Tag: Crossing the Line

Retro-Post: Pushing the Envelope (way) Too Far?

Posted August 15, 2017 by Holly in Discussions | 25 Comments

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

Rowena: Are you in need of a laugh this fine morning? Well, let us revisit an old post that Holly wrote about authors who push the envelope…too far? Haha, trust me. It’s well worth the read. This is a post that only Holly could write.

This post was originally posted on July 25, 2011.
Warning: The following post is graphic and not for the faint of heart. Read on at your own risk.

Sometimes I wonder what the people at Barnes and Noble think of me and my reading because I get some seriously strange recommendations from them. One of the most recent ones was Stroke It by Cassandra Curtis, which I believe is a self-published…I hesitate to call it a novella, since it’s so short, so I’ll just say story. It’s currently free for the Nook, and after reading the blurb I figured why not?

Exhausted after a coast to coast book tour, Laris needs serious R and R. The luxury resort along the Baja coast provides their guests with everything they could desire, including their own personal masseur. Former special ops agent Alejandro Maranta loves his job as an on-call masseur for the resort hotel. Using his unique gift for easing tension, he gives Laris a massage she’ll never forget.

I was surprised when I opened the book to find that it’s only 31 pages – and that includes the copyright, etc. I think the actual story is about 21 pages. Still, it was free and the blurb was intriguing.

Chick is stressed so she books a weekend at a luxury spa to relax. She requests a masseur to give her a “special” massage (it’s implied that there was a bit of matchmaking going on w/ the choice of masseuse) and dude shows up to make it happen.

A guest with a sore neck and lots of tension had requested a personal massage. Nothing unusual about that, except Enrique also used the code words – special services. He grinned, knowing it meant the guest was a woman who needed extra handling. Perhaps she’d heard of the enhanced techniques he’d developed for releasing feminine stress.

He shows up prepared to get her to relax. He starts by warming up her muscles and twenty minutes later the ache has left her neck. He stops and she begs him not to.

“Please don’t stop.”

“You want more?”


“How much more?”

“I-I don’t understand.” She tried to turn onto her side but he placed a warm palm on the small of her back, stopping her.

“I have developed a special technique for easing stress. Inside and out. But it takes much longer than a thirty minute session, and it would require you to take your clothes off.”

“You mean sex?” Was he serious? Oh my…maybe dreams do come true.

“Much more than sex, a special stroke that massages more than muscles.”

“Oh.” Please let this be real..and my royalties cover whatever it costs. She made a fervent prayer. “Yes.”

So far I’m thinking..eh. Chick is willing to pay for sex? With a total stranger? Maybe I watch too much Cops, but I’m thinking hello prostitution sting. Anyway…

She lets him pull her clothes off and before she knows it she’s on the brink of orgasm. Then he tells her he’s ready to give her his “special stroke”. He started to enter her and she feels a pressure at her anus. Then he’s fully inside her front..and he’s sliding into her rear. She figures he’s got some kind of toy and thinks it’s pretty hot.

She has a pretty amazing orgasm and she rolls onto the bed, sated and happy. They start snuggling and she’s pressing against him. Oh, but what’s this? She feels not one, but two erections.

“I thought when I saw you pull something from your case, that you had a sex toy of some kind, maybe one that fit around your penis..”

“Ah..no. I took only condom from my case.”

“Then how…?”

“I am Were.”

Uh..what? I didn’t see that coming. But ok, whatever. The author is trying something different. Except the chick’s reaction? Yeah, that doesn’t work for me. She’s heard rumors about this type of thing existing, but she didn’t believe it.

“Do not be afraid. I would not harm you…or perhaps you are horrified, si?”

“No! I just thought your people were a myth. Do..do you shift?”

He got up from the bed and proceeded to show her, only allowing the transformation to reach halfway, before returning to his human form.

“What are you?” She touched his abdomen with her shaky fingers.

“Half Were-Rhino, Half Were-Panther. I can take both forms or I can take a hybrid form.”

I just hit a wall. I’m pretty sure my head might have exploded. Were-RHINO??? Were-PANTHER??? HYBRID?!?! Then he asks her to dinner and the story is over. There’s no description of him in any form (Rhino, Panther or Hybrid), no reaction from the chick except to accept his invitation to dinner. Nothing. The story just ends.

Look, I understand pushing the envelope. But there comes a point where you’re pushing it way too far. This is it. I spent a good amount of time trying to imagine what this would look like. A huge rhino head on a panther body? A tiny panther head on a rhino body? A panther head with a rhino nose?

Tracy came over this weekend and we got to talking about the book. And naturally – because we’re immature like that – the penis came up. My husband and I were recently watching some program on tv (to my eternal shame I’m pretty sure it was MANswers) and they were talking about an elephant penis. Which is 6 feet long. SIX FEET LONG. So I’m thinking, if an elephant penis is 6 feet and a rhino isn’t that much smaller than an elephant and dude has a rhino penis..how big is it? And how, exactly, would that fit inside her?

My husband heard us speculating about this and took it upon himself to look up the size of a rhino penis. 2.5 feet. TWO AND A HALF FEET. Holy Mary Mother. Can you imagine? I couldn’t either. Luckily for me, Tracy – being the curious sort, you understand – Googled it. And what did she find? Oh look, a video.

So dude whips out one of those? But wait..there’s more. Because he didn’t just have a 2.5 FOOT rhino penis. He also had a panther penis. Can you imagine the logistics? Take a minute. Think it over. I’ll wait.

Are you horrified yet? Oh good, welcome to my world.

The moral of this story? Authors, feel free to push the envelope. As a reader, I want to read about new things. But, for the love of all things holy, think before you do it.

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"Stop the GR Bullies" aka WTF is Wrong with People?

Posted July 13, 2012 by Holly in Discussions | 17 Comments

(for the record, the title of this post is a rhetorical question..I know there’s no right – or even good – answer to that question)

Warning: The following is going to be a long, rambling rant. Read at your own risk.

I’ve been on the internet a long time now. I started lurking on message boards, forums and chatrooms in the late 90’s. I started posting regularly in the early 2000’s and I’ve been a member of the online blogging community for almost 7 years now. I’ve seen some pretty ridiculous shit in my day*. Especially in the reader communities. Pettiness, jealousy and rudeness. Friendships ruined and backstabbing and immaturity at its worst. From adults. From grown-ass women who should know better.

Readers – myself included – sometimes have a sense of entitlement when it comes to books. Is it because we spend our hard-earned money on them? Maybe. Is it because we invest our time and energy into reading them? Probably. Is it because we become emotionally invested in them as we read and we don’t like to be disappointed if and when? Almost absolutely. Does that make it ok that we feel entitled to say what we want about the book? Eh..I think the answer to that is subjective, but I’m going to say yes.

Yes, I feel like I have the right to criticize a book I read – whether I bought it, rented it, borrowed it or was given it for review – because that’s what it was put out there for. To be read (or not). To be enjoyed (or not). To be shared (or not). To be talked about (or not). When the author wrote that book, did she write it solely for herself? So no one would read it? Talk about it? Share it? If so, why did she publish it? The fact of the matter is, once it’s put out there for public consumption, it’s out there for public consumption. Good or bad.

Relatively speaking, we’re the good girls in the romance review blogging community. We don’t get involved in most of the online drama, we don’t often pick fights with authors or readers, hell, most of the time we don’t even pay attention to the kerflulffles going on around the ‘net. It’s not because we don’t care what happens in our community, and there have been times we’ve gotten involved. But for the most part we’re busy living our lives and don’t feel the need to dedicate what little free time we do have to pursuing the latest dramas.

But sometimes. Man. Sometimes I just can’t not get involved. Sometimes I see something that makes me want to scream and pull my hair out. And sometimes I see shit that makes me sick – absolutely sick – to be part of this online “community”. I’ve reached that point today.

Look, I get that sometimes reviewers grate on the nerves of authors. I get that someone not loving a book stings. Even the most well-adjusted person can FREAK THE FUCK OUT when he or she receives a negative book review. I get that. I really do.

But, as a book reviewer, I don’t think about that when I write a review. I don’t think about the author at all. I think about the book. The book I spent my dollars on. The book I spent hours of my time reading. The book I became emotionally invested in. I don’t know the author. I (probably) haven’t met her. I don’t know what she’s like in real life. I don’t know her favorite color, or what she likes to eat for breakfast in the morning. I don’t know if she has kids or a family. I don’t know if she’s a stone-cold bitch or has a heart of gold. And honestly, I don’t give a fuck. Because I’m not reviewing the author. I’m reviewing the book she wrote. Then published. So I could read it.

Let me repeat: I’m not reviewing the author. I’m reviewing the book.

It used to be that the author vs reader/reviewer thing went down on Amazon. Then it moved to the bloggers as we tried to establish our place here on the web. Then into the young adult community. I saw a new drama go down in YA-land on a weekly basis there for awhile. Now it’s shifted to Goodreads. I don’t know why. I really don’t. The arguments on either side aren’t new. Reviewers are assholes. Authors are assholes. Someone is always behaving badly. Right?

But lately the tone has turned.. vicous. Readers are afraid to post honest reviews on Goodreads because 9 times out of 10 the author will check it out. And comment. And send her cohorts to comment. And pretty soon what started out as a review of the book – whether good, bad, snarky or whatever – has turned into war.

And then it goes too far. Currently, a group of people (or maybe just one person? dare I say author?) has taken it upon themselves to avenge the poor authors who are getting slammed at Goodreads by mean-girl reviewers. How are they doing the avenging? By dedicating a website to “exposing” the reviewers, Stop the GR Bullies. Posting personal information about them, including real names, where they live and pictures of them.

I…I have no words for this kind of behavior. I don’t understand how posting a bad review about A BOOK on the web opens a person up to have their personal information posted or to being attacked on a personal level. As I said, when I write reviews, I’m not thinking about the author. Because I’m not reviewing the author. I’m reviewing her book. If a website popped up reviewing my review, well..that would be one thing. But a website dedicated to “outing” these reviewers makes me sick. Just sick.

But I’ll tell you something. Seeing things like that might sicken me, but they won’t stop me from reviewing. I’m still going to write reviews for books I hate. And for books I love. I really hope the rest of you will do the same.

*I’ve also seen some pretty amazing shit. The community rallying around someone who had a loss, supporting great causes and sharing a mutual love of reading. Just so you don’t think there’s no good in the bloggy world.

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Book Review Contracts?

Posted January 29, 2012 by Rowena in Discussions | 5 Comments

Holly: Jackie (aka Insane Hussein) put up a copy of a review contact Aziza Publishing, a company I’ve never heard of before, is making their authors send out when requesting reviews from bloggers. The idea of a review contract isn’t too bad when taken on its own, but the fine print is enough to make me want to bang my head against the wall.




It’s bad enough they want exclusive rights to your review, but the fact that they dictate exactly how the review must be written? No. Just no.

You can read Jackie’s post here.

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When Authors Cross the Line

Posted August 6, 2010 by Holly in Discussions | 12 Comments

Today author Jacquelyn Frank put up an..interesting..blog post. Apparently she’s having some personal problems and felt the need to share her side of it with the interwebs. Fair enough. She’s an adult and can post whatever she wants on her blog, right? Right.

Her mother never thanks me. In fact, she treats the whole thing like…I don’t know. Like her kid’s a whore and has to earn her keep by pimping herself out to me. Like I’m her sugar daddy.

But then, I’m an adult and I can post whatever I want on my blog, too. And I have to say, Shame on you, Jacquelyn Frank. Shame on you. Calling a 10 year old child a whore seems a little over the top. So does saying she’ll be a mother by 16 and dead of a drug overdose by 18. Saying you “failed” as a parent, when you obviously aren’t one, then going on to say it’s not really your fault, but the real mother’s, well…Shame on you again.

And now, when it comes down to it, the person who is going to pay for it is B. I let her down. I’ve failed as a parent. She’ll be pregnant at 16 and dead of a drug overdose at 18. All this time I was fighting to keep sugar and dye out of her diet, I should have been fighting for…I don’t know. Something else. I just don’t know.

Look, I’m sorry that Jacquelyn Frank is going through a rough time. I’m sorry she’s in a position where someone might be taking advantage of her. I’m sorry, too, that a young girl is being put in the middle of something she shouldn’t be.

But even more? I’m sorry Jacquelyn Frank felt the need to share this with the world on her blog. Because really, some things should be kept private. Especially things having to do with a 10year old child.

Authors, please. As I recently said on twitter: There’s a line between sharing and sharing too much. Don’t cross it.

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A Letter In Which Holly Gets "Nasty"

Posted May 31, 2008 by Holly in Discussions | 43 Comments

Dear Anon Author,

A word of advice from your friendly local book reviewer:

When you submit a book for review to this review site, you have to understand that it’s going to be reviewed, whether it was a fabulous book or an awful book. In case you aren’t aware, in the “About Us” section, we have a disclaimer that states authors and/or publishers are free to submit books for review, but just because you submitted it does not guarantee a good review. If it sucks big donkey balls, we’re going to tell the world.

Unfortunately, your book sucked big donkey balls. I felt the need to tell the world. Leaving comments to the effect of “You’re mean” and “It’s unethical to tell people to steer clear of my book” isn’t going to change the fact that your book sucked big donkey balls. I’d also like to point out that leaving comments saying things like “I meant to write them as idiot characters” and “It was supposed to be written with grammatical and typographical errors” (not that you actually used those words..I think they might be too big for you) “because that’s my writing ‘voice'” does nothing but make you look like a fucktard.

Yes, a big fucktard.

As long as we’re discussing you being a fucktard, I’d like to go one step further here and say it’s probably not advisable to Google the title of your book and then leave tell your friends so they can leave “annoymous” comments on posts saying things like, “There’s a difference between honesty and nastiness”. Because you’re right, there is a difference.

I’d say I’m being honest when I say your book was one of the worst books I read in 2007. I’d say I’m being nasty when I say if you aren’t one of the stupidest people on the face of the Earth, I don’t know who is.

I’d also say I’m being nasty when I state the following:

“Adra Steia is a fucktard. She writes shitty books and then cries when she gets bad reviews for said shitty books. Then she leaves anonymous comments on said reviews and/or other posts further cementing her fucktard status. In my not very humble opinion, no one – and I mean absolutely no one – should read A Year Of You. Ever. Unless they want their eyes to bleed and/or their head to explode. Trust me, that’s time you can never get back. Don’t waste it.”

See, that was nasty. Uh, and honest. Jeez, I guess there isn’t really a difference between honesty and nastiness after all.

Just Sayin’.


P.S. The sad part is, had you not said a word about it, I would have gladly bought more of your books, because I really liked the first one I read. Maybe next time you’ll think about that and control the impulse to comment..anonymously or otherwise.

*Turns out I was wrong, and Adra Steia herself didn’t leave a comment on our Worst Reads of 2007 post. One of her “friends” did. Since Ms. Steia has changed her story some, I’m not sure exactly HOW said friend came to leave a comment there, but according to our Stat Counter website, AS did a Google search for her book, found our Worst Reads post and emailed it to her friends so they could “laugh” about it.

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