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 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


November 22, 2009

Short Review – Cowboy Cravings by Morgan Ashbury (Ménage)

  • Title: Cowboy Cravings
  • Author: Morgan Ashbury
  • Type: Contemporary erotic romance
  • Genre: Western; ménage;
  • Sub-genre: Wounded dove from NYC finds cowboy love
  • My Grade: B- (3.7*)
  • Rating: NC-17 to x
  • Length & price: 52,000 words – Short novel for $5.99
  • Where Available: ebook available at Siren
  • FTC Disclosure: ebook bought from publisher’s website

Here’s the thing with this m/f/m ménage, its sold as a Siren Ménage book and listed as ‘sextreme’, but it doesn’t read like their usual ‘sextreme’  book, which undoubtedly will disappoint some.  I thought Cowboy Cravings was well above average for character development, believability, plot, and overall writing quality for a contemporary ménage story, especially one from Siren, where sex scenes usually overwhelms the slight plots.  Others will find the book too mild for the ‘sextreme’ rating that Siren gave it and be disappointed. (more…)

September 26, 2009

Book Reviews: Two Historical Romance Reviews

There seems to be contest going on for the title of The Most Disappointing Book of the Year and a second one for Most Over-Hyped Author.  For every pleasant surprise and happy find, there are 3 mediocre entries that get disproportionate praise among reviewers or readers.  I learned long ago to use great care when taking recommendations from friends and acquaintances for restaurants and books.  Some people think Olive Garden serves great Italian food and The DaVinici Code is the best book ever.  It’s worse than what passes for pizza in some places!  OK, yes, I’m a pizza snob, but anyone who grows up around NYC is bound to be.  And yes, I can certainly be harsh about books and authors that are more popular than good.  After well over 5,000 books, you know the good stuff when you read it.  There are a lot of undeserving bestsellers out there. (more…)

September 3, 2009

Short Reviews: New Erotic Romance Reads – 3 Novellas

Well another week and another crop of new releases from the various epubs of erotic romance.  Two more longer stories are coming up for review this weekend along with Allyson James’ Dragon Heat.  Let’s get started with 3 novellas.

As any follower of this blog knows, I’m not a fan of m/m, D/s, or BDSM books, but I do read ménage that includes m/m and I’m a complete sucker for shifter stories.  This week was another big one for ménage fans.  While I sit and wait for the next installment of Lara Santiago’s Galactic Gunslingers series and Liza Curtis Black’s Endland Chronicles – two of the more original futuristic series out there – I risk permanent brain damage reading what’s available.  This weeks crop was mostly of the ‘meh’ variety – very formulaic.  In fact, so much formulaic that I’ve begun to wonder if the epubs have drafts that writers work from or guidelines like those used by Harlequin for their Tycoon/Millionaire/Billionaire/Gazillionaire books.   Well these stories are the erotic equivalent of THOSE books – the ones with those awful titles and worse plots involving mistresses, secret babies, amnesia, long lost relatives thought dead, penthouse apartments, private jets, and mansions by the sea, but no reality anywhere in sight.  Except here we have lots of explicit sex.  So, gear up, and let us venture forth into the Jungle of Meh, in the Land of the Lost Plot ruled by the Two Mighty Wangs and The One Wet Woo-Woo. (more…)

August 27, 2009

Short Review: Shoulda Been A Cowboy – Book 7 of the Rough Riders Series

  • Title:  Shoulda Been A Cowboy
  • Author: Lorelei James
  • Type: Contemporary Romance
  • Genre:  Western, Series,  Book 7 of the Rough Riders Series
  • Sub-genre: Erotic, D/s, wounded hero & heroine
  • My Grade:  B- (3.75*)
  • Rating: X
  • Length: over 95,000 words – Full novel
  • Where Available: Samhain as an ebook

Lorelei James has been doing various stories in her tales of the McKay clan that have proved very popular.  I liked Miss Firecracker released earlier this summer, as well as several of her other books, but this isn’t a must buy series for me.  Shoulda Been a Cowboy is a very different kind of a story and rather touching without wallowing in pathos and tears.  Ms James also gives a far more realistic view of disabled Iraq war vets than did JoAnn Ross in Shattered where the ‘Bionic Man’ prosthesis makes the hero battle ready again.  Here Deputy Cameron McKay is a special ops vet who came home after losing a leg in Iraq.  He is a man used to using his body like a weapon, and now he has to work hard each day to keep himself independent and self-sufficient.  Your basic brooding, wounded hero who, because of his perception of his disability sees himself as less than he was before.  This is especially difficult for Cam because he’s a Dominant.  So many little things he used to take for granted are now no longer possible.  But he can’t help his attraction to Domini Katzinski, a Ukrainian immigrant who runs the local diner. (more…)

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