Mindset & Mindfulness

The Funny Side of Reviews

We authors have a complicated relationship with online reviews. Mostly, I love them. For a relatively unknown writer, nothing is more helpful in persuading new readers to give me a try, than endorsements from others. I’ve been lucky so far that the majority of my reviews have been extremely positive.

Much has been written, of course, about the pain of negative reviews, especially when the author feels something is downright inaccurate. However, we have been warned emphatically by Goodreads and other platforms not to respond to these. (Here’s a fascinating account of Emily Giffin failing to heed this advice.) That said, I feel strongly that a constructive critical review is hugely useful to other readers. We can’t all like the same stuff: one person’s sappy tedium may be another’s sweet escapism. When I’m shopping for books, hotels, or anything else, the informative negative reviews are just as important as the praise.

A Teacup CollectionBut there’s a third type of review that I want to highlight today: the funny kind. Sometimes, the reviewer is skilled and witty in their opinion of the book. Sometimes, they’re a little confused. And sometimes, the review is so bizarre, there’s nothing to do but laugh. Here are three I’ll never forget:

  • “This is a very cute story… I like stories that occur in Ireland.”
    I’m so glad you liked it, but Saffron Sweeting is actually in England. It’s about 300 miles, with a sea crossing, from there to Dublin. They use a different currency, too.
  • “This is a book showing watercolor paintings of teacups/saucers.”
    Oh dear. Lots of tea is, indeed, consumed in my novels, but there are no paintings at all, let alone of teacups. I think perhaps the reviewer was confused with the book shown above?
  • “Dandelion juice. Do you have a recipe for it? Would it taste better with tequila or vodka?”
    Should I consider adding a disclaimer to my books that I can’t take responsibility for inadvertent poisoning? Dandelion and burdock is a traditional English soft drink, with a strong, somewhat medicinal taste. There’s a recipe here but for first-timers, you might want to buy some instead.

Funny or not, I’m grateful for every single review. Short, long or in between, I love to know what readers think! If you’ve read anything longer than a bus schedule recently, please do go online and tell others your reaction.

Big thanks to Julie Valerie for hosting her monthly Fiction Writers Blog Hop. To return, click here.

Watercolor bubbles

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15 Comment

  1. Reply
    Shelly Hickman
    March 29, 2016 at 9:01 pm

    Hahaha! This was great, Pauline. I’ve received a few reviews that have made me scratch my head as well. Like you said, sometimes all you can do is laugh. I like the watercolor comment. 😀

  2. Reply
    Brea Brown
    March 30, 2016 at 3:24 am

    Very funny stuff! Maybe someone spiked the dandelion juice.

  3. Reply
    Meredith Schorr
    March 30, 2016 at 5:58 am

    The review about the watercolor paintings cracked me up. I read (and enjoyed) both of your novels, but don’t remember that at all!! Since Amazon is unlikely to remove any review at an author’s request (even the ones that say “I didn’t read this yet” or “my Kindle broke in the middle,” the best thing you can do is have a laugh and shrug it off!

  4. Reply
    Heather Burnside
    March 30, 2016 at 6:23 am

    Pauline, I like your take on reviews. Not responding can be difficult at times, especially when they have misunderstood the book, but it’s probably the best approach. It’s good that you can have a laugh about the wacky ones too. 🙂

  5. Reply
    Jayne Denker
    March 30, 2016 at 7:13 am

    LOL who knows where this stuff comes from? Sometimes bots, sometimes weird people. o_O One of my all-time favorite reviews was for my fourth romcom. It read, in its entirety, “Gross bad book.” Allllrightiethen!

  6. Reply
    Julie Valerie @Julie_Valerie
    March 30, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    Oh, good gravy! Those reviews are HYSTERICAL. What were they thinking?!

    Maybe they did spike their dandelion juice with tequila… Hm.

  7. Reply
    Cinthia Ritchie
    March 30, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    Fun post, Pauline! Reviews are an odd animal, aren’t they? We never know what readers might take away from our books. It’s kind of fascinating, actually, like a mini-session in psychology. What I find strange, though, are people who feel compelled to leave a review when it’s obvious that they haven’t read the book. What prompts that? Lord only knows, eh?
    P.S. Love your humor and positive outlook.

  8. Reply
    Sandie Docker
    March 30, 2016 at 7:04 pm

    Too funny. I think you need to test whether Dandelion Juice does taste better with vodka or tequila. Imagine the applications!

    Reviews are not something I’ve had to face yet. Constructive criticism – fine, but the ones that are personal (not even about the work)! Just go away.

    Nice to see the funnier side of reviews. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Reply
    Lee Ann Howlett
    March 30, 2016 at 8:19 pm

    These are great! I’ve had some doozies left for me, too. You do need to keep a sense of humor when reading them. I try not to take the bad ones OR the good ones too seriously. They’re each still just one person’s opinion.

  10. Reply
    Barbara Barth
    March 31, 2016 at 7:26 am

    Great funny reviews. It takes a tough skin to shake off reviews that are cruel. The truth will set you free, and I can live with someone who has a valid point – but sometimes those folks living reviews on Amazon are strange to say the least. I can laugh now, but my widow memoir, written the year after my husband died, received a review that it was not deep enough, not enough pain. (The book was on finding a life, so it was upbeat) and the greatest, which made me think I should wear a scarlet letter on my chest, had to do with the few dating experiences. But, I guess I am thrilled it sold, so I’ve gotten where these blips don’t hurt! Ouch. Maybe . . . Love the humor in this post!

  11. Reply
    Barbara Barth
    March 31, 2016 at 7:28 am

    Oops typo. See Brea Brown’s post on such on the blog hop. Hey, it’s early, I’m on first cup of dandelion coffee. Should be leaving reviews, not living them. Oh, maybe I do live some of my reviews . . .

    1. Reply
      Pauline Wiles
      March 31, 2016 at 12:31 pm

      Dandelion-flavored typos will always be welcome here, Barbara!

  12. Reply
    Michelle James
    March 31, 2016 at 11:47 am

    Oh my goodness! I am going to have to start looking for some of the more amusing ones. So funny.

  13. Reply
    Tracy Krimmer
    April 1, 2016 at 6:10 am

    Love it! I also love when the review is of a completely different product. It makes it very interesting.

  14. Reply
    Jean | DelightfulRepast.com
    April 5, 2016 at 11:50 am

    Pauline, I think you have the right attitude about negative reviews, that they can sometimes be useful to other readers. But why do people who haven’t even read a book post a review of it? Rather like the person who says a recipe didn’t work: “Bad recipe. Zero stars. Sure, I made a few substitutions, but still. I used macaroni instead of rice, melted chocolate instead of tomato sauce, and I steamed it instead of baked it. And it was terrible. I don’t think you know what you’re doing.” I haven’t personally gotten any comments like that, but I’ve read them on other sites.

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