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♦GoodReads Handbook ♦ > ○ How to Write Reviews

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message 1: by ~Jennifer~ (last edited Feb 24, 2012 02:50PM) (new)

~Jennifer~ (book_addiction) | 929 comments We are looking for a systematic guide to writing a good review. Anyone can post an outline and say “Yeah. Follow that!” but for some that is just not enough. So, we would like to include a basic outline to start with, but then add in tips, thoughts, and ways to get to the heart of the plot without divulging spoilers. Everything you know about writing reviews we want to know. This is by no means a complete list, but just so you can see where we are heading and what we are looking for with this how-to.

• Basic overall outline
• Information that should be included about the author/book/etc…
• Key questions that should ALWAYS be answered in an outline.
• Thing you should NEVER do when writing a review.
• How much do you include of your own feelings? How much is too much?
• Spoilers or no spoilers?
• Do you need to include bio info on the author?
• Do you need to discuss everything? Character? Theme? Plot? Style? Setting?

Any help will be greatly appreciated!!

message 2: by ~Jennifer~ (last edited Feb 24, 2012 02:55PM) (new)

~Jennifer~ (book_addiction) | 929 comments For those of you who have contacted me with your desire to help, this area is for you. As you can see, the info above is the same as what I messaged you. I debated on whether or not I should just takes everyone's info and then compile it, but then it would look like I knew what I was talking about - and yeah I don't. :) So. Please use this area to spread your knowledge to the group. Thank you so much in advance for your help.

message 3: by ~Jennifer~ (new)

~Jennifer~ (book_addiction) | 929 comments From Amanda:

I like to write a brief summary of the book no longer then 2 paragraphs. Usually my summary is a build up to the main event and kind of leaves off before any spoilers are given. Then a do another section for the actual review. The review can vary depending on how much I liked the book and the characters. It generally consists of a paragraph for each main character, then a paragraph for the overall book and then depending on how strong the supporting characters I may have a paragraph for the support. Then I give a rating out of 5 but I like to do halves. Like 4.5 because sometimes a girl needs a half.

I have seen where many reviewers will list publisher, genre, publication date and pages. Me, I always skip over those when I am reading a review so I skip them in my own. I include Author, Book Title, What series it belongs to and placement in the series if applies and main character names. For me these are the most important things I want to see. For me there is not much worse then reading a review getting excited about the review and it does not say it is the 5th book in a series I have not started. Kind of a downer, so its one of the first things I list.

* Never be mean in a review.
Remember that the author put their heart and soul into this piece of work and a lot of time. If you did not like something in the book be constructive. Do not just say you hated it; say what you did not like in a constructive manner. In addition, if something just was not your cup of tea, say it just was not your cup of tea. I also try not to compare authors against each other unless it is relevant. I will draw parallels. Like if two authors had similar concepts I might reference the other author. I have seen reviews where someone will rip into an author because they did not like this author as much as they liked that other author and it has been mean and disrespectful. If I have to write unflattering review I also try to include something I did like. Also, If I did not finish a book I usually do not review it.

It is my review, so of course I put in my feelings on the book. I also like to inject humor into the review where I can, especially if the book was funny. I think the feelings can be too much or too little when you gush and gush about the book and say how much you LOVED or HATED it but do not say why. Why do you hate it, why do you love it?

I will include them to an extent. I am not going to blow the ending or anything but little details. If the book is a part of a series and the author left you on a cliffhanger, they did that for a reason so I do not spoil it. Much like Drink Deep - Chloe Neil or the damn Fever Series when I was dying to know something, read the book people! LOL

I never include one. Unless I am doing an author interview for my blog, then yes, include a bio.

Do not discuss everything. I like to do a high-level overview. What is the point of reading the book if the review you just read described everything for the author? Touch on the basics but leave the details to the author.

I do not think reviews should be pages long. I want enough to give me a feeling about a book but I do not want to read pages for a review. Give me no more then 5-6 paragraphs to read.

Hope this helps some. If you want to view my reviews from my blog for a better idea of what i am talking about my website is

message 4: by Irene (new)

Irene (raenne) I've been waiting for this thread :D yay! Love to get some ideas, I really s*ck at writing reviews :)

message 5: by Elena (new)

Elena | 1382 comments I am no expert, but I really like writing reviews and I think I have a few same and some different points/guidelines from the ones mentioned above.

This is the way I like to do it: (i'm not saying this is the right way, just that this is the type of a review I like to read, so I try to write them in this format myself, as well)

1. A quick summary of the book, NOT including the ending (spoiler). A paragraph, maybe 2. Just a quick synopsis. Realistically, the summary is always at the top of the GoodReads page and at the back of a book - noone cares about an indepth summarization, and even less about an actual retelling of the story by me.

2. Then I like to do a new paragraph/section for "pros" and another one for "cons". Now, the pros and cons are my FAVORITE part, because this is what I am looking for when I read a review. If I am looking at reviews, I usually already know what the book is about (I read it from the book's cover!), so what I actually want to know is if people think the book is good or not.

Also, the reason for writing a review is to be able to share one's feelings about a book once it is read (you can't always talk to your spouse/friends/family if they have not read it!). So, I like to write about the impression that a book has left on me and in some cases that may include spoilers! If I really want to include the spoiler, because I want to express my feelings about the ending or a particular event, or if there is something that makes or breaks the novel, I will include it. That being said, I think the spoilers need to be "hidden" - just in case (I don't want to ruin the book for someone else!).

3. If applicable: Among the pros and cons or as a sepparate section, I really like extremely poor writing, punctuation, editting, or plot holes pointed out to me (if possible with examples). If I see something like: "This book seemed to have a lot of untied loose ends and the conflict resolution was very confusing and unrealistic" - I will most certainly not want to read this book; therefore, I appreciate the heads up. So I have started doing this in my reviews as well - if there is something really wrong, or something that really bothered me, I prefer to point it out as a heads-up for others. Sometimes this should also be hidden as a spoiler.

message 6: by R (new)

R (rpjumawan) I want to write a book review but until now I've to finish the series my friend recomended...
I was wondering If TCF have threads for books that will suggest to read books depend on your schedule and would also recomend vampire books or any good books.

message 7: by R (new)

R (rpjumawan) I want to write a book review but until now I've to finish the series my friend recomended...
I was wondering If TCF have threads for books that will suggest to read books depend on your schedule and would also recomend vampire books or any good books.

message 8: by Jennifer C. (last edited Jan 25, 2014 07:01AM) (new)

Jennifer C. | 1722 comments Ronaliza wrote: "I want to write a book review but until now I've to finish the series my friend recomended...
I was wondering If TCF have threads for books that will suggest to read books depend on your schedule a..."

A couple of really good and kinda different vampire books that you should try are...

Blood Warrior (The Alexa Montgomery Saga, #1) by H.D. Gordon Hidden (Marchwood Vampires, #1) by Shalini Boland

message 9: by R (new)

R (rpjumawan) Jennifer C. wrote: "Ronaliza wrote: "I want to write a book review but until now I've to finish the series my friend recomended...
I was wondering If TCF have threads for books that will suggest to read books depend o..."

thanks for your suggestion I will definitely read it...:)

message 10: by Violet (new)

Violet Grey THanks everyone I really need this :)

message 11: by Maddie (new)

Maddie (meerkatghoul) Very helpful, thanks!

message 12: by Elena (new)

Elena | 1382 comments :):):)

message 13: by Lou (new)

Lou Grimm I like the style Elena describes above - it's almost the same as how I try to review and is based on how I read reviews myself.

My process when I'm deciding whether to buy a book:
- Read the publisher's blurb on Goodreads
- Avoid long reviews - I'm looking for what the reviewer loved or didn't love, although I'll go to the longer reviews afterwards if I need more help deciding
- Check out reviews with the full range of awarded stars. Even the zeroes.

So here's what I do when I review the book:
- Skip the outline (the publisher's blurb takes care of that)
- Include favourite lines or standout moments (preferably no spoilers, otherwise hidden spoilers)
- Say what I liked and didn't liked about it (eg writing style, plot, characters, editing) and why those affected my enjoyment

Also, as Jennifer/Amanda says, I hope I'm never mean in a review. It can be hard to say I didn't like something without hurting the author, but I try to keep it critical, not personal.

message 14: by Cindy (new)

Cindy (wanna_read_all_the_books) | 128 comments I love this thread! I am alway so worried about spoiling the book that my reviews are usually just a few sentences and basically pointless. lol Thanks for all of your input!

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