I receive a lot of review books, but I have never once told lies about the book just because I got a free copy of it. However, some authors seem to feel that if they send you a copy of their book for free, you should give it a positive review.
Do you think reviewers are obligated to put up a good review of a book, even if they don’t like it? Have we come to a point where reviewers *need* to put up disclaimers to (hopefully) save themselves from being harassed by unhappy authors who get negative reviews?
Absolutely not! No, no and no.
I've heard some stories about authors getting upset over negative blog reviews and all I can say is- get over yourself. The last time I checked, I don't work for authors or publicists. If an author sends me a copy of a book for free, I'm obligated to review it- that's all. I'm not obligated to love it, or advertise their readings, or their other blog appearances, or their other books, or generally act as an amateur publicist or fan club president.
And if staying off the marketing hamster wheel means I don't get as many freebies as some people- fine. I didn't start my blog to go to work for marketers.
I've had situations where I felt that an author was standing over my shoulder as I read a book and monitoring me, and I've read books given to me for review that I've hated, and in both cases I think the less said the better. You can tell when I really disliked a book because I did the minimum on my blog, sometimes to the point of not discussing the book at all except to mention a blog tour or a guest post. (And I've stopped doing blog tours anyway.) Most of the time I try to find at least something nice to say about any book, solicited or not, but I'm not afraid to say I didn't like something. It's my blog, right?