Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wednesday Reads and a Little Rant About Reviews

Am I doing a disservice to myself when I review books? Is giving 4 stars instead of 5 stars putting a nail in my publishing coffin? What about 3? When I give stars to books, it’s really for my own information - to let ME know which books I liked more than others, especially if I ever have to clean out my bookcase and get rid of books (heaven forbid!!!).

I also like sharing what I have read via Goodreads, but now I’m wondering if I should even bother.

Many authors beg for reviews, but apparently they only want good ones, right? So if people only say good things about the book, but never any bad, why have reviews at all?

I do try to be fair and list WHY I don’t care for a book and I never trash an author. I know how hard it is to write a book. Doesn’t mean I like them all, though.

I really don’t want to stop rating books, but if it’s detrimental to my new career, I might just have to. What do you think?

In the meantime, here’s what I read during the last week:

Sep 10: “Shades of Dark” by Linnea Sinclair. This is the continuation of the story that began with “Gabriel’s Ghost,” a sci-fi romance. Blurb on back: Before her court-martial, Captain Chasidah “Chaz” Bergren was the pride of the Sixth Fleet. Now she’s a fugitive from the “justice” of a corrupt Empire. Along with her lover, the former monk, mercenary, and telepath Gabriel Ross Sullivan, Chaz hoped to leave the past light-years behind--until the news of her brother Thad’s arrest and upcoming execution for treason. It’s a ploy by Sully’s cousin Hayden Burke to force them out of hiding, and it works. With a killer targeting human females and a renegade gen lab breeding jukor war machines, Chaz and Sully already had their hands full of treachery, betrayal--not to mention each other. Throw in Chaz’s Imperial ex-husband, Admiral Philip Guthrie, and a Kyi-Ragkiril mentor out to seduce Sully, and not just loyalties but lives are at stake. For when Sully makes a fateful choice, changing their relationship forever, Chaz must also choose--between what duty demands and what her heart tells her she must do. I really enjoyed the first book (even with all that sci-fi stuff and unpronounceable names) because I liked Chaz and Sully. So it was a no-brainer to read more of them. They are the kind of couple I enjoy reading - fighting against a common enemy while figuring each other out. I could probably come to love reading sci-fi romance, or even plain sci-fi, if I could get past all the strange spellings (it’s what pulls me out most of the time). At least on TV and in the movies, the names are pronounced for me (of course, then I have no idea how they’re spelled! Haha!). I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads.

Sep 12: “The Vampire with the Dragon Tattoo” by Kerrelyn Sparks. This is the fourteenth book in the Love at Stake series, a paranormal romance. Blurb on back: Dougal Kincaid has something to prove. After being injured in a battle with the Malcontents, he’s ready for active duty protecting unsuspecting mortals from these villainous vampires who want to rule the world. But first he has to get control of himself…because just the sight of a certain lovely doctor has his injured hand doing some peculiar things, not to mention the sizzling sensation that burns along his dragon tattoo… Vampires? Vampires?! As a scientist, Leah is having trouble believing that these immortal creatures exist. But there they are, standing in front of her, asking for help in solving a genetic puzzle that can save mankind. There’s even one in a sexy kilt! Just one look into Dougal’s gorgeous green eyes set her pulse racing. But can she trust him--and the overwhelming desire that refuses to be ignored…? You’d think with 14 books in the series, I’d get tired of reading them, but NO WAY! I loved this book just as much as the other 13! I did not want to put this one down. Good thing I accompanied my husband to his class on Thursday (so I could have dinner with him after). It gave me many enjoyable hours to read (of which I finished the last few pages when we got home). The romance was great and I fell in love with the characters. I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads.

If you have an opinion regarding my little rant, I would appreciate hearing it. Really!

Happy reading!




JeffO said...

Oh, boy, I'm feeling really ranty about the review thing myself. I think it's outrageous that people are afraid to give reviews that aren't four or five stars, I think it's outrageous that people get outraged if their books get less than four or five stars. Chuck Wendig posted about this the other day. We're soon going to be living in a world where *everything* is excellent! Five stars! Outstanding! Or it just plain sucks, but no one will actually say.

Sorry, I'll stop now.

B.E. Sanderson said...

Eh, I try to live by the code that if I don't have anything nice to say, I don't say anything. (Try, mind you. I don't always succeed.) The only time I left a negative review was when the author really ticked me off. The book had such a good premise, but she fell down telling the story. And even then, I deleted the review later when I felt bad about writing it.

We do work so hard writing these damn things. Then again it's like Larry Niven said: "The reader has certain rights. He bought your story. Think of this as an implicit contract. He's entitled to be entertained, instructed, amused; maybe all three. If he quits in the middle, or puts the book down feeling his time has been wasted, you're in violation." I don't know what the answer is. I'll probably keep forgoing the negative review writing - or at least not make the low-star reviews public.

Stacy McKitrick said...

Jeff - Don't stop on my account! :) At least I'm not the only one ranting.

Stacy McKitrick said...

B.E. - So, if I don't like a book, maybe I should not rate it and then state in the review "not to my taste." And then just stick to giving 3 or more stars to a book. Think that would work? Or is 3 stars still too low to give a review?

Maria Zannini said...

Given the option, I don't give stars. My reason is because it seems to reduce the work to a black/white, yes/no, 0/1 world.

It makes a blanket statement, which is sad because a novel, regardless of quality is more than a number.

I don't do many reviews any more, but when I do, it's very thorough. I want people to understand the why and not just the bottom line.

Jen B said...

I'm new to GoodReads so not quite sure I'm following. Do you mean if you post a low star review of a book that you might be blacklisted as an author? I'm all for honest reviews, so if that is the case, don't worry about other people and rate as honestly as you can.

One of my favourite authors is the guy who writes the Dresden Files, so I gave his other series a shot (it is epic fantasy), and it just wasn't good. I rated it two stars because I did not like it. I like him, and I like his other stuff, but some stuff just isn't good and that is okay. I also think an important part of rating is actually writing a review, which I never do, but want to start. That is where people can get a better idea of why things are rated low or high.

Stacy McKitrick said...

Maria - I'm a lousy reviewer, I admit it. Mainly, it's because I don't want to say too much and spoil it for someone else. Stars remind me how well I liked the book. Sad, but true!

Jen - I'm not sure what will happen to me. I've only read what has happened to others. But I will be more careful, especially if I know the author. Touchy territory, that's for sure!

Jennette Marie Powell said...

I don't review many books any more, partly because it takes time, but mostly because Amazon just might delete them, so why bother? However, I don't give something a high rating unless I really love it, and I don't review books I don't finish. If I don't like something enough to give 3 or more stars, I probably didn't finish it. I'm kind of iffy giving 3 stars for reviews, because it still looks kind of negative, even though it's really more neutral. But I'm as happy to get 4 as 5, and I think readers pay more attention to the former. Your reviews are good, because they're thoughtful, and ultimately, that's what I pay the most attention to.

Stacy McKitrick said...

Jennette - I don't review on Amazon because I don't buy books there and they see me as an author, so they probably wouldn't let the stand anyway. I don't review on B&N either. I only review on Goodreads because, like I said, it's really for my own benefit (and for sharing with my friends). When I buy books on B&N I don't look at the reviews. Someone has already convinced me to buy it by then.

The Spooky Whisk said...

Hmmm. I have to say, I don't read reviews, so I'm not sure I'm much help, since a three star, no star or five star doesn't matter to me.

When I read fiction (which has been AWHILE), I don't even read the back cover. I read the first page. That's it. If I like the first page, I buy otherwise, back on the shelf.

But that doesn't help you with your answer. If you like reviewing, why not do it under a different name? Or does that feel too fake?

Stacy McKitrick said...

Ivy - Yeah, I don't read reviews, either, but a lot of people do. And using another name kind of defeats my purpose. I figure if I like a book another reader also likes, then maybe they'll like MY book! It's how I went about looking for new authors, so I can't be all that unique. Well, I'd like to think I am, but I know better! :)

The Spooky Whisk said...

I can understand that. Totally makes sense and you are unique.