writing book reviews, as a hopeful author

I always feel squeamish about reviewing the books I read. Unless I absolutely loved it, and intend to gush about it, most of the time I’ll just commit to the whole “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” rule.

Last night I read a book that I liked even less than Twilight. (note: by the way, this unnamed book was not the *wonderful* book listed in my “right now” box there on the sidebar!) Or at least, in my opinion. Right, that’s all it is, one opinion?

The premise was canned, the plot was contrived and pushed just the way you’d expect it to go. The dialogue was atrocious. The characters were mostly stock, and the main character was wholly unlikable. Her complaints didn’t have enough grounding, her past traumas were painted thinly, and her decisions seemed to materialize out of air.

But at the same time, if you’d looked up this book, you’d find dozens upon dozens of glowing reviews from women who loved it. They say things like: it was enjoyable, and fun, and it had a good message.

So what is an opinion worth anyway, in either direction? Clearly this book was just not intended for me. I spoil myself on the best writing and storytelling in contemporary literature, so it’s no surprise that a lighter read might feel like a waste of my time. Maybe I should have known better?

But at the same time, I do enjoy “lighter” reads sometimes. And I thought this might be one of them. The premise seemed interesting, and I really thought I might love it. But I didn’t love it, at all! The execution was just badly done. It could have been a great “light” read, but it wasn’t. And as a writer of novels myself, it’s helpful for me to really pin-point *why* I didn’t like something, in real and concrete reasons.

Though at the same time, I am under no obligation to share those reasons. Maybe there should be a sort of kinship between authors? If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all?

So are bad reviews helpful? Not every book is meant for everyone, and maybe my less-than-glowing review might save someone a few hours of her life. A bad review isn’t to flame the author (and I never would, not even Stephanie Meyer! lol!), but to alert readers that in some cases, if you’re spoiled on fine, well-developed literature, then there are certain kinds of books you might not want to waste your money on.

But at the same time, some day soon, my book will be getting less-than-glowing reviews from someone. Perhaps from someone who read it not knowing it wasn’t intended for them. Like this book wasn’t meant for me.

What about you? If you’re an author, hopeful or already published, do you review the books you read? Do you rate and star them? And do you put your name on it?