June 30, 2021
Do you have tips for writing a great book review?
Wondering Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jessica Baker @ A Bakers Perspective. I came across this meme for the first time on Davida’s blog, so I think I’ll give it a try and join in with bookish topics! I’m also linking up this post with #LetsDiscuss2021 challenge.
*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
6 Elements I Look For in a Book Review
Most of the tips I’ve accumulated about writing a book review have come from studying other book reviews. I try to emulate what I love. Whether you love a short one paragraph review or a long form thorough analysis, I hope you’ll join our conversation and perhaps find something useful! When I read a review here are six elements I look for:
I look For a Brief Summary
Challenge yourself to write the briefest summary possible. Ideally, no more than a few sentences. I’m aware that some reviewers do not include a summary at all; however, it’s my opinion that a few sentences provide context for a review. If you send visitors off to find the summary on some other site like Goodreads or Amazon, you run the risk of not getting them back. Of course, it’s important to avoid spoilers in your summary. As an example, here’s my four sentence summary for The Kitchen Front. One of my pet peeves is to read a review that is all summary with a couple of reflection sentences tacked onto the end…..this is NOT a review (IMHO)! In addition, if the summary is too long, it will most likely contain spoilers. Reviewers that substitute summaries for reviews won’t find me hanging around for long.
I Look for How You FEEL About Your Reading Experience…How Do You Connect With the Story?
Rather than a long summary, I want to know if you love the story. How did you connect? How was your reading experience? Describe your reading experience. Was it page-turning? Engaging? Unputdownable? Thought-provoking? Informative? Entertaining? If it was meh, give some examples of what didn’t work for you. I find that the more I love a book, the more difficult it is to find the right words for a review! Sometimes I resort to a list like in this post of Project Hail Mary. Sometimes it’s helpful to me when you compare the book you’re reviewing to another well-known book or movie. I love reviews where I can hear the reviewer’s “voice” and feel the reviewer’s emotion and enthusiasm because that will entice me to pick up the book more than a bland summary.
I Look For Thoughtful Themes and TWs
Please mention themes! Certain themes always attract my attention: forgiveness, reconciliation, redemption, complicated family drama, hope, friendship, women supporting women, and second chances are all winners in my experience! I also appreciate trigger warnings…..although these often contain spoilers and you need to warn readers before you include a TW. I wrote a post on TWs here. If you don’t believe in including trigger warnings, I understand. But I (and many others) do appreciate them because they help me choose books I know will fit my reading tastes and help prevent an unexpected and unpleasant reading experience. Knowing is power.
I Look For Honesty (and Kindness)
There are kind ways of reviewing books truthfully. I don’t mind the sandwich method: your honest opinion (what didn’t work for you) can be “sandwiched” between a couple of positives. If the book wasn’t to your taste, who do you think would enjoy reading the book? I think it’s kind to acknowledge what another reader might find enjoyable. No two people ever read the same book. Also, when I’m reading a negative review, I look for specific examples not rants. For instance, knowing that the characters are stereotypical or not well developed is more helpful than expressing a general statement of hatred for the characters. When you tell me in your review that the characters are stereotypical, I can interpret that as negative but it is stated kindly. I like to study and learn from reviewers who can make negative comments in kind ways. (And, please note, reviewing etiquette requires that authors are never tagged in negative reviews). As a side note, I only post 3, 4, and 5 star reviews on my blog, so you are not likely to find a 1 or 2 star review on the blog. For all my reviews and DNFs visit me on Goodreads which is where I rate it all.
I Look For Readability
Don’t want me to read your review? If you don’t want me to read your review, post ONE LONG BLOCK of text with no breaks or subheadings. But wait….isn’t “content king”? I do appreciate great content and I will slog through reading your review if I’m especially curious about the book you’re reviewing; however, if I have to make myself read it, you’ve probably lost many other visitors. I’ve even read reviews where the summary runs together with the review in one long block. Honestly it takes very little effort to hit the enter/return key to start a new paragraph! Separating your thoughts into paragraphs and adding a bold word or two or a subheading for each paragraph greatly enhances readability!
Need more convincing? If you’ve heard about SEO and think you might want to start “somewhere,” heading and subheadings are basic components of best SEO strategies. SEO enhances readability.
I Look For a Star Rating
I realize that some reviewers no longer give star ratings in blog reviews, but I still look for them and appreciate the time and effort it takes to analyze and nail that down.
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Related: How I Write a Fiction Book Review; 10 Elements of a 5 Star Read; Do I Write Honest Reviews?
What is the most important element of a book review for you?
QOTD: Let’s Discuss
What do you look for in a review?
Happy Reading Book Buddies!
“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke
“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes
“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text
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***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.
Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.
Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.