Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Good Reviews/Bad Reviews

There's been a lot of discussion on the short mystery fiction list about reviewers who aren't "honest" because they give only positive reviews. They're not reviewers; they're cheerleaders for certain books. All I can say is, "Guilty as charged."

That's because I don't regard what I do as reviewing. I'm just writing a few words about books I like. If I don't like the book, I don't comment on it, mainly because I usually don't finish it. Now and then, however, a book will aggravate me so much that I'll say something, Twilight being a case in point. And if a book I like has a few things in it that I don't like, I'll mention those things. Otherwise, yes, I'm a cheerleader for books I like. In fact, I like that description quite a bit. It's my blog, and cheerleading for books (and movies and music) I like is one reason I have it in the first place.

I just thought I'd clear that up, in case there was any doubt.


  1. I'm with you, Bill. I don't have time to read bad books -- they get closed and tossed. I certainly don't have time to write about them unless there is a very specific reason.

    I try to be a positive person, so I want a positive blog. As a result, I too am a book cheerleader. However, I'm not too sure how I look in the short skirt.

  2. Better than I do, I'll bet!

  3. Sometimes, though, it take guts to be the person who says something that needs to be said. I did so today taking exception to the way in which an author lauded another pair of authors, a way in which was either a backhanded compliment and/or a way to close the door to future writers. It annoyed the hell out of me. Sometimes we can also learn more about writing - in a very weird way - by sticking with a bad book and finishing and asking ourselves what the heck happened. Of course, if the book is too awful, you get the smelly gist of it so quickly that there's no reason to finish. Anyway, if life's a parallel to writing, I spent most of my life looking at my relatives and doing the opposite of the bad things they were doing. It worked rather well. It didn't teach me how to become a nuclear physicist or anything, but it saved me a hell of a lot of skin grafting.

  4. Anonymous8:53 AM

    Hey Bill, it's your blog and you can write whatever you want on it!

    There is a difference between a personal blog and a magazine doing reviews anyway. In a magazine I don't want to see all four star reviews. If I know a reviewer is - to my mind - let's say 'overly positive' - I know to make allowances.


  5. I hope people know to make allowances here, too. After all, what I dislike may be what millions love (TWILIGHT, for example), and what I love may be what everybody else dislikes.

  6. Gerard9:11 AM

    I'd rather read a recommendation than a diatribe. But I do like the pithy put-downs in Booklist.

  7. You are always the Voice of Reason, Bill.

  8. Well I thought if you reviewed it, Bill, it must be a REALLY GREAT book and so I've bought every single one of them. Haven't read any of them yet, of course.

    I appreciate a review that seems balanced. If I read a review that implies the book is the greatest thing since the invention of pizza, I'm wary unless I know and trust the reviewer. Often I point out the strong points of a CD or book and leave it at that, since I assume people realize nothing is absolutely perfect except, perhaps, a Raymond Chandler short story.

    Perhaps I need to re-asses my approach a little.

  9. Bill, the internet is crammed with amateurs posing as Kirkus reviewers who haven't had their coffee yet. There's enough negativity out there to fill the Great Lakes with bile. One of the best things about your blog is that you don't waste time with that kind of nonsense.

    Keep up the good work...and Happy New Year!

  10. Thanks, Lee. I just wanna have fun.

  11. Stephen B.12:24 AM

    Makes perfect sense (and I can imagine with the volume of books that you read and collect, if something proves not a worthy book you have no time to finish it).

    It is just fine with me if you and other bloggers talk on books that _I too_ might enjoy!