Should Writers Review?

I started this blog as a book reviewer, but the focus has shifted more toward writing and my own fiction.  There are famous writers who review their peers’ novels, but they’re always positive.  You never see a negative review from a big writer.

But what about those of us who have book blogs where we talk about our writing and also review books?  Should we be posting reviews?  This is a sticky subject for some.

On one hand, if we post negative reviews, the author of that book may find it offensive that another author is publicly stating they didn’t like your book.  This can result in a bit of a war between them, and this kind of thing has been seen on Goodreads.  On the other hand, if the author only posts positive reviews, they may be seen as insincere, or that the reviews may be untrustworthy.  They’re just doing it to boost other authors and make themselves look good.

Well, what I do is I review books I like.  If I don’t like it, I don’t finish it.  If I like it enough to finish it, I review it.  I may have some 2 star reviews, but 2 stars doesn’t mean I don’t like it.  It means it was readable for me, it has aspects I liked, but some that didn’t work for me.  However, I still recommend those books for certain readers.  They do have their merits.  I am never negative, I only point out where something doesn’t work for me in a constructive way.  My “harshest” review was of MoonRush.  But notice that I say that many things don’t work for me and I give a reason why.  The style doesn’t match what I like, the science is not at all accurate, so the scientist in me can’t suspend disbelief, and there’s a lot of cliche.  I said that if you can suspend your disbelief, or you just like a fun story that’s got lots of action, you may enjoy it a lot.  I was positive about it.

I will continue to post reviews for books I like.  I will not post reviews for books I don’t like.  MoonRush was reasonably entertaining, which is why I posted the review.  It will likely work better for people who aren’t educated in the sciences.

But what do you think?  Should writers review books? Let me know in the comments below.

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The 2K International Writers’ Blog Tour – Lani V. Cox

the2kinternationalwritersblogtourWeek three kicks off today and here’s today’s interview.  The original post can be found here and here.

Lani V. Cox

lani_v_coxI was born in a pink hospital on the beautiful Hawaiian Island of O’ahu, a week after my mom landed from Thailand (‘cause she’s crazy). And even though I was lucky to be raised there, we moved to the middle of the Mojave Desert when I was 12 years old and did not return to Hawaii until about 2 years later.

At the time, I felt isolated and cursed because it was the first time I was a minority and had no friends. But now I can see it as a pivotal time in my life because it was when I started to read and write. I fell in love with reading and magically an old-fashioned green typewriter appeared in the kitchen one day – probably right around the time I decided I could write, too.

I’ve lived a rather nomadic life and I want to say this was not by choice, but on some level, it must have been. For my adult life, I’ve lived in Chico and Oceanside California, Durango Colorado, Eugene and Portland Oregon, Huntsville Alabama, Cuenca Ecuador and Chiang Mai Thailand. Currently, I teach English in Chiang Rai and have lived abroad for about 5 years.

And despite all of this wandering, I’m proud to say I just finished publishing my first book, the missing teacher.

What is the first piece you remember writing (from childhood or young adulthood)?

When I was about 13 years old, I remember buying a diary with a lock and key. On the cover it said “Crusin’” and it had a 1950s car, like a Studebaker on it, too. It was pink and silver and I loved the idea that I could lock it from prying parents or siblings.

For my first entry, I wrote about a family road trip we took from Barstow, California to Las Vegas, Nevada. I wrote about the passing desert landscape and my thoughts on the journey. I was writing from the backseat of the car.

What is your favorite aspect of being a writer? Your least favorite?

What a question! Can I say my favorite aspect is writing? I suppose not. Hmmm. I like how writing forces me to be clear and creative in my thoughts. I love how I get lost in the act of writing. I even like the challenges, but what I don’t like is all the other stuff that surrounds writers these days. The self-promotions, research on how to publish, or agents to pitch to, or the endless publications that you can submit your work to. It’s just a lot and I don’t think I’m the only person who wishes it was easier.

Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, what is your best tip for beating it? If not, why not?

No, I don’t. I believe in making a writer’s mess though. Regardless, I do think that many problems can be solved by a good night’s sleep, and a willingness to fail, make mistakes and do everything over again. I believe we can learn a lot through the process or act of creating and sometimes it’s not as smooth as we’d like it to be and that’s okay. It’s going to be alright.

What is your current writing project? What is the most challenging aspect of your current writing project?

lani_v_cox_bookAs I mentioned, I just finished self-publishing my first book the missing teacher. It was an incredibly challenging task from start to finish for many reasons. First, I didn’t really know how I wanted to outline or write my memoir. I tried different things and so I have very different versions and directions I tried out. Secondly, I carried this book with me for about 10 years. I lost motivation at times, but I stuck with it because I knew finishing this would be important. And lastly, getting the book ready for print, e-format and audio was a lot of work. I also had no idea creating a book cover would take so much trial and error, or that proofing for Amazon was going to be a test in patience and sanity.

What supports you in your writing?

I believe blogging supports my writing because it is through blogging that I can write what I want and attempt to reach an audience. I’ve also met people for coffee through my blog and it has been an interesting conversation starter at work or when I’m out being social. I’ve been surprised by how many people tell me, “I read your blog.” And for about a year, I did a learning Thai podcast with someone who upon first meeting me, gushed, “I love your blog.”

What are you currently reading?

I read a great deal online these days. But ever since I got my Kindle, I’ve been enjoying the free books available through great sites like Open Culture. So, I’m re-reading classic fairy tales and finally cracking into Jane Austin’s Emma.

Where can our readers find you and your books online?

If you are interested in continuing the conversation, I blog at Life, the Universe and Lani and my indie child the missing teacher can be found here. Thank you, Kate and Kate!