Book Talk

DISCUSSION: The Negative Reviews Dilemma and Reviewer’s Reliability

Hello everyone! Today I’m bringing another discussion post. This time I want to talk about reviews, and discuss whether it’s good or bad to post negative reviews on a blog, plus reviewer’s reliability and how both topics correlate. I have seen many bloggers struggle with this, so I’ll share my opinion and I hope to know yours as well.

One of my favorite bloggers, who posts content in Spanish, has been called out in the past for posting only positive reviews in her blog. And yes, if you take a look, she only has reviews about the books she absolutely adored. She made a post about how she writes her reviews and when I read it, I almost did a standing ovation.

She basically said that just because she writes only positive reviews doesn’t mean that she’s biased, but she doesn’t feel motivated to sit and write a whole post about a book that she didn’t enjoyed. And I related to that on a personal level.

I think there’s only one answer to how you should manage reviews on your blog: however the hell you want to. Just because you post positive AND negative reviews does not make you a better blogger than those who only post positive reviews, and vice versa.

yes this is me using a gif for the first time on my blog; mind ur business

In my case…

I don’t decide which books to review based on how much I loved or hate them, but on how much I have to say on them (of course this doesn’t apply to ARCs, because I have to do reviews on those). As I read, I write my thoughts on the book if I feel like it, and if the page is full, I go ahead and write a review post. I’ll probably do an entire post on how I write my reviews in the future (let me know if you’d like me to!)

Why is important to read BOTH positive and negative reviews?

The good thing about this resides in that all blogs are different and that the readers will find exactly what they’re looking for: the two sides of the coin. When I’m interested in reading a book but I feel like I don’t know enough about what to expect from it, I look up for reviews. And I always end up reading very positive, very negative and neutral reviews of most of the books I search. This gives you a better perspective on whether you’d like to read a certain book or not, because not everyone likes or dislikes the same things in books.

For example, I have read reviews that go like this:

“X book was amazing but I didn’t like the fact that there wasn’t enough romance.”

If we’re talking about a fantasy book, that factor has little importance for me, so I might give it a try despite having read a review that’s under 5 stars. But someone else might not enjoy a book without romance in it, so this might give them a reason to skip them.

Negative reviews also highlight aspects that may make you skip certain book because it has problematic content, or it just doesn’t suit your taste. In my case, if a review from a reliable blogger* says that the pace was too slow, the worldbuilding too plain and the romance outshined the plot; chances are I’m not reading that book.

Positive and negative reviews are essential to guide you in the direction of those books you might end up loving, and away from those that are probably not for you.

What makes a reliable reviewer?

If you read book blogs regularly, you may have a small (or not so small) list of favorite book blogs. Most of the times this is because you like their content, blog aesthetic and blogging voice, but another very important fact is their reliability.

I can’t speak for everyone, but most of the books on my TBR are there because of blogger recommendations. I’ve found amazing books thanks to the blogging world and those people that introduced me to those books are reliable to me. But what works for me may not work for you and vice versa. Therefore, finding a reliable reviewer is very subjective and basically based on the reader’s personal taste, and there aren’t guidelines on how to be a reliable reviewer. You just have to be honest with your thoughts on the book, always coming from a place of respect, and that’s enough.

So, let me rephrase the question…

How do I find a reliable reviewer?

In other words, how do I find one or several book bloggers to trust blindly on?

Two magical worlds: build connections.

I’ll assume you have a very clear idea of what you like in books. Not only on genres, but also on the elements I mentioned before: tropes, worldbuilding, plot, character development, etc. What you have to do is look for bloggers that have a similar taste than you in books; that read and review books you’re interested in, and last but most importantly read some of those books. It may take some time, but you’ll see if you actually like the same books as the blogger does and be able to trust their opinions from then on.

If you don’t, that’s okay. It doesn’t make the blogger any less good. It just means you just don’t share the same (or similar) bookish opinions, and that’s fine. But if the blogger helps you to find a book you happen to love, let them know, and support them in any way you can, whether that’s a comment, a follow, or any other way you see fit. Let me tell you that nothing makes me happier as a blogger than someone reaching out to me to say they decided to pick up a book because of my recommendation and ended up loving it.

Summing up…

Even when not all bloggers like to post both positive and negative reviews on their blogs, in the grand scheme of things, it’s very important to have both of these in the blogosphere to have a better perspective on the content of a book, and whether that book could be for you or not. As long as you write reviews in an honest, respectful way, you’re good to go. But more than that, it’s important that you’re comfortable with the content you bring your readers. If that means doing positive reviews only, that’s fine too.

If you want to find bloggers you trust in with recommendations, then it’s time to stop reading the reviews that pop up first in the google search page and start building connections with book bloggers. It won’t only help you as a reader, but the engagement will help us bloggers stay motivated.

That’s all for this post! Do you like reading both positive and negative reviews on the books you want to read? How do you manage reviews on your blog? Let’s talk in the comments!

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32 thoughts on “DISCUSSION: The Negative Reviews Dilemma and Reviewer’s Reliability”

  1. Loved this post! I definitely agree both positive and negative reviews are important and you need to find the reviewers you trust. For me, emotion-driven reviews aren’t my thing — whether that means they’re too gushy or they totally slander the book. But some people love those rant type reviews! It all depends.


  2. Excellent post! I do post negative reviews on my blog when I dislike a book, but never say anything unkind or impolite. It’s important to be honest and fair. And I agree, it is completely up to you what reviews you decide to post. I don’t have a problem with anyone who only posts positive reviews.


  3. Love this post! I agree on your take on reliability – it not only steams from honesty but relatability/interests. I personally post mostly positive reviews because I only request/read books I think/know I’ll enjoy. If I request a book I think I’ll like but end up disliking or can’t finish, then I’ll be honest why. I try to be as respectful as possible in my reviews and rarely ever go on a full “rant” unlike some bloggers I’ve seen. Every book and every blogger has their audience and I think people forget that it’s ok to not like something. If it’s not your thing that’s fine, but don’t take the time to try and “destroy” them simply because you don’t like them (tho this doesn’t relate to harmful content obviously).


  4. this is so true, and i need to start writing more reviews instead of discussion/list type posts since i am a book blog! however, i also haven’t finished a lot of my ARCs so yeah.

    i find that i’ve read a lot of great books this year since i limited myself to 100, and that’s what’s caused most of my goodreads reviews to be positive. however, i agree that reading negative reviews and critical reviews can help me understand why a book may be harmful or have aspects that i’ve overlooked.


  5. Totally agree. In the review you can find out why someone was into the book or not into it. Everyone has slightly different tastes when it comes to what they want to read. So, negative reviews aren’t a bad thing as long as it’s insightful and polite.

    Great post!
    ♥ Mae


  6. This was such an interesting post!! I totally see both sides of the coin – it’s like you want to post a negative review if you don’t like a book because you want to be transparent with your followers on what you think, but at the same time don’t want to waste time writing about a book you didn’t like! Also, your discussion on blogger reliability and building connections is SO true, even with only a month of two of blogging behind me, I’ve found so many people who’s voices I really enjoy and trust and it’s made finding good books a lot easier, and also just more fun!! Great post! 🥰


  7. This is such a good post! Personally, I almost never review books I didn’t like on my blog (only do them on Goodreads) because for me, my blog is a place that is joyful to me and because I find it extremely exhausting to write negative reviews. I don’t ever pick up books I think I wouldn’t like, so there is a heavy dose of disappointment involved when rating a bad book, and to write a review of it just seems like too much work.

    Negative reviews, if they are respectful, are always a good thing because they tell you about a problem that someone finds in the book that you might experience as well. And as you said, they might help you identify problematic elements.

    I have so many more things to say, but it’s getting late. But yeah, thanks for writing this post!


  8. This was really interesting to read Cielo. I also only post a review on my blog that I feel I have enough to talk about. If I don’t feel there’s enough for me to write a full blog post about it then I usually just post my thoughts to Goodreads and not on my blog.

    If I was to review every book that I’ve read on my blog I think I would get sick of it to be honest.


  9. I’ve personally been posting everything I read on my blog lately, but that’s only because I have a personal goal to review each book I read. But at the end of the day, it’s up to the blogger to post what they want – and a blog with positive reviews only sounds so nice as well!

    I found the part on blogger reliability to be really interesting too. Since I started blogging, I’ve been getting a ton of my recommendations from other bloggers, so I usually have read a few reviews before reading the book. And because of that, I’ve found myself starting to discuss how I liked or disliked elements of the writing or story that others had a different view on. I feel like that might be something that’s helpful to let readers know something like, “hey, I liked this element a lot, but some didn’t, so you might like this book more than others if you like _ in your stories.”

    Thank you for writing this post! One of the many things I love about blogging and reading reviews is just how many different perspectives are out there.


  10. I low-key really like negative reviews lol. They can just… be a lot of fun haha. When I first started blogging I didn’t really rate anything lower than 3 stars, but now I kind of have fun writing really snarky mean rant reviews. Usually that’s just for if I genuinely hate a book though, which isn’t often, and I am sharing my honest thoughts, it’s just that my honest thought are… this is bad. Of course, I never tag authors or anything, I would never want them to see me trash their book, but I think that reviews are for readers so if readers can enjoy my snark, as I enjoy reading other snarky negative reviews, it’s cool. I used to review almost every book I read, but now I find that (aside from ARCs which of course I review regardless) I usually write long reviews for books I absolutely love (5 stars) and books I absolutely hate (1 star), since I don’t really have much to say about meh books, they’re just meh.


  11. Loved this post! It’s like the recent discussion that people who review mostly positively may not be reviewing critically. I absolutely adore reading posts like this with thought-provoking content ❤ you got yourself a new subscriber haha


    1. You got yourself a new one too, omg! Your blog is sooo pretty💖
      I’m so glad you liked my post. I think that most times it’s very easy to know whether a review is objective or not with the points the reviewer does and how they back up said points. It goes beyond saying “the characters were complex”. They need to tell us where and how they saw that complexity. That way we can know how reliable their review really is😊

      Liked by 1 person

  12. That’s thought-provoking, thanks for raising the debate. I recently gave away some copies of my latest book in exchange for a review and one recipient withheld her review because she was going to give it a low rating. As the author, I felt ambivalent about this. Of course I don’t like the idea of someone not liking my book (she liked the main character, but disliked the medieval violence). On the other hand, an objective review should be able to inform potential readers what they would or wouldn’t like about the book, in addition to providng the reviewer’s personal feeling. Ho hum 🙂


    1. Totally agree! I believe authors should understand that their book is never going to fit ALL audiences. Triggering content plays a huge role in this. You mentioned violence and that’s something that might make some readers skip the book. So having a review out there that addresses this is important, first and foremost, to the readers’ mental health care✨

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I’ve found that sometimes even negative reviews can make me want to read a book. You mentioned a hypothetical example of someone saying there wasn’t much romance in a fantasy, and that’s something that I tend to like, so that might make me more inclined to read it. It’s all about perspective for me in the end, and everyone picks up on different things in different ways. I really enjoyed this post, there were some great points in it!


  14. Cielo I LOVE THIS POST!! SO MUCH!! Tbh the online book world just have too many opinions on other people, and sometimes they’re necessary when addressing problematic issues, but other times I just find it so stupid. But anyways, still love that you did this.

    I do EXACTLY the same. I do reviews now based off how much I have to say. And I’ve also only more recently started rating books really low if I don’t like them. Back when I first started I never really had “negative” opinions, and I used to say it’s because I knew my taste. Which I do think is true but I’ve also branched out a bit more. And sometimes it’s a miss when I do. I haven’t actually done a whole like 2-star full blog post review because I just don’t feel like being negative on my blog. I’d for sure talk about the book and how it disappointed me but eh. Like I’d most likely HATE writing that review and fearing that I’d be too harsh in a sense?? Anyways, I’m rambling sorry.

    YES, YES AND YES to reading all kinds of reviews and also finding reliable reviewers!! When I’m choosing what to read and I’m not quite sure then I go to GR and see if people I think I have similar taste think and skim their review and sometimes if it’s negative, it can deter me. Also sometimes not. If it’s positive then YES. It’s a win hehe


  15. Totally agree. Making connections can give us really great insights on the blogger’s approach to books and makes it easy to decide if the book might work for us. Loved the post❤️


  16. Great post! Personally, I review books I read out of habit. I just can’t start writing another book without writing a review for the previous one. 😂 I think both negative and positive reviews are important too. I agree with what you said that some reasons why a reader didn’t like a book might not be an issue for another. I read negative reviews for those reasons to help me decide whether it’s worth giving a try.


  17. Such an important post, especially so we make sure and support other book reviewers and how they choose to present their reviews. Personally, I don’t have tons of time to blog and read with other aspects of my life. So, I don’t sit down and write blog posts about books I hated or books that I was just extremely neutral on. If I don’t have anything helpful to say, I just don’t say it. Also, if I truly hated a book, it does cause me some anxiety to post a hugely negative review. When I do post a negative review, I present the issues as ‘these were my issues, but perhaps it’s why you would want to read it’. I like to show both sides of the coin.

    Also, I like to read negative reviews myself. Sometimes I even look for bloggers that have exact opposite taste in reading as me. Because if they don’t like something – that means I probably will! It’s helpful on both sides.


  18. Great post! We write negative and positive reviews on our blog but we tend to write more positive. My goal was to review every book I read this year but i have fallen behind on that.

    A Negative review depending on what is said usually won’t stop me from reading it. Sometimes it even confirms my reasons for wanting to read it more.


  19. This was such a great post!

    Positive and negative reviews are both important but what find of review someone wants to write on their own blog totally depends on the person. Personally I have not written any in-depth reviews for books I’ve given a rating below 3 stars because just like that other blogger said, they aren’t worth my time


  20. You know I am in LOVE with this post, Cielo! I couldn’t agree more about their being a necessity of both positive AND negative reviews!! For my part, I tend to write more positive reviews on my blog because…it just happens that I have adored almost every single book I picked up for some time! (i know riight?! The gods must be shining on me 🤣🤣🤣) but I will definitely not shy away from writing a negative review either – BUT ONLY IF THE AREAS ARE REALLY PROBLEMATIC! You know some people – even after being a mood reader – tend to bash a book about things that are very VERY subjective to the individual reader and were probably a bother to the reviewer because they were just not in the mood! It happens with me, it’s nothing to be ashamed of – but that doesn’t mean you give the whole book a bad rep just because of it! Decency demands that you give a serious thought about the author and only write a negative review when you GENUINELY feel there was something wrong with the writing, plot, characters etc, you know?

    Damn!! I didn’t know I had this much to say about reviews!! THAT’S HOW YOU KNOW YOU HAVE JUST READ A PHENOMENAL DISCUSSION POST!! Loved this so much, Cielo!! AWESOME WORK!! 😍😍😍😍😍


    1. Omg i’m so glad that you liked my post!!

      I totally agree with you, and that’s something I hadn’t thought about. When you’re reading a negative review you really need to analyze whether the reviewer is being objective with the points they make as to why they’re rating the book badly. Many people don’t separate their personal taste to objectivity, and even when it’s great to let the audience know what you generally like and dislike in a book, you need to be aware that this may not apply to every potential reader.

      The only low-rated reviews I have made on the blog so far have been for problematic content (The Friend Zone – the author addressing a health problem insensibly) and a REALLY bad ending (The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes). But in others like Last Girls and Mayhem I state that i’m rating low for slow pace which is connect my personal taste BUT doesn’t take from the book being good. It’s important to know how to separate both things!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. YESSS!!! That’s the right thing to do – stating if the reason you rated a book low is because of some personal issues or some common ones!!

        Again, I reallly enjoyed this discussion post, Cielo, and I will look forward to reading more of your awesome posts!! 😍😍❤️❤️


  21. This is something we need to talk about more in the community. Whenever I see people questioning bloggers with how they rate and review books, I do a double take. Because, um isn’t reading objective and our reading experiences unique? The best way to review a book is indeed however you want, as long as you don’t hurt others (because no matter what size your following is, you still have influence through your platform). Thank you so much for this important discussion, I really enjoyed reading this and I think everyone needs to read this 💗


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