As you gain attention in the technology community you will get asked to review books and products from time to time.  In doing so you are going to find that not everything that you are asked to review will be something you believe is useful or agree with the author.  I have found that being honest with the person who asked for the review is the best thing that you can do for both yourself and them.  Contact them and explain your reservations and ask if they still want you to publish the review.  While this doesn’t bring to the public what the problems are you aren’t falsely talking up the product or book.  At the very least the person who made the request will respect your honesty and will probably look to you in the future.  If you are lucky you will get an company or author who is willing to allow you to publish the review and leave a comment as to their view or how they will address your concerns.

Now if I am using a product or book that I have purchased on my own the situation changes some.  At this point I feel it is my right to be honest and completely open with the community at large.  If it is helpful scream it from the rooftops.  If, on the other hand, it has serious defects be fair with your criticism.  There are usually some aspects of the product that are admirable.  Be sure to give credit where it is due.  I usually frame failures as things that need improvement.  Remember, someone put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into the work and you wouldn’t want someone ripping your efforts apart.  If you are constructive everyone wins in the end.  Consumers will know what they are in for if they make a purchase and the author has feedback to improve their next endeavor.

In the honest and fair with your reviews you will find that more review requests will come your way.  You will also see the community turning to you for your opinion and advice.