- Outline of story opening - no more than first 50 pages -where the book is set, background etc, this bit no more than 2 parags
- type of book
- book characteristics - how the author tells the story
- about the author, other books, website
- How I felt about the book
e.g. in a 250 page book 50 pages, in a 450 page book 90 pages
In WICKER that I reviewed recently for example, there were quite significant aspects of the book (that would appeal to particular readers) that didn't even come up until the second half.
When in doubt I often read the blurb on the book, to see what the publishers are prepared to reveal. That's when you find out that the person who wrote the blurb either didn't read the book properly, or the blurb was written before the final version of the book. [That's a different story - in the blurb on PD Martin's FAN MAIL for example there is a significant divergence from what happens in the book]
If I find the blurb has gone further into the book, I do feel as if I have permission to do so too, but I don't always take it. I am always mindful that I shouldn't spoil the book for a reader, but then I too read blurbs and reviews, but I really only remember the bits that spark my interest.
I think there is a problem too when you didn't really like a book. Occasionally I review true crime, but it is not a genre that I look for, and I rarely enjoy. Sometimes I read a crime fiction that I really can't wait to finish because I hate it so much, and that I wouldn't recommend to anyone. But then I am aware that it takes all kinds to make a world, and what I hate another may enjoy. How do you handle those, particularly if you have been given a free review copy?
I'd be interested in knowing what basic rules others try to follow, or what authors think is "fair game".