If you’re not sick of this topic yet
But since I didn’t want to hijack Jackie’s review of Tantalize, I thought I should expand on the comments I left, since I had more to say and it was getting so long. Most of my comments were about about this sentence: “Just because I don’t love it, doesn’t mean I can’t recognize those who will.”
What I said there:
I may call my long comments on books “reviews” (and they are in the sense that I make a critical judgment about the book I’m discussing), but that’s mostly because I don’t know what else to call them. Book Ramblings? Book Commentary? Readers Advisory Notes? If I wanted to be known as a reviewer, I would be trying my best to get in as a reviewer for VOYA, at least, and I’d describe the blog as “reviewing Young Adult books” instead of “blather[ing] about Young Adult literature…” I don’t/can’t review in the way reputable print review sources demand, but I try to do my best to discuss books in ways that will help others decide whether or not they’d like to take a chance on Book X or Book Y. And if book news, gossip, and interviews (not that we’ve done any yet) will encourage people to pick up a particular book, what’s the problem with that?
More after the cut, for those who are interested.
What I wanted to add: Speaking just for myself, and not for Gayle and Jolene…
Other bloggers do review professionally, and more power to them. But that’s not my goal. I don’t even know if I’m capable of making the kind of value judgments about every book I’d be assigned to review that a traditional review requires. I don’t review everything I read, mostly because I’m too lazy to do so, but I also don’t think I should limit my reviews only to those books I love. Sometimes, it’s a lot easier to write about books you dislike than those you love.
I suppose the main difference between what I do and what I consider to be traditional reviews is that I write a lot more about myself than I should. Meaning I think I’m pretty upfront about my biases and experience, and how they may color my view of the book I’m discussing. Because what I’m willing to overlook might be a dealbreaker for another reader, and the kind of story another person loves may be exactly what I hate. Every book its reader, and every reader his/her book, right? I definitely agree with what Gwenda says in the comments of the Read Roger post about getting to know a blogger’s tastes and how useful it can be. Call what I do passive readers advisory (and can anyone tell me where the apostrophe in readers goes?) if it makes you feel better.
All this said, I have a hard time taking worries about conflicts of interest and what the proper roles of bloggers and reviews should be in the kidlitosphere seriously. Before I read any kidlit blog, I was reading (mostly lurking at) blogs about romance novels. Talk about author/blogger interaction! Not to mention the numerous negative review kerfuffles. But the consensus seems to be, at least among the blogs I read and respect, that it’s easy to tell who belongs to which camp regarding reviews, that it’s your right as a reader and blogger to criticize a book as long as you justify your reasoning, while still being able to maintain friendly relations with authors. Which is my philosophy when it comes to this blog. Not that I know any authors, unless I have an acquaintance who is secretly moonlighting as one. But if someone reads one of my reviews/insert-term-of-your-choice-here and still doesn’t know my opinion of the book or it hasn’t helped them decide whether or not to give the book a try, then I’m doing something wrong. I’d like to think I can be impartial enough to honestly review a book I’ve received from an author or publisher, but since everything I’ve reviewed so far has come from the library, I really can’t say.