Ebook Review Central, Carina Press, July 2012

The July 2012 Carina Press titles, at least when it comes to which ones got the most reviews, could definitely be said to owe something to the “Fifty Shades” effect.

The hottest books — in the erotic sense — were also definitely the hottest titles in the reviewing numbers.

Fifty shades of tie-ins!  Although the popularity of the book opened doors for more books that show a kinkier side of sex, it also spawned products in areas that the author couldn’t possibly have dreamed of. This one from Etsy may be the furthest after “Laters, baby” as later can get.

I’d much rather (make that much, much rather) get back to the Carina books.

First, I’d like to give a shout-out to Natasha Hoar’s urban fantasy title, The Ravenous Dead, which was one of the featured for Carina last month. Its date of publication seems to have changed, so now it’s on this month’s list. But I can’t feature it again, dagnabbit! Because it absolutely earned a featured slot this month, too. But each book only gets one bite at the apple, and The Ravenous Dead have already bitten.

So who are this month’s featured titles for Carina? I’m so glad you asked.

The number one featured title was so far out in first place that the sheer quantity of reviews is worth mentioning. The Theory of Attraction by Delphine Dryden attracted over 40 reviews, all good or better. Those are pretty big numbers for an ebook-only title. What was it about The Theory of Attraction? Yes, it’s a BDSM story like Fifty Shades, with the virtue that it’s a heck of a lot shorter. Ms. Dryden’s story is also a geek love story, with two socially awkward scientists as the hero and heroine. Lots of readers identified with the couple and their geeky social circle. The geek dom made for a different twist on the trope: the hero was intelligent but not super-rich. RT Book Reviews described it as “erotic romance done right.”

In the second position we have another erotic romance, and another boundary-stretching and review-grabbing title as well. Sharing Hailey by Samantha Ann King pushed at the erotic romance envelope in a different direction. Hailey has always had a crush on her two best friends, Mark and Tony. But Mark and Tony are best buds, and don’t want to mess up their friendship by forcing Hailey to choose between them. Solution: the three of them get together! It’s perfect until Hailey’s abusive ex returns and tries to spoil everything. This story has 29 reviewers behind it, so far, all of them generally thinking it was pretty good or better. Again, 29 reviewers is a lot of positive feedback. This one looks worth checking out.

It was much more difficult to decide on the third spot. Two books were very close. But by a whisker, the featured slot goes to Rogue’s Pawn by Jeffe Kennedy. Rogue’s Pawn is the first book in her Covenant of Thorns series, and it’s a contemporary fantasy/urban fantasy with a touch of fantasy romance. Gwynn the bored academic in 21st century America crosses over to Fae at Devil’s Tower Wyoming and becomes a powerful but totally untrained sorceress–one who nearly gets killed as a danger to herself and others in her first day on the other side. Everyone wants a piece of her, and everyone wants her to be their pawn. Only one fae, a trickster named Rogue, might possibly have some of Gwynn’s better interests at heart. If Rogue has a heart. This is one twisted, dark and decadent fantasy world.

If I were giving honorable mentions, and I can, one would go to Karen Erickson this month for A Scandalous Affair.

Ebook Review Central will be back in two weeks (no issue next week because of the Labor Day Holiday!) with Dreamspinner Press.

Ebook Review Central, Carina Press, June 2012

Before I get into this month’s features, let’s talk about the 2012 RITA Awards. I swear it’s on topic.

The 2012 RITA Award Winner for Contemporary Single Title Romance, announced July 28, 2012 by the Romance Writers of America, was Boomerang Bride by Fiona Lowe, published by Carina Press in August 2011. Congratulation to Fiona Lowe, to her editor Charlotte Herscher and to her publisher Carina Press.

An ebook-only title won. The other nominated books, worthy contenders all, were traditionally published print books. I can only say, “Wow” or maybe shout, “WOW!”

But this is the Ebook Review Central issue for Carina Press’ June 2012 titles. Not that basking in the glory of that RITA win isn’t terrific. So, let’s fast forward to June and take a look at the newer titles. Maybe there’s a RITA winner in there, too.

The big winner, and the number one featured title, is Shannon Stacey’s Slow Summer Kisses. Even though this title isn’t in her Kowalski series (more Kowalskis starting in September!) that didn’t seem to matter to her fans. This novella, available separately and as part of the Carina Press Editors Choice Volume 1, contains all the hallmarks of a signature Stacey contemporary romance. Anna Frazier and Cameron Mayfield have been involved with each other before, and they have a second chance, not just at love, but also a do-over at life. The question is whether or not they’ll take it. If you like contemporary romance at all, give Shannon Stacey a try. You’ll be glad you did.

Book number two this week is The Ravenous Dead by Natasha Hoar. There are two things to understand about this book. It is straight-up urban fantasy, and not paranormal romance. Carina Press does branch out into genres other than romance, and The Ravenous Dead, and its predecessor in The Lost Ones series, The Stubborn Dead, reflect that branching. Speaking of the series, read the first book first; backstory for this tale of the Order of Rescue Mediums is required. And it was excellent in its own right. Rachel Miller, the main character and member of that Order of Rescue Mediums, doesn’t just see dead people, she gets the stubborn ones to ease on down the road to wherever it is they go next. The ones that really, really don’t want to go can get pretty nasty. Like trying-to-consume-the-medium nasty. Very dark magic requires very big rescue. Sounds like fun.

Coming in third this week, and appropriately so, is His Heart’s Obsession by Alex Beecroft. Third is ironically appropriate for this title because the story itself is about a love triangle. Three for three. What’s different about this particular triangle is that it takes place during the Age of Sail, the late 1700s, and that all three sides to this triangle are men serving in the British Royal Navy. Two Lieutenants, one Captain. Both of the junior officers are gay in an era when being found out would get them, not just cashiered out of the service they love, but killed in disgrace. The Captain is straight, and has no idea that one of his Lieutenants harbors an unrequited and totally unfulfillable passion for him. And the other LT? He’s in love with his fellow junior officer, a man who thinks he’s a privileged ass. A lot happens in this novella to turn this situation around to the real possibilities. Beecroft is know for his historical accuracy in addition to his ability to tug heartstrings and craft believable characters.

Any month where Shannon Stacey has a book, it’s really easy to figure out which title is number one. Which means that September, October and November probably already have  one slot taken, since that’s when the three new Kowalski books are coming out. I’m really looking forward to them!

Picking numbers two and three is often a horse-race. There are always a few books with close numbers of reviews and ratings. Take a look at the list and see if you can spot the runner-up. Leave your guesses in the comments, just for fun.

That’s this week’s feature. Congratulations again to Fiona Lowe and Carina Press on the RITA win!

Be sure to come back next week for Dreamspinner Press’ June 2012 titles. It will be a big list!

What’s On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand? AKA The Sunday Post 7-8-12

Looking at this week’s calendar, you’d never know there had been a holiday the previous week. Isn’t that funny?

Funny weird, not funny ha-ha.

We don’t give ourselves much of a break anymore, do we? I say that as a society, not necessarily as an individual. Your personal experience may vary.

It’s difficult to disconnect. Vacations aren’t stress free. We went away for a couple of days over the holiday, to Asheville, NC. We made a conscious decision not to take laptops. Howsomever, our iPads have 3G/4G. We still got email.

Semi-disconnected is the best we can do these days.

This week everything is totally reconnected and ON!

Monday, Ebook Review Central is back. Coverage returns with the Dreamspinner Press titles from May 2012. I’m kind of glad it’s two months back, it means the reviewers have had a chance to catch up to ERC. Barring the flu, there won’t be another hiatus until Labor Day weekend.

Unlike last week, there are three tours this week!

Tuesday is Hope’s day. Really, it’s the day for Hope’s Betrayal by Grace Elliot. I’ll have a guest post from Ms. Elliot, along with a review of her historical romance, Hope’s Betrayal. It’s all about smuggling along the coast of England during the Napoleonic Wars, and features a very unconventional heroine. You’ll see.

We go from the mists of time to the ghostly present with an interview with Stacey Kennedy on Wednesday. Stacey will be here to talk about her incredibly popular, and marvelously delicious, urban fantasy/paranormal romance Frostbite series. I’ve already reviewed Supernaturally Kissed and Demonically Tempted, and I can’t wait for Mystically Bound, so I absolutely jumped at the chance to interview Stacey for this tour.

And from the urban paranormal we move to a contemporary western ghost town on Thursday. Winter Creek, Montana is the ghost town. It’s also a modern-day living history exhibit that serves as the setting for Theresa Stillwagon’s paranormal romances Forgotten Memories and The Dressmaker’s Dilemma. I’ll be reviewing the first two books in her series as well as hosting her for an interview.

Last, but certainly not least, the Small Blogs Big Giveaways blog hop, hosted by Reading Romances, starts on Saturday, July 14. Reading Reality is one of the participating blogs. I’ll be giving away an Amazon Gift Card. No muss, no fuss, no shipping charges.

Looking ahead to next week (the week of July 16), I have a couple of books I need to make sure I finish.

Jeffe Kennedy will be here for The Rogue’s Pawn tour on July 19. This is the first book of her new urban fantasy series, The Covenant of Thorns. It looks like one of those stories where a contemporary character crosses into fae. Done well, that premise can be awesome. I have high hopes.

Another Carina Press title, The Ravenous Dead by Natasha Hoar is simply on my list because I loved her first book, The Stubborn Dead (review here). I mean really, what a concept for an urban fantasy series, The Order of Rescue Mediums? I have to see where she goes next with this.

And the one I absolutely, positively must finish, Hidden Things by Doyce Testerman. It’s one of my review for Library Journal this month. It didn’t even look like any genre I review when it dropped out of the envelope. But it’s published by Harper Voyager, so it must be somewhere in my area. I’ll find out, because my review it due to my editor on July 16.

Even if it doesn’t turn out to be fantasy Hidden Things looks way better than The Mongoliad turned out to be.

Does your week feel especially full after the July 4th lull? What are you up to on your blog this week?

Wrapping up NetGalley January

NetGalley January is a wrap. Well, the thing is, January is over, and since the little snowman in the picture says it was NetGalley January, there you are. That’s it for the month.

Those of us signed up for the 2012 NetGalley Reading Challenge are just going to have to soldier on, chortling with glee at all the lovely egalleys NetGalley will be sending us through the rest of the year. Every month can be NetGalley Month.

But back to the wrap. And I must use plastic wrap, since everyone needs to be able to see what I read.

Two books came out of my NetGalley TBR pile from September and October:






In addition to The Black Stiletto, which was fascinating, I also read the start of a very neat new mystery series, The Dharma Detective. I can’t wait for The Second Rule of Ten.



I also read a couple of Regency Romances from relatively new authors that were both a little different from the usual. It’s always interesting to see authors take the standard tropes and stretch the boundaries just a little bit. Or in the case of A Lady Awakened a “lotta” bit.

I read one YA/Cyberpunk that received a lot of buzz, and from the other posted wrap-ups, it looks like I’m not the only one who read Cinder. This title was highly anticipated. (I was turned down the first time I requested it, so I replied directly to the publisher outlining my specific review qualifications and was okayed on the second go-around).

Banshee Charmer is the start of a great new urban fantasy/paranormal series from a brand-new author. The author is doing a blog tour and the book is getting a lot of very nice attention.



I liked the first book in the Dark Dynasties series, Dark Awakening,  quite a bit, so when the second book, Midnight Reckoning listed on NetGalley, I grabbed it. Definitely fun for paranormal romance fans.



And, as always, I rounded out my reading month with titles from Carina Press. The icing on my reading cake: more urban fantasy and paranormal romance, and my science fiction romance fix for the month.










I posted thirteen reviews this month on NetGalley. I did finish a fourteenth book from NetGalley, The Devil of Jedburgh by Claire Robyns. But because I reviewed it for Book Lovers Inc., I can’t post the review on my site until after the review on BLI goes live, and that’s scheduled for February 9. I also finished The Night is Mine by M.L. Buchman sometime the night of January 31, but I can’t swear whether it was before or after midnight. I know that night was his, I just didn’t keep track of how much of it! So there you have it. My tally for this NetGalley Month. It’s all good for the 2012 NetGalley Reading Challenge. And it was all good reading!

The Stubborn Dead

The Stubborn Dead by Natasha Hoar is every bit as good as the teaser in the January print RT Book Reviews claimed it to be. At just under 60 pages, the whole book is a teaser, and a damn fine one.

Rachel Miller is the resident member of the Order of Rescue Mediums in Vancouver. Her duty is to release trapped spirits from this earthly realm. Not all spirits want to be released, and sometimes Rachel has a supernatural fight on her hands. Occasionally, that fight manifests physically, and the spirit shoves Rachel into a wall. Lucky for Rachel, being a rescue medium means that she heals quickly.

Being summoned to a haunted house to exorcise a trapped spirit is all part and parcel of Rachel’s life. The local priests even know who Rachel is, because she handles the spirits who are beyond their powers.

So when Rachel gets a call from Sylvia Elkeles asking her to remove a spirit that’s already sent the local Catholic priest to the hospital, Rachel is concerned, but still comes to the house. Even after she calls the diocese and discovers that Father Simon is not only not in the hospital, but has never heard of Sylvia.

Rachel is not prepared enough for the lying, cheating, sociopathic Sylvia. Because Sylvia has studied up on rescued mediums, and uses the code that binds Rachel’s power into supernaturally forcing her to dealing with a special kind of stubborn undead. A rodach. A wraith who is still tied to his living body and still has a soul.

Rachel has 48 hours to either find the rodach’s body or eliminate his soul. And if she fails, her supernatural powers will be bound, forever.

While the clock is ticking, Rachel has her own personal issues to deal with. Her perpetual stalker, Janus Ostara. Janus is a mob boss. But not of the usual kind of mob. Janus’ mob only contains members of the supernatural, and he wants to add Rachel to his crew, personally.

Meanwhile, about that rodach…they’re supposed to be extinct. Which means that information on dealing with the problem appropriately is limited in the extreme. And that clock keeps ticking away…

Escape Rating B+: This is one of those cases where my biggest complaint is that the book was way too damn short! I want to know more about these rescue mediums and the world that requires their services. If you’re an urban fantasy fan, just about the time you get really sucked in, it’s over.

The story itself wraps up very, very well. It’s just that I want more of the worldbuilding. I want it bad. The second book, titled The Ravenous Dead, is out on submission according to the author’s site. I really want a publisher (Carina, hopefully) to pick this up. Like yesterday.