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Island Life, Word Birds & Process #17

The other day I got my first 2* review. (Like many of them often are, it’s not entirely about the story or even the writing & therefore vaguely amusing.) That said, no writer wants them but in a way, they keep us grounded. Can’t please all of the people & so forth…

I never used to review books – not in detail. Whenever I enjoyed one, I star-rated it on Amazon & added a few lines. Once I began receiving ARCs, if I loved one, I made a proper effort. (It’s a privilege to be given a book for free – not an entitlement.)

Being published changes things – you realise how important reviews actually are. Not least in Amazon Land where ratings are God. (I keep my views on the politics of this to myself since I have no power to change anything.) Over the months, from publication deal for Ghostbird to release date & onward, I’ve made friends with many terrific writers on Twitter & Facebook. The reciprocal nature of the support network on social media has encouraged me to review good books in more detail.

I know very quickly if a book is for me or not, often after the first paragraph. As I’m fairly choosy, I’m rarely disappointed. In the event I am, I put it down to experience & move on. If I dislike a book I don’t review it. ‘Playing nicely’ is my online mantra & the view that ‘bad reviews are useful’ is one I strongly disagree with. Bad reviews can break vulnerable writers & where Amazon is concerned, really do affect ratings.

Currently, I’m reading Virginia Woolf in Manhattan by Maggie Gee. It was published two years ago to mixed criticism. (The hardback edition has a pretty dust-jacket reminiscent of the style Vanessa Bell’s adopted to illustrate her sister’s books.) To a degree, I accept that the premise of the book (Mrs Woolf returning from the dead & hanging out with a 21st century novelist in New York) is a colossal conceit. As a life-long admirer of Virginia Woolf I dislike any liberties being taken with her memory, but I have to say, I’m thoroughly enjoying this book.

And I intend saying so.