I belong to LibraryThing, and I do a lot of book reviews for them. I belong to the early reviewers group and to the member give away group.
The early reviewers group is just what you think it is. You review the book before it is actually put on sale. People read reviews before they buy, and a good review can help them decide to buy. In the member give away group, new authors give away books to get reviews also. These are books that may already be on sale, but haven’t had the expected sales or maybe don’t have many reviews, so they are given away, hopefully in exchange for reviews that will help the book sell better.
I have read some awesome books and have given great reviews for those books. Most of the books I have received, I have enjoyed. There have been some that I haven’t enjoyed as much. That makes it hard to write a review. Although LibraryThing wants a review, either good or bad, I have a hard time writing a bad, or even somewhat bad, review.
I don’t want to discourage the writer if the not so good review is read, but I also feel like I am reviewing for the reader, too. I don’t want to give a fake review and then have the reader be disappointed.
I think, as a person who is writing themselves, although not anywhere near that level, it’s hard to accept that someone does not like what you have written. But, that’s a chance you take by writing and putting it out there for the world to see. I try to explain why I didn’t like it in a way that will help the writer improve, but it still bothers me. Although a professional writer has to be able to handle criticism, it still has to be emotionally hard.
As a person who also loves to read, and read with a passion, I want to be honest with the reader. I don’t want a false review I write to encourage them to spend their hard-earned money on a book that isn’t that well written.
Luckily for me, most of the writers of the books I have reviewed are very good writers. It makes my reviews easy to write. But, either way, I write an honest review, no matter what.