The format of my book reviews has changed a lot over the past few years, but I think I’ve finally found my favourite way to write them.

When I first started blogging, my reviews would be 250-300 words, and that would include the book’s description – so they were pretty short. Back then, I was never happy with my reviews at all, because they all just sounded forced and awkward, because I found myself forgetting what I wanted to say by the time I sat down to write them.

A review of The Reptile Room from March 2018

The reviews were average at best, and I feel that I never put my point across as strongly as I wanted to. I would get bored as a reader if I’d have found this review on someone else’s blog, so why should I be posting things this quality on my own blog?

This is when I started a reading journal, which I really suggest for any reviewer. I write down the title of the book, and then as an idea springs into my mind of what I want to say, I quickly jot it down. As a bath reader, I don’t always have this on me! But if I don’t have my journal nearby, I write whatever it is in my notes app on my phone and then transfer it across when I next get chance. I feel that having a journal really helps me to make sure I include as many details as possible.

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Getting a few reviews done today hopefully 😊

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My first reading journal! I discovered my love for writing everything down to keep up with what was happening in the book.

Once I started with a journal, I changed up my format, so my review was broken down into sections for description, why I bought it, what I thought, and then a star rating and what genre it is, finishing all off with a link to Amazon.

The book description from my review for The Exact Opposite of Okay in August 2018

I found that my descriptions of books were impersonal, and rather than copying it from a website, wouldn’t it be better if I described the book in my own words? I love shying away from extra work, but I felt that it wasn’t right for half of my review to be written in someone else’s words.

My very tiny explanation on why I bought The Exact Opposite of Okay

After following this format for a while, I looked at my posts and saw that my ‘Why I Bought It’ section was getting smaller and smaller, and I realised that I really could include this information in the bulk of my review.

The bulk of my review of The Exact Opposite of Okay

The bulk of my review wasn’t too bad, but I realised that if I included my own description of the book in here, and also why I bought it, it would really look a lot better.

I used to use Amazon Associates for linking buy links for books, but I don’t so much any more. I feel that if you are a larger blogger, it’s worthwhile, and especially if you blog about more than just books. But for me, after a year on the program I only earned 10p (that was one sale) and decided that it wasn’t worth the hassle, and I would prefer my readers to use physical bookshops if they can rather than just ordering straight from Amazon.

There’s nothing wrong with this format, but I felt that it was just bulky. I liked the fact that I had set things to say, and it meant there was more in my reviews because I always commented on what made me buy the book and what I liked and disliked. But it was all too organised. It became hard to split everything that I wanted to say into categories.

If you are someone who prefers splitting reviewing or writing up into little chunks, this style may be for you, but I just didn’t get along with it.

So I took that old format, and reworked it, so I say exactly the same things, but no headings to split it up.

I always try to include what made me buy the book, initial thoughts, and overall likes and dislikes. Now, I also include an embedded instagram post for each book, because I feel that it splits the post up nicely without having to add headings back in, and it also drives more traffic to my instagram profile.

My new review format, this example from my review of Wakenhyrst

I feel that with this format, I can be more personal in my reviews. I can say what I want to say and my writing just flows better. I’m a lot happier with my reviews now, and I feel like I’m getting a lot more into my posts than before.

I’m quite confident in writing my reviews now and I don’t feel as much of a fake, and I hope that people enjoy them.

I’m always checking out other blogs to see how I can improve, and I’d love to hear your advice!

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