Review: The Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg

dream lover by elizabeth bergFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: hardcover, ebook, audiobook
Genre: historical fiction
Length: 368 pages
Publisher: Random House
Date Released: April 14, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

A passionate and powerful novel based on the scandalous life of the French novelist George Sand, her famous lovers, untraditional Parisian lifestyle, and bestselling novels in Paris during the 1830s and 40s. This major departure for bestseller Berg is for readers of Nancy Horan and Elizabeth Gilbert.

George Sand was a 19th century French novelist known not only for her novels but even more for her scandalous behavior. After leaving her estranged husband, Sand moved to Paris where she wrote, wore men’s clothing, smoked cigars, and had love affairs with famous men and an actress named Marie. In an era of incredible artistic talent, Sand was the most famous female writer of her time. Her lovers and friends included Frederic Chopin, Gustave Flaubert, Franz Liszt, Eugene Delacroix, Victor Hugo, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and more. In a major departure, Elizabeth Berg has created a gorgeous novel about the life of George Sand, written in luminous prose, with exquisite insight into the heart and mind of a woman who was considered the most passionate and gifted genius of her time.

My Review:

The Dream Lover is a fictionalized biography of the French author George Sand. While she is a well-respected author in the French canon, I am uncertain how well her works are known outside that sphere. I suspect that outside of French Literature, she is better known simply for her male pseudonym and her affair with the composer Frederic Chopin.

I wonder how many people confuse her with the English writer George Eliot? They were contemporaries.

But George Eliot merely used her pseudonym so that her works would be judged more seriously. George Sand seems to have lived hers.

Portrait of George Sand at 34 by Auguste Charpentier
Portrait of George Sand at 34 by Auguste Charpentier

It is her life and loves that are portrayed in The Dream Lover. There are multiple possible interpretations for that title as well. In the novel, it seems to refer to the lover that she dreamed of but never really possessed. It may also refer to the number of writers and artists for whom George Sand herself was that dream lover.

The story is told from the first-person singular, so we see George’s view of her own life, from her childhood as Aurore Dupin to her final days. Because it is her perspective, we see snapshots from the most memorable times in her life and how she felt about them, we don’t get inside the heads of those she loved, and lost, and sometimes despised.

It’s clear that she was not a comfortable person to be around. Nor was there much comfort around for her. Her early years tell of her life as the possession over which her mother and grandmother continuously fought. Her mother was a former courtesan who had married an Army officer. When her husband died, she was left to beg for maintenance from his mother, who despised her and disapproved of the marriage. The cost of that maintenance was young Aurore.

Not that her grandmother couldn’t provide better for her, but the emotional battle of wills between the two women and their divergent points of view certainly shaped the person who would become George Sand. Her mother’s mercurial mood swings (she sounds bipolar) were more than a trial, they seem to have been physically abuse.

It wasn’t that George rejected being female so much as she rejected the enforced inequality that came with the condition. She seems to have been a rebel from her earliest days – first rebelling against control of the two women who chewed her over, and then against the control of her husband. Finally, she simply chose to carve her own path in society, whatever the consequences.

Her life served her art. She lived to write, using it as both a way of making a living and a catharsis for anything and everything that went wrong in her life and her relationships. Of course, her single-minded dedication to that writing was often the cause of some of those relationship collapses.

It was clearly a life well lived. She was the most famous woman of her generation because she didn’t just break all the rules, she generally acted as though the rules couldn’t apply to her and shouldn’t exist.

Her life is absolutely fascinating.

Escape Rating B+: I enjoyed The Dream Lover, but I felt a bit handicapped by a lack of knowledge. Not a comfortable feeling. I knew who George Sand was, but am not familiar with her works. I’m not certain how many of them have been translated from the French.

Her novels seem to have been what some would call “message fiction”. She railed against the inequities faced by women of her time. That she herself finally managed to ignore accepted roles and expectations does not mean that she didn’t feel keenly for those who were trapped by the economic realities of women’s status in 19th century France.

Some of her fiction seems to have also been autobiographical, using herself and her circle as inspiration for characters and situations.

What made things a bit difficult for this reader that I am not familiar enough with French Literature and history of the 19th century to recognize the importance of all the figures who moved through her life – especially the writers and artists whom she loved and often supported during their affairs. She seems to have inspired some and depressed others, but I needed more background to understand her influence on them and vice-versa.

I would love to have known what some of the other characters in her story thought about her and events. The first-person perspective brought George Sand to light, but left many of the other characters in shadow. We don’t know if her husband was really that big of an ass, or did she just think so because he represented the repressive patriarchy and stood in her way? All the lovers who left her, what was their perspective?

At the same time, her work and her seizing the freedom to live on her own terms make her a towering figure of her time. The Dream Lover left me with a taste for more about this period and this fascinating character. The portrait of the artist as a young, middle-aged and finally old woman is a terrific exploration of the cost of art and perhaps genius for the person who has it.

This post is part of a TLC book tour. Click on the logo for more reviews.
***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Doc by Mary Doria Russell

doc by maria doria russellFormat read: ebook borrowed from the library
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genre: historical fiction
Length: 394 pages
Publisher: Random House
Date Released: May 3, 2011
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

The year is 1878, peak of the Texas cattle trade. The place is Dodge City, Kansas, a saloon-filled cow town jammed with liquored-up adolescent cowboys and young Irish hookers. Violence is random and routine, but when the burned body of a mixed-blood boy named Johnnie Sanders is discovered, his death shocks a part-time policeman named Wyatt Earp. And it is a matter of strangely personal importance to Doc Holliday, the frail twenty-six-year-old dentist who has just opened an office at No. 24, Dodge House. Beautifully educated, born to the life of a Southern gentleman, Dr. John Henry Holliday is given an awful choice at the age of twenty-two: die within months in Atlanta or leave everyone and everything he loves in the hope that the dry air and sunshine of the West will restore him to health. Young, scared, lonely, and sick, he arrives on the rawest edge of the Texas frontier just as an economic crash wrecks the dreams of a nation. Soon, with few alternatives open to him, Doc Holliday is gambling professionally; he is also living with Maria Katarina Harony, a high-strung Hungarian whore with dazzling turquoise eyes, who can quote Latin classics right back at him. Kate makes it her business to find Doc the high-stakes poker games that will support them both in high style. It is Kate who insists that the couple travel to Dodge City, because “that’s where the money is.” And that is where the unlikely friendship of Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp really begins–before Wyatt Earp is the prototype of the square-jawed, fearless lawman; before Doc Holliday is the quintessential frontier gambler; before the gunfight at the O.K. Corral links their names forever in American frontier mythology–when neither man wanted fame or deserved notoriety. Authentic, moving, and witty, Mary Doria Russell’s fifth novel redefines these two towering figures of the American West and brings to life an extraordinary cast of historical characters, including Holliday’s unforgettable companion, Kate. First and last, however, “Doc “is John Henry Holliday’s story, written with compassion, humor, and respect by one of our greatest contemporary storytellers.

My Review:

I’m having a difficult time starting my review for this book. It is one of those stories that I suspect people will either love or hate. I loved it. I also got so immersed in it that I’m having a hard time stepping back from it.

Book hangover, anyone?

The book is a fictionalized version of the life of John Henry Holliday, much, much better known as “Doc” Holliday. And even though the event that made him life in the legends of the American West is the infamous Gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona, this book doesn’t get that far in Doc’s relatively short life.

epitaph by maria doria russellThat part of the story is coming in Epitaph, which has probably just moved up my reading schedule a couple of months. Even though I know perfectly well how it ends. Doc, at least, is a book where the journey is much more interesting than the destination.

The story in Doc feels like it is more about the way that Holliday became involved with the Earp brothers (Wyatt, Morgan, James and Virgil) than about any possible gunslinging. Not that Doc seems to have done anywhere near as much of that as legend makes out.

Doc Holliday was mostly two things in Dodge City, Kansas where this part of his story (and theirs) takes place. In his own mind, first he was a dentist. He was no quack, either. He earned that title, “Doc” at the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery. He graduated as D.D.S., Doctor of Dental Surgery, in 1872.

People didn’t like to visit the dentist in 1872 any more than they did in 1972, or possibly 2072. In the very wild Western cowtown of Dodge City, Doc earned his living as a gambler. Which was a considerably more respectable occupation than it is today.

There was one other thing about Doc Holliday which affected his whole short and often unhappy life. He contracted tuberculosis in his early 20s, and spent the rest of his short life staving off his early death.

He moved west from the Atlanta area in the hopes that the hot dry summers would be better for him than sticky, wet, muggy Atlanta. No one thought about all the dust. Or that a dentist couldn’t make a living, but a gambler could. But gamblers generally work in smoky saloons late at night, and that wasn’t better at all.

Doc was a cultured and mannered gentleman in a town where cowboys squandered their hard-earned pay in drunken sprees at the ends of months-long cattle drives. He was also a man who simply could not hold his own in a barroom brawl, because he was a tall, skinny man with a death rattle cough that doubled him over on an all too frequent basis.

In this story, we see him coping with increasing debilities as the disease steals his life an inch at a time. We also see all the lives that he touched in Dodge, especially the Earp brothers. Wyatt Earp tried his hand at being a standup, unbought lawman in a town where everything was for sale. As the place started to become more civilized by Eastern standards, Wyatt made himself some backers among the reform-minded people, and made enemies of the saloon and brothel owners who held all the money in town.

Doc both saved his life, and fixed his teeth. The Earps saw Doc as another brother. Which is part of the reason they all ended up in Tombstone in 1881. The friendship that they formed in Dodge City put them all on a path to legend and myth.

Escape Rating A-: One of the things that consistently surprises you during this story is just how young they all were. We think of them as grizzled veterans, but all of them, Holliday, the Earp Brothers, and even Bat Masterson were all in their mid-to-late 20s when this story takes place, and not much older at the famous gunfight in 1881. The legends all came much later, when they were old, or dead.

As I read, Doc reminded me of both Lonesome Dove and Deadwood, which I realize is probably an odd combination.

lonesome doveI’m not just including Lonesome Dove because it is also a big, sprawling Western, or at least is set during this same time period of U.S. western expansion, but because of the way that both stories bring every single character to life and immerse the reader in a way of life that the characters love but know is passing.

The Earps are mostly itinerant lawmen. Many of their wives were prostitutes, or at least had been working girls. There were damn few of what would have been considered “respectable” women around a cattle boom town in the middle of nowhere. No one in this story is a stock character. Every person, not just the Earps and Doc, but all the side characters including all the “soiled doves” have their own story and part to play in the wider narrative.

One of the strongest characters in the book is Kate Harony. She was a prostitute known as Big Nose Kate. She was also the daughter of Hungarian aristocrats who lost power during the Mexican Revolution. In the story (and in real life) she was Doc Holliday’s partner – but he certainly wasn’t keeping her. It seems pretty clear that mostly she was keeping him, and helping to take care of him when his illness flared up.

At the same time, this story reminds me a lot of Deadwood because the powers-that-be, such as they are, are entirely corrupt. Not necessarily in the sense that they run businesses that someone might find of questionable morality, but because they bought and sold everyone and everything in their path.

They are also aware that the harbingers of civilization will drive them out sooner or later, so they are always on the lookout for their next big chance to fleece a lot of cowboys and anyone else foolish enough to come under their sway.

So while the story focuses on Doc, there are layers within layers about the life of the town and the slow demise of the frontier that it represents. In the center of the story, Doc is always dying, and always fighting to live the best he can no matter how painful it becomes. And his story is marvelous and heartrending all at the same time.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: The Quick by Lauren Owen + Giveaway

quick by lauren owenFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook, hardcover, paperback, audiobook
Genre: Historical fantasy
Length: 544 pages
Publisher: Random House
Date Released: June 17, 2014
Purchasing Info: Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

1892: James Norbury, a shy would-be poet newly down from Oxford, finds lodging with a charming young aristocrat. Through this new friendship, he is introduced to the drawing-rooms of high society and finds love in an unexpected quarter. Then, suddenly, he vanishes without a trace. Alarmed, his sister, Charlotte, sets out from their crumbling country estate determined to find him. In the sinister, labyrinthine London that greets her, she uncovers a hidden, supernatural city populated by unforgettable characters: a female rope walker turned vigilante, a street urchin with a deadly secret, and the chilling “Doctor Knife.” But the answer to her brother’s disappearance ultimately lies within the doors of the exclusive, secretive Aegolius Club, whose predatory members include the most ambitious, and most bloodthirsty, men in England.

My Review:

As implied by the title, The Quick is a story about those of us who are alive, as opposed to, or in opposition with, or being preyed upon by, the dead. Or in this particular case, the undead.

It’s amazing when you look back, how long it takes any of the characters to say the word “vampire” in the story. In keeping with the Victorian lack of willingness to call anything what it really is, although everyone knows that they are, or want to be, or are studying, or are being chased by vampires, all the characters are supremely reluctant to say the word.

The story always felt like it fit within our perceptions of the Victorian period. There’s a slow buildup, from the story of a young man who decides to live in London after he graduates, to his developing relationship with his roommate and best friend, to the sudden horrific break in his pattern, when he gets accidentally turned into a vampire.

Which leads us to the Aegolius Club. London is so famous for its secretive gentlemen’s clubs, that the concept that one club restricts its membership to vampires is not that far-fetched. Very eerie, but not too far out there. The commentary that the dreary London weather is tailor-made for creatures who shun sunlight is wryly on target.

Into this mix we have an intrepid explorer. James Norbury is the accidental vampire, and his creation, his “exchange” of life from quick to undead, undoes many of the Aegolius Club’s sacred traditions. They try to correct their mistake by either bringing him into their fold, or killing him. He escapes and begins to roam London, uncertain of who he is or what he can do.

His sister comes to London to find her missing brother. And it’s her story that we follow. Charlotte discovers not one, but three secret societies, all at cross-purposes to one another.

The Aegolius Club wants to use her as bait to capture her brother. The Alia are not quite the criminal underworld of vampires, although there are elements of that, but mostly they are the organized group of non-upper-crust vampires, banding together to fend off their enemies, the elite of the Aegolius, and to pool resources and run businesses.

(If you’re going to live forever, you need something to live on, not to mention, live in.)

Charlotte finds herself an accidental member of the Rag and Bone society. They gather knowledge of vampires, and fight them. They can help her find her brother, but there’s no saving him.

A lot of death and destruction is caused on all sides, because Charlotte cannot be convinced of that fact.

Escape Rating B: This book starts out slow, and then builds to a climax that grabs you with its consequences, sort of like the hand reaching out of the grave at the end of Carrie.

There’s a level of understatement in the way that the plot unfolds; no one believes in vampires and the Aegolius Club wants to keep it that way. Everything is muffled in “that’s not what we do” or “that’s not the done thing”. Although it seems totally appropriate that the members of the club are very stuck on tradition and do not like change; most of them are fixed in the era of their life (and death) and they can’t adapt. They are hiding in the club, not hiding from anything in particular, but hiding from the future. They lose their spark after their undeath, because they have nothing to work towards–except controlling the members of the club.

Tradition also shrouds investigation into the limits of their powers. Part of what sets events in motion is one new vampire who wants to study them scientifically, so he compels a scientist to conduct experiments. The legends that arise among the vampire population about “Doctor Knife” are all the more chilling because they are true.

The story rises or falls based on one’s ability to empathize with Charlotte. Even though it is her brother’s change that sets her in motion, the adventure, and the danger, are really hers. What we see is her determination to discover what happened, and her complete unwillingness to accept that there is no cure, no matter how many people sacrifice themselves or how much even James himself demonstrate that there is nothing she can do to save him. She intrepidly follows a course that is nearly guaranteed to lead to disaster, and certainly will not help the person she intends to help.

At the end, the reader is left wondering whether the story is completely over. In a fantastically chilling way.

This post is part of a TLC book tour. Click on the logo for more reviews.


Lauren is giving away a print copy of The Quick to one lucky (and maybe quick) U.S. winner.

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***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Black Chalk by Christopher J Yates + Giveaway

black chalk by christopher yatesFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, ebook
Genre: mystery, suspense, thriller
Length: 352 pages
Publisher: Random House
Date Released: April 1, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

One game. Six students. Five survivors.

It was only ever meant to be a game.

A game of consequences, of silly forfeits, childish dares. A game to be played by six best friends in their first year at Oxford University. But then the game changed: the stakes grew higher and the dares more personal, more humiliating, finally evolving into a vicious struggle with unpredictable and tragic results.

Now, fourteen years later, the remaining players must meet again for the final round.

My Review:

I’m tempted to start out by saying, “Shall we play a game?” where the time-honored response is from the movie War Games. Black Chalk is not about global thermonuclear war, but the results to the six players of “The Game” are every bit as shattering as war.

Perhaps a better analogy would be Truth or Consequences, except that in this particular game, the proper title would be Truth AND Consequences, because each consequence reveals yet more truth about the one suffering it.

Six students meet in their first year at Oxford; 5 Brits, 1 American on a one-year study-abroad fellowship. They spend their first term as the absolute best of friends, and the rest of the year as increasingly bitter and brutal rivals.

What happens?

The simple answer is a game. In pursuit of a £10,000 prize, they invent a game that temporarily becomes their whole universe. While it appears on the surface to be a game of luck, in fact, it’s a game of mental manipulation. One they play against each other, and one that the prize committee is playing against them. Or perhaps it goes further up. That’s one of the mysteries.

What isn’t a mystery is what happens to the players. While they start out as friends, they are also fiercely competitive. They would have to be to get into Oxford University. Once the game starts, they all play to win. Some of them play to win at any cost.

Although the storyline is about the lives of the players as their friendship disintegrates and they self-destruct, the perspective is that of an unreliable narrator remembering his own misbegotten past. A past he sees through a glass not just very darkly, but with cracks.

We view the game through the lost memories of one of the players, a man who is now completely broken and trying to pull himself together for the final round of the game.

When the winner takes it all, what is it that he takes from the losers? And what has he lost in his own pursuit?

Escape Rating B+: As I read Black Chalk, it reminded me of The Magic Circle by Jenny Davidson. It has some similar themes about the potentially all-encompassing nature of games, and the manipulative lengths that people will go to win them at all costs.

The reader of Black Chalk starts out the story not knowing which of the six players is narrating. And as the story progresses, even the narrator is not sure that he is totally responsible for the course of the story as he writes it. He is sure that others are adding material that he doesn’t remember writing, even if he does remember the experience.

As cracked as Jolyon’s perspective is, we’re not sure whether someone really is messing with him, or whether he is so broken that he doesn’t remember all the things he does. Probably both.

In reading Jolyon’s account, it’s difficult to decide whether the players are exactly likeable or not. When they were at Oxford, they were all young, seemingly invincible and felt somewhat entitled; not by money (at all) but by their intelligence. The shattered Jolyon of 14 years later is much less manipulative and much more sympathetic.

The ending is sly and subtle and hits like accidentally biting on a jalapeno pepper. It takes a minute for you to realize that your mouth, or brain, is on fire..


Chris and Random House are giving away a copy of Black Chalk to one lucky winner. It’s the winner’s choice of paperback or ebook, and this giveaway is open internationally!
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***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Duke City Split by Max Austin + Giveaway

duke city split by steve brewerFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook
Genre: mystery, thriller, crime fiction
Length: 208 pages
Publisher: Alibi (Random House)
Date Released: April 8, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

A cool, calm, and collected bank robber—with two kids at home—heads a fascinating cast of characters in Duke City Split, the first in a trilogy of white-knuckle thrillers from Max Austin.

Bud Knox isn’t your average bank robber. He’s happiest fixing a nice lunch for his wife on her lunch break or watching his two young daughters play soccer. He leaves the boldness and brawn to his partner, Mick Wyman. In the past fourteen years, they’ve hit nearly thirty banks all over the West—everywhere but “Duke City,” their hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

So when Mick calls him about the perfect job, Bud is less than convinced, because the target is on their own turf. But with the potential to haul in millions, Bud simply can’t say no. If they do this job right, Bud may never have to work again.

As it turns out, the heist is the easy part. Holding onto the money while evading everyone from the FBI to the Mafia to the low-life criminals who want a cut will be the hardest thing Bud Knox has ever done—and it might just cost him his life.

My Review:

One could quickly summarize Duke City Split as “Murphy was an optimist”. It’s not just that everything that can go wrong does go wrong in this caper thriller, but even everything that can’t go wrong or shouldn’t go wrong, absolutely does, and with deadly results.

Perhaps the moral of the story is that there is no such thing as “the perfect job”, of course, this is true in real life too, not just in fiction.

Duke City Split is about a pair of bank robbers. Mick and Bud try very hard not to be exciting bank robbers, for Bud especially, robbing banks is just his job. And they are very good at it; the pair have robbed 30 banks in 14 years.

It’s a good living, as long as you stay out of trouble. Or out of any more trouble than you’re already in. And that’s where they go wrong.

Mick and Bud have a system for robbing those banks. A system that starts with not robbing any bank in their home territory of Albuquerque. Then some kid comes to Mick with the idea to rob the bank where the armored car from the nearby Indian casino deposits its weekend take.

It’s supposed to be $3 Million worth of easy pickings. The bank is a little tiny suburban outpost in a strip mall, with only one usually sleepy guard. Bud ignores the little voice in his head that says if something is too good to be true, it usually is, and focuses on the big score. His share of that loot will finally allow him to retire from his life of crime; something he’s always promised his wife. They’ll be set for life, including college funds for both daughters.

Yes, we have a bank robber who is a devoted family guy. Bud’s the careful planner in the partnership. Mick is the badass. It works for them, up until now.

The kid with the idea wants in on the heist, and that’s where everything starts to go pear-shaped.

The FBI riles up the wrong pair of bank robbers, so suddenly there are two low-lifes cutting their way through the underside of Albuquerque to find the real thieves who have the real score stashed away. The bank guard decides he’d rather blackmail the kid instead of being a hero with the cops. And the casino’s silent partners decide to send someone from Chicago to make sure that no one ever thinks they can rip off the Mob, even in secret. Even if it is the bank’s fault.

Everyone is after Mick and Bud, wanting the money, a piece of their hides, or both.
All because they tried to go for one last big score. Now instead of counting money, they’re counting bodies–and theirs might be next.

Escape Rating B: Duke City Split reminds me a bit of Donald Westlake’s Dortmunder books. Although Mick and Bud have had a very good run, in Duke City Split things go nothing but wrong, and there’s frequently a sense of underlying gallows humor as the situation goes from bad, to worse, to cosmically worse every minute. If their luck had been half this bad earlier in their thieving careers, they’d be in the slammer for life.

Instead, everyone who might possibly lead to their shadowy real selves gets dead, and not necessarily by our two unlucky robbers. The coincidences that cause everyone to be after them, but not be aware of any of their fellow pursuers, make it seem like all their bad karma has come calling, all at the same time.

The two men make an interesting contrast, and not just because Mick is big and tall, and Bud is short and mousy. Mick is the adrenaline junkie who makes things happen, and Bud is the quiet family man who sits back and plans every detail. The irony is that Bud got into bank robbing so that he could be his own boss.

In the end, circumstances are the boss of both of them.

This post is part of a TLC book tour. Click on the logo for more reviews.


This tour includes a Rafflecopter giveaway for a Grand Prize of a $30 egiftcard to the ebook retailer of the winner’s choice, and a First Prize Mystery Prize Pack of mystery paperbacks from Random House: The Alpine Xanadu, Dying for Chocolate and A Bat in the Belfry!

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***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Dual Review: The Last Victim by Karen Robards

The Last Victim by Karen Robards

Format Read: e-book provided by NetGalley courtesy of Publisher for Review
Length: 336 Pages
Genre: Paranormal Romantic Thriller
Release Date: August 7, 2012
Publisher: Random House
Formats Available: Hardcover, Nook, Kindle
Purchasing Info: Publisher, Author’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Nook, IndieBound, Kindle

Book Blurb:

Dr. Charlotte Stone sees what others do not.

A sought-after expert in criminal pathology, Charlie regularly sits face-to-face with madmen. Obsessed with learning what makes human monsters commit terrible crimes, Charlie desires little else from life—no doubt because when she was sixteen, she herself survived a serial killer’s bloodbath: A man butchered the family of Charlie’s best friend, Holly, then left the girl’s body on a seaside boardwalk one week later.

Because of the information Charlie gave police, the Boardwalk Killer went underground. She kept to herself her eerie postmortem visions of Holly and her mother. And even years later, knowing her contact with ghosts might undermine her credibility as a psychological expert, Charlie tells no one about the visits she gets from the spirit world.

Now all-too-handsome FBI agent Tony Bartoli is telling Charlie that a teenage girl is missing, her family slaughtered. Bartoli suspects that after fifteen years, the Boardwalk Killer—or a sick copycat with his M.O.—is back. Time is running short for an innocent, kidnapped girl, and Bartoli pleads for Charlie’s help.

This is the one case Charlie shouldn’t go near. But she also knows that she may be the one person in the world who can stop this vicious killer. For Charlie—whose good looks disguise a world of hurt, vulnerability, and potent psychic gifts—a frantic hunt for a madman soon becomes a complex test of cunning, passions, and secrets. Aiding Dr. Stone on her quest to catch a madman is a ghostly presence with bad intentions: the fiery spirit of seductive bad boy Michael Garland who refuses to be ignored, though in his cat and mouse game they may both lose their hearts.

Dr. Charlotte Stone sees what others do not. And she sees the Boardwalk Killer coming for her.


Our Thoughts:

Marlene: This was…different. And not always in a good way. It’s like there were three competing tropes going on. The “I See Dead People” psychic trope, the ghost-romance, the ultimate bad-boy romance, and the catching serial killers angle. Okay, make that four tropes.  There are more, but that’s enough to start with.

Lea: I have to agree with Marlene regarding this read being different. As Marlene indicates, there are a number of themes in play up to and including Dr. Charlotte “Charlie” Stone’s romantic life….or lack thereof. This is a third person narrative told from Charlie’s perspective and I will say I had a good understanding of what was happening with all the characters at any given time. A word of caution, there is a prologue in this book that opens with a grisly murder scene and shows readers the trauma and horror that Charlie witnessed. There are more than one such scene in the story so it is best to caution that The Last Victim is not for the faint of heart.

Marlene: While the idea that Charlie took her teenage trauma and used it to forge a career as a criminal pathologist makes fictional sense, the idea that the FBI would scoop her up and put her back in harm’s way with the Boardwalk Killer again didn’t. She was the only surviving witness, and serial killers supposedly don’t like to leave loose ends.  In spite of her expertise, protective custody would have made way more sense than exposure.

Lea: I didn’t have a problem with the FBI approaching Charlie to assist with the investigation given her background and expertise, however there were aspects of the team’s management of her safety that did bother me. And, in the same vein, Charlie is a brilliant woman who is intimately aware of the inherent dangers posed by a sociopathic serial killer, she has made these monsters her life’s study for goodness sake. Further, this is a woman who has lived like a nomad her entire life, moving from one destination to the next depending where her research takes her. Charlie knows the fact she has never settled anywhere is because she has looked over her shoulder since experiencing that horrible trauma as a teen. There is this prevailing, “he’s out there somewhere and could get you at any time” feeling that would cause a lesser person to become a committed agoraphobic but Charlie has channeled her fear in a positive direction, which is good. I did feel sorry for her though, she has no close girlfriends, her life has been devoid of passion, her one goal is to use her expertise to help devise some type of early serial killer detection system. Granted, she reticently steps into the devils sight when the FBI comes to call, but still… I did empathize with her need to do whatever she could to try and save another young girl’s life if at all possible. I didn’t dislike this heroine, but at times I couldn’t help but ask: What the hell is she doing?

Marlene: Lea, you’re right. I empathized with Charlie’s desire to help, but the management of her safety was lacking, to say the least. There were other ways the FBI could have consulted with Charlie without putting her in front of the press, even inadvertently. The case was so high-profile, the press were going to find out eventually, after all. Speaking of the FBI, Agent Bartoli accepts Charlie’s psychic gifts way too easily. On the other hand, Agent Kaminsky is skeptical of Charlie, even as a psychiatrist, to the point of being rude and dismissive. Police departments routinely use psychiatrists or psychologists to profile serial killers, so Kaminsky’s hostility went over-the-top to the point of unbelievability. The agent couldn’t have gotten as far as she had within the Bureau if she “played” that badly with professionals who would regularly be utilized by her team.

Lea: Bartoli’s awareness and acceptance of Charlie’s psychic abilities didn’t bother me. As for Agent Kaminsky? Yes, she did get on my last nerve at times and I agree with Marlene–her attitude toward Dr. Charlie Stone was unprofessional and degrading. I did enjoy it when Charlie starts giving Kaminsky back some of her own, and Charlie’s come-backs are great, she is a psychiatrist after all. I also couldn’t buy into Kaminsky’s personal issues with, and feelings for, fellow team member Agent Buzz Crane. I don’t personally know any FBI Special Agents, but given what I’ve previously read, these individuals are no nonsense and brooding relationships resulting in sarcasm toward fellow team members would be strictly verboten.

Marlene: And then there’s Garland. OMG my eyes started rolling and didn’t stop. He may have been killer gorgeous, but he was also in prison as a convicted serial killer who preyed specifically on women. Charlie was righteously afraid of him when he was alive, but she falls in love with him once he’s dead and his ghost is “attached” to her? The fact that he’s now a ghost and can’t harm her is supposed to make her forget the rest of his character? Or are the hints that he drops that maybe he wasn’t guilty intended to make the reader believe he isn’t as bad as he’s painted? He lied to get his victims into his clutches. He could be, most likely is, lying to Charlie. She should know better.

And ghost-sex by astral projection? Give me a break. Please!

Lea: Michael Garland is certainly intriguing and as the plot progressed I couldn’t help but feel the author had much more to reveal to readers about this guy–particularly given what happens during the conclusion of the story. As for Charlie’s sexual relationship with Garland, yeah, “weird, sister, weird”. O_o I felt the astral projection was a contrived device to get the two of them in the sack.

Then there was Charlie’s possible, maybe, perhaps, not sure, that was a meh/nice kiss, relationship with Bartoli? THAT I found eye-rollingly painful.

Marlene: All I can say is, poor Bartoli. But you’re right, Lea. I can see that the author is planning to reveal more about Garland, but Charlie doesn’t know that yet! And even if Garland turns out not to be a villain, or at least not a serial killer, he’s still dead. Which should carry its own red-flag warning in the romance department. Except for that astral projection thing. OMG that one still makes my head hurt!


Marlene: In spite of everything, I couldn’t turn my reader off. Possibly in the way of watching a train wreck, but just the same, I had to find out how this thing ended. The serial killer does get found, and it both is, and isn’t, a copycat. But a love triangle between a criminal psychiatrist, a dead murderer’s ghost, and a live FBI agent has nowhere to go but heartache. And Charlie should know better about Garland. (For a more satisfying ghost romance, I liked Stacey Kennedy’s Supernaturally Kissed much better (my review here) although the BLI reviewers thought differently. At least the hero is a good guy from the beginning!)

Lea: There were aspects of The Last Victim that I really liked, parts that dragged and finally there was the “OMG this is ridiculous”. However, despite the negatives it was compulsively readable, I had to know how Karen Robards was going to solve the case and kept turning the pages to discover what was going to happen next regarding what can only be described as a vicious, heinous killing spree. There are surprising plot twists. This book is the first in a series, I’m still pondering whether I’ll read the next one. Call me a masochist but I can’t help but want to read the next book to find out more about Michael Garland. LOL

Marlene gives The Last Victim 2.5 Stars

Lea gives The Last Victim a very tepid 3 Stars

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

About Marlene:

Marlene is a librarian, ebook advocate, science fiction fan, and RPG fan who lives in the Atlanta suburbs. She and her husband are owned by four cats, just ask them. She’s a geek and a nerd and proud of it. She’s also an avid reader of everything, including the back of the cereal box, and has been blogging since April 2011 at Reading Reality and is a reviewer at Library Journal as well as active on Goodreads. She is also the publisher of Ebook Review Central.

Guest Post: Author Ruthie Knox is Hearing Voices + Giveaway

Reading Reality has a very special guest today. It’s Ruthie Knox, the author of February’s marvelous contemporary romance Ride With Me and her utterly delicious new, just-in-time-to-celebrate-the-Jubilee, set-in-London About Last Night.

Because so much of the fun of About Last Night (and it is scrumptious fun, see the review here) is in the heroine’s talks with herself (Good Cath’s attempts to suppress Bad Cath, read the book!) I asked Ruthie to give us some insight into successfully writing characters who have a LOT of internal dialogue.

Take it away, Ruthie!

Hearing Voices: On Internal Dialogue

A good friend recently mentioned to me how much she despises it when people use the term “internal dialogue.” We have only the one brain, after all. It’s not as though we carry conversations in our own heads, complete with quotation marks and speech tags, right? So anything internal has to be “monologue,” not “dialogue.”

Except . . . hmm.

Sometimes I do talk to myself inside my head as if there are two miniature versions of me in there, yammering at each other. In fact, sometimes when I’m hiking, I actually speak one side of the conversation out loud, while the other one talks back to me silently.

Crazy, or just human? Let’s hope the latter, because the heroine of my new release, About Last Night, definitely has a fair bit of internal dialogue going on. Her name is Cath, and she has a checkered past, but she’s reformed.

Sort of.


At times of stress — which I give her in spades — poor Cath tends to find herself torn between her old identity (“Bad Cath”) and her reformed one (“Good Cath,” a.k.a “New Cath”), and the two of them duke it out in her head.

Take this scene, for example, where Cath has just eaten a bacon sandwich in the kitchen of the stranger whose bed she slept in the night before…

Maybe it was the hangover, but it was the best sandwich she’d ever had. Or maybe it was City. He moved around his tiny kitchen like he knew what he was doing, and he’d fussed over the sandwich for a long time.

Beyond asking her how she liked her tea, though, he didn’t say a word, and that was fine with Cath. She wasn’t sure what social script applied when you’d passed out on someone, woken up in their bed, and then immediately thereafter come very close to mating with them on a table. The best strategy would no doubt have been flight, but she’d needed the sandwich.

The food gave her necessary fuel, and it also provided time to regroup. Bad Cath and Good Cath were duking it out in her head, and she was having trouble keeping her wires from crossing.

Good Cath was screechy, slightly hysterical: What do you think you’re doing? Sex on a table with a stranger? You don’t do that anymore! Hell, you didn’t even do that before. Knock it off. Put your clothes on. Go home. It’s still possible to turn this into a blip! It’s not too late, but you’re cutting it close, missy.

Bad Cath, by contrast, practically purred with lust: That man can kiss, Mary Catherine. What could it hurt to do it again? You’re already here. You made your mistake. What’s the big deal if you make it a little bigger? And speaking of big, did you notice the way City felt pressing between your legs? Yeah. That. You’re going to walk out on that? Don’t kid a kidder, babe.

What could she do but feed her stomach and try to drown out the voices?

Plus, it wasn’t like she could simply flee the scene. She was only half dressed. At least she knew where her clothes were now. She’d spotted them drying on a rack in the corner as soon as she walked into the kitchen. City must have put them through the wash for her, but he, like so many of his backward countrymen, didn’t have a dryer.

He could deny being nice all day long, but the guy was definitely a Boy Scout. A Boy Scout who kissed like a Hell’s Angel. Not that she’d ever kissed a Hell’s Angel. And not that anyone had ever kissed her quite like City just had. Zero to sixty in three-point-four seconds. The man knew how to ring her bell.

But she was done with the bell ringing, right? Right. New Cath didn’t sleep with strange men on studio tables. New Cath said, “Thanks a bunch,” got dressed, and clomped on home.

Do that, New Cath instructed. Do that right now.

Of course, she doesn’t do it. Where would be the fun in that? She stays, and she sleeps with him (which turns out to have been a very good bad idea), and then she flees — only to find herself face-to-face with him on the train and embroiled in yet another internal dilemma.

She and City were over and done with, but he seemed to have missed the memo. Or he’d read it, then shredded it.

So send him another copy.

She didn’t want to. She knew she should, but she so didn’t want to. “You’re just trying to get me back into bed with you.”

Nev’s mouth curled up at the corners, and he lowered his voice, leaning closer. “Of course I’m trying to get you back into bed with me. I loved having you in my bed. I’d like to chain you to my bed.” He trailed a finger down her bare arm, leaving a trail of sighing nerve endings. “But I’d also like to have lunch with you.”

Desperate to maintain her resolve, Cath gestured toward a woman at the other end of the car. “Isn’t Portia there more your type?” Tall, blond, and refined, the woman was dressed for the office in a pencil skirt and an expensive-looking white silk blouse. Cath, by contrast, wore a cheap black sleeveless top and pants from Zara. Her fingernails were bitten to the quick, her hair hopelessly wispy. He didn’t want her. She was a mess.

Nev glanced over at the woman and then looked back at Cath, his smile widening as his eyes traveled the length of her body. “I know what I want, Mary Catherine.”

Her nipples drew tight, and she felt a rush of moisture soak her panties. Stupid, traitorous body.

“I can’t,” she insisted.

“Dinner then.”

“I mean, I can’t go out with you.”

“Ah.” Concern furrowed his forehead, and Cath tried not to find it adorable. She failed. “Is there someone else?”


“Good.” He smiled again, and she smiled back before she could catch herself. She needed to remember to watch out for sneak attacks. Nev tilted his head, considering her. “What then, you don’t fancy me?”

Tell him you don’t. Tell him you don’t fancy him one bit.

She gave him the same slow once-over he’d just given her. “What’s not to fancy?”

New Cath threw up her hands, disgusted with the whole situation.

Isn’t she cute? And slightly psychotic?

It was tremendous fun to write a heroine who’s such a mess, but it also required some torturous, angsty writing days. Because I don’t think anyone gets as divided and messed up in the head as Our Lovely Cath without some serious trauma in her background, and Cath is no exception.

Ultimately, what About Last Night is all about is watching Cath find love, and unfolding all the ways in which learning to trust — opening herself to feel — forces her to come to terms with her past and find the forgiveness that lets her be neither Old Cath nor New Cath, but simply Cath.

What about you — do you ever have internal dialogue, or are you strictly a monologue sort of person? Confession time!

About Last Night, coming from Loveswept (Random House), June 11, 2012! 

Sure, opposites attract, but in this sexy, smart, eBook original romance from Ruthie Knox, they positively combust! When a buttoned-up banker falls for a bad girl, “about last night” is just the beginning.
Cath Talarico knows a mistake when she makes it, and God knows she’s made her share. So many, in fact, that this Chicago girl knows London is her last, best shot at starting over. But bad habits are hard to break, and soon Cath finds herself back where she has vowed never to go . . . in the bed of a man who is all kinds of wrong: too rich, too classy, too uptight for a free-spirited troublemaker like her.

Nev Chamberlain feels trapped and miserable in his family’s banking empire. But beneath his pinstripes is an artist and bohemian struggling to break free and lose control. Mary Catherine—even her name turns him on—with her tattoos, her secrets, and her gamine, sex-starved body, unleashes all kinds of fantasies.

When blue blood mixes with bad blood, can a couple that is definitely wrong for each other ever be perfectly right? And with a little luck and a lot of love, can they make last night last a lifetime?

If you’re teased enough about the debate between Good Cath and Bad Cath, About Last Night will be available on June 11 from Amazon, B&N, and everywhere. Goodreads is already starting to rack up reviews.

If you want to follow Ruthie, you can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and of course, her website.

**~~**About That Giveaway**~~**

One lucky commenter will be randomly chosen to win a digital preview copy of About Last Night. Winners will pick up their copy through NetGalley. Good luck to all!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud

And now libraries know that Random House is planning to use real silver for that lining.

The problem with Random House’s plan is that libraries don’t have all that much silver to give them  in this era of shrinking budgets.

On February 2, Random House, the only one of the “Big 6” publishers to provide ebooks to libraries without restrictions, made an announcement that they would continue their generous policy, but that there would be a price hike to deal with some of the issues surrounding permanent access to ebooks.

Most libraries probably expected the price to rise somewhere in the neighborhood of 50%. Maybe double.

The hammer fell March 1. Hammer as in auction hammer. Or the hammer of doom.

Yesterday, Random House tripled the prices of their ebooks. You read that right. An ebook that cost a library $15 on Monday, costs $45 today. The libraries are reeling from the sticker shock.

But what will this mean?

Library budgets are not growing, they are flat or shrinking. Public libraries are creatures of local government, and tax revenues at the local government level are still sucky. Let’s be blunt here.

If the per-title price rises significantly, as it has just done. and the budget stays flat, what will happen? In most cases, libraries will buy fewer titles with the same dollars. Some will rearrange their budgets as much as they can, but very, very few will be able to triple their ebook budgets.

What gets purchased in this scenario? High-demand titles get purchased, so the hold queues get filled. Or at least stay tamed. John Grisham does not lose many library sales out of this.

What doesn’t get purchased? Mid-list authors and debut authors, because there is very little money left in the budget with which to take a chance. And the next John Grisham and Nora Roberts and James Patterson have to come from somewhere. Some of them will come from self-publication Cinderella stories like Amanda Hocking, but some will still come from the mid-list. If they get the chance.

Unlike V.C. Andrews, most authors do not write from beyond the grave. What are the publishers planning to do when the current crop of bestselling juggernauts decide to retire?  The number one way that readers decide to purchase a book is because they liked the author’s last book. The trick seems to be to get people to read an author the first time. And with the demise of more and more bricks-and-mortar bookstores, that trick is getting harder all the time.

But protecting their authors is not what this move is about. Revenue numbers from 2011 are starting to come in from the major publishers, and the picture that emerges is very interesting. Sales of print are down, digital is up and profitability is up. Think about it for a minute. Digital books have no inventory, no print costs, and very low distribution costs. Most of the infrastructure to produce them already exists. For the publisher, they are almost pure profit.

Profitability is in no way a bad thing. It’s required for a business to remain in business. But let’s not pretend. Random House is charging more for their ebooks to libraries because Random House believes:

that pricing to libraries must account for the higher value of this institutional model, which permits e-books to be repeatedly circulated without limitation. The library e-book and the lending privileges it allows enables many more readers to enjoy that copy than a typical consumer copy. Therefore, Random House believes it has greater value, and should be priced accordingly.

In other words, because they can.

9 Rings, 8 Planets, 7 Dwarfs, 6 Publishers

List the names of the Seven Dwarfs. Go ahead, do it.

If you’re like most people, you have to tick the names off on your fingers, and you’ll forget one or two, usually either Bashful or Doc, because they don’t fit the “-py” naming convention the rest of them do.

What about those “Big 6” publishers everyone is talking about? Can you name them?

Even in the library world, in spite of all the recent discussion about how the Big 6 are deciding whether and how to lend ebooks to libraries, most people can’t. Not because they’re not important, but because the names aren’t the way we know them. We don’t think of the publisher all that much until one of them withdraws their ebooks from the library market, as Penguin did late last week.

What we know are their books. When there is a title that patrons want, and we can’t buy it, that’s when we are reminded who the “Big 6” are.

This is one librarian’s guide to the “Big 6” publishers, based on the titles they publish.

1. Hachette Book Group

We never see the name Hachette. The names we see are the names of their imprints, particularly Grand Central Publishing and Little, Brown and Company.

Hachette dropped out of the library market in 2009, so their backlist is still in library ebook catalogs, but not their new books.

Current titles on the New York Times bestseller list from Hachette that are not available:






2. HarperCollins

HarperCollins is the publisher with the famous, or infamous “Rule of 26”. Every copy purchased after they changed their licensing terms to libraries last year is only available for 26 checkouts, then the library needs to purchase another copy. But some availability is perhaps better than no availability.

In addition to the publishing imprints with the name “Harper” in the title, HarperCollins also includes the publisers William Morrow and Avon.

Here are a few examples of current NYT bestsellers that are affected by the 26-checkout limit:






3. Macmillan

Macmillan has always just said “no” to libraries.

But it isn’t just the name Macmillan, because the name Macmillan covers St. Martin’s Press. And Henry Holt, Farrar Straus & Giroux and Minotaur. Also Tor, a highly respected science fiction and fantasy publisher, as well as Feiwel & Friends, a children’s publisher.

There have been many, many Macmillan titles that libraries have never been able to purchase, including these current titles:






4. Penguin Group

Penguin has just exited the library ebook marketplace. As of this writing, any titles licensed by libraries before Penguin’s departure on February 10, 2012 will remain available, but no new content will be added.

Penguin Group includes Penguin, Putnam, Prentice-Hall and Puffin, a childrens’ publisher. But also Viking Press and Dutton, as well as Ace and Berkley, two well-known mass-market paperback publishers.

Because Penguin stopped licensing new content to libraries in November 2011, the impact of their departure has already been felt with the unavailability of these titles:






5. Random House

Random House represents the “good guys” in the library ebook market. They have recently reconfirmed their commitment to license ebooks to libraries, although they have stated that there will be a rise in the price. This is possibly the first time that a price increase has been treated as good news, but we live in interesting times.

Update 3/3/12: That price rise turned out to be 300%. Not so good. In fact, very bad. Very, very bad. See Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud for more details)

Random House is a not just Random House, but also Knopf Doubleday, Delacorte, Bantam, and Crown.

Because Random House has stuck with libraries, these are titles that we have been able to offer:






6. Simon and Schuster is the last of the “Big 6”. They have remained a steadfast naysayer when it comes to libraries.

This is unfortunate. Not only is the Simon and Schuster imprint big, but Scribner is one of their major imprints. Atheneum and Aladdin are among their Childrens’ houses, and Pocket is one of the big paperback presses.

These represent some of the current S&S titles that libraries would love to offer, but cannot:






The notion of the “Big 6” publishers is a somewhat abstract concept, but the books they publish are not. However, these types of designations are subject to change.

Once upon a time business used to refer to the “Big 8” accounting firms. Now it’s the “Big 4”.

There used to be nine planets, then Pluto got demoted. Now there are eight.

In Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, the One Ring ruled them all, but nine rings were given to mortal men. Those men were once proud kings, but they tried to seize more power than they were capable of holding.

Those kings ignored the warnings they were given about the danger represented by the rings.

Just like the publishers are ignoring the statistics that “50% of all library users report purchasing books by an author they were introduced to in the library”.  Those publishers also cast aside warnings that compare the current state of the publishing industry to the state of Kodak during the rise of digital photography, as well as those that compare how much better new authors can do for themselves than with a “traditional publisher”. Traditional, read “big 6” publishers, are increasingly being cut out of the equation and their purpose in the supply chain is being questioned.

Those kings who picked up the nine rings–no one remembers their names.