How to Write a Quality Book Review

How to Write a Quality Book Review

Since authors spend a great deal of time and effort on their books, writing a review is one of the best ways to show your appreciation and offer constructive feedback to help them improve their craft. For potential readers, a thoughtful review can mean the difference between purchasing a book or clicking onto the next title in their search for a good read.

But what comprises a quality book review?

First, let’s talk about what constitutes a bad book review. No, I’m not referring to legitimate criticism of characters, plot, pacing, writing, or any other vital aspect of a compelling story. I’m talking about generic reviews like, “I loved the book!” or “Wow, this is excellent!” or “This book is a must-read!” that omit any substantive descriptions as to why the reviewer is offering such effusive praise.

Conversely, the same principle applies to pithy one-or-two sentence reviews like, “Awful book!” “I can’t believe anyone would write this drivel!” or “Don’t waste your time reading.”

Either way, the reviewer does the author and his or her potential readers a disservice by omitting specifics. Whether you love or hate a book (or fall somewhere in-between), here are some guidelines on how to write an effective, useful review for both authors and readers.

  1. Demonstrate You Have Actually Read the Book– sounds counter-intuitive, but I’m not advocating that reviewers should give away spoilers. However, it is possible to mention a few specifics about what you liked about the main character, themes, narration, dialogue, etc. What did you like or dislike about the protagonist or supporting characters? Why did the plot draw you in? Was the book thought-provoking? Edgy? Enlightening? Why?  Even if you select just one aspect and explain why it had an impact on you (either positively or negatively), it will demonstrate your knowledge of the book.
  2. Offer a Balanced Perspective– as I mentioned, a great deal of time and energy goes into the production of a book. Whether you rate it 5-stars or 3-stars (more on that further down the post), point out specifically what the author does well and the areas in which he or she could improve. Is the dialogue stilted but the prose captivating? Say so. Is the pacing too slow? Too fast? Explain why and give an example. Is a character well defined or one-dimensional? Offer a specific example that supports your opinion.
  3. Limit Your Review to One-to-Three Paragraphs– for maximum impact, keep it pithy. Select a few qualities about the book that stood out to you, whether it involves a secondary character, a particular scene, or the overarching themes. Again, you don’t want to give away spoilers; you want to focus on your most indelible impressions of the book. No one wants to read a lengthy, rambling review, and from a copywriting/marketing perspective, such reviews do more harm that good. The objective is to provide constructive criticism/praise to better inform the author and prospective readers.
  4. Give the Author at Least 3 Stars– here I am taking my cue from my friend and author Daniella Bova, who states at her blog DaniellaBova.com, “Authors put their heart and soul into their writing, so I will never give any book less than 3 stars. I just won’t review it at all.” Words to live by. If you really hate a book for whatever reason (poorly written, plot holes, undeveloped characters, etc.), it’s best to heed our mothers’ advice while growing up, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” In such a case, I recommend contacting the author directly and privately (if they’ve made their email public or have a public FB page where you can message them) and sharing your thoughts. By doing so, you’ll be helping them improve while saving them the embarrassment of a 1-or 2-star public review. Do unto others, as you’d have done to you, after all.

A while back I received positive feedback on a book review I posted for the book Soul Mates & Angels. The person who read it complimented me for following the guidelines I’ve outlined above, instead of posting a generic opinion. She even used it in a promotional email she sent out on behalf of the author, Betty RaeI’m posting it here as an example:

This beautiful story drew me in from the moment I began reading. Written in the first person, its tone is at once hopeful, joyful, inquisitive, and thoughtful. Blessed with a supernatural ability to communicate with angels, the main character Anita Lyn Riley struggles to reconcile the mundane aspects of her life — from high school bullies to adolescent crushes — with the knowledge that evil exists everywhere, not just in some far away places.

On a personal level, she knows what it feels like to be misunderstood and feared for being different. When we first meet Anita, she is adapting to her new public high school, having upset the religious sensibilities of the priests and nuns at her former Catholic institution with her tales of reincarnation and otherworldly visions. As the book unfolds, her journey becomes progressively more difficult as circumstances force her to take courageous stands for justice, spurred on by righteous anger.

Filled with endearing characters and thought-provoking insights, Soul Mates & Angels celebrates the unbreakable bond that exists between all humans as children of God, the power of good to overcome evil, and the unseen realm where angels and loved ones are always there to help us.

Happy reading…and writing (book reviews)!

Do you need help with self-publishing, editing, ghostwriting or copywriting?

Contact me here.

Read the reviews of my book, Water Signs: A Story of Love and Renewal, here, where you can also preview and purchase it in paperback or Kindle.

 

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Book Review: Remembering Eternity by Richard Maddox

Book Review: Remembering Eternity by Richard Maddox

Posted on Amazon.com

In Remembering Eternity, gifted author Richard Maddox takes the reader on a sensory journey of self-discovery and enlightenment while evoking nostalgia for the innocence of youth. His enchanting prose and relatable characters draw you in as you follow main character Skylar through his various life transitions and search for deeper meaning. Juxtaposing time zones, the authors switches back and forth from the older, wiser Sklyar navigating his way from the pinnacle of success (as defined by western society) to his spartan new life as a divorced dad – to the young boy who delights in the simple pleasures of his Midwestern childhood until the layers of the illusion of a happy home peel away to reveal the underlying heartbreak and dysfunction. Yet Skylar remains a thoughtful observer and participant in life, savoring the “small things” like the beauty of a sunset over the Pacific Ocean and discovering truths from the spiritual Masters. Beautifully written, Remembering Eternity is a mesmerizing tale with a higher purpose: to impart metaphysical knowledge and an understanding of who we really are. I’m looking forward to reading Richard’s next book!

If you missed my interview with the author a few weeks ago, click to listen.

Preview and purchase Remembering Eternity on Amazon.com.

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5-Star Book Review of Water Signs: A Story of Love and Renewal

5-Star Book Review of Water Signs: A Story of Love and Renewal

No matter how much time goes by, it’s always a thrill to check Amazon and see a new book review posted. Many thanks to reader Frances:

Water Signs is a remarkable love story that engaged me from the first page. It is filled with passion, faith, sacrifice and courage, and many life lessons which many of us can relate to. I found it very hard to put down as my anticipation of the outcome for the main characters grew with each page that I turned. I could visualize each person and event perfectly. Beautifully written and very captivating, and definitely one of my favorite novels to date….Frances

Read all reviews and purchase the book in paperback or Kindle at Amazon.com.

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Recommended Reading: The Mentor In Me

Recommended Reading: The Mentor In Me

Due to Amazon’s strict review policy and the fact that I’m a co-founder of Writestream Publishing, the company that published William Todd’s book, I cannot post a review there. However, there’s nothing standing in the way of sharing my impressions on my own website.

First, a little background. I met William last year when I filled in for Love Liberty & Lip Gloss host Donna Lyons, who told me she’d scheduled an important guest and preferred not to inconvenience him by changing the date of their interview. Without even asking the name of the person in question, I agreed to substitute for her. I love hosting on the air and meeting new people; besides, whenever I can help out one of our hosts (especially Donna, whom I adore), it’s my pleasure.

That led to the interview posted here:

From there, I extended an invitation to William to host his own show the first Tuesday of every month, and to my delight, he accepted. Listen to his debut with Writestream Publishing author, Major General Linda L. Singh:

Our affiliation led to William selecting Writestream Publishing to release his excellent book, The Mentor In Me, on January 1, 2017. It may sound crazy, but when you read a book as an editor (focused on flow, grammar, typos, etc.) it’s quite different from reading it for education and enjoyment. So once the book was published and I had a paperback copy in my hands, I sat down to fully absorb its message.

William’s honesty in sharing his journey in such an engaging way makes you feel as if he’s a good friend. It also brings him down to earth: in spite of his amazing success as an entrepreneur, he still struggled with his own fears, negative thoughts, and embedded paradigms. Becoming Bob Proctor’s protege is a humbling experience, yet one he embraces fully — at least in the beginning. As suggested by the subtitle, What To Do & What Not To Do, William describes his resistance to taking his mentor’s advice, “the times when, to his detriment, he failed to make the most of opportunities presented.”

The book’s chapters are organized according to the Seven Levels of Awareness – the process we all undergo as life unfolds. William explains each level, supporting its premise with real life examples of how he demonstrated a particular behavior, for good or ill. Each chapter closes with his Mentor’s Message, What To Do / What Not To Do (questions to consider), and Words of Wisdom.

It’s organization and ease of reading, combined with the author’s genuine tone makes The Mentor In Me a practical guide for improving every aspect of your life and becoming the person you were meant to be. No wonder why Bob Proctor calls it “a book you form a relationship with.” It’s overall 5-star rating on Amazon is well-deserved.

Aside from this wonderful book, William has created an excellent, affordable 21 Day Coaching Series. Visit his website, www.TheMentorInMe.com for more information.

 

 

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