Do you believe the Amazon book reviews?

I was browsing my reader when I came upon the following post: I abandoned a book last night.  It got me thinking. I had to agree with the writer that life is basically too short and too busy to devote precious time to reading books that don’t please us. When I was young and studying the arts, it was a challenge to unravel the intent of the author while being led through hundreds of pages of description or character refinement. But not now. Now I want to get to the point as soon as possible. I don’t want to know about a character’s eating habits or clothes unless they are relevant to the story. But I also hate abandoning a book half way.

And that brings me to a small problem I’m having at the moment. It springs from my character. I’m a spendthrift. I love getting a bargain and I can’t resist when Amazon offers me what appears to be a reasonably good read for nothing. I subscribe to a newsletter with daily bargain books and free reads. Every day the letter arrives in my inbox and I quickly browse through it, clicking on any books that sound interesting. I know it’s a marketing ploy, so I always read the reviews and ratings before deciding whether to get the book. (I have a kindle, so I’m reading Amazon reviews). Over the last year or so, I’ve got a number of highly readable books in this way, many of them non-fiction.

However, I’m finding that the rating system is not always reliable. After reading some reviews, I can’t help thinking, “Are we reading the same book?” People rave over some books and I find them riddled with grammatical mistakes and (I’m thinking of one in particular) characters whose names and behaviour make me think I’m reading a third grade novel – something which was NOT mentioned in the blurb or the reviews. In that particular novel, all the characters had names like Kimmy, Joanie and Andy. Enough already! The sad thing was that the story itself was well thought out with a plot twist at the end that was very satisfying. At least I got to the end of that one!

One of the books I abandoned was THE SIMPLE TRUTH: BP’s Macondo Blowout by J. A. Turley. It was supposed to be a fascinating fictional account of what might have happened to cause the blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. If you’re an engineer – maybe – and you live for a blow-by-blow account of drilling an oil well. Not even the fictional characters could resurrect this book for me!

Do you download free books from Amazon or Barnes and Noble? Do you find them worth reading? What books are you reading at the moment? And what books would you recommend? I’m dying to hear your comments.