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.
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!