Should I write reviews on books I do not finish?
I read many books I would not recommend. A more accurate statement would be that I read portions of many books. Time is too valuable to continue reading a book that isn’t well-written, has no plot or point, lacks vibrant characters, has offensive material that wasn’t made known in the description, or is so full of grammatical errors that reading is a struggle.
Should I write a customer review to let others know my opinion? My first thought is that I’ve already wasted enough time trying to read the book, spending time on a review is just more time wasted. That’s not helping the community of readers, though.
I read many customer reviews of books in the Kindle Store. Amazon was groundbreaking in allowing and encouraging customers to post reviews. Eager readers quickly took to the keyboards to give their thoughts and ratings. The community flourished and readers enjoyed opinions from non-professionals who were down-to-earth in their reviews. Would a professional reviewer say, “It was an okay beach read, but I would never pay more than $5 for it.”?
For the customer review process to succeed, the participants must remain honest. With the Kindle and the boom of independent publishing authors found that, if they could game the system, they would sell more books. If 20 of their friends posted 5-star reviews, their book would appear popular and well-written. If someone wanted to blackball an author, 20 friends could pan their book. The review community is poorer by both actions.
Some reviewers do not remain on task. Political books are given 1 star reviews by those who have a negative opinion of the subject or person, but provide no evidence of reading the book. One romance reviewer gave a book a 1 star review because the book contained sexual content and he was reading to find books for a Christian audience. The book did not state that it was written for his audience nor did it claim to be free of sexual content. I don’t believe his review was valid.
I read many children’s books for our junior site. Grammar and punctuation errors appear in some independently published books. How will our children learn basic language skills if their reading material is riddled with errors?
If I read a book that creates a strong opinion, positive or negative, I believe a review should be written. The review should be factual and tactful, but clear. If a book has formatting, grammatical, and/or plot inconsistencies, I should let others know. If the book has content that is not mentioned in the description, I should be honest about it. Graphic violence, sex, and language can be offensive to readers.
I have much more to say on this subject, but I need to go on-line and post reviews for about 20 romance novels I could not read to the end. The reviews will basically be the same:

I did not finish this book because the characters could only think about sex from the moment their eyes first met; they had no meaningful conversation; the plot was thin as it revolved around their constant lust and acting on that lust; and to label this book a romance is a misuse of the word.

Perhaps I could say it more tactfully:

I did not finish this book. The story lacked romantic tension between the hero and heroine. If they were a real couple, the relationship would last six months at most because the only thing holding them together is lust.

I’m making a commitment to read non-fiction this year.
What are your thoughts about reviewing books that didn’t meet your expectations?
Paula’s Top 4 for 2011
I did read a few books to the last screen. I purchased all of the Georgette Heyer novels when they were offered for $1.99 each last summer and I hope to read more of her gentle writing in 2012. Read my previously posted reviews of The Unfinished Clue and The Convenient Marriage. Unless otherwise stated, books reviewed on this site are purchased.
Between The Lines ($4.99) This well-written historical romantic suspense novel is very different from the typical mail-order bride plot. Kathy Otten has written a charming tale of two people brought together under unusual circumstances and how love blossomed between them in spite of family interference. Meg Grayson is a naive young lady and her over-protective brothers have done everything in their power to keep her that way. Brendan Kelly is a man with a checkered past who would never have won the heart of a woman like Meg. She’s stubborn; he’s smitten; and there’s trouble brewing all around them.

Deep in the Valley ($3.59) This first book in Robyn Carr’s Grace Valley Trilogy introduces June Hudson, a single physician returned to her home town in rural northern California to practice medicine with her father. This series was written before Ms. Carr’s well-known Virgin River series and is a bit dated with a lack of technology. The novels are more about rural health care and small town life than romance. Dr. Hudson’s love interest is a minor plot. Just Over the Mountain and Down by the River are available for $4.72 each.
World’s Shortest Stories of Love and Death ($5.23) Edited by Steve Moss, this book introduces the 55-word story and I fell in love with the novelty of such a compact but complete story. Written by well-known and unknown authors, the book has stories of humor, mystery, romance, horror, suspense, and history – all in one book. By the way, this is a 55-word review.
Last Known Position ($3.99) I wrote a review of this book for our Veterans Day post. I consider this book by W. L. Heath one of the best I read in 2011. The intensity of the situation that these men faced daily was vividly written. The book provided a now-favorite expression to describe someone whom you admire and respect: I’d be safer in his socks than mine.