Tour’s Books Blog

February 12, 2012

Recent Reads – A Mixed Bag of Brief Reviews

I’ve been hauling in deliveries from Amazon almost daily – like a true book addict looking for fix.  I have no defense, some authors are ‘must have’ even at hard cover prices, and many trade paperbacks would take forever to get through a book swapping site, then there’s the lure of the 4-for-3 promotion that extends to unreleased titles on pre-order.  What can I say, I’m just weak.

For the first time in awhile, I read some erotic romance.  With so many of the ebook authors moving from small press publishers to major print houses, I ended up trying 3 new to me authors at Siren.  Keep in mind, the current popularity of m/m, f/f, and BDSM books cuts way back on what I might read.  Not opposed to them and many good ones have m/m or BDSM elements, they just don’t have a lot of interest for me.  With what I did buy, the results were not encouraging.  In print, yet another anthology came up, meh!, another a cut average thanks to good wring – and there were two winners – Cipher by Moira Rogers and Jory Strong’s Inked Magic!  YEAH!!!!!   I had other winners too –  in the mystery category Boca Daze by Steven M. Forman, in the historical cozy category The Cocoa Conspiracy by Andrea Penrose, and in the noir Urban Fantasy category Aloha from Hell by Richard Kadrey.

First up are the Erotic Romance ebooks and print books:

  • Title:  Cowboy Commandos Seduce Their Woman (Wyoming Warriors 3)
  • Author: Paige Cameron
  • Type:  Contemporary erotic romance
  • Genre: ménage
  • My Grade: C (3.0*)
  • Rating:  NC-17
  • Length and price:  Short/ Category Novel – under 60,000+ $5.99
  • Where Available:  Available online at Siren
  • FTC Disclosure: purchased through an online publisher bookstore

I know, the title should have been a dead give away.  I bought it anyway.  Actually, it was the pick of the litter, even though the shopworn plot has one used so many times, by so many authors, it embodied trite.  Still, the characters had some personality and  for a short novel, it managed a beginning,  middle, and end.  The sex was OK, but not really pulse racing. (more…)

March 26, 2011

Short Reviews: New Release Paranormals, Romantic Suspense, Erotic Romance, Cozy Mystery

Talk about a disappointing group of books.  YEESH!  Not one really good one in the whole lot!

  • Title: Accidentally Catty
  • Author:  Dakota Cassidy
  • Type:  Humorous paranormal romance series
  • Genre:  A vet gets infected my a mountain lion that’s really a shifter and must deal with the paranormal reality
  • Sub-genre:  Normal human gets involved with vamps and shifters and an insane scientist
  • My Grade: C  (3.0*)
  • Rating:  PG-13
  • Length and price:  Full novel – about 100,000+ $8.50-10 with list of $15.00
  • Where Available:  Available at most bookstores
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased from online bookstore (more…)

January 10, 2011

eBooks: Three Recent Releases from Samhain

Well, I caught up on some ebook purchases from December and one new release this week in a series I really like, the Southern Arcana series by Moira Rogers, and really good and rather hot paranormal series that’s been a little uneven, but hit well on this entry.

  • Title: Deadlock (Southern Arcana Book #3)
  • Author:  Moira Rogers
  • Type:  Paranormal – shifters, witchcraft; Power struggles, family betrayal, and a second chance at love
  • Genre:  Werewolf society, internal political strife, involves the wrong person
  • Sub-genre:  An alpha werewolf is pushed to where he”ll risk all for change and progress
  • My Grade: B- (3.6*)
  • Rating:  PG-13 to NC-17
  • Length and price:  Full novel 90,000 words for $5.50 for ebook
  • Where Available:  Available online on the Samhain site
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased from online bookstore (more…)

September 30, 2010

New Releases – Paranormal UF and 2 Siren Erotic Romance

We all know I do love my paranormal, especially shifter and UF and there have been some good and blah releases lately, plus a couple of erotic romances.  Here we go.  First is a favorite series of mine, the Elemental Assassin.

  • Title: Venom
  • Author:  Jennifer Estep
  • Type:  Paranormal Urban Fantasy
  • Genre:  #3 of the Gin Blanco Elemental Assassin series; murder and mayhem as Gin finds her youngest sister
  • Sub-genre:  Former assassin goes after the elemental who murdered her family
  • My Grade: B- (3.8*)
  • Rating:  PG-13
  • Length and price:  Full novel about 90,000+ words for $7.99
  • Where Available:  book available at any book store
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased book from online bookseller (more…)

August 27, 2010

New Concepts Publishing – 3 Books; Erotica – Shapeshifter to Futuristic

New Concepts Press has several very reliable authors in their stable, the two I read most are Madelaine Montague and Kaitlyn O’Connor and this lot was no different.  NCP does not release books on any particular schedule, so it’s not a site I check on any regular schedule.

So here we go, with the Good, the Bad, and the Really Icky.

  • Title: Dragon’s Blood
  • Author:  Madelaine Montague
  • Type:  Paranormal erotic romance; ménage or polyandry
  • Genre: Dragons living hidden among Native Americans
  • Sub-genre:  FBI recruit finds herself pregnant and confused about a bear attack
  • My Grade: C+  (3.4*)
  • Rating:  NC-17 to X
  • Length and price:  Full novel about 80,000 words ebook for $5.99
  • Where Available:  book available at New Concepts Publishing book store online
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased book from publisher’s website (more…)

June 13, 2010

More Super Short Reviews – All Genres

Moving right along, we have:

  • Title: Pretty in Ink
  • Author:  Karen E Olsen
  • Type:  Mystery
  • Genre: Amateur sleuth in Vegas
  • Sub-genre:  Tattoo artist gets involved in another murder
  • My Grade: B  (4.0*)
  • Rating:  PG-13
  • Length and price:  Full length novel; about 80,000+ words for $6.99
  • Where Available:  book available at at any book store; 4-for-3 program on Amazon
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased book from online bookstore

I always like finding a worthwhile amateur sleuth/cozy that isn’t so contrived my eyes roll.  I so enjoyed The Missing Ink that I won in a book swap on Paperback Swap, I bought this book as soon as it was released and it went right to the top of the TBR pile.  I’m glad I did.  This sophomore outing for 30 something tattoo artist and high end shop owner, Brett Kavenaugh, is really worth the effort.  Karen E. Olsen is a journalist and mystery writer, and her training shows in her tight prose that moves the story surrounding the murder of a female impersonator and a missing broach at fast clip despite the convoluted plot.  On my list of ‘must read’ series. (more…)

Super Short Reviews: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Mystery and Erotic Romance

Wow, I’ve read a lot of books since I last posted, so all I can do is start to provide some really short reviews on some titles I’ve read.

  • Title: Web of Lies
  • Author:  Jennifer Estep
  • Type:  Urban Fantasy
  • Genre:  Retired female assassin helps a family in trouble
  • Sub-genre:  Action thriller with magical setting
  • My Grade: B-  (3.8*)
  • Rating:  PG-13
  • Length and price:  Full length novel; about 90,000+ words for $7.99
  • Where Available:  ebook available at at any book store; 4-for-3 program on Amazon
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased book from online bookstore

The second installment of the Elemental Assassin series Jennifer Estep moves solidly into an action thriller format that’s familiar as the most recent Jack Reacher book by Lee Child.  It lacks the slam-bang beginning of Spider’s Bite, but has a bit more development of Gin Blanco and her interesting supporting cast.  A fast, fun summer read, with a rather predictable ending.

********************************** (more…)

March 21, 2010

Assorted Reviews: Erotic Romance eBooks

GAH!!!!!  What is it editing these days?  The NCP Awful Editing Virus is spreading like wildfire.  Siren is completely infected.  Even Samhain has fallen victim.  I’m reading less from Ellora’s Cave, but I’ve seen the beginnings there as well.  Top that off with an ebook that had so many issues and I’m disgusted with the killer combination of higher prices and lower quality!  Just thinking about the prices these books will command in print makes me cringe.

In the last two weeks “…. he raised his hand to touch her check…”, then ” …… her interest was peaked..”, and ” …… lieing on the bed…” – no, I did not just make these up.  And here I thought “….imminently well qualified ….” was bad.  Who knew?  I am flexible on things like blogs, forums, journals, etc.  I mean, who has time to polish these things?  But the authors of these grammatical atrocities are professional writers – and more to point, asking me to PAY to read this stuff.  When I part with my hard earned money, especially in these tighter financial times, I deeply resent the disrespect that publishers and authors are showing readers by allowing such sloppy work to enter the marketplace.  The works read like unedited final drafts.  Messy and unpolished.  I’m left with a distinct sense of the author being too rushed and the publisher completely uncaring. Worse still, these were from established, well regarded, popular, authors.  Are they trading on their names?  I only tolerate that so far and stop buying.  Believe me, there a long list of authors that I no longer buy automatically – ebook and print.

When I’m getting charged increasingly higher prices for shorter and shorter works, bad editing and higher prices become a killer combination.  It’s bad enough that too many stories lack imagination and just regurgitate old themes and characters over and over, now the simple mechanics are being allowed to erode to the point where they actually interfere with the flow of the story?  No, let’s add egregious editing errors into the mix!  They are a tremendous distraction, and very insulting.  If you want top dollar for your product, I expect quality in return.  With prices of ebooks at the small publishers rapidly out pacing mass market paperbacks in escalating cost, while quality is falling short in so many easily correctable areas, the incentive to continue reading them is evaporating.  Seriously, how many ways can you have sex before the whole thing passes from hot to just plain boring – or worse, laughable?  Yes, it’s erotic romance – romantica if you prefer, not great literature, but come on, I deserve better than this!

Like most people who are lifelong readers, I enjoy the flow of words and ideas.  Quality writing is a joy to read.  I have never begrudged the money I’ve spent on books, and I spend thousands each year.  A book is something I can enjoy again and again each time I read it.  Joining PBS has prompted me to buy more books, not less, despite getting plenty of books through them as well.  I’ve found a lot of authors I might otherwise never have tried and read books I’d never heard of before.  My friends on Goodreads have added even more titles for my wish list.  As bad as the quality of print books have gotten, and there is no question that both mechanics and plot/writing are suffering with many popular authors, ebooks are on a steeper downward quality slide.

I always used to say, not all readers write, but all writers read.  We learn to speak and express our ideas through our command of language.  Is there a more important skill than this?  The clarity and definition of ideas and concepts are passed from generation to generation through the written word.  That we should treat this most important method of communicating and preserving our ideas with such cavalier disrespect is little short of criminal.  We are raising a generation unable to communicate.  Language can bring us together or keep us apart and we taking the voice from people and dumbing it down to new lows.  What a sad heritage we’re leaving.  A generation that can text but not write and can’t be bothered to read.  No wonder there’s such frustration.  They have never developed the tools they need to express themselves.  And heaven knows with what passes for quality writing these days, they stand little hope of learning them.

  • Title: The Valkyrie
  • Author:  Mandy M Roth
  • Type:  Urban fantasy
  • Genre:  First person tale of redemption and resurection
  • Sub-genre:  Supernatural loses her memory and but finds her soul
  • My Grade: C+ (3.5)
  • Rating:  PG-13
  • Length and price: Short Novel, category – about 50,000 words for $4.50 (10% for short time)
  • Where Available: ebook available on the Samhain site
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased book from publisher’s site


March 12, 2010

Two Short Reviews: Samhain eBooks

As most of you know, I read a lot of Samhain ebooks.  Many of their authors are among my favorites and overall they put out some of the best quality material.  Usually.  Mostly.  OK – this week was a HUGE miss for me.  Granted, not every week do I find something that grabs my interest, but when I do buy, I am rarely so disappointed.  On top of that, Samhain is starting to have the same kind of egregious editing errors for which New Concepts Publishing is so famous – or infamous.  “Peaked” where it should be “piqued”?  Last week it was “check” where the word was “cheek”!  You might think that an aberration, but it’s happened too often of late and mistakes are escalating in number and distracting from the flow of the story.  With the cost of ebooks escalating, my tolerance for such bush league nonsense is rapidly dwindling.

The editing issue was compounded this week by two entries that should have died on an editor’s desk.  One was just a saccharine costume drama in modern dress and the other a sex fest one might expect from Siren Ménage or NCP.  OK, I grant you one novella was by a writer I didn’t know, but the other novella was written by a well establish author that I’ve read and enjoyed in the past, so I was shocked at the awfulness of it!  Here are two titles that can be skipped – completely.

  • Title: Pride and Passion
  • Author:  Jenna Bayley-Burke
  • Type:  Homage to Pride and Predjudice
  • Genre:  Regency virgin miss in modern dress
  • Sub-genre:  Dumb assumptions fed by stupid lack of communication
  • My Grade: F (0*)
  • Rating:  PG
  • Length and price: Short Novel, category – about 50,000 words for $4.50 (10% for short time)
  • Where Available: ebook available on the Samhain site
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased book from publisher’s site (more…)

March 6, 2010

Misc. Reviews – Five Paranormal Books: Print and Ebooks

Paranormal romance has been reigning supreme in the romance genre for some time now.  Tough as nails heroines are a blessed relief from the barrage of fan wielding beauties of the Ton that populate Regency Romance.  Yes, I do read Regency, but after awhile, there’s just so much you can do with men in frock coats.  The rage for paranormal has given a lot of talented writers – and an even bigger pool of copycats – a whole new area to explore.  As with any genre, tropes get overworked and some writers are far better at world building.  No, they might not J.R.R Tolkien, Raymond Feist, or Robert Jordan, but then romance readers want different things from their stories than mainstream fantasy readers.  And the best of today’s writers deliver that in spades.  Then, thanks to Paperback Swap, I can get many books in print version that I would not otherwise buy.  Here are some short reviews of a few books I got thru various swaps for erotic paranormal romance as well as some recently released titles that I’ve bought.

  • Title: Hunters: The Beginning
  • Author: Shiloh Walker
  • Type:  Paranormal romance
  • Genre:  Vampire and werewolf enforcers and witches
  • Sub-genre:  menage and sex magic; single author anthology
  • My Grade: C+ to B- (3.5*)
  • Rating:  XXX
  • Length and price: Category novel and long novella – about 100,000 words total
  • Where Available: Publisher’s website as ebook, in print from publisher, some book stores and used book websites
  • FTC Disclosure: Book from a book swapping site

Shiloh Walker has a pretty loyal following in erotic romance and steamier mainstream.  With erotic romance, many readers are less concerned about the story than they are the steam.  The two book anthology has one of each.  The first story is a category length novel titled Declan and Tori.  It’s one of the better erotic romance paranormals.  The second, Eli and Sarel is more steam than story.


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