Fairytale News | Personal vs professional reviews.


'Mel on reading' is a little feature I created as part of my Fairytale news. It's my way to show my thoughts on topics that go from pet peeves in reading to my favorite things in books.

I love the change in blogging I see lately. People are trying out their own memes/features, bloggers change the way they write their review and there is diversity in what they post. One of the things I notice is that bloggers start to get more personal. We share things that happen in our daily lives en we include them in our reviews.

I absolutely love it. I think it’s great to know more about the blogger. It makes them feel like a person instead of a someone behind a computer screen in another part of the world. I like being able to read the voice of the blogger who writes the review. I'm not per se talking about fangirling, screaming or raving reviews, but more the way bloggers link their personal experiences to a review. It makes them stand out to me. The personal touch also makes it easier for me to see if I am going to like or dislike the book, especially if I’m close to that blogger.

At the same time I think that there are people out there who wish it would be more professional. Reviews only based on rational, objective things rather than talking about how a book makes you feel or think. They want to be able to create their opinion without being influenced by the feelings of the blogger. I can understand that side of the story too, but professional reviews always gives me the impression that they aren't completely genuine. (I know that it's just a writing-style and I appreciate how everyone writes, but that's just how it sometimes feels to me) I feel like personal reviews go more in depth and highlight different aspects, which tells me more about a book.

I’m very curious to see what you guys think. Are you someone who likes emotional, personal reviews or do you like the professional ones where they only talk about aspects of the story itself without the reviewers opinions?

52 comments

  1. I enjoy reading personal reviews even more than professional ones, and I think personal reviews have more of a place in the blogosphere than professional ones. Of course, if someone wants to write completely professional books, then he/she can, but I love personal reviews. I love reading how a book affected someone, and I love being able to express how a book affected me. Besides, there are already sites for professional reviews.

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  2. I used to try to be very "professional" and stick to the technical details and things like that. But in the last year and a half or so, I've been looking more introspectively when reviewing, but also looking at the greater context of the book. Doing those things has helped the flow of my reviews (even though they tend to get pretty wordy now, too, haha.)

    I enjoy reading more personal reviews. I follow each reviewer for their opinion - what makes them tick, what they think, how they feel. I feel like anyone can write about grammar and syntax, but no one can tell me how a book made Mel feel except for Mel - and that's what makes me follow a blogger.

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  3. I love personal reviews though I read some more technical reviews too. I admit, I don't have as much fun reading them as I do personal reviews. Maybe it's my own bias as I am very much a personal reviewer: I always like to make it very clear that everything I write is from my own opinion and how I felt which obviously can be wrong or coloured. And I think I'm this way just because I'm not a writer at all. I can write essays for school sure but in terms of actually constructing a story, that's something I have no knowledge in at all. So I'm never actually reporting from a standpoint of this is what the author should have done, this needs to be improved upon. I always call myself a reader not a writer which is why I suppose I'm less adamant on writing professional reviews. But yeah I do like to read personal reviews more. It's not that I think professional reviews are less genuine, I just feel like reviews are really repetitive to read after a while that if there isn't clear evidence of the blogger's voice and opinion, if I can't hear their enthusiasm, then it's just not as fun for me to read it.

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  4. I'm definitely personal now, even though I started off as more professional. It's a little uncomfortable sometimes writing how a book has affected me, but it's important for the reader to know that that's why I thought what I did about the book. I'm one of those people that gets her whole life turned upside down because of a book and what I read affects me deeply, whether good or bad. I live and breathe fiction. The characters (if written well) are real to me. Sometimes it's hard to forget, when writing a review, that those things didn't actually happen. It just feels like life, and sometimes that's hard to write about.

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  5. I try to keep a blend of the personal and professional in my reviews. I want everyone to see my personal reason as to why I like or dislike a book. But I'm also very analytical and that helps me determine whether most people would like the book or not. I never want my reviews to just consist of "Oh my gosh, I loved it and everyone has to read it!" But I also don't want to lose my own unique voice.

    Of course, one can go a little overboard when it comes to gifs(which apparently are NOT professional) and that's completely understandable. :D

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  6. I enjoy both types of reviews myself. I feel like I've gotten less formal and more personal in my own as I've blogged longer. I think a nice mix is great...esp when visiting so many blogs and reading reviews for the same book. It's nice to see a variation of opinions. For a casual visitor I don't know how they'd feel about it. Interesting to ponder for sure.

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  7. While I definitely prefer reading personal reviews, they aren't always the most reliable. Sometimes I feel like they include so much of their own reactions to the story that readers don't always get to know more details about the story that might draw them in. Plus, when the reviews are that subjective, sometimes I know whether a certain blogger seems to be really strict and know that their reviews are always going to be pretty harsh, even for books I loved -- and that tends to be off-putting.

    Personally, I struggle a lot with being personal vs. professional in my reviews. I'm always trying to make them more personal so that they're more interesting, but sometimes I still go on too much about the finer points of the book and whether they were good or not. I want readers to be interested, but I also want to be informative!

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  8. I don't think I write professional reviews -at all. I feel like mine are filled with very personal thoughts and are written the same way people speak. I do use the word "like" in my reviews to start a sentence, sometimes. haha.

    however, i really love personaliy in reviews. it makes them unique and fun to read. you can't copy someone's personality anyway.

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  9. I absolutely adore the more emotional and personal reviews purely because I find them more entertaining and interesting to read. Professional reviews just aren't the same and I often find myself bored or skimming them, but it really depends on who's writing them because I think there's always a bit of the writer in their reviews and some are just better than others.

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  10. Hmm, I think I enjoy personal reviews when I read a blog for all the points you mention - that it's nice to get to know the blogger who is reading it. But if I'm scoping out a book on Amazon or Goodreads, I prefer a more professional review, so I can just try to decide if the book is for me or not. But for general interest, I think making a review more personal is better. It lets the reader of the review feel like the book can give one an emotional connection.

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  11. I think that 'professional'-type objective reviews come across a little cold and calculating. I agree, I would much rather feel that there is a person behind the reviews, not a robot or a corporation. That's why blogs are so important - we follow to get to know the blogger better - right?

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  12. I really enjoy personal reviews as well, especially if we get to know more about the blogger. I do feel that they tend to be emotional though. For me, I tend to make my reviews more objective and professional, because I feel like that's a fair way to review.

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  13. There's a big difference between personal and professional reviews. I always feel disconnected from the person that wrote the professional review and I can definitely see how it could come across as ingenuine. I don't know I just prefer personal reviews because it actually feels like a person with emotions read the book and is now giving their opinion on it.

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  14. I don't mind both so maybe a good combination between those two styles will be great! Personal enough to let the readers feel closer to you, but also professional and objective so that people will know what to expect in the book :)

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  15. I generally prefer personal reviews but I also like professional reviews too. My reviews used to be very professional and sometimes they still are but I try to incorporate my personality into the reviews I write because, like you said, it helps other bloggers get to know you better! If I'm writing reviews for publishers, my reviews are generally less fangirly/ranty but I'm trying to make those a bit more personal as well as I enjoy writing the more personal reviews but I feel like the publishers expect more "formal" reviews? Fantastic discussion, Mel!

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  16. If I want professional reviews, I would go and read those but I think personal reviews are much better because I can relate to them easier and besides, sometimes a reviewer can point out things a professional would never do, like something cute or charming that a character did or even more, add their own idea of what should have happened, I don't know, I just think a personal viewpoint is more real and honest and so much more entertaining to read. I know I got interested in many books simply because of someone's personal reviews.

    anyway, hope you have a lovely day.

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  17. You know, and honestly speaking, I read more reviews by readers/bloggers than those written by professional reviewers. I think their reviews/opinion resonant more on me than professional does.

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  18. Gorgeous discussion post Mel. <3 You are amazing. I also really like personal reviews :) They are awesome! I'm not sure how I write my reviews, though.. ack. I hope they aren't too bad :) Your reviews are always awesome. <3 (Mine tend to always be very long, hah, but I love that.) Wishing I was as amazing as you in making discussion posts and other blog posts :) I'm just not that good at making things up to post. Hmph. One day, I hope :)

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  19. Awww Mel, you're such a sweetheart and it really comes through in your posts ♥ I agree, I find that bloggers are sharing a bit of themselves in their post (myself included)..I used to think readers didn't really care about reading about my life, so I just stuck with content...but now that I feel like I know my readers better, I do enjoy sharing a bit about myself! BUT, I agree with you 100%, I also want an objective review that's profession and helps me to better decide if I want to read a book or not. Talking about the book helps me more but at the same time getting a little personal touches in there puts things into perspective.

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  20. I definitely prefer personal reviews. They give me a much better idea whether I'll like a book, especially if I've been following the blog for a while and the blogger has shared things about her/himself. Professional reviews might tell me facts about a book, but that's about it. There's nothing there to make me actually trust the review. I enjoy reading personal posts from bloggers in general, because they add to my ability to judge reviews in terms of my own potential enjoyment of a book. And like you said, it makes the blogger a real person and therefore a potential friend and book buddy!

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  21. Interesting topic! I definitely like reading more personal reviews. I really enjoy the personal touches put in by bloggers and I agree that it can give me a better idea of if I will enjoy the book or not. I guess if I was writing a review for publication I would be more professional. But I enjoy writing and reading more personal stuff.

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  22. I love personal reviews! They tend to be more interesting, not to mention relateable, to me. I feel that reading in itself is a very personal experience. Books relate, affect, and inspire readers in different ways - it's a jouney. I love seeing what journeys books take people down, and they give me a better view of the book and whether or not I will enjoy it.

    I think I tend to find most professional reviews just a little to stiff and kind of forced. I've tried to do more professional reviews before, but I can't. They always become more personal!

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  23. It's hard for me to be 'professional' when it comes to writing reviews because reading is such a personal thing for me. Lots of emotions come to play and they're very subjective. I think it's okay if we bloggers write such reviews. We're bloggers after all, not professional reviewers. People invest in reading our blogs because of the person behind the blog and I think they'd rather read about our personal reading experiences when it comes to a book. :)

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  24. I agree! I love reading personal reviews, but I know I write a mix. It just depends on the book. Some books hit me a lot harder than others, and I like or dislike them in a different way. Others I can objectively see. The occasion dictates the style. :)

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  25. Hmm I think it really depends on how well i know the person writing the review and how closely my interests align with that person. I think in all cases, I love getting to know the person behind the computer screen BUT if I don't know that my interests align with that person's, as much as I enjoy reading the personal review, I don't know how much I will get out it - ya know? In that case, it would probably be more beneficial to me to read an objective review so that I can determine whether or not it's a book I would want to read. But for someone I know and my interests align with - I love reading the emotion and the personal stories for sure. :)

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  26. Reviews with personality are the best! I'm okay with someone being analytic or emotional, as long as there is life there. Reading a factoid is boring to me, but reading emoticons and gifs doesn't float my boat either. If someone has a healthy mixture of both, I'll probably read the entire review.

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  27. I'm a personal person, 100%. But I also value objectivism. Which is why I like to see the too of them in one post. I like my reviews objective at first, get things out of the way. But then I like to add my thoughts to the mix, talk a little about how I took it, you know?

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  28. I definitely like it when a reviewer adds a more of a personal touch to a review, it gives me a better understanding of why that person may have connected with the story or characters more, but also why that book stood out for them. I've found that I tend to be doing this bit more lately myself, reviews which have a personal touch also tent to be a lot more easier to write. Thanks for sharing such a great discussion post Mel!

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  29. To be completely honest Mel, I don't really prefer one over the other - it really just depends on the blogger. There are some bloggers who are absolutely hilarious and personable, and what makes their reviews so amazing is how they articulate their humor and personality into their reviews. And yet there are other bloggers who are able to spin words and review eloquently like it's nobody's business, and if that's the case, then that's what I love about their reviews.

    Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous discussion Mel! <3

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  30. Oooo this is a toughie. Because there's some people out there who I feel certainly have a way of putting their personality into a review (Cait, I'm looking at you) and I think it makes the review even more fun to read. You not only get informed on a book but you also get to see the reviewers personality come out. I'm envious really.

    Yet, I just finished typing up a review and honestly? It feels a lot more professional than personal. I suppose I do find it hard to make connections with my life to books because my life doesn't really relate to the books I read/nor do I find it overtly interesting. I also find it hard enough to take my feelings from a book and put them in a review, let alone showcase my personality. And what even is my personality? Haha, to get personal in a review I believe you have to be quite in touch with yourself and I don't think I'm quite there yet :p

    Brilliant discussion Mel! <33

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  31. I like a nice balance. I'm not as interested if all a blogger talks about it their life more than the book. On the other side, I don't want it to feel like the review was written by a robot. When I want more personal book talk, I find myself checking out booktube, since it's easier to feel more personable when you can see the person's face.

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  32. I LOVE a personal touch. Now, not every review warrants some kind of monologue on the blogger's experiences, but some DO. And I like that! To be honest, I would pick a more fun, more personal review over a "professional" one every single time. I agree with you that they often don't feel as genuine.

    But, sometimes I worry that when I am sending a review to a publisher, I have to be more "professional". I am trying to break out of that, though. Because I don't think that the publisher cares if you are being more personal, as long as you are doing an honest review. It's just a hangup that I seem to have. Such a great topic, I loved reading all the responses too :)
    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight

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  33. I absolutely want to read reviews where the reader talks about the book in an emotional and connected way. None of this clinical observance. BAH. I want LIFE in what I read when I'm cruising blogs! I like informal, but not even that, just...like you said...when bloggers allow themselves to be inserted into their reviews? I love that. It makes me trust the recommendations!

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  34. Personal is a BIG thing for me, I HAVE to know how you felt, and what you THOUGHT, and the FEELINGS you had towards characters and things, they are important. Reading is about how it made you feel, if all you're going to be all 'the writing was strong, clean and fresh' then I'm going to clean myself out from you blog because I want YOU on your CONTENT. Maybe I ask too much, but hugely professional reviews don't always do it for me, not always.. Great post though Mel, such a great point!<3

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  35. I definitely prefer the personal reviews as well! I know you're mainly talking about bloggers in your post, but I recently noticed the difference between book reviews and magazines and book reviews on the blogs I read. I mean of course there'd be a difference, but I never really thought about it before. I enjoy reading the reviews on blogs much more, because they tend to be more personal and passionate!

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  36. I enjoy reading personal reviews, but I don't mind professional reviews, either. I like to think that my reviews are a mix of both: I talk about the aspects of a book, but also what I liked/disliked about each aspect (I also throw in some gifs ;) ). This is a really interesting discussion because I think it's mostly dependent on personal preference and on the blog. I love it when I can 'sense' (for lack of a better word) a blogger's unique voice. I agree with you that it brings more character and reader/writer connection to a post. For me, though, I think the question is more of, "Can a blogger use unique voice but still be professional?" Interesting post, I had to think about this one!

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  37. I love personal reviews! Especially the ranting and raving, because like you said it makes everything more genuine! I also have noticed an increase in the new features, and it makes me really happy! :)

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  38. I think I like a mix of both. I love seeing how a book made the reviewer feel, what it made them think and why it was important to them- that makes it feel really genuine and real and I love it- but I also really enjoy learning about the different aspects I’ll come across in a novel.
    I can resonate with this post myself, because last year I really started to open up about myself on my blog, and I enjoyed that and seemed to get a good response from it. It felt really wonderful to share my personal experiences and life with the people I’ve come to like so much. Now I should stop before I start oozing blogger love in a Howls Moving Castle esq way!
    Xx

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  39. I love both reviews but more personal though - I would like to know how the book made a personal impact on the reviewer, I think I'm getting more personal on my posts and reviews though which makes me even happier :) This is a great discussion post <3 Benish | Feminist Reflections

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  40. I'm not a fan of professional reviews. Here's how I see it:

    If I want to read a book for professional reasons, then I would appreciate a professional review.

    If I want to read a book for personal reasons (i.e. to get excited or feel good) then I want to read a personal review.

    For me, books are about feelings. That's it. They're about how they make me feel and how giddy I get. So when I'm deciding whether or not I want to read a book, I want to know if it made the reviewer feel those things.

    Being objective matters less to me because I can give a book 5 stars even if it's not objectively perfect. There may be a few issues with the plot or a character, but if it made me FEEL through the roof, then that's still a 5 star read.

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  41. Personally, I prefer objective reviews when I want to decide whether or not I want to read a particular book. But when it comes to actually discussing a book, then I like it to be a fair combination of objective and personal. Though on both counts, I expect professionalism. Maybe I'm old-fashioned like that but I'm not a fan of GIF-riddled fingerling type of reviews. Haha. I know they have their place and their audience but I'm not part of that audience. I think that's generally because I tend to have a fairly formal way of expressing myself as well, so that's what I'm comfortable with. Plus, as much as books can be very emotional, a more professional approach makes it easier to grapple with intellectual aspects of books, which is something I like to look out for as well.

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  42. When I first started blogging I thought my reviews should be very professional and analytical. A major reason for that was because I just graduated with an English lit degree and was still stuck in that "paper" mode. I enjoy writing reviews so much more now because I just talk about how I felt and I let myself just type whatever comes to mind. It's more freeing that way. I don't always get super personal, but I do like to share when I can... and I agree, I like reading reviews like that too. :)

    Great discussion!

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  43. I love personal reviews.I love how some bloggers tend to be sarcastic,snarky and funny when they write reviews.And I think a lot of people love it as well,which results in the fact that sometimes readers prefer discussion posts over reviews.
    But at the same time,I also respect professional reviews.I believe that everyone has their own unique style,and every style should be appreciated.

    Wonderful post,Mel!

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  44. I'm in awe of the people who can write professional reviews, because they are just so well done. I'm just so impressed with how they can do it. Other people write reviews personally too, and they can also be done well. In the end, though, no matter my preference, it's still going to come down to how well done the review is. Writing good reviews has always been beyond me, sadly.

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  45. I think it depends on what your purpose for writing the review is. For example, my reviews on the blog are pretty personal - I talk about what I *liked* or *disliked*, so it's basically my feelings about the book. I try to be mindful of things like sexism or racism and mention what bothered me, but I stay pretty informal.
    But then I also write reviews for a publisher here in Slovenia and those have a different purpose, so they're much more formal and I'd never talk about being in love with a character or whatever. I like keeping it professional.
    So yeah - I like a touch of personality on the blogs, it makes me feel more connected, especially if I'm reading about a book I haven't read before. This is a very cool post, it got me thinking, which is always good! :)

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  46. I love personal reviews. It makes me relate to the reader and the book a lot more than a professional review does. Professional review leaves me wanting to write reviews like that (all posh with big words) but in the end I just end up writing and reading reviews that are filled with emotions and experiences.

    - Harshitha @ A Whimsical Madness

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  47. I lean much more towards the personal reviews. While I greatly respect the reviews that sound professional, and I do prefer reviews to be well-written enough that they qualify for that level of professionalism, it's the voice that brings me in, kind of like with a novel. People with really strong personal voices, who let me know their personal biases and such, help me know if I'll feel the way they do about a book. Professional reviews aim towards objectivity and are less about emotions.

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  48. I love this observation: "People are trying out their own memes/features, bloggers change the way they write their review and there is diversity in what they post. One of the things I notice is that bloggers start to get more personal." -- I love it because it shows how involved you are in this community.

    I like knowing more about the blogger, though I've not always been the best about being personal on my own blog (makes me feel a tad uncomfortable - I like being more private, and yet I have a blog so how private am I really...).

    "I like being able to read the voice of the blogger who writes the review.. more the way bloggers link their personal experiences to a review. " -- I'm with the other Christina above, about how this is a lot like the *voice* of a book.

    Although I tend to base my own reading habits on professional book reviews like Kirkus more than blogger reviews, in no way would I wish for "it" to be more professional though. I like that there are two separate spheres. I like getting to read what my friends think of a book and if that means they're personal about their own lives, all the better. And even if I like reading Kirkus reviews, in no way can I actually write those kinds of reviews. I can't distill my thoughts to those short paragraphs and most of the time my thoughts are like motley crew + orphan girl + firebird quest = similar to Ruin and Rising. Definitely not professional ahhaha.

    "I can understand that side of the story too, but professional reviews always gives me the impression that they aren't completely genuine." -- I wouldn't say that at all. It's a little sad to me to know that you might think that because the people who write professional reviews are just like you and me, they just have a different style :/.

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  49. This is a great discussion! It's a balance I am trying to strike in my own reviews, I'm feeling that I am swinging like a pendulum... but no matter how hard it swings it balances out... Thanks for bringing this up for discussion.

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  50. I agree I love seeing more discussions and new features on people's blogs!

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  51. It's a good question, and a difficult one for me. I tend to err on the professional side, which I think turns some people off. I'm trying to include more of myself in my reviews, but frankly, when I go back and read my own reviews, the ones I think are really well-written are the ones that are less about my emotional reaction to the book and more about what the author did well or not-so-well. But seeing all the people who prefer the personal voice makes me feel like I'm doing it all wrong.

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