Tuesday, May 3, 2016

What's in a Review?

I know there have been something like 200 posts about reviews. Well now it’s 201. Recently this issue has gotten a lot of attention. On Facebook I’ve seen arguments about what everyone thinks a review should be. I was just going to sit on it and move along. Then I realized maybe my opinion matters. I review hundreds of books in a year. So here is something that maybe will help people out.

One huge topic in the review world is; how do I write a review for a book that I didn’t like but it seems the majority of people did?

I get it. I do. You don’t want to look like a bully. You don’t want to look like one of those trolls that cling to author’s suffering on Goodreads. The fact that you actually give a shit about the author’s feelings should tell you that you are not a troll. So in the words of Anna Nalick, Just Breathe!

No two people ever read the same book. Perhaps you read a book about someone who had a heart transplant and everyone loved it and they were beyond moved by it so they clicked the Hell out of that 5 star option! But you had a heart transplant or your brother did or your mother and this author was way off. Maybe the research wasn’t stellar. Maybe the drugs were wrong. Maybe it just rubbed you the wrong way. Now, I’m not saying you need to pour your life story out in your review. But you can use what you know to say why this didn’t work for you. You are allowed to not like a book. You just have to wrap the words in silk. AUTHORS HAVE FEELINGS TOO.

I don’t believe in a one or two star review without explanation (Well I don’t much agree with 1 or 2 star reviews to begin with but that is dealt with below). So, reviewers, sometimes you need to open a vein and share why this didn’t work for you. I let my soul bleed out with every review I write. 

It’s okay to be honest. Not okay to be cruel.

Another big issue is how do I write constructive criticism?

Make 2 columns: What I loved and What I Didn’t Love So Much.
Let’s say the grammar was bad but the characters were amazing:
“I loved the characters in this story. WOW. Amazing dialog and I was laughing constantly. There were some grammar issues I think need to be dealt with and though it took me out of the moment a few times the wittiness of *** and *** were priceless.”
It’s that simple. You don’t do this:
“The grammar was atrocious. I wanted to throw the book out the window. How can you call yourself an author and not know where to put a freaking comma? Great characters but I was blinded by the lack of editing I couldn’t appreciate them.”

It’s okay to be honest. Not okay to be cruel.

Issue three I see a lot. What if I can’t give it 1 or 2 stars?

My opinion? If you can’t give it 1 or 2 stars or you “did not finish it” Write nothing! Seriously. I know we are all entitled to our own opinions. Freedom of speech and all that shit. I said it above YOU CAN’T LET WHAT OTHERS THINK SWAY YOUR FEELINGS… But you don’t need to be a jerk about it. Say nothing at all if you have nothing nice to say.

It’s okay to be honest. Not okay to be cruel.

This one is huge. The reason authors lack reviews is because people don’t know HOW to write a review. So, how do you write a review?

With your heart, your soul, and the moment you’re in. Even if it’s one line: I loved it. Thanks super author person!
I know you don’t want to look like a moron but I encourage you to try. List 3 points of the story you loved. Characters, dialog, cover. Use those. It doesn’t need to be glitter and unicorns. But the smile you give an author when you review is worth it. Trust me. 

It’s okay to be honest. Not okay to be cruel.

Don’t take my post as gospel. I’ve learned a lot. I know some people, some reviewers, may not agree with this and that’s fine. Like a book read, we won’t all like it. But maybe this will help some of you. This is what I believe and I’m good with that. 

Help an author and PLEASE review.

It’s okay to honest. Not okay to be cruel.


  1. You are the kindest person I know. Thank you for a very supportive post on how to review!

  2. You are so spot on with this, Mere! I feel the same way about book & movie reviews: you can not like it, can say it, but you don't have to be cruel doing it. So spot on!

  3. Thank you so much for writing this. <3

  4. Thank you, This was very insightful. I always fall in the "don't know what to say" category. But I'm gonna try your method. Thank you again for posting this.

  5. Great advice! I try to review each book that I read but it is only a couple of sentences on how I felt about the book. I am going to try your method and see if I can do a little better!

  6. I'm thrilled if this has helped anyone! YAY!

  7. Thank you for your insightful advice. I've always been of the opinion if you have nothing nice or constructive to say, then don't.