Book Reviews

I’m sure this is a discussion we’ve had in the past.  Still, how effective are reviews?  I suppose like movie reviews, its all in the eye of the beholder.  I was discussing this with a friend of mine yesterday.  She was rattling off movie reviews and how some newspapers will pan a movie, while others give it four or five stars.

The same can be said about book reviews.  What really resonates for one person, can be a total flop for another.  You might notice that lately MagicalMusings have been doing book reviews on Sundays … although I see that none were posted yesterday.  We have a rule here at MM that we won’t post a negative review.  This isn’t to say that we all think only wonderful books (in our opinion) should be reviewed.  We just don’t believe in dissing a book or an author.  Who’s to say that what we dislike isn’t a total winner for another reader?

Again … its in the eye of the beholder.  I’ve read books that were given four or five stars that I’ll just go “huh?”.  Totally over-rated in my opinion.  But — that’s my opinion.  Evidently the person who reviewed it thought it was wonderful.

Same things with movies.  I really don’t pay attention to newspaper reviews.  Mostly because I rarely agree with them.  I’ve heard bad reviews on the “Avengers” and I’ve heard good.  Friends have seen “Snow White and the Huntsman” (I suspect I got the title wrong) and thought it was a pretty good story.  Sorta lame with the romance side of it, but otherwise a good movie.  The reviewers panned it.  I have a feeling that I’d enjoy it … if only for the special effects.  Same thing with the “Avengers” … but then, I’ve was an avid comic book reader when I was a kid, so that’s right up my alley.  I’ll admit that I’ve been burned by ignoring a movie review … “Skyline” comes to mind.  I should have known it was a clinker when I overheard someone leaving the previous showing saying “That was a total waste of two hours”.  She was right.  It was an awful movie.  Live and learn.

Speaking of reviews.  I owe Barbara Vey a couple of short reviews for books she’d given me.  I really should get on ‘em. 😯  She gonna kill me.

What about you?  Do you chose your books (or movies) by the reviews you’ve read?  Or do you go with your tastes and instinct?   Or are you in between?  Read the reviews and then go with your gut?  I’d be interested in knowing.

About Liz Kreger

Liz Kreger writes science fiction/romances and to date, has two books published by Samhain Publishing ... FORGET ABOUT TOMORROW and PROMISE FOR TOMORROW. Liz is presently branching out to contemporary paranormals and is experimenting with urban fantasy.
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21 Responses to Book Reviews

  1. Edie Ramer says:

    I distrust most of the reviews by my local newspaper’s main movie reviewer. Anything resembling a romance or romantic comedy, he’ll pan. The same with any movie that has mostly women in it. If I’m interested in seeing a movie, I won’t read his review. I don’t want his opinion to ruin it for me.

    We did see The Avengers, and before we did, I looked up reviews online. Not critics’ reviews, but reviews by regular movie goers. It actually had a high rating. But since we’re not followers of the comic books, it was the wrong film for us. We liked about 50% and not the other 50%. Mark Ruffalo’s The Hulk was our favorite character. He kind of saved the movie for us. So, in this case, I should’ve listened to my gut and saw Dark Shadows with Johnny Depp.

    • Liz Kreger says:

      Good point, Edie. I would think that a male reviewer would be less inclined to give a romantic movie a fair shake. A friend of mine went to see Dark Shadows and said it was terrific … but strictly a movie for people who grew up during the 70s. Said she went with some younger friends and while they enjoyed it … didn’t get half the humor. 🙄

  2. Amy Atwell says:

    I don’t tend to look at movie reviews anymore. I make my decision to see a movie based on the commercials. They either totally hook me, or they leave me thinking, “Eh…maybe I’ll order it when it comes to On Demand.” Books are the same way—almost never read book reviews. Now, that’s different from getting a friend’s recommendation. When someone I know and trust tells me how much she’s loving a book she’s reading, I take note. I may still not buy the book because reading tastes can be so different.

    As for reviews, I’ve come to accept that they’re neither golden stamps of approval or career-threatening weights that will drag a book down. A review, even a professional one, is one reader’s or viewer’s opinion. I was never very good at letting others—especially complete strangers—dictate what I should like or not like.
    Amy Atwell`s last blog was …Stand-Up Comedy and Story

    • Liz Kreger says:

      Good rule to have, Amy. Not letting others dictate your reading tastes. I used to read reviews but really didn’t take ’em as gospel. I know very well that everyone’s tastes are different, but when I know of someone who reads the same sort of books that I like and recommends one, I’ll sit up and take notice.

  3. Virna DePaul says:

    Hi Liz,

    Though I agree reviews are just one person’s opinion, it’s hard for me not to give them weight, whether it’s concerning my own work or something else’s. But I also know I’m a big reader and I have keeper books that I’ve never written a review for. That helps!

    • Liz Kreger says:

      When you find an author that you love, it doesn’t matter which way a review leans … good or bad. I’ve read books that got good reviews and was totally unimpressed, while others with poor reviews made it to my keeper shelf.

  4. I actually do read reviews. I guess because I rarely go to the movies anymore, and honsetly I don’t read a lot either anymore. So when I do read or go the movies, I want to read/see something that I’m going to like.

    I usually read the bad reviews first to see if what they are harping on is something that’s going to annoy me. Then move onto the good ones. So basically I read the 1 and 5 stars but pretty much ignore all inbetween. And I’ve had a few people tell me they bought my books based on reviews.

    • Liz Kreger says:

      That’s interesting, Lori … that people have told you that they bought your books because of reviews. Well, I guess they do work to a certain extent. Don’t think I’ve ever had anyone tell me they bought my book based on a review … although I’ve had all good ones.

  5. Msity Evans says:

    Liz, I’m sort of 50/50. I’m like Amy in that a movie’s commercial either hooks me or doesn’t and I know right away if I’ll like it. Yes, some movies end up disappointing me even if their trailer was fabulous. And then there are some where the trailer left me saying, “Hunh?” and the movie was great. Battleship was one of those and so was Battle: Los Angeles. The trailers made me roll my eyes but then I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the movie.

    My kids and I LOVED the Avengers. We all want to see it again.

    What I’ve found over the years is that most of the movies and books that win critical approval fall flat for me and those that do poorly with reviewers are some of my favorites. So I use reverse psychology I guess when I do look at reviews. One person may say they hate XYZ about a show or book and that’s exactly what I love, so I’ll watch/read it anyway!

    • Liz Kreger says:

      My daughter and I do the same thing with movie trailers when we’re in the theater. We’ll watch it and then give a “yep” or a “nope”. I know full well that the trailers usually show the most thrilling part of the movie, but it doesn’t matter. Hooks you either way.

      Looking forward to seeing the “Avengers”. Gonna go with my brother and daughter. We’ll have loads of fun.

  6. Joe Barone says:

    Maybe it depends on where the reviews are. I don’t put much stock in New York Times reviews. But if a blogger whose suggestions in the past have been mostly good ones recommends a book, I may well order the book.

    Publishers must think blog reviews matter. I don’t accept Advance Reading Copies of books, free books some publisher sent in hopes I’ll review the book on my little blog. But I still get requests to send me free books. Any little blog like mine may only touch a few people, sell a few books, but if you read a regular list of bloggers, those bloggers might sell more books than you would think.

    Often if a blog like Kittling Books or Lesa’s Book Critiques recommends a book, I can tell enough from what they write about it to know if I might like it.

    I think publishing is in dire enough straits right now that publishers will jump at any way to try to sell more books.

  7. Liz Kreger says:

    Good point, Joe. Seems that rather than put money into promoting an author, publishers seem to want to rely on reviews to sell the book. Sure, there will always be reviewers willing to do the review in exchange for free books, but is that really a fair review? Who’s gonna give a bad review to a book when that reviewer is regularly given freebies in exchange for a positive review. Sounds sorta biased to me.

    • Liz, I couldn’t disagree with you more here. Reviews are hard work, and free ARCs are going to come to book review blogs whether the review is good or bad. As long as the stipulation is that it’s going to be an honest opinion, I don’t think that can be doubted. Reviewers saying a book’s good just to keep getting free ARCs? I don’t think that’s how it works and it isn’t really fair to assume that at all.
      Michelle Diener`s last blog was …Temptation Bookstore Signing

      • Liz Kreger says:

        I’m sure there are reviewers out there that believe that as long as they’re giving Publisher “A” good reviews on their books, the ARCs will continue. Who know. It’s not something that I’d really considered before, but its a good point, Michelle.

  8. Amy Remus says:

    It is fun to hear the opinions of all you writers when it comes to reviews! I don’t read movie reviews – I just decide based on the trailer (or if it was a book I read and I want to see the movie). As for books, I don’t really read too many reviews before I decide to try a book. The only time I do read a review is if I am on the fence about the book and thesummary alone isn’t enough for me to decide. I prefer not to read books that are categorized as erotic in nature, so I might read a review to get a feel for whether or not a book is for me. As mentioned already, it is all about our own preferences and likes/dislikes! If I do read a book and don’t like it I won’t post a review about it. Someone worked hard on that book and someone else might love it so I don’t want to taint anyone’s hard work just because I did not like it. Thanks for the post!

    • Liz Kreger says:

      Thanx for the comment, Amy. Nice that you recognize that yes, a lot of hard work did go into writing that book and no one likes to have their baby trashed. There are times when I did a review that I found myself picking my words very carefully. The book may have been pretty good, but I may have found portions of it that didn’t jibe with me.

      Don’t do many reviews anymore, but will still once in awhile. I’d been asked to do one by a friend and had a really hard time (1) finishing the book; and (2) finding enough good things in it to give it a decent review. I’m with you … I try not to do a review on a book that I totally disliked.

  9. Interesting topic, Liz.
    I read film reviews sometimes, but I tend to have my own impression of the movie from the cinematic ads beforehand and I’m just curious to see if what I suspect are the strengths or weaknesses of a film will be confirmed by the reviewer. It’s actually much more fun for me (and more enlightening) to read multiple reviews of the same film after I’ve seen it. It gives me a better sense of the reviewers’ styles and biases.
    As for books, I have much less time to read reviews than I used to, so I just look for patterns. Do most of the readers generally like it? Are the ones that don’t saying pretty much the same thing? Sometimes the story element angry reviewers hate the most is the thing that I’m most intrigued about in the book… 😉

    • Liz Kreger says:

      Good methods, Marilyn. Same here … I really don’t have time to track down reviews, so I’ll also skim and look for an opinion that seems to stand out. With the price of books these days (even e-books) it’s sometimes worthwhile to check out reviews. Don’t bother with authors that I know and love, but with new authors? Sometimes … and sometimes I’ll just take a chance.

  10. Dale Mayer says:

    Hi Liz,

    I don’t read or care about reviews on movies or books. I love a friend’s recommendation for both though. It’s going to be the blurb/cover and trailers/write ups that I read and see that will catch my interest.

    I also go with my gut!
    Dale Mayer`s last blog was …Update on my books in progress!

    • Liz Kreger says:

      Checking out trailers is a good idea, Dale. I should have mentioned that as a way to get a feel for a book. Hmmm … perhaps a blog for another day? 😉

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