So I started scrutinizing other reviews. I wanted to see what works and what doesn't. Here is what I came up with:
- Include a good quote. Actually give someone a taste of the writer. No need to go on and on about the writer's amazing command of the English language. Let a well-chosen quote speak for itself.
- Give the readers a little context of yourself. You don't need to tell your whole life history, but letting the reader know that you love science fiction and hate poetry might help them understand where you are coming from with your review.
- Describe your experience in reading it. Did you laugh? Did you cry? Did you read it in one sitting because you couldn't put it down? Or did it take you months and all the endurance you could muster to finally finish that baby? As a reader, this helps me determine if I'm in the mood for a book or not.
- Provide a comparison. Did it remind you of something? Perhaps another book? Maybe a movie?
- Hold back on the hyperbole. Sometimes hearing how a book changed someone else's life sets my expectations too high and I end up being overly judgmental of a work. (This is a note I need to remember when talking about books in general. Not everyone loves Dickens the way I do.)
- Go back to what you learned in 4th grade and write something that hooks the reader (assuming you liked the book). This review really stuck out in my mind: I liked it. Don't get me wrong, it is definitely chock-full of estrogen-soaked coming of age wisdom, complete with a veritable orgy scene of feminine self-discovery in which a roomful of goddess-worshipping gospel earth mothers smear honey onto a wooden likeness of the Virgin Mary. Admit it, you're kind of interested.
p.s. I'm about half way through my complaint fast and I'm ready to throw in the towel. My mom posed a good question yesterday, "What exactly do you get for not complaining?" Still don't have an answer for that one.