Tuesday, 24 April 2012
My comments on Reviews - also my review of Coming Home - MJ O'Shea
"...the way it was written, with such open hearted forgiveness was utterly beautiful..."
I have just finished a book. I couldn't put it down because it was so sweet and perfect and angsty and yummy and lovely (If a little on the long side!)
I would rate this a 4.5/5 and I only took the half off because I felt that a small plot device wasn't needed and I skim read that part... but i digress... So... I don't go onto Goodreads much. When I have a new release I like to go and see what my *regulars* think of my new book.
These regulars are people that have been with me since Oracle and aren't always my *friends* if that makes sense. They are the reviewers that comment on all my releases. They keep me grounded and I get a real feel for how a book has worked (or hasn't :-( as the case may be!).
As I have written on here before (Random thoughts on reviews, writing and Lord of the Rings...) my Goodreads reviews generally end up around a rating of 3.5 - 3.8 ish with a couple of my books averaging over four and a couple more averaging towards the 3!
I got to the point, you remember, where I took my reviews and learned as much as I can from them in the hopes it makes me a better writer. Of course receiving comments like *the romance was crap* or *DNF* is maybe less informing and more passionate *I hate this book* but you still learn. Maybe the romance wasn't as extended as it should be, maybe half the relationship was in my head... rofl... and as for the DNF, well, hell, I DNF quite a few books I pick up that other's rave over...so... all being equal, at the end of the day, I am more than happy with my little niche and my reviews. And boy do I crow when reviewers give me 4s and 5s... he he...
Which brings me nicely to Coming Home by MJ O'Shea (http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=2862&cPath=55_467). An author I have not read before (I don't think so anyway!).
Before I write this review which may seem at odds with other peoples there is a proviso. Something you should know about me is that I have very real experience of what bullying can do to a person. In fact I deal with it daily in my daughter who was bullied so badly, and for whom the education system let down entirely, that she is homeschooled. As such I read the blurb of this book and it intrigued me. A guy coming home who bullied our hero, who is now down on his luck and wants to stay somewhere to lick his wounds.
So I read, and I couldn't put the damn thing down, although I did skim read bits at the end, and I loved... Then I went to Goodreads and saw it was rated at under four... Okay so far so good- this is where I sit as an author and that isn't a bad thing.
Reading some of the reviews only highlighted how different we all read books. This book is loved and equally not loved.
The bullying is too easily forgiven is one criticism. I didn't think so. I would have maybe liked a more fiery confrontation but hell, the way it was written, with such open hearted forgiveness was utterly beautiful. And, don't forget, we have already learned that our hero is a kind big hearted guy, who despite being the only gay in the village has a happy (albeit lonely) life.
Our hero is painted in such a detailed way that when the bullying was confronted it would have been wrong to have our hero lambast and rant and generally follow the trope of staring moodily into space for chapter after chapter. He has a strong serenity to him that I adored.
So I feel differently than most - I wonder if that is because of life experiences. I want to really hurt the bullies who hurt my family. I think as a parent / sister / friend, that is what you would want to do. My daughter on the other hand has the kind of open heart that our hero has, and one day she may be able to forgive. We'll see...
Was the book too long? Yes. Definitely. And I would have lost one entire part of the story. Is it my place to say this? Hell no. I am a writer and by even suggesting things like this, I immediately open myself to comments on how Heart of Texas should have been a 10,000 word short story, or how Gallows Tree was too short and should have been a 150,000 super novel. I know this and it stops me commenting on books I read, the same as many other authors won't review books. We are not experts, but us writers are also readers and I know what I like. Also readers of RJ Scott books seem to like similar books to me (go figure!) and they may well pick this up on my recommendation. So I have to be careful I don't just dump reviews out for every book I read. Simply because I read a book a day more or less...
This is kind of rambly isn't it... At the end of the day what I am saying is that how we read a book that deals with such deep and serious subjects is, in my opinion, entirely dependant on our life experiences.
So given all of the above, I recommend this book, for lovers of angst and love and coffee.