Give me magic, gadgets, monsters, zombies, everything that seems impossible, and throw in some tough chicks with swords. That's the stuff.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What Kind of Reader/Reviewer Are You?

There has been much hubbub on the internets about reviews, who they are for, bad behavior (from authors & reviewers) to avoid, etc, etc. I'm not linking to any of it, if you haven't heard about it, just wait, it will undoubtedly happen again sometime in the near future. I've read a lot of blog posts on this topic, put my 2 cents in the comments, and so forth. At the end of the day, though, when it comes to me personally, the question I was left with: What kind of reviewer am I?

But before I can think about that question, I first need to answer: What kind of reader am I?

I am primarily a Fantasy reader - I've said it before, will probably put it on a t-shirt, "I live in the real world, I don't want to read about it."

I read to escape life for a bit. I read for entertainment. In general, I just love books. Always have. So long as there is some kind of fantastical element, I'll read anything. Romance - fine with that, but not a requirement (unless I purposefully pick up a Romance). Short stories - love them. Standalones, trilogies, series - yes, yes & yes. Kids books - big time yes (and not just cause I have kids who read, I genuinely still like them). Comedy - bring it. Zany action, fantabulous worlds, satire - of course. HEA (happily ever after) - not a requirement, but I do expect some kind of ending. Death of characters - can be done to great effect, but too much makes me numb (it's a balance). POV - don't care if it's 1st, 3rd, present, past, I just need it to work for the story (I used to have a rule against mixing 1st & 3rd, then found a couple of books where this worked for me; not often though). Religion - I can deal so long as it's not too preachy. Weird - yep, weird/odd/strange those can work for me.

So now on to my own reviews. I have a few personal rules that I follow when I review books:

1. Be honest. Early on in my reviewing days, I got a comment from someone that they bought the book because of my review. This lead to a moment of "holy crap, then I hope you like it." It also made me re-evaluate my review. Knowing that someone had spent their hard-earned cash on the book, would I change anything about the review? The answer was no. Even if the other person ended up hating the book because our tastes are different, I could still stand by my opinion because it reflected my true thoughts on the book. I still keep this in mind when I write reviews.

2. Only review what I finish. I can't rate and post a review on a book I haven't finished. I just can't do it. Partly because I know I am a mood reader, and sometimes a book is just not a good fit for me at the time. For example, I started reading Discord's Apple by Carrie Vaughn, then had to put it down. The MC was visiting her sick father, and mine had just gone into the hospital. Couldn't read it then. About 6 months later I tried the book again and this time I couldn't put it down. It's still one of my favorites by Vaughn. I am, though, going to try to do a better job of keeping my Goodreads updated on why I haven't finished a book, and I plan to have more posts on why certain books are languishing on my to-read list.

3. Don't send nastygrams to authors. I personally think this is a douchey thing to do. I have my own opinions, but when I write a negative review, I do not send it to the author. I just see it as saying, "Look at this! I hated your book! Let me rub your nose in it." Nope, not gonna happen. If an author finds a negative review because they went looking for reviews, that's on them. I also do not send authors e-mails on how to write their stories, what characters they are allowed to write, what stories they are allowed to tell. Sure, in a series I love I have thoughts on how I'd like things to go, but it stops there (I might chat with friends, but that's a part of discussing books). It's not my job to tell an author how to write. And personally, I like it when author's do something different.

4. Respect that everyone has different opinions. This can be a toughie. It's a natural thing to want people to agree with you, rainbows in the sky, kittens and puppies for everyone, but that's not how it works. And how boring would that be anyways? When I look at reviews, I tend to look at what else the reviewer has liked/disliked. Take reviewers who tend to review Romances - there are quite a few who I will look for their opinion when it comes to Romance books, but when it comes to other genres (UF for instance) our tastes might differ too much (especially since I don't need romance or a HEA in everything).

5. Opinions can change. I learned this one with the Disillusionists series and with re-reading Rice's vampire books. I'm not the same reader today that I was 10, 5, 2, even 1 year ago. Life experiences, other books, I have evolved as a reader and as a reviewer. If I re-read a book, I might change my mind on it. This could mean a book I disliked I have a greater appreciation for now, or that a book I loved no longer has the same pull.

Lately most of my reviews have been pretty positive, but then with all of the things that happened last year, I pretty much only finished books that I could lose myself in, that I really enjoyed. I also find I have an easier time waxing poetic about books I love than ones I don't. But I can promise you that you are always getting my honest opinion.

So how about you? What kind of reader/reviewer are you?


  1. I'm a super-critical reader who hates writing reviews. :) I feel as if I ought to write them--I'm an author myself so I know how much authors crave the feedback and even a negative review can be insightful--but writing reviews can be so hard. I finished one book recently and wanted to review it because the author is self-published, but I got bogged down when the review started to tilt heavily to the bad. It was an entertaining read, with plot holes big enough to drive a truck through and a main character who was basically annoying and a totally cheesy villain...and I stopped writing the review. But I was an entertaining read. I actually enjoyed most of the book, it just didn't sound like that when I wrote about it.

    Also, I really struggle when authors I like write a book that's not as good as one of her others. Like Sharon Shinn. If I reviewed one of her recent books, I'd want to give it two stars, because I was disappointed. But if I hadn't had such high expectations, if it had been a book by an unknown author, it probably would have been a four star book. On Goodreads, I started writing honest reviews, thinking it was only for me to see, that it was a place where I could more put notes on my books (which I would really like, actually, that would be so handy!), but then I realized anyone could see them and I quickly stopped. Ilona Andrews is another example, I mostly have really enjoyed their work, but the last one I bought I couldn't finish (one of the Edge series) and I probably won't pay for any more of their titles, just library them. But that seems so unfair to say in a review when I've actually liked their books a lot, much more so than many others I've read. Mostly, I think writing reviews is really, really hard!

    Um, by the way, (and you can totally ignore this if you want, because it was a ton of work), I gave you The Versatile Blogger Award on my blog a few days ago. Here's the link to my post: and to the Versatile Blogger site:

  2. I only differ in that I will review a book I haven't finished (that generally means I hated it.) It doesn't automatically mean a one star, but I'm happy to list out a few reasons it didn't work for me (torture, graphic violence, gratuitous anything.)

    I really hear you on "Opinions change." Things I read in my twenties and LOVED...some of them are going to be just an okay read today. And in fact, I don't read some of those genres anymore. Different time and different place.

    I wish readers were more patient with writers because WRITERS change too. A book they wrote in their twenties...well, it might not be possible to write the sequel or the fifth in the series when the writer is 30. Or 40. The style is going to change over time, but the publisher may still demand that next book in the series and refuse all else. I also wish authors could step back and say, "I can't write that book well. Maybe someday."

    It's okay to leave reviews that say "I don't like this book." It's even okay to hate the book--just don't hate the author. :>)

    And for Wyndes, it's especially okay to not love everything a writer writes. :>)

  3. P.S. The world needs reviews. Readers need them and so do writers. Keep on writing them, good, bad and otherwise!

  4. @Wyndes - Wow, thank you so much for the nom. That does look like a ton of work! Managing expectations is difficult in everything. I generally try to take each book on their own merits (sometimes tough to do when you are invested in a series, but I try). :)

    @Maria - great point about how writers change too. I admit to being a greedy little monster when it comes to authors I like, but I am usually mollified by whatever they put out, even if it is different from the work I first fell in love with (and even if I don't like it as much). I think it also helps to be able to focus on something else. Authors aren't machines. I get writing a DNF review, I can even see them as being useful, I just can't do it. :)