Reviews-The good, the bad, and the ugly.

 

Hello my Tuesday Scribe’s readers. PJ Sharon, here today talking about reviews.

Reviews come in many forms. You have the all-important “Big Name” endorsement or the Editorial review from some well-known source like RT or Publishers Weekly. And then you have consumer reviews. Summaries and quotes from wonderful readers who take time to go onto Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, etc, to leave starred reviews. These reviews are essential to leading others to find your books

 For some reason, I don’t always listen to movie reviews. I do, however, tend to look to reviews when it comes time to buy books. It matters to me if others have enjoyed the story and the writing. But what about a bad review? A bad review can potentially derail a young career by lowering the author’s starred average and keeping them from being able to advertise on certain sites.  Some book review blogs and promotional sites require as many as five, ten, or even twenty, 5 star reviews to advertise on their site.

Let me say I’m happy that so far Heaven Is For Heroes hasn’t had (to my knowledge) a bad review. I had a Publishers Weekly review that was average but neither stellar nor derogatory. I was just thrilled that they actually read and reviewed my book. I’ve been lucky. I know lots of authors who have had bad reviews, and it seems hard for them to get past it. My thinking is that you can’t take anything personally in life. You have to expect that at some point someone will have something negative to say about you or your work.

It’s the risk we take when we put ourselves out there. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but just because you have one, doesn’t make it right. I have to believe that the positive can counteract any negative feedback you get if, indeed, you have a great book.

I’ve recently started to review books and my feeling is that I will only review a book if,

 1) I am dying to read it. I have VERY little time to read so I’d better be having a good time. I’m picky about how I spend my reading time.

 2) If I like it enough to give it at least four stars.

3) If I have only positive feedback to offer. I don’t want to be responsible for saying anything negative about anyone or their work. If I felt strongly that I could offer the person constructive feedback, I would e-mail them privately or not post a review at all.

I might note as a sidebar that I won’t take points off for typos as much as I’m tempted to. I learned on my first book how hard it is to catch them all. The perfectionist in me who recalls a time when I rarely found a typo, is sad to see the current production of books in the digital world of the flawed spell check and the pinch of having to pay for many layers of editing. There are typos in most books these days, indie and traditionally published.

For today, I wanted to share with you my latest book review. If you haven’t read Renee Pace’s OFF LEASH, you must. It is a wonderful contemporary YA.

PJ’s Review for OFF LEASH by Renee Pace

OFF LEASH is a story of life and death, dogfighting, and discovering that a best friend, in any form, can save a life. Renee Pace’s debut novel takes you inside the life of poverty in a truly heartrending account of Jay Walker, a fifteen year-old boy saddled with a drug addicted mother and a little sister who’s dying from cancer. Jay’s life is one of desperation and hopelessness until he meets Ollie, a selfless and endearing Boxer that Jay is paid to walk. I don’t want to give the whole story away, because you should definitely read this book for yourself. I fell in love with the characters and found myself rooting for them on every page.           

I loved the voice of Ollie in a first person perspective of what life is like for a dog. This sweet, rambunctious canine steals the story. And Jay’s nitty-gritty account of his life and the hard choices he is forced to face, are spot on in their depth and meaning. The way that Pace reveals Jay’s character in many layers throughout his personal journey from boy to man is commendable. I felt like I was at his side from beginning to end.

Speaking of endings, Ms. Pace offers alternate endings for her books which I think is brilliant and I wish I’d thought of it myself. For me, I always choose the Hollywood ending. Although I couldn’t stop myself reading both endings and finding them diverse and poignant. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can’t wait to read more from this author. I’m waiting patiently for her next book in the Nitty Gritty series, OFF LIMITS. To see more of Renee Pace’s books or buy information go to http://www.yabeyond.com/books/renee-pace/

 

How about you? Do you buy books based on reviews? Do you think it’s okay to trash a book if you don’t like it?

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21 thoughts on “Reviews-The good, the bad, and the ugly.”

  1. I agree on all counts. I believe if you don’t have anyting nice to say, don’t say it all. I don’t use reviews to determine whether or not to buy a book. Though I do read them if there is a wide diversity in opinion (and if I have time – which isn’t often). If it’s an author I already buy and their books go downhill (in my opinion), then I’ll stop buying them. If I’m not sure about a book, I’ll take it out of the library (which is where I still get a lot of my books).

    1. i love our public library and I get many of my books there as well. It doesn’t hurt that there are so many wonderful books available for e-readers at under five dollars. Even if it’s a stinker, I don’t feel too bad about it.

  2. If it’s an author I love I don’t bother to look at the reviews. There was one time I looked at reviews for a book that I absolutely loved and found that a third of the reviews were not very nice. If I had read the reviews before I wouldn’t have bought the book. I’m so glad I didn’t.
    Now that I know how much blood, sweat tears and anxiety goes into writing a book I tend to be a little kinder to writers. BUT big time authors who let their writing slip due to arrogance of complacency are a huge pet peeve of mine.

    1. That’s a pet peeve of mine too, Jamie. But I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s more about writer’s fatigue than complacency. if the publisher is demanding two or three or four books a year from a writer, the quality is bound to slip. I also think that once a writer is well established, the publisher just expects the writing to be good and perhaps they do less editing. I get frustrated with poor editing even more than I do with poor writing now that I know a little more about the process. I tend toward empathy for the writer, but I’ll still stop buying their books if the quality makes it hard to enjoy the story.

  3. Tell you what PJ, I don’t read reviews often. I just read. But my hubby Tom, an avid romance reader, reads all the reviews, those authors he loves, and those that have his curiosity. Most of the time he gets the high score and high star books. He has his favorite authors, but will read reviews for authors he has never read as an guide to his selections. I usually ask him to tell me what to read next, unless its someone from our CTRWA group. He loves the Kristan stories and style…For his reviews of my ongoing manuscript, he is my toughest critic…gads.

    1. I’m laughing because so is my husband–my toughest critic, that is.. He’s not a fiction reader and when I read anything I’ve written, he starts asking questions and doesn’t really get it…hmm. You’d think I would know better by now, LOL

  4. A bad book review won’t deter me if I really love the author and books (sorry Explosive Eighteen reviewers, but I’m loving it), however a good review by a source I trust will have me hitting the buy button in a second. As to trashing a book? …. I will snark it to my friends in private but not in public. I’m from the Midwest, that’s how we do it. 🙂

    1. We do it that way in the Northeast too, Avery! The Scribes all secretly dread it when I start ranting, but they’re usually too nice to shut me down.

    2. Thanks Avery, and welcome. I like your style. And I like what you said about “a good review from a trusted source will have me hitting the buy button in a second.” I think that’s true for many of us. Thanks for commenting.

  5. Generally, I don’t check reviews in advance of reading a book, because I understand that reviews are extremely subjective and I like to form my own opinions. I do, however, often go back and read reviews afterward, to see where my opinion fits in with the crowd. I guess I need validation. 🙂 I also have not historically left reviews, although now that people I know are publishing books, I will be rethinking that policy! I agree that I would never leave a review less than 4 stars (3 stars, maybe, but only if it’s a big name author and not somebody I know personally), because I don’t need that kind of bad e-karma dogging me. Come back on Thursday, when I’ll be doing a book review as my blog — and I promise you it will positive!

  6. Hi PJ,
    Generally with both books and movies, I like to judge for myself. I wouldn’t go to a movie or purchase a book that would never interest me. Having said that, I must agree with Casey, if you don’t have something nice to say, say nothing at all. This is probably why I do not do reviews.

    1. I felt that way too, Gerri and have not traditionally done reviews, but as Suze mentioned, now that I know more published authors and realize how important reviews are, i’m inclined to put up reviews for books and authors I like.

  7. I really enjoyed your review of Off Leash. I will almost always purchase a book that deals with dogs and this one sounds like it’s well-written and has a lot of emotional kick to it. Thank you for that. And I agree with you about the reviews. I won’t write something negative about someone’s book because it’s just my opinion and I don’t want the author’s ranking to fall because of my personal preference.
    Patti

    1. Thanks, Patti. You’ll love OFF LEASH. It is sad and deals with some tough issues, but is so well written, you fall in love with Jay, his adorable little sister and Ollie who is one awesome dog.

      Yes, opinions are subjective and if they can do harm, why put them out there. I agree.

  8. I gotta say, I’m not a review girl. For me, I select books either by reading authors I know, or by the cover. I know, I know. Don’t judge a book by its cover, but I do. The cover has to be compelling enough for me to pick it up and read the back. Then it’s the back jacket text that sells me on the book. If the jacket seems intriguing, I’m likely to buy (or borrow!)

  9. I’m with you J. Cover, back blurb, first paragraph sells me abook. But these days, knowing how valuable reviews are, I’m looking at them more and more.

  10. I don’t read the reviews either. I check out the back blurb and two random points within the story to see if it’s the type of book I’d like to read. I don’t go by the first page. Too many times the first couple of pages are great only to have it die afterwards and never return.

  11. Donna says: I don’t read the reviews either. I check out the back blurb and two random points within the story to see if it’s the type of book I’d like to read. I don’t go by the first page, too many times the first couple of pages are great only to have it die afterwards and never return.

  12. Thanks for commenting Donna. Sorry you had trouble leaving your comment. Interesting technique–looking at two random points in the story to see if it’s the type of book you like. Good approach. I’ll have to try that.

  13. Great review and it sounds like a unique and wonderful story. Would you say it is age appropriate for 10 -12 yr.olds?

    As for me, I don’t review books I don’t like. If I can’t say something nice, I don’t say anything at all.

  14. Thanks Katy. I would say a mature 11 or 12 year-old reader could read OFF LEASH. The subject matter is pretty serious and sad, but the story has some great lessons and deals with the poverty issue extremely well.

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