Handling Negative Book Reviews

We have all been there. We finish a title we need to review and we simply did not enjoy it. It can be a difficult spot. I know many of you are pros at tackling those less than stellar reviews, but if you are like me, it did not always come easy. I can still remember the first time I completed an ARC and felt disappointed and completely terrified of the negative feedback I had to address. It was overwhelming.


Jump forward nearly 2 years, and I have convinced myself that I might have a handle on the situation. But getting to this point truly was a process of trial and error. I can still look back at older reviews and cringe and shudder. It has taken hundreds of posts, multiple publishing contacts (and lengthy discussions with contacts), and a continuous assessment of follower reaction to develop an approach I feel comfortable with. I will not say it has been perfected, because life (blogging included) is one huge work in progress! Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to you.

So how do I do it? Today I thought I would share a few tips I find useful for keeping even these most negative book reviews more positive. Please share your own as well!

Handling Negative Book Reviews

  1. Skip the star ratings – Okay, there is nothing wrong with stars. I still apply them to retail sites that require them and know many bloggers who utilize them beautifully. But for me, there is nothing more detrimental than slapping 1 or 2 stars right on a book review. Many bloggers have given them up for great reasons. Not only does the removal help reduce the harsh impact, but it encourages readers to actually read your review. It is too easy to see that a reviewer deemed a book 3 stars and move on. But without them, you kind of have to work for their thoughts 😉
  2. Itemize pros and cons – This is my favorite. Lists are fantastic in the fact that they really help us break down the material, often making it easier to find a few positives that we may have overlooked. And even it if is as simple as noting beautiful cover art, each additional item included in the pros can really help offset a bit of the cons.
  3. Seek balance – This is an important but sometimes impossible one. I always aim to provide a review that equally addresses the good and bad of each title reviewed. Unfortunately, there will not always be enough “good” to do this. Give it your best, and feel good knowing you were fair about the process.
  4. Do not let it become personal – I cannot stress this enough. I have seen it happen, and it is not pretty. Review the book, the story and your time with it, not the author and people behind it.
  5. Send feedback directly to the publisher – On the rare occasion that I find myself unable to finish a review copy or pull enough positive from the work to offer an insightful review, I opt to contact the provider directly instead. I have found this to actually be well received many times and appreciated.
  6. Short and sweet – If in doubt and you feel you must post a review, but are struggling to not completely rip someone’s work to shreds, favor brevity. Not all reviews need to be 1000+ words. Simplicity can be your friend.
  7. Target an ideal audience – Maybe you did not like the book, but you know fans of similar titles or series may. Acknowledge that and recommend the book to them!
  8. Be honest –  This is the most important and easiest part of reviewing books. It is okay to dislike a title and your readers deserve to know you did not and why. So the next time you are writing that less than stellar review about a largely popular title (I’m so sorry Cruel Prince) just remember how appreciated your honesty is!tumblr_m58cxoabqk1r6qbl6o2_250.gif

    How do you handle negative reviews? Maybe you enjoy writing the more difficult reviews. Drop a line in the comments and share some tips or thoughts!

    Let’s Chat,

    Danielle ❤

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Sunday Sum~Up

Sunday Sum_Up (1)

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer that I am linking my Sunday Sum-Ups with. Stop by and say hello!

It has been a bitter-sweet week here at the BVT homestead. On one hand, some heartbreaking news and med increases have kept me torn, but on the other, I had two welcomed opportunities to sit and catch up with a few dear friends (something I do not do enough). Life has a way of handing us some hard reminders, and we must not lose sight of what we have. With that said, please know I deeply value each of you. You have made a lasting impression in my life that cannot be erased.

❤ ❤ ❤

I am actively trying to reduce the number of posts I am scheduling. The goal is to get down to about 3 to 4 a week. I am officially caught up on tours and guest posts and hoping to focus more on 1 to 2 reviews with an occasional discussion and the usual Friday or Sunday post. I feel like 6 and 7 posts a week is too much. I want to be able to give each the appropriate amount of time in the “spotlight” and be able to properly respond to comments. Thoughts on this? How many posts do you like to see from blogs you follow?

Recent Reviews

27426044 (1)Nyxia

Full-cover-final-353x539Drift Stumble Fall

Currently Reading

36315374Jar of Hearts 
By Jennifer Hillier


This is the story of three best friends: one who was murdered, one who went to prison, and one who’s been searching for the truth all these years . . .

When she was sixteen years old, Angela Wong—one of the most popular girls in school—disappeared without a trace. Nobody ever suspected that her best friend, Georgina Shaw, now an executive and rising star at her Seattle pharmaceutical company, was involved in any way. Certainly not Kaiser Brody, who was close with both girls back in high school.

But fourteen years later, Angela Wong’s remains are discovered in the woods near Geo’s childhood home. And Kaiser—now a detective with Seattle PD—finally learns the truth: Angela was a victim of Calvin James. The same Calvin James who murdered at least three other women.

To the authorities, Calvin is a serial killer. But to Geo, he’s something else entirely. Back in high school, Calvin was Geo’s first love. Turbulent and often volatile, their relationship bordered on obsession from the moment they met right up until the night Angela was killed.

For fourteen years, Geo knew what happened to Angela and told no one. For fourteen years, she carried the secret of Angela’s death until Geo was arrested and sent to prison.

While everyone thinks they finally know the truth, there are dark secrets buried deep. And what happened that fateful night is more complex and more chilling than anyone really knows. Now the obsessive past catches up with the deadly present when new bodies begin to turn up, killed in the exact same manner as Angela Wong.

How far will someone go to bury her secrets and hide her grief? How long can you get away with a lie? How long can you live with it?

Other Happenings

I did not watch much this week or really listen to anything. So I thought I would share a few articles I enjoyed, that you can also find on my Facebook page:

On Goodreads.com: The Top 10 Most Popular Books About Books on Goodreads
On Tor.com: The Robin Hood You Love is A Lie.
On Unboundworlds.com: 10 Sci-Fi and Fantasy Novels Featuring Characters Living with Mental Illness.

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”
~Mae West

Drop me a line and let me know what you are currently reading! Have a wonderful week ahead and do not forget to stop and smile. The more you do it, the easier it becomes 😉

Danielle ❤

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Drift Stumble Fall by M. Jonathan Lee

Full-cover-final-353x539Drift Stumble Fall
By M. Jonathan Lee
Publisher: Hideaway Fall
ISBN: 9780995492349
Pages: 310
Genre: Fiction/Contemporary


Richard feels trapped in his hectic life of commitment and responsibility.  From the daily mayhem of having young children, an exhausted wife and pushy in-laws who frequently outstay their welcome, Richard’s existence fills him with panic and resentment. The only place he can escape the dark cloud descending upon him is the bathroom, where he hides for hours on end, door locked, wondering how on earth he can escape.

Often staring out of his window, Richard enviously observes the tranquil life of Bill, his neighbour living in the bungalow across the road.  From the outside, Bill’s world appears filled with comfort and peace.  Yet underneath the apparent domestic bliss of both lives are lies, secrets, imperfections, sadness and suffering far greater than either could have imagined.  Beneath the surface, a family tragedy has left Bill frozen in time and unable to move on.  As he waits for a daughter who may never return, Bill watches Richard’s bustling family life and yearns for the joy it brings.  As the two men watch each other from afar, it soon becomes apparent that other people’s lives are not always what they seem.

My Thoughts

After having read Broken Branches last year, I was certain I would connect with this latest title by M Jonathan Lee. Add my recent interview with the author discussing his important work with mental health and own personal connections, and picking up Drift Stumble Fall felt not only easy but necessary. Simply put, I was compelled do to so, much like I was compelled to finish this book in two small sittings.

The skinny..

Feeling caught in a life of neverending routine & responsibilities, Richard a father of two young children finds himself frequently searching for any form of escape. That escape seems to be limited to his few moments alone, locked away in the bathroom and attempting to drown out the noise and any reminder of his repetitive days. Seeing his neighbor Bill across the street, he desires to trade places. He envies Bill’s peaceful, noneventful life. Unknowingly to Richard, it is a life overshadowed by loss and grief. Bill spends his days longing for the happiness of family and commitments that surely Richard must have. But life is never as simple as it appears on the outside.

What I appreciated..

  • M Jonathan Lee’s incredible ability to immerse the reader deep within the mind of the protagonist.
  • The poetically raw and honest look at life and constant reminder that there are two sides to every coin.
  • The fact that this was not an entirely easy read, as we are exploring the internal struggles that come with exhaustion, depression and even grief.
  • The viable family life portrayed throughout that felt at times reminiscent of my own.
  • A beautifully executed narrative that explores life and its many difficulties through two varying perspectives.

Challenges some may encounter..

  • The slower paced progression and repetitiveness that is utilized to accomplish the themes contained within successfully (they serve their purpose well but be will be difficult for some readers).

Drift Stumble Fall is a heart-rending novel that dives beneath the comforting familiarities and truly explores the human condition. It is that constant and steadfast reminder that life affects each of us on varying levels and cannot be taken at face value.

*I would like to thank Hideaway Fall and the author for this copy. The above review is my own, unbiased and honest opinion.

tea cup


The winter setting pairs wonderfully with a nice cup of chai.

Grab a Copy: Amazon.com Amazon.UK

*Disclosure: I use affiliate links and may earn a small commission for purchases made through them. Click here for details.

Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

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