Ebook Review Central, Amber Quill, Astraea Press, Liquid Silver Books, Riptide Publishing, March 2012

It’s time for the March four-in-one feature at Ebook Review Central. This is the point in the cycle where ERC covers Amber Quill Press, Astraea Press, Liquid Silver Books and Riptide Publishing, and usually wraps up whatever the month is that we’ve been covering.

Well, this is still the four-in-one, but it’s not wrapping the month. Next week ERC will be doing a “leap week” post and adding in some new publishers. It’s both a way of bringing some new titles into this wrap-up, and, pushing out the calendar a bit. I started ERC three weeks after the end of the covered months. Now I’ve caught up to it. I have to push back, and the best way is to add in some fresh material.

All the publishers in ERC are going to stay in.

Meanwhile, back to the March titles for our current four publishing contenders…March was not an all-Riptide month the way February was. Almost, but not quite.

In reverse order this time, just to keep you guessing until the end…

The third place finisher this month was Dark Soul Vol. 5 by Aleksandr Voinov, published, of course, by Riptide. I’ll admit I was expecting this one to make the list, the only question in my mind as I looked at the review sheets for this month was how it would stack up. The built-in audience for this final volume of Voinov’s tale of mafiosi, their enemies and their even more dangerous secret lovers had a lot of pent-up emotion just waiting for this. As one reviewer said, “just beautiful”. These are stories about dark characters who make all their choices in shades of grey, but the ending is very satisfying for those who love watching their heroes struggle with the darkness inside.

From characters who hold their secrets inside, we switch to a character who is forced by circumstance to display at least some of his difficulties where everyone can see them. Permanently Legless by J.L. Merrow (Amber Quill) easily rolled into second place in this week’s tally. Being “legless” usually means drunk, but in this case, it refers to the wounds Chris sustained fighting in Afghanistan. He’s adjusted to the loss of both legs, with his love of life and confidence intact, but when he meets Josh again, the guy he had a one-night stand with just before he left on that last tour of duty, he’s uncertain again. Josh isn’t. Readers loved this story of a wounded warrior finding his HEA with a guy who doesn’t care about his disability.

The number one book this week by an absolute landslide was Frat Boy and Toppy, written by Anne Tenino. From the reviews, it looks like everyone loved it because it made them laugh. The “frat boy” in the title is Brad, and he starts the story as a typical frat boy jock with a lot of frat boy friends. But there’s something different about Brad. In spite of appearances and outward behavior, Brad has a crush on the Teaching Assistant for his History Class. The male Teaching Assistant. Brad’s pretty sure he’s gay. The book is the story of Brad figuring out what to do about it. Especially since that TA doesn’t do relationships. Which is what Brad wants, once he starts figuring out what he wants in general. The one thing the reviews have in common is the phrase “laugh out loud”. Actually, there are two things, the other one seems to be “love Brad”. Romantic comedy fans, take note of this one.

So this week’s features can be summed up as light-hearted (Frat Boy and Toppy), heart-warming (Permanently Legless), and soul-searing (Dark Soul Vol. 5), but not all in the same book!

It’s also notable that, looking back, the last time the featured books in this four-in-one post were not all male/male romances was the December 2011 feature. Will this trend continue? We’ll see in the coming months!

That’s it for this issue. Come back next week to see which publishers will be added to Ebook Review Central in “Leap Week”.

What’s On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand? 4-29-12

Before I tackle the books in, on, and around my more or less virtual nightstand, I want to take just a minute to acknowledge the origins of this regular Sunday meme-o-mine.

By this time, those of you who are regularly follow book blogging have read about the drama regarding The Story Siren and her plagiarism of several posts on “How to Blog” from Beautifully Invisible and Grit And Glamour. The details are summarized by a number of bloggers, including my friend Has over at Book Lovers Inc.

I won’t be participating in In My Mailbox, and I’ve unsubscribed from anything I subscribed to at The Story Siren. That includes email, twitter, RSS, you name it. But that’s yesterday’s news.

I’ve seen a couple of new memes crop up to take the place of IMM. That’s terrific! Tynga’s Reviews has started Stacking My Shelves, and Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer‘s Sunday Post starts today, since it’s Sunday. There’s Mailbox Monday, which is fascinating because it’s nomadic. A different blog hosts it every month.

I usually tried to post my IMM on Saturday, so I’m leaning towards Tynga’s meme, but, as Mary Engelbreit so poignantly drew, Everybody Needs their own Spot. I’m just glad the community has created alternatives so fast!

Back to my Mostly Virtual Nightstand. We’re all inspired by somebody. And so was I.

In October, 2011, after six months of blogging, I realized that one of the things I did over the weekend was figure out what reviews I really, truly had to post that week. And sometimes I surprised myself, even with a to-do list.

In my hunt for a meme so that I could write about what I was reading, I found What’s on My Nightstand at 5 Minutes for Books. It’s a great meme but for my purposes, it had one flaw. It’s monthly. I need WAY more organization than that.

But it gave me an idea. What if I did the same thing, only weekly? Since what’s really on my nightstand is usually an iPad full of ebooks, my nightstand is mostly virtual. And that’s how What’s on My Mostly Virtual Nightstand was born.

I laid out these gory details in the original Nightstand post, back on October 23, 2011. But in light of this week’s events, it seemed like a good time to repeat them, and give credit to my muse.

Now then, what’s actually ON that mostly virtual nightstand this week?

My editor at Library Journal sent me a book on Friday. Those are always out of the blue, but usually pretty good. So I have a review of An Heir of Deception by Beverley Kendall due on May 7. This looks yummy. Former rake forced to confront the woman who turned him seriously toward the bad side, and then ran away from him. And now that he’s back on the straight, narrow and responsible, she’s back. With secrets. Of course with secrets. Naughty Regencies can be so much fun. If you have an ereader, an earlier book in this series, All’s Fair in Love and Seduction, is currently free for both Kindle and Nook. (Yes, of course I did!)

On the Samhain Publishing list a month or so ago I picked up the entire Fringe series by Anitra Lynn McLeod to review. It’s science fiction romance, so of course I’m interested. Very interested. And I’ve seen some good reviews of the later books, but the earlier books just weren’t found. I’m always interested in doing my bit to promote SFR. Stripper, the 4th book in the series will be released May 8. I still need to read books 1, 2 and 3, Thief, Overlord and Runner.

But before I can get to my SFR, I have some more urgent commitments first.

Bronwen Evans, the author of Invitation to Scandal will be doing a guest post at Book Lovers Inc. on May 9. I have to get my review of her Regency ready to post before then. This looks like another darkly sensual Regency, with a Viscount chasing a smuggler to clear his father’s name. Smuggling and/or piracy usually make for delicious reads!

Meanwhile, back at Reading Reality, I have a couple of book tours scheduled next week that I also need to get reviews ready for!

I will be interviewing Lisa Kessler, author of Night Walker, here on Tuesday, May 7. Bewitching Book Tours is organizing this tour, and in addition to the interview, I’ll be reviewing Night Walker, the first book in her paranormal romance series, The Night.

Rounding out next week, on May 9, author Kay Dee Royal will be a guest at Reading Reality, also courtesy of Bewitching Book Tours. Kay Dee’s guest blog will be about her new shape-shifter/paranormal romance, Staring Into the Eyes of Chance, the first book in her Lycan International Investigation Agency Series. And of course, there will be a review of the book.

Well, that’s all this book blogger has time for in one week. I’ve never prayed for insomnia before, but I think I’d better start.

What’s on your nightstand this week?


Good-bye to In My Mailbox

I like the concept of In My Mailbox. I really do. The idea of giving an acknowledgement to the books that have come in, whether I’ve bought them or gotten them free or borrowed them or been sent them for review, is a neat way of acknowledging the authors and titles, even for stuff I might not be able to review.

I can understand why Kristi Diehm at The Story Siren thought it was a neat idea when Alea of Pop Culture Junkie originally inspired it. It’s been a very popular and successful meme at The Story Siren.

448 Blogs linked to In My Mailbox on April 22, including this one.

In the future, I will not be among them. I will miss the connections that come from linking to In My Mailbox, but I can’t in good conscience be a part of it any longer. Because I can’t condone the behavior of the blogger.

Plagiarism is wrong. It is not an accident. It is a mistake, and a deliberate one (Someone said there is no such thing as sleep copy and pasting).

Swift acknowledgement of that mistake can bring forgiveness, but that’s not what happened here. Instead there was a denial, then a cover-up and a plea for everything to be handled “quietly”.

This continuing saga has been covered, in detail, on multiple blogs, including at Smart Bitches, Trash Books, Smexy Books, Parajunkee’s View and Book Savvy Babe. This story is as compelling as any book you might review. All the more so because it took place in our own backyard.

As bloggers, our identities are made up of the words we write. If someone steals our words, they’ve stolen something precious.


On My Wishlist #7

On My Wishlist is currently hosted at Cosy Books, but was started at Book Chick City. It’s a way for us to share the books we’re wishing, wishing, wishing for, whether they’re already out (maybe long out) but we haven’t indulged ourselves yet, or they’re due sometime in the near or distant future, and we’re trying to resist purchasing them.

Or maybe resistance is futile, and they will be absorbed into our towering TBR piles.

Speaking of books where the resistance is probably futile, at least for me, it’s May, and that means its time for another installment of the Perils of Pauline…wait, scratch that, I meant another chapter in the continuing saga of the life of Sookie Stackhouse. It’s just not May without another Sookie book. This year Sookie is Deadlocked.

I think I’ve read an interview with Ms. Harris (unfortunately no relation at ALL) that there are a limited number of books left in this series. While I’m sad, it’s probably getting close to time. I’d rather be left wanting a little bit more, than watching the train wreck grind on a la Anita Blake.

The other book that I just plain want to read is Blood and Bullets by James R. Tuck. All the reviews have been so awesome and I love urban fantasy. And, I miss Harry Dresden. I like the idea of reading an Urban Fantasy series with a male narrator again. Although it sounds like Deacon Chalk gets his act together considerably faster than Harry did, which is probably a good thing, Chalk’s circumstances start out way worse. Blood and Bullets is definitely different, but in good ways I want to sink my “teeth” into. But not like the were-spiders! Eeew.

So come on, share with group! What’s on your wishlist? Will you be able to resist bringing it home?


Finding My Faith

Finding My Faith by Carly Fall is book two of her Six Savior Series. Who are those “Six Saviors”? And what are they supposed to save? All, well, some anyway, will be revealed in this romantic suspense series with a hint of SFR and what feels like more than a touch of inspiration from the Black Dagger Brotherhood.

The titular “Faith” in Finding My Faith is Faith Cloudfoot. Faith works as a barista at a coffeeshop in Phoenix, just a little bit away from her overprotective father in Flagstaff.

You see, Faith is supposed to be the legendary, “Woman with Fire for Hair” among the Navajo people. Her red hair signifies that she will be the mother of a son who will cure the Earth. But only if she mates with a red-eyed night-wolf-warrior.

Faith doesn’t believe a bit of it. She just wants to expand her boundaries away from her overprotective parents. So, she fights to move to the “big city” of Phoenix.

Faith’s life in Phoenix is terrific for the first year. Then she is kidnapped and held in an underground “prison cell” with five other red-headed women. Even stranger, after she is unconscious, her spirit leaves her body and haunts the streets near the scene of the crime, until she finds one person who can see her–a big warrior with red shining eyes.

Rayner is that warrior. He is not a native to this planet. He, and his band of warriors, are from planet SR44. They’ve been on Earth for over two centuries, chasing a band of renegades their homeworld unimaginatively labelled Colonists, for originally escaping the law by colonizing a local moon.

Those Colonists are now on our Earth, becoming mass murderers, serial killers, and political despots and megalomaniacs. Oh, and interbreeding with humans. Colonists’ offspring usually become Colonists, too, but the strain does eventually become diluted. And nurture sometimes triumphs over nature.

Rayner and his band of brothers have come to Phoenix to hunt one of those Colonists who is kidnapping and murdering women. Rayner’s particular talent is to be able to unite spirits with their bodies, in other words, he can bring people back to life. But there’s a catch!

He can only do it if the spirit can find its body. And the body is still “habitable”. And if there is someone who loves the person and who they love back. A lot.

Rayner and his warrior band have been on Earth over two centuries, hunting down Colonists. They are inhabiting human bodies that never age. They can be killed, and they have to maintain their bodies, but no aging or death by natural causes.

Their natural forms are spirits of light. The light glows from their eyes at night. Rayner was a forest spirit on his homeworld, and the red light of his natural form glows from his eyes at night.

Faith’s spirit, wandering the streets of Phoenix, is the key to finding the Colonist that Rayner and his friends are out to catch. So it’s important that Rayner keep in contact with her as they hunt the bad guy. Very important.

There’s this one big problem. The Warriors can’t go back to their homeworld until the last Colonist is dead. It could be centuries. But if one of the Warriors falls in love with a human, and makes love with her (not just sex, but really makes love with her) he’ll lose his native form and become human, age, and eventually die.

He won’t be able to go home again. Ever. And he won’t be able to finish the mission. Rayner promised his mother he would come home. No matter how long it takes. He’s made a vow to finish the mission, no matter how long it takes. But he fell in love with Faith the minute he saw her spirit. What good is a warrior without his soul?

Escape Rating C: Based on the description, I was expecting more of a science fiction romance than this actually turned out to be. The SFR aspects are definitely downplayed in the story itself.  The story we have is über-powerful and über-huge band of good-guy warriors chasing down über-evil dudes who leave behind “ash” when they do something wicked.

Substitute baby-powder for ash. Sound familiar? I’m afraid it rang a bell for me. The band of testosterone brothers fighting evil is a tried-and-true theme, and it works, every war story uses it. But if you describe the good guys as all being over 6’5″, and the bad guys leave powder residue, then the theme is suddenly derivative. It might not be intentional, and YMMV.

The legend attached to Faith made the story a bit different. I liked her character, but  not the way she asserted herself one minute and then folded the next. If there was a reason for her willingness to bow to her parents’ wishes that I didn’t understand, where was that explanation? She is 23 not 16. If she feels like she can’t move out without permission, tell the readers why.

(This review copy was provided by Bewitching Book Tours. Bewitching requested additional reviews outside of the tour, and here we are!)

The Saint Who Stole My Heart

The Saint Who Stole My Heart by Stefanie Sloane is book 4 in her Regency Rogues series. It’s also very clearly the “setting up” story for the next two books, at least, in this series. There are definitely unresolved suspense elements hanging over the end of the story.

The prologue starts out with a bang. Let’s say it cuts to the chase. Childhood friends Dash Matthews, Nicholas and Langdon Bourne, and Sophia Southwell make the journey from carefree youth to painful responsibility in one sharp moment when they come in from playing outside to find Sophia’s mother, Lady Afton, murdered. None of their lives are ever the same.

As men, Langdon Bourne and Dash Matthews both join the Young Corinthians, a spy network based in England. They’ve both been warned off Lady Afton’s case. All they know is that she was the victim of a man code-named “The Bishop” and that she was murdered because Lord Afton was also a member of the Corinthians. The Bishop targets his enemies’ loved ones.

Dash Matthews is the Corinthians code-breaker. He is gifted with puzzles, locks and ciphers. Unfortunately for the spy, he has also got the looks of an Adonis. Spies should be able to blend into a crowd, and Dash, he just can’t. Everyone notices him, especially the women.

Since he can’t hide himself, he hides his intelligence. He pretends to be pretty, but well, empty-headed. Everyone except his closest friends thinks he’s an idiot.

Then Elena Barnes steps into his life. And his library. His late father’s library, to be precise.

When his father died, Dash inherited the title of Viscount Carrington, along with the estate. But his father’s prized library of rare books was left to Henry Barnes, Baron Harcourt, a noted expert in such things. And Baron Harcourt sent his bluestocking and equally expert daughter, Elena, to catalog and pack up the books.

Elena found Dash to be incredibly handsome, and completely vapid. The problem she had was that her physical reaction to his handsomeness overwhelmed her mental reaction to his vapidness. Which just seemed wrong to her.

Dash, on the other hand, found Elena fascinating. Which was equally problematic for him. Because when he was fascinated, he had an unfortunate tendency to drop his idiot act.

And Elena was no idiot. She noticed.

This is a Regency, if you will recall. Elena, as an unmarried woman, could not be living in Dash’ bachelor household unchaperoned. Lady Mowbray, Dash’ aunt, was temporarily in residence to serve that role. Bessie Mowbray wanted nothing more than to see her nephew happily married, and spent time, effort and Dash’ money to make it so.

Lady Mowbray knew perfectly well that Dash was no idiot. And she noticed everything.

The more Dash revealed of his true self, the closer he and Elena became. This wasn’t a courtship, it was a falling into the inevitable.

But as soon as Elena seemed important to Dash, she became a target of the Bishop, and the suspenseful part of the story really began.

Escape Rating B-/C+: The second half of this story is a real page-turner. Once the hunt for Lady Afton’s killer goes into full-swing, it’s really hard to put down. On the other hand, setup for the next books was a little too obvious. It’s not that there isn’t a happy ending, but there is so much unresolved that I was frustrated by a lot of the way the story ended.

Also, based on the prologue, I was expecting it to be Sophie’s story, and it’s not. She’s the main character in the prologue, and then disappears for the rest of the book.

For more of my thoughts on this book, take a look at Book Lovers Inc.


ARC Review: The Saint Who Stole My Heart: by Stefanie Sloane

Format read: egalley from NetGalley
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Number of Pages: 304
Genre: regency romance, historical romance
Series: Regency Rogues #4
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Formats Available: paperback, ebook
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author’s Website, Amazon , Barnes & Noble,


Desire, danger, intrigue, and steamy seduction unite a sexy spymaster and an intrepid bluestocking as Stefanie Sloane’s luscious new series continues.

Possessed of a brilliant mind and a love for puzzles, Dashiell Matthews, Viscount Carrington, is a crucial member of the elite Young Corinthians spy league. Assuming the façade of an addle-brained Adonis, he hunts for a notorious London murderer known as the Bishop. When fate causes him to cross paths with Miss Elena Barnes, Dash discovers an enigma that will prove delightfully intoxicating to unravel: a voluptuous beauty as intelligent as she is fearless.

Only the lure of a collection of rare books bequeathed to her family by Dash’s late father could tempt Elena from her cozy rural life to the crush and vanity of London. But if Elena finds his lordship to be the most impossibly beautiful man she’s ever seen, he also seems to be the stupidest. Which made her body’s shameless response to his masterful seduction all the more unfathomable. Yet when she discovers Dash’s mission to track the dangerous Bishop, she willingly risks everything—her trust, her heart, her very life—to join him.

My thoughts:

I think Elena fell in love with Carrington’s library. And she was certainly consumed with lust for Carrington’s person.

Based on the descriptions of both the library and the Viscount, I’m not saying I blame her for either reaction.

Elena Barnes is a bluestocking. She had one season, and she didn’t, well, as one of Carrington’s friends put it, she didn’t take. Elena is also somewhat of a tomboy, and her widowed father gave up on governesses after she drove the fourth one away. With a frog.

Carrington’s late father willed his library to Elena’s father. He’s not quite well enough to see to the cataloging and packing himself. Carrington’s library is, of course, full of rare and wondrous volumes.

The new Viscount has the looks of an Adonis, one who pretends to have the brains of a cabbage. Of course, he’s not an idiot. He’s really a kind of spy, a member of the Young Corinthians.

Poor Elena can’t quite figure out why her body is sending her one signal, and her brain is sending quite another. After all, she’s certain she couldn’t possibly be interested in a man who isn’t actually, well, interesting.

But Carrington finds Elena much, much too interesting. And the longer she’s around the less he is able to keep up the pretense of being a total dim-wit.

I kept looking for a courtship, and there really isn’t one in the usual sense. It’s more of a reveal. The more he drops his mask of stupidity, the closer they get.

What makes Dash stop pretending he’s an idiot? Elena finds a puzzle box in his father’s library. Not just any puzzle, but the key to a mystery that Dash and his friends have been hunting for over a decade, the reason they all joined the Young Corinthians in the first place.

It’s his father’s notes on the murder of his best friend’s mother, Lady Alford. Notes that lead to the leader of a spy ring. Notes that make his enemies, Elena’s enemies. and put her directly into the line of fire.

Once this suspense line of the story got going, I couldn’t put the darn thing down. However, and it’s a big however, too many of the issues it raised were left unresolved. I smell a set up for the next books in the series. And I never did figure out who or what the “Saint” in the title referred to. Hearts definitely got stolen, but no saints were involved in their theft.

I give The Saint Who Stole My Heart 3 1/2 Stars.

Guest Post: Schrödinger’s Ebook Box

For Marlene’s birthday I got her a new iPad.  Since her work involves reading and reviewing ebooks, and since the iPad has become her primary ebook reader, transferring the books from her old iPad to the new one was critical.  Since she uses a number of ebook apps, this gave us an opportunity to answer the (not-so) age-old question: when you open the new box, are the ebooks still alive and meowing?

We set up the new iPad using one of the recommended approaches:

  1. Sync the old iPad with iTunes.
  2. Make a backup of the old iPad using iTunes.
  3. Hook up the new iPad to the computer and choose to restore from the backup.
  4. After the restoration, wait for iTunes to finish syncing apps and content to the new iPad.

How did the the various apps do?

  • iBooks — success.  All of the titles came over.
  • Amazon Kindle for iPad — success.  The list of titles came over.  It was necessary to re-download them, but that came as no surprise.
  • Barnes and Noble Nook — success.  The list of titles came over; as with the Kindle app, it was necessary to re-download the books.
  • Bluefire Reader — success.  Everything came over, although it was necessary to re-enter the Adobe DRM credentials.
  • Google Play Books — success.  Same story as the Kindle and Nook apps.
  • Kobo for iPad — success.  At least, apparently so.  The default titles came over, but this app is one that Marlene looked at but never actively used.

However, there was one failure: the OverDrive app for iPad.  When we opened it on the new iPad, the bookshelf was empty!

Of course, the primary purpose of this app is to display ebooks and audiobooks from OverDrive’s library service, but it will happily store and open EPUB files, and you don’t even need the OverDrive Media Console application on your PC.  You can just download an EPUB from Safari on the iPad and open it in OverDrive.  Because of apparent capacity issues with Bluefire reader, there was a period of Marlene had started using the OverDrive app to handle some of the overflow; in particular, she used it for non-DRM EPUBs.

But therein lies the rub… as near as I can tell, the OverDrive app turns out to be the Hotel California of iOS EPUB readers.  Since the restore and iTunes sync obviously hadn’t brought the ebooks over, I started looking for ways to manually transfer them.  The first place I looked was in the File Sharing feature in iTunes:

If OverDrive supported app file sharing, I could have used iTunes to copy the ebooks from the old iPad to the new one.  Unfortunately… it doesn’t.

My next step was scanning through the OverDrive app to see if it offered a way to download or email the files.  I came up with nothing.

Finally, I turned to my favorite reference librarian Google… and came up with a lot of folks complaining about how iOS5 and the recent update of the app apparently don’t play well together for audiobooks, but nothing relevant to my efforts.  So, if you’ve made this far into the post and have ideas about how to transfer the books… I’m all ears.

Ultimately, if we don’t find a way to make the transfer, the effective loss will be small, as Marlene has current files for all of the titles in the OverDrive app with the exception of three titles she had downloaded via iOS Safari from NetGalley that have since been removed from the active download list.  One irony is that those three ebooks are in open EPUB format; if only we could get to the files, any EPUB reader app could display them.

This is all a perfect storm of circumstances that could drive somebody who is unlike me (by expecting that software will actually work all the time) back into the comfortable but heavy arms of physical books:

  • Ebook DRM can punish the reader.  Marlene and I are perfectly willing to pay for ebooks (though of course, most of the time she doesn’t have to because of the number of egalleys and ARCs she reviews), but in the case of the OverDrive app, were I to make a charitable guess, DRM inspired a design compromise for the OverDrive app that lead to app file sharing not being enabled, even for non-DRM ebooks.
  • Apple’s iOS backup and syncing model has pitfalls for the unwary.  In particular, backing up to iTunes does not back up everything, and syncing with iTunes does not necessary cover content that wasn’t purchased via iTunes.  Want a real full backup of your iOS device?  It seems like you can get one only if you jailbreak it.  By the way, I really hope to be proven wrong on this.
  • It’s a truism that preserving ebooks require the reader to work harder.  You can leave a physical book sitting around and expect it to stay put (and even a very industrious cat isn’t going to push a book very far); one has to actually think in order to keep one’s ebooks available as time, hardware upgrades, and fashions in digital format pass.  But it’s even harder if one has to work to get one’s hands on the ebook file.
  • Using apps for anything other than their exact intended purpose can have unexpected pitfalls.  As an EPUB reader, the OverDrive app is arguably decent, but at the moment I can no longer recommend it for any purpose other than using OverDrive’s service.  I hope future updates of the app will make it easier to transfer titles to new iOS devices and to back up any non-library ebooks that a user chooses to read in OverDrive.

In conclusion (and to further inflict quantum mechanics metaphors on the reader), despite all of the advantages of ebooks, ebook users must still keep the Ebook Uncertainty Principle in mind: without care (and ideally access to discrete, non-DRM ebook files that you can back up), the long-term availability of ebooks that you purchase is at best a little uncertain.

Random Acts

Random Acts by Alison Stone surprised me. It was a sweet romance that almost veered into inspirational territory, yet still told a good romantic suspense story.

Danielle Carson is a woman on the fast track to partnership at her high-powered law firm in Atlanta. She’s tried her best to leave small-town Mayport in her rearview mirror. It’s not that she doesn’t love her sister Jenny and her grandmother back home, she does, but the town itself holds a lot of bad memories.

In Mayport, everyone knows Danielle and Jenny as the daughters of an alcoholic who took up with a series of abusive men and finally abandoned her daughters. While leaving Danielle and Jenny with their grandmother was the best thing she could have done for them, she abandoned them. And everyone in Mayport watched Danielle and Jenny, waiting for them to turn out just like their mother.

Danielle had a crush on the boy next door, Patrick Kingley. He married someone else. Some of it was due to his four years’ seniority, but a lot more was small-town disapproval. His mother was sure Danielle would turn out badly. Instead, she just left. Being a lawyer hardly counts as bad, so the town disapproved of Danielle living in Atlanta instead.

When Jenny is the victim of a near-fatal car accident, Danielle rushes home, knowing the toll it will take on her ambitions at the office. But the accident is discovered to be no accident. And that boy next door is not a boy anymore. Patrick Kingley is all grown up, just like Danielle is. He’s been a soldier, a husband, a widower, and now a single father to a pre-teen daughter.

He’s also a cop.

And he knows that Jenny’s accident is no accident, because Jenny was working for him. Undercover. As a drug informant. And he hides that information from Danielle as the old ties between them start to knit together again. But it’s not just about him anymore. He can’t let someone into his life who will leave again, because it will break his daughter’s heart.

His own heartbreak is much less important to him. His daughter means everything.

And there is a killer on the loose who is willing to exploit that.

Escape Rating B-: The romance takes a backseat to the suspense. The suspense part of the story was handled well enough that I caught the red herring but didn’t figure out the final perpetrator. So that was good.

On the other hand, the romance definitely took the far back seat. The relationship between Danielle and Patrick’s daughter Ava is very sweetly handled, but the central love story gets very short shrift for what is intended as a romance. I know this might be intended as a “sweet” or “clean” romance, and so not erotic, but this couple didn’t generate a lot of heat, even of the banked fire variety.

And I kept wondering about exactly what happened in the way-back-when. It was clearly more traumatic for her than for him, but something happened. What was it?

The romance part of this romance needed more sparks somewhere, even if we don’t witness the actual fire.

Q&A with Robyn Carr, author of Sunrise Point plus Book Giveaway

Please help me welcome Robyn Carr, author of the Virgin River series of best-selling contemporary romances, to Reading Reality today. Robyn is visiting to introduce the latest book in the Virgin River series, Sunrise Point, and to giveaway a print copy of this terrific story to one lucky (US) commenter.  (See my review here, the winner of the giveaway will enjoy the book!)

So without further ado, here’s Robyn!

Q: How much of your actual life gets written into your fictional stories? Do you ever use real people as inspiration for your characters?

A: As inspiration—yes. But as actual characters, no. Real people don’t usually come off well in fiction. I take traits and experiences and emotional reactions from people I’ve met or read about and blend them into composite characters. But experiences and bits of dialogue from my life sneak in—happily. In Virgin River Jack’s sisters are remembering when Jack and his best friend hung their dolls by the neck—mean big brother stuff. My son and his best friend did that to my daughter’s cabbage patch dolls. Don’t worry, they’re all fine…. Well, I’m not sure about the dolls, but my son, his best friend and my daughter have persevered.

Q: What’s the most interesting comment you’ve ever gotten from a reader?

A: Oh, you can’t print it! My readers never get my titles right—they write and ask me if I’m going to write any more of those “Virginia River” books. Or they want to know where Virgin River really is—they plan to move there and get a big, studly Marine. But the funniest one ever was probably a typo: “Are you going to write anymore of those ‘Vagina River’ books.” Typo or Freudian slip.

I did get an email from a reader who was furious about my bigotry against Cubans. I was stunned and confused—I’d never written about Cubans. I suggested she had me mixed up with someone else. She wrote back with the direct quote, complete with page numbers—something about Jack being unable to shower off the stench of stinky Cubans. It was cigars! Cuban cigars! I pointed that out to her, but she was absolutely determined I had been bigoted in my remarks.

On a more serious side, a man who lost a leg in the war wrote me that he was changed by Paradise Valley, the story in which Rick Sudder lost a leg in the war and came home a messed up kid. My reader said that he realized from the book that he was an ass, thought it was a miracle his wife stayed with him through it, and finally understood how badly he needed counseling, which he was going to accomplish. I wrote back and asked him how he came across the book and he said his sister gave it to him—and his sainted wife was most grateful! Bless his heart!!

Q: Have you noticed your writer’s voice has changed over the years due to experience? If so, how?

A: Undoubtedly I’ve both matured and relaxed. I’ve gained experience both in life and writing and I’ve relaxed into telling stories my way, the way that is natural to me. Both things help.

Q: As a writer, what kinds of books inspire you? Do you ever find time to read when you aren’t writing your own novels?

A: I read every day. I work long hours, but in the evening after dinner I read—and I am inspired by everything I read, whether it’s mainstream or non-fiction or some other genre. I have a particular taste for contemporary romance and women’s fiction. My favorite authors are Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Kristan Higgins, Jill Shalvis, Susan Andersen to name a few. For my reading pleasure I enjoy intelligent, romantic, humorous, sexy novels with strong heroines.

Q: What is the underlying message you want women to take away from this new Virgin River trilogy—Hidden Summit, Redwood Bend, and Sunrise Point?

As in all Virgin River novels, it’s never too late to create your own happy ending. You are the heroine of your own life and you never never never settle for less than the most optimal experience, the most perfect partner. Men and women thrive when they find positive, mutually respectful relationships.


Q: What would you tell someone who is coming to Virgin River for the first time? What do you want them to know about the town as the jump  SUNRISE POINT?

A:  Virgin River isn’t an easy place.  It calls on a person’s deepest sense of adventure to live there, which at least partially explains the strong sense of community one finds there.  Sometimes neighbors have to rely on each other to get through the day, sometimes for their very survival.  Not only does Mother Nature challenge this mountain town with snowstorms, floods, earthquakes and mud slides, the landscape is rugged, the wildlife plentiful and fearless, but there are more illegal (and sometimes dangerous) marijuana growers in that area than anywhere else in the US.

Q: It must be hard to come up with characters and string their life stories through multiple novels. How do you keep everyone straight when you go from book to book?

A:  Notebook!  Very LARGE notebook!  By now, I live in Virgin River in my mind – everyday is like going home.

Q: Have there been any books, romance or other genres, that have greatly influenced you as a writer? What are they?

A: Too many to count, really.  The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy was an amazing adventure; The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher was like falling in love with a family; The Chicago Stars series by Susan Elizabeth Phillips was the most fun I’ve had in a romance series in forever.

Q: What would you tell someone who wants to start writing romance or women’s fiction? I’m sure you get a lot of questions like this. Is there one piece of advice that you always share with aspiring writers?

A:  This is a difficult job that more often than not doesn’t pay well.  Embarking on it to become rich and famous would be a mistake.  Taking on the writing profession because of a deep love of the craft is the only reason that makes sense.  To me, anyway.  I wrote for over 30 years before getting a bestseller – that takes either profound stubbornness or a overpowering love of the craft.

And now you want a copy of Sunrise Point for your very own! Here’s your opportunity. This giveaway is for a print copy, so the giveaway is open to US residents, or anyone who can make arrangements with someone with a US address.  Rafflecopter is waiting!
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