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4 Steps to writing a Book Review

Book review is an important skill, as unlike any other review where you want to share all the details about the product, for books, you have to make the review appealing for the reader to go and pick up the book and at the same time not give away the story. 

Every book review starts with assessing the book. If you have read a book with the intention to review it, make notes while reading it and if not, flip back through the pages a bit before you start reviewing. Book review can be broken in few simple steps to make it interesting for the writer and the reader as well.

Image courtesy Google. Edited on Samsung’s Photo app.

Step1: Introduction

Talk about the title and author’s name. Mention the genre and if it’s a fiction or non-fiction. Is it the authors 1st book? Mention it. 

Step 2: Summary

How would you feel if some one told you the entire suspense of a new released movie? It’s annoying, right? Now you would not want to go and watch the movie as the entire fun of watching it is lost. Like wise when you summarize a book, you don’t want to give away too much about the story. You can start by talking about the plot and it’s characters and you can drop in a few lines about the main highlight of the book by creating a suspense for the readers. E.g. “The twist in the story starts towards the second half of the book which was totally unexpected and nail biting.” This way you have shared about something eventful in the book and increased the curiosity of the reader to know more. Set a stage for the readers and entice them with the review. 

E.g. This is my review done for the book “The Carpet Weaver- Nemat Sadat”. Read the full review here.

When I come across or hear about any book with its storyline based in Afghan, it becomes my Instant “Must Read Book”. And for some reason I feel all the authors hailing from Afghanistan have a painful yet a wonderful story to tell. Khalid Hosseini for instance. The Carpet Weaver is written by an Afghan born USA based Nemat Sadat and oh my does he have an awesome story to tell. 

E.g.2. This is my review done for the book “What Mina Did- Geeta Menon”. Read the full review here.

This book is about 2 best friends, Mina and Neelu. A dreadful past is still lingering over Mina. She moves to USA after her marriage and she is still trying to cope with her past.  However, her short trip to India brings back the horrid memories. Neelu, a headstrong girl, has her own issues and things mess up after they unite in India. Childhood friendship is going down the drain. Will it surface, or will it drown? Read the book to know. 

Step 3: Evaluation

When you are evaluating a book, you are being the critique. You have to share your personal take on the book and it’s characters and openly write about what you liked and didn’t like in it.

This is how you can build on the evaluation;

 * Write about the genre and if it fits well into that category or not. 

* Talk about the author and his writing style.

* Write about the characters and how they have been woven in the story and if there is any particular character that caught your attention, talk about it. 

* Share a good quote from the book if any. 

* Mention if it had a good denouement. Were all the loose ends tied up or was the closing of the story or a character left to the reader’s imagination. 

* Was the book well edited and if there were any grammar errors or loopholes and inconsistency in the plot of the story. 

* How did this book impact you emotionally? Did it leave you thinking or you were glad that it finally came to end. 

* Compare the work of the author to his/her other books or with books in the same genre. 

* Avoid being repetitive.

* If the book didn’t impress you much, start by first talking about the good points to balance out the negative.

E.g. This is my review done for the book “Bombay Balchao – Janes Borges” Read the full review here

All the characters have been beautifully created and each one has their own uniqueness which will leave you in awe of some, empathy for the other, some will make you laugh till you can laugh no more while some have their own sad story to share.

Between its pages, the book will make you experience the taste of lip-smacking Goan delicacies. You can actually feel the aroma of the food as you read about it and the yummiest Balchao recipe that has been shared in the end. You will get the feel of Goan lifestyle, festivals, celebrations and food with every turn of the page. 

E.g. of a book which fails to meet your expectation. 

This is my review done for the book “ What Mina Did- Geeta Menon” Read the full review here

Firstly, the cover of the book and the title are good. The book gives the vibe of being a murder mystery but its nowhere close to it. My expectation from the suspense was much more but the book falls flat on that. The entire suspense is written off in few paragraphs, post that, the 2ndhalf of the book just revolves around Mina and Neelu and their friendship in two different time zones. Too much details about Mina’s work and personal life in the 2ndhalf of the book seems unnecessary. Both female characters, Mina and Neelu have been portrayed as level headed and confident women trying to make their life in a foreign land. 

Step 4: Recommendation and Rating

After the entire critique on the book, your review needs to end with an answer to the question – do you recommend it to your readers? Also add a punch to the rating and make the recommendation strong by mentioning what kind of audience would enjoy the book more. As for the star rating, you can either give an overall star rating to the book or you can break it down in to categories for characters, plots, ending and the writing style. 

E.g. This is my review done for the book “Bombay Balchao- Jane Borges”.

In the end I would say, Jane Borges’ has plated this book with a pinch of humour, a dash of nostalgia and lots of love for the city of Mumbai. With this book you will travel in time from when Bombay turned to Mumbai and the stories in-between of the Cavelites, their memories, their laughter, their unrequited love and loss which will make it difficult for you to put this book down till the last page and then crave for more. I give it a fabulous 5 stars. 

If you have a “Not so favorable” rating, play with your words by first highlighting the good elements of the book. 

E.g. While the story line was gripping and the writing was fluid, the book doesn’t rise above 3 stars, as there were certain descriptions used, which if removed, would have made the book more appealing. 

Few things to remember while writing a book review;

  • It’s a book review, don’t make a novel out of it. Don’t be very elaborative and refrain from giving out the story. Learn to play hide and seek with your words while talking about the book. 
  • Have an opinion from the start: If your opinion is middle line, i.e. you liked the book but there was nothing great or exceptional about it. Mention it from the start and not just in the end.
  • Back up your review: If you found something interesting in the book, like a particular character or a quote, share it with the readers in the review.  
  • Don’t miss out on important points: Is this the author’s debut book, is it a part of series or has the author tried to write a book in different genre from what he usually does? Mention all this for the readers to know.
  • Guidelines: Where are you planning to share your review? Is it going to be on Instagram, Goodreads, blog or bookstore website? Your audience, content and tone of review will differ everywhere. E.g on Instagram, people are more for photos and less for reading so your review has to be short and catchy at the same time. On Goodreads and blog you can go in detail with your review. 
  • Learn: The best way to do anything is to first learn about it. So read reviews done by others and get an idea of how they have drafted their review and what all they have included to make their review interesting. 

Writing a book review is a job at hand which you need to do with full sincerirty as your opinion can influence others to read the book. So keep it real and write on.

Image courtesy Google

With this post I am taking my blog to the next level with Blogchatters #MyFriendAlexa and you will find my post under the hashtag of #mummatalkswrites on all social media platforms.

By mummatalks

Mom of two brats, use to work as an analyst now a SAHM. Love books.

25 replies on “4 Steps to writing a Book Review”

Great post Hansa and I agree good reviewing is an art and we have to keep many factors in mind to share this with our readers. You had summed up all things so well in this post.

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Writing a review for a book is an art.. you are tempted to share but cant disclose more and need to stick to key points.. thanks for sharing this

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True that! Writing a book review is indeed no less than an art, very few are mastered on it. You have explained every aspect so well that any budding book reviewer can use this as a guide.

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I did my first few reviews recently after the blogchatter campaign and realised that it’s not so easy to write them! Especially difficult is to review a book that didn’t meet your expectations. Your tips on those were especially helpful. Thanks!

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A book review is an art, I have seen and read many badly written reviews that take away the sheen of the book and even the courage of the writer. You have pointed out some very important features of how to write a right review.

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This is quite helpful and informative, Hansa. I have written only a few book reviews on my blog because I was not happy with my way of writing reviews. You have explained the steps really well, I will keep these points in mind while writing a book review now. Thanks for sharing!

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That is such a detailed post about the right way of reviewing any book. I am a book reviewer myself and have a keen interest to reading other reviewer’s book review. Alas I come across few reviews that are so badly done.

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