Reviewing ARCs is Hard // Sprinkles of Dreams

Bookish Musings & Discussion Time // Reviewing (ARCs) is Hard

Happy Sunday, all of you wonderful human beings! 🌻

I don’t think I’ve ever scheduled a blog post for a Sunday before, but apparently university is turning my entire life upside down … I hope you’re all having a fantastic weekend, and without further ado—let’s chat for a bit!


I’ve recently come to the conclusion that whoever said that “doing what you love is easy” clearly must have never written a review before. That, or they are miraculously blessed with an endless amount of inspiration, motivation, and whatever else I am very much envious of and sadly, lack.

(If there’s someone out there reading this who never gets reviewer’s block … please tell me your secret!)

But writing reviews for books you are lucky enough to get to read before they are even officially published, or books in general that you receive in exchange for a review (be it from a publisher, or an author, but especially from an author) is even harder, and more stressful, and goes far, far beyond reviewer’s block.

Frustrated, Facepalm GIF // Fresh Off the Boat
This is me, an image of Despair.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m immensely thankful to have been privileged enough to be put in this position, and to be able to “complain” about one of the stipulations of having the opportunity to read books that many others are not. And I really couldn’t be more grateful and appreciative of it.

But I hope talking about my resulting struggles is still okay?


I’m quite a critical reader, you see.

I have many friends who are very easily enraptured by a book, and who don’t dwell on issues and aspects that immediately make a resounding alarm go off in my head. And I very, very often wish that I could consume books less critically as well, but I’m slowly learning to accept and appreciate the way I read—but before I go off on a tangent, here are a few reasons why writing reviews for books I received can be a real struggle for me:

  • The publisher or the author will most likely read my review.
  • I will probably play a considerable part in whether or not a book that’s not written by a well-known author will be “succesful”, or not.
  • I actually talked to the person who wrote the book, and I don’t want to seem rude or ungrateful by criticizing a book that I received “for free”*.

*Obviously, it’s not entirely for free, since I do have to read it, and write a review for it, which takes time and effort, and is all too often overlooked.

And also … negative reviews will very possibly make it all the more unlikely for me to receive books in the future, or even worse.

Disappointed GIF // Sprinkles of Dreams

I always try to remind myself that what counts is my honesty, because I’m never going to write a review I don’t fully stand by, but … there’s still that nagging feeling at the back of my mind, whenever I don’t have only good things to say.


Let's Discuss! // Discussion Post @ Sprinkles of Dreams

How do you handle writing reviews for books that were sent to you?

Do you face the same struggle(s) I do? Or different ones?

Have you ever strongly disliked a book that you received to review?

I’d love to hear about your experiences with authors/publishers in relation to reviews you wrote!

Goodreads ¦ Bloglovin’ ¦ Instagram ¦ Tumblr ¦ Twitter

xx, Lily


104 thoughts on “Bookish Musings & Discussion Time // Reviewing (ARCs) is Hard

  1. I totally agree! I am always aware of the work and love that has gone into a book which makes it hard to be critical. However, as a reader, I prefer reviews which are balanced or critical but fair. Of course, reviews gushing with love are great too, if they’re genuine! When every book is a 5* for a reviewer, none of them stand out.
    As a reviewer, I find it trickiest to review books that I have adored or really disliked, and easiest to review those that have some positives and some negatives. How about you? Have you noticed a trend in those you can review easily and those you struggle with? (other than not wanting to be too critical)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay, so glad to hear that! 🙂 I’m the same when it comes to the reviews that are easiest to write, and the hardest ones for me are either for books I love too much, or feel completely apathetic about. Some books just are very … bland, and I really don’t have much to say about them?

      I generally don’t hesitate to write very critical reviews, but I still feel uncomfortable doing it, if I have a lot of things to criticize, because I know how much time, effort, and heart is put into writing books.

      Thanks so much for your input, Christina! 🌷☺️

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah yes I totally get the struggle! This is mostly why I never accept review requests I get from authors directly. I know I won’t be able to be completely honest in my review, because I would feel too bad if I do not like the book. It’s definitely something that’s always in the back of my mind, with any ARC I review. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve struggled with this issue before, especially if my review is mostly negative.

    Potential readers deserve to know if there are problems with the book though, and I keep that thought in my head. I will mention why I have problems with it but also show the positives as well so the review is balanced.

    I also tell the author in advance of me posting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, exactly! And I always try to find positives too, though sometimes the negatives and positives don’t balance each other out. In most cases, I do add that the book in question might be work better for someone else, if I feel like it’s a matter of taste/personal preference that kept me from enjoying a book.

      I’d feel even more uncomfortable if I did that, to be honest? There’s usually a set date by which I should have a review up, and I just stick to that.

      Thanks so much for your insight, and taking the time to comment, Siobhan, I really appreciate it! 💛

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ahh, this is SUCH a great post, Lily! 🙂 I honestly feel you 100%. I’ve had the amazing opportunity to review two ARCs, and both times, I was a little worried about writing anything negative in my review. Especially since both the ARCs I read were from the author directly, not from the publisher, and I knew the author would be reading my post and I’d communicated and gotten to “know” the author. It’s hard to write a truly honest review when part of me just wants to be super nice? But, after all, it is important to be honest, or else there isn’t really a point in writing the review anyway.

    Sorry I wrote so much, haha…wonderful post as usual!💓Also, I loved your usage of gifs in this post, too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhh thanks so much, Olivia! 💜

      Yes, that’s exactly how I feel, and I’m so glad you understand! It’s good that we both know that our being honest, even though it may not end in writing a favorable review, is much more important.

      And ahh no, thank you so, so much for this message, I really loved hearing about your experience! ☺️🌷

      Liked by 1 person

  5. GREAT discussion and one that I once related to a lot! It’s such a privilege to receive ARCs. So many people can’t afford books, and here we have publishers sending us free copies, so I always feel a little bit guilty when I don’t like an ARC. And like you, I’m a critical reader. But I’ve come up with a strategy that publishers don’t seem to mind (at least in my experience).

    If I LOVE a book, I will review it on my blog, promote it a lot on Instagram and publish reviews on retail websites. But if I dislike a book, I’ll still take a picture or two and post on Instagram, but will only review the book on Goodreads. That way, I do my job as a reviewer while still offering some marketing to the publisher without the book being affected too adversely. Unless the book is severely problematic and I want others to know, I’m not too loud about the books I dislike. 🙂

    ~ Aimal @ Bookshelves & Paperbacks

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so, so much for your message, Aimal, I really appreciate you taking the time to write this & this is such a valuable comment!

      You put my thoughts into words exactly, and I’ve actually decided to do the same – I won’t put up those reviews on my blog, only on Amazon (since it was the author’s wish), and maybe Goodreads. I usually don’t put up all of my reviews on my blog, anyway.

      Thanks so much again for your thoughtful comment! I hope you’re having a wonderful week. ✨


  6. I completely agree! I also feel like my reviews get a little repetitive too and I find it difficult to think of different things to say about books, particularly if they’re similar or from the same genre

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve stopped requesting ARCs a really, really long time ago as well, because it was so extremely stressful – now I only request books I’m really excited about, and know I will want to read right away.

      And as for being critical … It can be a blessing and a curse. :’)

      Thanks for sharing, Kayla! 🌷 I always enjoy chatting with you. ☺️

      Liked by 1 person

  7. aaaaaa this is SO relevant

    you pretty much hit every nail on the head but im gonna go ahead and reiterate everything you said.
    I don’t typically review arcs (not bc I don’t get sent them often pshhh me, ofc not) but when I do its so much stress and pressure to read it and then formulate COHERENT thoughts that are honest but not //too// honest and then knowing the publisher/author is going to read through it like ??? so MUCH ANXIETY

    but youre SO RIGHT about staying honest to your opinion, even if it may impact the book, you really can only review it for what it did for you and anything else would be giving a false impression and that’s just not right

    im literally just rambling at this point but I think its really brave of you to be talking about this kinda ish when a lot of people would be like !!!but at least you get arcs!! stop being a whiner!!!

    youre a queen

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhh thank you so much, May!! 💜💜

      Oh my goodness, the anxiety can be crippling, I really do not recommend doing it all too often. When I first started requesting books, I requested a lot, because I didn’t expect to get accepted for any at all, and then had to read and review a bunch in a really short time frame, and it was truly horrible.

      Thank you!! You’re not rambling at all, and your message actually means the world to me, thank you so much for being so supportive!! I actually was really nervous about that, because I acknowledge the privilege, and don’t want to come across as being ungrateful, so I truly treasure your words!! 😭

      Thank you so, so much for this wonderful comment, I really appreciate it so much! 💜

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Feeling the pressure to have to review books, even if it isn’t for authors or publishers, is definitely a lot of pressure already!! I’ve given up on reviewing all the books I read, and it’s done wonders for my mental health. I hope you don’t worry too much about it, Nimika! 💗

      Sending lots of good vibes your way. 💫🌻


  8. Pretty sure this is something a lot of bookbloggers struggle with. That is, until they get to the point where we realize and accept we have to stay true to ourselves. I struggled writing more negative-tinted reviews in the past, but after realizing sugar-coating things isn’t helping anyone, I stopped doing that.
    I don’t blog and review books to get arc’s / free books to read and review so if anyone – authors or publishers – decides that me writing a negative review is reason to not send me another arc? Well, that’s their loss, really. Sure, it sucks, but on the other hand.. They should also realize we have our own opinion and being willing to read a book isn’t the same as promising the love the hell out of it. :’)

    As for the reviewer’s block you mentioned.. I sometimes struggle with it and end up with TONS of drafts on my blog but I don’t mind. I’ve figured out the system that works for me – which is simply writing all the bullet points while reading and after reading a novel. As soon as I actually feel in the mood to write coherent reviews, I go back to those drafts and start working on them. It works for me, but I know there are plenty of other ways to handle the reviewer’s block as well. You just have to find the thing that works best for you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a relief to hear! And I don’t either, but it definitely nonetheless influences me subconsciously – as in: adds to my discomfort when giving low ratings/criticizing books. I really admire your stance and your confidence, though!

      I always make notes while I’m reading as well, and it’s definitely helped me, but sometimes turning those bullet points into well-written and cohesive reviews can still be tough. And some books also simply don’t inspire very many thoughts. 🤷🏻‍♀️ I guess sometimes we just have to power through. 😄

      Thanks so much for your comment and insight, Kathy! I really appreciate it, and I hope you’re having a lovely weekend. ☺️🌼

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It takes a while to get over that! I know some people who sometimes give an okay-rating to a book and then adapt it a couple of weeks later because they didn’t really want to rate it that “high” but didn’t dare give a low rating. It’s funny how we all deal with it in different ways, hah. Eventually you’ll get there though. Your blog, your opinion. 🙂

        Ha, that’s true! I think I have a couple of ridiculously short reviews because I didn’t have that much to say and.. still wanted to post a review? It’s weird sometimes. 😛

        You’re welcome! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Wow, really? I do change my ratings sometimes, because my opinion of it can change, when I think about it for longer, but I never deliberately give a book a higher rating, with the intention of lowering it later on.

          Haha, that’s completely fine, though! I’ve actually found that some of my favorite reviews are on the shorter side … often only a few sentences. 😄


  9. I very rarely write reviews because I never know what to say in them haha! I have noticed that when I do write a review, I’ll always choose a book that I had mixed feelings about. I find it so much easier to discuss the things I didn’t like or was unsure of, rather than the things I did like. I feel like it opens up discussion more in a way as I’m not just going ‘I loved this book so much’ and that’s it.

    As a reader though, I’ll always prefer reviews that are completely honest! I’d much rather lower my expectations for a book after reading a review, rather than being completely disappointed after finishing a book!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohh that’s interesting, and I see where you’re coming from!

      And true, if a review isn’t honest, what’s the point? And I always prefer approaching books with somewhat lower expectations as well, especially since I tend to be disappointed very easily.

      Thanks so much for your comment, Rose! 💛 I really enjoyed hearing your opinion on this topic. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Great post, Lily, I totally empathise with this! I find it more difficult to criticise an ARC because the author is likely to read my review and it’s almost like I don’t want to make them feel disappointed.
    But overall, I think the best reviews are honest and fair, but also balanced.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Stephen! 🙂

      Yes, exactly! I’m glad I’m not the only one, even though I don’t wish for anyone else to be facing this struggle.

      I agree with the “honest and fair”, but as for the “balanced” part – some books don’t have an equal amount of positive and negative aspects for me, so … sticking to being honest, I don’t try to make them seem “better” than I actually found them to be? 🙉

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Ugh, the struggle… I’m always honest in my reviews and just this month alone, I’ve rated two ARCS less than 3 stars and that, for me is too low, but I gotta be honest. And I have readers too. Reviewers have readers too, thus we have reputation to take care of too. It’s my responsibility to give my readers an honest review or else they might find me SO unreliable and well….. I don’t want that to happen.

    Also I try to convince myself that the authors, no matter how they liked their books, know that others won’t find them as good as they do. As an aspiring writer, this is my belief. As you know i’m currently writing my first book and I LOVE it so much but I don’t expect everyone would too. hehe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t thought about it this way, but of course, definitely! I always worry about coming off too critical, and disliking “all” the books I read, but there are books I really treasure as well, so I should stop worrying so much.

      Ohh that’s true! Sometimes a book can be really well written, and “objectively” amazing, but it still doesn’t appeal to certain readers. Everyone has different tastes, and every opinion is valid. And yep, no one’s going to love your book more than you yourself. ☺️💗

      PS. 1) your new profile pic is so cute, Lili!! & 2) now I’m dying to know more about your WIP!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Truth is I’m not that too critical too, most books I read, as long as it entertains me, it’s going to have good rating, doesn’t matter if technically, it’s not perfect. 🙂 I mean there are just books who make you forget about world building and plot issues and just make you happy and entertained. Like the Hating Game… It’s a bit cliche and at first it can be frustrating. But I enjoyed it immensely so it’s 5 stars for me. 🙂

        I’m glad you agree… We ca have different perceptions on books and in anything actually. 🙂
        Thank youuu ❤️❤️❤️ And I’m planning to share about my WIP when I’m done writing my first draft which is soon. 😊❤️

        Liked by 1 person

  12. This is such a great post! I’ve only read one ARC, and I won it in a Goodreads giveaway, so there was less pressure to write a positive review. But one of the reasons I don’t read ARCs is because I KNOW that I’ll feel like I *have* to read it, so I’ll automatically like the book less than I would if I read it for fun. And then the review will be more critical. So even though I think ARCs are great, I generally don’t read them

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so, so much, Ally! I’m so flattered, hearing this from you. 🙈💓

      Ohh which book was it? That’s so cool! And yess I 100% agree with you, that’s why I only ever request books I’m really excited to read, and which therefore definitely won’t feel like a chore.

      I think it’s really great that you know yourself so well! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Usually I don’t try to overthink reviewing Arcs. It’s a book and I try to do my best with every thing I review. There’s only one thing that migh worry me, but also include all the other books, is that I’m much more good at talking about the possible issue and what I didn’t like instead of what is good inside the novel

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohh that’s great, I wish I could be more like you in that aspect! 🙉

      For me, it really depends on what it is that I dislike, or like … it’s much harder for me, if a book only makes me feel “meh”, and I don’t really know what to say about it at all.

      Thanks so much for your input, Camilla! 😊💙

      Liked by 1 person

  14. This is such a great discussion post, Lily, and an important one ❤ and I feel that struggle so much. I haven't been in a position where I absolutely hated a book I received for review, from a publisher or an author. I have been in a position where I thought the book was quite average and it is a bit frustrating. We are all allowed to have our own opinion about books though and it's important to be honest, as long as we are respectful while doing so. Being critical is not a bad thing, not in my opinion at least. You're doing your very best and you always write brilliant reviews, Lily. Trust yourself. You'll be amazing ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so, so much, Marie! ❤

      Aw that's so disappointing, I'm sorry it worked out that way for you. 😔 Did you let the author/publisher know what your thoughts were in advance, and post the review on your blog, still?

      Thank you a million times over for saying this! 😭💗 I've been shying away from writing reviews, because I've been reading not-so amazing books, and feeling like all I would do is be negative, but you really encouraged me continue writing them, nonetheless. And thankfully, I've since read ones I enjoyed a lot, so 🤞🏻✨!

      I'm honestly so, so thankful to be friends with you!! And I've missed talking to you, and reading your blog posts, uni is truly keeping me from everything I love. 🙇🏻‍♀️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes I did and I still posted the review on my blog, in the end it is our honest opinion that matters before anything else, I guess 🙂 It’s a bit nerve-racking, but we can’t love everything 🙂 this is also why I am doing my very best to analyse requests a whole lot before approving them, sending them or anything like that, to be certain I could really enjoy the book and therefore have it be a great deal for both the publisher and me 🙂

        Continue writing all the reviews and sharing your thoughts. You have an incredible blogging voice and you’re amazin overall ❤ ❤ ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  15. I actually wrote to a publisher/PR person (whoever handles the ARCs and receiving of reviews) telling them that the book they sent was definitely not for me and that I could not review it without saying something negative. They were happy to let me not review it. hah. If someone sends a book and you don’t think you can be honestly critical about it, I don’t think there’s anything wrong in telling the publisher that. On the other hand, I’ve taken the “we want your honest review” seriously and written reviews that don’t really BASH, but aren’t glowing either. I’ve straight-up written “if you’re interested in this subject, read this other title instead, it’s better” (but this was before I actually had a book blog, and did not solicit the book, they sent it to me and asked me for the review). If it’s not out of maliciousness, I think you’re okay. Then again, I don’t get many ARCs to review either. hmm. I don’t know how much I’ve contributed. lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. This is a great post and makes me feel not alone! When it comes to getting books from the publishers on NetGalley, I don’t mind writing a review that states what went wrong and where, and why I don’t like a book. Because there’s that middleman between me and the author (both the publisher and the NetGalley front), it’s a little easier to critique. However, I just received my first request for review directly from the author, and I’m trying to read the excerpt she sent and I’m just not feeling it at all. It’s not even that it’s not my type of book (it isn’t), but the writing isn’t great and doesn’t match the story or topic. I’m finding it quite hard to decide what to do, especially because when she sent it to me she praised my writing style in my reviews, and I cannot reciprocate those feelings.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I relate! Books I get through NetGalley are much easier for me to critique. It’s really when I’ve been in direct contact with the author/publicist, that I get very uncomfortable about doing so.

      Ohh that’s happened to me a lot! When authors send me review requests and I don’t like their writing style, or know upfront that I would not enjoy their book, I’ll politely decline. I hope you’ve come to a decision since, and I’d love to know how you handled the situation. 🙂

      Thanks so much for sharing and leaving a comment, Erin! 💗

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Great post! I wholeheartedly agree with everything you said! I get reviewer’s block ALL THE TIME, especially with ARCs! There’s a certain level of stress and pressure because I know the author and publisher will likely read my review, and I don’t wish to insult them.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I relate to this waaaaay too much! Reviewer’s block is for sure a thing, and all of the reasons you mentioned were spot-on. For me, though, my biggest issue is just that sometimes, I simply don’t know how to get my feelings out on paper. Especially if a book was a pretty “meh” read for me, because it can be really tough for me to explain WHY the book didn’t do much for me, especially if it didn’t have anything that was blatantly “wrong” for my reading tastes. I think the easiest reviews for me to write are actually my 1-star and 2-star reviews (which is ironic, since they’re the least common ones I write!), because if I outright disliked a book enough to give it less than 3 stars, which does not happen at all (especially with ARCs), I usually have quite a lot of Feelings™ about it. 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhh I’m so glad you relate, Destiny!

      Same, “meh” books are the hardest for me to review as well, because I’ll probably be scrambling for words, and trying to think of something to say, when I just … don’t care?

      And yes!! Two star reviews are relatively easy to write, especially if I’m frustrated, because I could ramble on for a while – but I also get concerned about whether or not I’m being too harsh. 😂 With one star reviews … I hardly ever give books only one star, and if I do, I usually think “what’s the point”, and move on. Except for if it was bad in a problematic way that makes me want to speak out about it. 🙉😅

      Liked by 1 person

  19. I love this post Lily.

    I’m always of the opinion that you should be honest with a book review. Like if you genuinely hated the book, I’d message the author first and let them know.
    But, there’s nothing wrong with being honest about the book, sharing what you didn’t enjoy or what you found wrong with the book, but then also highlighting the bits that were good as well. I had to do this recently with a book I read. It was a good book, well written, brilliant storyline. But there were several bits that brought it down for me. And I was totally honest in my review.

    I’ve had an author speak to me about this situation recently, and he said that, they prefer to be told beforehand if you genuinely didn’t like the book. But if there were just a few bits that you weren’t keen on, bring them up in your reviews. The authors read them so that they can learn from them. The reviews are as much for them as writers trying to better themselves as it is for them as an author trying to get book sales. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing doll ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw, I’m so happy to hear that, Steph!

      Thank you so much for the advice – thankfully, I didn’t absolutely hate this particular book, but I’ll definitely keep that in mind for the future, should I ever feel too uncomfortable with reviewing a book. And I’m definitely all for honesty.

      Thank you so much for your insightful comment, Steph! 💛


    2. Oh, and in regards to your second paragraph; I go back and forth on that? I feel like book reviews should be for readers, and writers maybe should for the most part put their trust in their beta readers/editors/&c., and maybe a few other select people? Because the whole authors-replying-to-reviews-scenario makes me really uncomfortable, especially when reviews are concerned that aren’t entirely favorable … I don’t know.


  20. Great post, Lily!

    I am also a very critical reader (hell, I just re-read literally one of my fave books and was kind of extra critical on the 50th re-read), and I feel an intense sense of responsibility when it comes to writing my reviews. I feel so guilty writing negative reviews, which is why I approach them as constructively as possible and try to highly the positives as well. I tell myself that reviews are for readers, as well as all reading experiences are different – just because I don’t like a book doesn’t mean others won’t. As long as I am honest and respectful, most of my guilt is assuaged.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Kaleena! 😊

      That makes me feel so much better, and I whole-heartedly agree with you on everything!! Also, being super critical of favorite books when rereading them is honestly too relatable right now, because I recently reread a lot of my favorite books, and I ended up feeling like five stars was too high for Strange the Dreamer, even though I really enjoyed it?? (Which favorite book of yours did you reread?)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think though there is something to be said about the magic of reading a book for the first time; if you read it and LOVED IT, it’s got some high expectations of yours to refill.. which is kind of difficult to do. I almost wonder if this is the same as me being disappointed by super hyped books?

        Oh and it was Cat’s Cradle by Vonnegut. I still adored it and didn’t change my rating but… yea. It was weird. LOL

        Liked by 1 person

  21. I actually made a conscious decision to not request ARC’s after my first year of blogging. While I love supporting authors and helping them promote their book, I also know that my mood reading tendencies hate having to read for a deadline. If this was a job, I wouldn’t mind it, but for me, I don’t have the time to commit to reading all these arcs. When I have taken an arc I always make it clear that I will be honest in my opinions. I cannot and will not shelter my thoughts when it comes to writing a review, no matter how awkward it may be if I didn’t like it as much. At the end of the day, we have to be honest because if we’re not we compromise the trust our readers have in our ability to provide an honest and constructive review.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. i mentioned this in my post today, actually, but i’m uniquely terrible at writing ARC reviews on time/as expected. they keep coming, though, so i guess it’s fine? maybe that’s part of the reason that i don’t stress TOO much about ARC reviews – i literally still get ARCs even if i don’t write a review at all, so probably a negative one won’t hurt my receiving of them either. also, my GR average is literally 2.97 so honestly what else could the publisher/author expect.

    but i do understand this worry!! if i’m writing an ARC review of a book i didn’t like, i’ll try to be a liiittle more polite in my phrasing (rather than my normal negative reviews, which are insult city, baby). but i’m glad you always decide to just write what you believe/feel/know, because you’re smart af and i trust your opinions and reviews beyond measure!!!!!! (lots of ! to indicate that i am yelling emotionally.)


    1. I honestly am always in awe when I see your extensive, detailed reviews, and I can’t imagine you ever struggling to find the right words to write a review (teach me, please)?? I’m not surprised at all that the ARCs keep coming for you!

      I love visiting “insult city”, and I know that 98% of Goodreads does, too. 😉 You’re going to make me cry!! 😭😭 What an ego boost, coming from you sndjfjdsdf THANK YOU.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. I made the mistake of reading another indie author’s book in exchange for him reading mine. HIs idea. He gave me a decent review on Amazon. But I couldn’t stomach his. It was about his dating adventures in China – and I was deeply insulted by his remarks and insinuations like “Chinese women are easy and like sex”. I feel like if you are going to write a book about dating – it better be funny. It also better be self-depreciating, right? Instead, each chapter was a “conquest”, and I had to stop reading it. After anguishing over what I should do, I emailed him and said, I couldn’t commit to a review. Sure, he was disappointed, but did he really want me to say what I truly felt on Amazon? I’m not entirely sure he wouldn’t see it here! I’m not sure if I did the right thing. Maybe I should have been honest. What do you think?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh wow this is such an uncomfortable situation, I can’t even imagine how you must have felt! I’m pretty sure I would have handled it the same way as you did, though, because I’m neither brave nor bold enough (yet?) to write what would have been a scathing review, given the content of his … “book”.

      Because as an Asian, reading it would have been horrible for me, and I truly would only have had bad things to say about that book. I’m sorry you had to read these insulting and hurtful words, Lani!

      Thanks so much for your comment, and for sharing! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Reading and reviewing ARCs is sometimes such a complicated thing, much more complicated than it seems. Because at first, it looks like this amazing opportunity to get free books and it’s very exciting, especially for an international blogger as ARCs are somewhat rare among us and it feels like somewhat like an achievement to get them. But there are so many struggles, I don’t worry as much about being too critical, more about how I’m a mood reader and sometimes that means I won’t be able to read a certain ARC before the book comes out. It makes me super stressed and like I’m letting down authors/publishers.
    Great post and I’m happy that more people acknowledge that ARCs aren’t all fun. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so true! I struggle with both – and I’m a huge mood reader as well, which is why I try to pace myself with requesting/accepting review copies.

      Thank you so much, Marta, that really means a lot to me! I’m glad I’m not alone in feeling this way. ❤


  25. I love this post. I am a pretty critical reader too. I don’t hand out stars like crazy. There are not many books that ever receive 5 stars from me. When I look for a book on Goodreads though the critical reviews are the ones that help me make my decisions though, not the ones that gush about the books. It is hard if an author contacts you, but I think that’s part of asking for reviews. Some of them are going to be critical. I don’t feel guilty for being critical.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. I never related to a post more than this slkdfjksljdfdklsjflsk ❤
    I love ARCs but they turn me into a sad anxious blob, 1) because I'm an untrustworthy mood reader, so sometimes I'll request something but then be 1000% not in the mood to read it if I'm given the book??? IT'S SO SAD. 2) and you're right,,, the author's going to read my review???!! And I don't want to make them sad if the book was bad, because writing is hard af and they really tried their best??? oh god.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhh I’m so glad I’m not alone with my feelings!

      But 1) you’re not untrustworthy at all!! I actually love your reviews so much, and I love how you highlight books with friendships, always?? ❤ & 2) That's so true, it's such a Struggle sndfjdjsdf.

      Thanks so much for your comment, Mal! 🌻

      Liked by 1 person

  27. This reminds me of all the Reviews that have been piling up and that I haven’t read yet (someone save me) 😅
    I’m fortunate that I haven’t been in this position many times, but I get the anxious feeling about leaving a not so positive Review. I guess when it comes to Arc’s I especially want to love the book and scream all my love for it, but sometimes it doesn’t work out 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  28. I feel you on university – my life is upside down with all the outlines and work I have to do for my classes.

    ANYWAYS, that aside, I completely get the pressure of reviewing books! In all honesty, I think I’ve become MORE critical in my reading as a reviewer now than in the past? Especially since I know full well I’m playing a role in the book’s success or failure – it might not be as big as a booktuber or another bestselling author, but it’s certainly SOMETHING.

    I think constantly as a reviewer right now I’m scared of authors stalking me (and I’ve actually had one send a review request to my personal Facebook), which may be why I’m less inclined to write negative reviews. I still WRITE them and publish them and tell the world why they shouldn’t read it, but I’ve become a lot less picky about writing a review for every book than I had when I first started.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh no, I hope university is treating you well, Sophia!! Remember to take time off studying &c., and do things that you love, and let you relax every once in a while. 💕

      That’s so true, and I definitely feel myself becoming more and more critical as I read more books as well. And it’s genuinely a lot of responsibility to publish reviews?? People are going to be influenced by us, and it’s sad when we end up discouraging others to pick up a certain book.

      Ahhh wow that’s so scary. I’d feel so violated, to be honest. Did you reply? & I don’t review every book I read, either, I simply don’t have the time.


  29. Well Lily this is an interesting and very honest post. Yes I feel sometimes torn when I did not really like the ARC but as you said I will always be honest because my first duty is to the readers before the authors. If it’s in a blog tour I contact the author or PR agency asking if they want me to publish on schedule or delay my review. But I will never change it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s what I’d do as well! I think there are policies for blog tours, saying that if it’s not a three star review at the very least, you should hold your review & email them about it, and are free to post the review afterwards, if you want. I’d never post a review I don’t fully stand behind.


  30. For the longest time I only requested form Netgalley, so the more inpersonal approach made it easy for me to say exactly what I wanted to say in my reviews. I had the opportunity to work directly with an author that was organizing a street team for her books and sadly, I didn’t enjoy them as much as I thought I would. It was hard for me to write those reviews. Honestly? I wasn’t as critical as I should’ve been. It just felt too uncomfortable. So I just did the best I could to still point out the issues I found.

    The two times I’ve requested a publisher an ARC by an email and I’ve gotten it, have been easier because I actually liked the books. But in the future, if I ever dislike one again, I think I’ll try to do better and remember that as hard as it may be, it’s not my job to sugarcoat my opinions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s why I prefer NetGalley as well, it’s definitely much easier to write reviews when there’s a bit of distance to the author. I’m sorry you had the same experience with an author’s book! I totally understand your trying not too sound too critical.

      And that’s what I’m striving for as well, I hope we’ll both get to a point where we don’t feel so bad about our writing negative reviews.

      Thanks so much for sharing, and for your insightful comment, Pamela! ❤


  31. I always hate writing reviews for ARCs that I didn’t really like all that much, especially if everyone else loved it. I try to write reviews that were balanced, and usually I try to point out the good points. I don’t think I have trouble writing them, but it’s not my favorite thing to do if I didn’t think the book was great. I don’t put stars on my blog because enjoyment is so subjective.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same! I always feel like I missed something, or am being overly critical, but … well, if that’s my opinion. And that’s so interesting, I think every review is subjective, since no one can really ever be 100% objective, but stars help me personally to understand someone’s overall feelings about a book better, and that’s why I like using them myself. 🙂

      Thanks for sharing, Brooke!


  32. Oh, this is so relatable, but I kind of have the opposite problem. I’m not a very critical reader. Don’t get me wrong, if something is problematic I oftentimes still spot it and write about it, but I genuinely like most of the books I read. And writing a review for a book you liked can be so hard! Sometimes I don’t even know what to say besides “I enjoyed reading this”. It’s a struggle.


Leave a Note 💌

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s