How the hell do you review a book?!

I am not pretending that I am an expert at reviewing books, or that my reviews are the best ones around. Let’s face it, 50% of the time, I’m losing my mind because I feel like my reviews are not interesting and do not make sense.

Despite their unpopularity around the blogosphere, reviews still matter a whole lot. They help us discover new books, they help and make authors happy and, well, they are letting us scream a bunch of nonsense about the books we love and / or hated. Also, we can bond and become best friends with someone, all starting with a review of a book we both love. No, seriously, I’m sure that happens. Books bind us.

yeah, sorry. couldn’t resist with that GIF.

That being said, reviewing a book isn’t an easy business, at all. When I first started blogging three and a half years ago (wait. I’m old????), I had NO idea whatever the heck I was supposed to do. I just wanted to talk about books. Quickly, I found out that there is no right formula to review a book, that everyone has their own recipe, whether they want to add salt and pepper because they’re extra salty, or a bunch of marshmallows on the lot because they’re soft and sweet and mushy (okay, that’s me).

Today, friends, I’m here to help and tell you how the hell you’re supposed to review a book. Or, at least, how you can do it, whether you’re starting, at a loss for how to review your next books, or are just curious about my own reviewing process. Lots of ramblings involved here, I apologize.

Reviewing a book starts the moment you are reading said book.

I know, that sounds really… scholar and I don’t even use that method all the time, but thing is: we bookworms read LOADS of books. I read maybe one or two books per week when I’m quick, yet I only write one review per week. You know what’s happening next… by the time I want to review that second book, I already read a third book and forgot everything that happened, especially all of the characters’ names.

Basically, I am screwed.

I am using a small notebook to write down all of my thoughts about the book – while I read when I think about it, once I’m done when I don’t. Sometimes, I forget, I’ll admit it, but I try my best to do so, just, you know, in case I forget why I liked or hated the book. I also know some people using sticky notes to mark down passages and things. You can also use your phone to take some notes, you can also trust your memory if you’re anything unlike me.

Or you can review the book right after you’ve read it. If you do that… PEOPLE, YOU ARE MAGIC.

When you review the book: think about all the things. Especially your own feelings.

I have said it before when I talked about ratings: I am a rate-on-feelings kind of person. Meaning that, if some technical aspects of the books matter, well, if I cried, it will matter more.

Yet, when I review, I obviously try to think about all of the different aspects of a book, which I’ll write down right here because why not. Here are my points and what I think of when I review a book.

  • The characters:Β  Did I enjoy them? Did I root for them or did not care? Did they make dumbass decisions? did I spend my time wanting to smash their head on a table or something? Were they relatable? (Bonus point if they were).
  • The pacing: basically… was I ever bored?!
  • The world-building: this judgment happens a whole lot more in fantasy books and else, not in contemporaries, but… did I feel transported, or did I not get it?
  • The writing: was it beautiful, over-flowery, did I have a hard time following the story because of it? Did I want to cry because it’s so pretty?
  • The themes: what was this book about? Did I enjoy the issues it tackled? Was it smooth or just blunt and stupid??
  • THE FEELINGS: basically, did I cry? Did I laugh? Was I ever stressed out about what would happen next? WAS I OBSESSED?? Did I feel all of the things, or did I feel kind of detached from the whole story?

I tend to write paragraphs dedicated to characters, to world-building and a little bit of the themes, but I never have a fixed structure, because… I decide when I write my reviews how I want to do so.

The feelings part take a whole lot more space than anything else in this, to be honest. If the world-building didn’t entirely satisfy me, but I cried my eyes out, rating will still be kind of high. I like books to make me FEEL THINGS. I’m here to be destroyed by books, basically it’s my purpose while reading, okay? Okay.

Whether I liked or hated the book, I always try and think of why others might enjoy the book and recommend it to people. We love recommendations, even if we cry afterwards because we have too many books to read.

Make your reviews stand out – or just make people read them

That’s probably one of the hardest things to do and I am not even sure why I’m making this a paragraph, but let me try.

There are so many book bloggers, so many reviewers, so many reviews out there, it’s almost impossible to stand out. If you find an original idea to review your books, in GIFs, in verse, writing your review upside down or just using three words, you are brilliant. I am not that brilliant, yet I do want people to take time to read my reviews and leave a comment on them, to chat about books with me. That’s what I am here for, after all.

Okay, we don’t get graded on it, but we do sit around and talk about books. THIS IS FABULOUS.

Here are a list of things I know are working, when it comes to make your book reviews, just… prettier and easier to read:

  • Don’t write massive paragraphs (or try not to. I know I need to work on that sometimes)
  • Use images! Separators! Titles! Quotes! ANYTHING to give your review space to breathe.
  • Switch things up! I write mini-reviews, bullet-point reviews and normal reviews. I personally like switching things up and I know that bullet-points review work better because they’re easy to read.
  • Ask questions, or ask for recommendations at the end of your post. Or just put recommendations or similar books on here – definitely something I like seeing, too, because well, if you haven’t read the book, maybe you’ve read one of the recs and you’ll be there to comment on that. I’m sneaky like that.

After reviewing, I’m… well, still screaming about the book because why not.

Once I posted my review on my blog, I usually still want to scream about it, so I usually:

  • Share it on social media -but tag the author ONLY when it’s a 5-stars reviews. Be polite, people.
  • Share it on goodreads, amazon, barnes & nobles etc, basically all of the retails website you can think of, because this helps authors a lot, as well. I know I need to work on that, but it’s good, DO IT.

Once all of this is done, well…I just wait for the next book, the next review and everything to start up again.

On a sidenote, I am not reviewing every single book I read, because I am way too slow of a reviewer, because I also am a lazy bean and just… because sometimes, I don’t want to. That’s okay, too.

I wrote this because I am really sneaky and I definitely want to know what your reviewing process is like, so…

Do you use a notebook, sticky notes or something while you read, to prepare for reviewing, or not at all?

Do you write paragraphs for characters, world-building, etc, or not?

Do you use different reviews-format, or not? What are your favorites reviews to write? Are you extra-salty or marshmallow-y like me? I’d love to know your thoughts and tips on the topic!

Posted by

Book blogger, travel blogger, writer. πŸ“š |🌍 | πŸ’ž Writing & Communications Graduate. French. Living on love, wanderlust and ya books.

164 thoughts on “How the hell do you review a book?!

  1. Thank you so, so much for writing this Marie. I’ve really been struggling with my reviews lately and know that my layouts aren’t very pleasing to read. I have a horrible habit of not breaking up the text, planning my review (like…at all), or spending time thinking about how the review actually *looks*. This is something I really want to work on but have been really stuck on what to do. This post has helped me in the right direction with how I think I can make my posts look a bit nicer ❀

    Like

    1. Oh this makes me so, SO happy if that could be useful to you ❀ I have to say, I struggled a long time and still do, sometimes, with my reviews. I'm not sure if they are the right length, if they are boring to read, if my paragraphs are still too long or not… it's all so complicated haha. I really feel like at least, dividing my paragraphs a bit more has helped with making the review a bit more attractive to read. It's so hard to know sometimes when we keep staring at our own reviews, what's wrong! I hope you'll manage to find what works for your reviews and that you will keep on having fun writing them! πŸ™‚ ❀
      Thank you so, so much for your sweet comment ❀

      Like

  2. I hardly write reviews anymore because like you I am a fast reader and slow reviewer and to be completely honest I am lazy. I do have a review journal that I try to keep handy when I’m reading. When I read an e-book, I tend to highlight phrases, or make notes here and there so when and if I do review that book, I have something to look back on.

    I do write a ton of paragraphs and I feel like I overdue it a lot. It is something I am working on. But lately, I just haven’t felt like I need to write reviews all the time so when they appear on my blog, it is honestly a miracle.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I get the laziness hahaha that happens to me a lot as well. I still love writing reviews, though, even if I take some time to do so haha πŸ™‚
      Thank you so, so much for your sweet comment πŸ™‚ ❀

      Like

  3. Characters are always a good point but sometimes I try more to understand them rather the directly relate. But if they’re relatable that’s a bonus too! And if I cried too! Cry wins always. And worldbuilding. Big fixation of mine. If the world doesn’t caught me, sci-fi or fantasy that is, we have big problems and I’m quiote a critical person.

    I usually write down normal review and I don’t mind reviewing books even after some years (yes, it happened) because I’ve a good memory and sometime sotimes other people’s reviews help me remember. Anyway, I always analize themes, world, characters and general plot. Plus if I was intrigued or emotional during the read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OH YES I’m so glad you feel the same way haha, crying always wins for me, too.If a book manages to drive me to tears, you know it managed to do something great πŸ˜›
      YEARS?!!!! HOW?! I forget the characters’ names after a week, I am the worst hahaha, I admire you SO much.
      Thank you so much for your sweet comment! ❀ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oooh, how did i miss this post?!? Haha πŸ˜€

    I love writing reviews. That was pretty much the main reason i started my blog. I enjoy reading them too. Every now and then i see others writing super in-depth ones and i always admire that. Formatting matters tho with a long review. Like you said, dividers and little section titles help. I get overwhelmed when i’m faced with a wall of text on the screen.

    I usually write reviews 400-1000 words long, and i don’t really follow a set format. Sometimes i loved the atmosphere in a book and i’ll mention that, but not so much the other stuff, cuz i didn’t find it important, or interesting or whatever. Sometimes i write funny reviews, other times serious ones. It took me a while to actually come to terms with that, cuz in the beginning i thought all my reviews should be the same style… No idea why i thought that. πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohhh same here – I really thought all of my reviews had to be the same, I have no idea why, but in my mind, it was a set idea I didn’t get rid of for a couple months, haha. I think it’s so much better not to restrain ourselves with that and just, go with our own inspiration πŸ˜€
      Thank you so, so much for your sweet comment, I’m so glad you enjoyed it ❀ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I actually have a composition notebook that I get from the dollar store and after I am done reading for the day I note down some notes. Characters, main ideas, quotes or any additional information I may need.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh that’s such a brilliant idea! I try to write down my thoughts as well, but sometimes… I forget about it hahaha. πŸ™‚
      Thank you for stopping by πŸ˜€

      Like

  6. I’m a very feelings based reviewer too…. if a book makes me cry a lot, it’ll definitely get a higher rating .. good to see I’m not the only one 😊😊😊
    Your post is really helpful… I’ve had my blog for an Year now, but somedays I still get stuck and don’t know how to write a review or what to write.. it’s especially difficult for books that I really love coz I can’t articulate my feelings properly…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I’m so glad if this could be helpful!! I completely get that – whenever I loved a book, I just want to write okay so this was amazing and JUST READ IT I LOVED EVERYTHING and… that’s it hahaha. When I’m at a loss for words though, I found that doing lists-reviews really helps me πŸ™‚
      Thank you so, so much for your sweet comment! πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I definitely think I should try the list idea then.. I finished reading My So-Called Bollywood life last week and I’ve no words to write the review coz I’m madly in love 😍😍😍😍
        Thank you for the idea πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I get the feeling, sometimes it’s just so hard to find inspiration or know where to start :/ I hope this will help!
      Thank you so much! πŸ˜€ ❀

      Like

  7. I’m always so impressed by people who are really organized and take notes while they’re reading. I pretty much never manage to do that. And, yes, I do sometimes forget basics and have to go look them up. I have discovered that I’m just not an organized person, though. I’ve tried to change over the years, but … well, sometimes you just have to realize that you can’t change core things about yourself. I’ve stopped fighting it.

    These are all great suggestions for writing reviews, though!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I get it – I’m trying to take notes and, slowly but surely, I’m getting better at doing it, but… I tend to forget about it sometimes and regret it later, when I want to review the book but don’t remember a thing about it overall, haha.
      I guess as long as your own system works out, notes or no notes, that’s what matters πŸ˜€
      Thank you so, so much for your sweet comment ❀ ❀

      Like

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