How to write a book review and a freebie Note To Book download

September 29, 2015 Blogging, Bookish chat 33

This post was inspired when Ashley @ Nosegraze explained the advantages of adding content upgrades to blog posts.  I loved the idea of adding a little extra for my followers and racked my brain for what I would offer.  I knew immediately that it would be organising focused as that is what I love to do.  And a difficulty I have been having lately is freezing my thoughts on a book until I’m ready to write a review so I thought a cheatsheet would be a perfect solution to that and might be useful to others too.



In addition when I started thinking about writing book reviews, I felt totally out of my depth.  I didn’t know where to start, how to structure my review or even how to organise my thoughts into something coherent.  Nowadays writing a review feels like second nature to me and I don’t feel like I’ve properly finished with a book until I’ve written my thoughts down.

So today I’m sharing my tips on how to write a review and giving you a chance to check out my freebie pdf – Note to Book.  It’s a single page pdf where you gather and document your thoughts and then this will form the shell of your review when you get to writing it.  Or  even just as a way to preserve your thoughts on that book if you’re not a reviewer.

Review writing tips:

  • Don’t force it!  You don’t need to write like an English Professor to write a review, it’s not a book report and you don’t need to go all formal.  Just spew those thoughts out.
  • Believe in yourself.  There is no right or wrong here.  The review is just your opinion on the book.
  • Think as though you were talking to a friend.  Do they need to read this book or avoid it like the plague?  Then just explain why.
  • Vomit out all the random things that you want to say on the screen/page.  I like to get everything out and then I edit it ruthlessly to produce something that makes a bit more sense.
  • Think about what matters to you in a book and talk about that in your review (example: the characters, the pace, the plot, the romance, the writing style).
  • Explain your thoughts fully.  Give an opinion and then back it up.
  • Get personal!  Did the theme resonate for you personally, if so write about that.
  • I find the first line in my review hardest to write.  So I write it last!  I write my review and then try to think of an opening line that pops.
  • Keeping notes helps me.  As does highlighting quotes.
  • Experiment with your review formats so they don’t get boring to write.  For example I do twitteresque reviews, balancing the books reviews, emotions felt while reading reviews, pros and cons as well as my standard review format.


How the Note to Book PDF helps:

  • It gives you a structure
  • It is a reminder of your thoughts and preserves them in ink forever more!
  • It’s a single page so it’s not a chore to fill it out
  • You can fill it out, then tuck it away until you are ready to write the review.  And no need to panic about forgetting everything about the book.
  • It has a checklist of other things you might want to do after you’ve written your review.  Such as post review to Goodreads.


So how do I get my hands on Note To Book?

Simple!  You just sign up to follow Between My Lines by email and I will email it to you.  Of course you are free to unsubscribe at any time.  You will find the sign up box at the end of this blog post.


Talk to Trish: Do you have any review writing tips to add?  Do you document any thoughts prior to writing your review? If you download and use my Note to Book pdf, I’d love to hear how it works for you!

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33 Responses to “How to write a book review and a freebie Note To Book download”

    • trish

      Kathryn, I’m a big believer in just coughing up those thoughts too as I don’t like to spend too long on the review writing process! I hope the form is useful but if you have any issues with it just let me know! I think you will be the first person to get it so you’re my guinea pig! 😀

    • trish

      Thanks Cynthia, I’ve been finding it handy to track my thoughts until I write reviews so hopefully others will find the same! Writing the first line never gets easier!

  1. Lola

    Great tips! I struggled with writing reviews when I just started, for me it helped to narrow down what I find important in a book (the story, the characters, the romance and the world building). Then when I write a review I try to say a bit about each of those topics and I add an introduction and summary. Having a list of topics I want to write about really helps for me and gives my reviews the same structure.

    I also think focussing on why you did or didn’t like something is very important so other readers can judge based on that if they might like the book or not. I also think that discovering your own reveiw style is very important when you just start reviewing.

    I never keep notes though as that get’s me out of the book, I only do that when I am beta reading. I write my reviews after I finish a book and before I start the next one, so everything is still fresh in my head. I can imagine that if you wait longer to write your review notes can be very handy. Great post!
    Lola recently posted…Review: Immersed by Katie Hayoz

    • trish

      I agree stating what you liked and didn’t like clearly is pretty important to me too, I want to know what stood out and equally what didn’t. And finding your own style takes time so I think it’s good try experiment and see what works best for you.
      In an ideal world, I’d write my review asap just like you do but I usually find that I have to wait until I can find the time to write it. And yes my notes are necessary then, otherwise I’d forget everything I had to say!

    • trish

      Nothing wrong with unstructured Emma, I know that works best for lots of people. And wow writing by hand sounds like hard work, I wouldn’t have the patience for that! But I think we all find our own system and what makes life easiest for us.

    • trish

      Thanks Megan, hope you enjoy it! I’ve been using it myself as a way to chart my thoughts and keep them fresh until I get to write my review. And it works for me.

    • trish

      Thanks Michelle, it’s simple and basic but I find that it works well for me as a way to track my thoughts until I write my review. Sadly I’m always in backlog so I needed someway to freeze those insights! Like you I love organising myself, it’s half the fun! 😀

    • trish

      Mind vomit is a great way of just getting all those feels out! And I find the more random they are, the better they can work in my final review.

    • trish

      Delighted to hear you are going to trial it Rita! I’ve been using mine to organise my thoughts until I’m ready to write my review and it’s so handy to pull out my sheet and then the review partially writes itself! I’d love to hear how it works for you 😀

  2. Candace

    These are great tips! I started out with a sort of outline so I’d remember what to right about. Now I’ve written so many reviews I don’t bother. But I know a lot of people need help. One thing that I think is most important is to share how it made you FEEL. I hate it when reviews have no emotion. Sometimes I don’t feel it and struggle, but if you regularly don’t share your feelings about a book then I probably won’t bother to continue to read the blog. I want passion but not too extreme with negative or positive. I guess a balanced review. 🙂
    Candace recently posted…Blog Tour Review & #Giveaway: Skinshifter by Alycia Christine

    • trish

      Totally agree Candace, saying how you feel about a book is HUGE. I want to know just how you felt and all the emotions you as a reader went through. That is a great way of making me want to read a book or avoid the book, depending on what you are saying!

      And balance is crucial. As is being honest.

    • trish

      Thanks Maureen, I love getting feedback on what people think of the download. And I agree that a beginner reviewer will probably get the most out of it. I have been using it as well to remind myself of my thoughts for when I want to write my review and it works well for that too. For me anyway.

  3. Bookworm Brandee

    Those are some great review writing tips, Trish. I remember when I first started my blog…my, my has my review style changed since then. But I remember being nervous about how to write a review and then I was telling a friend about a book I’d just finished and she said “That. That right there is what you should write.” I think my reviews differ for every book. I used to kinda follow a format but now it seems that I write mostly about what moved me about the book…or not, as the case may be. I like that you said to be yourself and vomit everything. Yeah, good stuff. And I *did* already get the email with my special PDF. I think this will be especially helpful with audio books. I can’t highlight specific passages, etc., in audio and so my reviews end up being more about feelings. Thanks for sharing this!
    Bookworm Brandee recently posted…That’s What HE Said #38 ~ Thirsty Thursday & Hungry Hearts #17

  4. Wattle

    I love the structure of your pdf 🙂 I do write notes most of the time while reading (unless I’m totally sucked in and forget to break to jot my thoughts down!) but I find they are messy and have no real structure, so when I come to writing a review it takes longer than I’d like. I’m totally going to give your format a go!

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us 🙂
    Wattle recently posted…Book Review: The Lion’s Pride by Natalie Crown

  5. Kim@Time2Read

    Is this download still available? I’ve tried to sign up twice and each time I get the notice telling me my address needs to be confirmed and to check my email. I’ve checked my spam folder and I’ve not received an email. Any suggestions?

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