Tips and Tricks for Writing Book Reviews

I was making my way through a book I need to review scrolling through Twitter when I saw Dana from Devour Books with Dana ask for tips on writing reviews. It seems like a lot of bloggers would rather write any other post before doing their reviews but I’m somebody that could write them all day every day. Because of this I thought it would be fun to give you some tips and tricks that will hopefully make reviews easier for you!

And, if you’re wondering where/how to get review books then make sure you check out my beginner’s guide to ARCs!

To start off I’ll be talking a little bit about formatting your post and then I’ll get into the actual review writing.

I always start out my reviews with the book’s details. It’s really up to you how much you want to include in this section but the things I always look for when reading reviews are the title, series name (if there is one), author, release date, publisher, and the page count. I also always want to see the book’s cover because often this is the first thing that will pique my interest.

This is also a really great spot to include content warnings because it is one of the first areas your readers will be looking at.

If, after reading a review, I’m interested in pursuing the book further my next step is going to be adding it to my ‘Want to Read’ shelf on Goodreads. Make it easy for your readers to do this by linking the Goodreads page in the title. I also like to link the series and author website in case anybody is interested in those and you can always link the publisher as well!

I’m picky and like any links I click on to open in a new window that way I don’t lose the article I was originally reading but this isn’t mandatory. Just kind of a courtesy thing I guess.

Next, I highly suggest putting the book’s synopsis. You don’t have to go crazy and summarize the book in your own words (unless you want to which is totally fine). All I do is copy and paste it over from Goodreads and voila! you’re good to go. After the synopsis I also include buy links for Amazon, Book Depository, and Indiebound. I don’t think I’ve ever had anybody click these but maybe somebody will want to someday?

Now it’s finally time to review the book!

How do you come up with the words you want to say? I use the notes app on my phone and put any thoughts I have while reading in there. Then, when I’m actually writing my review, I can use it as a reference in case I’ve forgotten anything.

Annotating is also a great way to keep up with all your different thoughts. This can be a controversial subject because a lot of people don’t like the idea of writing inside books but there are alternatives such as using sticky notes instead! Both Arin from Tomes of Our Lives and Rebecca from Peace. Love. Veggies. have how-to guides on annotating if you want to learn more.

When reading the book some things to keep in mind for your review include the characters, plot, writing style, pacing, emotion, diversity and representation, themes, content warnings, and possible problematic content. You certainly don’t have to touch on all of these in your review and you can also talk about other things – this is simply a jumping off point.

Y’all, there are seriously so many different ways you can write reviews. Personally, I enjoy writing them in paragraph form because it’s how my brain gets its thoughts out and how I was trained to write so it stuck. Each paragraph focuses on a different topic I want to discuss – characters, plot, writing, etc. Bex from Becca Leighanne is another blogger that writes reviews in this way!

Another way you can do it is to break it down into things you liked and things you didn’t like. I’ve seen Arin from Tomes of Our Lives write reviews this way. She usually comes up with three points for each section and goes into detail on them. This is a great way to keep yourself on track and make sure you’re talking about every aspect of the book.

You can also break your review down even further if you want! Leelynn from Sometimes Leelynn Reads makes sections in her reviews for the characters, plot, likes, dislikes, and then her final thoughts. Doing this can really help you out when you’re reading because you’ll be able to have specific things in mind to look out for and make notes of.

Bullet points are also a great way to get your thoughts out! Maybe you have a hard time getting your thoughts out in sentences or maybe you just have so many thoughts and you don’t want to ramble for forever and a day. My review for Aurora Rising was done mostly in bullet points because I had so many thoughts flooding my brain while reading the book and I couldn’t figure out how to form coherent sentences with any of them.

Something you should never do is stress about the length of your review! Some of my reviews are longer while others are shorter – it really just depends on how much I have to say about the book. Cassie from Rants and Raves of a Bibliophile usually always has shorter reviews of two to three paragraphs. Her reviews are so great though because she still gives her readers all the important info!

It’s also completely okay if you jump around in the format of your reviews! Sometimes it takes experimentation and trying several things before you find a way of writing you enjoy. It’s also possible that the format of your review will change depending on how much you liked/disliked the book. You aren’t required to only write in one single way and nobody expects that.

My last piece of advice is to give your review some personality! Only reading a bunch of words can get monotonous when it comes to blogs so try to do something to break it up. Share some of your favorite quotes in between sections, add gifs that match your reactions to the book, tell us a song that the story reminded you of, make some cute graphics – the possibilities are endless!

Don’t forget! If you’ve received the book for free in exchange for an honest review you must add a disclaimer saying so at some point in your review!

How do you feel about writing reviews? Do you have any advice for somebody that struggles with them or did you find any of my advice helpful? Let me know in the comments!

28 thoughts on “Tips and Tricks for Writing Book Reviews”

  1. Honestly, I love you for writing this and I plan to take some ideas from this. It means so much to me that you created this after I reached out on twitter, I can’t even explain it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you so much for mentioning me! I think you chose a lot of great reviewers to take some pointers from, and I think I may actually keep this handy for when I feel the need to revamp my review style! Thanks again for going through all of your research and compiling this resource post. It helps a lot of us ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think that breaking up my reviews is one of the hardest things for me. I tend to ramble a tad bit because I have so many thoughts and I just want to get them all across that I forget that no one wants to read a straight-up essay in their free time. So I’ve definitely been trying to work on that aspect and I’m glad you pointed it out here!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I used to have such a hard time with that, too! It’s something I’ve been trying to work on and I think I’ve started to get better about it. Hopefully at least I just try not to make my paragraphs too long. Putting a few of your favorite quotes in between paragraphs is such a great and easy way to break things up!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much! It was fun to write because it really made me think about and analyze my own reviews. I think that having a variety of different review styles is great because it keeps things fresh! Mine are all very similar so I worry sometimes that they’ll get a little stale.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I like your reviews!
        There’s something very liberating in just writing a rant-y review, whether it’s a negative one or a positive run. Kind of like how you’d talk to a friend about a book! Sometimes it’s the only way I can get a review out.

        But tbh, lately, I’ve been reading so much, so quickly, all my reviews have been short, sweet and kind of vague. There’s an ease to it that’s nice, but (for me, personally) it’s starting to feel a tad stale. But at the same time, the ease makes me just want to keep doing them that way LOL

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ah, thank you!

        And I agree with writing ranty reviews! I just did one for The Babysitters Coven by Kate Williams which I absolutely hated but I felt so much better after getting all my angry thoughts out. That’s how I was with Aurora Rising, too.

        Yeah, I feel that. I’ve been reading nothing but review books lately because I haven’t had any time to not read them and I’m just getting so tired of writing reviews that I feel like I’m not putting 100% into them.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I struggled with writing a review for Escaping From Houdini because I was so ANGRY with a character from it and I was struggling with distancing myself from my emotions that I just gave up and wrote the rant-y review and the words flowed out.

        Liked by 1 person

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