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August 25, 2009



I know what you mean about spoiler reveals in reviews. I was so upset when the New York Times spoiled the last Harry Potter book for a lot of people (not me thankfully--I stayed off of the computer for a week before the book came out and then stayed off till I was finished reading it). Normally, I think people spoil in reviews on accident, or because they can't comment on something they like or were particularly tickled by without giving a little something away. But at least most give a warning.

I think I've only ever reviewed two or three books on the Internet and one of them was Princess Academy. I'm more of a word of mouth type of gal. I think what really spurs people to review is that they have found a book that coincides with their "inner reader" in such a way that their mind can't disentangle itself from the witty characters, the stirring plot, or the catchy wit. It's a pretty remarkable thing and I can't wait till it happens to me again on September 15th! :D

Rachel Q.

I agree about not liking spoilers and I appreciate that you avoid them on your site, for your own books as well as for other authors that you interview (by the way, I love discovering new authors through your interviews, so thank you!). I've even stopped reading the book jacket to get the basic storyline. Even doing that much sometimes causes me to make my own assumptions about the type of book it is or how it will turn out. It changes, and sometimes taints, my reading experience. There are some things that are unavoidable to find out, but I prefer the surprise.

Shannon M.

I have a feeling I'm going to be alone on this one, but I have to say, spoilers don't really 'spoil' anything for me. It's not that I want to see them, and I'd prefer that key details not be given away, but if they are...well...it doesn't really bother me.

(I'll allow everyone a minute to gasp and/or roll their eyes)

I guess it's because I'm the kind of person that reads the books I like more than once, and tends to enjoy them more the second time around. A lot more, actually. Why? Because the first time I'm so desperate to know 'what's going to happen next' that I tend to race through it, read it in one big marathon where by the end it's 4 am and my eyes are blurry and my back is hurting but I won't put it down because I have to know the ending. Then--once the suspense is over--I read it again, so I can really savor the nuances of the prose, take the time to really get to know the characters, and really let myself sink into the story.

So if I come across a spoiler that ends the suspense for me, it just means I won't rush through the book so much the first time. Like I said...it's not like I seek them out. But I also don't mind them. Sorry. You can all yell at me now.

cindy baldwin

I commented on the last post, but I should have clarified - as a writer, I think places like goodreads are not places for authors to hang out. (I don't think I would!!!) But I do think it's important and helpful to be able to give your true opinion of something as a reader, its delights and its faults. I agree that the 1-5 star thing is totally arbitrary - but I will also say that, through rated reviews by people who I know have similar taste to my own, I have found some excellent books I probably wouldn't have stumbled on otherwise. I agree with the commenter who said that goodreads has expanded her reading list - mine too!!!


I totally agree with the spoilers not spoiling it for me. I race through to the end of the book just so I can breathe easier by knowing what happened. Even if I read a spoiler, I still like to know exactly how it all played out!

That said, I do appreciate it when people state that there will be spoilers at the beginning of a review. Then I have a choice of reading on. Sometimes I genuinely want to find out for myself.


I like that there are reviews that have spoilers but think that it is very important that the reviewer explains spoilers that are coming. I have read some books that may have a scene in them that makes me wonder if it is worth continuing - if it was just a scene or the overall theme throughout a book. It is in these situations that I want to know.

I think the real trick to writing a good review is to give just enough information that a possible reader can have their interest peeked, which can sometimes include some little tidbit from the first r second chapter - some piece of knowledge that is going to be known for the journey with the book. I write a review of EVERY book I read and put it in a binder in my classroom for my students to have access. I also like to include in a review a "if you liked _____, this is along the same lines/genre/style, etc."

As far as the stars go, I tend to only really notice the difference, since I can't read every book that is out there and have many students who want recommendations, I will often compare the 5 stars to the 1 stars. I get annoyed when people give 1 star because the book isn't a prestigious literary masterpiece that should surely be nominated for a Pulitzer or not be written at all. Life's way to short to be serious all the time. But if the people are giving 1's because it is marketed to YA but contains not YA stuff, I need to know ahead of time. And then it is very beneficial to me.

Whew! Long comment!

Roger Sutton

The hard thing for reviewers is that one person's spoiler is another's basic plot detail--for hardcore fans, you can't say *anything* about Catching Fire, for example, aside from such fantalk as "Go. Read. Book. Now." That's not reviewing.


I agree with Roger. Each person and each book for that matter spoils differently. (I don't know if that makes sense.) There are some books that you can find out someone dies in it and it won't change the story, but there are some that the idea of someone dying is pinnacle to the story. I like on goodreads that you can check a little box that say contains spoilers and then it hides your review.
I think if you go looking for a lot of reviews of a book you are going to find spoilers.
Shannon the fact that you hate the little star system as an author is another reason it is hard for me to participate in the system. I find it hard to take something you or any author has created, and put a lot of time into, and degrade the work. I always think "who am I to say if you did it good or bad" I feel like it is subjective. As you have said many times, reading is a personal experience.


I can definitely see how GoodReads (and similar review site) is not a good place for authors to hang out ... but then again, didn't you say yourself (like a year ago) that reviews are really for the reader and not for the author?

I don't care for Amazon or B&N reviews because for something subjective like a book the ratings don't mean anything. However, I LOVE GoodReads because the ratings/reviews do having meaning because I have "friends" whose reading preferences I've come to know pretty well and so I have a better idea of how their like or dislike of a book might coincide or deviate from my interests. I know which friends have the same tastes as me, which ones are totally opposite, etc. I know who has reading preferences the same as me, who is different, who consistently over-rates, and who under-rates.

From GoodReads, I've found (and loved) books I previously didn't consider reading. I also have been turned off from books I was excited about when I heard from multiple sources about things they didn't like (which are things that I don't like in books).

It's got to be hard to be an author and see/read/hear people pick apart something you worked so hard on. But as a reader, I love ratings and reviews ... even the bad ones.

sally apokedak

Oh, Shannon, I find it hard to believe that anyone hates you, your books, or the way you smell. HA!

I was looking at my reviews the other day and realized I never reviewed Book of a Thousand Days or Goose Girl. Sometimes when I love a book so much, I have a hard time reviewing it--it's just too big of job to explain all the great things about it.

Even though I haven't reviewed them, I have given them away many times over. I order them several at a time so I always have some on hand to give out.

I have a Shannon Hale saying--"My favorite Shannon Hale book is the one I'm reading at the time." Because each time I pick up one of your books, I find you've surpassed yourself.

So who cares about the one star idjits on Amazon? They have no taste. Well, they have some taste, but it isn't very refined. You won't connect with everyone, and you probably shouldn't want to connect with everyone. If Nazi skinheads hate your work, for instance, that should make you feel good.


To solve the spoiler deal, I've started giving a big spoiler warning before I go into it. And I also post the spoilers in white font so that readers have to highlight the text to read it. It feels a little cheesy, but I hate to ruin the story for people who haven't read it.

Elizabeth Lefebvre

As to Spoilers, I try to avoid them completely. Even if you put the big words "SPOILER" your eye can wander down and see something that you did not want to know. So Spoilers are out with me!


The Yellowbelly interview was awesome!


I have found my goodreads.com reading list grow.

I like to avoid spoilers but I like to read the last page of books just o read it but then I do read the rest of the book.

With the star rating system..its my way to say yes I liked the book and recommend it and that to be its a book my friends should check out.

I'm excited for my next book by you to read.

emily h.

hey shannon!! i love your books, and if you read my comment could you tell me if you are ever thinking about coming 2 kentucky??? i would love 2 hear you spek about writing, beacuse i love 2 qrite, but i have all these ides swirling around in my head at the same time and dont know how to write them all down!! whenever i start on something i can never seem to finish!! im only 14, but i would still love 2 hear u talk or get your autograph!!! i love your writing and i think it is truly the most beautiful writing of modern day authors!! i have never read a book where people have been able 2 describe things the way u do and still keep it exciting!! i know kentucky is off the beaten path, but please tell me if you are!! thank you!!! :)

Je Reve

★★★★★ to this blog posting!
Okay, back to the non-sarcastic mumbo-jumbo...
Spoilers really tick me off. I also don't enjoy deducing things from books that aren't out yet with complimentary first chapters. Not to really blame you, Shannon, but it's pretty obvious that Rin XXXXXXXXXXXXXX.
(That was for the protection of other readers.)
Of course, this comes from a girl who can't read a non-agatha or Sir Arthur mystery without guessing whodunit. I am now just really excited for FB.


In response to Emily H: Hey! I'm 14 also. I love to write too and can also never get things finished. I must have at least fifty short stories and novels that have never been completed. I like writing poems, especially when I'm inspired by something. Anyway, just wanted to say that I know how you feel. Btw, Shannon, after you go to Kentucky, come to Houston, Tx!! :)


You signed my books tonight, and I just have to say how impressed I was with your patience with all of us. You made it personal for everyone.


I just want to say your last post was phenomenal. Thank you. Personally, I tend to ignore stars people give. Reading is a subjective business. I tend to look at reviews to see if there would be trouble spots in the book later on that I wouldn't feel comfortable reading.


It was nice to meet you (again) last night at your signing in Orem. I was the one who had been at the King's English, too. Thanks for signing all my books for my sister-in-laws. I'm excited to give the books to them. You're my favorite author and Austenland is one of my favorites (although I think River Secrets is my all time fav so far) so I thought I would pass them along to them. Thanks again!

Jessie Carty

I'm with everyone that you should avoid spoilers in reviews! I try not to read reviews, but instead take referrals from people I know. That being said, I used to write reviews for Amazon (with stars) and occasionally I write them for the lit mag Main Street Rag (without stars) and I prefer without the stars.

That being said I don't know how you would be able to quantify the sheer volume of reviews on Amazon if you didn't have a star system. I do wish they would allow you to do 3.5 and such instead of just 1-5 or maybe do something like rottentomatoes where you do it by percentages?

I don't know what the answer is but I'm happy with the one review of my chapbook on Good Reads even though it is a 4 :)


I am a book reviewer, and I've been reading your posts and comments with interest... I originally started my blog because I was so frustrated with trying to select books based upon other readers' 1-5 star system. Personally, I rate ten different aspects of each book; I've had many authors thank me for reviewing their books this way as it is "less confusing" than the star system. I like it, because I can acknowledge that an author's description and characters, for example, are spectacular, even if I felt the plot was cliche...etc.

Sarah Wiese

wow I never even realized that the professional five star ratings isn't a 1-5 type of rating! my entire life spent looking at book jackets and their reviews etc. have been a lie! there should be some kind of public statement made about this


It was so nice to meet you in person! Now that I have a signed book, I'll have proof that I actually spoke with you. My fellow Shannon Hale fans will be so impressed.

Julie - onetrooluff

1) *vigorously nodding in agreement with SpeedReader* This is exactly what I like about GoodReads. I take the star reviews for what they're worth - an opinion, but over time I get to know the reading tastes of a lot of my friends, whether they are similar or dissimilar to mine, and it can pique my interest in books I might not have picked up otherwise. (It's also funny that I just came here from GoodReads, having just read SpeedReader's review of TA&TH!)

2) I just finished TA&TH myself. Oh, man. I laughed, and I cried. I was inspired to bake a pie! (Cheddar Pear, in case you were wondering.) I used the last piece of the pie to nurse my sadness as I snorfled my way through the last half of the book. Man, it was really bad when I ran out of pie. Thanks so much for writing that book. Becky Jack just jumped right off the page for me, and I enjoyed the book immensely even though I cried harder than I've cried at anything other than Harry Potter 7!

3) I read the reviewing post from the other day, and your thoughtful comments really did alter the way I review a book now. I still write my gut reactions to it, like before, but I also try to look at it objectively to see if the author achieved their goals, etc. It really does give me a better perspective on the book. So thanks for that!

Have a great day!


Thanks for signing my books, even though I wasn't there! Q took them in for me, since I was at rehearsal. I appreciate it!


I'm going to echo many of the above comments to say, as a reader, I LOVE goodreads because it gives me a chance to see what my friends are reading and keep a list of things that look interesting. I know (as I think most do) that the star system is just opinion, but it offers me a place to tell what I love about the books I read and reccomend titles to friends. I also like to keep up with some authors who review books regularly. The one annoying thing, I think, is when people rate books they havn't actually read all the way through. I will not "star" a book I didn't read every word of...because how do I know? It does seem that some people get a kick out of being unpleasant - I hope you know that you have too many fans to pay attention to those who find you "smelly!" Ha!

Sondra Eklund

I started writing reviews because when I began working at a library, I read so many books, I forgot to tell my friends about all the great ones! So I write reviews to share good books with people.
I only review books I like, but I had to switch from a 5-star system to just giving a star for those I especially recommend. I was tired of explaining that I really like the books I only gave two stars to.

Jennifer  Lefevre

Shannon thanks so much for coming to that barnes and noble on the 26th it way cool that you go around and see your fans! plus i bought austinland that day i was unsure if i would like it and I LOVED IT so thanks!

Jennifer Leigh-Mustoe

I just wanted to comment on your high school reading list. My hb is a Soph and Jr English teacher and he rarely is forced to read classics from your list. His students in several classes have been listening to "The Crucible" and I think it's been a good experience. But he pulls books from all kinds of genres. He just wants his students to love to read. Maybe he isn't the norm, but most of his colleagues, I think, are sick of the classics-all-the-time regime as well. Just wanted to let ya know. JL-M, Spanish Fork, Utah


Hi um,
I absolutly love your books.. I've read them probably 4 times, every one. I was wondering if you plan to write another sequel to the books of Bayern, will you let the story continue? They are my favorite. I have to say Forest Born was amazing, I have to say!!!! Selia!!! I'm so glad you killed her off. I get so worked up when I read about her.=> She makes me so angry! My mama laughs at me!!

Heather Shulsen

I absolutely love your books and I just read "Book of a Thousand Days" as an outside reading assignment for my Honors English class. I'm looking for a topic to write my paper on but I've run into a few snags. I would really appreciate it if you could help me out. First, why was it such a big deal if a commoner fell in love with royalty? Was it unheard of in ancient times? And Dashti swore to serve her mistress...why did she HAVE to keep her word? When you love someone you can't have, how far is too far to get what you want??

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