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2010: Ten Memorable Lines from Reviews of Cold Magic
At year’s end, many readers and reviewers list their Ten Best of the Year, or of the Category.

I don’t keep good enough track of my reading to write such a list, and furthermore I would be unlikely to do so because while I enjoy reading lists of what stuck with other readers over their year of reading, I would myself have a difficult time breaking things down that way. For one thing, I wouldn’t be able to bear the thought of the books that got left out.

However, this year I decided to do a list of Ten Memorable Lines from Reviews of Cold Magic.

I do read pretty much all my reviews (or at least, all those I can find). I may skip reading a review if it is clear to me that the reader/reviewer really is out to make a hash of one of my books in a way that will merely irk me: For someone with my personality, this usually means they have dropped in point-scoring sarcasm or any form of condescension or needs-a-bat cluelessness, and I have to admit if I am being perfectly honest that I have a long and tireless memory if I feel I have been egregiously insulted, especially by someone who clearly doesn’t know as much as s/he thinks s/he does and or is completely unable to separate his/her taste and views from "everyone ought to see things just exactly as I do." However, I hasten to add that such comments are few and far between.

And quite different in nature from a straight “I didn’t like this and here’s why” review which might depress me for as long as it takes me to gather my wounded pride up off the floor and get back to work (how long that takes depends on my overall mood and stress level at the time of reading), but which may reflect differences in taste or simply that the book didn’t work for that reader in ways that are completely legitimate for their reading of it.

That’s how it goes when you hand your precious book over to the world. Not everyone is going to like the book. Not everyone is required to. Also, sometimes those negative comments have truth to them. Live and learn, that’s what I say.

But I personally do need to know people are reading. Also, I get a sense of what is coming across in the narrative both by recurring complaints (yes, people, I know there is too much world-building and detail in all my books: but you should see the earlier drafts and then you would marvel at how much I cut!) and by aspects that are highlighted as the best part of any given story.

I feel it is useful to know what works as well as what doesn’t work, even if reading reviews also scares me: If someone loved one book, will they hate the next? But this is also the story of a writer’s life: You simply have to keep writing regardless of the internal fears and doubts.

There were many reviews of Cold Magic, some wonderfully squee-ful, some extremely positive, some interestingly mixed, and a couple in which the reviewer just did not like the book. With perhaps a couple of exceptions all the reviews were thoughtful, and many were downright insightful. I have not linked to them all even over the last five months, and I can’t imagine why you would want to read through a bunch of links anyway (although I may in 2011 attempt to make one huge link-tastic page on www.kateelliott.com) but there were many fabulous reviews not excerpted below that I truly appreciated and which warmed my stolid little heart.

However, here are Ten Memorable Lines from 2010 Reviews of Cold Magic:

1. Most succinctly negative:

Ugh, what a painful book!

2. Best use of caps:


3. Cleverest use of reference back to book in rating schema:

Rating: 5 saber-tooth tiger half-siblings that you never knew you had

4. Made me really laugh (and I mean that in a good way):

Halfway through and I am waiting for the kitchen sink to show up. (from goodreads)

5. Totally nails the academic angle:

Along with the personal journey of our heroine, the reader is basically immersed in a very fluidly changing culture that includes ideas about socio-economic divides, power and how it should be wielded, democratic representation, revolution, and the role of science and technology in a changing society.

6. Oh, dear.

It’s hard to maintain interest in a character that evokes little feeling, either positive or negative, and her insipid nature leaves the story feeling bland and uninspiring.

7a. And yet . . .

It was really the characters that made me wish the book would never end and for days after I finished Cold Magic I would eagerly reach for the book only to remember, with regret, that I had already finished it.

7b. Not to mention . . .

The banter will make you laugh out loud, even if you’re reading in public (which is the true test of these things). The characters will follow your around for days after you’ve finished the book, making you smile at the things you remember them saying and the things they might say if faced with your daily tribulations, they’re that three-dimensional. And clever. Did I mention that they’ll make you laugh?

8. For reading out of comfort zone:

I thought perhaps a 28 year old male just isn’t meant to connect with a young, female voice. This issue was exacerbated by the first person narrative. A reader must invest in the narrator. I just didn’t see myself doing so with Catherine Hassi Barahal. Fortunately I was wrong. Elliott’s delightful tale breached my cynicism and effortlessly won me over.

9. Fourth reading? This dude rocks!

I also found some paragraphs of the novel so powerful and emotional that even on their fourth recent reading, they still moved me a lot . . .

10. Okay, this may seem unfair because this reviewer listed Cold Magic as her favorite book of the year, but this comment so entirely and utterly encapsulates the effect I most want to achieve in a reader’s experience, that I have to list it as the most memorable line from any of the reviews I’ve received this year:

This is it! This is why we read! To get the sensations and feelings this book is making me feel!

I cannot begin to tell you how happy that line makes me. But -- OMG! -- what if she doesn’t like the next one? See, of the making of books and reviews there is no end.

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Hee! This is a great and positive way to look at the reviews of your books, and something for me to keep in mind when I finally get something in submission-worthy status. :)

Sort of related, in reading your Crossroads Trilogy (finally!), I oddly found myself thinking "I see what you did there!" every now and again...in a positive way, of course! Let's just say I read it from a writer's point of view and got a pretty decent grasp of how you built that trilogy up and how you let certain things unfold. I suppose you could call it studying up... ;)

I read Cold Magic (for the first time) today, actually!

Strangely, I've found I 'connect' more with each successive series you write. Crown of Stars was good and very well-written, but didn't quite click for me personally for some reason; it didn't pull me in. Crossroads did moreso, and Cold Magic more yet. (I haven't read Jaran, though I keep meaning to - it's on my list)

>I haven't read Jaran, though I keep meaning to

I find this rather amusing.

Well, three data points isn't enough for a reliable correlation, really. And I think it's entirely possible that my getting into the later series more has nothing to do with her writing changing, and more to do with ME changing :)

Oh, totally understand. I still have memories of you on the floor of the house in San Jose drawing dinosaurs while we had a writer's meeting. And Jaran was one of the manuscripts being reviewed.

The juxtaposition those images with the reality that you hadn't read the books yet was what was amusing.

Huh! I think you have me confused with someone else, actually. Though there have been times in my life when I've stretched out on the floor and drawn dinosaurs (several of them well into my 30s), I've never been in San Jose, nor been lucky enough to be in a writers' group with any of you :)

Yeah, I'm wondering who you might be being mistaken for, too, considering I was there at the time. You're definitely not my daughter. ;)

I really loved Cold Magic, and can't wait for the next one. But that seems to be the way of it with your books. (Don't cut too much world building and detail. That's one of the things I love about your books.)

My review is succinct: "Eagerly awaiting the next book in this series."

A great review! Thank you!

I'm honored that you included a line from my review here, though it also made me wince a bit and think 'that line could use some editing.' *sigh* (But I think that happens every time I read anything that I wrote, which why I alway try to avoid rereading my reviews ;)


That happens to me as soon as my books are published. I find things I wish I had changed.

Oh goody, I'm academic!

Thank you :)

You're only TRULY academic if you wear glasses. Right?

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