Today I got the first review of The Kindling from a total stranger--someone who didn't know I existed (and vice versa) until I started looking for reviewers. I researched a lot of blogs that specialize in reviewing middle grade books and sent out copies.
I'm not sure exactly what cliche I could best employ to describe what it's like to wait for the first reviews of one's book. It is nerve-wracking and exciting, full of hopeful anticipation mixed with moments of dread. There is really very little better than reading a positive review--reading someone who liked your work, got what you were trying to do, etc. And, it's very difficult to read a review written by someone who didn't like your book. Some authors simply won't read reviews because negative reviews can be paralyzing to them. I think maybe because of my theatre background, I'm used to taking criticism (doesn't mean I like it, though), and when someone writes a thoughtful critique (mean-spirited is something else) I feel like I can learn a lot even when it may sting a bit.
Over the years, I've come to appreciate a fair and honest reviewer--one who doesn't sugar-coat, but one who is honest without being harsh, points out flaws without being gratuitous. That is how an author can grow and get better.
But back to this review. Ms. Yingling is a librarian who specializes in middle grade books, so I definitely wanted her feedback. If you are interested, you can read the whole review here.
I cut out a few lines I particularly liked:
"Strengths: Funny, funny lines! Any book with the first line "Connor Del didn't mean to set anyone's gym shorts on fire" will be a popular book. I also thought that the world of magic was realistically and clearly defined. Using a school setting more than home worked well in this instance. The magical names and activities were all coherent and cohesive, which is a big plus, since so many magical realism books struggle to get this right. There is a nice blend of action and strategy. Very pleased . . . ."
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