What I'm reading: Of Noble Birth, by Brenda Novak (Nook); Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue, by Stephanie Laurens (bike).
Side note: Last week, all my "likes" in the sidebar disappeared. I have no clue as to why. But it looks so sad, with nobody liking my blog. If you're so inclined, a click would be much appreciated.
There was some discussion about reviews triggered by offering books for free on the new Kindle Select Program. Being able to get books for free at Amazon was one of the "selling points" for signing up with the new program, as it generates more exposure.
Note: for a myriad reasons, I did NOT opt to join this program, but that's a subject for another post, another day.
One complaint voiced in the discussion was that people were reading books out of their genre, and then giving poor reviews because they didn't like the genre. To me, this is NOT a valid reason for a poor review.
Since I joined a local book club, I've been reading books outside my genres of choice. This month's selection is totally outside my preferred reading. It's literary fiction, and I prefer my books to have an actual plot (or at least one I can follow). Where I can care about the characters. Where I want to know what happens next. Not so in this book. But although I'll give it a low score when the book club meets, because the criteria there is, "Did you like it?" I would never consider giving it a negative review on a review site. To me, a review isn't "I liked the book" as much as it is, "This is WHY I liked the book" or "These are the plusses and minuses of this book."
The book club choice is well-written, by a Big Name best-selling author. I can't find fault with it given the parameters of the genre. The fact that I don't like it really shouldn't enter into the equation when evaluating the writing. The "rules" are different in literary fiction.
Likewise, I also downloaded a free book in the romantic suspense genre. I wasn't paying a lot of attention to the blurb. If I had, I might have noticed it was labeled "inspirational" and probably would have given it a pass. Although closer to my genres of choice, I'm not big on religion in books. However, I would think it highly improper to post a review and say the Christian themes made it a bad book.
I think a reviewer owes it to the readers (and the author) to be fair and objective. If you don't like the theme of a book, say so, although again, why did you choose to read it in the first place? Be fair to those who might be using your review to decide whether they want to read a book. They may love Christian themes. Or literary fiction.
I received a less than stellar review recently, but the reviewer was honest and fair about the reasons the book didn't work for her/him, including the fact that there was too much time spent (in the reviewer's opinion) on the developing relationships between the characters. This way, someone else can look at the review and say, "But I DO like relationships in mystery books, so I'll give this a try." And, as more people (I hope) post reviews, readers will be able to compare and make their own choices.
And then I found a totally new use for reader reviews at the e-book stores. I noticed I'd received 14 reviews for one of my books at B&N. Now, I don't usually get more than 5 reviews for any of my titles, so I went to read them. For whatever reason, a group of people were using the review page to post private conversations about sick cats. (Not that there were even cats in the book in question!) Granted, they were posting 5 stars before leaving their comments, but that was a new one to me. Reviews as Instant Messaging?
Tomorrow my guest, Sue Star, will be sharing some self-defense tips. Well worth reading!
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