Saturday, September 12, 2009

Another review for Chancellor's Bride

BookUtopiaMom just gave The Chancellor's Bride 7 1/2 stars out of 10 over at Uniquely Pleasurable. Here's a snippet:

"Right away, the sensuality of the prose in this novel grabs the reader by the lapels and refuses to let go.....The brief prologue immerses you in both erotic and intelligent imagery, establishing a high standard for the rest of the story to meet. It continues in that vein throughout the novel, and in actuality, is probably one of its strongest assets. Even when I had questions and doubts about motivations, I could always rely on the author’s voice to compensate for it."

This is a bit of a mixed review, the kind that's extremely helpful to me, pointing out a lack of clarity regarding one character's motivations that I know has bothered a few other readers.

Just shows me that while I am certain that my characters' motivations and conflicts make sense, I need to work a little harder to convey those things to the reader, who is less well-acquainted with my world and its denizens than I am. And that I shouldn't rely so heavily on my voice to carry the reader past those points of doubt or confusion.

But I'm absolutely jazzed that despite the stated flaws, she still found it a "lush, seductive read", and would give other books by me a go. Now I just have to try to finish Collin and Harral's prequel (which will be short, I hope, though I know myself well enough to not promise that), or get another m/m(/f) to start calling to me. Because I did absolutely love writing this one.



MB (Leah) said...

Hmm.. that's a really good review even though her feelings about it weren't perfectly rah-rah. The points she didn't feel totally hot about were well explained though, which is good. Very nice!

kirsten saell said...

It was a really well-thought out review, and I so appreciate those. I think a rah-rah book is a rare enough thing--I mean, even Guy Gavriel Kay didn't knock my socks off with every book he wrote (just most of them, lol)--that my feelings aren't hurt by them at all.

The only review less helpful to an author (or a reader) than "This sucks," is "It's perfect!" :P

Cathy in AK said...

That is a solid review. Congrats!

The only review less helpful to an author (or a reader) than "This sucks," is "It's perfect!"

Man, no kidding. I don't have anything pubbed, but the same goes for contest scores. I need to know the whys or what good does it do me? My goal as a writer is to fix whatever might be broken, keep what works, and make things better the next time.

As a reader, reviews have to tell me the same thing--why is this perfect or sucky? Appreciation is subjective; I need back up for statements. A good reviewer will provide those. Which is why I don't/can't review and rely upon others ; )

kirsten saell said...

Well, I didn't agonize over how the healer threw her out of the story, since if she'd read my previous books she'd have known who the guy was and what his story was and the worldbuilding/history behind his character. And honestly, I can't clutter up every book I write with 3000 years of history and legend, either. If she wants to know more about him, she can go back and read his book, right? And if she'd read it first, it wouldn't have jarred her.

But the charcter motivation thing. I ended up explaining some of Harral's motivations to Leah in email because she didn't get them from the story. I thought I put enough hints and clues there, and I didn't want to be obvious because Harral himself didn't quite understand why he was behaving the way he was.

And maybe I did put just enough clues in, because BookUtopiaMom reached the right conclusion after the fact--she just wasn't sure how she got there. And that's the kicker. Did she construct those motivations in her own mind to rationalize why he acted and felt the way he did? Or did she subconsciously follow the bread crumbs I left?

It's a hard balance to strike when you have a character who's got a blind spot about himself.

So were the hints I left so subtle or so few that everyone will miss them, or be unable to put them together in a meaningful way? And further, will Harral's murky motivations bother every reader?

I suppose I shouldn't worry so much about it, because I've had a ton of really positive feedback on this book--but I do. That's what I'm like.

Cathy in AK said...

No, Kirsten, please don't give us 3,000 years of history and legend : ) I'm sure it's amazing stuff, (Tolkien anyone?)

It sounds like you included enough hints/clues/info to make most readers add them up and be satisfied. Your worrying about it, even with the positive reviews, means you recognize what readers want. Which is a good thing : )

M. A. said...

Congratulations on the review, Kirsten. It is a GOOD review and it is a HELPFUL review. Can't ask for more than that.

I think on-line reviewers have a rough gig at times. A lot of reviewers haven't the skills needed to properly review and critique a book. Reviews either read, "Great book!" or "Good book!" or "Okay read" or "Do not finish!"

When it comes to good reviewing, honesty is the best policy, but it is not easy (and, sometimes, it is downright thankless.)

As an author you are already ahead in the game because you are willing to accept critique, good and not so good, with an open mind. I'm shocked that so many authors develop a "Diva complex" and dismiss any less than great critique their work receives. They take the attitude, "Well my books sell so they must be good and this *insert epitaph* doesn't know what s/he's talking about." I love hearing what's "wrong" (in a constructive, helpful explanation) as much as I love hearing what's "right."