Have you ever found yourself looking for a book and not knowing which in the plethora of books to buy? Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Goodreads all include a book review function on their sites where satisfied readers can rate and review the books they’ve read. But how do you write a short review?
Once you’ve read a book, it is so valuable to leave a review. I’m sure, like me, you have read many of these reviews and found them useful in helping you decide on what to purchase, but had never thought to write one yourself. Why not? It’s too difficult, would take too much time, we don’t have the skills…there’s a bunch of reasons and excuses. But here’s the thing – it’s really not that hard!
I’m not taking about an in-depth book review of essay length, just something short and sweet. Besides, you’ve already done the most time consuming part of a review – you’ve read the book! So here’s an easy formula for fiction books you can follow to get you writing reader reviews:
- First paragraph:
Give an overview of the main plot points without giving away the ending. For example – from my review of ‘Vampiris Sancti: The Elf’:
The novel tells of the exploits of Zyre, an elf, as she flees from her arranged marriage to a demon prince she is both attracted to and repulsed by. Having escaped through a doorway to the human world, Zyre comes across a young vampire, and discovers an evil plot.
- Second paragraph:
It is always useful to mention the author’s name. Discuss aspects of the book that you particularly liked in a little detail. You might focus on character – are they realistic, did you relate to them, are they credible or stereotypes; dialogue – did you find that the characters conversations sounded genuine, did they sound natural, could you imagine the characters saying the things that were written; writing style – does it flow smoothly, is it cliché, do you get carried along by it; description and setting – was a strong sense of place evoked, was the book bogged down with too much description or was it richly endowed with images that helped bring the book alive? For example – from my review of ‘Of Hearts and Stars’:
It took me some time to get into the storyline: I found the opening chapter to be a little contrived and young Leoric‘s life a little too idealistic…until his home is destroyed and his life is completely changed. While the writing style occasionally feels a bit clichéd, if you bear with this and get through the opening chapter, you are ultimately rewarded with an unusual and entertaining novel.
- Third and final paragraph:
It is always useful to mention the title of the book. You might sum up by commenting on the themes contained in the book, or discussing the genre. State whether you liked the book or not and include on what basis you would recommend the book. For example – from my review of ‘Evidence of Malice’:
‘Evidence of Malice’ is a frightening crime story that will raise the hairs on the back of your neck. With twists and turns in the plot and edge-of-your-seat drama, this is an exciting read! If you like fast-paced action and suspense, then you will like ‘Evidence of Malice’.
Of course you can write a much shorter review – you only need 20 words to write an Amazon review! You can pick your favourite aspect of the book and just write a couple of sentences about that. The important thing is that you WRITE a review. They are incredibly helpful to and greatly appreciated by other readers.
NOTE: you can write reviews for books you haven’t purchased too – so if you borrow a book from a library, you can still write a review on Goodreads, Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Also, if you buy your book from Barnes & Noble, you can still post a review of that book on Amazon, and vice versa.
Have a go yourself…and feel free to post one of your reviews in the comments box below.
Check out my blog on 13/9/13: Book reviews – Non-Fiction.
You might want to look at:
- Amazon’s Customer Reviews page
- Barnes & Noble’s Write Your Own Review page
- Goodreads’ Review Guidelines page
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