Friday, June 3

Avoiding Reviews and "The Bad Review Test"

I've been avoiding reading reviews before reading books for awhile now. I find reviews influence my viewpoint too much. If the reviewer isn't thrilled with the book and points out all the flaws, the book has a strike against it before I even start reading.

I finished Bonnie Vanak's The Cobra & The Concubine the other night and really enjoyed it. It's not a "perfect" book and wont be going on my "keeper" shelf, but I liked it. If I were giving it a grade it would be a B-/B. Most of the book takes place in 1895 Egypt. Great time period and location. I love books set in Egypt.

Like most books the first page is used for praising earlier works, so I have the names of her other books in this series (and yes, this book can stand alone.) Curiosity sent me looking for reviews--why? I don't know, because I'm now kicking myself. I'm still going to read The Tiger & The Tomb and The Falcon & The Dove but in the back of my mind I'm going to remember that AAR and Mrs. Giggles disliked both of these books. I would have been much happier being totally oblivious.

I'm going to make a point to avoid reviews of books I want to read, but I still love reading bad reviews. I've blogged about this before. It's like a guilty pleasure. If a reviewer at AAR or Mrs. G gives a book a really bad review
  1. The reviews are usually very sardonically (is this a word? yes, encarta says it is) funny and I hate to admit they make me laugh out loud.
  2. I'm always left wondering "can it really be that bad??" Probably, but I have to admit there are a couple of books I'm truly tempted to put to the test.

I already have Jennifer Skully's Sex and the Serial Killer Mrs. G gave it a 28 and she gave Patricia Grasso's To Catch a Countess a big whopping 03. I'm still looking for a copy of TCAC. I've read Patricia Grasso in the past and have always run hot and cold with her books (lukewarm and ice cold is probably a better description.)

So sometime in the next couple of months I'm going to do "The Bad Review Test". I'll let everyone know the results.


Bookwormom said...

I visited Mrs. Giggles yesterday & she gave three books I really, really like less than 40 each! LOL :P

So I too shall likely refrain from looking at reviews until after I've read it.

Mrs. Giggles is so funny though!!

Jay said...

It makes me sad when they give bad reviews to books I liked. And you're right, when I read a review first I find myself nitpicking the book more than I would normally. Now I try to skim the review for plot points and just gloss over criticisms.

I meant to ask - How was George & the Virgin? I picked it up after it was rec'd like 40 times on AAR but I haven't gotten to it yet.

Tara Marie said...

Amanda--I don't always agree with Mrs. G, but she is funny.

Jay--I liked George... you need to suspend belief, but hey, there's a real dragon in the story, how real is that--LOL.

Kristie (J) said...

I've learned not to go by the grades but by what they write about the book. A number of times I've given a book an excellent grade only to see it got a rotten one at a review site. I'll always remember Linda Francis Lee's Nightengale's Gate and really liking it. Mrs. G gave it a 04. She is a hoot though.

Kristie (J) said...

Oh, and I finished the Vanak book and I'd give it a 4 - 41/2 out of 5 so I'm really looking forward to reading the first two. And even though I'm not normally a fan of series, I really hope she plans on writing one for Graham.

Suzanne said...

I hardly ever agree with Mrs. Giggles. But I do find her review entertaining! I like to read books that got bad reviews just so I can compare.

erika said...

I always search for reviews for books that I put on my to buy list. The more info and any spoiler is always a plus for me.

Anne E. said...

I don't pay much attention to the critics -- it is just the same for me with movies as it is with books. If I like it, that's good enough!! Sometimes I read something that I do not expect to like (for instance, "Once Upon a Sofa") and love it for no particular reason, and then read something that every one tells me is great and it leaves me lukewarm (the latest example being "Mr Impossible"). I put a new post on my blog regarding Oprah's book club, and would like your input.

Misty G said...

Maybe this is really bad of me, but I've never been that close to a story/book where a bad review bothered me. I tend to read reviews after the fact on sites like Mrs.G's and AAR. I find that blogs are where I get most of my info on what I want to read next anymore. (even if someone didn't like it as much as I think I might).

Mary Stella said...

As an author, getting a bad review often hurts, but we're close to our work. In the grand scheme, a positive review probably does more good than a negative review does harm. I think most readers are willing to give a book a shot if it catches their interest -- or if they've heard a lot of buzz and word of mouth about the story.

What I really dislike are reviews that aren't just negative but mean-spirited. If you don't like a book, fine. Explain why and leave it at that.