★BOOK TALK★ To review or not…

Let's talk

The very idea of pondering this question feels wrong.

I didn’t mean to take part of this— and I don’t think I am by simply stating where I’m standing in regard of this clusterfuck— but I just wanted to say a few words about what happened on Goodreads this past week end.

What the reviewer reports in her review is simply mind boggling. It gaves me the chills. (And I read all the comments, I read all about the amazon reviews, the twitter multiple accounts, the pen names…)
If you are a reviewer on Goodreads, you probably heard of this… If you avoid Goodreads, this will sound like old news to you. It was hard to miss it anyway, and I tend to stay away from this kind of drama, you all heard about the Hale gate a few months back, even that I put aside… My focus purely intent on reading and sometimes reviewing. (And ogling men on Pinterest, but what’s new?)

The Author wrote an open letter, trying to explain her takes on all this.
So I guess I needed my own open letter as well.

“If you are an author, that you went so far as to publish your work for all to see, you must be prepared for some persons to not like it. You are very proud of your “baby”, you worked hard for it and maybe even think it’s worth all prizes. That’s okay. That is your opinion. You value your work, and that’s your right.

But what would you do if I was to say your work is not to my taste? Or that your work is not good as “X”. Or simply that I don’t like your work? Don’t care for it?
Because, that is my right as well, don’t you agree?
You probably don’t like certain things I’m sure I love. But I won’t take offense. To each their own.

I realize reading and hearing your work isn’t good enough for some must be hard. It must be even harder not to strike back. Keep in mind that some readers are not ALL readers.

But that is not how you act. You act as if me not liking your work is an insult. You act as if the idea me being offended by your work is not my right. More over, you say that me not liking the idea of your work is an infringement of your freedom of expression.
You’re going so far as to say that not liking the very idea of your work is an act of CENSORSHIP.
You’re even daring to compare the result of your mishap to the tragedy that took place in January to the guys of Charlie Hebdo.

But you say you are hurt and that you are working on your behavior in regard to people’s acceptance of your work.
And I want to believe you.
But then you also say that by rejecting your book because of its theme/blurb, I’m not worth anymore than those who went against the “JeSuisCharlie” support campain. You say I’m in the same team as terrorism and censorship supporters.


You accuse people reviewing books under a certain amount of stars of being bullies.
I do rate the books accordingly to what I felt, I guess that makes me a bully. When I feel a lot I rate high, when I feel nothing I rate low.
You take every word against your work as a personal attack to your person.

Why would you be so intent to shovel it down everyone’s throat but not wanting any bad feedback about it? And why would you force a specific someone to read it when you OBVIOUSLY know of this person tastes, and that most likely your work won’t receive a glowing review?

You went so far as to create a new pen name to propose your work to someone you knew didn’t like it.
You accuse this person of bullying your work. But how could this person was bullying YOU when it wasn’t YOU that submitted that specific work?

I don’t particularly care for either side, you author, or you, reviewer. I’m reacting to this as a reader. It makes me uncomfortable and maybe even a bit scared to attempt a read of your work, Author. What if I don’t like it? What if I give it a bad review? What if I say something you don’t like? Would you write a book about it? Will that make me a bully?

I hope not. But I won’t risk it. I like my reading time too much to spent half of my time wondering if you’ll try to get back at me because I didn’t like it. Do you really think a bad review will do that much damage to your work reputation? What about your behavior? 
Before choosing my next read, I am systematically checking the good and the bad reviews. That is exactly what helps me narrowing down my choice. As a reader, I need the good AND the bad to help me pick my next read.
It has been discussed many times, but I do believe we can review everything, the good and the bad experiences. It applies to any form of businesses, really.
I am a reader/reviewer/customer, it should be my right to say what I liked, or what I didn’t and why. Don’t you think?”

I am most certainly not taking any side. I am staking a claim on behalf of reviewers and readers. We can read what we want, we can like it or not, and we certainly can have our say about it.

Monday drama, that’d be all!

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  1. says: Christine

    Truthfully I find that Babu is a bully reviewer, in that she often denigrates an author and not the book. I wish I didn’t see her stuff showing up on my feed but lots of my goodreads friends follow her so it does. When she rates something low, she doesn’t rate the material as much as she lambasts the author for writing it. I don’t think this is how book reviews should be done. You don’t personally attack the person writing it. I know many reviewers who can rate a book with 1 star and still be tasteful in what they say. It’s a simple fact to state that you thought the plot was too involved, or the characters weren’t appealing or what not without making fun of the author in doing so. And I bet if I commented on any one of her negative reviews politely that I think she takes things too far she’d be sure to bully me too. I’m glad to know reviewers like yourself that can keep their emotions in check.

    1. says: Alleskelle

      Hey Christine (maria)
      I’m not friend nor do I follow this reviewer on Goodreads or on any social media. I did when I joined Goodreads though. I liked some of her reviews, I think I discovered Anne Calhoun thanks to her reviews back then. But then, my tastes evolved, and I ended not enjoying her reviews anymore, and also the fact that we are not exactly reading the same things. So not following her anymore, and never see her stuff either.

      But this thing with the author was brought to my attention via Facebook, and I was speechless about it all.
      I read her review of this specific author’s work and didn’t understand why the author would take offense in it, honestly. She said she didn’t like it, author accused her to be a bully. What had me flabbergasted was to learn that the author came to her wit ha different pen name, and accused her AGAIN to be a bully.
      Then it was to see by myself through all the comments and reviews on Amazon, how the author was behaving toward reviewers in general. I didn’t like it a bit.
      In my opinion, even if Baba irritates some, she doesn’t deserves this kind of bullshit.
      The author just hit on some nerve with me because of her “open letter” comparing what was going on with the Charlie Hebdo tragedy. I mean come on. She cried “CENSORSHIP”! Because a few persons decided to side with the reviewer or to take offense with her book.
      I mean, I am offended by some book contents as well. I won’t read, won’t shelve the books, and that make me a supporter of censorship because? No it doesn’t.
      I think what she didn’t understand is that many readers were shocked and disgusted by her behavior more than the book itself. And the blurb really could and CAN be interpreted the way many interpreted it : Babu was Baba. She must have known, or think about the similarity.
      I do write rant reviews, I try to be funny with them, but I’m sure they must hurt the authors. So what should I do? Censor myself? I like to talk about all my books. My good experiences and the bad ones.
      Thanks for appreciating my reviews though! ;))

  2. says: backoffmybooks

    I only pop onto Goodreads to post my review and maybe search for a specific book to find a publication date or cover, otherwise I avoid. So basically I have no idea what has been going on. I agree with you though that we have a right to rate books according to how we feel about them. Months ago I was attacked for posting a “review” on my blog only regarding books that I DNFed (When I DNF I do not post to amazon or goodreads). I was told that I shouldn’t post anything negative about a book, that it takes sales away from authors and that it was my JOB to only promote authors positively. I couldn’t believe the attacks and they claimed I was being a bully when all I did was state my opinion of the book, why it wasn’t for me and never attacked the author. I even stated the author was talented. Like you say, don’t put your work out there if you are not ready to hear it all. I don’t feel reviews should attack the author personally. For me there is no point in that and it doesn’t tell me anything about the book or if I should read it. We have a right to our opinion and it is why the review system is set up on Amazon and Goodreads, to help readers decide if they want that to invest time into that product.

    1. says: Alleskelle

      Hey Jennifer!
      Wow, first of all, I am sorry you had to defend yourself against that kind of comments! You decided to open a book blog. It is your space. You review what you want, and you have the right to say what your reading experience was, good or bad. END OF.
      I read many of your reviews and it’ll be hard for me to imagine you trash an author. I just can’t believe it. But some authors and sometimes some of their “fans” can’t accept that their opinions are their own just like you have yours, and we just can’t like the same things! I see the book as a product. And as a customers I’m in my own right to say if I like it or not.
      You continue to do what you do, I love your reviews and your are a great person! I do post about my Dnfs on Goodreads. I will post them on the blog, won’t review them but would I drop a line or two saying what didn’t work for me? Absolutely. Many people forget that we aren’t paid for reviewing books. It is a hobby. Not a job!

  3. says: Elizabeth

    I had heard something about this a day or two ago, but had no idea what everyone was talking about. Thanks for letting me in on what can only be characterized as high school drama.
    I love your response to it. I, too, used to be open to review books but realized I just wanted to read and review what I wanted to read and review, not because someone told me to do it (plus I am a bit lazy). So do what you want and don’t worry what anyone else thinks.
    I used to be a theater major in school and being around actors/actresses all day gave me a good perception of what drama was like. We were actually taught how to give criticism and receive criticism. They said, “If a director is giving you negative feedback look at it as a learning experience, a chance to work on that part of your craft and not as a personal attack on you as a person. Because there is a line of at least 100 other actors/actresses who will be more than happy to take your place if the director chooses.”
    As an author I am thankful that my teachers taught me these lessons as it comes in handy now. While negative reviews of my work still hurt I would never go after the reviewer. That is their opinion and they are not me. They do not see the world as I do and they probably weren’t raised as I was, therefore might not understand or relate to the characters and story I write. But, I may write a blog post about my learning experience from the review, but never as an attack. I feel it necessary to write the good, the bad and the ugly on my blog as it is about my life as an Indie author.
    So, I look at myself as a writer who has a tough skin when it comes to reviews due to my theatrical background, unfortunately not a lot of writers have a thick skin. They haven’t had the experience I have had or anything similar, so they don’t know how to step away and give the review an ‘unattached’ look.
    Just as authors have to deal with sometimes nasty reviewers and one star reviews, so too book reviewers have to deal with authors who can’t handle negative feedback. There is no perfect world for anyone.

  4. My take as a reviewer is; I strive to give my honest opinion about the books I review – in a positive/constructive way – so that those who read my reviews will be able to form their own opinion about those books, based upon my reviews **as well as other reviews they have and will read**. Now, am I always positive – NOPE. Do I strive to be, absolutely! What is going on right now on GR is mind-blowing and shameful. I appreciate your response letter. There are people who do not like my reviews and are not afraid to tell me so. Whether it be on Amazon or Goodreads. The fact is, once you put yourself out for the world to criticize you will be. And you don’t get to control in what fashion it will be done! No matter how badly you may want to.

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