The most important thing to do when reviewing is to read the book first of course. You must understand what you are reading in order to write a good and honest review. Here are tips I use when reviewing, everyone has their own method, but I have found that this works best for me. Some people highlight passages, or scribble in the margins. I, however- do not want to mark up my precious books, so I keep a notebook. As I read each chapter, I jot down what stood out to me and my feelings of what I’ve just read. After reading the entire book, I wait a day to gather my thoughts before sitting down to start on my review. I start by writing a few sentences. Then I take a step back and ponder on a few things more.
First, I ask myself, if the author wanted me to get an idea from the book, what would it be? How does it compare to the world I know? What has the author accomplished in writing their story? What is the subject matter or topic of the book? Does the author cover the subject adequately? For instance, if it’s historical fiction, is it true to time and place? Is the voice of the characters true to the language of the time? Does the author use intelligent and eloquent prose? I look at the overall layout of the book and for any editing problems I might see.
Second, take care of your reader, don’t write a spoiler. Giving the plot away ruins the appeal for a potential buyer of the book. I discourage this strongly, you want to attract the reader’s attention to the story, not write a book about the book. The art of writing a good review is to build a bridge between the book and the reader.
Third, too often I see insulting, crass and downright rude reviews. It turns many readers-such as myself- off to wanting to read anymore reviews by that person. Please keep in mind that the author has put so much time and effort into their story. Instead of being crass, give constructive criticism, show actual examples of the problems you had with the book.
(“Constructive criticism is the process of offering valid and well-reasoned opinions about the work of others, usually involving both positive and negative comments, in a friendly manner rather than an oppositional one. In collaborative work, this kind of criticism is often a valuable tool in raising and maintaining performance standards.”)
If you feel you cannot give a good report of the book without being insulting, then it’s best not to write the review. Just because everyone else might be trashing the book, it doesn’t mean you have to step in line and do the same. Just move on to the next book
You may also find my article here: http://www.bragmedallion.com/blog/authors-reviews-trolls-and-the-fight-goes-on