A real review gives a short synopsis of the story, then has comments as to what worked well in terms of the writing and what the reviewer enjoyed the most. If there are minor problems, those are pointed out without attacking the writer personally. Those are the kind of reviews I wrote professionally for newspapers and magazines many moons ago, and continue to write on my blog and elsewhere. Now it seems like anyone can call himself or herself a reviewer without having a clue what a review is supposed to be. We've all seen examples of those on the Barnes & Noble website, as well as the other booksellers' sites.
Throw into the mix author reviews and the topic gets more interesting. Should authors review each other's books? Should they only leave glowing reviews? Is it ever okay to leave a not-so-glowing review? Recently, those questions have been debated on several blogs and some writer's groups, and I first saw mention of this on Kristen Lamb's blog in her piece The Three Nevers of Social media.
Kristen followed that blog post with another titled Should Authors Write Bad Book Reviews? Actually, the answer is no, as reviewer Kevin Tipple pointed out in a Google+ comment, "No one should ever write a bad review. A bad review has typos and other issues. A negative review is something else entirely."
Reading Kristen's post, it was clear that she meant to ask whether writers should write negative reviews, and the comments on her blog really varied in responses. Some folks said they thought they should always give an honest evaluation no matter what. Others said that if they couldn't find anything good to say about a book they didn't review it.
Since I host authors on my blog It's Not All Gravy and post book reviews on Sundays, I get a lot of requests for reviews. While I do agree with Kristen that we need each other, I still cannot endorse a book that I don't consider well-written. That doesn't mean it can't have any problems. I've reviewed plenty that were not stellar, but I still found more positive than negative elements. I do not review a book if I cannot find enough positive about it to give it a three-star rating, which to me indicates good. Four stars are given to a book that is excellent, and a five-star rating is for “blew me out of my chair.” I rarely give five stars, and even my closest writer friends understand that I cannot give their book a glowing review just because I love them. It's all about the book.
So what about you? Do you review the books you read? Do you give negative reviews?
Maryann Miller is a novelist, editor and sometimes actress. Her most recent release is Boxes For Beds, an historical mystery available as an e-book. Stalking Season is the second book in the Seasons Mystery Series. The first book, Open Season, is available as an e-book for all devices. To check out her editing rates visit her website. When not working, Maryann likes to take her dog for a walk and work outside on her little ranch in East Texas. She welcomes reviews of her books; the good, the bad, and the ugly, although she prefers the good.