Showing posts with label book talk. Show all posts
Showing posts with label book talk. Show all posts

7 Books

I had originally done this meme on Facebook back in July 2009, a month before I discovered the world of book blogging. And even though it’s been almost 4 years since I’ve made this list, these 7 books still resonate with me and hold a special place in my heart.

Here are the rules: Don't take too long to think about it. Seven books you've read that will always stick with you. First seven you can recall in no more than 15 minutes. If you decide to do your own post, leave a link in the comments so I can check out your list.

Do You Ever Purposely Spoil a Book For Yourself?


Brianna: You once wrote a comment where you said, and I quote “I'm the worst mystery spoiler! I can't stand suspense so sometimes I cheat and read the last 15 pages of the book and then go back to the beginning.” *gasp!* You will read the end of a book first and spoiler it for yourself?!!

What Do You Think of May/December Relationships in Romance Novels?


Brianna: I have to say that I am not a fan of May/December romances. I prefer the hero and heroine to be at around the same time in their life as the other.

J9: I totally agree! Lately MM romance has been rife with thirty-five year old leads matched with nineteen and twenty year olds. Frankly, it makes me nuts because the leads are in different points in life, in my opinion.

The Cop And The Girl From The Coffee Shop by Terry TowersBrianna: I DNF’d a book earlier this year, The Cop and the Girl From the Coffee Shop, with characters in those age groups! The heroine was 19 and the hero was in his ‘mid-thirties’. That’s a big difference in age and all I could think about was the huge age gap. If that’s constantly on my mind, it makes it difficult to concentrate on the actual story.

J9: Yes, then any conflict or tension I can easily write off as being there because of the leads being different maturity levels. Plus, I think part of character development is the character’s history in life and honestly, not many nineteen year olds have that much life experience to pull from!

Brianna: I also think that people in different decades in their life will handle conflicts differently as well. The older character will, like you mentioned, have more life experience (or history) than the younger character.

His Salvation by J.R. LovelessJ9: Yes, exactly! I also need to mention the sexual component between May/December leads.  In MM romance often the teenager is described as “boy” or “kid” and frankly, in a sexual context that makes me squeamish. I don’t mind virgin leads in romance but not because the lead is immature and unprepared to have a mature, sexual relationship. 

Brianna: The words “boy” and “kid” do not belong in a romance novel. It’s pedophilia. I would DNF a book if that were the case.

Sarah's Chase by Lacey WolfeJ9: I’ve done that recently when I just couldn’t stomach it. I even discussed this concern with one of the MM publishers and she said that the May/December trope is one of the most popular in the MM genre.  But not for me!

Brianna: Really? That’s interesting. I did read one very short story recently, Sarah’s Chase, where the guy was in his late twenties and the woman was in her forties. It was difficult for me to get past the age difference. Silly, I know. But it’s one of those things I notice, and focus on, when reading.


Tell us: How do you feel about May/December relationships? Is this a trope you love to read or one you avoid?

What Do You Think of Smoking in Books?


Brianna: I saw this book as a Kindle freebie a while back and from the cover alone, it had me thinking it’s a cowboy romance. Then I read the blurb and I was like ‘bowling?’. Here’s the cover and blurb:

What Book Are On Your ‘Should’ve Read But Haven’t Yet’ List?


Brianna: There are books on my TBR list that I’ve been wanting to read and for some reason or another I just haven’t. A lot of them actually. And I’m speaking of books that (a) I actually own and are sitting on my shelf (or Kindle) and (b) books that I do not yet have in my possession but want to read. I know you don’t have a large TBR pile but there has to be books you’ve been meaning to read but haven’t yet, right?

What’s Your Preferred Reading Format?


Brianna: I think it’s safe to say, for the both of us, that our preferred reading format are ebooks. How long have you been an ebook reader and what prompted you to change to this format? What was your preferred reading format before the days of ebooks?

Discussion & Giveaway: New Adult Novels

DiscussionThere’s a (somewhat) new genre in town, which you may have heard of – New Adult. Now, I’m not going to go into the in’s and out’s of the genre or what categorizes a book as ‘new adult’. That’s been done many a time. I’m just going to touch on what I like about it and we’re going to have a giveaway, courtesy of Avon Addicts and J9. How does that sound?

TBV’s Top Reads of 2012

Here are the books J9 and I read this year and absolutely loved. (Here's last year's list.)

Book Review: Tip of the Spear by Marie Harte

Tip of the Spear by Marie HarteTitle: Tip of the Spear
Series: Amazon Western, Book 1
Author: Marie Harte
Genre: Dystopian, Post-Apocalypse
Sensuality Rating: Steamy
Source: review copy from author
Published: October 2012 by MHP

After people polluted the planet beyond recognition, the sky rocks came and reduced the world to rubble. Yet mankind refused to die, and the world was reborn. Welcome to the New West, where the Nature Laws rule.

1. Procreation is necessary, not optional
2. Women are a precious commodity
3. Harm the earth, lose your life
4. If it can eat you, it will

Welcome to the New West, where the Nature Laws dictate who lives and dies by the way they treat the land, carnivorous horses and blood trees are accepted mutations courtesy of the sky rocks, and the Impact Zone separates the earth-friendly territories of the West from a more sophisticated, steam-powered East. Women are rare commodities, living in extended families with more than one husband, and children are a necessity in a world where sterility is often the norm, not the exception. Life is full of challenge, romance and adventure. Something one courageous, wounded Amazon will find out first-hand.

Thais (Tay-iss) lost her mother, her queen, and most of her tribe at the hands of brutal foreigners, all while she enjoyed a respite from duty. But the young Amazon with vengeance in her heart refuses to lose anything else. She’ll bring back the queen’s stolen crown or die trying. Life in the Territories has its perils: the Nature Laws, carnivorous beasts, and treacherous men who survived the Time of Dying. One man in particular, a warrior in his own right, has an odd effect on her senses. She comes to desire him, to trust him, and she doesn’t like it. Men are good for war and breeding, neither of which Thais has time for, not when she’s so close to finding those responsible for the crown’s theft. In the course of her quest, Thais finds much more than atonement for her troubled past, but a pure and lasting love, if only she has the courage to accept it.

Fan Fiction: What’s Your Take?

With Fifty Shades of Grey recently hitting the New York Time’s Best Sellers List (it’s currently #1 in the Combined Print & Ebook Fiction category and #1 in the Ebook Fiction category), fan fiction is all abuzz on Twitter right now. Then yesterday I saw a tweet that said The Unidentified Redhead by Alice Clayton is Twilight fan fiction. Really? I would have never thought. I didn’t think of Twilight when I read either of these books. Not once.

TBV’s Top Reads of 2011

Here are my Top Reads of 2011. These are books that I read and loved and could read again.


Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison (my review | buy the book) –  I wasn’t going to read this book. I wasn’t. But the buzz surrounding this paranormal romance novel was too incredibly loud, it was utterly impossible to ignore. One thing that still stands out for me was the ‘take a penny, leave a penny’ scene. That was hilarious! And I love how possessive and obsessed Dragos is about Pia. They are one of my favorite couples. I loved this book so much, I had to get my very own copy (I had originally gotten the book from the library).

Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins (my review | buy the book) – I loved Hex Hall (my review) and loved Demonglass even more. I didn’t think I would like reading about a witch protagonist but Rachel Hawkins proved me wrong.

Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey (my review | buy the book) – I love this contemporary romance trilogy and the first book is my favorite. It’s funny and there’s lots of playful banter going on. And I like the Kowalski family dynamic.

Divergent by Veronica Roth (my review | buy the book) – This YA Dystopian novel blew me away. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. Tris is a terrific protagonist and I love Four.

Enclave by Ann Aguirre (my review | buy the book) – A dark, bleak YA Dystopian novel. Utterly eerie and yet I still had a bit of hope for Deuce and Fade. Amazing world building. Cinematic feel. Strong, fierce, loyal protagonist. Think I Am Legend (the movie) geared towards the young adult audience (minus the dog).

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler (my review | buy the book) – EPIC. These authors took a simple, yet brilliant concept and created a fun read. Great read for the young adult audience and the young at heart.

Sweet as Sin by Inez Kelley (my review | buy the book ) – Emotional novel involving a hero with a tormented past. John is nothing but complex. He also happens to be an author and his YA series was incorporated into the main storyline seamlessly.

Turn It Up by Inez Kelley (my review | buy the book ) – Hilarious and scintillating. The chemistry between Charlie and Bastian was off the hook. Friends to lovers with a twist – she’s the one who wants casual sex, he wants the whole package. And the on-air antics had me LOLing. Loads of sexual tension. Second book by this author that made my list. Definitely need to read more by her.

You Belong to Me by Karen Rose (my review | buy the book) – A great romantic suspense read. Heavy on the suspense element, light on the romance. The attention to detail was phenomenal.

Trust in Advertising by Victoria Michaels (my review | buy the book) – A fun story with lots of flirtatious banter. Great chemistry between the hero and heroine.

What were some of your favorite reads this year?

What Makes a Book a Top Read?

For a long time, I had a difficult time deciding whether or not a book deserved a 5/5 rating. A book has to be ultimate perfection in order to get those 5 frogs.

5 frogs

I have finally come to realize what makes a book earn a top grade for me: re-read ability. If I love a book and would re-read it, and I had no complaints, it’s going to get a 5/5 rating from me. I’m not much of a re-reader, never have been. I’ve only re-read 3 books. Ever. Only one of those books was a 4/5 rating, the other two books were a 5/5.

What makes a book a top read for you?

How Do You Prepare to Write Your Reviews?

During the recent Monster Review-a-Thon, there were some mini-challenges that involved tasks for us to complete that centered around organization. I loved reading other people’s posts because it was a great way to see how others get things done and you could find an easier or better way to do something. So my curious mind wants to know how do you prepare to write your reviews?

IMG_0004I use a voice recorder. I found mine in a box of stuff a few months ago and thought ah-ha! I could use this again. My voice recorder hasn’t seen the light of day in over 9 years but imagine my surprise when I tried it out and found that it stilled worked. I haven’t even had to replace the batteries yet. (I had used the voice recorder during my college years so as not to miss anything important during lecture notes.) 

I’ve tried jotting my thoughts down in a notebook but I slack off and don’t catch everything I want to retain. And sometimes when I had a good thought, by the time I was ready to write that thought down, I’d forgotten what that thought was. Talk about frustrating!

Using a voice recorder works best for me because my mind goes 100 mph and my hands can’t keep up (whether it’s writing it down by hand or by pounding away at the keyboard). I can talk a mile a minute so recording myself is the best way for me to capture and retain my thoughts. Yeah, my kids think it’s funny that mommy talks into a recorder (my daughter wants to use it herself but I don’t like sharing) but I’ve found that ever since I’ve been using the voice recorder, I’ve had a lot more to work with when it comes time to writing my reviews.

What method do you use? Do you write down your thoughts in a notebook? Do you use sticky notes and mark sections in the books? Something else?

Lesson of the Day – Ask for Original Content!

Author guest posts aren’t always original content, they get recycled.

What?!! <--- This was my reaction.

This was news to me. I’ve been book blogging for a about a year and a 1/2 now and this is the first I’ve learned of this. Call me naïve but I thought authors/publishers/publicists would want fresh and original content in their author guest posts circulating the book blogging community. Apparently, that is not always the case.

This morning I found out that an author guest post I featured on my blog was used not only on another site, not 2 other sites, but FIVE other sites. The same exact guest post. Verbatim. (And that’s only what I’ve found. There could be more sites out there with the exact same post.) At first, I found just the one site and I instantly thought they stole my guest post! Then I noticed the date on the other site’s post and it’s dated 2 days before my post. So now it looks like I stole their guest post! Then I did a little searching on Google and found that the same exact post is on five different sites.

So I contacted the publicist, since that is who I was working with in regards to this promotion, and asked if the same guest post was being recycled. Here’s the response I got:

I send the same guest post to everyone.

At least the publicist was honest. (This was my first time working with this particular publicist and it will be my last.) The bigger question is: Does the author know this is happening? I’ve contacted the author via their website; I’m waiting on a response.


ETA: I’ve heard back from the author and the author has offered to provide me with another guest post, one with original content. I have gladly taken the author up on the offer. The author also thanked me for bringing this situation to their attention. Kudos to the author for trying to make things right!


I work hard on my blog and I do it for fun in my spare as a hobby. I don’t get paid or compensated for the work that goes into maintaining this blog. I, just like most of the other book bloggers out there, like to help promote authors and I do it for FREE. In return, I expect original content, not cookie-cutter guest posts. To send the same post out to 5 sites is pure laziness. It’s an insult not only to me but to the other bloggers as well who were given the same guest post.

Authors, publishers, publicists: You wouldn’t want me to provide cookie-cutter book reviews, would you? You wouldn’t want me to write the exact same thing for every book I read and review, right? Of course you wouldn’t. That would be boring and sheer laziness on my part. So please, don’t do that with guest posts. It’s insulting. If you’re out of fresh ideas for guest posts, ask me! I can give you some topic ideas. Or we can do an interview. But communicate with me. Just don’t try to pass off a used post to my readers.

What I’ve learned
I need to have a Review Policy in place, whether or not I’m accepting review requests. I took down my Review Policy because I’m currently not accepting review requests at this time. But Review Policies are not just for reviews; they let authors, publishers and publicists know whether or not you participate in guest posts, interviews, virtual book tours and giveaways. I’ll be working on my Review Policy and I will be stipulating that I will only accept guest posts with original content.


Book Bloggers: I want to know, has this ever happened to you? Do you mind if you get recycled content for author guest posts you feature on your blog?

How Do You Retain Important Facts When Reading a Book in a Series?

Here’s my conundrum:

When I am reading a book in a series as each book gets published, I forget details – important details. This is especially true when most follow-up books are released a year apart. With a year between books and me reading lots of books in that time frame, I’m bound to forget all kinds of stuff.

Last month, I was getting ready to read Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick. I started to read it but realized that I needed a Hush, Hush refresher. So I did what I normally do not do: I re-read Hush, Hush. In the end, I’m glad I did. There was so much that I had forgotten in one year’s time. Today, I am finding myself in the same predicament; I was getting ready to read Unraveled by Gena Showalter and I realized that I don’t remember a whole lot of what happened in Intertwined. Thanks to Page at One Book At A Time, I know have a good understanding of what took place in Intertwined and will not have to re-read it.

The ideal scenario would be to wait until the complete series has been written (or close to) before starting to read it. That way, all (or most) of the books are out and you can read them back to back and retain the necessary information needed in order to follow the storyline. But let’s face it, that ain’t always going to happen. Especially when it’s a series we’re in love with and/or there’s a killer cliffhanger that has you biting your nails.

Sometimes (though not all the time) the author is good about refreshing the reader a bit along the way. Case in point: Kate Kaynak. She did a wonderful job of filling in the reader with the important details from each previous book in her Ganzfield series. She did it in form of an introduction and called it “previously at Ganzfield”. I was ever so grateful for her doing this.

Then there’s re-reading. But I can’t go back and re-read every single time. I am not a fan of re-reading (that’s a whole ‘nother discussion for another day).


What do you do to keep the important information instilled in your memory? Do you do a “re-read session” before reading the latest book to catch up? Do you take notes and look back at them before reading the next book? If so, do you keep notes in a notebook/journal? Or do you keep notes on your computer or online somewhere? Or do you have a different trick you use?

ETA: Shortly after I posted this, I discovered a section in Goodreads called ‘Private Notes’ where you can write whatever you want and no one else would see it. I thought that this would be a great place to put important information about a book (that would most likely be a SPOILER for others) so I decided to use it. Then I discovered that you’re only allowed 513 characters. While that may be enough in some cases, it surely won’t be enough in most. So I still want to pick your brains to see how you retain important information when reading a book in a series. Ready? Set. Go!

Do You Own Your Reviews?

I have had it! I am done with posting reviews on Amazon. I am sorry to the authors that will be effected by my decision but until Amazon treats reviewers with some respect and dignity, I will no longer post my reviews there. I will now only do star ratings on Amazon. You won't find my thoughts on the book on Amazon but at least the authors will get recognition. (Thanks to Viv Arend for pointing this out!)

Imagine my surprise when I get a Google Alert* directing me to Book Super Sales and I see MY review on their site. I did not post my review on that site nor did I give them permission to post my review.

This site STOLE my review from Amazon (without MY permission) and pasted it verbatim on their site to make it look like I commented on their post with my review! Now that's low. And you want to know what's lower than low? They linked my comment to Amazon, using THEIR Amazon affiliate link!! So not only does MY review get stolen without any credit to me, they are making money from doing so!

I posted an actual comment on this site asking them to remove my review. It's no surprise that (1) my review is still there and (2) as you might have guessed they moderate comments so my real comment is not showing up on their site. I posted my comment on May 12 and it's still shows as "awaiting moderation".

And what does Amazon have to say about this? Well, they pretty much allow it. It's in their Terms of Service. Yeah, shocking, isn't it?

Here's what I wrote to Amazon:
It has been brought to my attention that someone has copied my review of Hannah's List by Debbie Macomber from Amazon and pasted it on their site under "Responses to Hannah's List" (i.e. as a comment). I did not post the comment nor did I give anyone permission to use my review. I have posted a "response" asking that my review be removed from the site. It appears to be some sort of book selling site, with links to Amazon. This leads me to believe that the links they are using directs people to Amazon and possibly giving them some sort of payment.

Here is the link to the Hannah's List page and the comments:

And here's the response I got from Amazon Customer Service Representative Mike M.: 
We can appreciate your concerns; however, when you post content to the site, you grant Amazon a right to distribute that content, and to use the name that you submit in connection with your content.  For more details, please refer to the Conditions of Use page found here:

If you would rather any or all of your reviews not appear outside of, the best solution would be to delete them via Your Profile. To find your Profile, click "Your" at the top of any page and then click the "Your Profile" link in the blue navigation bar.  On Your Profile, you'll find a list of your reviews as well as other community content you've provided. Under the list of reviews, click "See all reviews." You'll then see a list of your reviews and "Edit review" and "Delete review" options. Clicking the "Delete review" button will take you to a confirmation page.  Clicking "yes" on the confirmation page will delete the review. Your review should be deleted from the website shortly.

At the bottom of the email they ask if this has solved my problem and you are given the option to click on the YES link or the NO link. Guess which link I clicked on.

I clicked on the NO link and wrote:
So you're basically saying that it's okay for to steal my review from your site, put it on their site to look like I left my review in a comment (which I didn't)?!! And your site allows them to make commissions from the Amazon Associates program with the help from MY review?!!

And a different Amazon Customer Service Representative, Jeff G., replied:
As you mentioned, it is true that we allow members of our Associates program to display Customer Reviews that were submitted on and Associates do earn a commission for any sales that result from them referring a customer to our site.

The Associates web sites should be displaying Amazon reviews as Customer Reviews, so I have brought this particular web site to the attention of the Associates Team.  If this violates their guidelines, they will follow up directly with that site to make sure the information they display follows the appropriate guidelines.

As my colleague, Mike, previously mentioned, you always have the option to delete your reviews by visiting your Profile.  Once the reviews are deleted they should no longer appear on external web sites within a few weeks, as the Associates sites receive a regularly-scheduled feed from Amazon.

I'm very sorry for any disappointment or frustration this situation caused.  Unfortunately, we aren't able to provide any further insight or action on this matter.

Sorry, Jeff, but "sorry" doesn't cut it.

So there you have it. Not one, but two Amazon Customer Service Representatives not only suggested but pretty much encouraged me to remove my reviews. I guess you get your wish Amazon because that's exactly what I'm going to do. 

I'm not even going to even waste my time with another response. Besides, actions speak louder than words, right? And then there's always word of mouth. 

So what does this all mean? What am I going to do? 

For starters, I am going to delete all my reviews that I've posted on Amazon and I will cease from writing any more reviews on there. I put a lot of work and thought into my reviews. I will admit, it's a bit of a challenge for me to articulate my thoughts into words. So for someone to STEAL my reviews and use as a means of making commission is a low blow. 

I'm not going to completely boycott Amazon but I will look to other venues, such as Barnes & Noble and The Book Depository, to purchase my books. If Amazon is going to let someone STEAL my reviews and let them make a profit, then I'm not going to give my business to Amazon.

I will continue to post my reviews on Barnes & Noble, The Book Depository, Goodreads and LibraryThing unless I find out that they're on the same ship as Amazon.

I was originally going to post about this back when it had just happened, about 2 weeks ago. But I had cooled down and decided to leave it alone. Then, just today, I got a Google Alert directing me HERE. I can't seem to find my review on this book but I did see a review from a fellow book blogger. And it looks like they swiped her review right from Amazon.

I have never read Terms of Service on these sites and that's my fault. Shame on me for not reading them and for not knowing what I was getting myself into.

So my question to you is this, what are our rights as book reviewers? Do we "own" our reviews when we post them on sites like Amazon, B&N, Goodreads and LibraryThing? I still consider myself *new* to the world of book blogging and book reviewing so I would appreciate any insight you have on the matter. I want to know what you think.

*If you haven't already done so, I highly recommend that you sign up for a Google Alert for you and your blog. You can see if something like this is happening to you. Or on a lighter note, you can also find out if you won a contest. Either way, you definitely need to sign up. 

**I don't usually use my blog as a platform to express my personal vents and frustrations but this issue was really getting to me and I had to let it out.

Discussion: eReaders

Did you hear that? That was my eBook cherry. I finally did it. I read my very first eBook!

I had finished reading The Secret Year and I didn't have any other books with me. I was waiting for The Hubby to get off work and had nothing else to read. *GASP* I know. So I went through my iTouch, looked through my Kindle App and decided to try out Kiss of Midnight by Lara Adrian (it was a free Kindle download some time ago). I got really into the book and before I knew it, I had forgotten that I was reading an eBook. Amazing, really.

I really like the convenience of reading practically anywhere. My iTouch is very convenient and I take it with me everywhere. I have many eBooks on my B&N App, Stanza App and Kindle App but I never really had the urge to read an eBook. Now that I have given it a shot, I like it.

I never thought I'd say this, but I really want an eReader now. I've been chit-chatting with Fiction Vixen and she just makes me want one even more! I want the real deal; not just my small iTouch but a normal sized reader with the e-ink. I have my eyes on the Kindle 2 and I might check out the Nook. I'm going to ask for one for my birthday. Wishful thinking.


Do you have an eReader? If so, which one? Pros? Cons? Do you still buy actual books? If you don't have one, are you thinking about getting one? I'd like to hear your thoughts...Let's discuss!