These are becoming increasingly important, to readers and writers alike, and this poses problems. For example, how many are genuine? How many are from camp followers, who may not even have read the book? Or maybe sometimes the bad ones are from people with an axe to grind? I try to be scrupulous, and don't even label the nice ones (about my books) as "helpful", as that doesn't seem fair, but does everyone play by the same rules?
As a reviewer for the Amazon Vine programme, I find the task can be difficult. If I love the book, that's great. Writing a glowing review is easy. But what if I hate it? No-one want to be unkind, but sometimes...
I am just reaching the end of a book which is tedious beyond belief. It is a second novel (the first, which I haven't read, was very successful, so I had quite high expectations), and I have been very disappointed. And while I don't mind speaking my mind (politely) about a book by an established author, is it fair to do so about the work of a relatively new one?
This novel has a boring plot, no tension, two-dimensional characters and many basic grammatical mistakes. While it is an unedited proof, I have a horrible feeling that the frequent uses of the first person "I" instead of "me" (when it is the object of a verb), and "sat" instead of "sitting", have already got past at least one editor. The style, too is irritating. In fact, I can't find a single positive thing to say about this novel.
And yet I must. Because the book hasn't yet received any Amazon reviews, and its author may be very hurt if I say what I feel.