Dishing Junk: Picking Books for Review

Dishing Junk: Picking Books for Review

How do you decide what books to review?

Hello fabulous PJV readers!  Patti here, taking over Dishing Junk from Rachel – shhhh, don’t tell 😉

Today, I want to talk about how you choose what books you feature for review on your blogs.  Every now and then I get a little worried because I know that most of my reviews/ratings here on the PJV run about 4 or 5 stars. And I hear people say, “Your reviews are not trustworthy because you rate everything as good or great.” And I get it, I really do. But here’s the thing: I’m not going to buy or choose a book for review that I don’t think I’m going to like.

Why would I do that to myself?

For example, I don’t like Romantic Suspense. I don’t know why, I just don’t. So as a general rule I don’t accept Romantic Suspense books for review – it’s not fair to the author and it’s a waste of my time. I have a full-time job and a family; I don’t want to spend what little “me time” I do have on a book that I’m probably not going to enjoy. “But you might be surprised”, you say. Well, yes, it is possible I might run across a Romantic Suspense book that I like. But I don’t want to wade through boring or confusing plots to find that gem, when I can pick up tons of Contemporary Romance, New Adult books, Werewolf tales, or sexy Highlander stories that will more than likely entertain me.

Sometimes,  I do pick something out of my comfort zone to read, and sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised.  Do I come across books in the genres that I like that I don’t finish or think are just “meh”? Sure I do. I *try* to do one book a week in my Romancing the Weekend feature – any more than that is just too much for me to handle – so unless I received that book for review, I don’t normally post it to the PJV.  I do post on Goodreads, and BookLikes, as I like to keep track of what I read for the year, but oftentimes I just give it a quick star rating, I don’t give an explanation of what worked or what didn’t.

Maybe I should start doing a post of mini reviews of books I didn’t like, so people know I don’t just blithely love everything I read. Do you like mini-reviews? Are they worth the time it takes to type and format a post? *sighs* I don’t know…

What about you? Do you write reviews for non-review books (does that even make sense) if you didn’t like them? What’s your criteria or process for accepting books for review? Is there a genre or trope you absolutely won’t read?  Throw in your two cents – we want to know!!

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About The Author


Introvert, Worrier, Owner of the blog "Caught in a FAB Romance", and resident Romance Guru on Parajunkee's View. I've been blogging about books since 2009 - if it's got romance in it, I'll read it! Find me on Instagram Come find me at BookLikes!


  1. Lexxie

    I review most everything I read – even books I read for my classes. However, like you, my average rating is fairly high, because I have gotten really good at choosing the books I buy, or the ARCs I want to read, and so, those books are mostly very enjoyable to me.
    I don’t think that makes me an unreliable reviewer, though, and I think it’s a little sad that some people might think so. When I request an e-galley, it’s usually by an author I love, and for a book I’m excited about, and which I just can’t wait to read. So yeah, four or five stars is what I rate a lot of the books I read. I think I’m lucky, though, to read so many good books. *grins*

    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

    • Patti (TheLoveJunkee)

      Haha, yes, I should look at it as I’m lucky to have such great books to choose from!

  2. BlacknWriteReviews

    I review everything, well… almost everything. But lately, I’ve been sticking to my TBR list, but thanks for monthly publications I could wind up adding 10 more books to my list! Or I’m browsing through the stacks at the public library, it’s just a never ending list lol
    I like to give the impression that although a book might be on my list, that even if I don’t like it I’m willing to let people know about it. Makes my blog feel balanced, by not having JUST books I enjoyed.
    – Krys

    • Patti (TheLoveJunkee)

      That’s true – what doesn’t work for some people is exactly what others are looking for.

  3. Jennifer @ The Book Nympho

    These days I’m reading off my TBR pile (books I purchased) and review books. I review both. Every once in a while I’ll read a book that I won’t review on the blog but that’s only because one of the other ladies has already reviewed it. So I just read the book for me and move on. I enjoy doing that, no pressure of a review.

    • Patti (TheLoveJunkee)

      That is nice, not to have the pressure. I love your reviews!

  4. Anette

    I hate trudging through a book I don’t like, but I really love reviewing them. There’s just something really fun and cathartic about ranting about a book and really get into all the details on why I didn’t like it, sometimes that’s easier than explaining why I loved something.

    I’m just a tiny blog so I can’t really say much about what I accept for review, but I’m really picky so I wouldn’t just accept anything no matter how fun it is to write scathing reviews every now and then. I definitely wouldn’t agree to review a book I was sure I wouldn’t like. All the books I’ve reviewed that I didn’t like have been books I’ve purchased that I actually thought I’d like (like Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children).

    • Patti (TheLoveJunkee)

      It does make me crazy when someone says “I knew I wouldn’t like this”… then why did you read it? But if you’re expecting to like it and you don’t, that’s different. Thanks for commenting!

  5. Becca

    Great discussion topic. I am one of those jerks who is like ‘How can every book be a great book? It’s impossible!’ in a general sense (not you specifically.) I try to only accept books I think I will enjoy as well, but since I have such a broad range of genres that interest me, I am more likely to run across some that just aren’t my thing. Also because I am big into giving indie authors a chance and I find they can be hit and miss reads. I also have issues with pace so if a book is kind of dragging, I will rate it lower, too.

    I talked with someone recently who said she only reviews books she likes because she wants her blog to be a positive place. That’s personally not my thing. I am all for positivity, but I also like to save my readers the trouble if a book is just not written well.

    • Patti (TheLoveJunkee)

      If I accept a book and I don’t like it, I’ll still review it. There have been a few. But mostly I look at the blurbs and think about whether or not it’s something I might enjoy.

  6. Charlie Anderson

    If I’m buying books (real or ebook), I only get thing I am pretty sure I will enjoy. I don’t stray too far out of my favorite genres. If I’m downloading a free ebook, I’ll take myself out of my comfort zone a little (not a whole lot!) and get some things I usually wouldn’t to try them out. I haven’t ever really written reviews for non-review books that I didn’t enjoy. I have a few non-review books I read recently that were “meh” and I am thinking of staring to do mini-review posts. I want to say something about them, but not a full-blown review. I feel like they don’t … deserve that. Does that make sense?

    • Patti (TheLoveJunkee)

      Yes, that totally makes sense! I don’t want to spend that much time focusing on a book that I didn’t like.

  7. Melanie Simmons

    I generally pick up books that I think I’ll enjoy. I do take a few missteps, but mostly, my reads are 3 stars or higher. Great post.

    • Patti (TheLoveJunkee)

      Yes, I occasionally get something that I don’t like but for the most part I get lucky 🙂

  8. Lola @ Reading by Lamplight

    I’ve been told this time and time again over the years. I’m in the same boat as you. Why would I purposely read books that I know I’m not going to enjoy?! Great post!

    • Patti (TheLoveJunkee)


    • Patti (TheLoveJunkee)

      Wow 😉 3 stars for me is “It was ok; I liked it but it’s not going on the keeper shelf”

  9. Rachel

    Hi Patti! Love that you stole Dishing Junk from PJ! And yeah I used to get so upset by people who go to great lengths to talk about how reviewers can’t be trusted who write only positive reviews, etc. etc. And who say that even if the reviewer picks up books they think they’ll like they can’t always like them to the tune of 4 or 5 stars so the reviewer is being dishonest. Or that if the reviewer doesn’t write those negative reviews they can’t know what books that reviewer doesn’t like, so therefore they’re not giving the full picture.

    And while they’re entitled to their opinion, and maybe they can’t get the full picture, they can always find other reviewers’ reviews to read. That’s their choice.

    My feeling is that you should read what you want to read. Not because you feel you need to find a book you don’t like to please some readers of your reviews. You state you don’t have a lot of time, so why spend it reading things that you don’t like? That’s just crazy. You’re not a paid reviewer, so you shouldn’t have to be forced to do something to please a few people.

    Are you giving everyone the full picture? Maybe not. But you’re giving them enough of a picture – you’re telling them exactly what you do like to read. Even if you read an occasional book you didn’t like and gave them a negative review, you’re not giving the full picture. Should you then be forced to read genres completely not your interest – middle grade, non-fiction, crime dramas, horror? No. That’s absurd.

    Read what you want, review what you like, don’t worry about the naysayers. They’ll always have something negative to say, no matter what you do. You can’t please everyone. If you like writing mini reviews or just having a post like this to talk about some recent reads that just weren’t for you, then go for it! If you don’t have the time, then don’t worry about it. I love reading your reviews when you post them here on Parajunkee. They’re not always gushing, but they are informative and pique my interest in books I might not even consider reading otherwise.

    I always stop reading a book I don’t enjoy. The ONE time I did it in the past year because I had to post a review still irks me. To this day. MONTHS later. I actually hate that book even more, every time I think about it. All because I felt like I was forced to read it through to the end when I would have given up within 10 pages. I’m mad that I wasted my time. It got the lowest rating I ever gave a book. Though I tried to be fair in my review without being mean. Because the rant would have gone on and on. Yet plenty of people LOVED the book, said it was the BEST book ever. Point is, I wasted my time, it wasn’t a review the publisher would ever have promoted, my viewpoint is only my own and the multitude of other readers loved the book so my opinion mattered not at all. Better to just have set the book aside and read something I hoped I’d love. I’d have been happy. And isn’t that what reading is supposed to do?

    • Patti (TheLoveJunkee)

      Thank you for this! I’m playing around with it in my head…it will work itself out. But I’m still not signing up for books I don’t like. *stomps foot*

  10. Stefanie

    I myself do mini reviews from time to time, mostly because there are just certain books that leave me feeling very meh and quite at a loss of words (be them good or bad) so that’s why I opt for the tiny review format. I find them handy because it gets the books reviewed yet I don’t feel as if I needed to force the review.
    mind you, I don’t do a lot of formatting so generally it’s really worth my time

    • Patti (TheLoveJunkee)

      I wonder if I could work up a format and then just pop in the info…you’re giving me ideas! 😉

      • Stefanie

        that will definitely help you get out those pesky “i don’t even know what to say about this book”-reviews 🙂 now all you have to do is find the format you like 😉

  11. Lucy Dosch @

    My husband will sometimes make fun of me too. “Oh, another 5 stars from Lucy.” I try to explain that I get a list of books and I start by picking series that I already read and authors that I like. So most likely, unless the story was horrible, this is something I am going to like.

    If I haven’t taken too many, then I might poke around on the list for my favorite genres: urban fantasy, paranormal romance, romantic suspense, etc.

    After all this time reviewing, I have come to understand what I don’t like and I steer clear of those. There are exceptions to every rule but I understand what you say that there is only so much time and why waste it on something you know you probably won’t like.

    I was doing reviews for a company and they chose what they sent me. Even though they were paying me, I stopped working with them because out of all the books they sent me only 1 was decent and the rest were torture to read. It just wasn’t worth it especially since it took time from what I wanted to read.

    • Patti (TheLoveJunkee)

      My husband teases me too 🙂 I don’t blame you for leaving that company if they were sending you books you didn’t like.


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