The Perfect Bad Review

So, I recently got a 2 star review of Wildflower Crown on Goodreads. The person said that they couldn’t finish the book and found it entirely not suited to their tastes. I was a little bummed that she didn’t like it, but I actually wasn’t upset because of how nicely she worded the review.

I was really glad to get this review, even though it wasn’t good, because it can actually help people decide if they want to read my book or not. Rather than saying “This book is terrible, don’t read it, my eyes were bleeding” or any nonsense like that, she just pointed out where she thought the book needed work and what she didn’t like about it. She was also very polite about it.

When writing a bad review, keep in mind that you’re commenting on something a person made, and that person has feelings. You don’t have to lie or anything, but try to think of what is constructive and could help the writer/other potential readers. If you hated every single thing about the book, you can say that, but word your review as you would if you were telling the author your opinion in person. Or over Skype, at the very least.

Before you publish your work you have to be prepared for bad reviews, even if they are just hateful nonsense, because not everyone is going to like your book. I steer far away from what I consider to be purple prose when I write, and this person thought my book was too simple. And that’s fine. If they didn’t like it, they’re allowed not to and I bare them no ill will. Another person emailed me to say she couldn’t finish my book because she really hated third person POV. You know what? I can’t help that. My book is third person POV and that isn’t going to change, and neither will her tastes. I don’t aim to write a book that everyone will love, I just aim to write a book that I would enjoy reading.

My Bookshelf: Deep Fried and Pickled

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Title: Deep Fried and Pickled

Series: The Rachael O’Brien Chronicles, Book #1

Author: Paisley Ray

Genre: Historical Fiction & Romance

Amazon Summary:
“It’s ’86, the era of Pop Rocks, Jelly shoes, and big hair bands. Rachael O’Brien’s freshman plan seems simple: Attend a southern college away from her hometown of Canton, Ohio, earn a degree, party, and meet cute guys—hopefully acing the latter two.

But being threatened by a jealous She-Devil, avoiding the advances of a thirty-something redneck, and discovering an art fraud scheme mess with her “to do” list. On top of her troubles at school, Rachael finds herself forging a new relationship with her emotionally shaken father after Mom abandons the family to pursue a psychic calling.

Bad decision-making, law-bending behavior, and surprise romances make freshman year challenging in Paisley Ray’s DEEP FRIED AND PICKLED quick-witted, south-of-the-Mason-Dixon romp.”

Cheers:

  • I really loved the characters, Macy especially.
  • It captured the feeling of going to college really well. I felt like I want to go back to college and live in the dorms (and considering I just graduated, the fresh horror of the dorms should have been enough to stop that feeling).
  • I liked that there was so much going on, what with her mom leaving and so much drama at school plus the art stuff.

Jeers:

  • I think that there should have been a little more focus on the crazy stalker thing at the end. I just personally thought it was amazing twist, but then it was over almost as soon as it started.
  • Personally, I wasn’t as invested in the art thief story line, but that’s just because I don’t really care about art. If I found out some big scandal like that had happened in my hometown I’d just shrug, so that’s kinda what I did in the story, but I did like the action and drama that went along with it.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! The author (who was really friendly, by the way) offered this book in exchange for an honest review and said that a lot of older women liked the story (as in, the women who had been young during the time this book is set in) but being 21 I think that this book is really good for anyone who is college-aged. Basically, if you’re worried about starting college, nothing is going to be as bad as Rachel’s first year.

Shelled and Shucked, book three in the series, is free right now on Amazon through the 27th, so snag it now while it’s hot!

Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Fried-Pickled-Rachael-OBrien-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B00AABHU70

Author’s blog: http://www.heypaisleyray.com/

An Author’s Meltdown

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So I’ve posted before on how to handle bad reviews and multiple times I have mentioned that an author should never respond to a review unless the reader is asking a genuine question (such as when is book 2 coming out). For those of you who missed it, there was a significant meltdown on Goodreads a few days ago. (Sorry I’ve been late about posting it, but my own book was just released and I am now working two jobs.)

The author went back and deleted his comments but I have the link to an archived page. I’ll provide the best snapshots then link to it below so you can see for yourself this hot holy mess. This is mostly for entertainment purposes since I don’t know of anyone who would react so badly and needs to be warned against it.

This was just…so unnecessarily wordy and pretentious. I just did not enjoy it at all. Which makes me sad because the summary says it’s for fans of Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and World of Warcraft. Aka three of my favorite things. So how did I loathe this so entirely from page one? I don’t know.
-Reviewer

Sorry that my book evoked such a horrible response… I’m an indie author. I work over 100 hours a week to get my books to succeed so that I don’t have to be a slave anymore. This review is not good for my business, so unless your desire is to ruin my dreams, it would mean a great deal if you could remove this review from my work and forget about it. But if it’s your desire to hurt me financially and ruin my business, then it’s understandable why you would post such a harmful review
-Author

The book has a number of good reviews so far so obviously plenty of people enjoy it, I just wasn’t one of them… I hardly think one review by a single person who is in no way affiliated with any company or big name blogs is going to ruin you financially or otherwise…I think we both know being an author is going to come with positive and negative attention… I personally did not like the story, it wasn’t for me… My one review is not going to sink your life’s work. If you are only here to police your book, only allowing good things to be said about it, I think that says more about you than the reviewer… I’m not going to remove my review because that would be a lie. I read it, I did not enjoy it, I’m within my rights to say so.
-Reviewer

I’m not here to “police” Goodreads…. Leaving a 1 star review on a book says much more about what kind of person does such a thing, and then attacks it for being “pretentious,” which is an erroneous statement that is defamation at best…. I’m happy I could be your Ego’s stepping stone… I’m just always amazed that someone would go out of their way to slander someone’s work like this. [Goodreads] is like Yelp, where essentially the only people that use it for negative reviews are those that have nothing better going on in their lives… I would’ve rather you got your money back than curse my book with your toxic opinion of it because it’s “in your rights to do so.” Do you have empathy? …Or do you just look at other people like they’re automatons that you can slander as though your actions don’t manifest consequences? …400,000 children go missing each year in the US alone. Do you know where they’re going? Do you know who’s behind it? Do you know why the media is silent about it? Do you know how much a person risks to confront the evil that’s running amok in this world?…
-Author

Alright, a minor break. WTF is he bringing up kidnapping for????

For all the people that observe this exchange, when you leave a negative review on someone’s work, you are potentially driving away a person that could have had their life changed for the better by that work. For someone to leave such a toxic review on a book that contains so much gnosis, that people had to die in order to learn in the past, is an utter disgrace to the human condition… So again, by all means, leave the review up if you feel like it’s the moral thing to do, if you must have it on your Goodreads profile so people can see how relevant your low opinion of “The Tale of Onora” is. The review mocks the reviewer, not the book….
-Author

You do realize that every author in the entire world has had their work negatively reviewed, right? Like literally all of them. The best writers in the entire world have had their books torn apart on a much more public platform than Goodreads. Why do you think you are above that? Why is your work above criticism when others aren’t?
-Reviewer

Then other people caught sight of this exchange and started chiming in. Obviously, a lot of them were against the author’s behavior.

And all of you who are taking [reviewer]’s side, what you’re doing in the bigger picture is waging war on the consciousness of humanity. The end… What bothers me is when people that operated at a low level of consciousness defame the work of people that are trying to help humanity, and no one helps humanity better than artists…. You’re immoral for defending this 1 star review. What is wrong with your POISONED WORLDVIEW where you cannot understand the damage that [a 1 star review] does???
-Author

Um, okay. He’s like literally saying that he’s God’s gift to humanity.

There aren’t any sides, [author]. I’m not trying to fight with you or defame your work. I just simply, on my own, did not enjoy the book… Maybe, like you said, I’m not at a high enough level of…intellect or consciousness or whatever else to understand it the way you meant it to be read…. I’m just a reader. That still doesn’t change the fact that you don’t need to come on here and threaten me over it… No one would have even noticed this review if it hadn’t been turned into this giant argument over nothing.
-Reviewer

The reviewer feels threatened but is still staying calm. She’s not doing anything to escalate this.

You know what it feels like to… see someone write that about you? Wow. No shame. All of you that have commented on this thread are EXACTLY what is wrong with this world, and EXACTLY what is ENABLING what is wrong with this world by CONDONING it… I hope you contemplate what it means to tear someone’s work down on a public forum and have the cognitive dissonance to believe it’s anything other than bullying. You’re unraised.
-Author

Talk about cognitive dissonance.

This continues for some time, continuing to say how immoral giving a one star review is while others chime in to agree with “WTF” to the author.

What I stand for, what [my book] stands for, and what the people that read it on every continent represent is SELF-EVIDENT and needs NO defense. What you stand for is all that is IMMORAL, HARMFUL, and WRONG.
-Author

So there you go. The archive only lasts till page 2 of the comments, so I don’t know if he posted anymore because all his comments have been deleted.

Kids, if you’re confused, always avoid engaging with readers. Even if someone leaves a one star review saying “John Doe is a bag of dicks and I used his book to wipe my ass” you do not reply. You flag it and report it to Amazon/Goodreads and they’ll take it down if it’s pointlessly hateful like that. (Also, readers usually avoid reviews like that when looking for pros and cons of the book before buying.)

Archived link: http://archive.is/rFgtE#selection-5187.0-5187.216

My Bookshelf: Lola and the Boy Next Door

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Title: Lola and the Boy Next Door

Author: Stephanie Perkins

Genre: Young Adult/Romance

Amazon Summary:
“Lola Nolan is a budding costume designer, and for her, the more outrageous, sparkly, and fun the outfit, the better. And everything is pretty perfect in her life (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the negihborhood. When Cricket, a gifted inventor, steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.”

Jeers:

  • There was very little sympathy for Lola’s birth parents. People fall on hard times, it happens, and not everyone addicted to drugs is a terrible person.
  • I hated how long things dragged on with Max (the hot rocker boyfriend).
  • I think school is a much bigger deal in young people’s lives but she took away from that in order to force St. Clair and Anna in at the movie theater rather than just having standalone books.
  • The gift Cricket gives her at the end is like beyond what anyone could accomplish and is setting impossibly high standards (okay so I’m a little jealous but whatever).

Cheers:

  • I thought that the story was wonderfully 3D and I liked all the characters.
  • I loved Cricket, though I have no idea why he was actually into Lola.
  • It was a very sweet story and I enjoyed reading it.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes. I’d say read Anna and the French Kiss first, since the setting of Paris is way cooler than San Francisco (in my opinion) but all three books can be read in whatever order and you won’t be that confused. It’s really sweet and really captures the confusion of youth.

Amazon link:

http://www.amazon.com/Lola-Next-Door-Stephanie-Perkins/dp/0142422010/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top?ie=UTF8

My Bookshelf: The Enterprise of Death

Title: The Enterprise of Death

Author: Jesse Bullington

Genre: Fantasy/Historical Fiction

Amazon Summery:
“As the witch-pyres of the Spanish Inquisition blanket Renaissance Europe in a moral haze, a young African slave finds herself the unwilling apprentice of an ancient necromancer. Unfortunately, quitting his company proves even more hazardous than remaining his pupil when she is afflicted with a terrible curse. Yet salvation may lie in a mysterious tome her tutor has hidden somewhere on the war-torn continent.

She sets out on a seemingly impossible journey to find the book, never suspecting her fate is tied to three strangers: the artist Niklaus Manuel Deutsch, the alchemist Dr. Paracelsus, and a gun-slinging Dutch mercenary. As Manuel paints her macabre story on canvas, plank, and church wall, the young apprentice becomes increasingly aware that death might be the least of her concerns.”

Jeers:

  • The start was a bit slow and like all historical fiction I had trouble with all the names.

Cheers:

  • Everything about this book was brilliant.
  • The characters were wonderful.
  • The plot didn’t drag on even though it was a long book.
  • The magic was very well done.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes, to everyone! Disclaimer though, there are some weird bits people might have a problem with, like dead lesbian sex and murder and all that. However, I still loved it. It’s now one of my favorite books and I can’t wait to read the rest of the author’s novels.

Amazon link:

http://www.amazon.com/Enterprise-Death-Jesse-Bullington/dp/0316087343

Why I Don’t Like Review Groups

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So my book came out in September and it only have eleven reviews so I figured I’d join a review group. I looked around and found one on Goodreads that would get me two reviews in return for me reviewing two books. I was like alright, seems legit, let’s do it.

I signed up and contacted my first author whose book I was reviewing. I started reading it and I immediately hated the book. It was awful. It was the purplest of prose and it was completely predictable. I couldn’t finish it but I still had to give a review. The rules of the group state that you have to give a three star review (or up) otherwise you have to contact the moderator of the group before posting a 2 star (or lower) review.

If I can’t finish a book because it’s not of interest to me then I won’t rate it, but if I can’t finish it because of bad writing then I feel like the readability of the book is part of what I’m rating and that I am qualified to post my opinion. I know that some people feel differently and think that you can only really rate a book if you finish it but a good ending doesn’t redeem a terrible plot and life is too short to waste it on terrible books.

I believe that that book deserved two stars. The author spent way too much time adding description to the point that some of the sentences no longer made sense. It completely distracted from the actual story and there were a lot of other minor problems I saw as well. However, I didn’t want to contact the moderator and possibly have my book removed from the review circle because someone else wrote a bad book, but I couldn’t rate it what I honestly thought it was worth.

I think that people should always rate books honestly. If people rated Kiss of The Fey with 5 stars across the board I’d think “well it’s perfect make my next book just like it” even if they thought it needed improvement but weren’t willing to tell me. In reality, I think Kiss of The Fey probably ranks around 3.5-4.2. A good story, but not amazing. (I’m not saying don’t buy it, only that my next book will be even better!) Without releasing a second edition and rewriting the whole thing I can’t improve it, but having read the three star reviews I know how I should go forward with my next novels to make them a 4.0 & up.

I didn’t want to rate the book dishonestly, but I didn’t think I should have to justify my opinion. In the end, I gave it three stars. I don’t feel good about it, but I know that going forward I can’t participate in these kinds of swaps again. I won’t take the review down after the group is done because that wouldn’t be fair to the author, but I will be putting it on my “would not recommend” list on Goodreads.

Just so that you know, I will always be honest with you guys and I will never post a book review to this blog that I don’t fully believe. I may lie about my affinity for chickens, there’s no telling there, but in the case of this book review group I had no way of knowing that this would happen and can only prevent it from happening again in the future.

My Bookshelf: Love, Remember Me

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Title: Love, Remember Me

Author: Bertrice Small

Genre: Erotica/ Historical Romance

Amazon Summary:
“Lovely Nyssa Wyndham, as fair and proud as her mother Blaze, is lady-in-waiting to Henry VIII’s fourth wife.

Scandalizing all of England, Henry has his marriage annulled, for the queen cannot meet the bawdy desires of the insatiable king. Henry seeks a spirited, lusty new wife—and eyes the beautiful Nyssa. But in a land rife with conspiracy and rebellion, there are those in secret power determined to thwart Henry’s intentions. A drugged Nyssa awakens in the arms of the notorious rake Varian de Winter. With her virtue destroyed, the outraged king orders them to wed.

Handsome—and soon smitten—Varian de Winter dares to conquer his spitfire bride. But the intrigues and dark side of the court intrude upon their brief happiness as Nyssa is trapped in a devious plot and witness to the deadly wrath of Henry Tudor. Suddenly, jealousy and revenge grow bloodthirsty, and all that Nyssa holds dear is in dire jeopardy.”

Jeers:

  • Alright, so the summary is a bit misleading. It says “Varian dares to conquer his spitfire bride” but he does absolutely no conquering. He wins her over with little things and any good husband would do to make his wife happy, so the plot isn’t really how I’d imagined it.
  • It focused way more on the nonsense of the court than the actual romance between Nyssa and Varian. It sort of glosses over that. One second she hates him, the next she is giggling and blushing at him, and then you skip a few months and they’re remodeling their old house and getting along quite well, then skip ahead a few more months and “oh, I guess I love him.”
  • You know how in some romance books when the main characters get together you can’t help but smile and cheer them on? Nothing in this book evoked my emotions like that.
  • At times, the descriptions were a bit much, but I think the genre is known for that. No, I didn’t need to read two pages of “we went to Hamfordshire, then Lampshadeshire, then Hobbitland, and then onwards to York!” but I got through it alright.

Cheers:

  • It was very well written.
  • If you like historical romances, this is probably the book for you. Very historical. Lots of names, lots of guessing who the hell they were actually talking about.
  • It was interesting, if not in the way I suspected. It was a little more scheming Game of Thrones-esq plotting (with less murder) and a little less flat-out romance.
  • Varian is clever but I honestly couldn’t tell you if I actually liked him or if I just really liked his name.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes, but only if you are fully aware that this isn’t just a romance. Had I wanted something to read on the beach that would make me smile and daydream about handsome knights, this would not be the book to read. However, it was still enjoyable, and despite feeling misled I’ll be checking out more of Small’s books (mostly because I already bought them for $0.01 off of Amazon).

Amazon link:

http://www.amazon.com/Love-Remember-Me-Bertrice-Small-ebook/dp/B0086741FE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1428273889&sr=8-1&keywords=love+remember+me

Additional note of less importance:
So I bought some of Small’s books because she died, actually. A blogger I follow recommended her books when posting about her death, so I thought I’d check them out. The blogger mentioned that Small wrote risqué sex scenes years ago of the same caliber of 50 Shades of Grey (that is now being applauded for being the first mainstream BDSM book when it clearly wasn’t). I do admit to buying the books and being interested in whatever historical fiction kink Small would come up with, but this book was very vanilla. They call a penis “manroot” and spanking is mentioned only once but only as a joke. So we’ll see if her next book lives up to this reputation.

My Bookshelf: Tales of The Madman Underground

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Title: Tales of The Madman Underground

Author: John Barnes

Genre: Young Adult/Historical Fiction

Amazon Summary:

“September 1973: The beginning of Karl Shoemaker’s senior year in stifling Lightsburg, Ohio. For years, Karl’s been part of “the Madman Underground”- kids forced to attend group therapy during school. Karl has decided that he is going to get out of the Madman Underground for good. He is going to act-and be-Normal. But Normal, of course, is relative. Karl has two after-school jobs, one dead father, one seriously unhinged drunk mother . . . and a huge attitude. Welcome to a gritty, uncensored rollercoaster ride, narrated by the singular Karl Shoemaker.”

Jeers (possible spoilers):

  • I did not want Darla and Karl to end up together. I don’t know if that’s even what happened, but Darla is fucked up and I didn’t like her.
  • There were a lot of people and I sometimes got confused on who some of the less central characters were.

Cheers:

  • Literally everything else.
  • The writing was good. The characterization was good. The plot was good.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes. I loved this book so much that I let a friend borrow it. She then kept it in her trunk for 4 months and it ruined it. It was a signed copy. I didn’t read it since then because it’s in shit condition, but I finally did and I’m glad I did because I forgot how much I loved it. (But if anyone wants to know why I have trust issues and won’t let people borrow my books, this is why.)

Amazon link:

 http://www.amazon.com/Tales-Madman-Underground-John-Barnes/dp/0142417025

My Bookshelf: Godless

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Title: Godless

Author: Pete Hautman

Genre: Young Adult

Amazon Summary:

“Fed up with his parents’ boring old religion, agnostic-going-on-atheist Jason Bock invents a new god — the town’s water tower. He recruits an unlikely group of worshippers: his snail-farming best friend, Shin, cute-as-a-button (whatever that means) Magda Price, and the violent and unpredictable Henry Stagg. As their religion grows, it takes on a life of its own. While Jason struggles to keep the faith pure, Shin obsesses over writing their bible, and the explosive Henry schemes to make the new faith even more exciting — and dangerous.
When the Chutengodians hold their first ceremony high atop the dome of the water tower, things quickly go from merely dangerous to terrifying and deadly. Jason soon realizes that inventing a religion is a lot easier than controlling it, but control it he must, before his creation destroys both his friends and himself.”

Jeers:

  • Basically nothing, other than I didn’t like how shitty things went for Jason.

Cheers:

  • I really love this book. I loved it when I first read it and it’s just as good rereading it. I connect with it deeply.
  • It’s written well. You really feel like you’re there, even if it’s set in the summer time and you’re reading in your house than ran out of propane and is not currently being heated.
  • Jason is a great character. Well-rounded and realistic.
  • Just every part of it is fantastic. I’m sure that theists as a whole are probably less amused with it, but as an atheist, it was easy to relate to and funny.

Would I recommend it?:
YES! Not really much more to say. I love this book and want everyone else to love it.

Amazon link:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0030VVOHO/ref=cm_cr_ryp_prd_ttl_sol_0

Dealing With a Bad Review

Some people will really hate your book.

Some people will really hate your book,

So today, I got a three star review. That might not seem so bad, but the review had almost nothing positive to say. I’m in no way trying to call that reviewer out or focus on the review itself, only to call attention to the fact that it’s hard to deal with a bad review, especially when you may disagree what the person said.

For instance, if they say, “Bob’s sister was Mary, not Jane! That’s a serious consistency error!” you’re not allowed to show them to page 58 where you introduce Jane and Mary as Bob’s sisters, plural, and throttle them until they take back your two-star rating. It doesn’t work like that.

People will find creative reasons why they didn't like your book.

and they’ll find creative reasons for why they hate it.

In a perfect world, people would only read books they liked, but unfortunately that doesn’t happen. People will read your book and not like it. It’s inevitable. They’ll read your book because they liked your cover then complain that they don’t like the genre. They’ll read it and hate it and speed through it just to finish and then complain that your story felt rushed. The only way past is to just get over it.

There will always be critics.

There will always be critics,

Harry Potter has tons of bad reviews. 50 Shades of Grey has tons of good reviews. One review either way will not make or break your story. Some people just aren’t going to like your story. It will be too sexy for them or too fantasy or your character’s name will remind them of their ex. Whatever it is, it’s not a big deal. They aren’t your target audience.

You will always have fans, though.

but you will always have fans, too.

First, you need to remind yourself: You wrote a book. That’s a big accomplishment, so good on you. At least you wrote it and got it out there.

Next, ignore the bad reviews. Look at all the nice ones you’ve gotten. Focus on the positive, not the negative. Every time a review is even slightly critical, I think about the one fan I have who requested to buy my book before it was published and has nothing but good things to say about it.

Your fans will always have something nice to say.

They’re the ones you’re writing for,

Lastly, remember that you can always take it back. If your book gets only bad reviews, maybe it isn’t ready for the world. You can take it down, do some serious rewriting, and then release it as a second edition. All the reviews, good or bad, will be wiped clean. You can have a fresh start.

So just move right past the bad stuff.

so just move right past the bad stuff.

How do you handle a bad review?