Saturday, March 24, 2018

Best Bet Mini Reviews


The subject this week is reviews, with a subtitle drawn from some children’s rhyme I never even heard of and which sounded unpleasant and disrespectful  to reviewers.

A review is that reader’s experience with the book. They bought the book (or agreed to accept an ARC) so they're entitled to their opinion.

I wrote my book, I told the story I wanted to tell, obviously I was content with it or I wouldn’t have pushed the ‘publish button’ on the ebook seller sites. I've moved on to my next book.

I appreciate people taking the time and energy to write reviews. I think in many cases the reviews can be helpful to other readers in deciding whether to try a book. They may love or hate some trope the first reviewer loved or hated. They may want to see what the 5 stars or the 1 star is all about. They may want to suss out if there’s a cliffhanger or a trigger. (I never write cliffhangers!!! Hopefully I don’t do triggers either.) Some reviews may be for a product totally unrelated to my book which somehow ended up attached to my book through the mysteries of ebook seller platforms. Some authors have been unfortunate in that a troll or an author who views everyone else as a rival has sent out his/her legions of fans to leave terrible reviews on their books.

I think the vast majority of reviewers - and especially the devoted book bloggers! - try very hard to give their honest opinion and feedback.

I don’t spend much if any time pondering reviews.

I don’t review books either except for one specific exception. Well ok, two.

When I wrote for the old Heroes & Heartbreakers blog, they wanted me to identify a few “Best Bet” scifi romances every month and write mini reviews. That was the ‘price’ of me being on their platform and spreading the scifi romance word. Fair enough, their platform, their rules! I transferred this ‘best bet’ activity to the Love in Panels blog when editor Suzanne Krohn from H&H decided to continue writing a romance-based blog after MacMillan shut down the old H&H.

I only talk about books which I personally enjoyed and can recommend. I review three from each month’s flood of new SFR releases, which I report on a factual basis weekly on my own blog. Here’s a sample report of New Releases New Releases in #SciFi and #Fantasy Romance for Wednesday March 21 .

I try to change the Best Bet titles up monthly, not to focus on just one series or author, and include a couple of well-known SFR authors (because many of the best release new books monthly these days, or so it seems) and hopefully a newcomer or author with fewer titles, whose book took and held my attention. I don’t give stars or any other rating.  I do a blend of plot hilite recaps, using snips of dialog or description I really liked, and remarks about what I enjoyed most. Maybe it was the feisty heroine, the use of an unusual setting, the hero’s determination or an unexpected plot twist that stood out (I don’t do spoilers). On rare occasions if something in the book bugged me enough, I might mention it. One title that I totally enjoyed last year had the hero calling the PhD heroine ‘honey’ and ‘sweetheart’ from the moment they met. Yeah, don’t EVER try condescending endearments with me. So I mentioned that but stressed how much I’d enjoyed the rest of the book.

Some authors who do wonderful worldbuilding, great characters and twisty plots are just too steamy for me, so I might mention that in one of these mini review ‘best bet’ columns. I like a certain amount of hot times in a book but there are readers who go for many more scenes of this type than I do, so I figure my statement won’t hurt the book’s chances.

Obviously in a best bets column I’m not going to discuss books I didn’t like. No one but me (and Amazon) will ever know how many I might have sampled that month to find the ones I do feature.

Another reason I don’t do any other type of review is that I read a book as an author. I can’t help but see pieces of the writer’s craft peeking through. I contemplate what I would have done with plot twists. I nod and say, oh yes, I see your foreshadowing. I see how you’re going to use those seven brothers the hero has to set up the series.

It doesn’t keep me from enjoying a good book! But I’m using a double lens if you will, and I’m not going to write a review.

The only other time I do a review is if there’s something special and I just really really want to talk about it. I’m doing one of those next week on Anne Bishop’s Lake Silence but that’s a rare thing for me, less than once a year.

I did do a revisit to Andre Norton’s Witch World series once for my own blog.

And that’s a wrap on this topic!



  1. I didn't know about your and Suzanne's move to Love in Panels! great tip :-)

    1. Yes, she's trying to build the site up with similar fare as H&H used to offer, which I love!