Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Very First Review

I decided to look back at my very first review; the one I wrote that prompted the invitation to become a reviewer.

Oh dear. I guess I have learned a few things since then. Can you spot the big boo-boo?

*** My First Review***

I had the honor of reviewing Now That We've Found You by Marianne Arkins

Blurb: For three years, the memory of Sarah Kirkman's dead husband has kept other men at bay. Her heart only has room for her six-year-old daughter, Melinda. On a vacation to the Smithsonian, the Kirkmans run into Doctor Duncan MacPherson, a paleontologist who befriends her dinosaur-obsessed daughter. Sarah's attraction to Duncan is undeniable but pointless-- he must leave for his home in Scotland the very next morning. But Sarah has forgotten one important thing: Christmas really is for miracles.


My very first impression of Now That We've Found You came from the cover art. I started smiling immediately, and my mood lifted with positive anticipation. Sometimes the message from a cover is a good indication of what you are about to experience, sometimes not. I'm thrilled to say that this particular cover delivers the right message to the reader.

In this story there is a delightful child, Melinda, who exhibits the single-minded enthusiasm that six year-olds possess when they latch onto something that excites them; in this case, paleontology. Marianne captures that focus perfectly. I could "see" Melinda's personality, especially when she voiced her understanding of herbivores. That had me cracking a smile.

Melinda's acceptance of Dr. MacPherson flowed naturally and believably. The angst of guilt that the heroine, Sarah, deals with because of her attraction to the handsome Scottish doctor is not burdensome to the story. The conflict is delivered in just the right amount for the reader to understand Sarah as a person. Her dilemmas and choices could be our own. I liked the fact that at all times, Marianne remembers that Sarah is foremost a mother and handles her first kiss with Duncan with that in mind. The restrained passion resonated in that scene. It was quite hot!

The hero, Duncan MacPherson, is a yummy Scottish paleontologist guest speaking at the museum. I enjoyed the fact that he was written as a very male, caring man with a healthy dose of humor and yet acted like a ... quiet alpha. He knew he wanted Sarah, pursued her with classy and determined maneuvers and didn't fight making a commitment or admitting what he felt, as some alphas are wont to do.

The characters were a delight to watch as they fell in love. At no point did I feel this romance needed to be fleshed out more. Marianne tugged and stroked all the major emotional heartstrings that make this a must read for all romance readers who want an HEA that makes them feel good all over. Once you've read the sigh-inducing ending you'll realize Now That We've Found You delivers romance! I can attest to that.


Okay then. What did I do wrong in my first review? I did it more than once too. Ready?

I used the author's FIRST name! I used familiarity! Remember my earlier post, That Familiar Touch? Well, this is the perfect example. Bad, bad Xeranthemum. At least I didn't use synopsis, at least from the get go I talked about how the book affected me, so that was good. Perhaps that is why I was invited?

The other thing I've since learned is: Don't mention the cover art. Why? Because sometimes Ebook sites use the same exact cover over and over to denote a type of series or shorts or something they have in common. Many times the book covers have nothing on them in relation to what's in the actual book. Book says "hero's full mustache tickled her breast" and the book cover has a man totally denuded of body hair glistening with so much baby oil, I need sunglasses to cut the glare. I don't mention book covers any more.

I like to think that my reviews have become a bit more polished over the years but by no means are they perfect. I'm sure there is plenty of room for improvement and I hope doing this blog, and eventually having visiters, will help as we trade ideas, thoughts and formulas.

Have you looked at your own first review lately? How does it compare to how you do it now? I'd love to hear from you. ;-)


Lynne Roberts said...

Wow. I didn't spot any wrong moves in your first review--until you pointed them out, that is.

I don't review often, but I will keep in mind lessons learned here the next time I do.

Thank you.

Stormy said...

you are soooo right about not depending on the cover art. A prime example: Debra Glass, whom I love to read, has book entitled Death By Chocolate. The title elludes to the hero being African American. The cover model is sooooo not of the "chocolate" persuasion! Great book, though!!

Wendi Zwaduk said...

Hee hee. I know your pain. Funny how hindsight and a bit of friendly awareness opens our eyes.

I read a review where the reviewer TRASHED the cover art. Didn't match, wasn't realistic, etc. Then proceeded to say how much the actual story was loved. Author was justifiably irked.

Having been the recipient of a cover that is part of a line, I can understand the author's irritation. Especially if we have no control over our covers, we can't be held liable for misuse of s story by a less than stellar cover.

Oh, and I haven't looked at my very first review. I'm not sure where it is and think I'd be so embarrassed I'd ask to take it down. Plus, I'm Zorro. Someone else behind the mask. Muwhahahahahah

Sherry Gloag said...

I have loved all your articles on reviewing. It proves, as other have commented, that it's not a case of stringing a few words together and walking away.
I've read threads across the 'net where reviews have been castigated as worthless and nothing more than a writer's motive to gain attention. But then, if the review is a poor one - in that, I mean not well presented -, what positive attention would the reviewer garner from the authors?
For a while I felt disalusioned by the overall disreguard for the value of reviews, I can't help thinking that if reviews meant as little as some authors would have a believe, why do so muany publishers rely on them so heavily?
The impact of reviews and the part they play in books sales is diverse and on-going. If we, as reviewers, want authors' respect, short-changing them with a review 'ain't gonna gain us any kudos'.
I have read your posts over and over again and picked up more each time I read them.
Thank you for sharing.

Xeranthemum said...

Hello, Lynne!
Thanks for stopping bye!
::GRIN:: I'm glad you found my post useful.


Xeranthemum said...

Hey, Stormy!
Thanks for providing more evidence that book covers shouldn't be an element in a review for the very reason you encountered.

I'm happy you stopped by.

Xeranthemum said...

Hey there, Zorro tee hee

Thanks for letting reviewers know that most times authors have NO control over the covers. All the more reason to not make mention of that in the review.

Perhaps it would be better to write to the publishers directly?
If enough of them get notes from readers that they don't appreciate the disconnect between the author's description and what they choose to put on the cover, maybe they'll rethink their arrogance?

Us readers DO notice and we DO get annoyed. How can they not know this??


In any event,Thank you for stopping by!

Xeranthemum said...

Welcome, Sherry!
I loved your comment. And you've also hit upon the very reason I started this blog in the first place.

I believe reviews ARE an important tool and I have yet to find a place where weak reviews are addressed. It's easy to diss something but harder to DO something to try to fix it.

For reviewers that care about what they do and find joy in doing it is the reason why I started this blog.

And the fact that you have found pieces of it helpful is music to my lol

Thank You so much for sharing your thoughts; it means a lot to me.

Happy Friday to you, Sherry!

Stormy said...

Xer, there have been so many times I would have loved to send a snarky little note to whomever determines the covers for some books. I know cover artist don't have time (and shouldn't be expected) to read every book they cover but would it be sooo hard to send them basic notes on physical character descriptions and expect them to work within those parameters? I know authors are typically sent a form in which they can make suggestions for the cover. Why do this and then completely ignore the suggestions? I'm not an author (yet) but I know a few and I am an avid reader. I'll be the first to admit I will skim for attractive covers before I start reading blurbs. I've very likely missed out on some great books and some authors have missed on on some revenue because the cover looked like it had been painted by 2nd graders. Sorry for the rant...just a personal pet peeve. ((stepping down now)) :)