Friday, June 29, 2012

Are unsolicited bad reviews essentially assvice?

This week I have read 3 books. 2 that I loved. 1 that I liked but had issues with.

The 2 I loved  you’ve already heard about:

The 1 that I have issues with is my subject today. See I waffle back and forth about what to do when I don’t like a book or have issues with it.

On the one hand,

I want to be supportive of writers.

On the other hand,

is it really supportive to say nothing when you have issues with a book? Is it not, in a sense, crippling the author by not giving them feedback they might be able to use?

For today I am of the opinion that it is like the difference between advice and assvice. Advice is asked for and wanted. Assvice is not.

Better to say nothing.

Although in this case I’m not going to completely say nothing because what’s wrong with this book, IMHO, is wrong with lots of books:

paragraphs and even pages of stuff that isn’t necessary and doesn’t move the story along.

I have written a blog about my irritation with Diana Gabaldon regarding this. I feel free to discuss this as she is so successful nothing I say will matter to her. In her case she really needs an editor who says NO. No I’m not going to print an 800 page book for you when 400 would be sufficient to tell the stories you are spinning.

In the case of the writer of this book I'm talking about today, I should admit up front that I have a bias. The book genre is historical romance which I generally don’t enjoy. That said; her characters were engaging. Her setting was enjoyable. The story was entertaining. I just didn’t enjoy picking through the book to find it.

Again, I don’t want to give assvice but it’s tempting when I know, Susan Elizabeth Phillips early books (Honey Moon, Hot Shot, Fancy Pants) were just like this for me; engaging characters, enjoyable settings; entertaining stories in books that were filled with way too much stuff that didn’t move her stories along. But her later and current books aren’t like that. She grew as a writer and I love her.

I hope the same will be true for this writer.




Did I get those in the right order?
How do you feel about reviewing books?

(Pics from bing images turned into thumbnails for legal purposes.)


  1. I get what you're saying. Once a book is published it can't be changed, so is the critique useful?

    My setup:

    1. Books by friends or colleagues (meaning new writers whom I personally know) : Give 5 stars, only positive.

    2. Book by a published author who I don't know: I see my "colleagues" in this case as fellow readers--it's our job to mutually inform each other. Just as I look to other people's reviews when I'm picking a book to read.

    I see this as a power thing. No one knows me from a hole in the wall, my name doesn't carry any more influence than another Jane Average. Whereas I can understand why someone with let's say Lani Diane Rich name-worthiness and upwards would be much more circumspect. If Jennifer Crusie pans your book, that could sink it.

    Also, I put almost all my reviews on Goodreads cause that's what it's meant for. There are LOTS of other reviews on there for people to compare my reviews against. As long as there's a bell curve of responses, then my 1 star review will be taken with a grain of salt. ...If most of the reviews are 3 stars or less, well then maybe the author should pay attention. !!

    1. Good system. You've thought this through. I once put 4 stars on a book on shelfari. Shortly afterwards the author joined and I felt like I had to bump it up to 5. Don't know if it was the right thing to do or not.

  2. It's tough for me to say anything negative about a fellow writer, but I do appreciate the honest opinions of other readers.

    1. Yeah, I have to brace myself but I appreciate feedback that will improve my writing.

  3. I don't generally mention books I haven't enjoyed. I just let them slide out of my mind and try to remember that just because I didn't enjoy them, it doesn't mean that no one else did.

    1. I've had that thought as well. Even about this book. And, of course, Gabaldon is proof that some people like all the extra stuff. People read her series over and over.

  4. Not sure I can respond as I don't review books and have not given it any thought. I do know I prefer reading positive over negative.

    I do believe you got them in the right order. Nummy!

  5. The two hands.... priceless! (And gorgeous.)

    Okay, I'm "those other people" who love DG. We've talked about it before. I LIKE a story to be 800 pages, when the details are as engaging and informational as Gabaldon's are. Historical romance is maybe one of my all time favorite genres, so I'm coming at this from another angle. For me, most books end too soon, I want to know MORE about all the shit that an editor told them to cut out.

    And yes, the order was perfect. Except my number one will never be alcohol, just the fruit before it ferments maybe?

    1. I actually thought about you when I put the sangria on there. I knew it wouldn't be your thing. Fruit before fermenting makes a nice number one.

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    1. Hunger Games, which I read this week, definitely falls under the heading of "too famous for my opinion to matter," so I may review it soon. :-)

  7. I've gone back and forth about reviewing books about half a dozen times. On the one hand, it's one of the main reasons I started blogging-- so I could write out my opinions (which tend to be strong) without bothering all my friends and family members who don't read as much as I do. And I LIKE writing book reviews. It's fun for me.

    On the other hand, I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings, or be negative just for the sake of being negative. I've sort of come to the same conclusion you have-- if it's a five-star review, or if it's someone who's dead or famous enough that my opinion's not going to matter, I post it on my main blog. If it's someone I know or who might be hurt or offended by my OCD-pickiness about books, and I still feel compelled to write a review, I put it on a private blog that is mainly just there for me, although a few people have the address. It doesn't get much traffic, but that's fine, I don't write them to attract traffic. It's not a perfect system and I still may change it someday.

    1. It may not be a perfect system but it sounds like one that is working for you and that's what matters.