Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

Books I’ve Been Reading

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

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?


The Lovely Words

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

What They’re Saying About Midnight Scandals

Each of the three stories takes place around a small home (cue Doyle’s Grange) on a larger estate. As one era passes into the next the elderly couple from the former generation brush paths with the young couple of the next. How is that not prime time catnip? As a well executed concept the home bridges the gaps between the tales, making them stronger collectively than they are alone. As the authors involved in Midnight Scandals are some of the genre’s strongest, this takes us pretty close to perfection.

First up is Carolyn Jewel. Her story of lovers with two unforgivable secrets made me realize I don’t read Carolyn Jewel often enough. (Why don’t I read more Carolyn Jewel?)
It’s My Genre Baby

Places to get Midnight Scandals

What They’re Saying About Not Proper Enough

This was another delicious, detailed, smoldering romance from Carolyn Jewel.
Rogues Under the Covers

OH MY GOODNESS! What an awesome book! I loved every minute of it. Talk about a page turner that I couldn’t put down. First off, the story line was moving and shocking at the same time. Not Proper Enough kept me wanting more. To be honest it would be one of those books to re-read again. That right there says a lot. So, I hope that you all get a chance to check this book out when it comes out. Plus, you all want to know if Fenris is able to change Eugenia’s opinion of him.
The Cutest Blog on the Block

With her engaging, complex characters, knowledge of the era and a sharp ear for dialogue, Jewel creates a nicely written, highly sensual and emotional love story.
RT Magazine

Places to get Not Proper Enough


How to Avoid Bad Book Reviews

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

If you write a book, don’t let anyone read it.

You’re welcome.

Are you kidding me? Sorry, but authors aren’t entitled to good reviews. Just honest ones, and even that isn’t an entitlement, it would just be the decent thing for someone to do if they decide to share their opinion about a book they’ve read.

But you, the author? Bad reviews happen. Get over it. If you can’t take it, then turn off your Google Alerts and don’t click.


What Other People Think

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

True story: Way back a few years, a friend of mine and I applied for the same job. She got the job. And then, every day for two weeks she called me to find out how to do the job. I was happy to tell her. But it occurred to me that I was, in fact, doing the very job this particular company had decided I was not right for. They had NOT actually hired the right person. My friend left the job very soon after because, actually, she wasn’t the right person for that job.

That was a HUGE life lesson for me. People and companies make the wrong choice all the time and that choice might well have NOTHING to do with me, my abilities or qualifications.

This is something helpful for authors to keep in mind. If a publisher doesn’t buy your book, that doesn’t necessarily mean your book is awful. If a reviewer doesn’t like your book, that doesn’t mean your book is awful. They just felt, quite possibly wrongly, that your book was not right for them. It means nothing about you personally.

Move on. Write another book.

And if you’re the kind of person who is cast down into dumps by unflattering reviews, then turn off your Google Alerts, don’t click on those links, or engage a trusted friend to tell you which reviews are safe to read.

But you should still move on and write another book.


Book Review: That Bear Ate My Pants

Friday, March 9th, 2012

I recently finished a self-published travelogue/memoir by Tony James Slater, titled That Bear Ate My Pants: the adventures of a real idiot abroad. (Link to Book at Amazon)

Verdict: Big Big Win.

This book made me laugh out loud several times. It’s about a Brit who ends up volunteering at an Animal Rescue center in Ecuador. Despite a few complaints, I highly recommend this book. I know the author was rejected by many many publishers who seem to have said, in the main, that they didn’t know how to market it. Well, true, the man has no platform. He’s not famous. The Rescue center is run on a shoestring and is not world famous. He’s a nobody (in the publishing world) and I enjoyed the hell out of his book. I stayed up too late 3 nights running.

Slater has a way with words and a charming world view (in the main) and his adventures are funny. His story about the Galapagos turtle escape had me howling with laughter.

Sadly, I think if the book had been traditionally published, it’s likely to have died an ignoble death from the neglect that happens to lots of really good books that aren’t massively pushed in traditional channels. In the current environment, he’s probably better off with his charming, funny and heart warming story selling to readers for $2.99. You should read it.

First a Few Cons

Slater needs a copy-editor. He is consistently unclear on the difference between its and it’s and frequently wrong about I vs. me. He misused words just often enough to bug me. (As a writer, of course, I notice these things.)

An editor would not have been amiss, but not for structure or writing. In the main (spelling and word use aside) he’s an excellent writer. But for this reader, I was quite bothered whenever he seemed equate a woman’s appearance with her worth. A good editor would have challenged him on that. There are ways he could have written certain scenes without coming across as thoughtlessly sexist and yet still have conveyed the fact that a certain woman was a dark cloud to be around.

The Pros

This book was funny. I loved it. Halfway through I bought a copy for my mom because I know she’ll enjoy it. I’ll probably buy one for my sister, too. The turtle escape was hilarious. His commentary on machismo was revelatory and quite deft as his adventures continued. It made for one of many thought-provoking themes. The arrival (and departure) of El Lobos was also snicker inducing. Despite the humor, Slater makes it plain, without ever saying it, that what humans do to animals is often disgraceful.

Some Other Thoughts

This book represents what’s fantastic about the New Publishing. Traditional publishing wouldn’t buy this book because it doesn’t fit the mold. But what does this say about all those rejections?

Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,301 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Nonfiction > Travel > Latin America > South America
#1 in Books > Travel > Latin America > South America > Ecuador & Galapagos Islands
(emphasis added, captured Friday, March 9, 2012 about 8:00 pm Pacific.)

Yesterday it was in the low 2,000’s. The 4,000’s is a very decent ranking, and that’s without a NY marketing push. The book is outselling a LOT of NY published books. Lots. Based on my reading of the book, I’m not at all surprised by the number of 5 star reviews. I’d give it 5 myself.

So, yeah. What’s wrong in traditional publishing that they felt they couldn’t make a profit off a book that’s out-selling their titles? A title, I should point out, that is #1 in two categories. Would it have been unprofitable in print?

It seems to me there needs to be a shift in how NY approaches what it decides to sell and how it decides to sell it.



This Makes Me Feel Cheated and Sad: Semi-Rant

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

I recently blogged about Heat, a self-pubbed book that worked for me. (It won’t work for everyone, by the way.) In fact, that book worked so well for me that I went out and bought several other books by the author: R.L.Smith/R.Lee Smith (more on that later). As noted in that post, one of the books was a DNF for me.

One of the others, Care and Feeding of a Griffin, was a major win. Major. The book is wonderful and flirted with brilliance. I’ve now just about finished the 4th and last in the series and I feel sad and cheated. Book 2 was … rough, and that’s being kind. Then the beginning of Book 3? For a while, it was just as wonderful as Book 1 and I was so happy; giddy even. Then it crashed and burned. Book 4? Not good.

Dear Author reviewed a different book by this author and I’m going to try that one, because it worked for that reviewer and since Heat worked for her, too, I suspect this other one will work for me.

Why I Feel Sad and Cheated

Heat and Care and Feeding prove this author can write. She can take risks and make them work. She can write characters that just pop off the page. When she’s on her game, her use of detail is sublime. But, it seems, she can’t do it consistently. And, having now read a fair amount of her work (assuming gender here) I can see what themes she likes and what writing issues are a problem for her.

I am sad because when a talented writer works with the right editor, the result is a far, far better book. The right editor challenges a writer to confront weaknesses and to turn good into great, and great into brilliant.

I am sad because I wanted to live in the world of Care and Feeding for more books. I feel cheated of what ought to have been and I am especially sad (and cheated) that Book 3 started out so brilliantly and then crashed and burned. I mourn for all those lovely, exquisite details that were wasted or never brought out.

Lords Of Arcadia Series

I highly recommend Care and Feeding. Read it. It will be worth it even with the abrupt ending. But I can’t in good conscience recommend the other three.

The main character continues to be a Mary Sue. In fact, parts of Book 3 offended me. The white human visits new and hostile species and each and every time, she is so relentlessly perfect that Low! The new and hostile species stops raping human women or the women of their own species or whatever wrong thing they’re doing. All because, practically literally, the heroine has a magic hoo-haw. If a creature has sex with her, that creature is transformed from ignorant brute to noble beast.

No matter how monumentally stupid the heroine’s decisions, she prevails and it’s magically the right thing to have done after all — because she’ll have cured the creatures of whatever was wrong with them before she got on the scene. She can do no wrong. I started to hate her. I could predict what would happen and how it would happen.

Plot threads start and then vanish. There are continuity errors. (The griffin is there for the wedding and then never mentioned again. Many many pages later, there’s a mention of the griffin NOT being at the wedding.) She’s preggers for nearly two years, then it’s only been nine months and she’s ready to pop, then later yet someone says, oh, you’re 10 months along, and you have 5 to go. Then later she’s 15 months with three more to go. It’s confusing as hell. As with her other books, time and events pass with unbelievable slowness. In these books it’s like 1 manuscript day = 7-10 days in a book that follows a normal events-to-day ratio. I’d be absolutely convinced several days had to have passed only to discover that, no, it’s only been one day. WTF?

Some Other Thoughts

In hindsight, there are clues to my eventual disappointment with the series. All the covers are awful. The formatting is often sub-par. There are typos and other errors that would be caught by a copy-editor and a proofreader. The author is inconsistent about her own name. Is she R. L. Smith, R. Lee Smith or Robin Smith? The names matter because it makes her hard to find on Amazon. A little research on my part left me with the strong suspicion that Smith has or does write under at least two other names. Obviously, Smith is prolific and has been writing for a long time. At some point, I’ll check out those other writings because when she’s good, she’s really, really good.

All these things combined point to someone who lacks the necessary attention to detail for an author who wants to self-publish and not outsource. The alternative is she’s outsourcing and doesn’t understand she’s being cheated. The consistently good writers know why they need to pay for a good cover and they can tell the difference between a flat out bad cover and one that is even minimally acceptable. And they care about it. They know why editing, copy-editing and proofreading matter. Given the accumulation of all these issues, ultimately, I’m not surprised by the lack of attention to detail in the writing of Books 2-4. But it makes me sad.

I’ve been cheated. We’ve all been cheated out of what should have been an amazing, sexy and wonderful series as good or better than anything being traditionally published.

R.L. Smith, please, please hire an editor and then give us your best, because your best is wonderful.


Book Review: Heat

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

A few days ago I blogged about a self-published book that was just awful. I believe it was free, but might have been $0.99 and in either case I felt ripped off. Other than the cover, which was good, that book was everything scoffers complain about with self-pubbed books.

Today, I bring you a review of a self-published book I really liked, though, as you’ll see, this book isn’t for everyone. Dear Author has a review you might find interesting. If you don’t like spoilers, read that review, because I do tend to be spoilerish.

Heat by R. Lee Smith/R. L. Smith

I’ll start off with the bad because it won’t take too long.

1. The cover: My God, the cover is awful. It’s amateurish and embarrassing. Really, Smith should be ashamed of that cover.

2. The formatting: Rife with errors. If Smith is paying someone to produce her eBooks, she’s being robbed. If she’s not, she needs to pay someone because whatever s/he’s doing, s/he’s not good at it. Fortunately, the errors, while irritating and embarrassing for the author, didn’t keep me from reading. Just for some context, the eBook of my Berkley historical Indiscreet IS unreadable, so at least Smith is doing better than Berkley was in 2009. And at least Smith can send someone the file, get it fixed, and reuploaded quickly. PLEASE because I will be rereading major parts of this book.

3. Editing and copy-editing: The book needs copy-editing. It’s pretty clean, but there were errors. Smith is a VERY strong writer, but I think a skilled editor could take this from really damn good to amazing, mostly with some tightening up. There are some repetitive passages. Further, this is a LONG book and there are places where things could be tightened up. However, this book is on a par with anything coming out of NY, only way riskier.

4. There are some pacing problems. See 3 above. A good editor would surely hone in on those issues. The issue with Raven’s period goes on too long as does Daria’s refusal to accept what’s happening to Tagen. Those scenes got repetitive because the issue was already established and nothing new was added in the subsequent scenes.

Content Warning

This story has some extremely strong sexual content and there are going to be people who can’t/don’t want to read books like this. There are scenes, many, many scenes of rape. The rapist is an alien and in the first quarter or more of the book, to him, humans are “its” — an inferior species. He has to check gentalia to figure out whether a given human is male or female. If you are a reader who cannot handle a rapist hero, then do not read this book. It won’t work for you. I wasn’t entirely sure it would work for me. But it did.

The Story

There are two heroes and heroines in this book.

The first hero is the rapist hero, Kane. He’s a completely twisted unrepentant alien fuck. In his own planetary system, he’s a slaver, drug lord and space pirate. His heroine is a young human woman named Raven. I’ll say more about her later.

The second hero is Tagen, an alien police officer/soldier sent to Earth to find and arrest Kane. His heroine is Daria, a human woman who is, at the start, a house-bound nuerotic. With a cat. More on her and the cat later.

These aliens come from a world where females are both rare and socially and politically dominant. Males are subject to Heat, which is a condition that causes the uncontrollable need to mate. If unsatisfied, it’s incredibly painful. So, males in Heat need to fuck and fuck long and hard. Heat is triggered by temperature. On the home planet, it’s only hot enough to trigger Heat for maybe 10 days of their solar cycle.

These two alien men are on earth in the US in summer. The beginning of summer. And it’s fucking hot. They’re in Heat from the get go. Kane intends to harvest (kill) humans for dopamine, go home with his new slave Raven and make a bloody fortune. Tragen intends to stop Kane.

What worked and what didn’t work for me

The writing is strong. Better yet, the story and characters are coherent. (Oh, thank you!!!!) Whatever you may think of the story and the characters in it, this is a well crafted book. It’s possible to actually critique this book because this is not an author with fiction-writing deficits. Rather ironically, that means it’s possible to make this book sound like it’s not as good as it is.

Within the world Smith has built things make sense and are internally consistent. I have a deep love of stories that explore power imbalances and Kane and Raven’s story is all about power imbalances. Basically, theirs is a BDSM relationship but without the safety of a typical BDSM book. He’s the dom and she’s the sub, and if you don’t like stories that explore that, this won’t work for you. Because, as you must see from the set up, there’s no saftey net for Raven. Kane first takes her along with him because he’s in Heat and needs a woman to fuck. Before long, he’s decided to keep her as his slave.

Raven’s attempt to protect herself mentally makes enough sense, but I did have trouble with her quick acceptance of Kane as more than an abductor. She completely accepts his dominance over her and what’s more, she accepts her enslavement to him. Kane moves from seeing Raven as a receptacle for his cock to a sentient being who is clever, capable and really, really good at the kind of sex he likes. Eventually he sees her as a “person”, though never ever, ever outside her submissiveness or enslavement to him.

Tagen, the alien cop, is the White Knight. His relationship with Daria is, at times, almost treacly sweet, but the romance was really well done, I thought. Oddly enough, even though Daria is not submissive or enslaved, more than once I found her to be more of an emotional doormat than Raven, who was enslaved, abused and stripped of almost all agency except for what flowed back to her via Kane. Daria’s self-blame annoyed me just about every time it came up. Tagen has Heat, too, but he has several days of medications that suppress the effects. Then the medicine runs out. Uh oh. Daria comes up with a rather clever solution for his Heat, but eventually, that’s just not enough. When Tagen and Daria hit the road on Kane’s trail, they take the cat with them. Which was AWESOME. Tagen loves the cat, by the way.

For a time, there’s a third person in the Kane, Raven mix and I had less love for the author’s decisions here than just about anywhere else. It doesn’t really go anywhere or add much of psychological interest to the Kane/Raven relationship.

The two couples run parallel stories that are plainly going to collide in major ways and how, how!? are both couples going to remain alive at the end? I’d say it’s not quite as surprising as others have suggested, but is IS very very well done and completely satisfying.

Some other Thoughts

I immediately bought other books by this author. I started with Olivia, but I believe this will be DNF for me. Olivia is an abduction story along the lines of Mars Needs Earth Women, only the Martians are creatures that live inside a remote mountain. The Creatures are, to me, too obviously based on Native American elements and spirituality. The heroine is passive and accepting to the point where there was no tension. I started skipping huge sections. There was creature human sex and I ended up not caring. Your Mileage May Vary.

I also bought The Care and Feeding of a Griffin. This book was a major win for me. It’s Book 1 in the Lords of Arcadia series and at the end, I immediately bought the rest. The series is basically erotica meets Narnia, only Book 1 doesn’t have any sex, or so little as to not matter. But Book 1 is really well done, in my opinion. Book 2 of the series was less of a success. (Book 1 set a REALLY high bar.) The books follow the same heroine, and there’s a fair amount of sex, but the heroine, for me, falls into Mary Sue territory. She can do no wrong and, as with Olivia, she becomes maddeningly passive. Things happen to her. She makes some really ridiculous TSTL decisions from which she must be rescued by creatures. Further, her coterie of creature heroes decide not to tell her about a HUGE danger to her so, duh, she cannot take steps to protect herself nor understand why the others behave as they do.

My take on this is that it’s an authorial decision, deliberate or otherwise. Her other heroines are also marked by what is, ultimately, a disturbing lack of personal agency. And yet, the world is compelling and well, if you’ve ever wanted Narnia with sex, this is the series for you.

I want Smith to hook up with an editor because a really good editor is going to push her writing to amazing places. Heat, in particular, strikes me as precisely the sort of book NY ought to be publishing but isn’t. Likewise with the Lord of Arcadia series.

Have you read anything of Smith’s? If so, what did you think?


Book Review: The Copper Sign

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

The Copper Sign, by Katia Fox

I can’t recall if this book was free or 0.99, but in either case, it’s a rip off. I like the cover of the book and that’s it.

The story is set in 12th century England and Normandy and follows the adventures of Ellen who is a blacksmith. Yes. Not just a blacksmith, but the most talented and awesome swordsmith ever to set foot anywhere ever in the world. She spends a few years disguised as a boy.

For a while, I was uncertain about how much a bad translation was affecting my reading of this book. (This novel was originally written in German.) As noted, the story is set in the 1100’s so I was utterly thrown by 20th century English idioms like this: “She’s pretty cute. Are you getting it on with her?”

The book is full of problems like this. I didn’t expect the story to be written in Middle English for heaven’s sake, but there was no attempt to give even the slightest flavor of historically appropriate language and patterns of thought. That, I decided, must be the fault of the translator, because, surely, the author didn’t plunk 21st century characters into the backdrop of the 12th century and go on her merry way with the tale.

I think I am wrong about that. When the book opens the protagonist (Ellen) is quite young. For that reason, and for quite a bit, I was not bothered by the unsophisticated world view of the narrative. Unfortunately, as Ellen grows up, there is no change in the character’s perceptions of anything. She’s mentally 8 years old her whole fucking life.

Sadly, in the English language version, this story is completely ridiculous. The author writes with no sophistication whatsoever. The story is historically, socially, legally and culturally inaccurate and there is zero nuance in any respect. Ellen is a classic “Mary Sue” character who overcomes obstacles and perils as if by magic, gathering friends everywhere. The villain is cardboard and might as well be twirling a mustache. In case you’re wondering, yes, he’s sexually perverted because 1) he’s a rapist and 2) when told Ellen is his half-sister, he doesn’t care. He still lusts after that magic hoo-haw.

The hero, of course, is a noble Gary Sue. blah blah blah.

This author desperately needs an editor and about 20 more drafts. And what a shame, because the story is ambitious. In the hands of a writer who has labored at her craft, as this author has not, the story would be wonderful. But isn’t. It’s awful.


Some Reviews For Not Wicked Enough

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

Publishers Weekly

Miss Lily Wellstone visits her best friend, hoping to improve Ginny’s lingering postwidowhood depression. Unexpectedly, Lily falls into a passionate love affair with Ginny’s older brother, the fittingly named duke of Mountjoy. While buoyant, independent Lily is outwardly trying to breathe life back into the fusty atmosphere of Bitterward with entertainments like treasure hunts and balls, she secretly indulges her more ignoble appetites with the nobleman. But Lily believes love comes but once in a lifetime, and she has already loved and lost, while Mountjoy is all but engaged to another. Readers will enjoy this diverting Regency romance, set refreshingly far from London high society, as they wait to find out what finally drives the lovers to the altar.

Rogues Under The Covers

What an absolutely charming romance this book is!
I adored, absolutely adored, how Mountjoy grows to call Lily Wellstone. That is just so sweet and personal to me. Oh, and the ending. Sigh. You can feel the love between Lily and Mountjoy and the last chapter left me with a huge smile and happy sigh so big that I immediately read it again. Romantic to a T. Overall, a entrancing romance that will leave you happily satisfied and looking forward to the next story in the series! I know I can’t wait for it!

RT Book Reviews – 4 Stars

Jewel’s latest addition to her Reforming the Rakes series reinforces her reputation for writing character-driven, subtle, but highly emotional tales readers will take to their hearts.

Reviewed By: Kathe Robin


Why Self-Pubbers Should Care About eBook Formatting

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

Among the many books I’ve been reading, one of them is a self-pubbed Sci-Fi Thriller that’s actually not at all horrible. The writing mechanics, grammar, and sense are more than clear. This is not one of those self-pubbed books where you can barely follow the meaning let alone find a plot. This book has a strong plot. However, the author would greatly benefit from an editor who would work with him on his weak characterization, use of cliches, repetition and the like. Despite these major weaknesses I’ve been sticking with it because the core idea is solid and every now and then I’ve been surprised.

There’s such potential here, and as I read, I continually regret that the writing isn’t better.  So close to really, really good work. This is a book that, for me,  proves the value of gatekeepers. Good writers learn from rejection. They go back and back and back and make the writing better until they don’t get rejected anymore. With this book, I feel like I’ve been cheated out of an amazing story.

However, for this post, my beef is with formatting. OMG. It’s SO ANNOYING!!!  I suspect this book was an upload to Kindle from a Word document that used the (WRONG) default formatting for a novel.  Because of the formatting issues, it’s even harder to stick with the story flow. Reading a page that has only 3-4 sentences on it worsens the problem with shallow characterizations. (Lord, 3-4 more drafts of this book to go in and deepen the emotions, and this story would rock).

Here’s what I mean:

Kindle App on iPhone:


Formatting fail



It’s even worse in the Kindle App on the iPad:


An even worse formatting fail


Yeah. This formatting problem makes story flow almost impossible to achieve. The white space inserts mental space as well so that, with a story that is already (sadly) shallow in characterization and detail, the shallowness is even more obvious.

If your book looks like this, fix it. Please.