Tag: Blogger Blackout

#BloggerBlackout: On Entitlement #HaleNo

Posted October 28, 2014 by Holly in Discussions | 14 Comments


Things have been pretty intense in the blogosphere as of late. A publisher is suing a blogger; An author stalked a reviewer, going so far as to visit her home; An author complained that Amazon’s Vine program tanked her book; An author actually assaulted a reviewer. The explosion of the interwebs since Hale’s article has not shown many in a flattering light.

Like many others, these events have left us feeling pretty battered and bruised. Our faith in our community is sadly waning. When the Blogger Blackout was proposed, it seemed like a good way to get back in touch with our roots; to remind us why we started blogging in the first place. I, personally, am not blacklisting any publishers. I’m not even boycotting any (and yes, despite what some think there is a difference).

[Though, in light of recent comments and attacks by author Deborah Smith, Rowena and I are both adding her to our Will Not Buy list. Which, without getting into another long rant, is our prerogative. It isn’t bullying, or us being assholes. It’s our right as consumers to put our dollars – and our promotional efforts – into authors we respect, rather than those who call us “The Reviewer Taliban”.]

This thing with Hale and Blogger blackout seems to have brought out the worst on both sides of the board. Authors and bloggers have said and done some really questionable stuff.

Here’s the thing. I see a lot of authors who think they’re entitled to promotion from bloggers. They aren’t. They’re owed nothing. Even if they send a book for review, they’re owed nothing. With the exception of paid content, which isn’t something we deal with here, there’s nothing an author can do to make me owe him/her anything.

But I’ll share a secret with you. That goes both ways. Authors owe us nothing. They don’t even owe us stories. If an author decided tomorrow to stop writing, that’s nothing to do with me, or you. They may breach a contract with their publisher,  but bloggers and authors have no such contracts.

I often seen review blogs complaining that they didn’t get the books they requested for review. Well guess what? You aren’t entitled to review copies just because you have a blog. Just as authors aren’t entitled to promotion just because they visit a blog.

I just want to clarify, we didn’t join the Blogger Blackout to punish anyone. I feel like we have a pretty solid relationship with most publishing houses and the authors we work with, and we’re not trying to take away from that. I wouldn’t mind some reassurance from some of the publishers who have our address that our private information won’t be shared, but that’s a separate issue.

We aren’t “punishing all for the actions of a few”. Our decision to take a step back and breathe was about us. Not anyone else.

Authors, if you have a problem with us taking a step back to think about where we are now, that’s on you. You have the option of not visiting, not sending in review requests, and not asking us to do promo for you.

Bloggers, if you have a problem with the Blogger Blackout, you have the option of not joining. As someone said on Twitter recently, it’s an Opt-In kind of thing, not Opt-Out. No one cares if you choose not to participate. We aren’t trying to force anything on anyone.

I owe authors nothing. They owe me nothing. Period. The end.

For the curious, you can visit the #BloggerBlackout and #HaleNo hashtags on Twitter, or visit the links in this post for more information.

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The First Book I Loved to Hate: Open Thread for Readers

Posted October 24, 2014 by Holly in Discussions, Promotions | 29 Comments

Knight in shining armorWarning: This post contains spoilers! I’ve marked them below.

The Open Thread at Dear Author got me thinking today about the first romance novel I ever loved to hate. When I first started reading romance I pretty much loved everything I read. Not having a basis for comparison, it all seemed wonderful. Even when the characters or plot frustrated me, the ending always made it all worth it. Now I’m much more critical in my reading and rarely give 5 star ratings, because I rarely love a book so much I can’t see its flaws.

Young, idealistic me didn’t have that problem. As long as their was a happy ending, nothing else mattered. Sure, I loved some books better than others, but they all left me feeling happy. Until one didn’t.

I remember visiting the Jude Deveraux message board for the first time and lurking there as others discussed her books. The main topic for most was A Knight In Shining Armor, which seemed to be her most popular book. Eventually I gathered the nerve to actually post a hello and ask for recommendations, and AKISA was the first book I was told to read.

I fell straight into that book. I felt for poor Douglass who ended up stranded in a foreign country after her asshat boyfriend took off with his brat children. I also came to love her knight in shining armor, Nicholas, who came forward in time because of her crying.

It’s a sweeping tale, full of romance and suspense; how would these two end up together? There were so many obstacles, not the least of which was the fact that 1000’s of years separated them.

Up until the last page I was on the edge of my seat, dying to find out how Devereaux was going to make it work between them.

Spoiler Alert! Do not read on if you haven’t read AKISA and don’t wish the ending to be spoiled!

And then she didn’t.

Nicholas remained in his time while Douglass went back to her own and hooked up with Reed, who may or may not have contained the soul of her beloved.

I was devastated. I spent hours invested in the story of Douglass and Nicholas. Watching Nicholas grow from a jaded, immature playboy to a man who valued others and looked outside himself was wonderful. Douglass, who was so lost in the beginning of the story really found herself. It was beautiful.

There were so many possibilities with Douglass and Nicholas, so many other ways she could have taken the story. She could have written half the book about Nicholas and half about Reed and made it work. She could have figured out a way for Douglass and Nicholas to stay together, like KMM did for her Highlanders. She could have devoted the entire story to Douglass and Reed, with flashbacks for the both of them with Nicholas.

Instead, she devoted an entire story to making us fall in love with Douglass and Nicholas, to give us three sorry ass pages in the end where Reed shows up, says he found a picture of Douglass when he was a kid and knew it was fate that he had it and…that’s it.

Douglass lives Happily Ever After with a COMPLETE STRANGER while Nicholas died alone in his time.

Deveraux could have made it so that Reed remembered Douglass from when he was Nicholas or something, but no. He sees a picture of her and from that she assumes he’s her soul mate. And Nicholas had no one though-out his very long life. NO. ONE.

End Spoilers!!!

Ehem. Not that I’m bitter or anything.

It’s been many years since I read this book. If I read it now, I wonder if my own growth and maturity would flavor the ending in a different way. Would I still hate Douglass and Reed together, or would I appreciate the gesture for what it was; an attempt to remind us of the power and endurance of love.

Eh, probably not. And I’m not willing to test the theory by rereading the book.

This an open thead for readers to share what book (s) really stayed with you. Is there one particular novel you love to hate? Or one that you loved, period? If you have to recommend one book to a new reader, what would it be? And which would you warn a person away from?

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Book Binge: The Beginning

Posted October 23, 2014 by Rowena in Discussions | 9 Comments

keep-calm-and-book-bingeRowena: Before we started blogging, Holly and I were really into the author bulletin boards that we were apart of. A huge chunk of our days were spent discussing different books (the same books over and over again, but still) and heroes and just being ourselves. Ha, I still remember our sign on names for those boards.

Holly: Eventually Rowena and I outgrew those author message boards and decided to start our own. We really enjoyed moderating them for a time, but at some point Rowena discovered blogging. I still remember the email she sent me about it. “I think we should start a book blog,” She said. “We can write book reviews and share them with the world.”

Up to that point my online exposure was pretty limited. Our message board was pretty insular and the idea of sharing anything with “the world” was pretty intimidating, but I figured “what the hell, no one’s going to read it anyway.”

Rowena: But people did start reading our blog and it was surreal.

The book blogging community was a lot smaller back when we first started but it’s really grown into something special. Sure, we’ve had our fair share of blog dramas but there is so much good going on here as well. I’ve made some wonderful friends and have made some pretty special memories with my blogging friends and I wouldn’t trade these people and memories for the world.

Holly: Rowena would send me links to other blogs and I’d lurk on them, reading their posts and thinking about commenting. Then someone commented on our blog, and that opened it up for me to reply. Which gave me confidence to comment on some of the other blogs.

I remember one of the first blogs I commented on was Kristie J’s Ramblings on Romance. They were having a discussion about Derek Craven, the hero of Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas. Man, were they in love with him. I was so baffled by that, since I hadn’t found him very memorable. If memory serves, I thought he was something of a whiny baby and his heroine was weak and made questionable choices. I left a comment saying something like “Can you explain why you love him so much? I didn’t really care for him and I’m curious. I promise I’m not here to start a fight, I just want to see things from your point of view.” Man, I agonized over that comment. Were they going to gang up on me and call me a troll? Was I going to be banned from the site?

In the end it turns out I agonized for nothing, because she freaking deleted my comment!

Rowena: I remember that because it was around that time that I started thinking you were crazy. Turns out, I was completely right. LOL.

Holly: Whatever. I’m completely normal. All you Derek lovers are the crazy ones.

Anyway, I was pretty irritated over that, but eventually I put it out of my mind. To be honest, I don’t know if it was deleted, or if it never posted or if it went into a spam filter. Blogging was so new to all of us then, anything is possible.

As time went on we met some wonderful bloggers, and started building another community. This time it was filled with lovely, intelligent women who wrote blog reviews and commentary instead of posting on message boards.

Rowena: Says the woman that loved Sebastian St. freaking Vincent. =P

When we first started blogging, we didn’t think anyone would read our blog, let alone care what we thought about the books we were reading. So, we blogged for each other. We used to spend hours upon hours emailing back and forth at work and since it wasn’t just Holly and myself, there were plenty of emails being sent through the day. Book Blogging sounded like the perfect way to post our thoughts about the books we were reading and discuss them with each other, without flooding everyone’s inbox.

But the more reviews we posted, the more important the blog became to us.

Book Binge has been a pretty big part of my life. I love this blog. There are times when Holly and I are so busy and we get bogged down with other stuff and think about closing the blog down but a part of us will always be wrapped up in this blog. It’s been a true labor of love for us and neither one of us wants to see that go away so we’ve added other pieces to our blogging home and those pieces have become important to us as well.

We’ve met some pretty amazing people both regular readers like us and some pretty fantastic industry people as well. Book Binge has opened a lot of doors to us and we’ve met some pretty big rock stars because of this blog and those are good things. Our book blogging community is going through some rough patches right now but we’ve gotten through rough patches before. Our community is filled with some strong, intelligent and amazing women and we’re so stinkin’ proud to be apart of it too.

So what about you guys. How did you get your start in book blogging? What made you want to jump in and start sharing your passion of books through your blog?

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Evolution of a Romance Reader

Posted October 22, 2014 by Holly in Discussions, Promotions | 13 Comments

heart-book-2Holly: Back in the early 2000’s, my life was a mess. I had just gotten out of a bad marriage, moved to a new state and started over. I’m not going to lie, I was in a bad place. My head was a mess. I had no friends. I was starting a new career. I was raising two kids on my own. It wasn’t pretty.

A few months after I moved to California, my mom went on a roadtrip with my grandparents. They love audiobooks and always had one available for their trips, and this was no exception. The book they were listening to was Killjoy by Julie Garwood. My mom came back and had about 4 hours of tape (CD? I can’t remember now which it was) and she holed up in her room to finish it, snapping at any of us who interrupted her. When she was finished she handed it to me and said, “Listen. Now.” My mother, gotta love her.

While I listened to the audiobook, she went to the library and found as many novels by Garwood as she could – most of which were historicals. When I finished the audiobook, she handed me the stack of library books and my life was changed forever. Prior to that, I’d read a few romance novels; mainly Harlequin category romances my friends and I would snicker over in high school, or the occasional romantic suspense. The majority of my reading centered around suspense and horror. Romance was so different. The focus was on the individual relationships, rather than the external actions. Happy endings were guaranteed. Which, for the most part, there were in mystery and horror as well, but this was different. This left me feeling warm and fuzzy inside.

Once I finished glomming Garwood’s backlist, I went in search of other romance novels. I found Hannah Howell’s His Bonnie Bride at my local Target, which I later discovered was a reprint of Amber Flame. I loved that book. It remains one of my favorite Howell’s to this day, partly because it was the first romance novel I discovered on my own, but mainly because it featured the first strong, kickass heroine I’d read (but that’s a post for another day). After glomming Howell’s backlist, I went online to find recommendations for additional authors.

I discovered Simon and Schuster’s author message boards when I did a search for Julie Garwood.  There I found like-minded women who loved reading and romance just as much as I did. They played games, discussed their favorite scenes and characters, and talked about their lives. It wasn’t just a bunch of strangers in a chat room, it was an entire community of readers who looked after one another.

That’s where I met Rowena and Casee. I don’t remember how we first came to talk outside of those message boards, but I do remember feeling like they saved my life. Maybe that sounds a little dramatic, but it’s true. They may not have realized it, but they reminded me that life could be fun and silly, and that women could (and should) support one another. We bonded over Julie Garwood, Judith McNaught and Linda Howard. We swooned over the heroes and complained about the stupid things the heroines did. Then we talked about our lives; shared stories about our kids, our exes, our jobs. Reading romance reminded me that not all relationships were doomed and creating bonds with those women reminded me that I wasn’t alone.

Rowena: I read my first romance novel in January of 1999 and like Holly, my life was a mess. I just graduated from high school and nine months later, I was a mother. I was still a kid and yet I was a mother, too.

I grew up in a large Polynesian family with parents who were pretty religious. We went to Church every Sunday and we had family home evenings every week. I’m one of the youngest in the family bunch so I’m low man on the totem pole, but I looked up to my older siblings. I always wanted to please them. Same with my parents. I was the good girl. I wanted everyone to love me. When I graduated from high school and found out that I was pregnant, I freaked out. I thought my family, being the religious family they are, would disown me or that they’d kill me. I knew that they were disappointed in me, but they didn’t kill me and they didn’t disown me.  They rallied around me and they took care of me and my new baby. Because of that, I wanted to please them even more. I did whatever they told me to do and I kind of lost myself. I spent most of the time tending to my newborn and trying to earn their respect back.

I would later learn that I didn’t need to earn anything back because we were family. Like Lilo said, “Nobody gets left behind” and they all adored my baby. Almost as much as I did. But it was a long time before I learned that lesson.  While I was killing myself trying to please my family, I spent a lot of time at home being the family nanny. I had a lot of time on my hands when everyone was at work. My older sisters read romance novels and I’d see them around the house. I remember one day, I was so bored I picked up the first book that I came across and started reading.

It was Something Wonderful by Judith McNaught.

I started that book and a passion for reading was born. I had to read everything that I could get my hands on and then I had to talk about it with someone. Nobody in my real life shared my love for these books, not even my sisters whose books I was reading. I stumbled upon the Julie Garwood Bulletin Board at S&S and it was there that I met Holly and Casee. It was through that bulletin board and meeting my new book friends that I started to live not only for my family and my baby, but also for myself again.

Before I started reading, I was living my life to please other people but reading romance gave me something that was just for me. I’ve never looked back.


What about you? Do you remember the first romance novel you read? Where and when did you get your start with the online romance community? 

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Book Blogger Blackout

Posted October 22, 2014 by Rowena in News | 7 Comments


With everything that has happened in the last week with Kathleen Hale stalking a member of the book community’s life, a bunch of book blogs are shutting down our reviewing hats for the rest of the week.

We’ll still be posting but instead of promotion, we’re going to get back to the basics. We’ll be discussing our love of reading. Where it started, where it was nurtured and all of that good stuff so we hope that you’ll join us.

To start things off, Jane and the gals at Dear Author have an Open Thread for Readers post up. You should hop on over there and join the discussion. Let’s get to know each other in our community a little better and bond over our passion for the written word.

What do you say?

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