Tag: eBooks

Retro Review: Shadow Music by Julie Garwood

Posted February 22, 2017 by Holly in Discussions, Reviews | 15 Comments

Retro Review: Shadow Music by Julie GarwoodReviewer: Holly
Shadow Music by Julie Garwood
Series: Highlands Lairds #3
Also in this series: Ransom, The Secret (Highlands' Lairds #1)
Published by Ballantine Books
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 438
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
two-half-stars

Throughout her acclaimed writing career, Julie Garwood has captivated readers with characters who are compelling, daring, and bursting with life. Now one of the most popular novelists of our time proudly returns to her beloved historical romance roots–in a thrilling tale of love, murder, adventure, and mystery set against the haunting landscape of medieval Scotland.
For Princess Gabrielle of St. Biel, Scotland is a land of stunning vistas, wild chieftains, treacherous glens, and steep shadows–skullduggery, betrayal, and now murder. Prized for her exquisite beauty, the daughter of one of England’s most influential barons, Gabrielle is also a perfect bargaining chip for a king who needs peace in the Highlands: King John has arranged Gabrielle’s marriage to a good and gentle laird. But this marriage will never take place.
For Gabrielle, everything changes in one last burst of freedom–when she and her guards come upon a scene of unimaginable cruelty. With one shot from her bow and arrow, Gabrielle takes a life, saves a life, and begins a war.
Within days, the Highlands are aflame with passions as a battle royal flares between enemies old and new. Having come to Scotland to be married, Gabrielle is instead entangled in Highland intrigue. For two sadistic noblemen, underestimating Gabrielle’s bravery and prowess may prove fatal. But thanks to a secret Gabrielle possesses, Colm MacHugh, the most feared man in Scotland, finds a new cause for courage. Under his penetrating gaze, neither Gabrielle’s body nor heart is safe.
A gripping novel that delves into the heart of emotions–unyielding passions of love, hate, revenge, and raw desire–Shadow Music is magnificent gift from Julie Garwood and a crowning achievement in her amazing career.
From the Hardcover edition.

******As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

Man, I love me some early Julie Garwood historicals. She lost me with her romantic suspense. I remember being so excited when she announced she was releasing a new historical. I’m still pretty disappointed it didn’t live up to my expectations. I wonder what would happen if I read it now? I might need to reread it and see if I still feel the same. 

This review was originally published January 8, 2008

This is less a review about this particular book and more my thoughts on the writing of Julie Garwood. Casee reviewed the book here. You can check that out for a plot summary and her thoughts, for they mostly mirrored mine.

Throughout her career, JG has remained a favorite of mine. Well, let me clarify. Prior to Killjoy she was a favorite of mine. Her historicals still call to me on occasion and I find myself picking them up at random, anxious to sink into an old, comfortable story, similar to how I might slip on my favorite sweats after a long day at work, or pop in a favorite DVD if I’ve had a particularly bad day.

But after Killjoy, not only did I think contemps were not her thing, I decided her writing itself deteriorated. The last novel I read by her was Slow Burn. While I enjoyed the basic premise behind it, I was sadly disappointed in the actual writing. Sentences were choppy, paragraphs seemed to bleed together, or go in odd directions that made no sense to me, dialogue was stilted, characters were half formed or one dimensional. I thought the plot was an awesome one, and had it been better fleshed out it had the potential to become her best written novel yet. But instead it fell far short.

After that, I decided not to read another of her contemps. I told myself, and others, that I’d buy her again if she went back to historicals, but otherwise I was done with her. I removed her from my auto-buy list and comforted myself with her old historicals, the ones that got me hooked on romance to begin with.

Then the announcement came. That yes, Julie Garwood, historical legend, would be returning to her roots. Love her older historicals or hate them, you can’t deny she’s a basic staple in romance. I was happy to hear she’d be returning, but somewhat apprehensive. Because although the moment I’d been waiting for had finally come, I was concerned about her actual writing style. The way she wove a story back when was unconventional perhaps, but still engaging. I didn’t think she’d be able to return to that, not after seeing evidence of her decline in her more recent novels.

I’m sad to say I was correct. She may have done quite a bit of head-hopping in her previous novels, but the focus remained on the two main protagonists. In this novel, however, she chose to write in a more narrative style than from one POV or another. So I was constantly pulled out of the story by her glossing over things, or seeming to sum things up. Very frustrating.

I’m also extremely unclear about how they H/H came to fall in love. There was hardly any interaction between the two, and what there was was disjointed and…once again, glossed over. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to her writing. A chapter would start out from one POV or another, and then half-way through she’d jump into a narrative style, summing things up rather than allowing us as readers to follow the progress.

I suppose it would be like me starting a story, in which I use rich, colorful detail and much humor only to say, once you’re engaged and intrigued, “Blah blah, yada, yada, you get what I mean” and then just leave it at that. Frustrating, no?

There were some good parts. When the POV was written from either the hero or heroine, I was drawn into the story. Unfortunately, those parts were few and far between, and when they did happen, they didn’t last long. The basic premise was also a good one, and classic Garwood. Sadly, the point of the plot was lost somewhere in the muddle of switching from one writing style to another, the jumping between characters and places (i.e., from the Barons in England to the clans in the Highlands to the heroine to the hero to the guards of the heroine to her father back to the barons to the king of England, etc, etc) and the mass amount of inconsistencies presented.

A lot of the reviews I’ve read for this book said the Priests provided a lot of comic relief, but I didn’t really see that. Sure, there were some amusing parts, but I think I assumed they played a bigger part in the overall story (with actual read time, I mean) and that just didn’t seem to be the case.

I’m sure I’ll end up buying her next book (assuming she continues to write historicals), just to see if she somehow improves…hmm, or perhaps that’s not the right word. Regresses into her old writing habits? Goes back to being the Garwood I knew and loved? I’m not sure. I have a feeling I’m going to be sorely disappointed when (if) that time comes, however.

On a related note: Ange, The Romance Groupie, posted about this book on Saturday. I mentioned my disappointment in the overall writing in the comments, and she responded with this:

Actually, I’ve noticed that many of the popular authors appear to be going down in the quality department. I’m wondering if it’s the editors, publishers, etc. that are ruining it. It just seems strange that so many great authors have gone bad in the last year or so. Is it just me? Are you seeing this trend too?

I thought about it some, and yes, I have to agree. Some of my favorite authors have seriously declined in the last few years. Could it be because of the publishers or editors? Or is it just simply something with them personally?

Regardless, I’m disappointed.

Even though I said this was less a review and more my thoughts on JG’s writing as a whole, I’ll still rate the book:

2.5 out of 5

You can buy it here in hardback or in eBook format here. When I bought it from Books on Board, they were offering a $5 cash-back incentive, bringing the total book price down to $9.95. I’m not sure if they’re still offering the promotion, but you could email them to see.

two-half-stars


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Going Digital

Posted October 13, 2015 by Rowena in Discussions | 25 Comments

Going Digital
One of the biggest problems that book nerds the world over has is the problem of space. There’s never enough room for all of the books that one acquires and since most of us don’t come with our very own Beast to build us the libraries of our dreams, sometimes steps need to be taken.

Steps like purging your book stash every three months or going on book buying bans or if you’re like me, going completely digital.

For years, I’ve held on to the hope that even though I was reading less print books, I still had to have them around. They were a comfort to me and I still liked waking up to the sight of them. They made my bookshelves pretty but then my daughter asked me, “When was the last time you read one of those books?” and the answer? Years. Not days or weeks or even months. Not even one year but multiple years. Years of those books just collecting dust because I just wasn’t into reading them anymore.

So far in 2015, I’ve read not one print book. Not one and we’re coming up on October.

In 2014, I made a TBR jar in an effort to get control of my monstrous TBR pile and all of those print books on my shelves and let me tell you…that was an epic fail. I tried to read 12 books and I just couldn’t do it. I think I got maybe 3 books read and that’s it.

In 2013, I read a handful of print books but none were books from my shelves. All of the books I read were from publishing houses, sent for review.

In 2012, I read a handful of books from my bookshelves but most of the books that I read that year were eBooks.

Well, no more.

I spent the weekend spring cleaning the hell out of my bedroom. I went through my clothes and my daughter’s clothes and packed up anything we haven’t worn in years then I set up the boxes that would pack up every single book on my bookshelves.

I have two bookshelves that were filled with books.

photo

This is an old picture because 1) that’s not my room anymore and 2) I didn’t take a picture of my shelves before I packed up the books so there were quite a few books added since I took this picture but still, you get the idea.

Here’s what my books look like after they were all packed up and ready to go.

IMG_0953[1]

I thought I would feel more sad that I got rid of so many books but honestly, I’m excited for the space the books free up in my room. These days, I’m reading 100% of my books on my iPad. If I’m not reading on my iPad then I’m reading on my iPhone and my virtual bookshelves are amazing. I love pulling up Calibre and organizing my eBooks and just seeing them on my iBooks shelves.

So that’s it. It’s done. I’ve gone completely digital and I can’t help but think…

How many of you lovely readers have gone completely digital? Do you think you’ll ever leave print books behind for good?


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New Study: Mobile Reading is Up

Posted November 3, 2014 by Holly in Discussions, News | 8 Comments

mobile readingThis was a UK study, but I found it really interesting. I read books primarily on my e-reader, but I do read on my phone on those rare occasions I’m out and about without my Nook. However, when it comes to blog-hopping, news, social media, etc, I use my phone more than my table, e-reader or even my pc.

Mobile phone book reading boom takes hold

Oxford, UK, 7 October 2014 – We are more likely to use our mobiles to read books than ever before, according to new research by publishing services provider, Publishing Technology.

The survey, which polled 1,500 UK consumers, found that 43 per cent of people read (or have read) ebooks on their mobile. And our love of mobile reading is on the rise, with a huge 59 per cent of people reading more on their phones now than they did last year. Younger people in particular are not just using their mobiles to text, Snapchat and take selfies, they’re also taking to their mobile phones to read more frequently, with 23 per cent of 18 to 24 year olds using their mobiles to read books on a daily basis.

The trend for shorter, snappier online content looks to be changing the way we read books on our phones. The survey shows that we read on our mobiles in short bursts with a growing preference for bite-sized content that is easier to consume on the go.

For example, two thirds of Brits (66 per cent) tend to spend less than 30 minutes reading on their mobile phones in each sitting. And more than a third of young people aged 18-24 said they preferred to read shorter content on their mobiles (38 per cent).

But one thing that doesn’t change just because we’re reading on our mobiles is our favourite genres. As is true in the world of printed books, crime and thriller books are still the most popular genres for readers (27 per cent), followed by autobiographies/biographies (25 per cent), general fiction (20 per cent), sci-fi/fantasy (19 per cent) and romance/erotic fiction (18 per cent).

We all have our favourite places to read too. Relaxation and home comforts are top of the list for young people most of whom prefer to read on their mobiles in the comfort of their homes, either snuggled up on the couch or while taking a long bath (61 per cent). By comparison, older generations (35 and over) are reading around the pressures of busy work lives, mainly reading books secretly on their mobiles at work and during the daily commute on public transport (73 per cent).

Michael Cairns, Publishing Technology’s CEO, said: “As mobile phones become a more intrinsic part of our lives, we are increasingly using them to read our favourite books. Technology is changing the what, where and how of book reading and this survey shows us how significant mobiles, in particular, are going to be to the future of books.”

“We can see that the technology still has a long way to go before it satisfies everyone. But as mobiles continue to improve the user experience, we can expect more people to choose them as a convenient way to read books.”

The Mobile Book Reading Habits survey was conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Publishing Technology. The full results can be accessed at www.publishingtechnology.com/research.

I thought it was interesting that romance readers showed the lowest percentile. Since romance is the highest selling fiction genre, I can only conclude that, like me, most romance readers have an e-reader or still prefer print books. I used to read way more print than digital, but in the last couple years my print reading has dwindled to practically nothing. I might read 5 print books a year, which is nothing when I average 200+ books.

Do you read on your mobile phone, or do you prefer to read in print or on your e-reader? What’s your current print vs digital ratio? 

Publishing Technology plc:

Publishing Technology is the world-leading provider of content solutions that transform business.  We cover the publishing process from end to end with content systems, audience development and content delivery software and services. Combining our unmatched publishing knowledge, global operations and perpetual support model with our advance enterprise system, ingentaconnect scholarly portal, pub2web custom hosting platform and PCG (Publishers Communication Group) sales and marketing consultancy, we offer the industry’s only full spectrum of solutions to help publishers move their content forward.  Listed on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange, the company operates jointly from Europe (Oxford) and North America (Boston and New Jersey), with local offices in Brazil, India, China and Australia.  Assisting 400 trade and scholarly publishers for over thirty years, Publishing Technology solves the fundamental issues content providers face.

 Visit publishingtechnology.com, follow @publishingtech on Twitter, or connect with us on LinkedIn.


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Paranormal Romance “Set Your Own Price” Bundle from storybundle.com

Posted April 30, 2014 by Holly in News | 0 Comments

This exciting bundle is a fun and romance-filled voyage from some of the best romance writers out there. We have three USA Today bestsellers and two RITA-award finalists. Most of these authors have appeared on Yearly Top 5 and Top 10 lists including: RT, Barnes & Noble, NPR, and Publisher’s Weekly to name just a few.

 

paranormal bundle

 

Readers who pay at least $3 will read: Anthea Lawson (Regency), Dean Wesley Smith (Old West time travel), M.L. Buchman and Kay Stockham (contemporary), and Kristine Grayson and Terry Spear (paranormal).

Readers who pay over $10 will also read bonus books: M.L. Buchman (contemporary romantic suspense), Kristine Kathryn Rusch (contemporary), and Karen L. McKee (paranormal)

This “set your own price” bundle will be available from April 30-May 21 at  www.storybundle.com.


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Giveaway: S.E.C.R.E.T Trilogy by L. Marie Adeline

Posted March 28, 2014 by Holly in Giveaways | 0 Comments

Have you heard of the S.E.C.R.E.T. trilogy yet? The trilogy is already an international bestseller and will be complete after the third and final book,S.E.C.R.E.T. Revealed, is released on May 6th. The S.E.C.R.E.T. trilogy focuses on the sexual awakening of Cassie Robichaud, a repressed widow in her thirties who accidentally stumbles on a mysterious female organization that instills confidence through ten life-changing steps. Cassie’s sensual steps propel her towards a long-anticipated romance with her boss, Will, and the final book will end with the satisfying HEA that readers have been waiting for.

Today we’re giving away the full trilogy to one lucky winner!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Books:  

SECRETS.E.C.R.E.T. 

Cassie Robichaud’s life is filled with regret and loneliness after the sudden death of her husband. She waits tables at the rundown Café Rose in New Orleans, and every night she heads home to her solitary one-bedroom apartment. But when she discovers a notebook left behind by a mysterious woman at the café, Cassie’s world is forever changed.

The notebook’s stunningly explicit confessions shock and fascinate Cassie, and eventually lead her to S∙E∙C∙R∙E∙T, an underground society dedicated to helping women realize their wildest, most intimate sexual fantasies.

Cassie soon immerses herself in an electrifying journey through a series of ten rapturous fantasies with gorgeous men who awaken and satisfy her like never before. As she is set free from her inhibitions, she discovers a new confidence that transforms her, giving her the courage to live passionately.

Equal parts enticing, liberating and emotionally powerful, S∙E∙C∙R∙E∙T is a world where fantasy becomes reality.

SECRET SharedS.E.C.R.E.T. Shared

The hotly anticipated sequel to the erotic sensation S.E.C.R.E.T., where women’s sexual fantasies become reality.

Still wounded from a recent heartbreak, Cassie Robichaud throws herself into service with S.E.C.R.E.T., the mysterious organization that changed her life last year by bringing her deepest sexual fantasies to life, one step at a time.

Now, it’s Cassie’s turn to guide the group’s newest candidate, Dauphine Mason, recruiting men to execute a new set of fantasies. While it gets Cassie’s mind off Will, the man she truly loves, it also gives her the chance to help watch S.E.C.R.E.T. work its magic on someone new.

At thirty-one, Dauphine is the proprietor of a New Orleans vintage clothing store—the kind of buttoned-up career woman who has no idea how attractive she really is. In order to reignite her sexual flame and reawaken her dormant heart, she must leave behind her bitter past.

As both Cassie and Dauphine navigate the rocky path between their hearts and their passions, they discover what they truly want in life and in love. SECRET Shared is a liberating, passionate and sexually charged sequel to one of the hottest new series in erotica.

SECRET RevealedS.E.C.R.E.T. Revealed

SECRET Revealed bares all—the final book in the hot bestselling series.

The only thing that Cassie Robichaud has ever really wanted is Will Foret, the love of her life. But when Will discovers that Cassie is part of S.E.C.R.E.T., an underground group devoted to helping women experience their deepest sexual fantasies, Will breaks it off. Heartbroken, Cassie dries her tears and devotes herself to helping the latest S.E.C.R.E.T. recruit, Solange Faraday. Cassie also reignites her relationship with sexy bad-boy Jesse, even if he can never love her as deeply as Will did.

Meanwhile, beautiful, brilliant Solange, a local news anchor and divorced mom, has a great career but a wilting love life. She rekindles long-lost passions, going deeper and hotter than any other S.E.C.R.E.T. candidate before her. Will Can Solange find what her heart most desires? And when Will realizes he’s made a tragic mistake, will Cassie be able to forgive him? In the end, As both women blossom sexually as sexual beings, they also discover that ecstasy and true love is are closer than they ever imagined.

SECRET Revealed is the explosive, sensual and sexually-charged finale to the bestselling S.E.C.R.E.T. trilogy.

Enter to win all three books using the Rafflecopter widget above. 


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