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Book Review How-To: How I Plan and Write My Book Reviews

Book Review How-To

Book Review How-To

Are you a new book blogger or reviewer looking for ways to write a great review? I know when I started blogging in September, I had some trouble every now and then writing reviews for the books I’ve read. It isn’t easy. If it was, then everyone would be doing it. So I created a series of sections and questions for my book reviews. This helps me answer general questions about the book, which eventually gets me inspired to write better book reviews. This is my book review how-to guide!

I wanted to share these questions with you so that maybe one of you could get the help you want. I’m sure most of you are more experienced reviewers, but I’m hoping that every one of my readers gets something out of this.

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Include Basic Information

When starting, I always list the general information of the book. These include:

  • Title
  • Author
  • Date Published
  • Genre
  • Where I got the book: This one is important. If you receive an advanced copy for a review, you MUST make it known. FTC disclosure is required.
  • A short synopsis: I usually write my own synopsis when I can, but it isn’t a requirement.
  • An image of the book: I try to take my own photos of the book with props to make it more of my own. Sometimes, when it’s an eBook, I try my best, but it can be hard.

The Five Parts of a Book

From there, I created a list of questions within five of the most important parts of a book. These are general questions that apply to most fiction novels. They are as followed:

  1. Plot
    Is there sufficient conflict?
    Were there any unanswered questions?
    Were there any scenes that resonated with you personally?
    What surprised you most about this book?
    What did you learn from this book?
  2. Setting
    How important was the setting to the story?
    Was there anything unusual about the setting?
    Did the author transport you into the world of this book?
    Could you have imagined a better setting for this book?
    Which places in this book would you most like to visit?
  3. Characters
    Were the characters well-developed?
    Is there enough backstory to understand the characters?
    Were there too many/not enough points of view?
    Did you disagree with any of the characters’ actions?
    Were their motivations and actions justifiable?
  4. Theme
    What were the themes of this book?
    Were the themes adequately explored?
    Were the themes relevant to the plot?
    How did this book make you feel?
    Were there too many/not enough appropriate tropes?
  5. Writing Style
    What did you think of the structure of this book?
    Did the author have a distinctive voice?
    Was the author’s voice consistent throughout this book?
    Were there any quotes that stood out to you?
    Was this book easy to read?

How To Set Up Your Review

Obviously, copying and pasting the answers to your questions into a review isn’t the ideal way to go. These questions are basic, and should be answered as honestly as possible. But these questions should lead you into the writing of your review. I always keep these in the back of my mind as I’m reading a book, and I make sure to take notes when an important thought strikes me. Keep your answers in mind as you begin to structure your review. Keep relevant information together in paragraphs, but make sure that the sentences and paragraphs flow together. This is just the basic outline of your review. Do whatever makes you feel comfortable, as it will help you gain your own voice.

I typically break my reviews up into different sections with headings. That way, if someone doesn’t want to sit and read every word of an especially long review, they can get the gist of it by my appropriately worded headings.

Rating System

I notice a lot of bloggers and reviewers post their rating systems on their websites somewhere, so I decided to do the same. Obviously it’s posted here, but I will find a home for it on my blog as well. It’s important that you create your own rating system so that readers understand your ratings as best as possible. Three stars to me could mean something completely different to someone else!

★☆☆☆☆ I want to forget ever reading this book.
★★☆☆☆ I didn’t like it overall, but there were some good parts.
★★★☆☆ I enjoyed it, but wouldn’t read it again.
★★★★☆ I loved it, and would recommend it to others.
★★★★★ Absolute favorite! Everyone should read it!

I know a lot of bloggers have recently opted for a no-star rating because sometimes there’s a book that doesn’t quite fit into every star rating, but I’m still working with stars. I also use half-stars for those in-between ratings. It all depends on your preferences and what you want to work with. Click here to see a good example of what my review looks like.

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And these are the guidelines I try to follow when writing a book review! I always try to end each review with a good quote from the book that stuck out to me. I’m a quote collector, and I always have a notebook handy to write them down. Everyone’s reviews are different, and it’s important to find your own voice on the web, but this should help you get a head start! Are there any other questions you would add to my list? I tried to keep it short and sweet, but there are so many other important questions to ask! What is your review structure? Let me know in the comments! Good luck!!

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17 thoughts on “Book Review How-To: How I Plan and Write My Book Reviews

  1. Excellent post! I really enjoyed it and learned a lot. I LOVED your insight on sharing how we rate books – I’m going to add this to my blog RIGHT NOW! Thank you.

  2. This is great! I’ve found it’s really helpful to have a format! Thanks for sharing! I, too, find it challenging to take good pics with an ereader. In my reviews, I especially like to discuss themes! Also, I like giving stars and feel frustrated when reviewers don’t furnish that rating for me. I also like writing my own summaries (vs taking it from GR or amazon). Last, I like to include who I would recommend the book to ….as an additional guide for readers. I avoid reviewing books on the blog that I have rated below 3 stars….I have chosen to just list those books on GR. Good luck in blogging! You’re off to a great start! I’m a new blogger too (July) and always eager to see what others are doing!

    1. Thanks for the info! I like what you’ve added here. I also don’t like to add reviews of less than 3 stars, although it’s difficult for me to find a book that I don’t like. I’m typically on point when it comes to the books I choose. I know what I like, and I’d rather recommend good books than give negative reviews of what I don’t like.

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