How to Write a Book Review

Book reviews are not all created equally. As a reviewer, you can gain raving fans who hang on your every word...if you know what kind of details to give them, that is. Want to know how to write better book reviews and earn followers?

Take Notes

When you're reading, keep a pencil handy. If you hate marking up the pages of your book, or if you're on a kindle, use a separate notebook. I like to highlight quotes I found particularly delicious, and make a general outline of the character relationships and plot. This will help you when you move onto step 2, which is creating a brief summary.

Often we read a book and then want to talk about it -- but can't remember the details. By taking notes you'll make it so much easier to jump into writing your review so that it's compelling, clear, and spot-on.

Offer a concise summary - but leave out the important details.

The best way I've found to do this is write the review as if it were a long-form blurb on the back of the book. You want to leave tension and mystery so that the reader will want to pick up the book and read it herself.

Look at the backs of other books and get inspiration for what kinds of information you could include and what you should leave out.

It's especially helpful to find a book blurb for inspiration that's in the same genre as the book you're reviewing. Each genre has its own way of appealing to an audience. Ie. a mystery is going to sound different than fantasy or sci-fi.

Putting a summary first lets the reader decide if they're interested in the book depending on the book's own merit, which is why I suggest leaving your personal opinion for after the summary.

If you start off saying "I liked it," or "I found it really dull," you cloud the reader's ability to decide for themselves whether a) they trust your opinion or not, and b) if the book's summary suggests the same.

Once you've laid out the landscape of the book, the reader can then seek your opinion. After hearing about the plot, what you thought about will make a lot more sense than if it came before.


Include personal details by explaining how the book as a whole affected you.

Was it fast or slow? Was the writing on point? Readers want to hear how you felt when you read the book. Once you've established credibility by writing a solid summary, you can offer your own thoughts about the fluidity of the writing or the stilted dialogue.

Be sure to temper your opinions and back them up with the contents of the summary -- you don't want to undermine your credibility by slamming the author when the summary seemed like everything was pretty good.

Go deep.

For a stand out review, go deeper than just stating the plot and how you felt about the book. Give the reader some tantalizing information by answering the question, "What really stood out?"

Character development? Plot twists?

Make sure your language is up to snuff. Readers judge reviews based on how well they read, so please please edit your review and make sure your grammar and spelling are on point.

Wrap it up with a strong call to action.

End by telling the readers what you want them to do. Kirkus review has a rubric their critics like to use:

Buy It = this is a can't-miss, fabulous book; Borrow It = not perfect, but we think you'll enjoy it; Skip It = critical miss

Follow this recipe for a review and you'll build up a stockhouse of raving fans in no time!



What You Can Expect From Popular Reading Apps


While I love my physical books as much as I love my eBooks, there are times when I forget my book at home, or don’t expect to have the time to read, and in those cases, it’s nice to have a book or two available on my smart phone. Especially when I want to read a heavier book like War and Peace, I can download it on my phone and not carry a heavy book around. Lately, I’ve been curious about what sort of reading and book-related apps are out there, and today I found several I could download for free. While I was looking through them, I decided to record my findings and share them here so other people can determine which apps would be best for them without having to download them all through trial and error.


It is a free download, but then if you want a month-long free trail, you have to sign up for a renewing subscription of $8.99 a month for access. You can choose three eBooks to read and one audio book per month, so in a way, you’re paying $8.99 for four books, one of which you can only listen too. It’s not a bad deal if you’re serious about reading.

I’m sure that you could sign up for the free trail with renewing subscription and then just cancel on the last day before the free trail is up and read the three free books and listen to the one audio book in that time.

Some benefits are that you can download the books so you can read them offline, and that there’s also sheet music and documents available (although I’m not sure how that fits into the “three eBooks, one audio book” per month plan. Maybe they're included with access.

-On a separate note, the app has a nice color scheme and is clean and easy to navigate- blue and white palette. The book page has a clear rating system, page count, how long of an expected read, and a good summary.

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-I’m reading the preview to see what the in-app reading lay out is like. It took about a minute to download a 1200 page sample. Swipe right to left to turn pages, nice spacing, no awkwardly cut off words or spacing issues. This makes sense, since it’s expecting you to be doing all your reading in the app, so it’s well formatted.

Would I recommend it?

If you can afford to pay $8.99/mo for 3 eBooks and 1 audio book, and you like reading on your smartphone screen, then yes. It's a high quality app and looks like it delivers a high-quality experience.


Something you should now before you open the app is that if you don’t immediately connect your amazon account and press “Try App” in the top right corner of the screen, you’ll get 10 free audiobook excerpts, all best sellers. Here are the ones that came with my app, I imagine that they’re all the same, and you can see that they all average about 40 minutes or so. Even if you have an amazon account you can sign in with easily, I always recommend trying something new first, before you commit with your email address. This is a good way to see if audio books are for you or not if you’re uncertain, like I was.

-If you know you like audio books and aren’t interested in listening to any of those free excerpts, then go ahead and sign in straight away. The free excerpts won’t be available if you do though. Instead, you can browse the library for any book, and then you can listen to a sample of the book, an average of about 4 minutes (vs. a 40 minute excerpt)

-When browsing the audio books, I noticed that there were no prices on anything, and when I clicked on book I saw:

Note: Audible Content cannot be purchased in-app



So you can’t buy the audio books in the app, you have to go online to

-so then I went to and go the real story:

So after the 30-day free trial, audible is 14.95 per month as it says in small print at the bottom.

So to use this app, you have to go online to and purchase the books there and refresh the app for them to show up. If you are a big fan of audiobooks and can afford 14.95/mo, then maybe this is a good deal for you. Since I am just a casual audiobook listener, I chose not to sign up.

I still used the app to listen to a few samples of random books, but otherwise, it’s useless to me. I might re-install it and listen to more of those free 40 minute excerpts though.

Would I recommend it?

If you’re a fan of audiobooks and can afford $14.95/mo, then yes, I do recommend it. Especially if you already have an Amazon account, that makes it just a bit easier.

-Also, if you’re curious about audio books and want to listen to sum, I recommend downloading the app and bypassing the sign in to get to the 10 free excerpts. These are the 1o excerpts that I got:

IMG_3393   IMG_3394


Just in case you’re not familiar, Goodreads has a website that functions in the same way as this app. Essentially, Goodreads is a website that helps you find what books to read next. You give them information about what kind of books you like (usually by rating books you’ve read), and it suggests books you might also like. You can also read other’s reviews of books your considering reading, and if your friends use Goodreads, you can also use it as a form of social media, sharing what books you’ve read or are interested reading, and your friends can share their book choices with you.

It’s a nice app, and I like it, but it’s the same as the online website I find.

Would I recommend it?

It all comes down to a preference of if you like using your phone or your computer more. If you love to read, then you definitely need to have an account and use either the computer or the app, if not both. It’s a great resource to have.

The only thing that could make it better for me would be to actually be able to read the ebooks in the app. But since you can’t access the books on the website version other, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense. It’s just a resource for planning and managing, not actually reading the books. Still, as I said before, I think it’s necessary for every reader to have an account.

iBooks (For iPhone users only)

If you have an iPhone, then you already have the iBooks app, whether you like it or not. It’s one of the pack of apps that comes pre-installed with your iPhone that can’t be deleted. Since I’ve been reluctant to try eBooks, I’ve ignored it along with a lot of other pre-set apps, but now I gave it a try.

The iBooks app is designed the same way the App store and iTunes Store are, so it’s a familiar and easy to navigate design. The design isn’t the only thing these apps have in common. The iBooks app is basically the iTunes store, but for books instead of music and movies. You can sample them, buy them, and then have them on your device. And it’s convenient because it all gets automatically charged to your Apple ID, which it automatically signs you in to, so you don’t have log in at all or enter any payment information.

The in-app reading looked like this:

IMG_3410  IMG_3408

I’m not a fan of the page turning animation, but that aA button on top has a lot of good options, one of them being the scroll feature. It’s better than the cramped page and page turn animation, but it makes me a little motion sick, especially if I would be reading on the bus or train. But I’m glad that there are so many options to make my reading experience more comfortable.

Would I recommend it?

If you have an iPhone, then you already have it, but still, the answer is “yes”. So far, it’s one of the best options for reading both eBooks AND audiobooks and then just buy then straight away with a pre-connected account. However, there aren’t as many free options as there are in the other apps mentioned.

Nook App

-This app is supposed to accompany a nook, but functions just fine if you don’t have one. You can explore the app first, instead of signing in straight away, and I like having that option.

The app has a “Discovery” section that updates daily containing quite a few samples of two-minute reads. You can edit what sort of things you want to see by genre. This is available without even signing in.

Since I have a nook, I did sign in after looking around and found that I had 4 free downloads. I’m not sure if everyone starts with those four, or if they were left over from my nook and got transferred over once I logged in. Either way, I downloaded one and it only took about 2 seconds, which is extremely fast for my Wi-Fi, and it seems to be the full book.

Like audible, you can’t purchase eBooks in the app, but you can download samples of anything. You purchase the eBooks on your nook or on Barnes and, and then it’ll show up in the app. That way, if your nook runs out of charge or you forget to take it with you, you can still continue reading the story on your phone.

The only problem that I found with it is that the reader was very clunky and needed to be better formatted.

IMG_3421 IMG_3422 IMG_3423

Luckily, they also have the options to adjust the text, so it can be reasoned with and improved. I think this happens because the samples are meant to be read on a nook, not the smaller screen of a smart phone. But the problem is fixed easily enough.

Would I recommend it?

If you have a nook, I’d say, yes, get it. It’s a well-designed and aesthetically pleasing app. It also gives you a lot of free samples, but is otherwise unnecessary. You can organize your nook books on it, but you can also just use your nook just as well without it.

Kindle App

Like the nook, this app is made to accompany the kindle reader, so you have to sign in with an Amazon account first. But once you do, the app gives you unlimited access to every book available for one week. There isn’t even a pressure to sign up to pay.

Shortly after I signed it, I got an email saying that after the 7 days I’ll be eligible for a 30 day free trail, which I bet is when you have to sign up for an automatically-renewing subscription

-this app seems simpler, its mainly black color scheme. You can synch books with your kindle, but if you don’t have one like me, that section is blank. I downloaded a full story and again, even though I’m on crappy Wi-Fi, the book downloaded in seconds.

Would I recommend it?

Since simply downloading the app gives you a week of unlimited access, the answer is yes. All you have to do is open the app and sign in with your Amazon account. From there, it’s up to you if you want to continue using it. I can see how it would be useful with a kindle too.


I hope these little informal reviews help you with your e-reading, whether it be on a smart phone or tablet.


Quick Tips for Reviewing a Book


Almost anyone can read a book, but not everyone can write a quality book review. Whether you're reviewing a book for business or for pleasure, here are a few handy tips for writing the best review that you can. Annotate and Take Notes

If you can, buy or obtain a copy of the book that you will be able write on. If you're only option is the library or a borrowed book, then take notes on a separate piece of paper. Either way, make sure that you write Down EVERYTHING that comes to your mind as you read- your reactions, your thoughts and questions, etc. Then write down the page number of whatever scene you are reacting to so you can go back to it later with ease. Don't worry about the quality of your notes or the spelling because you'll be able to edit them once you're done with the book.

Even if you think you can remember your thoughts after you read, why take the chance? Especially when you’ll need to go back and reference specific parts of the book, and not just remember your opinions.

As you read, try to pay attention to things like the pacing of the story, the originality of the ideas and how well they were executed, how professional the writing was, how accurate the writing was. Sometimes an author has a very clever idea but isn't able to execute it well.

Try to read the entire book within a short period of time.

The more time that passes in between readings, the more you'll forget of what you already read. If possible, schedule a day or two to just sit down and read the entire book. All of the details of the story will stay fresh in your mind, and you won't forget or miss anything referenced later in the book.

Don't rush yourself to finish, or else you might miss key information or important details. Read at your own comfortable pace, just don't take too many breaks from the book or be away from it for too long if you can help it.

Once you've finished the book, quickly write down your reaction of the entire story as a whole, now that you know the beginning, middle and end.

Decide your spoiler policy

At this point, you should decide (if you haven't already) what your spoiler policy will be. Whether you're just sharing your reaction, or reviewing the book for professional purposes, you need to think about how much of the story you want to give away to the audience. It’s more likely people will read your review if there’s no danger of spoilers, so if you think you can write a review without giving much away, then I encourage you to do it. However, there is nothing wrong with talking about spoilers and plot points, and even the ending, as long as you give a WARNING beforehand! Just keep in mind that some people plan on reading the book for themselves, and don't want to find out the ending before they've had a chance to read it and react to it on their own. It's true that there are some people like to know the ending beforehand, not everyone does, so just be courteous and play it on the safe side, tagging spoilers when necessary and giving people the option to stay in the dark if they choose.

Otherwise, it shouldn’t be too hard to keep your review spoiler free. However, if you are having trouble with censoring your review, but are still determined to keep it spoiler-free, then I recommend that you write your full review, spoilers and all, and then go back and edit out as many spoilers as you can, and try to speak more vaguely about any specifics you may have mentioned.

Turning your notes into a thoughtful review

The main reason I say that you should wait until you've finished the book to edit your notes is because you may realize that some of your notes may not be helpful or relevant once you know the final outcome. An example of this is when you're reading something like a mystery, and you believe the wrong person is the culprit and write your theories down, only to find that it actually turned out to be someone else. The things you wrote about your suspect aren't obsolete, they can be summarized in a helpful way. For example: “The book does a good job of keeping you guessing.”

Review your own review

Try your best to remain unbiased as you review the book. A good way to do this is to consistently evaluate your own opinions. If you think the author's jokes fell flat and weren't usually funny, then think about what kind of jokes you usually find funny. Instead of just saying that the jokes weren't funny, say that you have a different sense of humor than the author, and people who also dislike __ blank type of jokes also might not enjoy it.

Something that is really helpful is reading other peoples’ reviews of the book. See what others are saying, and why came to those conclusions about the book.

Be prepared to defend your ideas

If you criticize the book more than praise it (which is perfectly acceptable), then you may be contacted by avid fans of the book demanding to know why you gave such a negative review. But remember, there is nothing wrong with your opinion, even if they disagree with it. If necessary, you can deal with this by thoroughly explaining your reasons for criticism immediately after you give it. For example: Instead of just writing "I found Chapter ___ to be particularly lacking." Make sure you give a reason: “I found Chapter __ to be particularly lacking compared to the other chapters because unlike the others, chapter __ had no conflict, resolution, or even any new information that was necessary to the plot. I honestly feel that you could remove the entire chapter from the book and the story would not have changed."

Once you've stated your opinion, and given a reason to back it up, you can offer a suggestion about what the author could have done to fix it, or consider what the author's possible motives might have been. This step is optional, but if a possible solution to a problem comes to mind, feel free to share it.

One final thing to remember is that none of us are perfect. All writers have their weaknesses, but they also have their strengths as well.

Thank you and happy reading!