The Good, The Bad, and The Fair Book Review

010I very seldom review books online. I share ratings. But I’m hesitate to write a review which is all kinds of crazy since I’ve been involved in a book club for a dozen years and shared my thoughts by word of mouth long before that. But I’ve won a couple of books, downloaded free ones and I know they come with the hopeful expectation that I review them. Eeeps.

But how to write a fair, honest and helpful review? So, I did a little research. I’ve found that it’s not so much about my great, big, heavy thoughts having read the book as what will be helpful information to share with other readers deciding on what to read next. So…

First goal. Decide on a format. Thoughts I’ve gathered on this. Should be short (very short) description of what the book is about. Avoid spoilers. Or use big bold capitals letters to announce your review contains them. Readers want a sense of plot more than your general opinion. The reader whats to know if the book will interest them based on your summary of the book.

Okay, I think I can handle this part. I’m not interested in becoming a bonafide book review blogger. I just want to post an intelligent review on Goodreads, Librarything, possibly bookseller sites, and here on my own personal blog. As a side note, summarizing books down to a couple of sentences has potential as an excellent writing exercise. Doing this with books I read will make it easier to sum up my own. So, win win.

Second goal. Be honest about who you are and what you like to read. Kind of easy, peasy. I guess. I’m a writer. I write romantic suspense. But I read a variety of books. A wide variety. Hum…need to work on this.

Third goal. Provide an honest review. And here’s where it gets sticky for me. I don’t like saying less than stellar things about books when the author is someone I know, never mind a friend, are published by the same publisher, a member of my writing group, or is someone I met online and have developed a platonic, book related relationship with. That kind of narrows it down. Because I’m a wimp. Especially those with few reviews and I know my mediocre review might influence readers choosing to check out their book. And the very idea of posting a negative review stresses me out.

So, how to proceed? 300 to 400 word reviews. For reviews posted here – basic info about the book and where to find it. How this book came to be in my possession. Summarize the book in a couple sentences. Use my own words. Talk about theme, characters, and plot. What I felt where the strengths. Major weaknesses, if any. Sum it up.

Fourth goal. Decide what my book review isn’t. I want to share my thoughts on the books I’ve read. I want to help out my fellow writers. I want to give readers an honest and consistent review. I don’t want it to be about my emotional response to the book. Or a synopsis. Or a critique. I’m not grading a paper. And I shall, at all costs, avoid platitudes. Saying you couldn’t put it down doesn’t tell potential readers anything useful.

There! I’ve decided on a kind of format. So, what about you? Do you review books? Do you read reviews? Any tips on what you like to see in book reviews?

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2 thoughts on “The Good, The Bad, and The Fair Book Review

  1. I will only discuss a book on my blog if I liked it and want others to read it (kind of like me going to book club and gushing over a book I’ve read). I’ve thought about the ‘reviewing’ dilemma, too, Karyn – after all, one day I may wish to have my books reviewed, but I just can’t do the whole numbers/grade thing – or review books I don’t like.

    Oops, I think I use the ‘couldn’t put down’ cliche!

    Sounds like you’ve given this a lot of thought and have settled on a format – good for you 🙂

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