Monday, May 30, 2011

Overhyping authors

I belong to a few popular blogs and frankly, they sometimes sound like a stereo system.  Why?  Well, because they do like to overhype the same authors.  Some examples, Nalini Singh and Courtney Milan.  I get it, you "adore" them... but frankly, it has gotten to a point in which I don't care about your opinions on the overhyped authors' work because, well, it's predictable that you drool over them.  I also have authors that I "adore", but so far, even those in my top 5 list occasionally do not hit the mark, know what I mean?

Anyway, sorry, but I had to get that off my system.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Authors "rebelling"?

I started to write this post months ago, but the topic resurfaces every once in a while so I am going ahead and publishing it:

As I was doing my blogs round a couple of months ago, I stumbled on this post at Karen Knows Best.  When I proceeded to visit the blog she linked to, my first reaction was to wonder what was the author on.  Incidentally, bear in mind that what is up now, is NOT the original post that started the flame war.  Knowing that the author was either going to delete it or modify it, I took screen shots for my own use, for comparison purposes if needed.

I have to say that it definitely was not the first time I read ignorant and shortsighted remarks, as it pertains to reviews, coming from an author.  However, as usual, what got to me was the use of sweeping generalizations, and in particular, the fact that, once again, readers in general were pretty much being insulted. 

As I read the comments section (and added my .2 cents worth because, you know, I am not opinionated or anything) I kept seeing a few author posts supporting the above writer.  The common argument in those replies: that how come bloggers can say whatever they want about a book, and yet when an author calls foul on the reviews, the bloggers get in a tizzy.  Though I do see their point, I also think that they are MISSING the point themselves... actually, I don't even think that they realize how that argument truly sounds and that that particular argument has nothing to do with the rights to voice opinions.  That argument is nothing but a lame attempt at a diversionary tactic to distract attention from the REAL issues at bar, which are:  (1) that readers (ALL of them, including authors) have the right to their opinions and (2) that they have the right to voice and share those opinions if they so feel inclined.  As the saying goes, opinions are like a**holes ... everyone has one.. and frankly, these authors do need to grow a thicker skin.  They can scream, then can come up with "counter-reviews" (nevermind that the latest complaints have been about reviews that, from an objective third party point of view, were pretty good), they can insult reviewers and come up with all sorts of lame arguments ... the fact remains that everyone has the right to their opinion and to voice it however they deem fit, and they don't owe it to anyone to be "nice".

Personally speaking, I can't write a harsh review, but that is me, I am just one individual.  However, I wouldn't go around trying to force my PERSONAL POINT OF VIEW and CHOICES on others. Furthermore, as it now has become evident, even perfectly civil and carefully worded reviews are now being lambasted by some authors, so really, why should anyone care to be "nice" when writing a review when it will be damned if you do and damned if you don't ... I will continue writing my reviews however I feel like it, right now they are civil and even if I hated the book, I'll not go on a frenzy, however, I can not guarantee that I will always be "civil".  Since I am a tiny guppy in an ocean of big name blogs, no one will notice, so I don't really care ... but still, I want to make the point across that I have the right to voice my opinion however and whenever I deem fit, and no lame argument is going to stop me from doing so... and much less, when the lame argument includes scathing and insulting gross generalizations about readers and/or reviewers in general.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

"Lover Unleashed" by J.R. Ward

Disclaimer:  This book was a personal purchase, in hard cover.

I am not going to go into a long winded review or use my standard format for reviews. There are already too many spoilers as it is, and frankly, I don't need to "illustrate" that much to make a point across.

To make the story short, the BDB is no longer a paranormal romance series, it is an urban fantasy series. This book in particular had 1 main plot: Vishous/Butch/Jane and several subplots one of which includes Payne and Manny Manello's love story. And this is the root of my problem: I was expecting more on Payne and Manny, not a Book 2 on Vishous/Butch/Jane. For me, that came completely out of left field.

I had been getting more and more disappointed with the series, but with "Lover Avenged" I felt that it was still worth my spending money on these books on release. "Lover Mine" was a an okay experience, but this one, well, suffice it to say this one is the last one I buy in hard cover. From this point forward, I'll wait for the paperback. I don't have the same sense of anticipation I used to have towards this series.

In all honesty, I didn't appreciate all of the distraction involving Vishous/Butch/Jane, then the m/m subplot involving Quinn & Blay, then the standard lesser issue, and to put the cherry on top, a character that belongs to her other series. Was it really necessary to convolute things further with a character that is supposed to be part of a future book in her other series with a mystery/murder subplot kind of deal?

Bottom line, this series is no longer part of my auto-buy list. I just can't spend money on books of which I end up skipping more than pages than I actually read just to get to the parts that I am actually interested in.

I have to add that it saddens me.  I was so thrilled with the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, the first 3-4 books were fantastic.  A blogger reviewer mentioned once that she never felt the series was paranormal romance.  Frankly, I never thought otherwise until Book 5.  Of course, hindsight is 20/20 and all those subplots should have clued me in. 


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Red Rose Publishing and why I am not sympathetic towards anyone that submits there

Red Rose Publishing (RRP) started operations over 3 years ago (2007).  The individual who started said company, one Wendi Felter, already had a "reputation" of having issues with other now defunct epubs (look up Mardi Gras Publishing).  However, she still managed to start a new epub and get submissions for it.

If you read Piers Anthony's site you'll see that the history of RRP is now long and, well, pretty bad.  The troubles haven't ended.  More recently, an author had to resort to ask help from Karen Knows Best to pretty much have RRP remove her books from their site, as she had requested reversion of rights, with no response from the owner.  Additionally, I don't think I need to say that this publisher really didn't endear itself to bloggers and reviewers in general after this gem of an incident involving the popular blog Dear Author, with further reports here and here.

At this point, as a mere reader, I find baffling that people still submit to that "publishing company".  To put things into context: according to the site Internet World Statistics, 77.4% of the population in the US has internet access.  The growth from 2000-2010 has been 146.3%   Now, I am sure that all those people have heard about Google and other search engines, I mean, if you want to find anything online, you HAVE to use a search engine.  When people decide that they want to write something, the first thing to do is to research where they can get published, right?  So, that means that they need to use a search engine (likely google) and trust me, as it pertains to that particular publisher, at this point in time, people are going to find both the good and the bad when they do a search and stumble upon the name Red Rose Publishing.  It is now well documented online the kind of track record that company has.

Frankly, the word naive to refer to those that newly submit there is not a word that I would use, not even to be kind.  At this point, I firmly believe that anyone submitting there is either outright dumb (not going to apologize for this one), is taking a calculated risk, is friendly with the owner thus, is being treated preferentially, or is outright desperate to be "recognized" in some form as an "author".

I truly feel bad for those caught in a rather nasty tug of war to get their rights not only reverted, but their work brought down from the publisher's site.  However, I will not feel bad for those that submit their work there now and are accepted, only to end up crying foul in the future.  As a reader, I just will not buy any excuses along the lines of "I didn't know" or "I was naive" because no, you were not naive ... the word that I would use is a lot harsher than that...


Monday, April 4, 2011

The eternal cycle of friendships that come and go

This post has zero to do with romance reading, books and what not, but I needed to express this in some way so I decided to use my blog that no one reads to do so. This is something that I wish I would have the opportunity to tell to the person's face... and mind you, I've broken up with friends before telling them exactly why... not that they understood... which is prtty much why they are not my friends any longer ...

Anyway, I am a gamer. I am co-admin of a gaming kinship in Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO) with my husband. It was a kinship that we have put a lot of effort into. After four years of playing LOTRO I find myself now bored with that particular game. The main reason is that the developers have not added any content of substance in over two years. I have done the vast majority of what there is to do and I have explored pretty much every nook and cranny in that cyber world. Another MMO game was released last month, Rift. When some of us in the kinship had a chance to participate in the last couple of Beta tests we fell in love with the game and decided that we were going to keep ourselves occupied with it until there is more content available in LOTRO or another MMO catches our eye.

I informed my kin that neither my husband nor I had the time to oversee yet another guild. Several of the members in my kin started a guild in Rift, which I joined, along with a few others who are also members of my LOTRO kin. That guild has 5 chiefs: 4 of them came from my LOTRO kinship, and 1 is friends with one of the four from my kinship. The guy's personality rubbed me the wrong way from day one, but I decided to ignore it, though my gut feeling was telling me "run to the hills" from early on. I figured that all I needed to do was stay out of his way. Anyway, to make the story short, he made a comment (that I am sure he will allege was a joke) pretty much targeting me, at which point I stuck the proverbial middle finger (not literally, but in my head, I didn't want to create scenes) in his general direction and removed myself from the guild. My husband left too. I explained to those that came from my LOTRO kinship what happened and why I left. I didn't post anything in their forums either, again, I was not bound to create scenes.

Anyway, the whole incident showed me who my friends were. I wasn't expecting any sort of reaction from 3 out of the three, however, I received a heartfelt apology from one of them (even though he had nothing to do with the incident)... and zero reaction from the one that I was expecting some words from. I wasn't even expecting an apology, but more something along the lines of "oh he was just joking..." or something neutral, even if she didn't agree with my reaction. Instead, zero is what I got. True colors showing again.

I have her on my FB. I haven't decided yet what to do, I can be a hypocrite with people at work, because I consider those people "acquaintances" ... I don't know how to be a hypocrite with people I used to call friends. For now, I turned off her feed on my Wall. I am still feeling hurt about all this. I hate when I lose my trust on people I used to call "friends". Thing is that even if I don't know the person face to face, I don't know how to use the word "friend" lightly, to me the person is real because, well, the person IS a real person.

Anyway, I needed to take some of this off my chest, and now I have done so. I don't know if I'll even bother to talk to her. I have told people in the past exactly why I couldn't call them "friends" any longer. It takes guts to do so, but at my age, I think that probably it accomplishes nothing. It may be better to let go, and it will all fade, though things will never be the same even if we continue talking to each other. I am sure she's oblivious.


Ebook piracy aka where can I find a "free" copy of ABC by XYZ

The topic of ebook piracy is not a new one. It has existed even before ebooks started becoming the hot commodity that they seem to have turned into courtesy of online stores like Amazon. The popular romance oriented reader blogs Dear Author, Mrs. Giggles blog & Karen Knows Best have now posted about the subject. I think Dear Author brought the topic up first on this round, but I may be wrong.  Usually the topic comes back to the surface when an author goes ranty about it.  On many occasions the ranty author is newly published, so he/she is actually facing the issue first hand for the first time.  Sadly, the truth of the matter is that this particular has no real solution at least as of yet, and it is entirely out of the control of the author, unless he/she decides to spend a lot of time policing the internet sending cease-and-desist notices and requests for links to illegal downloads of his/her work  to be brought down, etc.

Not that long ago, it used to bother me when authors went on rants on the topic of how their books were being "pirated" (stolen), and uploaded on torrents and online sites for "free" downloading by others.  I felt that, as a reader, I was pretty much being lumped up with those people sharing with others what wasn't theirs to share.  After all, why would the author rant about the subject on her own blog or website, or in reader oriented blogs/forums.  I don't feel that way any longer.  I pretty much think of it as an author venting about something he/she has no control over, that involves something that rightfully, belongs to him/her.  Know what I mean? 

Right now, with a number of variables that are affecting the whole environment, from bad economy, to shut down of libraries, then million different types of DRMs, the lack of foresight on the part of the big publishers, etc. it does seem like ebooks are ripe for the (free) pickings, which is another reason why I can't say I blame authors for venting, though I do have to admit that I view this as a "grey" area.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

"Wicked Intentions" - Book 1 of the Maiden Lane series

Disclaimer: The version reviewed was a personal purchase.

Time and Setting: London, 1737


The hero, Lazarus Huntington's (Lord Caire) description immediately brought to mind a mental picture of Lucius Malfoy as depicted by Jason Isaacs in the Harry Potter films.  I thought the actor looked intriguing and very sexy and (to use the author's own words when referring to the hero a couple of times, "exotic").  And of course, Jason Isaacs in his natural form is very handsome to begin with.  I just couldn't help picturing Lazarus with those features, even down to the cape and the cane. *sigh*  Anyway, he's an Alpha hero, sometimes an outright jerk, and full of hidden depths.  I fell in love with him the second I started reading about him.

The heroine, Temperance Dews, is a woman with even more hidden depths.  She has been punishing herself for years (not going to spoil so don't worry).  However, even when the hero refers to her as his "martyr", I didn't really think of her as such.  She comes across as strong and brave, at least to me.  I liked her a lot, and felt for her, and I even related a bit to her.  I think she provided a good balance for Lazarus.

There is a secondary cast of characters as well, which of course include the heroine of the next book in this series, Lady Hero, and likely the hero as well, though I am just guessing at this point, as there is a rather mysterious character whose identity was not revealed (I have two "candidates" for that role though).


You can find the blurb here.  I find it's quite accurate, so you can rely on it to have an idea of what the story is about.

Though I don't want to gush, fact is that this book turned out to be a fantastic read.  I consider Elizabeth Hoyt one of my favorite authors, but a couple of her stories didn't hit the mark with me, which is pretty much why I usually try not to over-hype myself when I get my hands on one of her books.  However, this one is now among my top 3 favorite stories penned by her, and I would dare say, among my top 10 favorite historical romances read in 2010.

The first thing that hit the mark with me, were the main characters. And since to me it is all about the characters, this book was a winner from the very beginning. If the author manages to "hook" me with her characters from the very beginning, chances are that I will consider the book a good read.

This historical romance is one of the most sensual books I have ever read.  Take it from someone who discovered romance when she started reading erotic romance.  The sensuality and eroticism is so palpable that I was squirming on my chair.  Now mind you, the book is not much more explicit than other mainstream sensual historical romances out there, but the manner in which the author chose to build the sensual tension was nothing short of masterful.  It literally arouses the senses, and the book isn't an erotic romance at all.

I do have to mention that some things are off-the-wall unbelievable, and there definitely is historical "license" involved, particularly with the use of certain words.  However, none of this took from my enjoyment of the story.  I admit that I tend to be very forgiving because to me, a historical romance is something I tend to read as if I were reading a fairy tale.  I am too aware that what I am reading is fiction and frankly, I like things that way, so I am not a stickler for linguistic accuracy or historical detail.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

2010 - A year full of changes for me

2010 turned out to be an eventful year for me.  Early on (January 26th to be precise) I was let go from the job that I had over the past 11 years.  It was my very first job in New York.  I started in that firm less than two months after I moved in with my now husband, back in 1999.  Although it was a bit of a shock as, for some reason, I deluded myself into thinking that there is such a thing as job "security", I had stopped being happy there for quite a long time, I would even dare say years.  However, I was "comfortable" and as I said, felt "secure", so why mess with things.  Fate had a different idea, it seems.

Though I spent two months and a half looking for a new job (a short period of time compared to what a lot of others are going through trying to find a job), I think I was lucky... and also have the very strong feeling that my guardian angel felt that I needed the kick on the ass for me to take action, and finally get out of a job situation I was unhappy with.  Though I am earning a bit less, my quality of life has substantially improved, and since I don't have to pay hundreds of dollars a month in transportation (railroad, subway, and gas), it all evens out and my take home salary is pretty much the same.   I also  have made some new friends among my new co-workers, which is a blessing as well.  I pretty much only had one true friend in my former job, and I have made it a point to keep in touch with her.  Finding her has been a blessing to me.

Later in the year, I also made the decision of leaving Just Erotic Romance Reviews.  My time to leave was long overdue, as I had stopped enjoying my role there a long long time ago and it felt more like a chore than something I was doing because it brought me satisfaction.  However, for some weird reason, I just kept hanging on because of a sense of responsibility.  I then realized that it was not going to be the end of the world if I left, that things would continue normally, so I finally let go.  I confess I enjoyed the first few years I spent there and it was an incredible experience, but my stay lasted more than it should have.

The closing of the year turned out to be on the crappy side though.  My husband spent most of December and a portion of this month dealing with pneumonia and I got a bout of bronchitis (the joys of coughing fits in tandem...).  Suffice it to say, I am hoping that is not an omen of things to come (keeping my fingers crossed).  Over the past 3 years we both seem to be getting some sort of major health issue at the beginning of the year, specifically around the Martin Luther King weekend.  Looks like this winter we got it earlier though. :P

In terms of reading, I found myself reading substantially more historical romance than paranormals, and it does look like the trend will continue on 2011.  I tend to avoid contemporary romance as well as romantic suspense, so I do not have anything to say on those two sub-genres.  I am happy to say that I discovered some new and new-to-me historical romance authors, and as to that respect, my list of auto-buy authors has increased.

As I decided to start this blog a few months ago, my one and only resolution for 2011 is to keep track of what I read.  I bought a gorgeous planner with that purpose in mind.  Hopefully I'll keep motivating myself to jot down what I read.  I only include date in which I started reading a book, the date in which I finish, and some notes as to if I liked it or not.  I read a lot but I truly have no clue how many books do I go through every month.

Let's see what this year will bring.  Hopefully a LOT of good reading material...