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Reviews ~ Good, Bad, & Ugly...

April 23, 2009
Apparently there was a VERY interesting discussion yesterday (last night? I'm not thinking straight...) that I missed. I caught up on Trish's blog - Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'? And Amy over at My Friend Amy compares reviewers to the American Idol judges, which I find myself wholeheartedly agreeing with. & while I secretly want to be Simon, I'm probably more like Paula and/or Randy...

So, I've been noodling a little. What makes a good review? A bad one? Do our reviews really influence other readers? I'd think that it's more like a "maybe" - if the readers know our reading taste, our personality, etc. Otherwise, aren't we mostly writing these for ourselves? =P

I will confess here, and in writing(!) that I review for myself. If I like a book, I will tell you so. If I REALLY like it, I'll say that too. If I didn't care for certain parts of a book, ditto. If I hated a book? As long as I've made it through the book, I'll probably tell you that too. (That review will be really s.h.o.r.t. I don't like saying bad things.) If I couldn't make it through the book? Hmm... Here I have some trouble. How can I say it's bad? It might be good, but I haven't gotten there yet... *sigh*

And how will I know if my opinion's totally on point, or completely out of whack? Will you holler at me for recommending a book that you eventually bought, read, and absolutely hated? =( What if I loved a book one day, & upon re-reading it, wonder why?

All I can say is, I try to review a book as honestly, and as politely, as I can (can't make any promises on snarkiness, sometimes that slips out, and hey! It's honest then, isn't it?). And my opinion could totally be a reflection of my mood at the time I read it. After all, a warm-fuzzy book that might be ok in any other setting, could be a wonderful read if one's in need of a warm-fuzzy.

What do you guys think?


Dixie said...

I went and read the other blogs you mentioned and it sounds almost like certain publishers are starting to "review the reviewers"

I think your reviews are straight forward-I like it that if you can't finish a book for whatever reason you come right out and say so.
I haven't really found myself influenced to go out and buy a particular book, but I have learned about new authors and as a result have taken a closer look at their work.

I already know the genres that I like and it is great to discover new work or give a second look at someone who's work has been out there for a while just by reading someone's review.


Toni said...

I think pretty much along the same lines. Someday I really want to write a scathing intelligent review. Well at least I think I do. I have no trouble saying that I didn't like a book for X, Y and Z. But I agree no need to beat it up. I have however read some hilarious reviews that went on and on and the review held an entertainment factor for me.

On the other hand I don't buy books based on reviews solely. Unless I popped into blogland and most said.... don't waste your money.. gag gag gag.. I might have to pause on that.

Lots of angles.. lots of good topic going down and 'round these days.

Unknown said...

Hi Drey!

It's right on my blog, all reviews are my opinion. Just my opinion. I am be influenced by the writing or my own desires. Maybe I didn't feel well (I try to look over these reviews and don't publish until I not influenced by the black moodiness of illness). But I'm sure some have slipped by. That's all reviewers do, express their own feelings and thoughts.

I rarely write a negative review, if I didn't feel it was my cup of tea, I say so, but don't discourage others from trying it. Who knows what someone else will like, they might think that the review saying it didn't appeal to me was full of dog droppings. That's their opinion and they're entitled just like me.

I do look for authors that I have missed in the genres that appeal to me, which in my case could me anything from a historical romance to series murderers. I love almost everything for different reasons. As long as I'm happy doing what I'm doing, that's all that truly matters.

Dottie :)

TexasRed said...

I often buy books based on the recommendation of friends who I know have similar tastes. I do so much more often than I make decisions based on professional reviews.

My goal is to post reviews that are more like one friend talking to another about the book, which will hopefully be helpful to someone who has similar interests and tastes.

Kat Bryan said...

I appreciate it that you give an honest review but I look at book reveiws like I do movie reveiws. I want to know what the book (movie) is about but the reveiws are just the reveiwer's opinion and it's up to me to decide if I think I'd like the book (or movie).

Amanda said...

Interesting topic. I tend to write more positive reviews because I only read books I want to read. So usually I like them. Although I will point out what I didn't like or what I could have done without. And if I REALLY don't like a book, I'll just stop reading it. I've just recently been contacted by a couple of publicists to read/review books and I am clear with them at the beginning that if they send me books, it doesn't guarantee that I'll read them and/or that I'll like them. So far they seem fine with that.

drey said...

TexasRed ~ That's what I'm hoping to do here, too (esp. since I think my IRL friends are kinda getting tired of hearing me talk about books, lol!)...

Kat Bryan ~ I try to not give away the plot in my reviews, unless it's already referred to in the synopsis, cover, etc. In your eyes, does this help or hinder?

& I guess I write reviews for you guys, too. It can't just be all about me, right? =P But my 2009 books read, seems to be more general fiction than fantasy. Probably 'cuz I can't buy any new books, and the review copies I've received so far aren't fantasy... *sigh* Anyone want to help me get more fantasy books? =)

wheels209 said...

Hi Drey,
I try to get a sense of the person who is writing the review. Even if it is a book that I would not normally read. Then when they do hit a book that I am interested in I have already done my homework and I am set to go.

You do influence my reading choices. Case in point Sheldon Rusch. As an author he would have never hit my radar if it was not for your interview.

Well my friend have go now take care have a great day.

Darlene said...

Drey, I'm pretty much the same. I don't like being mean so if I have something I didn't like about a book I will say so, but nicely. For the most part if I'm reading something I don't like, I won't be reading it for long and therefore it will never end up on my blog. Consequently my reviews are usually books I liked for some reason.

ps---I like your reviews just the way they are!

Luanne said...

Hmm I'd missed all this. I guess I'm with you Drey - I try to only request/review books that I have an interest in. If I don't like a book, I'm honest and provide my reasoning but don't try to be hurtful. I have read books i really didn't like but linked to a more positive review to give an alternate view. Interesting topic. But I don't write to be judged by others - I write what I think....

Penny said...

I have made it a point to search out other reviews of books I didn't like, and link them to my review, because as I say in those rare reviews of a book I don't like, "Don't turn down a book just cuz I don't like it". I feel that if I find other reviews - especially if they are positive - I balance out how I felt.

Anonymous said...

I read that posting about a publisher saying that certain authors asked not to have their books sent to a particular reviewer. While I don't think it's right to review a reviewer I can see why they had a problem with some of the reviews posted. Things like "craptastic" or "wanting to gouge my eyes out" seem pretty harsh. If I don't like a book I try to point out why and try to keep it respectful. I don't expect everyone or even most people to agree with my opinions but like you I review books mostly for myself.

I always enjoy your reviews and I think you do a great job. Keep up the good work!

LuAnn said...

I have given you an award!

Lenore Appelhans said...

I try very hard to be fair to the book I'm reviewing (i.e. judge it for what it did, not what it did not attempt to do) and never cruel. A little snark might come out to play every now and then, but never on a Simon level. Not that I think reviews need to be sugarcoated, but Simon can be downright mean. I've never liked that.

drey said...

wheels, you're too good to me. I'm glad you're liking Sheldon's books. Kinda validates that I'm not that kooky. =D

Dar ~ thank you!

Luanne & Penny ~ That's a great idea! I'll have to remember to do that the next time I don't really care for what I've read... Great point on balance!

debbie & Lenore ~ I agree, there's no need to be rude in a review. I guess sometimes I want to be Simon because sometimes it's just difficult to find the right, non-threatening, words, to say "craptastic"... =P

LuAnn ~ I promise to stop by this weekend & pick it up! I have to work (ick), but hey. If I'm online I should be allowed to have some fun, right? =)

Thanks for commenting, you guys! I think I've been very very fortunate in the people I've met online. =) Have a great weekend!

The Book Resort said...

Will get back on this topic, drey.

This is 4 ya:

kalea_kane said...

Dre, personally I think you give a great review. I think from seeing what you have read and what you like, I can kind of tell what I will like. For myself, I just have to make sure to not read for a review a book in a genre that I am just not into, but occasionally I will take the leap and read something I don't normally touch, and I am floored and kicking myself for not reading something like that sooner. Then again I could be in a time of my life where I will like a book that I never would have touched before.

I will have to think on this a bit, but I really did enjoy reading your take and your comments. :)

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