Are your reviews more of a rehash of the story or do you comment on writing style, characters, and reflection?
I try to do both, but I mainly focus on the latter. I don't want to ruin the plot for anyone and by rehashing the story too much at times you're inevitably bound to include a spoiler, no matter how small. For example, the review I just posted for The Fifteen First Lives of Harry August (which I didn't really like), I didn't, as such, explain the plot but rather I discussed why I felt it didn't work without going into in-depth examples. I usually use the synopsis given by Goodreads because if I put it into my own words I definitely will infuse it with my own opinion about which storylines are more important etc. and sometimes I disagree with the synopsis on Goodreads, in which case that gives me a nice way to start the review.
I do like writing about the writing style of authors because I feel it's a crucial part of whether people will enjoy the book. At the end of my review I want people to know whether they could potentially enjoy this book without being too aware of the plot yet. Is it similar to things they've read before, is the writing style generally coherent, etc.
For the ever enjoyable Book Beginnings and Friday 56 memes, hosted by Gillion over at Rose City Reader and Freda at Freda's Voice respectively, I am using a book I just conned my mother into buying. She knows it's pointless to buy me anything so when I dragged her to a bookstore it was bound to happen that I walked out with at least one book. One of the ones I managed to snatch was Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. I've never read it before but, just like most people, I know the story pretty well. I had an audio cassette (yes, I was raised that nostalgically) of it which absolutely terrified me so I can't wait to get into it now.
'Squire Trelawney, Dr Livesey, and the rest of these gentleman having asked me to write down the whole particulars about Treasure Island, from the beginning to the end, keeping nothing back but the bearing of the island, and that only because there is still treasure not yet lifted, I take up my pen in the year of grace 17-, and go back to the time when my father kept the 'Admiral Benbow' inn, and the brown old seaman, with the sabre cut, first took up his lodging under our roof.'That is one hell of a first sentence. If you take it apart, as I have been taught to do with everything, you can see how much Stevenson has managed to put in the first sentence. We have an introduction of part of the characters, we are told of the Island, of a treasure, that there were occurences which need to be documented, that there is secrecy somehow and that our main character wasn't originally a pirate.
''"Next", said the captain, "I learn we are going after treasure - hear it from my own hands, mind you.Now, treasure is ticklish work; I don't like treasure voyages on any account; and I don't like them, above all, when they are secret, and when (begging your pardon, Mr Trelawney) the secret has been told to the parrot."' p. 56Apparently 'telling the parrot' means that the secret has been blabbed about and is therefore no longer secret. I love it when authors put a character in their books who just despises where the plot is going and won't stop nagging. It's the kind of self-awareness I appreciate in novels.
So, how about you? What kind of reviews do you write and what are you currently reading?