The Chicks are so pleased to host prolific, acclaimed and all-around-awesome author Marilyn Levinson, a.k.a. Allison Brook, to the coop today. CHECKED OUT FOR MURDER, the latest in her Haunted Library series, was released to fantastic reviews. Read on as she reviews, well, reviews.
Some Thoughts About Reviews
Two weeks ago, CHECKED OUT FOR MURDER, the fourth book in my Haunted Library series, was released. I was swamped with promotion in the form of Facebook parties, a virtual book tour, author’s chats, and blog visits. I’m happy to say that my book has received many wonderful reviews. Most mentioned loving my characters, that the identity of the murderer was a total surprise, and several said they enjoyed the book even though they hadn’t read the previous books in the series. I loved being told I’d succeeded in writing a book that so many were enjoying.
Then there were the other kind of reviews. Few in number but impossible to forget. I tell myself that not everyone is going to like my books. For one thing, some people don’t like reading mysteries. Or mysteries that include a ghost. After all, I don’t like every mystery that’s published so why should anyone else.
Except sometimes a reader has complaints about a book of mine that don’t make sense. One reader took me to task to say the Clover Ridge Library, with its wide variety of programs and events, isn’t realistic. “No library offers that many programs.” Wrong, dear reader. My real library offers a similar variety of programs and events. Another reader complained that I spend too much time talking about the meals that Carrie, my sleuth, eats out with her boyfriend or BFF. But isn’t food a popular cozy topic?
Why does my sleuth get involved in murder investigations when it might put her in danger? Why does she get upset if her boyfriend’s out of town too much? A few don’t like the way Carrie relates to a parent in a particular situation. After exchanging emails with a few readers, I realized that sometimes my characters’ behavior strikes a chord.
Reminding me that when it came to family relationships, readers may respond to a situation because of their own history.
The thing about reviews is there’s not much we can do about the ones we feel are unfair and/or downright inaccurate. We’re advised never to respond to unfavorable reviews. In fact, one successful writer friend advises, never to read them. And let’s not forget the trolls who use reviews to vent their vitriol, making someone’s poor book its punching bag.
Once when I was feeling frustrated about a few less than stellar reviews I decided to check out the ratings of a few very popular novelists whose work I read and admire. Their reviews were in the thousands, and sure enough there were a few twos and ones. I read a few of those ones and twos reviews. “Contrived.” “I’m disappointed.” Reminding me once again that not everyone likes every book.
As a dear friend and popular children’s book author once told me we all have different tastes, which is why there are so many flavors of ice cream.
Dear readers, do you read reviews? Are their certain reviewers you follow? Please share!
A former Spanish teacher, Marilyn Levinson writes mysteries, romantic suspense, and novels for kids. Her books have received many accolades. As Allison Brook she writes the Haunted Library series. DEATH OVERDUE, the first in the series, was an Agatha nominee for Best Contemporary Novel in 2018. Other mysteries include the Golden Age of Mystery Book Club series and the Twin Lakes series. Marilyn lives on Long Island, where many of her books take place.
About BOOKED FOR MURDER
Daphne Marriott strolls into Clover Ridge and informs librarian Carrie Singleton that she’s a psychic. But had she foreseen what fate awaited her, Daphne would have steered clear of the quaint Connecticut town. Evelyn, the library ghost, tells Carrie that there’s more to Daphne than she lets on.
The mysterious woman grew up in Clover Ridge with her no-good dad, who apparently met his end at the hands of Daphne’s brother, Billy. Still, Daphne proves a welcome distraction when Carrie’s overbearing mother hits town. Mom’s much younger husband, Tom, is in a movie that’s lensing locally, and she’s there to keep an eye on him: Tom’s costar, sultry Ilana Reingold, is also his ex-fiancée, and there’s no denying the chemistry is still there. Soon after mingling with the moviemakers at a meet-and-greet, Daphne is found dead.
Carrie and Evelyn investigate, assisted by bushy-tailed library cat Smoky Joe. But the suspect list could overflow the library shelves. Has Billy killed another relative? Is their long-missing mother involved? Or Daphne’s mean ex-husband? Carrie’s sure she knows who committed the crime, but can she bind together the clues before the culprit Dewey-decimates the town?
Twitter: @MarilynLevinson; @AllisonBrookML