Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie

How to Write Book Reviews Like a BOSS


“The Boss.” (But you already knew that.)




  1. a person who is in charge of a worker, group, or organization:

Kimber here. I’m explaining what a “boss” is. In case you’re wondering about who’s in charge around here. And ya know what? Mom takes orders pretty well. Most of the time.

So about how to write a book review. We’ll show ya how in five easy steps. But first, let’s determine what is and isn’t a “book review,” okay?

What It Is

A book review is a way to share your opinions and insights about a book. 

What It Isn’t

A book review isn’t a rehash of something someone else said cuz you’re too lazy or uninspired to write something original. Nor is it a rewrite of the whole cotton -pickin’ book. Got that?

Good. Now that we’ve cleared up that little bit of housekeeping, let’s get to reviews. Here’s The Official Kimber and Mom Guide to How to Write Book Reviews Like a Boss:

Step 1: Read the book.

This may seem self-evident. But you’d be amazed at how many “book reviewers” skip this step. Oh, sure. They might read the book jacket. The synopsis on the back or the inside fly leaf. Or see what someone else has posted on another site like that big one that starts with “A.” But a “book review” that’s little more than a cut and paste hack job of someone else’s input don’t cut the kibble around here, Toots.

So let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start. (Mom says she has Julie Andrews in the Austrian Alps stuck in her head on auto-play. Go figure.)

Anyway, all together now: Read. The. Book. The whole thing. Like we do. We accept less than half of the review requests that come our way. But if your magnum opus is accepted for review, we read the whole thing. Unless it’s so bad we bail out early. And then we’ll tell you. Got that?

Step 2: Basic Components of a Book Review:

Keep this in mind as you read:

  • Basic book info (Author, publisher, date of publication, genre, etc.) If you received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review, make sure you note that in your review. Preferably near the top.
  • A plot summary or overview
  • A review of main characters and themes
  • Your assessment of the book. What you did or didn’t like and why.
  • Your Rating

Step 3: Write a Compelling Hook

Once you have these components down, begin your review by writing a compelling hook.  This is your lead sentence. So make it good. Say something interesting and captivating to reel in your audience and keep them reading.

Spring-boarding off your hook, write an opening paragraph along the lines of:

Oren Appleton is dead. The ”geeky, nature-loving” former Harvard professor died under suspicious circumstances. He left everything to his son and grandson, Oliver “Olly” Appleton. Olly and his parents move from Ohio to Littleton, Massachusetts to claim their inheritance and a world of mystery in this charming story that will captivate and delight middle grade readers. (Olly and the Spores of Oak Hill.)

How to Summarize the Plot

From your opening paragraph, expand on more of the plot. Let your readers know the gist of the story and plot without giving away too much. Got that, Buttercup? Don’t give away any spoilers. Fill readers in on the basics like where and when the book is set. Cover basic characters and how they’re related. Do not rewrite the entire story.

Step 4: Offer Your Assessment

Is this book a keeper or a real stinker? Tell your audience what you liked or what belongs on the bottom of the nearest bird cage. And why. Additional considerations:

  • Was it well-written or did it read like the nearest sixth grader’s homework assignment?
  • Was it error-free or loaded with enough typos to sink the Bismarck?
  • How effectively did the author convey their main theme?
  • What about pacing? Was it nimble and lithe, or did you have to take out a year’s supply of No Doze to finish?
  • What is the tone of the book? Is it  upbeat and positive? Does it make Eeyore look like Captain Happy?
  • Were characters full-bodied and well-rounded? Were they cardboard cutouts or comic book caricatures?
  • Was the plot fresh and original or did it taste like a carton of milk that’s been left out since last week?
  • What did you think about the theme? How well was it conveyed? Was it transcendent or predictable? Did anything surprise or inspire you about this book? What? Why?

You can also include whether or not you think the title will appeal to the target audience.

Step 5: Your Rating

This is the fun part! See our Rating System and Submission Guidelines.

Finally – and this is important, so I’d listen up ‘fize you – Don’t let anyone tell you there’s a “right” or a “wrong” way to write a book review (unless you’re dealing with an editor who acts like the neighbor’s cat. Then all bets are off).

Got that, Cupcake?

Part of the reason people want to read your review is because they want to read your thoughts. Your perceptions, opinions, and reactions. Not someone else’s. As long as you remember The Basics and avoid Camp Catnip, write what you want. The way you want. In your own voice. Be coherent. Be convincing. But most of all, Be You. Like Kimber The BOSS.


2 thoughts on “How to Write Book Reviews Like a BOSS

  1. All these points are perfect. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s