Tag: Stop Torturing Holly

Retro-Review/Rant: Away from the Spotlight by Tamara Carlisle

Posted September 6, 2017 by Holly in Features | 17 Comments

Retro-Review/Rant: Away from the Spotlight by Tamara CarlisleReviewer: Holly
Away from the Spotlight by Tamara Carlisle
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: June 3, 2012
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 481
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
one-star

In the closing weeks of law school, Shannon Sutherland meets handsome and charming Englishman Will MacKenzie. Initially swept off her feet, Shannon finds that Will has a secret that, once discovered and the consequences realized, could destroy their fledgling relationship. Will and Shannon take great pains to have a normal relationship but, ultimately, find it impossible to do so. Will the pressures of their careers and the temptations of others drive Will and Shannon apart? Can Will and Shannon live a happy life away from the spotlight?

Tamara Carlisle takes you on a romantic ride that explores the consequences of fame and a love that endures all.

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.

Holly: I recently came across this review while doing some site maintenance. I’d forgotten all about this book. I think I must have blocked it out, because wow. What a bunch of WTFery.

This review was originally posted on August 29, 2013.
Away from the Spotlight by Tamara Carlisle

Warning: This is more a rant than a review and it is FILLED WITH SPOILERS and DIRTY WORDS!

I planned to stop this at around 150 pages. Then I read some spoilers for the end. I decided I needed to read it myself to see if it was as bad as the reviews claimed. This book is 56 chapters. That’s a lot of chapters. And trust me, I felt every.single.one.

Let me sum up the first 5 chapters for you: Law School Student meets sexy boy in bar. He seems way into her but skirts around what he does for a living, even when she asks directly. Turns out boy is a Movie Star. He wanted her to love him for him, so he kept it a secret. For 3 weeks. Until she saw his picture in a tabloid with his current leading lady. She confronts him. He swears he was going to tell her! Probably. Maybe. Someday..

After no groveling on his part, she takes him back. Then he tells her he loves her. 3 weeks in. There’s a guy at work she was sort of crushing on but he had a girlfriend. Movie Star is jealous of work dude even though she tells him not to be.

From there it’s 45 chapters of:
Heroine: I’m not good enough for you! You’re a movie star and you’re surrounded by beautiful women!
Hero: I’m not good enough for you! You’re all smart and educated and stuff. I didn’t even go to university. Besides, you’re gorgeous.
Heroine: No I’m not.
Hero: Yes you are.
Heroine: No I’m not. You are.
Hero: No I’m not. You are!
Heroine: No, you.
Hero: No you. I love you!
Heroine: I love you more!

Lather.Rinse.Repeat.

Then the paparazzi find out they’re dating and start stalking her. They call her work and harass her and almost run her off the road. He breaks up with her because he’s ruining her life. Never mind that she says she loves him and is willing to deal because it’s his life.  He did this BY PHONE then REFUSED TO SEE HER FOR MONTHS. She sees him in a bar with TWO GIRLS on his lap. TWO. The next day he shows up at her place. He says “I thought I could live without you but I can’t. Lets go get married. Right now.”  and she says “ok!”

$&#?#/%+# OMFGWTF.

So they go get married. Like, the day after they get back together. Which made their total time together – including breakup – like, three month. Or something.

Also? There are no sex scenes in this book. None. 56 chapters in 400+ pages and not even a slap and tickle to distract me from the WTF. I’m not saying I need sex scenes in every book I read. But at least give me a little tickle if I’m going to get the slap. Yannow?

So anyway…

..they all lived Happily Ever After….

….except they didn’t live Happily Ever After for very long, because 6 years after they get married the Movie Star dies in a car accident. No shit. That actually happened. I spent HOURS of my life slogging through 52 CHAPTERS of CRAPPY EMO ANGST for him to DIE IN A CAR ACCIDENT.

But wait. There’s more.

Throughout the book there was the guy at her work who crushed on her. Much relationship angst was had because of him. Guess what? He shows up two years after the funeral and…dun dun dun.. he’s getting a divorce! And…dun dun dun..he’s still in love with her! And! It just so happens he has a son just the same age as hers. This is, like, kismet!

She’s been dreaming of dead guy for years. Vivid sexy-times dreams. 1st time she sleeps with new guy, she dreams of dead guy again. Yes. You read that right. She has dream-sex every night with one guy while going to bed with another. Alrighty then.

She feels guilty for betraying dead guy by being with alive guy. Dead guy says not to. They can still be together in dreams.

“From then on I would fall asleep in John’s arms and wake up in Will’s.”

Did I take the blue pill? Because I feel like I took the blue pill.

But wait, we’re not done yet!

The new husband? He dies, too! Which, you know, makes sense.. in the alternate universe this author lives in. That night when she falls asleep the first dead husband is there. She asks if she gets to see second dead husband in her dreams, too? First dead guy says “just this once”.

 

Second dead husband says,

“I want you to be with Will because I know he’s your soul mate.”

What the fuck is even happening? I THOUGHT WILL WAS DEAD?!?! How can she be with him if HE’S DEAD?!?!

They (her and 2nd dead guy) make love. Then 2nd dead guy gets dressed and leaves to find his soul mate. 1st dead guy shows up and snuggles her. Because they’re soul mates and meant to be together. Forever. So, it’s like totally ok that she’s still full of semen from the other guy, right? Right.

She continues to dream of Will, the first dead husband, for like the next 50 years.

Then she dies (when she’s 80-something) and yep, he’s waiting for her. He tells her they’re now going to be together forever and they walk off into the sunset..or ether..or whatever.

“Are you ready for forever now?”

“With you?”

“Of course.”

“Then, yes. Let’s go.”

He took my hand. “I’ll love you forever.”

The end.

People. Seriously. That’s what happened. I could not make this shit up.

Honestly? I’m at a loss for words. I don’t even know how to process what happened there at the end. I admit I felt a little like Alice must have after she fell down the rabbit hole. I kept wondering if someone had slipped something into my tea. The WTF factor with this book is huge.

I wish I could say I laughed it off in the end, but honestly I feel a little traumatized. Like I witnessed a trainwreck and the images won’t leave my head. I might need vodka. Or a hug-yourself jacket. Or both.

The next time I read a spoiler and feel like I need to investigate for myself, remind me of this book, will you? Obviously I  need someone to save me from myself.

1 out of 5

This book is self-published. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

*I read this book back in April and wrote the review then. I just forgot to post it. I live-tweeted as I was reading and saved the tweets here. You’re welcome to share my pain read them if you want to be tortured like.

one-star


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Bookish Thoughts: Full Book Lists Wanted, The Ripped Bodice is Accepting Patrons, Passionflix, Series Reading and #ShallowReaderBingo

Posted August 17, 2017 by Holly in Discussions | 10 Comments

Wanted: Full book lists on author websites

Authors, please include a full list of your works, including short stories, on your website. I’m the type of person who likes to read a series (especially long ones) in order, including novellas. If I can’t find the information on your website, I’m going to be pretty annoyed. As an example, I’m going to use Ilona Andrews. On the Kate Daniels page, it lists only the full length novels. However, there is a link to the full list, including anthologies.

Clicking the Small Magics anthology link takes me to a full page list of the stories set in the world, including all short stories and where they fall in the line-up.

Authors, seriously. I need this in my life. Please, if you haven’t already, go update your book lists. Keri Arthur, I’m looking at you. The title of your novella and what anthology it’s available in would also be much appreciated!

The Ripped Bodice (the only exclusively romance bookstore in the Northern Hemisphere) is now accepting Patrons

From their latest newsletter:

Today we’re taking a new step that we hope will help us to continue to grow and thrive for years to come. Many members of the romance community have expressed a desire to support The Ripped Bodice from afar.

We’re excited to announce that we’ve launched a Patreon, and you can become an official Patron of the Ripped Bodice.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, I think it’s great for those who want to support them but don’t live close enough to do so in person (I live in SoCal, but the 2.5 hour drive makes it hard to get down there on the reg). On the other hand, why offer a crowd funding service instead of pushing their online bookstore? Unless this is a way to help offset the cost of author and reader events at the store? That would make sense. Anyway, here’s the info:

Why become a Patron?

Our page has detailed information about giving levels and some of the fun and exciting things you’ll receive every month. While we will never stop communicating and sharing the goings on at the store with the internet at large, some of our behind the scenes tomfoolery will be moved over to the Patreon and be available just for our patrons.

For the first month of our Patreon, all our new Patrons will get 10% off our fly new gear!
Discount code only available till 9/5/17 (code comes in your thank you email)
You can check it out here!

You can donate $3, $5 or $20 (or more!) per month for various offers and discounts from The Ripped Bodice. Check out the Patreon site for details. There’s a Sherry Thomas short story being offered for new members, thanks to Berkley and the author!

Passionflix – Turning your favorite romance novels into movies and series… On Demand

Have you guys seen this? I can’t tell you how excited I am! Passionflix is a subscription streaming service that turns our romance novels into movies on demand. I’m not going to lie, I’m a little nervous about the quality of the movies being produced. We’ve all seen the traveshamockery at Hallmark and Lifetime (remember Rose Hill, the made-for-t.v. movie of For the Roses by Julie Garwood? shudder). Still, I’m hoping for the best.

Here’s what you get for your money:

Becoming a found member ($100 flat fee):

A 2 year Subscription (a 30% savings!)
Invites for a walk on role, Passionflix parties or set visits.
Voting privileges on our exclusive reality shows like Cast Your Book Boyfriend.
Help us find the next romantic leading man.
Discounts on Passionflix Merchandise.
Be the First to Know what’s going on Behind the Scenes.

Be an Early Bird Subscriber ($3.99 monthly fee):
Register your interest now and you’ll be invited to join when we launch for a discounted price of $3.99/month.

I signed up as a Founding Member. Despite my concerns over the (possible) quality of the movies, I’m excited about this.

Here are the movies already in production:

Hollywood Dirt

Alessandra Torre

While making a movie in a small Georgian town, Hollywood’s hearthrob Cole Masten casts spirited local girl Summer Jenkins as his leading lady, on screen and off.

Coming Sept 2017

 
 

Afterburn/Aftershock

Sylvia Day

Businesswoman Gia Rossi is determined to be successful in her new job, but when her ex lover Jax Rutledge waltzes back into her life, their passionate connection ignites not only in the boardroom, but the bedroom.

Coming Nov 2017

 
 

The Trouble with Mistletoe

Jill Shalvis

Real estate developer Keane Winters may have stood up pet shop owner Willa Davis in high school, but now he wants her under the mistletoe and in his life.

Coming Dec 2017

 
 

A Brother’s Honor

Brenda Jackson

While working to prove their father’s innocence and save the family company each of the three brothers come to terms with the past, find their own future happiness and unexpected love.

Coming 2018

 
 

Shallow Reader Bingo

Thanks to Willa on Twitter, I recently discovered Shallow Reader Bingo. You guys, this is amazing! It looks like it hasn’t been updated in a couple months, but I love the idea.

Series Reading – When is it Time To Say Goodbye?

While putting together a list of books I’m looking forward to in September, I started thinking about long-running series. Specifically J.D. Robb’s In Death series (currently at 45 books) and Hannah Howell’s Murray Family series (21 books). I had to stop reading the Murray Family series because I felt like each book was the same, so I’m not quite sure how it ended (or if it did). I’m behind about 10 books in the In Death series, but I wonder if it’s becoming stale (for the record, I’m not suggesting it is, as I’m so far behind, just wondering how long she can sustain it).

At what point should a series end? When the author is tired of it? When it stops selling well? Obviously, there’s no right answer to that question since each series and author is different, but how do you feel about open-ended series?


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Bookish Thoughts: It’s Time to See Other People, Changes to NYTimes Bestseller Lists, Cliffhangers and Kindle Unlimited

Posted January 27, 2017 by Holly in Discussions, Features | 7 Comments


​I’ve been struggling with contemporary romances that focus solely on the protagonists without any external conflicts. This has been on my mind since I finished Playing the Player by Amy Andrews, book three in the Sydney Smoke Rugby Series. The hero and heroine didn’t do much away from each other. They obviously didn’t live in each other’s pockets, but all their focus and attention was on the other. There were no breaks in the story where, say, the hero was at rugby practice, or out with his boys, that he wasn’t thinking or talking about the heroine, and vice versa. I enjoyed the story overall, but I would have liked to see them have a life away from each other.

This is something I’m seeing a lot more of lately. We’d come out of it there for awhile, but now even my favorite authors are sliding back into the habit of having them focus just on each other. Can we go back to the hero and heroine falling in love, but also doing things away from each other?


The New York Times had dropped their Bestseller lists for Manga and Graphic novels. They announced plans to revamp their lists, and indicated others may be done away with as well.  From the PW article:

“Our major lists will remain, including: Top 15 Hardcover Fiction, Top 15 Hardcover Nonfiction, Top 15 Combined Print and E Fiction, Top 15 Combined Print and E Nonfiction, Top 10 Children’s Hardcover Picture Books, Top 10 Children’s Middle Grade Hardcover Chapter Books, Top 10 Children’s Young Adult Hardcover Chapter Books, and Top 10 Children’s Series. Several more including Paperback Trade Fiction, Paperback Nonfiction, Business, Sports, Science, and Advice Miscellaneous will remain online. Readers will be notified that individual lists will no longer be compiled and updated by the New York Times on the relevant article pages.”

Among the lists that appear to have disappeared are the graphic novel/manga and the mass market paperback lists as well as the middle grade e-book and young adult e-book lists.


This week I discovered a new UF series. Shadows of the Immortals by Marina Finlayson. Stolen Magic, book one, was an Amazon recommended read. It was $3.99 so I figured I’d give it a go. I really enjoyed it, but it ended on a cliffhanger. Though I grumbled a bit, I bought book two (also at $3.99.), Murdered Gods, and read it immediately. And it ended on a cliffhanger. No other books from the series are out yet. Each book is listed around 260 pages, though they felt much shorter, especially the second book. Assuming the series stops at 3 books (though I have no idea, since I can’t find any information about it on the author’s website), I’ll end up paying approximately $12 for what is, in essence, a single full-length novel. If the author stops with three parts. Otherwise, who knows when it’ll end.

Look, I don’t mind spending money on books. Especially when I’m really loving a series. But this new trend of breaking a novel into parts and releasing it as a serial, with each part costing $2.99-$5.99, is really starting to irk me. Especially when they aren’t marked as having cliffhangers or being “parts” of a book, rather than full-length titles. Or maybe I’m just being cheap?

To be fair, both parts are available for free on Kindle Unlimited. Since I don’t subscribe, I had to pay full price for them. Which brings me to…


Is Kindle Unlimited worth the money? I’ve avoided subscribing thus far because there weren’t a lot of books available that I wanted to read when it first launched. Now it seems like they have a greater, more varied selection. Thoughts?


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Saying Goodbye

Posted December 27, 2016 by Holly in Discussions | 18 Comments

I’ve dedicated a good portion of the last 15 years to reading. It’s been my main (dare I say only?) hobby, passion and one-true-love. I spent many hours reading, discussing and reviewing books. I also spent a good amount of time and money collecting them. Thousands of books have passed through my personal library over the last decade. I used to keep every book I read, whether I loved it or hated it. Back then, if I had 5 books in my to-be-read pile I got anxiety. Then I slowly started weeding out the books I didn’t love and figured I’d never read again. And my TBR pile grew to 20. As time went on I culled a lot more of my print library, keeping only my absolute favorites and my full collections. And my TBR pile grew to thousands (though a good number of those are digital..curse you, one-click!).

Over the summer we bought a new house and moved. The new house has a ton of natural light – which is wonderful, – but all the windows take up wall space I could have used for bookshelves. I decided it was time to brutally cut down my print collection. I kept pretty much only signed copies and my full collections. Linda Howard, Lisa Kleypas, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Nalini Singh, etc. These are the collections that include very book by the author. Some signed. All in great condition.

One of the largest – and most prized- of my collections, the In Death series by J.D. Robb disappeared in the move. I’m pretty sure it got put in with the donation boxes, though I can’t be 100% certain. I spent years collecting them. The full, complete series, including novellas, mostly in hardback. It was beautiful. And it’s gone. Gone.

It wasn’t until we’d been in the new house a couple months that I noticed they were missing. We still had some boxes in the garage that hadn’t been unpacked and I figured they were mixed in with those. Eventually all the boxes were unpacked and the books still hadn’t turned up. I called the places we usually donate to, but they didn’t have them. Either they were donated elsewhere or they were already gone by the time I called.

Over the years as I switched to mostly digital reading, I’d been slowly purchasing my favorites in e-format, so I have pretty much the entire series in e already, but that doesn’t lesson my anger and sadness over the loss of these beloved books. My heart is broken.

Back in February of this year, my husband’s aunt moved in with us. She has dementia. She’s a huge reader and books give her great pleasure. But she has strange ticks that come with her disease. One of them is hoarding/hiding books and destroying them. She pulls pages out and crumples them, bends and creases the covers and, in comes cases, even shreds them. I have no idea why. I don’t blame her for it. It isn’t something she can help. However, before we moved my entire collection of books was at her disposal and she destroyed a number of my books. Some of them weren’t very important to me, but others…oh how I mourn them. Several signed copies, or ones given to me directly by authors. The pain!

Most people don’t understand. “They’re just books, Holly”. Or “You can buy new ones.” Both are true. They are just books and I can buy new copies. But that isn’t really the point. It’s hard to say goodbye. And while these may be just books, I was pretty damn attached to them.


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Characters Everyone Loves – Except Me

Posted July 26, 2016 by Holly in Discussions | 5 Comments

Rowena recently posted about characters she hates. I have a long list of characters I hate, too. This post is about the characters I hate yet who everyone else seems to love.

Derek Craven from Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas – Everyone always goes on and on about Derek and Sara, but the truth is they both drove me crazy. Sara, with all her running around like a moron thinking she’s safe in London, was TSTL 99% of the time and Derek was way too EMO for my tastes.

Roarke from the In Death Series by Nora Roberts – Now, before you decide to flog me..it isn’t that I don’t love Roarke, because I do. It’s just I don’t read the series for Roarke. I read it for Eve. She’s amazing! She’s a total badass. Roarke is just..an added bonus. Though I will say in the more recent books, Roarke has lost a lot of appeal for me. He often comes across as a placeholder than anything else. It’s depressing. (Disclaimer: I am behind about 7 books, so things may have improved with him.)

Brodick from Julie Garwood’s Ransom – Mostly I spent the novel wanting to either junk punch him or karate chop him in the neck. Brodick and I are not friends. The dirty, underhanded way he manipulated Gillian makes me rage-y this day.

Daphne Bridgerton from The Duke and I by Julia Quinn – That sperm stealing, no-apologizing hooker! Okay, she wasn’t that bad, but I couldn’t get over her lack of remorse for what she’d done. While Simon acted the fool, too, at least he had the good grace to feel sorry for it later. Daphne just went on her merry way.

Sam Starrett from Gone Too Far by Suzanne Brockmann – Look, I just like my heroes to not throw up and/or cry every 5 seconds. Once in a while? Okay, fine. But all the time? Notsomuch. 

Nope


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