Monday, March 12, 2012

Negative Reviews by _yay_ (a.k.a. Book That Thing)

Posted by Laurielu Bona Fide Reflections at 12:00 AM
Today I invited Saskia from Book That Thing to guest post for Bona Fide Reflections. I have become very good friends with her over the last few months.  She is a super busy woman trying to get her teaching degree ~~ So, I snagged her while I could before she starts her new semester.  I have enjoyed following her reviews and chatting with her on Twitter and FB. I  respect her opinions and her reviews are outstanding. She is succinct in her writing and is able to get her thoughts across to her viewership with well-written thoughts and musings about the books she reads. Please welcome Saskia to the blog and leave some comments for her. Thank you, Saskia for taking the time to come over to BFR and share your thoughts!
Welcome Saskia!

Hello everyone!  Laurie, thank you for having me. I’m so glad to be here today to do a guest post.
I’m the weirdo behind the alias _yay_ at Book that Thing!

Name:  Saskia (“Sasse”)
Age:  25 years 
Country:  Germany
Status:  Reviewer

A readaholic reviewing books for fun – that’s what my header says, and it just so happens to be the truth. Gather together my fellow book addicts. Share your thoughts on this particular topic with me! Wait, …… what topic? Let’s talk about negative reviews

  • What’s a negative review?
Right on to the tough questions, huh? I came up with them all by myself, so no more complaining. I think of a review as negative when the aspects of a book I didn’t like clearly outweigh the ones I did. Of course every review generally goes hand in hand with a specific rating. In my opinion 3 stars is not a bad one, even though there are people around that seem to think so. Either way, what’s most important to me when on the hunt for a new book is the content of a review. There’s no way I don’t take a look at the rating, but if the blurb interests me, I always read the review and make my decision based on what my fellow reviewers have to say. What does that mean for my own ramblings? A 2.5-star (or less) rating must be seen in relation to my thoughts about the book. Dislikes, issues, problems of all kinds are subjective. While I might have felt no connection to a certain plot, you were able to relate to it. We could be in complete agreement or have different expectations in terms of what we feel is good / bad about a book. That’s the beauty of it all! 

  • Have you ever written & posted a negative review?

I have a total of 68 reviews on my blog. 21 of them are 5-star ratings / 7 are 4.5-star ratings / 13 are 4-star ratings / 7 are 3.5-star ratings / 9 are 3-star ratings / 3 are 2.5-star ratings / 3 are 2-star ratings / 2 are 1.5-star ratings / 3 are 1-star ratings.

I never set out to dislike a book. If I get a request and feel like the book is not for me I decline the offer. However, sometimes - no matter how much you want to love a story - it just doesn’t happen. I will keep on writing negative reviews, but never with the intention to slander the author’s work. I’m simply sharing my opinion with my followers. Be conscious of how you phrase your criticism. You can’t negotiate meaning. All you do is write the review and the author will most likely read it. I often get emotional about books (on both ends of the positive-negative spectrum), but try to avoid being overly harsh. That doesn’t always work, though. I’m only human after all.  

  • How detailed is your review policy?

It is very important to put a review policy in place. The author or publisher needs to be able to see your rating system and be aware of where your review will be posted / shared / promoted. For example, I post my reviews on the blog, Goodreads, Amazon, Facebook, G+ and Twitter.  No surprises, especially not when it turns out to be a negative review. 

I also added a self-imposed 3.5/4-star “minimum” limit for possible author interviews or giveaways.

  • How about authors’ reactions to a negative review?

I’ve had it all! I never heard from some again. A couple went off the deep end (insults, trying to get me to change the rating, telling me my opinion is wrong ). Thankfully, the majority kept it simple with a short “appreciate you taking the time to review my book” – which is completely okay with me. I’m sure it’s not easy to get a negative review of something you put so much effort into. I understand how hard it can be. It’s just that there’s no other way for me as a reviewer and human being than stay true to myself. 

From the bottom of my heart, a big thank you to all the authors and publishers who were kind enough to provide me with a review copy since I started my blog in June of last year. It was my pleasure to read and review!

How about you? Are you a blogger, too? Maybe an author? Would you agree with what I said, or do you have a different opinion? All comments are very much appreciated. 

See you next Monday here on Bona Fide Reflections 
with my review of “The Marriage Bargain” by Jennifer Probst.


Megan@Riverina Romantics on March 12, 2012 at 2:22 AM said...

Hey sweetness! Great post and it is so you. Now your saying "Of course I wrote it didn't I?" LOL! But seriously, you and I have talked quiet a bit about these topics recently and It's great that you put your thoughts about these topics out there so people can really get to know your style.

I never checked but does it say somewhere on your blog that the books you read are the English versions and not the ones that have been translated into German? I think that's something that people should know about you. People need to understand the effort you put into your book loving and reviews. Never mind that your English is perfect LOL!

I too think that a blog needs a detailed review policy. It's called CYA. Cover Your A$$.

The only thing I disagree with is your giveaway policy. We at Riverina Romantics have a 3 and above only review policy. We consider a 3 to be average and enjoyable. If it doesn't meet those standards then we don't want to talk about it on the blog and give the author bad press. There's nothing wrong with saying something that you disliked about a book but when your dislikes outweigh your likes than we feel that equals bad press and we don't want to add to the negativity out there. That being said, when something like that happens, we always allow an author the choice to promote themselves on the blog. That's
where we disagree. Just because Me, Jodie or Delilah might not like something doesn't mean that somebody else out there won't like it. Who are we to try hold the author back from trying to make a living? That's why we offer that option.


_yay_ on March 12, 2012 at 5:02 AM said...

@ Laurie Thank you for your wonderful introduction. I, too, am very glad we got to know each other pretty well over the last couple of months. :-)

@ Megan It's true about the English version. Unless it's a German author I always read the English book. I don't want anything to get lost in translation.

As for your 3 star policy. I think it's a good idea and I totally get where you are coming from, but to me "reviewing" means including "the good" and "the bad" for my followers to read. When I'm trying to decide whether to buy a book or not I take a look at both extremes (5-star & 1-star reviews). It's not about the author for me - it's ALL about my followers / the reader.

And ROFLMAO at your CYA. That is seriously AWESOME.In my case the author or publisher can check my rating system and will see that there's the possibility of 1-5 stars. He's aware of it, so I'm not worried about "negativity" all that much.

Riverina Romantics rocks! ;-)
Thank you for stopping by
_yay_ @

Mari Miniatt on March 12, 2012 at 5:32 AM said...

To me there are "Negative Reviews" and "Reviews of Books the Reviewer Didn't Like." The second is going to happen, not everyone like everything.
I have gotten a few of the second type, that were well written, had good points, and were professionally done. Reviews like that, I use as a learning tool. I don't dwell on the fact they didn't like my book. Instead I look at why, and see if it is plausible. Keeping points in my head for future writing.
The first type. Oh dear, I have only received one of those. It was not only negative, it was borderline abusive. The reviewer refused to sign their real name. Full of name calling and mean spiritedness. When I first read it, I was shocked, but I looked it over again. Realized that the person writing this particular review, did not go into reading the book with open expectations. The rest of his or her blog was filled with reviews like this. None of the books they reviewed, they liked, and pulled them apart like an internet troll. Putting that in perspective, I chose to shake my head and not worry about what that reviewer found wrong.
I don't respond to any of the reviews of my books, unless the reviewer themselves reaches out to me. But I do keep links to reviews that are well written, and thoughtful, even if the reviewer didn't like the book.
Because, sometimes, what one person didn't like, someone else will love.

_yay_ on March 12, 2012 at 5:48 AM said...

@ Mari You're absolutely right with what you said. "Negative reviews" might not be the right word to use for what I have in mind. I like "Reviews of Books I didn't like" much better.
I've become very careful in my writing. It was a learning process for me. Hopefully my reviews are in the "helpful" category (no matter what rating).

Is it hard for you as an author to remind yourself that emotions (good or bad) fueling a review are (should be!!!) in terms of the plot / the characters and not to be taken personal?! Or maybe that isn't an issue at all?

Thank you for stopping by!

_yay_ @

Jennifer Lane on March 12, 2012 at 8:55 AM said...

Excellent post, and thanks for addressing a touchy subject. As an author, negative reviews are tough to stomach, but I really appreciate thoughtful comments about what readers liked and disliked because collectively they help me grow as a writer. (I also have to realize that reader opinions are wildly varied and not to put too much stock into any particular review).

Regarding emotional reactions to novels, of course we have them. I get enraged when a book totally enthralls me but then takes a turn I hate, or has an ending I disagree with. So I understand when readers become incensed--it's human nature, as you said.

_yay_ on March 12, 2012 at 9:09 AM said...

Thanks so much for contributing to this conversation.
It really is important to talk about these touchy subjects. -Definitely helps me to improve the quality of my reviews (just by taking different takes on this into consideration).

Sometimes I get mad at a character, but when I re-read my review it could be taken as anger towards the author (even if it absolutely isn't meant to come across that way). I think this is one of the aspects I'm still extremely unsure about when reviewing a book I didn't like all that much.

_yay_ @ BookthatThing!

Ronda (Queentutts World of Escapism) on March 12, 2012 at 2:01 PM said...

Interesting post, out of 4 years of blogging and reviewing I have only given 1 book a one star rating, it wasn't because of the writers style of writing, it was because of child molestation done for fun - I actually didn't even finish the book. Other than that I could say 20 % of review requests were 3 star rating, 30 % 4 star rating, and 50 % 5 star rating. When I review I base it on how it made me feel, what kind of emotion it brought out of me.

Since I get a lot of ARC copies for review I do not rate on technical terms, to me it is unfair to rate on grammer and structure when I'm reading an Advanced Readers Copy, which is a copy that might not been through all editing before publishing. It really pisses me off to read a ARC review where the reviewer bases their review on grammatical errors and rates the book low.

Like Megan, I also do not post a review under a 3 star rating. I do not believe in trashing an author with a negative review. Personally I've never read a bad book but I did have a reviewer of mine tell me she couldn't get into the book so I wrote the author and told her/him that due to our back log we were unable to get to their book at this time.

I like the fact of your bluntness in the way you say you write your reviews, a good reviewer should always be honest but at the same time always be respectable. The old saying "if you don't have anything nice to say, keep your mouth shut" applies when in public setting and by having a blog online we bloggers fall in that setting.

Any blogger who takes in reviews should have a review policy in place on their site. Enjoyed the post, thanks for sharing.

_yay_ on March 12, 2012 at 2:45 PM said...

@ Ronda Thank YOU for stopping by!

I don't rate on grammar when it comes to ARC's either (except when it's a final edit - maybe just the cover missing).

I agree with most of what you wrote.
I don't believe in trashing an author, either. However, in my opinion, posting a 1-2.5-star rating/review doesn't necessarily equal trashing the work. In fact, a negative review can generate a lot of talk about a book or - if it's a thoughtful review - maybe even help the author.
I make it a point to always be open to criticism (for example about how I phrase things - especially because English is not my mother tongue).
As for only posting 3-5-star reviews, that just isn't for me. I wanted to establish a scale of reference (if that makes sense) as opposed to just a point o. r.
I also differentiate between blogs that review books and the ones that promote them. Your 3 star minimum puts you in a good in-between, but of course that's just how I see it. You might not agree with this.

Whatever we choose for our blogs, a review policy is a must. :-)
Happy reading!
_yay_ @ BookthatThing!

Vanessa theJeepDiva on March 12, 2012 at 3:44 PM said...

Wonderful post! I'm also so excited to know who_yay_ is! Is see posts on various blogs regularly from _yay_. YAY!

The other thoughts from the commenters are great too. I love opinions. Everyone has them, they are unique and different.

All around great post!

_yay_ on March 12, 2012 at 4:00 PM said...

@ Vanessa Yay for lovely comments!
;-) - Glad to have you here today.
And now you can put a face to the name lol. My new fave quote and very fitting: "I love opinions. Everyone has them, they are unique and different."
Have a great day!
_yay_ @ BookthatThing!