Friday, April 22, 2016

Reviews- Shuddering in Our Boots


After a Broadway show opens, everyone gathers in a restaurant not sure whether they are celebrating or about to attend a wake.  Why?  Because they’re waiting for the reviews. 

Authors are the same.  We nash our teeth waiting to see reviews that appear before our books are released.  Afterwards, we can’t help but glance at any that appear on Amazon, Goodreads, or in national publications.  If they are good, we happy dance and hope that everyone in the world sees the review.

But, what about the bad ones – and there will be some.  Do we hide away and hope no one reads them? Do we take them on? In my mind, we don’t do either.  We read them carefully to see what we can learn from them.  Our first reading of a bad review tells us which type it is: one carefully reasoned or one that is from left field that should be disregarded.

When my first book, Maze in Blue was published, most of the reviews were excellent. Two were not. One, by Dr. Don Noble, who reviews for NPR and Alabama Public Radio, praised a few things, but then pointed out flaws in the structure and styling of the book. His comments cut to the quick, but today, his review is my favorite. He taught me to avoid dumping and how to properly write the ending of a book – something no class had ever fully explained to me. Even though people continue to enjoy the book – reading it for fun rather than with a critical eye, I still cringe at the rookie mistake I made. The good thing is that because of his review, I’ll never make that mistake again.
And, the bad review? Someone gave me two stars on Amazon noting that in writing about Ann Arbor, Michigan, I’d made errors in where the hospital entrance was located and how one of the main roads ran. I thought about writing a response explaining that six to eight months after the book is set, the road was rerouted because the new dental school was built causing the hospital’s emergency entrance to be moved, but knew I shouldn’t. Happily, another reviewer, who gave the book five stars, took him on by noting that she was a professor’s daughter who lived in Ann Arbor at exactly the time the book was set and that I’d caught the locations and feeling of being on campus perfectly.  I chose to embrace her review and disregard his.

My new book, Should Have Played Poker: a Carrie Martin and the Mah Jongg Players Mystery, was released by Five Star on April 20.  Happily, at this point, all the reviews have been good. I know there will a few negative ones sometime in the future, but for now, I’m happy dancing so much that I’m going to engage in a little blatant self-promotion.  Forgive me in advance J:

“There are numerous plot threads being woven into this relatively short mystery, and yet all are neatly tied together by its stunning conclusion. … While the investigations remain the main focus driving the novel, added elements of romance and humor only enhance this thoroughly entertaining novel.  Carrie is a very sympathetic character, and despite her traumas she allows herself moments of playfulness and joy.  As much a legal thriller as a family drama, readers will find much to enjoy in this new series.” – Cynthia Chow – Kings River Life Magazine

“Should Have Played Poker has a fast-paced plot with short chapters, enjoyable characters, and an  It touches on issues of aging, family ties, corporate responsibility, and religious tolerance, and culminates in a surprise ending that makes Carrie question most everything she has ever believed in.” – Sharon Marchisello – Killer Nashville Book of the Day
abundance of red herrings.

“If you’re a maven of mah jongg and a fan of mysteries, you’ll find this easy-to-read, enjoyable, suspenseful, well-paced adventure belongs on your nightstand right between your good-luck tile and your playing schedule.  Judge Goldstein deftly immerses the reader in rich characters, cozy settings, complicated relationships, and intrigue.  As the characters come together, cross paths, discover clues, and unravel relationships, you’ll find yourself wringing your hands worried for Carrie’s safety, wondering who should she trust, and who is the kikenhai (dangerous tile) in the lot.”  - Scott D. Miller –Mahjong News

“This was a very enjoyable story.  …smoothly paced with enough action to keep me delving into all aspects of this intriguing mystery that I could not put down until I knew who the killer was. …With a loveable cast of characters, good dialogue and a feel good atmosphere, this was a terrific read and I hope there are more stories with Carrie and her friends.” – Dru Ann – dru’s book musings


  1. Yay, for all the great reviews, Debra! Well-deserved!

  2. Yay, for all the great reviews, Debra! Well-deserved!

  3. Just catching up and so delighted to read this, Debra. Congratulations. I'm sure many more excellent reviews are to come!