Book blogs and reviews – the good, the bad and the ugly

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Do you like everything you read? The answer for all of us is, of course, no. That would be impossible. If we liked everything we read, we would all be bland, with no opinions. And then no one would be able to distinguish between good, great, really great on the one side and average or not so good on the other side.

Social media has given readers a voice. Book blogs, Amazon, Goodreads are all places we can express our views about the last book we’ve read.

Everyone likes to gush when they love a book. And on what we could call the dark web of book reviews, many readers like to rip a book apart if they didn’t like it. These reviews are often nasty and don’t have much substance. And once posted, they sit out there, attached to the book for all to see. That’s hard on authors, especially new ones.

As readers, we tend to pick books we know we will like. With limited time, why read a book you know you won’t enjoy? But even when we select what we think will be winners, not everything works. As a book blogger, what to do?

  1. I could choose not to review the book.
  2. I could give it a positive review anyway.
  3. I could give it an average rating, point to the good things and let the rating speak for itself.

Option three works a lot for me, but every now and then I have to choose between that and something else: Option four:

  1. I could give it an honest review and explain why, without being harsh.

Yesterday I posted a review and gave it 2 bookmarks. Ouch! I thought about it for a long time. Could I do that? Did it deserve only 2 bookmarks? For me, yes.

If you’re in a book club, you know that very rarely does everyone like the book of the month. In my group, some of our best discussions were about books that some people hated and others loved! We are able to laugh about it and tease each other.

Can you do that on a book blog? I think so. My goal here is to develop a brand so that people who read my blog know my tastes and can choose based on them. We have to have a personality or it isn’t real!

So here is my idea for the future, and I will start with yesterday’s review of Exposed by Lisa Scottoline. If you are a Scottoline fan and want to tell me about her best books and why you like them, I’m inviting you to either make comments below or on the review linked above, or be a guest blogger on Book Club Mom. Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com if you are interested.

Because isn’t it best to reach across the book aisle?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

31 thoughts on “Book blogs and reviews – the good, the bad and the ugly

    1. Hi Jennifer – thank you for commenting. As an author, I know you are on the other side of things. I think it’s okay to express an opinion, but I would never want to offend an author. With established authors who publish more than one book a year, I am sometimes frustrated with the lack of polish, when so many new authors check and check and check their manuscripts before they are published. I think the authors with big followings are comfortable, yet they should get ready for high quality writers like you!

      1. Thank you, Barbara! I value your opinion greatly so that is a welcome compliment. 😊
        I’ve noticed the lack of polish that you speak of. Besides the author herself, you would thing the editors would have been more thorough.

      1. It’s coming together, but a long way to go yet. Lots of polishing left to do and two or three chapters I’m considering rewriting. But I received a big shot in the arm last week when Paul read the first five chapters, and his feedback, which I value, was in a word “excited”. 🤩

      2. That’s great – I’m excited for you! I hope it wasn’t my reviews of your books that got to you. I went back to see if I said anything negative, but I don’t think I did…Tell me if I did?

  1. I agree with Jennifer, a reviewer can be honest without being nasty. For me, if I truly didn’t like the book, I wouldn’t write a review…but I’m not a professional book reviewer like you are, Barbara. 🙂

    1. Oh Jill, you are so nice. I considered not reviewing it, but I spent the time reading it and in some ways, I feel I earned the right to express an opinion. But being negative actually goes against my nature, so it was hard to put it out there. I’m also very respectful of writers like you, who work very hard to put out a professional and well-constructed story. You guys should be noticed! Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. It means a lot to me!

    1. Yes, I thought hard about that because what’s the benefit of being negative about a book? A book review blog shouldn’t have just positive reviews, should it? I’m not sure! I have skipped over reviewing other books that I didn’t enjoy. Thanks for taking time to comment, Robbie.

  2. I’m like Robbie, I don’t blog or post below a three.
    I did when I first started, but I haven’t in a long, long time. I will, however, let the author or the company I received the book from know, and why.

    1. Hi Robbye, thanks for stopping in! I never thought to contact the author or the company and express an opinion that way. Do you ever receive a reply? In the past, I have not posted reviews under 3-stars, but for me, not doing so doesn’t present the real picture. I don’t know. It’s a hard question, isn’t it?

      1. I have on occasion, though not always.
        I understand your dilemma, I struggled with it for a long time. I finally decided if the review were beneficial to others or the author, I would post it with my reasons. If not, or if I genuinely couldn’t say much about the book on the positive side, I would just let it go.
        It is a tough question to answer, and I think it just boils down to what you feel comfortable with doing.

  3. Giving a low rating is always hard but an honest review, especially early in a career, can be a blessing in disguise. There are too many books published these day prematurely. I’ve learnt that the hard way – the very hard way.

    1. There are many ways to look at this subject. From the writer’s view and the reader’s view. I think newer authors who have not been picked up by big publishers deserve much more recognition for putting out quality books so I’m frustrated when a big-time writer publishes a book with mistakes. Thanks for reading and commenting. I appreciate your time!

    1. I think I’m with you, Cathy, although I feel bad about a 2-bookmark review, even when I go over in my head why I think it’s flawed. I’m mostly a positive person, so I like a lot of what I read. It’s always a jolt to sink into a book and discover it’s not what I expected. And I think it’s unfair for popular writers to let things slide through when other lesser known authors put out high quality work. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  4. I’m all for option 4! Being honest about why you disliked a book is important, but its also important not to be too harsh. Its a fine like and I have probably crossed it a couple times, but I am constantly getting better. If noone ever writes negative reviews then you never get discussions on why a book was or wasn’t great!

    1. Yes I agree with you completely. It’s hard to get the criticism right so that it isn’t too harsh but I like hearing why people liked or didn’t like a book! Thanks for stopping by!

    1. Oh Books and Bakes – thank you for your support! I think if I don’t like a book and can get someone to share a positive review of the same book, that would be a great thing! Have a great evening!

  5. I think honest without being harsh is the best way to go. If the book really has no merit whatsoever, you should probably stop reading it after the first chapter (or first page?) and not bother at all. I always tell people: If you like my book, tell everybody. If you don’t like it, tell me. I always wonder about the motivation behind the one and two star reviews. Almost all of my Amazon reviews are 4 and 5 stars, but when my book was first published, I really worried about the stars. It’s very important in self-publishing as you have zero cushion to start with. It can stop sales in their tracks and there are a lot of angry people out there. Thus said, I can’t imagine you being anything but honest and if you’ve thought this hard about it, you’ve done the right thing.

    1. Thank you, Karen, for these thoughtful remarks. I’m probably in the group of readers who must always finish a book, but I’m taking your comment to thought. I agree that self-published authors are much more affected by reviews because of how hard it is to get someone to post a review. So a negative review of a self-published book can really sting. I do think that some super-successful high-profile books and writers can get a little sloppy with new books, so I get frustrated when I see editing errors and problems with consistency by some well-known writers. Especially when compared to how hard indie and self-published authors work to put out a polished book. Thanks for stopping by!

      1. Excellent point with regard to highly successful writers and big publishers – I have zero patience for their sloppiness and would personally judge them much more harshly than a self-published author without a team of editors and proofreaders behind him (or her).

  6. Great questions here. I think reading a book and reviewing a book are very subjective. I have had the same experience as you of reading a book I loved and then attending a book club meeting where three quarters of the people hated it! I would have given the book a 4-star rating and they’d give it a 2-star rating. I think a review should include comments about how well written the book is, perhaps if the characterization is well done, and the setting. But then a reviewer should be honest about what kinds of book he or she enjoys. As an author I love honest enthusiastic reviews, and dislike the few that say they don’t like my book because “it’s romantic suspense and I don’t like romantic suspense.” In that case, I don’t think they should have reviewed the book (which is listed as a romantic suspense). Or even read it! 🧐

    1. Hi Pam, thanks so much for reading and leaving such great comments. I am truly interested in the author’s point of view here. I think your point about including what was good about a book, even if parts aren’t to your liking, is something every reviewer should try to do. I do that a lot, although with my last review, I struggled because I became very frustrated with the inconsistencies and errors from such a well-known author. I also agree with you that saying you didn’t like a book because you don’t like a specific genre is both unfair and a useless opinion. I think it’s great to try out new genres, but a reviewer should not be negative if they try something and it doesn’t work out I was interested in reading the author of the last book because of her huge and loyal fan base. I have also enjoyed her column in the Philadelphia Inquirer. So that was a let down for me. So much to talk about, I truly appreciate your input!

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