A Note:

6/2/13

I once told myself: IF I am accepted into grad school, this blog would no longer be updated. As it turns out, in April, I received news of my acceptance for the Fall 2013 semester, where I will attain a Master's degree of Science in Nutrition.

Running a blog, as many of you may already know, is a demanding side job once the excitement wears off. And once I fell out of the blogging community's loop (have you SEEN how many blogs there are now? Wow!), it was like the kiss of death. Despite my best efforts, I couldn't get into a blogging routine once this happened due to the disconnect I felt from the community.

So I took a break. I struggled with the loss and with missing my blog. And then I realized I didn't have to run Book Faery to still be a book reviewer; I could read my books and post reviews online. I'm still a book review blogger, just not in the traditional sense.

I'll still be online. You can chat with me on Twitter, where I'll be posting links to my reviews and talking books. I'll also be posting links to nutrition articles.

https://twitter.com/Book_Faery

And if you'd like to connect with me where I guarantee I will post reviews, just add me as a friend on Goodreads.

http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/3322973-tori-book-faery

So that's all, folks! It's been a fun and amazing journey, and I thank you all for listening to my thoughts about books. I hope we all can keep in touch elsewhere :)

xoxo
Tori

Thursday, June 10, 2010

You Decide: Start at the start, or in the middle? & Write the review, or not?

I've had the fortune, as a new blogger, to not receive snarky comments in regards to the reviews I write.  Everyone who has left a comment has always been so kind and sweet, thanking me for the honest review I've written.  You don't know how much I appreciate the kindness, and knowing that people enjoyed my review.  It takes time for me to think of thoughtful things to discuss for a book review, so it's gratifying to know that I've helped the author, and likewise, the readers, in some teensy way.

I suppose that eventually, on some platform, that happy little bubble was guaranteed to eventually burst.  After a comment from a reader who believed that reviewing/rating a book you did not finish was simply unfair to the author, two significant questions had been raised that I would like to discuss with you all today:

Where should one start with a series?


Should you post a negative review about a book you did not finish?

For me personally, I feel that each person is entitled to start a series wherever they desire.  What if an author has a horrible debut, but a spectacular second book?  What if each book in the series--much like paranormal romances--focuses on one couple per book, and you discover that the first and second books were with characters readers genuinely disliked, yet the series continues on with couples that everyone loved?

I'm not promoting going by the public's word all the time.  If you're interested in a book, then you should go read it and not let other opinions sway you.  Likewise, if you're only mildly interested, you should be able to attain the book by whatever means--legally, of course--possible.

In my eyes, a strong series is a series that has a combination of individual stories per book that allow it to generally stand independently from the rest, and an overarching plot that connects all the books, in some way, together.  I'm generally not a huge fan of cliffhangers (unless I can get the next book ASAP), and I appreciate the short recap authors do at the start of books further in the series.  It helps me remember what happened last.  It also assists new readers in somewhat orienting themselves with a new, foreign world.

Personally, I prefer to read books from the start if I can help it.  However, if I attain a book for free that is further in the series, I will read that book first and decide from there whether or not to invest in earlier books.  If I find myself genuinely enjoying the world, yet I'm somewhat lost due to that overarching plot, I will then stop reading the current title.  It is at this point where going back to explore the previous books in that series to better orient myself is my priority.  Clearly the author's done something right if he or she has an engaging book further in the series that someone new is genuinely interested in.  And if they don't, why should one have to spend money on a series that doesn't captivate them?

Likewise, I feel that if I approached reading a story with the intention of reviewing a book, either received or bought, it is my job as a reviewer to post the review.  I know there was a huge debate about this a while back, so I guess this is my belated way of addressing the issue at hand.

I used to have stated in my "review policy" that I absolutely hated seeing hundreds of 5-star reviews on Amazon (this was before I knew what Goodreads was and before I realized there were book review blogs), only to discover the book was poorly written and/or poorly developed in whatever way.  I would have appreciated at least some warning from someone that it wasn't that great, with reasons why they felt that way.  It's not fun exploring a new world with high expectations, only to realize either the characters, the world itself, or the overall writing falls flat.

So yes, I feel that book review bloggers have a duty--to make it sound poetic--to warn their followers when they did not enjoy a story.  Readers put enough trust into their reviewers to take their word when a blogger gushes about a title they absolutely adore.  Don't they deserve the same heads up for a title that did not hold your attention?

The key, I think, is being professional when discussing the books that did not appeal to you.  This shouldn't be a personal attack on the author.  For me personally, I am experiencing how much time and effort an author spends working on that 80,000 word story.  People make mistakes.  Some people need to develop their writing skills more fully.  Not every writer out there is going to blow you away with the pure genius of their text.  And let me tell you, it's a rough journey packed with self doubt.

So, instead of bashing the story you hated, how about transforming that negative review into constructive criticism for the authors who don't quite meet your "standards" for a good book?  I think if reviewers explained why instead of bashing, it would help everyone in the end.  It not only helps the author (assuming they even see your review), but it also helps aspiring authors, readers, and even publishers.  Not to mention you appear more professional in the process.

That's my take, so what's yours?  Do you agree, or disagree?

16 comments:

  1. For me, {I just recently restarted a book blog}....I always review a series from book 1. While some can stand alone {each book} without needing background info, others can't.

    I do always read the entire book, even if I'm not giving it 5 stars. Sometimes I'll push myself to read a chapter or two a day {which means the book will take me longer to review} and then I mix in reading other books so I don't get too frustrated.

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  2. I start books at the beginning of the series. I have a book now I won in a contest which is the third and last of a series. I haven't read it and won't until I read the first. In fact, I purchased the first of the series a couple of weeks ago without knowing anything about it because I just can't bring myself to start in the middle.

    Likewise, I've received book suggestions which start in the middle of series. I take the suggestions to heart, but buy the first in the series. That's just me.

    As far as honest reviews, I think they're important. Bloggers' integrity rest on what they present to the readers. Can the readers trust the bloggers? I typically don't read a review until after I've read the book. I don't want it to ruin my reading experience. However, I do want to see if others think the same way I do after the fact.

    Pre-read, the only thing I'll scour through are the ratings. So I am putting my trust in the reviewers to give their honest opinion at least about the rating. That's just me though.

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  3. The hallmark of a GOOD series is that each book can also stand alone, so I have started series out of sequence before.

    As for an unfinished book, I have not yet encountered this. I push myself to finish.

    I did, recently, review a book that was not my style. I did not give it a bad review, just honest, and talked about who I felt was a better target audience. One of the authors sought me out and commented on the review, and I found it to be a bit defensive. I was really upset, but the comment remains, and I even answered it for other readers to see. The thing is I never said the book was bad, or do not read it. I simply did not rave over it, as I am want to do. Sometimes the things we DO NOT say speak the loudest of all.

    Tiffany
    http://tiffanysbookshelf.blogspot.com

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  4. I agree with you! I recently read a series by Lisa Kleypas and I started with the third book in the series. I loved it so much I went and bought the first two. Well the first book in the series was the WORSE in my opinion. It was just so long and a little boring.

    I was really happy that I read the third book in the series before I read the first. I probably would not have finished the series if I read the first book. The second book in the series is by far my favorite than the third.

    Incase you're wondering which series I am talking about it's her Travis series. Book 1 is called Sugar Daddy, book 2 Blue eyed devil and book 3 smooth talking stranger lol. So I definitely agree with you lol. :-)

    http://goodchoicereading.blogspot.com

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  5. I absolutely agree! As a writer and reviewer you need to speak your truth, whatever that truth may be. Reviewing is an inherently subjective activity, and those that are not mature enough to recognize that just should not read them.

    I always start at the beginning of a series if I can. For me, I tend to dislike the second book in a series if I really liked the first book, but I keep reading. There are times when I don't realize it's a series until I've read a book out of order, but I do go back and read the ones before it. I always finish books I begin, mainly because the not knowing how it ends drives me crazy.

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  6. Hi, I recently reviewed a book I did not finish with the proviso that if I could finish it and it got better I would tell them. It was the first in the series which may or may not get better. I don't owe loyalty to an author to slog through their whole series trying to find the one book I like. In my mind, if you are writing book, it has to stand alone. That is the reason there are recaps. And, if it is poorly written it doesn't matter where in the series it is. You don't get a "by;"someone is paying the writer to write, and write well.

    Yes, I have given a unfavorable review of a book halfway through because, I don't have to wait to see if the remainder is good. That is not my responsibility. A book being well-written, with properly used words, enough backstory, good characters and plot is not my job it is up to the writer and editor. Unless it is filled with heat and passion and then sometimes I don't care.

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  7. Just to make it clear, when I post "negative reviews" I don't bash the author. I simply give a list of reasons (if applicable) explaining why I did not enjoy the book. When writing a review, I always try to think of what I'd like to see in it, and if it was a book that didn't work for me, I want to know *why* it didn't work--not that it simply didn't and that's that.

    I think there have been a total of three books throughout my entire reading "career" where I simply could not finish them. And believe me, I've tried. Sometimes, despite one's efforts, it just isn't happening.

    And if I'll be completely honest, I didn't enjoy Gena Showalter's and Kresley Cole's first books in their Lords of the Underworld and Immortals After Dark series as much as I did the others. However,the writing was good enough, and the plot was interesting enough for me to take a shot at their second books. As you can see, those two ladies are two of my fav PNR authors.

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  8. Personally I have to read a book series in order. I'm anal retentive and obsessive compulsive about it. I know other people can, and do, read a series out of order. I can't fathom it! I've even picked up a book, read part of it, realized it was part of a series and closed it and went back to read the others before continuing.

    I think you have every right to post a review for a book you didn't finish as long as your honest about not finishing it and discussing the reason WHY it didn't work for you and you didn't want to continue.

    Life's too short to read books you don't like! :)

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  9. I like to start a series from the beginning to the end, so I like to start with the first book.

    If I don't like a book and end up not finishing it I don't review it. I see if you have to write a review for the book and don't finish it, I would still write a review explaining why I didn't like it and why I didn't finish it.

    There is simply too many good books to read ones you don't like. for your not really going to write a better review if you finish it.

    It is too bad that people had to be snarky to you.

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  10. For me, most of the books that I read are from the library and so there are times when I read them out of order, and I am the kind of reader that catches on pretty quickly to the background and story line, I usually don't need to read the first book to understand a little of what's going on. But I usually will always read a book, even if I have to push my way through it, if it doesn't interest me I try to get at least half way through it, but I don't disregard that author at all, I read some of their other books. Because we all have different style we like to read from, and each book and story is different. I also believe that ( as a book blogger) its important to be honest in our reviews, because thats what readers are looking for, honesty!! So I try to always be honest in my reviews, I try not to give too many things away or spoil it, but I try to be honest in the rating and my view of it!! But I also try to write a review for every book that I read too!! When I read other reviewer's blogs on books that they read, I trust that they are being forthright in their opinions of the book!!

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  11. Me personally I like to start from book one in a series because I'm always afraid I've missed something. I don't review books that I don't finish, but some people do. As long as the person states why they didn't finish it then that's fine. That's no reason to get nasty with you, it's your own blog and you can feel free to post whatever you like. If they don't like it, they could always unfollow.

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  12. As far as honest reviews, we need those! Readers depend on us to give them and it's unfair to them when bloggers give 5 star ratings to books that should be 2 stars just because they want to play nice with that author.

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  13. HAHA it's funny you say that about second books! I love the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child (not PNR or UF strictly Thriller) and I got the 2nd given to me. In the back was book 3 which I bought and loved. I went back and got book and hated it. If I had started from the start I never would have continued. So I have a personal 2 books trial. If I don't like it by book 2 I won't do it anymore.

    I do love the books that can stand on their own, I read Acheron before reading any of the other Dark Hunter books and still loved it.

    I say if you didn't finish it that's ok, as long as you say why you didn't like it.

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  14. I like to read a series from the start but I have read a few unaware that they were part of a series.
    There was one book I disliked so much that when I started to write a review I realized that a character I thought had died in earlier in the bk was in fact still alive..obviously I disliked this book so much I zoned out and didn't feel I had the right to write a review for it. Everyone else loved it so what do I know?? :-)
    This seems to be a hot topic this week!

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  15. I usually try to read series from the start, but if someone sends you a book to review it might come from anyway. I've just reviewed the third in Mary DeMuth's Texas Defiance seris and loved it so much I had to go out and buy the first. So I guess sometimes it's great to start late.

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  16. I try to read a series from the beginning. Even in series that the author intends each book to stand alone, I find having the information of what happened earlier can be helpful.

    As for writing a review of a book you didn't finish, I'm not sure. I mean, I agree with others in that we need to be mindful of our integrity. So, I think that mentioning that it just wasn't something you could finish would be a good way to handle it. I think it's unwise to bash an author or to be too negative about the book. But, just state the facts.

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