How to review a book


I am always so grateful for book reviews from readers, as it really helps other people to decide if the book is worth buying and trying.

But I know that some people have no idea where to start, what to focus on, how much to write or what style to use.

So here are a few guidelines to help you to review my books, and other books you read. They are only guidelines, not rules, so don’t feel you have to follow them rigidly.

As for style: there is no correct style! Be honest, say what you feel and what you think, write as if you’re talking to me or to fellow readers.

How much to write…? As much as you like! Authors love getting feedback and reviews so the more, the merrier. But don’t worry if you can’t write much. Even one sentence is great – but make it really punchy so I know if you love the book or hate it.

Be honest. A smart author wants to know what you really think.

Be critical. It’s good to write about things you don’t like. Unless the author hears what readers don’t like, she can’t improve.

Be direct, but kind. Treat the author like a professional writer. Don’t say something like: ‘This book is utter rubbish and the author should never write another word because she’s pathetic and stupid.’  This is trolling, and unhelpful. It just makes authors cry and they will hate reviewers for ever… Instead you could say: ‘Judging by this book, the author isn’t quite ready to publish her work yet. The book needs some more work and the author might invest in a little more training to bring her writing up to standard, especially in areas such as dialogue and grammar.’  You see the difference? In the first example you’re being negative and nasty. In the second example you’re being honest and critical, but you’re pointing out particular areas where the book is weak, and suggesting ways the author could improve. That’s constructive criticism.

Some things to comment on

Characters  Did you like the central character(s), the hero/heroine? What did you like about them? Their inner qualities, like courage or kindness? How they behaved or the way they spoke? Was there something odd about their looks or their personality you found surprising/funny/lovable? Did you feel that you understood them or that they were like you in some ways? Maybe you didn’t like them for some reason? And what about the villains? Were they really bad and nasty? Did they scare you? Was there anything about them that made you laugh, or feel sorry for them, or admire them just a little bit? Did you feel different about them at the end of the book?

Setting  Did you get a good picture in your head of the place(s) and time(s) where/when the story happened? Was the description good? Did you want to go there yourself? Was the setting suitable for the story? Did you learn anything new?

Twists and turns  Did the story surprise you? Could you guess what would happen at the end? Which was your favourite bit (funny/sad/scary/exciting/happy)?

Feelings  How did the story make you feel? Did you feel as if you were there with the characters? Did the story make you laugh, or make your heart beat faster – did it make you feel like crying?

Language  Did you find it helpful to have the story in two languages? Did you learn any new words or expressions in the language you’re studying? Was it fun to have a proper story to read while you’re learning the language?

More books  Would you like more stories about these characters? Would you like to read other books that I’ve written?

Other readers  Who did you think would enjoy this book? What age group would most like it? Girls or boys, or both? Do you think older people would like it too?

Recommendation  Can you recommend this book? How many stars would you give it? (*=bad, ***** =brilliant)

That’s about it. If you have any questions, either about the book, or about writing, or about reviewing, do get in touch. The fastest way is on the Dragons’ Facebook page

or by email.

Thanks for reading – and I look forward to seeing your review.