REVIEWS – Do They Help, or Hinder?

Do reviews help or hinder a book’s chances of success?

The answer is not so simple as a yes or no. If I had to be succinct I would say reviews can both help and hinder. As a writer you hope that you have more positive reviews than negative. Much more. A negative review seems to sit a lot longer in a reader’s mind (and an author’s) than a positive one. The negative review has the capacity to sting.  It can dig deep into the soul if you let it, and, let’s face it, it’s hard to keep it out. The positive reviews lift you as if you’re a in an air balloon flying over a landscape of mountains and rivers and stunning green valleys. It makes you sing at the top of your voice. The kids look at each other asking what’s wrong with Mummy, she’s never this happy. But what we do know is that reviews are important, we really do need them. They are someone’s honest opinion of whether he or she liked the book, and most importantly, why.

Remember, our world thrives on free choice and free speech, so it is wise to keep an open mind.

Here is my 5-point list on: Why reviews are important not just to the writer but also to readers.

The first thing you need to know is that there are two types of reviews. The first is what is known as the “third party” review. This is the review of a stranger, a professional editor or reviewer from a printed or online periodical, blogger, or dedicated book review site. The second is the “first party” review. These are written by the readers. People you might or might not know, but people who love to read, who know what they want in a book, the people who freely give their opinion for no reward. Both types are important.

  1. A review is a recommendation. It’s as if a friend is letting you know whether this is a book they will enjoy and tells us a little more than the blurb on the back. It alerts the community of like-minded readers, spreading the word that there’s a book out that they’re likely going to enjoy. Or enjoy in part or not at all, whatever the case may be.
  2. A review is exposure. Readers can buy with confidence, especially if you, the reviewer is known in the community as giving a good and fair assessment.  You don’t have to be Einstein to write a good review. It’s your opinion, and the way you write a review showcases your own writing skills.
  3. A review is a critique. It’s information a writer can take home and improve upon, because that’s what writers want, to constantly improve their craft and a well-written review can do that. It can give a writer advice on how to improve their books.
  4. A review is an unwritten contract based on respect, understanding and admiration between the reader and the writer. A good reviewer will silently or verbally acknowledge the work, the time, and the blood, sweat and tears that the author put into creating the novel. In some cases that can be years. If there’s no understanding of this, the reviewer will have no respect and the review will lack real substance except perhaps to illicit sarcasm or humour. But when the reviewer acknowledges or honours the silent contract, the review will have merit beyond the critique, whether negative or positive.
  5. A review makes a book known, not just to another reader, but on a broader scale – to booksellers, librarians, and especially the pre-publication professional reviews that give booksellers the information they need to make decisions on how much stock to carry, and where in the store to display it, and believe it or not, even its position on the shelf.

Below are some examples of reviews I’ve received for my latest book, The Shadow, both third party and first. They cover the range of five star reviews down to one star.

The Shadow (Guardians of Time #4)

Oda Renate’s review – Five Stars – It was amazing – April 06, 2018

This book was perfection. Which is obvious because I read this LITERALLY all night (started it just before midnight, ended it around 5.30 in the morning). It was impossible to put down and sleep was not prioritized.

It was partly because I loved being back in this would, partly because it was THAT great.

I liked how this book (The Shadow) mentioned the setting – Australia – more and geographical places in Australia, yet it’s interesting how it’s not made a huge deal of. Probably because the author is Australian so why would she.

Also, I love how the cover FITS with the storyline. The plot-twist I did NOT see coming just as in the first three books. There weren’t many new characters but I did like the ones that were introduced. I loved the setting of the time they time travelled to 😀 😀 The conclusion was interesting how it was concluded yet at the same time left open to a 5th or even 6th book.

I really enjoyed that there were no explicit scenes. There was some subtle, I want to have sex cause I’m so happy, scenes, which I thought were fun. And it is a YA book so it was fun that that element was in there, it shows that the author respects YA readers.

The Shadow (Guardians of Time #4)

Rochelle’s review from Inside My Worlds Blog – Four Stars – I really liked it – May 03, 2018

“There is so much I want to say about this book, but I can’t because of spoilers! What I can say is that this is my favourite Guardians of Time book and I am so glad Marianne decided to self-publish it.

In The Shadow we pick up a week after the events that ended book 3 so this isn’t a book you can read without reading the others. We are introduced to the new leader of The Order – Jesilla – who is intent on seeking revenge for her mother and carrying on her legacy. Jesilla wasn’t just bad for the sake of being bad, but had a lot of depth and I actually really liked her.

I found Dillon much more lovable in this book as we got to see more of him and his true personality. He kind of just came across as a meat head before. It was heart breaking watching Ethan mourn. He has to go through a lot in this book!

All the characters we love – Arkarian, Matt, Isabel and the rest – are back, travelling through time and trying to save the world. There were lots of twists and turns and exciting surprises. I found this book to be the most romantic, and it had a very satisfying ending.

Fans of this series will definitely want to get their hands on a copy. You will not be disappointed. The Shadow was the much-needed ending to this series – although Marianne did leave room for more books if she wanted, and I wouldn’t mind! It was a highly enjoyable read. If you haven’t read this series and you like time travel, romance, good vs evil, and people with powers, you should start this series ASAP.”

The Shadow (Guardians of Time #4)

Allison Blanchard’s review – Five Stars – it was amazing – Apr 14, 2018

“Marianne Curley takes the reader on a beautiful journey back through the characters she created many years ago. We see all of our favorites: Ethan, Isabel, Arkarian (we know most people read just to see what our favorite blue-haired ageless mentor is doing), Matt, Dillon, Neriah, and many others. Marianne also brilliantly weaves in new characters that seem they have been there the whole time. While most continuation to series can leave the reader empty or wanting more, Marianne Curley successfully and seamlessly brings this world back to life and transports readers to another world where The Named and immortals are real and protect our world from the powers of chaos.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure if The Shadow would live up to the last three novels in this series, The Named, The Dark, and The Key, but it surpasses all of my highest expectations. This novel is true to the characters and to the story of The Named. Marianne Curley’s prose takes the reader on a roller coaster ride of emotion – from sorrow to hope to suspense to laughing out loud (Legit, I love that Ethan and the others refer to using their wings as “wing out.”) to absolute happiness. Readers new and old will not be disappointed by this novel. It is one of my absolute favorites and one I will read and read again.”

The Shadow (Guardians of Time #4)

Haylie’s review – Five Stars – it was amazing – Apr 23, 2018

“I loved this book. Loved getting to see the lives of the characters I came to love when reading the earlier books. I loved meeting new characters. I really liked Jesilla and I had hopes for her. I have a lot of clear memories of reading this series especially The Key. I have a habit of sometimes reading the last line of a story before I finish it and this never backfired on me like it did with The Key. I had to tell myself not to do that with this. I loved how we got to go the future this time that was an interesting twist. A character was still heartbroken at the end but a couple of characters were a lot happier then we last saw them by the end. I hope we get to see more of this universe.”

The Shadow (Guardians of Time #4)

Zuzana’s review – One Star – I did not like it – Apr 25, 2018

“It’s been more than a month since I finished this book and until today I abstained from rating it or writing a review because … honestly … I was not sure what to make of it. When Marianne asked me how I liked the book, I told her it was great fun, which it was – I never laughed out loud while reading a book and I say that as a big Discworld fan. The problem is I laughed when I should not have. And to be frank, this feels less like a sequel and more like a fanfiction, and not a very good one. Most of the characters are actually very out of their characters, and those who had little to no character at all (like Neriah) are just left that way while more attention is paid to the new characters.
I have a lot more problems with this book, but the characterization is certainly the biggest one and I do not want to look too harsh, especially when Marianne herself is such a wonderful, kind person. Let’s just hope her next book is better.”

The Shadow (Guardians of Time #4)

Bronzehunny – Five Stars – Worth the wait! – March 22, 2018

“I’ve been waiting for this Book for 12 years. It was worth the wait! I read the Guardians of time in High School and reread the series last year. I am so thankful that Marianne Curley persevered through her illness to bring this to the fans!!!! She’s an excellent descriptive story teller. She creates worlds writing worlds spanning different spaces in time and it’s utterly believable. The book was dramatic and gave good closure to the previous story lines. Her portrayal of the character Jesilla had me low- key rooting for the Order of Chaos ! The romance is a little flowery sweet at times but c’mon they’re soul – mates :).”


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