J to tha M: What We’re Reading (Still)

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photo credit: <a

photo credit: <a

M: so, I have a couple fluffcloud stories for you to try

two that are free Honeymoon for One and The Princess Problem

they were cute

and another I’d be interested to see what you think – She’s Got Dibs

it’s a beta hero

J: oooooh

I bought another Delphine Dryden last night, the second in the Science of Temptation series

with a beta hero – The Seduction Hypothesis

And the Lila Dubois that was reviewed on Saturday – Undone Rebel

M: you’ll have to tell me if you like the other Dryden. I’ve read the first and second in the Undone Dom series and really enjoyed

J: I like both of Dryden’s. A lot


and I really liked Undone Rebel.

I love the beta heroes. I checked out She’s Got Dibs

if the heroine doesn’t get a clue soon…

the hero is a doll

and I want to keep reading for him

she decided to just be friends

and I was facepalming

M: I like the first few chaps I’ve read, but yeah. I agree

J: I just think the heroine is being a dumbass

I wanna kick her

M: I’m worried about all the pushing him away going on for another 300 pages

argh. I die

and not in a good way

stupidass girl

J: yes


because he’s adorable




M: sexy

J: but mostly sweet

M: good to her

J: wtf

M: I knoooow

shut up, stupidgirl

J: k, i’m getting a little irritated with her again

M: just jump his ass

J: hahaha

M: well, you do love your beta geek heroes, so definitely let me know what you think when you finish

J: I’ll read it all

just downloaded the free reads

M: I’ve been having a streak of luck with the freebie ones – almost all self-pubbed

read a couple stinkers, but for the most part, they’ve been pretty good reads overall

maybe I just know more what to look for and what to avoid

J: the blurbs say a lot

I read a blurb last night that made me LOL

for real


M: yeah, and I do skim through the reviews and read samples if they have them – that really helps

I just started a short with a rock star and curvy girl waitress

shows some promise – I’ll let you know

I’ve read a few blurbs that just make me shake my head

but that’s good, I guess. You know not to waste any more time

J: I wanted to share this one with you

but apparently I was so traumatized that I put it out of my head completely

M: haha – that’s not good

J: It was so ridiculous

it must be read

M: Like the ones where they put an excerpt in the blurb area on Amazon and it’s O.O

Thank you, next

J: oh, I finished Beyond Shame

I thought it was good. I’d read the second

M: I really liked that one

better than the first

J: took me some time to get into the dystopian

M: yeah, she kind of jumped right into the different world

I would have enjoyed a little more background worked throughout

I rec the second in the Undone Lovers series (Undone Dom, maybe?) and the second in the Beyond series

Interested in one or both?

J: yes. going to order



Book Review: Lawless Love by Andrea Downing

Guest Review by Heidi LaVista

book review Lawless Love by Andrea DowningWhile tracking a suspect in the murder of a local ranch owner, US Marshal Dylan Kane encounters Lacey Everhart twice in the course of one afternoon. First bathing in the river, and then as the proprietress of the town’s only lodging house. When her younger brother, who matches the description of his suspect, returns home, Marshal Kane’s long-held beliefs of right and wrong, black and white, are challenged in the interactions that follow.

Lawless Love is an enjoyable historical short story. Andrea Downing’s imagery is great, as are the historical aspects. I did have some trouble with the phonetic use of dialog, which was abundant and somewhat inconsistent. The words and pronunciations are most likely accurate for the time and setting, but spelling them out distracted me nonetheless.

Also distracting are a couple of my personal pet peeves, which won’t bother most readers, but I have to mention. I. Don’t. Like. This. Effect. At. All. Yeah, that. The story does require some suspension of disbelief, suffering from the insta-lust and love often seen in novellas. I had a hard time believing Lacey would think about kissing a man she was rightly furious with for spying while she bathed in the nude. I also didn’t get much of a chance to experience what the hero and heroine saw in each other to make them fall so hard into love—or even lust—so quickly despite their beliefs and values of the time period.

I do have a couple of sentences that show the great potential for Ms. Downing’s imagery, but mix with passive phrasing:

“As night whispered about him and he watched the curtains billow before they were sucked out into the silver light of the moon, Dylan lay imagining what it would be like to hold Lacey in that nocturnal quiet.”

Loved the imagery, but the passive phrases and words not so much.

“Outside, a ball of tumbleweed spun by as branches tried to meet the earth and the gate crashed open and shut.”

Same thing. Loved the imagery, would have liked to see it more active, but that’s just me being picky. And then the repeated line a few pages later:

“Out the window, the front gate crashed and slammed on its hinges as tumbleweed bowled by.”

Essentially the same thing, but with active rephrasing. Blend the two sentences together, and I think we’d have something very nice indeed.

Overall, Lawless Love entertained, and I’m interested to read the author’s other works. I love the potential of her talent and would like to see the results of a little stronger editing in the more technical areas.

book review lawless love by andrea downing

About the Book

Lacey Everhart has carved out a tough existence in the wilds of 1880s Wyoming, working hard to build a secure life for herself and her younger brother, Luke. She will stop at nothing to protect what’s hers and keep them safe. Even if it means keeping a secret that could destroy their lives.

Marshal Dylan J. Kane is a man who considers everything as black and white, right or wrong.  He’s never seen life any other way until he sets eyes on Lacey. Suddenly the straight and narrow that he’s followed has a few twists and turns. Loving Lacey offers the home life for which he hankers…but can he really love a woman who seems to be plain lawless?

About the Author

Andrea Downing likes to say that, when she decided to leave New York, the city of her birth, she made a wrong turn and went east instead of west.   She ended up spending most of her life in the UK where she received an M.A. from the University of Keele in Staffordshire.  She married and raised a beautiful daughter and  stayed on to teach and write, living in the Derbyshire Peak District, the English Lake District, Wales and the Chiltern Hills before finally moving into London. During this time, family vacations were often on guest ranches in the American West, where she and her daughter have clocked up some 17 ranches to date. In addition, she has traveled widely throughout Europe, South America, and Africa, living briefly in Nigeria. In 2008 she returned to the city of her birth, NYC, but frequently exchanges the canyons of city streets for the wide open spaces of the West.  Her love of horses, ranches, rodeo and just about anything else western is reflected in her writing.  Loveland, a western historical romance published by The Wild Rose Press, was her first book and is a finalist for the RONE Award of Best American Historical.  Lawless Love, a story, comes out as part of The Wild Rose Press Lawmen and Outlaws’ series on Sept. 4.  Andrea is a member of Romance Writers of America and Women Writing the West.

Follow Andrea on her blog, Twitter, Facebook, and purchase Lawless Love on Amazon

About the Reviewer

Heidi LaVista loves to combine words and song, reads more than a lot, and dabbles in writing stuff sometimes. Loves editing, stuffed animals (not clowns), cute guys, cats and dogs, and chocolate-covered pretzels.

Book Review: I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

Guest Review by Tiff Nichols

Book review I've Got Your NumberEvery once in a while, a gal needs something light to read—a good, funny romance with endearing characters, hilarity, and hijinks. When I find myself pining for a fun read that really pulls me in, I turn to one of my favorite authors of romantic comedies, Sophie Kinsella. You might recognize her as the author of the popular Shopaholic series, but Kinsella has written quite a few hilarious standalone novels as well. The one I read most recently is I’ve Got Your Number.

Sophie Kinsella is a champ at creating lovable characters, and she doesn’t disappoint here. I adored Poppy Wyatt from the first chapter. She’s a bright, caring, and witty physiotherapist in London who is all set to marry Magnus Tavish, the man of her (and many other girls’) dreams. Like most of Kinsella’s female leads, Poppy finds herself the heroine in a comedy of errors.

During an afternoon tea with her girlfriends, Poppy manages to lose both her heirloom engagement ring and her cell phone in quick succession. As luck would have it, she finds a discarded phone in a trash bin. Poppy grabs the phone in a panic and gives the number to the hotel’s employees, who have promised to keep an eye out for her ring.

The hijinks begin immediately. Turns out the phone belonged to successful businessman Sam Roxton, whose personal assistant chucked the phone into the trash after abruptly quitting her job. Poppy convinces Sam to let her keep the phone until the hotel calls to tell her they’ve found her engagement ring. She soon finds herself immersed in Sam’s electronic life—both business and personal. Sam, of course, is none too happy about her snooping, but Poppy, with her wit, common sense, and desire to help in every situation, eventually becomes invaluable to Sam.

It was fun to watch the unconventional alliance develop between Poppy and Sam. They go from complete strangers, a bit annoyed at one another and reluctantly sharing a cell phone, to acquaintances who give each other advice via text and phone conversations.

The story is fun, the characters are endearing, and the laughs are abundant. There’s enough mystery on all fronts to keep you guessing throughout. Also, there are footnotes, a clever nod to Poppy’s distinguished and scholarly in-laws-to-be. (“Magnus says footnotes are for things which aren’t your main concern but nevertheless hold some interest for you. So. This is my footnote about footnotes.”) They’re filled with fun little tidbits that are intended as asides to the reader, e.g. “What kind of movie starts with a mother fish and all her little glowy eggs being eaten by a shark, FFS? It’s supposed to be for children.”

If you’re looking for a serious read that you can really think about, a protagonist who will be a role model for the ages, or something to satisfy your feminist side, this is one of the last books I’d recommend. But if you’re like me and enjoy the occasional jaunt to the land of “chick lit,” then I highly recommend I’ve Got Your Number. I give the book five monkeys, because anything that makes me stay up all night giggling and reading is worth it.

Book Review I've Got Your Number

About the Book

Poppy Wyatt has never felt luckier. She is about to marry her ideal man, Magnus Tavish, but in one afternoon her “happily ever after” begins to fall apart. Not only has she lost her engagement ring in a hotel fire drill, but in the panic that follows, het phone is stolen. As she paces shakily around the lobby, she spots an abandoned phone in a trash can. Finders keepers! Now she can leave a number for the hotel to contact her when they find her ring. Perfect!

Well, perfect except that the phone’s owner, businessman Sam Roxton, doesn’t agree. He wants his phone back and doesn’t appreciate Poppy reading his messages and wading into his personal life.

What ensues is a hilarious and unpredictable turn of events as Poppy and Sam increasingly upend each other’s lives through emails and text messages. As Poppy juggles wedding preparations, mysterious phone calls, and hiding her left hand from Magnus and his parents, she soon realizes that she is in for the biggest surprise of her life.

About the Author

Sophie Kinsella is the author of the bestselling Shopaholic series, as well as Twenties Girl, Remember Me?, The Undomestic Goddess, and Can You Keep a Secret? She lives with her husband and children in London, UK.

About the Reviewer

Tiffany Nichols is a writer, editor, and avid reader who lives in Charleston, South Carolina, with her husband and two dogs.  She enjoys music, crocheting, craft beers, and not sharing her cell phone with strangers. You can find her at WriteEditRepeat.com.

Book Review: Vigilant by Angel Lawson

Guest Review by Michelle Schaffer

Book review for Vigilant by Angel LawsonVigilant was a very interesting story. The story never lagged, it was full of twists. I enjoyed the characters, especially the main character. This is a book that I would purchase and would read again. I very much enjoyed this book and I like how the author developed the story.

The story focuses on the life of Ari Grant, a caseworker for troubled youths. Ari is caught in an armed robbery and rescued by the Vigilante as the book begins. The Vigilante is known around Glory City to come to the rescue during time of need. Ari receives the benefit of the Vigilante more than once, at just the right time. We follow Ari’s life as she struggles to help the kids assigned to her, struggling what to do for them to overcome a city that seemed to have given up on them. All the while suffering personal turmoil due to the livelihood, in which the Vigilante steps in. The plot twists and turns, in unexpected ways. I had part of the story figured out early on while waiting for our main character to figure it out. Though there were a few turns in the story that were completely unexpected. It is well developed and easy to follow.

I really adored the superhero line of the story in which someone is watching over everyone, waiting in the wings at a time of need. But what I relished was the development of the main character Ari. I was captivated with the writing, watching Ari survive what life gives her, how she copes with life with her tattoo habits and late night clubbing and the relationships she fosters in her life especially with her roommate Oliver. I simply love her. She isn’t perfect, far from it. The best compliment I can give is she is real and written so beautifully.

My hesitation on giving this book five monkey review is the editing. I would be completely engrossed in the story, anxiously reading the next development, just to be pulled out by an editing error. The book has some errors, not on every page, just enough to frustrate me. One error being the wrong character name in which I went back and reread several pages to ensure I wasn’t mistaken. However these errors shouldn’t hinder you from reading this book, it is worth it! The story closes leaving the door open for more opportunities to continue the story, but not leaving unanswered questions. I sincerely hope the author continues the story, I know I would read a sequel!

Book Review Vigilant by Angel Lawson

About the Book

Ari Grant spends her days helping the troubled youth of Glory City, and her nights trying to feel something other than the cold numbness that has settled in her bones. For years, she satisfies this urge with trips to the tattoo parlor or late night clubbing, but everything changes when she becomes a victim of an armed robbery.

She manages to escape notice from the gunman, a former client, but only because she’s saved by Glory City’s own Vigilante. A hooded man who has impeccable timing when it comes to those in need.

It seems Ari isn’t the only one trying to save lost souls or looking for a life outside their job. She’s caught the attention of Nick Sanders, a handsome attorney at juvenile court. Solid and steady, he seems the perfect fit, but Ari has developed an obsession with Davis, the mysterious and sexy director of a local fight club that rehabilitates delinquent boys.

Each of these men fight for the less fortunate, but not everyone has altruistic motives. When Ari’s female clients begin to disappear, she can’t figure out who to trust. Soon enough it becomes obvious that while Ari watches over the kids of Glory City, someone else has taken to watching over her.

About the Author

Angel Lawson lives in Atlanta with 2 mini-superheroes, one big-superhero wannabe and a growing herd of pets. She spend her days creating art out of words, glue and glitter while chasing away zombies, serial killers and ghosts at night. She is the author of FanGirl, The Wraith Series and an adult romance, Serial Summer. The third book in the Wraith series will be released in December 2013. Follow Angel Lawson on her WebsiteTwitter, and Facebook.

About the Reviewer

Michelle is a lover of books, all shapes and sizes, but a big sucker for a great romance and the search for a new fictional boyfriend! When not taking care of three demanding persons in her home, one being the man she married and the other two co-created with her husband, she works full time in a job that pays the bills. She dreams of down time to lose herself in another book since she has more books on her TBR list than she does food in her refrigerator.

J to tha M: On Reviews

How Important Are They, Really?

buying book reviews

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M: I was thinking about reviews

You know, how important are they versus how important we think they are.

J: Obviously, we like to know what people think

and if we don’t have a lot of reviews, we feel that either people aren’t buying or don’t care enough to review

M: But reviews have gone the way of so many things, it seems. All about the numbers

how many

how many 5 star

and I think they’re losing their effectiveness or purpose

the whole pay for reviews thing, or ask all your friends and relatives to give you five stars

promise something in return for reviews – money, prizes, whatever

that kind of defeats the purpose

so how do you get more reviews without diluting or invalidating them?

J: well, if you’re not promising cool stuff in return for the reviews, you gotta hope you’ve got something great that people want to talk about

M: yep

J: It’s really just a matter of abuse

taking a good system and exploiting it, twisting it to fit your needs

it’s kind of amazing that people go so far as to promise cool stuff in exchange for reviews. I don’t know if I could make myself do it. I mean, part of me doesn’t begrudge them the reviews. It’s hard enough as it is

but then I look at my small number of reviews and think “what could I do?”

and the answer is: write something better or promise cash and prizes

M: Some people probably really did feel the book deserved a high star rating and review, but how many felt pressured or thought it was expected, they either didn’t read the book at all or just wanted the reward or left an inflated review?

versus how many just needed the simple reminder or encouragement

J: well, you know my stance on offering prizes as opposed to flat out paying for reviews

offering a prize doesn’t guarantee a good review or even a review at all

while paying someone to write a bunch of different five-star reviews to post on amazon or goodreads is completely false

so I don’t exactly consider them the same level

even if, yes, people are more likely to review falsely or in an exaggerated manner to get a chance at the prize

it’s still not the same as having a bunch pre-prepared by a ghostwriter

M: I agree they’re not the same level, but anytime you offer something in exchange for a review, that’s where things start getting skeevy for me.

I know offering an incentive doesn’t guarantee a good review, but I think it influences one. Consciously or not

but my feeling is, to get thousands of reviews, people have to love your book. LOVE IT. talk about it all the time to everyone. And offering a contest or asking your friends for reviews isn’t going to get you to that level. Writing a book that appeals to a large number of people will.

J: as an author, the numbers would be great, but I’d just KNOW that they weren’t the real deal. How could I believe anything anyone said about my book?

it’s such a fluffy ego boost.

M: All these shenanigans have really undermined readers’ confidence and belief in reviews

J: the general consensus about anything anymore is “whatever it takes” and “laugh all the way to the bank”

M: there is that

I think there’s a lot of concentration on “how do I get more reviews for my book” and not “how do I get more readers.”

and while there is certainly a relationship, there is a difference

J: I think a lot of people look for shortcuts, whatever they may be

M: Absolutely.

J: I wonder sometimes if I’m just not cut out for the business side of it

and think if I’m going to keep writing, I need to just write, edit, publish

leave the rest out so I don’t get discouraged or angry

M: it’s a balancing act, for sure. Do what you can, what keeps you going, but know if you put something aside, you might have to change your goals

J: I’m starting to wonder if it’s possible to meet your goals without breaking some rules

M: It depends on your goals, doesn’t it?

J: It really does

What do you think about responding to reviews, even if it’s just to say thank you?

I’m kind of against it, even though I know the Internet changes rules all over the place

I think if people want a response, they should send a private message

do you think that’s ungrateful?

M: I don’t think it’s ungrateful.

The internet has changed so much. Some people want a separation between the author and the work, some don’t.

I’ve heard arguments on both sides, and I still don’t know

J: I’ve seen some people say in the same breath that it’s creepy the author can see their review but they don’t know why the author didn’t acknowledge it.

M: I like to be able to comment or review or whatever without that perceived pressure

but I also love hearing from people, whether they’re readers or writers, so…

I don’t know

J: well, I do make a point of answering personal messages

we put our contact info out there

I think if people want a response, they should contact me privately

M: oh, yes, absolutely. I always answer messages or notes

Even the “like” thing I’m kind of debating – I mean, what are the rules for that? Should we like every review, good and bad, because the person did take the time to read and comment, even if, as the author, we might not “like” the content

which brings up the subject of bad reviews. Not everyone is going to like what you write, and you have to accept that

J: and if you haven’t paid them to say they like it, you can better trust them, too

M: not everyone who leaves a bad review is an idiot, jealous ex-lover/writer/reader/birdwatcher who doesn’t know anything about anything ever and should just keep their opinions to themselves and not say anything if they can’t say anything nice.

Some, maybe, but really. Not all.

J: Word. I’m going to go do some birdwatching, I think.