Writing good, entertaining and useful reviews of books and novels you have read for sites such as bookiio, Amazon, Librarything and Goodreads takes a bit of thought and practice. Book reviews should help the reader to make an informed decision about whether or not to read a book without ruining the book.
The importance of writing a book review
Increasingly the decision about whether to pick up a book and read it is made whilst browsing book websites instead of bricks and mortar book stores and libraries. Before the days of the internet most book reviews that the general public read were those printed in newspapers and magazines. Now potential readers are often making their decisions based on reviews they read on the internet as well as from the more traditional sources. The upside of this is that anyone can give their opinion on a book and post it on the internet.
In the changing world of book publishing genuine book reviews posted to review websites make a big difference to the success of the book.
It is good practice to get into the habit of leaving reviews for all of the books you have enjoyed, including bestsellers, but it is particularly important to leave reviews for the less well known books, especially if they don't already have many reviews. Your review could make a big difference.
What not to include in a review
There are a number of things that you don't need to include in your review:
A long synopsis
The only time most people are taught to write a book review is at school, and school teachers encourage pupils to include a detailed synopsis of the book as part of their report. This is to provide proof to the teacher that the pupil has read the book.
Writing reviews for the book review websites is different, a synopsis is unnecessary and if for the potential reader reading a large number of reviews of the same book reading each reviewers own synopsis is not only tedious but runs the risk of spoilers.
However if you are also posting the review on your own blog then it is a good idea to include at least the publishers description of the book and possibly a brief synopsis, being extremely careful not to give too much of the plot away.
Before you write the review study the book description, the back of the book or the publishers description, on bookiio this can be found on each individual book page. Try to keep your discussions of the plot within the bounds of what has already been revealed. Use your common sense.
Be positive. If you can't think of something positive to say about a book consider not writing a review.
You may have misunderstood the book. Perhaps you weren't paying enough attention to the plot and your impressions of the book are tainted by your own misunderstanding? An example of when this happened to a top reviewer is detailed in this article Thank you for killing my novel.
A book review is not the place to have a rant or to attack the author for having views that disagree with your own. If you feel the need to get things off your chest perhaps a personal blog is the place to do that.
Sean M. Chandler has written a great and amusing Guide to Writing Book Reviews: By The Book Your Reading's Author. Read through this and then read it again! Take note of the points about not marking a book down for being something it isn't, or for being what it is. Although for book review websites such as bookiio a five star review system is far more helpful to potential readers.
What to include in your review
Read through some reviews to see which ones are helpful to you as a reader and which aren't.
How did it make you feel? Was it uplifting, depressing, thought provoking?
How quickly did you read it? Was it a page turner that you couldn't put down or a longer read? Did you take your time because you were enjoying it or was it a chore to read?
Compare the book to others you have read if it seems appropriate to do so. Although subjective it may help readers decide if they have a similar taste to you.
What were your favourite things about the book? Don't describe parts of the book in detail but focus on the writers style for example you might have enjoyed the evocative descriptions of Paris or the interesting life story of the main character.
What sort of style does the writer use? Did you enjoy it?
For review websites don't make the review too long, try to keep it under 500 words. If possible add some paragraphs to make it more readable.
Remember to post the review in multiple places. Bookiio actively encourages this! Post it to Amazon, other review websites and your own blog if you have one.