I love books. In my school days I read upwords of 800 books a year. I read anything and everything that caught my interest from Babysitters Club to Historical Inspiration Romance to mysteries and even the encyclopedia. (I especially inhaled every Star Trek and Star Wars book I could get my hands on.) I’ve also always been a big re-reader. I used to say they “called me” – I wouldn’t know which book I wanted to read but as I’d peruse the shelves, I’d always land on the one book that was demanding to be reread. My Narnia series was falling apart and had to be taped together by the time I was 15 (I still have them).
Once I had my daughter, though, reading took a major step back in my life. Aside from manga, it was years before I managed to start reading regularly again and it’s still nowhere remotely near the quantity from those days. But as I began to delve back into reading, I realized my tastes had changed and preferences solidified. However, I’m nothing if not stubborn and I continued to read books that I should have enjoyed, thinking each one must be a fluke and the next would surely be better. If you’ve read my past reviews here, you’ll have noticed I’ve come to the conclusion that Inspirational rarely does it for me anymore. It’s nothing against the genre. As my good friend Lisa Godfrees put it, “I think for the spec-fan, regular romance doesn’t hold enough “other.”” Plus no one wants to read a blog full of, “yuck, yuck, ooh good, yuck, etc.”. It is difficult but I am trying to be more selective in what I read. So you’ll be seeing less of those books on this blog going forward.
I say all this because I feel compelled to explain my stance on book reviews. There’s many articles and posts out there both for and against negative reviews. Some of them even feel negative reviews may be okay for the average reader but not when coming from a writer. And I really empathize with that viewpoint. I struggle with each and every review, balancing my honest opinion with the feelings of the writer who poured so much of themselves into the book. Especially if I am even remotely acquainted with the author.
However, I also feel very strongly that:
~ it is nigh on impossible for a book to 100% please 100% of its readers
~ not everyone has the exact same tastes
~ what bothers one person may not bother another
~ we all have triggers or specific things that really bother us
Also, reviews that only say everything was great out of deference to feelings aren’t doing anyone any favors. They mislead about the readers honest opinion, they don’t provide honest feedback that might be useful to the writer – they’re just altogether useless.
So I am a huge believer in reviews containing negatives along with the positives. Even if it’s a 5-star in my world, there’s still probably something that I disliked. When I read reviews, I skip the 5-stars and go straight for the 3s because they are the most useful. They’re the ones that say, “It was good but this, that, or the other thing.” If the reviews complain consistently about something I would find irritating, I check a few of the 4-5 & 1-2 stars to see what those reviewers have to say about the subject. If the reviews never agree on the negatives or complain about something that wouldn’t bother me, then I feel informed.
I try to approach book reviews the way I approach my writing in general. Writing book reviews I would want to read. I include the covers, blurbs and links because I love when reviews do that. I try to write them as if I was sharing about the book with my friends because essentially that is what I am doing anyway. And I include any of the little, niggly negatives along with all the awesome bits because I don’t tend to trust reviews that don’t have them.
That being said, if I really, really disliked a book, I most likely will not do a full review here. I’ll give it the stars on Goodreads and Amazon because I have to be honest but I’ll probably keeping my expounding to a minimum on why it was a 1-2 star for me. This is because of my involvement in the writing world. And as much as I want to be honest, I also have an extremely difficult time risking hurting someone. (INFJ here.)