And the Saga Continues

nookkindle I must have been living under a rock. Until the advent of agency pricing, I didn’t realize the contentiousness and longevity of the thirty years’ book wars. Oh, I do remember talking with one of my favorite book sellers – a retired teacher that opened a book store in Memphis. She shared that she was having a difficult time competing with Waldenbooks. And I remember her talking in dismay about the proposed purchase of Ingram Book Group Inc. by Barnes and Noble. And sure I watched the 1998 comedy, “You’ve Got Mail” with Tom Hanks’s Fox & Sons Books putting out of business Meg Ryan’s Shop Around the Corner. However I moved away to a smaller town, and became cocooned against the bookstore closings. Then in the spring of 2010, agency pricing got my attention in a big way. Since then I’ve tried to keep up with the current changes.
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What’s in a Name?

plume During an e-mail conversation about the AAR poll, one person asked a question about 2011 debut authors. Several of us threw out some names of people we thought were first time authors, only to be informed that while a certain book is the first book released under this particular pseudonym, the author has a long history of published books. Then I discovered that a book that I requested to review by a new-to-me author was in fact an author that I read before. It was discouraging in a way because I didn’t finish her last book, and had I known that this was a pseudonym of hers, I wouldn’t have requested this book. So that got me to wondering how relevant pseudonyms are in today’s environment.
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So, What Do We Like to Read?

CB068378 I am horrible at keeping records of books that I have read. I know that many of you keep a journal of read books and their grades, but I have never been that motivated to do so. A couple of years ago I joined Goodreads.com. I haven’t done badly since I do have 667 books rated. However, I do go months without entering books so it is not very accurate. Also I haven’t figured out how to separate the books by publication date so my list doesn’t help in reference to the AAR Annual Poll. This year I am very hopeful, because I do have a permanent record of most of the books I read in 2011 thanks to my written reviews.

I started looking over my reviews in preparation of the poll and it brought home to me just how much I enjoy a certain subgenre. Forty percent of the books I reviewed this year were contemporary romance books and next is series books at 18%. Most of the series that I read were contemporary, and when you add in women’s fiction, and Chick Lit at least 67% of the books this year took place in a current time frame. So I wondered if other reviewers had a definite preference. Here’s how their reviews broke down:
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Pandora’s Box: Hidden Summit

hiddensummit He needs to get out of town so the murderer he is testifying against doesn’t get the chance to kill him too. She needs to get out of town so she doesn’t have to trip over her ex and his blushing bride everywhere she goes. When they both land in Virgin River the scene is set for love.

Hidden Summit is the 17th book in the popular Virgin River series. When we begin the story we join Brie Valenzuela (from Whispering Rock) as she meets a tall dark stranger in a frou-frou coffee shop out of town. No, she isn’t cheating on Mike, but she is meeting another man. Conner Danson is the sole witness to a crime and it is clear the man he is testifying against will go to any lengths to keep him from testifying. He has already burned Conner’s business down to the ground and made threats against his widowed sister and her boys. The end result is forced relocation for Conner, and Virgin River, remote and with a small population, seems like the ideal place to hide. Brie, a former ADA, is Conner’s bridge to a whole new life. Conner’s not happy about the situation but he is determined to see this thing through to the end. He heads up to the hills and goes to work for Haggerty Construction.

Leslie Petruso’s ex-husband seems determined to kill her – with kindness. Even though he cheated on her, robbed her of her half of the communal property and left her heart in tattered pieces, he expects them to be the best of buds. He has done such a good job of painting himself as an angel that even her parents think she should just forgive and forget. Anxious to get away from it all, Leslie takes a job with her old friend Paul Haggerty (Second Chance Pass) and moves to Virgin River. There, she hopes to find a place to heal and get to know what life is like on her own. She doesn’t think she will ever be able to love or trust again. Then she meets Conner.
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Thinking of Our Veterans

seal It’s not that the American people don’t think of their veterans all year round. Many of us do, especially when we see men and woman in uniform or hear the news about Iraq & Afghanistan. However there are certain things that cause us to think about them more, like Veteran’s Day or yesterday, the anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Reading the BelleBooks anthology SEAL of MY DREAMS put them very much on my mind as well. After finishing the book, I thought about how the concept of the book in and of itself is so moving. Belle Books, a company established in 1999 by Debra Dixon, Deborah Smith, Sandra Chastain, Virginia Ellis, Nancy Knight and Donna Ball, and eighteen different authors are donating all the proceeds from this book to Veterans Research Corporation.
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Pandora’s Box: Deliciously Sinful

sinfulTake one plucky orphaned heroine assuming the family business; add one bad boy who’s hiding his romantic heart; mix with food, food, food; and a large dollop of sex, sex, sex.  We’ve seen it before, but somehow, while we hope these everyday ingredients will produce a culinary masterpiece, we more often get tepid leftovers.

In Deliciously Sinful by Lillie Feisty, Phoebe is spread too thin trying to run both her organic farming business and the family’s organic restaurant The Green Leaf Cafe. Since she can’t cook, in order to maintain the café’s sterling reputation she hires down-on his luck Nick Avalon.  Nick plans on staying a year, then bolt back to L.A. to reclaim the fame and recognition his talents demand.

Leigh: As a fan of Pandora’s Box, whenever I can I try to convince another reviewer to join me. After reading Deliciously Sinful I immediately thought of you, Pat.  Thanks for joining me. So what did you think?

Pat: Since I’ve read your reviews and often thought we have the same reading likes and dislikes, I was surprised you thought I might like this one.  What was it about this book you thought would appeal to me?

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Searching for Christmas Stories

xmashearth The idea to talk about Christmas stories crystallized after several readers posted on the Romance Potpourri Forum asking for holiday recommendations and my completion of a Christmas anthology review. After reading several stories that just didn’t do it for me, I realized that I want a certain type of story around Christmas. AAR staffers have definitely written about Christmas stories in the past, so I was able to find a lot of guidance. Rike has talked about her love of comedies and redemption – themed holiday stories. AAR conducted several mini polls about favorite Holiday stories and anthologies such as the ones in 2005, 2006, 2007 and then in 2009. Lynn has also written about her love of Christmas anthologies, and I suspect that there is much more information on the site.
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Big Changes in the EBook Market

kindle It is no secret that I am a big eReader fan. I’ve talked about it here and here. And from the very beginning I have been a loyal customer of Amazon. With the introduction of the Kindle, I knew I wanted one but waited until 2009. The Kindle Two had just been introduced, giving me the security of a second generation device, plus the slight decrease in price from $399.00 to $359.00 helped.
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In Search of a Good Laugh

If an author’s book makes me laugh, then there is a 99.9% chance that I am going to love the book because I love to laugh. I seek out books or movies that have a good probability of doing that. And why not? It is a win-win situation. Read a book that makes you laugh and you relieve stress and depression. You improve your immune system and your digestion. But most of all, laughing just makes us feel GOOD. But why read about it? Watch the video to experience it. Feel better now?
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Pandora’s Box: Heartstrings and Diamond Rings by Jane Graves

heartstrings And we’re back with another Pandora’s Box, this time featuring Heartstrings and Diamond Rings by Jane Graves.

Alison Carter is a jerk magnet, but she keeps convincing herself that meeting the right man is all about “modest expectations.” Seeing her latest boyfriend, Randy, in a mall jewelry store, then hearing him on the telephone talking to a Reverend McCormick, and finally finding a travel brochure on Hawaii doesn’t get her too excited, but then again nothing about him really does. However, when he tells her he has something special to ask her, she puts all the clues together. Finally she will be a bride and have a family. Except Randy’s question is not “will you marry me” but how about you, me, and Bonnie as in a threesome.

After crying on her best friend’s shoulder, Heather tells her about this wonderful matchmaker named Rochelle who found the perfect man for a co-worker. Monday morning, Alison is on the phone and is able to book a lunch hour appointment. Her dream man opens the door, and she decides that Rochelle is psychic only to find that Rochelle died two weeks ago, and her grandson Brandon Scott is taking over her business. No way is she going to pay Brandon fifteen hundred dollars for five introductions. However she doesn’t have a chance against Brandon’s guile.

Brandon’s life with his shyster father makes him an expert at reading people, so Alison is putty in his hands. She is just too nice and takes people at face value. After high school he worked construction but soon realizes that the money is in buying and flipping property. Traveling across the country buying property and then selling before the loan due date is exhilarating. However, his life as a high roller comes to abrupt end when the bottom drops out of the real estate market, leaving him broke and with bad credit. His grandmother’s will states that he can live in her house but as soon as he moves out, the house is to be turned over to her church. One of his buddies contacts him with a great investment opportunity, turning a dilapidated warehouse into loft apartments. Only he doesn’t have thirty thousand dollars for his share. Since he has six months to come up with the money he plans to earn it by taking over his grandmother’s matchmaking business. How difficult can it be?
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