by Jennie Bentley
With a month to go until FATAL FIXER-UPPER hits stores everywhere—OK, a month and a day, but what’s 24 hours among friends?—word has started to get around.
Yesterday, for instance, I went to my local Barnes and Noble and bought their entire stock of Romantic Times Book Review magazines. (It’s not as bad as it sounds. They only had two, and I’m not sure what to do with the second. If it comes to that, I’m not entirely sure what to do with the first.)
The reason, of course, is that there’s a review in there. A review of my book. A—no kidding—4 ½ star review. Which is as good as it gets, from Romantic Times. (All right, so one of the stars could have been gold, but still, 4 ½ stars for a debut book is pretty darned impressive. Or so I’ve been told.) I counted (pitiful, I know) and of the seven 4 ½ star reviews of mysteries and thrillers in the November issue, the other six went to—wait for it—Michael Connolly, Jeffery Deaver, Reginald Hill, David Morrell, M.J. Rose and J.D. Robb. Some pretty exalted company there.
You can read the whole thing HERE, if you want. Don’t feel you have to, though. And just FYI, 4 ½ stars translates to FANTASTIC – Keeper, in their ratings guide. Yay, me!
So I’m pretty psyched right now. And what made it even sweeter, was that it came on the heels of another review, one that was 180 degrees the opposite. That one was from one of the Big Four—Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Booklist and Library Journal—and boy, did the anonymous reviewer hate my book. Enough that the attack felt almost personal. Kind of along the lines of, “whose high school boyfriend did I steal to receive this kind of treatment?”
In the interest of total disclosure, you can read it on this page, down toward the bottom, among the mass market paperback reviews. If you don’t care to—and I don’t blame you; I wish I hadn’t—let me just share that my favorite sentence was, in describing my protagonist, “she’s about as bright as her boyfriend’s crowbar.”
Funny thing is, they both read the same book. But where one thought the “first-rate” mystery was “unusually strong,” the other thought it had “no substance.” And where one mentioned the “bang-up, frightening surprise ending”, the other saw “predictable anticlimactic peril.” Where one thought the heroine was intelligent, the other thought she was dumb as a post. I could go on, but what would be the point?
So who’s right?
Hell, I don’t know. I’d like to think that one of them ‘got’ the book, and the other didn’t. Of course, I’m not exactly unbiased...
Do I care, though?
No, not really. I’d hate to think that someone would chose not to read the book based on the crappy review, when they might actually like it if they just gave it a try. On the other hand, I think I’d hate even more for someone to buy the book as a result of the glowing review, and then be disappointed. If you start at the bottom, there’s no way to go but up, but once you’ve disappointed someone, it’s awfully hard to get that trust back.
Anyway, that’s the view from Jennie’s Planet. Feel free to chime in with your own thoughts, on reviews, trust, or anything else that strikes your fancy.