Welcome to my blog. I am not a very regular blogger, but I try to keep this site updated with news and information. If there's none of the above I may just share my random ruminations.

Monday, October 29, 2012

From the Sublime to the Ridiculous

I have been very lucky. The reviews so far received for TORN and for LIFE CLASS have been complimentary. My overall star rating is nearer to 5 than to 4.  That was until I made TORN free for a few days.

Now, I  understand that receiving bad reviews is a rite of passage, that making your book free is laying you open to this likelihood, and you have to take it on the chin.

So instead of creeping away wounded, I've decided to share it with the world.  But I've added another favourable review to counter-balance my 'stinker'.

Reader and Writer says:
Someone who gave this 5 stars mentioned the 'brutal language' at the beginning as setting the tone for the rest of the book, and I agree, it certainly does, but not in a good way. I'm no prude, far from it, but it annoys me when writers think the only way to create gritty characters and hard-bitten plots is to pepper their writing with expletives and ugliness. To me it just underlines the lack of creativity and ingenuity in the writing. Use swear words by all means, but understand they have far greater impact when used sparingly and appropriately.

The opening page is one big cliche - someone waking up with a hangover, regretting the night before, etc etc - is so, so unoriginal, neither do I want to be told about vomit. We know it happens. If you must describe a hangover, find something different to say about it. That's what creative writing means, for goodness sake.

Really sorry, some might enjoy this but it's not for me.


Fair enough.  Horses for courses. But what does someone else have to say? 

TORN pulled me into the story of Jess from the very first paragraph. The book is a wonderful piece of prose from a gifted author with a unique voice. It is a romance with a twist, a slice from the life of Jessica Avery. On the one hand, TORN is about a thirty-something single mom who escapes a violently abusive relationship and the hassles of a stressful job in London, yearning for peace and stability in the country.

But on a deeper level, TORN is about the effects of abuse, the lurching starts and stops, the choices of an abused woman who in many ways is broken as she searches for a new life and a proper home for her child, stumbling along the way.

Listen to the rhythm of Ms. Allan's prose as Jess speaks:
"'Tonight marks a fresh start. A new life. And I'm determined to get it right this time.' With the words-and all the underlying unspoken implications-she felt the up-swell of elation, the utter conviction that re-making her life would be easy."

Jess's quest is more than she bargained for, however, and she falls into the arms of one man, only to fall into the arms of another.

TORN chronicles Jess's coming of age, if you will, her growth as a person, and the novel's scenes--those with her friends and with her child, Rory, who during the course of the narrative, has milestones of his own--include her romantic relationships with men in quite detailed and beautifully written prose. In fact, the sex scenes are masterfully written. A tightly-written novel, all the scenes, including those in the bedroom, have a purpose: they move the story along and illuminate the characters, especially Jess.

Ms. Allan has created a very complex character in Jess, totally believable, one who surprised and, at times, angered this reader, and the novel centers around her growth. And the minor characters, Danny, James, Rory, Sean have their own special voice. For those who want a compelling romance a finely written story told with rich prose, TORN by British author, Gilli Allan, is a must read.



Carol Hedges said...

I think your 'bad' reviewer made one good point: 'it's not for me'. Fair enough.So long as they say that, fine. I can walk past some lovely shoe shops and say 'not for me'. It's when they criticise your work, give you 1 star, and aren't prepared to say, you may like it, I didn't, that I get cross. I had a lot of 'suspect' reviews of Spy Girl when the series launched - all seemed to compare it unfavourably with another similar series. Large rodent suspected. ie. a bad review WITH an agenda is a BAD review. The rest is just scenery.

Book Omnivore said...

How refreshing to see someone post their bad and good reviews. It's nice to see that you have the belief in your work to take your rejections on the chin. I look forward to reading your work!

Kudos from Fiona @ yabookcase.blogspot.co.uk/

Kimberly Menozzi said...

When I got my first one-star review, I celebrated. It was after putting my novella "Alternate Rialto" up for a free read, but didn't arrive until some time later. That book has had few reviews, but most of them have been three or four stars. That one star was definitely a rite of passage, because it showed me I could take it when someone trashed my work in public.

It stung a little, but I really feel it was a case of "Not my target audience" in the end, and that was fine with me.

Congrats on your openness with your "bad review". Now you can see - it's not so bad, is it? And hey - at least she admitted it just wasn't for her. Others will attack you personally - get ready for it!

Michelle Betham said...

Getting your first bad review most certainly IS a rite of passage, and I definitely know how it feels to receive one - in fact, I received a 1* review only this morning for one of my books, No Matter What. But, unlike your 'bad' review, this person didn't make the point that it just wasn't her kind of book, she just slated the book! But, you really do learn to take them on the chin because books are so subjective - one man's meat is another man's poison, after all. I really don't worry about them anymore, they just come with the territory. Remember, there are a lot of people out there who will love your work, never forget that! :)

Philip C James said...

And if you'd tried to handle the 'vomit' creatively, you'd probably have received a black mark for pretentiousness. You're never going to please all of the people or even the same person all of the time. At least it's clear it's one person's honest opinion and not a blanket condemnation. Others will see past that and may well be looking for that kind of gritty realism.

Gilli Allan said...

Thanks everyone. I'm certainly not letting it get me down. I'm celebrating. And I've armed myself for the personal attacks you mention, Kimberly. That should be interesting! Though it beggars belief why people do it. I suppose it's because they feel protected by the anonymity of the internet, but at the same time may be able to view their victim squirm. There have always been sadists around.

Anonymous said...

Each to their own, I say. There will always be someone who doesn't like your work but to me, writing what that person did is just like someone liking the sound of their own voice and expecting everyone else to agree. I think sometimes, people who write reviews on forums such as Amazon, get a bit too personal and pedantic with their opinions and fail to actually comment on the story itself. That review, in my opinion, is neither use nor ornament and a complete waste of that person's time, not to mention my time should I have read it on the Amazon.

I've seen some incredible personal attacks made in reviews and it always seems to be people who think they are so above the author in terms of intellect, that they can just write what they like and it will all be taken on board. We all need positive and constructive feedback otherwise we will never know where or if we go wrong, but I do think reviewers should be a little more graceful in their approach.

As for the language, I suggest this person doesn't read my book.

CJ x

Gilli Allan said...

Thanks Philip, I'm cool with it. And I am determined to sneak some creative vomit into my next book.
And thanks Crystal Jigsaw. I actually find it quite bizarre that people take time and trouble to write negative reviews full stop. As for the rest...!. Well, if nothing else it's a window onto someone else's mind. Always fascinating to a writer!

Sheryl said...

You can't please all of the people... You've certainly pleased a fair few, though, Gilli. Reviewers are entitled to their view. In my experience (and I certainly do it), potential readers will always turn to the other reviews if they see a negative one - and generally read all of them. It's a huge plus really! :) xx

Gilli Allan said...

Thanks Sheryl. Fingers crossed. gx

Barbara Elsborg said...

I hardly need to add my - don't worry about it - everyone likes different things. I've had some fantastic reviews and some where readers have hated what I've written. I've given one star reviews of books that just weren't for me. I'm always careful not to review in my genre and I'm also careful to make the point that it's just my opinion and say WHY the book didn't work for me. At least your reviewer had the courtesy to give you some feedback, it's the low stars with no comment that niggle me the most. I know a lot of sex isn't for everyone, but I write for erotic publishers so when readers say - too much sex - I just shake my head in bewilderment. Reviews are really for readers and not for us, though they are impossible to ignore.

Donna Carrick said...

It amazes me how people can trash someone else's life's work while hiding behind anonymity. At least these reviewers, whether they are honest or simply 'vandal reviewer' should have the courage to use their names.

You certainly could teach them courage, Gilli! Bravo!

Mariah said...

Hi, Gilli. I really liked your book, Torn. I just finished it up today, actually. I loved the characters in the story. The only bad part was the ending. I wan't ready for Danny and Jess's story to end. I actually came here looking for a sequel. Very well, written. Loved it!