Sunday, 20 March 2011

Book Reviews

I have recently done a couple of book reviews on Life in Clarity and will probably be doing a few more as the blog progresses.
Having done these and having read other review blogs, discussions on book reviews, having read a couple of really hateful reviews on Goodreads and combining those with being a writer I have carefully considered what I will be doing with any books I review and what the review will consist of. 
Some book reviewers can be extremely harsh with little thought for the effect their words can have. It's not fun, in fact it's quite uncomfortable. It's someones work that they are happily slagging off in the name of entertainment value. It's unwarranted. And while they may defend their slicing words with comments of individual opinion and authors putting their work out there to be read and critiqued, I see no point in some of the joy that seems to be gleened out of slamming someones work. 
So, if you are reading a book review here, you will be getting an account of what the book is about, taken from the blurb and my reading. I have no intention of being nasty about a book even if I haven't really enjoyed it. All writers put a lot of work in and love and treasure their work, so I will simply review it by commenting on it's style how easy I felt it was to read. Why I enjoyed it or didn't. If I didn't enjoy a book, it will be because it's just not my thing. Reading is a very personal pass-time. I will generally put up books that are readable and I'd recommend. A place to pass on good reads if you will. 
Here you will get a good feel of what the book is and how readable and enjoyable it was for me. How you will get on with it is something entirely different, but I hope to be able to give you an idea of what you will get. 

If you want ideas for books to read, do check back and I will try to do them as often as I can. I will then try my hardest to get an author interview at a later date. 

Happy reading in the safety of a blog not going to turn book reviews into slasher fests. 


  1. Rebecca, I too review books on my blog. And I interview writers of those I like. I don't post snarky reviews. I tell what I like, or don't like about a book. If I come upon a book I truly don't like and can't recommend, I don't review it. Pass, and go on to the next. I look forward to your reviews.

  2. Good for you for setting a higher and kinder standard for reviewing books.

    I reviewed a book for Quill & Quire once and I liked their policy. They decided that if the review was very negative--if it was to be published at all--it should at least be mercifully short so they would spend their time and space helping readers find worthy books.

    Too many sites go for a cheap, ripping review. It might gain readership in the short term, but it's wearing in the long term. Book reviews should spend energy on positive reviews if they are to help curate the vast number of books out there. Negative reviews that bang on too long disperse that energy, mistake their mission and take space that could have been used more constructively.

    When I read Amazon reviews that are downright nasty, I think the reviewer is probably there to show off how darling and smart they are. When they get really angry, I think they probably need a blog, a job or a life.

  3. I'm with you. I just started a review blog for small-press and indie eRomances, and I really aim for constructive commentary, not the snark. My hope is, if we come across a book that really REALLY doesn't work, we'll be able to find a way to give criticism that will help the author with their writing choices in the future.

  4. I agree, it's pointless and mean to be disparaging about a book simply for the sake of entertainment. I like reviews that are fair and balanced. Say what works and what doesn't. Critique the story, not the author. Also, it is good to point out that reviews are generally subjective. I find that if I have similar tastes to a reviewer, then their reviews are helpful to me.

    As a writer, however, I do think you need to understand that putting your work out into the public means that it will come under public scrutiny. If someone doesn't like my work, I need to evaluate how relevant their critique is, and if it's not, I move on.

  5. I think there is a place in the world for reviewers who give us the unvarnished truth. I rely on honest reviews to show me gems and steer me away from the crap, and there is a lot of crap out there. I know someone loved it and nutured it, but I don't want to pay for it either.

    But as an author, I feel like it's not my place to be a part of the reviewing community. It's just a personal choice. I don't want to dish it out for the very reasons you stated. I know how hard it is to write a book, even a crappy one. =)

    So on my blog I do book recommendations when I find a book I really enjoyed, but I leave the actual reviewing to someone else.

  6. Rebecca, I'm so glad somebody has come out and said this, as it's something I've been thinking about a lot recently.

    I'm a great believer in 'if you haven't got something nice to say, don't say anything at all'. That's just me of course, but it does make me really wince when I see authors putting up one star reviews of other people's books. They have every right to express an honest opinion,but it makes me feel quite uncomfotable. So I'm with India on this one,no reviewing for me!

  7. India - that's a really good idea. Recs vs Reviews. I like that idea for authors, because, as you say, we know how much work goes into creating a book, even if it is a crappy one.

  8. I agree with everything you've said, Rebecca. I haven't reviewed many books, but I try to make fair and balanced. If I dislike a book I don't review it.

  9. Betsy -that is probably what will happen here, if i really don't like it, i probably wont end up reviewing it. I will do some book reviews though because books are what interest people here.

    Chazz - I really don't understand what the mean nasty reviewers actually get out of doing those types of reviews. I really don't. I think they must be really insecure and its the only way they can build up they're own self esteem by knocking down others.

    JM - that sounds great. Reviews can be done in a sincere manner no matter what the thought on the book was.

    Cilla - i think you just hit a major point. Critique the book not the author. A lot of nasty reviews ive read actually get too personal and start getting nasty on the author. Absolutely no need. Its certainly not benefitting the readers of the review.

    India - what is the unvarnished truth? My feelings are that there is no review truths in writing and books. One of my favourite authors is James Patterson. I love his books and his style, yet i know there are people out there who will hate his books and his style and could give a pretty nasty review. so i give a great review, someone else gives a scathing one. Which one is honest? Its personal taste. So when you want an honest review, what you are actually getting is a subjective review, each and every time.

    I don't intend to become a part of the reviewing community as such, but will do the occasional review and do them in a certain style which recognises not everyone will enjoy the book because i did, so I will explain it's premise and how easy I felt it was to read.

    Books interest many who come here, so it's about sharing books. Probably actually in the similar vein to you.

    Rachel - thanks for your comments Rachel. I won't mark or grade a book, just give it's premise and readability. Informative. :)

    Ellie - i think that's a pretty safe place to be. We are interested in books, so sharing is a good thing :)

    Cilla - recommendations are a good idea :)

  10. In the interest of fairness though, some really bad books deserve to be slashed by reviewers such as yourself!

    I see that you write short stories. Have you heard of Write1Sub1?

  11. Milo - Is there anything such as a really bad book or is it just subjective? It's a bit like art (paint on canvas etc) one mans splodge of colour that a child could do is another mans masterpiece.

  12. I review books too, from time to time. I refuse to post bad reviews because I think life is too short to waste time being unkind, and also because I don't believe that just because I didn't like a book it means no one else will either.

  13. Denyse, I absolutely agree. We all like different things, the only thing we can do with a review is tell the reader what the book is like.

  14. I don't think there is any need to be nasty, but I do think we need to be honest. The purpose of a book review is not just to point out what you like about the book but also point out deficiencies in a nice way. If you only post good things about the book it will not help the author improve.

  15. Brenda - I don't feel it's my role to point out deficiencies and I also think it's all subjective anyway. I don't intend to only post good things, but will try to be honest about how I felt about the book (which is only my singular opinion) without being mean about it.