Let's Talk: Positive & Negative Reviews

Monday, March 28, 2011

This won't be a regular feature here, but I figured I'd see what other bloggers think about giving positive vs. negative reviews. Now, I've never been one to shy away from what I truly think, and I don't sugarcoat my feelings on books in person, so when someone asked if negative reviews reflect badly on me, it really got me to thinking.

Now, first of all, I'm not a professional reviewer by any means, and I certainly never claimed to be. My reviews are purely my own thoughts and that is explicitly stated in my review policy. I feel I do a good job balancing the positive and negative aspects of books, for the most part. If I can't finish a book, I will put that on Goodreads, rather than my site. If I do finish a book though, and it doesn't work, I want to share that. Case in point? Witch & Wizard by James Patterson. Rarely do I believe a book qualifies as craptastic, but trust me, this book reeks of dumbed-down YA prose. Now, the book might work for some people, but if it didn't work for me, is it right for me to hide that review off my blog so as not to offend people?

Then, however, there are the books I really want to rave about. Raw Blue, anyone? I've never been one for contemporary books, but my last mailbox was all contemps based on that book, alone. A book that can make me want to read more contemporary fiction like that deserves to be raved about, and I want to make a clear distinction between the gems like Raw Blue and Vampire Empire: The Greyfriar (and other such books that prove something to me) and those that just don't work like Witch & Wizard or Trapped. Again, these are personal opinions, but if a book is set apart, the reason I created this site in the first place was to name those books that are standouts and why they work better for me than others.

I guess my main thought on positive and negative reviews is this - I don't take pleasure in writing negative reviews, but how am I supposed to show what books work for me if I can't show which don't? I have received a few snarky, shall we say, emails that imply I've got my head stuck somewhere it shouldn't be, and I wanted to clarify my take on it. What do you all think? Do you think it's alright to write negative reviews? Do you write them, and if so, do you think that gives us, as bloggers, cred, or do you think it adversely affects us?

Be sure to check out today's The Long Weekend Blog Tour stop at Linds' blog, Bibliophile Brouhaha, for a fabulous review, author feature and giveaway!


  1. I may someday if I am ever a published and much read author, regret saying this, however, I think negative reviews are important. They are important to your credibility as a reader/reviewer and they are important to the writer.

    If you only ever posted positive reviews of the books that you read, it would be difficult to take you seriously. Books and food are very much alike, you wouldn't rate a kobe beef burger as a 5/5 then turn around and rate a Mickey D's burger as a 4/5 so that you didn't hurt someones feelings. On that same note what works for you won't work for someone else so even a negative review from you may make someone else think that they could read that book. Publicity is still publicity.

    As a writer attempting to make a mark on the world and still in that glassy eyed, awed place I have to say that negative reviews are important. They make writers better, they can be incredibly helpful at improving a person's writing.

    I may have said too much, but I will blame it on that last glass of wine and the fact that I should probably be in bed by now!

  2. I'm very similar to you--if I finish a book, I'll share my thoughts on it, whether they be positive or negative. Even if I thought the book was terrible, I'll still try to point out the things that did work.

    I can understand why people don't post negative reviews, though...there's been some backlash. Still, our thoughts are our thoughts--there is no "incorrect" opinion.

  3. I think its best to share your thoughts on any books you read. After all you are a book blogger. The only thing I don't like in reviewing is that some bloggers can be mean and be really rude in the review. But there is no right or wrong answer for any review. Some will like it as some won't. It best to be honest.

  4. Well what good is a reviewer if he/she only talks about the positive aspects of a book. I enjoy both negative and positive reviews because I learn from both. The blogger is far more credible to me if he/she has the kahunas to write a negative review than if all he/she writes are rave reviews. I believe as long as the blogger is tactful and not mean spirited that a negate review definitely has it's place.

  5. I think negative reviews are just as important as positive reviews. I don't think they're powerful enough to make someone hate a book they would otherwise have loved though. More often, I think negative reviews (and positive reviews) just help steer readers to books they would normally love and away from books they would probably dislike anyway.

    If I write a negative review and cite the reasons I didn't like it (say, insta love or contemp issues) someone who loves those features has just been introduced to a book they can enjoy. Even though I didn't enjoy it. Isn't that a good thing? If I had hidden my thoughts just because I didn't like the book, that person could be missing out on a new book to add to their TBR.

    People who are like me and don't like those same features can be saved a bad reading experience (that may have otherwise resulted in another negative review floating around out there!). Again, isn't this a good thing?

    I guess the question for authors is, do they want their books read by as many people as possible, even if a large percentage of those people will dislike the book? Or do they want their book read by possibly fewer people, but primarily by people who adore the author's book?

  6. I think negative reviews are important too. I think it is impossible to love every book you read. I think as long as you are always respectful there is no problem. And if I find a reviewers who post some negative reviews every now and then more credible.

    Also I try to put links to other bloggers or goodreads reviews letting them know that other people enjoyed it and it just wasn't for me.

  7. I definitely think it is important to provide both the good and the bad of a book. If I did not enjoy a book I usually at least can find something to say positively along with the negative.

    I also agree that as bloggers, we are doing this because we love to share out thoughts about what we like and do not like and authors and publishers need to understand that. I would not be true to myself if I did not honestly provide my opinions in my reviews and I expect to see that when I read other bloggers' reviews.

  8. I think it's absolutely alright to write negative reviews as long as they do not involve insulting the author. I am a blogger and a reader; I believe we do have the right to say that we didn't like a book. We cannot love every book we read, after all. I find bloggers with both positive and negative reviews more credible.

  9. I post both positive and negative reviews on my blog, and I think bloggers are far more credible when they do so. All my favourite blogs post both positive and negative reivews - I'm kind of wary of blogs that post all five star reviews!

    I'm never mean or nasty in my reviews, just honest.

  10. I do what you do, Melissa - if I can't finish a book, I rate and post that on GoodReads, but my policy is not to review it on my blog. However, I never shy away to from writing about what I don't care for in a book - I think I do constructively and courteously, but I do it. I always try to think of reviewing this way (and I said this on another pro/con post): when we review a book, we are dealing with someone's ink and pen baby (and livelihood). You need to be sensitive in telling someone how ugly or how badly behaved their baby is. How would you want to be told if you did poorly on a project or something similar? Snark DOES work in some blogs, but that's because it's the character of the blog. I don't think it would work in most instances on my blog. It's fine line between being perceived as a witty chick and a straight-up beeyotch. Negative reviews can be really funny, but internet reviews can live forever - consider how you want to grow your reputation. A reviewer doesn't have to sugar coat, but it does not necessarily follow that a reviewer has to be borderline rude or worse. I think it's a good idea to consider what sort of 'voice' you want your blog to have.

  11. I recently asked this question on last Friday's TGIF post. I got a pretty good turn out on responses regarding it. However, I was a bit surprised by a few of them. I'm like you Melissa - I write truth & honesty in my reviews. If I don't like something, then I simply don't like it & I am not scared to say so. I never claimed to be a professional reviewer & I don't feel that I should blog by some "rules" that someone put out there. My blog is my blog & I do what I want with it.

    Some people told me they won't write a review for a book they didn't like. This really dumbfounded me. Why would you only write positive reviews?? I don't understand that. A review should show BOTH sides, not just why you liked it. I tend to appreciate a book blogger more when they speak their mind on a book, whether that be good or bad thoughts. It's their opinion! and I value it.

  12. I've seen this debate floating around so much lately and it's driving me crazy. OF COURSE it's okay to write a negative review! Blogs are our way to express our opinions about books, and we'd be cheating ourselves to only blog about books we liked. Even for the rare book blogger out there who somehow gets paid to review books - it's still your job to be honest! And I never look unkindly on someone for giving a negative review, even if it's a book I happened to like.

    I honestly think that the people who think negative reviews are "bad" and only give positive reviews are just suck-ups. They're the kind of blogger who are only doing this because they like getting free ARCs, and of course they're more likely to get ARCs if they never post something bad about a book. Ugh. I just don't get it.

  13. I've never been one to shy away from what I think about a book. If I can't finish a book-even an arc, I'll write about on my blog. Otherwise, how will people be able to trust the books that I think are good if I never write about the negative?

  14. I think negative reviews are important too. What I don't like though are reviews that state "this book sucks", then give no reason at all for why they feel about this, and usually didn't even read the whole thing. I don't think you can give a balanced review if you haven't been through the whole thing. Of course, you can say that this certain book wasn't for you, and that you just couldn't get through, but I hate people that trash books.

    I have written some negative reviews, but I always clearly state that even because I didn't like it, others might love it.

    When I'm about to buy a book, I usually also read some negative reviews. If the problems these reviews point out don't bother me, then I know I have a good chance that I will enjoy the book.

    I think negative reviews are necessary. Without them every book would appear to be awesome, and we all know not every book is great. As long as your review is respectful and doesn't completely trash the author's work, I think we should keep writing them.

  15. I completely agree with you and Ginger here. It's the truth, I do appreciate those bloggers who write both positive and negative reviews because I know I can trust them and that they are wholly honest.

    When I see a blogger only writing positive reviews it makes me want to vent, why do you even bother?! I don't even find your content reliable anymore. If your willing to sacrifice negative reviews whats stopping you from lying in your positive reviews?

    Like Sarah said, you are only cheating yourself by being one sided. If your going to write positive reviews why not the negative, not is it unfair to them but most of all to their readers, do they even consider that?.

    Do you not think your readers deserve to know which books you didn't like? Do you think if they once loved your blog they will anymore? No because as a book blogger giving up negative review is like selling a part of you. That does not gain you any respect around here, only take it away.

    I don't want to be harsh but it's the truth whether they like it or not. I mentioned this on my latest post and I completely stick by it. Great post mel!:)

  16. I think there's a lot of pressure by major publishing houses to get five star reviews from all of the bloggers that they send free copies of new books to, and the bloggers feel compelled to give insincerely high ratings to acquire more free stuff from the literary industry in exchange for a five star review, on a two star book.

    I find that a truly honest rating for most good books are between 3 and 4 stars on average. I admit that there are more 1 or 2 star books than there are five star books, however, it's unfair to destroy a novel just because you're (insert general term) having a bad day and want to be pissy about it, and that's why I sleep on the matter before I post a review..

  17. I don't know too many bloggers that glory in the idea of writing a negative review, I think we've somehow gotten painted with a brush that depicts us gleefully banging away on our keyboards as we eviscerate an author's hard work just because we can. Now, that's certainly not the opinion of all authors obviously, but that's the sense I've gotten lately from certain posts discussing this topic.

    As far as the reviews themselves go, I post negative reviews because I think it's odd not to. I'm certainly not going to love every book I read, and I think my blog would be less interesting if it was only me raving about certain books and not mentioning books that were mediocre. Now, in my negative reviews, I always try to highlight one or two positives about the book and I'm careful not to be insulting in any way, shape, or form, but I am going to be honest about the elements that didn't work for me. I think as long as bloggers support the argument either way and don't attack the author personally, negative reviews are more than acceptable to post. I have read several negative reviews that have made me wince, so I know there are some out there that have earned us the brush we've been painted with, but I think for the most part those individuals are few and far between and most of us approach a negative review with the wish we could have enjoyed the book more, but unfortunately certain things just didn't work for us:)

  18. This discussion has been around for more than a month, yet it never ended because there will always some bloggers who prefer to write only positive reviews (regardless their reason), there will always some author who think negative reviews as personal attack. Honestly, this might sound awful but I don't really care what author thinks about my reviews because I wrote it for readers, not to please them. If I don't like it, I said so and gave the reason why. It doesn't mean I'm discouraging people to buy the book, it just my opinion.
    The most famous movie critic, Roger Ebert, is always honest and not afraid of giving 1 star review as long as he's being honest about it. I think we could use him as example.

  19. l don't see the point in only including positive reviews.
    Not only do l want to see positive reviews l want to also see some negative ones.
    l actually like it when a very popular books gets more of a negative review.
    I LIKE DIFFERENT OPINIONS. Even if l loved the book and this person hated it.
    I just think negative reviews NEED to be written in a nice way, not attacking the author or their skills, just saying your opinion.

  20. Melissa, I agree with you about the DNFs, I do post those on Goodreads, but I tend not to post them on my blog --- unless I really need to get it off my chest about how bad the book was, LOL. This is also the reason why probably 9 out of 10 of my reviews are positive, because now with the huge amount of books that are coming in -- if I'm not getting into a book, I usually stop early on. I guess it is all a matter of perspective. Great post. Good way to get people to chime in.

    I know I'm going on and on, but negative reviews have their place and it is the reviewers duty if they call themselves a reviewer to state the good and the bad. They just need to have respect for the author when they post this review. Meaning, try not to make it a personal attack…say what you didn't like about the book, instead of just saying things like this book was absolute crap. Reasons help in the end and then it gives readers something to look out for.

    Regarding Macy's statement, I don't know about this pressure. I haven't felt it. Most of my publisher contacts send the book and back off, they want a link and that is about it. If a blogger is giving insincere ratings because they received a free book I think they might have to reevaluate their book blogger ethics. There are very very few books that get a 5 "star" rating in my book. Most are 3 - 4 stars also.

  21. I honestly think it's okay to post a negative review as long as you can back up what it was you didn't like. I have, on occasion, simply pointed out that a book just didn't work for me but for the most part I try to pinpoint the reason it didn't work.

    Claudia Gray's Evernight was one book that I ended up posting a negative review on because I felt like the entire first part of the book had been a gigantic, misleading lie. Did I enjoy writing about the negative parts? Not really, but when I come out of a book with serious anger issues, I feel like I have the right to point out why. I guess I should also say that Evernight had a lot of positive reviews on Goodreads so there were plenty of people who weren't bothered by the very thing that upset me.

    In the end, I think we're entitled to our opinions and as long as we're not personally bashing the author or just being bitchy we should be allowed to express them.

  22. I've noticed that since I'm now reading and reviewing books I tend to have a more critical eye whereas before I'd just read a book and think "huh that was good 4/5 stars". I'm glad because it allows me to really enjoy the details of a book and notice characters and dialogue etc.
    If I don't like a book (it's happened only about twice since I started my blog) I do say that I was let down but I also always point out things I did like, which thankfully there have been! If I dislike it so much, well, I'd try to keep the review brief or just post it on Goodreads.
    I think reviewing doesn't mean shying away from books we don't like and it's all subjective anyway. I know that I might not like a book someone else loves, it's natural.
    So anyway, I think negative reviews are a part of blogging but they need to be taken with a grain of salt and while it may be hard, I hope the authors can see that too.

  23. I try to post positive and negative reviews on my blog. I don’t like posting negatives, and I avoid snark at all costs. I can usually find a few redeeming qualities so I’ll point those out along with what didn’t work for me. I haven’t had anyone send me an email, but I did get a bunch of “unhelpful” votes on Amazon. The same review was “liked” on Goodreads several times, so I can’t help but think I ruffled a few feathers. I was pretty upset & took a blogging break because of it. I hate to hurt peoples feelings, and I know a book is like an author’s baby, but I’m not going to pretend I liked it if I didn’t. I still contemplate not posting less than stellar reviews. It took me weeks to post a not great review of a book everyone loved because I was worried my house would be surrounded by an angry mob LOL I wish I could love every book, but I’m quickly realizing that can’t happen. & IMO honesty is the best policy :)

    & on that note how horrible was Witch & Wizard! I saw it compared to Harry Potter! No freaking way LOL

    Great topic, Melissa :)

  24. I think it's good to post positive and negative reviews, I do. But I think it's important how you write your negative review. I think a person needs to be courteous while pointing out what they didn't like and not trashing the book completely.
    I don't have a lot of negative reviews because usually if I don't like it I don't finish it, thus I don't review it. I usually rate it on goodreads and shelfari so I remember and sometimes will write a short explanation and say I didn't quite finish it. But I don't say anything on my blog if I don't finish it.

  25. I think it’s important that a blog posts both positive and negative reviews. I personally like seeing negative reviews. It shows that the blogger is honest. When I see shining review after shining review I don't respect the bloggers opinion as much because then it seems like they just like EVERYTHING which really isn't helpful when you’re looking for book recommendations. As long as the negative review is done in a tasteful respectful way I think its fine :)

  26. Amen sister! Spot on post!
    If I can't finish it, I say so.
    If I don't like it, I say why it didn't work for me.
    How can we keep our credibility with our blogging homies if we aren't honest?
    As long as a reviewer is sensitive and tasteful, I think negative reviews are fine and really a must.

  27. Sadly I've been getting some experience with negative reviews because I've been on a negative streak...

  28. If every single book you read you gave it a positive review I think that wouldn't be honest or credible (IMO). I wouldn't believe someone just LOVES every book they read. Agree with posting DNF on Goodreads, I do that also. I also DO NOT review any DNFs. That is unfair. But if I do finish the book and it wasn't to my liking I am not scared to post why. And here is my point, there are some people that will blog that the book was horrible and go on to bash the author but they never mention why the book didn't work for them. That is my pet peeve. Now I am really new to this book blogging thing but when I went into it I understood that I should write reviews honestly. I never trash an author's hard work but I will say why it didn't work. That way what I mention didn't work for me; the reader might like that about a book and want to read it. Not sure how clear I am about this subject but that is a little bit about how I feel.

  29. The last couple of books I have read I have received from authors and in all honesty, they have been pretty big let-downs and now I am so conflicted as to how to write my reviews... I think that it would work best if I included some of the flaws, but also some positive parts of the books.

    As for Witch and Wizard? I kinda really liked it, but I can see where you are coming from!

  30. Negative reviews are very important. Not just to the author who should get some constructive feedback instead of the "omg so awesome" (which admittedly should be given to her from her editors if they are doing their jobs right) but negative reviews from a blogger to other readers out there does not mean that the the blogger is shouting from the rooftops that other people should not buy the book. She or he is merely stating their opinion on it. I think negative reviews are also important so people (your readers) can see that you are a discerning reader. You do not just court happy bunnies and fluffy marshmallow clouds, though there is nothing wrong with that. I think what matters most is the manner in which these negative reviews done. I think the majority of us do it in a respectful manner but a couple bloggers do take it to much snarkier (or plain rude) levels.

    Either way, I think this is going to remain a slippery slope for a long while.

  31. I think you have every right to post your thoughts(whatever they may be) about any book. As long as you aren't just attacking the author(which I don't think you are) then it's your opinion. I think we need negative reviews. If everyone only sees positive reviews for a book they might pick it up even if it's something they aren't going to like, just because no one pointed out what didn't work for them. I really like reading negative reviews from bloggers, because it helps me see who I can relate to bookwise.

  32. I'm with you on this one, Melissa. In my opinion, negative reviews are a must. When you don't like a book and you've clearly outlined the reasons why in a logical manner...well, I don't see anything wrong with that. And hey, I've actually had readers respond to my review and tell me they decided to buy the book BECAUSE of something I didn't like, because it was something they usually liked in books. I guess no publicity is completely bad publicity, right?

  33. I do get why some go that way, cos I do not like giving negative reviews, but..sometimes I must. And I like negative reviews too, cos if they weren't around I would never make my mind up about books I want

  34. While reviewing a novel I always try to point out the positives but I will list the negatives if I see them. Let's just say that I so hard to create a balance so that I do not hurt any feelings.

    I don't believe in book bashing but I don't believe every review will be positive.

    Come visit me at Hale & Salvatore Supernatural Must Reads sometime. We don't bite but just blog about fangs and all things paranormal.

  35. I've read a handful of books I didn't like and their are definitely some I don't finish. For instance, I tried reading Darkness Becomes Her. Some people have raved about the book. LOVED it! I didn't care for all the f-bombs. Does it make a prude? No. I just didn't want to read that. But I can see why people liked it. The world is fantastic. It just wasn't for me.

    If I post a negative review I say what about the book I didn't care for and why. I try to discuss something positive about the book within the negativity. I would never be mean or spiteful toward the author. I try to be constructive with my criticism.

  36. Btw...cute image for Let's Talk!

  37. From an author's prospective, I actually think negative reviews are necessary for two reasons.

    1) Negative reviews allow the writer to look at their book in a different way and take the constructive criticism and become better writers. Also, for series it's a way for the readers to become a part of the books. Like a television show, readers can sort of dictate what they want to see happen. Which is pretty awesome.

    2) Some people are not going to like the book as much as others. That's just reality. People like and dislike different things. We're not all clones of each other, which is unfortunate in my case because I would have loved to be a clone of Rogue (even though her life is somewhat tragic).

    Personally, I've never been offended by a review (yet) and the only time I would be upset at a negative review if there was some sort of attack directed at me. But I've never read a review of any book that harsh before. And I can't speak on the publisher's behalf, but I'm sure they are pushing for all positive reviews.

    Melissa, funny thing you mentioned James Patterson. When Maximum Ride first came out, I thought he talked down to YA readers so much. I read the adult version of the book prior, so I thought that was why, but I'm guessing you had a similar experience with his new series.

  38. I don't see why bloggers (or anyone else for that matter) shouldn't be able to write negative reviews--reviews after all are for the readers and not the authors. I think authors know that once they send their books out into the world, their stories aren't their own anymore and that sometimes people will read something completely out of context but what can they do? They know that not everyone will be a fan of their work and they have to deal with that (because if they can't, then they're in the wrong business!).

    It does get a little fuzzier when a reviewer wants a writing career themselves but how they choose to tread is their decision. MY only problem are the mean reviewers that take pleasure in shredding books--fine, be snarky and make some people laugh but it's not doing any good for them down the line. The internet might seem vast but it's actually a small place and people ARE reading what you write.

    There can be negative reviewers and I think there should be---not everyone has the same taste in books and if the reviewer is particularly thorough/critical, they can actually help the author that they're critiquing. (And sometimes a negative review can actually propel a reader to pick up a book! It's kinda weird but true.) Honestly, it's all about class. Some reviewers have it...and some don't.

  39. Honestly? I think this has gotten out of hand. I don't think it is positive vs. negative reviews. I don't think it is negative reviews, but when someone decides to be a jerk or a troll and heap all their personal anger upon a review. That is not and should not be tolerated. A negative review can actually be helpful for readers and authors. Just be respectful and honest. That is the most you can do if it is considered a + or a - review.

  40. I hate writing negative reviews not just because it's hard to pan someone's hard work, but also because I hate it when I don't enjoy books. I don't write many negative reviews, because I usually don't finish books that I just can't stand.

    It's harder when it's a book that you've been asked to review. I read one book for review recently that I have a lot of mixed feelings about. It's not a bad story per se, but it has a lot of problems. And although my review should be honest (and it will be), I will probably be far more gentle with my criticisms than I would otherwise.

  41. A negative review is a beautiful thing. I mean, seriously. I'm assuming we all read each other's blogs because we love YA lit and we care about each other's opinions. So if I knew that someone was only posting rave reviews, I probably wouldn't follow them. I guess there's a difference between knowing that someone only posts reviews of the books they like. That's their prerogative. But if someone is posting reviews of all different books they read, they should post the truth. And the truth is? We're never going to like every book we pick up, even if we screen the books we read carefully. So negative reviews? They're necessary! Everyone has different tastes and opinions and ways of looking at things, so I appreciate seeing the things that someone absolutely hated about a book I may have adored (even if I gasp and go "what??? noooo, how could you hate ____").

    The other fact is that there's a big difference between a negative review and a "review" that is basically a venomous diatribe of an author. Those types of "reviews" are the ones from Goodreads, NOT from any respectable blogger. Any negative review I've seen from bloggers that I follow are completely respectful, and they simply state what didn't work for them. And this? Is perfectly within a blogger's right. Those ones that are slamming authors and being completely rude? Well... that's those people's right too, unless they get to a point where it's libel or slander or an actual threat. But those types of "reviews" are not the type of review that you, or I, or any "good" blogger would ever post. Negative reviews are about being truthful and respecting your readers (and even the author of the book) enough to tell the truth.

    [So apparently this comment is so long I could practically post it on my own blog. Whoops!]

  42. I've posted about this too, Melissa. I think it is just the kind of topic people can't help but discuss because of the many valid points you have reaffirmed.

    I always post my honest thoughts, even when they are not exactly favorable for the book. Either way, they are just my opinion, and yours could be vastly different from mine. I think that is the great thing about books! Everyone has a different reaction the the stories they read, and rightly so.

  43. I think negative reviews are as important as positive reviews. I do my research if I am going to spend my hard earned money on a $10 to $15 book; I want to read positive and negatie reviews. I want some honesty.

    I think negative reviews also establish some credibility for the blogger. If all I read are positive reviews, then I start to doubt their sincerity about the book.

  44. Okay here's why I don't look at ratings. Your opinion and likes have influenced that rating. Mine may be very different. So I read the review. That being said, if the flaws you point out aren't based on opinion, but facts, poor grammar, spelling, plot line that doesn't work or falls apart, flat characters, if I read that then I feel you've saved me time and money from reading a "craptastic" novel.

    So yes, as a blogger, you should write negative reviews whether you want to be published or not. Your blog is for reviewing books, not stroking authors' egos. You're telling other bloggers and readers of your blog about good and not so good books out there. But do it in a way that doesn't make the author feel like you said it was "craptastic". Point out the flaws, why it didn't work and maybe the author can learn from their mistakes. I doubt James Patterson cares what we say about his books. But new authors do and I don't think we should slam them either for a poorly written book. (I've never seen you do that.) But it is our opinion and the last time I looked, we had every right to express it, craptastic or not!

    I don't post many negative reviews. The books I would give negative reviews to seem to go against the mainstream and when 100 other blogs have already reviewed it, I generally don't post a review about it. There are some review books that I have not posted negative reviews on. I don't like to do them, but I have on occasion. It's hard to do, but I promise an honest review and it's what I give and what I expect from the blogs I read.


  45. Awesome post, Melissa! This is something I think about alot. It always makes me feel so guilty to write a negative review. I just try to be respectful, but still explain why I didn't like it. I'm going to stop back by and read some of these comments :)

  46. I'm perfectly fine with negative reviews. Like you said, you want to show what works for you, but you need something to contrast it to, so what didn't is almost necessary too. Negative reviews that are constructive and that cleanly and politely state what you didn't enjoy shouldn't be frowned upon. If a review is hateful and attacking, that's a different story. But those aren't the type of reviews that you write.

    I have to say that I am beyond surprised that you've received 'snarky' emails that sound quite unkind. You happen to be one of the nicest bloggers I've encountered and I can't believe anyone would be so rude as to send you an email like that.

    I've written a few negative reviews myself, but have escaped ensuing negative comments/emails thus far. It's unbelievable that anyone would take that much offense to someone else's opinion that they would feel the need to go as far as to send an email.

    Keep doing what you're doing, Melissa. There's nothing wrong with it :-)

  47. I think it does both. It can give negative feelings and positive toward our blog. You can't win either way you go. So I just go with what I feel works for me. I never bash a book but I will write what did and didn't work for me. If I couldn't finish it, I don't review. I just pass it along. I don't see how anyone can actually give you grief over your personal opinion. THey should be grown up enough to just agree to disagree.

    It's sad that this has become such a hot topic in the book blogging world.

  48. I say most definitely both. Although, as a reviewer, I will say that the negative reviews are hard to write for an author that has requested a review from me. However, I don't feel good about it unless it is honest, I kind of suck at lying. But, I do try to be nice about it and do it tactfully. But, I appreciate all the reviews, it helps me see who has my same taste in books.

    In the Closet With a Bibliophile

  49. Reviewers should post both their good reviews and their critical reviews. From an author's standpoint, we are just as interested in knowing what didn't work as well as what did work for readers. Of course the negative ones hurt. Authors should always be interested in honing their craft. Though sometimes the criticism is just a matter of honest opinion. Not everyone is going to like the same book or writing style, and sometimes the author has to just count that review as a divergence of opinion and leave it as that. It's part of the business. Basically, it’s the majority of reviews that one must look at to get a true picture. There were plenty of times we loved movies and books that reviewers hated, but our criteria was perhaps different than theirs.

    As authors we want all the reviews to be glowing . For all the hard work put into the novel it means a reward beyond measure to us. But we are always prepared to take the bad with the good. Hopefully future novels will be even better for the criticism. At least for those that like our particular style of story. Just be true to yourself. We authors appreciate it! At least those of us with good social etiquette.


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