Sunday, February 26, 2012

Incest, rape, and all sorts of disgusting "goodness" being sold as "romance"

Over the past week or so, Paypal started enforcing (and modifying) certain policies.  These policies have to do with "adult content".  To make the story short, they will not allow their service to be used for the purposes of selling certain types of it.  It has nothing to do with censorship, and everything to do with business, as their business dealings with banking institutions and credit card companies have forced them to do so for financial reasons.  For more info, read this blog article from DA.

All of this has brought forth the fact that several ebookstores/epublishers had to get rid of certain type of content.  The content involves scenarios like rape, incest, barely-legal, bestiality, and what not.  This content in many cases (not to say all) was uploaded by self-published writers (I can't use the word "author" in this context, sorry).  What irked and surprised me was that that content apparently was uploaded to categories belonging to "romance" and even young adult.  Frankly, I could barely believe that any ebookstore or romance epublisher would allow for such a thing.  However, it was prevalent from all the comments left in the blogs discussing this.  I think that blogger Karen Scott says it best (and bluntly enough) in her commentary article in her own blog.  I posted a rather long winded comment to her article.  I couldn't agree more with her.

I believe this sort of "adult" stories have a market, however, that market most definitely has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with romance and much less, young adult.  These are several definitions of romance, as it pertains to romance as a literary genre:

Romance Writers of America:
For Wikipedia lovers:
Definition I am including because I liked it:

Taboo scenarios are not part of "romance".  They can be classified as fetish, porn, smut, etc. but not in a million years would any bona fide romance reader touch one of those with a ten foot pole... at least not with the mindset of "let me find a warm fuzzy romantic incest story".  They are a "niche", but not within the romance genre. Furthermore, those stories uploaded as part of the romance or YA categories, are nothing more than smut, and not the well written kind at that.  They are on the short side of the spectrum (not that there is anything wrong with that) but they lack the basic elements of a properly written short story (little things such as character development, plot, etc.).  They are written with the sole purpose of titillation/arousal, hence, graphic sex and nothing else.

It does boggle my mind that sites like All Romance Ebooks (ARE), which is purportedly an ebookseller of ROMANCE, actually had the site plagued with stories involving the sort of scenario I mention above.  Honestly, I did think that they would keep a close look at what was being uploaded to their site.  Sadly, I do think that if it hadn't been for the Paypal brouhaha, they would have not done a thing about it (or caught up on that unless they had started receiving a lot of complaints, me thinks), and that's a pity.

On a slightly different note, as I was reading comments, I was amazed to see that some people continue to mix up erotica with erotic romance and powrn, pretty much using the terms interchangeably.  "Oh there is no way to define  the difference, yadda yadda"  Authors like Shiloh Walker continue going in circles trying to explain the difference, to no avail (thanks for continuing to try Shiloh).  Oh well...


Monday, February 20, 2012

Jaid Black, the author that got me "hooked" on romance

This is going to be the first on a series of articles on authors that had an impact on my falling in love with romance.  I am going to start with how I "discovered" romance as a genre, and work from there, to keep some sort of logical order.

The impact of romance in my life has been such, that I remember distinctly how I "discovered" the genre.  I've told the story many times over, but since this is my blog and only I read it, I can repeat myself as many times as I want without fear of boring anyone  ;)

 As background, I had not been reading much over the 10-15 years prior to February 2003, despite my having been an avid reader during my childhood years, teens, and my 20s.  During the 1990s I didn't really read much except for Anne Rice, whom a co-worker recommended to me and I discovered during the early years of that decade.  Nothing seemed to catch my attention, and up until then (my getting "hooked" on Anne Rice's work), I was sort of averse to reading in English.  EVERYTHING I read before had been translated into Spanish.  Anne Rice was my "breakthrough" as it pertains to reading in the English language, despite my being bilingual, and working in an environment in which I did have to use both Spanish and English on a daily basis.

In February of 2003 I had a very bad cold that had me stuck at home for well over a week.  I had been wanting to find some erotica to read after re-reading A. N. Roquelaure nee Anne Rice's erotic re-telling of the fairy tale "Sleeping Beauty." Since I couldn't drive over to a brick and mortar bookstore for obvious reasons, I decided to go online and check on Amazon.  As I was browsing, I stumbled upon a book titled "The Empress New Clothes" by an author named Jaid Black.  The blurb intrigued me enough to want to get it, and that's when I noticed that there was no print version available for purchase, however, they were offering it on a "CD."  That annoyed me, but it didn't take me long to figure out that maybe, since they had it available on "CD", some other site may actually have it as a downloadable file.  Mind you, at the time I had not really read any books electronically, though it did seem rather obvious to me that it was a very viable option to be able to read a book using a PC... provided I could find books in the right formats that is.

My online search on "Jaid Black" brought me to the Ellora's Cave (EC) website.  I promptly got a copy of "The Empress New Clothes."  It didn't take me long to finish reading it, as a "full length novel" at EC back then, could roughly be considered a longish novella by print standards.

After reading the story I found out that it was the first in a series of books.  The series name is Trek Mi Qan.  This series is supposed to still be going, but frankly, I think the author completely lost interest in it.  To make the story short, Jaid Black is the pen name of Tina Engler, owner of EC, and once she became a millionaire, it does seem like writing was no longer a priority, which is understandable.  Pity, really, as her stories, even though not exactly elaborate or technically impressive, are quite fun, sexy reads, with characters that draw the readers in and which, even though some may argue don't have a lot of romance in them, still gave this warm, fuzzy feeling and "feel good" type of ending that I became addicted to as it pertains to romance in general.  This is why I'll always remember her work with fondness.  If I hadn't liked her stories so much, I wouldn't be here now, hooked on the genre.

It didn't take me long to purchase every single title under her name.  However, I pretty much "inhaled" them so I soon was going through everything they had available at the time.

Several years after, Jaid Black established an "association" with Simon & Shuster (via the PocketBooks imprint).  She had a series with them, and she also had several anthologies involving herself and other EC authors, published in association with Simon & Shuster.  However, there hasn't been anything out from her for well over two years now (or at least, I haven't found anything since, at least, 2009).

If you are interested in checking her work, click here.  You can usually find EC titles cheaper if you buy direct from the publisher's website, however, it's always a good idea to "shop around" so here is Amazon's page and Barnes & Noble's page.  The Simon & Shuster published books can be found at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, available as downloads (Kindle).

I haven't lost all hope that she will, somehow, come back to finish the Trek Mi Quan series ...

...however, I most definitely am not holding my breath.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Authors I used to love ... but not so much any longer ....

As I was attempting to read Christine Warren's "Black Magic Woman", I couldn't  help but to start thinking why did I bother.  The heroine in this particular book irritated the hell out of me.  To make the story short, I HATE heroines with zero sense of self-preservation (more on my personal definition of TSTL heroines in a future blog article).  The said heroine irritated me so much, that I just started skipping whole chunks of the story.  The hero wasn't particularly yummy (despite the wings and all).  I then realized that that is exactly what I did with the previous three books of the series.  That's when I started thinking of other authors whose books I continue purchasing even when I know the book will either not be read in a couple of years or, if I do try to read the books, I will likely end up skipping chunks of the story as well.

Along with Christine Warren, other authors that I seem to be sticking to, despite the fact that they don't do a thing for me any longer are: Lora Leigh (her Breeds series, which is the only one of her series I read.  I don't read contemporaries so her Nauti stuff I don't touch), Sherrilyn Kenyon (Dark Hunters), Nalini Singh (Psy/Changeling), Kresley Cole (Immortal's After Dark), and J. R. Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood.  I don't read contemporaries, so as with Lora Leigh, I don't read her contemporary stuff.  I don't bother with her 100% urban fantasy stuff either).

Frankly, I can't come up with a logical explanation as to why I keep trying.  All I can think of is that these authors were authors whose books I would look forward to almost desperately, and I would read those books in one sitting.  For this very reason, I keep hoping that the next book will be as good as the ones that originally got me hooked on a particular series.

Looking at the list, I also notice that all of the series are paranormal.  I don't fancy paranormal romance as much as I used to, truth be told, so maybe that's one of the reasons they don't appeal to me the same way. 

Why do I keep wasting money like this, I have no idea, but I hope to snap out of it soon, as money doesn't exactly grow in trees.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Random musings

I just noticed how what arguably is the most visited romance related blog uses the tag "random musings"...  I unsubbed from that blog due to a recent brouhaha involving the majorly full of herself owner that totally disgusted me about them.  How did I find out about this?  I googled my own blog to see if it shows in google search, and lo and behold, I found a link titled "random musings tied to that particular blog.

Another random musing courtesy of,


"The Norse King's Daughter" by Sandra Hill

I have loved Sandra Hill's work for years now.  I got hooked on all of her Vikings series and of course, her Navy SEALs series as well.  Her time travel stories are my favorite though.  For all these reasons, I was looking forward to "The Norse King's Daughter".  Sadly, I did not enjoy it as much as I was hoping I would.

I am not going to write a full review, but rather briefly mention why it did not work out for me.  First, the characters.  Neither Drifa nor Sidroc were "sympathetic" characters from my perspective.  For some reason, to me, they both felt "flat," if you know what I mean.  Second, the plot, probably because neither Drifa nor Sidroc were characters that I particularly appreciated, I pretty much had little to no interest in following the storyline.  Last, but not least, the ending felt abrupt.  I was like, "is this it?" picture Gobber the Belch, on "How to Train your Dragon" as Stoick finished scaring off the dragons from their lair.  Sadly, there wasn't anything as interesting as what they faced in the movie, after the ending line of the book.

Sandra Hill is one of the authors in my auto-buy list.  Like with all of the other authors in my auto-buy list, I don't expect to love every single book she has published.  That being said, I look forward to try her newest series, which involves Viking angel vampires... or something along those lines.  I am hoping it is going to be as much of a fun ride as her other series have been, and the premise sure does sound like it is full of fun possibilities.


Saturday, February 4, 2012

"Dragon Bound" by Thea Harrison

Disclaimer: I purchased this book.

It has been a while since I last posted a review (my "review" of J.R. Ward's latest was more a pseudo review than an actual review, in all honesty, but mostly because I was rather pissed off with what the author did with the story than anything else).  Anyway, when I finished reading Thea Harrison's "Dragon Bound" I started this review, but somehow never got around to actually finish it, so here I am, finally posting some thoughts about it. 

Time and Setting: Present day New York/alternate universe


Pia Giovanni was blackmailed by her ex to steal something from the hoard treasure of Dragos Cuelebre.  He's the only living dragon, extraordinarily powerful in more than one way, and very much feared by everyone.

This is the blurb.  Sorry, but the book has been out for a while now, so there is plenty of information circulating on the net pertaining to the plot as well as many reviews, hence, not going to summarize anything.

Overall Impressions:

I found that I liked it more than I expected.  Main reason is that I have been growing tired of paranormals, and have become very selective as to what paranormals I pick for reading.  I am now mostly sticking with the tested and true works of my personal favorite authors.  Right now I can't even remember what convinced me to try this one, I do think it was a either a comment or a review from someone whose taste I know resembles mine.  I am very glad I followed my gut and purchased the book.

Basically, if you like Kresley Cole's Immortals after Dark or Shelly Laurenston's paranormal series, you are bound to like Thea Harrison's paranormals.  This particular book, the first of the series, I still think is the best of the lot.  Both main characters were a lot of fun to read.  There was a lot of bantering going on, an Alpha male (though I didn't find him to be much of a jerk, contrary to other books with similar heroes) having to deal with a very smart yet vulnerable heroine who I thought was quite likeable.

The pacing was quick, so I felt the story was a breeze to read.  To me pacing is important.  If a book starts up "slow" , to my taste, I quickly lose interest and that's when the book turns into a DNF one (pacing and the characters are at the top of my list when it comes to deciding if I am going to finish reading a book or not).  Thankfully, my main elements of criteria were met and exceeded my expectations.

The book is fully stand-alone though it is the first of what is supposed to be a series.  This means it has a beginning and a full end as it pertains to the main characters love story, there is no cliff-hanger as it pertains to those two characters.

I have yet to catch up and continue reading the series, so I am hoping I will enjoy them as well.

Romantic movies with happy endings

I was watching "Tangled" (yes, the Disney movie loosely based on the fairy tale titled "Rapunzel") and I got to thinking how there are quite a number of fabulously romantic movies out there with HAPPY endings.  I do include Disney's cartoon/CGI movies in this category.  I tend to prefer fantasy movies though, i.e. "Stardust" based on Neil Gaiman's illustrated story of the same title, or romantic movies based on favorite books like Daphne DuMaurier's "Rebecca".  Somehow, I don't like overtly dramatic romantic movies, even if they have happy endings as well.

Some of my favorite romantic movies include:

"Sense and Sensibility" - the Emma Thompson version
"Pride and Prejudice" - the 1940s version with Laurence Olivier or the 1995 miniseries.
"Persuasion" - both the 1995 and the 2007 versions (though the later did change the ending in a BIG way)
"Beauty and the Beast" - the Disney version
"Tangled" - Disney
"Wall-E" - Pixar

And the list keeps growing...