Tour’s Books Blog

April 23, 2012

Reading Challenge – Lessons Learned

Filed under: Editorial,Musing on life — toursbooks @ 3:00 pm
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On the long list of foolish things I’ve done so far this year, joining a reading challenge ranked fairly high.  Luckily, the risks were low as it was on PBS and all that was at stake was a few credits.  The 5 week long challenge allowed for print books only and rereads didn’t count.  Neither did books you started, didn’t like, and tossed to one side.  (Page counts were not included)  Naturally, I read several ebooks and did a few rereads.  No, I’m not being contrary, just business as usual.  What shocked me most was the fact that I read 6-7 print books a week fairly consistently.

I was NOT the most prolific reader.  Yes, there people who read more than I do.  I find that comforting.  I was feeling like the world’s biggest book addict for awhile now and I’m reassured that others are actually worse than I am.  It was also run during tax season, which cut reading time for a lot of folks.  What did I read?  Well, let’s take a look.

Week 1

A Perfect Match Shelly Bradley
If You See Her Shiloh Walker
Highway 61* David Housewright
Fire Engine Dead Shiela Connolly
If Looks Could Chill Nina Bhruns
Heat Rises Richard Castle
No such Thing As a Good Bind Date Shelly Fredman

Week 2

Protector Catherine Mann
Bear Meets Girl Shelly Laurenston
Wanted: Undead or Alive Kerrelyn Sparks
Taming an Impossible Rogue Susan Enoch
Afterglow Cherry Adair
Generation 18 Keri Arthur
Penumbra Keri Arthur

Week 3

Bad Boys Do Victoria Dahl
A Devil is Waiting Jack Higgins
The Art of Duke Hunting Sophia Nash
50% Off Murder* Josie Belle
Werewolf in Seattle Vicki Lewis Thompson
The Taking of Libbie, SD* David Housewright

Week 4

Blood on the Bayou Stacey Jay
About That Night Julie James
The Calling Kelley Armstrong
Something About Witches Joey W Hill
Let Them Eat Stake* Sarah Zettel
Betrayal Christina Dodd

Week 5

A Bite Before Christmas Sands and Frost
The Probability of Murder Ada Madison
Devil’s Punch Ann Aguirre
Kill Me if You Can* Patterson and Karp
If You Know Her Shiloh Walker
Taking a Shot Jaci Burton

Most of the books I bought myself, but a number were through PBS.  What did I learn from this exercise?  Well, first, my favorite author can write lemons (Shelly Laurenston), a not al all favorite author can write a good book (Kill Me If You Can) – though in fairness, Marshall Karp’s humor gave it positive edge and the plot was could have held more surprises, and the vast majority of the books I read are average to good.  David Housewright made it all the way up to very good, but not a single book in 5 weeks made it to my Keeper Shelf.  Not one made me sit up and go – WOW!  The best of the lot?  Those are marked with an asterisk.  There were a few that just missed, Stacey Jay’s Blood on the Bayou, Kelly Armstrong’s The Calling, and Richard Castle’s Heat Rises.  I found Heat Rises much better than expected and The Calling disappointingly unsatisfying.  Blood on the Bayou had many of the same problems as Dead on the Delta, namely a choppy writing style and ‘heroine’ that is difficult to like or care about on so many different levels.  So 32 books and not one of them blew me away.  David Housewright’s two MacKenzie books came closest.  His writing style in mature, with lean prose, wry wit, sardonic humor, and lots of twists and turns in his plots.  They are what really good mysteries should be.  James Patterson take note.   Not that he cares given he’s now James Patterson, Cottage Industry Bank and Trust.

A few of the books above were reviewed in previous entries here, the rest probably won’t get reviewed.  Mystery fans, buy David Housewright!!!!!!!  Sarah Zettle’s Vampire Chef mystery is worth watching and reading.  Jenn McKinlay – writing as Josie Belle – is getting formulaic in her mysteries.  Her Cupcakes mysteries are still the best.  Christmas stories that include killing a long lost relative just aren’t my idea of festive fun and make me wonder what the hell the editor and author were thinking.  And Vicki Lewis Thompson needs some new ideas.  By the way, the ebook, Beneath the Skin (de la Vega Cats 3) by Lauren Dane gets a big thumbs up from me as well.  One of my favorite series by her, this entry is new and available as ebook only at the moment (so not listed above).  Try the Samhain web site or Amazon.

So, that my report for the month.  READ ON!

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April 16, 2012

The DOJ and ebook Pricing

Filed under: Editorial — toursbooks @ 12:56 pm
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If you’ve been breathing and reading the headlines these past few weeks, you’ll know the DOJ (Department of Justice) has, as threatened, brought an anti-trust suit against a number of publishers and Apple computers for price fixing and collusion on the pricing of ebooks.  No shock.  They had been telegraphing their intentions for some time.  Their main cheering section is composed of Amazon management and Kindle owners.  (By the way, I just got a Kindle and I’ll give you my opinion in another post.)  A number pf publishers named in the suit caved and settled with DOJ, but Apple and several larger publishing houses will go to court.

These pricing agreements that Apple created to keep the cost of ebooks artificially high haven’t hurt the growth of the ebook market – or so it seems, but it has certainly angered customers and frequent readers.  When I can buy yet-to-be-released and hot-off-the-press mass market paperbacks for LESS in print than as ebooks, there’s really something wrong with this picture.  How could a hard copy – that includes free 2 days shipping to arrive at my door on the release date – cost $2.00 LESS than electronic copy that arrives via wi-fi or 3G?  Makes no sense.  Except if you’re a publisher or book seller looking to make a major money grab.

It will be interesting to hear the justification for the price fixing – and no mistake, that’s EXACTLY what it was.  That Apple made 30% off the top is nearly obscene.  How can a small bookseller with high overhead compete against a pure profit ebook seller?  If there is a ‘convenience surcharge’ that ebooks will pay, well, they should know upfront they are funding the annual bonuses for the various businesses for the privilege of reading an often far from perfect ebook.  Road warriors and technophiles won’t care.  Some people will.  I can tell you I look at pricing before deciding between ebook and print no.  In the 10 days I’ve owned the Kindle, I bought 3 ebooks and 18 print books, mostly pre-order.

Keep an eye on this in the news.  It will give users of e-readers a look into the mindset of those who want to use them as cash cows.  I’m sure their justification will be based on “the cost of developing technology” and the costs of keeping the system.  Like printing presses and UPS delivery comes free.  I guess it’s a good thing I won’t get called for THAT jury. 🙂

Read on!

April 15, 2012

Mixed Genres & Mixed Reviews (Mixed Drinks Optional)

March over and so is the whole ‘March Madness thing.  It’s a lot more reliable than crocus as a sign of Spring. Clocks have been pushed ahead and we have daylight at 7PM again.  Allergies aside, I like spring.  Blossoms start appearing on shrubs and trees, daffodils, hyacinths, and forsythia bloom and my taxes get done by my accountant.  Yippee.  Spring ain’t for sissies.

Neither is reading voraciously as I do.  Thank heavens for Amazon and its sales. The nice thing about their 4-for-3 promo is that I can try new series and new authors and not feel bad when I get a book I don’t like.  Hey, not everyone likes everything.  Most reviews on Amazon showed readers loved An Appetite for Murder by Lucy Burdette, I didn’t.  I sent a review to PBS for their book blog but it likely won’t show up there for months.  I basically didn’t like the lead character.  Her personality annoyed me.  I’m the same way about Wendy Roberts’ Ghostdusters mysteries, I just don’t like them.  They aren’t badly written or anything, just ……. well, annoying to me.  Despite that, I had waited patiently to get a copy of the first book she wrote back in 2005 for Red Dress Inc, Dating Can Be Deadly, through PBS.  Well it finally made it thru the US postal system and I read it this week  I’ll start my reviews there.

  • Title:  Dating Can Be Deadly
  • Author: Wendy Roberts
  • Type:  Contemporary paranormal mystery
  • Genre: Chick-lit mystery
  • My Grade: B- (3.8*)
  • Rating:  PG – 13
  • Length and price:  Novel – 80,000+ words – price varies
  • Where Available:  Available from used book sellers, including Amazon, Alibris, Half.com
  • FTC Disclosure: rec’d through through an online book swap site

As I noted above, I can’t get into Wendy Roberts’ Ghostduster mystery series, but I wanted to read Dating Can Be Deadly, so I had it wish listed on PBS for the past year and finally got a copy.  Light, amusing, entertaining and far more enjoyable for than her Sadie Novak Ghostdusters books.  Worth a read if you can find a copy. (more…)

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