Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Guest Post: Five-Star Book, Five-Star Book Review

The following is a guest post from Nikolas Baron on behalf of Grammarly. 

A few lines of a dust jacket impel you to read a novel or place it back on the shelf. Book reviews are even more powerful because many readers already have an interest in the featured book. Your review is the weight that tips the scales in favor of reading a book or moving on to the next possibility. Do not fight the power! A successful book review contains a titillating review and an honest critique. The following six tips demonstrate how to write a book review that is equal to its task.

Go for the Extreme!
The best selections for a book review are extreme in some feature. If the plot is pitifully slow or artfully crafted, one easily draws attention to its flaws and qualities. If the ending is predictable as a sunset or as unforeseeable as a flash flood, the readers want to know. The choice of an author is also important. A controversial author attracts more interest than an unknown scribe.

Read the Whole Shebang
Once you have selected a provocative publication, read it from cover to cover. The book jacket provides a synopsis that you can echo in your review. The introduction, or preface, contains valuable background information about the writing and the author. By reading the entire book and taking notes, you have an opportunity to note the principal themes and outstanding quotes. Your review will stand out as thorough and comprehensive.

Summarize, Don’t Plagiarize
Reading other critiques offers inspiration, but be careful not to plagiarize. The same caution applies to quoting from the work of literature. Use quotes judiciously. There is a useful plagiarism checker online. Using this device ensures that your work is viewed as original.

Spoiler Alert!
As a reviewer, your mission is to discuss the merits and the faults of the literature. To do this, briefly describe the plot. Rarely, however, does a book review contain more than 1500 words. Keep it short and simple! Also, be careful not to give away too many details of the plot. Do not reveal surprising plot twists. Read professional reviews of books to see how the experts accomplish this task.

It’s Okay to Hate When You Evaluate
Be honest. Do not be afraid to criticize. If you support your remarks with evidence from the writing, you demonstrate that your comments are not mere negativity. Some writers find this candid feedback useful to improve their next foray into writing. Your readers will respect a review that tells it like it is.

Proofread with the Shoe on the Other Foot
Think about the targeted reader base for the publication that you are evaluating. Ensure that your review appeals to the potential readers. An overly cerebral or simplistic review will turn off even the hardiest of bookworms. Remember to read the entire novel. Discern the genre and target demographic. Then, write with this reader in mind. Ask, what type of review would appeal to fiction readers? How should I present information to industry experts? Will teenagers want to read this review?

Why does a dull book deserve a grabbing review? It is your job to warn the readers! As for an amazing book, how will the readers find out its value unless your review reveals its worth? Choose among the extremes. Take time to read the entire novel to discern themes. However, leave some mystery in the plot and conclusion so that people desire to read the novels that you recommend. Be honest and speak with your heart. Write with the target demographic in mind. There is a solemn responsibility in writing book reviews. A great deal of power lies in your hands. Use your power for good and write a reliable and honest book review.


  1. Wonderful tips. I know I have a hard time really criticizing, and with identifying target demographic and writing it with one of those targets in mind. (Of course, I read mainly YA, so I can narrow it down some. And being a teenager myself, it is pretty easy to write with teenagers in mind! But I confess, I don't always take the adult readers of YA in mind.)

    Anyways, have a great day. :)

  2. Those are some great tips. Thanks for sharing, Heather! Happy Thanksgiving! :) WRITE ON!