ARCs, Stacks and Hauls

“When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.”

The quote is from Desiderius Erasmus. How totally appropriate, but also one I’ve lived by long before I knew it existed. My mom would tell you I spent my allowance on books when I was a kid. And generally owed her future allowances.

I’ve always collected books. More books than I could read at any given point in time. I love having the choice of what to read next. It’s not the object, it’s the content. Ebooks suit me just fine for most things, and they take up less space. This is a big deal when you move as often as we do, and when you own as many “dead tree” books as we do.

Still over 2,000. We haven’t even unpacked them all from the last move. In December.

About ARCs. I’ve worked in libraries that received ARCs in lots of different ways. One of my former places of work (FPOW) was in a major metropolitan area. The city newspaper still had a significant book section on Sundays, and received books for review. The newspaper donated their review copies to the library. About once a month we received an industrial pallet-load of books, mixed ARCs and “real” books. The “real” books often went into the collection. But the ARCs, never. Staff had the pick of the ARCs for collection development, reading copies, whatever we liked. But they were never put in the collection. If you are wondering what the newspaper got out of this arrangement, they got a tax write-off.

Other libraries I have worked at do sell ARCs at book sales, or they end up in the Friends of the Library book sales. I haven’t worked at a library that has put them in the collection, but I know it happens.

But what does any of this have to do with ARCs now? I can hear the question from here. The recent #ARCgate mess brought up a lot of questions and it made me think about the present and future of ARCs in general, and what any mailbox-type post looks like in particular.

I do get a lot of ARCs. More in one week than I can read in a week. I’ve always picked up more books in a week than I could read that week. The difference now is that I’m getting a lot of eARCs instead of deliveries from Amazon and B&N or borrowing books from the library.

But the ARC “stack” can look like a book haul, and that isn’t the purpose of it for me. I choose eARCs because eARCs are a win/win. My eARC does not automatically deny any other reviewer the same eARC. That’s the beauty of NetGalley and Edelweiss. No print, no postage, not necessarily a limited number of ARCs the way that a print run by its very nature limits the number of ARCs.

And no print ARCs left on my shelves at the end that I’m not quite sure what to do with. Because the last thing my house needs is more print books. One of the clear messages of the whole ARCgate mess is that what you should do with your ARCs after you’re finished is very, well, unclear.

What I’m curious about, dear readers, is how you feel when you see mailbox-type posts on book blogs. Do you see them as the blogger doing a bit to promote books that she or he might not have time to review? Do you see them as bragging? Do you find them useful for adding to your own TBR pile? Do you care?

Please share your thoughts! I’ve been having a serious re-think on this topic after ARCgate, and I’d love to hear from you.


Ebook Review Central, Curiosity Quills and Red Sage, Leap Week Edition

Let’s all welcome the new additions to Ebook Review Central, Curiosity Quills and Red Sage Publishing.

When I first started Ebook Review Central, I searched high and low for ebook-only or ebook-mostly publishers whose primary genres were something other than romance. Don’t get me wrong, I do love romances, and I read a lot of them. But I also read a fair number of mysteries, and my personal romance with science fiction and fantasy goes way back.

Not to mention, there’s a certain irony to the fact that it’s hard to find a science fiction ebook-only publisher. Think about it for a minute.

Enter Curiosity Quills. They’re a relatively new ebook-only publisher, and they publish genre-benders on the slightly weird side of the house. Practically every title listed has two genres, and it’s usually two flavors that you don’t always think of together. So not peanut butter and chocolate like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, but Paranormal and Science Fiction. They also published the book with one of the most hilarious titles ever, The Last Condo Board of the Apocalypse.

But I never forget the romance. Red Sage Publishing is one that readers might recall from their long-standing Secrets erotica anthologies, but they have been branching out recently in their ebook titles. They do still publish Secrets in paperback, but in ebook-only they’re exploring some strange new worlds, like steampunk and science fiction romance.

And this seemed like a good time to add these new publishers to the line up in a “Leap Week”. Just like the calendar adds February 29 every four years, Ebook Review Central needs to add an extra week here and there to keep the cycle in sync with the calendar.

Curiosity Quills and Red Sage will be added to the four-in-one post. It will become a six-in-one monthly wrap up. To catch their review data up with the other publishers in that post, all the review data for CQ titles and Red Sage titles is now online at ERC.

And yes, we have featured titles. ERC just wouldn’t be the same without featured titles!

Featured title number three is The Forbidden Claim by Kelly Gendron and it’s from Red Sage Publishing. This tale of romantic suspense is about mistaken identities, misplaced identities, forgotten identities and reclaimed identities. A U.S. Marshall kidnaps a murderer who is about to be hidden inside the Witness Protection Program. The Marshall, a woman named Jinx Collins, believes that the murderer holds the key to the identity of a young woman who haunts her memories. The only problem is that the murderer she just kidnapped is an undercover agent who is trying to infiltrate a human trafficking ring. And there is a young boy in the present who needs their help. In addition to the deep suspense, the reviewers loved this one for the very hot romance.

The number one and two featured titles are both from Curiosity Quills, and it’s fitting that they are the top two featured titles because they are also books one and two in a series. People obviously loved book one, and were chomping at the bit for book two to come out. What am I talking about? Vicki Keire’s Chronicles of Nowhere; book one, Worlds Burn Through and book two, Shadowed Ground. This is one of those genre-bender series I referred to earlier, it’s paranormal science-fiction. There’s also a strong post-apocalyptic flavor. The world has ended in fire, and now one girl is being protected by some very powerful guardians, because she can hopefully keep it from happening again.

And that’s a wrap on the Leap Week Special Edition of Ebook Review Central. We’ll be back next week with the Carina Press April 2012 featured titles.

Ebook Review Central, Dreamspinner Press, March 2012

When I performed my regular search of the blogosphere for the reviews of the  Dreamspinner Press March titles, I admit that I was really hoping that Amy Lane’s Super Sock Man would get enough reviews to make the featured title list this month.  The title of this coming-of-age story grabbed my attention, but four reviews wasn’t quite enough to put a title over the top this month.

So what did it take? Take a look at the reviews listed for these featured titles and you’ll see.

The number three title this month was A Helping of Love by Andrew Grey, the latest entry in his Taste of Love Stories. Series entries often do well, as fans of the series provide a pre-built audience and jump on the new title as soon as it comes out. This story gives readers not just sensuality and love, but also deals with disability issues and learning to trust after surviving an abusive relationship. One hero is wheelchair bound, and you guessed it, the other hero’s previous lover was was an abuser. This one looks like another hit for Mr. Grey.

From the sweetness of A Helping of Love, we head to something considerably rougher for the second place title. Mine by Mary Calmes features a cover that Tori Benson, in her review over at Heroes and Heartbreakers, just shouted out as, and I quote, “ZOMG!” But besides the cover, the story is about a co-dependent couple who make some seriously risky life-style choices. Choices risky enough to get one of the men kidnapped. The thing is, that kidnapping seems to be on top of some death threats. Not instead, mind you, in addition. It’s pretty clear that getting to an HEA for this pair is going to take some major work, but the reviewers say that it is well worth buckling up for the roller-coaster ride.

Number one is a book that was a  “Recommended Read” at Guilty Pleasures and a “Top Pick” at Night Owl Reviews, as well as highly rated at a host of other sites. Which title am I talking about? Appropriately, it’s Rarer than Rubies by EM Lynley. The main characters in this one are an M/M romance writer on vacation in Bangkok and the spy who falls in love with him. (Reed Acton, the mysterious man who starts following around our hero, Trent Copeland, isn’t exactly a spy, but…it sort of fits.) One reviewer said it was like an M/M version of Romancing the Stone. That apparently worked really, really well for a lot of readers and reviewers. Books that are this much fun are rarer than rubies. Truly.

That’s it for Ebook Review Central for this week. We’ll be back next week for the Samhain March feature. Ta-ta for now!


Ebook Review Central, Carina Press, March 2012

Carina Press published a very interesting line-up of titles in March of 2012, and Ebook Review Central is here to take a look at the hits for the month.

Every four weeks, as the Carina Press issue rolls around, I continue to be amazed at the range of fiction that Carina publishes, and at how quickly the blogosophere produces reviews for their fiction. When ERC first began, October 24, 2011, with the Carina Press September 2011 titles, the one-month delay was built in to allow for titles published at the end of the month to get read and reviewed.

Even the titles Carina published March 26, barely two weeks ago, Alien Velocity by Robert Appleton, Gate to Kandrith by Nicole Luiken, Her Dark Protector by Carol Stephenson and A Kiss in the Wind by Jennifer Bray-Weber, all have reviews.  (I’m in the middle of Alien Velocity right now!)

Carina Press does an amazing job, month after month, of making sure their books get in the hands of reviewers. They also publish just plain good stories. Clearly a lot of readers think so.

About those stories…what were the highlights this month?

The Kowalskis pull the hat-trick for first place! Shannon Stacey’s Yours to Keep, the third book in her Kowalski Family series was the number one title this month. The completes the series, and makes the third month in a row Ms. Stacey’s Kowalski family member of the month has had the most and best reviews. This is the one I read first, and I enjoyed both the story and the family so much I had to read the first two books. It’s the story of a young woman who pretends she has a fake fiancé to keep her grandmother from worrying about her. But when her grandmother plans a visit, she needs a real-pretend fiancé to keep up that pretense. Then the fake turns real, and suddenly Emma Shaw and Sean Kowalski are playing for keeps.

Beauty in the Beast by Christine Danse is described as a dark fairy tale, or as a collection of dark fairy tales. The description reads like a cross between Beauty and the Beast and 1,001 Arabian Nights, with a little bit of steampunk and the alchemy of the Brothers Grimm thrown in for good measure. Because this version of the Beauty and the Beast story involves a group of travelling players who are lost at the “Beast’s” castle, and not just the titular “Beauty”, the reader gets several stories told by the players in addition to the romance. More than enough reviewers found this mix of shape-shifting with fairytale haunting enough to push this book into the number two slot.

Carina dedicated the week of March 19 to publishing male/male romance titles. All of the books published that week caught the attention of reviewers. and readers. Brook Street: Thief by Ava March is the start of a historical romance trilogy that did well with reviewers. But not quite as well as Moving in Rhythm by new author Dev Bentham. Lucky 13 reviews and all of them really terrific! Everyone loved this book. There was something about the idea of a gorgeously handsome but painfully shy hero that grabbed all the readers and wouldn’t let go of their heartstrings.

Moving in Rhythm may be a book about dancing lessons, but from the sound of it, the love story sings to every reader.

That’s our three hits for this week from Carina. Ebook Review Central will be back next week to feature the March titles from Dreamspinner Press.



Notable Books and Advance Galleys: It’s so much fun to say “We knew you when”

I’m so very pleased (actually giddy) to say that this post will appear on April 6, 2012 as the first of their “Librarian Voices” columns at NetGalley.

It can be fun to look at someone famous and say “I knew you when…”, particularly when that “someone” is a book, and the “when” in question is waaaay back before that book came out, and no one knew the book was going to be as hot as it turned out to be.

Or when you’re looking at the ALA Notable List, and remembering when you picked up the ARC at a conference, or got the egalley from NetGalley, because you thought it might be good, and, lo and behold, there it is, an award-winner.

Sometimes, you read a book, and you know it’s special. Then you tell everyone you know until they’re sick of it, and you. Unless you’re very lucky, and it’s your job to help people find their next perfect read.

The ALA Notable Books List is always interesting and useful, because as soon as I see it, I look at it and go, “oh, that one was popular”, “oh, that’s an interesting choice”, or “mmm, I can see why that got picked.” In collection development, it always made for a list of titles to check, but they were usually ones the library already owned. We’d miss one sometimes, especially on the poetry portion of the list!

Maybe it’s because I’m  personally a genre fiction reader, but the ALA Notable Books List always seemed like the “big books” list, Not big in the sense that they’re long books, but big in the sense that they’re literary, at least on the fiction side. These are “important” books, even when they are also very, very popular. Tea Obreht’s  The Tiger’sWife was one book that we just couldn’t get copies of fast enough. I remember seeing it in NetGalley before the pub date, and I wish I had snagged it then! Then I would have known in advance it was going to be big!

There’s another ALA list, one that reflects what people read for pleasure, instead of the important books. It’s The Reading List that RUSA CODES publishes. This list has categories for genres like “Science Fiction” and “Mystery” and “Romance”, you know, the good stuff. (I’ve never been so sure about that “Adrenaline” category.)

Genre fiction sells, and genre fiction circulates. That’s what circulation statistics show, and publishing numbers and everything else. The books on this list are the ones that people will enjoy.

And they’re fun.

The trick for librarians is picking out which one, or ten, are going to stand out from the crowd. It’s hard because the genre field is crowded and very diverse. Each genre can feel like its own little planet, and the galaxies can seem light-years apart. Lists like this are great navigational tools.

Each title on the fantasy list this year is absolutely marvelous. One of my favorite books of the year, The Magician King by Lev Grossman, is on the short list. The short list! It’s not even the winner! I knew when opened the first page of that egalley from NetGalley that it was going to be one of the big books of the year. But as far the winning title is concerned, as soon as I saw the NetGalley description for this title, it was clear that Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus was something special.  The circus arrives and it brings magic.
On the 2012 list, one of the shortlisted titles in the romance category is Kristan Higgins’ My One and Only. I resisted the impulse to get an egalley last year, but Higgins new book, Somebody to Love, is available now. And I have an egalley from NetGalley.

Maybe Somebody to Love will be on the RUSA CODES Reading List in 2013. And I’ll be able to say that “I knew it when…”


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

March went out like a lamb in this part of the country. February is going out here at Ebook Review Central. This is the four-in-one post, featuring titles from all of the Amber Quill houses, Astraea Press, Liquid Silver Books and last but definitely not least this month, Riptide Publishing for the month of February 2012.

Before we get to the featured books, let’s talk about the publishers for just a second, because we have more than one. This issue is always different, because the featured titles can move around from publisher to publisher, depending on who has the “hottest” titles in any given month.

But there are definitely some trends.

Astraea Press hired a review coordinator a few months ago. Opal Campbell is doing a bang-up job. Every Astraea Press title gets reviewed.

Amber Quill is…not doing as well. Or they are and they aren’t. Amber Quill is an umbrella name for three houses, Amber Quill for more general fiction, Amber Heat for erotic m/f fiction, and Amber Allure for m/m fiction. The titles they publish from Amber Allure always get reviewed. The Amber Quill and Amber Heat, not so much. This month, the Amber Heat titles, not at all. Whoever or however they do it on the Amber Allure side of the house, please replicate it on the Amber Heat side! It’s not good to see this many books from one publisher with no reviews.

But Riptide Publishing seems to be doing everything right. I have yet to see one of their titles not get reviewed. In at least four places and usually more! Also, from the perspective of the person researching Ebook Review Central every week, Riptide’s website is an absolute gem. Not just because they have a complete entry for every book with all the data readily available in one place, but also because they track the reviews! (I always find a few more, but it is so helpful to have a starting point.)

Riptide published three titles in February 2012. Those three titles each received at least twice as many reviews as the next nearest competitor. Not only did they get the most reviews, they were all pretty darn good ones, too.

Featured title number one for this all-Riptide issue is Dark Soul Vol. 4 by Aleksandr Voinov. This is a collection of three shorter works, Dark Rival I, Dark Rival II and Dark Temptation. These stories involve Silvio, Stefano, the Russian mafia, and whether a man involved in a crime family can afford to be himself without hurting the ones he loves the most. This series has been described as obsessive, dangerous, compelling and delicious. Repeatedly. Notice that this is volume 4 and plan your reading binge accordingly.

The second entry on the Riptide hit parade is The Heart’s Greater Silence by Anne Brooke. This is not a story with an HEA, or even a Happy for Now. Mark loves Craig, but he’s having sexual affair with Richard. Richard is a minister, and is married to his vocation, but he’s having his sexual needs attended to by Mark. When Craig is confronted by Mark’s betrayal, Mark’s world falls apart. This is a moving story about someone who throws away his chance at a happy ending.

But the third featured title in this all-Riptide ERC does end this issue on a much lighter note. Few Are Chosen by Storm Grant is an Urban Fantasy, but this story is one that every single reviewer said they laughed through. Any story about virgin teenage demon hunters who squabble over tighty-whities not being proper super-hero undies and which of them is more the “Chosen One” than the other has a leg up on funny. The reviewers say that the story pokes some gentle fun at Buffy, but with one of the boys wearing a black leather duster, it sounds like my favorite Chicago wizard, Harry Dresden, has some fun thrown his way as well. Harry’s a big wizard, he can take it. (Few Are Chosen sounds like one I’d like to read!)

I never know which titles will be featured until I finish searching for all the reviews. To have all the featured titles in this issue be from the same publisher was a surprise until the very end.

Next week the cycle comes back around to Carina Press’ March titles. Time marches on!

Ebook Review Central, Samhain Publishing, February 2012

Samhain Publishing’s list for February 2012 is, as usual, long and extremely diverse.

On the one hand, we have the sweetness that Samhain’s Retro Contemporary romances bring to the line in Kane and Mabel. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, or perhaps at several opposite ends, we have the chills and thrills of their Horror line, represented by Genesis of Evil, and the naughtier sides of romance, from their Red Hots (I wonder, do they want us to think of hot dogs, or not, with that particular warning label?) like Off Limits and Reckless Territory. Those titles even sound hot.

But which titles will be featured this week? Let’s see what we have here…

The number one title stole the top spot and the souls of its readers. The hero, or perhaps anti-hero is a better term, is a soul collector who lands himself on demon death row for betraying his demon boss. His attempt at suicide by demon hunter results in a rescue by a virgin white witch looking to rid herself of a curse that guards her virginity. And she’s found the one demon hunter who would be more than happy to help. If this sounds familiar to you, that’s because it’s Getting Familiar With Your Demon, by Jodi Redford, and reviewers (and there were plenty) gave it high marks. Be prepared to lose yourself in Redford’s series That Old Black Magic, because Demon is book 4. But this looks like a great place to get lost.

If romantic comedy is more your style, then check out the number two selection for this month, Tamara Morgan’s Love is a Battlefield. This first book in her Games of Love series (yeah, a first book in a series!) is a tale about two sets of re-enactment fanatics fighting over the same territory for their “games” who end up having some games of their own. This sounds utterly delicious, the Jane Austen Regency Re-Enactment Society going to war with the Highland Games athletes, with the men in kilts. What does a proper Highlander wear under his kilt? This story provides a sexy, and funny answer to that question.

The last title featured is acclaimed by all the reviewers for its charm, its emotional depth and the painstaking research that went into it. The book is A Private Gentleman by Heidi Cullinan. This historical male/male romance takes place in the mid-19th century, and is much more than a simple love story. Or even more than a complicated love story, for that matter. The story is about love that reaches beyond class boundaries, but even that’s been done before. What captivated the reviewers was the way this story dealt with issues of disability, addiction and childhood abuse, and how the love between the two heroes eventually helped them come to terms with their pasts, their present and their possible future.

Ebook Review Central will be back next week with our four-in-one issue. We’ll see begin April by highlighting February from Amber Quill, Astraea Press, Liquid Silver and Riptide Publishing.  Come back next week!

Ebook Review Central, Dreamspinner Press, February 2012

We’re back at Ebook Review Central to take a look at the Dreamspinner Press titles from February 2012. But before we do that, I’d like to give a shout-out to Ariel Tachna from Dreamspinner for her session at the Book Bloggers and Publishers Online Conference on March 7.

Ariel said that one of the big reasons Dreamspinner placed all of their titles on NetGalley was to give librarians a chance to review the entire Dreamspinner catalog every month.

Ebook Review Central was created as a way for librarians to have “one-stop-shopping” for reviews of ebook-only or ebook-predominately titles. Over the last few months, I’ve discovered that a lot of readers, authors and publishers are finding it useful. I’m very happy with that!

Back to the February featured titles…

The first feature is Chase in Shadow by Amy Lane. There was absolutely no question that this would be number one. Every review is near or at the top of the reviewer’s rating scale, and there is a reason. This book isn’t just a story, this one seems to reach out and grab the heartstrings of every person who reads it. Because this one evokes personal stories. This is about one young man who is trying, so hard, to take care of everyone in his life but himself. He’s leading a double life, and pretending he’s not gay. He has a fiancé he loves. His life is a struggle on every level, financially, educationally, with his family. When his two lives collide, he almost doesn’t make it. And the story of his nearly not surviving that collision is what touches all the reviewers.

Ty’s Obsession by SJD Peterson is a story with a decidedly different flavor. This contemporary western BDSM tale is the second featured story of the month. Ty’s story is the third tale in Peterson’s Whispering Pines Ranch series (after Lorcan’s Desire and Quinn’s Need) and the reviewers say that the crew just gets better with each story. Also that the story needs to be read in order, so be prepared to get them all, since Peterson leaves loose ends dangling that lead to the next book. But series fans are more than happy to dangle, eagerly waiting for that next book.

Last, I’m going to give the third featured place to a January book. There weren’t a lot of reviews for this one when the January 2012 ERC for Dreamspinner went to “press” but in between, the word-of-mouth has clearly gone around, and it’s very, very good.

Bonds of Earth by G. N. Chevalier is a book about not just surviving a war, but also about surviving the peace. And about having dreams above your station, and trying to make them come true, and what happens when a war shatters you. And how rebuilding someone else helps you rebuild yourself. The clear message that war is always hell, and that not all wounds are physical, since the war in this story is the first “War to End All Wars”, the one history now labels World War I. And added to all of that the love story of two gay men who fall in love at a time when imprisonment is still a very real possibility.

Bonds of Earth sounds like an absolutely fantastic read, but I agree with a comment that several reviewers mentioned, that the cover doesn’t do it justice.

But that’s it for this week. Please join me again next week at Ebook Review Central. March Madness will continue with the February featured titles from Samhain Publishing.


Ebook Review Central, Carina Press, February 2012

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Just kidding! But if it feels like all that “springing ahead” this weekend for daylight savings time has you running behind, welcome to the Carina Press February 2012 feature titles at Ebook Review Central.

There was never any question which title would be the number one featured title this month.

The first featured slot, undeniably and without a doubt, goes to Undeniably Yours by Shannon Stacey. Not only is this the second title in her Kowalskis series, it’s the second month in a row that Ms. Stacey and her series has been the first place finisher at ERC for Carina. The Kowalskis series is a contemporary romance series with an engaging cast of characters–not just the lead romantic couple in each book, but the extended family that surrounds them. Readers love the whole Kowalski family. Some reviewers had mixed feelings about the girl who marries into the Kowalski family in Undeniably Yours.

Cinderella goes to the ball again in the second featured book. A Waltz at Midnight by Crista McHugh is a sweetly romantic play on Cinderella. A former Southern belle turned housemaid (very Cinderella-ish) works in a school for ladies. One of said “ladies” pays her to write letters for her to an unwelcome suitor. The lady in question wants Cinderella, oops, I meant Susanna, to let the suitor down. Instead, Susanna and the wealthy suitor fall in love with each other through the letters. But when the wealthy suitor wants to meet his correspondent, Susanna has to reveal her duplicity, she is the maid and not the rich young lady he thinks he’s been corresponding with.

The final featured book this month is the cyberpunk science fiction romance Synthetic Dreams by Kim Knox. Synthetic Dreams takes place in a future world that looks a lot a fully immersive version of Facebook. Or perhaps a version of the Matrix where all the players are not just conscious that the mental universe they are living and working in isn’t really real, but are actually counting on that knowledge. One Corporation controls the best, the most expensive, the most immersive Mind Tiers. But what fuels the layers of those Tiers? How does it all really work? One genius hacker is determined to find all the Corporation’s secrets. Why? Because the Corporation destroyed her life. Now she needs to destroy them. Because they are out to get her. Again.

Take a look for yourself at the Carina Press list for February. What would your top titles be for the month?

And don’t forget to come back next week to see the featured titles for Dreamspinner Press for February 2012!

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

And another month ends here at Ebook Review Central. As I searched for reviews for the January titles from Amber Quill, Astraea Press, Liquid Silver Books, and Riptide Publishing, I had a few moments where I feared that January was going to be going out with more of a whimper than a bang.

No wait, it’s March that does the in like a lion, out like a lamb thing.

The issue is that I have good news, and I very nearly had bad news.

The good news was that this list came closer than ever to 100% of the titles getting reviewed. Only two books out of all the lists were missed, and they were from different publishers. This is excellent and is a testament to the hard work that the review coordinators are doing.

On my now infamous other hand, until nearly the end of my search, I was afraid that the reviewers were still sleeping off their holiday excesses well into January. Almost every title received a review, but, and you knew that but was coming, almost every title received just that, a, meaning one, review. Occasionally two.

That doesn’t give me enough to pick a feature on.

Just as I was reaching the end of the lists, the featured books practically jumped out at me.    These three titles not only had more than just one or two reviews, they each had several very enthusiastic reviews!

The other interesting thing about this set of featured titles is that they are all male/male romances. Because this group of publishers has titles all over the romance spectrum, I never know what types of romance will capture reviewers’ attention in any month. This month, it was all m/m romance.

The first two featured titles are both from Amber Quill’s Amber Allure imprint, and from their Hot College Daze series.

The title that generated the most reviewing heat is Tailor Made by Josephine Myles. This is a story about how a good man can make a bad boy change for the better, and not just when it comes to love and sex and sleeping around. College is about growing up, and the two young men in this story start out as complete opposites, but by the end, grow towards each other, in spite of their differences. One reviewer summed it up by saying “this story just left me smiling when I finished it”.

Number two on the hit parade is Lou Harper’s Academic Pursuits. Academic Pursuits is slightly different. It’s told from the first-person perspective, and reads like someone’s diary, or as if someone is telling you a dirty story from their college days. And it’s pretty naughty story about a very charming guy who likes to chase, and seduce, supposedly straight guys. Life is working really well for him in college until someone new starts chasing him. Reviewers mostly found this book amusing, but opinions divided depending on whether or not the reviewer liked the main character.

Riptide Publishing, with only two books in January, still managed to get one into the featured books this month. Rhi Etzweiler’s Blacker than Black ghosted into the number three slot with this paranormal tale of vampires who feed off the life energy of other beings. Black and Jhez are Nightwalkers; they turn tricks in order to bring fresh victims for the vamps, and in return, they get to live. Until one vamp wants them to spy on his own kind. Then the vamps start dying, and all hell breaks loose. Well, looser than it already was.  Energy vampires in an urban fantasy setting. No wonder the reviewers thought this was cool. It just plain sounds cool.

That’s a wrap on another edition of Ebook Review Central. We’ll be back next week with the first February ERC. We’ll see what Carina Press published in February 2012, and what the reviewers had to say about it.