Do you know how to write a book review?

I must confess, writing a book review is very hard for me.

You’d think as a writer, writing a book review would be easy. It’s not.

But reviews are as important to writers as water to fish. Writers need book reviews. The best way to get is to give.

So I set out to learn more about writing a good review.

I used to adhere to the old saying, “If you can’t say something good say nothing.”

Now I go with, “In everything, there is some good. Look for it.”girl-308360_640

When you write a review, it’s important to find that “something” good to say.

Even for books that aren’t my genre, and even for those that make me cringe, I search for something good to say.

Things to look for…

  • Did the title or the cover get your attention?
  • Identify the genre.
  • Identify the audience (age.)
  • Identify the Point of View.
  • Is there a theme or common thread throughout the story?
  • Does the book or authors style remind you of another’s?
  • Review don’t critique.
  • Were characters loveable, believable, scary, or memorable?

Information to include in a review…

  • Include the name of book and author as well as the length of the book.
  • An opening hook. (ask a question, give a hint, etc.)
  • What you enjoyed. (character, line, writing style, etc.)
  • Who might enjoy this type of book?
  • A short summary. But remember this is not a book report.
  • A wrap-up or closing. (If you didn’t particularly like the book, this is a good place to sandwich the bad with good.)

Review example:

(Author’s name) new book, (book title) is (what? funny, sad, moving, thrilling, haunting?) A (genre) in (where or time?) is about (what? war? girl? boy? love? death?)  It’s about (a brief summary.)

(who?) will enjoy reading (book title). I found this book to be (quick, detailed, engrossing, lengthy, informative, etc.) Readers who enjoy (genre) may like (title.)

Final tip:

If you’re unsure how to word your review, read other reviews in the same genre. Go to, Goodreads, or Barnes & and read reviews until you are comfortable with the process.

So, do tell…

What advice can you offer to this struggling reviewer? 

Do you find writing book reviews easy or hard?

Keep reading, good articles below on the art of writing a review.

Click to write me or contact me on Twitter @jeancogdell, Facebook at  jean.cogdelland, stop by and say hey! The lights are on and I’m waiting.

Please remember share this post with your Twitter peeps andFacebook fans.

How to Write a Book Review  by Bill Asenjo 

Writing a Book Review  Contributors: Allen Brizee

Book Review Writing Template  By 


81 thoughts on “Do you know how to write a book review?

    1. This must be a marvelous post since it’s still being read after 20 months.
      My last comment here was on 6/7/16, and back then I’d only written 310 reviews, as of today the number of reviews stands at 733. I write reviews for a BOARD variety of genres, from picture books for the youngest of reader right through to hot, steamy, erotic romance novels. I must be doing something right.
      At last count my Amazon Review Ranking stands at 1,894 and Amazon has awarded me a badge for being a TOP CONTRIBUTOR for True Crime Books,
      Since my last post to this thread I’ve gained a great deal of knowledge in the writing of a review. The most important of which is to put your into the review you’re writing. It can be a song you’ve remembered from your childhood, a song whose message reflects what the book is about; include the name of the song, the artist, and even a few lyrics of the song. You know you’ve well if the author agrees with you in regards to the song and the message of their book.
      Recently, for the book Fat & Fine by Mary E. Thompson, in my review I’d even confessed to how tall I am and my weight, etc. She wrote in an private email that she was very pleased that I’d gotten the message of her book, because like many authors, she’d been unsure of whether or not readers would get the message of their books
      If anyone is interest in reading my reviews. check them out at:

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I am just getting started with my book review blog and it is really difficult to pick what exactly you want to describe. This will help me a lot!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Becoming a good reviewer can be boiled down to a few easy steps, avoid spoilers, read other reviewers and learn from their insights and read lots of books. Above all though it is all down to a matter of writing them, the more experience, the more in depth your reviews will be. Avoid spoilers as well and talk about your emotional connection to the book…crikey it all sounds simple when I put it like that, I wish it was that easy!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you so much for making this post. I’ve been looking for a good guide to constructing book reviews and I think I have found your favourite. I have a bad habit of judging things and not reviewing them, and this post helped me distinguish between the two. I can now go and write a successful review without feeling as if I am bashing the book or the author.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Far too often, I believe, book reviews and summaries are confused with each other. Also, in my opinion, a review or a summary can include a reflection of your own emotions as well. It’s a review that is by you so it is bound to be different. That’s what has happened spontaneously with the few reviews on my blog.
    And I like that you brought attention to this apparently obvious topic.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I put my own opinion in my reviews, just because I feel like it gives them a more personal touch. However, I always try and review, not critique because I don’t want people’s opinions swayed on a book that they might hate or enjoy! My review blog can be found at and it would be very interesting to know if you found mine too personal!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post! Thanks for putting yourself out there like that, I know it’s never easy to admit you’re still learning.
    I have two questions for you (and your readers too, and it looks like you have lots of fans!): 1) why are you reviewing books outside of your genre? Not judging, just genuinely curious and thinking it has something to do with the self-publishing flood?
    2) If you could ask a true expert, what would you like to know about writing reviews? Now that you have gotten into the deep end and ‘know what you don’t know’, I’m super interested in your answer to that one.
    Thanks again for the great post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Because since a a child, I’ve been a voracious reader. To limit myself to one genre would be to like limiting my diet to one food group. However, I do read a lot in the genre I’m writing too.
      As to your second question, I’m not sure. I think people who make a living writing reviews rely on their personal preferences too. I imagine it must be hard to stay objective.
      How about it readers? What would y’all ask a professional book reviewer?


  7. Thank you for this practical review of reviewing, and a concise breakdown of good review structure with excellent tips for helping the review connect with readers. Also, your commenters have done a great job of enhancing the distinction between critiquing and honest reviewing: nice to see the wisdom of crowds at work! I’m making book reviews a regular feature on my blog so the timing of your post is perfect for me, and I follow you now in hopes of more such goodness in the future!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I’m a complete klutz where book reviews are concerned. I think it’s a case of not getting into the mode of scrutinizing the different elements while I read. I’m either reading to learn something or am reading for enjoyment. Picking out the details of the writing itself never enter my mind.

    I did copy your suggestions on how to write one of these because I know it’s important to the author to find out what was done right and what needs attention.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re not alone, I too become totally absorbed in reading. But remember the review is for other READERS not the author. A review is just your impressions of the book so that others can decide if they want to read it or not.


  9. Good post, all the important points covered. Any would-be reviewer will gain a lot from this.
    I reviewed for a while on Amazon (UK); mostly books- graphics novels usually.
    Starting off is the hard part, wondering how you are going transfer the impressions in your head to words on the page…which make sense to a reader, and are not a simple rant or fan-boy eulogy.
    Breaking up into separate paragraphs helps. Your guidelines of ‘Things’ & ‘Information’ are excellent pointers in this direction.
    After 300+ reviews & finding Amazon dropped my ratings (I guess because it a change in their rating system- it happens), I decided my Reviewing Days were done. Learning to Blog now.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. After having written over 310 reviews on Amazon, I believe I know how to write a good review.

    There are several kinds of reviews prevalent on sites like Amazon, and they run the gamut from quick one sentence jobs to those are filled with spoilers [giving away the plotline/detailed information about the book].

    The real function of a review is to whet a potential reader’s interest in the book; that they wind up buying. One of the things I try to do in my review is to personalize it or to give a reference to a movie or even a song which someone reading the review can relate to. Another important to do in trying to write a good review is to come up with an eye-catching title for your review.

    If anyone is interested in interviewing, please feel free to contact me.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Reblogged this on The Life & Times of Zoe the Fabulous Feline and commented:
    I have a feeling that Jean really knows how to write a book review! Love the silver lining theme in this post. And I completely agree about the “critique”….the time for that is during story development, if you’re privy to it; if you’re not but you want to review a book, remember that the book is not only pages with text but full of the heart and soul of its writer. One can be honest but still kind and gracious with just a little bit of effort!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. All good points, Jean! As with most things, practice makes perfect. If you are reviewing on amazon, the plot has been covered many times by other reviewers. I try to focus on the “takeaway” and meaning of the book. I alway try to be positive.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Writers and readers alike want honest reviews. However, after a book is published it is too late for a critique. A critique is an in-depth evaluation of the manuscript so that the writer can make necessary changes. Such as punctuation, character development, etc. While, a review is your impressions (good or bad) of the book. Readers rely on your “takeaway” to decide if they will like it or not.

      Liked by 2 people

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