New Review Site

Since this is my blog and my three readers occasionally don’t mind me speaking random thoughts I’m going to post some ideas, thoughts, and opinions that I’ve been discussing in MSN with some people. You, lucky readers, can feel free to ignore at your will.

I was given a link to a new review site that will soon be posting reviews from an editorial point of view. Cerebral Reviews – check it out. Looks interesting, however, I get the feeling that this will be another Dear Author type review site that is bitchy and entertaining, yet informative. Really, I like some of the reviewers on Dear Author and find their reviews thorough, informative, and intelligent. It may be snarky and funny but most don’t seem to mind and in fact, enjoy the snark. So this new site should be interesting as the new Editor point of view reviews.

I really like the idea of an editor review as I make no claims to knowing what is great editing. I focus on the story itself and less about the composition so when I have to mention negative aspects about head hoping, spelling, or editing errors? You know it’s bad if even I can see it. I, like most reviewers, am reviewing from a reader perspective on what worked and what didn’t for me based on a context of being a voracious reader of numerous genres.  This is true for almost every single reviewer within the e-book world from small sites to even online publications that all base their reviews on reaction. This goes into the fact that there is no training or qualifications to be a reviewer, all that matters is you like to read and have an opinion. So the idea of a quasi-professional review site that focuses on how the book is presented is good and I think very necessary in this swamp land of emotional reaction reviews.

I worry some that this bunch has an agenda as the site claims to offer honest reviews but seems to equate honest with bitchiness and cutting remarks instead of simply laying out the mistakes. I hope that the point of staying anonymous is not to further any sort of grievances, favorites or hated books. I do believe most review sites start out honestly wanting to give an opinion but then morph into something else due to the attitude, climate, or purpose of those within. The fact that they will review other’s reviews is unfortunate and setting them up to be some authority on the situation, which is unattainable given the lack of credentials due to the inherent anonymous tag. I can only hope this doesn’t come to fruition as no matter what you, I, or the readers think of a review it’s in no way acceptable to publically step by step critique another review.

Not going off on too much of a tangent but let’s focus on this point for just a second because I was slightly shocked and appalled at the audacity of a site to criticize other reviews. Now, there are no doubt problems with spelling, grammar, editing, and word verbiage within my reviews. Did you know I LOVE commas? That the more commas in a review mean the more stars? But beyond my reviews which I stand by, reviews that I loathe are there for a purpose. They offer a reader perspective and it’s not up to me, the author, or anyone else to criticize how that person expressed an opinion by tearing apart their review. If you want to say it was poorly written or snarky or uneducated, all of those may be true, but how does that invalidate someone’s opinion? You can disagree with an opinion, point out facts why it’s wrong, show how the person is a hypocrite—but it’s an opinion. You can’t invalidate a review by tearing it apart so the exercise is simply meant to embarrass and thus has no point to exist. It takes some arrogance and cruelty to tear apart someone’s work for entertainment purposes. I feel the same way for authors and books.

The more I read about this new site, the more I worry that it’s an exercise in criticizing others, whether they’re readers, reviewers, authors, or publishers. When your sole purpose is to point out how terrible others are in the name of honesty, why hide behind an anonymous tag to stay impartial? Just by your purpose you’re not impartial and considering the fact that online is largely made up of pseudonyms, even making a new one doesn’t change the factors that may influence a person. Changing to a new anonymous name just gives you another outlet to say things without consequence or care and considering these editors likely already have anonymous online names, the need for another sparks concern.

I hope this site actually offers honest and thoughtful introspection. However, they’ve set themselves up already with the following line: “They are irreverent, honest, and willing to do something very few reviewers will do… tell the truth about a book.”

Snarky doesn’t equal truth so here’s to hoping.


*Just as I was going to post this on my blog today, I noticed that the site has it’s first review up which is a m/f romance from Amber Quill reviewed. I found the review decent without any snark at all and covered the basics, heavy on the editing portion. While it seems overall the reviewer mostly enjoyed the book reviewed and the review intelligent and thorough from the grammar portion, it wasn’t anything that hasn’t been done before in reviews. Interesting. Be sure to judge for yourself. 


13 thoughts on “New Review Site

  1. Hm. Commendable intentions. Let’s see if they can stick to their stated approach.
    Seems it would be difficult to maintain complete objectivity regarding subject matter — heck, even regarding plot construction and character development. I’ve seen editors’ opinions of the same book vary wildly on these issues, so there are obviously no hard-and-fast standards.
    And if this group does manage to achieve more professional “clarity” than other reviewers, there’s the danger they’ll become nitpicky in a whole different way.
    It will be interesting to see how this plays out. As John Steinbeck (by way of Robert Burns) said, “The best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry.” ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I wish them well.

    • I think it’ll be an interesting site to watch and like you, I’m wondering if their intentions will hold out for the duration of the site.
      One thing you hit on are the editor preference. In the review posted the reviewer makes a point of saying that using *** to change point of view versus a complete scene change is wrong. I was curious about this and asked around, only to find that it’s preference versus a wrong choice.
      I think it’s wrong to present a preference as a rule so there’s problems already. Will have to see, I’m interested enough to watch to be honest.

      • Really? They mentioned formatting? Each publisher has its own standards for that! I’ve seen POV, time, and scene changes indicated in a variety of ways: an extra space; one star, centered or flush left; an ellipsis consisting of three to five stars, centered for flush left.
        Saying one format is “right” and the other is “wrong” is just…wrong!

        • You can read the review itself if I somehow misconstrued (though I don’t think I did). They didn’t term it formatting if I recall, but mentioned the point of view changes which were signified by the *** , but apparently those stars didn’t mean a scene change. Merely a POV change, which the reviewer claimed was in error. That to use the stars means it should be a scene change as well.
          I’m not familiar with such rules so I wouldn’t know except to say that I’ve seen the POV change signified by stars in several books. I would think that would fall under preference rather than poor editing.

  2. I have to admit that I get a bit worried when I see the possibility of critiques of other people’s reviews or sites. For the 6 months I’ve been lurking in this small corner of the epublishing community I’ve yet to see something of this nature stay constructive. It seems to usually get emotive and fall rapidly into bitchiness and name calling. Maybe I’m being cynical??
    I think it will be interesting to see a review from an editor’s perspective; however, I’m always suspiscious of anyone, who proclaims they will be doing something with a view to objectivity. Sorry, but there is no such thing.

    • Well if you’re cynical, join the club. It was why I originally posted. I found the site’s premise to be interesting but execution to likely fall short.
      You’re absolutely right about the objectivity. As someone pointed out to me that often (not always but often) editors within the e-pub world are also writers, this begs the question of an agenda. Not to mention the incredibly valid point — no one knows who these ppl are.
      I can claim I’m a published author and if pressed, I can point out the numerous professional publications within my work field. However, does this make me a published author on par with say KZ Snow? (Picking on her cuz she commented!). Apples and Fruit Flies there, not even the same category as fruit. But I can claim it and say trust me without lying.

  3. I think you need to shoot for a better par, Kassa. Way better. ๐Ÿ™‚
    The identity issue kind of bugged me, too. Without knowing who’s who in what zoo, it’s difficult to find a claim of objectivity fully credible.

    • I’m with you on that one, K Z. I can understand their wish for anonymity, but given their declaration they are or have been professional editors and their intention to conduct reviews from that perspective they are asking their readers to take a pretty big leap of faith.

      • Well all our comments may be for not considering the newest review is on par with any other review I’ve seen. Rehashing the plot and action then a paragraph gushing about liking the book.
        So I’m lost again (though thankful for no snark) – what is so different and needed about this site?

    • *lol*
      Well said, Jaye!
      It does rather feel like the same cud being chewed not once, but twice… blimey, I can’t think of another, more suitable analogy this early in the morning LOL.
      I think it’s important to add value. A review can be entertaining for a reader and/or be very useful for the author, for their future writing. Not sure who would benefit from an editorial-based review like this except for the editor/publisher – the author would have limited influence, surely? (and is hardly objective about their own book, after all, that’s why we have editors in the first place…?) And by the time the book’s hit the review pile, it’s too late to change anything on the practical side.
      Hmmm…the proof of the pudding, as they say!

      • Thank you for making that comment Clare! It’s very interesting because as I’ve said everywhere, I’m not an editor and I only care if the editing mistakes affect my reading (ie. POV confusion or spelling mistakes even *I* notice). Otherwise, bring on your poor sentence structure and never ending sentences (there is an author I read for the sex alone in her books but her sentences never end. Like a lengthy paragraph is one sentence. Truly hilarious and ill-written but thats not why I read it yanno?).
        Ok sorry TOTAL tangent *gets brain back on track* My point was their reviews are for readers and you’re right in asking who would this benefit. Perhaps the author for future books but I doubt the reader.

    • But they’re here to tell the truth! And they’re professionals! Professionals of course can multitask.
      I swear I feel a post about authors who review coming up ๐Ÿ˜€

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