blo Teens Read and Write: Do Book Bloggers Review Books? Guest Post & Giveaway

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Do Book Bloggers Review Books? Guest Post & Giveaway

Demons at Deadnight Blog Tour Banner

Guest Posting today is the "E" in A&E Kirk. The fabulicious Eileen Kirk! We love her. Really and truly love and adore her. For our entire lives. She's like a mom to us. Oh, right. That's because she really is our mom! 


Well, isn't that lovely. Hmmm. They must want something.  

Anyway, hello, good day, and nice to "see" you all!

Since Alyssa and I are now authors as well as bloggers I decided to talk about a recent phenomenon churning through the blogosphere and get your opinion. 

Do book bloggers review books? The answer may seem an obvious "Yes," but lately their has been some question. Rachel at Parajunkee, a long time blogging friend, gave me the first heads up on this.

The short version is that bloggers wrote some less than stellar reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. An uproar ensued on the web between some authors, agents, and bloggers. At times it got ugly and personal. (Check the links below for more info.)

 So where to start? And let's be clear, the following is my opinion

Book bloggers have a right to their opinion. Call it a review, critique, judgment, expression, or whatever you like. Does it differ from a professional review? Sure.

Does it make it any less valid? Not when it reflects a reader's honest opinion. 

Should authors engage in a battle with those posting negative reviews? Absolutely not.

Bloggers are the consumers. Belittling their opinion/review has no value. An author can't please everyone. Book preferences are just too subjective.

If you're going to put your novel out to the public, put out the best product you can, then be ready for the public, all of the public (that reads and reviews an author's book, anyway), to have their say.

The web has opened up a tremendous way for masses of book lovers to share and connect. It also provides a fantastic tool for authors and publishers to market their books to those masses. But the bad has to be taken with the good. And if a book gets reviews, some will be negative.

On Goodreads, THE HUNGER GAMES has over 5000 two-star reviews, CATCHING FIRE has almost as many, and MOCKINGJAY has nearly 15,000 one- and two-star reviews. One of the biggest sellers ever, a major motion picture, and it's been bashed by thousands of readers.

Do you think Suzanne Collins is tracking those babies? Doubt it. And she certainly isn't responding to any of them. She's too busy writing and picking out a gown for the movie premiere.

Will some opinions hurt authors' feelings? No question. Authors put their heart and soul into their books. But attacking a review or reviewer is unprofessional and reflects poorly on the author. And authors can always take Elana Johnson's advice to not read any of their own reviews.

Should bloggers be "professional"? Yes. And by this I mean focus on content, explain your reasoning in a well thought out manner , and refrain from personal attacks. The bloggers I follow do this extremely well. And make their reviews incredibly entertaining! 

Do all bloggers act this way? No. But there are no official rules. I see some reviews that are full of hate and go off on some crazy tangent that has nothing to do with the book. I don't spend time on these reviews.  Bloggers are free to write the way they want, and readers can choose who suits their fancy to follow.

I see the book blogging community as a big book book club where I get to hear about books from a great bunch of fellow book-loving maniacs. We have various opinions, we agree, we disagree, but we should always be respectful of each other. 

There's no need for throwing stones. And if you encounter someone who is, just grab a good book and head to the high ground. Need directions? That's easy.

Just take the High Road.  

Now it's your turn.
  • What's your opinion on all the drama? 
  • Did you even know about it? 
  • Do book bloggers actually write reviews? And if not, what would you call them?
  • What do you think about negative reviews?
  • How should authors and agents respond, if at all?
I've read through a lot of information so let me provide a few links that are pertinent to this issue. Check them out and let me know what you think!

Rachel - Parajunkee: What is a Review? - Where I initially heard about all the hoopla
Amelia - Imagination In Focus: Review vs Reaction
The Guardian: YA Novel Readers Clash with Publishing Establishment
Elana Johnson (Author) - What I Think About Reviews
Maggie Stiefvater - The Only Thing I'm Going To Say About Bloggers in 2012
Kat - Cuddly Buggery: The First Five Days on Goodreads
Goodreads: Controversial Review #1 
Amazon: Controversial Review #2 , on Goodreads
Goodreads: Another One-Star Review that caught some heat

Thanks to you all for letting me shoot the breeze today. It's been fun and I can't wait to see what you have to say!

And a huge thanks for all the love and support you have given my kids over the years! This community has been the kind of positive influence that a mother dreams of! I adore you all!


Oh, and about that giveaway...

Every tour stop will be giving away something fun. Today, you can win some key items that relate to Aurora, the Hex Boys and their adventure in DEMONS AT DEADNIGHT.

A Celtic Cross Necklace, handcuffs keychain, and one colorful feather hair clip. The contest is International and ends Feb. 24. Just fill out the form below. The only requirement is your name and email. You can tweet for a extra point.

And the giving doesn't end there! 
Want a chance at a Kindle Fire!

To enter you need to know the secret phrase given out one word at a time by each blog tour host. Put the words together in sequential order and you'll eventually have the secret phrase! 
Starting March 9 (at the end of the tour) you can enter the complete phrase on the AEKIRK Blog Tour Page and earn BIG entry points! Your Kindle Fire will also include your choice of a DEMONS AT DEADNIGHT Skin. Either from the cover, or a Hex Boy group shot or individual "Team" skin of your favorite Hex Hunk! 

Today's Secret Word is:


Exciting right? 
For all the Hex Boys Individual AB-tacular shots, and a list of all the Tour Stops, go the Blog Tour Page.

But for this week it's:
Jan 30: Natalie @ Mindful Musings - Review
Jan 31Teens Read and Write - Guest Post
Feb 1: Missie @ The Unread Reader - My Book Boyfriend
Feb 2: Lea @ YA Book Queen - Author Interview
Feb 3: Ariel @ Must Love Books- Review

For seventeen-year-old Aurora Lahey, survival is a lifestyle.
Aurora has the crappiest superpower on the planet. And it’s just unleashed a hit squad from hell. Demons are on the hunt, salivating to carve her carcass into confetti.
The Hex Boys—mysterious, hunky, and notorious for their trails of destruction—have the answers Aurora needs to survive. But their overload of deadly secrets and suspicious motives makes trusting them a potentially fatal move.
The battle to save her family, herself, and stop demonic domination may cost Aurora everything worth living for, and force her to reveal her own dark secrets. But no worries. She needs the Hex Boys to pull this off, and, chances are, teaming up with these guys will get her killed anyway.


Felicia the Geeky Blogger said...

I think this is a great topic for discussion mostly because to be honest I don't take into consideration what authors think reviews are. I don't mean that meanly, it is just that when reading a book I always think "would my friends like it" "did I like it" "what didn't work for me" and the following thought NEVER enters my mind "what can an author do to make it better". I am not a writer/author/publisher/ect---I am a reader! I review (or whatever you want to call it) for other readers not authors. I don't sit down with authors and discuss their works (I have author friends, we discuss other books). I pretty much don't pay attention to the hoopla of the drama going around because it doesn't really concern me. Goodreads, Amazon, FictFact, Barnes and Noble, Library Thing, and Shelfari are setup for readers to share their POV's on the books they read. If I was an author and thought book bloggers (readers in general) were not reviewers then I would stay away from those sites SINCE they are built for that reason alone. I know authors can use them for marketing tools but that is not their basic function. Really seems like a no-brainer to me :) That being said, this hoopla will never stop because there will always be someone (on either side) that will react emotionally instead of logically.

Great Topic Gals!

Felicia the Geeky Blogger said...

PS I meant to add that Amazon and Barnes & Noble review options are setup for the buyer to review the products they buy---so they want the consumers opinion not the people paid to give opinions :) I wasn't really clear about that LOL

Blodeuedd said...

There will always be drama. I just wish authors would not go insane. Yes it is online, but it's not like I expect someone to jump me if I bash a book while talking to a friend in a shop, so why online?

I was disappointed by Stiefvater's post. Thesis, psawh! Then not even all the reviews in magazines makes the cut. Of course it is a review, how ever you put it.

If they want to respond then do, just be civil. I wrote a review, it was negative. The author stopped by and thanked me and said he was sorry i did not like it. That's civil.

And I do not get some authors, one lost her head over a 3 star review o_O I give most of the books I read 3 stars cos 3 stars is good. I guess some just expect everyone to freaking adore their book

Jenny said...

"I see the book blogging community as a big book book club where I get to hear about books from a great bunch of fellow book-loving maniacs. We have various opinions, we agree, we disagree, but we should always be respectful of each other."

Couldn't agree more Eileen! I like when I read reviews that differ from my own opinion of the book, it makes me think about the book more and it's just fun to see what things worked for someone else that didn't work for me (or vice versa). Regardless of whether the review is positive or negative, I think a review should be respectful. Say what you like and didn't like (that's the whole point of writing the review right?) but do so in a way that doesn't belittle the author or the book itself. I always think of it this way: would I say any of the things I've written to the author's face if he/she were standing in front of me? My answer is always yes. It's easy to go on a rant when you don't have to face the person about whom you're ranting.

I've been staying away from Goodreads and Twitter lately, there's just too much drama out there for me at the moment, and it's become such a big issue that I think we now have people writing crazy things purely for shock value. To be the next big blogger drama. Blogging has somehow become more about the drama than the books, hopefully we can all get back to the books in the near future!

blackroze37 AT said...

there is negative reviews, then just meany reviews. if you dont like a book you can do it in a mindful matter of, some thing called human feelings that is involved. thats my 2 cents worth and otherwise i stay out of it

Tales of Whimsy said...

Hi Eileen! Nice to see you! :)

You brought up some excellent points!

We are the consumers.
Yes some reviews are full of hate, but the writers need to just ignore them.
And you're right. We are like a giant book club.

I'm with you 100%.

I would like to add that we read reviews because we want to read other people's opinions, no matter how wacky they are. We don't want official reviews, we want to read opinions.
In many many many cases a negative review has made me want to read a book even more.

GREAT post.

Missie, The Unread Reader said...

You've made some excellent points, Eileen, and I have to agree.

Because reading is such a person experience, it's hard not to make reviews personal. In fact, because book blogging is like being in a big book club, I like it when reviews have a personal touch to them. I want to know why my online friends connected with a book just as much as I want to know why they didn't.

I'd never pick up a book recommendation from some 'professional reviewer' because I have no idea if their tastes match mine, I know nothing about them.

Word of mouth is a powerful tool, and bad behavior gets recognized quickly, causing a wide range of reactions. But I think that if people keep in mind that most of this started because of of a love of reading and discussing books then it might be easier to accept.

A Canadian Girl said...

I mainly use Goodreads to post my reviews rather than hanging out on it so I'm usually late in knowing the drama.

I think book bloggers have a right to their opinion because we are ultimately consumers. If I get a bad product or am not treated nicely at a store, I'll be telling my family and friends. The same thing applies with books; when I love a book, why wouldn't I want to push it on others and when I dislike a book, why wouldn't I talk about why I didn't like it? Writing a negative reviews is a personal choice and I know there are bloggers out there who only opt to write positive reviews.

I think negative reviews are just as important as positive ones. Not everybody likes the same thing and when reading any review, I'm aware of that. Even bloggers who have similar tastes as mine sometimes will rate a book very differently as me so I like seeing what they thought worked and didn't. In fact, negative reviews often make me curious about the book and interested in seeing whether I'll think the same thing.


I was late to the brouhaha,but I'm glad. I am disgusted by all of it. I was hurt by Maggie Stiefvater's letter. Calling my reviews that I sweat over and think about and rewrite and constantly worry over, a blog post instead of a review is insulting.

I post my reviews on Goodreads to help authors. I think non bloggers look at it to get reviews of books. That's why I post my reviews there. If it becomes a place that isn't valid, I won't post my reviews there anymore. I just don't know how to judge if my reviews are any help or just extra work for me.

I do think you don't have to be harsh to be critical of a book. Approach can make all the difference.


Anonymous said...

Great post today!! I agree with you entirely, I think we bloggers should show respect to authors in the sense of not using personal attacks....and that authors should respect bloggers, who in the last few years have really helped launch authors careers.. I do however feel that a reviewer has the right to say whatever they want, Im sure somewhere out there ~even for the hateful ridiculous and distasteful reviews~ have an audience of some sort....

Unknown said...

That's a great point about writing your review for readers not authors. And I think as readers we see things differently. I know I read a book differently if I'm reading it just for fun as a reader vs. reading it to see what I liked/didn't like from a writer's point of view. Ignoring the hoopla is a great idea. Move on. Find something positive!

Unknown said...

Sorry that happened to you. And you're right, what if every time we returned anything or said we didn't like something we bought, the creator, designer, whoever jumped down our throat and started telling us how wrong we were. That's not realistic.

Unknown said...

"I always think of it this way: would I say any of the things I've written to the author's face if he/she were standing in front of me?"

That's a fantastic way to judge your words. And I like reading reviews that differ too. It's so interesting to see a different perspective.

And yes, let's get back to the books!

Unknown said...

Well said! Worth much more than 2 cents!

Unknown said...

Nice to see you too!

I've also read books based on negative reviews. They can be very informative, and something that a reader didn't like may be right up my alley.

Unknown said...

I also love it when a blogger's personality shines through. I can't remember the last time I even read a professional review. I agree that readers are much more interested in their friends POV than a professional reviewer. Especially in YA when the target audience is teens. They aren't reading any professional reviews.

Unknown said...

I agree. Consumers get a voice and often that voice these days is expressed somewhere on the internet. An informative negative review will often make me interested in reading the book too.

Unknown said...

"Approach can make all the difference."

Excellent point. You can dislike a book and still be respectful.

I don't know if Stiefvater intended to dismiss what all bloggers do in regards to reviews, but it seemed to come off that way. As if their reviews were somehow meaningless or less important.

And please know that your reviews are definitely helpful. Don't ever stop!

Unknown said...

Agreed. I'm not a fan of personal attacks on either side - blogger to author, or vice versa. People are free to express themselves however they choose, I just stay away from those types of things and find something more positive. But you're right, there are plenty of people who enjoy that. Different strokes!

Jen (@ Jens Book Closet) said...

The whole thing kinda makes me sad and stressed and upset and....okay, a whole multitude of emotions. I just wish there wasn't so much angst. Okay, that is all. :D I heart D@D!

Tristan said...

I read all about the blogger drama on Parajunkee's site. I think bloggers should keep their reviews repectful and honest, and authors should understand they won't get five stars from every reader. Books are fun because there are so many genres, and writing styles, and endless possibilities. You can't please everyone and I think we should all nix the hate and share the book love...I'm such a hippy lol. Great post, I can't wait to read your book ;)
Tristan @ Reads With Wreckless Abandon

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