The high school I went to, in England, an uncertain number of years ago, had a policy of not teaching "English literature." The theory was we should learn to enjoy reading before being taught to criticize it. The result, of course, was I never wrote a single book review or book report until those uncertainly many years had passed. My first book review, on gather.com, was the cause of much personal anguish and trepidation as I wondered if I really dared press that "publish now" button.
Never having learned how book reviews are supposed to be done, I'd decided I'd just write what I'd like to read: include enough about the book so I can tell if it might be interesting; include enough about the reviewer so I can tell if their views might be vaguely similar to mine; and never, ever, ever, give away the plot.
After a while I gained more confidence. I started posting reviews on Goodreads as well as gather, and even on Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. Since I read fairly quickly, I can churn out a fair few reviews, and I enjoy doing it; after all, as an about-to-be-published writer, I should take my reading seriously. I even toyed briefly with the idea of applying to review books "properly." (Is that like wanting to be published "properly?") But the papers and magazines I looked at (except for NightsandWeekends.com, and Poetic Monthly) didn't seem to like my style. They pointed me, at last, to all those "rules" I'd failed to learn:
Include enough about the book... okay, I got that one right.
Never ever include anything about the reviewer - no "I" words, nothing that might deny the objectivity of your review? (But is anyone objective?)
And always(???) include a "complete" synopsis of the plot(!!!)
Okay, I guess I'll never be a "serious" book reviewer, not by their definition. But I love to read and I love reviewing books, so if you like my reviews and are looking for a reviewer, well, here I am:)
You'll find lots of my reviews by going to my Goodreads bookshelf. I'd love to hear what you think.