Book Review Tips

Posted by abakersp in Wondering Wednesdays Posts / 2 Comments

Welcome to Wondering Wednesdays, a weekly post to learn more about me and other bloggers 🙂 If you’re a blogger, please join in every week!

Today’s questions is –  Do you have tips for writing a good book review?

As a book blogger, I get asked this question A LOT! And honestly, everyone has a different viewpoint. We’re all different after all!! What I can say for sure is that reviews help authors. Even the bad ones (more on that later). What I’m about to share is just my own thoughts, and what I’ve learned the past five years of reviewing. At the end of the day you have to do what’s right for you 🙂

Review Length

If you ask five difference people what they think the right review length is, you will probably get five different answers. Some people like long, detailed reviews. For the record, I am one of those people as a reader (not necessarily a writer!). Some people want something short and sweet that gets across whether they liked the book or not.

There is no right or wrong answer here.

My review lengths are all over the place. If I truly enjoyed a book, like 5 star review, cannot stop gushing about it, it tends to be longer. Mostly because I just want to keep talking about it! I try real hard just to hit the highlights, and keep it at a few paragraphs. It doesn’t always work lol. I try to talk about the overall story, the characters, the writing ability of the author, the setting, and anything else that is more genre specific. If I’m lucky I get it out in about 2-3 paragraphs.

That being said, not everyone needs to go into great detail about the book. If you can say that you liked or disliked a book and give your reasons in a few sentences, that is awesome! I know a lot of people that look at reviews tend to read those first since they are short and sweet. Just try to teach me your tricks, can you?

Should I Recap The Story In My Review?

The short answer is no. Please don’t.

This is a big pet peeve of mine, and other readers I know.

Since the story synopsis is provided everywhere you’re able to write a review, there is no need to include it. If you want to put it in a blog post, that is different. But please don’t do it on retail sites. If I’m looking through reviews and I notice it’s just a summary, I will stop reading that review because it’s not telling me anything I don’t already know. Remember that reviews are supposed to be your opinion of the book, not tell us about the book.

However…….. sometimes you may want to talk about a character, or a certain scene in the book and it ends up telling a teeny bit of the storyline. That’s ok as long as there’s no spoilers! Just don’t copy and paste the synopsis.

What If I Don’t Like The Book?

If you are not required to write a review, then it’s up to you whether or not you review it. But if you’ve received an ARC, or a Netgalley copy, or a blog tour copy, etc…. then you are required to write a review. They cannot force you to write a positive review either.

There’s a right way and a wrong way to write a negative review.

Remember that authors are still people and have feelings. They put their heart and soul into their books. Not every reader is going to like every book. It’s just not possible. And I may gush about a book that you totally hated. It happens. When you’re writing a negative review, please do it in love. There is no reason whatsoever to be rude or disrespectful to the author. Find a way to word how you felt that is kind.

If I found that I didn’t really enjoy a book, I try to start and end the review on a positive note, and put the stuff I didn’t like in the middle. That way I’m still offering praise to the author for something they did right. Plus, I try to do it kindly. For example, if I thought the story line dragged on forever, I will just simply state that the story was a little slow going for my taste or something like that. I will not say something rude or derogatory. Again, it’s my opinion of the book. It’s not going to match the opinion of others!

Also, authors can learn from constructive feedback, again if provided lovingly. If you couldn’t connect with the characters, explain why. If you thought there was no character growth, it’s ok to say that. If you didn’t love the amount of suspense that was in the book, or there were too many kisses for your taste, you can say all that. Other readers that have similar reading tastes as you will appreciate that. But be kind. Be gentle.

What Do I Include In My Book Review?

I think this is the question that trips up so many people. They just want to say, “I loved the book.” and move on. But that doesn’t really tell readers anything.

Try to share why you liked or disliked the book. Talk about the setting, the plot, the characters, the pace of the story, or the book as a whole. Did it include a favorite troupe? Why did you like or dislike the characters? Were there any secondary characters that really stood out to you? I could go on and on here. Just answer the question why. Why do you feel it’s a five star read, or a two star read, or whatever. Remember that why is an open ended question. It means we’re supposed to talk at least for a little bit.

But if there is one thing I ask for you not to include (besides a recap or being rude to the author), please DO NOT include spoilers. This ruins the book for readers! If there is something that you desperately want to talk about, you just have to say that you really enjoyed _______ in the book, but you cannot go into detail because of spoilers, and encourage readers to read it for themselves to find out more. I’ve had to do this a time or too, and while it’s hard for me to do that, it is necessary!

Do I Have To Say That I Got The Book For Free?

YES. A thousand times yes.

You can get into big trouble if you don’t. In fact you could be fined, for each place you post the review! You don’t have to go into big detail about it, but you do have to disclose it.

I usually write this:

I received a complimentary copy of this book. I was not required to write a favorable review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Short, simple, and to the point. You’re welcome to use it if you want.

How Do I End The Review?

Along with my disclosure from the previous point, I try to include what type of reader will enjoy the book. Typically it follows the genre, but sometimes it could be outside that. For example, if I’m reading a dual timeline story, I will recommend to contemporary and historic fans alike, because there is something for everyone. Or if a story reminds me of Hallmark, then I’ll recommend to readers who love to watch Hallmark movies.

At the end of the day, write the review from your heart, be courteous, and make sure you’re answering why you like it!

What about you? What tips do you have for writing a good book review?

For a list of future questions, please visit Wondering Wednesdays. If you’re a blogger, please connect by leaving a link to your blog post in the comments! I’m looking for more questions for future posts, so please be sure to use the google form and ask away!

2 responses to “Book Review Tips

  1. Paula Shreckhise

    I like to keep my review shorter because certain places I post limit the number of characters and then I don’t have to try to shorten it.
    I like to tell about my favorite character and what lessons or theme is found in the book. I give a heads up about how much faith content there is. I mostly read Christian Fiction.
    I also try to include a quote or two. I tell about the personality of the hero and heroine and even comment that the author writes a credible villain. Or I tell what I liked about the setting and if it brings back memories or if I’ve visited the city.
    Always includes the disclaimer worded how the publishers or providers want it worded.