Reading is all about personal tastes and choices, which means reviews are totally subjective. Many books and authors careers are made or destroyed based upon opinions made by reviewers.
Personally, I never noticed reviews until I started writing and needed them to market my own books. Reviews do sway people to purchase a book. The more reviews on a page, more more apt people are to take a chance, even if there are some low rankings in the group.
I buy a book based upon my personal interest. I read it and keep the book in my library if I loved it. I give it away if I didn't in the hope that it will strike a chord for another reader.
It never occurred to me that anyone would value my opinion.
Knowing the sting of a negative review, I won't leave one if I actively disliked the book. True, I haven't enjoyed everything I've read, I still feel a responsibility to anyone who reads my review to evaluate a book fairly. Just because I didn't enjoy a book doesn't mean someone else might find something they loved. I would hate to be the reason they chose not to try a book that may bring them pleasure.
I start by telling a few highlights about the plot and characters without giving any spoilers away. I try to describe what I did like about the book, and if it warrants it, mention the parts that didn't suite my taste. I want to add that does not make a book good or bad. There are no bad books. There may be poorly edited books and while that's annoying and may end up being a deal breaker for some readers, for me, not so much. In extreme cases, I've written authors and suggested they send it in for another round of editing, so I can leave a review in good conscience.
I have read best sellers that leave me puzzled by their rampant success, the succession of books that follow in a series that I found unreadable, yet other liked it. I have read books skewered by mean-spirited trolls with no regard to the author who poured their deepest, most soul-wrenching feelings. The selfish joy they get mocking the author, swaying readers to steer clear,without regard they could be destroying someone's chance at making a living.
No doubt, honesty is important, so is grace, humility, and constructive criticism. While I personally have no problem with a negative review, I think they are not a place to air grievances about politics or personal agendas. A reviewer doesn't have to trash a book if you don't agree with the authors point of view.
The truth is that a book will sell better if it has substantial amounts of reviews. As I said before, it doesn't matter if there are a few negative ones in there, most people will evaluate and invest based on what the majority is saying.
My point is, there are a lot of indie choices out there. There are a variety of new and exciting genres that traditional publishers won't take a chance on. There is opportunity to discover something great and leave a review that will encourage others to read it as well. This website is about exposure. Here all indies are equal. We are giving you a smorgasbord of new voices and raw talent, some better than others, but all with the intent to entertain you. Take the time to try a new something you've never read before and remember, your review is the fuel to send some writer's rocket into the stars.
Carole P. Roman