Um…Yeah…No.

Reading is subjective, wouldn’t you say? What is on one readers “auto-buy” list just won’t be another readers cup of tea. I read all kinds of romance, but I especially love time travel. And a creepy house with some mysterious backstory that the hero and heroine must discover in order to put ghosts to rest and get their own happily ever after? Gimme some of that!

I read the first 50 Shades book. Had to. I mean, everyone was reading it, so I had to see what the hype was about. Yeah, I’m still trying to figure that last part out… Hurting for pleasure. Um…nope.

Back when Interview With A Vampire came out (the movie), I couldn’t get enough of vampire romances. After Twilight (again, the movie, because…Taylor Lautner!) I was all about wolf shifters. Johanna Lindsey sucked me in to historical romance (I still don’t know the difference between regency, victorian, etc.). I’ve experienced an obsession with Highland warriors, long hair and (swoon!) kilts.

But there are subgenres and tropes that just don’t do it for me. Billionaires. Don’t ask me why. I feel weird enough as it is. But to me, there is nothing sexy about a three-piece suit. I know, I’m a freak, right? A sexy Greek Tycoon wants to take me out on his yacht? I should be packing my bag already. Nah. Now a scruffy dude in a tight white t-shirt and a tool belt? Yeah, baby! You picked up a pizza for dinner? And picked me flowers? Oh, you are getting lucky tonight!!!

What about all the other shifter books that have come out? Dragon shifters are HUGE. So clearly there is a market for them. But I’m sorry, all I can think about is scales and teeth and…ew! I did a search for shifter romance and saw that horses are a thing. I’ve heard of “hung like a horse”, but literally? Oh, hell no! And I bet everyone has seen the dinosaur romances. Yeah, probably shouldn’t even lump them with shifters, as it’s women with…dinosaurs. No shifting involved. But I’m lumping all the non-humans here.

The last one I’ll take a pass on – royalty. When I was a little girl, I didn’t want to be a princess. I wanted to be a teacher. I wanted to be a mom. I’ve never followed Kate and William. She’s beautiful, don’t get me wrong. And I’m sure theirs is a true fairy tale romance, but it’s just not my thing. I’ve tried binge-watching Reign. I wanted to love it, but…eh. Guess I’m just a practical peasant. 😉

Okay, I’ve told you some of the subgenres that I love, and those I’ll pass on. Now it’s your turn. What are your “auto buys” and what do you do your best to avoid? (You can say small town romance. I promise you won’t hurt my feelings.) The great thing about romance is that there is something for everyone. And there is no wrong answer. When the right authors and their particular readers find each other – it’s magic! They get each other. The writers are writing what they are passionate about and the readers are gobbling it up and clambering for more — which fuels the author to write faster — which gets the book in the hands of the reader faster. Wait…I went off on a tangent, didn’t I? Subgenres. Favs? Not faves? And…go!

Books You Need to Read

I finished reading my 17th book of 2017 last night. I’ve committed to reading 70 books on the Goodreads challenge this year, and I am a little ahead of schedule – woo hoo! But I noticed something about my reading habits this year that is different than most years. My genres were all over the place. So I went through my favorites and figured the titles were varied enough that I had recommendations for everyone. So here goes (in no particular order):

MAKE ME LOVE YOU By Johanna Lindsey

To this day, the Mallory family has been one of my favorite “wish-I-could-be-one” families in literature. Just to be clear, this book covers the same time frame but does not mention the Mallorys. It just happens to be by the same author. A regency romance, this one has the brooding hero, the plucky heroine and lots of adventure romping all over England. Horses, wolves and a cat that loves sausage complete the picture. I brought this book to the table during meals, to my desk when I was supposed to be writing and sent the kids to bed early last night so I could finish it. If you love historical romances, you must read this one.

11/22/63 By Stephen King

So we all agree that Stephen King is a master storyteller. But some of his books I won’t even touch — because I know I’ll be so freaked out that I’ll probably need a prescription for anti-anxiety meds. Cell? OMG! I still shudder when I think of that one. The length of 11/22/63 might intimidate some people (at 850+ pages), but make the time. It’s SO worth it. Time travel (one of my absolute favs!), alternate reality…it was so unlike King and yet still wonderfully awesome. There are a ton of conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination of JFK and I’d never really been interested enough to read about it until now. I finished this book in January and I still find myself thinking about the main character, Jake. Like he was a real person and you just wonder what he’s up to now. This one will take you a while, but keep at it. Well worth the read.

THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE By Janet Fox

I stole this one from my daughter’s bookshelf. As you can probably tell from the title, it’s intended for middle-grade and YA. But I challenge any adult Harry Potter fan not to love this one. Set in WWII, a group of children is sent to a run-down castle in Scotland to escape the London Blitz. Creepy castle…check. Mistress of the castle who isn’t exactly human…check. Nazi spy…check. Magically imbued objects…check. Lots of fun for the whole family. My daughter was dancing around, waiting until we could discuss this book without her giving anything away.

A FAMILY UNDER THE STARS By Christy Jeffries

While I am no stranger to Harlequin’s Special Edition line, Jeffries is a new-to-me author. And this review is especially for those of you who have asked me for more Scallop Shores books because you enjoy small town contemporaries, with repeat visits from characters popping back and forth between books. All her books are set in the fictional town of Sugar Falls, ID. This one involves a rugged outdoorsman and a by-the-book lifestyles expert. Doesn’t get much different than that, right? I absolutely fell in love with the grumpy grandfather, and her kids were adorably unique. Jeffries is wonderful at dropping in backstory and adding layer upon layer to her characters in just a sentence or two scattered here and there. I finished her book and thought, “Can I be her when I grow up?” Not only is this going in my keeper stack, but it’s on my reference shelf when I need help with my own plot structure.

THE LADIES ROOM By Carolyn Brown

I’d categorize this one as women’s fiction. There is romance in this book, but the main focus of the story is on Trudy and how her life gets turned upside down when she overhears some shocking news in the ladies room during her great-aunt’s funeral. Are you a big DIY fan? Trudy tackles some major renovations. Awkward/hurtful family interactions? By the boatload! I felt bad for Trudy. I felt hopeful. I cheered her on when things looked bleak. And I hollered out loud when she stood up for herself. She’s a gutsy gal and I think every woman out there will find a piece of themselves in this complex character. Read this one. Seriously.

Okay, your turn. You’ve seen a little bit about the kind of books I’m drawn to. What recommendations do you have for me? Time travel? Spooky castles and magic? Sexy, brooding heroes? I’ve got over 50 books left to read this year if I’m going to win the challenge. Help a girl out.

 

Cover Reveal – Modern Magic

Fairy tales aren’t just for children, any more. One month from today, folks! A bit of a departure for me, as I am used to writing small town contemporaries. But Crimson Romance put out a call for this collection of twisted fairy tales and my muse refused to let me pass this one up.

Modern Magic: A Quartet of Fractured Fairy Tales takes the classic stories of Cinderella, Aladdin, Goldilocks and Beauty and the Beast that you know and love, and gives them a bit of a shake up. Here’s a sneak peek:

What if Cinderella ditched the prince’s ball and sent her fairy godmother to find love in her place? 

Suppose a streetwise hero hired to steal an all-powerful Genie (stuck in a flash drive rather than a brass lamp) for a tech company ended up running for his life with the CEO’s gorgeous, intelligent daughter? 

Or what if the bed that a certain golden-tressed girl accidentally napped in belonged to the hot and famous middle brother of a notorious boy band? 

Can you envision the sparks that might fly if a bitter and downright beastly wheelchair-bound woman propositioned a handsome bookseller to stay with her in exchange for her rare book collection?

Intrigued? Ready to see the cover? Are you sure? Want to holler “shut up already and show me the picture!”? Here you go:

Release date November 9, 2015

Release date November 9, 2015

Here’s an excerpt from A Late-Blooming Rose, my own version of Beauty and the Beast:

His pork chop was cold. Of course that was to be expected when one wasn’t allowed to sit down to eat his own dinner until he’d done fifty thousand things for his new “employer.” Four days into his thirty-day ‘sentence’ and he swore she got more and more creative with her unrealistic commands. Beau shook his napkin out, giving it a little snap before smoothing it over his lap.

The clatter of silverware bouncing off of marble tile roused Beau from his own thoughts. “Oh dear, how clumsy of me! I’m afraid I’ll need a new fork.” Eva flashed him an insincere smile.

“They’re in the drawer in the kitchen.” Beau continued to chew his food.

“I think I know where my own forks are. This is my house, after all. What I don’t understand is why you aren’t moving. I asked you to get me a fork.”

“And I told you to get it yourself.”

“But you work for me! You are my caregiver.” Her chest heaved as her breathing sped up.

“I am doing this for you without pay, without benefits, and without any sort of thank yous. It’s not hard to see why you can’t hold on to staff. You are rude. You are demanding. And you deliberately bait people just to see how miserable you can make them.”

“Congratulations. It took you a fraction of the time it took all the others to figure that out. Must be all those books you’re so fond of.” She sneered. “As you didn’t bring anything with you, it won’t take you long to pack up your things. So sorry it didn’t work out.”

“Oh, I have no intention of leaving.” Beau cut into his pork chop and popped the juicy bite into his mouth.

“You aren’t getting me a new fork like I asked. I’ve fired people for far less.”

“Eva, did I leave after you insisted I replace the sheets I’d just put on your bed because you thought they were too colorful? Did I leave after I spent an hour on the roof adjusting the satellite dish, only to learn that you’d just unplugged the TV? Or when I had to scrub out all the cupboards when you claimed to have seen a cockroach in the kitchen? I still don’t believe you, by the way. But I’m still here. A shame that you can’t fire me, hmm? Give it your best shot, sweetheart. I’m a lot tougher than you give me credit for.”

Beau nearly laughed at the murderous look in her eyes. Eva Mitchum was a woman used to getting her own way. She glared at him as though she could bend him to her will using only her mind. The spacious dining room echoed with the clink of Beau’s knife and fork as he continued to eat his dinner, the dinner he’d spent the afternoon cooking. He wouldn’t have been surprised to see the top of Eva’s head fly off as she gave vent to the anger seething in her gaze.

“I can’t eat my pork chop without the proper utensils,” she ground out, after several long minutes of pouty silence.

“Sure you can. Just pick it up with your fingers. Those still work, don’t they?” Yeah, that was probably crossing the line. But after the hell she’d put him through over the last few days, Beau couldn’t help it. The woman would try the patience of a saint!

He sighed, intending to apologize, but when he looked up, he was shocked to find her doing just what he’d suggested Eva sat across from him, holding the pork chop between her dainty fingers and nibbling at it carefully. She studiously avoided his eyes now, which was good. He didn’t want her to realize just how much she’d shocked him. He’d won this match, and he intended to savor the victory for as long as it lasted.

The rest of the meal passed without incident. Eva was through with her childish attempts at goading him into losing his temper, or walking out on her, or both. She was silent, reflective. Beau didn’t get the feeling that she was plotting her next scheme. Instead, she seemed almost confused. Had no one ever stood up to her before? No wonder the woman was on a major power trip. Eva was used to being spoiled, whether it was because she was confined to her wheelchair or because she bullied everyone into doing her bidding. Learning to become more independent would do her a world of good, though Beau highly doubted she’d agree. Lesson one had gone surprisingly well. At least she hadn’t thrown her steak knife at him.

Modern Magic is up on Goodreads if you’d like to drop by and add it to your “want to read”list. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26842591-modern-magic

What is your favorite fairy tale? If Crimson were to do another collection of twisted fairy tales, what would you love to see added? When you think of classic fairy tales, do you envision the original (usually darker) version, or the ‘Disneyfied” versions? Leave your comments below and let’s see who shares your favorites.

Book Reviews 101

reviewmeme3I made myself a New Years’ resolution this year that has been much easier to keep than dieting. It’s fun, it’s easy and it feels good. For every book I read, I leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. It’s that simple. There have been one or two that I chose not to review, not because the author didn’t deserve a review, but because the author didn’t deserve a poor review. Some books just aren’t for us, and that’s okay. Some books probably could have used a lot more professional help getting them ready for publication. But as a fellow author, I don’t think it’s my place to chastise them in a public forum.

quoteIn talking to readers, I have found that the biggest reason they site for not leaving a review is fear of getting it wrong. They think there is a format. They must first summarize the book. Yes, several professional reviewers do this. No, it is not necessary. After all, that is what the book blurb is for, right? The gist of the review is to tell other readers what YOU thought of the book. Why did you like it? What didn’t work for you? Don’t give the ending away. That just spoils it for everyone. And don’t trash the author. They wrote that book out of love and passion for writing. So it wasn’t your thing. It still came from their heart. If you must express your misgivings, do it in as kind a way as possible. We’re all adults here.

A lot of readers don’t realize this, but the more reviews a book has, the more chances it has for marketing opportunities. Which is really unfair, but an established way of life. So the bestsellers, which don’t need any help, get all the promo spots, while the struggling mid-listers and those of us still in obscurity beg for reviews on the street corner. Authors can list their books with Ebook Soda and the Fussy Librarian if they have at least 10 reviews for their book. Know what? Out of five books I have on the market, ONE has enough reviews to actually list it with these email subscription sites. And those were mostly begged off friends and acquaintances. Heck, I’m not even qualified enough to tell you what an author with enough reviews can do for their books. The more reviews, the more possibilities to get your books before more readers.

wordofmouthI just finished a book last night. PARIS TIME CAPSULE, by Ella Carey. It was fabulous. And I want the world to know about it. So I wrote a review. http://www.amazon.com/review/R30M8U22S0TTUZ I posted it on Goodreads and Amazon. I pinned her book cover to my Pinterest page “Books I Recommend”. I tweeted the review link. Am I doing this for myself? No. But I felt passionately enough about how awesome that book was that I wanted others to discover it. I learned about it on Facebook when another author mentioned how she couldn’t put it down. Word of mouth, people. It’s the biggest marketing tool out there, and it starts with reviews.

reviewmeme1It’s simple, really. When you finish a book (preferably if you know you can give the author at least 4 stars), click “write your own review” on Amazon. Imagine you’re talking to a friend, telling them about this great book you just read. Why did you like it? What was a really unforgettable scene? Was it a character you absolutely fell in love with? Was it the author’s writing style? Did you want to keep turning the pages? Did you want to forgo sleep, hide from your family, ignore the household chores? Say that! It doesn’t have to be long and thought out. It just has to be honest. And no one cares if there are typos in your review. You are the reader, not the author. Something made you buy that book (or borrow it) and you’d be helping countless others if you shared your experience with them. There are SO many choices out there now. We need all the help we can get, as authors – to be discovered, as readers – to find the next great book escape.

Authors: Share your thoughts on what it means to receive a review for one of your books and help others to understand the importance of even the briefest review on Amazon.

Readers: If this doesn’t convince you to write at least one “test” review for a book you’ve read, tell us why. If I can’t help you craft a review you feel comfortable posting, I am sure there are countless others out there who can.

And to those of you who have ever taken the time to leave an author a review, thank you from the bottom of my heart.readingmeme

 

GHOST OF A PROMISE By Kelly Moran

I made myself a promise at the beginning of the year to do my best to review every book I read. Authors need as much exposure in this incredibly saturated market as they can get. And now that I have a blog, it’s my pleasure to spotlight the books I especially enjoyed.

My first blog review is for Ghost of a Promise by Kelly Moran. I’m going to be super lazy here and copy the book blurb on Amazon in here. (Hey, it’s my blog, I can be lazy if I wanna!)

moranA paranormal category romance from Entangled’s Covet imprint…

It might be love…but will they survive the night?

The ghosts of her family’s estate on the coast of Maine never troubled Ava Trumble. When she finally inherits the historic mansion, however, there’s a small string attached: Ava has exactly one year to solve a 200-year-old mystery of a missing girl, or lose her family’s home…

The lead investigator for paranormal TV show Phantoms, Jackson Granger, is prepared for any metaphysical encounter—until now. It’s not just the uncanny sense of “coming home” or even his reaction to the fiery redhead who seems to consume his every waking thought. No, it’s that the ghosts are using Jackson and Ava’s attraction to play out a centuries-old tragedy. Heartbreak. Loss. Overwhelming passion. Now Jackson and Ava must determine if they’re sharing something real…or if they’ve been possessed by a love that never died.

And because I’m being lazy, I’m also pasting in my review, verbatim:  A spooky old pre-Revolutionary war house. Ghosts with a tragic past. A hunky half-Brit celebrity ghost hunter and a woman desperate to hang on to her dreams of opening a bed and breakfast. If you’re looking for demonic, pee-your-pants kind of scaring, this book isn’t for you. But if you like getting that little thrill down your spine over spectral activity ranging from slamming doors to lavender perfume signaling an otherworldly presence, snuggle under the covers and enjoy a fabulous read.
Ava and Jackson feel an immediate connection when they first meet – but is it genuine, or a means of two souls trying to find their way back to each other through any means possible? The Trumble mansion has been in Ava’s family for centuries. Is it coincidence or fate that brings Jackson, a descendent of poor Sarah Kerrick to Maine after all these years?
Moran does a great job of showing her characters deepening emotions, even as they struggle to figure out if what they are feeling is real or part of a ghostly possession.
I LOVED visiting Maine through this book. I haven’t been back in so long. And BONUS points for finding my hometown mentioned – woot! I could almost smell the ocean. So nostalgic. Another winner for Moran.

Author Kelly Moran

Author Kelly Moran

And because this is my blog and I can do what I want, here is where I add in a buy link for this awesome book — because I know you’re going to want to read it. I know there are tons of ereader options out there, but what’s the theme of the day? Jenn is lazy! That’s right. So I am putting up the buy link for Amazon only. $2.99, folks. That’s it.  You want B&N, Kobo or iTunes, you’ll have to look those up yourself. Sorry. 🙁

http://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Promise-Entangled-Covet-Phantoms-ebook/dp/B00R6AVJM0/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1423452176&sr=1-1&keywords=ghost+of+a+promise

Stay tuned for what I’m reading next. I’d tell you now, but even I don’t know yet. If you’ve got some great recommendations, shoot ’em my way.