The Sunday Salon – April 18, 2010 (the “What do you do when you hate a book you were sent to review?” edition

The Sunday Salon.com

I have been enjoying my reading this month immensely. Or, maybe I should say, “I had been.” Then I picked up a book I was sent to review a couple of months ago. I can’t make myself finish it! It’s a YA title that is very formulaic and childish compared to the quality YA I’ve been reading. So, what should I do? Do I finish it and give it a horrible review? Do I do a “did not finish” review? Do I e-mail the publicist who sent it to me, explain the problem, and offer to send it back? What do those of you who accept review copies do in this situation?

I am currently reading a couple books that I am enjoying: Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen and Far From the Land: An Irish Memoir by Thomas Rice. If I get some reading time today, those are the books I will be dipping into. I’m also hoping to go see Shutter Island this evening with my dad.

What are you reading today?

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26 Responses to The Sunday Salon – April 18, 2010 (the “What do you do when you hate a book you were sent to review?” edition

  1. Trisha
    Twitter: Trish422
    says:

    First off, Yay for Shutter Island!

    I think I would just not review the bad ARC, and of course, send an email to whoever contacted you about it explaining why. I don’t review books I don’t finish whether it’s an ARC or not.
    .-= Trisha´s last blog ..Sunday Salon: Challenging Challenges =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Trisha – I don’t usually review books I don’t finish, either. And Shutter Island was amazing!

  2. Book Psmith says:

    When this happened to me, I went the route of sending an email to the publicist and explained the situation and offered to send the book back. She was so kind about the whole thing and told me to keep the book which I then donated to my library. I did mention the title in an end-of-the-year post about the books I could not finish. Today I’m reading some essays from one of fave collections as I wait for Pym’s Excellent Women to arrive in the mail (please, please be delivered tomorrow:)

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Book Psmith- I’ve heard great things about Excellent Women – I look forward to your thoughts.

  3. Robin of My Two Blessings
    Twitter: robnmccormack
    says:

    I would prefer not to write a review of a book I didn’t enjoy or like because of the writing or the story. I have written posts about books I didn’t finish. I have one now that is a dnf. I like the idea of emailing the publicist to find out what they would like. I hadn’t thought of that.

    I’m also in a quandry about if I can do one post with a review of more than one review book since I don’t have time to do full reviews. Don’t know if that would be shortchanging the books and the authors or not.
    .-= Robin of My Two Blessings´s last blog ..Links and Posts to Ponder while I’m Unplugged =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Robin – I do mini-reviews a lot, but haven’t ever done that with a book i was reviewing for an author or publicist.

  4. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread
    says:

    That is a tricky situation! I’ve written reviews on books that I didn’t like, but not on ARCs. With ARCs, I contact the person who pitched the book to me, telling them the situation and ask what they would prefer. I usually will not review it, unless I can find redeeming qualities.

    Enjoy Shutter Island…just watch out for that last sentence! It changes everything!
    .-= Sandy´s last blog ..Sunday Salon: Back to the routine =-.

    • Meghan says:

      I tend to just give bad reviews (but politely, I’m not nasty about it) if I can bring myself to finish the book. I once had one for a blog tour that I hated and couldn’t finish, though, and in that case I emailed my contact and asked her to remove me from the tour. In general I only review books I’ve finished. I tend to think that a review is better than no review in most cases and I think the people who read my blog appreciate my honesty.

      I loved Garden Spells – great choice!

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Sandy – I haven’t read the book, so – that last line that Teddy says – not in the book?

  5. Depending on the situation, I would either go ahead and review the book, or email the publicist and ask them what they’d like for you to do.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Kathy – yeah, I’m thinking e-mailing the publicist is the way to go.

  6. Michelle says:

    I must be the only one who actually goes ahead and reviews the ARC, whether it was bad or not. I made a promise to myself a long time ago that I was going to be honest in every one of my reviews, and that I was going to review every book I finished. To do anything less would not be honest.

    We read a lot of books and cannot expect to like every one we read. It is a chance publishers take when they send out ARCs. Similarly, if every ARC only received positive reviews (because people refused to write negative reviews), isn’t that deceiving the public? Expectations about a book will be high because all people can read are the positive reviews, and then they might question themselves should they not like the book.

    Also, if we consider ourselves in the same vein as book reviewers for magazines and newspapers, then we owe it to our readers to write negative reviews as well as positive ones. Kirkus does not write only positive reviews, do they?

    I say write the negative review. That way readers can get the full picture of the book and may not be swayed by only glowing reviews.
    .-= Michelle´s last blog ..REVIEW – The Life O’Reilly by Brian Cohen =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Michelle – I usually agree – but I don’t want to finish this one! :) And I have seen some other not-so-great reviews of this one, so not sure one more will make much of a difference.

  7. That is a tricky situation and it’s been helpful for me to read what people have had to say here!

    Far From the Land is one on my TBR – I look forward to your review!
    .-= Colleen (Books in the City)´s last blog ..Review: Alexandra, Gone by Anna McPartlin =-.

  8. Jeane says:

    It is a sticky dilemma. I made myself a promise that if I took ARC books, I would commit to at least reading the entire thing. And share my honest opinion. Unfortunately, I wasn’t very impressed with many of them, and then I felt bad for expressing that. So now I just don’t accept ARCs, unless I really really want to read them. I’ve seen other bloggers in this situation offer the book to another blogger who will read & review (with the publisher’s consent). I think that’s a good option.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Jeane – I have cut down on the ones I accept, too – and have stopped letting myself feel bad for saying no.

  9. CelticLady
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/CelticLady1953
    says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed Far From The Land: An Irish Memior…excellent read…and of course it took place in Ireland and it was one of my books for the Irish Reading Challenge…
    .-= CelticLady´s last blog ..A Wonderful And Inspiring Thing =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      CelticLady – I know – I was so glad when I read your review because I knew I had it waiting on my to-read shelf!

  10. Michelle says:

    Now I want to know what the book is, LOL!

    I would review it to the point that you got. Be honest and mention that you didn’t finish the book and list why you weren’t able to do so. I firmly believe that publishers know that not every book is for every reader and that is the risk they take when sending copies out for review.
    .-= Michelle´s last blog ..Barbara Quick – A Golden Web =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Michelle – I think one of the reasons I’m not wanting to review it is because, deep down, I had a feeling I wasn’t going to like it. It was one of those situations where I really should have said no to the offer of a review copy, but I always have trouble saying no! My lesson has been learned, though – I will say no when I get that gut feeling!

  11. Stephanie says:

    Honestly, I would write a review explaining that I DNF and give an explanation as to why, as well as reviewing the book to the point where I had put it down. If someone is going to send me a book to review, I review it truthfully–the same as I would do to any other book, whether I got it from the library, bought it, etc.
    .-= Stephanie´s last blog ..The Sunday Salon =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Stephanie – I think I would feel that way if I reviewed every book I read, but I don’t – and I don’t review books I don’t finish, so I think I’m going to just pass on this one and try to be more selective about agreeing to reviews. :)

  12. heidenkind says:

    If you don’t want to finish it, don’t finish. Forcing yourself to read the book will just make you hate it more! As for the review, if you agreed to do a review, you should write a DNF one. But if you didn’t, I wouldn’t bother.

    I worked on Sunday. Blah.
    .-= heidenkind´s last blog ..Hex Hall Discussion =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Tasha – I ended up e-mailing the publicist, and he said to just donate the book to the library and that the question of whether to review or not was up to me. I don’t usually review books I don’t finish, so I decided just to skip it. :) Sorry you had to work on Sunday!