A great book must go beyond a terrific cover, of course. I look for an engaging story, one that takes me somewhere I may not yet have visited either physically or spiritually. I look for real characters, people that are unique in their characteristics; ones that I can relate to or understand. I want a message. I don't want to be beaten over the head with it, but I want a message. I want the sentences to flow like water, the typos to be minimal if any, and the work as a whole to leave me wanting more. Books like these get 5 star ratings.
I'd like to think my reviews are honest without being rude. I focus on what works in the book over what doesn't, what I like over what I don't like. I find a review rarely needs to focus on the negative to be a review that works not only for the author but for the readers who will now pick up the book.
Reviewing books for me is sort of like talking to a friend about something great I have just finished reading. If I like the book enough, I want them to feel like my choice might also be their choice.
I also want the author to know that I actually read and thought about their book. A few days ago I learned that some reviewers actually go to Amazon, read the little that's written there, and then post their review as if they'd read the book entirely.
Wow. I guess I'm a bit naive even in my 50's.
Reviewers have a great responsibility, not only to read the entire book, but to put their best foot forward when it comes to review time. And I hope that how I review books not only helps readers but also writers who want to continue to write.