One Writer’s Journey

January 14, 2015

How to Write a Book Review

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:30 am
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book reviewLast night, another writer asked me how I write my book reviews.  Specifically, she wanted to know if I ever review a book I don’t like.  That answer is easy — no.  Now that I’m reviewing for the love of books on my own blog, I can review whatever I want.  I don’t want to review books I don’t like.  I want to recommend books that I really like.

I start each review with the basics:

Author and illustrator

I paste in a copy of the book cover, formatting it to the right.  I suppose you could just as easily format it to the left, but the right is my personal preference.

Sometimes I start with why I read this book – someone recommended it, this is a favorite author, I love this topic.

But more often, I first discuss the plot of the book. Who is the main character, what do they want, who or what stands in the way?  Some books require a great deal of detail for the reader to make any sense of what I’m saying.  For others I can write much less.  How I approach this plot summary depends on the book itself.  I do my best to avoid plot spoilers.  In fact, when I get to where I would have to reveal too much but I still haven’t said quite enough, I admit my problem to the reader.  “I’m not going to say any more about the plot because you have to read it yourself.  I don’t want to spoil the surprise.”

If I’m reviewing an illustrated book, I say something about the illustrations.  I don’t know a lot about illustration but if I can find the information I comment on the medium used — oils, watercolor, pencil, or Photoshop.  Do the illustrations bring humor to the text?  Expand on the story?  Lighten what could easily be a too-dark moment?  If I have an opinion about why this illustration style works well for this text, I include that as well.

Then I wite something about the audience and/or how this book might be used.  Is it a book that will appeal to boys? Girls?  Kids who love the ocean?  Kids who love fantasy?  Some books are great classroom books because they easily introduce the reader to a topic.  Others are great read alouds but lousy bed time books.

Sometimes I feel the need to include a mild warning or some comfort.  This is a young adult book with off-stage sex.  Don’t hand it to your eleven year-old.  This book deals with the dark side of human nature but the humor and friendship between the characters lightens things up.

Read my reviews on The Bookshelf and you’ll notice that although I follow this sketchy outline, I try to give an accurate picture of that particular book.  If I have to do things a little differently to make it work, than that is what I do.

If you have any questions about how to review, ask away!



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