I'm passionate about books and writing. I love all aspects of creating a story, from the initial idea spark to capturing the words and finally editing them. I'm accepting of wandering muses and sentences that take weeks to get right. I don't know which came first, my love of reading or writing. They are so intertwined.
One of the many things I gained through publishing my own novel was an immense appreciation for writers. It's not easy to stay with that creative spark and see it all the way to a published novel. I have great admiration and respect for the hard work and determination required to see a book through to the end.
All of that being said, some books are not successful. There are many reasons: the story is weak or ill paced, the characters are one-dimensional and lack rooting value, there's such an extreme need for editing I can't get to the meat of the story, etc.
As a reader, I also take responsibility. Sometimes a book just doesn't speak to me. Is it my frame of mind? Would I like it if I put it aside and read it years later? Did it come with such a high set of expectations (thanks to other critics or friend recommendations) that it couldn't possibly deliver?
I review books here and on my Mom in Love with Fiction blog. I pride myself on finding the positive in most every book. I truly believe every book teaches us something, even if it's just teaching us what we do NOT like.
WoMen's Literary Cafe Review team. As an independently published author myself, I want to give back to my writing community and review independent and small press books. Plus, there are some great gems to be mined in these books.
Unfortunately, one of the books I just read for them underwhelmed me. I am struggling with writing a review that will point out the positive while also being honest and forthright with readers. I want to honor the author's efforts while also providing input that might help them succeed with future efforts.
Ultimately, I want readers to respect my reviews and know I will be honest and fair. Not all books are four and five star efforts.
To be fair, there are many books (and movies) I end up loving that were panned by critics. I hope all readers will remember that reviews are opinions. Reviewers can be wrong, and I'm more than happy to be wrong when I give a one or two star review. I hope there are readers out there that will appreciate something in the piece that I missed.
How much does a review sway your decision to buy a book?
When I review, I like to err on the side of positive feedback. I give many more five star reviews than one star reviews. But, I don't pad it. If a book really deserves a more critical review, I feel responsible to be honest. If I read a review blog that only gives high ratings, I don't trust them as much.
Nobody loves all books equally. I try to save my five stars for the truly stellar books. I like to average in the three to four range.
Which do you respect more, a reviewer who gives more five or one star reviews?