Ebook Review Central, Multi-publisher, August 2012

Welcome to the Ebook Review Central multi-publisher wrap-up post for the titles published in August 2012. This week’s edition covers the output from Amber Quill Press, Astraea Press, Curiosity Quills, Liquid Silver and Riptide for the month of August. Red Sage didn’t publish anything new this month.

This is also my multi-conundrum post. Out of six possible publishers, not all of whom have output in any given month, there are entirely too many months, like this one, where Riptide publishes three titles and absolutely sweeps the featured titles. No other publisher has titles that received more than four reviews, and there were way too many ones and zeroes, all over.

Why am I bringing this up right now? I’m moving to Seattle in November, and starting a full-time job in early December. Some things will have to re-arranged. I will continue Ebook Review Central, but for publishers where there are regularly no reviews, or very few reviews, to report, I’m going to have to make some decisions about priorities.

Multiple reviews on Goodreads or Amazon, even when they exist, do not count on Ebook Review Central. Why? Because many reviewers cross-post their reviews on Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. When we receive review copies from publishers, the publishers generally make that request specifically.

All of this week’s featured titles were from Riptide. While I would have liked to have spread the featured titles out a bit, Riptide absolutely ran so far ahead of the pack, it wasn’t remotely possible. And good on them and their publicity department/review coordinators as well as the authors for getting their books out there.

Featured title number one is Anne Tenino’s Love, Hypothetically. I’ll say up front that the reviews weren’t universally good, but there were simply a ton of them. When this many people are talking (and writing), the book is worth looking at just to get in on the conversation! Love, Hypothetically is the sequel to Frat Boy and Toppy, and is a story of reunited lovers. Paul and Trevor were high school boyfriends who veered way off track. Trevor chose a major league baseball career instead of coming out, but threw Paul pretty much under the bus on his way. Now the big career is over and Trevor is back in town and he wants a second chance with his first love. See Under the Covers for the wow review and Avon Romance for the meh vote.

Almost all of the 16 reviews for the number two feature were raves. I’m talking about Aleksandr Voinov’s look back at two German flyers during World War II, Skybound. Even though this is a time and/or a side that many people avoid like the plague (as my fellow Book Lover Caro put it) every one who read this one fell in love with the characters and saw it as a beautiful story of love and courage, set in dark and desperate times.

Coming in at number three was the book I expected to be number one, which says something about the strength of the competition this week. Anything that could beat out the latest entry in the Cut & Run series has to have been pretty damn good. Because the number three title for this week is Stars & Stripes by Abigail Roux, the 6th book in the Cut & Run series. Everyone who reviewed this one absolutely loved it, but that’s not a surprise. By six books in, everyone reviewing is deeply invested in the series. The series started as a mystery/suspense series about two FBI agents, Ty Grady and Zane Garrett, who have absolutely opposite working styles and one hell of a lot of sexual tension. During a significant part of the series, it’s a question whether they’re going to fall into bed or get each other killed, or both. The series is meant to be read in order, starting with Cut & Run, and highly recommended by pretty much everyone who has ever reviewed it.

We’ll be back! Next week! Carina Press, September 2012. The Frankenstorm will not bring me down.

Ebook Review Central, Hexapub, July 2012

This week on Ebook Review Central we have the multi-publisher wrap-up of July 2012. After this week, we’ll move on to the August titles for the publishers that ERC turns its eagle eye (or beady eye, take your pick) upon.

But until next week, it’s still mid-summer. I’m in Atlanta, Georgia, it IS still summer. We’re looking at the July 2012 titles from Amber Quill Press, Astraea Press, Curiosity Quills, Liquid Silver Books, and Riptide Publishing. Red Sage Publishing would normally be in that list, but they didn’t publish any new titles in July. That didn’t keep their titles from the previous months from garnering some new reviews, and the database has been updated to reflect those.

The surprising thing about this week’s featured titles is that Riptide did not run away with the reviews. They weren’t even in contention for running away with the featured list. Don’t get me wrong, they absolutely earned their first place spot on the list. Someone will need to pick me up off the floor the day Riptide doesn’t earn one place on the list, even with six publishers’ titles in contention. It’s just rare that they don’t look to take all three spots.

This week they weren’t even close to taking all three spots. First place however, was all theirs.

Cat Grant’s Doubtless, published by Riptide, absolutely ran away with first place. Any book that generates enough heat to get 21 people to post reviews (and remember that I’m talking about reviews outside of Goodreads and Amazon!) has got to be worth taking a look at. Doubtless is the followup to Grant’s May standout title, Priceless, another ERC feature, and follows the same characters. What Doubtless is not, as so many reviewers were careful to say, is a typical HEA. What it is, however, is a “compelling journey of self-awareness” as one reviewer so eloquently put it. Steve Campbell is professionally successful and personally miserable at the beginning of the book. It’s not until after his first encounter with Dylan Monroe, a confident and self-assured male escort, that Steve begins to realize that the reason he’s lonely is because he’s been looking in the wrong direction.

The second book in this week’s feature is also a sequel, and also from that same May list. Wilde’s Army by Krystal Wade is the second book in her Darkness Falls series from Curiosity Quills. The first book in this YA genre-bender (part paranormal romance, part urban fantasy) was Wilde’s Fire, and it was the absolute runaway of the May titles. It’s no surprise that so many of the readers who were caught up in the story of the girl who actually traveled to the magical world she dreamed of wanted to continue the adventure. And what an adventure it is! The adventure continues at an incredibly fast pace, and it’s even more difficult to figure out which are the good guys, and which are the bad guys. No one, and it seems like no one, can stand the suspense until book three comes out.

Imagine a world where your spine might be a precious commodity, but not necessarily the rest of you. Did a shiver just run up your…spine? That’s just a tiny hint of the action in Michael Shean’s Bone Wires, the third featured title this week, also from Curiosity Quills. Bone Wires is, dare I say it, a curious mix of Biopunk, Cyberpunk and dark science fiction with just that touch of urban fantasy. Or at least the part of urban fantasy that involves solving nasty crimes in an urban setting. It’s just that this particular setting is in the far future, and being a cop is a job that ranks somewhere below street-sweeping. Both involve taking out the trash in Shean’s not-so-brave new world. Shean’s description of a future America where police forces are operated not by the government, but by private corporations sounds, just a little too close to the possible.

So there you have it for this week, and for July 2012. One runaway feature for Riptide with Cat Grant’s Doubtless, and two solid hits for Curiosity Quills with Wilde’s Army and Bone Wires.

Ebook Review Central will be back next week with Carina Press’ August 2012 titles. It looks like I get to go back to baseball metaphors for a while. My hometown Cincinnati Reds clinched their division.


Ebook Review Central, Hexapub, June 2012

This is the Creepy Crawly edition of Ebook Review Central.

Why Creepy Crawly? Six publishers, six legs. Spider-post. (Yes, we saw Spider-Man last week. Not bad, not bad at all.)

But we’re talking publishers, and not necessarily superheroes, although there might be a superhero book in the bunch. You’ll have to check the database. Take a look at the Amber Quill Press, Astraea Press, Curiosity Quills, Liquid Silver Books, Red Sage Publishing, and Riptide Publishing lists for June 2012. Maybe somebody published a superhero book this month.

Even if they didn’t, you’ll have fun seeing what they did publish, and what reviewers had to say about it.

What usually strikes me about the multi-publisher issue of ERC is that there are generally a lot of titles, but not a lot of reviews. There’s been a lot of discussion recently about the “epidemic of niceness” in online reviewing. If you haven’t seen the original article, it was  posted in Slate.

Unlike the New York Times Book Review, bloggers are not paid to write reviews. So, as a group, we may only spend our time writing reviews of books we like. Also, as Barbara Hoffert pointed out in an essay at Library Journal titled F. Scott Fitzgerald, Best-Selling Ebooks, and the Problem with Online Book Talk, bloggers are “out there” in terms of protection from legal repercussions if an author doesn’t like what we say. Library Journal has over a century of history behind it. It has a business structure. Most importantly, it has lawyers to defend its employees.

So, some of that epidemic of niceness may be a case of the old adage, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”. In which case, a ton of good reviews probably means that a book is at least a decent read (Think of how Rotten Tomatoes crowdsources movie ratings). But if no one is reviewing a book, it means something else. It might mean that the book hasn’t found its audience.

And it might mean that no one has anything good to say, so everyone is keeping their keyboards disengaged.

But there were books this week that generated plenty of reviews. Let’s talk about the featured titles for this week.

Clanking into third place this week is The Blacksmith’s Lover by Heather Massey. This is the second book in her Clockpunk Trilogy, after The Watchmaker’s Lady. It’s a short, intense, erotic story of Sarah, a young woman who escapes abuse at the hands of her employer to find refuge with a rather unusual blacksmith outside West Boylston, Massachusetts in 1840. Viktor doesn’t just make horseshoes. In his hidden workshop, he makes clockwork animals, steam-powered clockwork animals, and all manner of fascinating devices. Keeping the secret of his special crafting out of the wrong hands is the reason Viktor fled his native Russia. But once Sarah and Viktor start an affair, he uses his mechanical skills to defend her, even against a rival clockworker employed by her insane former employer. This steampunk story is hotter than the blacksmith’s forge!

Number two for this week wafts in on a puff of pipe smoke. Kissing Sherlock Holmes by T.D. McKinney and Terry Wylis is a new Sherlock Holmes case with one difference. Instead of Holmes being indifferent to his emotions, Holmes both gets engaged to a headstrong young woman AND embarks on a passionate affair with his friend Dr. John Watson. Oh yes, there’s a mystery to be solved, a tiny little thing about a sadistic blackmailer threatening to undermine the government. The idea that Holmes and Watson are in a relationship has been around forever. BBC’s Sherlock lampshades it at every opportunity. Most of the reviewers say that Kissing Sherlock Holmes does a reasonable job treating the relationship as a real possibility, with a couple of minor quibbles. Everyone seems to have solved the mystery too quickly. For a very funny, and snarky, opposing view of the book, read Julie’s review at Word Weary, it’s a scream.

It seems like it’s inevitable. The number one book this week is from Riptide Publishing. This week’s selection is Awakening by Cat Grant and Rachel Haimowitz, the latest entry in their Power Play series. This one is definitely not for the faint of heart. The Power Play series makes no apologies about playing with all four letters of BDSM; the two characters of this series, Jonathan and Brandon are in a consensual Dom/sub relationship, and in this second book of the series, Brandon has entered into a new phase of his relationship with Jonathan for a $3 million payout. It was the only way he could get Jonathan back. But to do it, he has to prove that he’s every bit the masochist that dominant and sadist Jonathan wants and needs. Because Brandon loves him that much. But it takes them both a lot of pain to get there. And not all of that pain, not by any stretch of the imagination, is physical.

Now it’s time for the spider to climb back to the center of her web until the next hexapost. Ebook Review Central will be back next week, when we’ll turn our gaze to the Carina Press July titles. I’ve found a Monster in My Closet, but no superheroes so far. Guess I’ll just have to keep looking.

Ebook Review Central, Amber Quill, Astraea, Curiosity Quills, Liquid Silver, Red Sage, Riptide, May 2012

This Ebook Review Central issue covers the May 2012 titles for a whole host of publishers; Amber Quill Press (all its bits), Astraea Press, Curiosity Quills, Liquid Silver Books, Red Sage Publishing and Riptide Publishing.

And another month ends. Next week, we’ll start the June coverage and begin inching up on the calendar again, but not too close.

Because of the continuing mess surrounding the “Stop the GR Bullies site” and the whole discourse about whether posting a bad review, even a snarky bad review, constitutes bullying. I’d like to point out a very professional exchange of comments between one reviewer of Rachel Van Dyken’s Upon a Midnight Dream and the author, the publisher and the publicist. The exchange occurred at Books with Benefits and concerned both the book and the cover art. While the cover art review was intentionally snarky, the book review was well-written but not a positive review of the book. However, both reviews referred to the work and not the person and the entire discussion on all sides remained totally professional and positive in tone.

(For those looking for an interesting, well-written and snarky author’s take on this mess, I recommend John Scalzi’s post, “Bad Reviews: I Can Handle Them, and So Should You“)

Back to Ebook Review Central.

The number one featured book was a complete surprise. Curiosity Quills published one title in May. And, as is usual for them, it’s a genre-bender. Part paranormal romance, part urban fantasy, and a touch of YA. And it’s book one in a series, so there will be more. I’m talking about Wilde’s Fire by Krystal Wade, the first book in her Darkness Falls series. The concept is a classic; a girl dreams of a magical world, then leads her sister and her best friend through a portal, and discovers that magical world is real. But it’s not a dream, it’s a nightmare after all. Reviewers were all over the map on Wilde’s Fire, every rating imaginable from 5/5 to DNF (way more reviews on the high side!). But so very many people read it and wrote about it, equally passionately. When 32 reviewers take the time to review something, not including reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, it’s absolutely worth taking a look at.

Featured book number two this week is from Riptide Publishing. All four of the titles Riptide published in May were from their Rentboys Collection, but the one that stood out for the reviewers was Priceless by Cat Grant. This blend of three tropes really pulled at reviewers heartstrings because of the power of the writing. Trope number one is the nerd romance. Professor Connor Morrison is so busy with both his physics professorship and the technical firm that he and his best friend are trying to get launched that he doesn’t have time for relationships. He’s too busy and too driven. Wes Martin is a student at Connor’s college. With no scholarship and no family behind him, Wes does whatever he has to do to graduate, even hooking through a website. But they keep running into each other, some of those meetings orchestrated by Connor’s business partner. Connor doesn’t have time for a relationship, and Wes doesn’t want Connor to find out that some of his johns rough him up. A lot.  A major wake-up call about what’s really important in life, and some serious rescuing made this book shine for a lot of readers.

The final book in this feature is Dirk’s Love by Marisa Chenery, published by Liquid Silver Books. Dirk’s Love is book six in the Roxie’s Protectors series, giving it that built-in audience that often has reviewers chomping at the bit for a book. Dirk is a werewolf, and this story is absolutely a paranormal romance, but with a cyber twist. Dirk has created an online matchmaking service for werewolves to find their soul mates. It turns out that his one employee is his soul mate. Looks like the service works. The only problem is that Ryann’s ex-husband has other ideas. And when Ryann discovers that Dirk is a werewolf, it takes her a while to decide that the wolf is not a monster after all.

That’s a wrap for this week’s Ebook Review Central. We’ll be back next week with the Carina Press June 2012 feature.

I have a question for you! Can you think of a great title for this multi-publisher group post? The title up there is a really long mouthful. Please help me out by posting your ideas in the comments.

Ebook Review Central, Amber Quill, Astraea, Liquid Silver, Red Sage, Riptide, April 2012

Welcome to the Omnibus publisher April wrap-up post for Ebook Review Central. This is always the last post covering the month (in this case, April 2012) and it’s the one covering the most publishers in one swell foop.

This time round, we have five publishers all in one go. The Amber Quill Press coverage includes whichever imprint Amber happens to publish under. Mostly it’s been Amber Allure, their M/M imprint, with the occasional title from either Amber Heat or, this month,  Dear Viking by Lori Soard, a historical/inspirational title from their non-erotic imprint, Amber Quill itself.

The other publishers in the omnibus with new titles in April are Astraea Press, Liquid Silver Books, Red Sage Publishing, and Riptide Publishing. The Curiosity Quills database was also updated this month, but they didn’t publish any new titles in April. Don’t worry, they’ve got new stuff in May. (I peeked ahead. I do that with mysteries, too.)

I’m going to do something different with this week’s featured books. There are five publishers in this week’s edition. I am going to try to spread the feature around more.

Going by sheer number of reviews alone, I could feature all three Riptide titles every time. The only time someone else would get featured would be the months Riptide only published two titles. I say this as an observer of the evidence at hand. It’s either good books, good PR, or good both.

But in order to make sure other books get some play, there have to be some other considerations. And one of the reasons I started ERC was to provide a place for librarians to find reviews of ebook-only titles. Some of the featured books need to be from publishers that libraries can get, if those books did well.

Above all the featured books and this featured article, have to be interesting to readers.

So with those things in mind, this week’s featured books are the following:

The number one book was the Riptide title I couldn’t resist, it’s the Josh of the Damned Triple Feature #1 by Andrea Speed. All of the Josh of the Damned books (Pretty Monsters, Peek-a-Boo) just sound like an old-school B grade Sunday movie matinee horror feature, as lampooned by Mystery Science Theater 3000, and the description of the Triple Feature short stories goes it one better. A character in one of the stories is nicknamed “Professor Bobo”, a direct nod to MST3K. One of the other short stories is “I Was Cthulhu’s Love Slave”. Really? Too funny. Josh, the damned guy, who is human, works in a convenience store. His boyfriend is a vampire. But most of the weird problems Josh has working the night shift are human. Of course they are. Well, maybe except for the lovesick yeti.

The second feature story is Cinderella. There’s always a Cinderella. There always has been, and always will be. It’s one of those tropes that has been imprinted in our collective DNA. But the version of Cinderella in Sinders and Ash by Tara Lain is quite a bit different from the usual. Like many modern versions, it’s a bit difficult to figure out who rescues whom. Whether Ashton Armitage, the son of the fifth richest man in America rescues Mark “Sinders” Sintorella from a life working as a housekeeper in a ritzy resort–or whether Sinders rescues Ash from a life of not just hiding in the closet but also stultifying boredom. And it’s still a fairy tale, complete with a fairy godfather this time, of course. The mistaken identity part is even still there, helped by a smidgen of cross-dressing.

I picked the third book because it is from a publisher that is available to libraries and because it received a very favorable review from RT Book Reviews. (And yes, I liked it too.) The Watchmaker’s Lady by Heather Massey is the first book in her Clockpunk Trilogy. Clockpunk is steampunk with very small parts, in case you’re wondering about the term. So instead of big steam engines, think very small mechanical devices, doing very wicked things. The Watchmaker’s Lady is about a watchmaker who uses his skills to make an advanced automata, and uses his watchmaking skills to make clockwork devices for ladies’ intimate pleasures, so he can fund his experiments with his automata. Then things get very, very out of hand. So to speak. The twist at the end of the story is quite a surprise.

That’s a wrap for this week’s featured titles. We’ll be back next week with another edition of Ebook Review Central, taking a look at the Carina Press May books.

I’d love to hear from readers. Do you find Ebook Review Central useful? Interesting? Helpful?

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.

What’s on my (mostly virtual) nightstand? 4-22-12

Before I start on this week’s Nightstand, which is going to be a traveling nightstand, two newsworthy items.

We’re famous! Or maybe infamous. Your mileage may vary. Very much. Reading Reality is the featured blog this week over at Curiosity Quills Book Blog Spotlight. Go check out all the blogger interviews. They are awesome. And don’t forget, there’s still time to review one of their books and enter their contest for a chance at an iPad3.

Speaking of giveaways, tonight at midnight, the Spring Fling Blog Hop will begin at Reading Reality over 80 other blogs. So come back tomorrow and fill out the Mr. Rafflecopter for your chance at a $10 Amazon Gift Card at Reading Reality, plus more fabulous prizes at all the other participating blogs.

About that nightstand of mine. As I said, it will be a traveling nightstand this week. We’re going to a conference. Well, my husband has a conference, and I’m going along as his “plus one”.

So I’ll be taking one or two print books as my “airplane” books. Probably either Julie Kagawa’s The Immortal Rules, or Karen Kondazian’s The Whip.

But what’s up on the reviewing calendar between now and May 1, next Tuesday? And is anyone else out there having a difficult time wrapping their heads around the idea that next Tuesday is the first of May?

I did get a new iPad3 for my birthday earlier this month. There were a certain number of trials and tribulations involved in transferring the contents of my old iPad to my new one. Enough that Galen was moved to write a guest post that will appear later this week.

But I do love my iPad enough that I requested Insanely Simple by Ken Segall from NetGalley. It’s a non-fiction business book, which is not the sort of thing I usually get. But it’s about Apple Corp. There are a couple of companies whose inner workings do interest me. Apple is one. (For anyone wondering, no, I don’t have a Mac. Galen has a Mac)

From a business that makes gadgets we go to gadgetry that makes a genre. I have Cruel Numbers by Christopher Beats, which is subtitled “A Steampunk Noir Mystery”. I hope it’s half as cool as it sounds.

I also have Zero Gravity Outcasts by Kay Keppler. As you might guess from the title, Zero Gravity Outcasts is science fiction romance. These are my two Carina indulgences from NetGalley for the week.

Because I loved Shona Husk’s Dark Vow, I snapped up her Kiss of the Goblin Prince when is appeared on NetGalley. The difference is that Dark Vow was stand alone, and Goblin Prince is book 2 in a series. So I have the prequel (The Summons) and book 1 (The Goblin King) to get through first.

Sadie Jones’ The Uninvited Guests is a book that looks like it’s going to get a lot of buzz. I picked up a paper ARC at PLA and I requested in from Edelweiss. It’s due out on May 1. At least when the Edelweiss egalley timebombs, the paper ARC will still be good! It’s about an Edwardian house party that goes sadly astray, it reminds me of the movie Gosford Park, and, of course, Downton Abbey.

I went through a period of picking up mysteries at NetGalley. Fatal Induction by Bernadette Pajer is the second in the Professor Bradshaw series, after A Spark of Death. These are historic mysteries, and they look interesting, taking place at the beginning of the 1900s and having to do with electrical engineering and academics, and, of course, murder.

My last book for next week is also a bit unusual for me. I will be participating in the BlogHer Book Club in May, and the book chosen for the Book Club next month is You Have No Idea by Vanessa and Helen Williams. So it’s an autobiography written by a famous daughter and her mother.

I’ll be visiting my mom in the middle of May. Maybe I’ll get some insights from the rich and famous…

So, what’s on your nightstand this week? What are you planning to read?