I have my first review of Proof by Seduction–and it’s from Publisher’s Weekly! They say: “Historical romance fans will celebrate Milan’s powerhouse debut, which comes with a full complement of humor, characterization, plot and sheer gutsiness.”
It’s one of only four January Mass Market titles reviewed (there will be several more weeks of January mass markets reviewed, but four to six is the usual number reviewed–and there are a lot more than 24 mass market titles released in a month. A lot.)
And it is a starred review. A starred review. A starred review. I can repeat that a few times, with different emphasis to see if it makes you say “oooh!” more.
Now, up until this moment, I have always looked at the stars attached to the review, and assumed they were bestowing some special status. As a society we are culturally conditioned to think that stars are good. You get stars in Kindergarten when you’re generally obedient and intelligent; you get stars in your eyes when you’re happy. But looking at the list of Publisher’s Weekly Best Books, I notice that not all of their Best Books have stars, and not all of their starred reviews are named Best Books. Hmmm.
I also note that the PW review of my book contains a tiny criticism (“If too much psychoanalysis sometimes gets read into a single heated gaze, such freshman flaws barely distract from the joy of watching the characters develop amid delightful plot twists.”) and non-starred reviews sometimes have no criticism at all; whereas other starred reviews sometimes also contain criticism. I also also note that there have been books I could criticize that I adored and other books that I couldn’t point out one flaw of that I just didn’t like at all. “Flawless” and “enjoyable” are not the same thing.
A side note: Mr. Milan tells me I am constitutionally incapable of recognizing a good review unless it contains the words “immortal genius” (which none of them have yet, alas), and so maybe I should not probe too deeply. I also have a tendency to overanalyze… oh, just about everything.
Still. It makes me wonder: What the heck do those stars mean? They’re not the best books. They’re not the most flawless books. Are starred reviews in Publisher’s Weekly just indicative of… reviews that get stars? Non-starred reviews, presumably, are then books which have no stars upon thars. I’m suspicious. Is this really just some sort of Dr. Seussian-star-bellied-sneetch scheme?
Why, yes, readers. I think it is. But I’m still taking my star and hugging it close. Nice, pretty star!