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Why Are There So Many Positive Reviews About Books?

getting a head start on resolutions

I know we have the reputation for being the meanest girls on the mean girl block and I assume that is because we write F and DNF reviews. Not to mention D reviews. But the fact is that the majority of our book reviews are positive.   65% of them have B- grades or above. The break down is as follows:

Total Reviews 1911

  • A Reviews:    217 (11%)
  • B Reviews:    1032 (54%)
  • C Reviews:   449 (23%)
  • D Reviews:   147 (8%)
  • F Reviews:   28 (1%)
  • DNF Reviews:   38 (2%)

Internally, we talked about the lack of the negative review and concluded that because we pick and choose what we want to read, we are self selecting books that we are predisposed to enjoy. We rarely force ourselves to finish a bad book. One thing that is different about Dear Author than professional publications is that no one is assigned a book to review. Everyone gets notice about a book and then people decide what to read / review.   This means that a number of books never get reviewed because we never finish them or we never get to a place in the book where we feel we could fairly write a DNF review.

The books are self selected to be ones we hope we will enjoy and are readily discarded if the book doesn’t seem worth our time. Contributing heavily to this problem is the cornucopia of books that we have at our disposal.   With plenty of books at our disposal, it is easily to move on from a book that isn’t meeting our expectations.

I don’t feel like Dear Author is much different from many other book bloggers.   The fact is that I think people prefer to read and talk about books that they enjoy.   Sure, a negative review can be fun, both to read and write, but a blogger can’t subsist on F books alone.   A diet of bad books will drive a reader to give up on the genre.   But the majority of books out there aren’t good or bad, but just average.   Or “meh”.   And writing a “meh” review is probably harder than anything.   It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why a book didn’t work for you and sometimes, in struggling to articulate yourself, the complaints about a book start sounding like nitpicks when they are just examples of your overall malaise with a book.   For some books, the most that you can say is that it didn’t work for you. Didn’t like the hero. Didn’t like the heroine. Didn’t like the plot.   That’s not terribly helpful to anyone.

And what about all those books started?   As I stated previously, most of us give many, many, many books a try but can’t get past the first page, let alone the first chapter.   I’ve DNF’ed more books than I’ve read by a ratio of probably 10 to 1, and that might even be a conservative estimate.   And I’m not DNF’ing because all the writing is bad. No, it’s more because I find the book boring or the setting too gimmicky or the characters unlikeable.

After some contemplation, I wondered if I, at least, am doing a disservice to readers.   Shouldn’t we be reading more books that are unfamiliar to us (Jayne is great about this) and powering through books that don’t appeal?   I know I’m more apt to try a shorter book, like a category, from a new to me author than I am a full length book because when you don’t like a book, it seems longer than War and Peace and every page is a slog up hill through mud up to your shins (or the sliding sands in Maui, if, for example, you were climbing up the sliding sands instead of going down like you are supposed to and your husband tells you that you have to finish even though you just want to lay down in the flora and allow the soft sand to sweep over your tired body until it softly surrounds you   and you no longer have to put one endless foot in front of the other to get out of the damn crater).

But, of course, the benefit is great.   Because when you get to the parking lot, you forget all about the aches and pains and near death and thoughts of hari kari by sandstorm because you have accomplished the unimaginable.   (yes, to me, hiking the Haleakala trail was unimaginable).   Or in the case of books, it’s discovering a new author that we think the readers of DA will also like.

The upshot of trying out and finishing new to me books is that there will likely be more negative reviews but at least we’ll live up to the mean girl appellation.     So my main 2011 goal is to finish more books that I start. Or at least get to past the first 100 pages.   I’m not sure how long I can maintain this resolution before I lay down in amongst the waste of paper and pray for its pulpy folds to smother me.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

49 Comments

  1. Ell
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 04:52:24

    In the last few days I’ve read two books and started a third that were raved about by LOTS of people. All of them are reasonably well written, and all of them didn’t work for me. I’ve tried to find reviews that express why–it’s cool when someone else has the same reaction–but so far, no dice.

    It’s not that nothing works for me; I’ve read others recently that did. And really, I wouldn’t give any of ‘em a total slam–they have good stuff.

    I kind of think it might be nice to have more reviews that express what didn’t work in ways other people haven’t already hit on. I dunno…

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  2. Ellie
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 05:00:08

    I LOVE negative reviews, if a book has both I’ll read the one or two stars first. Too many people simply rave about how it’s the best book evah, which tells me nothing. If someone has a nitpick about something specific in the book, and that doesn’t work for me either, then my decision is made. But if that nitpick isn’t one of my hot buttons, I take it with a grain of salt and still enjoy the book.

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  3. Barbara
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 05:30:38

    I can only think of one review I’ve written that could be construed of as negative, and I only wrote that one because I felt obligated to the source. Otherwise, I just don’t bother writing it if the book offended me that much.

    I’ve been finding that the scathing reviews are hard to write; I can do a review of a mediocre book because I’m better at pointing out what vanilla thing bored me than I am at telling an author that their baby just sucked donkey balls for me.

    OTOH, there are two Amazon Vine books and one other that I was thinking about putting up on GoodReads as DNFs, just because I can stick them up there as a public service and not have to actually review them.

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  4. Barbara
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 05:32:28

    @Barbara:

    construed of? Jane, you need an edit feature, lol.

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  6. Lynne Connolly
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 06:28:14

    I find bad reviews very hard to write, and often I will spend a lot more time on it, because I feel the need to be fair.
    Until recently I felt that if I picked up a galley that I didn’t like, then I should say something, even if it was to say I didn’t like it. Now, not so much.
    If I don’t have anything worthwhile to say about the book, then I’ll probably not comment on it. If it’s my mood or my personal dislikes, if I can see that the book is a quality one, then I probably won’t review it.
    For instance, in my hunt for a new historical romance author to glom, I’ve accidentally (because cover and blurb are too vague usually) picked up a Victorian set romance, and I don’t like the Victorian era. Just a personal thing, so it’s probably not fair to review the book. I tried to explain that in a recent review, but the book also failed for me on other counts, so I thought it was worth doing a proper review.

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  7. Mandi Schreiner
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 06:51:56

    I started 2011 with two dnf’s…I used to force myself to make it to pg 100…thinking the book may make a turn for the better. But that rarely happens (for me at least.)

    I don’t think you are doing a disservice by not powering through books that don’t appeal – maybe trying something new to you would be beneficial..but at the same time, you have to read what you enjoy.

    And I definitely think negative/dnf reviews are beneficial to your readers.

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  8. Ammarylis
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 06:57:29

    Like Ellie, I love bad reviews. Positive reviews do nothing for me since I wouldn’t plan on buying/reading a book if I didn’t think it was going to be good. But bad reviews point out things that didn’t work for the reader & therefore may not work for me.

    I admit, it’s harder for me to write a positive review because I end up going into “Squee! It’s so awesome!” territory. I try to point out things that I thought were especially great about the book but I find it easier to explain what I didn’t like than what I did. To me, it’s akin to hearing about a friends romantic relationship. When it’s going good, they barely mention them. But when it’s going bad, they can’t help but rant about what s/he did & what they can’t stand about the person.

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  9. Jayne
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 07:10:54

    We’ll be posting our January recs soon so last week I started, and discarded, 6-7 books to see if any more would make my list. Usually I try to make it to at least the 1/3 mark before giving up so that’s still a sizable investment of my time.

    Rather than powering through a book that still isn’t appealing to me at that point, I prefer to call it a day and move on to something that could work better and end up yielding a review.

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  10. Maria Zannini
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 07:29:02

    Ref: For some books, the most that you can say is that it didn't work for you.

    That’s probably true for the majority of DNFs.

    I’ve read several books reviewers cheered that made me wonder what all the fuss was about, and others that I thought were fresh and innovative that others found confusing. So it has to come down to individual taste.

    I’d rather if reviewers didn’t force their way through books if it really didn’t work for them. I usually give a new author three chapters before I give up–but then I paid for the book so I feel I owe it to myself to at least try.

    There are so many books out there. I rely on reviewers more for analysis of the story and who they think it might appeal to. That helps me decide whether to try it or not.

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  11. library addict
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 07:29:09

    I don't think you should force yourselves to read books you aren't enjoying, or at least curious enough about the characters to finish reading. And then write a review on top of that? Life's too short.

    It seems to me a quick way to lose enjoyment in what you're doing and therefore suffering burnout.

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  12. joanne
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 07:44:31

    A well written review of a bad book is much more helpful to a reader than an A+ review of a fav or popular author. I don’t go looking for new authors or the books featuring plots and/or characters that aren’t an auto-buy but I do look at reviews of those and then think maybe I’ll try that one.

    We all have authors who we give a little (or a lot) of leeway because we like or liked their other work or their writing style. I expect a high grade of those books by reviewers. It’s the reviews of the new-to-me authors or story lines that go outside my comfort zone that I find most helpful when I’m shopping.

    A trope that doesn’t work for the reviewer might be a favorite of mine so a D or even DNF review will not necessarily mean no sale for the author. But if the reviews, good or bad, aren’t there than the chances of finding a new author isn’t there either.

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  13. Gwen Hayes
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 08:25:49

    Jane,
    The timing of this piece is a little ironic for me. Based on a Twitter convo we had about a week ago (in which I tried to find a book to rec to you that you hadn’t already tried) I decided that I need to give myself permission to STOP slogging through books I don’t like. I was all “I need to be more like Jane”.

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  14. Jane
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 08:31:59

    @Gwen Hayes We are two ships passing in the night.

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  15. Jane
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 08:32:56

    @joanne I know when I am at Amazon, I read the low grades first because I assume that they are more honest (and the 5 stars are all written by friends and family of the author). This, of course, is an assumption that works against my own reviewing practices at Amazon. I am more apt to leave a positive review there.

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  16. Lori
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 08:33:08

    My New Year’s resolution was to try and find more enjoyment in things so I won’t power through books I don’t enjoy. Life is much to short for alpha assholes or twittery heroines.

    My reading tastes don’t match yours very often Jane and as much as I enjoy some of your snarkier reviews, I usually find that the books you rave/rave/rave about are worth trying. I’ve tried more authors because of your raves.

    So there is a positive to your glowing reviews.

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  17. Jane
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 08:34:16

    @library addict I realize this and I am not sure how long I will be able to hold on to my resolution, hence the picture of the cat, but I also don’t think that writing primarily positive reviews accurately depicts a) the genre and b) my own reading experiences. One thing I like about goodreads is that I can mark the DNFs, and rate books without reviews, etc. There is a lot of freedom in that.

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  18. Jody W.
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 08:34:42

    Count me in with the life’s too short to plow your way through books you don’t like crowd, especially if you aren’t getting paid an actual salary w/benefits to do it AND write a review. The “service” aspect is nice and all, but IMO anyone would burn out doing that on a regular basis. The system already in place seems to be working, and I can’t say I’ve ever seen DA post a useless “squee” review anyway.

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  19. Jane
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 08:34:51

    @Jayne I really appreciate how many out of the ordinary authors you read. I am trying to be more adventurous.

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  20. Lynnd
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 08:52:09

    I like seeing honest reviews, good, bad or meh. I am also interested in hearing about the DNFs. I have started so many books which got glowing reviews on other blogs over the past couple of months, and I could not get past the first chapter. I know that a couple of the DNFs were because of my particular state of mind at the time I tried to read the book and I will likely try again later. Others were just too much of the “same old, same old” and in a couple of cases, I wondered if I was reading the same book as the reviwer. Luckily, I borrowed most of these from the library so I didn’t waste my money on them.

    As for writing reviews, honesty is the always the best policy. I know that I can rely on DA to give me fair, honest reviews, good or bad, and it is one of the reasons I keep coming back to this blog. Credibility counts! Thank you.

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  21. cs
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 09:09:48

    I don’t think it’s fair to ask a reviewer, to review something they won’t like or uncomfortable with. At the end of the day, we want to read books that we think we’ll enjoy. Even the books we think we should like due to subject matter/genre may end up being complete duds.

    I do admit, I get bored with positive reviews all the time. Not so much with this site, because your reviews are much more meatier than most. Positive reviews that are posted constantly tend to make me distrust sites. I also have a problem with reviewers, reviewing books of friends and giving them positive reviews as well.

    At the end of the day, as fun as “negative” reviews are. I don’t think anyone should force themselves to read something they don’t want too. As long, as the “positive” reviews talk about the good and the bad — I think that’s fair enough.

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  22. Joy
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 09:44:42

    This is something I’ve been thinking about, because for the past few years I’ve actually been at least capsule-reviewing everything I’ve read, and that total is about 800 books so far. I’ve put the most recent and notables up on goodreads, and the historicals on my blog; the rest are in a members-only book journal forum (and on my hard drive).

    The vast majority of the books I read, which the past few years have been romances, have also been not so much bad as average–the 3-star book. 3-star books can vary from very nearly wretched to nearly good, and the way they get almost somewhere can be interesting. But if the way it gets there is uninteresting, it IS hard to review. It gets the “it was OK; not bad, not good, will keep you from falling asleep without driving you crazy on a 2-hour plane ride if you have nothing else to do” treatment. And that’s not necessarily a bad place for a book to be; someone else may love that book. But I won’t be the person who can zone in on what they will or won’t love about that book. The very least I try to do about the book is give an idea of what it is about and whether I overall liked it. Also I like to throw something in there to amuse the person reading my review.

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  23. jody
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 09:46:54

    Wow. What timing! I just spent a whole afternoon reviewing one of the worst books I’ve ever read. I’ll never get back the time I’ve invested in this book but maybe someone will be able to make a more informed reading decision than basing it on the huge number of “bestbookIEVAHread” friends and family reviews. I wish I could have read my review before I spent two days with that awful book.

    (Just as an aside–do authors not realize that they do themselves and their reputations much more damage with fake reviews than any benefit they could possibly derive? And don’t get me started on well-respected authors who write glowing blurbs for books they must know are awful. *fans self*)

    I enjoy and appreciate DAs reviews, and I often find myself nodding in agreement at the reasons for A reviews as well as the Ds,Fs, and DNFs. So please keep on doing just what you’re doing. It’s a public service.

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  24. tori aka ggs_closet
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 10:10:13

    I have a bad habit of forcing myself to finish books I don’t enjoy. I have decided that for 2011 if a book doesn’t appeal to me after I’ve read some of it then I will put it aside with my blessing. My review partner says this is acceptable behavior. :)
    I appreciate both pos and neg reviews. But either way I want to know WHY you loved or hated. Reviews that just give me a bastardized view of the book’s excerpt doesn’t do anything for me.
    I like the reviews here for that reason. You tell why the book worked or didn’t work for you. That goes a long way with me.

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  25. Jinni
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 11:30:50

    @Ellie: you’re 100% right. Negative reviews are far more helpful in making choices.

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  26. becca
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 11:32:19

    maybe a once a month summary of DNF books could be posted, with a one or two sentence reason why? even if it’s just “this book didn’t work for me, but it might for you if you like XYZ trope”

    One thing I appreciate about this site – my tastes don’t always match the reviewers (I’m not that much into m/m or bdsm books, for example), but I can always tell if I’ll like the book from the review – and sometimes reviews here have sparked me to read authors and genres I wouldn’t necessarily have read otherwise.

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  27. Bev
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 11:32:44

    I’m like you, Jane. I don’t finish most of the books I start. I’ve learned not to start reading many because I know that I won’t like them–and for the same reasons you stated. But I’m not a reviewer so I don’t feel bad about it. Thankfully other reviewers will take on the majority of the books that come through my hands.

    I do like them to push on and really try to read the whole book even if this means the review won’t be positive. I feel that there are authors who will always get tons of reviews for their books and whether it’s well-deserved or not, I would like to post reviews for authors whose books will not really be widely read. To me, it at least gets their name out there so readers know they exist. For me as a writer, I’d rather a not so favourable review than readers not know I exist. At least that way, for these authors, they have a small fighting chance to get a reader’s notice. I think we’re all smart enough to realize one reviewer’s opinion doesn’t mean it’s a bad book or that the reader won’t necessarily like it too. It at least puts an opinion out there so readers can make up their mind.

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  28. meoskop
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 12:31:13

    I used to work with a page that assigned reviews and I burned out so much I didn’t pleasure read for a while. There are some bad, bad books in the world and reviewing (for me) is a hobby. I’d never go back to a gig where I had no control over the titles.

    That said, I think one reason we (reviewers) self skew positive is both ‘girl dynamics’ and the fact that you don’t want to waste more time on a bad read. What works you might be the opposite of what works for me, so I tend to focus my energy on a) things I want everyone to read then b) reads the surprised me then c) reads that you might want to get used and then d) things that I expected to love but didn’t. Who gets to E?

    I’m going to change the print date on a negative review I just did, where I expected to love the book (and other’s will) but hated it. (It’s up now.) Normally, I wouldn’t have reviewed it at all (I review maybe 20% of what I read) but it’s Agency and I thought people who share my taste should have more info.

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  29. tricia
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 12:40:40

    I like Becca’s idea. Complete reviews of books like that are too much to ask most of the time. And there are too many good books out there for me to finish something just to write a mediocre review.

    And fwiw, the hike home from Kilauea? Much the same, without the sand and definitely with the lie-down-and-live-there.

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  30. SonomaLass
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 12:44:58

    Although I am a big believer in the negative review, I rarely write one myself. The reason is the one you give here, Jane — I self-select too well. I worry that I might be missing out on a book I’d like by not taking more reading risks, so occasionally I push the envelope and try something that others are raving about. Lately those experiences have been pretty good for me as well. I think it’s just that at my stage in life, I have a pretty good idea of what just doesn’t work for me, and I steer clear of it because I read for pleasure, dammit. I also have very broad taste, so a book that isn’t working for me usually gets set aside for another time. I am a very moody reader, and I’ve finished/enjoyed a lot more books since learning that about myself.

    One thing I love about DA is the range of voices you offer in reviews — you cover quite a variety of books just by allowing each reviewer to pick what suits. I’d rather read those than negative reviews where it’s obvious that the reviewer was never going to enjoy this book, based on individual preference. Here I know a lukewarm or negative review is from a reader who actually wanted/expected to like the book, and I get a pretty clear explanation of why it did or didn’t work.

    And don’t worry, you’ll always be a Mean Girl in my book!

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  31. sarah
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 12:52:14

    I love negative reviews. They are informative and helpful in a way that positive reviews often aren’t. To be honest, I’ve actually thought DA was quite free with the A’s and B’s in the past, and have been glad to see more scores across the board. Because when I first came to this site looking for recommendations, I found there were just so many great reviews that I couldn’t differentiate between them. And it does make one wonder, “Why would I give a reviewer any credibility if she likes everything?” If I don’t see a range in reviews, I assume the reviewer’s the type to love everything and then their reviews are no use to me.

    So please, keep the D’s, F’s, and DNF’s coming.

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  32. Alessia Brio
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 13:30:34

    Um, pulpy folds? Way bad erotica image.

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  33. Kerry D.
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 13:32:25

    I like Becca’s idea: maybe a once a month summary of DNF books could be posted, with a one or two sentence reason why? even if it's just “this book didn't work for me, but it might for you if you like XYZ trope”

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  34. Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 13:33:07

    Jane, I thought you would be tickled to know that someone found my website the other day by typing in the words “Jane Litte, mean” in the search engine.Whatever you’re doing, keep it up, LOL.

    Seriously, reading is so very subjective. More often than not I don’t like what everyone else is raving over, and I expect the same treatment for my books. I personally don’t review or rate anything, not even on Goodreads, because it reminds me too much of homework, but I appreciate the effort made by others. But I won’t let a bad review stop me from buying something that really interests me, because I know I might feel differently.

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  35. Jane
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 13:33:25

    @Kerry D. I’ll have to think about this proposition. Sometimes it is hard for me to think who would like it.

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  36. Leslie
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 13:58:17

    I have quit visiting sites where there is never a negative review. I do not believe that every book across so-and-so’s desk is “Great!” or “So hot!” or the like. When I visit a new site, I go through archives and scan reviews to get a feel for the tone of the site and the way they structure reviews. I really don’t mind negative reviews and have read books after reading bad notices because I was intrigued.

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  37. Leslie
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 13:59:53

    I buy the self-select reason for positive reviews on this site because both your positive and negative reviews are carefully considered and constructive.
    I have quit visiting sites where there is never a negative review. I do not believe that every book across so-and-so’s desk is “Great!” or “So hot!” or the like. When I visit a new site, I go through archives and scan reviews to get a feel for the tone of the site and the way they structure reviews. I really don’t mind negative reviews and have read books after reading bad notices because I was intrigued.

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  38. Las
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 14:20:25

    “The upshot of trying out and finishing new to me books is that there will likely be more negative reviews but at least we'll live up to the mean girl appellation.”
    Thanks for the giggle!

    I actually came here to post Becca’s suggestion. I really like the idea of a quick blurb for books which you just don’t want to write a full review for whatever reason. Obviously you read a lot more books than you review, and I’d find it interesting to see the full picture, so to speak.

    About negative reviews…I won’t touch a blog that has a policy of not writing them. I’m not talking about cases where the reviewer just self-selects so well that she ends up mostly reading books that she likes, but about those that state flat out that if they read a book they hate, they won’t write about it. It’s not enough to know your likes, I need to know you dislikes and hates, too, to know if your someone who’s reviews I can be bothered to take seriously.

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  39. DM
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 14:53:41

    I think that the self selection you practice is part of what makes this site such an accurate reflection of the reader experience, as opposed to the publishing/trade/professional reviewing experience.

    Paid professional reviewers are often obligated, especially in the cases of established or heavily promoted properties (long running series, “hot” debuts, branded authors etc) to ignore their own emotional responses to a work–both the squee and the squick–and offer analysis that lays out how well the book will meet reader expectation. Never mind that the ending made them feel like dancing all night, or scrubbing their skin raw.

    And those outlets are going to review the meh reads, because that’s their job. Why you should you have to as well? If a book doesn’t move you one way or another, why not leave it to those who are paid to write about its mediocrity?

    Which is all to say, I wouldn’t change a thing at DA.

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  40. Lynnd
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 15:09:26

    I like Becca’s suggestion as well.

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  41. MaryK
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 15:22:47

    @becca:

    maybe a once a month summary of DNF books could be posted, with a one or two sentence reason why? even if it's just “this book didn't work for me, but it might for you if you like XYZ trope”

    I was going to suggest something similar. Maybe a new category for inoffensive DNF books with just a sentence or two about why the reviewer stopped. Like “Nothing wrong with this one. The characters just didn’t grab me. It contains xyz themes if anybody likes those.” Or “Nothing wrong with this one. I just don’t care for xyz plot element.”

    That would beef up the DNF book percentage without taking up a lot of reviewing time. :D

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  42. A
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 16:24:06

    I don’t read reviews anymore. They are so subjective. They really only tell me if *that person* liked the book, but *that person* may have completely different likes and dislikes as far as preferred hero/heroine traits, romance to plot ratio, writer’s style, etc. I like a certain type of dominant in BDSM books…happens to be the opposite of the type of dominant most reviewers seem to like. So I kept buying these books that were raves and found myself not even able to finish them.

    It’s the same with reading reviews at places like Amazon. I don’t usually trust them.

    Luckily, I have found a few friends whose tastes match mine and I trust their recommendations. It’s too bad there’s not a way to review a book dispassionately on measurable matrices without bringing our own personal likes/dislikes & peculiarities into the reviews. But I imagine that’s pretty impossible.

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  43. lazaraspaste
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 18:42:27

    On the self-selection thing–me, too. I can’t tell you the number of ARCs I’ve started with every intention of reading but have failed to get past the second or third chapter. DNFed so many books this year, partly because I have very little time to read for pleasure or review that when I do, I want to read something that I’m going to enjoy.

    I think, too that my tolerance levels are very low and thus I do not start that many books simply based on how irritating I find the cover blurb.

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  44. jo
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 20:04:12

    Life is too short to spend it in the company of characters that don’t interest me, ideas that don’t inspire me, and plots that belong in a cemetery. I used to slog. Moby Dick taught me that sometimes you just have to give up on the whale.

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  45. Mary Beth B.
    Jan 05, 2011 @ 14:14:16

    Don’t worry about wasting your time plodding thru something just because you feel you have to. (That sounds like when I was in Grad School). I love your reviews good, bad & DNF!

    My solution… buy the books I know I’ll love or like, & the ones I’m uncertain about, I check out from my public library. It supports the library system & I have no qualms about quitting/returning a book I’m not enjoying.

    Good luck with your NY’s resolution.

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  46. Kathleen Dienne
    Jan 05, 2011 @ 17:39:56

    “I'm not sure how long I can maintain this resolution before I lay down in amongst the waste of paper and pray for its pulpy folds to smother me.”

    Clearly the answer is “more e-books.”

    /ducks

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  47. Ursula
    Jan 06, 2011 @ 08:53:29

    What I like about Dear Author reviews vs. many others (from a reader perspective and an author perspective) is that even in a positive review, if something didn’t fit or sit right during the read, you identify that. Sometimes it’s a matter of taste, sometimes it’s other things. But when I read the reviews, because you have that level of indepth approach and balance, I can find books that I really enjoy and I can bypass what might grab me by cover or title or blurb but contain things that don’t suit my taste as a reader. With so many books and so little time, this is huge! And as an author, the feedback is balanced and valuable because it’s not wholesale generic positive or negative. And maybe that’s all easier because you pick the books you read rather than assign. Whatever, the formula leads to a robust, and valuable as well as engaging result.

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  48. Luce
    Jan 09, 2011 @ 16:40:53

    I’m de-lurking because I want to tell you how grateful I am for all of DA’s reviews.

    For the record, I consider myself a newbie when it comes to the romance novel (mostly M/M) genre–though I’ve been a fic reader for over a decade.

    It’s my nature to be wary of super-positive/OMG, this novel is AWESOME! type of reviews because I feel that those kinds of reviews don’t tell me much about the book. In truth, I’ve shelled out my fair share of $$$ for books many people squeed about that turned out to be total clunkers.

    This is the reason why I prefer negative or positive-but-critical reviews. I like honesty even in something that is as subjective as a review (we don’t all share the *same* likes and dislikes).

    Anyhoo, I hope that none of you feel the need to read books that don’t appeal to you in order to be “more fair” when it comes to your posts. I believe that all of you have done more than superb job letting us know what you liked and why. Oh, and if some people think that you guys are “too mean” because of the low grades, then it’s a case of “too bad, so sad” for them.

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  49. Jane
    Jan 10, 2011 @ 08:14:44

    @Luce Thanks for delurking! I think I’m just trying to do more finishing than I have in the past rather than actively picking books I don’t think I will like but I am also trying out new to me authors which can be a pleasant surprise.

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