The other day I got a book recommendation from a Goodreads friend. I checked reviews both on Goodreads and Amazon and there were hardly any. One of the few I found said “I hardly read nor write these kinds of book reviews anymore. I’ve become quite suspicious of the integrity of reviews & whether or not they are of true, sincere reviewers or that of authors’ “fangirls”” This statement is the main reason I write this post today, because I totally understand where this commenter is coming from.
I had some years during college where I didn’t read fiction at all. When I re-discovered my love for fiction, I discovered book bloggers. I followed some religiously but then something happened. They would give a 4 or 5 star rating to a book which I’d then read and find as dull as dish water. So after 2 or 3 more of those I decided that though it is possible our book tastes have evolved, its also quite possible that there might be outside influences to those reviews. So I decided to start my own blog. To be honest I didn’t expect ‘followers’. My boyfriend was tired of me discussing romance books with him so he urged me to get an outlet 🙂
I was brutal in my honesty. Then read a post from a blogger who was really angry at “bloggers who put author’s down”. I had never really considered how much time authors spend reading reviews of their books. So I decided that I’d still be honest in my reviews BUT I would always find something positive to say about a book. I remember one book ending with the author’s note saying “I appreciate honesty as I want to improve…” So I wrote my review again dividing it into positives and negatives (the latter far outweighed the former). I later realized that no, the author was not very keen on honesty… at least not that kind of honesty that is actually…you know… honest.
Then one day I’m on Goodreads contemplating buying a book. I read a few reviews then realized that a Goodreads friend had reviewed the book and she held no punches. I believe the words she used was “It would be a 1 Star read but the end made me add a 2nd star”. And that was the best part of the review! The rest of the review consisted of eyerolls and the most creative GIFs I’ve ever seen. The end thanked the publisher or author, I forget which, for the review copy 🙂 I applauded her for her brutal honesty, though she did later tell me she felt guilty.
Since I started blogging, rather reviewing books, I’ve realized what those outside influences are. I still do my negatives and positives thing and once I got an email from an author saying that she appreciated my honesty and that she hoped I’d read her other books to see her development as a writer. I loved that email, but I won’t kid myself into expecting more of those!
Though I understand the hard work author’s put in, I’ll feel so wrong if my review encourages someone to buy a book which in my opinion is really not worth the buy. Am I as gung ho as before? No. I haven’t given a 1 star lately because to be honest, I reach 10% and the book is still a 1 star I put it down. On the flip side, I read a good book, I’ll shout from the rooftops to get it noticed. And yes, probably become that author’s fangirl if her books are and remain that good 🙂