21 June 2012
Coffee Talk With Moíra ♣ ~ Honest Reviewing
Here at the Broads, we're inundated with review requests. Unfortunately time, not to mention preference, does not allow us to feature all the fantastic books available! It's so difficult to choose. Taking on a book for review is serious business. A careful reading and honest assessment is the goal of most reviewers. Why? Because we love stories!
I've limited the books I agree to take on, mostly because life is quite busy. I still have a stack of books waiting for my attention. Slowly, I work my way through, hoping to offer each my undivided attention at some point. Oh! For a two week read-a-palooza with Mina, cosmos, and maybe even a deep-tissue massage thrown in for overall well being. Sigh. A Broad can dream, can't she? Reality dictates something entirely different from that picture.
Honest reviews are always what you'll find here at the Broads. Highlighting the things we enjoyed - and the elements that flopped - ensure readers go into a story with eyes-wide-open. But one Broad's gem is another Broad's rock. My reviews won't be much help if I do not clearly state my expectations going into the read and how the book fulfilled them, or failed to do so.
For this Broad, varying standards/expectations are held for different sorts of books. For example, when reading non-fiction, I look for clear and informative text presented in concise yet interesting and well organized context. This is completely different than what I want out of a romance. And even that genre holds alternate components of satisfaction. When reading a novella, I understand the word constraints will impact story depth. Not that depth and limited word counts are mutually exclusive elements! On the contrary! But expectations must be in line with the selection held up for review.
Another aspect to consider is reader like/dislike. This Broad cringes when reading over-amplified bravado, especially when a heroine attempts dangerous and ridiculous feats her character clearly has no business doing. It's a negative for me, but does not necessarily equate poor writing. It's simply a story aspect I loathe. There's a difference. I also struggle to abide characters who immediately act upon sexual attraction yet never develop a relationship. That's personal preference and needs to be noted in any honest review.
Of late I've noticed that a number of reviews fail to state clearly their expectations going into a read, and therefore, the review, whether five-star or two-star, holds less 'reader-value' than it could. More troubling is the claim of 'poor-writing' when, in fact, the reader simply didn't like the story content or writing style. Separating feelings from writing evaluation is a necessary component to honest reviewing. The term 'poor writing' is bandied about without merit on many occasions. Consider the style of writing you most enjoy, and go from there. For example, I adore lyrical prose, artistic imagery, and the use of delicious and inventive description of setting, character emotion, and word pictures. But the writer who adheres to a simpler descriptive process surely should not be accused of 'poor-writing'. Some readers want exactly that type of story/writing style. Granted, stories elicit great emotion, as they are intended to do, but a clear line must be respected when an overall novel evaluation is given. Most bloggers/reviewers handle this with sensitivity and class.
When reading reviews, keep in mind your personal preferences and acknowledge them openly. Twelve five-star reviews mean little if you don't come away with an understanding of why the story offered so much pleasure. Likewise, twelve two-star reviews should not deter your interest if vague terms such as 'poor-writing' are employed, because one Broad's gem is another Broad's rock.
Happy Reading; Happy Reviewing!