3 Important Notes About Your First Book Review

The time has come for your first review! Hooray! It’s time to tell the world how you felt about that book. Did you laugh? Did you cry? Did you feel… nothing? All very important. I have a few rules about reviews that I think most, if not all, book bloggers should listen to:

Reviewing Etiquette

#1 Do Not Insult The Team

A lot of work goes into a book, even the bad ones. There is no reason to attack the author, the editors, the cover artist, or the company. Period.

#2 Say It Professionally

Even if you hated every aspect of the book, there is a professional way to present that. There is no reason to say things like “it belongs in the trash,” and if you feel the need to say that period, refer to rule #1.

#3 Be Honest and Kind

Bit of a blend from #1 and #2. Don’t lie and say that you enjoyed the book when you clearly didn’t. No one is asking you to lie about your opinion. But be clear about what bothered you or bored you without being insulting.

Writing Out Your Thoughts

I see a lot of first reviews that come out sounding like a book report. Book reviews are not book reports. You can sum up the plot with the back copy and move straight into your review.

My reviews tend to be a little formulaic, as do most bloggers’. It tends to follow as such:

  • A summary/the back copy (which you can copy from GoodReads)
  • An overall statement about your feelings on the book
  • What you liked
  • What you didn’t like
  • Star Rating

Remember to be specific about both what you did and did not like. There is a difference between “I liked the setting” and “I liked the island setting” and “I liked the fantasy isle and how vivid the author’s description was of the plants and wildlife.”

Starring System

Most bloggers use a starring system. Some bloggers make their own images for their stars (or popsicles, or owls, or glasses of wine, etc) but I prefer to use emojis/symbols in my post so that I know it will show up on every device. Specifically, I use these: ★☆½.

Now that WordPress has the block editing system, there is actually a widget to use for the star rating. So if you want to have your reviews out of 10 stars you can do it! You can also change the color easily.

Rating: 6 out of 10.

Obviously, your view of what deserves four and five stars may differ from mine but here are my criteria:

☆☆☆☆☆

Well this was just terrible and highly problematic. I found little to nothing of merit in it. Possible DNF. (DNF: Did Not Finish)

★☆☆☆☆

Also terrible, but I found one or two things which worked well. Most of the time, when I give a one star review, I usually enjoyed what they were trying to do but found the execution done poorly.

★★☆☆☆

One or two things caught my eye but much of this book was problematic. I may have enjoyed the ideas but not the writing or set-up.

★★★☆☆

Only a few problems and otherwise a good and compelling read. The bulk of my reviews tend to be three stars. Many bloggers fall here with a “I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it” sort of mentality.

★★★★☆

I definitely recommend reading this book! It was really good and you should give it a chance. You will love it if you love X genre.

★★★★★

Everyone needs to read this book. I don’t care who you are, pick it up and devour it.

Some bloggers break their reviews up into sections and star multiple points of the book including:

  • Cover Art
  • Opening
  • Ending
  • Characters
  • Plot
  • Setting
  • Couldn’t Put It Down-ness
  • Intellectual Depth

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Published by J. M. Tuckerman

J M Tuckerman is a New Jersey-based writer, blogger, and podcast talent. Tuckerman holds a BA in Writing Arts, an MA in Writing, and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. She is a proud dog mom, cat mom, archer, wife, and passionate book wyrm.

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