Monday, March 28, 2011

Another Monday: The World of Reviews

This is going to be a Raven's Brew, Breakfast Blend week. Light, full bodied, and satisfying. Yum. I'm using my coffee press because my freaking Mr. Coffee broke. Yep. Another year, another coffee maker down the @##!%%& drain. sigh. At least I've got the caffeine jolting my system. Enough to let me cover this interesting topic: REVIEWS.

I'm not talking reviews from review sites, from folks used to reading and commenting on romance and books in general. And I'm not even talking about my books in particular, though I will mention one or two instances that have made me laugh.

If you've ever read Amazon reviews, you'll find the gamut of honest reviews to those from readers with an axe to grind. I recently read a review done for a friend of mine. She received a one star because the reviewer was ticked off at ALL the books she'd been reading with spelling errors. The reviewer went on to say she liked the book, loved the characters and plot, but she didn't like the many typos (which I still couldn't see, and I read the same book) in my friend's book. So one star. I get that this reviewer is tired of poor editing and that she's trying to make a statement, but at my friend's expense? And trust me, after reading it, she poured over the book looking for the typos. She found two, and she's still baffled at the one star.

I've been dinged for stories where a reviewer mentions characters not in the book. Not misspelled character names, but wrong characters completely. I've also read where readers mention they wish the story they'd read was longer than a novella, when the story is in fact a novel, over 60K words. (??) Recently, I had a reader upset with the "surprising" gay content in a Dawn Endeavor book. Yet in the very blurb on Amazon, it clearly states-- Publisher's Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: Anal play/intercourse, male/male sexual practice, ménage (m/f/m), sex while in shifted form.

I'm always fascinated by readers who are angry that the novellas or short stories they buy aren't longer. I'm a reader too, and I buy a lot of books. I don't buy a short story, an Ellora's Cave Quickie or a Lust Bites from TEB, expecting huge character depth, backstory and 300+ pages. I'm not upset when I don't get these things. Yet I see readers time and time again complain about short length, which makes me question, then why buy the book?

Hey, I'm all for a quality story. Sure it's annoying to buy a book, even for a $1.50, and get a story that lacks. But honestly, do you really expect War and Peace in a short story that is barely more than 40 pages long?

And what about scathing reviews? Hateful, mean-spirited commentary on the authors and their books? Perhaps those reviewers feel betrayed that the book they'd hoped to read didn't measure up. I've read more than my share of books that disappointed me, but I haven't trashed the authors. Maybe I'm more sensitive because I'm an author, but I just don't see the point of so much negativity. If I don't like the book, I don't recommend it. If I like it, I tell everyone I know to read this book...

Personally, I don't review a lot of books. So when I do, it's because I'm moved by the material. Which makes me think that even negative reviews must mean that the reviewers were moved--good or bad--by the book in question.

But the real question many of us buy books based on reviews? I do, depending upon the comments accompanying the review. I think reviews carry weight, and I'm always surprised by people who claim reviews don't mean a thing. I'm not talking about a book by your favorite author, but how about a new author or a new book? Then do reviews count, do you think? Curious...


Carrie Ann Ryan said...

I usually look to see if there are ANY good reviews.I don't usually read the bad ones because they seem to just be callous most of the time.The ones I do read I try to see what they liked about it or what they didn't. But this is also for when I am looking for a new author. Once I read an author I usually know if I want to continue on.

I am like you as well in which I only comment if I like the book and I think others should read it.

Barbara Elsborg said...

I don't buy based on reviews but I do like to see what reviewers said after I've read the book. My own experience with reviews fits with your blog. Puzzled by comments that the story has no depth - bit tricky in 12 or so pages. Has too much sex - ha ha - it does say erotic in the blurb. Is too British - well I happen to be British. And so it goes on. I really try not to read reviews for my own books - and fail miserably because I just can't resist - luckily the nice comments outweigh the nasty ones. Just unfortunate that it's the not so nice ones I remember.

Lisa Kait said...

I have bought hundreds of books through Amazon and I have read the reviews. The first rewiew that I read for (Rachels Totem) wasn't very flattering. I thought, what the heck and bought it anyway. I was so glad that I did! Thus began my love of Marie Harte books. I have found that many of the ratings are are based on stupid things like (I didn't get my book on time) What the H#$% does this have to do with how good the books are? I just came across a review for Lola Newmar and her books about Bull Shifters, and the reviewer was mad because it is a multi-part series and she thinks she is paying too much...THEN DON'T BUY THE BOOKS! She gave her 1 star. I am going to write another review for her today, because I am enjoying her books.

Marie Harte said...

Hey Carrie. I agree. The bad ones can be pretty awful. I like the ones that may not like a book, but they aren't cruel about and will say why. A lacking plot, or un-evolved heroine. Stuff like that.


Marie Harte said...

Barbara, I've tried to ignore my own reviews as well, but I do like to use some for quotes. And I do a regular Google search on my name (to try to prevent piracy), so I run into reviews a good bit. I can't look away. It's a curiosity to see what others think of what I wrote. Sometimes it's positive, sometimes. not. I try to only remember the good ones. :)

Marie Harte said...

Hey Lisa,

Glad you ignored that review for Rachel's Totem! Yeah, it's hard to know why people rate so low.

Like you said about the Bull Shifters, If the reader doesn't want to read what is clearly a series, they shouldn't buy the book! Why buy it then rate it low because it's exactly what it was described to be? Good for you for taking the time to write what you like about Newmar's work. :)