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Topic: Using reviews to help select books

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Subject: Using reviews to help select books
Date Posted: 4/3/2009 8:27 PM ET
Member Since: 8/12/2006
Posts: 1,012
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I have found myself reading more reviews when selecting books to read mainly because I have so many books and I really want to read the best due to time.

Top reviewed books aren't always winners for me, but books with lower reviews are usually right on for me.

Do you use reviews to help you select books and if so, what do you look for in a review?

I do have one thing that irks me in a review.  I really don't like when someone gives a book a so-so or bad review and say "this is my first book by this author and definitely my last".  I don't know why, but I hardly know an author that has written all winners. 

Date Posted: 4/3/2009 8:44 PM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2006
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"I do have one thing that irks me in a review.  I really don't like when someone gives a book a so-so or bad review and say "this is my first book by this author and definitely my last".  I don't know why, but I hardly know an author that has written all winners. "

 

I can understand that sentiment but sometimes you just tell from just reading a little that you are never gonna like that author's work. For instance, I could tell from my very first Suzanne Enoch that it would take a miracle for her to be one of my favorite authors. However, since she is so popular and since so many of my friends like her, I read 3 more of her books before I gave up forever.Two I thought were okay/mediocre. One was not bad but problematic. One was like a D/F read. I wished I had quit after the first book.

 

That last time I wrote "this was my first and the last by this author", I was trying a new to me traditional regency author.The books had some of the worst title address mistakes i have ever seen (using "Earl" as a first name, etc). For a traditional regency author (and that was all she wrote), such mistakes are not forgivable.

Date Posted: 4/3/2009 8:45 PM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2006
Posts: 14,634
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I usually read reviews on amazon and here but I mostly want to know what the book is about and what the person did/did not like and a lot don't do this. and highly rated ones I find dont' often suit me while the lower rated ones do so I dunno!

one time I got a badly reviewed book because the reviewergave it 1-2 stars on amazon because it was 'nothing but sex' okey dokey! suited me! I like it when the reviewer says somethng like 'silly fun read', heroine tstl, subtle humor, not much sex, too much sex, crappy plot, same as other books author has written, or author made this one time travel and the others weren't...

Date Posted: 4/3/2009 8:50 PM ET
Member Since: 2/24/2006
Posts: 5,498
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I'm with Jess.  I know I don't like SEP or Nora Roberts just from reading small portions of their books.

Date Posted: 4/3/2009 8:54 PM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2006
Posts: 673
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If a book has some key things that I like, like Marriage of Convenience or Amnesia, I am always gonna make up my own mind on the book because I would be prone to liking it more than the average reader from the start. However, I do admit to reading some bad MOV and Amnesia stories recently.

 

Conversely, if a review has the word "grovelling" anywhere in it (he gave good grovel OR he didnt grovel enough), I'm gonna avoid it like the plague. I prefer the H to not act like a bastard in the first place.

Date Posted: 4/3/2009 9:41 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,171
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I frequently use reviews to help me choose books, a system develops after awhile!   My philosophy...life's too short to read bad books!  I no longer feel obligated to finish a book I'm not enjoying, but hate to waste money on them, so I try to choose wisely.

I find the "professional" type reviews are good for getting a general feel for the storyline, but not much else as they usually rate a book very high and rarely make negative comments.  I often find reader comments with lower Ami star ratings to be very useful, especially if the commenter is specific about what they liked and didn't like about the book...it's those specific comments that I find most useful:

  • TSTL - no thank you
  • BDSM - not my cuppa
  • PWP - why bother,
  • Too much sex - my fav
  • Typos - not a deal breaker for me
  • Dubious consent - let's not
  • Well developed relationship/plot/action - yes please
  • Sophomoric - just shoot me now & end my misery
  • I love/hate this book/author (with no explanation) - utterly useless.

Generally 4 stars or less is going to be a disappointing read for me, but willing to seek the exception.

Date Posted: 4/3/2009 9:50 PM ET
Member Since: 12/29/2008
Posts: 3,883
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When I write a review I like to give a plot summary (brief), quick summary of main characters, what I liked best, what I liked least, and whether or not I would pay for the book (full price/ credit) etc...  I look for these types of reviews as well. 

Denise-- yes! Those details (or key phrases) are really helpful too!  When I see TSTL I just know that book is probably not for me.  And what many consider too much sex, is sometimes just right!  Not sure, however, what PWP is?  *grin* guess I am having my own tstl moment!

 

Date Posted: 4/3/2009 10:15 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,398
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And what the reviewer says about other books is a factor for me.  I'll link to their other reviews and wishlist to compare their tastes to mine.  A gushing review makes me question the reviewer rather than order the book.

Date Posted: 4/3/2009 10:27 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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Reviews are almost a requirement for me.  I pretty much don't order or go to the bookstores without them, and as far as new releases that haven't been reviewed yet, they will go on my WL here until the reviews come out, and if they're all bad, the book comes off the WL.  I'm another one of those people who doesn't have time for bad books.  That's not to say I haven't read plenty, but I like to improve the odds as much as possible.  I have picked up plenty that got rave reviews and I only thought were so-so, but usually, if something gets panned, I don't like it either.  I use AAR, TRR, Dear Author, & Smart Bitches.  I'll look at Amazon reviews if absolutely nothing else is available, but I've learned not to trust them for accuracy.  ...And I should add this forum to my list of review sources too.  I've picked up a lot of winners from recommendations here - especially in the "what are we reading?" thread, so you guys are probably one of my main sources for picking books & authors to try out.

Date Posted: 4/3/2009 10:51 PM ET
Member Since: 11/16/2007
Posts: 165
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I enjoy reading reviews to help me order here and other places online but let me lose in a bookstore and I'll buy just about anything that sounds good to me. I'm not a writer so I'm not good at flowery words to make a decent review and I'm one of those irritating people who will write I liked it or loved it but not much else if I write anything at all. Sometimes that is all I need to make a decision to buy or not. If a book has a bunch of love it or like it remarks and the synopsis is appealing then I may just get it.

SoBe -
Date Posted: 4/3/2009 10:54 PM ET
Member Since: 3/1/2008
Posts: 658
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Originally I didn't (I figured I'd be the best judge of what I'd like), but with the ever growing TBR pile  and a pile of books I've started but haven't been able to finish (much less make it farther than a few chapters) it's a must now...
I usually  read through a bunch of reviews  from a bunch of  different sites...I usally look to see how much romance or sex is in a book, though I'm learning to be a bit wary of some of the ones I come across ...I just read a review of a Jordan Dane book where all the reviews I read said there was a lot of romance in it, but I just  (barely) finished  the book, and there was hardly any!! grrr.

Also I look for the 'TSTL'  and 'the Hero is an asshole' tag,  as well as whether or not the book is in first person or not (which can totally put me off a book) And if the whole story is just from one persepective or if the reader gets both the H and h's POV which is a must for me. 
I also make a point of looking at the tags! They can sometimes tell me right off the bat if I'll like a book or not.



Last Edited on: 4/3/09 10:55 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/3/2009 11:15 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2007
Posts: 11,460
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I like to read reviews because it's hard to know if a book will interest me if I can't read a page or two or a plot summary.  I like to see a brief summary and what people liked and did not like about the book.

I will request a book with mixed reviews.  Nearly all bad reviews, I probably won't bother.

Date Posted: 4/3/2009 11:54 PM ET
Member Since: 1/19/2008
Posts: 14,757
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Not sure, however, what PWP is?

ooh, we were just talking about this in one of the erotica swap game threads.  PWP = plot, what plot?

me, i like a story even for erotica.

Date Posted: 4/3/2009 11:57 PM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2007
Posts: 604
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I forgot what TSTL means?  Help me out.  :)

Date Posted: 4/4/2009 12:13 AM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2006
Posts: 14,634
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tstl=too stupid to live

yep I like a plot in my erotica too..I got hold of a couple that were nothing but 200 pages of bang-a-thon and I figured that'd be ok but you kinda need a break in there somewhere!

Date Posted: 4/4/2009 12:45 AM ET
Member Since: 12/29/2008
Posts: 3,883
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Thanks Ellen!!  For explaining PWP.  Ugh.  Will have to keep an eye out for that  tag!  Definitely NEED a plot in whatever I am reading, yes, even erotica.  A good plot!  *hmmm* feel a thread coming on!*

Date Posted: 4/4/2009 1:39 AM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2006
Posts: 6,436
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I don't use reviews much, unless a book is pretty consistently getting raves. I go more on recommendations from people whose tastes seem similar to mine.

Sometimes negative reviews make me want to read a book. I often enjoy books that piss other people off. ;-)

Date Posted: 4/4/2009 7:12 AM ET
Member Since: 8/12/2006
Posts: 1,012
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I choose a lot of my books based on reviews from  here.  I have tried a lot of new authors and found some I love and some I do not like.  I honestly don't know what I did before I joined this site.  I think I used AAR for a long time and would scour used book sales and look for books that seemed pretty popular.  This is probably the main reason I had read a lot of Nora Roberts, SEP, Linda Howard, Suzanne Brockmann, etc, before I ever joined this site.

I do have one thing that irks me in a review.  I really don't like when someone gives a book a so-so or bad review and say "this is my first book by this author and definitely my last".  I don't know why, but I hardly know an author that has written all winners.

Back to my comment about this, I would say the main reason it irritates me is because they often don't give a good enough reason as to why they do not like the book or the author.  I have lots of books I don't finish, but I wouldn't necessarily say it is a bad book.  I can think of several off the top of my head that are highly wishlisted and receive 4.5 stars on here that I absolutely could not get into.  I would just say that those books are just not my type, but I wouldn't want to review it as seeming like a bad book.  I just think saying the above makes it sound like a bad book. 

 

 

Date Posted: 4/4/2009 7:14 AM ET
Member Since: 8/30/2008
Posts: 2,207
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I never read reviews - in the past they've revealed more than I wanted to know about a book. I tend to read books by (favorite) author, favorite plot, and maybe setting but the mix has to be right; I've not bought books by a favorite author who has moved to a type of book I don't care for; or a favorite plot blows up in my face, but on the whole it's worked for me.

I do read messages here and on listservs for comments on certain authors (I discovered Jill Shalvis thanks to the forum here)  because I trust fromt the hip comments rather than reviews because someone's wallbanger could very likely be a hidden jewel for me. Everyone's taste is different - I need to trust my own judgment. I buy the majority of my books 'blind' - via the Ingram online and I copy/paste the ISBN/title to my bookseller and she orders them - way different from being in a store and being able to read the first few pages so I've gotten burned a time or two but on the whole my judgment has held up very well.

I will read a review now and then after I've read a book that I'm iffy about - why did so many people LOVE the book when I didn't??? So I'll check around to see if there were any feelings similar to mine.

Date Posted: 4/4/2009 9:32 AM ET
Member Since: 1/20/2007
Posts: 7,052
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Sometimes negative reviews make me want to read a book. I often enjoy books that piss other people off. ;-)

I agree with that Willa! lol

I use reviews also to weed out books I personally don't care for. Like Denise, I stay away from certain tagged stories- especially the ones connected to humor. I don't like humor in a story usually unless it's dry and so few authors can get it right. It's either strident or sophomoric. So when a reviewer talks about spunky or quirky I'm gone.

Date Posted: 4/4/2009 1:22 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2006
Posts: 6,436
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I don't like humor in a story usually unless it's dry and so few authors can get it right. It's either strident or sophomoric. So when a reviewer talks about spunky or quirky I'm gone.

I almost said the exact same thing.

Date Posted: 4/4/2009 2:13 PM ET
Member Since: 5/29/2007
Posts: 4,657
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My philosophy...life's too short to read bad books!

Absolutely, Denise, I couldn't agree more!   Course I'm more likely to throw in the towel quicker if it's a library book or one I got cheap at library sale, thrift, etc. 

I don't buy too many books new anymore so when I get one that's a real stinker it kinda irks me.  Well, then I feel better knowing that I can post that baby here on PBS and somebody else will probably love it LOL!    I've seen my favs on other's worst lists and vice versa.

I especially like it when I can find reviews that swap buddies with similar tastes may have posted on PBS.  I tend to trust those more than professional reviewers over on Amazon.  Hello, have you ever seen Harriet Klausner write a negative review? 

Date Posted: 4/4/2009 2:36 PM ET
Member Since: 12/4/2005
Posts: 2,320
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I have to say that I don't often read reviews especially as they relate to the books on my WL.   I haven't often chosen a dud when they are established authors that I am currently enjoying.   I do use the reviews on the rare occasion when I choose to read/request books that aren't wishlisted. 

I've left a few reviews myself and it always surprises me that someone found a couple helpful:lol:  Now that I've found how to add a plot blurb to the book info I just try to leave a fairly general review.  I have marked a review with a thumb's down when there isn't a good explanation for why a book is disliked--that type of review isn't really worth leaving--"I didn't like it at all"  isn't a review to me=)

Date Posted: 4/4/2009 7:59 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,171
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Tamera, Rule #1 of "Using Reviews 101", is always ignore Harriet!  She usually gets the facts wrong, and never gives a bad review.

Willa said "Sometimes negative reviews make me want to read a book. I often enjoy books that piss other people off. ;-)"  It puzzles me why authors and other people assume that less than glowing reviews don't sell books?  One man's treasure...and all that.  I find negative reviews are sometimes the most useful for choosing reading material b/c they can be the most honest about content.



Last Edited on: 4/4/09 8:00 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/6/2009 9:06 PM ET
Member Since: 1/11/2007
Posts: 1,646
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I've found that the AAR reviews are usually pretty good. 

 www.likesbooks.com

 

I look for a good rating (A, A-, B+, B), good character development and a certain minimum amount of steam.



Last Edited on: 4/6/09 9:08 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
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