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What Makes a Good Book Review?

What Makes a Good Book Review? by Author Lauren Mayhew

Book Reviews - Lauren Mayhew AuthorI’ve always wondered what people like to see in a book review. As an author, any review 3 stars or more is greatly appreciated. Even a 3 star review can mean that the reader enjoyed the book, they just didn’t love it. Every review is appreciated by an author, indie or not.

One of my most liked posts on here is a book review. I wrote it almost two years ago now, and it still gets views. I do wonder sometimes how people stumble upon that post. It made me think why that review was so popular. If people enjoyed it enough to like the post, it meant the format of the review must have been to certain people’s taste. You can find it here.

These are the 5 steps that I use to write my reviews.

1- I start with the rating.

This way the reader can get an idea of what sort of review they’re going to read. If you can’t rate the book as 3 stars or more, don’t publish it. An author never knows if you’re reading their book (unless they’ve given you a free copy), so it won’t matter if you accidentally forget to write a review.

There’s nothing worse as an author than to wake up to a 1 or 2 star review. What’s worse, most low rating reviews don’t even give a good reason as to why the reader didn’t like the book. If you do insist on writing the review, make sure you have valid reasons as to why it wasn’t to your taste. Simply writing, ‘This character annoyed me’, isn’t enough. WHY did they annoy you?

2- I state whether there are any spoilers.

I try to avoid spoilers as much as possible, but sometimes it can’t be helped. I’ve read a book review before that didn’t warn of spoilers, and I found out about a character’s death. It took the fun out of reading the book, as I knew what was going to happen. Always warn of spoilers.

3- I include the blurb of the book.

So many reviewers summarise the plot of a book themselves. I don’t see the point of this. The blurb is the hook that reels a reader in, so just include that instead of spending time reducing the plot of the book into a few paragraphs. This is also where those pesky spoilers come in.

Sometimes the blurb on Goodreads can be different to the blurb on Amazon, so it’s usually best to pick the one that will grab most people’s attention.

4- I write about what I liked.

This can include plot lines, characters, quotes, the author’s writing style etc. Literally anything can go in this section. There are usually a few characters that I pick out and write a little bit about. If you’re reading a series of books, it can be good to theorise what might happen in the rest of the books in this section. This can lead to conversation, especially if others have also read the book. They might have a different opinion about what might happen next.

5- I write about what I didn’t like.

As above, this can include many things. I sometimes feel like there are characters in books that serve no real purpose, so I often include them in this section – without spoiling too much! There are often times when I have nothing to write here, so if nothing springs to mind immediately, don’t feel like you have to say something purely for the sake of it.

If you are reading a self-published novel, try and refrain from pointing out spelling and grammar mistakes. All books have them, indie or not. I find mistakes in the majority of books that I read, but I wouldn’t feel the need to mention this in a review for a traditionally published book, so why would I for an indie? Obviously, if there are mistakes on every page, the author should be notified, but not through a review. Send them a private message so that they can work on it for future readers. This way, if they edit the book, anyone reading the reviews won’t be put off by spelling and grammar errors that are no longer there.

Obviously all reviewers are different. This is how I like to write my reviews, and as an author, this is the sort of feedback I’d like to have for my books. A review only has to be a few sentences long to make an impact.

I’d love to know what your thoughts are on book reviews. Let me know what you’d like to see.


Want more from Lauren? You can check out her books on Goodreads HERE.

Find Lauren on the YA Author Rendezvous site HERE.

This was posted by Lauren Mayhew.

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Book Review and Rating Myths

Book Reviews - Young Adult Author RendezvousWritten by L. J. Higgins

The book review. Something every author needs and wants. They can simultaneously drive them crazy and make them want to cry and have them smiling from ear to ear. But while reviews are important to authors, I don’t think readers realise how vital they are to not only authors but also themselves. Reading reviews and ratings can help you gauge if a book is worth your money and time, and if it’s the right book for you.

Reasons you should leave a review:

  • For your fellow readers – Reviews are a way for readers to help other readers. By reading through them or glancing over a books star rating you can decide if it is a book you are interested in or not. If every reader gave a quick star rating and review of each book they read, then it would make it much easier for others to find their next favourite book.
  • Meet other book lovers – Through sites such as Goodreads, reviewing books and sharing your love for them can help you meet readers and authors who enjoy the same books you do.
  • To thank the Author who wrote it – Authors not only need reviews, they love hearing what you honestly thought about the story they put so many hours, weeks, months, even years into.

Myths about Reviews:

  • They have to be long and detailed – No they don’t. The only thing they NEED to be is honest. Even one to two lines can be enough to let people know what you thought of a book. Yes, you are more than welcome to write a review that breaks down characters, plot etc. But you don’t have to. It’s your choice.
  • Reviews have to be nice – Reviews are the one time you can ignore the saying ‘if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all.’ Reviews are there to not only help readers decide if it is the book for them, but also to help authors learn what their audience loves and dislikes about their books. This helps them grow and learn as writers, so really your HONEST review is helping your favourite authors become the best they can be.
  • You can be mean in reviews – Okay, now I have to take back my words and remind you of the saying, ‘if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all.’ Reviews are meant to be honest, not mean. There is no need to personally attack the author or the morals you don’t agree with in the story. Remember, just because the author wrote it, doesn’t mean it is their opinion. Stories are made up, as are the characters, and sometimes characters do or say things that we don’t necessarily approve of as an author, but feel it helps the story in some way.
  • 3 Stars mean a book is bad – For many authors, anything over 2 stars is great. Accompanied with an honest review a 3 star rating can show an author that although you liked their book there were a few things that could be worked on. Here is a rough idea of what star ratings mean on Amazon.

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So there you have it. Writing reviews and rating books isn’t as scary as many people think. You don’t need to be a writer yourself to leave one that is helpful, and you are not only helping an author when you leave one, your helping other readers like yourself. So next time you read a book take ten minutes to head to Amazon or Goodreads to let them know what you honestly thought about their book. You will make an authors and possibly a readers day!

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The Fate of Ten – Pittacus Lore

The Fate of Ten by Pittacus LoreThe Fate of Ten – Pittacus Lore – 5 Stars, by Lauren Mayhew

Blurb: For years the Garde have fought the Mogadorians in secret. Now all of that has changed. The invasion has begun. If the Garde can’t find a way to stop the Mogs, humanity will suffer the same fate as the Lorien: annihilation.

There is still hope. When the Elders sent the Garde to Earth, they had a plan-one which the Garde are finally starting to understand. In the climax of The Revenge of Seven, a group of the Garde traveled to an ancient pyramid in Mexico known to their people as the Sanctuary. There they awoke a power that had been hidden within our planet for generations. Now this power can save the world . . . or destroy it. It will all depend on who wields it.

I cannot even begin to explain how much I love these books! As far as I can remember, I have been reading them since the first one – I am Number Four – came out, so I’ve had a lot of patient waiting to do. And guess what… It’s still not finished!

I don’t mind there being another book because I’m really not keen for this series to be over, I just can’t believe the cliffhanger that it ended on.

I think I was supposed to be a bit more upset than I was at the ending of this book, but the character that we say goodbye to just seemed to be a bit of a spare part to me. I’m more worried about the impact this is going to have on a certain other character that I love!

This book was action packed from page 1. This one didn’t swap between too many different characters either, it was only John, Six and Ella occasionally. It made it a lot easier to read because I wasn’t having to try and remember which font applied to which character! The previous books had a habit of doing this and it got really confusing.

I think the whole book takes place in about 48 hours or so and a LOT happens in that time. I really don’t want to give too much away with this one, unlike some of my other reviews.

I’m loving the development of humans getting Legacies, though I do see this backfiring at some point. Maybe I’m too sceptical.

It was interesting to see some of the back story of Setrakus Ra. And one of my favourite lines during this sequence came from Six to the big bad himself – I would write it here, but it’s a little bit rude!

Ella really grows as a character in this one and I love her to pieces. There was a heart stopping moment involving her in this one. I’m not even joking, if Ella doesn’t make it, I will not be happy. Same goes for Sam, Marina and John. Six too. And Nine. Basically, no more Garde are allowed to die – apart from Five. I still haven’t quite figured him out.

I’m eagerly awaiting book 7. Hopefully it doesn’t take longer than a year.. This is definitely going onto my all time favourite books list.

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