Stop & Chat Saturday


Stop & Chat is a weekly discussion post here at Read. Sleep. Repeat. where we talk about what ever tickles my fancy!

Happy Saturday guys! Today I want to talk about something that REALLY bugs me.

Holding Punches!

As book bloggers we all live by one code above others.

Always be honest with your reviews.

But being honest, I found, can mean a lot of different things for a lot of people. I recently did a DNF Stop & Chat post and the replies I got were magnificent and fueled by so many intense emotions! I absolutely adored it! But a few of the comments got me to thinking about ARC’s. Now I know there are many bloggers who will not DNF a ARC no matter what, and I get that I swear. You received a book for free, for a honest review. I totally get not making the DNF call (even if I don’t agree), but it’s what happensΒ after that torturous read that bugs me. The “negative” review. Too often lately I’ve heard “I tried not to be too mean” or “ahh I got this ARC and I HATE IT! What do I do?!” and it made me question how many other people totally alter their review techniques when it comes to ARC’s.

I’m not attacking anyone, and I’m not singling our anyone either, but be honest. How many times have you received a ARC, hated it, and then reviewed it the exact same way you would a book thats 3 years old and you picked up from the library? Why, do people feel this urge to try and cushion the “I totally hated this book!” blow? In what universe is a publicist feelings more important than the bare truth our readers have come to expect from us?

And just so you know, the first ARC I ever received was one I totally loathed! So yes I know that anxious feeling that a lot of people have when faced with this dilemma, but I didn’t hold back any punches on that review because, well because I’m a very direct person.Β I’m not saying you have to set off a atomic bomb and go all swearing and author bashing. I’d never suggest anything so tacky. But I think it’s time for some people to realize that maybe, just maybe, their holding some punches.

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43 thoughts on “Stop & Chat ~Are you holding punches? ~”

  1. Hello Octavia. I can totally relate with your post. I’m a person who is easy to please so it’s very rare for me to give a book 0-2 stars. But when I do, I usually think about it a lot of times, reflect on the things that made me hate it. And then try to write the negative review using a lot of euphemism. As much as possible I try to approach it in a very technical manner stopping myself to be awfully sarcastic or swearing about it. This usually happens if it’s a new author as I really don’t want to discourage him/her from writing.

    On the other hand, if it’s an established author, then I don’t give a qualm if my review is tantamount to all hell breaking loose.
    Charlotte recently posted…Book Review: The Heroes of Olympus {3}- Mark of Athena by Rick RiordanMy Profile

  2. I totally get your point! But if your going to be in this business it’s better to see just how harsh people can be. Not that we have to go off the deep end and be totally evil but, sarcasm is my go to language when it comes to a negative review. Be it a ARC, personal purchase, library loan, debut author or NY Times Best Selling author. Their book is their baby and they worked hard on it. If I didn’t tell them exactly how I felt about it I don’t think that would be a respectful of the time and effort they put into that baby. Books! Who knew it could be such a vicious industry! πŸ™‚
    Octavia recently posted…Torn by K.A. RobinsonMy Profile

  3. Haha. Maybe I still need a lot of practice about being comfortable in giving out sarcastic remarks for debut novels. There are a lot of times that I can’t help but feel guilty. I am such a softie.

    Anyway, I am hoping that with time and practice, I can post negative reviews without the euphemisms. πŸ˜€

    Thanks, Octavia.
    Charlotte recently posted…Stacking the Shelves {6}My Profile

  4. I think it’s only natural to feel weird about the negative review you;re going to write about a product you received – books or otherwise. Some people will tone it down a bit and others won’t. I find that I’m one of those who would … be less harsh if I received a product – rightly or wrongly – so I chose the path of not accepting ARCs for review.
    Tanya Patrice recently posted…10 Favorite Books Read in 2013 (So Far)My Profile

  5. That’s a bold path to take, but why that obviously works for you! And I agree with you about it being natural to tone down a review of something you received for review, but I also feel that if the author wanted it sugar coated they would have distributed the book/product only to people who are guaranteed to love it. It’s not productive of my time, their time, or their work to curve my thoughts because someone may get a little hurt. But then again I am a bit vicious so. πŸ˜‰
    Octavia recently posted…Torn by K.A. RobinsonMy Profile

  6. Hm this is a difficult question for bloggers, we have the awesome privilege to get books before others, but I don’t think that means you should censor yourself when you dislike something you get…I try to spin it as constructive criticisms, yes the book is probably already printing but for the next installment or the next book they write. I understand that some ppl will love a book if I hate it so hopefully the author sees it as just that, a handful of ppl who didn’t like it and gave feedback, and then the other group of those that loved it…after every not-so-great review I mention that it may just be me… My opinions aren’t everyone’s and some may really enjoy it. I’m not telling readers to give up on it but decide for themselves. I am just a reader that LOVES to read and sometimes review books… Who am I to tell ppl “don’t read it”

    On another note, I missed the DNF post πŸ™ but I always try to finish, I can’t stand not knowing if the book picks up somewhere but I understand those that see finishing bad books as a waste. I just think you need to read through some bad ones to balance out your life.. They can’t all be 5/5s … <3
    Stephanie recently posted…Cover Reveal + Giveaway: Entice by Erica Crouch (An Ignite Novella) @Patchwork_PressMy Profile

  7. Exactly! What I think most people forget is that are review are our OPINIONS! Be it a positive or negative opinion it is indeed an opinion and you wouldn’t censor your opinion of anything else, so why do it with ARC’s?!

    The DNF post invoked a lot of strong emotions (which I loved!) and showed how many people really won’t DNF a book. I am not one of those people. I DNF, and move on without a second thought. If I find myself wondering about “what could have happened” then I DNFed it too quickly and I eventually go back. πŸ™‚
    Octavia recently posted…Torn by K.A. RobinsonMy Profile

  8. Is it bad that if/when I get a particularly hard read or a DNF I just don’t post a review at all? I’ll shoot the publisher a note with a recap but I donno, I like the idea that someone can come to my blog for positive reccomendations and ideas of books to buy/read that I have loved rather than those to avoid…but that’s just me and right now. I’m fairly new so I might change my tune..

    Good topic though! I have often wondered if I should include negative reviews but I just opted for the “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything” route.

  9. That’s not bad at all! I know a lot of bloggers who prefer to keep there blog as a happy place, that holds 3+star reviews! And saying nothing, isn’t bad either. I get more aggravated by the reviewers who are on twitter moaning and groaning and cursing about how bad a book was and then write a review that says “well it wasn’t horrible and I loved the characters names, and the sky is blue”. But that’s just me. πŸ™‚
    Octavia recently posted…Torn by K.A. RobinsonMy Profile

  10. To be completely honest, I think I do soften the blow a bit. For ARCs and for books that I receive from the author for review, if I don’t like them, then I tend to try and find some sort of good aspect about the book and include that in the review. Whereas if it’s a library book, or one I’ve bought myself (especially one I buy myself, because then I feel like I’ve been ripped off) then I don’t bother softening the blow and basically just talk about all the bad aspects.
    Really interesting post, Octavia!
    Nara recently posted…Discussion: Judging a Book by its GenreMy Profile

  11. I love that you are being honest! But (because there is always a but πŸ˜‰ ) if you won’t censor yourself for a personal purchase or a library loan why do it for ARC’s? If anything a ARC needs you to be even more honest right?

    Thanks for dropping by and for being honest! πŸ˜€
    Octavia recently posted…Torn by K.A. RobinsonMy Profile

  12. It’s not that I censor my reviews. The bad bits are still just as harsh. It’s just that I also try and find something good about the book. This is because I know that the author is probably going to read the review, so I don’t want it to be all negative. Whereas with a bought book/library book the author probably isn’t going to read it, so I don’t bother actively looking for something good to include in the review. If that makes any sense at all…
    Nara recently posted…Discussion: Judging a Book by its GenreMy Profile

  13. I never hold punches. I used to when I first started blogging though. I just want to be completely honest. If it means, I might hurt the author feelings, I’m sorry, but yah…
    Christine @ Oh, Chrys! recently posted…ARC August, Update #1My Profile

  14. I think authors (at least serious professionals) know to take their feelings out of the equation when it comes to their books. And that a negative review isn’t necessarily “bullying” or attacking them. But yeah, common sense ain’t so common. πŸ˜‰
    Octavia recently posted…Torn by K.A. RobinsonMy Profile

  15. I kind of feel like its our obligation as bloggers and receivers of ARCs to be truthful. I don’t think we need to be mean, and we certainly shouldn’t take shots at authors, but I know I appreciate a totally honest review when I’m looking for a recommendation, so I try to do that. It is MUCH harder when I’ve chatted with the author, when they’ve become a real person to me, but as you stated above, they need to know. I have in a few instances felt it was kinder to not post a review and have given the author the option to choose, but most of the time, I roll with it.
    Christina @Allodoxophobia recently posted…Keeping Her by Cora CarmackMy Profile

  16. I think there’s a difference between saying you didn’t like it or it didn’t work for you and just writing a hateful bashing review. As reviewers we have to be both professional and honest.
    Julie S. recently posted…What Really Happened in Peru ReviewMy Profile

  17. I think that difference is what some bloggers miss. Just because the review is negative doesn’t mean you have to go off on a bashing rant. A negative review can be thorough, professional and unbashy. πŸ™‚
    Octavia recently posted…Torn by K.A. RobinsonMy Profile

  18. I suppose you could say I ‘hold punches’. But not in the sense that I don’t tell the truth because I do, I just don’t write it the way I would say it. If I loathe something and someone asks me about it in person, I will rip it to shreds. If you ask on the internet I tone it down, a lot.
    I tend to switch to my “un-bias” thinking when I write reviews. I look at it from as many angles as I can. I look at it on a technical level (writing, grammar, development), then I go from there. I do make sure to be clear with my opinions, but I don’t pull out the attitude unless its an extreme case. That being said I haven’t no issue with a bit of attitude in reviews, I actually like it but I’ve never been comfortable with doing it myself.
    Michelle @ In Libris Veritas recently posted…Saturday Issue: Jim Henson’s The StorytellerMy Profile

  19. I recently got a string on ARCs from NetGalley that I could not finish. I think there were 3 in a row. I didn’t want to ignore them completely, but I didn’t feel I could write a full review for a DNF book either. I combined them and put them in one post at the end of the month. I plan to do that every month (if I have DNFs that month) from now on.

    I don’t feel guilty. Someone else will like it. I’m a restaurant manager, so I deal with negative feedback (about service, food, our hours, etc.) all the time. Some of it is deserved, some of it is petty. Anyone who provides a product or service to the public does. Why should authors be any different? There is nothing in the world that every single person likes.

    There’s no reason to be rude or bash the author (or a restaurant manager), of course. And I think some people are more blunt and don’t mean to be rude but it can be perceived that way by others.

    I like negative reviews because when I find a book I don’t like, I like looking around and seeing that other people felt the same way. Sometimes I dislike books that have mostly very favorable reviews, so it’s nice to see that I’m not the only one. I’m more likely to “like” a negative review of a book I didn’t like on Goodreads, and I have noticed that my negative reviews there get likes, whereas the only likes I’ve had on positive reviews have been from the authors themselves.
    Jenna recently posted…Radical Read-along: Hallowed Day 2 DiscussionMy Profile

  20. If I see a book with mostly positive reviews on goodreads I immediately get suspicious and hightail it out of there. It’s just not possible for a book to be nothing but amazing for EVERYONE! I mean even The Harry Potter series has some negative reviews, and those books were my childhood!

    *I adore lengthy comments! Never feel bad about that!*
    Octavia recently posted…Beautiful Stranger by Christina LaurenMy Profile

  21. There are so many emotions tied to ARCs. I think among most bloggers there’s this feeling of being afraid to voice one’s own opinion. We’ve seen negative reviews attacked and it can be scary. Even more so when you are just starting out and receiving ARCs. Some may believe if you give a low rating or nitpick then maybe your ARC approval will be zero. Which isn’t the case.

    I’ll say this-I trust bloggers who are willing to give that 1, 2 or even a DNF review versus the blogger where it’s all rainbows, ponies, and squuuuuuuuuuuuue so much love plus a million 5 stars attached. Why? Because I know they are being truthful with their reviews. Now I’m not saying all blogs that don’t review below a 3 aren’t truthful but many don’t state they only post above a 3 rating. If they do, then great for them because they like to only write positive reviews.

    So the question is, why are bloggers different from professional reviewers? Is it because they get paid? They hold no punches and gladly give them as need be so why shouldn’t bloggers voice their disappointment in a highly anticipated ARC?
    Jess @ Literary, etc recently posted…Blog Tour: Review: Carolyn Turgeon’s The Fairest of Them All + GiveawayMy Profile

  22. Gosh I love you! And yes I totally just said that this early in our relationship.

    Don’t leave (or call the police!)! I love how you take a question to the next level! We, as book bloggers have a obligation to (at the very least) ourselves to be honest about how we perceived a book. Yes we want to be honest for our readers and the author too but to be honest to them you have to be honest to ourselves, and sugarcoating or holding those punches is not the route to honest, in my opinion. And I think you really are on to something when it comes to bloggers vs. professional reviewers. Since we did professional reviewers get so holier-than-thou, that only they can be completely honest about upcoming releases/products? Who passed this law saying that as book bloggers our bare bones review isn’t acceptable unless it’s possible? And why do so many people believe that it’s ok to be totally (and some times brutally) honest with a library loan or a personal purchase but as soon as a ARC comes into the picture they must scale back?

    Thank you for opening up that box! πŸ˜‰
    Octavia recently posted…Beautiful Stranger by Christina LaurenMy Profile

  23. I just said this same thing to someone on Twitter today! We were talking a bit about unspoken blogging rules and that the most important ones are to always be honest in your reviews, and stay true to your voice.

    If you don’t like a book, for godsake don’t gush about it. Don’t try to turn it into something it’s not just to spare an author’s feelings. If their book is truly good then they will continue to know it’s good despite some people not liking it. If it’s BAD you need to save your friends from wasting hours and money on it. I mean I kind of get the whole guilt trip with asking for a book and feeling like you’re supposed to be nice about it because you got a “present” or something. But it’s wrong. It’s bad, don’t effing do it. It’s like lying to your friend when she asks if that new purple dress makes her look hideous and you tell her she’s lovely and then she walks around looking like some sparkly freak from The Hunger Games and blinding everybody with the gaudy. (Ok I really don’t even know where that ramble thought it was going, but you get the point – it’s bad for everybody.)

    If the book deserves a bad review, THEN GIVE IT ONE. You can be nice about it, if you want. You don’t really have to, if you don’t want to. It’s your blog and you’re entitled to your opinion, especially since when you received that book, your opinion is exactly what you were asked for in return. That’s it. You weren’t asked to like it. You weren’t asked to fangirl/fanboy about it. You were just asked for your honest opinion. So don’t be a liar and post anything but.

    I just put out a review for a book I didn’t like, but I was nice about it – at least I think it was. The writing wasn’t bad, and the book wasn’t terrible. It just wasn’t for me. And I hated every character in it, which I expressed along with why I hated them. I still recommended it to people that may like that sort of thing and pointed out a couple things I did like about the book. But they weren’t enough to win me over, and I said as much.

    I’m struggling with writing another review for an upcoming book because I HATED IT. Like seriously if you could see the notes I took while reading it… they are angry. Some are livid. I’m having to give myself a little time before I start digging into that review because, as much as I think that book is terrible and hope no one I even remotely care for ever wastes money or time on it, I don’t want to be hateful. Or snobbish, or (very) snarky, or flat out mean. Which I am likely to be if I wrote it right now. I will still point out everything I saw wrong with it, and explain why to the best of my knowledge (which is unfortunately at a higher level than that of the author). I’m not pulling punches or candy-coating them, but I will try to be civil about it. Because it did irritate me that the book sucked and I wasted hours reading it, but it didn’t make me livid to the point it could have.

    Well there’s my novel for a post!
    Leanne @ Literary Excursion recently posted…Book Haul for {8.4.13 to 8.10.13}My Profile

  24. Ohh I love it when you get all ranty! It reminds me that I’m not nuts and my friends fit my randomness! πŸ™‚

    I’m going to stop typing now….
    Octavia recently posted…Beautiful Stranger by Christina LaurenMy Profile

  25. Haha! I try not to get *too* ranty on my own blog (which is why I haven’t put up a certain discussion post about romance novels yet) but I don’t have the same qualms about doing it in comments on other people’s blogs. πŸ˜‰

    I’m so glad you hop on the crazy train along with me and my rambles. <3
    Leanne @ Literary Excursion recently posted…Weekend Wrap-Up {6}My Profile

  26. I don’t try to hold myself back when it comes to reviews. I disliked your book, I’m going to be honest and talk about it my review.

    My only problem is when I subconsciously like a book more that I should have. Like signed books. They’re far more precious, and I suspect that I’m kinda giving them more credit that I should. I just have absolutely no idea how to fix this problem.

  27. I don’t think I hold back for that reason. I hold back (unintentionally) for slightly different reasons. If it’s a book that I wanted to love SO SO SO much but then didn’t, then I think my negative review tends to be more sad than angry/ranting/crushing. Because more than anything, I’m disappointed, rather than disgusted with the horrible book. So my review isn’t really tearing through the book.. it’s just kind of sad lol.

    But if it’s a book I wanted to read but didn’t so desperately want to love, then it tends to rile me up more.

    But either way, I do get a huge sense of dread when I have to confront the publisher and link them to my review >_< It makes me want to go hide in a cave for 5 years until they forget I ever existed.
    Ashley recently posted…False Sight by Dan KrokosMy Profile

  28. LOL! I have a “don’t hate me cave” stocked with chocolate, ice cream and all my favorite re-reads. πŸ˜‰

    And I know what you mean about writing a sad review about a book that you were reallly excited for but fell flat. I tend to do a “I’m disappointed in you” kind of review. So it’s totally subjective and biased and more of a “darn why me” kind of review.
    Octavia recently posted…Beautiful Stranger by Christina LaurenMy Profile

  29. This is a really interesting discussion, Octavia! And judging by the responses, it’s one that a lot of people feel strongly about.
    I’m sort of torn on the questions you brought up. As far as holding punches go, I definitely treat reviews for ARCs the same as I would treat any other review. BUT in some ways, I think you could say I “hold punches” on ALL my reviews. It depends on your definition. I’m always honest, and I don’t mind being brutally so, but I work hard to make my reviews sound more analytical than ranty(MOST of the time. I fail at times. Sometimes, certain 5 star books just make me SQUEAL with glee and my review is very fan-girlish, and sometimes my 1 star books make me RAGE. But for the most part, I’d rather write analytical reviews than emotional ones, personally. And that’s different from person to person and I’m very glad we all have different review styles). And I definitely don’t review how I would talk about a book in person(I’d be more inclined to rant or not).And I think I’m still brutally honest in my reviews, but the way I word it is different.

    SO I could see how that could be “holding punches” on ALL my reviews to some people. But the thing I think is important is CONSISTENCY. My review for ARCs in any format are no different than my reviews for a book I bought. And as long as I can say that I’m personally consistent across all my reviews, I’m satisfied with myself & my style.

  30. At some point, I started finishing most of my negative reviews with a sentence or two mentioning people who might like the book more. Now, I’m a pretty positive person in general and have never written mean reviews, but I can’t honestly say for sure that I didn’t start doing that because of ARC’s. It also might have been because I feel bad reviewing writing a negative reviews of a book that I think is objectively well written . Either way, I do think there was some guilt over posting a negative review involved! But I’m pretty happy with it as a solution that that guilt. I still write the rest of the review however I would with no guilt and then I recommend the book to people who really might like it more than me, so I think it preserves the integrity of my reviews πŸ™‚
    Katie @ Doing Dewey recently posted…Very Recent HistoryMy Profile

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