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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Booking Through Thursday...Honesty

Today's Booking Through Thursday asks:

I receive a lot of review books, but I have never once told lies about the book just because I got a free copy of it. However, some authors seem to feel that if they send you a copy of their book for free, you should give it a positive review.

Do you think reviewers are obligated to put up a good review of a book, even if they don’t like it? Have we come to a point where reviewers *need* to put up disclaimers to (hopefully) save themselves from being harassed by unhappy authors who get negative reviews?

As always, another terrific question. I started reviewing books mostly by accident. I love to read and I wanted a way to keep track of what I read. I started this blog to do exactly that: keep track. My early reviews are pretty brief. I soon found though, that I liked writing up reviews and being creative. I started finding other book blogs and making new friends through Goodreads too. I was finding new books to read, many of which I wouldn't have read without first seeing a recommendation from someone else.

I think that honesty is very important. I, for one, want to know what someone really thinks about a book. I don't want a sanitized version of the jacket synopsis. I've tried to be honest in all my reviewing and because of that I've posted some negative reviews. Several negative reviews came from books I had received as ARCs for free. Did I relish writing negative reviews? No. But, I couldn't say that I liked a book when I didn't. I've had several authors comment on my reviews, but only one commented on a negative review. And, while they said they respected my opinion, it was clear that they'd taken offense. I felt bad for that, but I truly didn't like the book, and I found nothing redeeming about the main characters.

It can't be easy, as an author, to see negative reviews of something you've put your heart and soul into. Every writer has an idea in their mind of what they want their books to say and how they want them received. Every reader has expectations about books, whether from what is clearly printed on the back of the book, their own experiences or other reviews. To have every reader love and adore the book like they do is incredibly unrealistic for any author.

Should negative reviews be softened? Perhaps. On this one particular review, I did go back and softened a couple of sentences which, in hindsight, were probably unnecessarily harsh, but I didn't change my review.

Over the last couple of weeks, I've watched some of the drama on other blogs, with honest reviews and angry author responses. And, perhaps "disclaimers" on our blogs aren't a bad idea. I may work on one of those. But, I also think that if an author is going to send out a book for review, they should check out the blogger ahead of time. If the book is a legal thriller and that blogger hasn't been very positive about legal thrillers, then don't send them the book and expect a glowing review. And on the same note, I've become more selective about which ARCs I will review. For awhile, I just accepted every ARC that came my way, but after some experience, now, if I truly think I won't like it, I won't request or accept it.

Just my two cents. Go here for more Booking Through Thursday posts.


  1. I am not accepting books that I don't think are the kind I'd like, either. Further, I do not have a disclaimer. Come see my answer.

  2. If I were an author, I would want to know what parts of my books needed work so that I could make my next book even better.

  3. Nowadays I am selective about accepting free books/ARcs. That way I am not obligate to read everything I receive!

    Read my BTT post!

  4. I agree, I cant write a good review if I didnt enjoy the book.

    And I dont want 'a sanitized version of the jacket synopsis' I want to read honest reviews.

    I read your review of 'Chasing Diana' and the atuhors comments.
    Its good that you were honest with your review and kept it professional as well.
    I had a similar thing happen when I reviewed a book called 'Considering SomeplacElse'.


  5. I think not giving a fair review (ie saying you didn't like it when you did) is not fair to the author nor future readers. I have seen negative reviews on books, and have decided not to read them based on those reviews.
    Well put!
    BTW, I received Operation Blue Light today and wanted to thank you again. Have a fantastic Thanksgiving!