What not to do when writing a book review – and what to do instead.
This week I read a blog post that asserted there is no right or wrong way to write a book review. The writer made some good points, particularly about reviews needing to be individual and personal responses to a book, but I disagree with the basic premise of the article.
I am writing this post from the perspective of a reader, not an author, and I realise that some people won’t agree with me, so let me explain my reasons.
A book review should never recount the story of the book. It shouldn’t give spoilers. Yet time after time, I see reviews that do exactly that. My issue is that if I already know what is going to happen, I feel as though I no longer need to read the book. The joy of the journey has been neutralised. That review has effectively cost the author a sale.
In all honesty, I hate blurbs that do this, too. As a reader, that’s one of the quickest turnoffs when I’m looking at a book.
Don’t give me a summary. Give me teasers, give me feelings, give me thoughts and observations. Pique my interest. Make me want to read it for myself, instead of making me feel as though I already have.
A good review doesn’t have to be long or complicated. It does needs to be at least 20 words in length, which gives you room to say whether you enjoyed the book and why. One or two sentences will do the trick. There is no obligation to write any more than that if you don’t want to.
- If you do want to write more, you can consider including the following ideas:
- Why you liked or disliked it. Remember that others may like what you disliked, and vice versa, so try to be kind.
- What important ideas the story made you think about – love, anger, justice, revenge, pain, fear, overcoming… anything that is relevant to you is a valid point for comment.
- What the characters are like as people, and what we learn from them Did the writer’s style impress you in any particular way?
- Was it easy to read and understand, or did you have to really work at it?
- Who else might like to read it? Think about interests, age group, and genres here.
This will help you to write a review that is interesting in itself, and which will encourage the right readers to choose that particular book. In that way, you’ll help both the author and prospective readers at the same time.
I’m starting the year well: with great books and reviews behind me, and my pen in hand.
At the end of last year, two of my books were included in the ‘Top 20 Books of 2017’ on Amy Shannon’s Book Blog. This was something that readers voted for, so to have two books make it to #7 and #8 respectively was a huge shock to me.
This has led to each book being featured this month, having received a fantastic 5 star review from Amy Shannon, who states on her book blog that “ratings of 5 stars have to be earned to impress me, and I just don’t give 5 stars to anyone’s work. ” That makes it even more exciting!
Her review of ‘Nova’ calls it “masterpiece poetry”.
Her review of The Passing Of The Night is equally enthusiastic.
What a great way to start the year! It’s rewarding to read reviews like this, but it’s also highly motivating.
So, I’m starting the year well: with great books and reviews behind me, and my pen in hand.
The reviewers agree: Nova is pretty good.
The reviewers agree: Nova is pretty good.
The first five reviews have all been five stars!
One of the biggest challenges writers face is getting their readers to give some feedback and tell other readers about the book. It’s always exciting when a review appears, and even more so when it’s positive.
I’ve chosen a couple of the newest reviews to share with you here.
The images may come up a bit small to read, so you can click through to the original reviews by clicking on each one.
This one is a brand new review this week, written by novelist Kyra Leary.
She seems to like my work.
Hello, and welcome to the latest “Indie Author Cooperative” Book Launch Blog Tour.
Today we’re joining with the cozy mystery/romance author Lolli Powell, to celebrate the ebook launch of “The Body on the Barstool”
The Body on the Barstool Synopsis
New Yorker Erica “Ricki” Fontaine’s ne’er-do-well uncle has dropped dead and left her a dive bar in a small Ohio river town. With a lousy apartment, less than-promising job prospects, and even worse romantic ones, the inheritance comes at just the right time.
Ricki packs up her cat and her belongings and heads for the Buckeye State. Now she’s trying to change the Top Shelf from a bar known for its Friday night fights into the kind of drinking establishment where you can bring your granny.
But finding her ex-husband dead on a barstool at opening time one morning just might put a kink in those plans.
About Lolli Powell
I write mysteries/thrillers under the name Laurel Heidtman and romances/cozy mysteries under the name Lolli Powell. I live with my husband, four dogs and two cats on private land surrounded by Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky. Over the years, I’ve paid the bills by being a dancer, a bartender, a police officer, a registered nurse and a technical writer. (I always say I could never figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up!) I draw on that life experience and my two English degrees to create stories that I enjoy writing and hope readers will enjoy reading.
Where to buy The Body on the Barstool
I’m honoured to be a part of your “The Body on the Barstool” launch team and wish both you and the book every success!
This is a really good story with lots of twists and turns, some of which are absolutely heart-stopping. It’s the story of Izara and her journey of discovery of truth about herself and her twin brother, Kain, as they confront a world they had never dreamed of.
The story has some incredibly dark moments, so I’d recommend it for an audience of 16+ years of age, but it also has strong elements of hope despite the odds.
The characters are relatable and very engaging. As a reader, I didn’t always like Izara or Kain, but that actually made them more believable and intriguing.
The only thing I didn’t enjoy was the number of regular typos in the text, which I found annoying: they didn’t really detract from the story at all, but I am a stickler for those things, and I did find it distracting.
The book ended on a cliffhanger, so it wasn’t satisfying in the sense of getting answers or resolution, but it definitely whets the appetite for the next instalment!
I want more of Tompkin’s Academy!
“This delightful book opens with one of the best opening lines I’ve read in a long time …”
‘In Passing’ by Tobie Hewitt is a thought-provoking story that explores questions we often have about life, death, and how we find those soul mates we know we’re meant to be with. The characters are just gorgeous, and the struggles they face are ones that the reader can easily identify with.
This delightful book opens with one of the best opening lines I’ve read in a long time : “The air shimmered with a knowing beyond doubt.”
That line really made me stop and think, and visualise scenes where this could have been the case. From that moment, I was fully engaged with the story and completely hooked by Tobie Hewitt’s writing.
Five stars, Tobie. Beautifully done.
There’s always a bit of trepidation when you do something new and you’re not sure how it’s going to go.
There’s always a bit of trepidation when you do something new and you’re not sure how it’s going to go. ‘Leaf’ has been available for just over three months now, and I’m very thankful and excited to be getting positive reviews.
I don’t want to blow my own trumpet, but I am really thrilled about these two readers’ responses that I’ve received recently.
Both of these people, and others who have given my writing positive reviews and ratings, have encouraged me more than they realise. Sometimes being a writer is a really lonely thing, because there’s a whole experience and process you have to go through before you can know if anyone is actually going to understand and connect with what you’ve written. To know that my poetry has had such an effect on people is both motivating and incredibly humbling.
“…a really interesting and compelling book.”
This was a really interesting and compelling book. It had a satisfying balance of humour and desperation among the characters, with a few good heart stopping moments thrown in for good measure. The ending was very satisfying.
I’d definitely recommend it for any Young Adult audience, and for anyone older who still enjoys a good story.
It would suit anyone who enjoyed the Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling or A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.
I’ll definitely be recommending it for a few people I know!