Discussion: The Integrity of Book Blogging

BloggingIntegrity

Honesty in my reviews and interaction is something I have always strived for as a book blogger. As a community, book bloggers seem to value sincerity above all. With so many factors potentially influencing our opinion of a book, I personally find it easy to lose sight of my own opinion on a book. I’ll be working through my thought processes in this post, and I hope you can help me!

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Friends and Fandom Opinion

Being in the midst of it as a book blogger mean that you often have so many preconception about a book, even before its release. This is especially apparent with hyped up titles, where it’s practically impossible to avoid hearing public thoughts on the title. In a way, this is positive as it generates publicity and love for new releases – arguably the reason why I started blogging to begin with.

On the flipside, it often biases my opinion on a book – for example, I don’t think I would have been so disappointed by Illuminae if I didn’t hear about how amazing it was for 5 months straight. You’ve seen all those posts about how hype can hurt a book, so I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. Some people are determined to dislike popular titles just to be contrary (I sadly admit that I used to be one of those people, many years ago!)

On a positive note, it was my friends and the fandom’s love for the Throne of Glass series that made me give the series a second chance– and now it’s one of my favourites ever! I have also picked so many books up purely from word of mouth recommendations, with the most recent being All The Light We Cannot See through Jenna’s rec. Ultimately, I think if you truly love a book, you should shout it out loud. Don’t be scared about being labelled an indiscriminate fangirl, you might just help someone find their new favourite title: something that makes blogging truly worth it.

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Shiny Friendly Authors

Being able to directly connect to the writers of your favourite books via Twitter is truly one of the wonders of the modern age. I totally prejudge a book by its author – if their Twitter is filled with witty one-liners and appreciation for their fans, I am more likely to approach their work with optimism. Conversely, I imagine I would avoid authors who have been problematic in the past e.g. Kathleen Hale and her Guardian article still gives me the creeps. Nonetheless, I’m happy to report that all of my brushes with authors have been positive experiences.

However, I don’t regularly chat or tweet any authors – and I remain reserved in in interaction for fear that a relationship would make passing judgements on their work too difficult. I know and respect that many bloggers are different, and that they deserve to be proud of all their author friends. I would love to hear from those who do have a more intimate relationship with authors to share on how they remain objective, and how to respectfully dispense criticism without damaging the relationship.

I also don’t agree with Amazon’s policy of preventing people who know the authors from posting their reviews on the site. While I know endorsements from someone’s spouse or best friend may not be free of bias – banning their twitter contacts from reviewing their books seem a little bit extreme. I generally operate on good faith, and trust the reviewer to be honest until proven otherwise. After all, authors are the content creator of these universes we adore so much – I don’t think it’s fair or sane to have them cut out from any discussions about their books and the book community in general.

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Blog Tours

Finally, there’s the reviews I see on either publisher or author-organised blog tours. As these are a marketing tool, I expect all of the posts to be largely positive. Perhaps that’s why I have been hesitant to take part in blog tours until recently. I don’t want to be wracking my brain to look for positive things to say if I disliked the book – I am lazy, I am undiplomatic! However, I have never seen a publisher or an author requesting that everyone love their books. In fact, there are multiple choices if you didn’t like the title. You could make graphics instead, or host an interview or a guest post, or make a random list of the things you did like. You don’t have to compromise your opinions on a book.

Overall, I think community responses to things like sponsored posts or paid reviews are ample evidence that the bookish community strives to be honest. I love that we are mainly fueled on passion for books rather than ulterior motive. I won’t lie and say that I don’t want to make money off my blog – but ultimately I want to have absolute transparency. The reason the community continues to inspire me is the sheer creativity and unrelenting passion in reading.


Have you ever felt your book reviews were being influenced by outside sources? What are your thoughts on honesty in the book community? Let me know!

49 thoughts on “Discussion: The Integrity of Book Blogging

  1. *whispers* Well, you said not to hold back on our opinions, even though that was for books, but I’ll just get this out of the way first: I don’t see anything wrong with paid reviews. Like, I mean, some reviewers on PW and Kirkus and whatnot are totally paid? And IMO sponsored posts (to my understanding these are the posts with the cover + synopsis + not much input from the blogger) is hardly different from website ads, except … in a post instead of in the sidebar? And plenty of bloggers use website ads, so … why not? I think these are equally legitimate ways to make money off your blog as other more conventional methods …

    (I don’t actually know, I realise, if you’re against these, because you didn’t specify, but I HAD THOUGHTS so I decided to say them.)

    I’m often sliiiightly disappointed by hype. Like, I won’t dislike the book! but I’ll be like, “eh, there was that which bugged me, I don’t think it’s actually THAT good”. (And aaah a teensy bit nervous about ILLUMINAE now but since it’s been glaring at me from the shelf for ages now I suppose I had better plow through it!) And gosh, I can never find the courage to tweet at authors directly. I’m *trying* to break through that psychological barrier … I don’t think it really affects my opinion of their books though. I’ve never known an author before a book that I didn’t like, to be fair, but I know plenty of online writers whose Wattpad/Figment stuff I’ve read and I have left negative comments before, so I have some faith in my ability to be objective. Yeah, I agree, Amazon’s policy extended to Twitter contacts is fairly ridiculous, especially since I basically follow every author whose book I loved? I think the Internet signed a petition for them to reconsider that policy, though.

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  2. I feel that I am a bit removed from the book community when it comes to books and new releases, so hype doesn’t really affect me that much, although it did so for Throne of Glass. We’re opposites on that one. Hype for Red Queen also didn’t deliver, and by the author’s recent actions and stance on diversity, I’m not supporting her any time soon. I also don’t interact with authors either, although I love it when authors are so sweet and interactive, like Leigh Bardugo and Susan Dennard. I’ll love or not love their books, but I will love the person; that does not affect what I think of their books in any way. And as for blog tours, I personally won’t lie about my rating, and it never crossed my mind that others will. I honestly believe that with sponsored posts and all that, people will still remain their integrity because this community has some of the best people ever.

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  3. I’m so glad someone has made a post about this! I’m always honest with all of my reviews, but it’s one of the reasons I’ve been signing up for less blog tours recently – I’ve had a few cases where I haven’t liked books and I’ve really struggled to make even one or two positive comments.
    I also find it really difficult when authors are lovely and I need to give their book a bad review. I don’t dislike you, I just don’t think your work is for me! It still feels me with awkwardness and guilt, though.

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  4. That was a really great post and I am glad that you always made sure to include both the ups and downs of every aspect. I’ve found it great to be in a community that is so loving of books, but at the same time I can only agree that the hype can sometimes ruin the fun of reading a book, because expectations are too high.
    I’ve shortly talked to some authors, but I don’t have any real author-friends. I am not sure how that would work for me as a reviewer sometimes, because I hate judging the work of friends. It always makes me feel uneasy, but at the same time I would love to get to know some authors on a more personal level, because they are real heroes of mine.

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  5. I love this article! I don’t really face problems with Twitter and having a relationship with the author, but I definitely get how hype about a book can make you feel a bit sad when you don’t enjoy it. I know that for me, it pressures me to find more great things about the book, and try to focus on them instead of all the flaws that I can find. Great discussion post – it really made me think about how the integrity of my posts can be compromised 🙂

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  6. I think I’ve been super happy with the way that I rate and review books. Hehe, I can be super brutal sometimes. I definitely pick up books because of hype, but I think at the end of the day I’m pretty good at not letting that inflate my ratings or opinions about the book. And I think generally the community is pretty good at that too.

    I’ve kind of been super hesitant to tweet at authors or create a strong friendship with any of them. It would definitely be awkward if I didn’t enjoy their book. (A certain author actually unfollowed Jeann on Twitter because I didn’t enjoy her books and wrote a post with my honest thoughts). I like encouraging new authors but I’m always super wary of becoming super close with any of them. It always bothers me a little when I see people sucking up to authors just to get perks so I try to avoid doing that myself. Still, I like being able to interact with authors, as long as I can still be honest with myself and have integrity 🙂

    Also, it always makes me warm and fuzzy inside when people actually like All the Light We Cannot See ❤

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  7. I’ve never tried to reach out to an author – not because I think it would be hard to remain neutral while reviewing their book, because I manage that, and I think Amazon’s policy is ridiculous. If I can remain honest while working as a beta for my best friend, and many others can do it neutrally as well, I think it’s possible, honestly. Alyssa brought up some great points in regards to the Amazon policy. I loved how to put in both sides to the picture though, great discussion ❤

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  8. I’ve never really been pressured to like things that other do which is why I always have the more unpopular opinion on most popular books (a few examples are Throne of Glass, The Darkest Minds, Ms. Peregrine’s, The Kiss of Deception, Eleanor and Park … a bunch of other books that a lot of people like and I hate). I feel that if I let other people’s opinion affect mine, I would be lying to myself and the people who read my reviews. I owe it to the readers to tell them my honest opinion on books. And I would continue doing that even if a lot of people would hate me for hating the book they love. That’s life. I’m okay with that. I respect that they love the book I hate, in the same way, they should also respect my opinion for hating the book they love.

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  9. I think at first, if I ever disliked a hyped book I was afraid to freely voice my opinion thinking if the other bloggers would judge me but now I know that’s not going to happen because here each and every one respects the other’s opinion. (However if it’s bashing the author or a book, they earn an unfollow from me.) About blog tours- I was kinda pretty afraid to email the the blog tour company telling that I didn’t like the book but once they replied that it’s not a big deal, I was relieved. Till now I have participated in numerous blog tours and I have dropped out of a few as well because I didn’t like it. So mostly now if I like a book or not, I freely state my opinion in a respectful way. Loooove this post Aentee! 🙂

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  10. This post just makes me realize that book blogging is way too hard, yo!
    Honesty is important in almost every aspect of our lives, so it’s only logical that it applies to the book community as well. I think it’s especially important when it comes to book reviews because by being dishonest in your review, you’re not only misleading yourself but also your readers.

    The fandom/hype one is one I struggle with a bit. There are times where I feel like readers might be too scared to hate a well-loved book or the opposite because of fear of being “attacked” by fans. I used to be a reader determined to hate everything popular as well. Haha! I’m not like that anymore though and it’s why I won’t even read early Goodreads reviews, just so I don’t allow that to affect my judgement of the book.

    And the author one. Oh man. I honestly don’t understand how some bloggers are friends with authors and frequently chat with them and then write reviews for their books. I have a post coming up about this and I’m probably going to hurt some people, but honestly? I don’t trust reviews for those bloggers especially if they are loving all the books by their friends!

    Fabulous post, Aentee!

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  11. Great discussion! I totally agree with what you said about author and blogger friendships. It makes me anxious to think that if I become good friends with an author and then God forbid I hate their book, how would I continue? Writing a negative review would make me feel like a bad friend but not writing one at all would make me feel like a bad blogger. I just try to keep things in the acquaintance side. They know me, know I like their book but that’s it.

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  12. This is a really good discussion! I’m like you, I only interact with authors after I read something I love, and then I do let them know it on Twitter. And I have a HUGE problem with blog tours. I rarely do them anymore because the publisher (or blog tour company) really controls everything about the post, including how you respond to the book. I had a really bad experience with a tour where the author read my review and the bt company actually contacted me and asked me to change something in my review because it was too negative! (I would link my discussion but I’m typing on my phone) I was mortified and made the change, but then later I got really mad at the whole situation. As for hype, I’m pretty good at ignoring it and just going into the book without too many expectations:-)

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  13. I especially love the tips you gave for not compromising your opinion on a book for a blog tour. I think that’s a big reason I never really took part in any blog tours. One awesome creative thing Alexandra @ Twirling Pages did is she was part of s blog tour on a book about ballet and she took us through the average ballet class. I love that!
    This discussion is seriously MY FAVORITE❤️❤️

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  14. This is really true, and the “integrity of book blogging” is one of the things that I love so much about the book blog community. 99% of the time people just love books and want to share their passions and fangirling with other people who love books and that is my favorite part about blogging. Thanks for the great discussion!

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  15. I seem to always have such bad luck with popular book series. Throne of Glass, The Raven Cycle: I’m not a fan of these series. I think I hyped myself up way too much for these series, and although I did manage to read up to book two in both, I figured why force myself to like something just because everyone else does. I’m a little nervous to read Truthwitch because of all the hype. One thing that I do have trouble with is having my opinion of a book swayed after I read it. For example, I read A Court of Thorns and Roses and enjoyed it. Well, after reading it, I found all these negative reviews highlighting aspects of the book that originally I didn’t notice/wasn’t bothered by. Now I am unsure if I actually enjoyed it. I’m thinking I should probably re-read it to see if I stil enjoy it. But, then again, I will be looking for all these negative things I now know about. o_O

    I think within the blogging community, everyone is pretty honest for the most part. At least from what I’ve seen. I almost don’t want to mention it, but I sometimes I have a hard time trusting the BookTube community. Of course, this isn’t for ALL BookTubers! I don’t know if it’s the fact that some of them do sponsored videos, but I often find myself not trusting some opinions.

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  16. I am confident enough in my integrity to say that if anyone paid me to write a review it would still be 100% honest. But it won’t assure other people–the ones I am writing for–and for their peace of mind at the very least I think it’s a good thing the bookish community hasn’t entered the world of paid reviews yet. There’s already so many conflicts and misconceptions about ARCs that I think the book blogger community on the whole isn’t ready for paid reviews and still maintain transparency.

    Besides, I have the tendency to find some saving grace in a book I rated below 3 stars. Even those that I rate one stars usually have something good to salvage their reputation. After all just because a book didn’t meet my expectations doesn’t mean it’s going to be horrible for everyone else too. I believe my job as a book blogger is to:

    a) Fangirl shamelessly about the books I love and rant about the ones I hate

    b) Decide WHICH book is for WHO and WHY.

    And I give more importance to job b) because I respect that people are going to decide which books to buy with their hard earned money. Can’t be biased when I think of that.

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  17. Great post! I’m always honest with my reviews and It’s kinda hard reviewing a book you didn’t like and I try to be less negative but still write my honest thoughts. I’m a curious reader and whenever a book was over hyped I can’t help but to check out what’s the fuss was all about but it doesn’t influence my opinion on it. I don’t do blog tours because it’s going to be hard when writing negative reviews especially the authors you are friends with. I think Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and they must respect it. 😀

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  18. I LOVE this post! I want to print this out and pass it around (not that I know any other book bloggers who live near enough to benefit from that). But, hey, you never know! I might just slip it into random mailboxes! I think some of this ties in well with Cait’s recent post about book hype having both bad AND GOOD sides, too.

    I’ve only recently allowed myself to get exceptionally friendly with an author whose ARC I have yet to read and review. And, yes, it occurred to me after a spell that this was probably a monstrously bad idea. Especially given the title of our blog. And especially given that my co-blogger and I have done REALLY WELL in being honest so far. If we’re sent an ARC for a review and one of us hates it mindlessly, the other reads it. If we both hate it mindlessly, we email the author and give them a (respectful and polite) rundown of the reasons why. We also offer not to share our opinion on the blog, but to stick with GR. It’s probably not perfect, but it’s the best we could come up with. We’ve also had instances where we’re asked to be on a blog tour but then we hate the book, in which case we email the publishers and explain that we probably shouldn’t participate. How does one talk up and market a book they hate?

    But were we tempted to just “go with the flow”? Yes. Do I feel WAY WORSE giving the book a bad review if a fellow blogger/friend loved it? Yes. Does this intensify if I’ve had previous contact with the author? Oh, yes. And that’s precisely why this post is so, so lovely.

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  19. I really think that the core here is about honesty – not only honesty in your reviews, but honesty to who you are as a person and what you feel.

    I haven’t gotten to the stage of blogging that I feel I’m being swayed significantly (although I did write a whole post on how too many positive reviews did sway my opinion of The Girl on the Train), but I definitely worry about providing an honest take of a book review.

    Maybe the pressure will be greater down the road – I hope that I’ll maintain my honest take on anything I receive – even if that does mean using my mom’s mantra of “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” on sponsored posts.

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  20. What a great topic! I try to be completely honest in reviews no matter where the book came from. Sometimes it’s hard when it’s a beloved author or hyped book, but I always try to keep in mind that not everyone loves the same things.

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  21. The authors-as-friends thing was something I’ve been thinking about recently. While I adore interacting with them on Twitter, I would feel incredibly awkward giving a low rating and critical review of a book if I was super-friendly with a the author of the book. I enjoy the distance, tbh.

    And yeah, hype is definitely another factor. I didn’t read QoS for three months until I felt I could read it without being clouded by the hyper good/hyper bad reviews.

    Thought provoking post!

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  22. Honesty is the best policy. Whether I like the book or not I will always be honest about and explain why. Hype definitely has its perks but it also has its downsides. For one I find that my expectations are too high going in to the book and so I end up disappointed. Plus sometimes with all the hype I feel more pressure to like the book but I’ve learned that I can’t force myself to like it and so I will happily be the black sheep. One of my goals for this year is to try and get back into jumping into a book blind.

    I’m a shy person so I don’t interact much with authors save for the occasional tweet. I love supporting authors and spreading the word about their book and I’d love to interact more with them. However, I can definitely see it being awkward if I don’t like a book by an author that I really like. Again it all comes down to honesty.

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  23. I totally understand what you mean. For the most part I try to not read too many posts about a book I’ve been hearing about lately. While I do want to read reviews, I don’t want to constantly read reviews that are overly excited and super fangirling over the book (which is totally fine) because then I run the risk of getting hyped up and being brought down. I try to look at books with the thought that I’m just someone who picked the book at the store without any prior knowledge of it.

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  24. This is a really thoughtful and interesting post! I totally understand what you mean about being influenced by hype… it definitely happens, but I think it’s important when a reviewer says the book didn’t live up to the hype. Your response to Illuminae shows people that they need to take a step back and consider the book for themselves, without the bias of the publisher and other bloggers.

    I do connect with authors on twitter a lot. I wouldn’t say I’m BFFs with any, but I am friendly, and plan to meet with some of them at RT16 in April. But I have no qualms about giving a negative review if I feel it’s deserved. But I know a LOT of bloggers, especially in the MM genre, who can’t separate the friendship and the honest response… they’ll give any book by a specific author 5-stars, which is dishonest to me.

    Speaking of blog tours, I actually had an issue come up the other day. A promo company sent out the following in its email: “If you are unable to respectfully rate the book at 3 stars or more we ask that you hold off on posting your review until after the tour.” This is the first time I’ve ever encountered anything like that, and it really upset me because it’s asking people to hide negative reviews from potential buyers until after the first wave of promo is out. But most blog tours are pure promotion, nothing else.

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  25. Oh yes, as much as I try to avoid it, I am influenced by hype. Whether it makes me highly excited or highly skeptical, it’s still inevitable. These days when I know I’ll be reading a book soon, I try not to read reviews in detail and just skim, so I can go into it with fresh eyes (or as fresh as they’re going to be!)

    As for author interaction, I love them. But I don’t follow most authors on my personal twitter account, because a lot of them in the SFF genre tweet about politics and that’s just one area I want to stay far far away from. I’d just rather not know. I also tend to not follow authors who have abrasive or offensive personalities, because that makes it really hard for me to separate an artist from their art.

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  26. I think that maybe my reviews are influenced mostly when I read ‘popular’ or ‘hyped’ books. I try to avoid that and once I read the book I’m honest, writing what I think. The same goes with all the books I review. Those are my thoughts, good or not.
    I must say that I’m curious, as you said, when a reviewer has a close relationship with an author. I don’t have that but I would still say what I think, good or bad. But honestly, that won’t be easy.
    Last, I really liked your last paragraph because that’s what I feel. I think this community is honest or at least that’s what I like to believe and will believe until that changes ( hopefully that never happens).
    Great topic and discussion!

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  27. This is such a great post! When I was just starting out, I had such a terrible time with this. Especially because as a newbie, the only review books I got were generally from indie or self pubbed authors- which is fine- but it makes it a LOT harder to say negative things. Because instead of sending it to a faceless publisher on Netgalley or whatever, you have to contact that person about their work. It’s one of the biggest reasons that I rarely, if ever, accept review requests. Not because I don’t WANT to read a self-pubbed book, but because I am too conflicted. I refuse to be dishonest, but I also don’t want to break someone’s heart. I think it’s similar to the Twitter thing. An author and I had followed each other (hadn’t been “friends” or anything, just casual acquaintances) and then I didn’t like her book. At all. And obviously I didn’t tag her or anything, but I guess she wasn’t fond of my review- or me- anymore and unfollowed me. Which is sad, but… whatever.

    Blog tours are hard for me too- actually, the same author from above was involved with a blog tour I was on, and ended up doing promo stuff instead of a review. I talked about the things I liked, like you said. I have NO problem with that- I get it, the tour is FOR publicity! As long as everyone understands that I am going to be honest, I am down. I waited until after the tour to post my review, etc. But it still sucks to have to email a tour host and be like “yeah… I hated that”. Especially when you see that like, a bunch of other bloggers on the tour have done the same.

    The Amazon thing is stupid. I follow like, a thousand people on Twitter, and we are NOT all besties. I actually have some thoughts on a similar issue that I planned to post later in the week, so I won’t give you the whole novella here 😉

    And the hype? It’s like you said, it’s a mixed bag. I don’t know that hype influences me, but it DOES increase my disappointment I guess. Like, what the heck am I missing, you know?

    Overall, I think that most bloggers ARE honest. A huge majority, and I think it’s easy to tell when people aren’t. Reviews with NO substance and then a 5 star? And they went to lunch with the author last Tuesday? And are the godmother to her baby or something haha? Yeah, not buying it. Maybe they WANT to like it- and I don’t think they’re necessarily LYING as much as they are trying to kid themselves, if that makes sense. Anyway, fabulous post, as always 😀

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  28. Great post Aentee! I think this covers all the main parts of it, sometimes the lines do get blurred if we have a closer relationship with an author for example or if we’re reviewing for publishers. But I think everyone mostly understands that book bloggers have to provide honest reviews for their readers to maintain integrity. It’s just sometimes when people have skewed ideas about that then it gets a bit tough. Like Shannon, I met an author recently and we were friends on Twitter, but she found a review had been posted on Happy Indulgence that was 2 stars and unfollowed me afterwards which is unfortunate, but anyways…

    I stopped participating in blog tours because there was a requirement that you had to post 3 stars or above which is bullocks. I found myself struggling on occasion to say something nice about books that I just did not enjoy, so I stopped doing them.

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  29. I totally get all of this!! And tbh, I CANNOT TALK TO AUTHORS!! I just can’t!! >_< I think authors are amazing and superstars and I admire them a lot…but I can't be a book blogger and review and try to make friendships with authors. And I know a lot of bloggers who also have self-published books and I kinda refuse to read them. Just in case?!?! I really like my friendships BUT I’m a really harsh reviewer…so gah. I’m gonna choose friendships over reviews. It is a dilemma sometimes. D:
    As for blog tours and not wanting to send back negative reviews to publishers? I’ve got better at it! I think it takes time to realise no one’s going to alienate you for hating a book. XD hehe. (Well I mean, some losers might, but not people like publishers or whatnot.)
    And because I say it eeeeevery time I come onto your blog and YOU’RE SICK OF IT BY NOW I KNOW BUT IT’S STILL 1000000% TRUE…
    *whispers* Your posts are always so pretty. ❤

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  30. I share most of the same thoughts about this topic. Sometimes it’s really hard to be completely honest while reviewing a book especially if yours is an unpopular opinion.

    However, for me, the interaction with authors doesn’t really affect my thoughts about their books. For example, I loved Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Covenant series and that’s the reason why I started following her on Twitter a couple of years ago. She replies to my tweets and stuff, and I consider her one of my faves, but when she released a book I didn’t like, I gave it a review and rating I thought it deserved.

    I guess, it all comes down to how we let outside aspects affect our point of view towards a particular book or whatever else. If you’re one who is easily swayed by the thoughts of the general community of readers, I guess book blogging is not for that person.

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  31. The relationship with authors on Twitter can be difficult sometimes – but I’ve found more often than not that authors encourage honesty about their books. I’m a writer myself, and I know that I wouldn’t want people to be falsely singing the praises of my books. But it’s definitely easier to be honest if you don’t know the author (or if they’re a super-famous author who probably won’t even see your review). Since the AusYA community is so much smaller, though, most of the time I’ve at least replied to a Tweet or two.

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  32. This is quite a discussion topic and I love it! ^.^ It, in itself, is quite controversial. After all, it’s asking people if they write biased reviews. :p But that’s okay, because honesty is key! Go!

    Now, I haven’t reviewed books for very long, and perhaps that’s why, but I don’t generally take the author into account when writing the review. I know nothing, or very little, about the author. True, the author’s background and personality shaped the novel into what it is, but we’re not reviewing the author. We’re reviewing the book. So, I keep my thoughts focused on the book, what it has to offer, whether it was good, and why I may not have liked it.

    In regards to hype, I can’t say whether this influences my opinion or not. Though, I have become quite critical in my opinions on books since I started writing reviews. Perhaps I’m being exposed to more books, or reading them so closely together, and am subconsciously comparing them to each other because of that. However, my ratings for hyped books and non-hyped books have varied across the board. Some Netgalley books got the same good/bad reviews as hyped/popular books. For that reason, I like to think I’m unbiased. (Granted, I’ve recently come to terms with being a hipster and not doing whatever everyone else does. So, I generally try to make opinions on my own, which is why I don’t read reviews unless I’ve read the book myself first.)

    I think that has helped a lot in staying (hopefully) unbiased when it comes to books I’m reviewing. There may be tons of hype over a book, which spurs me to look into it. However, if the book doesn’t sound interesting to me, I don’t generally read it. I guess it has a lot to do with how easily people are swayed to join other’s opinions. Not that that is a bad thing, but excitement (and scrutiny) are contagious because we’re naturally social creatures.

    Either way, you’re still reviewing the book from your POV. Perhaps it’s influenced by how you interact with the bookish world, but you’re not consciously altering your review because of it. I mean, we naturally expect a book to be amazing if lots of people talk about it and vice versa for not well received books. That’s what reviewing and blogging is all about, right?

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  33. I also try not to interact too much with authors on Twitter, because that can definitely affect my judgment of the book, Though I do try REALLY HARD to separate the author and the work, I can understand that if you’re friends with the author, it’s hard to fully critique their book, but then again, maybe just not rate it at all then if you don’t like the book rather than lying? It really inflates the GR ratings, which I do look at before actually buying a book, especially at books coming out soon.

    Awesome discussion Aentee! This has been on my mind!

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  34. In general, I feel like it’s really unfair not to allow authors and friends of authors to review books because without them, there wouldn’t be anything to review lol. I mean even reviewers who aren’t authors or writers have some sort of bias – we’re all different and that’s why blogging & reviewing is so fun and interesting – you get to read different people’s thoughts on various books. I feel like people are so scared of dishonesty happening that they’re starting to believe the only way to discourage dishonesty is to discourage others from doing sponsored posts and paid reviews (which sucks because getting paid for doing something you’re passionate about would be awesome!!). I actually didn’t know that all reviews for blog tours don’t have to be positive (but that definitely makes me feel better !).

    In general, I think all book reviews are influenced by outside sources unless the blogger doesn’t express their thoughts on social media/read other reviews of the book/etc. In this day and age, it’s impossible to both stay connected *and* write reviews that aren’t influenced by outside sources because someone is bound to engage you in a discussion about the book you are reading (if you even tweet or post an update on goodreads).

    – Rachana @ Addicted to YA

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  35. I read very few reviews on other blogs (I only read reviews of books I’ve already read), but the ones I do read usually come across as honest and sincere. I think for the most part people share how they honestly feel about a book-the good AND the bad. As for the whole twitter/author thing, I’m just glad I don’t do a lot of social media and I’ll leave it at that lol. Great post 🙂

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  36. This is a great post about the integrity of book bloggers. When it comes down to it, reading and reviewing books is subjective and it’s impossible to keep completely aloof from everything that might influence your opinions about a book. I think the best policy is just to be honest in your review. I recently wrote a review of an author that I met at BEA in 2014 – I ended up standing next to her in line for over an hour and ran into her several other times as well. I ADORED her as a person – thought she was sweet and quirky, and it made me that much more excited to read her book. When it came time to review it, I told people right up front that I’d met her and loved her and had been excited for her book for a year and a half before ever reading it. Did that influence my opinion of the book at all? If I’m being honest – it might have – I don’t know because it’s really hard to separate those things. Like you mentioned this can happen for various reasons – hype around a book, excitement about another title from an author, etc … the best I can do is be honest about what I’m feeling and let people know if there’s any extenuating circumstances. (By the way, I gave that book I was waiting for 3.5 stars – it was cute, but not overwhelmingly amazing – but I still love the author.)

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  37. I often find myself wondering if that is really my opinion, or was it preconceived in my subconscience. That’s why most of the time I tend to take time to reflect on what I read before making up my mind.

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  38. There is so much truth in all your points, Aentee! One of the reasons I don’t read ARCs is that I don’t want to be influenced. The same about blog tours. I’m not very active on Twitter so I guess all drama goes past me. While there is nothing wrong to be friends with an author, I think it’s hard to stay objective. Great discussion as always!

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  39. I love how you’ve elaborated your views. I can relate to a majority of them. Overgrown hype really can create a footing for disappointment I’ve learnt. As a rule,I tend to always read books without looking into them,Instead simply based off wether the blurb intrigues me or not. TFIOS was one book that I read & loved when it had a meagre -1000 ratings on Goodreads, But in a strange way,The hype influenced me in a reverse manner. I began evaluating it more critically,& after reading more & more of John Greens books,I did n’t find TFIOS to be as spectacular as I once did. Whilst various factors influenced this process,I do think it’s the most important thing to just be true to the journey. Especially since I’ve always found the book community on so many platforms to be comparatively the least commercialised, That clarity is something I would n’t want to see muddied.

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