Series Reviews

Series Reviews

In the last few months, I’ve been listening to two series:  Historical romance Survivors’ Club series by Mary Balogh, and paranormal romance Deep In Your Veins Series by Suzanne Wright. What a wide spectrum of genres, heh?

vampiresI came across Suzanne’s books while looking for a new shape-shifter story. I do love those. One of my favorites is Jennifer Ashley’s Shifters Unbound series. Sadly, she rarely writes new additions to it. So, I went looking for someone else’s. Suzanne does have a shape-shifter series but her vampire one caught my attention instead. With a title like Here Be Sexist Vampires, how could I resist?

The first book was funny and sexy with a yummy alpha male and a kick ass female. I would like to point out the heroine was strong, but still feminine. Some of the books I’ve read with kick-ass heroines often act like they want to be a man. Considering I love men, but don’t want to be one, I want to be able to relate to the main female character. Not everyone feels like I do and that’s okay. There are books for everyone out there, but I’m talking about what I like. You can talk about what you like on your blog.  Ha!

The world building in the series has been unique to me. I’ve read paranormal romance back when it was called science fiction. So, that’s hard to do, being unique that is. She’s found a way around the drinking blood requirement.  They don’t normally drink from humans. That’s pretty good.

The first three books (if I remember correctly) were of the same couple, but the later books are of different couples, same world with the original couples showing up and not taking over. I like that. Usually by a second or third book, I’m tired of the same couple. Suzanne handled that well and I’ve enjoyed the others so far. Some a little better than others, but overall, I’ll keep listening (or reading) as long as she’ll write them.

Be sure to check out her vampire books.

Now for Mary Balogh. Do you hear the reverence in that little sentence? Goodness, I’m not sure how to begin. Let’s say this. I’m learning so much about storytelling from this author. She’s like a story weaver. She takes an emotion and threads it through the fabric of the story until you have this beautiful picture about romance with all its twists and maryturns. See. She even has me waxing poetic about her books. Let’s say this. If you enjoy a well-written historical romance, with romance and certainly some hot kissing and a little bit of sex sprinkled throughout, this is certainly the author for you to read.

Her heroes are not always a typical alpha male. For example, Avery Archer in Someone to Love (Wescott series – as you can see, I listen to several series of hers ). He’s slightly taller than the heroine, almost effeminate, and he uses a quizzing glass to unnerve those around him. But DAMN the man is sexy when it comes to lovemaking and his sarcastic teasing and fighting. Yep, fighting. He knows his martial arts. Read/listen to the book to find out how he came about that skill.

I will say she’s not perfect, but 98% of the time she does not disappoint. Her heroes are usually most understanding. I can’t tell you how many times I tear up because the hero has said just the right thing.  Remember, this is fiction. And being fiction, I want my heroes to be smarter than the average man.

The first 1% is the same problem most romance authors have (including me).  We often understand why the heroine does the things she does, but sometimes as a reader we want to slap the back of her head. We must remember not all women are smart as ourselves (sarcastic font used in this last sentence).

The other 1% is about the pace. She does take her time telling you the secret or what the bad guy has planned or whatever happens that causes the couple to feel that love is hopeless. But I have never regretted or gotten bored (not like I did with the Outlander books – Geez, never again. Love Jamie, but the books overall, hell no, I got a life to live) with reading/listening to every word.

Okay. If you love regency, go buy her books or audio (Love Rosalyn Landor’s narrative. The woman is a genius with all the voices.) and plan to relax and enjoy.

Reviews Are Often More Than Personal Opinions

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As an author, I get reviews on my books all the time. When the reviewer doesn’t like a book of mine, I get sad. Duh, of course. But I understand how everyone’s taste is different. Some people love my books and some don’t. The only time I get aggravated is when the reviewer doesn’t realize the book just isn’t their cup of tea, and they start sprouting personal insults or try to make jokes that are really not funny. HA! Wouldn’t it be nice to be able review the review?51js7wauk7l

Anyway, I know I read many books that make me unhappy because the people do not act like I prefer or the story doesn’t go in the direction I want or the plot becomes boring. I have read books that people go on and on about how wonderful it is and I don’t understand why when I read it. Thank goodness there are plenty of books to read out there.

I had the pleasure of listening to one of Kerrigan Byrne’s books on audio and plan to listen/read many more.  This one in particular, THE HUNTER, was wonderful, sexy, romantic, and different. The hero wasn’t heroic material, but he proved to be one along the way.

I like THE HUNTER so much, I bought the paperback copy as I plan to read it (again?) soon.

Now for a totally unique book, THE BRIDE TEST. Talk about different. But I enjoyed it so much. Actually, I’ve read both of her books. THE KISS QUOTIENT is the other one and just as good and fresh.

What are they saying?

Female legs and revolverLast month, a member of my local chapter of the Romance Writers of America gave a presentation on Reviews. She did a wonderful job. She showed everyone how even best-selling romance authors can have two and one star reviews. That reviewers can even hate our favorite stories. You know, the books you catch yourself re-reading on those rainy, gloomy days in an effort to cheer yourself up.

Of course, being an author, my books are up for review. The funny thing about it, like so many authors out there, I can have mostly 4 and 5 stars, but it’s the 1 and 2 stars that catch my attention. Many authors say when they read the lower stars, they look for common complaints and then try to improve from there.

Personally, I find the common complaints to be the story didn’t go the way the reviewer wanted or the character wasn’t acting like a goody two-shoe. How boring! So I say, they need to write their own books.

I like my characters to have flaws. Not just that they place their elbows on the table as they eat type of flaws. But that they have low self-esteem, or too confident, or see the world as dog-eat-dog type of existence, or they can be a number one asshole/bitch. I like to think I make my characters real. I guess that’s why I hear “gritty” in a few of my books’ reviews. I take that to mean the characters and their actions are close to real life.

Unlike real life, I do make sure the ending is happy or at the least satisfying, especially when it comes to the main two characters. And they change by the end of the book and for the better.And thinking of stars, how often have you seen a reviewer write “I give this book three and half stars,” but show only 3 stars. What? First, don’t say half if the program doesn’t allow half stars (or coffee cups, hearts, or whatever).  Three and half should always be rounded up to 4 stars. I had to get that off my chest. It drives me crazy.

Or their review will read, “I loved this book!” And then give 3 stars. What? LOVE is only worth 3? Crazy.

I wish booksellers and review sites would get rid of stars (or whatever they use) and just have reviews. Or maybe booksellers should explain their star (or whatever) system to reviewers. All of it is inconsistent.  Once again, I had to get that off my chest. We authors know we cannot make comments on reviews or we’ll be gang-banged by the reviewer community, especially the trolls. So we grin and bear it.

With all of that being said, let me show what they are saying about my latest book, Crossing The Line.  My first hockey romance book. And yes, they will only the good comments. Thankfully, the yucky ones are fewer.

Per Marcia, I found the characters interesting, more so as they were developed. The provocative plot written with an appealing voice made this an engaging read. 

Per Diane, Carla Swafford did a great job with the plot. It was clever how things played out. The story was thought-provoking and heartfelt. This is the first book that I have read by Carla Swafford. I enjoyed her writing style. I am interested in continuing to follow this series. I recommend this book to people that enjoy sports romances. 

Per B., Kitty made my heart break from the first page. She had no self confidence, worth, or esteem. Casey (Roman’s agent) was a total [skeeze] and disgusting looser. Roman had a good heart and he melted mine with his intentions and actions towards Kitty from the first day.

Per lq, Kitty, especially, showed a great deal of personal growth and changes over the course of the novel in [a] way that I found endearing.

You can find the reviews on Goodreads or/and Amazon. 

RT BookReviews

RT BookReviews closed it operations on May 16, 2018. It was a sad moment for many including myself. I read the magazine from the time it was actually a newspaper (1980s). At least, my dream of having a review of my book(s) done by the magazine came true. Plus my name was mentioned a few times in the magazine.

Before the website goes dark next year, here are copies of the reviews and such. Side note: The highest star rating you could get at RT was 4-1/2 stars.

By the way, my first book came out 7 years and 17 days ago.

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(Out of the Shadows was the pre-published title.  Now it’s Circle of Desire)

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You can find the video at the bottom right of this website.

Love it? Review It.

Love it? Review It.

Heroine wants to save the man she loves, but not everyone is cut out to be a killer.

The last Bookbub I looked at was Tuesday’s. Today I caught up.

A few interested me, but not enough to buy. I’ve been wanting to cut back on my TBR pile. So the book has to interest me big time. Wednesday, nothing. Thursday, thought about one, but decided I’ve read too many like it and have been disappointed. Friday, interesting, but a no go.

Finally, Saturday’s has three I’m interested in. An erotic Romantic Suspense: Hero offers to pull heroine’s business out of debt if she obeys him in all ways for 30 days. Historical Romance: A Scottish warrior inherits an English earldom and an impoverished lady will teach him “proper” etiquette. Sci-Fi romance: Girl goes to war torn planet and meets two warriors.

I try to narrow my choices by looking at the full blurb on Amazon or iBooks. Sometimes it reveals the book isn’t what I really want. Maybe too heavy on history, or doesn’t really concentrate on the romance. And I’m not talking about sex. I like the one-on-one relationship building. I don’t mind a little arguing as long as it doesn’t get stupid. You know, arguing for argument sake.

Then if I’m still interested in the book, I read the sample. I can’t tell you how often I read the beginning and became SO bored. Then others are just not to my taste.

So far, I’ve bought the erotic Romantic Suspense. Passed on the Sci-Fi romance. The blurb did it. So not what I thought it would be. Maybe the author or editor messed up in telling the summary, but that’s the way it goes. Still thinking about the Historical Romance.

When it comes to To-Be-Read piles, mine is small. Around 10 e-books, and about the same in paperbacks.

I refuse to mistreat the authors who go out of their way to provide a deal that takes you years to read. When you finally read the book you bought 2-3 years ago, and it turns out to be great, and you go in search for the author, don’t be surprised if you can’t find another book from that author. Please understand. The author thought no one liked her books. You didn’t read it and review it, or tell your friends because you took so long to read it. For an author to make only $100 a year on her books isn’t enough to keep going.

And don’t get me started on selling a book that took months, if not a year to write for 99 cents. Someone told me recently that charging more than 99 cents for an e-book is horrible. She says the author doesn’t have to spend money on paper and printing. Like that’s the only reason a person reads a book. Maybe I’ll try to sell her a bunch of books with nothing printed inside. I bet she wouldn’t pay $7 dollars for each then. It’s the words inside that makes them valuable.

Think of it this way, I use a computer to write my books and often have to get a new one every two to four years. (Salesperson in the store said they aren’t made to last no more than two years. Bull crap!) When you write everyday in your spare time, they get overused and/or obsolete. My wage from a day job pays for it. Not my writing. Then I go to a writers conference to hear experts talk about how to make my manuscripts/books better, fresh, or more exciting. Again my day job helps pay for my airfare/gas, hotel, food, and the huge conference fee. Not my writing. Even if I go to a local college to take a class or two, I have to pay tuition. Not provided by my books. I giveaway book marks (readers still love them despite most read e-books), pens, t-shirts, and gift cards to readers. Day job, not writing. Let’s not even get into the costs of ads.

If I self-publish a book, there is the cover art that can range from $20 (if I do the design) to $400 (by a professional designer and you could pay even more if you want a unique design/cover). I can format the inside of the book through Draft2Digital free. Then there’s the editor. She receives $350 to $450 a book. Some editors charge a lot more. So I dare you to tell me again the book is worth less than a dollar.

You say, why do all of that? Just write a good book, they will come. Despite what the movie, Field of Dreams, make you believe, it doesn’t necessary work that way.

Even if you have a publishing house–I’ve had the biggest–behind your book advertising the hell out of it, you still need to help.

Book signings do little. They are more to stroke your ego. Actually, I say go for it. Authors need all the ego stroking they can get. It’s a rough, thankless job. Kind of like being a mom. At book signings, I’ve given away more books than I’ve sold just with the hope they will read the others.

Sure most publishers give the author books, but only one of the two large publishing houses I’ve been with gave me six. Yep. Six. And those I gave to relatives because they think you’re being cheap by not giving them a book. To cover everyone, I usually have to buy a few extra. The other publisher gave me zilch. My book was published in e-book only. I will say they provided the most advertising to readers and bloggers (that’s the one I mentioned above). Of course, the self-published copies were provided to my family at my cost. You know, I’m rich off all of those books. NOT!

As you can tell, authors deserve more for each book. No matter what, be sure to tell your family and friends about the latest book you enjoyed and write a review and share it everywhere!  Thanks!

Well Said

***Beware Spoiler**

When I received a notice of another five star review for Hidden Heat, I was excited to click on it and see what it said. (We authors can be such needy people.) The reviewer at I Heart YA Books blew me away with her insight into my heroine.

Several reviewers had mentioned their dissatisfaction in the heroine’s easy acceptance of the hero’s return at the end of the book. Of course, everyone feels differently about many situations, but no matter how I feel about it, this was Cassidy’s story and her reactions are her own. So I had planned to write a post on why my spunky heroine became such a pushover at the end.

But when I read the review, I felt the reviewer had said it all, and I asked permission to reprint. Debbie was a sweetheart and said okay.

Here’s the review.

——

Hidden Heat is a fantastic read. This might be one of the few times that I’ve loved the heroine more than the hero. Cassidy Ryder is a girl who definitely has her stuff together. I loved that Cassidy wasn’t a whiney girl—that she’s a mature-thinking woman even though she’s only twenty-one. And this came from Cassidy’s hard life of being raised around a Motorcycle Club. Daughter of an ex MC President and her mother who was murdered when she was a young girl, has made Cassidy tough. She had to grow up fast, especially when she had a young brother to take care of. With that thought in mind about Cassidy, that’s why I loved Cassidy and Thorn’s ending to their story. It’s just the way I would imagine Cassidy to be when Thorn returns.

Cassidy handled her relationship with Thorn—who’s an undercover cop—with the right frame of mind. Cassidy knew that when she was falling in love with Thorn, there was no guarantee that she and Thorn would have a future together. Cassidy also knew Thorn would go on to the next undercover job, so she accepted what she was getting into when she fell in love with Thorn. I know I’m talking about the ending first in my review, but I just thought it was an awesome, happily ever after ending with Cassidy and Thorn, because of Cassidy’s maturity in the way she handled things. Great communication between the Cassidy and Thorn.

Thorn Savalas is a cop working undercover to bring down the top leaders in the Brothers of Mayhem MC. But just when he’s close to getting the information he needs to finish the job, Cassidy Ryder walks into the Brother of Mayhem’s bar with a baseball bat looking for her younger brother, Storm, who’s been hanging with the MC. And the only way for Thorn to protect the headstrong, sassy mouthed Cassidy from getting killed is to claim her as his old lady. Cassidy and Thorn’s hot, steamy hook-up will become their most dangerous adventure to their forever love story.

Hidden Heat is a keep you on the edge suspense with a sizzling hot romance. It also has a tiny little twist at the end that will melt your heart. I recommend Cassidy and Thorn’s story as a must read.

                                    5 Hearts of Love for Cassidy & Thorn

——

Well said, Debbie.  Thank you. Hugs.

Be sure to check out her reviews. Click here.

What People Are Saying . . .

This is what readers on Goodreads are saying about HIDDEN HEAT coming out February 16.

“This is a great ride that has a lot of surprises . . . I am looking forward to see what’s next from this author because I have become a fan.”

“I promise you will love it!!”

“I completely enjoyed this story, it’s many plot twists & turns had me riveted. I loved Thorn’s crazy relatives!”

“Overall Hidden Heat is a fantastic introduction to the Brothers Of Mayhem with more characters to be explored such as Wolf, Angel and of course Storm…his story is not yet over.”

“Fans of the genre will love this book. I have added the author to my must read authors’ list.”

“Wow! I really liked it. This author will definitely be on my watch list.”

“There is a LOT of drama and angst and twists, so there will be no further story line hints given… READ IT…. and start begging Carla for the sequel!”

“A thrilling story, full of surprises, intrigue, steamy passion and some really nasty sounding dudes (makes a change from everyone looking hot and sexy). I loved it.”

“For me it was fast paced and an exciting read. Will definitely be looking for more of the Brothers of Mayhem in the future.”

“I really liked Thorn. A LOT.”

“Cassidy is a tough chic that looks out for her brother.”

“The bat swinging bundle of hotness who busted into the Skull and Bones is none other than the daughter of the founding Skull…

“Swafford wrote a compelling story of how far will the love for a brother take you.”

“I liked the fact that Cass was a kick ass take no prisoner chick, and Thorn (Holy hell) he sounds totally HOT!”

“I couldn’t put this book down.”

“This is my first book by this author and I loved it.”

“I cannot wait to read the next book in this series.”

“My Favorite Moment: I really loved when Cassidy found out the real story about who Thorn is.”

“Super easy read, great flow, great character development and I really enjoyed it.”

“Cassidy was a strong female lead and even though she knew something would get her into trouble, she did it anyway because she knew without a doubt it was the right thing to do.”

“The plot is fairly well developed with about as much mistrust as you might expect within the motorcycle club . . .”

“Every few pages, just when you think you have a handle on the plot line another twist comes along.”

“I was instantly pulled into this story. It was an easy read. It had a great flow to it. I am looking forward to the next in the series. ”

“I could not put this book down. I loved Cassidy and her determination to protect her brother from the harsh life within the MC.”

“Such an amazing and exciting story!! Started reading and could not stop until I was completely finished! 100% recommend!!”

“I hated to say goodbye to Cassidy and Thorn. 5 stars!!”

“Carla S[w]afford has a new fan due to her depth of characters and twisting plot lines”

“Two very different people, with lots of plot twist to make you keep reading to find out more.”

“Carla is great at weaving suspense into her romances so this was hit for me.”

Hey, I believe in celebrating the positive! Thank you, everyone!  I can’t wait until you read Storm’s book (FULL HEAT). It’s going to blow your socks off!  An angst filled hero and a laid-back heroine. What a switch, heh?

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
iBooks
Kobo Books

Here Let Me Help You

mad womanI can’t tell you how many times I’ve read a review (not mine) and become frustrated when an angry reviewer gives a novella one star because “It was too short.” You’re reading and that’s important. Obviously, you want to learn. So be sure to watch for certain words before you click on that FREE, $0.99 or $1.99 specials.

Short Story: That means exactly what it says. It’s a story that’s short. Probably around 50 pages or less.

Novella:  Dictionary.com tells us, “A fictional prose narrative that is longer and more complex than a short story; a short novel.” I would say anything 51 pages to around 200 pages.

Part 1 (or 2 or 3, etc.):  That book will be short. Can’t guess at the size as it varies and is up to the author (or publisher) of how many pages they want to make each part. But it’s like watching a 30 minute TV series that continues next week. You will only get PART of the story.

Okay, this is what you need to look at closely if you’re not sure.

For example, on Amazon they now tell you how many pages under Product Details. No guessing.

At Barnes and Noble, they don’t give you the number but if you see a File Size of around 126 KB under Product Details, chances are it’s short. If you’re still unsure, look at the reviews. Yes. People will complain about the length. Thus why I’m writing this post.

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I checked Kobo and they don’t show pages or file size, but let’s use some common sense. Chances are if it is $0.99 and has the word(s) Novella, Short Story or Part 1, it will not be a full novel.

Now I’m not saying all $1.99 or lower price books are short stories.  My books have been $1.99 and $0.99 before and they are full pledged novels, and I’ve grabbed up some great books for those prices myself. You just need to stop and read a little bit if this sort of thing pisses you off.

Authors love happy readers.