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Book Reviews: GOOD BAD UGLY

So ready for Spring

I know when one writes a novel and puts it out there for the public to read, the writer is open to criticism, both negative and positive. I expect that. I've been writing and publishing long enough to have developed a tough skin. I've learned with my own books that for every negative review I get - I get ten glowing reviews. I'm not bragging, I'm just mighty proud. I've worked long and hard at my writing career. It's all about ups and downs. An author has to roll with the punches and know the public is not going to like every single project he or she puts out there. That's life.

I'm still growing as an author. Each time I start a project, I can tell I'm getting better as a writer, at plotting and characterization, at organizing material, being a better editor. Am I perfect? No way! But am I growing and willing to accept honest criticism? You bet!

My suggestion to anyone choosing a book is to take a few minutes before purchasing or downloading a free book and read the sample chapters offered by Amazon and many other publishers. Read the reviews if you want an indepth look at what the book is about. Example, my women's contemporary fiction, Vada Faith, now has 54 reviews. The last, a scathing review, gave an account of all the reader did not like about the book. Had the reader/reviewer taken the time to read the first three chapters offered free at Amazon they would have known the genre, the tone, the characters, storyline etc. The reader would have picked up on all the things he/she did not like about the book. Then the book could have been passed over. Sample chapters help fit reader to book. If it isn't a fit then don't buy or download free. Don't criticize simply because it doesn't fit a personal preference.

If mystery is a reader's genre of choice he/she cannot measure a women's fiction with the same yardstick. Often a women's fiction can't be measured against another women's fiction. Each story is different in its own way and usually discernible in those first free chapters. To really know if a particular book is fitted to one reader's preference, one has to look inside the book and read the reviews.

My women's fiction, Vada Faith, is a regional novel set in a small West Virginia town. It's peppered with two names for some of the characters. Vada Faith, Joy Ruth, and John "Wasper." Not all characters have two names. Some of the characters are a compilation of people I've known and loved. They came from my background, from who I am, having grown up in a small town in WV.  

If a reader doesn't view a book as humorous when many have said it's humorous, I can only say we all have a different perception of what is or isn't humorous. Same with what is or isn't romantic.

It's all subjective. I hope when you are setting off on the adventure of buying a new book, borrowing a book, or getting a book free, you will take the time to see if the book is something that fits your description of what makes up a good book. All of us are different, with different tastes, different expectations, and different views.

One bit of advice, f you don't like a book, stop reading it. Even if you are in the middle. If you are hating it, do yourself a favor and just quit. Don't feel obligated to read to the end and torture yourself (and others with a bad review!). Some bad reviews stem from a reader's need to finish a work. I quit doing that a long time ago. I give myself permission now to read only what I like and to quit anywhere in the story when it's over for me.

My first love is reading, my second is writing. I love when a reviewer gives me a positive or a negative review that is honest, to the point, and offers suggestions to make my work better. To just bash a piece with no helpful suggestions and for no reason is unnecessary and usually makes the reviewer look bad, not the author.

Good luck on your next reading adventure and I hope you'll leave a review, either positive or negative, and make it helpful. Blessings!  Here's to spring! And may this be our last ice, snowstorm here at my house in the country. Right now I feel as though I'm in the middle of a big fat snow globe! Hugs, Barb

Loved seeing this Dale Chihuly Glass Sculpture recently at Franklin Park Observatory, Columbus


  1. Great advice Barbara. Like you I try to take the good with the bad but there's some out there that's never satisfied and won't even give it a try. If I don't like one I lay it aside and go on to another. It's hard to please everyone. Congrats on your writing and accomplishments and your new books.

  2. You are right. If I don't like a book I won't finish it. It might be a great book just not for me.

  3. Appreciate both replies. I vowed not to leave bad reviews now that I have books out there and know how hurtful they can be. Don't think I ever did anyway! Now I make a concerted effort to be kind. Thanks so much for responding.

  4. I've put many books aside....the delete button on Kindle is a helpful tool! I have left reviews a few times but only on books I've enjoyed. I just can't go out there and say something bad about someone's work that they put heart and soul into. It may not be good..or atleast my cup of tea, but I'm not an author or a critic. Your books have always brought me smiles, tears and a good read!

  5. Ah Yaya you are precious. Actually all my readers are special to me. It's a work of the heart to write a book, spend such long hours creating, trying to perfect, etc. and then have it knocked down by a punch to the heart. Every book is not for everyone. I love books but there are a few I put aside. Blessings.

  6. What a thoughtful post. I've always thought that reviewing should offer the positives, which exist in everything, if only you're willing to see them. To dishonor the work of someone who has spent so many hours creating a story seems like such arrogance to me.


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