The Subject of Book Reviews

In September, S.K. Nicholls wrote a post on here about the similarities between a novel like her Red Clay and Roses and a memoir. I enjoyed her book so much and eventually wrote a review for it that I posted on Amazon. While I have no memoir review today, here is a copy of my Amazon review for S.K.’s book.

Once I started reading S.K. Nicholls’ roman à clef Red Clay and Roses, I had to be pried away from the book for work and sleep. Her masterful storytelling is ideal for this southern story that, like Faulkner’s, covers generations of customs and politics and changes. She explores the tragedies of racism and gender inequality with a firm hand and a warm heart.

We hear the story through different voices. The nurse who learns the secrets and mysteries of the past tells us the story of the present—what’s “become” of the past. Then the love story of Nathan and Sybil is told in 3rd person. And it’s an enthralling story of transracial love in a time and place where such love could only be destroyed.

My fascination with American local and regional history was only fueled by this book. The details, down to specifics about Sybil’s business, lend authenticity to the story and demonstrate the research that went into the writing of the book.

Once you enter the world of this book, no matter how difficult that world can seem, you won’t want to leave.

I also posted the review at Goodreads. It’s not a memoir, but I enjoyed the detour into fiction.

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I have a related question. OK, a few questions. What is the difference between Goodreads and Amazon reviews? When I write a review for a book, should I post it at both sites? Is there some connection between these two websites?

Although I had signed up for Goodreads a long time ago, I hadn’t really put any reviews up until recently when I decided to gradually copy my memoir reviews over there. But I feel so ignorant.

What do I really need to know about Goodreads to use it properly?


Filed under Book Review, Books, Writing, Writing Tips and Habits

44 responses to “The Subject of Book Reviews

  1. That’s a beautiful review, Luanne. I think Good Reads are more casual, with any reader giving his/her thoughts, while Amazon reviews tend to be less casual and better written. However, I could be wrong. Maybe I need to go look at Good Reads again…..

    • That is what it is starting to look like–casual versus better written. Maybe if I ever find the time I will post the reviews I am posting from this blog onto Goodreads at Amazon as well. Hah. As if.Let me put it this way: if a writer wants me to repost onto Amazon for his/her book, I will if he/she asks me.

  2. Thank you so very much for your kind words and your time. Reviews mean so very much to authors. It is thrilling to see someone’s appreciation in writing in a positive review and there is much to be learned even from a critical review. The numbers also help when trying to find promo venues. Many won’t accept you unless you have a certain rating and a certain number of reviews…even if you pay for the promo. We all want to find readers and for our books to sell. Reviews are absolutely necessary for that to occur.

    Goodreads is primarily for readers to categorize their own personal library and congregate and share about books they are reading, there are many discussion groups, whereas Amazon is a selling platform. I always post in both places, unless an author suggests another selling platform, as well. Amazon recently acquired Goodreads. There was some speculation that they did so to help clean up the troll situation on Goodreads. Others said it was all about the money. I don’t use the discussion groups on Goodreads, but have seen several reviews and star ratings listed there that did not make it to Amazon.

    • SK, all good information. What does that mean: “troll situation”? What was happening, do you know? I’m really trying to learn how to use these sites. I have been so remiss in using them. Do you know if you have to have bought a book through Amazon to place the review there?

      • You can place a review on both Amazon and Goodreads without having bought it at Amazon. Trolls are people who just get a kick out of posting nasty reviews and one-starring their favorite authors’ competitors books. They do it for no other reason expect maliciousness. Sort of like children calling phone numbers and asking, “Do you have Prince Albert in the can…if so, you better let him out.” or “Is your refrigerator running? Well, you better go catch it.” They are bored and have no real life, so they spend their time doing whatever they can online to make other people miserable and they believe authors are an easy target. Often, in forums, they try to start an argument for the sake of arguing. Trolls suck. There was a big campaign a short while back trying to get platforms to do something about them. Lots of petitions circulated. It has gotten better, but not totally resolved. If you check someone’s reviews and they have read 20,000 books in one year and most have one and two star reviews, they are most likely a troll. I never respond to anyone so I have never engaged them, but have been visited by a few. A couple who left one stars on my book with no review have vanished without a trace, so I guess, after being reported by enough people, action is sometimes taken to rid them.

  3. Reblogged this on S.K. Nicholls and commented:
    Luanne at the Writer site posts frequently about memoirs. She read and reviewed Red Clay and Roses as it was a fictionalized true story akin to a memoir or biography. Here is her lovely review.

  4. I came this way via SK Nicholls. I, too, enjoyed Red Clay and Roses. It was a wonderful read.

    I leave a review on both Amazon and Goodreads, sometimes even B&N if I remember. I just post the same one on both sites. I think most authors are just thrilled to get a review on any of the sites. Having it left on more than one is a happy bonus. 🙂

    • Thanks, Luanne for starting this conversation. I am learning as a reade, not an author.

      Carrie, i just realized I should post a review on Amazon for The Seneca Scourge. I don’t use Goodreads, but will check into that. I use reviews myself to select books, so i need to participate as well to help indie authors.

      • Thank you. That’s very thoughtful of you! I really appreciate your support in reading it. Better to read about a deadly flu than catch it… 😉

        • Carrie (and Luanne), I just posted a review for The Seneca Scourge on Amazon under my real (ugh) name Joan. Then I was on a roll and posted a negative review for Jodi Picoult’s new book. I don’t intend to post negatives, but I felt so let down by her newest and couldn’t get it out of my mind!

          • Thank you so much for the lovely review, Sammy (Joan…)! You’re very thoughtful to do that. As I always say, reviews are to authors what tasty bones are to dogs. 🙂

            As for your negative review of Picoult’s book, I’ve left a couple lower-star reviews before, too. Like you, I feel bad doing so, but also like you, I keep it respectful and mention positives about the book or writing, too if I can. As a reader, a thoughtful negative review can be just as helpful as a positive one. It’s when readers get into negative attacks that the reviews are more hurtful.

            Thank you again. Have a great weekend! Both of you. 🙂

      • You’re welcome, Sammy :). Thanks for joining it! Let me know when you post the review about Carrie’s book The Seneca Scourge so I can read it!

    • Thanks for sharing, Carrie! Oh, hadn’t even thought of B&N. Of course. Oops, more work! You’re right about Red Clay and Roses, too: SK has a very engaging storytelling style!

  5. My understanding is that Amazon influences sales, while Goodreads is a place for readers to discuss their personal views about a particular book. I do peruse Goodreads before settling on a particular choice.

    Loved your review of this book.

    • Rudri, that is much the same that SK said about it. Yes, it appears to be so. So interesting that you check out Goodreads. Do you give it more weight than Amazon?

  6. Great review, Luanne! I have Red Clay and Roses on my TBR list. I love SK’s blog! I spend a lot of time on Amazon, but haven’t had the time to investigate Goodreads.

    • The momentum of SK’s storytelling is fabulous. If you like an engaging story world to enter, this is one you will love! Do you use Amazon reviews to decide what to read, Jill?

  7. Luanne, great review! So good I’ve put Red Clay and Roses on my TBR list. I agree with the comment above about differences between reviews on Goodreads vs. Amazon. I always put them both places.

    • Woohoo, enjoy it, Sherrey! That is what I need to start to do: put up the reviews at both sites. Do you use them both when you make decisions about what to read?

  8. Thanks for this review. I am a new follower of SK’s and am really enjoying her writing. I will add her book to my TBR list 🙂

    • Enjoy it, Yolanda! BTW, do you read on Kindle? I read book-books, and the piles in my house at this point are appalling. They are starting to fall over!

      • I am painfully old fashioned when it comes to books. I love the feel and smell of paper (preferably fresh off he press books) I am pretty sure I keep our local bookstore in business 😉 ps. I do have a Kindle – my husband uses it to download ebooks on fungi.

  9. I am very appreciative of your summary on SK’s book, Luanne! It included interesting points to get your imagination running, while still not revealing how the story goes. I like this attribute of yours, you use it well in telling about memoirs you have read, too. Luanne, I am sure it is hard to stay focused but am hoping you are doing well with reaching your goals… smiles!

    • Robin, that is so nice of you to say. That is always a delicate balance in talking about a book! Focus–and also time lately. Last night my husband had the old Time Machine movie on TV and I caught a glimpse of the guy’s house where his walls and mantle and all were covered with clocks. That’s how I feel right now: as if all those clocks are ticking haha. Have a lovely weekend, R!

  10. I don’t see anything wrong with posting the same review at both places. Why not spread the love wherever you can? 🙂

    • Me neither. I can’t imagine writing a different review for a different site. If you already feel that you said what you think/feel about it, why try to reinvent the wheel?!

  11. I’m like you Luanne; just trying to figure out how to navigate the Goodreads situation! I joined a while ago, but have just started posting and interacting on there. I think reviews are important, no matter where they’re posted. Goodreads appears to make it easier for readers and writers to interact with each other. Which can be a good or bad thing depending on how it all goes down. I’m still learning so much, but I do think that Goodreads is a site for hardcore readers/reviewers. I’m planning to start posting my Amazon reviews on Goodreads as well, just because it can’t hurt. I don’t generally give bad reviews though. If I don’t like a book I’d rather just not review it. Author karma and all that plays through my head.

    • That’s a good point about Goodreads. AFter all, it’s isn’t tied to somebody buying a book like on Amazon where it can someone looking for a gift for someone, etc. I think I feel that way, too, although I’m only starting this review thing. But I don’t want to give bad reviews.

  12. I tend to post the same review on Amazon and Goodreads. Sometimes, I’ll post it on different amazon sites (.com; .ca…). 🙂
    I too am learning about Goodreads but I really don’t spend much time there, except to sometimes post what I’m reading or respond to someone’s Goodreads mail. 🙂

  13. Lovely review and kind of you to share it. Goodreads can be a little tough sometimes. I think we should all be aware of the necessity for placing our reviews in as many places as possible.

    • Ugh, Renee, do you mean that reviewers can be mean on Goodreads? I was afraid that that might be true after seeing how my stars were more than average in almost every case!

  14. Really awesome review, Luanne…you are the best when it comes to storytelling about storytelling!! 🙂
    I think Amazon is buying Goodreads?? I think more people trust Goodreads for some reason…

  15. I post reviews at both Goodreads and Amazon, usually copy and paste from one to the other. I don’t spend a lot of time on Goodreads, but I guess authors get some traction there because most authors I know want reviews posted there. I just do what I’m told 😉

  16. What a wonderful review of S.K.’s book, I must make note to read this but my reading is slow and I have a long list…but I will get there. But right now, I’m frozen…in blogging, writing my memoir, fine tuning a couple of pieces for submission and a guest post..then there’s life and everything else on top. But I don’t want to go away!!! Will blog today come rain or shine. Got to get over this hurdle. Sorry Luanne…I’m rambling, goodness, didn’t mean for that to come out. Back to business: I can’t help with Goodreads and Amazon having not gone down the road of leaving reviews as yet, so I come here to learn, as always as you raise an excellent question…

    • Oh, Sherri, I am sorry to hear that you’re frozen, although I do know that feeling!I am feeling very overwhelmed right now with my audit going on, taking up all my time and getting me stressed out and my husband so irritable! And the holidays hahahaha. Reviews are important to writers, and I am trying to get the hang of it. I will say that the more I write, the easier they seem to be to write. Hang in there, go sit by the fire, that will unfreeze you 🙂 xoxo.

  17. Great review Luanne you put me to shame, I write reviews when I read a book on both Amazon and Goodreads but they are not so detailed. I guess its reaching out to as many readers as you can if you enjoyed a certain book. I think Amazon and Goodreads are the major ones I turn to if I am looking for a new book to read. After reading this review I will try to do a better job myself.

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