3 Types of Book Reviews You Can Write and How to Write Them — Author Toolbox

A book review — your opinion about a book based on evidence from it. We’ve seen them on Amazon and Goodreads. We may have even read a few… but are we writing them, too?

Wait? Writing a book review? I can’t do that. I don’t know how to do that… Please don’t ask me! Please!

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But you can! I promise. (If you want to, that is…) All you need is a little bit of time and a book… I’ll take you through the “Why,” the “What,” and the “How” of writing a review.

Why should I?

Before we get into the how, let’s discuss the why. Why should I write a book review? Why does it matter if I write a review? Why do authors care about reviews? Why do readers care about reviews?

I’ll let a few authors tell you the answers to these questions!

  • Book reviews bring in readers!

“Book reviews are very important since they can draw readers in. However, you want honest critiques and not opinions. Tell me why you loved it or hated it… We all want five stars, but we also want those five stars to be earned, honest, and real.” –Sean Crastien

  • Book reviews inspire the author.

“Book reviews, even the bad ones, inspire me to keep going because they mean SOMEBODY out there is finally reading the stories that have lived in my head for so many years.” –Dianna Gunn

  • Book reviews give the author hope.

“It means that I conveyed what I was intending. And that is the best feeling.” –Elizabeth Dunlap

“A great book reviews can make your day – and a not so great one helps you develop as a writer.”Tony Riches

  • Book reviews connect authors with readers.

“A book review makes me feel seen and acknowledged as a writer. I always appreciate the feedback of my readers, and I value their voice. It makes me feel connected to my readers and the writing community.” –Danielle Van Alst

“Without feedback from our readers, we cannot grow as writers. Readers responding to what we write means our work had impact. Even if they hated it.” –Alexis Hunter

  • Book reviews show appreciation of time.

“Reviews both good and bad validate me as a writer. They acknowledge that I have produced a piece of art to be appreciated and/or judged. And that someone in the world spent the time to read my heart spilled onto paper.” –Rayne Jacobs

The question now becomes, why wouldn’t you write a book review?

Image result for reader quote

What am I supposed to add to one of these things?

You may be thinking this question… maybe…

If you are, then this is the place for you! There are three different types of reviews you can leave.

  • Two-Sentence Review
  • One-Paragraph Review
  • Full-Length Review

Depending on the amount of time or effort you are able to dedicate to writing it, a review doesn’t have to be complicated. Here’s a quick list of things you can include depending on the length of the review you’re writing:

  • title and author (be sure to include any personal connections to the author)
    • used in full reviews
    • personal connections are in all review types
  • genre and intended audience
    • used in longer reviews
    • important for readers who are unfamiliar with the book
  • themes
    • used in longer reviews
    • helps the readers know what truths the book showed you
  • personal reaction/honest opinion
    • used in all reviews
  • examples from the book to back up your reaction/opinion
    • used in all reviews
  • a quick summary (don’t reveal the ending)
    • used in longer reviews
    • could give the reader information they don’t get in the author’s summary
  • characters/events you loved (and why)
    • used in longer reviews
    • helps show the readers/author what drew you into the story
  • characters/events you disliked (and why)
    • sometimes used in longer reviews
    • can show the readers/author what may have taken you out of the story
  • extras (any other relevant information about the book)
    • author’s style
    • quotes that stand out
    • who you’d recommend this book to
    • anything!

“Finally, be transparent. If you have a connection with the author or if you have received an advance copy of the book to review, tell your reader.”

-Gail Woodard

How do I write a book review?

Now what? I see “why” it’s important, and I see “what” I need to put into one… But that doesn’t tell me how to put it all together.

You’re right! You need an example!

I will show you an example of all three types of reviews using the book I just finished by an a local (to me) author. He also happens to be in charge of our county’s recently-formed writer’s group (Bosque Valley Writers – Grant Ferguson).

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Two-Sentence Review

This type of review is used when you don’t have a lot of time to write or when you don’t have a lot to say about the book.

  1. Sentence One:  You need to include the title and author and your personal reaction to/opinion of the novel. You may even include the genre/intended audience if you want. (*Don’t forget a note about that personal connection if necessary.)
  2. Sentence Two: You should provide an example from the book to justify your reaction/opinion.

The review:

*Note: I recently bought this novel after meeting Grant Ferguson in our local writer’s group.

From the moment I started reading Cliftopolis: Time Past, book one (a middle grade action-adventure novel) by Grant Ferguson, I was enraptured by the story and the accidental adventure of the characters. Preston Gustoffagus, “an 11-year-old certified genius” who goes by G, simply wants to fix his robot at the beginning, but it explodes, which sends him and his friends into a face-to-face meeting with a monster!

The review using shorter sentences (less detailed):

*Note: I recently bought this novel after meeting Grant Ferguson in our local writer’s group.

From the moment I started reading Cliftopolis: Time Past, book one by Grant Ferguson, I was enraptured by the story and the characters. Preston Gustoffagus simply wants to fix his robot at the beginning, but it explodes, which sends him and his friends into a face-to-face meeting with a monster!

One-Paragraph Review

This type of review is used when you’re wanting to give the author a bit more than two sentences, but you still don’t want to write up a long review. You can take that two-sentence format and stretch it to include a bit more information.

  1. Sentence One: You need to include the title and author — include the genre and intended audience if you can here, too. Bonus- try to hook the reader! (*Don’t forget a note about that personal connection if necessary.)
  2. Sentence Two: Your personal reaction to/opinion of the novel.
  3. Sentence Three: You should provide an example from the book to justify your reaction/opinion.
  4. Sentence Four-?: Here you can add more detail, explain yourself, or whatever is needed.
  5. Last Sentence: You can choose to end with a final thought or motivation/recommendation for the reader to choose this book.

The review:

*Note: I recently bought this novel after meeting Grant Ferguson in our local writer’s group.

If monsters terrorizing an entire town sounds frightening to you, then you need to meet the kids of Cliftopolis: Time Past, book one (a middle grade action-adventure novel) by Grant Ferguson. From the moment I started reading, I was enraptured by the story and the accidental adventure of the characters. Preston Gustoffagus, “an 11-year-old certified genius” who goes by G, simply wants to fix his robot at the beginning, but it explodes, which sends him and his friends into a face-to-face meeting with a monster! On top of all that, G also has to decide whether or not to team up with his own personal monster, the notorious school bully.

Full-Length Review

This type of review is used when you want the author to have an in-depth view of your take on the novel. You may even use this review on your blog or in a publicized manner (newspaper, magazine, etc.).

Note: A “paragraph” isn’t necessarily limited to one group of five or so sentences. It could easily branch into several actual paragraphs if needed.

  1. Paragraph One: You need to include the title, author, genre, and intended audience. Bonus- try to hook the reader — after all, you wrote a full-length review for people to read! (*Don’t forget a note about that personal connection if necessary.)
  2. Paragraph Two: This is a great place to give a brief summary of the novel, but don’t reveal the ending. You can mention themes here if you want.
  3. Paragraph Three: Your personal reaction to/opinion of the novel. Be sure to provide examples from the book to justify your reaction/opinion.
  4. Paragraph Four-?: These paragraphs are for you to use as you wish: characters/events you loved with reasons, characters/events you disliked with reasons, author’s style, quotes that stand out, etc.
  5. Last Paragraph: You can choose to end with a final thought or motivation/recommendation for the reader to choose this book.

The review:

*Note: I recently bought this novel after meeting Grant Ferguson in our local writer’s group.

If monsters terrorizing an entire town sounds frightening to you, then you need to meet the kids of Cliftopolis: Time Past, book one. This is the first book in a middle grade action-adventure series (with a side of science fiction) by Grant Ferguson.

On a “normal” Saturday morning, Preston Gustoffagus, “an 11-year-old certified genius” who goes by G, simply wants to fix his robot, but it explodes in his lab! His friends come over to find him covered in goo and searching for missing robot pieces, which leads them on a hunt in the sewer drains below.

They’re surprised to find a tunnel system under the town. They’re even more surprised that by opening an old squeaky door, they’ve unleashed on their town a monster that resembles a cross between trolls and zombies!

On top of all that, G also has to decide whether or not to team up with his own personal monster, the notorious school bully, in order to defeat the beast.

From the moment I started reading, I was enraptured by the story and the accidental adventure of the characters. G’s determination to make things right follows him throughout the novel. He is forced into situations that would make adults panic, yet he finds a way to stand stoic when everyone’s around.

Ferguson’s pulls you into G’s world of science, friends, and bullies with his descriptive words and with his illustrations, which appear at the beginning of each chapter.

I recommend Cliftopolis: Time Past, book one to readers who love adventure, who enjoy exploring science, who are curious what lurks beneath their city, and especially to readers who are facing their own monsters while they face the monsters of the world.

(This review is also posted on Goodreads.)

Comments

How often do you write reviews? I know I don’t write near as many as I should, but I will definitely work on that. Some of them may be a two-sentence review, though…

Talk to me in the comments!

Resources

Purdue OWL: Book Review

How to Write a Good Book Review by Gail Woodard

12 Reasons Why Book Reviews Are Important by Angela D’Ambrosio

Author Toolbox

This post is part of the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop (hosted by Raimey Gallant), which is dedicated to helping writers become stronger and more confident in their craft. Click here for more information, to continue hopping through other posts, or to join in!

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39 thoughts on “3 Types of Book Reviews You Can Write and How to Write Them — Author Toolbox

  1. TO AN AUTHOR, A GOOD REVIEW IS LIKE A GIGANTIC HUG!
    Reviews are the life-blood to books and authors. My bookclub is obsessed with “how many stars on Amazon” a book has. As writers, we know how important reviews are. However, as a reader, I take reviews with a grain of salt. Some are so over-the-top that they’re meaningless. Thanks for these tips, JJ. Writing reviews can be intimidating. Comparing a book to another book, TV show, or movie is a great way to give readers a good idea of the feel and genre. My favorite review for my book said: “If you enjoy Hallmark movies, this book is for you.” And that was it – perfect! Best of luck to all the writers out there. I’m supposed to be writing, but instead I’m commenting on this great blog post. UGH!

    Like

  2. I try to do at least two book reviews per month, all full reviews and posted to my blog, Amazon and Goodreads. Reading this, I do tend to follow your guidelines although for my first paragraph I usually do my own mini-synopsis. I also include the Amazon and Goodreads links at the bottom.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great idea about including the links for the books at the bottom! I think one of the resources I used said to do that, but I completely forgot about it.

      Two full reviews per month?! Oh goodness — I need to start writing more.

      Thank you for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I know I should write more reviews (as in any), but like Stevie, I have heard that, as an author, you need to be careful about leaving anything but stellar reviews. I assume that if you are respectful, honest, and constructive it shouldn’t be a problem. However, as someone who has never written any, it makes me more nervous about doing so (even though I know how important they are to authors).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m pretty much of the same mindset — I don’t like to leave any reviews that are less than stellar.

      With that being said, leaving a review can be quite beneficial for the writer, the reader, and the author.

      The author gets to see what you think about the book.

      The reader gets to see other opinions about the book.

      The writer gets to hone a new type of writing skill.

      Even if you don’t publish them anywhere, writing reviews could be fun for you!

      Thank you for commenting!

      Like

  4. Wow — I write a fair number of reviews, but now I’m actually going to be deliberate and more thoughtful about what I am doing. I particularly appreciated the examples and the detailed explanation of the different types of reviews as well as what AUTHORS think and feel about reviews of their work. Great piece!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m on the other end… I don’t write near as many reviews as I should. In all honesty, I would like to read more, too.

      Feel free to add your own flair to your reviews since every writer is different! I do like that a review doesn’t have to be a specific length, so I hope that helps.

      Thank you for commenting, Louise!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Man, I am doing my reviews all wrong. I should definitely be giving my connection to the author if there is one. I tend to review books based on what I felt worked well in their use of craft, so I think there is probably a niche readership for my reviews, as in they work well for authors reading them but maybe not anyone else. I review on Litsy and Goodreads, but I really need to start reviewing on Amazon as well I think. Great post! I’ll add it to Facebook in the next couple of weeks.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. NO!!! You’re not doing anything wrong. Every writer is different. (Except for the connection thing — that’s kind of important…)

      That being said, my post is simply what I do. There are numerous people who add their own flair to reviews. As for adding info about the author’s style, I will sometimes add that (in the extras).

      Thank you for commenting, Raimey! I’ll look for it on Facebook.

      Like

  6. I LOVE this post! Authors need book reviews and so do readers. For authors, they help with the life of their books. For readers, they help them to decide whether or not they want to give a book a try. Reviews are so important. You advice on how to write a review is awesome. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do love to read reviews before I read a book — is that weird? I even read the bad reviews because I like to watch for things that other readers didn’t like to see if I agree or disagree.

      Thank you for commenting!

      Like

  7. I love how detailed this breakdown is! Personally I only leave reviews on books I absolutely adore – as an author, I want to focus on building other authors up, not tearing them down – and I like to stick with a two-sentence review. Means I can move on to the next book faster 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree — I only leave reviews for books I love, too. I need to write more reviews, so I’ll probably be using the two-sentence review a lot more often.

      Thank you for commenting!

      Like

  8. I saw your twitter poll and I’m so glad book reviews won 🙂
    I’ve not written a review before, (because I’ve not finished any books recently,) but I want to write one for two books I’m reading now and I had no idea where to start. I’ve bookmarked this for when I’m done reading them! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I appreciate all reviews as one person’s opinion, but writing one is not something I’ll ever do. I’d rather beta read for them instead and make their end product as good as it can get. Sharing a honest opinion after the project is complete can get varied reactions. Not all of them positive and then they may review me with only one thought in mind.

    Yes, I’m coming from a place of fear, but only after seeing this scenario play out more than once. Revenge is not something I want to provoke.

    Anna from elements of emaginette

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I definitely like beta reading better. Personally, I’ll only review a book I completely enjoyed and want to recommend to others.

      I know that ‘they’ say that even bad reviews are helpful, but I don’t see that as encouraging to the author. Also, since every reader is different, so a bad review might be crazy to some. (Have you ever looked at the reviews for your all-time favorite book? I still find it hard to believe that some people gave it only one star.)

      Thank you for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I honestly don’t leave many reviews. I do find it easier to leave reviews on ARCs, but that could be because it’s expected… Personally, I only leave positive reviews. I don’t see the point in leaving a negative one.

      Like

  10. Wow! I’ve never thought about reviews as deeply as you have. You presented a myriad of great points. I tend to write full-length reviews, and will consider the sequence and content you suggest in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I also tend to write full-length reviews (mostly because I have a lot to say). Feel free to experiment and find a sequence that works for you.

      Thank you for commenting!

      Like

  11. Wow! I really appreciate this post. Yes, book reviews are so much better then just starting a book on amazon without any commentary. They are so insightful and beneficial and I appreciate all the tips!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I have consciously dropped off my reviewing this year. Instead of posting two or three new reviews a week, I’m posting one (plus a few guest reviews). I figure that still has me reviewing 60-70 new books, which is more than most people read in a year.

    I’m also recycling an old review each week, as one of the sites I used to review for has closed down so those reviews have disappeared.

    Most of my reviews are full reviews – 300+ words. I do also write some one or two-sentence reviews of books I’ve bought and enjoyed. The ones I bought and didn’t finish … well, they don’t get mentioned.

    My two main review tips are always mention if you got a free book, and write the review you’d want to read. Tips like yours are great because they show how any review is a good review (well, as long as it doesn’t have spoilers!).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You review around between 60 and 70 books a year?? And it used to be a higher number?? Oh my!

      Yes, we definitely need to mention when we receive a free book, which can be part of the note at the beginning when including a personal connection to the author.

      Thank you for commenting, Iola!

      Like

  13. I love how detailed this was! You definitely answered the questions of why it’s important to write reviews, and I liked that you went into detail with examples of how to write the different types of reviews. Good work!

    Liked by 1 person

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