Giving Good… Review

posted on Wednesday

The ReckonersI know, I know.  You thought I was going to say “giving good–”  Well, something else. And someone has, I’m sure–in some other blog…

This one actually is about good reviews.

But ho! It’s a trick! Because “good review” doesn’t equal “reviews of high praise.”

Don’t get me wrong–those are highly cool and to be worshiped accordingly. But this is about those short reader reviews that help other readers decide if a particular book is for them. In other words, the same reviews I want to read when I’m looking at a book.

I didn’t like this book. This book sucked. This book was too [insert mad lib here].


Everyone evaluate books from his or her own head space. No one’s in the reviewer’s head, rooting around for context. “Ahh…Yeye said this book was too X, but I see here that X is actually a hot button for YeYe.”

Because X isn’t a hot button everyone. Some people even like X.

Okay, I really, really don’t like first person POV. So sue me. Still, if a first person POV book is written well in all respects, that element isn’t an issue. However…if it’s written in a way that the POV introduces problems, then those problems REALLY PUSH MY BUTTONS!

But what I say in comments is that while I found the POV to be problematical, those things might not bother someone who enjoys first person POV in the first place…unlike me.

It’s even helpful to do it the other way around. Ooh, I love Patricia Briggs’ recent work. I love that she does nothing with the animal form of her shapeshifters that makes my naturalist self go snortysnort. So I mention it in comments, because maybe I’m so beguiled that I gloss over things likely to bother other people.

So if the point of commenting on a book is to help someone else choose reading material they’ll delight in, then think beyond, “Ugh!” (or “glee!”) and offer the context of the things you on which you comment.

Oh, what the heck. Skip the ugh! It’s enough just to say it was a problem, y’know?

Course, if the point of commenting is to get a power rush from slamming a faceless author in an anonymous online context, then, um…oh–hey! Look over there! Lots of shiny stuff over there!

*runs away*


At this point I bet someone’s wondering if I’ve just gotten slammed. Though I tempt fate, I say nope! In fact, just put up a RECKONERS review with lots of words like mesmerize and captivating and my favorite phrase, will fuel your imagination. I am all a-glow!

But find myself braced for the slamming, sooner or later. I think we all do, these days…


Just beyond this giant snag of a deadfall, the ground plunges away into the small arroyo of the pasture area (beyond which is the truly profound arroyo slashing through the back third of the property).  The roots of this tree anchor the area’s fragile soil, and for that reason–although the snag blocks a crucial little portion of land–we’re not removing it.

Plus, isn’t it pretty?

Snow Snag

About Doranna

My books are SF/F, mystery, paranormal romance, and romantic suspense. My dogs are Beagles, my home is the Southwest, and the horse wants a cookie!
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4 Responses to Giving Good… Review

  1. Laurie says:

    I agree with you wholeheartedly. I prefer reviews that actually comment on the CONTENT of a book and how well the author does or doesn’t convey their ideas. Of course, I’m not going to quibble if the reviewer says he/she really likes the overall product, but to just say they “really liked it” or “hated” it doesn’t give me anything to hang my hat on. I mean, I “really like” anchovies, but I know there are MANY people out there that hate ’em. Not going to stop me eating them, but it also doesn’t give anyone else who’s never tasted them the least idea of what they’re in for if the DO try them. “Salty,” “fishy,” “interesting background depth” are phrases that intrigue. Give me that kind of information in a review!! (Or don’t waste my time w/your lame efforts.)

    Additionally, reviewers who use their “review” to merely criticize rather than constructively critique (two TOTALLY different ideas) give me a slow burn under my bonnet. Whew! Thanks for letting me vent. Keep writing (and posting your wonderful new home pictures)!!

    • Doranna says:

      Different strokes for different folks…that’s a given. Not everyone is going to love my stuff, that’s a given; I’m not going to love stuff that others adore. But shoot, if you’re going to be commenting on it in a venue where people go to decide about buying books, then do it in a way that helps with that decision. If you want to sneer or pull power trips, then create your own little space on the web for it (ha! Rather like this one!).

      Actual reviews are another thing altogether…I definitely hold them to a higher standard. Sometime those are futile expectations, but I hold them nonetheless! Mostly I’ve been lucky, though. I’ve had some really thoughtful reviews. I’ve only had one recent review where it was really obvious that the reviewer was simply looking for another kind of book altogether, and wasn’t, in her disappointment, capable of reviewing the book for what it actually was.

      I’m glad you came over to vent! Thanks for letting me know you enjoy the piccies. Sometimes I wonder if I’m just inflicting them on the world, rather than sharing. ;>

  2. Ruth says:

    I actually try not to read reviews. I know what works for me in a story (and I have a few people whose recommendations I trust) but I don’t find random reviews to be of much use.

    I do love the pictures. The new area looks gorgeous!

    • Doranna says:

      I’m so glad you like the pictures!

      I do look at reader reviews on various bookstore sites. What I tend to do is go to the one-stars–no, seriously!–and look for the worst thing that someone can think of to say about the book. If it’s all author-slamming and meanness and no thoughtful context, then I discount all those negatives. On occasion I find someone talking about something that pushes my own buttons, and I know then that it probably isn’t the book for me.

      But mainly I use excerpts.

      Hmm. That’s a topic for another blog, I think!

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