Book Discussion: Reviewing Books


Morning, friends. Unfortunately, today there is no Top Ten Tuesday because the topic is favorites of 2014. Those of you who have been here from the beginning know we make a "big" deal about this closer to the end of the year with a two-part blog post series. I'm prepping those posts and would love to chat up our favorites later in the month, so be on the look out for that. In the meantime, I thought I'd finally post this discussion entry that I've had in a draft folder for... well a long time.  

 
It’s time to just admit it, friends. We’re addicted to books.


We’re all in good company and this is a judgment free zone here. We start by merely looking at our bookshelves to know that we do have an inability to rarely, if ever, pass up a pretty book. Some of us even like to purchase multiple copies of something if it’s released with a shiny new cover or a foreign version. Recently the lovely Amber Stokes wrote a post about her book buying tendency that funnily enough coincided with my own thoughts just prior to that in relation to review books. I’ve more recently been thinking about being a book blogger and all that entails.  

When I think of my to-be-read pile, mentally I am separating out the books I have bought vs. those I was sent for review, because a.) it’s easier that way and b.) the publisher sent copies are what I *have* to read over those I own – in my mind, there’s a kind of obligation to read those. Much as I’ve loved having opportunity to be a part of this community, I’ve recently realized that I have to find a better way of scheduling what books I review – or more accurately, I need to be sure that I don’t wind up with a gazillion books at the same time because I need to give myself room to “breathe” and be able to also weed through the books I have on my bookshelves. 

So, here are some of the things I’ve learned since beginning the book blogging journey and some of the things I need to learn still.  


Know what you like. I’ve talked about this before, but I believe it’s important. There was a time when it didn’t matter what a popular author wrote, I “had” to have their new book. Now, I have easily learned to let that mentality go – though can admit to still purchasing on cover alone. For the most part, that no longer applies to my reading habits – I’ve taught myself which genres or authors most suit me and while I am always willing to try new authors, most of all, I still use those parameters and ask the right questions. Is it a genre I like? What have fellow book reviewers said? Does its summary appeal?  

Negative Reviews. I’ve had my share of trouble in this regard. What some readers may not realize is (and I think I speak for all reviewers when I say this): I never relish writing a review that is less-than positive, yet it’s outweighed by my belief that all opinions should be sincerely and honestly given. I’ve also been called out by a reader as regards one of my 3-star reviews, who questioned why I gave the product three stars when my review didn’t reflect that rating. What are your thoughts on reviews that share the bad? I have a problem not reviewing a book – even if the conclusion is so-so, when I’ve been sent it by a publicist or author because that was the expectation – that an honest review be given in exchange, plus with exception to the rare book, there is always something good to be said about a book and I don’t remember rating much of anything below a 3-star.  


Ratings. This brings us to the next point. Speaking of ratings, recently I’ve come across lots of Booktube chatter about the Twitter hashtag movement, BeCritical and some of the conversation has to do with ratings. I love how booktuber Karina E. puts ratings into perspective: if you go by Goodreads (which seems pretty universal), a 3-star rating does mean that the reader “liked” the book making me want to reevaluate the books I’ve rated – a three rating isn’t necessarily “bad” in the world of GR, which for me, really put things into perceptive.  

I’m curious, what are your thoughts on these two subjects? 

Scheduling. This is something I mistake all too often; I’ll get tour invites, check the dates, and think, “that’s a long way off” while assuming I’ll be all “caught up” by then. Wrong. Usually I do this with more than one novel which means I receive a whole cache of books in a very short timeframe. Even at that, what I try to do is read the books in order of their release dates and/or tour dates, something that sometimes forces me to put aside a current read in favor of reading something that has a tour date looming ahead of me. 

If I get a novel that won’t come out until say 3-5 months from the date we’re on, this is why usually no matter how much I wish to read it, I hold off.  

Writing the Review. Occasionally I will make notes when reading a book, but rarely go that route. Instead while I’m reading, usually I begin typing my review even if it’s only disorganized thoughts because sometimes… the thoughts… the feels… the emotions, it’s all too “present” to let set without getting it down on paper. I make a habit of writing every night (or 3-5 times a week at the least), which makes it easy to type out early thoughts of a book, then walk away until I finish the book and return to polish it.  

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It’s your turn!  
What have you learned through your experiences; what advice do you have to offer? Have you been given advice that helped? Share any bookish or not bookish thoughts you have – it’s welcome!
QuickEdit
Rissi
35 Comments

35 comments:

  1. I love this post! And I feel the exact same way about writing negative reviews, I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one. I want my ratings to be honest but I just don't like reviewing negatively, and there's always something to like.

    xx

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    1. I'm not sure if you do tags but if you do here's one. :)

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    2. You are not, SW! It's tough to write those negative reviews. On the upside though, thank goodness there are always positive things to pull out of the story. Makes the reading/reviewing all the better. :)

      Thanks for commenting, reading and the tag! I appreciate it very much. :)

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  2. I've learned so much about reviewing in general since I started blogging. Like you, I don't like to leave negative reviews. I've had a few one and two stars, but the majority of mine are 3 or 4 stars. I was looking back at some of my early reviews. I'd rated them 4 stars, but now, I'd probably rate them 3. As I learn and grow, I'm not afraid to give a lower rating if I truly didn't like the book.

    I've also noticed that I'm not sold on just any particular author anymore. There has been one author I've loved, but her more recent books haven't been that wonderful (recycled plots, etc) so I'm done with her. But because of that, I've discovered other gems.

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    1. Yes! That was something I'm not sure this entry talked about. Our tastes do change and like you, if I were to go back and reevaluate, I'd likely lower some ratings too. That's just how I've changed/evolved in my reading habits. For the most part, I'm glad for how reviewing has changed my preferences. It's been good to learn and grow.

      That's neat. I really do have a few authors that are auto-buys, but through reviewing have also found new favorites. Like Hillary Manton Lodge. Or Katherine Reay. It's been quite a journey!

      Thanks for sharing, Dawn. I'm so glad you did. :)

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  3. Great post! I know a lot of people write book reviews, but not many people actually talk about the behind-the-scenes aspect of reviewing. :)

    It's hard for me to write real reviews. The quick little "reviews" that I post on Goodreads after finishing a book are easy, because the book is still fresh in my mind and it's usually just a basic overview of my feelings. But as for real reviews, I always feel so much pressure about those. Which is probably one of the reasons that I don't request a huge number of books to review. (Along with the fact that I'm contrary and stubborn enough that I don't like "being told" what to read. Ha. I like to read what I want to read when I want to read it, and having "required reading," even though it was my choice to request that book, usually bugs me.) I generally only request review books by authors that I already love, or debut novels that sound like something I'll enjoy. Only a couple of times have I received a review book that I didn't really like, and those were probably times when I just requested something because I *had* to (as in, my BookSneeze/BookLook Bloggers account was going to be made inactive if I didn't choose something- I really dislike that policy but don't get me started on it, ha...) If I know I'm going to buy and read a book from a favorite author eventually, anyway, I might as well get it for free and take an hour or so to write a review. I try to write the review as soon as possible after I finish the book, but I usually end up staring at my computer screen for a while before I can (hopefully) coherently write my thoughts. Really, all I can do is explain what I did or didn't love about a book and hope that it helps someone else!

    And I know what you mean about negative reviews. I'm going to make a little confession here: I find it a lot easier to be critical of general/secular books than I do those in the Christian fiction community. If I read a super-popular book and don't like it, I'll be pretty blunt about what I thought because the chance of the author ever reading my little review is practically nonexistent. But with Christian fiction, the community is a lot smaller and there's a pretty good possibility that the author might stumble across the review. I can't imagine the effort that goes into writing a book and just because something didn't click with me doesn't mean that it won't click with other people. And I really don't want to hurt anyone's feelings with a negative review! Anyway, I'm pretty good at knowing what I'll like and there have only been a couple of instances with Christian fiction when I feel like I wrote a somewhat negative review. Even then, those weren't scathing or anything...they were still 3 star reviews.

    I do struggle with Goodreads star ratings. I try to reserve 5 star ratings for books that I absolutely adore. Longtime favorites or ones that ones that stick me with or really impacted me in some way. Most of the books I read are probably 4 stars, which means that I really enjoyed them but they didn't quite reach that elusive specialness of 5 stars. :) Three stars and below is where I struggle. Looking through my 3 star reviews, there are some of them that I quite enjoyed but that just didn't live up to a 4 star rating, and there are some pretty forgettable ones that I didn't really enjoy. 2 stars is for books that I didn't like, but that ranges from "I didn't like it, so I'll never read it again" to "I almost hated it." I've never rated a book 1 star, though looking back there are a couple that probably should have been. Like The Casual Vacancy and Wuthering Heights.

    Whew. I might have went a little overboard with this comment. Sorry! :)

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    1. Kristin, I totally agree with you on Casual Vacancy. It was probably the most scathing review I wrote prior to ranting about the final left behind series sequel.

      For me, my goodreads rating are the same as amazon as it is just easier. But I have noticed that I will frequently mark the book read when I finish it without rating it. Sometimes I just don't have anything to say about it good or bad even if I enjoyed it.

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    2. Thanks for sticking with it, Kristin; I know this one got LONG. ;)

      I get that mentality. Reading what you want, when you want. That could be part of the reason I’ve slowed WAY down on requesting books. That and the fact that I’m trying to learn more about YA secular reviewing, too. I LOVE writing and want to continue to pursue that, which is probably why even though I struggle writing when I fall behind, I tend to ramble on (and on) in my reviews. ;) Shortening them is one thing I have to work on, and I admire people who can write brief thoughts. I don’t request from Booklook much, so mine goes inactive also. It’s probably because authors have street teams now or I am able to request the book via email, either way, I’m guessing my account is about to lapse. Again. I’ve been meaning to email them and ask if it’d be okay to post reviews if we get the book from an author or publicist. That’s something to look into, because that way there’d be more activity in my account. Excellent thoughts on both picking the right kind of books for review (really you’re doing more than yourself a favor by doing this, you’re also being considerate of publishers and their authors – especially if you know what you like) as well as how you write your reviews. Writing what it was you loved is best. :)

      I agree. I probably find it easier to write a negative review on a secular novel as well. But I strive to be honest no matter the genre. As you say, a book has an audience. It just needs to find it and I certainly hope that most books do find their intended reader. GR says a 3-star means we liked the book… so to me, that isn’t negative. It’s certainly making me rethink the whole rating system (as I’ve used it).

      I give out 5-stars regularly because I enjoyed the book so much. It doesn’t necessarily mean there weren’t little “issues” I had with it. What it does mean is that my enjoyment outweighed the “bad.” It’s a catch-22 I suppose because some books may get a 5-star rating and readers wonder why they did given my past reviewing history. *sigh* I do my very best. :)

      No apology necessary. I loved your comments! Long comments are always welcome.

      Dawn & Kristin - haven't read Casual Vacancy, but I'm glad you ladies found commonality as regards the book. That's fun to "meet" readers who fell into the same kind of experience. Makes you feel not so alone. :)

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  4. I really enjoyed hearing your thoughts on how to review.
    I hope you have a great day!!

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    1. Thanks, Ella! I appreciate you sticking with this. :)

      You too. Wishing you a great day - and rest of the week.

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  5. I have that problem with scheduling as well and learned real quick that I'm usually not caught up! I also basically write my review while reading that way everything is fresh in my mind. I also don't allow myself to read another book until I actually type up the official review so that I won't get my thoughts mixed up with the next one.

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    1. I'm forever behind, Laura. Even if I'm okay with the reading part, my writing is behind. Which is mainly where I am now. Ah, well. Someday we'll figure this world out, right!? ;)

      Thanks for sharing your tips - I like the idea of writing a review before allowing yourself to start the next book on that TBR. That would be an incentive! ;)

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  6. I really appreciate your comments and also the comments of others. I don't have my own blog and am not participating in any of the programs, but I do write reviews for books I win or are newer releases. Since I have only been doing this for about a year, I need all the tips I can get. I am going to try your method of typing the review while still reading the book. I think that might work for me.

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    1. Fun! I'm glad you enjoyed this and maybe found some things to try. I don't usually write an entire review while reading the book, but sometimes it does make all the difference to jot notes here and there. Wishing you all the best, Kay - and if you ever do start blogging, let us know. :)

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  7. Rissi, I enjoyed reading this post and the comments so far. Thanks for the great discussion prompt!

    I definitely struggle with overbooking myself. When there's something new coming out that I don't want to miss, it's way too easy to convince myself that I'll be caught up in time for it, and go ahead and request it when in reality my TBR pile is already looming. I'm trying to get better about planning ahead with a realistic view of the (kinda slow) speed I read. A spreadsheet with intended posting dates for the books I've already committed to review seems to be helping with that somewhat, as long as I don't get so excited about a new title that I ignore my spreadsheet. LOL!

    On points 2 and 3, I find it way easier to be honest about the specific things I did and didn't like in a book than to assign a rating. Like you said, there's almost always something good that can be said about a book. And if I'm mostly focusing on that in my review, I feel okay about also mentioning any not so great aspects, on the grounds that if the author reads the review, specifics may actually be helpful. Plus readers of the review can decide for themselves if that particular aspect would be likely to bother them or not, since preferences vary. On the other hand, I find assigning stars to be really challenging because I worry that whatever number I give may be perceived differently than I intended it. Have you noticed how few books have average ratings below 3.5 stars or above 4.5 stars? Even though a 3 star rating is technically good, I'd hate to be dragging down the average on a book I liked, and yet if I give all 4 and 5 star ratings, it's hard to differentiate my favorites. All that to say, I'm still working on what my personal rating scale should be and trying to muddle through in the meantime. I'm definitely enjoying reading other people's opinions on the subject! :)

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    1. Karen, thanks! I’m so glad you joined in and are enjoying the comments. I am too!

      My speed is that of a turtle. Didn’t used to be. But as I’ve gotten older, it has become so. As for overbooking, I just requested a BH book, my first in a LONG time (or for me it is a long while). Makes me proud, I must say. ;) What I used to regularly do to keep track was keep a small date book where I put the dates for reviews. Not so much these days.

      Well said! It’s good for authors to read constructive criticism if it’s in an area they’re work struggle. I’m not an advocate for being mean just for the sake of being mean. But in a helpful way, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with sharing what you, as a reader didn’t care for.

      I really think – and this isn’t meant badly, but every story is subjective. Meaning what doesn’t work for me as a story will delight 100’s of readers. That’s the beauty of the storytelling art. We have such a wonderful variety to choose from. It’s part of the reason I love this community so well. Authors are not just talented; they gift us with amazing types of books in all shapes and sizes. :)

      Thanks so much for adding your two cents, Karen. Appreciate your thoughts. :)

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    2. I may have overstated my point when I said "way easier." I think "a tiny bit easier" would be more accurate because there have been times when I've agonized over a statement in one of my reviews that might be perceived as negative, wondering if it's a little too much honesty and if I should tone it down even more than I already have. I try to look at it from the perspective of how I'd feel if it were my novel being reviewed, which I think helps a lot in balancing honesty with gentleness.

      You made some great points in your reply. I especially liked what you said about how a story that doesn't work for one person may be perfect for lots of others. We each bring our own experiences to what we read, and I think that can have a big impact on what we think of a story. In a writing class I took, there was an exercise where we were supposed to read a paragraph about a character and list everything we could conclude about him from the way he was described. When we looked at each other's answers, there were a few points where I wondered if we'd all read the same paragraph. It amazed me how tiny details could lead people to vastly different conclusions about a character, and I think a lot of that was because of how our own life experiences impacted what we read. Definitely an eye-opening experience!

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    3. I know what you mean, Karen. I too have struggled (time and again) getting down the "perfect" way of saying something. It's a daily blogger conundrum and one that has really been a learning experience. And dare I say for us all. I'm glad that not only is this a fun world to be a part of, it's also a wonderful learning tool. :)

      That's the beauty of storytelling; that there is someone who the story touches. That's a cool story about your writing class. Thanks for sharing! Stories are really subjective to each reader and that's great. It's best that we all share our own thoughts (and though we don't always say, "this is just my opinion," that is the understanding of a review) and let potential readers decide for themselves. :)

      Thanks SO much for sharing all your stories and thoughts, Karen. I've enjoyed chatting with you. :)

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  8. Great questions, Rissi! But oh my, where do I begin?

    1-I am definitely much more of a picky reader than I used to be. So when it comes to books that I "have" to review (I tend to review just about everything I read anymore), I do get pretty choosy about what I pick out. Especially if I end up buying it. I don't like to spend my money on a story that I feel blah about. I want to only think happy thoughts when looking at my bookshelves! ;) Plus, it's no fun to try and slog my way through a story that I figured I wouldn't like, but I wanted to give it a chance. In the instances where I'm not sure about it, I find that it's much smarter for me to wait until the library has it. THEN if I like it, I'll add it to my collection.

    2-I like honest reviews. And if there was something the reader didn't like or didn't appreciate, I'm glad to know it. I strive for honesty in all of mine. Although I do know I tend to be more gushy about most books. It's hard to be truly negative about a story when I know how much work the author had to put into it. But reviews are what help convince me to read or not read a book, so I definitely want honest and true opinions. And you can be honest without coming across as nasty. If I really, truly did not like the book at all, I usually don't write a complete review of it. In fact, I more than likely didn't even finish the book, in which case I don't think it'd be right to post a review anyway. I suppose I'm more of the type "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all"? At least I try. I haven't gone back and reread my old reviews on GR, so....

    3- I tended to rate a lot of books a 5 star when I first started using GR. And then I realized that that wasn't really truthful. I mean, every single book I read is not a 5 star. (Although I wish I could say that! That'd mean I was reading awesome stories all the time. ;) So now I mainly stick to 3-4 stars, depending on how much I enjoyed it and whether I'll read it again. I save the 5's for books that I love. I have rated 1-2, but only for stories that I really didn't like at all.

    4-Ugh. Don't even get me started on scheduling. I think I'm the worst scheduler there is. I don't know how many times I've had a due date and it's been right up til the very last possible minute that I'm getting it finished. Clearly I must like to work in panic mode! ;)

    5-I occasionally write a few thoughts out while reading or just after I finished. But most of the time I don't start the review until I sit down and just start writing. Usually I write it all in one fell swoop. Depending on the day and how much time I have. Even if it's weeks later until I write the review! I feel like that's probably not very smart, as sometimes I have to almost skim through the book again to remember exactly what happened. But sometimes I loved the book so much that it takes a week or so for my thoughts to get beyond "I loved it!! Everybody read it!!" on repeat. :)

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    1. LOL, I perhaps should have made this a two-part post, Kara. Alas, hindsight doesn’t help me now. ;)

      1 – I agree 100%. I’m a hugely picky reader now compared to what I used to be. Although I still feel that a lighthearted contemporary (even if it’s not the best writing) goes a LONG way. Some readers mourn the loss of being a non-critical reader, I do not. I *need* to be picky because beforehand I used to buy / read books just because an author released something new and I *had* to have it. I’ve moved past that now and reviewing has helped me do that. It was a lesson well learned. Ditto on not wanting to slog through a book: that’s the WORST.

      2 – Me, too. Honesty is BIG. It’s how I write my reviews. When I gush it means I genuinely was goofily grinning and happy through the whole thing. If I say a story just wasn’t good (for me), then that’s what I felt while reading/watching it. Good idea! I need to go back and reevaluate some of my old reviews as well. Especially in light of point number 3 (ratings) and Goodreads. Perhaps if I feel like the GR rating system requires more of a 2-star read, I shouldn’t rate the books and just write a review? I don’t know. Though I definitely try to live by that adage too: if you can’t say anything nice… :)

      I know what you mean about not wanting to have nothing good to say about a book when you think about the years, work and love that went into a book. It’s not easy and I admire these authors for giving us SO many to choose from. Bravo to them.

      3 – (Back to talking about reevaluated) some books “need” a low rating in terms of looking at the books I did give 4-5 stars. And I have worked hard to share the good with the bad along with hoping readers’ see that a book might be something they like, in spite of low ratings. Some books just don’t touch us, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a prime audience for them. They just have to find those people. :)

      4 – LOL, my cousin was just talking about working best under stress today, too. I prefer to be AHEAD of the schedule, but honestly, that hasn’t been a friend lately. When I first started, it played nice. Now… not so much.

      5 – Putting on repeat that you loved a book? Nothing wrong with that! Sometimes that’s the most affective, girl. Love your lovely reviews. :)

      Thanks so much for sharing, Kara. I’m glad you did.

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  9. Just gonna chime in as an author: I LOOOOVE people who take time to review books. I do, I do. :)

    Even if a review isn't the most positive of reviews, that person still took the time to read the book (well, in most cases) and write out their thoughts. And I appreciate it. Although, I'll admit, I try hard not to actually read reviews unless I know they're positive ones. Not because I can't believe someone wouldn't like my books (we all have different tastes, after all) and truthfully, I have pretty thick skin. But sometimes it's hard to stay upbeat when writing and marketing and working a day job simultaneously and thinking about things like book sales and the next deadline and all that. So for my own mental state, I try to only read happy reviews. LOL!

    But yeah, regardless of whether a review is positive or negative, it's just awesome that reviewers are out there talking about one of the best subjects ever: books!

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    1. Hi, Melissa! An author's perspective! Yay. Thanks so much for sharing.

      I totally get what you're saying and have heard a lot from authors that they are advised NOT to read reviews. I understand where that advice comes from. Even if we are tough, it's not easy to read mean comments - and believe me, I think that's totally uncalled for. Constructive criticism is way different than making being "mean" a sport. As so many have said, it's NEVER easy to write a negative review because someone poured YEARS maybe or their heart into that book. No matter how resilient you are, it has to hurt if the author reads a cruel review. And boy have I read some scathing, totally cruel, unnecessary reviews on GR! Wow. I often wonder if the reviewer is generally unhappy in life.

      Exactly! Books are awesome and it's great that they get such good publicity. Or that's the hope. :)

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  10. I like that you jot down bits of your reviews as you read-- your reviews are always SO well put together and thought provoking, so that time spent really shows.

    And I'm like you -- the scheduling ahead of time is really hard! We think our schedule looks wide open, but boy do they fill up fast!

    Interesting what you pointed out in regards to goodreads. I find those reviews to be consistently lower and even more critical on my book. I usually see a whole different vibe on GR vs. Amazon and I've gotten used to it. I agree -- even what can seem like a mediocre rating can almost be more easily handled over there. It's a mental thing, I think, for us authors, LOL.

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    1. Hi, Joanne! Thanks so much for dropping by and commenting. I will admit, I do tend to have fun with my reviewing. :)

      Schedules DO indeed fill up crazy fast, plus TIME seems to just fly by. The struggle is real. ;)

      Huh. That's interesting about your GR experiences. I only recently realized what the GR rating system was really all about - primarily thanks to the Youtube video, and wasn't sure if someday (with all that spare time, of course *grin*) I'd go back to reevaluate my reviews or not... does get me considering ratings in future though. I can see where it'd be a mental thing. I actually tend to be like that just dealing with life (I let something bother me longer than I should - working on that!).

      Thanks for joining in, Joanne. :)

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  11. Excellent post friend! I'm actually working on a post about star ratings, so good to know we share some of the same thoughts! :)

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    1. Yay! Jamie, I will definitely be on the lookout for your awesome post. Cannot wait to read it. Thanks for commenting. :)

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  12. I'm still sorting through which authors I'll read regardless of genre, and the genres that fit my reading preferences best. I've weighed myself down with a lot of "wrong choices" because I got excited over book buzz and beautiful covers, or felt compelled to read a book I got for a deal, or downloaded for free. As a result, I end up with reads I didn't like so much, and reviews that color me critical. I need to be more strategic about my selections.

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    1. I've found being in this book blogging world has made me MORE critical and while some readers do mourn the loss of their less critical reading self, I'm glad for it. I need to understand that I don't really care for the same authors I did when I was a teen or I don't love a certain author in general. I used to buy certain author's new books no matter what. When I began reviewing, I realized that they really weren't my favorite books. So... now I can easily "let go" of those new buys. It's been a good thing.

      Thanks for commenting, Gwendolyn. :)

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  13. What a great post! You addressed some things that have been on my mind as I rate books and write reviews. I've used the Goodreads rating system since the beginning, so a 3 star book is one I thought was pleasant, more good than bad, but wouldn't pick up again or recommend to a friend. Four star and five star books are definite re-reads and recommendable. I'd say for a book to make five stars it really moved me or involved me emotionally.

    While I have the brief explanation of the rating system on my sidebar, I also include in my review rating the phrase associated with the number star so readers are sure to understand that 4 stars means "I really liked the book!"

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    1. Hi, Heidi! I'm so glad you joined in. :)

      I like your idea of a 3-star rating. I think the hover on Goodreads says, "liked it," and honestly, some books I rate that are tough sells... and honestly, I really didn't like it well. More of my so-so books were just "ok" which is what a 2-star rating on GR is. Not sure if I'll change ratings so much as just not rate books on GR...? I'm considering some different things though I do love that you say most 3-stars aren't rereads. They probably aren't for me either.

      Loved getting everyone's perspective on this subject - and I thank you for sticking with it. :)

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  14. Rissi, lovely and thoughtful post. As always!

    Thankfully, I know what I like and rarely venture outside that. Although, I love to explore new authors if I think their book is one I'll enjoy. Also, I tend to be a die-hard fan of some authors, but that doesn't mean I don;t review their books fairly. There are cases where I actually dislike a book by a favorite author, and (I've decided) it's okay.

    As for scheduling ... Holy coconuts! I need help and plenty discipline. I'm doing better these days (at least I think so!), but there's much room for improvement.

    Rating is one aspect that took me a while to master (at least I think I have!). I had to decide whether I preferred the 10-star rating or the 5. Deciding to stick with 5, I decided what each number represented and wrote my rating system on my review policy page in case anyone cared to understand my rating system.

    Writing a review is not the easiest, but the funnest part of it all! My first rule is to try to tell prospective readers exactly what to expect without engaging spoilers. I talk about the theme, level of skill, what I liked/disliked, and then sum up my general feeling in one or two sentences.

    Finally, I HATE to give negative reviews. I've had to do so few times, but I've discovered that when I have to, I usually stall to the very last minute. But no matter what, you can be sure that I'll be honest in my review.

    Once again, lovely post! :)

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    1. Miranda, hello! I'm so glad to see you over here. :)

      I like what you say in this first paragraph. It is fun to venture outside the norm. That's why I'm so delighted by Indie authors (like Amber or my friend, Charity or you, too!) because it's a whole new uncharted territory. Also, no matter those "auto-buy" authors, I do have favorites and not-so-favorites among their booklist. You are right... that's okay.

      Scheduling. It'll get us EVERY. TIME. ;)

      See, I probably have a different definition of the 5-star system than GR does. But then again, I've not made my own reasons/scale like many bloggers have. So... there is that.

      The 10-star system is not something I've even thought about. To me they're the "same" albeit judged in their own right. They serve the same purpose is perhaps the better way of putting it.

      I love the writing part. Except when I didn't care for the book. Then... what do I say!? It's tough, but as we've discussed in this comment thread, there is always something good in the book. We should focus on that. :)

      Me too... writing a less than good review is just not cool. It's frustrating because as someone who works hard on these "small potato" kind of writings, how much work HAS to go into a novel!? It's beyond my comprehension since the most I've done in book form is a novella! Even that was shorter than average. :)

      Thank YOU for reading.

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  15. Looks like I’m late to the discussion, but I’m finally here! I, too, have to keep separate piles of books, whether it is physical piles or lists, of which books are for review and which ones I purchased myself. It can definitely get stressful. I always want to be able to give each book enough attention and not speed through it, but when the pile gets over-stacked, there’s only so much you feel like you can do. And then I feel like I hardly have time to read the books I got for myself because I’m always reading for a review commitment I made.

    I think the only way I have been able to cope with this dilemma is to limit the number of books I request for review. For me this means asking myself if it looks like something I will truly enjoy. Just because I have the opportunity to review the book, doesn’t mean I should always request it.

    You hit it on the nail about negative reviews, Rissi. Those are absolutely, completely difficult to write. It is so hard to write a less than raving review about a book that you didn’t connect with. However, I feel the responsibility to be honest with my readers. If I didn’t like the book, I will point out a few areas that didn’t work for me. Something that I’ve noticed (and I think it’s a bit funny) is sometimes my criticism of a book may be too subtle, because readers will comment on how they’re glad I liked the book; and I’m like “what?”. So I think I need to learn how to communicate criticism still honestly and with sensitivity, but perhaps a bit more clearly ;)

    Whew, I don’t even think I responded to all of your points, but you’ve written a great discussion piece here, Rissi! I really enjoyed reading it and the comments.

    This may prompt me to write my own behind the scenes-type post in the future..

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    1. Nope, never too late around here, Cassie. :)

      I'm glad I'm not the only one who mentally separates that TBR. Really all I do is put my review copies on a place all their own, and go from there. Or that's what I try to do. Over booking seems to be a perpetual state for bloggers. We'll figure it out. I have confidence. ;)

      Bravo! Well said! This is why I'm such an advocate for knowing what a reader likes. Sure, it's great to try new things, but perhaps we're best served doing that on our own time. Really, when we think about it, by picking the books we're nearly sure we'll enjoy, we're doing more than just ourselves a favor. It's also nicer for the publicists and authors.

      "Bad reviews" are the hardest and I understand all that you're saying. Subtlety works great too, I sometimes think I should be more like that. ;) I guess for me, my belief that honesty should be key outweighs my negative comments. There is a balance between sharing the things nicely and being mean just for fun. I'm hoping I find the former. I do think sometimes (for me) when reading another's review if they have shared some things they don't like but their rating is say, a four, I equate that to mean, they (overall) liked the book. To some readers, the ratings may all be different. There's lots of differences for bloggers in terms of reviewing, and that's okay.

      Thanks for reading - and joining in said conversation! As for your own post, I'd LOVE to read it. :)

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