Books I’ve Been Reading

In the current order in my Kindle App, which is not chronological because I was talking about several of these books with others:

Gaijin, by Remittance Girl

Erotica. Trigger warning for flat out rape.

Why I bought it: From a discussion at Dear Author.

What I think: I’ve read this several times. Not for everyone, and not romance. Remittance Girl is a writer to watch.

A Virgin Enslaved, Artemis Hunt

50 Shades Fan Fic?

Why I bought it: Saw it being tweeted as it was read by someone whose opinion I respect. It sounded interesting.

What I think: It’s well written and not very long. It’s also 50 Shades fanfic and/or a retelling. From the story tag line, you’d think it is parody, but it did not read like a parody and I did not detect anything that was a comment on all the issues of 50. (and I went to grad school where I was trained to do that!) This is way better written than 50 Shades, but ultimately, it didn’t work for me overall. The virgin in this story was never enslaved (literally or figuratively) and the BDSM stuff completely dropped out. It had zero impact on the story. I did not find the characters as compelling as the poorly written ones in 50. This story, for me, missed that Alpha/Innocent trope that hits so hard in Twilight and 50. Nevertheless, I will be reading other things by this author and I will NOT be reading anything more by James. I’m glad I found out about this writer. There’s a deep, deep backlist. YAY.

Please note: If this book had contained clickable buy links to that backlist, I would have bought at least one and probably several. In other words, I now have to work 10 times harder to find/buy this author’s books. Don’t do this to me. This author now has to depend upon me remembering those pen names…. And, sadly, that’s just not a guarantee.

Doubled, by Charlotte Stein

Erotic Romance

Why I bought it: Megan Frampton tweeted that she’d been reading Stein. She has good book tastes, but I’m also very clear about how and where we differ in our reading tastes. I’ll typically take a look at any author she really likes. Which I did a while back. This purchase was just another book by an author I’d read before.

What I thought: Stein is a Jekyll and Hyde author for me. The writing is always good, but some of her books have been a total fail for me, while others have made me weep with jealousy at her talent. This one was a meh for me. I know how good she is, so I want that complexity in everything I read from her, and this lacked the punch. It’s an EC (Ellora’s Cave) book so I’m wondering if that’s the problem….  I think the books that work for me are not EC books. See below.

Ember, Bettie Sharpe

Romance, Fairy Tale, at the border of erotic.

Why I bought it: I recently tweeted a plea for book recommendations. (Yes, I ignored the one from an author pushing his own book. Bad Form, author dude.) I wanted to try several of the suggestions, but I’m just not going to pay $8.99+ for an eBook. Ember was a suggestion, the price was right, I bought it.

What I think: LOVE IT. This is a wickedly subversive retelling of the Cinderella fairy tale. I have a couple of quibbles, but nothing that makes me not love this story. I will be buying more by this author.

Note: Also NO BUY LINKS. What the H?

Easy, Tammara Webber

College Age Romance? (What is this called? New Adult?) Trigger warning for attempted rape scene.

Why I bought it: I bought it instead of the $9.00 plus books that were recommended. It happened to be either free or sub $5.00 when I saw it, and I knew I’d heard others talking about it. I can’t recall where, though.

What I thought: I have to confess that when I started this book, I was under the completely mistaken impression that it was erotic romance. Uh, NO! So I spent a disorienting few moments thinking, wow, this writing is amazing, but OMG this scene is …. <<horrific in impact>> But then I realized the problem had to be me, because writing that strong rarely goes along with that kind of world view without also offering deep hints as to intent– in other words, I knew the writer was saying what she meant on several levels whereas weak writing is often full of offensive and likely unintended ideas because, well, the weak writer isn’t thinking at a very complex level.

Anyway, then I settled in for a very enjoyable read except in the middle where it began to feel very preachy. I LOVED the hero. OK with the heroine. Can’t say that I loved the book, but I liked it a lot and I will absolutely read more by this author. This was a win, by the way. I’m really glad I read it.

This book was also missing any links to buy other books by her. FAIL. Because I would have clicked and probably bought.

Control, by Charlotte Stein

Erotic Romance.

Why I bought it: Because I have really, really liked other books by her.

What I think: Holy cow. The hero of this book is the EXACT OPPOSITE of what I like in a hero and I still think this is an amazing book. I just like those alpha men and this guy is not in any way an alpha. But this is a damn fine book and one of those, OMG why can’t I write like this books. Complete win even though there were parts where the hero/heroine dynamic simply did not work for me. Not an EC book…

Plummet, by Michael Zaracostas

Legal Thriller

Why I bought it: Someone recommended it on twitter, I think. It was free and though I had doubts, I do enjoy a good mystery/legal thriller…

What I thought: Well written and definitely engaging, but so unrelentingly oblivious-male in its gaze, I ended up depressed and annoyed. The women weren’t very well done. You could just feel this author’s lack of understanding about the real lives and experiences of women. There are male writers who carry off unsympathetic female characters without falling into offensive cliche.

I have lost all tolerance for writing, however fine, in which the female is merely a reflection of what is, in fact, a male point of view that fails utterly to understand what it means to be a woman in America. Such a flaw in the authorial view diminishes the male characters, too, by the way. I wish I’d liked this book better because a lot of interesting things went on. If I want to read about a male view of the world that manages not to portray demeaning and damaging views of women, I can read Lee Child or Barry Eisler.

Concluding Remarks

Whoa! Twitter is a major source of book recommendations for me. Generally not from author promotion but from readers, reviewers, or bloggers.

Did you notice how many sales were lost because books did not have buy links? If you’re an author, think about what that means to your bottom line. You, dear author, cannot rely on me remembering, late at night (or at any time) who I read that I liked. Names and titles blur in my head. I know I have stared at Kindle book recommendations or search results while I thought, “Who was that author I liked???”

Do not ever, ever underestimate the power of the one-click buy. Put the damn buy links in your book so I can buy while my love and satisfaction with your book is hot and immediate.

I’m surprised by my resistance to books that are $8.99 and above. I’d pay that for certain non-fiction books, and possibly for certain fiction — maybe for a brand new, just released book by really big author. But not for genre fiction. Here’s part of what goes through my head: I am on a reading jag. Chances are I’m going to read 10-20 books in a very short period of time. 10-20 books at $10 bucks a book is $100-200. I do this several time a year . . . I have a growing teenager who will be off to college soon. I have bills and groceries…

So, do I buy 10 or fewer books or do I get more books that are priced at less than $8.00? Why should I pay the same price for an eBook as for paper when, with the eBook, I can’t lend it (except, possibly, once) and I have to worry about what happens if I try to read it on too many devices? Why, I think, should I support a publisher’s refusal to price to the market?

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