One of my biggest pet peeves is when I go to read someone’s review of a book and I find things missing that I think are really important or useful. Sure, I could look up some of the information myself, but why not include it in your reviews to make things just a little bit easier for your readers? I wanted to make a quick list of a few things that I think should be included in all book reviews.
Synopsis of the Book
There are few things worse than reading a review where someone is talking about how great the plot and characters and writing were and yet having no clue what the book is actually about. I want to know at least the basics of what happens in the book. I usually include the book’s synopsis from Goodreads, but you could also write up a few short sentences in your own words of what the book is about. But I strongly recommend you include something about what it’s about. After all, I don’t want to read through a few hundred words and then look up the book and find out it’s not something I would ever be interested in reading.
I know some people don’t include links to Amazon or B&N or anything because they want people to buy from their local indie instead. But 1.) not everyone has an indie store (or any physical bookstore) near them, 2.) not everyone can afford to pay full list price so Amazon may be a great option for them, and 3.) even if they’re going to buy from a local bookstore, some people like to have a wishlist on Amazon or Goodreads that they can easily pull up. If you don’t want to pull a bunch of links together for every book, at least include one to Goodreads. Right from the Goodreads page, your readers can easily find links to online retailers and/or add it to their list of books to read.
This seems really obvious, but you’d be surprised how many reviews I’ve read where it’s actually really difficult to tell whether the person liked the book or not. A decent amount of reviews end up being all summary and don’t include any of their actual thoughts on the book other than a rating tacked on at the end. This is pretty useless in my opinion. Reviews are meant to give readers a feel for what you thought about the book. Just listing what happens or how this or that character does x, y, and z isn’t going to help anyone know if you thought the book was good or not. And while including a 4-star rating may let your readers know that you generally liked the book, star ratings mean very different things to different people, so it’d be a good idea to explain at least a little bit about what that rating means to you. Make sure you’re actually letting people know what you thought of the book!
BONUS: Basic Information About the Book
Other than the title and author, which is mandatory if you ask me, there’s some other basic information that can be really helpful for your readers but isn’t necessarily something you have to include. But it may be useful to include the date it was published, the publisher, genre(s), length, if it’s in a series (okay, this one might be a mandatory thing to include), etc. This is all information you can pull right off the book’s Amazon page so you don’t even need to still have the book available to you. Again, these are simple things that people can look up but let’s face it, they probably won’t and you can help your readers (and the author!) by including it in your review.