Readers' Favorite

March 26, 2015

Points to consider when writing a review

by Donna Huber

Even though I have been reviewing books for more than 4 years, I'm always thinking of ways to improve my reviews. Since I have added reviewers to Girl Who Reads, I also offer advise on how they can add variety to their reviews. Here are a few things I have been considering when writing reviews.

Genre and themes

I have been trying to be more observant about a book's themes and how they are affected by the genre. Is it a theme unique to the genre? Does the author follow the genre's conventions or have their own interpretation? Sometimes there are certain aspects of a genre that I don't like and can effect how I feel about a book. Mashups and genre bending has become common in indie publishing and I have seen it bleed over into traditional publishing. It is important to note its impact on the book and your feelings about it.

Characters and plots

I sometimes get wrapped up in just telling what the book is about and not really saying how I felt about certain plot threads or characters. I think my stronger reviews share more about what I liked or didn't like about the characters and plot. Part of the problem is I get behind in writing reviews and several weeks have passed since I read a book. If I didn't take notes (and I don't usually) I don't always remember specifics about the characters and plot. Perhaps that should say something about the book - it was entertaining but forgettable?

Writing style and other mechanics

Did the choice of narrator or point of view work for the story? Sometimes a book would be better as a stand alone instead of a series. Other times, I have been disappointed by a book that is more a serial than a complete story within itself. There are also times where dialect or other regional aspects that distract (or enhance) from the story. All of these things play a part in whether a book is a great book or just another in a long line of good books.

What do you think about when you write a review?


  1. I actually have a checklist that I casually use when writing a review. I dont always follow the list, and I dont always answer every question on it, but it includes: Writing Style and mechanics: 1st person or 3rd? how many POVs? How many timelines? past, present or future? *did this method work?*. Was the narrator engaging and reliable?

    In fact I might have to write a post on this myself!

    1. Awesome. You definitely should write a post about it (and send me a link). Sometimes I feel like I get in a rut with my reviews or become lazy. So having these 'checklists' as reminder is great.

  2. When I write reviews, I try not to spend too much time writing what the book is about -- readers can read the back cover for that information. I try to mention what I liked about the story or the characters and how I felt after I finished the book. A checklist would be a really helpful tool to have. Thanks