoughts” so I generally try a different method. Now, give me a book I hate, and I can write you a novella about it. But (and this is probably a good thing!) I seem to enjoy more books than I hate. I mean, I DO try to at least give a few actual, reasonable thoughts and notations, but then it’s just flailing if I must. And I think sometimes that’s okay! I mean, if every review was “OMG BEST BOOK EVER”, then yeah, that would not work. But a few? Meh, I can live with it ;)

  5. says

    Great post, Faye, and I love, love, love your comic strip! because… uhm… I just DO!

    I’m still rambling a little when I write very positive reviews, and I think that’s partly because I have to be so very analytical when I write for Uni. I do include things about POVs and character development and other things, but gushing is fun! At least every now and then :)

    And it is definitely difficult to find our own writing voice, I also think that is something that changes as we become more experienced bloggers and reviewers :)

    Have a fantastic day and happy reading!
    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews recently posted…Review: The Heat of the Moment – Katie RoseMy Profile

  6. says

    ALL THE YES for this post. When I started reviewing, I SUCKKK. Now I like to think I’m better but I’m still no better when I try to write a gushing review for a great book. All I want to do is just say “THIS BOOK IS FUCKING AWESOME!” and leave it at that. Because damn, its hard to find the proper words. More often than not, I gushed like a crazed fangirl instead of a proper sane human being.

    I usually just state why I love the book, how I feel and think, what the book invoke in me, I also explain how I live eah and every characters that include positive traits. I try my best to make my review appealing and make the book seem appealing enough for other people to check it out. So.. that’s me! :)

    And I feel like I can quote this forever. “just saying WHY you love someone is already a hard task, because you just… do. ” ♡

  7. says

    I still find writing reviews for books I really loved the hardest as it’s hard to adeqautely convey how much I loved a book. Especially when most books fall int he 4 star range for me, when i do read a book that’s a 5 star it feels like it’s hard to express my love for that book.
    When I started reviewing I was a mess as well, I think everyone starts there, I only got to a few alinea’s and sort of like your style of just summing up how everything was great and I liked the characters. It sure took me a while to find my voice, narrow down to what was really important for me in books and then decide how I wanted to write my reviews. I like these potato strips!
    Lola recently posted…Review: Star Wars The Clone WarsMy Profile

  8. Katie says

    First, I LOVE YOUR ART <3 omg, so cute!!! Second, since listening to your (wonderfully awesome and hysterical) Queen of Shadows video review, I can't help but picture you actually saying all of this, which just makes the entire comic a hundred times funnier ^^ And finally, YES, writing good reviews is so tough! I don't often write book reviews, but even when I was discussing Queen of Shadows with a friend, I've found it's so much easier to focus on what ISN'T good than to put into words why you liked something so much. Sometimes there's an explanation, and sometimes it's just book chemistry <3

  9. says

    LOVE this Potato Strip :D I find that I struggle more with writing a review if the book was just average. If it was AWESOME, I have a lot to say and if it was terrible, I have a lot to say, but if it was just ok…well what more is there to say?! The book was ok. I liked this character, didn’t like the other. The pacing was off. The world was missing something. The end. XD

    It’s funny that you mention how you reviewed when you started. Before I launched my blog when I was still a GR NOOB, I used to review by recapping the entire book. o_O SImply because I.DID.NOT.KNOW.WHAT.ELSE.TO.SAY. I wanted to discuss the book and so I did. I wasn’t till later that I began taking notes as I was reading and breaking down all aspects of the book in my review (plot, pacing, characters, setting, world-building, etc…) Some of my older reviews still make me cringe >.< Wonderful post^^ ♥
    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted…Review: Queen of ShadowsMy Profile

  10. says

    I think every reviewer has this same struggle. Sometimes we run out of adjectives to use. The most used positive adjectives just doesn’t seem enough to describe the book we love. Since I stop reviewing books for a while, I felt like I somehow lost my voice. I feel like I am struggling again. I need to slowly dig another hole for my tree to take root.
    Dre @ Sporadic Reads recently posted…Review 258 : Ghostboy, Chameleon & the Duke of Graffiti by Olivia WildensteinMy Profile

  11. says

    I completely agree with this 150% Faye. Sometimes you just love something so much but you don’t really know why you love it, which makes it so, so hard to review and rate. Most of the time it’s easier to just flail and fangirl. ;) Thanks for sharing this post though – your comics are always so amazing and the post was wonderful!
    Zoe @ Stories on Stage recently posted…MagnoliaMy Profile

  12. says

    Your comic strip was really funny, it is such an accurate situation. I feel the same way than you toward writing positive reviews, but for me, I think writing a 3 stars review is one of the hardest. A 3 stars review means I had a lot of issues but still like the book, sometimes I feel like I’m only talking about things I didn’t like and the positive things are like… Hidden. When I think of someone reading my review, I then tell myself that person will think I didn’t like the book at all, when I did. It’s such a struggle, sometimes forming positive thoughts on a book full of “meh” elements is so difficult.
    Lucie recently posted…Top Ten Books on my Fall TBR | Top Ten TuesdayMy Profile

  13. says

    Her facial expressions are absolutely priceless! I pretty much type type out reviews the same way, especially lately. I find fantasy titles by far the most difficult to review. I’ve only just started reading mild fantasy this year and still feel hesitant when it comes to typing out reviews. Completely agree with negative or books you loathed being so much easier to review than the books we’ve loved. I’m still struggling to find that balance. Eventually I keep telling myself, one day I’ll get it right <3

    PS. It's been TOO long since we've seen Freyr, I've MISSSSSSED HERRRR <3
    Kelly recently posted…The Foretelling of Georgie Spider by Ambelin KwaymullinaMy Profile

  14. says

    Faye, you have your own distinct voice. It’s so important nowadays, when there is an avalanche of information. You definitely stand out among other book bloggers, because of your unique energetic and full of humor writing style.

    I often struggle to write coherent reviews on books that I loved. I’m often overwhelmed by emotions and thoughts; it’s hard to write them down.
    Ksenia @ Ksenia’s Book Blog recently posted…Audio Obsession #3. Favorite audiobooksMy Profile

  15. Sam says

    That comic is so dead on! I am not a blogger, but I feel I should leave a review on Goodreads/Amazon as a “thank you” to the author for the experience they gave me. My struggle isn’t just with expressing what was so great without sounding like a 14 year old fangirl, but with keeping a tight-lip regarding important plot points. I hate spoilers, and I work hard to keep those tidbits hidden, but sometimes, those bits are the parts that made the whole experience what it was. The struggle is real

  16. says

    I love this so much and it’s SO TRUE. I recently read I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson and it’s one of my all-time favorites but it took me around 3-4 days to form a coherent review because I basically just wanted to put THIS IS SO AMAZING READ IT NOW ASDFGHJKL but that’s not very informative, is it?! THE STRUGGLE IS REAL. So what I find helps me is to 1) Get Thesaurus up and running so I can find more adjectives because I’m incompetent and my vocabulary range is limited when it comes to books I love 2) I make notes of all the things I liked and I try to make the list as non-fangirl as possible 3) Try to write a coherent review. Sometimes I can’t and then I just spazz and fangirl to my heart’s content but THAT’S OKAY. #bookbloggerprobs
    Kyra @ Blog of a Bookaholic recently posted…I would give you the sun for I’ll Give You the Sun.My Profile

  17. says

    Awesome books are tough to review. Like you said, it is hard to explain why you love anything. I suppose I can start using “this book activated my dopamine production in my brain and now I have this happy feeling.” I wonder if that is enough.

    When I first started reviewing, it was hard for me to use my own voice. I was trying very hard to be the bloggers that inspired me, and reviewing became difficult for me because I was trying to fit myself into a box. It is easier now that I have just thrown caution into the wind. But I love this comic – you hit the nail right on the head!
    Lyn Kaye recently posted…Garden Gazette September Wrap-UpMy Profile

  18. says

    Oh, the daily struggle especially when you’re writing a review of a book you’ve read days ago. I struggle a lot when it comes to writing reviews and I often catch myself using the same words and I hate that. I try to change the way I write my reviews every now and then to avoid sounding monotone, and to be honest, writing negative reviews are easier, because there’s a lot to talk about why you didn’t like the book. Love the art, btw! I didn’t know you drew comics! So cute! :D
    Blessie (Mischievous Reads) recently posted…Purple Is The New Black + Giveaway!My Profile

  19. says

    Oh, this is super interesting! Because the hardest reviews to write, for me, are three star reads – like ‘meh’-ish books that weren’t good or bad. I never know how to explain why it wasn’t especially good OR especially bad, and why I didn’t love OR hate it.

    If I LOVE a book, I can usually just flail about all the things I love, or if it just one thing (it’s happened), I just fangirl about that aspect.

    But I know those feels about the adjectives, though! XD Sometimes I read back on a review before posting it, and I’m like: Chiara, you’ve used “gorgeous” and “beautiful” approximately 756 times, you need to change this. *laughing*

    (Also, you are so talented WHAT EVEN?!)
    Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity recently posted…Why I Wasn’t a Fan of Lock & Mori by Heather W. PettyMy Profile

  20. says

    YAY for Faye’s awesome comic strips! I love these so much and although this was posted when my Potato emails weren’t coming through, I managed to find it just now! WOOT.
    I was a little amazed at the detail you speak of, thinking about each scene and how the books lead into each other and that, because I don’t think like that as a reviewer. I suddenly thought- does that mean my reviews aren’t proper, that I’m writing lousey things? But then I realised that I just work in a different way. So stress be gone! I like finding out how others review and work- it makes me think of how I think and work! xx
    Romi recently posted…Mini reviews (15)My Profile