I have been reviewing books for about 2 years now for Booksneeze.com. I think of it as art, I know what I like and what I don’t like. I will try to find something positive about the book for we all need a pat on the back. If I find the book lacking in whatever way, then tips on how to rectify will be included. However when author’s contact me to review their books, that is different for that personalize the exchange. No longer is that person just a name on a book, but someone who is a real person. One thing I will always say is “Do you want me to give what I honestly think or what you want me to think?” if it is the latter then I will not review the book.
I have come across some doozies. One book had a theme about a cockatiel who could sing over 40 songs, not just tunes. Now I have raised and bred these birds since 1998 and not once have they sang a tune using actual words. Now if the author had just mentioned this once in the book I could have moved along but every time the scene came where the bird was mentioned, this little fact was mentioned. It shows that this author had not research this small fact properly. That to me was an insult to my intelligence as a reader. The review got one less star.
A recent book I was reading was so full of grammar errors I kept having to reread some sentences. I am horrible at grammar and punctuation so I could sympathize with the author. I did not like the story and I was struggling to find anything positive to help him out. I contacted him through email and told him what I had come up with and if he really wanted me to post this. I just did not have the heart to do it. Fortunately the book was an e-book so he was able to pull it down and fix the errors that were there. Telling him was hard but I knew if this was me I would want to know regardless how it made me feel. But in the end he thanked me for being honest about what I had found.
My point is while I use to think reviewing was cut and dry, it is not. I am not going to like every book and I will not always be able to find constructive criticism. But I do try to be tactful and be as helpful as possible. Being a reviewer is more than just getting a free book. We are helping writers home in on their skills. Hopefully to the point that their book will be a successful.