A Question About Reviews

I was asked today by someone I respect why such a large percentage of my reviews are 4 stars or higher and a full 50% of my most recent reviews were 5 stars. She joked that she would like to buy her books from the same place I get mine since she has had such rotten luck lately re book choices. Here’s what I told her (with some minor corrections and changes to protect the innocent) *g*, since some of you may have similar questions –

“I do read books that are below 4 stars or even below 3 stars – I don’t post reviews for most of them because I didn’t finish them, they were so bad. At one point I toyed with the idea of posting DNF on a number of books but I would have had to totally diss the books and I didn’t have the time. Here’s a review I posted a couple of months ago for a book that I gave 2.5 stars

(I have deleted the link to the book since it would not be fair to post it here)

One of the reasons I just don’t bother posting reviews for many of these books is they take time to write when I could be reading a book I really enjoy and my TBR list is huge as you can imagine *g* . So no hidden agenda – I just can’t be bothered writing a lot of (negative) reviews for books that are really bad. Another reason you see a significant percentage of high ratings is I have also been very selective lately in what I buy since in most cases I actually pay for most of my books and I choose them very carefully because I don’t want to waste money on something I’ll put in the garbage. Of course from time to time I get some that really stink up the place.

Also, two months ago I decided that 25% of the books I reviewed were going to be old favourites. Since these books were favourites, clearly when I review them on the blog they will be at least 4.5 stars.

Here’s what I tell the readers about my reviews – either the book is in a genre that I particularly love, e.g. fantasy, paranormal, cowboys, action-adventures, murder mysteries, sports etc., or I love a particular author’s writing (the rest of this paragraph is deleted because I named the author).

I hope that I have explained to your satisfaction why there are so many 4.5 and 5 star ratings on the blog but you bring up an interesting point. Since I never explicitly explained why there have been so many high ratings on the reviews I posted, other readers may misunderstand and think I’m giving the authors a pass, which I’m not. I’ll post something on the blog along the lines of this email so that there is no misunderstanding. Right now my TBR list is over 400 books and I know I won’t read them all because every week I buy more. It’s a sickness. *g* “

If any of the regular readers of this blog have questions on any of my reviews or ratings I would be happy to answer either by email or on the blog. I try to state my biases up front, whether it’s a particular genre or an author who is an auto buy for me. No review is totally objective because we all have our biases but most reviewers do try to be fair, even taking into consideration our personal preferences. There are authors whose books I refuse to buy any more because I have been disappointed so many times in their stories, the characterizations or both. I can overlook a few areas in a book if the characters are credible and not caricatures, and while I would love to get both a good plot and great characters, I can settle for great characters. In case you’re interested, I read almost twice as many books as I review.


Because you, my loyal readers, *g* want me to post more reviews of books I really didn’t like, rather than file them away never to see the light of day as I have been doing recently, I will accede to your request. But this will not be a hate fest. I respect authors who take pride in their creative skills and give readers hours of pleasure through their imagination, and the mere fact that a few of them might have written books that strain credibility (especially if the story is not a fantasy) does not give me free rein to dump on them. So “fair and balanced” as the guys at Fox News say (although I don’t believe them). Thanks guys. You always give me good advice.


I live in Canada and I love big dogs, music, movies, reading and sports – especially baseball


  • Unfortunately since I’m a consultant I can’t delegate. But it works out. Consulting taught me how to deal with all kinds of people, no matter how nasty, and also how to give bad news with a smile *g*

  • Ugh. Better you than me. That’s why I went for Journalism in University instead of PR. Journalism allows you to be much more rude. The short period I worked in PR I was sweating my ass off coming up with polite, empty stuff to say, and shaking like a leaf if I had to make conversation with “important people”. Fortunately it didn’t happen very often – I was mostly doing the writing stuff and my boss took care of the public side. That’s what I call a winning partnership. 😀

  • I learned my craft about diplomacy in dealing with high powered corporate and government clients. I had to learn how to give bad news without making the client(s) too angry 🙂

  • Seriously, I do try to find redeeming features in every book I read even if I have to turn over some pretty bad prose to find them. *g*

    That’s exactly what I meant by “indulgent” 😀 If I don’t like a book I usually don’t bother trying to find redeeming features – which is why I don’t write public reviews. 🙂 I’m not much at diplomacy because it takes me FOREVER to find a non-offensive phrasing. If you check comments about books I hated on the group, you’ll see I pretty much just pointed out the negative aspects :).

  • Mary
    Indulgent, moi??? How can you say that? Seriously, I do try to find redeeming features in every book I read even if I have to turn over some pretty bad prose to find them. *g*

    Most authors do their best but a few of them phone it in, and in those cases I wonder where the editors are because clearly they didn’t do their jobs.

    I’ll do my best to provide reviews of the books I didn’t like in the most constructive way possible. For those that I don’t get around to reviewing on the blog I’ll email you what I think, if it’s the kind of books I know you like.

  • I can understand you not wanting to waste time writing reviews on books you didn’t like. I’m the same way. However, as I reader I like to know too which book people really didn’t like because then I can avoid them! I actually have two M/M lists, books I want to buy and books to avoid. If one person whose opinion I trust say that a book isn’t good, and the reasons why she didn’t like it are the kind of things I know bugs me too, I usually put that book on my AVOID list. It might be harsh, but there are just too many intriguing books and too little time to waste time on books you have the smallest reason to suspect you will not like.

    By the way, I agree that any negative review has to be constructive. When I read comments about a book, I pay the same kind of attention to “THIS WAS AWFUL SHOUD NEVER HAVE BEEN WRITTEN” comments as “OMG THIS IS THE BEST BOOK OF THE ENTIRE WORLD EVERYBODY READ IIIIIITTTTTT !!!!!”s – which would be a big fat zero :). Your reviews Wave are always as objective as possible and extensive :). Although you are sometimes more indulgent than I am :-DDDD


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