Friday, 28 December 2012

Book reviews and why I will never write a negative one...

Ok so I won't technically never write a negative review...what I really mean is that you will never see a negative review from me on this blog. I don't write many reviews (on here, at least) even though I do get asked to review books quite a lot. Honestly, I'm a busy gal and if I'm going to read, it will be a book that I've chosen to read.

But you will see the odd review up on here and they will only ever be positive ones. This is not because I am easily pleased or because I am biased in some way. There are several reasons why you will only ever see 4 or 5 star reviews on here:

1. Very simply, I try and only read books I know I'll enjoy. Ergo, I don't often have bad stuff to say about a book.

2. Unfortunately, there is an element within the author community that is spiteful and revengeful. This is the such a small minority - most authors are lovely and will bend over backwards for you - but I would be putting my own books at risk by writing a negative review under my name.

3. I don't believe in spreading negative reviews over the internet. There are blogs that are there to actively help people decide which books to read and that is fine but that's not what my blog is about. If I write a negative review, it will only ever be posted where I bought the book. That way, hopefully, people can see my review, alongside others and make an informed decision. A negative review stood on its own will only serve to encourage negativity towards that author. Not everyone likes the same things and I've seen many of these negative reviews receive responses such as 'Well, I'm never going to bother looking at that author then.' This is unfair. My one opinion should be weighed up against others, not taken as the be all and end all.

4. Finally, I try and be constructive in my reviews. I can very often pick out good things in a book, in spite of its flaws. This means its rare I leave less than 3 stars. I have left the odd 2 star review with ideas on how the story could be improved. I try and be fair. I will never, ever go down the route of leaving a one star review with a mere one line of explanation. Thankfully, I've never had to leave a one star review. The vast majority of my reviews are positive.

You will notice, if you follow me on Goodreads, that the same applies there. I don't rate all the books I read. One, because of the retaliation.  It's so easy for someone to click one star on an authors titles and also I don't like the ease in which you can leave a negative star rating without so much as an explanation. I struggle a little with Goodreads on the whole, as it takes some of the humanity out of reading. Some authors push themselves over the forums and you'll often see threads of malicious words after someone has left a negative review, bitching about a book that they've not even attempted to read.

I'm all for honest opinions. When written properly, they can help both the author and the reader but, personally, I don't feel my opinion is important enough that I need publicise it. I will express it, in the right place and in the right manner.

That is, as long as Amazon continues to let me do so...


  1. Great post Samantha. I won't leave anything under a three star review. I follow the old saying "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." Positives can always be found and besides, what does drawing blood and making the author cry achieve? In my opinion, nothing but negative feelings & bad karma. P.s. I'm horrified at the reviews for Pride & Prejudice (above)"boring & hard to read!!" It's a sad, bleak day indeed when Mr. Darcy is seen as lacking.

    1. Thanks, Nicole, I agree. People wonder why authors get annoyed at 1 star reviews but I've yet to see a constructive one. And if a book is that bad, then it's usually pretty self-evident in the samples and blurbs. And as for those P&P reviews, I think those readers have just revealed their complete ignorance. Poor old Mr Darcy.

    2. I found your blog post well thought out and I agree with you that authors are treated differently than non authors when reviewing.

      I will say, I'm one of those people who do publish 1 and 2 star reviews. I can also say, I've seen plenty of nonconstructive reviews across all stars, not just 1 and 2.

    3. Oh yes I agree. I received one on my own book recently that stated she had downloaded it and couldn't wait to read it. Much as I love 5 star reviews, it was pretty useless!

      The only time I've left 2 star reviews is when I feel that there is some potential and I want the author to explore that but I won't ever put them up here on their own. I don't object to people's onions but I so often these one stars don't reflect truly the reviewer's opinions and they rate is as such because they feel it's their duty to bring down the average rating.

      Of course there are those people that are trying to be genuinely constructive and helpful but it sometimes seems the vast majority are not.

    4. I find for me personally, the 1 and 2 stars are harder to write, especially if it for a review website. I know I spend a lot more time writing those reviews than any of my other reviews. Several of of my 1 star reviews are extremely lengthy. These are also the ones I send to all authors who ask if I will give them an "honest" review. To date, only 1 author out of thirty some authors have declined to send me a book to review after reading my 1 star reviews.

  2. I like your views on reviews. After getting some pretty bad books gifted to me (and if it is a gift I feel bad if I can't leave a good review) I writer for mid-grade readers and like to review them or since I also write picture book stories I will review them too. I read adult for myself and IF the book is good I will review it. I have decided that I will not accept free books from authors. If I see something I want to read I will download it if it is on a free site or purchase it from If it is worth a 4 star review I will leave a review for it on Amazon. There by if I can't honestly give it a decent review no one knows I read it and no one can get angry with me. M. C. Arvanitis

    1. Thanks for sharing your views M.C. I agree, it's very difficult to give someone a review after being gifted one which is why I only say yes to those that I know I'll genuinely enjoy. I don't think nasty reviews are at all necessary and if a book doesn't have reviews, I tend to read the sample and decide for myself and good, constructive reviews just help me decide. As a reader, I ignore 1 star reviews as they are frequently useless. I just hope other readers do too.