Negative reviews: honest reviewing

A few weeks ago, an author tweeted, asking for reviewers to tag her in bad reviews so she knew what to name the characters she wanted to kill off.

I surprised myself by how much this annoyed me.

I respect the bloggers who only post positive reviews. I love those blogs – my TBR pile may disagree.

That’s not how I run my blog though, for a number of reasons.

Negative Reviews.jpg

My main reason is time. I never decide to review a book that I don’t think I’ll enjoy: I judge the synopsis and if that catches my interest, it makes the reviewing schedule. It is a constant battle ensuring I’ve stayed ahead of reading to be able to post reviews regularly. If the book disappoints me, I don’t have time to find something else for that review slot.

It’s how I run my blog and I’m not going to apologise for that.

But it’s more than just having the time.

I want my reviews to be recommendations. I want people to read a positive review, read the book, and love it. Those who read a number of my reviews will know where my interests lie and what I enjoy. If they have similar feelings about the same books, I’d hope if they came across a book they hadn’t heard of before, they’d trust what I write because of past experience with my reviews.

But that works both ways. If a synopsis has caught my attention – for example, a new fantasy book – then there is a strong chance it will also draw the attention of those with similar tastes. If the book is flawed, the characters weak, trigger-warnings needed etc, why shouldn’t I mention them? Why shouldn’t I warn others the parts I struggled with? I would never tell someone not to read a book – I highlight the areas that didn’t work for me so they can make their own judgement.

I’ve also written several reviews where I’m raving about the book. I’ve absolutely loved it and want to shout that from the rooftops. I like to think that when I post a review like that, people know I am being genuine.

I pride myself on being an honest reviewer – if I love a book, I’ll recommend it. When it’s disappointed me, I let my audience know.

I promote them differently though. When I love a book, I’ll connect with the author, the publisher, RT channels… The works. If I don’t enjoy a book, I won’t. I won’t draw the author’s attention to a less than favourable review. I undermine my own chance for visitors/comments, which is certainly not self-serving.

If you want reviews, you have to accept the bad with the good. Take those comments as a guide as to what is working. I now have no interest in reading that author because, heaven forbid, I might not enjoy the book. Calling out bloggers on negative reviews is wrong.

How do you feel about this? Is it something you have an opinion on either way?


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37 thoughts on “Negative reviews: honest reviewing

  1. Okay, I’m absolutely horrified at that author but also itching to know who he/she is! Personally, I’m not afraid to post negative reviews because you’re right, we’re just being honest about our opinions. I do not, however, tag authors or publishers in those reviews no matter how bad I think the book turned out to be. It’s just courtesy, you know? My goal is mostly to inform the reading public and support the author but only when I genuinely enjoy their work. I think authors who hate on negative reviews/reviewers are not ready to be in this industry.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was so annoyed when I read it I have to admit. I’m completely with you on that one – I won’t draw attention to the fact that I didn’t like it, but I’m a reviewer for the good, the bad and the ugly, not just the books I enjoy. Thank you so much for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Agree 100%. As an author, I get occasional bad and even inexplicable reviews on Amazon (in amongst the positive ones that keep me writing!). I also get my work critiqued multiple times and properly edited before it is published, so it should at least be decent when it’s published, and have some appeal to at least a segment of readers. But when I’m following a book blogger, I’m looking for inspiration, to know what kept a blogger up all night because they couldn’t put the book down. If I want to see what’s wrong with it, I then check the Amazon reviews. I’m also interested when a blogger gives a 3* review, to see what they liked and didn’t like. And I don’t follow bloggers randomly – I follow you, for example, as we seem to have similar tastes in books and TV series. Maybe the person who wrote the tweet that inspired this blog today was just having a laugh, but blogging is not always understood, including the sensitivities around being a blogger (the unwritten rules), and it’s not always appreciated as it should be 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s so great to hear an author’s perspective on this as well! That’s exactly it – I want people to know whether or not we have similar tastes by what I write in a review – I’m never going to pick a book I don’t think I’ll like, and if I highlight when a book isn’t quite as powerful, it just – in my mind – makes the ones I shout about more important! Thank you so much!


  3. I completely agree with you. Negative reviews are an important part of my blogging experience. I don’t focus on them, since I simply review the books I’ve read and am usually fairly good at predicting which books I’ll like. However, if I picked up a book I thought would be amazing and ended up being horrible, I want to be able to talk about it! There’s a difference between bashing an author, and writing a negative review of their book. As long as you stay respectful and don’t push the negative review in the author’s face, I don’t see the problem with it.

    To be honest, I’m glad I didn’t see that tweet. It would have seriously affected my opinion of the author.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much – I think we’re both definitely on the same wave-length with this one. I’m the same: I’m never going to pick something unless I genuinely think that I’m going to enjoy it. For example, I’ve just read a really long book by an author that I previously loved, yet have to admit this one lost me a bit. I’m still going to review it! I’m glad you didn’t – it left me so wound up!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I completely agree with you. Of course I love writing positive reviews and I often eulogise about the books I have enjoyed, but I have learned that negative reviews are more or less essential as well. When I write a negative review, I try not to be too harsh while still keeping it honest. And I would never tag an author for a negative review.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much! Definitely – it’s just something I keep a little more private, so those who are already following etc may look out for it, but I’m not going to draw everyone’s attention to it. Honesty is so important in reviewing!


  5. I had seen the whole negative review discussion but I didn’t know about what the author said. I can’t believe that! Not everyone is going to love the same book, why can’t people post negative reviews that are honest and respectful?! I personally post negative reviews but it doesn’t bother me if other bloggers don’t. It’s their blog, they can do what they want.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post! I don’t review books anymore (tbh, the book blogging community just ruined me and made me resent reviewing books altogether!) but when I did, my reviews were very honest, both good and bad. To be perfectly honest, I don’t give a s*it if another blogger only posts positive reviews like literally WHO CARES haha.

    I posted both because if I was sent a book in exchange for a fair and honest review, that’s what they got. A fair and honest review. Regardless of it I thought it was 1 or 5 stars. But I definitely promoted them differently too. I’d never tag the author in a bad review but I’d still put that review on Goodreads so if they saw it on there, then whatever.

    I’ve thought about this topic LOADS in the past and I wish I’d have done a post on it myself when I blogged about books because it’s really interesting and I love seeing people’s opinions!

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s been great reading through what people have thought about this – I can’t believe how many responses there have been, haha! I’m the same – I’ll post it on Goodreads because that’s my quick and easy way of checking back about how I felt about a book and often read other people’s views on there as well. I’m glad you liked this one even if you didn’t get around to doing one yourself – thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I was annoyed when i read it. I’m the same, I want to read the good and the bad so I know what should make my reading pile and what perhaps can wait until another day! Thank you.


  7. I don’t think an author should kill off characters because of reviews, especially if it goes against what they were intending to happen. I will write negative reviews if a book has disappointed me, and I always try not to just completely trash it. I really enjoying having that variety on my site. But I’d never tag an author in a negative review. I’ve reviewed books for authors which I didn’t end up enjoying before and it puts you in such a weird position. Once I was asked to change my review and I refused because what I was asked to change it to wasn’t my honest opinion and I just stopped reading accepting their requests for reviews. Negative reviews are always such a big topic of discussion, but I think everyone should do what they feel is right for their blogs and just don’t tag authors in bad reviews because it feels like you’re going out of the way to bash their work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh no, they wanted to name characters after the reviewers so they could kill off those who had a negative response to their book! That was why I was so annoyed. I’m the same – negative reviews can be just as important – surely honesty in reviewing is the most essential thing? Besides, like you said, people should write about whatever they feel comfortable and happy doing, that’s what is important (obviously within reason!) Thank you so much for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh that’s even worse than how I interpreted that! Wow. That is terrible. I agree, honesty is the best policy, especially when you’re trying to build up a site! I can’t wait to read more of your posts! 🙂


  8. I could really relate to this post! I tend to be quite selective with what I read so my schedule doesn’t get messed up and therefore can only read books which catch my interest – I also do the same as you whereby when I love a book, I tag the author and promote it a lot but if I disliked a book, I wouldn’t want to bring the authors attention to it on purpose. I think that can be quite rude or disheartening for them, so I wouldn’t want them to see it in such a direct way? I think honesty is one of the best things in terms of a review and I for one, really admire your stance on the issue! Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much! I was really nervous about posting this because generally I just stay out of stuff like this and think everyone is entitled to blog about what they want, but I was so wound up by it I wanted to make the point that a negative review isn’t a bad one! Thanks so much!


  9. Oh my goodness, I hadn’t heard about that author! Passive aggressive much? I really appreciate honest reviews, and I totally get what you mean about the review process. Sometimes you start a book and love it, write initial thoughts down etc, and then it lets you down. As with any form of entertainment, I think honest reviews are so useful for anyone interested in spending time / money on books. I also totally understand the alternative perspective that bloggers want their reviews to be recommendations, and some negative reviews are entirely just down to personal preference rather than a flaw in plot / characterisation / writing style. It’s a tricky one!

    Emily from x

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is tricky! I think as long as authors respect that a blogger is entitled to say their true feelings, and the blogger is respectful in those opinions, reviews can be what the blogger wants! Thank you!


  10. How unprofessional and immature that the author would tweet something like that. We don’t all have the same opinions, so of course some people aren’t going to like the book. As long as the blogger is respectful then what’s the problem xx

    Hannah | luxuryblush

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you for this. I feel the same way myself. People only want to surround themselves with “yes men” and they cannot distinguish between “hate” or “shade” and criticism. Both positive and negative reviews, given in good faith, of course, and not with malicious intent, are necessary for growth. Constructive criticism is not just the good stuff, it’s also the stuff that you’ve fallen short on. It’s a wholesome review, not a bunch of fluffy nonsense to sooth your ego. People really take any negative review as an attack.

    Yvonne Wabai |

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I always admire bloggers who write their honest thoughts, good or bad, everyone is entitled to have their personal opinion. Wow, I’m shocked that the author would tweet that, it sounds like they need to learn how to handle feedback whether it is positive or negative. I always enjoy reading your book reviews Lindsey, they are so well written and always give me a good idea if I would enjoy the book myself. Keep up the great work ❤ xxx

    Bexa |


  13. I loved this take on honest reviewing! At the end of the day, opinions are just opinions and each one should be respected. Constructive criticism is necessary for growth! ✨


  14. I agree completely. Being honest in reviews is not always without its downside, though. I recently gave a novel a one-star review, stating my reasons. A few days later, the author went onto Goodreads and gave my (unpublished) novel one star. The difference being, I had actually read her book. I know she has not read mine because it’s still in revisions and she’s not one of my beta readers. I’ll keep being an honest reviewer, but the experience has left a nasty taste in my mouth.


    • I tend not to leave negative reviews. As I don’t want it to have a negative impact on the author. I still leave a review. I usually just review what I found positive about the book. If it’s that bad then I wouldn’t even bother reviewing the book at all.


  15. Great blog – gonna follow you now!

    As an author, I love 5 star reviews. As a reader, I often skip them on books I’m considering. I want to see the negative reviews – I want to avoid weak characters, bad grammar, unhappy endings, etc. Reviews are for readers IMO. There are enough books for all of us to find what we like, but only if the reviews are honest.

    And it is your blog, running it your way is a must! Great job!


  16. I usually can’t be bothered to review books I didn’t enjoy because I feel I wasted enough time reading it and I don’t want to waste more time reviewing it. When there are elements I didn’t enjoy in an otherwise okay read, I address them in my review. I think it’s important to be honest, but like you I never tag the author in a negative or not overly positive review.


  17. I review books also and prefer to promote only those that I would recommend. However, I do think it’s important to be authentic to other readers and let them know respectfully why you didn’t particularly care for a book. Every book is not for everyone. Genuine reviews are always appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

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