I've "known" Ms. Yingling for years, but somehow her blog got kind of lost in the shuffle for me. But today I visited Ms. Yingling Reads. Check out the fantastic reviews I saw there. What's so fantastic about them? They include what she considers to be the books' weaknesses as well as their strengths.
I rarely read blog reviews unless I am already interested in the book for some reason. I don't read them because so many bloggers have a policy of publishing only what they call "positive" reviews. What, then, does the review have to tell me other than what I already know--that the reviewers like the books because they only write about books they like?
Yes, I may recall titles if I see them at a lot of blogs, and that will lead me to pick up a book if I stumble upon it somewhere. But I often don't get more than that from blog reviews because I just can't get excited about reading a post when I know I'm only going to hear sweetness and light about the title under discussion.
Look what Ms. Yingling does: She begins her reviews with sort of an abstract describing the story and then in subtitled sections that you can't miss states the books' strengths and weaknesses. These things are so quick and easy to read. Oh, my gosh, what an opportunity to be exposed to more titles.
As I've said here so many times before, when a reviewer does a "balanced" review, including criticism that doesn't necessarily fall into the warm and cuddly category, it's not necessarily a loss for the author. Take a look at Ms. Yingling's review of Horton Halfpott, for instance. Under Weaknesses, she says, "Remember, I couldn't stand Snicket, so this was hard for me to get through. The names and Victorian setting, which may delight students, irritated me." Many readers loved the Snicket books. Mentioning that that aspect of the book irritated her has the potential to convince some readers that this is just the book for them or for the people they buy for. If Ms. Yingling had a policy of only doing reviews of books she totally loved, her readers wouldn't have been exposed to this title--a loss for the author and his book.
Also, Ms. Yingling blogs about other things, too.
Well, it's too bad The Spectacle gave up the ghost, but now I have another blog to replace it. Am off to add it to my reader right now.