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What do you want to see in a review of fiction? The reader's overall impressions? Specific examples of good or bad writing? The reader's assessment of the themes? How much detail about the plot is too much? For me, the plot is often important to whether or not I like a book, so I like a fairly detailed (and accurate) description, but I don't want to spoil it for others who prefer surprise.
Plot wise for fiction, my rule of thumb is to give a brief synopsis up until about 1/2 way through, this is enough to detail whether you are liekly ot enjoy it, but shouldn't give away too many spoilers. Do include overall impressions, after all this is the bit that make sthe review unique to you! I don't quote examples of the writing, but will comment on general style.
As for quotes, I've realised that in two out of four reviews, I've added them. Huh. Felt right to do so and I doubt I'd adopt a rule about it one way or the other.
>1 carlym: It is kind of funny, I've had the opposite problem trying to review non-fiction because 99% of what I read and review is fiction. I really get stumped reviewing non-fiction.
After reading these comments, I think part of the difficulty is deciding what to say when the book is just OK. If I really love it or really hate it, I generally know exactly why and can articulate that. When I just like it OK, it's harder to say what made it reasonably enjoyable.
I do like to comment on the writing and the editing when I write reviews--for fiction and nonfiction as well. I'm a pretty hopeless aesthete when it comes to literature to begin with, so I'm always frustrated when I read dozens of reviews telling me a book was good with none of them vouching for the prose style. And since I am a copyeditor I do too much close reading to put up with poor editing--it just comes off as laziness.
Oh, and for nonfiction, I've found it gets easier and easier the more you've read on a subject. I find myself tweaking older reviews when I've read more authors' opinions/works, etc. and revising earlier opinions, positive or negative.