My need to respond to this makes me feel like a complete idiot -- let's get that straight right now. (g) There have been a number of people in the blogosphere who have stated they don't do negative reviews -- authors, readers, agents. I'll admit, every time someone says this, I feel a little ping aimed right at me. I take a long hard look at myself and the "negative" reviews I've done, and I start worrying.
Am I a degenerate who doesn't understand netiquette?
Am I just a mean asshole?
Do people shake their heads and tsk every time they see one of my less than favorable reviews?
Do they hate me??
Okay, melodramatic, I know, but there it is. That said, I'd like to defend my decision to write what _I_ consider to be honest reviews. Not positive, not negative...just honest reviews about the books I read. And this in no way is impugning anyone's right to limit their online reviews/discussions to positive reviews. I always say -- to each his own.
Okay...why my decision to write _honest_ book reviews?
Well, there are several reasons, actually.
1. I love books. I love everything about them. I love buying them with excited anticipation, reading them and falling into the world the author has created, and yes, I love talking about them. I become giddily excited when I fall in love with a novel and its characters...I want to tell _everyone_. Conversely, like all readers, sometimes I'm disappointed when a book fails to live up to my expectations. And well, it never occurred to me that it's wrong to talk about these situations. I'm not able to flip that switch, I guess.
2. Not giving honest reviews makes me feel like a liar, and I feel guilty when I try to sugarcoat things. Plain and simple. That said, I never want to take things too far. I did once, I realized it and took down the review. It WAS my honest response, but yeah...LOL. (You know the one, right? (g)) Anyway -- I will try to give honest feedback about my likes and dislikes, but scrounging around for something good to say about a book, just for the sake of saying it, is just...false. I'll admit to reviewing a couple of books that I absolutely hated -- but in the name of being "nice" said some things I didn't mean. It made me feel terrible and it doesn't happen anymore. Conversely, I won't pump up a book just because it was written by a friend -- that goes for published and unpublished authors.
3. I love writing reviews and having people jump in, saying why they do/don't agree with me. It's fun. It doesn't make me happy to say I didn't like a book (*cough* -- besides that one time. That review was FUN.), but it's a great way for me to express my excitement and/or disappointment to like-minded people. I know most of the people who read this blog are writer friends...can there be a better audience for discussing books? :) I'll be the first to admit that my reviews are totally skewed to my personal taste. I expect people to disagree with me--many of you have. (g) That's OKAY. The ensuing discussions are fantastic. On the other hand, there is nothing that makes me more stupidly excited than when someone says they bought a book based on the review I did. OMG..it's like Christmas and my birthday wrapped up in one. And if they loved it, too...EGADS. :)
4. For those people who read my reviews -- I want to be trustworthy. Whether or not you agree with the calls I make, I want there to be a trust level there that allows you to say, "Of course Jen likes that book! She liked that other crappy one that I absolutely hated. Gah, our tastes do NOT match up." Or the opposite. (I prefer the opposite. (g)) If I said nice things about an author just because I want to keep from offending them (for whatever reason -- playing nice, fear of losing a potential networking opportunity, whatever...), how in the world could I expect anyone to trust what I say? Especially when they hate a book I recommended for a myriad of false reasons. Yeah, that's just not cool.
5. To be brutally honest, I've just never been able to convince myself that in the grand scheme of things, my little blog matters all that damn much in the world at large. I'm just one reader/reviewer. I have a modest following on this blog -- no earth shattering numbers that will sway the reading public. If an author stumbled upon a review I did of their book, I'd be stoked as all hell. Erm, to my knowledge, that hasn't happened yet. LOL. Doubt it ever will. (And that goes for the people I KNOW.) (g)
So yeah, THAT is why I write honest reviews. Speaking of which, I have three I need to write... two I loved, one I'm on the fence with right now... I'll let you know when I finish it.