Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Kirkus Review

I just received my first Kirkus Review- the world's toughest book critics. For those of you that don’t know – a Kirkus Review is one of the most important reviews an author receives. It can truly make or break your career.

I had just dropped my son off at pre-school and was taking this rare free moment to get a cup of coffee in downtown Hood River before I headed back home to delve into writing book 2 when I opened my email and saw that Kirkus Review had sent me my review.

I couldn’t decide if I even wanted to open the email. All my insecurities as a writer flooded my mind. The fact that when I entered fifth grade I was reading on a 1st grade level – the fact that even now I struggle with words every day – the fact that I was nuts as a dyslexic to even think I could write a book.

My coffee arrived, I took a long sip, and opened the email. My eyes started flooding with tears even before I started reading the first word. I was so scared they would rip my story to shreds. But as I started reading, I started breathing. They LIKED it! The review isn’t completely glowing but I am THRILLED with it for two reasons: (1) they gave me hope that I have potential to make The Ancient Realm a great series, and (2) they gave me outstanding feedback on just how to do that. I’m not sure many authors use reviews as learning tools, but why not? If we are strong enough to accept constructive criticism, we have enormous amount of potential to make things better. One of my coaches, Maylon Hanold told me once, “The idea is that you can always make good be better and make better become your best and your best can get even better.”

Most authors edit their reviews to only reflect the positives, but I am honored to share both the good and the bad with all of you:
Kirkus Review:
Nature acts as a secret source of magic and mayhem for the young protagonist in Bahn’s debut novel. At the start of the book, 11-year-old Agnes Adelaide Fordyce leads a rather average, uneventful life. Having lost her mother at an early age, she lives with her father and twin older brothers in a remote fishing village in Nova Scotia. The amount of masculine influence in her life causes her to develop a tomboyish personality, but in spite of her active lifestyle and severe dislike of dresses, she still finds tales of princesses and castles appealing. Not only does this make her more relatable to a broader spectrum of young readers – from the prissiest of girls to the most adventurous of boys – it also puts her in the perfect state of mind when she encounters Octavia, a babysitter who is more than meets the eye. Octavia invites her to become Princess of the Bering Sea, one of the Guardians of the Ancient Realm responsible for protecting the natural world. As Agnes soon finds out, though, the greatest threat to the Earth comes from power-mad kings within the Ancient Realm itself. She finds this out remarkably soon, in fact. Within 24 hours, she becomes a princess, meets numerous new allies and enemies, faces life-threatening danger and must do all she can to prevent the collapse of the natural world. The narrative and structure of the book reflect this fast pacing. While Agnes has little problem accepting everything as it comes, readers who prefer easing into magical and mysterious realms may have difficulty adjusting. The greatest trouble lies in getting a grasp on several of the novel’s secondary characters, as some of the more complex aspects of their personalities get lost in the rush. Not that any of the characters are without potential, though. All of them – and the entire story, for that matter – are intriguing enough to sweep readers away through the end.
            Bahn presents a straightforward fantasy story plenty capable of engaging young readers, especially those with limited attention spans.
Please click here to see the review published on Kirkus's website!

To view Sarah's middle grade fiction book click here: Paperback and Kindle 

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