Celebrating My Worst Review Ever–Comment and Win a Free Book!

One of my favorite things about Thrillerfest was the point in the banquet when an award was given for the worst review of the year. Copy from each of the finalists’ hideous reviews was read, each progressively more bizarre, ranting and childish than the last. There were cheers, enthusiastic clapping and a trophe was given to the author who’d attracted the nuttiest, most personally insulting commentary on one of their releases. It was freeing. Inspiring. It was a bonding moment as we embraced the reality that some critics live to breach the line between reacting to a novel as a reader and calling attention to their own story as a frustrated human being who delights in publicly tearing apart other people’s creations (and often other people themselves).

My mission once I settled back home and got my life in order after being gone for the better part of two weeks, was to find my absolute worst review ever and own it out here on the blog. It was clear from my Thrillerfest experience that readers and writers alike would enjoy the exercise, and I’ve developed a new-found appreciation for how empowering it can be to study someone else’s exercise in showing the worst of himself while pointing a finger what he’s decided is the worst of you.

And thus, I give you this review of my first Atlanta Heroes novel, Because of a Boy:


This from a man (I’m assuming there’s a Y chromosome at work somewhere within this person’s DNA, after reading his list of “real” books and the copy from several more of his reviews) who freely admits having no understanding of romance in general, or category romance itself as a sub-genre targeted to a very a specific but loyal audience that purchases millions of books a year. A man who can’t express himself without dropping the f*** bomb every other sentence, but possesses a childish glee in mimicking other’s words at every turn (not just mine–read some of the other “romance” reviews and you’ll see I’m not his only kicking post, just his favorite), calling phrases his curse-riddled mind doesn’t understand “cliche,” as if anyone who does find the writing appealing should head straight back to elementary school to re-learn basic grammar (and, I’m assuming, the merits of substituting four-letter words for symbolism and metaphor).

Here are some of my favorites parts of his rant:

The fact that he says he might have found the light suspense plot appealing, if it weren’t for all the girly prattle about love and relationship mucking the whole thing up.

His vitriol for the softer aspects of this novel that have appealed to it’s loyal fans for years (this is a 2007 release, I believe, showing a 2009 Amazon re-release date for my UK version, that’s appalled so many people it’s been translated into four non-English languages at last count), while he screams f***ing b******t at the fact that this is supposed to be, in his mind, erotica for frustrated housewives who aren’t in touch with their  baser instincts, but where’s the f***ing sex in this book!!! He leads with his distress over each love scene fading to black. Clearly, he thumbed through looking for the “good” parts first.

The overt mention that, while thumbing for sex one must assume, he skimmed over the book’s subplot (an elaborate secondary story told by two additional points of view, which parallels the A story, reflecting back key themes and conflicts the antagonist must overcome). Yet he lectures us about how simple and stupid and ridiculous and too-quickly-resolved the principal characters’ journeys are.

His appreciation of his own disdain for the “heroes” I delighted in writing about in this book and the evolving, award-winning series (an extension of my previous, also-award-winning series written along the same vein). After all, this isn’t a “serious” novel where people are tortured and left to die and pooped on by their fellow man with no hope of redemption or recovery. I write about damaged people very much like myself and the folks I spend my everyday life with. People who’ve decided to overcome the cynicism and jaded world view they could have embraced, and have chosen instead to fight to become better human beings instead of making a life out of putting the worst parts of themselves on public display (say on a blog that seems intended more to shout about the owner’s literary brilliance, than the merits and failings of novels the owner’s clearly not capable of writing himself).

So, there you have it. My worst review ever. And I LOVE it. I couldn’t have dreamed up a more flawed, floundering mess of a character. And I couldn’t have found a more refreshing reminder of the positive and hopeful and healing aspects of category romance–traits so powerful in this story, some readers might naturally have difficulty reacting to it with anything other than anger and destruction.

Let me turn things over to comments by saying–I love readers and reviewers, whether they like my books or not. If you’re reading and buying books, you’re my hero! Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, and my stories (much  like category romance) aren’t for everyone. In fact, I’m one of those writers a reader typically either loves or hates. No middle ground. I’m used to the criticism and embrace the chance to always improve my next novel. But what makes this particular review the worst is that I suspect it wasn’t about the book at all. I see a lot of hatred here–for romance or category romance or happy endings or genre fiction or mass market contemporaries or whatever. And I get that the reviewer sees his hate as entertainment. There are a lot of bloggers out here who do, grasping for their share of attention by ripping apart whomever and whatever they think will get them new readers.

So here you go, whoever your name is. I’m sending all my readers over to you. What do you think the chances are they’ll be entertained enough to stay past this one glance, instead of coming back to my blog tomorrow???

Your thoughts are welcome in the comments here, readers and writers and (yes) reviewers alike! By all means, join the insanity ;o) In fact, I’ll give away a signed copy of Because of a Boy to two commenters–whether you like the book or not. Just please, this is a family show, so profanity will disqualify you from the giveaway.

P.S. Don’t forget that leaving a comment also puts you in the running for my Monthly Blog Contest  and a $20 Amazon Gift Certificate and even more signed books. Leave a comment in as many July blog posts as you like, for more chances to win ;o)

Because of a Boy (Super Romance)

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13 Responses to “Celebrating My Worst Review Ever–Comment and Win a Free Book!”

  1. lea says:

    First off, let me say that I have not read your books. As you acknowledged in this post, the romance genre is not for everyone. It isn’t really for me… so I cannot review your book(s). However, I can offer a review of this post, and my opinion is… BRILLIANT. I LOVE the idea of embracing bad reviews and exposing the reviewer for what they often are. It sounds amazingly empowering and I plan to use the notion in other areas of life as well. Did someone just cut you off in traffic and give you the one fingered salute? Well, that act probably says more about them than it does your driving! Thank you for providing me with, not only a coping mechanism for bad reviews, but a coping mechanism for every horse’s ass I encounter in life!

  2. Yes, embrace the bad review. Obviously you can’t get one if someone didn’t pay you money to publish your book first. This guys has got to be one of those who thinks they can easily write a better book. If they bothered to try, LOL!

    Don’t really understand why someone gets off on writing that hateful of a review. It’s more of an attack that a review.

    Good for you for owning ALL your reviews. It’s like when we clap for rejections at GRW, only on steroids.

    You don’t need to send me a book, Anna. I like your writing enough to spend money on it :)

    • Anna says:

      Thanks, Debbie ;o) We’ve got to embrace the craziness in our business and face it for what it is–bupkis and all. Nothign but good times ahead…

  3. Pat Cochran says:

    I have only two words as my review of “his review”: f___ing b______t!
    (BTW, Someone didn’t want me to say that! Just as I started to type the “f” into place, there was a huge rumble of thunder overhead and
    my computer blacked out. LOL! I must have been forgiven because when the computer re-started, there were my words and I continued on from there.) I must confess that these words are not usually in my grandmotherly vocabulary. I just felt if this person, who never gave a name – just initials, had any active brain cells present, this is what he would possibly understand!!

    Pat Cochran

  4. Pat Cochran says:


    My apologies!! I just re-read the text and see that you
    definitely stated no profanity! My bad, as my grandson
    would say!!

    Pat Cochran

  5. Jeanette Jackson says:

    I thought reviewers were supposed to be as impartial as possible. It sounds like he made up his mind to dislike the book before he read it just on the genre it is.

  6. L says:

    Though I haven’t read your book, Ms.Stefano, I can tell you that your worst review was written by my sister.

    I found your post interesting, though I hardly picture her as the type of person you have painted here.

  7. RobynL says:

    what is this reviewer looking for anyways? he keeps saying where is this and where is that? why does this or that have to be there. He should be commenting on what IS there and not what isn’t on many aspects. He has a chip on his shoulder about something other than the book itself. Good for you Anna not letting this hinder your writing.

  8. James Ross says:

    Hello Anna, although I have not yet read any of your books, I really enjoyed the summary of your review…and it is timely for me as I am in the beginning stages of writing my first novel…I can wait to read the reviews are incubating as I write.

    Thank you for sharing this review. I look forward to reading your work,


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