To write a book review, you first have to give a description of the book, then you need to kick your brain into action, creating a critical analysis of the work, and then you need to rate the quality of the book in terms of its meaning, significance of its genre, and the execution, including the writing quality, writing style, and other factors.
While a book review is very specific to the reviewer, a quality review takes the above factors into consideration to give the reader of the review a good idea of the book, and will ideally advise the reader to read or not to read the book in question. Some people choose to include personal information somewhere in their review, to let people know their qualifications in reviewing a book. This is helpful if you are reviewing a book for a scholarly publication, or for a high-profile website or magazine. It does not hurt to establish your credibility. But when it really comes down to it, the quality of the review is what counts.
First, give all the “vital” information about the book. You’ll want to include the title, the author’s name, the copyright date, the type of the book, what the book is about, any extra information about the book such as appendices, maps, a glossary, etc., and, if available, the price and ISBN.
The next step is to, using information given by the author, to state the author’s intent when he or she wrote the book. This information can be found in the preface, and it is not unheard of to seek an outside source like a website or biography, to find out why the author wrote the book and what he or she was trying to accomplish.
Other things to consider, to make sure you can effectively create a critical analysis, are the point of view of the book, the information given in the book, the genre or field the work fits into, the implied reader, intended audience, and how you actually feel about the book. Do you feel that the author got his or her point across? Do you feel that the message was presented effectively?
You need to state the theme of the work, and the central thesis or idea. If you can’t figure out what those things are, the book is either not worth reviewing, or you have no business trying to review a book. If you do figure that out, you can state in your review how the author supports his or her main idea, and how well or poorly they did so.
All in all, your personal reaction will take a large part in the things you think about and write about in your review. Don’t forget to temper your emotional reaction with a strong critical opinion based on actual details and portions of the book itself. The review is about the book, not about you.