Reviews, Reviews, Reviews

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It’s a new year but the same old issue.

I’ve been writing about reviews ad nauseum, and I’m sure you’re all as tired about this topic as I am. Believe me, I don’t want to write about reviews – I would much rather spend my time reading a really good book or admiring the hot manflesh of the Friday Guys, but sometimes a gal’s gotta do what’s right.

Authors, I know that when we write negative reviews of your books you think we’re picking on you. But we’re really not. We love to read and when you throw a good book our way, WOW, we’re in heaven. Trust me, it’s orgasmic. So we wish you would write lots more of those really fine books. But lately it seems that the muse has deserted some of you, or maybe it’s just that nothing works. Consequently, we have had to write more negative reviews because we owe it to the readers to be honest. This upsets you, which is understandable, because you probably spent a lot of time producing what you sincerely believed was a brilliant literary piece of work, but it turned out to be somewhat less than wonderful, at least in our opinion. Would you rather we praised a book to the skies that we knew in our hearts was not your best work?

A number of authors (you know who you are)  have in the past requested that this site no longer review their books. Recently a few more have joined the band. So far I have been acceding to these requests, even though in some cases up to three different reviewers have independently come to similar conclusions about your writing i.e. that it’s not that great. However, in future I will no longer go along with these requests because, regardless of all the other fun posts, this is a review site and the readers who drop by are entitled  to our opinions on all M/M books we read (positive and negative) to help them in their purchase decisions. Of course you want to make money from your hard work, but readers deserve to spend their hard earned money on books they can enjoy. We will, however, try to use as many euphemisms as possible when we describe why a book didn’t work for us .  :-D

A few authors probably feel that sometimes we are a tad too candid, or that we could have eliminated a few quotes to back up our opinions (because opinions are always subjective) but that would not be honest, and honesty is what reviewing is all about. What constitutes a good book review? In my view it’s an analysis of the characterizations, plots, pacing, even those pesky editorial errors are noted, and the most critical elements of any book review are honesty, and whether at the end of the day we liked the book. Some of our reviews are critical, but only when we feel  such criticisms are warranted. 

This site reviews books to provide the readers  with opinions of what worked, or didn’t. In addition to writing a review, we also rate the books which I think is sometimes the hardest part of the job. If we don’t rate your books when we provide a critical assessment of the story,  how would the reader know whether we think it’s good, bad or indifferent? Reviewers may not be fiction writers (well most of us are not) but we have a pretty good idea of what comprises a good romance book, and it has nothing to do with the obligatory HEA.  Most reviewers do this thankless job in our minimal spare time, in between looking after our families and/or working full time at our EDJ (evil day jobs) just like you, authors.  So when we use our very scarce available time to read your book and it turns out to be not your best work or even a good effort, we are disappointed, but our reviews are never personal or contain snark.

Please do not send your books to be reviewed here if you you’re just looking for a promotional blurb to post on your website because you won’t get it, unless we think your book is deserving. If that’s what you’re looking for there are other “review sites” that perform this service - they are not hard to find since they only write positive “reviews” and profess that the book is “the best ever”, or they just regurgitate and expand the blurbs with no critical assessment of what’s between the covers. Also, please do not write your publishers if you’re offended by a less than positive review. Contrary to what you might think, even though publishers supply many of the books we review, often we buy the books we read. You do not have to read our reviews of your books if they upset you, but you might learn something if you read them with an open mind rather than being angry that we would dare to criticize your creation.  No book is perfect but some are considerably less perfect than others. On the flip side, when we love a book we can’t shut up about it and pimp it to everyone who will listen.

If you’re interested in an honest assessment of your latest M/M literary endeavour we would be happy to provide our opinion if you submit it for review. We don’t believe in taking pot shots, so our reviews are politely worded and restrained. On many occasions the guest reviewers and I have had discussions on the site with authors on the pros and cons of particular book reviews, and while we might not always agree, both parties have an opportunity to make their points in a respectful manner. OTOH, recently when a negative review was posted here the author sent in her “attack dogs” to demean the reviewer by questioning her integrity, as a means of deflecting attention away from a poorly written book. That demonstrated a lack of integrity on the part of the author! This site is open to everyone who is polite in debating the issues, whatever they are, but please do not insult the guest reviewers or other commenters.

Thanks. I appreciate your cooperation.

I wish to say “thank you” to the authors who drop by the site and make our days a little lighter by poking fun at just about everything as well as blogging on occasion, and thanks also to the publishers and brave authors :-D who send us their books to review.

76 thoughts on “Reviews, Reviews, Reviews

  1. Justacat

    Wave, I applaud this decision of yours and support it wholeheartedly. Acceding to authors’ demands not to review their books has always troubled me a little. Can you imagine the New York Times Review of Books acquiescing to a puffed-up author’s demand that it no longer review her books because she’s displeased with a negative review? I doubt any except perhaps the most arrogant author would have the chutzpah to make such a request, and the thought that the NYTRB would entertain it for a moment…well, no. And I believe it would cast a shadow on their neutrality, their legitimacy as an independent reviewer, for them to do so.
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    Maybe this site takes *itself* a bit less seriously than NYTRB, and is a bit more for-fun (thank god), but nonetheless, I have no doubt you and the other reviewers take your *responsibilities* just as seriously – that’s reflected in your careful, courteous, thorough reviews. So if an author wouldn’t make such a request of the NYTRB, why should she make it of you? Why should she assume you’re more of a pushover, that you take your responsibilities less seriously? I find that insulting, and flat-out wrong.
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    And while I can definitely understand how you might have acceded to such requests out of the desire to be polite – and I respect this motivation – in the end, I believe that just as in my NYTRB example, the integrity of your site as an independent reviewer, and the interests of the readers who are your biggest consumers, is best served by being totally author-neutral. And this means not giving in to *any* author demands with regard to reviews, whether for positive reviews or not to be reviewed at all.
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    After all, why should authors be able to hold you and your site hostage? Taken to its extreme, you’d end up with a review site posting only reviews approved by authors – reviews only of authors those whose writing you and the other reviewers like sufficiently that the authors “permitted” you to review them – and that would defeat the whole purpose, besides being a pretty boring site.
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    We – the readers – value this site so much, as contrasted with other review sites, *because* we know how fair you and the other reviewers are. Neither books nor authors ever get trashed out of hand, but neither do books that you don’t believe truly deserve five-star or four-star reviews get them. That kind of even-handedness is difficult to find, and priceless. Some authors may not like the result, but as far as I can tell, the goal of you and this site isn’t to make everyone happy. The only obligation you’ve undertaken, as I see it, is to be fair and courteous and honest – to serve your *readers* to the best of your abilities – and you do that admirably.
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    So to repeat: I for one totally support you in this decision and am behind you 100%. If there’s ever a need, I’ll willingly have your back on this one!

    1. Wave Post author

      Justacat
      This was a difficult decision because I can understand why authors don’t want their work criticised on a site like this with a worldwide readership. However, at the end of the day I have to take the readers’ interest into account and that’s what tipped the scales.

      *
      Reviewing is subjective because it’s one person’s opinion but we always try to be fair; sometimes we send a book to another reviewer if we feel that we’re not being as impartial as we should. I did that recently with a book that I wanted a second opinion on and the other reviewer will be writing the review. Sometimes we make mistakes and we’re the first to admit them, because it’s human to err and I have been known to change a review or two when the author presented another perspective. However, in the end we try to be as honest as we can and serve the readers as best we can.

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      As you say, authors wouldn’t dare to request the NYTRB not to review their books simply because they hate reviews of their books published by the paper. While this is a very small review site and I would not even dream of comparing it with such an esteemed publication as the NYT, we do have a pretty large following, and even I am amazed that so many people from 129 different countries access the site and read the reviews.

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      I want to stress that it is only a small number of authors who are displeased with our reviews. Most of them are pretty decent about critical reviews and some authors have even written to thank me or the guest reviewers for bringing something to their attention of which they were unaware.

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      I appreciate you taking the time to write at length on this issue and supporting my decision.

  2. thelastaerie

    I agree with your decision wholeheartedly. Bad review will only affect my buying decision if I trust that reviewer AND if he/she gives valid reasons for disliking it. So writers, please, give the readers some credit – we know what is a fair review, what is not.

    On top of that, I find it amusing that published writers would have the audacity to ask for review site to “please not review my book”. Huh? You put your work out there – you should expect feedback – good or negative – even trolls! It’s part of life. My advice? Thicken your skin and if you think some reviews are treating your work unfairly – then have a healthy debate about it. Free speech goes both ways.

    Honestly, I’ve always thought such problem only exist in “fanfction world” where writers are green and lack of confidence.

    1. Wave Post author

      Eve
      As you know we always try to be fair, and when we critique a book we usually provide as much information as we can for our rating so that the readers can judge whether this is a book they would want to read. Different strokes. As I said before, this is only a small group of authors who are mad at us because they don’t like our opinions of their books. I guess they have become accustomed to everyone fawning over them that they believe their own publicity. Trust me, it’s not only in fanfiction that we’re told not to review certain authors’ books.

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      As you said, the authors should credit the readers with some sense to be able to tell when reviewers actually read a book that they are reviewing.

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      Thanks Eve.

  3. Larissa

    Go Wave! It’s good to make a stand. Reviews are reviews. I doubt authors ask the NY times not to review a book ;-)
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    I know what you mean about there being less and less REALLY good books out there. It’s the same old song really. Too much gets published without desent editing and there are too many self publishing companies out there. Recently I’ve been relying heavily on reviews before I buy books, because the last few times I bought e-books they didn’t turn out like I thought they would. For someone who, at the moment, doesn’t have a lot of money to spent I’m really happy with your descion!
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    Don’t let them pull you down! *hugs*

    1. Wave Post author

      Hi Larissa
      It’s the same old saw. If some authors don’t like what they see they get mad and request that we no longer review their books. A few authors have gone to extremes by publishing the email addresses of other reviewers on Twitter, or even their home phone numbers when they can find it, so their fans can insult the reviewers.
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      Initially when there only a few I couldn’t be bothered but now others have joined them and I have to put a stop to it. I’m getting accustomed to being hated. :-D

  4. Kassa

    I read some great advice somewhere that said when you stop reviewing for the reader, you’ve lost your objectivity.
    Reviewing is for readers by readers. :)

    1. Wave Post author

      Kassa
      As you know, we have always reviewed books for the readers.

      *
      The issue here is that I did not request or buy books by certain authors because they had specifically written me or their publishers demanding that this site not review their books. This obviously meant that there might be fewer critical reviews of their work. However, lately, due to an increasing number of pissed off authors, I decided I had had enough.
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      I’m sure they can go to other “desirable” sites to have their books reviewed in order to counteract all the bad press they will get here. I can even recommend a few. :-D

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      C’est la vie.

  5. Aliens

    Like Larissa, I buy most of my books based on the reviews here and the ratings some of your readers and reviewers give on goodreads.

    What makes me come back to this site is that I know the reviewers did read the book and that I will get an honest opinion of the reviewers. Every reviews I read here so far, the reviewer made a point to explain what worked for them or not. And sometimes what doesn’t work for a reader will work for another. Like some reviewers said it’s just my opinion and others may not agree.

    “However, lately, due to an increasing number of pissed off authors”… I’m so happy we don’t get to see that part of your job. A bad review won’t stop me from buying a book, music or movies, but the way they (author, actor, musician) treat someone that will.

    1. Wave Post author

      Aliens
      Most authors know that not every book will please every reader and one of the reasons I think our reviews are valuable is that we give reasons, pro and con, about why we liked or couldn’t recommend a book.

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      As I mentioned before, this is just a small group that is trying to pre empt poor reviews and I had to put a stop to it before it got out of hand. Some days I didn’t want to open my email because I was afraid of what I would find.

      *
      Thanks for your support.

  6. Erastes

    Couldn’t agree with you more, Wave. Reviews aren’t for the writers (although you rightly say they could take things on board by reading them) but for the readers, and we don’t want to put readers off the books – we love books and want to share them, but we also create a bond with the readers, and they learn to trust us. Obviously my taste isn’t going to be universal, but after a while a reader will synchronise with my tastes and will know that generally, if I like something – they will, and if there are things in a book which make me mark it down, then they may find the same irritations.
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    Everytime I hear of an author behaving in this way- or have it happen to me on Speak Its Name – I find it unbelievable – especially if I get (only once, thank god) the attack dogs sent in, and I feel worse when I see it happen to a fellow reviewer on Speak Its Name because I feel responsible that this person is being harangued because of something I asked them to do. However, I won’t be bullied by authors – which is what it amounts to, pure and simple – and rather than avoiding their books in future, it makes me want to seek them out. Which is probably evil of me.
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    I’m very glad you are making this decision, because I think that any review site needs to be free to post what they like. No-one has the right to say “don’t review my books.” If you can’t stand critique, diva authors, then stop publishing books.
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    Also, as has been said above, it’s not an unfavourable review that will necessarily put an reader off a writer – but an author behaving like a baby, or worse, a dick, or a vitriolic eejit? That’ll do it every time.

    1. Wave Post author

      Erastes
      When it was just 2 or 3 authors it was easy to manage. However, since we moved to a website I guess the authors are paying attention to the number of visitors as well as the number of hits, and they are increasingly concerned that our reviews could have an impact on their royalties because we have a loyal group of followers.

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      >>Also, as has been said above, it’s not an unfavourable review that will necessarily put an reader off a writer – but an author behaving like a baby, or worse, a dick, or a vitriolic eejit? That’ll do it every time.<<
      *
      I couldn’t have said it better. :-D

      *
      I recall you had a similar episode with an author who shall remain nameless, who demanded that you remove a review from SiN. :-D Authors like that give everyone a bad name.

    1. Wave Post author

      Jules
      I think that’s a riot although I am not sure that amazon should be used as the standard for reviews, even though I occasionally post there. :-D I have seen those reviews and some of the reviewers just rewrite the blurbs with a one liner – either “I hate this book” or “I love this book.” One reviewer gave a book 1 star because it was written in the 1st person.

  7. Jules Jones

    Wave, that’s part of the point of the one star challenge — to get authors to wrap their heads around the fact that people will give them one star reviews for all sorts of reasons, including “I don’t like first person”.
     
    Of course, a thoughtful review is harder to shrug off. But there is still the thing about people having different tastes, and I’ve seen examples of one reviewer loving a book and another hating it — for exactly the same reasons. One of the more useful pieces of advice I got from more experienced folk on writers forums is to remember that 20% of the readers will hate your book no matter what. It does help me keep a reasonable perspective on bad reviews.

  8. Jordan Castillo Price

    As an author, it wouldn’t occur to me to ask someone to stop reviewing my stuff–and there are some reviewers that I certainly feel that way about, but only in the context of yelling at my computer! I’d never email them and actually put that request out there.
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    Would I stop sending review copies to a reviewer who didn’t seem like a good fit for my work? Sure! But if she chooses to seek out & buy my stuff and review it, there’s nothing to stop her from doing that.
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    I do find critical reviews can be helpful, especially if they let me know what would take a 3-star story to a 4, and a 4-star story to a 5. But I think those things can be hard to analyze and articulate.

    1. Wave Post author

      Jordan
      I love your books but there may be one that I hate in the future and I would be totally honest in the review about my reasons why. However that would probably not have anything to do with the book being poorly written.

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      What started out as a couple of authors has grown and I’m getting sick of it, so I hope that authors will get the message not to email me any more to ask to be taken off some list.
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      If you would write a crappy book I would be happy to tell you how to improve (in my opinion) and move the ratings from 1 star to something a little better. :-D

  9. Wave Post author

    Jules
    >>I’ve seen examples of one reviewer loving a book and another hating it — for exactly the same reasons.< <
    *
    I have mentioned this time and time again to readers - check out other reviews before you put down your hard earned money to buy a book.

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    Most of the followers on this site have come to know the reviewers and have become attached to some of them because they like the same type of books, so they take their reviews at face value.

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    >>One of the more useful pieces of advice I got from more experienced folk on writers forums is to remember that 20% of the readers will hate your book no matter what<<
    *
    I would place that number higher than 20% of readers, and any author who expects everyone to love their books is being unrealistic.

    *

    Every writer gets bad reviews at some point in their career and they should just learn to accept them as the price for being in the business and move on. Also, just because an author is an auto buy for me doesn’t mean that I will like every book he/she writes.

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    Personal taste is something that also factors into the equation and when I am asked to review a book on a topic I don’t like I usually ask someone else to read and review it so that the review is as objective as possible.

  10. Val Kovalin

    Wave, I’m not exactly surprised, but I am dismayed that some authors would attempt to control your site by demanding that you no longer review their books.

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    First, it’s naïve of them to send you a nasty email. These days, many bloggers would post the email, which is probably the one thing that might have the strongest negative impact upon an author’s sales. Even if that didn’t happen, it’s hard for authors to hide any unprofessional behavior from the www. The readers remember and boycott forever.

    *

    Any time a book gets a PRICE TAG for public consumption, it is fair game for honest reactions. That’s the business model. Is it worth the money or not? This is how it should be. Otherwise, how will authors ever know if their work can stand or fall on its own merits?

    *

    I mean, what do they have to lose? The money? There’s no money in writing. Their pride? Speaking just for myself, pride is a rough edge that I wouldn’t mind sanding off my personality. Their next publisher contract? Possibly, but there are more opportunities to publish, including self-publish, today than ever before. Bad reviews are a built-in risk that comes with the privilege of publishing.

    *

    When I get my fiction out there, either through an epublisher or self-published, I’ll be grateful for any reviews I can get by review sites, individuals, casual bloggers, Amazon reviewers, and anybody. Even if all they say is, “It was really, really hot and awesome,” which to me would be a wasted opportunity to get a real review.

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    To me, it’s worth risking bad reviews and some lost sales to (1) learn from critical reactions and improve my work, and (2) to have a chance at this ideal scenario that you mentioned: “On the flip side, when we love a book we can’t shut up about it and pimp it to everyone who will listen.”

    *

    That ongoing, positive word-of-mouth from reviewers is the ultimate treasure. Back when I worked in bookstores, we called that “hand-selling” and it’s what made bestsellers like The Perfect Storm, The Time Traveler’s Wife, and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

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    Keep up the good work, Wave! This review site is doing great things for our m/m genre.

    1. Wave Post author

      Val
      You have said everything I would like to say and have done so eloquently.

      *
      As you know, we work hard here to do a good job on the reviews and those authors who are thin skinned enough to request that we no longer review their books in future will have to get a thicker skin because I’m going to post their names and still continue to review their books. Enough of anonymity. We are always professional when we write reviews so I don’t understand why they are so pissed.

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      >> “It was really, really hot and awesome,” << :-D
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      I must really remember this for my next review. When you have your book written I would be very unhappy if you didn’t send it here for us to tear it to shreds (oops I mean review it) :)

      I think we do an excellent job of pimping those books we love and as I said in the post we can’t shut up about them.

      1. Val Kovalin

        ” When you have your book written I would be very unhappy if you didn’t send it here for us to tear it to shreds (oops I mean review it)”

        *

        :: snort :: No, really, I’m looking forward to inflicting it upon you, ha, ha! I’m scheduling it in for the future. :)

  11. Jules Jones

    There’s also this — if your style varies from book to book, then even someone who likes most of your stuff may bounce right off one particular book, while other people love it. I’ve written everything from slapstick comedy to dark space opera to fantasy to contemporary romance. I might swear at the computer if I get a bad review, but I *know* that not everyone who likes my books is going to like every single one of them.

    1. Wave Post author

      Jules
      I expect an author to write different types or sub genres of books. I hope that I don’t remain static and I would hope that authors grow and evolve. I hate reading the same old same old from an author. One of the reasons I like M/M other than the hot guys, is the range of stories from simple romances to sci fi to paranormal to murder mysteries etc.

  12. Kate

    Great post, Wave, and good for you for sticking to your guns. Authors shouldn’t forget that bad reviews sell books, too! There have been several occasions when I read some really stinking reviews and it made me so curious I went and bought the books in question to see if they really were that bad. 99% of the time they were, and while I was entertained by the duff read, the author earned some royalties off of my curiosity. So yeah, bad reviews can be good – authors shouldn’t complain!

    1. Wave Post author

      Hi Kate
      Thank you. You’re right that sometimes a book is so horrendous everyone buys it to check it out and see whether the reviews were all wrong. :-D It works both ways.

  13. Tam

    Well Wave, now that you’re rich and famous, wait, famous anyway, you’ll have to pay the price. :-) Sucks though but yeah, it’s the world-wide-web. I (and you and anyone of the other 6 billion on the planet) can say whatever I want and if I pay for something I can give my opinion on it and you can’t stop me. Imagine if car dealers tried to get car blogs/websites who gave a car a poor rating to stop. LOL Yeah right.
    *
    If you are brave enough to take that step to be published, you need to be brave enough to face the critics. Actors, musicians, painters, everyone who is artistic and creates something subjective is going to face this. If it’s too difficult then it’s best to find another field of employ and write only for fun for friends and family who will love what you do no matter what. Hey, I caught my Mom reading Crossing Borders (parts of it anyway), maybe I should send her that short story I wrote and she can tell me how amazing I am. After my Dad picks her up off the floor perhaps. :-D

    1. Wave Post author

      Tam
      Where’s the “rich and famous” money?
      *
      >>If you are brave enough to take that step to be published, you need to be brave enough to face the critics<<
      Exactly. I have a WIP that will never see the light of day but I’ll send it to you to read and critique. :-D

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      Your mother read Crossing Borders? What were you thinking, sending her one of your stash?

      1. Tam

        I had a pile of yaoi and other books sitting on my dining room table. I hadn’t really paid that much attention when she was visiting, next thing I look she’s sitting at the table leafing through it. I didn’t say anything but another day I saw her sitting there reading it again. LOL I should have offered to let her take it on the plane but it was my autographed copy so no one gets to borrow that one. She didn’t faint or start screaming so I’m not sure what she read, she was kind of flipping around so not sure she managed to miss any of the smexin’ or not.
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        She also was pretty confused by the yaoi. “Is this like a comic book or what? I can’t follow it.” Luckily they weren’t very graphic ones, more PG-13.
        *
        So there was my attempts to corrupt my Mom. :-)

  14. Meredith Shayne

    How timely this post is for me – just yesterday I recommended this site to a friend of mine as a place where she could find honest, well-balanced and well-reasoned reviews of m/m books. As a reader, that sort of review is invaluable when I’m trying to decide where to spend my money.

    As a writer…well. I have had a story of mine reviewed on this site, and I admit to reading the post at first with one eye closed, squinting at the screen in case it said bad things, but I would never have dreamed of criticising the reviewer or blaming the site as a whole if it had. That’s just bad form, and in the end you can’t control what people are going to think of your work. All you can really hope for is that if they don’t like it and are going to say so in public, they give reasons that are more substantial than that they hate first person or they don’t like cats or something. This site does that, so authors who have issues with the reviews here really need to take a deep breath and get some perspective. As someone said upthread, it’s not the odd lacklustre book that will lose you fans, it’s acting like a dick to people who don’t deserve it that will do that.

    1. Wave Post author

      Hi Meredith
      Thanks for recommending the site to your friends.
      *
      >>As a writer…well. I have had a story of mine reviewed on this site, and I admit to reading the post at first with one eye closed, squinting at the screen in case it said bad things, but I would never have dreamed of criticising the reviewer or blaming the site as a whole if it had. <<
      *
      Before responding I checked the review of your book and Jenre gave it quite a nice one. You should be proud. :-D

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      A few authors that act like a dick are giving the others a bad name. There are prima donnas in every field of endeavour but the creative arts seem to have more than its share.

      1. Meredith Shayne

        Hi Wave,

        No problem re: the recommendation – you guys put so much work into this site, you deserve the recognition.

        Jenre did say nice things about my story, which made my day, I can tell you! But if it had been bad, then I would have taken it on the chin – I think everyone can understand having a bad reaction to a not-so-good review, but then the difference between a reasonable and unreasonable person is how you act once that initial reaction has passed.

        I agree with Junkfoodmonkey regarding the worst reactions being when you know deep down the reviewer is right – if you know you’ve done the best you could under the circumstances, then it’s much easier to take it as constructive criticism and try to do better next time. The defensive reactions happen when you know you could have done better from the start.

        I agree with your new policy of naming and shaming – people have to know they can’t push you around! Good luck with it.

  15. Ingrid

    ((hugs)) Wave. Please keep up the good work. I would like to see as many reviews here as possible from all writers.
    As someone said even auto-buy authors have sometimes book that are not really my thing. If the review is not as good as I would have liked I still buy it anyway.

    1. Wave Post author

      Hi Ingrid
      We work very hard to earn the trust of the readers and a few authors are not going to change that.

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      I think I was the one that talked about my auto buy authors sometimes laying an egg. As you said, if that were the case I would expect the readers to still buy the book if they love that author’s work, regardless of the review. I would do the same.

  16. Patric Michael

    Wave…

    I told Jenre once that I could count on one hand the review sites I value for honest, *useful* critiques. You’re sitting smack on the pad of my index finger. :)

    That said, you wont always like what I write. It’s virtually guaranteed you’ll read something that makes you scratch your head and wonder what I was smoking that day. Why? Because like Jules, I tend to run a gamut of styles, sub-genres, and themes. It’s as much an exploration for me as for the readers who call me an “auto-buy.” (Though in fairness, most of those already have an inkling of what to expect since I am forever tossing out snips here and there. I’m such a tease.)

    The thing is, when you DO review something you dont like (heaven forbid I should ever be so gauche) I know for a fact that not only will I get an opinion from someone I trust, I’ll also get an idea of why the thing didnt work for you.

    At that point, and here is where those other authors fail miserably, it becomes my job to either hone my craft further, or thank you politely and move on if the point of contention was thematic, or stylistic, rather than in the construction.

    Maybe it’s only because I’m comparatively new and I still remember the phrase repeatedly drummed into my head, but it seems as though Those Other Writers(tm) have forgotten the basic rule of “Dont fall in love with your own words.” As soon as any writer, good, bad, or otherwise, does that, what they write goes right into the toilet.

    We all know that “love is blind.” It’s a concept that makes for some truly wonderful stories, but its pure hell on telling those stories. Or at least, telling those stories well. :)

    Keep it up, Wave. Keep on donating your free time and encouraging your guests to write concise, thoughtful, sometimes painful reviews.

    I think I’m safe in speaking for others when I say that those of us who read, and write, appreciate your efforts, and in my case at least, this site will enjoy it’s permanent bookmark status across all of my computers.

    As for the rest of the bunch, to steal a line from Stephen King’s Dolores Claiborne; “Frig ya.”

    :)

    1. Chris

      I rely heavily on your site and Jenre’s for honest reviews, and I am sorry that both you and she have had to deal with this issue. Thank you for taking a stand on our behalf!

    2. Wave Post author

      Hi Patric
      It’s really great to get affirmation from you and some of the other authors that the guest reviewers and I are doing a good job. Each of us is just one opinion but when we review a book and offer a critique at least we give the reasons why we thought a book failed to meet our expectations.

      *
      >>… you wont always like what I write. It’s virtually guaranteed you’ll read something that makes you scratch your head and wonder what I was smoking that day. Why? Because like Jules, I tend to run a gamut of styles, sub-genres, and themes <<
      *
      One of the reasons I love books is that every one I open I regard as a new experience or an adventure. So writers like you are those I enjoy more than those who stick to one particular style of story. I would hope and expect that you would want to try new things and while they may not all work, at least you are not stuck in neutral.

      *
      I hope that when you’re trying to decide on a book to read that you will check out the reviews. :)

      *

      “Frig ya” I like that. I must remember to use it the next time an author reqeusts that we don’t review their books.

  17. junkfoodmonkey

    My writing to date has been mostly fanfic,though some original too, and is up on the internet, and I’ve worked with writing groups and betas and I have to say that the times I got most defensive and stroppy about a negative comment or review is when I knew deep down that they were right! After all if the reviewer is talking rubbish, or just being personally abusive, or the story just isn’t to their taste, then the same emotional reaction isn’t there. It’s when you touch that nerve, that deep down “I know this doesn’t work, I’m just hoping nobody else notices” knowledge that people really bite.
    ~
    I’ve learned to never, ever, ever, reply to such a comment or review while I’m still feeling defensive! Gotta cool off and consider it properly first, otherwise I’m going to make a total arse of myself.
    ~
    You guys keep up the good work here! And if I ever get published and you review me I promise to not be an ass, as Mur Lafferty says. She’s a podcaster and writer and one of her rules for being a writer is “Don’t be an ass.” Wise words!

    1. Wave Post author

      Hi JFM
      >>I have to say that the times I got most defensive and stroppy about a negative comment or review is when I knew deep down that they were right!<<
      *
      You make an excellent point. Maybe these authors are afraid that others will read what we say and recognize that there is some truth in our comments and stay away from their books.

      *
      If you ever get published I look forward to reviewing your book. *rubbing hands with glee* :-D

  18. vampkiss

    I’m totally not a writer, just your regular book geek, but I have to add that I think you all do an amazing job with this site. I’ve been on a m/m ebook splurge (kindle for Christmas!), and I’ve been going through your reviews and ratings before I buy anything. (well, anything by a new-to-me author)

    I appreciate your honesty and well thought out reviews. (and so does my wallet! :))

    1. Wave Post author

      Vampkiss
      People like you are the ones for whom we write reviews. OTOH I always tell the readers to check out other reviews before they pull out their credit cards. In addition they should do their own research. Then buy. :-D

  19. MB (Leah)

    Wave, I’m so glad that you are going to do your thing and not respect those authors’ wishes.

    **

    You run a review site. It’s clear now, as it’s always been, that you take that seriously and mean to offer honest, critical reviews no matter what.

    **

    If you start kowtowing to authors’ demands that you not review their books, then what do you have? All you have really is your integrity when you review a book and keep a review site running professionally.

    **

    I can’t believe really that authors are asking you to never review their books again. I’m a hobbyist reviewer and that would get my back up really quick if an author or authors started to ask me not to review. It’s throwing down the gauntlet for me.

    **

    As far as I’m concerned, once anyone puts anything out for public consumption, including even a comment on a blog, they are open for feedback and will get it. If you don’t want honest feedback, then don’t write books and publish them or don’t comment anywhere. Simple.

    **

    Also, when authors react like that, they’re really telling readers that they don’t trust readers to make informed, intelligent decisions on their own. They are telling us readers that they think we are too stupid to not see that what is written in a review is subjective opinion.

    **

    I can read a review and see exactly what I need to from it whether it be glowing or negative. I can still think for myself and decide to buy the book or not. Keeping negative reviews from readers only makes some readers question why there are only positive reviews because everyone knows that someone is going to hate that book. As soon as it becomes known that an author is trying to hide neg. reviews or is trying to skewer reviews, one has to wonder why really and it makes them very suspicious.

    **

    Wave, you’re doing great. Keep offering honest reviews and review who you want to review.

    1. Wave Post author

      Hi Leah
      Thank you. Coming from you that means a great deal because you are also a reviewer and you know how some authors don’t react well to criticism.

      *
      >>I can’t believe really that authors are asking you to never review their books again< <

      *

      Oh yes, that was clear as day. They didn't like what we said so they requested that we don't review their books ever again. Initially I was going to go out and buy all of their books and review them (mean of me, I know) but at the time I did feel that I could fairly review them so I didn't bother.

      *

      >>Also, when authors react like that, they’re really telling readers that they don’t trust readers to make informed, intelligent decisions on their own. They are telling us readers that they think we are too stupid to not see that what is written in a review is subjective opinion<<
      *
      Exactly. They are in effect saying that the readers can’t decide for themselves.

      *
      I don’t think they will be back after this post if they see their books reviewed again on the site.. :-D

      1. erastes

        one particular author said that she had not requested the review and as such felt “blindsided” by the unfavourable review. the implication being that because i hadnt got the book from her–how dare i say it was dreadful!!

        1. Wave Post author

          Erastes
          >>one particular author said that she had not requested the review and as such felt “blindsided” by the unfavourable review<<
          *

          So now we need permission from the author?? Are review sites their little minions? Prima donnas don’t sit well with me.
          *
          I’m sure you told her, in your nice English fashion :) where she could go soak her head.

  20. feliz

    Wave,
    the better you get the more enemies you acquire. Look at it this way: obviously authors relize that your opinions, your reviews matter. I don’t want to talk down the annoying fact that there are people who take honesty personally. When I create something, no matter whether ist is a book, or a piece of art, or a knit pair of socks, and I show it off, I must be ready to hear other people’s opinions. And I must be prepared that other people don’t like my art. And there is such a thing as helpful critic. If I get the heel of my sock wrong, and there is someone who can show me another better way to do it, I’m well – advised to listen to that person. Or I can decide to not listen, but it’s my decision.
    *
    With this slightly awkward methaphor I want to say, please, Wave, keep it up! Almost everything I read was recommended and reviewed here on your site. Sometimes my opinion and the reviewer’s differ, sometimes I agree. But you never just shred a book to pieces, you give advice. And you never give just praise, you state your reasons. You and your guest reviewers are doing a great job here.
    Greetings, Feliz

    1. Wave Post author

      Feliz
      >>Sometimes my opinion and the reviewer’s differ, sometimes I agree. But you never just shred a book to pieces, you give advice. And you never give just praise, you state your reasons. You and your guest reviewers are doing a great job here.<<

      Thank you for this although the purpose of the post was merely to state that I will no longer exclude an author’s books from the review list because s/he had specifically requested this.

      *
      When these authors realize that readers can think for themselves and will quickly warn their friends about substandard books, without any help from review sites, maybe they will improve their writing skills instead of trying to muzzle review sites.

  21. katiebabs

    As an author, you need to take the good with the bad and that means both positive and negative reviews.

    And what would happen if you continue to review books from authors who don’t want you to? For them to speak publicly against it here would really make things worse.

    I can’t believe an author would say to you not to review their work. It’s your blog not there’s

    1. Wave Post author

      Hi KB
      It’s good to see you.
      *
      This is not the only site where authors have requested their books not be reviewed. Speak Its Name is another site that has fallen afoul of a few authors.
      *
      >>And what would happen if you continue to review books from authors who don’t want you to? For them to speak publicly against it here would really make things worse.<<
      In the past they had anonymity because I didn’t reveal who the authors were. However, in future if I get any more requests I will post their names but continue to review their books. That will put a stop to it pretty quickly. :-D

      1. katiebabs

        So these authors would rather have their books not reviewed at all? I would think I would want my book mentioned, bad review or not, than not being mentioned at all.

        A bad review can also help sell a book because of a reader being curious.

        1. Wave Post author

          Hi KB

          >>A bad review can also help sell a book because of a reader being curious<<
          Exactly. I bought a book that was absolutely trashed at another review site because I thought it couldn’t be that bad. It was. :-D

  22. Jules Jones

    Wave, there really are readers who want more of the same, only different, and complain if they don’t get it. I’ve never encountered this about my own books, but I have seen it happening. Terry Pratchett used to talk about this with the Discworld series — that there were people who wanted more stories about Rincewind and complained if he wrote something different, and people who wanted more stories about the Night Watch, or more stories about the witches…
     
    A sensible reader recognises that a favourite author may wander off into territory that doesn’t match their tastes, and a sensible author recognises that even readers who have them on auto-buy won’t necessarily like everything they write. I read a wide range of genres, but there are some that just don’t work for me, and my favourite authors may have a slightly different mix of genre interests to me. As witness, one of my own review posts this weekend, about an anthology that was a DNF for me because it’s aimed at a slightly different set of genre conventions and taste in story style to mine. I bought it because one of my favourite authors had a story in it, but hers was one of the ones that left me cold. I could dissect in detail why, and I know that people who like that particular style of crime story would love it for exactly the same reasons.
     
    Do I wish she’d spent the time on that story writing something more to my tastes? Of course. But then, the people who complained about the mushy romance stuff creeping into one of her crime novels probably feel the same way about that one, and *I* liked that one an awful lot. :->

  23. Kris

    Wave
    -
    I just wanted to add my support for your decision to continue to review books regardless of requests from authors and publishers.
    -
    The bottom line is that we review for readers not for promo. If there are those out there that think otherwise they seriously need to get real.
    -
    These people also need to give readers credit for actually having a brain of their own to be able to come to a buying decision themselves.
    -
    As others more eloquent than I have said, what may be a problem for some when it comes to a story may not be for others.

    1. Wave Post author

      Kris
      IE just ate my reply, maybe it’s trying to tell me something. :-D

      *
      Thanks for your support – you know that means a great deal!

      *

      What I tried to say is that writers should give readers credit for having brains and using them, rather than trying to muzzle the reviewers on this site. I don’t understand why a few negative reviews should piss off the authors to the extent that they want to censor us.
      *
      I guess I won’t be receiving any more requests in the future from authors not to review their books. :-D

  24. Sharvie

    Hi Wave!
    I’ve gotten into so many kerfluffles over just this issue in the fanfic world. I even left a author posting community because a rec post turned into an anti-rec post and I thought that went against the point of the comm…or at least why I was there, which was to read the fic that was posted. Knowing that authors posted at the comm and could be “blindsided” by a negative review didn’t sit well with me. I didn’t view the comm as a review site and plus…it was fanfic. So now all those bashers in the fanfic world that I’ve thrown down with would probably keel over in shock that I’m agreeing with you.
    *
    Because to me there is a big difference between fanfic, which no one pays for and a professionally published book that I’m going to be laying down my cold hard cash for. Big difference.
    *
    Plus, this is a review site. It’s purpose is to provide thoughtful reviews so that the consumer can have a better understanding of what they intend to buy. Now that I’ve found this site, it’s the first place I go when I want to buy something. Your reviews are always well thought out and never personal. It’s clear they are not meant as a dig or a bash. And I’ve seen bashing…if this was that kind of site….I wouldn’t be here. Even though there is money involved I still wouldn’t be comfortable being part of a site that enjoyed bashing. It’s just not the type of person that I am.
    *
    Making a clear statement about the purpose of the blog/community and then not bending when you know it’ll only be detrimental to that purpose is absolutely the right way to go, imo. Keep up the great work, Wave. The site is awesome!!

    1. Wave Post author

      Sharvie
      I was sure that I responded to your comment but I guess IE ate it.

      *
      >>Now that I’ve found this site, it’s the first place I go when I want to buy something. Your reviews are always well thought out and never personal. It’s clear they are not meant as a dig or a bash< <
      *
      We do try to be helpful and give opinions that are clearly meant to illustrate what we liked or did not care for in any of the books we review. We listen to the readers and answer their questions, which helps to sell the books.
      *
      >>Making a clear statement about the purpose of the blog/community and then not bending when you know it’ll only be detrimental to that purpose is absolutely the right way to go, imo. Keep up the great work, Wave. The site is awesome!!<<

      * Can I hire you when they come after me with pitchforks. :-D

  25. Alaina

    The thing that I find most interesting about this issue is that authors who attempt to stifle bad reviews fail to recognize that their readers are part of a large community that talks to one another through a variety of venues, both online and elsewhere. It is impossible to stop readers from talking to one another about books they love, even if the author were able to successfully target major review sites such as this one or SIN.

    Newer readers to any field or genre may stumble around in the dark, but eventually, the savvy ones will not only make a habit of reading reviews prior to purchasing, they will have discovered on their own (and to the detriment of their pocketbooks) which authors aren’t worth their time. My own experience has taught me the hard way to be suspicious of books that have only glowing reviews, but also those that have no reviews whatsoever. This doesn’t mean that I never purchase books prior to their being reviewed, but I do try to be cautious in how I spend my money. And believe me, I have been vocal both online and in person about which authors I absolutely avoid and why.

    Readers are usually smart and articulate, and we are perfectly capable of deciding for ourselves how much weight to lend a review. However, reviews offer both a way to save time and money by warning of books an individual reader may not like, as well as offering a space for readers to share a genuine response and dialogue about a particular book or body of work. Half the fun of reading reviews is deciding for myself whether and how I agree or disagree with the reviewer and the people who comment on the review.

    I look forward to the moment when you do publish the name of an author asking you not to review their books. I have a sneaking suspicion it will be a name I’m already familiar with and who I have already put on my DNR list!

    1. Wave Post author

      Hi Alaina
      >>The thing that I find most interesting about this issue is that authors who attempt to stifle bad reviews fail to recognize that their readers are part of a large community that talks to one another through a variety of venues, both online and elsewhere< <
      *
      You are so right. I don't know if they believe we are all a pack of drones rather than intelligent human beings who are capable of thinking for ourselves.

      *
      >>I look forward to the moment when you do publish the name of an author asking you not to review their books<<
      *
      The fact that I have said publicly that I will out any author who requests that we no longer review their books I think will put a stop to their requests. At least I hope so because I really don’t want to embarrass anyone, but I will print their names if I get any new requests.

      *
      Thanks for commenting. :-D

  26. kkm

    as one of my friends once said: may you be known by your enemies…
    i think that author pseudo-rebellion is a sign of the power and fairness of the reviews. and unlike paper books that i can pass on to the unsuspecting i never tend to dump even the crappiest of e-books. so i really appreciate the fair and balanced service you provide. you’ve really expanded what i buy and read.
    so. thanks!
    :0)
    -kkm

    1. Wave Post author

      KKM
      Thank you for the nice words and may you enjoy even more reviews which will give you an opportunity to buy more books, a fact these authors overlooked in their attempt at censorship.

  27. Lily

    Wave, you know I love your site.
    *
    Your reviews, and those of the others, are always presented very fairly, whether a book was great, good or not so good. For authors to think they can tell you what books your site can review is totally unbelievable.
    *
    Keep up the outstanding work you guys have been doing. It’s very much appreciated!

    1. Wave Post author

      Hi Lily
      Are you saying you come by the site for the reviews? I thought it was for the Friday Guys. :-D
      *
      Seriously, of all the bloggers who visit this site I value you and MaryM the most. Why? Because you were the first to visit my old blog, and for a long time you were the only commenters, and you would wait faithfully until I posted another review a few days later, to comment again. You have no idea what that meant to me because for a while I felt that there was nobody out there.
      *
      Thanks for being there and for supporting both sites, and also for agreeing with my stand against this form of censorship.

  28. Diane NYC

    Wow… the complaining authors are really showing poor business sense. I have reviewed study after study that shows consumers are more likely to buy a brand they have heard bad things about rather than a brand they have never heard of at all. Ironically, you are doing these authors a favor by continuing to review their work. Oh well.

    1. Wave Post author

      Diane
      In the world of advertising and marketing any press, good or bad, is a way of getting your name out there and these authors haven’t figured this out. We’ll help to drag them kicking and screaming into the era of on line living. :)

  29. TCBlue

    Hiya, Wave (et al.)… :)

    * *

    I honestly can’t comprehend anyone having the utter gall to try to tell you what you can and can’t review on your own site (or anyone else’s, for that matter). It seems like a move that’s not only foolish but childish. Like “if you won’t play the way *I* want to, then I’m taking my ball and going home. Nyah.”

    * *

    I’ve had reviews, both good and bad, on all sorts of sites and blogs and I value each and every one of them. Does it bother me when a reviewer doesn’t like one of my books? Sure it does, to a certain degree. But would I ever tell them not to review my books again? HELL no. Their site, their choice.

    * *

    I’m also a reader and I appreciate the reviews you and the others post here. They’re detailed and you guys actually give me information about themes and content that comes in very handy.

    * *

    I guess what I’m saying is keep doing what you’re doing… and any time you feel the urge to “blindside” me? Go for it! :P

    ~Tis

  30. Wave Post author

    Hi TC
    Initially when I started my blog less than 2 years ago I was naive and experienced about the online experience. I have had to become a fast learner. Since I had no knowledge of the correct protocol I assumed that these requests were the norm.

    *
    In the past I shrugged when authors requested that their books not be reviewed, but since I moved to the new site it seems that more authors are concerned about its reach and feel that bad publicity (negative book reviews) could impact their sales. Consequently I have received more requests to take them off our review list, most notably after what they consider to be a bad review. However, I don’t think I will be receiving any more requests in the future since publishing their names would remove the anonymity they currently enjoy.

    *
    >>I’m also a reader and I appreciate the reviews you and the others post here. They’re detailed and you guys actually give me information about themes and content that comes in very handy. < <

    Thanks for this - we all appreciate it. At least we read the books!

    *

    >>and any time you feel the urge to “blindside” me? Go for it! <<

    I’ll remember this comment next time one of your books is reviewed here. :-D

  31. Ally Blue

    Wow. Unbelievable, that this problem has not only continued, but actually gotten worse for you. I’m glad you decided to take this stand, Wave. Definitely the right thing to do.
    *
    Me, I’m always happy to see one of mine reviewed here. You know that, and you know you have my support, for what it’s worth :)

    1. Wave Post author

      Ally
      You are one of the best and a credit to the profession. I also respect your opinions, which is why I seek your advice from time to time. The authors who are pissed at us and request that we no longer review their books should learn something from people like you. Unfortunately they view any review that’s less than positive as a personal attack regardless of the way it’s written.

      *
      Thank you for writing and supporting my decision.

  32. Mary M.

    You go girl!! I support you 100%. :) That authors would ask you to do that, nevermind sending their attack dogs after you, is nothing short of apalling. Reactions of that kind make me put such authors on a permanent “AVOID” list. I love this site because I know it is made in the interest of readers and that all the reviewers are competent, professional, honest and fair; they are as objective as one can possibly be when reviewing books, providing enough information for us to make up our own mind about the story and decide whether the points that didn’t work for them are things that also matter to us. And none of you ever stoops to personal, derogatory coments about an author in reviews, it’s always about the story. Therefore, I know that any book that gets a bad rating probably deserved it. No author can score a perfect note with every book and a well-written, constructive review can be a source of learning. What the authors harassing you are hoping to achieve I can’t fathom…. if a story is truly bad it’s going to come out one day or another anyway.
    *hugs*

    1. Wave Post author

      Hey Mary
      Thank you for supporting the site for a long time. As I mentioned to Lily, you and she were the two first people (sometimes the only people :-D) to come by the old blog almost two years ago to check out the reviews, and I’m sure you figured out that my objective was to give honest opinions on books to readers.

      *
      I don’t think I’ll receive any future requests to take any writer off our list of reviews because now they know that I’ll post their names. We don’t insult any authors or their books – we are fair, I think, and we don’t believe in snark.

      *
      BTW I’m still waiting for your review. :-D

    1. Wave Post author

      You think we’re nice? I wish you would tell some of my best author friends so that they wouldn’t be mad at us all the time.

      *
      I have been suggesting to a few authors that they check out another well known review site that loves snark. Next time they complain I’ll send them to you. :) Anyway they won’t be coming back here with requests to cease and desist, I don’t think.

  33. kete

    Bad reviews work, too! There’s a book review blog on amazon where I always buy the books the reviewer dislikes. I tried to buy and read her recommendations first, but they never worked for me. So, I thought, why not turn it around and try one she gave only one or two stars? Voilà! That book I liked and so now I’m buying the ones she judges negatively. ;-)

    1. Wave Post author

      Hi Kete
      Some of the time reviews reflect the personal taste of a reviewer. For example I can do with a lot less angst in the books I read so they are not my favourites, but I always indicate this in the reviews. For a reader who loves angst, that book would be like manna from heaven. Also, I love adventure, fantasy and sports so those books tend to get a slightly higher score from me if they are really good than if they were simply straight love stories. However, I indicate my bias in my reviews.
      *
      In the case of books with terrible reviews sometimes I buy the books to see if they could be as bad as the reviewer rated them, and most of the time they are. Some books are just a train wreck waiting to happen. :)
      *
      I’m happy you found a system that works for you. :-D

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