To start my post on reviews, let me first say how thankful I am to live in this place and time. I can write a review! I can express my opinions freely, I can agree or disagree with someone, I'm allowed to say what I want. That's a treasure beyond measure and I try to remember how blessed I am to have this freedom. Now then, on with the post!
Until I started writing, I didn't think much about reviews. I was happy to have them available when I went to make a purchase on sites like Amazon, where I can find real people, sharing their thoughts and opinions. Now, after much research and reading, and sometimes learning the hard way, I have a slightly different outlook. I've discovered, to my dismay, not all the people writing those reviews are real consumers. Some of the glowing ones are planted, from the author, or the company that makes the product. Some of the nasty ones are from people with a grudge, or competitors, who didn't even read the book or use the item. It's a shame to think this type of behavior exists, but it does, so now I read reviews with a more practiced eye.
The basics I want to see in a book review are comments about the tone of the story and the important plot points. Is the mood light or somber? Is there a mystery, a lot of action? Scary stuff, or levity? I like for the reviewer to write a short summation, then tell me what they think. The best reviews are ones that give me a favorite line or two, and tell me something the reviewer particularly enjoyed about the book.
One thing I don't like in romance stories is overly lengthy sex scenes. I like a slow, sensuous build-up, then a moderate amount of descriptive sex. When I'm writing a review, I will make a note if the lovin' seems to drag on too long, but I make sure to mention that this is my opinion. Some people enjoy pages and pages of steamy sex, so they will absolutely adore this section of the story. My preference is also for shorter reads. I tend to lose interest if a book rolls on too long. I also don't care for romances about babies, but they're popular with many. Half of you are nodding along with me, and the other half disagrees with everything I said. That's the beauty of living in a free country; to each their own.
Here's a sensitive question I still struggle with. Should a reviewer post a really bad review? Remember what mom said, if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. Part of me believes, if a reviewer doesn't enjoy the book, they should simply stop reading it. A horrible review can bring an author to tears. As a reader, however, I like to know if a book stinks, and as we're told over and over, it takes a thick skin to be a writer. I've read that many best-selling books receive an equal number of one and five stars, and that's what I've come to realize about reviews. They're opinions. What thrills one person may bore the next, so I try to base my book-buying decisions on a compilation of the reviews I read.
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