Wednesday, September 12, 2007

What is a review?

I hesitate to post this, but I'm going to anyway because the truth of the matter is I'm actually not upset or angry or anything at all about the fact that I got a less-than-stellar review today. Julie Cohen posted a similar topic last week and so it's still sort of on my mind.

All About Romance gave Marriage at Circle M a D. And while yeah, I'm disappointed, I mean who wouldn't love to have an A, it's okay. Because what is a review, really? It's ONE PERSON'S OPINION.

Let's look at it this way. AAR also reviewed Hired By the Cowboy and gave it a lovely review and a B. But it was a different reviewer. Maybe my voice and style of writing is her thing. While clearly it wasn't for the reviewer I had this time. Hired's "word" in the review seemed to be "sweet"; for Marriage at Circle M it turned out to be "annoying". WHile the first reviewer had her doubts going in and ended up liking it a lot, this reviewer had higher hopes and didn't like it so much.

I don't actually think the quality of the story went down, so I think it's just a matter of different people liking different things.

Heck, I don't necessarily like books that are raved about. I couldn't stand The Bridges Of Madison County, and never got what all the fuss was about. I recently read a book that had loads of acclaim but that I just couldn't seem to believe. But thousands of others obviously did.

Not everyone has to like my books. That's why there are individual people and tastes. Just because this particular reviewer didn't like it doesn't mean others won't. And she took the time to read it and post a lengthy in-depth review without being nasty at all.

When it all comes down to it, I appreciate the fact that she did that.

What's your opinion of reviews???


  1. Donna,

    Certainly a review is one person's opinion, and I am glad you aren't letting one person's view diminish your own sense of accomplishment. In MY opinion, you wrote a lovely, heartfelt story.

    Though it has been a couple of weeks since I read Marriage at Circle M, I do remember the characters and their struggles quite well. AAR's reviewer described Mike and Grace as "annoying." My word for them would be "real." Why? Because they, like all of us real folks in the world, were defined by past experiences. Much as I would like, I cannot separate the pain and loss of my past from my present. No one can. Our life experiences shape us, challenge us, and that is what you showed your readers through Mike's belief that he was unworthy of love and Grace's conviction that she was no longer whole.

    As readers, we bring our own life experiences, our own beliefs, and indeed, whatever mood we happen to be in at the moment, to our reading experience. Today I read Jo Leigh's Kidnapped! It was a thrilling but difficult read for me because like the book's heroine, I am a functioning agoraphobic who also suffers from panic disorder.

    Real life isn't easy or simple. Our characters lives should reflect that, and yours did.

    As for Mike being "snappish," I found his attitude and behavior to be spot on. The men who love us want so desperately to fix things for us, to smooth our paths, and sometimes they bumble it a bit, but that's just them being them. As for Grace, I think she, like the rest of us gals, needed to prove to herself she was strong and capable on her own, before she could open up to Mike.

    All that to say, I loved the book, just as I loved Hired by the Cowboy, and I wouldn't have wanted you to change a thing!


  2. We all have AAR battlescars, Donna. When they hate you, they really hate you -- but it's a rite of passage and when they like you, they're really luke warm. Treasure your B, it's rarer than hen's teeth, believe me!

    Reviews are, of course, totally subjective and as Mary said, only one person's opinion. I'd say don't take it personally, but of course we all do. Those characters that are being trashed are people who are dear to us. Their pain is our pain.

    Of course, the writer's ultimate revenge is to put the object of loathing in a book. :) In fact, if I was a crime writer, I'd have a plot right now!

  3. Liz - I certainly don't feel alone in the battlescars thing. Maybe it's all the other great things going on for me right now, but what really surprised me was how it really didn't bother me. Otherwise I would have vented to my friends and ignored the review altogether! LOL

    And Mary....thank you SO much. I am so happy that you enjoyed the book, and loved Grace and Mike. Because when it comes right down to's the readers I don't want to disappoint. I think that's true of all of us and a lot of what keeps us striving to write better books...we feel the reader deserves our very best work.

    Thank you both for writing!

  4. Well I've never actually ever bought a book because of a review. And from the sounds of it, we're similar in reaction to things that are raved about... I tend to avoid them all together. So, "shrug"... I go by the story back cover most of the time. Sometimes the cover and sometimes because I've 'met' them online. :-) And I want to try them out.


  5. "Besides, she tired marriage once, and that was a spectacular failure; "

    This was apart of the reivew. Can you find the mistake?

    I'm going to be petty for you since I like your books.

  6. And see this is why you don't make fun. I mean to write review. lol

  7. Donna,
    Well, as you know, I received a 2 from a recent RT review and was crushed. I had received so many good reviews so was surprised to get this low one. Then I talked to a best-selling author friend of mine. She told me about all the bad reviews she's gotten from RT. She made me feel so much better and you did, too, with all your wisdom.

    Like Cole, I buy books regardless of their reviews and the same way with movies. So many times, I've loved movies that the reviewers tore apart. I think sometimes the reviewers are harder and more judgmental on the shorter category books. I don't think they get it that people like to read shorter books and get to their happy endings quicker than longer books. I read two other reviews recently at different sites where the reviewers complained about the books being too short, but both were exactly the right length for the lines they were published in.

    I haven't read this latest book of yours, but I like "annoying" characters because real people are annoying, but we still care deeply about them. But like you said, we can't expect to get only good reviews when everyone has different opinions and preferences in reading.

  8. LOL Mel...actually the title isn't exactly accurate either, but you know, I forgive typos as I make enough of them myself. I get several versions of "Hired By The Cowboy".

    Diane - you've got plenty other reviews that say your book is fab, so you listen to them, okay? LOL

  9. Good for you, Donna, in not taking it personally.

    That's a really hard thing to achieve (and something I haven't quite done yet!).