Library of Erana Reviewer Interviews.
Welcome to Kath, who reviews as as Ignite.
Please tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a retired administrator, so I have plenty of time for reading. I studied geology at university and more recently, archaeology. I’m interested in most things!
On average how many books do you read a month? What genres do you enjoy?
It’s difficult to say because I read some before publication, to proof-read, and I often read these twice. I’d say probably a dozen a month give or take. Favourite genres have always been fantasy, thriller and crime, horror, and to be honest, most things except romance, erotica and chick-lit. I just can’t seem to get into these, or to take them seriously.
Where do you tend to review?
I review on the Goodreads UK Amazon Kindle forum. http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/51445, usually on Amazon and more recently, since I joined them, the KUForum http://www.kuforum.co.uk/kindleusersforum/forum-35.html
Any book to which I give a five star review, I also feature on my blog. http://www.ignitebooks.blogspot.co.uk/
Why do you review – for other readers, for author feedback, for yourself?
I review primarily for other readers. I take notice of reader reviews and I like to help other readers to choose. When I read a book I really enjoy, I want to pass the recommendation on. It does help me too, of course. When you read so many books, having your own thoughts there in the form of a review helps you to recall the details. I’m sure it does help authors to have feedback but that’s not my primary aim.
What are your opinions on authors commenting on a review – negative and positive?
I’m aware that there’s a sort of perceived etiquette that says that an author shouldn’t comment. I think there are times when they have a right to. If a reviewer states something which is factually wrong or it becomes obvious that s/he hasn’t actually read the book – or only a part of it – I’m happy if the author points this out. I can’t see how anyone could find fault with ‘Thank you for taking the time to review my book.’
What are your opinions on “sockpuppetry” after the scandals of well-known authors leaving bad reviews for competitors?
I would imagine they’re the same as everyone else’s. It’s very poor form. If you can’t leave a review in your own name, or your usual on-line user name, it smacks of cheating to leave them in a ‘fake’ name, created for the purpose. It brings all reviews under suspicion too.
What are your opinions on a well-written review? What should it contain and how do you feel about personal comments listed in reviews.
I’m happy if the review gives a little detail about the story but obviously not too much, and definitely no spoilers. After all, you want to tell the potential reader what it was that drew you to want to read the book initially and it’s often the plot. I tend to make my reviews fairly short, but in two sections. The first gives a bit of the flavour of the story. The second paragraph will say why I particularly liked or disliked the book. I’ll comment on the writing style, the plot lines, characters, dialogue (an important one for me – I hate it when people sound like they’re talking to a hall full of delegates when it’s their wife they are addressing) and whether I found the whole book a good experience. If I had any issues with it, such as punctuation, homophones, if I felt the plot was weak, I’ll say this too.
I don’t think personal comments about the author or his/her other activities really have any place in a book review.
Do you find yourself being suspicious of a book with only 4 and 5 star reviews?
Not at all. Not as suspicious as I am of the people who comment on it! I suspect they are less successful authors. Aren’t I awful? If a book is good, why can’t people say so? I refuse to mark a book down just because people say things like this. A book that was so enjoyable you want to tell your friends about it deserves a four or five star rating. People who get irate about that need to get over themselves. I loved it – what’s that got to do with you?
Do the reviews of others influence your choices? What attracts you to read a book?
I’m influenced by the reviews of people who I know often share my taste in books. You soon get to know people in the online book world who enjoy what you enjoy. If I don’t ‘know’ the reviewer I always check how many reviews they’ve done. If it’s just the one, or it’s in single figures I tend to discount it. Any experienced reviewer will explain his or her review and I can take it from there.
I’m attracted to read a book by the genre – it’s got to be something I’d normally like. I also take some notice of the blurb. One or two books have sold themselves to me on the strength of just one intriguing line in a blurb! I will also immediately buy anything by an author whose work I’ve enjoyed previously. Because I take a lot into consideration before I buy, I’m more likely to give a good review than a bad one. I simply wouldn’t buy a book I thought I wasn’t going to like.
Do you deal with reviewing Indie books differently to how you review a mainstream book?
No. I use the same criteria for all books. I want a good story, believable characters and I want to be entertained, moved, mystified, intrigued, no matter who wrote it. I’m aware, of course, that a mainstream publisher has staff who read and reread books for typos and grammar and that means there isn’t a level playing field for indies who earn comparatively little. I am one of many readers happy to send an email or private message if we find any faults like this. The beauty of e-publishing is that you can almost instantly update your book. I will consider the book’s rating as though it didn’t have those errors (because soon it won’t). The only exceptions to this are books which have a lot of fundamental problems – more than I feel up to dealing with alongside reading it. I will then comment that it needs further attention.
A good story is a good story!