Rants and Raves – of Authors, ARCs and Reviews…

I fully understand that reviews are subjective and that we won’t all enjoy the same types of books. That being said, I’m constantly surprised at some reviews I read. I, of course follow some blogs and if they recommend a book I’ll most likely read it. However, I recently stopped following a blogger I used to love.

This was the third time she’d rated a book highly that I completely hated. I’m not saying she lied about her views, I’m just saying that clearly we’re not on the same wave-length anymore.

The book came highly recommended by the blogger and I decided, since I’d been burnt twice by two previous books she’d recommended, I would go to Goodreads and see what my trusted friends thought of the book. As it turns out, none had read it but they all had marked it down as ‘to-read.’

I went through all the reviews I could find and everyone was super enthusiastic about the book, almost all 5 star reviews. So I decided to give it a go. I was surprised by how much I disliked the book. I actually checked the reviews again to make sure I hadn’t missed something but no, not my kind of book.

Two of my Goodreads friends finally read it and completely agreed with me but one took it a step further which started a discussion that intrigued me. In the comments section, a few people said that they no longer trust ARC reviews from bloggers. Some even went further to say that they didn’t trust bloggers at all.

Ouch! It got me wondering how many of you trust blog reviews. I realized that I now only have two blogs I trust and that I mostly rely on my Goodreads friends for recommendations. Those girls are honest, most times brutally so, and I appreciate it. I decided to analyse myself and my reviews.

Are ARCs more difficult to critique? For me, not really. I’m constantly aware that what I say about a book might impact whether or not my ‘followers’ buy the book. I’m not so conceited as to think that I actually impact sales, but with like minded people, people I trust to recommend good books and vice versa? Those people tend to listen if I rant about a book. Therefore I review every book the same way.

I will say though that there is some more pressure when it comes to review copies than there is if I bought the book myself. I’ve found that I prefer to buy the book or get it from the publisher, than be in contact with an author sending me review copies.

Contact with authors is something I’m wary about. I’ve become quite good ‘friends’ with some authors and it’s always harder to critique their books. If I love the books, I fan girl all over the place which is embarassing enough. If I hate the book, then I’ve found it better to put it in my DNF pile. Why complete something I don’t enjoy? If it holds my interest but I’m still not wowed, then I will say it in my review, and keep my fingers crossed that the author won’t send me an email about it.

You’d be surprised how many do write back and it puts me in a weird position having to explain what I already said in my review. The other thing I don’t particularly like is being friends with authors on Goodreads. I try to avoid that to be honest but I’ve realized I can’t maintain the barrier that I seek. Because whether you’re Goodreads friends or not, authors will see who’s reading their books.

I once wrote an update on a book I was reading… it was so ridiculous, I posted a quote from it. The author immediately contacted me saying that she was sorry I wasn’t enjoying the book and that her humor might be too ‘out there.’ I immediately stopped posting updates and found that I couldn’t even finish the book.

Another time I posted that I was reading a particular book and the author immediately contacted me saying that she was stoked and that she hoped I’d enjoy it. I didn’t, and then I felt really awkward posting my review.

A third time I updated that I’d finished a book with a ‘review to come’ on the review box. The author immediately liked it. The sad thing is that I knew my review was going to criticize what I didn’t like and she was going to immediately regret liking my update.

Sigh. It’s tough but it has to be done. I battle with honesty and critique because I don’t want to hurt any feelings. I get that it’s a hard job to be a writer and I don’t want to bring anyone down. However I also want to be honest and tact is a skill I somehow don’t have enough of 😦

Anyway, enough of my ranting. I’m curious to know how much bloggers influence what books you buy… and where your main influence comes from. And to bloggers, how much contact you have with authors and if it influences your reviews.

To leave on a good note. Let me recommend three books that have completely rocked my reading world in 2014 🙂

blindfolded

“I’m not sure what you have been told about me, but I’m not nearly as bad as they make me out to be.” His deliciously deep voice carried a little bit of ego.

I’m sure you are exactly as bad as they make you out to be….

Brad De Luca is used to getting whatever and whomever he wants. The premier divorce attorney in town, he’s a playboy who’s bedded half the city—including his own clients. And when the newest intern at his firm poses a challenge, his seductive prowess goes into overdrive.

Pre-law student Julia Campbell is fresh off a failed engagement and happy with her new independence. Even if she weren’t warned away from Brad at every turn, she’d know he was bad news. The last thing she needs is a man who could destroy her job prospects, not to mention her innocence. But before she knows it, the incorrigible charmer has her under his spell. His deviant tastes plunge her deep into a forbidden world of sexual exploration…but her heart may not survive the fall.

Amazon Buy Link –  My Review

**************

deceptive

A beautiful young woman is out for revenge—only to find the man she’s targeting has secrets as dangerous as her own, and a passion she cannot resist.

Ever since her mother died while serving time for a murder she didn’t commit, Bell’s been focused on one thing: revenge. She knows her mother was set up by the head of the powerful Gable family, international bankers who will crush anyone for profit, or amusement. Now she’s determined to take the Gables down—from the inside.

Seducing her way into the life—and bed—of the family’s rebellious youngest son, Lander, she figures it should be easy to uncover the secrets she needs to destroy his family. But Lander turns out to be much more complicated than Bell ever could have imagined. He’s enticing, intelligent, mysterious—and their sexual chemistry is off the charts. Lander is still the target, but once Bell gives in to her desire to touch him, he starts seeming much less like an enemy… Which is why her anger is more necessary than ever: Memories of her mother must help fuel her quest for justice to the very end.

Amazon Buy Link –  My Review

**************

deeper

When Caroline Piasecki’s ex-boyfriend posts their sex pictures on the Internet, it destroys her reputation as a nice college girl. Suddenly her once-promising future doesn’t look so bright. Caroline tries to make the pictures disappear, hoping time will bury her shame. Then a guy she barely knows rises to her defense and punches her ex to the ground.

West Leavitt is the last person Caroline needs in her life. Everyone knows he’s shady. Still, Caroline is drawn to his confidence and swagger—even after promising her dad she’ll keep her distance. On late, sleepless nights, Caroline starts wandering into the bakery where West works.

They hang out, they talk, they listen. Though Caroline and West tell each other they’re “just friends,” their feelings intensify until it becomes impossible to pretend. The more complicated her relationship with West gets, the harder Caroline has to struggle to discover what she wants for herself—and the easier it becomes to find the courage she needs to fight back against the people who would judge her.

When all seems lost, sometimes the only place to go is deeper.

Amazon Buy Link –  My Review

**************

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Erotic Romance, Erotica, New Adult and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Rants and Raves – of Authors, ARCs and Reviews…

  1. Claudia says:

    I was following a blogger for suggestions. However, now I don’t trust her at all. She went from suggesting great (in my opinion) free or low cost books to books that sell full price. Far worse than that is the fact that her last few must reads I couldn’t even finish. My feeling is that now that her blog has become so large she is somehow being compensated by the authors/publishers? Whatever the reason is, I am now looking at your suggestions.

    • That’s the same reason I’ve stopped following most bloggers I used to love. I don’t know about compensation… I once had a publisher emailing me to pay me for reviews. I wouldn’t necessarily say they expected positive reviews for their money but it all seemed so wrong! Plus I have a full time job, my blog is just a hobby and I didn’t want to be obligated to anyone. It’s a tough call though, especially if your aim is to monetize your blog…

      Anyway, glad you’re here now 🙂

  2. Gretchen says:

    I am influenced by bloggers and reviews on Goodreads, most of the time anymore, I am influenced by friends I’ve made since I started book blogging and word of mouth. I completely understand how you feel and have felt the very same way. If I don’t like something and an author has commented on Twitter to me, I feel slightly guilty. I know I shouldn’t but I do, we like what we like.

    Thanks for this article, it was very timely.

    • It is a pity that we feel guilty :/ plus I’m always wary that some people, bloggers and authors alike, look at negative reviews as bashing. Which is how I’ve learnt I lack tact. I try to just say what I didn’t like but if it’s everything then I’ll just have to say that… can’t win them all 🙂

  3. Nancy says:

    It is so funny that you just posted this. I was thinking the very same thing a couple of days ago. I refuse to waste my money based on a single recommendation. A couple of blogs that I used to frequent religiously, I now ignore. I have been “duped” too often and now look at all the reviews that I can find on a book before I purchase it.

    • I now have to remind myself to try the sample before I buy the book just to get a feel of the author’s voice… And for sure one recommendation is hardly enough unless you fully trust the source

  4. Tracy Werner says:

    I agree, there seems to be a plethora of fan-girl reviews clogging the arteries of the blogger universe. I have been questioning myself as to why I seem to more likely agree with a “negative” review than with all the positive hoopla. I think it is partly because many reviewers aren’t satisfied with a giving a “good” review. It has to be the “best ever, I LOVE this author” kind of thing. I now find myself reading the negative reviews first to see if I can find a kernel of truth before I take the monetary plunge of purchasing a new book. This, also, does not even address the “spoiler” issue in reviews. Very frustrating! I appreciate your bringing this topic up for discussion. It is good to know I am not alone 🙂

    • I have to admit I’m guilty of fan girling… usually you read 4 or 5 lacklustre books so that when you read one that has everything you love you can’t help but scream all over the place 🙂 that being said I also read the negative reviews and there’re a few magic words that when I find, no positive review in the world will get me to touch that book.

      Now spoilers requires a whole new post! I hate it when a reviewer gives away the entire plot… or something major… it’s so annoying! But I’ve also read blurbs that tell the entire plot… sigh…

  5. Peni Anne says:

    While reading your views on bloggers and reviews I reflected on my habits. I am ashamed to admit that the cover plays a large part in my looking into a book. After that I am generally I am an old fashioned reader and highly depend on the blurb telling about the book and if that doesn’t satisfy then go to the reviews. I look at the reviews on the sellers site (Nook and Kindle) then Goodreads. I don’t put much stock in any blogger reviews in making my decisions. It is only one persons view when the other sites generally give me many. My expectations are not necessarily others so why look at just one from someone I don’t know?

    In the review I tend to look for hints as far as: is it really erotica? I want a good story line nit just pages of sex. How violent is it? Is the violence furthering the story? Formating issues, grammer and spelling as well but not so much. I’m not hyper-critical about that and I feel some reviewers are. Who is it recommended for (Over 18, mature, everyone, …). The last but probably most important is if the story stands on it’s own. I HATE these books coming out now that are in parts. If your going to put a story out there then put the whole story out. Don’t break it up so you can get more money. Just name the price and let me decide if I want to spend that much. I’m not stupid and don’t like being made to look or feel like a fool so they can get more money for the story. Series are different, as they stand alone but are connected in some way.

    As these are the things I look for … that is how I review. Never a very long review. Spoilers are just wrong from the get go. If someone wants to talk about the story … join a discussion, don’t ruin it for the rest of us. If the reviewer needs to say that much, then maybe they need to write their own book. Just my thoughts anyway, Peni

    • I know what you mean about the breaking up of books into trilogies and the like.. some stories necessitate it… others are just too forced. I have to admit I don’t solely seek out stand alone books… but if by the end of the book I get the sense the book was cut up just to make it longer then I don’t get the sequel :/

  6. Suanne says:

    Great post. I rely heavily on my GR friends for their feedback on books to read. Hence when I finish a book, the feedback/ review I leave is reflective of how I feel about a book. I’m conscious of remaining true to myself in providing the feedback that I expect from others. Amongst my GR friends a book can attract a variety of responses. We like similar books, but we all have certain genres that we prefer, so not everyone is going to rate the same.

    A trustworthy blogger, says it as is (for them) and provide constructive feedback. Otherwise we may as well all just rely on advertising / promotional spin to chose our next book!

  7. jeanniezelos says:

    Hi Jessie, yours is one of the few blogs I’ve followed for a while, simply because I’ve read and enjoyed many of the books you’ve recommended. When I’m buying or choosing a book for review I read samples where I can, read reviews – and yes I’m more likely to read lower ones too 🙂 and try to be very careful in my selection. I’d NEVER buy simply on a recommendation – money is too short for that!
    I love reading, and pre kindle days used to frequent libraries and second-hand shops etc then finally Him Indoors, tired of the dusty piles of books everywhere *blush, they’re still there* demanded I try a kindle 🙂 and I found a whole new world, where I could get lots of free and low cost books. Then last March I started my own blog, simply to get more free books. I’d never accept money etc, always say in my review this is an ARC, and try hard to point out that though I may like or dislike a book its a personal view, and others will feel very differently. I try to write reasons for my views so that readers can judge for themselves. If I’ve seen a low review book where someone writes its got too much sex for them, well I know that’s unlikely to put me off, equally if someone raves about a romance and says how lovely it is to see the Christian angle so prominent, I know that’s probably not one for me. Low reviews can be really useful if they say why, and not just “hate this book”
    As a reviewer I hate doing low reviews so try hard to remind readers its a personal view only and they could feel very differently. I’d hate an author to feel down because I don’t like their book, and that’s one reason I try to choose carefully. Even so if I don’t enjoy a book I’m really duty called to say so, otherwise what’s the point of anyone believing what I write – honesty and integrity is paramount.
    I too prefer getting books via 3rd party. I have had lots via authors, and again always want samples before I decide – I hate saying no to a request, but some i just know I won’t like and would never have chosen from a reviewer offer, so refuse them, others seem promising but turn out not so, and sadly that’s what I write. But its hard having that direct contact, and feeling you’;re letting author down. As I try hard to choose I guess most of my reviews are in the 3-5 stars, I use half stars too and there are a few two, two and half, and I think even one or two one stars books. Horrible to do, but if I’m to keep my integrity I have to be honest.
    As for trilogies and cliffhangers – I HATE them. I personally feel either write one book, or three but release all three at same time. I’ve loads of parts of series/trilogies on my kindle from ages back before I decided I’d not but till all parts out unless a series from an author who is reliable for getting books out. That damned CrossFire fiasco was the final in that decision! I returned book three, and gave up on it.
    There’s another side though as I recently learned. I’d been in contact with an author of a trilogy where I’d just got parts one and two for review, and I commented on my dislike of this and how prevalent its is now. I felt her book would have worked better for me as one long novel…and she told me that was how she wrote it, but publishers insist all book in the erotic romance genre have to be trilogies, and have cliffhangers! It was go with that, or go it alone so she rewrote, but got round the cliffhanger by including taster of next book, hinting at what happens 🙂

    • whoa! Is that true? publishers insisting on Erotic Romance to come in trilogies? That’s ridiculous! There’s a series I read that would have been better as a long book but the author made it a trilogy… pity because that affected my review :/

      • jeanniezelos says:

        Shocked me too Jessy…I’d been berating authors for stretching books into a trilogy, so to hear a publisher was insisting on it when someone went fot the standalone approach was a real downer.
        I’m a bit of a control freak so if i could write (I can’t!) I’d be a self publisher, no one telling me what I can and can’t do, insisting on trilogies, cliffhangers, long waits between books…As a reader i want to open a book, start reading and finish in one, not have the story strung out. For me it can be several hundred books before i get back to a second or thrird part so the momentum of the story gets lots. That said i love conventional Paranormal sereis where each book had a common theme, and maybe an overarcing plot but tends to be complete on the minor ones.

  8. Lesley says:

    Jessy, although I’ve only been back in the reading game for about a year, the only blogger I really follow now is you. I’ve read reviews and recommendations for quite a few others, but I find that your reviews align most with my reading taste. So much so that your reviews actually got me reading paranormal romance, which I was sure I’d hate!. That said, the majority of my reading decisions come from reviews that Goodreads friends (or their friends) provide, as well as sites like Amazon and the samples they provide. As for the Erotic Romance trilogies, let me say that there are some books that really warrant it, but sadly alot of them don’t. But keep doing what you’re doing. I for one appreciate your honesty in your reviews.

  9. Nicola says:

    Interesting seeing the other side as the whole book blogger/review/goodreads connections thing is on my mind a lot as a newly published author.

    As far as book bloggers and ARC reviews go I obviously like getting good ones as it’s reassuring when you’re suddenly out there and exposed. But I can’t shake this sneaking suspicion that the book bloggers like the relationship they have with the publishers so are too eager to please them – not me but the publisher.

    Then I fear the book bloggers are mostly followed by other writers and other book bloggers and not readers, so this thread was reassuring as the comments are from readers!

    And then there is the question of how to react when you know someone is reading your book or has reviewed it. I keep being told or get the impression that I am supposed to be “interacting” and so I started but halfheartedly as really, why am I doing that? Thanking someone for a review is polite so that’s OK but there our relationship ends or so it seems to me. I see some writers in these mock friendships and I just can’t manufacture it. Which sounds really harsh but I don’t mean any disrespect. It’s uncomfortable, just as you are finding it.

    I don’t actually care if I get a negative review, it makes me think about why and if it’s warranted by the book itself but for this particular book I can be objective. It certainly is not to everyone’s tastes (review request coming – that IS why I stopped by here but I always have a look around and see if there’s anything else interesting on the site. All too often not the case I have to say so thanks for being interesting!)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s