Random Thoughts: A Book Lover Who Reviews Books

I am a book lover not a book hater. I am a book reviewer not a book critic. I am a Pollyanna not a Snark – well at least not when it comes to books, but I snark about practically everything else.

I used to have a really long “About” page where I listed why I rate so positively, but have changed that out for something more practical. Still way too long, but practical. Even though that page has been changed, my positive approach still holds true. And if I don’t like a book chances are I won’t read it, so there won’t be too many negative reviews on the site.

I am a book lover. I read books because I love them or want to love them. If I think I might not like them I won’t even pick them up. If I can’t get past the first few pages, or first few chapters, I’ll put the book down and won’t review it. I do not have the time to spend reading something I don’t enjoy. And as I read solely for enjoyment, why should I read something I don’t like?

I don’t believe I can give a fair review if I can’t finish a book. Sometimes the ending of a book can save it. Sometimes not. But unless I’ve read one hundred percent of that book I will not attempt to review it. And I won’t rate it on Goodreads but will try and remove it from my TBR pile there.

Not every book is to everyone’s taste. If something isn’t for me and I put it down I can’t say that the book sucked. It just wasn’t for me. I won’t give it a one star or two star rating on Goodreads because I didn’t feel like reading it. To me, that’s not fair.

But if I’ve agreed to review something and am therefore pushed to read it from first page to last, I will try my best not to lower the rating based only on the fact that I didn’t enjoy it if the book had other merits like fantastic writing, strong plot or great characters, though I will mention that it wasn’t to my liking. But I will be honest and if the book had major issues for me, then I won’t shy away from mentioning those. But I won’t be mean about it.

I’m not looking to get a following of readers who just like to dump on an author or their work. And I’m not looking to put nastiness or ugliness out there in the world and risk having that slam right back in my face. That’s not who I am. That’s not my approach to life.

And when I read an Indie author’s work, if there are a few typos or grammatical mistakes I don’t call those out in my review. I realize going in that I’m reading something self-published and just like with a blog, there is no one to edit for us. I don’t think it’s necessary to say, “Hey, I noticed six typos in your 75,000 word count book.” I’ve noticed more than six typos in some traditionally published books. I don’t think my not mentioning it is being dishonest to my readers if I suggest that book and I don’t think it takes away from my review if I don’t give a specific count to the errors I’ve found.

But if a book is fraught with typos and shows such a lack of care, then chances are I won’t finish reading that book or I won’t agree to review it in the first place. If I’m taking the time to read and review something I’d like to think the author put in that same amount of care into what they’re handing to me.

The only reason I do this is because I love books and love to talk about books with others. I have a completely different blog for where I opt to snark. That’s not this blog. And it’s not about books.

I don’t read just to criticize. I don’t review just to find flaws. If I were to take a magnifying glass to everything I read for pleasure it would no longer be reading for pleasure. My magnifying glass is kept solely for my paid employment in which I pick through every little flaw, missed comma or poorly constructed sentence. To me that’s work. Reading is not supposed to be work. Blogging, although it feels like it sometimes, is not supposed to be work.

I love to read all sorts of reviews, including the less-than-positive ones. I like reviewers who cut to the chase, give it to you straight, give a point-by-point dissection of the book or who just lay out the pros and cons in bullet format, but I’m not that type of reviewer. I do visit those blogs or check out those reviews on Goodreads when I’m on the fence about a book. I don’t want to hear a romanticized re-telling of the story at that point. I want to hear the nuts and bolts and quickly come to a determination of whether or not I should read that particular book.

And I also just like hearing other viewpoints. Whether positive or negative. And if they’re similar to mine or different. I don’t think only spouting my opinion and not reading others makes me a well-rounded person. There are many things I could have missed. Many sides to a book that I might not have seen. I think everyone’s honest views are valid and I like to see what else people have to say, even if I don’t agree.

I think anyone who has visited my blog on more than one occasion will know that my reviews aren’t so cut and dry. But I hope everyone who comes back to see what I have to say realizes that I am being honest in my reviews. I am not catering to the publisher or author. I’m not deceiving readers of my blog just to get a pat on the back or perhaps get a bunch of free advance books. Aside from books I’ve won, I received one printed ARC for reaching out to a publisher. One.

I spend a lot of time reading books and writing my reviews. I try to be as thorough as possible without giving anything away about the book. Is that being deceptive? I hope not. But I hate when plot points are spoiled for me, so I try not to do it to readers of my site.

I also attempt to write a synopsis that will entice. It’s my one little attempt at creativity on the blog. If it lures readers in, yay. If it appears deceptive, it’s really not meant to be.

I am not so egotistical to think my reviews are for everyone. I don’t think they are. That’s okay. That’s life. Just like not every book is for everyone. There are so many amazing blogs out there with different styles, different views and a completely different way of doing things. But I am so appreciative of those that enjoy reading my reviews. They are my personal opinions. They are given without compensation. And they are my honest opinions. And I believe my reviews are thorough enough to back up the opinions I’ve given.

My reputation is important to me. I’d like to be seen as someone who is honest, because I am. If giving high marks to books I’ve read implies that I’m being less than forthcoming I find that terribly unfortunate. Because that’s not even remotely true. My reviews are subjective, absolutely. But they are just as equally honest.

And for those who suggest that bloggers with an overwhelming number of positive reviews aren’t honest bloggers simply for the fact that they’re positive is a mass generalization and quite unfair. Someone who repeatedly gives low marks can be just as dishonest as someone who rates positively.

Positive bloggers may just simply be opting not to read and review books they dislike, thus making it appear that they love everything. That makes much more sense than a site with only negative reviews. What kind of reader only picks up a book they don’t like and then spends the time writing up a review? And unless the blogger has two sites for their reviews, one titled and the other, then I would definitely question their honesty about their negative reviews.

I don’t think book bloggers are the ones to look to for a fully-rounded selection of book reviews. Bloggers do this for their love of reading and so, naturally, their reviews would side on the positive. They would spend their time reading books they loved. And writing up reviews for those books. It only makes sense, at least to me. If the blogger were paid to read a group of books that they didn’t choose there is a greater likelihood of seeing those lower ratings. But bloggers aren’t paid. Reviewers are.

I don’t blog to blow spoke. I don’t blog to over-inflate. I don’t blog to deceive readers. I don’t blog to stroke someone’s ego.

I also don’t sit down and read a book cover to cover if I don’t like it. I don’t get paid to read these books, so unless I’ve promised to read it, I won’t slog through something I don’t enjoy. So, yes, there will be an overabundance of high ratings here. And yes, I like to think I have fairly decent taste. So I hope that readers who’ve read my reviews know that the books I’ve reviewed here that have received my top ratings are there for a reason and honestly rated.

I am a book lover who reviews books. What’s so wrong with that?

If I were a paid critic, I might spend a lot more time picking apart every little aspect of an author’s work. I have that capability. I do it in real life. But I read and blog for pleasure.

Books, to me, are magical. I crave the feeling of getting absorbed so fully into a story that time just dissolves around me. When that happens, I think it’s pretty amazing. To me that deserves a five star rating. If you are an author that can transport me out of the stress of everyday life, how can you not deserve a five star rating? That’s pretty freaking fantastic if you ask me.

So if you visit my blog, you can expect to read reviews from a book lover not a critic. You can expect to see mostly four and five star reviews. You can expect to read reviews that are my honest opinion. You can expect to read reviews that are thoughtfully constructed.

If you check out my reviews page you can get a pretty good idea of what books I like to read just by checking out the titles, as most of those books are four and five stars – not all, but most. And if you want to know whether I’ve disliked a particular book you can certainly ask. I won’t lie. There are many books I’ve set aside because they just weren’t for me. But if I haven’t read it in full I won’t review it or rate it.

Once again my Random Thoughts post has gone on and on and on (and could really have used an editor), but if you are a new visitor to my site, this is me. A book lover who reviews books. And if  you are one of my readers who I appreciate more than you can imagine, sorry for going on and taking up way too much of your time.

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