"Will this cause an author distress?" is an unimportant consideration, or should be, to a reviewer, a reader, or a website, in relation to a review. The author is, by the act of offering a book, a story, or any other written/created work for the perusal of the public, no longer entitled to the protection of "that hurts my feelings."
I post here my very thoughts spoken by another:
<blockquote>"It's now very common to hear people say, "I'm rather offended by that", as if that gives them certain rights. It's no more than a whine. It has no meaning, it has no purpose, it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. 'I'm offended by that.' Well, so fucking what?" —Stephen Fry</blockquote>
You, by writing something intended for public consumption, are agreeing that the public is entitled to judge that thing. By their own standards. Whatever those standards may be. The public then has the privilege (right, in the case of the USA) to pass on that opinion AS AN OPINION to any and all persons they can convince to listen to them.
An Italian tenor named Guido Nazzo (horrible name even in Italy) came to the USA and sang in many regional opera companies' productions. He made it to New York, despite his very modest gifts, and here he encountered a reviewer of his era named George Jean Nathan who said of one of his performances, "Guido Nazzo is nazzo guido," and completely ruined the man's career. Never, ever again after that could he appear on a stage without some wag repeating this knock.
And it was, and is, perfectly legal for a CRITIC (a reviewer, in the case of Goodreads), to pen such an inevitable and memorable, yet cruel, line.
If the authorities, private business or public official, veer over the legal line into making value judgments about what kind of criticism you're willing to accept about any given work of PUBLIC art's creator, then YES MA'AM you are engaging in censorship and you are doing so either in inexcusable ignorance or disingenuous purposefulness.
There aren't other options.
Vile people will always find a way to be vile. Whatever avenues of expression I can close down to them, I want to close down to them. There is a difference between not liking what someone says and forbidding them to say it. The best, most socially useful way to silence someone is to point to what they theirownselves have said, or done, and shout at them...embarrassment, shame, contumely are more instructive than disappearing someone's thoughts.
Life is hard for the sensitive. I realize not everyone can deal with the rough-and-tumble of free speech and argument. That's unfortunate. But no one makes a person stand up and be noticed. If you choose to do that, accept the consequences. Otherwise, sit down and use your other means of participation, like voting for or buying from those whose views match most closely your own.
This works in commerce as well. Your patronage is your vote. I won't buy an Orson Scott Card book because he's a public homophobe. Not one dime of my money will go to support him or the people who publish his books, or the people who made his book into a movie. Others make their own choices. But, and this is crucial, I go the next step and write shaming reviews of his books, pointing out that his revolting "moral" stance ruins the pleasures (such as they are) of his writing, and by purchasing his books the buyer implicitly supports his desire to take away civil rights from a group of people he dislikes. I don't ever support that, even though I'd love to make exceptions for some groups.
I believe, with all my being, that you stand up for what you say believe or you lie down for your dirt nap. What I don't condemn, I condone; and I can't live with passive condoning of what I see as wrong. My only avenue of expression is here in cyberspace. I take my self-imposed responsibility to live up to my principles very seriously. So, wherever someone's right to be a public nuisance is infringed, I have to complain loudly about it, point to the infringer, and say "SHAME SHAME SHAME" because, one day, they'll get around to silencing me.
I won't make it easy on 'em. Which, I've learned over the years, doesn't make me easy for others to deal with. Ah me, that's a shame, but there it is.
EDITED because I hit "SAVE" before I was done!