The need to write a book review drags me back to school days when I had to write book reviews to prove I’d read the book. One semester in seventh grade I read and reread ‘Oliver Twist’, one of the books on our free reading list, rather than admit I’d finished in the first week and face up to the horror of writing a book review.
Sadly, I owe a ton of authors a review. Some of them are well known favorite authors of mine. Others are people I actually know through the internet, such as Karina Fabian, Daniella Bova and Declan Finn.
Today I bit the bullet and did a review of a Declan Finn book. How did he get to the top of my list? Well, he gave me free copies of the second and third books in his series. Since I’m very low-income because of my disability, anyone who gives me free ebooks I actually read and enjoyed deserves special blessings in my book.
Here are my secrets to meeting that dreaded book review obligation:
- Cheat. Go ahead, read the other reviews written about the book first. That will remind you what the book was about and may also help you remember what you thought about aspects of the story as you read it.
- Create a summing-up formula to help you describe plots. For me, it works like this: “This book is about a [main character] who [main character’s problem.] ” You know, like this: ‘A lawyer is chased by a Mafia don when his pet zombie gets loose and bites a mob enforcer.’ ‘A shoe salesman, bored with his life, wakes up to find he’s been transformed into a giant ape.’
- Don’t feel the need to be a literary critic. You don’t have to turn yourself into a college English professor and evaluate the literary status of the book. Just say if you liked it, and perhaps mention something you liked about it. If the book was seriously flawed, just mention one thing about it that you perceived as a flaw.
- Don’t give five stars. Not unless it’s one of the three best books you’ve ever read. Five star reviews are so common, especially on amateurish self-published books, that many of us don’t trust them any more. Four stars is good enough for nearly all of the enjoyable books you read.
- Don’t give one star. Even with the worst, most flawed books, be kind enough to give two stars. One-star reviews are too often unfair and vindictive.
- Don’t be ashamed of writing a short review. If you can only think of two or three sentences to write about the book, just use that. It helps the writer just as much as a longer review. Perhaps more, sometimes, as a potential book purchaser may prefer to read a short, pithy review to one that goes on and on.
- Check your review for spelling and grammar before you publish. It’s also essential to use proper capitalization and punctuation. Most readers ignore reviews by people who don’t bother to do these things correctly.
I hope this helps some of you who need to get some book reviews written. And if you have any secrets on how to write a book review, do share it in a comment!
Some of my reviews