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  • Writer's pictureTabitha Tomala

What's in a Review? | Book Talk

Updated: Apr 2, 2021

Hello fellow bookworms! By purchasing books through Bookshop links in this post, not only are you helping local bookstores, but you’re helping Behind the Pages as well! I earn a small commission when you purchase books through the affiliate links. Thank you for your help and dedication!


When I started to work towards my BA in English and Creative Writing, I had no idea what I was in for. Each class taught me a bit more about deconstructing books. Taking a look at the mechanics that create the world the reader enjoys and analyzing every little detail.

What's in a Review? | Book Talk

Did the plot move at the right pace? Was the dialogue realistic? Where were the conflicts? Did they progress the story? I could list so many questions I had to answer when picking apart books to write essays on. As a whole, it taught me how to be a better writer and how to help others. However, there is a downside to it.

I’m afraid to go back and read some of my favorite books from my pre-degree days. My brain is now programmed to pick apart every book I read. To tear it apart and make sure when all the pieces come together, they fit certain criteria. But as much as I fear rereading books like Twilight (I’ll take the plunge someday), my degree is one of the reasons I write books and beta read for authors.

What's in a Review? | Book Talk

So, I guess I consider my degree a blessing and a curse. (Cliché I know!) But it also means that when I write reviews, I try to be both analytical and entertaining. I want people to know what elements I enjoyed in the book, but I also want to highlight the foundations that made the book work, or not.

And don’t forget I also beta read. 😉 But when beta reading, I become extremely granular with writing mechanics. I don’t take a personal approach to the story like when I review. Instead, I make sure the different parts of the story flow well and make sense to a general reader. It’s always important when beta reading to keep a balance between the author’s vision/style while making sure it is a marketable book a wider audience will enjoy.

Books I Always Recommend for Writers

Purchase Through Bookshop

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

On Writing Well by William Zinsser

On Writing by Stephen King

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