Hot-button topics abound in cyberspace, where everyday bloggers term themselves citizen journalists as we necessarily revise our definition of legitimate media.  But let's be frank, shall we?  WallStreetJournal.com ain't hiring every Joe with a URL and an ATM card to give financial advice.  It follows that not everyone who blogs about books can expect to be taken as seriously as folks writing for sites affiliated with well-established publishing and bookselling brands.

 
Yet some can. The digital soapbox offers an interestingly sticky wicket when we discuss effective genre fiction criticism, who's got the creds to be considered a reviewer and the age-old question of whether authors should respond to criticism they deem unfair.

Yes, though it seems hatched online during Web 2.0, brouhaha between authors and critics is nothing new, as Laura Lee Guhrke points out in her exceptional new historical romance, "With Seduction in Mind  ."

The novel's hero, Sebastian Grant, is incensed upon reading a review panning his play's opening night and attests:

"This critic calls my play rubbish, but his review is what belongs in the dustbin." (Guhrke, 16)

The "him" Grant is disparaging actually is Daisy Merrick, an 1896 working-class "girl bachelor." Daisy's found her often impolitic social skills -- and always judicious intolerance of sexual harassment - has left her unable to keep a job.  So when her publisher brother-in-law asks her to fill in for his theater critic, Daisy jumps at the chance. After all, she needs the gig, and now she'll be a "published author," her dream job.

Similar to some of today's online critics, Daisy doesn't write under her own name:

"Imagine the repercussions," she exclaims.  "Resentful writers would be coming to vent their spleen at the poor critic whenever they received an unfavorable review. (21).

Grant learns Daisy's identity from her brother-in-law, his publisher.  Rather than apologize for Daisy's shredding Grant's work, his publisher issues an infuriating directive: Daisy Merrick, with no appreciable writing experience, will edit the novel Grant has long owed his publisher!  And Grant, who once was the toast of literary Europe, is stuck mentoring Daisy's abjectly mediocre attempts at novel writing.

And therein lies the irony about the online "citizen critic": Often, readers not trained in writing or literary criticism offer valuable insight into what makes a novel work.  Of course, sometimes the inexpert reviewer mistakes for criticism the destructive itemization of perceived flaws, a bastardization of the literary review if ever one existed.

There's a great deal of astute commentary about romance fiction at sites and blogs, in user-generated comment boxes and right here at BN.com, where you can publish "reviews" of as many books as you'd like -- hopefully only those you've read. 

Once you've filled in the form and hit "post," just like Daisy Merrick, I'm pretty sure you're entitled to say you're a published reviewer, even if your name is "Anonymous."

'Cause, you know: Everybody's a critic.


What skills, background, etc., should a book reviewer/critic have to be considered legitimate or reputable? What do you look for in a book review?  Why do you enjoy writing customer reviews at sites like BN.com - or why not?

Read more about "With Seduction in Mind" in Eloisa James BN.com Review column, "My Brilliant Career!" James says WSIM is a sexy, funny and poignant take on what happens when a heroine covets a career that pitches her into a man's world.

Laura Lee Guhrke visits BN.com's Romantic Reads next Monday, Sept. 7!  Chat with the author about WSIM and her award-winning novels.

 

Comments
by Moderator becke_davis on ‎09-01-2009 02:08 PM

Fabulous post, Michelle! I've ordered this book but it hasn't come yet. I want to read it NOW!

 

The problem with reviews on the Internet is, once they're out there, they never go away. I know this because my daughter posted a review to a book I wrote back when she was nine or ten, and it's still out there. It was very sweet but also a little embarrassing. But it will never go away. And that was a NICE review. I hate to think what it's like for an author who gets a bad or unkind review and knows it's going to be around, well, forever.

 

I used to use a pseudonym when I posted on blogs. Most people knew it was me -- my picture was attached to it, after all. But when there was a brouhaha at an agent's blog, several people used their anonymity as a way to hide behind somewhat cruel remarks. I realized that using a pseudonym was a form of playing safe, and figured I should be accountable for things I post -- typos, missed words and all. Here, just about everyone but B&N's bloggers and moderators use pseudonyms, but that's not the same thing as "Anonymous." I wish people wouldn't write nasty reviews, but if they must, I think it's only fair to use your real name. Mainly, I just feel bad for the author.

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎09-01-2009 03:20 PM

I feel your pain, becke!  Long before I ever thought I'd write about books professionally, I wrote a couple ridiculously sophomoric comments praising books on amazon.  They'll never go away.  It never ocurred to me not to use my real name.  Did I mention those things will be there forever? 

I don't want to get lost in all this that "With Seduction in Mind" is just a terrific romance.  Anyone who wants to know a bit more about the love story can check out Eloisa's BN Review column. 

 

But I was pretty blown away by how Guhrke took on all facets of the artist/critic debate in the book.  And the hero and heroine face choices concerning not only relational intimacy, as you'd expect from a romance, but also creative and personal maturity.  I found the book fascinating and not always easy to read.

by Author EloisaJames on ‎09-01-2009 03:32 PM

This is fascinating, Michelle -- isn't it wild that both of us read the same book and came up with different takes on it?  It's not that we disagree in any way, but it's such a complex book that readers will see different things there.  I actually hate reading reviews of my work -- but I'll never forget the time I read a very negative review in which the author asked a question about the plot: and she was right.  Argh!  That's the scary thing for authors, of course -- because Daisy WAS right about his book.  Though I have to say, I was sitting there thinking that we should all be so lucky to be second-hand Oscar Wildes (her meanest criticism of him)!

 

Eloisa

by Moderator Melanie_Murray on ‎09-01-2009 03:44 PM

What a great post and a fascinating topic, Michelle.

 

In my editorial days, I found both "professional" reviews - reviews from publications or news sources - and "popular" reviews - reviews by everyday readers posted at online sites and blogs - completely helpful when guaging whether a book I hadn't read yet was worth my time. I always perceived the difference in them to be one of "head vs. heart." I enjoyed reading the analytical criticism of a book, but also wanted to know if a reader was moved to plain ol' like a book no matter what the "critical" flaws...I still read both and find both invaluable.

 

Between this post and Eloisa's comments in her monthly column, I'm chomping at the bit to read this. And a reminder to those who want to know more about this book and its wonderful author: Laura Lee Guhrke will be visiting Romantic Reads next Monday, September 7th, to chat all about it.

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎09-01-2009 04:56 PM

Hey, Eloisa!  It's true, we both really dig this book and each took away different 'overarching' themes. It's my favorite kind of novel; one can read it as a simple love story, a complex novel of 'psychodynamics,' or something else altogether.  That's when romance amazes me, when I want to call a friend and dissect everything about a romance, not just talk heroes as is my wont.

 

And, forget about Oscar Wilde. I'd be satisfied if someone would call me a bargain-rate Dave Barry.

by HiddenHelper on ‎09-02-2009 11:59 AM

I think there's a place for all types of reviewers: That's one of the beauties of the internet. Before that, we only saw the handful of reviews in the traditional press. And how many times have you heard wonderful reviews about a book, a play, a movie only to be extremely disappointed? Perhaps professional reviewers are evaluating things the average person might not care about. You can dissect all the themes and subthemes and plot twists in a novel, but what it comes down to, is that I want to be entertained. I want to think about something new, I want to identify with the characters, flaws and all, and I want it to have a satisfying conclusion, otherwise I've wasted my time reading it. 

 

I agree with previous posters that you should not leave scathing reviews just for fun, people should use their real names and have in their profiles what their background and knowledge is (on one online site I have that I'm an author and book editor). No, I'm not a professional book critic, but I like to think I have some idea of what I'm talking about too. I think, when reading reviews, the reader (and the author) should consider the source.

by The-Ladies-Room on ‎09-02-2009 01:38 PM

Here's a site where an author can post a bad review:  http://theworstreviewever.blogspot.com/.  Got to love the humor!

by The-Ladies-Room on ‎09-02-2009 01:53 PM

Here Gena Showalter's take on a bad review http://www.romancingtheblog.com/blog/2007/05/11/coping-with-bad-reviews/

 

I don't consider myself to be a "professional reviewer".  But I do have two review sites, one for contemporary romance and another for the "sheikh" genre and those posts come from my heart.  I love contemporary romance and feel that the author takes the time to write then I want to give something back to the "romance community" and share my thoughts honestly.  I also believe posting something negative or hurtful is never an option.  I also have a blog where I post articles and promo authors, industry news, etc.  That's how committed I am to the genre.

 

I choose to use my name and blog as I stand behind what I write.  I recently went our on a limb and tried to post a comment on a hurtful and negative review.  In the end, we both agreed to disagree but hopefully it defused her negative and hurtful comments.  What galls me is on a respected website a NYTimes bestseller received an extremely negative review and it upset me.  Her book was #4 and #7 two weeks in a row.  I wish now I had the courage to respond, but I didn't. .

by Moderator dhaupt on ‎09-03-2009 09:41 AM

Wow Michelle, just throw us right at the wolves why don't you. A terrific and terrifying topic to both reviewers and authors.

 

I review for a couple of sites that are supported by authors and the reviewers use names that are not their own for the protection of the innocent, now some of us there are just readers like me and some are authors with some writing experience so we have a very rounded group. But one thing that is stressed at the sights is that we always give a positive review, even if we didn't like the book. There are ways to say negative things about a novel without offending anyone and our authors seem to like that. Also we don't publish reviews below a 2 on a scale from 2-5 and then best book. And we always finish by saying that we are not unhappy that we read the book even if it's a 2 review. I have done two 2 reviews and believe me they were the hardest things I ever had to write, how do you say you didn't like the book in happy, lighthearted terms without being negative.

I have no problem with an author defending her/his self against a nasty review, I mean come on what if some one attacked your child, even if you have the slightest feeling that they could be right wouldn't you put on your momma bear costume and chew them up and spit them out? I know I would.

 

I have great respect to all authors out there, they put themselves on the line every time they publish something biting their nails and sweating to see, will it sell and will people like it. It takes a lot of guts to do that. I don't think I could.

 

When I choose a book I DO NOT rely on professional review sights like the NY Times etc. I choose to go to the reader review sights like at B&N and that other one that starts with an A that's taboo around here ;-), because I don't want a "professional" opinion I want some one like me just a normal everyday Jane to tell me if he/she liked it and why and why not. But mostly I go on the advice of my friends to choose my next reading adventure.

by hestia on ‎09-03-2009 11:55 AM

It's interesting this topic has been brought up. I'm taking a class right now about classroom communications with the adolescent learner.

 

We got into a lively discussion yesterday where the internet and reviews were concerned.  The  "Read/Write Web" is turning our students and children into dabbling journalists and publishers. Which I think is a great learning tool. I'd rather they sit and type all day than sit and watch TV. It really is changing the way we look at journalism and media. I'm still surprised at how crazy the YouTube campaigning got during last election season.

 

What I wonder is how much do you think podcast will take over for reviews? I subscribe to tons of different podcasts for interviews and such, but I wonder when all reviews will have an audio option so you can listen on the go. I think that's where most enthusiastic bloggers will step next (if they haven't already), pushing their on-line review into a podcast.

by MalePerspectiveGuy on ‎09-03-2009 05:50 PM

When the writing is good , the topics and themes end up timeless.  Nice blog post, really interesting comments. You are all worthy of "professional" reviewer status!

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎09-04-2009 08:43 AM

hey, Melanie! Very much appreciate your "head vs heart" assessment.  Any of us who spend a great deal of time listening to readers' opinions and excitement about books learn quickly that they want to talk about what they've experienced while reading -- and that we learn by encouraging them to articulate.  When we invite readers to share their thoughts -- and help them with language or make them feel comfortable doing it in an "exposed" online setting -- everyone benefits.  Your looking at all sorts of available online thoughts as an editor is very encouraging, and I think many folks in the industry keep abreast of what's being written online. 

 

The caveat I'd add to that, as you know,  is that online commentary isn't representative of what all readers are feeling about a book.  And one has to learn which commentary -- head or heart -- is coming from a constructive, thoughtful place, and which is less about a book and more about the critic's more visceral reaction to issues w/in it.

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎09-04-2009 09:28 AM

Hi, HiddenHelper.  Thanks for your comments, especially citing what makes the reading experience successful for you. You've made a good point among many: I think, when reading reviews, the reader (and the author) should consider the source.  Another way to look at that is that online, folks will go to the places where the flavor of the writing and the 'atmosphere' of the community is one in which they're most comfortable.  Outside of hard-core literary criticism, reviews are by nature subjective.  Online, reviews even can be entertainment; feature writing about books is far different from criticism, for example. 

Your comment, Perhaps professional reviewers are evaluating things the average person might not care about., reminds me of my experience writing features about romance fiction over the past four years. At first, I wrote pieces that were entertainment based, but which explored the more literarary aspects of the novel and authors' skills.  Some romance lovers told me I was taking the books too seriously.  I next wrote for LifetimeTV.com where I wrote in a more entertainment/pop-culture bent which viewers liked, and some folks said, wow, how dumbed down.  In both cases, the naysayers weren't my audience, so I just, you know, did my work in the way right for me and my vision.  Still, those folks're someone else's audience, and they will find a voice to which they're happy to listen. 

 

I'd like authors, too, to be able to find sources of criticism and readers' opinions they trust and block out the rest.  But it can be hard when someone provides criticism in a vitriolic way that doesn't quite seem justified, then won't add their real name to the piece -- or even fully justify how they came to their conclusions other than, "This book was so bad, it made me throw up a little in my mouth when I read it," one author's criticism read. [inexact quotation]

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎09-04-2009 09:54 AM

Welcome, TLR!  The question of what makes one a professional reviewer is akin to the idea of being a writer. In the States, you're not really a writer till you're published. I've heard it's not quite the same in Europe. Maybe it's the mystique of the starving artist being the yet-to-be-discovered genius?   Happy to hear you've found 'bliss' in writing about and promoting the romance you love.  Clearly it's a passion for you. And you seemed to have had a good experience in engaging someone online w/whom you disagree; not always an easy sitch. 

 

Unfortunately, your final comment I wish now I had the courage to respond, but I didn't is completely understandable in some online atmospheres that can 'feel' unsafe.  I hear over and over in myriad incarnations, generally in private: I wanted to post a comment, but I was afraid; I would have said something, but I was feared for my career...or the twist: everyone else was cutting up the book and after a while, it occurred to me that I was taking part in an attack on a fellow author. Then I was afraid to say anything against it cause they all already knew who I was.

by amyskf on ‎09-04-2009 10:15 AM

I subscribe to the philosophy of Thumper's Mother: If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. And by that, I mean you can disagree with someone (commenter, blogger, author), but you can do it in a respectful manner.

 

Which everyone has done here. I write features about books, do I consider myself a reviewer? Don't know. But I love to tell people about something I'm excited about and I get to do that at Romance: B(u)y The Book. Michelle writes about books she likes and so do her CEs at RBTB.

 

There's lots of books I don't write about, simply because of timing and space, but when it's my slot, I'm certainly not gonna tell you about a book I hated -- because I don't hate any books. I know all books have an audience, and simply because a certain book doesn't speak to me, I still know it could be speaking-I- tongues to a whole slew of other readers.

 

Hestia, a good question about the podcasting -- Michelle's voice and face would be perfect for it.

 

When I first made my account at B&N I used my old blogger commenter name, and now I can't change it, but I will sign my name. It's interresting that spell check wants to change "blogger" to "flogger."

Amy Kennedy, non-flogger

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎09-04-2009 10:23 AM

Debbie, to me, you've hit the nail on the head: believe me they were the hardest things I ever had to write, how do you say you didn't like the book in happy, lighthearted terms without being negative.  It'd be pretty easy to say: This book stunk, the plot fell apart, there were a million cliches and, sheesh, did it have to have a happy ending?  because we don't have to throw up that social filter our parents made us develop. And it's easier to be funny that way, too, cause we're a society that appreciates humor at the expense of others or by extension their work.  But the majority of authors I've talked with about criticism say they don't mind a review with negatives, as long as they're not attacks, indescriminate or which seem personal.  They also feel a balanced positive/neg review is ultimately most helpful because it tells them a bit about what one person thinks works/doesn't work.

 

I do know that some folks have a problem with authors reviewing other authors because objectivity is really difficult, and I guess I fall into that category. My opinion doesn't have to do with questioning individual ethics, rather the appearance to the audience/authors reviewed that a reviewer might be unethical or likely to review from a place of jealousy.  I'm sure many readers consider an author reviewing books is a great idea.  I don't have a problem with authors writing about authors' books in features/articles that aren't critical.

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎09-04-2009 10:48 AM

Hi, Hestia: Your experience sounds so exciting! Nothing is more invigorating, to me, than to look at how 'young people' are using digital technology to communicate and facilitate education.  You may be interested in this pretty cool survey done by Pew Charitable Trust  of teens/parents which looks at what teens think about their time spent communicating online vs what they believe is "real" writing.  What's pretty remarkable is that kids seem to think there's a difference, but they're very attuned to how learning proper writing skills helps them in career/life/education.  The concern of many educators is that writing short cuts used in texting, creative grammar (of which I'm guilty) used in blogs, etc., are somehow bastardizing or degenerating English As We Know It.  I think it's enriching the lexicon, wicked interesting, at the very least, and like you, I think it's getting kids used to writing and looking at words, imagining connections on the screen and through cyberspace.  That makes stronger readers, too.

 

Your question about podcasts is a great one!  Are you an NPR or talk radio fan? I'd love to hear what you like about podcasts, how you use them and what you think makes one bettr than another.  I really like the idea of very short bites of info being told in audio, that easy access to hear at the laptop or the iPod.  Of course, I come from the 'write as you speak' school. And if the reviewer's engaging on-cam, sure, the vid podcast may become hotter.  It'd be awesome if all reviews would have at least the audio option. Will it take over?  I don't see that happening, but I do see it becominga lot  more popular.  Imagine listening to the review, buying the book and beginning to read it, all w/in 5 minutes on a hand-held reader yet-to-be developed...or released, I guess I should say.

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎09-04-2009 10:59 AM

Hmmm, well, Amy, I subscribe to the philosophy of thumper's evil step-mom: If you can't say anything nice about someone, for gawd's sake, don't say it so loud that anyone else hears you!  Guess I should thank you for your kind, yet misguided praise.  But in spite of that, what you say here "I love to tell people about something I'm excited about"  is what I think drives most folks online to blog about books.  Of course, there also are the "I'm excited to tell people about something I hate" folks, too. The Internet allows everyone to find their niche.

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎09-04-2009 11:01 AM

Good writing always is a treat.  I'll be adding your comment to my resume. Thanks MPG.

by Author MonicaBurns on ‎09-04-2009 11:13 AM

What great topic Michelle. Reviews to me are nothing more than opinions...everybody's got one. Since I'm firm believer in free speech, I think everyone's entitled to speak their mind about a book. The only qualification they have to have IMHO is that they actually READ the book and that they say something more than I liked this book or I didn't like this book.

 

Positive reviews are nice ego strokes for me as a writer. Negative reviews can have a kick, but for the most part, I don't let them get to me. It is opinion after all, and not everyone is going to like my work. On top of that, some of my books will be liked by fans better than others. It depends on the reader.

 

I tend to look at negative reviews as a way to learn what does/doesn't work for a reader. I can examine it and figure out if I agree/disagree with the reviewer's points. Sometimes, a review has some valid points that an author can use to improve their work. What I don't like is when a reviewer eviserates the author in a personal manner as opposed to focusing on the book in a logical manner or if they review it and get facts wrong.

 

What I find really irritating is when someone gives a book (ANY BOOK - mine or not) a low rating without any explanation of what worked or didn't work for the reader. I don't know how many times I've seen someone rate a book with one or two stars and simply wrote. I didn't like the book. A one or two starred rating without commentary is useless to someone who relies on reviews to buy a book.

 

I also think you have to find a reviewer who has similar tastes as you. I wrote an article about it for my website, where I pointed out to readers that you have to test drive reviewers. Come up with a list of books you love, then hunt down reviewers who loved as many of your books as possible. The reviewer you find with similar likes is going to be more likely to suggest books you'll enjoy too. It's sort of like people. You tend to hang with those you resonate with. *grin* I know I've found some wonderful books reading your blog Michelle. Books I might not have tried otherwise. So both the author and I benefit from your commentary. Thanks for that!

 

 

 

by hestia on ‎09-04-2009 12:51 PM

“In the States, you're not really a writer till you're published. I've heard it's not quite the same in Europe. Maybe it's the mystique of the starving artist being the yet-to-be-discovered genius?”

Hey Michelle! Great points! Do you want to come to class with me and help me out with my homework on all this?

Personally, I think there should be a way to distinguish a “writer” from a “paid writer” don’t you think? This internet blog sensation made us all writers.  Part of me dreams of one day making writing clubs grow in popularity as a book clubs. It’s a good way to find things about yourself and understand how you exactly understand and see the books and world around you. I’m sure, in this case though, I am preaching to the choir.

“The concern of many educators is that writing short cuts used in texting, creative grammar (of which I'm guilty) used in blogs, etc., are somehow bastardizing or degenerating English As We Know It.  I think it's enriching the lexicon, wicked interesting...”

It’s crazy how it really is a whole new language! I try not to get too concerned and think about 1984 or anything, but some of these kids amaze me! Unfortunately, when someone text’s me I have the problem of responding in full words, not “texting language.” I just can’t bring myself to leave off all punctuation yet. I don’t know if it has to be the end of the English language as we know it though. As long as we make it clear to our student and children, it’s a part of code switching. I wouldn’t wear my bathing suit to  work, just like a wouldn't wear a suit to the beach. Same difference with “texting language” and “proper English.”

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎09-04-2009 05:03 PM

Thanks, Monica! I like the idea of the reviewer 'test drive!'  And I reject out of hand anyone who suggests in convo or in review, "I just didn'l like it; it made me angry; I hate this author's books."  That tells me about your emotions, but not about the book.  I enjoy balanced reviews with well-considered points, neg and pos., regardless of whether the reviewer's 'trained.'  I also reject out of hand that's nasty for entertainment value, as I know some folks reject my features because I write good stuff about the books I think are best to (hopefully) entertain, not trad criticism.  As you say, there's a market for everyone, and room for every viewpoint.

 

Writer, blogger, commentator, we're all in positions to be judged and critiqued.  'Course, I think it's only fair reviewers use identifiable names/personas in the same ways writers do, because we who write about books -- especially because we either are or want to be entertainers/entertaining whether we want to cop to it or not -- should stand by our work, and understand the light can shine on us, too.  Our 'faces need to be hanging out, too,' as a vocal performance prof of mine used to say of being in the public eye and open to criticism.  I can see no reason to expect authors to be in the open because they want us to buy their books, but we -- who are asking folks to 'buy our wares,' too -- don't have to be.  I can't imagine not slapping my name on everything I do that I'm proud of, and everything I do in general, because I've never had a reason not to.

 

So, perhaps a good question would be, "If you review anonymously, why do you do so?"

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎09-04-2009 05:16 PM

lol, hestia!  What a great idea: writing clubs.  I'm assuming there'd be wine and cheese involved?  That'd be a neat idea for teens. There's a great site called TeenInk.com.  The also have a mag that's in libraries and schools in the states and have been around about 20 years.  Young people write all types of creative and, I think, journalistic pieces and they're published online. Some are edited for content, plus there's an area called, i think, Teen Ink Raw, where teens post 'as is.'  There are so many lonely teens who get through rough experiences at school by journaling, writing, I think a place like a writing club for them to find/build community in person or online would be so nurturing and helpful in getting them through very tough years. 

 

And I love this: it’s a part of code switching. I wouldn’t wear my bathing suit to  work, just like a wouldn't wear a suit to the beach. Same difference with “texting language” and “proper English.”  Amazing how we pick up pretty fast in the workplace when we've brought in language or behavior that should have stayed at home or among our friends.  We don't give ourselves enough credit for having raised good kids if we think they can't tell the difference -- or learn pretty fast after an embarrassment or lost job or two. 

 

Have you seen books being written for cell phones now?  Dorchester Publishing is having a cool contest called Amerca's Next Best Celler which is really cool.

by paula_02912 on ‎09-04-2009 09:27 PM

Hey Michelle, this is a great blog topic. I am not sure what to say about qualifications for reviewers. I often wondered about that myself. Everyone is so unique and their perception of what they read, see or hear is so personal that it is difficult to deem whether they are qualified to give an opinion about a particular book, movie or song. I think that everyone has the necessary qualifications to review a product, and it doesn't matter how learned you are. I hope that makes sense.

 

Peace and love,

Paula R.

by Stacy1 on ‎09-05-2009 10:55 PM

I think all forms of reviews are valuable, and everyone has the right to choose what works for them.  Over the years I've gone from Amazon/B&N reviews to Romantic Times reviews to reader reviews.  The majority of "professional" reviews, like Romantic times,  have frustrated me because of their lack of substance.  They are usually limited by word count and I don't give a strong enough idea of the story for me.  Plus I don't believe that just because a review is done by a professional source that it is any more valuable than a non-professional source.  In fact, most recently, I've tended to follow other readers' reviews more closely, especially those with similar reading tastes, and find myself rarely disappointed.  Some of the best reviews I've ever read are from Ana at Booksmugglers.com  She manages to make books that I have no interest in reading sound like total gems.  Her reviews are eloquent, clever, intriguing and usually lacking in serious spoilers, which is a major plus. 

 

While I tend to veer away from most negative reviews, I must admit that there have been times that I've read them and have felt the issues with the story are valid concerns.  I would term them more constructive.  It's hard to write a negative review, though I have in 2 particular instances because I felt strongly compelled to do so.   

 

As for doing the reviewing, I do it at my blog and at RomanceNovel.tv, but it's all for fun.  I would never wish to do it professionally - that would take the fun out of reading for me, which would be a fate almost worse than death. 

 

So review on, people. 

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Since 1997, you’ve been coming to BarnesandNoble.com to discuss everything from Stephen King to writing to Harry Potter. You’ve made our site more than a place to discover your next book: you’ve made it a community. But like all things internet, BN.com is growing and changing. We've said goodbye to our community message boards—but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be a place for adventurous readers to connect and discover.

Now, you can explore the most exciting new titles (and remember the classics) at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. Check out conversations with authors like Jeff VanderMeer and Gary Shteyngart at the B&N Review, and browse write-ups of the best in literary fiction. Come to our Facebook page to weigh in on what it means to be a book nerd. Browse digital deals on the NOOK blog, tweet about books with us,or self-publish your latest novella with NOOK Press. And for those of you looking for support for your NOOK, the NOOK Support Forums will still be here.

We will continue to provide you with books that make you turn pages well past midnight, discover new worlds, and reunite with old friends. And we hope that you’ll continue to tell us how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and what books mean to you.

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