I finally had a book sent to me that I just could not in good conscience give a positive review.
And no, I won't be telling you the title. I have done enough to the poor author by giving an honest review elsewhere.
I sometimes receive books that I don't particularly like. This is to be expected as there are a wide range of tastes in reading material, and despite the eclectic nature of my own taste, sometimes I just. don't. like. the. book.
For example, I really hate it when there is not a definite conclusion with most questions answered after spending a few hours reading a novel (I read quickly, about 30 seconds per page when I get going). My tastes are basic; I read fiction for entertainment and non-fiction for knowledge. Not a big fan of artsy and ephemeral literature. I let enlightenment and Big Important Thoughts drift in on their own rather than filtered through an author's perceptions.
My rule of thumb has been simple, and has enabled me to give positive reviews to a book and its author even if I will cross the Grand Canyon to avoid reading another of that author's books.
My rule: If the book is well-written, I can find something illuminating to say about it. My job (as I see it) is in part to describe the type of book it is rather than necessarily revealing my own personal feelings about the story. One book I heartily disliked was reviewed with words like "Byzantine" and "labyrinth" and the phrase 'If you are looking for a light summer read, this isn't it. ' for example.
This particular book, on the other hand, was really, really bad. Not bad as in "I don't like it" but bad as in 'very poorly written'. I did manage to find a few gleams of gold in the bottom of the sieve but they were very few, and only slightly shiny. So I wrote my first truly negative review today.
I really hope the author pays attention to my final words of advice. It was not a lack of imagination that ruined the book, but a simple but immense lack of skill and experience on the part of the writer.
Now I am off to cleanse my palette with a dose of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee before opening the next book on the list.