Honesty is the first
chapter in the book of
wisdom."
~Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect, musician, philosopher ~

It’s tough for me to say I’m no longer going to give reviews on books because in a way it’s not quite true. The truth is after finding myself in an awful situation, I’m no longer going to review books of close friends, or people I am in contact with online. It has come as a hard lesson for me to realise honesty isn’t always the best policy. This simple fact puts me in a difficult situation, where I am expected to spare the writer’s feelings because we are friends. But by sparing their feelings, I’m in fact lying to their face, which thus means it doesn’t make for a good relationship. As they say, the truth has a nasty habit of coming back and biting you when you least expect it. As someone who expects complete honesty from others no matter what, as long as it is fully explained, I try to give that same honesty to others. When I’ve read a book, I do enjoy writing a review for two main reasons. I’ve always loved Goodreads, and leaving a review on there, even before I took up writing myself. I saw Goodreads as a form of keeping a record of all the books I’ve read, and my thoughts on them too. As an author/ reader I know reviews are about individual’s tastes and thoughts. They aren’t written in stone, and only a view of the book. One reader might love it, another hate it, but as long as the reviews are honest and constructive and not rude or nasty, and of course, don’t give the plot away. As with all authors, I am pleased to receive reviews as they give us an insight into the thoughts of the readers about our books.

So back to my issues about no longer giving reviews to books written by friends and acquaintances online. The real issues for me is about what is expected by them if I review their books? I don’t expect anyone to read my book in return. My book might not be to their personal taste so if they feel obligated to read it they might not enjoy it and feel pressured into giving a review which isn’t an honest one.

My policy about reviewing books is quite simple. My star ratings is this: 3 star is a great book. An enjoyable read that I would recommend to anyone who is looking for a book to add to their to-read-list. 4 star is a brilliant book. Everything about this book had me turning the pages, its characters, plot, and settings were well-drawn, but there were one or two things which didn’t quite do it for me to be able to give it a five stars review. 5 star review on a book for me is when the book is outstanding. It has to be a book I wish I could have written. The storyline flows, characters and settings are well-drawn that I’m carried along with them that I can’t stop thinking about it. “What’s going to happen next?” I’m behind the characters as soon as the book has open I’ve stepped into their shoes.

Any reviews under 3 stars I don’t give. My reason could be varied.i.e. it didn’t hold my attention, I didn’t like the characters, too annoying, too flat or unrealistic, or the book had an unbelievable plotline. I had read a storyline very similar before, too predictable. The plotline was a cliché and I had started to work it out too soon. I began to skip pages looking for the real story. The writing was poor, too much information dumping. Too much tell and not enough show etc. These are all my personal views which is why I don’t give these ratings out, never did before I took up writing, and I certainly won’t start now.

If I was to give 5 stars reviews away like candy on Halloween Night my reviews would be worthless, so I don’t. The kind of books I tend to read have to be highly-original and catch my imagination as soon as I read the opening page. I’ve just finished reading The Last House on Needless Street. This book caught my eye after I read a comment about it by a horror book reviewer on their blog. They said it was the best book they had read in a long time so I hunted it out.

The book, The Last House on Needless Street has had some amazing review by quite a few famous authors, and has won awards too. I’m never blindsided by this. In my early twenties I read quite a few books I had borrowed off my ex-husband’s parents. They were avid readers. Most of the books they read were award winning books and included some booker prize for fiction winners, too. These books I found heavy going so I decided it was all down to personal taste, and I would only read books with stories that interested me. In a bookshop, I would read the back blurb and opening paragraph before purchasing. If these caught my attention, I would buy it.

The Last House on Needless Street is a four stars book for me. It’s a cleverly written book with a set of amazing characters, with plenty of twists and turns. BUT, there were things I didn’t like. I skipped a few pages here and there because some of the characters repeated information they had already told the reader. I understood that it was the nature of the characters, but it became annoying for me as it took the reader away from the main storyline. The end of the story, where it all became clear to the reader, was a bit fragmented and continued beyond the conclusion which I felt was unnecessary for me. As I said it was all about personal taste.

If you read the reviews for The Last House it has a wide range of comments. This is normal for any well received book. It doesn’t mean the book is bad or good, it’s all down to the readers’ taste and opinions and whether the book is selling well.

If you decide after reading my blog post that you would like me to read and review your book, you have to be aware my review will be an honest one, and I will only read books that spark my imagination. I only have time to read a very few books as my time is taken up with writing. On my kindle I have quite a few books waiting to be read, too.

Happy Reading, Everyone

15 Comments

  1. What a great blog post, Paula! Your candor and honesty is one of the MANY character traits about you that I admire, if not treasure. I value your judgment and input immensely. Please feel free to read as many of my books as you wish (like you have.) I’d love to hear your thoughts 🙂

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    1. Thank you. It’s very kind of you to say so. Your stories are always light and refreshing reads. I’m excited for you as your writing journey continued to grow and expand at an amazing rate. Congratulation on your amazing win. I listened with interest to the podcast last night.

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  2. If I ever get a standalone published, you are entirely welcome to read it and give it a poor review. I have always been able to distance myself from things I make be it grade school macaroni necklaces, young adult watercolors, or my adult writing. I don’t think of art/literary criticism as criticizing ME.

    Haha, I loved The Last House on Needless Street! But I totally respect someone else’s right to not love it. Glad you did mostly enjoy it.:-)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was a great book, Priscilla. I would love to sit in a garden with you drinking tea, and have a long discussion about the book. My first stumbling block with the book was the cat talking about the ‘lord’. Of course, it all makes sense once the book starts unfolding. As I said in the blog post my review are my own opinions of a book. 4 stars is a brilliant book and The Last House is a stunning book, but it hasn’t made it onto my five star list.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. I really don’t see the point of not being honest about a book when writing a review. I try hard to be constructive in my thoughts and opinions from a readers point of view. The author of the book will write their work different from me so my view are with my reader’s head on.

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  3. I appreciate this article and your strife to be honest in your reviews. It isn’t easy reviewing for friends, you’re right. There are expectations, people’s feelings and your own integrity as a reviewer to reconcile. I do review for friends/fellow authors but will not post anything below 4 stars. So, if I don’t like a book I won’t lie, but neither will I say it out loud. Having said that, there are a lot of books on my kindle I still haven’t got to.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for dropping by, Anna. Of course I’m careful about the writer’s feelings and will talk to them in person about it, if they are a friend, but it is still difficult. It’s their baby, after all. It is only my opinion. As I said if it is below 3 stars, I’ll say nothing about it to anyone.

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  4. Would you say bad reviews can hurt sales? If the answer is yes, and the review was for a friend/acquaintance who asked me to do a review, I would probably send it directly to them first if it was negative, rather than posting it straight onto Goodreads or Amazon, where it could have a detrimental impact on that person’s earnings. If they were happy for me to go ahead and put it online, I would.

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    1. I think it all depends on how the review is worded. A constructive review where the pro’s and con’s are listed are very helpful to both the writer and the reader. Remember book reviews are supposed to be the reader’s review, not an exercise in how to write a book. My reviews don’t contain spoilers and are all about what I enjoy about the book. If I didn’t enjoy it I don’t review them. As I say in the post I don’t leave a review under three stars because I won’t having enjoyed the book

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