How I Write Reviews

How I Write Reviews

The other day, one of my blog readers reached out to me telling me that they had recently started a book blog, but weren’t sure how to write reviews. She enjoyed reading my reviews and wanted to know how I went about composing them.

So today I figured I would tell you all about my book reviewing process! This is by no means the “correct” way to go about reviewing books. This is simply how I do it because it works for me best. I wanted to share this post because I want to be able to help other bloggers who are just starting out, and obviously to help out this blog reader of mine.

I DON’T TAKE NOTES


I do not take notes while reading, nor have I done it in the past, and I won’t be trying it in the future. Why am I so against this, you say? It would feel too much like taking notes for school. Reading for the love of it and reviewing books for the love of it should not feel like doing research for a school project! (I mean, you can do that if you want to I suppose). I think stopping to jot down notes disrupts the flow of reading and I don’t want that.

I simply read the book. When I’m reading, I don’t really think about what I’m going to put in the review necessarily, I just focus on the story.

WHEN TO WRITE THE BOOK REVIEW


My #1 tip about writing book reviews is to write it immediately after finishing the book, or at least within 24 hours of finishing it. This way, you:

+ will remember fresh details and emotions

+ won’t get behind on writing reviews

+ can start a new book without lingering thoughts about the previous book

Writing a book review before starting a new book gives me closure for some reason. It works for me.

sitting down to write the review


I don’t do any type of outline or plan. I simply write it and let my stream of conscience come out onto the computer screen. I think doing an outline can work for some people, but I like to just write what my thoughts are after I finish the book.

DIFFERENT FORMATS


Keep in mind that there are many different formats for reviewing books. There’s the standard paragraph form. Or, you can try writing it in list format, or even in a fun graphic if that’s your thing. I know some bloggers who section off their review of the book into “Things I Like About the Book” and then “Things I Disliked”.

THINGS TO CONSIDER IN THE REVIEW


I follow the pretty standard intro-body-conclusion format in my reviews, but recently I’ve shifted to sectioned reviews where I divide the review into topics. However, I think reviews should feature a few things in terms of content:

IntrO

Overall thoughts and feelings about the book, maybe a summary or a little background on your history with the author or the genre.

Body Paragraphs

I try to talk about these things if they were prominent in the story:

character analysis / plot & story / plot pacing / atmosphere or setting / relatability to readers / point of views, perspective / author’s writing style

I include both positive and negative qualities of the book. I think it’s important to point out a mix of both to allow other readers to be aware of them later when they pick up the book.

I’m generally not one to summarize a whole ton in reviews because I can easily post the summary from Goodreads and really focus my review talking about my personal thoughts.

However, if you’re ever stuck on what to talk about first in the body paragraphs, follow the progression of the book. How did the book make you feel at the beginning of the story? Were you intrigued by the first sentence? How was the middle of the story? Did you lose interest by then? Did the ending of the story blow your mind, or did it leave you hanging? Was it too ambiguous and did you need closure? Sometimes reflecting on how your emotions changed as the story progresses really helps with starting the body paragraph portion of your review.

CONCLUSION

Wrap up your review. Summarize your thoughts in a few sentences, or any lasting impressions or deeper ideas that the author carried out to the reader. Include whether you would recommend it or not.

GO BACK AND EDIT!


Like any other form of writing, edit! Read your review out loud or in your head a few times. You want your review to convey your thoughts properly. Sometimes I let my reviews sit for a few days or a week before coming back to it and editing it again. Once I feel like it’s my best work, I post it!

EVERYONE REVIEWS DIFFERENTLY


Everyone reviews differently. Write your reviews in your own voice. Don’t try to copy someone else’s writing style because then what’s the point of your review blog? Stay original and don’t plagiarize. Before writing my reviews, I don’t look at other people’s reviews right before so that I don’t accidentally copy someone’s thoughts.

That concludes my writing reviews tutorial! I hope this helps and if you all have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email or comment down below. Happy reviewing!

xo,

Jen

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15 thoughts on “How I Write Reviews

  1. I don’t take notes either, although I’ve tried to in the past. I do take notes as soon as I finish the book by spewing out my initial thoughts on everything I can think of in a document on my computer. I also share my initial reaction on Goodreads, but then I usually let my head clear for a day or two before looking back and trying to write out my review. I also used to be good at reviewing books right after finishing them, but now I let the titles pile up and stress me out and I really need to change that thing called laziness. Great post, Jen!

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  2. i don’t take notes either. i’ve tried and yeah, it feels too much like school for me or like, a job i have to do. which sucks the fun out of reading. especially when the school year swings by, i have so many other obligations to uphold that i’m loath to make reading another one even though i guess there is still a pressure i put on myself to try and review every book i read or at least most but at least there’s a choice involved and it doesn’t feel like YOU MUST DO THIS.

    i understand what you mean about closure too! i used to review immediately after i finished the book but now i like to give myself a bit more time to mull over my thoughts. i still like to review after i finish so i can not worry about still remembering all my feelings + thoughts about the book while i’m reading a new one. of course i’ve not been so good with reviewing these days so often i’m writing reviews weeks after i’ve finished which doesn’t work as well for me. i think it’s all a matter of timing. like for me, i want to write my review after i finish my book but not directly after but i also don’t want to take too long that it’s like ok now i should really be moving on to my next book and then be in the middle of a review for an old book while i’m in the middle of reading a new book…. you know, if that makes any sense.

    anyway this was really interesting to read jen! especially since i’ve always admired your reviews so it was nice of you to share your secrets of the trade 😉

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    1. Thanks Annie!! If I run out of time and don’t end up writing a book review for a book after a longgg time, I probably won’t bother with it – or I write a mini review. I don’t feel like I’m giving an honest depiction of my thoughts if they’re not clear anymore.

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  3. It’s absolutely true that everyone focuses on different things, which is precisely the point. I myself always try to focus on how a book made me feel, but I also make sure to include potential triggers and other essential information that make people choose a book or not. I don’t make notes either, I love sinking into a book, at most I mark a particularly interesting quote I might use.

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  4. Ooh, I enjoyed reading your post on how you write reviews! I agree on not reading reviews though – god knows how many times I’ve had to keep notes for school assignments. [war flashbacks] The most I do is highlight or bookmark things (highlighting for ebooks haha) to put in the review itself. Great tips, Jen! 🙂

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