Suggested by JM:
I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT think that reviewers are obligated to deliver a positive review just because they receive a free book. I think that undermines the whole point of book reviewing. Plus, as a book reviewer, I think the whole idea is a bit insulting. I spend just as much time reading and reviewing a book as a person who do it for the New York Times Book Review. Just because much fewer people read my blog does not mean expectations should be any different. Authors can't honestly say they expect newspapers and magazines to review their works positively because they got a free copy. I think the same goes for book bloggers - the professionals get compensated for their time with payment other than free books. We don't!
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?
That being said, I do try to review positively, whether I get a free book out of it or not. That doesn't mean I inflate my reviews, but I do try to find something positive in everything I read. If I didn't like it, I will be honest and I am not afraid to criticize a book. Sometimes I am even critical of books I like; if I think characters are flat or the writing isn't smooth, I will say so. But I try to offset that with things I did like about the book. That's why I use a rating system - I feel like it's a pretty good indication of how much I enjoyed the book. (Of course, I say this about finding the positive, and today is the day I happen to post my first solidly negative review.)
As far as disclaimers? I can understand why reviewers would choose to do that at this point. I haven't yet, but I have become incredibly picky about the books I will accept to review. I may come up with some sort of disclaimer, but for now, I'm going to leave things as is.