Saturday, November 22, 2008

More Saturday Fun: Mailbox Monday, Tuesday Teaser, and Booking Through Thursday

Mailbox Monday

This week's mail turned out to be a real boon for me. My latest acquisitions:
Probable Claws by Clea Simon
Presepolis 2: The Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi
Someone Knows my Name by Lawrence Hill
The Witch's Trinity by Erika Mailman
Baby Shark by Robert Fate
Brother, I'm Dying by Edwidge Danticat

A little tease from what I've been reading lately:
The nurse asked if I liked to read. Was she kidding? Reading was my salvation, my refuge from my parents' arguments. It was everything to me. [pg 72 from Off Kilter by Linda C. Wisniewski]


Suddenly and inexplicably, she began to giggle shrilly. A dog in the gutter fled in panic. It seemed to Siri, amidst a sudden atmosphere of foreboding, that the monster sitting before him might have swallowed a young girl whole.
[pg 16 from Anarchy and Old Dogs by Colin Cotterill]

Suggested by JM in regards to books sent to bloggers for review:

Do you think reviewers are obligated to put up a good review of a book, even if they don’t like it? Have we come to a point where reviewers *need* to put up disclaimers to (hopefully) save themselves from being harassed by unhappy authors who get negative reviews.

Back in April of this year, I touched upon a similar topic after reading a story about an author who took matters a little too far after reading a review of her book on a bookstore website. I believe in being respectful and considerate as well as honest regardless of where the book comes from:
. . . I do not think that readers/reviewers should avoid writing well thought out negative reviews. It is never my intention to hurt anyone's feelings, but I value honesty and have to be true not only to myself but also to those who may happen upon my thoughts about any given book. To do otherwise would put into question my credibility as well as my self-respect.
I am not a professional reviewer, nor do I get paid to talk about books. Reading and writing are my passions, and I enjoy being able to combine them here on my blog. Truth be told, I do not write the reviews of the books I read for you, at least not primarily. I do it for me. I began my reading journal one and a half years before beginning this blog. I wanted to keep track of the books I read and record my impressions of each one for future reference. If I stopped blogging today, I would still keep up my reading journal. I blog because I enjoy talking about books with others, sharing my thoughts, exchanging ideas, and learning about new books. I love being a part of this great community.

Whether I am shopping for a book on my own or agreeing to read one where the copy is free, I am selective about what I say yes to (it's not my fault so many books sound so good!). My time is precious to me, especially since reading is something I do for pleasure, and so I try and select books that I will enjoy. And most of the time, it works out just that way. So, if my reviews seem to lean in the direction of being more positive than not, that is exactly why.

Frankly, I do not know of one person who would say they would lie in a review. We each have our own styles and personalities. For some of us, gentle criticism comes more naturally; while for others, a more blunt or snarky approach fits more easily. Some people choose not to post negative reviews at all, which is their right. We each do things our own way, in our own fashion, however it works best for us. Our styles are different as much as our tastes in the books we read is. I respect and appreciate our differences, although I do draw the line at viciousness and personal attacks.

As for whether a disclaimer is necessary, I tend to believe that it should not be. What is the purpose of a review in the first place if not to provide an honest assessment of the material being evaluated? However, what I think should be obvious is not always obvious to others. Text messaging while driving, for example. It's a dangerous thing to do. And yet we have to have a law to say it isn't okay just the same. There are always those few people who would not give it a second thought otherwise.

My husband suggested that perhaps we book bloggers should come up with a manifesto that we all link to if we agree. A fancy button we can attach on our sidebars for authors and publicists to visit if they want to know what our expectations are as readers/reviewers. Maybe that's not such a bad idea. And it would be easier for me since I'm not quick on my feet when it comes to thinking up what should go into that sort of thing.

This is one of my favorite responses to this past week's BTT question: Take a look.


  1. Well said, Wendy! I agree with your thoughts about everything.

    And I think your husband's suggestion is a good one!

  2. Thank you,Melody! I had a difficult time writing this post because there was just so much I wanted to say, much of which I ended up not saying. I only hope it came out coherently.

  3. I linked to Scobberlotcher's post in my BTT post too - it was very good on its own merits, and the fact that she's an author herself gave it extra credibility, I thought.

    There's a group on Book Blogs that's been formed essentially to create the sort of manifesto your husband suggested.

    I'm glad this was a BTT topic, actually - it pushed me to articulate my thoughts on this sooner rather than later. My positions are pretty similar to yours (which doesn't surprise me very much :-D). Well said, Wendy!

  4. I have loved reading all of the different opinions and takes on honesty the past few weeks. Like you I have kept a reading journal for years and do my blogging for me. I think we more or less write to an audience in our posts, but when I battle over the style of my posts--whether or not they are too personal and not "professional" enough, I remember that they are MY posts. And I think the diversity of style in our posts is great, like you said. Interesting thought about a disclaimer button. I don't feel like I need a disclaimer either, but it might not be a bad idea.

  5. Seems to me that authors who don't want an honest review of their work should just send it to an ad agency. A review that's not an honest one, whether negative or positive, is just a waste of everyone's time.

  6. I'm glad you're part of the book blogging community! I enjoy reading your thoughts.

  7. Florinda - I noticed you linked Karen's blog too. :-) I'll have to check out the group on Book Blogs. Thank you for the link.

    Trish - It has been interesting reading everyone's thoughts on the subject. I do think I take more care with what and how I write because this is such a public forum.

    Julie - You are so right. It would be just be an advertisement.

    Monica - Thank you! I am glad to be a part of the blogging community too. :-)

  8. "My time is precious to me, especially since reading is something I do for pleasure, and so I try and select books that I will enjoy. And most of the time, it works out just that way. So, if my reviews seem to lean in the direction of being more positive than not, that is exactly why."

    That's the case with me too/ But if a book doesn't work for me for some reason, I'll say so and try to explain why.

    I like your husband's idea!

  9. Thanks for sharing the link to the author. I thought it was a fabulous post.

  10. Nymeth - I do that too--if there is something I don't like about a book, I do try and get that across is my reviews. But even if a book has faults, I still often end up liking something about it--otherwise, I wouldn't bother finishing it.

  11. Joy - I agree. Karen's post was very well thought out and written.

  12. Thanks for the link to Karen's post, it was nice to read an author's opinion although not all of them are as understanding as her. It always seems so petty when an author starts attacking a reviewer for not liking their book.
    The fact that book blogger's almost always seem to review books honestly is one of the things I really like about the community. :)

  13. Nat - I like that about the blogging community too, Nat. :-)

  14. Thank you for the stopping by the 'mailbox' this week. You have some titles I'll be checking out at Amazon.


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