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CM McCoy's Just North of Normal Book Blog
by:  CM McCoy
Near misses and awkward kisses...
February 18, 2017

How to Write a Book Review

Some readers reached out to me, wanting to learn how to write a more helpful, professional-looking book review, and so I put together this quick "how to" guide.

The bottom line is that you can write a book review however you want--even one sentence works. If you're interested in writing a more thorough book review, read on :-)

((( If you're interested in receiving free books and reviewing those books for my blog (Just North of Normal Book Reviews), send me an email: contact @ cmmccoy . com )))

How to Write a Book Review

A professional book review includes:

0. A tagline/summation. Give your overall reaction to the book or a summation of your review.

Ex: Wow! <-- That's all you could get out of me for hours after reading this book. OR Hogwarts meets X-Men's Xavier's School with an unforgettable romance. OR My head hurts, my heart hearts, and I'm a little sick to my stomach (in a good way)

1. An intro. Give the title, author, genre, and series info (or stand-alone) for the book.

Ex: EERIE by CM McCoy is a young adult fantasy with romance and the first book in a series, which can be read as a stand-alone.

2. Why you decided to read the book. Did the cover call to you? Do you already know and love the author? Did you see a catchy ad and loved the blurb?

Ex: CM McCoy is a new author to me, but when I saw that EERIE had been featured in both PEOPLE magazine and on INSIDE EDITION and I wanted to check it out.

3. Expectations. How you felt going in to the book, how you felt when you finished, and whether the book met your expectations.

Ex: The EERIE blurb and reviews promised I'd find a quirky/dark story with unexpected humor and memorable characters and IT DELIVERED :-)

4. Summary. Write a short summary of the plot (without spoilers).

Ex: Hailey Hartley suffers a devastating personal loss during her senior year of high school--her big sister is abducted--only to find that the supposedly mythical creatures called Envoys are to blame. Hailey follows an Envoy named Asher to a Paranormal University in Alaska, where Asher promises to protect her from other Envoys who really really want her dead. Things become more and more uncomfortable for Hailey as she struggles to survive her supernatural classes, avoid the campus's paranormal perils, and get along with her roommate from Hell. When she accidentally ignites Asher's jealously by spending time with another guy, Fin, things come to a head and Hailey hopes this one creature that can protect her from the other Envoys doesn't end up killing her himself.

5. Commentary on what worked and what didn’t work for you. This can be however long or short you want to make it. Mention whether the main story line is tied up and whether there is a cliffhanger. Include whatever you want, but be sure to comment on the book the author wrote, and not the book you wish the author had written.

Ex: The world-building in EERIE and the sheer imagination involved in creating this new mythology are astounding. There are so many new creatures and characters I'll never forget, like Hailey's grumpy "loner" roommate, who just wants to be left alone but optimist Hailey can't take a hint. And the villain, Cobon, who's so creepy and gentlemanly at the same time and who's so unapologetically sure of his "got to break a few eggs to make an omelet" attitude. The heroes are beautifully flawed, and I honestly didn't know who to root for until the very heart-breaking end. This book is a perfectly paced, with great moments of edge-of-your-seat suspense coupled with the slow burn of unrequited love. Even though the book over 400 pages long, I read the whole thing in one night. I only wish it were LONGER so that I didn't have to wait for the sequel to get more of the story. There is no happily ever after ending in this fairy tale, but the main story line is tied up wonderfully with a teaser chapter at the end to let us know more is coming (and hopefully soon).

6. How much (if any) you skimmed.

7. Romance / Language / Violence / Age Recommendation. If there's romance, is it sweet, steamy, or full-on erotic? How much cussing is there? If there's violence, is it mild, moderate, or gory? Recommend an age range for the book. If it's erotic romance, it's automatically 18+.

Ex: The romance is sweet, the violence mild, and I counted one F-bomb in this book. I'd recommend this for readers aged 14 and older.

8. A recommendation and/or comparison for readers who like x, y, or z. Even if you didn't enjoy a book, there are readers out there who would.

Ex: Fans of Moning's DARKFEVER will like the adventure and supernatural suspense of EERIE. The romance in EERIE will appeal to fans of TWILIGHT, and fans of HARRY POTTER will love the unique world and new mythology in a remote school setting.

9. A star rating. You can rate a book however you want. This is the scale we use on our review blog:

5 stars = We loved the book enough that we’d buy it in hard cover or buy a copy as a gift for a friend.

4 stars = We’re keeping this book because we enjoyed it or parts of it so much we might read it again.

3 stars = We very much enjoyed this book, but we probably won’t read it again.

2 stars = We didn’t really enjoy the book as much as we wanted and on the whole, it simply fell flat for us.

1 star = We finished reading the book, but there were so many issues with the writing/editing/story line that we were sorely disappointed and can’t in good conscience recommend the book at all.

DNF = We didn’t finish reading this book, because for whatever reason, it simply wasn’t for us. If what we read warrants a star-rating, we’ll use the above scale to rate what we did read, and we’ll try to recommend an audience for this book.

Here's a Book Review Worksheet

Download this .doc worksheet to use as a guide for writing a book review: CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

Where to leave a review

Here are some places you can leave a book review:

Send author a comment on this post

February 18, 2017

Review + Giveaway: BLUEBERRY SHOE by Ann Dixon (Picture Book)

by Ann Dixon

Genre: Children's Picture Book (Alaska)
Length: 32 pages
Publisher: Alaska Northwest Books
Format: Paperback, $9.95 on Amazon


Ann Dixon's delightful story, illustrated with enchanting, colorful linocuts by Evon Zerbetz, presents a playful look at the secret world of woodland creatures.

Ann is the author of eight picture books for children and one nonfiction title for young adults, as well as poems, essays, and nonfiction for adults. She lives in Homer, Alaska, where she works as the director of the Homer Public Library. Her children’s books have garnered numerous awards, including the National Outdoor Book Award, Ben Franklin Award, and Patricia Gallagher Award. She and her husband have two grown daughters.

Review by Junior (5 years old)

I want a blueberry shoe!

(BLUEBERRY SHOE by Ann Dixon with vibrant illustrations by Evon Zerbetz is a children's picture book set in Alaska. Appropriate for ages 1-9)

I found this book at the bookstore when my mom was meeting with readers. I like the colors on the cover.

A baby loses his shoe when he was picking blueberries with his momma and dadda. They leave the baby's shoe on the mountain and go home without it! A lot of animals try to eat the shoe. It's funny. But each animal loses the shoe. When the snow melts and momma and dadda come pick blueberries again, the baby finds his shoe, with a blueberry plant growing inside!

I didn't understand a lot of the words, so I asked my mom to make up a different story to go with the pictures. I was really worried about the shoe and was sad the momma and dadda left it on the mountain all winter. I was happy they found it and brought it home.

My favorite part of this book is the pictures and knowing the shoe is now okay.

I love the pictures but when I had to pick a book to give to my best friend for his birthday, I chose a different book with llamas. I want to read this book again and again, but it's not my favorite picture book. I give this book 4 stars.


Note: CM McCoy's Contest Policy applies. Rafflecopter terms and conditions also apply. No Purchase necessary to enter. Void where prohibited by law.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Send author a comment on this post

A B O U T   T H E   A U T H O R

CM McCoy has one pointed ear, a 70-pound puppy from Hell, and a very active imagination. She’s well aware nobody can say or spell her real last name, hence the pen name. You can call her Colleen. She’s the PR manager for Inklings Literary Agency and cretor of Totem Head's Annual Free Writing Contest for Kids. When she’s not chatting with her imaginary friends, she’s interviewing with PEOPLE Magazine, ABC’s 20/20, the local morning news show, or INSIDE EDITION, where she promotes writing for mental and emotional health. She also mentors pre-published authors through workshops and contests. Though she holds a BS in both Chemical Engineering and German, she's far happier writing near misses and awkward kisses. Some of her off-the-wall talents include speaking in 10-codes (which she learned working with Alaska State Troopers), flying helicopters, and Irish dance.