Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Please Don't Trust My Book Reviews

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I probably just gave all the publishers I review for a coronary.

Wait...stop, let me back up and explain. ;-)

I've gotten several emails lately asking me if I would help in the craft of their book reviews. Of course, this thrills me, because I love to help as I have been helped--but it also brings an interesting topic to mind--because, well, that is just where my brain goes. ;-)

When I started exploring the great wide world of blogs, I stumbled across this amazing phenomenon, called "reviewing books". Imagine promising to ONLY write a review and getting a free book. Well, golly, this was just pretty dandy.

I had one reviewer I avidly followed. I religiously studied her reviews, got excited when she did about a new book and my list for the bookstore steadily got longer and longer.

Then one winter, I got a windfall. What better way to spend it?!? I took that list of top recommendations from that reviewer and bought several titles on the list.

Promptly brought them home, very excited...and didn't like a one.

Okay, I shouldn't exaggerate, I liked a couple and the other got the "she thought this was good??" look.

It wasn't that the books were poorly written--they just weren't for me.

I learned that reviewer and I have no reading tastes in common. What I hated, she thought hung the moon and what I loved, she couldn't gag down.

And that's okay. Because there is an audience that likes exactly what that reviewer loves to read.

So I had to reinvent the wheel and eventually found Joy from Edgy Inspirational fiction. I started borrowing the books she recommended from the library. And 9 out of 10 times, I LOVED them. Like go-get-me-more LOVED it. I've bought books based on what Joy loves, knowing there is a huuuuge (like 99.9999%) chance I'll love it too.

Which brings me to my post title today. DON'T go out and buy (or not buy) a book based on my review. If you are new to my reviews, wait around a little bit, see what else I review. Do we share the same love of certain authors?

Does what I review and what I say in my reviews strike a cord with you?

Have you tried a couple titles and see if we agree?

We are not going to agree all the time--frankly I'd be scared if that were the case. ;-) (JK)

You will actually be doing the author a FAVOR if you are new to my reviews or unsure, if you DON'T go out and buy their book--see what others are saying first and then make your final decision. If you don't like it, the negative word of mouth will certainly not be helpful.

So, please don't trust my book reviews. Not, at least, until you've gotten to trust me and see if you and I like the same fiction. ;-)

So...question, do you think we like the same fiction? Have you ever been satisfied with a purchase or borrowing made, based on my recommendation?


  1. Ohh, good post! I have run across that before--someone I follow HIGH recommends a book...but it just wasn't my type. And then I've also not liked a book, wrote a review with my thoughts, and then someone read the book and loved it. It just comes down to the simple fact that we all have different tastes!

    Oh, I listen to your reviews! If you say something is well written, I know it's gunna be! And a book that is well written, even if there is no action (for this action-loving girl), it makes for an engaging read.

    You enjoy more romance books then I do, so we differ there as I would pass up a romance book for a suspense/thriller any day. But I still enjoy a sweet romance, don't be mistaken!

    So. All that to say, yes, I have bought books based on your recommendation/reviews, and enjoyed them. :-)

  2. Wow, I have so much to say! LOL

    First - I do try to not read "bad" books (I am very picky about the books I read) but every once in a while I get a book that just "isn't my cup of tea" I do feel bad giving it a poor rating just because it wasn't for me. So - I do always put a disclaimer on the bottom of my "bad review" saying "Please do not go by my rating alone..."

    I do totally depend on ratings! Not ratings alone, but yes, they hold great value for me! And I have bought books based on ratings from someones blog! I think that book blogging is the best thing since sticky notes!
    When I see a book that I think might be good, but it got a bad rating from one blogger - I do not stop there. I do some research and go to amazon, goodreads etc. and check out others ratings of the book. Very seldom do I ever buy a book without checking on the ratings or reviews first. Unless it is an Author that I know and love.

    I know very well that different people like different kinds of books. I myself have given very high ratings to books that others did not like! as well as the other way around.

    I think you are a great reviewer Casey! Keep doing what you are doing!

  3. I love reading Joy and Serena's reviews and most of the time I've liked the books they've chosen. I've picked books based on reviews and then done exactly like you said. "What?" lol

  4. Great post, Casey.

    I'll be the first to admit that I haven't read every single one of the books that you've reviewed, however I have given some authors a second chance after reading a 5 star review from you. And you know what?
    I LOVED the other book.

    Reviews are most helpful for me in this way:
    Sometimes, if I read a book by someone and I don't care for the first book, I don't read another by that author for a while.
    It is positive reviews from my blogging friends that will spur me to pick up that author again.

    It's a good thing, right?

    I've now gotten to the point of being known at church for always having a "good" book to recommend. The church librarians give me the catalog and ask me to highlight books for them to stock.

    I haven't read everything new that comes out, so I rely on your reviews and others to make my decisions. Been working so far. ;)

  5. If I'm wondering about a book I tend to read a few reviews both positive and negative before I make a decision and then look at people I really trust, like you, and see what they thought. Honestly I don't really buy any books, I swap for them so it makes it less painful if I don't like a book. I'd rather shell out a few dollars for shipping than $10-$15 for a book. Then again there are certain authors such as Julie Lessman, Ronie Kending and Laura Frantz whose books I'd spend that amount on any day of the week knowing that I won't be disappointed. ;-)

    XOXO~ Renee C.

  6. Excellent post! I think I look to different people depending on the genre. For instance, if I'm looking for a woman's fiction book your rec definitely comes highly. When it comes to suspense, I think Katie does great reviews. And I really look to Rel as well for reviews.

  7. GREAT post! I do trust your reviews, and have added many books to my wishlist because of your reviews. I've also *not added* books to my wishlist based on your review. I think you have a "good eye" for great Christian fiction. : )

    There have been times where you've given a book a lower rating than me, and thought, "Wow, I thought she would have liked that one." But, we do all have different tastes, so it's good to take into consideration many reviews -- positive and less than glowing.

    Before adding any book to my shelf (whether to purchase or from, I always check to see what my friends at goodreads have to say first. If the general consensus is that it's 4 or 5 stars, I'll get it. If there are a lot of 3 stars, I usually won't get it. It's hard though, because a three star for one person may be a 5 star for another. It can become difficult to choose books, lol, especially for an indecisive girl like me. ;-)

    Hope you're having a great day!

  8. I don't normally go by ratings (since the 5 scale rating can vary by person) but the reviews or what people say they liked/didn't like about the book. Usually though, when I read blog book reviews, it's usually the back cover blurb or summary that is the deal maker/breaker with me --if it sounds like something I'd be interested in, I'll read the review, rather than just skimming it.

    I personally like book reviews that just don't say stuff like "this is a great, must read book!" but include "why" they liked or disliking it.

    I've been subscribed to your blog for about a year now, and I enjoy seeing the type of books you've featured and I have put certain ones on my "keep an eye out for" list ... as another commenter mentioned, I also usually don't buy new books unless they're by certain authors. I love our local used book store. =)

  9. Hello KATIE! I know what you’re saying. I just hope people will remember (and I think most do) that reviews are SO subjective. I’ve learned to visit several people before freeing handing over my money. ;-) That’s neat that we agree on the writing quality. Now that you mention that…I have noticed that. ;-) And you do love your suspense! We agree on some aspects there as well. : )

    WALL, so glad you took the time to share! I often give a disclaimer too. I feel bad for the author behind the book/review, but sometimes we’re just forced into it, aren’t we? LOL! I think book blogging is the bomb too. It’s how I get ALL my info on books now. I really heavily depend on what is going on around the blogging world for what is coming out next. It has become a fabulous word of mouth source. : )

  10. JESSICA, before I buy a book it goes through a “strict” examination. ;-) But really, if it’s an author I love, like Julie Lessman or DeeAnne Gist or a couple select others, I don’t buy it without first checking out Amazon, Goodreads, blogs, etc. I even do that a teensy bit with books I review. Not a whole lot, because I don’t want to be terribly influenced before I read it, but I don’t want to waste my time or the person providing the book. Thanks for stopping by!

    SHERI, I’m glad I’ve gotten you to give a second look! ;-) I always try and give an author two tries, unless they really weren’t for me, so I’m glad to see I’m not the only one. : ) Ohhh, don’t give me a catalog and an endless budget. LOL! I always rub my hands in glee when someone asks me what book they should look into reading next. I’m honored I’m one of those few you check. Thanks! : )

  11. RENEE, right. I check both positive and negative reviews as well. And you’re right! Julie’s were the basically some of the first books I went out and bought without setting money aside first. I just HAD to have them. ;-)

    JULIA, I liked what you said there about looking to certain people for certain reviews and I think it goes back to what Katie said that, I often spot really good writing, even if the story angle isn’t completely up to what she would normally read. I’m so glad you stopped by today to share. 

  12. Well, thank you MICHELLE. But have you noticed times when we *don’t * agree? I even don’t agree with Joy 100% of the time, but close enough for me to really trust her. I agree with what you’re saying. Sometimes a book with ONLY good reviews when they are a small number, kind of makes you take a second look to see who is paying who—lol! But if you look up Jody Hedlund’s novel: 117 reviews with a FIVE STAR average. Now that would make me sit up and look! : )

    LADY, yes! One of the things that bugs me about Goodreads. 5 means I LOVED it (which is good). 4 means I really liked it (that’s okay, just a little inflated, imo) 3 means I liked it (if I give a book 3 stars I generally wasn’t crazy about it) and I can’t remember what 2 and 1 mean. But it makes for some inflated (or deflated) review scores sometimes. Yes! Me too, I want meat in my reviews and that’s what I try and add to mine. Used is great, but I’m a bit of a selfish girl when I think new is truly delightful in a book. ;-)

    GREAT sharing everyone, thanks for doing so!

  13. Casey!

    Great post title! I totally get what you're saying. I love that our tastes are similar. I've found I rate things close to Renee (Steelergirl) and Julie from My Only Vice too.

    But I have no doubt there are a few followers of Edgy Inspirational Romance who purposely choose NOT to read what Serena and I like, LOL. Our taste is definitely not for everyone, and we are ok with that. :)


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