Under Review

Some thing in life come naturally and some do not. For me, book reviews often fall into the “not” category. I find that when I really love a book, it’s hard for me to articulate the things that made it wonderful without falling into cliches or stumbling over my own enthusiasm.

I spent the weekend writing short reviews of ten of my all-time favorite middle grade books for my blog launch on Monday. (Yes, I finally joined the 21st century and have my own blog! And yes, I’d love it if you clicked here to come follow! You could win any of those ten favorite books. 🙂

There was one book that had me in tears as I tried to put into words why I loved its main character so much. Books with lots of humor or adventure were easier to review, but the ones about family or being different or being kind–those were trickier for me.

Maybe that’s why I’m such a fan of Goodreads. It’s much easier to give 1-5 stars for a book. Review optional!

Sites like Goodreads have received some criticism, however, for allowing reviews and ratings before books are published. While there are often advance copies available for books, most of these early reviewers have not actually read the books they’re rating.

Case in point: Reached by Ally Condie. This is the third book in a trilogy and there is quite a bit of speculation as to how it all will end. There were no ARCs (Advance Reading Copies) this time in order to keep the ending under wraps, which means that only a handful of people have actually read it. Yet it has 899 ratings on Goodreads right now! 800+ people who are judging it before reading it! The majority of them are 5-star ratings, so these are a happy, hopeful bunch of pre-reviewers. And I don’t think they’ll be disappointed. But still! I can’t wrap my brain around the idea of rating a book before I’ve read it. I have enough trouble rating and reviewing them after I’ve read them!

So I’m curious: How soon do you rate or review a book? How do you feel about judging a book by its cover, or its author, or the earlier books in the series? Have you ever rated before reading?

3 thoughts on “Under Review

  1. I have a hard time writing reviews also, Elaine, and I have so far used the star method on Goodreads. But it's getting a little easier (in my head anyway) to now think of the reasons why I'm giving the number of stars that I do, so I think I'll start articulating/posting the reasons why I'm giving 5 stars, or 4, or lower. Like I always tell my students, practice makes (not perfect) a little more polished each time 🙂
    And Goodreads… It's amazing. I saw on Twitter over the weekend a discussion about how some beta readers have been posting UNPUBBED MS's on Goodreads unbeknownst to the author, which makes it awfully hard to pitch to agents because it looks like it's self-pubbed. These readers/reviewers seem to have good intentions because they are giving good ratings, but still…

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  2. I give reviews because when I started blogging years ago, one of the main features was writing book reviews and while that part of my online presence has gone to the wayside, I find that I'm intrigued by a book that gets good ratings, but if there isn't a reason why, I'm often suspicious because I know nothing of the way the person judges what is being read. Sometimes I just write a few sentences of my gut feeling, others I will give a head's up about things that may dissuade people from reading, but I try to explain why I did or didn't like a book, even in just a few sentences, so people know the level on which I judge.

    And it's funny that you wrote this today because I have been transferring my goodreads reviews to Amazon, especially for books that I really loved, because I know my likelihood of buying a book is higher based on how many reviews show up on Amazon.

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  3. I might just need to rant a little bit more about Goodreads ratings. Someone told me to not look at the ratings now that (>1000!) copies of my book are out there in the world. There are some readers who look like they downloaded about 20 free books this week and gave 3-stars to all of them. Doubt very much that they even cracked open most or any of them.
    Why give crappy ratings like that? I don't understand people sometimes.
    Thank you for letting me rant. That is all. 🙂

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