[Repost] PSA: Honesty and Book Reviewing


I was browsing WordPress the other day and one of the blogs featured had a Tag, so I figured I’d read through it to see if there was any questions I liked that I could twist for my own fun.

Well, one of the questions was “What was your last 1star book” and the young lady answering it wrote something like “Oh, probably never. If a book is that bad, I just DNF it”, with the assumption being that it doesn’t get rated and I’m guessing, not reviewed. Another blogger also recently did a post where she talks about Negative Reviews and how she appreciates them.

This led me to think about this whole subject beyond my little comment on BVT’s post. It still comes down to Trust so while I’ll be talking about that, I’d like to talk about some of the other components too.

So, Trust first.


If a book reviewer deliberately with-holds a review because it doesn’t get a particular rating, that is dishonest. Lying by omission is still lying.  A blogger might write completely honest reviews about all the fantastic books they read  but if they don’t publish the reviews about the crappy books, that is like someone doing their checkbook and showing only the credits  and not the debits. It’s honest, but it’s not the real picture. Just ask your bank.


Another reason that I won’t follow people who state they won’t do negative reviews is because it shows a paucity of character and a lack of integrity. If you don’t believe me, this picture from the INTERNET will show you the truth!


Now, there is a difference between being a dick online and calling a piece of garbage a piece of garbage. Exactly where that line is though, that’s a very tough question.  It’s also tangential to this discussion so I won’t discuss it further.

Another reason to write negative reviews is to help out other readers.  For the record, I want to state that reviews are NEVER for the author. N-E-V-E-R!!!!! They might get something out of them but it was never meant to be for them. Reviews are for other readers. If you are going review books, it is your duty to not only steer your followers towards the books you love, but to also steer them clear from the disasters, the broken bridges and the just plain bad books.  If you drive off that bridge, put up a freaking warning sign.  Its pure negligence if you don’t. Friends don’t let friends read bad books without warning them.


Another reason that negative reviews are a reviewers duty is that unlike in Magic the Gathering, you don’t get extra turns in your reading life. You read that bad book, that time is GONE! Don’t let others repeat your mistakes. Let them learn from you.

Finally, a book blogger may feel virtuous for not having any negative content on their blog. That shows a lack of understanding of what is virtuous, what is right and is a paving stone far along the path to hell. Yeah, I’m not going to pull any punches here and nothing funny like the ending of the PSA post from last month. I don’t want to follow someone with that lack of understanding, it is just plain dangerous to be around them.

This fairy is about to burn up in the fire. Good intentions not withstanding.
Bookstooge brings the FIRE!

42 thoughts on “[Repost] PSA: Honesty and Book Reviewing

  1. Fair enough. I prefer to praise, and generally watch things I hope will be good, but if I run two or three four and three star reviews in a row, it gets boring, so a few kickings or a hate-watch are required to keep things honest. DNF’s are books too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t care if people actually only read “good” books, but that is simply impossible. So to hide the lesser rated ones, well, I think I made myself clear in this post 😀

      All books are NOT created equal. The kindle slushpile proves that point!


  2. Too many writers (and too many reviewers!) think that reviews exist to prop up the writer’s ego. “But the writer worked really hard!” So do washing machines! But they still deserve a bad review if they don’t get your clothes clean.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you. The idea that effort alone is of value is infantile and puerile. People who think like that are why this country is in the gutter today. Hopefully they’ll be the first to go when China invades us 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve gotten to the point that I rarely review books anymore. I still like to read book reviews, though I don’t trust most book reviews, and I definitely don’t trust Amazon reviews. Most people have agendas and give positive reviews to authors who know the in-group handshake, which irritates me to no end. I see this a lot in pulp rev and its counterpart of prog sci fi. Amazon creates dishonesty by culling honest reviews and giving unfair weight to negative reviews that are just assumed to be honest. I guess that’s why I still come here. Your reviews strike me as more honest than the average. But reviews are just opinions, always, and the reviewer might be the obtuse one who just doesn’t detect value where there is a lot of it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s why you have to follow individual book reviewers and learn what works for you and what doesn’t from them.

      As for reviewing itself, it’s a calling. Not everyone is up for it and even those who do, not everyone does every book they read. Bunch of part timers 😉

      But in all honesty, if I was a writer, I have a feeling I wouldn’t be reviewing or reading nearly so much. I’d be concentrating on what I’m writing. I guess that is why I like blogging so much. I can write all the easy stuff 😀

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I generally ignore five and one star reviews (I check out goodreads pretty often) and focus on three star reviews. At least that way you’re getting a review that balances the good with the bad??

    I think maybe context is important, too. People are wary of saying something too negative for fear of pushback from fans, the author etc, so they often tend to damn with faint praise – which largely amounts to the same thing as a one star review (ie, if you know the reviewer, you’ll know they’re saying the book is basically crap: they don’t need to spell it out).

    Liked by 3 people

    1. On a big site, I’d ignore the 1 and 5’s as well. But that is why I’m not on big sites or use them. I only trust reviews from people who I follow.

      Which ties into directly what you’re saying about context. I might enjoy a book a lot but only give it 2.5stars and say one sentence about why. People who have been following me for a bit can parse that one sentence much more clearly than someone who just google searched the review.

      Devilreads is a cesspit of hell, so I don’t bother with any info from them. Between them silencing reviewers to mob justice of downvoting/reporting/whatever reviews and getting them hidden, it is not a place for anyone to express an honest opinion. Not that I’m unbiased, mind you.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. All good points and I agree! You know I’ll do negative reviews. I am not trying to make the author feel bad, but giving my opinion about a book, possibly to save others from wasting their time. I also try to put my negative reviews ‘positively’, if that’s possible, so people can see what they might like even though I didn’t. On the other hand, my recent review of Leiber’s The Wanderer was nothing but negative, it was just that bad, it had no redeeming features, in my opinion. A classic that never should have been one.

    I am trying to be a bit more positive lately, I realize that my criteria for a 10 star book, while good for me, are quite strict.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If I feel that an author has wasted my time, I definitely want them to feel bad about that. My time is finite and they just stole that from me. I respond appropriately 😀

      Strict criteria only lets the good stuff rise to the top. That’s how it should be 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You missed out on a valid point in this post.
    Writing negative reviews can be hella fun!! Writing your rage about how terribly a book has made you feel is cathartic!
    (As long has your not being a dick for the sake of it!)

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Great points, I’m totally for negative reviews sometimes. It just happens.

    This is the entire reason why I couldn’t do Instagram alone. It’s basically all book promotion. I could be wrong, but it’s what I saw, which is why I’m back here. If I can’t talk about a book and why I didn’t like it, then what’s the point in reviewing at all?

    With that said, if a person doesn’t want to review books they didn’t like, then it’s their choice. I know people who are like that. Personally, I think they just don’t want to deal with people coming back and not agreeing with them, especially the people who are reviewing books for authors.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I have avoided finishing certain books and posting reviews depending upon the anticipated voltage of the third rail when I touch it. If it’s going to be fatal, I avoid. And by fatal I mean I can tell that all the book’s groupies would be totally unconvinced, and I’d get drawn into weeks of online arguing with people who can’t be reasoned with, and sleepless nights as I polish my replies in my head. Plus I won’t be able to follow what my kids are telling me because in my head I’m hearing demon voices from the Internet. Not worth it. If I got something good out of a book, but it had one or more flaws that bothered me, and I think I can communicate this to people with whom I have at least a few philosophical assumptions in common, I’ll go for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Are you referring to your blog or to devilreads? I have found that any place where people congregate is a breeding pit for stupidity and idiocy 😉
      That’s why I like blogging better. Much smaller audience and the people tend to be much smarter, hehehee.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I think part of it is that people are tired of being told what they can’t say or shouldn’t. Petty bureaucrats have so much control over our legal lives, that when they intrude into something like a book review, well, people get sick of it.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. I’ve decided on my own personal method about books I don’t like: if they fail to engage me by the 20% mark, and therefore end up in DNF limbo, I don’t review them – if nothing else because I don’t have enough material on which to base my review. But if I go beyond that, either by finishing the book or choosing to DNF after I’ve read enough of the book, then the negative review goes online: if I’ve endured a certain amount of pages, I feel I have the right to say what did not work for me… 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I don’t give star rating on my reviews anymore. People have different meaning of how many star equal what. I give books three stars and people think it a bad book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep! I blame devilreads myself. They’ve taken the all or nothing approach sadly 😦

      But that is why I have a dedicated page where I outline what each star means and I try to republish it at least once a year so new people know what they’re getting into 😀

      Anything in particular made you stop using stars?


  11. Well, you just convicted me. I wrote a flaming review on a book that subjected me to graphic child abuse in the prologue and the author wrote me and “tore me a new one”. So I thought, the heck with it. His audiences probably loves that stuff so I deleted my review. Now I wish I had stuck to my guns. Never again!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry you had to deal with a situation like that. Author interactions are just about my least favorite thing, as about 90% of mine have all been bad.
      Depending on what platform you released your review on, is there any way to hold the author responsible for the email they sent you? That borders on harassment…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. He wrote me on Goodreads, although the review was on Amazon. It was a couple of years ago, so I won’t bother. But I will stick to my guns in the future. I’ll shout, “This one’s for Bookstooge!”

        Liked by 1 person

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