Saturday, November 15, 2008

Faith 'n Fiction Saturday

Amy's Saturday question is: The past couple of days there has been a big flare-up in the broader book blogging community regarding review policies and a blogger's obligation to an author once they've received a review copy. For those of you who belong to the blogging alliance FIRST, we've also discussed this issue a little bit.

Do you receive review copies of Christian books? If so, do you review them honestly? How do you handle it when you don't like a book but are obligated to provide a review? Who do you see your first commitment being to in book reviewing (besides God)? Yourself? The author? Your readers? Does your review change based on the spiritual content of the book or is it solely based on technical or artistic merit? Have you ever had a negative experience with an author after giving them a negative review? (please don't name names)

Well, this seems very appropriate for what's been happening on FIRST Wild Card! Most of you know that I had to put about 100 memberships on hold until they can get their blogs to be unique...have them stand on their own without FIRST and other blog tours. One of the points brought up is that people just weren't reviewing the books they ordered.

Yes, I receive Christian books to review...I actually receive all the books we do on FIRST so that I can moderate them.

Do I post honest reviews? Yes. If I loved it, I let you know. If I don't, I try to say it in a way that I point out the good stuff then add what I didn't like...then I ask you to decide by reading the first chapter. Some authors like it when FIRST members just put up the FIRST post with their bio and first chapter without the blogger's opinions. Some authors only want to see wonderful reviews. Some want to see what you thought no matter what. I hope that when my book comes around to tour, people will be honest. I want to be able to improve my skills through honest critiques.

On my blog, I am commited to my readers. They want to know what I thought, or they wouldn't visit me.

I base my critique on how I liked it overall. If there is a great story inside a poorly edited novel, I tell the reader so.

Yes, I've had an author or two be upset at what I said. Sometimes my mouth gets away from me...I try to curb that as much as possible.

Thanks, Amy...great questions!


Sunny said...

I agree, I think it's important to not write a completely negative review. We should add some positive, too, so that readers can decide for themselves.

I like that FIRST provides the first chapter to help with that decision.

Sunny said...

Oh and regarding my other post...I dont mind you snagging any/all of it! Let me know if you'd like the html to make it easier.

Amy said...

wow Mimi, that's a A LOT of books!!! Good answer! :)

kalea_kane said...

Bless your heart, Amy! I don't know what I would do if I had to read all of the FIRST books. I do feel that if I received the review copy, out of courtesy I should read and review it.

I am really appreciative of the first chapter postings. That is how I first found (giggle) FIRST. Those chapters got me to purchase quite a few books.

Speaking of negative reviews: I really appreciated the reviews that I read on Stephen Baldwin andn Mark Tabb's book "The Death and Life of Gabriel Phillips," the reviewers were definitely honest. Some did not enjoy it and said exactly why...language played a huge role, and other reviewers felt the language did reflect the story. After reading the first chapter...I knew I wanted it. The reviews helped me know what to expect without spoiling the story.

Anyway, I think it is important to not be completely negative, but sometimes it may be done if you are at least focusing on why. The people who were negative on this book at least said why, and it wasn't in a hurtful way at all. I hope I can do the same if it happens. :)

Anonymous said...

Wonderfully put Mimi....I so understand about the mouth getting away from you...around here we call in Foot'n mouth disease :o)

Wow...that is a lot of books to read. I admire your commitment to FIRST and to us, it is such a blessing.

Much love...

Jaime said...

This is why I ceased all participation in book blogging... I simply do not have time to read all those books; not while I'm in school, at any rate, and not if I want to have any time to work on my own writing.

Nice new look on the blog!!

Pam said...

I really like the way you answered this question. I think being honest is the only fair way for the reader to decide if they like it.
I try to always phrase my thoughts in a kind way when I don't care for a book. Thankfully, that hasn't been often.

Ausjenny said...

Thanks Mimi for what you do for firsts,
I admit a couple of the first novels were not what I would normally read if I choose them.
But by doing some reviewing I have learnt what I do and dont like.
I have had a couple of books this year from different sources I just couldn't get past chapter one.
a couple I put aside as the timing to read was wrong (one dealing with someone very sick in hospital when I wasn't sure if mum would survive for example).
One was not my type of book.
Now with the choice I only request books I think I will like. So far I haven't had one I need to give a negative comment too. One book I did read was ya and I did say I thought young people would love it and explained that although I didn't mind the story I felt it was to young for me but that young people would relate much better.

Wendi B. - Wendi's Book Corner ~ Rainy Day Reading in Seattle said...

Mimi - I agree with what you have said, and authors are bound to get worse feedback from the general public through emails and mail.

I also really think that it is a blessing for people (and the author) that the first chapter is included in the FIRST WildCard Tours - it helps the reader who is reading the review to get an instant look into the actual book, and a chapter is long enough (usually) to determine if you like the book. Plus - if they read the chapter and like it, they will be more likely to go purchase the book!

:) Take care Mimi - Wendi

I've got mine up late . . .
is my Faith 'n Fiction Saturday post.

AndieJ said...


I think you hit the nail on the head. Honesty is the best policy.
I saw that Kalea wrote about The Death and Life of Gabriel Philips I hammered that book in my review. Not just because of the language, I gave Stephen Baldwin the benefit of the doubt in reading it that he was going to turn the main character full circle - show him having a spiritual experience, that would have made up for all the foul language etc. in the book. When he didn't that made the book null and void for me. Yet, when an author gets it right, like Julie Lessman in A Passion Most Pure / A Passion Redeemed I shout it from the roof tops. And I'm just tossing out examples here.
Thanks for all you do!

Lindsey said...

I'm kind of nervous about an author getting upset at me, lol. So I try to be tactful in the way I say things - one thing I do know is that something I might not enjoy so much other people will love (just look at all the different reviews on Amazon! lol).

Here's my answer (late):

God bless!

bigguysmama said...

Hey Meems(I'm here to drive you insane!)I loved your post. Especially with what's been going on with FIRST. So far I've tried to be as honest about my reviews as possible! I love pretty much all of them and it's hard not to get excited with the books I'm reading.

Sendin' some lovin',
the other Meems

CherryBlossomMJ said...

If you ever need help catching your mouth once it has run away, just let me know. *wink*