Tour’s Books Blog

April 29, 2009

Paperback Swap – An Update on My Recent Experiences

Filed under: Editorial,General,opinion — toursbooks @ 6:56 pm
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Ok, I did an entry on my initial experience with Paperback Swap, the online book swapping site.  I shipped out 16 books, over half were trade paperbacks ($10-$14 ea) and all were in excellent to like new condition.

Here are my results so far:

First book (intro point) – excellent condition even though it was 4 years old.  Success!

Second trade (intro point) – such bad condition it should not have been listed. Worst failure to date.

Here’s what I did to avoid the issue in the future.  There is an area under the ‘Settings’ section of your account for ‘Requestor Conditions,’ where you can modify your book conditions.  Initially I required they be from a smoke free environment – I have severe allergies to smoke.  I rewrote them to add: “No broken, deformed spines or badly worn books.  No bookcrossing books.”  Surely this would resolve the problem, right? (more…)

Battling Blogs – The Romancelandia SMACKDOWN! Update

Filed under: General,opinion — toursbooks @ 4:50 pm
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Having nothing much better to do, I perused some of the replies to the posts on Dear Author, Smart Bitches – who share many common members – and Romance B(u)y the Book, as well as bystander Teach Me Tonight.

I’d say the reactions have been less inflammatory and acrimonious than expected on the ‘mean girls’ blogs and about as smirkingly smug and self-satisfied as expected on the self congratulatory ‘nice girls’ blog.  Teach Me Tonight is wisely staying above the fray, but did link to the full text of Buonfiglio’s talk.

I’m inclined to give more points to the ‘mean girls’ for being very specific in their criticisms and critiques.  Plus they do include salient points about the need to ‘defend’ research and commentary in academic setting, including master’s thesis and doctoral dissertations.  Academia is as backstabbing and bloodthirsty as any other environment where you have 500 people competing for 5 positions. (more…)

April 28, 2009

Battling Blogs – The Romancelandia SMACKDOWN!

Filed under: Editorial,General,opinion — toursbooks @ 5:15 pm
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Well, who would have thought a genre that is all about love and freedom would give birth to a snide and snippy presentation where one presenter took potshots at another presenter at a Princeton conference?  I’m laughing here.  What other response can there be?

I did not attend the Princeton Conference, but I was following some of the blog and twitter posts of various attendees.  Mostly it seemed to do with complaints about tedious presentations with buried gems of insights and the usual carping that such events incur in any field.  And me wondering why people feel this need to share minutiae of zero consequence with thousands via Twitter?

Well, in middle of this otherwise sedate mutual admiration society there was an unexpected turn of events.  Blogger Michelle Buonfiglio of Romance: B(u)y the Book did a presentation that knocked blogs that are less ladylike, sedate and intellectual than her own.  She did this with none other than Smart Bitch Sarah Wendell sitting next to her.  (That takes nerves of steel or a deeply seated desire to commit internet suicide.)  Then, just to make sure she’s made her point, she posts the text of her talk on her blog here.  (I’m now leaning to terminal hubris as an explanation.)

Now, you didn’t think those bloggers were about to give this sly swipe at them a pass, did you?  As of today on Smart Bitches and Dear Author, we officially have a SMACKDOWN! (more…)

April 26, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: Death of a Cozy Writer by G. M. Malliet

Rejoice you fans of classic manor house murders.  Give me an hallelujah and amen!  We have the heir to one of my favorite mystery categories in G. M. Malliet’s Chief Detective Inspector St. Just’s debut, Death of a Cozy Writer.  And it’s about damn time!  Cozy mysteries have become increasingly just too twee, too insipid, too contrived, too self-consciously cutsiepoo for words.  Filled with recipes, crossword puzzles, candle making tips, quilting, dogs, cats, ferrets – jeeze, you name it.  Worse still are some of those amateur sleuths who are really such annoying people you’re rooting for them to be the next victim.

I bought Death of a Cozy Writer because it was a 2008 Best First Novel nominee for an Agatha Award by Malice Domestic, the association of cozy writers, and the reviews were excellent.  If the cast of characters seem familiar, they should.  Everyone of them has been in an Agatha Christie mystery: the aging, rich, nasty, manipulative pater familias; the equally nasty, avaricious, self-centered eldest son with his grasping, greedy wife; the overweight, dowdy, socially clueless daughter who manages on her own; the pretentious, self-adsorbed art store owner son with his neglected but beautiful lady friend, and the alcoholic fringe actor son who knows even his marginal career is giving way to age.  Then there’s daddy’s bride-to-be, unexpectedly a woman of mature years but with a very scandalous background – suspected of having murdered her first husband.

If you’ve read Christie’s Hercule Poirot mysteries this is sounding a LOT like a mishmash of several of those books – and it is.  Christie used variations of these characters and basic plot devices numerous times.  Perhaps it’s why I found myself smiling so often while reading, it was like an unexpected visit with old acquaintances and finding them unchanged.  Some view this book as a send up of the manor house mystery, others as an homage.  Take your pick.  It is cheekily derivative, yet so well done you don’t care. (more…)

April 24, 2009

What’s on Order – April Book Orders

Filed under: General,On Order — toursbooks @ 9:59 pm
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Well, I do buy a lot of books, but this was my big order for the month.  I found that for books for my keeper shelf, I want paper copies, so I ordered a whole bunch of titles I already read as ebooks.  I’m still waiting for several books to be released.

Confessions of a Little Black Gown by Elizabeth Boyle –  It just looked interesting for a romance.  I’ve read a few of her books and they were good.

In the Bleak Mid-Winter by Julia Spencer-Fleming.  I read one of her books several years ago and had a rather mixed reaction to it.  I’ll try one more and see if this one strikes a cord.

Her Royal Spyness byRhys Bowen – Who could resist a title like that?  Historical romance.  Review posted.

Nauti Intentions by Lora Leigh – I always have mixed reactions to Lora Leigh, but so far I’ve mostly enjoyed her Nauti series.  Let’s see where this one falls.  How can one author produce 4 books in a single year?  First Olny Pleasure for the Bound Hearts series, then Maverick for the Elite Ops series, now another Nauti book and in the fall one of her Breeds books.  This woman either works 24/7/365 or had a pile of manuscripts in the hopper.  Review posted.

Big Bad Wolf: A COS Commando Novel by Gennita Low – one of my favorite romantic suspense author’s latest book.  Looks a little different from her usual, but we’ll see.

Here Kitty, Kitty by Shelly Laurenston – OK, this is one of my ebooks I’m buying a paper copy of.  How could I not?  It’s a favorite for a good laugh and some romance.

Hail to the Chef by Julie Hyzy – The second book in the series White House Chef Mysteries.  The first one, State of the Onion, was one of the better cozies I’ve read lately.

Death of a Cozy Writer – A St Just Mystery by G. M. Malliet – This one I just received and I’m just starting it.  So far so good. Review posted.

Sudden Death and Dead Center both by David Rosenfelt – These books are part of the Andy Carpenter series.  A humorous legal thriller.  I’ve read several of his books and liked them all so far. Nearly finished Sudden Death.

Talk Me Down by Victoria Dahl – A contemporary romance and the heroine writes erotic romance on the sly.  Irresistible.!  Almost done.

Passionate by Anthea Lawson – This one was a $3.99 special from Zebra by a new author.  An historical romance set in the mid-1800’s.

I’m sure I’ll get more, but my hotly awaited books by Lindsey Davis and Daniel Silva are yet to be released.  SIGH

BOOK REVIEW: Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn

Every so often I read a book that gets excellent reviews, great word of mouth and is hugely popular and I find myself far less enamored of it than I expected.  Perhaps my expectations are too high, or maybe the style just does not suit me.  Whatever the difference in perception is, I find myself in that position with this review.  I wanted to love this book, be enthralled, swept away, but I was not.  The sharp wit that opens the book only visits off and on thereafter.

Silent in the Grave has a brilliant opening:

To say I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband’s dead body is not entirely accurate.  Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching on the floor.

Unfortunately, the next 100+ pages were remarkably tedious before the story got interesting again.  As it turns out, that became something of a pattern in the book.   Long breaks of introspective self analysis were followed by a flurry of activity and progress by inches. (more…)

April 22, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: Undercover by Lauren Dane

Lauren Dane is one of the better authors out there doing erotic romance.  In my opinion, she’s far better than the popular Lora Leigh whose motto is “If you love me, you’ll let me fuck you in the ass.”  (Those butt plugs are unisex and I know just where I’d shove them.)  Dane’s a very good storyteller, creative, witty, and capable of drawing original characters and plots and breathing life into her tales.  Her Witches Knot series is a really good urban fantasy series and I loved Enforcer, the first book of Cascadia Wolves and Tri-Mates was very good too.  Strangely, she’s one of those authors who seems to do her best work in the early books of a series and then slacks off.  It’s like she gets tired of her characters or runs out of ideas.  Certainly the Cascadia Wolves had the weakest books as the series went on and the one book that needed to be a standout was Cade’s story, Standoff, and that was average plus it turned a previously well liked character into a person I didn’t like.  Witches Knot faltered off and on after the third book, the exception being Thrice United, which was very good.

Dane has used domination and submission in several of her books to varying degrees with and without ménage.  In Undercover, a futuristic novel, she uses D/s and ménage in combination.  (Why is it, regardless of when or where, males always are into the same kink?)  I have said before, I am just not into the whole BDSM mindset.  Even though Dane never carries her D/s to the extremes of many authors, and does treat her heroines with greater respect for their intelligence and independence, it’s still a hurdle for me.  It makes me feel all snarky and snarky is not a good look for a groundhog.  With that admission in mind – here we go. (more…)

April 19, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: SPQR XI: Under Vesuvius by John Maddox Roberts

John Maddox Roberts writes mysteries featuring Decius Caecilius Metellus that have followed his career serving Rome in various capacities over the years.  The books follow him from his mandatory military duty, where he and Giaus Julius Ceaser get to know each other, back to Rome where he slowly works his way up the ranks of various elected offices.  SPQR (Senatus Populusque Romanus designating the era of Roman history in which the story takes place) XI Under Vesuvius is the eleventh book in the series.  Decius has won the prestigious one year term as preator pereginus, the second highest office in the Imperium along with preator urbanus.  The preator unbanus is required by law to stay in Rome for his term of office.  Luckily, as preator pereginus, magistrate for cases involving non-citizen, Decius is free to travel and leave the stifling heat of the Roman summer.

Since he is kind of a wandering magistrate, Decius takes full advantage of the offer of the use of a villa owned by the famous orator Quintus Hortensius Hortalus in Campania.  The sprawling estate sits just outside the city of Baiae on the Bay of Naples.  Feted all along his route south, he sardonically assumes it is really his wife Julia’s favor they wish to curry.   Julia is Ceaser’s niece and helps – or meddles, depending on your perspective – in Decius’ ‘cases.’  The Metellus family has a long history of service to the Imperium, but they aren’t as important as the Ceaser’s family.   Ceaser is not yet dictator, but he has much of the country nervous and the wise citizens want to take the measure of the great man’s niece.

Finally the entourage makes it to the spectacular villa.  A tour of the grounds leads them to a Temple of Apollo and the daughter of hereditary Greek priest, Gorgo.  A handsome young man, Gelon, mounted on a caparisoned horse arrives with his guards.  The animosity toward him seems all out of proportion even though he is obviously a Numidian (North African, usually Berber).  Gelon is the son of Geato, a shrewd and highly successful slave trader that specialized in skilled workers for household, business or trades.  Though all upper class citizens owned slaves, they looked down on traders on principle, foreign traders even more.  The trade was legal and the fact they all purchased their household and business slaves from him made no difference.  Diocles, the Greek priest at Apollo’s Temple obviously loathed him and wanted him nowhere near his daughter. (more…)

April 17, 2009

Mulling Over the Plethora of Stunningly Mediocre Books

Filed under: Editorial,General,opinion — toursbooks @ 9:07 pm
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OK, I know I let loose on action thriller authors in Ruminations On Plots, Characters and Quality of Books back in late March, but now I need to vent about everything from romance and erotic romance authors, to another disappointing action mystery author, and one of my favorite humorous cozy mystery writers – maybe a few more.  No, this is not a case of PMS and no I don’t plan to whine and carp once a month as I binge on chocolate.   I’m so not suffering chocolate withdrawal.  Or I don’t think I am, but I have tearfully finished my last Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg.  It was very traumatic.  Maybe that pushed me over the edge.  The chocolate euphoria is over and I’m now crashing and these stupid books are a lousy safety net!

I am sick of reading forgettable books.  What the hell is happening?  I rave about the handful of books that actually manage to get me involved with the characters and plots. Jeeze, what does it say when the best book I’ve read in weeks is Beyond Heaving Bosoms?  It’s freaking non-fiction, no plot, just a funny literary review of the romance genre.  The only other book worth a mention is Revenge of the Spellmans, and even that wasn’t exactly so memorable I’m quoting my favorite parts.  It was really good – it wasn’t great.  Was it worth an A-?  Damn, given the competition it might be worth more.  I swear, I think I’ve started grading on a curve.

Things are so bad I actually bought a new copies of old books – Dead Ernest by Phoebe Atwood Taylor (writing as Alice Tilton), a screwball mystery written over 50 years ago and Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time.  Then I dug out an old Loretta Chase (Bless that woman, she writes a good book.) book, Lord Perfect, just to remind myself what a really good romance book is like.  The only ‘new’ book now underway is John Maddox Robert’s Under Vesuvius, one of his SPQR Roman mysteries.  He may never knock them out of the park, but he is as reliable as John Sanford for a good, well written story.  I have over 200 books in my TBR pile and I’m re-reading old books.  I think I need primal scream therapy. (more…)

BOOK REVIEW: The Immortal Hunter by Lynsay Sands

Lynsay Sands’ departure into darker themed stories began with The Rogue Hunter and continues the transition here.  This book has very little in common with Sands’ earlier Argeneau books like Single White Vampire or The Accidental Vampire.  Here we have tale that wants to be a dark thriller but keeps flickering back to her more comfortable light style then tries to be a thriller again.

The novel opens right where The Rogue Hunter left off with Decker Argeneau Pimms, Garrett Mortimer and Justin Bricker still at Decker’s lake house with Decker’s Uncle Lucian Argeneau, head of the Enforcers and governing Council, upstairs questioning Sam – Samantha Willan about her decision to not convert because of her sisters.  Lucian will make the decision whether or not he believes she can keep the existence of the Immortals secret.  Mortimer is anxious about Sam.  Grant, the not so rogue vampire who been biting humans to feed, is nervous about Lucian and what he might decide.  Decker is trying to keep Mortimer under control while hoping everyone would just go away so he can start his vacation. (more…)

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