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!

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xx, Lily

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

  1. 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. ✨


  2. 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

  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. 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

  5. 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

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