One of my goals for this year has been to read two books per month—one fiction and the other non-fiction…and write reviews as I have finished reading each book.

I had also planned on actively participating in book clubs such as the following and posting reviews. 

  • All About Austen
  • Christian Reading Challenge
  • Foodies Read
  • Full House Reading Challenge 2017
  • Netflix and Books Challenge
  • Reading Assignment Challenge
  • Share-a-Tea Reading Challen
  • Victorian Reading Challenge

So this week writing these reviews and choosing two new books to read in March is one of my top priorities.

First though, I’d like to review what I learned previously about writing a good book review.

Purpose of a Book Review…The purpose of a book review is to evaluate recently-written works and give readers a sneak peek at what the book is like.

The First Step of Writing a Book Review…The first step of writing a book review is to choose the right book …Being honestly interested in a book will help you write a strong review. 

Next you should get to know the book…

1. Book Jacket/Cover/Printing…

  • Does the book jacket provide any interesting details or spark your interest in some way?
  • Are there pictures, maps, or graphs?
  • Do the binding, page cut, or typescript contribute or take away from the work?

2. Genre:

  • What type of book is this: fiction, nonfiction, romance, poetry, youth fiction, etc.?
  • Who is the intended audience for this work?
  • What is the purpose of the work?

3. Title:

  • Where does the title fit in?
  • How is it applied in the work?
  • Does it adequately encapsulate the message of the text?
  • What does the title promise the book will cover or argue?

4. Author

  • Who is the author?
  • What else has s/he written?
  • Has this author won any awards?
  • What is the author’s typical style?

5. Preface/Introduction/Table of Contents

  • What does the table of contents tell you about how the book is organized?
  • What does the preface promise about the book?
  • Does the author provide any revealing information about the text in the preface/introduction?
  • Does a “guest author” provide the introduction?
  • What judgments or preconceptions do the author and/or “guest author” provide?
  • How is the book arranged: sections, chapters?

Now read the book…As you read the book, try to read from the vantage point of your audience—actively and critically—not simply to discover the author’s main point or to dig up some facts.

As you read, take notes on the book’s key points and any particular passages you might discuss in the summary portion or background structure of your review.

Finally write and publish your review…

  1. Write the summary. Keep your summary brief. People honestly are more interested in what you personally thought about the book.
  2. Begin with a couple of sentences giving a short summary of what the book is about. Limit your review to only the first couple of chapters. Be careful not to give too much of the story away.
  3. Now share enough of the main ideas and main characters to help your readers decide if reading the book would be worth their own time. Needless to say, you will not be able to cover every idea and character in the book.Deal only with the most important ideas and characters.

As you write your review, ask yourself the following questions…

1.  General Questions

  • What is the main idea of the work?
  • What is your honest opinion of the work?
  • Who are the main characters?
  • Who was your favourite character, and why?

2.  Positives

  • What did you particularly like about the book?
  • What was your favourite part of the book, and why?
  • What are the book’s strengths?
  • What worked well for you?
  • Did the book make you laugh or cry?
  • Did the story grip you and keep you turning the pages?
  • Did the book appeal to you on an emotional or logical way?

3.  Negatives

  • Was there anything that you disliked about the book?
  • Did you wish there was a different ending?
  • Did you find it difficult to understand one of the main characters?
  • Was the story too scary for your liking?
  • Was the story too focused on a theme that you didn’t find the book interesting?

4.  Reader Appeal

  • Does the book reach the intended audience adequately?
  • Will some readers be lost or find the text too easy?
  • What type of reader would you recommend the book to?
  • Were certain types of scene—such as sad scenes, tense scenes, mysterious ones—written particularly well?
  • How clearly is the book written?
  • How would you describe this author’s particular style?
  • Is it accessible to all readers or just some?

5.  Read-Alikes

  • Are there any books or series you would compare it to?
  • Is the book is part of a series?
  • If so, do you think you’d need to have read other books in the series to enjoy this one?

6.  Conclusion

  • Does the book fulfill its purpose?
  • How well does the book fulfill the promises the author makes in the preface and introduction?
  • What rating would you give the book?
  • Where can other people get the book—publisher, price of the book, year published, and ISBN.

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