Book Review’s and Ratings… My Thoughts

So I’ve been reviewing books for a few years now but I was pretty sporadic in the beginning and it was only books I’d purchased or gotten from the library so I felt- well, not really obligated, I guess.  But in the past year I’ve reviewed over 130 books with a full and fairly in depth review.  I’ve found that I’ve not only found my voice to be much stronger in my reviews but ratings are becoming easier to determine.  I’ve also discovered that authors DO read your reviews, particularly new authors or with new releases.  They have an alert that lets them know so you don’t even have to tell them.  Most of the time we don’t even know they saw it.   But in chatting with authors and in overhearing conversations on twitter and in real life I’ve discovered that there really are some cruel people out there who really don’t take into consideration people’s feelings.  Some people have a loud voice- they state their opinions clear as day and don’t try to damper how it sounds.  Sometimes that works, it’s their voice.  But sometimes, with others,  the way things come out it just sounds mean.   I have had troubles reviewing a book here and there but I know, at least in the past 6 months I’ve worked hard to be kind in my reviews.  I’m honest- but not cruel.  And considering a rating is important.  I don’t think it’s fair to give 3 stars to a book and then commence to tear it apart.  3 stars means you LIKED it!  Yes, it means there were things you liked less, but the entire review shouldn’t be about what you didn’t like, you have to balance it out!  Otherwise people start thinking of 3 stars as BAD and it’s not!
And then sometimes a book is CRAZY good and you really can’t compare it to anything else.  It’s even better then the other 5 star books you’ve reviewed.  Now what do you do?  Well, you mention it in your review, of course, but I have a rating for it now!  It’s called Once in a Blue Moon.  The very rare and far above average book.
Now, I try not to be judgemental of people- we all have a different voice- so I’m going to say it’s very few who are just downright mean, but I had to mention this, and maybe give a few of you something to think about :) I’m not talking about any certain person or blog.  Most of the reviews I’ve seen that were mean were on amazon or other sites and not on blogs. 

On another note-  I’ve heard there are a lot of reviewers who won’t take self published books.  I actually understand this. Kind of.  This is what I understand- the good ones can be far and in between, you don’t know which ones are good.    BUT I also know this- Self published books CAN be as good.  There are books published by big time publishers that suck.  So, I know there are just too many books out there to be able to read them all, but as a blogger I feel it’s my job to help out EVERYONE!  Okay, so I can’t help EVERYONE, but I won’t refuse a book because it’s self published.  If it sounds good and I have room in my schedule, I’ll accept it.  Now finding the time is what is really my problem.  
I vow that for 2011 I will read AT LEAST one self published book a month.  Now don’t get too excited authors!  I’m already backed up!  I have at least 4 to read already. 

*PS. I promise not to judge you if you DON’T take self published, but I wanted to mention that I have read some good ones!

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  1. Great post! I agree! I have a hard time writing bad reviews. I want to tell the author what was good and what was not but in a supportive manner and not in a way that tears them apart. It can be difficult but rewarding when you know you’ve done right by telling the truth in a nice way. I wish we did reviews on a 10 point scale with 5 being average. I think people forget 3 means average, you liked it. I like to give half stars on my blog to make my 1-5 scale more like a 1-10.

  2. I’ve considered doing half ratings, that actually does make it easier, but most sites that I post my reviews don’t allow it so I figured it was easiest just to stick with the 5 star rating. Other then the Once in a Blue Moon rating, which I just give as 5 stars when posting it other places.

  3. I do half ratings and just try to state somewhere in the review that it was a 4.5 or whatever.

    I rarely post negative reviews, because most of the time I stop reading the book if its that bad. Then it goes on Book Breakup’s and I always post great reviews along with it so that I don’t sway people to not read it.

    I’ve been a little less forthcoming with 5 star ratings lately, because I can’t compare some books to the Really Awesome Ones.

    Great post!

  4. Great post! I’ve often felt the same way and it’s good to know others feel the same. There are really not too many books out there I’ve really hated. Is it just the way I select my books? I don’t know, but I agree there is a certain tact one can use when criticizing someone else’s work. But that’s just me.

  5. Such a lovely button posted on that ever so needed post.

    I have been seeing so many blog reviews that have made me shake my head nearly knocking off my dear hat.


    Mad Scientist

  6. I’ve only read one self-published book and it was so awful that I can’t bring myself to read another one. Yet. I agree that there’s some pretty awful stuff that comes out of the big publishing houses, too, but there’s one thing that’s usually better: editing.

    But I’m a very nit-picky reader/reviewer, so maybe that’s just me.

  7. Thank you for this review Candace. You are right, I have stopped visiting blogs that are rude & mean in their reviews. I do not feel this is necessary at all. I focus on what is good on the book & how it was not compatible with me. Just because I do not like it does not mean someone else will not LOVE IT! (one man’s trash is another man’s treasure…right)?

    I feel that if a book is good, sing the praises. If there are items in the book you are not happy with, send the details in a kind and gentle way directly to the author. Let them know why you were not happy with it but also let them know what you liked about it.

    I am a cover and title person. I recently ordered a book based on the name & cover. I had no clue what it was even about. I even contacted the author to see if I could order it directly from her. She was so nice! I got my book and I loved the story. I sent her a review of what I loved about the book & what I noticed that I did not like about it. I found out later she was Indie Author. What was my reaction to this? GOOD FOR HER! She took a story from her mind, put it to paper and self published! ROCK ON!!!

    The story is EXCELLENT and I will def order the next book. Was it edited by a major editor? No it was not. Were there parts that were a little confusing b/c the charcters changed? Yes. Did any of this change the storyline..NO WAY!

    Thank you for voicing your opinion on this. I know that there are authors out there that will appreciate this no matter what.


  8. This is such a great post Candace! I don’t think it’s right for anyone to rip apart someone’s book in their review because somewhere out there, another person has worked hard on that book, possibly for a very long time before it got published. I’m just glad I haven’t come across this situation yet.

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