This is the age of instant. We want it now. Whether food, internet, or books, it must move–quickly! I’m older. I can wait. I can give Burger King up to 5 minutes. I can give a book several chapters. I’m usually pretty careful regarding the book I choose to begin next–sometimes looking up Amazon reviews to see if the little descriptive blurb really tells the story. I’ve written before regarding Amazon Reviews. You generally want to read the good and the bad reviews. Somewhere therein lies the truth.
Having read a great book, I really enjoy creating a lively and honest review. Unfortunately, I’ve read a few lately that have not been so inspiring as depressing. The last I began was “The Hostage,” Book Four of the Sarah Roberts Thrillers by Jonas Saul. Having read one of his previous books, “The Warning,” Book Two, I noted the foul language, but apparently enjoyed the plot enough to award five stars. This time I couldn’t get past Chapter 3 with the description of a scene by the perp that turned my stomach. Yes, I know–it’s a thriller/horror novel. (I don’t like Freddy either.) Not usually one to abandon a book–I freed The Hostage. (Yuck)
Having published my grandfather’s books, I know how difficult it is to glean ratings and reviews. An author can live or die by them–unless–as in the discussion referred to before, they can be classified as “shills.” There are ways to manipulate Amazon ratings and classifications. I WISH I were that sophisticated!
If you do not routinely leave ratings and reviews, I would encourage you to do so. You’ll note there is a difference in the star ratings between Amazon and Goodreads:
* I hate it
** I don’t like it
*** It’s okay
**** I like it
***** I love it
Unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t allow you to leave a simple rate or review anymore. They want it qualified. But their breakdown is too simple, leaving no good answer for several of the books I’ve recently completed.
How would you describe the plot of this book?
Predictable/Some twists/Full of Surprises
Which of these words best describes the mood?
Hopeful/Dark/Nostalgic/Light-hearted/Suspenseful/Thoughtful (How about none of the above? “The Fall of the Empire,” The Rise of the Aztecs series by Zoe Saadia)
How would you describe the pace?
How would you describe the characters?
Case in point, “Fallen Out,” by Wayne Stinnett (rated 4.4 of 5 stars). I wasn’t thrilled with this Jesse McDermitt novel in his Caribbean Adventure Series. My reaction, however, wasn’t nearly as strong as one very disgruntled reader who left a scathing account on Goodreads detailing the obvious manipulation of his ratings.
If you are active on Goodreads and share your thoughts there as well, you may find a slight difference in their star ratings. Three stars are “okay” on Amazon, while that classification–okay–collects no more than two stars on Goodreads.
Goodreads (Bought by Amazon in 2013):
* Did not like it
** It was okay
*** Liked it
**** Really liked it
***** It was amazing
I weigh in a number of factors in my ratings:
1) Do the characters seem genuine? Are they empathetic?
2) Can I envision the scene?
3) Did it hook/keep my interest?
4) Satisfying climax?
5) Full of typos, edit errors or omissions?
It’s amazing the difference of opinion readers can have over the same book. I recently completed several books that were totally different–loved them all:
“Down the Road to Key West,” my rating 5-all 5 star ratings
“Mornings in Two Pan,” my rating 5–4% 1 star
“Dirty Parts of the Bible,” my rating 5–3% 1 star
(All excellent books–none peppered with gratuitous 4-letter F words.)
And those books coming through BookBub touting 500 five star ratings? Some may be shills. Many already have a best-selling name and following, and I suspect they have more money to spend on marketing.