If you left a negative comment or wonder what one looks like, this is
the page for you. I write responses here because often I get
“hit and run” e-mails from my site and while I’d enjoy
writing back, often the person writing does not allow such a
pleasure and neglects to leave me an e-mail address. (This
changed in 2008 because I put up an email address instead
of a box in which to write the email.)
So, here are the answers I would have sent back if I had the e-mail
address of the person who wrote anonymously. A few of the
comments were also left on public forums and I have included the
comments and my response because I think both have interest
value and it is always good to see the positive and negative
aspects of any situation…enjoy J
first, I would like to present a list of concerns:
to use anger is no easy task. Yet the alternative - letting
anger use us -
makes us prisoners of our own minds. Anger is not the
enemy, and we're not
helpless in the face of it. It is only an energy - one
that, with practice,
we can harness for our good. ~Mark Epstein MD
The Top Ten
Concerns Readers/Authors Have About Reviewers
1. Accuracy – Does the reviewer actually read the
material and have enough background to be able to analyze the
book. Some reviewers are accused of “reading the book
jacket” or “not reading the book” or “getting the
character's name wrong.” Now with Amazon's new comments
feature, readers can correct reviews in live time and reviewers
can edit their review if they have made a mistake.
2. Conflict of Interest – Did the reviewer receive the
product for free? Some people don't realize this is quite normal
and see it differently. Professional reviewers often get books
3. Fairness & Honesty – Is the reviewer able
to write a review without attacking the author’s character,
life choices or content selection?
This is mostly a concern authors express. Is this
reviewer getting people to vote for their reviews or voting for
themselves (Amazon doesn't allow this)? This is an issue of
Readers mostly express this concern because they want
to be able to trust the reviews. Most people are fairly good at
figuring this out when it occurs and simply go on to read a more
trustworthy review. This is a personal decision since it is
almost impossible to prove this is occurring, although Amazon
monitors and watches this occur. They have removed reviewers
from the ranking system when they have discovered this has occurred.
4. Critical Analysis – Some readers want to read
reviews that take an author to task and some want to read a
review promoting the content of a book. This is a very personal
decision. Critical reviews can be fun to read if you disliked
the book or are looking for reasons not to buy the book,
although it can also be a reason to buy because negative or
critical reviews can create controversy and that tends to sell
items pretty fast.
5. Star Ratings –
I don’t enjoy reviewing books that are 1-2 stars as I
rarely can make it through the book without becoming angry
myself. So, by reviewing things I love, I have made a lifestyle
Wisdom speaks of another path, a much more
fulfilling path and one that brings everyone more happiness.
Plus, who wants to spend their life reviewing books they don’t
enjoy? It is enough of a challenge to find books that are
amazing, in the first place! The joy of reading, for me at
least, is in finding “those” types of book. Books that
either make the world a better place or affect me on a spiritual
level and make me think more deeply about my own life.
Words can be very powerful and the words
you put into your mind or repeat can change your world and even
create what happens next. You’d be amazed at how powerful
books are in this regard when you read a lot of them.
Note: Companies in general are more
open to negative comments because it helps them adapt their
products and they sell more in the end. They also don't seem to
take the comments as seriously on the emotional level because
the blame is spread out through the company and doesn't usually
address one person in particular. I've seen companies remove
products from the Amazon website, change them for the better and
adapt to customer comments. This is one of the main reasons I
enjoy reviewing more than books, because I see that it does make
a difference in the quality of products we buy.
– Does the person reviewing the book have the qualifications
to review the book in hand. Do they have enough life experience
to understand the content or are they simply making judgments
based on their own lack of experience. At times people actually
complain if you look like you know how to write a review. This
is a very tricky area to even step into because personal
experience determines how well you write and many people do read
books on how to improve their writing.
7. Diversity – Many times people
are concerned with this aspect because they don’t think about
the “specialization” aspect. A reviewer may only choose to
review cookbooks or focus only on novels. For some specializing
can also annoy readers and people want to see you as a person
with many interests. This is a difficult one to address, but
I’ve expanded my interests substantially. I think this is more
a concern of authors who want you to review their work, although
I’ve had people question me on this subject when they only
noticed certain reviews and did not consider looking through a
few hundred. It is difficult to see the categories I review
because Amazon no longer has the categories and I’ve had to
resort listing items in “tag lists” to retain my
But honestly, I review so many things, I think I have too many
8. Reviewing more than Books –
This is an idea that at first caused great alarm at the
discussion boards. I reviewed a box of Altoid mints and the
world ended. Then, people started to review more than just books
and even sometimes would listen to music and now and then they
felt adventurous and would review something from the kitchen
store. While I thought it was great fun to review lots of
different things, this did cause a lot of concern for more
Now and then, I still see this problem when
I get an angry e-mail or comment about something I loved and
reviewed. The world is an ever expanding miracle and to me,
commenting on a wide variety of items is purely “fun.” So,
to insist that I only review one type of book or only focus on
music or books is to me very restrictive and that is not a world
in which I ever want to live. Believe it or not, I have had to
fight for the right to talk about what I love.
9. Taste – A general dislike of someone’s tastes can
promote anger. I have seen this expressed in reviews and in
comments/e-mails. Generally I assume that if I never like
something one person is reviewing, then we have different
tastes. That is not a level of “taste,” but more the type of
items a person reviews.
10. Lifestyle Choices – This is a really tricky one
because each individual has made choices on how they want to
live. This may include religious or moral choices, living
situations, sexual preference, limitations in what a person
wants to review and has much to do with emotional
Sometimes authors will complain if you
address a lifestyle choice they have made. Some have said people
try to “preach” in the review. I think this is much more of
a concern with authors and their right to live their lives in
any way they choose. For readers, this can be very enjoyable
reading and it does create controversy, conflict and can
encourage humor (mostly for the reader, not the author).
So, as you can see, there are many concerns and readers
and authors have different concerns.
Reviewing is a balancing
act between the reader and author and it is not always easy to
please both parties. In the end, you have to please yourself and
deal with criticism from both sides.
I hope this has been helpful to you in understanding what a
reviewer can go through on a daily basis. This is a lifestyle I
have chosen and since I must deal with this all on a daily
basis, I’ve made decisions about how I want to live my life.
Addressing negativity is a reality in life. How you address the
negativity is essential to your very existence. All too often it
is easy to see this conflict in a depressing light, but I feel
that trying to remain positive is more healing than being
When you make a lifestyle choice, you have to also decide how
you are going to survive your choice. By deciding to be a
positive person, you have taken on an entire world of negativity
and that can be overwhelming at first and then beautifully
revealing in the end.
Comments that Reveal the Top Ten
Comment was sent: 1/25/2007
Comment: ”I was wondering if you actually have a life?” (Concern
As a person in the public eye on a daily basis, I accept e-mails
from anyone who wishes to contact me, including those who agree,
disagree or seem to question my reality. It is interesting to
notice how many people ask me the same questions, which speaks
to me of a commonality of perception.
Either people love how I live my life or
they think I should become someone else (although they rarely
tell me who I should be) and meet some unattainable expectation,
of which they don’t reveal.
One of the most recent comments I have been
receiving is one that questions whether I have a life.
In my life, short as 42 years can be, I
have watched sunsets from beaches in exotic locations like
Africa and the Caribbean. Once I almost drowned while swimming
in the Cape, at the tip of Africa. It is quite possible that
while swimming in African waters I was swimming with sharks
although I’ve always been pleased not to have noticed while
learning to surf as a child. After living in Africa my parents
took us on a trip across American so we could visit friends and
relatives. This was an amazing journey and an introduction to
many of America’s famous landmarks, with stops in many states. On the way to America we also traveled to Germany,
France, Belgium and England. To top it all off, I went back to
Germany and France later to travel with a friend from college.
In the more recent past I’ve spent time
rafting down rivers in Washington State, skiing, water skiing
(although I prefer the former), visiting places in Washington
State, like tulip field or mountains and cabins and spas on
islands (Whidbey and Orcas).
I’ve savored dinner at the top of the
Space Needle as a child and later when I took my nieces out for
dinner. I’ve taken ferry rides, shopped in Seattle at the
famous Pike Place Market and have taken way too many plane
flights between Florida and Washington in this lifetime.
My husband and I enjoy hiking, biking,
walking, going away for weekends when he isn’t working and
spent our honeymoon in the Caribbean. We enjoy a quiet life of
reading and watching movies. He loves golfing and also sometimes
spends time working on weekends, which gives me lots of time to
In the recent past I’ve worked in a
grocery store, tutored at Learning Centers, worked as a
part-time nanny in the summer, worked as a personal chef and
edited manuscripts for authors who travel the world.
I still find time to do
the laundry, clean my own house, cook for my husband, pet the
cats, take the cats for walks, exercise, take long baths, shop, go on picnics, and watch lots of movies. I also build my
own website and work on a variety of projects, including
woodworking, knitting and playful photography that
sometimes ends up at my site.
I have since figured out that when someone says you don’t have
a life and I try to explain that really I have done most of what
I wanted to do in life, how can you impress that type of person?
Would jumping into an active volcano and jumping out alive (like
Lavagirl) impress them?
Would it help to know that I attained a master’s degree within
two summers? That I paid my way through college by cleaning houses
babysitting, not to mention paying for plane flights to and
from my job and college throughout the year.
Would it help to know that I accept books from authors who
can’t get reviews from major review publications because they don’t
books from self-published authors? I consider this type of
activity time well spent because to be honest, a book could change a life. I
am very thankful
to all the reviewers who also helped me find books I now
consider to be life changing in my own existence.
It is true, I don’t have kids, but does that mean I don’t
have a life? You would be amazed at how much time two cats can
demand. I also spend time making sure I'm writing people back
who have concerns and questions. This takes up time and so,
technically, your comments are making me have a more interesting
When you consider what a life really is, what is the definition
of a “real life?”
When I look out at the world, I see lives lived in a diverse and
beautiful way. Each person encountering their own mission in
life, taking on a burden or expressing a joy. How you live your
life is an especially personal decision, whether it is thrust
upon you by fate or it is a life you have purposely created in
order to enhance your own happiness.
Does a writer not have a life because they don’t sing opera?
Would a painter be happier as a carpenter?
Would a construction worker rather be inside in an office?
Would a secretary be happier scuba diving?
What is a life?
My father used to say a life was the vapor on the top of a
coffee cup that appears and then quickly disappears. Life is
short and to me life should be lived in the way that makes you
To me, life is:
A place where you learn valuable lessons for survival. This
includes the areas of spirituality, intellectual pursuits and
physical endurance. Life to me feels very much like an obstacle
course in which you become emotionally stronger, more able to
handle the pain of people who are struggling to grow spiritually
(just as you are) and who must come face to face with their own
To me, life is best lived with a positive attitude, as much as
you are able. Disappointments will arrive and you may struggle
with your emotions. In such a case, you
breathe in the pain of the person who is in pain and then you breathe
out love. I have been amazed at how healed I feel personally
when I practice this form of meditation.
To me, having a life means being happy and satisfied with your
own spiritual progress or your ability to face challenges and
So, what does it mean to you when you say “Do you have a
life?” That question is something to consider very carefully,
because what you are really asking is: “What makes you
That may be completely opposite from the
vision you have for your own life. So, the next time you wonder
if someone has a life, ask yourself a deeper question and then
stand in their shoes for five minutes.
Consider that what they are doing may
actually make them happy and perhaps, just perhaps…it makes
other people happy too.
Part 2: ...there is no way that you can possibly read, see,
listen, taste etc etc all the things you review.
(Concern 1 and 8)
I tend to have many interests, some of
which can be done at the same time.
Often I am cooking something in the oven (I
figured out how to cook fish with vegetables in foil which saves
me so much time) while reviewing a book or reading a book while
watching a movie.
I’ve been known to do three things at
once or more, listening to music while reading a book and
watching a fireplace DVD or knitting, reading and listening to
music at the same time. Now and then my mind works especially
fast. I can hardly write all I’m thinking and can read two,
three or four or more books in one day. I speed read
“naturally” (something I had to learn to do while in
college) and can absorb information
fairly fast and comment on what I’ve read fairly quickly. I
type super fast because of all the years I’ve been typing
If you do three things at once, you can
write way more reviews because your experience is then filled
with many more ideas about which to write. Most of the day is
spent reading, seeing, listening, tasting and so by the end of
the day, or the next morning, I have something to talk about.
I find that reading in the bath while using
bath products, trying out new items from my “spa girl” tag list
is a fun thing to do in the morning and as a woman, I think my
interest in health and beauty offers me a lot more to discuss.
So on any given day you could find me
reviewing lollipops, a movie I enjoyed, a book I just read and
maybe the ingredients from a recipe I was testing for a book. It
is just a matter of keeping busy and you’d be amazed at how
much you can write about when you have been writing about what
you are experiencing for over 10 years.
I also don’t watch much TV, in fact, we
currently don’t have cable – my husband’s choice. If you
consider how much time most people spend watching TV – then
you imagined what else you could do with that time, then you may
be able to understand how I am able to do so much in such a
short amount of time.
Comment was sent: 1/19/2007
Comment: "3668 reviews, all of them ***** (five stars)?!"
To be completely honest, I do review items
that are 3 and 4 stars, just I tend to enjoy reviewing items I
love and I consider things I like or love to be 5 stars. If I
love the item even more than 5 stars, sometimes I mention that
it is a 100 star product.
Extra: Collection of Outstanding Electronic
Music: 4 stars
100 Best-Loved Poems - 4 stars
Zhena's Gypsy Tea: Gypsy Love - 3 stars
The Servant Leadership Course on CD - 3 stars
Lotto Berk Method Hip Hugger Abs - 3 stars
”I see that you are a top 10 reviewer. It's very interesting
that a top ten reviewer on Amazon has little to say about music
overall. I see that most of you reviews are based upon female
musicians, and while I am a liberal, and usually support feminist
views, and love many female artists, it is sad for me to see
such a feminist stance on music, a subject in which I am very
passionate about. I almost bought an album, but checked you
profile first, and saw that a large majority of your 5 star
ratings are pointed toward female musicians." ~ C. (Concern
6 and 7)
review "so many things," a lot of my music reviews are
buried under 100s of other reviews. It is a pity that amazon
doesn't still have that lovely category system where you would
see all my music reviews at once.
Everyone has their own cycle of learning and taste varies so
dramatically. Check out my top 40 list, top 10 list and keep
looking for more of my music reviews.
I have reviewed John Lennon, Jai Uttal, Jesse Cook, James
Brown, Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett, Yo-Yo Ma, David Lanz, U2,
Sting, Nick Drake, Magnet, Death Cab for Cutie, Moby, Manheim
Steamroller, Joshua Bell, Ronan Ynan, Peter Gabriel, David
Bowie, Ray Lamontagne, Joshua Radin, Snow Patrol, B-Tribe,
Postal Service, Frank Sinatra, The Idan Raichel Project, Andrew
Lloyd Webber, Thievery Corporation, David Sylvan, AIR, Josh
Groban, Daniel Powter, David Gilmour, Najee, Steven Halpern, Low
Millions, Ulrich Schnauss, Faithless, Vangelis, Tom Petty, Deep
Dish, Lanterna, Keane, The Beatles, Will Downing, Nawang Khechog,
Beck and Coldplay.
may enjoy the vocals on 1 Giant Leap and African Dream. I love
Michael Stipe's voice.
After looking at my own musical tastes, I
may be favoring men. :) I'll try to remain balanced, but I do
love anything that touches the heart or leaves me excited about
life and open to possibility.
So much of what we enjoy is based solely on
our own experience and everyone's experience is so vastly
different. The beauty of Amazon is in finding a kindred soul and
then discovering an entire new world of products/books/music to
enjoy. I think it is unrealistic to think that you will meet
more than a few of those types of soul mates in this
Thanx for your thoughts,
Same Comment in Three Different Ways
Seems to have been written by the PR person from the company. (Concern
thanx I didn't know the review was that good. lol I'm honored
to think I could write a PR piece but unfortunately I am not
with the company. I write independent reviews for free and at my
This is a hobby. Thanx for the laugh.
Is this an ad by someone who works for Gaiam? Did you really
have to write 850 words to review an exercise DVD? Really? (Concern
few years ago and for quite some time I did write longer review
because it seemed I had more to say. Now I do write shorter
reviews in general. No, I do not work for Gaiam but they do have
a lot of DVDs I enjoy. As far as I can tell it is acceptable to
write anything up to a 1,000 word review. You can simply use
your self-control to only read short reviews. I'm amazed at how
many people complain about long reviews and don't realize that
they could just read the short ones. Is that so difficult to do?
I hope you find some of my shorter reviews more enjoyable.
You work for Leonidas' chocolates, don't you?? I had the
impression that I was in a salesroom somewhere while reading
your review!! You should be a little more
there was quite a ruckas when Ann Rice got caught red handed
reviewing her own book.........lol (Concern
idea is not original. In my exuberance over various products I've been accused of the same
thing numerous times. I've heard it all before. I've
been ordering chocolates from Leonidas for years and they are the best in the world. Instead
of accusing people of things you know nothing
about why don't you order the chocolates and write a review. Perhaps then I could
read your thoughts on the chocolates instead
of your mistaken opinion on the review.
It would have been more helpful if you just wrote a BRIEF
review... I don't want to read a lengthy synopsis every time I
seek a book review. It's just too time consuming. (A
new concern lately)
may sound obvious, but why are you spending so much of your precious time writing about it too?
It sounds like you should just use your self-control and abstain from reading long reviews.
Comment was sent: 9/21/2009
"Who cares, you have way too much free time on your
Comment left on a
review of passionfruit pulp - something I use in recipes
I see you also spend quite a bit of free time reviewing but keep your reviews pithy. :)
My original goal when reviewing was to review everything in my house that could be reviewed. I spend a few hours
every day reviewing something so it is more of a hobby.
How much free time is too much? Define your terms. I don't consider two to three hours a day as
too much time. This review probably took less than
five minutes to write because it is a recipe from my cookbook: Seasoned with Love. I really enjoy
creating recipes and sharing them with the world.
Perhaps you could read some of my more serious reviews and consider them for comment. You just
happened to pick something that you are not really interested in. I can't guess why you did but it seems
to be the case. To me this product is very important in my life and also reminds me of my childhood. I even
make a cake with passionfruit. So to one person the review may be totally irrelevant and to another it
reminds them of a childhood memory.
I wish you well and hope you will read some of
my other reviews which might be of more
interest to you.
Comment was sent: 10/1/2009
"i think you should go to book rehab. cause i think you are
a reading addict. SERIOUSLY." (Concern
Thank you for the laugh. Before I started reviewing I
in college for what seemed like forever and had to read so
books that I felt I'd never read another book again. After
a few years off from reading anything I started to find
books I really
enjoyed reading and began reading as a hobby around April 3,
It is easy to read a book in a couple of days or even in one
So what you are seeing is actually a hobby but some might
it an addiction. I don't have cable TV but watch movies from
I do other things to entertain myself besides reading. I
to cook (I create recipes for my site) and to go for walks
I feel my life is in some ways balanced. At least if this is
addiction I'm not hurting anyone. It keeps me busy and makes
me happy. I also review a lot for new authors which makes
them happy too. If you stopped watching TV (if you do) then
you would find so many more hours in the day in which to
read. I do admit to having an amazon addiction because I
like to visit the site at least once a day.
Comment was sent: 1/14/2010
Comment: ”Leonidas chocolates are waxy,
even if they are Belgian. Godiva is worse. Fran's
Chocolates, based in Seattle, makes acceptable chocolates.” (Concern
I still think Leonidas has the best
chocolates even though I make a lot of chocolates myself
Comment was sent: 1/14/2010
said at a forum: "I find the negative reviews
helpful before I begin a book."
"I don't mean this in a hurtful way, but isn't that hypocritical?
As a customer, you find negative reviews helpful (I do, too),
but you aren't willing to write some yourself for the benefit
of everyone else? None of your almost four thousand reviews
are 1- or 2-star, but I bet some of your readers would
appreciate being warned about the turkeys.” (Concern
This has been covered in another discussion.
People react very strongly to the fact that I don't usually post one- and
two-star reviews. I have done so in the past but normally they
reflect anger and I don't like that side of myself. To be
honest, there are already enough negative reviews so I don't really need to contribute
anymore to the pile. I've also been harassed by authors when
I've posted a negative review and it was no fun in the park.
When I spread joy and love I feel much better about life. Negative reviews
weigh heavily on my soul so I now choose not to write them. I do
think for other people it is cathartic. For me, it has the
opposite effect. So I've really just made a lifestyle choice. Also, because of my
site name people expect me to write positive reviews. How
"seasoned with love" can you be when you write
something negative. Now and then I do find a book I love with
some negatives and I do mention that in the review. Normally
those are the three-star reviews. So I'm not completely positive
in those reviews.
What we think
creates our life. ~Dr. Wayne Dyer
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