I have to say that Maili almost ruined my morning when her blog was posted on Romancing the Blog this morning because I hate the topic of reviews and kept telling myself to just ignore it because I was feeling bad to begin with. (I’ve had recurring migraines for the last week and found out yesterday it was because of a sinus infection. Now there’s an “ugh” for you.) I even told myself to just wait because someone else would dissent over there and then I wouldn’t have to.
Oh, well, not happening, so I finally decided to be the one. You can see my short response in the comments there but this is the long diatribe. Hey, I figure if I can’t be grumpy in my own blog when I FEEL grumpy when and where can I? (I have got to get some smileys for this blog.)
First, let me point out something that I was intending to eventually get around to saying here anyway. I do NOT review books and I have no intention of ever doing so, here or elsewhere. I learned a long time ago that I’m constitutionally unable to do reviews. It’s not the writing part or the critical analysis aspect that stops me. I could do those if I put my tongue between my teeth the right way. It’s that I prefer to ramble on about the books rather than stay on topic. Try as I might, I’m just as apt to start out talking about one book and end up rattling on about another. Or a video. Or something else altogether. So, instead of giving myself a severe twitch, I stopped fencing myself in.
That’s also the reason I decided to include the Amazon links here in Bev’s Notes, too – quite literally FYI when I suddenly take off on a tangent and leave you wondering what a specific book is really all about.
Okay, now that that is all off my chest, back to some of the points that Maili mentioned and that I seriously question.
Romance’s worst enemies are the reviewers who won’tcriticize romances.
I’ve heard this one before and still haven’t seen anything that convinces me it’s true. I know people who think reviews should be criticisms and not simply recommendations WANT it to be true but it just doesn’t hold water on close inspection. There are a lot of enemies of the romance genre out there and getting books mentioned however we can ain’t one of them. Nobody can buy them at all if they don’t even know they’re out there. I really would rather see a “poorly” written review that actually lets me know a book exists than none at all. Of course, poorly is in the eye of the beholder and I’m NOT getting into that. Because I don’t review, remember. (VBEG)
With 1,500-2,100 romance novels published per year,readers can’t afford to buy nor browse them all. This iswhere reviewers step in.
So, we’re supposed to read 1500-2100 in-depth reviews instead? Somehow I think this definitely falls under way “too much information” to be useful. For all its faults, this was one of the reasons I really liked the old Romantic Times format and may even have to go back to subscribing to the new version. Or, at least, to checking out the RT site again. It’s a lot easier to quickly look through the short summaries and get an idea of what IS out there than try to read a lot of longer reviews. Then if I want more info on a specific book I can look for it elsewhere.
Reviewing means criticism. According to the AmericanHeritage Dictionary, a critic “expresses judgments of themerits, faults, value or truth of a matter.”
Really? Hmmm, can you tell I’m a mite skeptical about believing that reviewing equaling criticism? Okay, even assuming reviewing DOES equal criticism, I frankly don’t care because strangely enough that’s not what I read reviews for, if and when I read reviews, which is rarely. Mostly, the only time I look up a review on a “review site” nowadays is when I want to find out something about a specific book (or video) I’ve ALREADY read (or seen), i.e. double-checking my impressions about something in it with someone else’s. Reviews are NOT shopping aids for me unless they’re on a store site as I’m checking out the product and even then I’m still looking primarily for information, not an essay on quality. Give me an honest and simple reader recommendation or summary either positive or negative any day of the week over an analysis of quality.
And I seriously doubt most romance readers use reviews to figure out what they’re going to buy in the first place because a) most readers aren’t online and b) I don’t know of anything off-line other than RT & possibly that other magazine I can’t remember at the moment that even talks about ALL the romances published in the first place. So I again I have to question the power that is attributed to non-critical romance reviews online or elsewhere.
Reviewers should be professional, impartial and fair.Readers, authors, fellow reviewers and the Romance genredeserve it. Otherwise what’s the point of doing reviews atall?
You know what the biggest problem I have with romance review sites in general is? It’s not the positive or negative aspect of the reviews. It’s this “professionalism” thing. Why if they’re professionals do they insist on still being considered just readers when someone challenges their work?
Not to be confused with when they really ARE speaking as just a reader. Hey, I talk to authors as authors and authors as readers all the time but the key is recognizing where that dividing line is. The only time I consciously make an effort to “treat” an author as an author is a) when I’m talking to them about their own book(s) or b) when I’m talking to them about writing/publishing ’cause I figure they really should know a heck of a lot more about that subject than I do. Otherwise, I treat them as a reader.
I’d like to do the same with romance reviewers around the web but it is problematical at best. Invariably when challenged about a review they’ll fall back on “Oh, but it’s only my personal opinion about the book.” Okay, sure. Only, if one is a “professional”, then shouldn’t it also be an INFORMED opinion, not simply the opinion of just another reader? Or I’ll start out thinking I’m chatting with another reader about a book and suddenly find myself in the middle of a discussion of how reviews should be critical analysis. Eh? Choose a position and stick to it so I’ll know WHO I’m listening to at any given moment, please.
Of course, the bottom line is that I’d still rather have simple recommendations when preparing a shopping list, though. Save the critical analysis until after I’ve read the book, thank you very much.
I feel so much better now. Well, I wish. Okay, mentally, I do. Physically, I’m working on it.
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