28 August 2014

Throwback Thursday: ISO Mary Stewart - again

Reading Susan Elizabeth Phillips' Heroes Are My Weakness I'm jonesing to read some classic Mary Stewart gothic romances. Yes, she's a weakness of mine. One of my all time fave authors - ever. I wrote about searching for digital versions of her titles in one of my first Throwback Thursday posts (see: http://www.fabfantasyfiction.com/2014/01/throwback-thursday-iso-some-old.html) and wanted to double check now to see if any of her titles had become available in the six-plus months since that post appeared. They haven't - at least on Amazon in the United States.

What? Yes, this is one of those times that I'm tempted to purchase a round-trip (or maybe a one-way) ticket to the UK. Go in search of that perfect North Wales cottage and hunker down and write - and read Mary Stewart books on my Kindle that I could then purchase from the Amazon UK website.

Forget the Hachette Amazon squabble, I want to know why digital books aren't available in every country. I've seen authors post about this - apologizing to readers for delayed publication dates - but I never thought we'd have an entire author's work embargoed. Really. I. Didn't.

Review: Susan Elizabeth Phillips' HEROES ARE MY WEAKNESS is a must-read, modern day gothic page turner!

I've really enjoyed Susan Elizabeth Phillips' novels for a long time. My favorite of her books are in her Chicago Stars series (also the first series of hers that I read). To be absolutely honest, I haven't *loved* every book she's written, but most of them. She's one of those writers that even if I find some of the storyline hard going, that I'll continue reading the title.

To say I was intrigued by her most recent book, Heroes Are My Weakness, is an understatement. My first glance at the cover, a jean clad, red parka wearing view of a woman, I thought it would be another humorous contemporary. Instead, I found myself swept away by this updated gothic romance set on a remote island off the Maine Coast, that harkens back to my favorite authors growing up - Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, Phyllis Whitney, Daphne DuMaurier, and Charlotte Bronte. I can be that specific, because Phillips dedicated this novel to them.

Believe me when I say that she nailed this novel, using their stories as inspiration, and these authors would only be proud and honored by her work. It's a keep-you-up-all-night, page turner, complete with brooding villain or hero (quite hard to tell), and a heroine who's a bit too curious sometimes for her own health.

Labor Day Giveaway - Win three books that give back

27 August 2014

Wicked Wednesday Cover Reveal & Giveaway: Lynn Raye Harris' HOT ICE

I really, really love Lynn Raye Harris' Hostile Operations Team (HOT) series. Yes, these are HOT military men (and women) who really rock. The stories are suspenseful and sexy and if you're a fan of military romance, you're going to love these. 

So, I'm absolutely SQUEEING here with this cover reveal for her sixth HOT title, HOT ICE. It's gorgeous! 

Make sure to add HOT ICE to your Goodreads shelf. It will be released on December 29, 2014

So without further ado, here's a preview of HOT ICE.

26 August 2014

Tasty Tuesday Review: Donald Link Down South with Paula Disbrowe

If I were a gulf shrimp, I'd want to wind up in Donald Link's kitchen. The mouth-watering Southern recipes he shares in Down South: Bourbon, Pork, Gulf Shrimp & Second Helpings of Everything are just too enticing. The photographs by Chris Granger are gorgeous. But it's recipes like his Blue Crab Beignets that make me wish I could click my heals to New Orleans to visit one of his restaurants. But they're not impossible to replicate at home - that's truly the magic that Link and his collaborator Paula Disbrowe have achieved in this cookbook.

Yes, I loaded the Kings of Leon onto my Amazon Cloud Player and rocked out reading Link's seductive text. Why do I call it seductive? I'll share the first paragraph of his introduction, so you'll understand:

"'I'm going back down South now.' It's a line from my favorite band, the Kings of Leon. For me the lyrics, especially cued to a guitar, stir up strong feelings, a yearning for a very specific place and our way of life here. My life in the South - the birthplace of Elvis, the blues, jazz, rock and roll, and country music - is cued to a soundtrack that includes everything from "Freebird," the anthem at our high school parties (where we'd meet up in the country and drink beer), to the song "Whipping Post," the background music for shooting pool and wearing my favorite cowboy boots at the Gator Bar (a classic backwoods dive) in Baton Rouge. There aren't words to describe what it's like staring out at the stars from the back of a pickup, on a warm summer night, while "Seven Bridges Road" by the eagles pals on the radio." (page 9)

Review: Donna Kauffman's Sandpiper Island is a must-read romance of the heart and spirit

Don't be surprised to hear that I'm moving to Maine. Once again Donna Kauffman has written a siren song about a small coastal Maine town that has me jonesing not just for a vacation, but a life-changing move.

If you're looking to lose yourself in a romance for a few hours, pick up the third book in Donna Kauffman's The Bachelors of Blueberry Cove series, Sandpiper Island. The only problem with this book is that after the last page is turned, I don't want to leave Blueberry Cove. I. Don't. My one wish is that Sea Glass Sunrise, the first book in Kauffman's new Brides of Blueberry Cove would be published before June 2015!

Oh, does that sound like I love Sandpiper Island? If that was a resounding yes, you're right. I've been longing for the story of the reclusive Ford Maddox and hoped for some happiness in diner owner Delia O'Reilly's life.

From hints in the previous two titles, I had guessed that Ford and Delia had a history that might extend a bit beyond friendship. Well, it does. And this is one sexy read.

Review: Sandra Hill's Snow on the Bayou is a HOT, fun, and fabulous read!

Tante Lulu is back and with St. Jude's help is looking to do some more matchmaking - Cajun style. Who's the lucky girl and guy? If you're a Sandra Hill fan like I am, you've been waiting for the lightning bolt of love to hit Justin "Cage" LeBlanc for a very long time. Yes, the lothario of the Navy SEAL team may finally be experiencing true love. (Yes, he's the SEAL that's probably had the most notches on his belt - not from kills, but from bed time wrestling.)

Who's the girl who's won his heart? Well, perhaps it's not his heart that's engaged. You'll see when you read Snow on the Bayou - a second-chance at love story. Yes, with the prodding of Tante Lulu, Justin returns to the Bayou after an almost twenty year absence. His maw maw (grandmother) has terminal lung cancer and needs him. One of the first people he meets on his return is his first love, Emelie Guadet, who creates museum-quality Carnival masks.

But it's certainly not smooth sailing as each of them harbors deep resentment and hurt. Justin was driven out of town by Emelie's father, but she didn't know that at first. Just that he left and never contacted her again. Yes, they're a pair of star-crossed lovers who might never find their happily-ever-after ending - at least until the snow flies on the Bayou.

Release Day Interview: Mimi Jean Pamfiloff discusses her Accidentally Yours series and what's next

Mimi Jean Pamfiloff is swinging by the blog today to help celebrate the release of her fifth - and final - Accidentally Yours title, Accidentally ... Over?

OMG I can't believe this is the final title in the fun and fantabulous paranormal series that has more hot gods and vampires than any girl could dream of. If you haven't read it yet, this is the perfect time as you'll be able to read all the titles - without having to wait for publication dates. Happy dance!!! If, like me, you've been reading these from the beginning, today's a bit bittersweet. But I think, perhaps, we haven't seen the last of the gods and goddesses - just sayin'.

So without further ado, let's give a warm Fab Fantasy Fiction welcome to Mimi Jean Pamfiloff!

Review: Mimi Jean Pamfiloff's Accidentally ... Over? is a fun romp

I won't say I've been counting the days for the release of Mimi Jean Pamfiloff's ACCIDENTALLY ... OVER?, because that might mean I was looking forward to the final book in her Accidentally Yours series.

However, I was really looking forward to Máax's story. Yes, I really dig the idea of an invisible Mayan god of truth. I. Do. Especially when he's seven feet tall and built. Proportional in all things. Really.

If you're not familiar with this series, it's about Mayan gods, vampires, and assorted otherworldly beings who tend to stave off wars and famines and help out humanity - and seemingly bicker endlessly among themselves. They also have a tendency to fall in love with humans - finding their soul mates. There's one or two wicked (or wickedly good) deities. Topping the list is Cimil (see Accidentally Cimil for hers and Roberto's story).

Máax was well worth the wait. The other gods think of him as the bad boy as he's constantly breaking the rules. Hopping back and forth in time - no Tardis needed. It seems like he may have good reason for coloring outside the lines, but he's still being punished by not being visible. Now that isn't quite the handicap you might think as when I read his words I kept imagining the most amazingly sexy deep voice speaking. Yep, a voice is sometimes all you need for chills and thrills.

Launch Day Blitz: Celebrating the release of Jill Shalvis' 10th Lucky Harbor title, It's In His Kiss

Join the release day celebration of Jill Shalvis' TENTH Lucky Harbor title, IT'S IN HIS KISS

Read or listen to an excerpt from the first chapter. 
Warning it's addictive, so get your one-click finger ready to party! 
Enter the giveaway for the first Lucky Harbor book, Simply Irresistible.
Learn a little more about Jill. 

Have fun! It's always a celebration day when we can visit Lucky Harbor!!!

25 August 2014

Review: Jill Shalvis' It's In His Kiss is the perfect read. Really. It. Is.

I know if I tell you that there are some authors that just resonate with me you'll know what I'm talking about, because you have the same experience. That's why we love to read. Confession time. I'd never read a Jill Shalvis book till a year ago. I know. I must have been living in a cave.

Knowing that I love to read romance, have a slightly quirky (strange) sense of humor, and love books set on the coast - any coast - a friend recommended a series to me last summer that they thought I'd love. The series? Jill Shalvis' Lucky Harbor and from her first book Simply Irresistible to the then just released It Had to Be You, I just went on a reading binge. I was tempted to pack my bags and search out the closest thing to Lucky Harbor that I could find in Washington State. Don't laugh. I really was tempted. Who wouldn't be with an elder stateswoman/social media maven like Lucille. And how about the Lucky Harbor hunkathon (I made that up, but OMG talk about alpha heroes to love). Yes, Lucky Harbor has my vote as the place I want to live in my next incarnation.

So, when I had word that Jill would be winding up the Lucky Harbor series this year I had a bit of a cry. I. Did. But I put all sadness away when I began receiving galleys from the publisher of the yet-to-be-published titles. Yes, this fall we have three new Lucky Harbor books to look forward to. So, I decided not to be sad, but to celebrate because a fabulous author is continuing to share her quirky and fun vision of a small town with all of us.

The first of the three new books is released tomorrow, 26 August, and let me say: ONE-CLICK IT'S IN HIS KISS NOW. Yes, the tenth Lucky Harbor book is a must-read for me and all other fans of contemporary romance. So, just stop reading and click. Okay? K!

Feeding Your eReader with GREAT FREE & almost free ($0.99) eBooks


Looking for some great reads for the last week in August? Check out these FREE & almost free ($0.99) eBooks. I'll vouch for these titles as I've read most of them and loved them. So, get ready to stuff your eReader with some bargains today. One-click it away!

Please leave a rating and/or review on the book's page at Amazon & Goodreads. Not only will you be helping out the author, but fellow book buyers too. Yes, we look at these reviews and your opinions help us decide what to one-click.

If you'd like to visit the archives and see previous week's selections or access this post directly, go to: http://www.fabfantasyfiction.com/p/feeding-your-ereader-fridays.html


Happy Reading!
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24 August 2014

Review: Diana Palmer's recent titles feature down-home romance, suspense, and a great deal of faith


Diana Palmer's Long, Tall Texans series is a secret addiction. I got hooked on these books a while ago and did a crazy happy dance in June when the last of these titles was reissued digitally by Harlequin. I'll be rereading the series soon - this time entirely on my Kindle - but first I needed to catch up with some of her new titles.

I received a galley copy of Invincible from the publisher and read it a week ago. But, I'll be frank, even though this is a stand-alone title there were so many references to what happened in a previous title - Wyoming Bold - that it only made sense to read that one as well (actually all three of her Wyoming Men titles - Wyoming Tough, Wyoming Fierce, and Wyoming Bold). 

One of the reasons I really enjoy this series is that Diana Palmer threads well-known and loved characters throughout her stories. Going by a list from a fan on her website, in the world of Long, Tall Texans, Invincible is about book 85. Yes, I'm beginning to feel the need of a flow chart to keep track of who's who, but since most of her characters imprint on my memory, I haven't pulled the whiteboard out yet. 

Now, does this mean that you too need to read each and every book?

No, but they're fun, although in this age of 50 Shades of Gray quite old fashioned, that's actually why I enjoy them. Her heroes tend to be tough on the outside, harsh, sometimes with comments that are downright cruel, but they always turn out to be pretty marshmallow soft inside. That's if you resist slamming the cover closed over some of their actions. (I never toss an eReader, but the magnetic cover does give nice click.) As to her heroines, they tend to be quite moral, upright, usually virginal if single, or quite innocent even if widowed. How do these heroes and heroines interact? It's usually like worlds colliding and that's where the cruelty - as self-protection - usually comes in. 

So, what about her two most recent books?

23 August 2014

Book Spotlight: Ashlyn Macnamara's WHAT A LADY CRAVES

I need to make a horrible confession. This post was supposed to appear on 14 August, but I had it marked as "information to come" - and never made it live. My apologies to the wonderful author, Ashlyn Macnamara, and to the great Loveswept team. Mea culpa.

As the giveaway sponsored by Loveswept is already closed, I've purchased an AmazonKindle Gift Certificate for one lucky person to win their own copy of WHAT A lADY CRAVES. You can enter through midnight on Monday, August 23. Just follow the instructions below.

So without further ado, here's the information on a HOT and fascinating new historical that you all should be adding to your To Be Read pile.

21 August 2014

Throwback Thursday: ISO Harlequin authors Violet Winspear, Mary Wibberley, Katrina Britt, and Rebecca Stratton

I'll admit that reading old Harlequin romances was one of my favorite pastimes as a tween. Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, and Cherry Ames books still captured my interest, but, oh my goodness, those old Harlequins I'd find at yard sales, book sales, and even auctions were like magical carpet rides to the exotic. I'll confess that I probably was as interested in their settings as in the romance. (Though I quickly did get hooked on the romance aspect too.)

These weren't books I'd purchase new, but rather well-thumbed and loved paperbacks. The covers were a draw too with their painterly impressions of the hero and heroine of the story. Among the authors I'd search out (in addition to Mary Burchell) were Violet Winspear, Mary Wibberley, Katrina Britt, and Rebecca Stratton. Sometimes these would be Harlequin Presents titles, but for the most part they were from the romance line.

20 August 2014

Wicked Wednesday: Salutes Authors & Publishers that are Wickedly Good and help your purchase do more!

One-click purchases are no-brainers for most of us. We see an author we admire, new book in a genre we follow, or are drawn in by a cover that is enticing - and we click and buy. Our eReaders are happy - and we're doing a good thing, right. Supporting authors and publishers who in turn share books with us that we love to read.

Recently I've been noticing a growing trend that makes that one-click happen at the speed of light. What's that? Well, some favorite authors and publishers have been donating percentages and even total proceeds of book sales to selected charities. Perhaps for an initial week or two of sales - or for the span of the book. Plus, I'm not even wet and shivering after I join in for this donation, though I may be reading one of these books while watching Misha Collins' & Anthony Carbajal's ALS Ice Bucket challenge. Just saying that there are many fun ways that we all can join in to donate to worthy causes.

19 August 2014

Review: Melissa Cutler's Risky Business is a must-read!

Confession time from this reviewer. I was so blown away by Melissa Cutler's Risky Business, the first book in her new Bomb Squad series, that I read her backlist. Yes, this book wowed me to the extent that Melissa Cutler is now on my must-read list. Why? Because she writes about people that we all can relate to. They're not uber wealthy, but they're our neighbors and friends who are trying the best they can to hold things together.

In the first scene of Risky Business, Allison Whitely is about to deliver her child while her soon-to-be-ex-husband is taken in handcuffs from a strip joint. To complicate things even further, she was there to warn him about picketers led by her sister's church. What's a girl to do? Particularly when there doesn't seem to be any property or income after his sentence.

Well, if she's Allison, she'll pack up and move to Destiny Falls where her husband had a tour boat operation. But all is not as she expected as her husband was actually visiting a mistress there and the person who ran the business, alpha hunk Theo Lacroix, expected that the business would be his.

Tasty Tuesday Review: The Nourished Kitchen by Jennifer McGruther

It's the rare cookbook that reads like a life's journey, but The Nourished Kitchen by Jennifer McGruther reflects the farm-to-table approach to cooking that many of us adhere to.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I requested this book for review. Would the recipes be ones I'd read, reflect on, try, and adopt or would this be more of a fad-type cookbook. I was thrown, frankly, by the fact that it was a best-seller in the Raw Food category. Yes, I was a vegetarian for many years, a vegan for some of those, and did try out a raw food diet, but found those strictures not as health as I had anticipated. So, I opened this gorgeous cover with a bit of trepidation, but my reservations were washed away by Jennifer McGruther's beautiful introduction and explanation of the philosophy behind the Nourished Kitchen - the traditional foods movement.

Review: Laura Kaye's HARD TO HOLD ON TO pulls the reader in with passion and power - and doesn't let go

As I'm writing this review, I'm still brushing away some tears. First of all, Laura Kaye's novella, HARD TO HOLD ON TO, is amazing. I'm saying that upfront, so if you want to stop reading this now and just hop over to whatever eRetailer you prefer - do. Simply said: Buy this book and read it.

The third title in Kaye's Hard Ink series about a now-disbanded Special Forces team is an unbelievably powerful read. The story picks up immediately following the events of Hard As You Can and the rescue of Sara (aka Crystal) Dean's sister, Jenna. If you haven't read Hard As It Gets (book 1) or Hard As You Can (book 2) - do. You could read each of these as stand-alone titles, because Kaye fills in just enough back story to let you know what's going on. But why on earth wouldn't you want to read these books. Kaye is a writer whose ability to share empathy and understanding of her characters flattens me. Guts me. Reminds me why I love to read.

Release Day Launch: Laura Kaye's HARD TO HOLD ON TO

HTHOT RDL Banner

Congratulations to LAURA KAYE on the release of  HARD TO HOLD ON TO, the new novella from her rocking' HARD INK series!!!

I'm so excited to be part of the Release Day Launch for this great new title!

Why? Well, Laura Kaye is one of my absolutely favorite authors and her HARD INK series is one of the best new series around. It's got everything super alpha heroes, gutsy heroines, suspense like you wouldn't believe. Laura just ROCKS these stories! 

So I'm just thrilled to be participating in this launch by InkSlingerPR that offers an excerpt as well as a special giveaway to celebrate the release of this third title. 'Nuff said. 

Get your one-click finger going because as soon as you see that cover, you'll be clicking through. Yes. You. Will. BONUS is that for every book sold in the first two weeks, Laura will be donating the proceeds to a charity that supports veterans (read below for more details). 

Review: Vonnie Davis' A Highlander's Obsession features men in kilts, shifters, and animal communicators

A Highland shape shifter, an American animal communicator, an eccentric grandmother - all add up to one of the most enjoyable reads I've had in a very long time. 

Vonnie Davis' A Highlander's Obsession, the first book in her new A Highlander's Beloved series, is just one of the most perfect stories. It doesn't hurt that the bear shifters have brogues and wear kilts, that there's a bit of mystery and suspense, some steamy love scenes, a great deal of laughter. Yes, this is a book that I highly recommend for anyone who's looking for that perfect alpha hero and a heroine with spunk.

From the moment when Paisley Munroe arrives at the airport in Scotland with her gram, I began chuckling. Yes, gram is the one who wants to lift the kilts and see what's underneath. I adore this pink haired, pink pelican slipper-wearing, iconoclast. She's a wonderful contrast to Paisley who seems to have to live life a bit more seriously, but at the same time adoring her gram, Effie Iverson Munro.

When the two kilt-wearing hunks turn out to be the welcoming committee, I was sold. Then we find that they're bear shifters. Well, burly guys who get a bit hairy. Quite fine with me. Once we meet Creighton Matheson, the eldest son and laird, well, I found a new book boyfriend for sure!

18 August 2014

Monday Musings: A look back to the beginnings of Fab Fantasy Fiction


In just about two months, Fab Fantasy Fiction will be celebrating it's first official blogoversary. When I say official, while I may have been inspired to start the blog back in January 2011, but that's all it really was - an inspiration - a gleam in my eye.

WOW! I guess, that this blog had an even longer gestation period than an elephant (their average is 645 days) and this was two years and a few months!

Review: Laura Simcox's Various States of Undress: Carolina is a fun, flirty, and touching read!

Each week I troll the Amazon lists to find books that are free or almost free for the Friday Feeding Your eReader post. I don't highlight every book I stumble across. Far from it. These are books I've actually read and loved, are by authors I follow and/or have had recommended to me by people I trust. This week, I included Various States of Undress: Carolina by Laura Simcox. No, I hadn't read any of her books before, but I had heard fun things about this book and, as it was on sale, included it. Then I read it Friday night.

I. Loved. It.

Various States of Undress: Carolina is a fun and flirty read - plus it also points out how some of us may become frozen in our lives - living out dreams of others instead of our own. Oh, that sounds a bit serious, right? Well, yes, there are serious bits to this story of a President's daughter on the run from the paparazzi with her very own Secret Service bodyguard. (And who wouldn't want this agent guarding their body!)

I totally "got" Carolina. From the moment she went in search of her wayward fiancé, because she needed support - or a public glad-hander - to get through a party filled with perfectly coiffed and elegantly dressed DC denizens. I knew who she was. She was me. Well, sort of me. In the best way. So for a little over an hour, I settled in to her and Jake's - and just enjoyed the heck out of it.

17 August 2014

Review: Shiloh Walker’s Secrets & Shadows is a must-read suspense series

Shiloh Walker’s new romantic suspense series, Secrets & Shadows, is an amazingly powerful read. With an invitation to read and review the second book, Sweeter Than Sin (to be released Sept 30, 2014), I had to, of course, gather the three introductory novellas and first book to read first. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I certainly didn’t anticipate disappearing into Burn For Me and not surfacing until I completed Sweeter Than Sin.

I know I’m hooked on Shiloh Walker’s FBI Psychic series. If there’s a new title, I remind everyone not to bother me until I’ve read it. Really, forget phone calls, Facebooking, or dinner parties - I’ll be hunkered down with her book until the last page is turned. So why should I be surprised that she knocked me off my proverbial reader feet with Secrets & Shadows? Perhaps it’s because these are books that sneak up on you with characters that are so damaged that you spend a bit of time pondering how to put the puzzle pieces of their lives and souls together again. Plus there are mysteries and dark secrets threaded throughout the novellas and the novels.

15 August 2014

Feeding Your eReader Friday with FREE & almost free ($0.99) ebooks


Feeding Your eReader Friday is a weekly feature that offers a selection of carefully curated FREE and almost free eBooks from the Amazon Kindle store. Yes, I promise either to have read the books on this list or to recommend them as I've heard great things about them or read (and loved) other titles by the authors.

Once you've one-clicked and read the eBooks, please go back to the Amazon book page and leave a review there for the author - and on Goodreads too. It really helps authors to receive your feedback and fellow readers to decide if they want to one-click.

If you'd like to see previous issues of Feeding Your eReader, go to: http://www.fabfantasyfiction.com/p/feeding-your-ereader-fridays.html

Remember these sale prices may not last long, so one-click your selections right away!

Happy Reading!

12 August 2014

Tasty Tuesday Review: David Lebovitz's My Paris Kitchen transports you to France without the plane ride!

My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories by David Lebovitz arrived on my doorstep yesterday and transported me, virtually, to Paris. As much as I was looking forward to discovering the recipes, Lebovitz's stories about Paris, the markets, the fast food craze, the olive vendor, the search for the perfect kitchen sink mesmerized me. I couldn't stop reading, and, funnily enough, began translating what I read into French.

Well, it's been a while since I dreamed in French, but hadn't backward translated a book in a much longer time. But the sense that Lebovitz provides of actually experiencing Paris and France through is truly remarkable. The photographs by Ed Anderson are gorgeous and seamlessly flow throughout the book.

If you want every dish photographed, this isn't the book for you. These aren't recipes to slavishly follow, but should be created, as Lebovitz notes in his forward, "au pif" or "by the nose." With that explanation, Lebovitz gained a fan for life, as that's how I remember learning to cook in France. Watching, chopping, stirring, tasting, throwing in dashes of this or that, but it was the entire process that was important, and was never broken down detail by detail as we tend to do.

Tasty Tuesday Giveaway: Jill Shalvis' Lucky Harbor cookbook, Heating Up the Kitchen

I know many of you are counting the days till the release of Jill Shalvis' tenth Lucky Harbor novel, It's In His Kiss, on 26 August 2014. I know I am. 

I've been waiting for Sam Brody's story for a while (well since the first Lucky Harbor novel) and even though I'm in the fortunate position to be reading (and LOVING) a review copy from the publisher, I know I'll be adding this title to my permanent library on August 26th.


So, I figured for the next 14 days, you all might need a little extra love. And what says love more than some delicious food. That's right, this is your chance to win a copy of Jill's Heating Up the Kitchen: Recipes with Love from Lucky Harbor!

Yes, all the recipes you enjoyed reading about in the first few Lucky Harbor novels are included here. I love this cookbook as the Jill's instructions are super easy to follow and, well, FUN!

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Here's a little more information on this fun cookbook from The Sweetest Thing's heroine, chef Tara Daniels:

11 August 2014

Review: Ava Miles' Dare River series offers a down-home country embrace


Ava Miles' Dare River series, a spinoff of her Dare Valley books, offers a slightly more down-home style of romance. Centered around country sensation and good ol' boy, Rye Crenshaw, who's best friends with Mac Maven and Rhett Butler Blaylock from the Dare Valley series, Dare River gives Miles a chance to add a Southern flair to her stories.

Southern is a good fit for Miles' feel-good romances. At the heart of her stories is the sense of family, faith, and forever - values that somehow seem to resonate a bit more loudly in our Southern states. It's interesting to switch between books of either series and go from a crisper diction in her Colorado-based stories to the more laid-back drawl of her Crenshaw family novels.

Beyond family ties, Miles has also used a small mystery to tie the series together with the subplot of searching for a tabloid leak. Miles has just published, The Chocolate Garden, book two in the Dare River series, and I'm already looking forward to reading the next story, where I'm guessing more will be known and explored about that leak - among other things.

Monday Musings: Cover art whiplash


When looking at books, does the cover draw your eye first?

If so, you're like me and many other readers out there. Not that we're judging the book (i.e. content) by the cover, but if that art is appealing, we're probably going to check it out.

With the explosion of eBooks, a lot more covers are being produced. Whether the digital title is Indie or traditionally published, the chosen cover image is important to help that book stand out from all the rest.

Coming from the time of the pre-digital revolution, I remember when covers were unique. Photoshoots arranged, artists commissioned, graphic artists charged with creating truly unique designs.

10 August 2014

Review: Ava Miles' The Dare Valley series is a heart-warming, inspiring, sexy romance must-read

When I look at my virtual bookshelf there are quite a few authors on my must-read favorite list. Here are just a few: Jill Shalvis, Donna Kauffman, Beth Ciotta, Kristan Higgins, Laura Florand, Deborah Smith, Laura Kaye, Molly O'Keefe, Adrianne Lee, Pamela Claire, Jessica Scott, Rachel Grant, Lora Leigh, Lara Adrian, Laurann Dohner, Maya Banks, Mariah Stewart, Susan Mallery, the grand dame herself, Nora Roberts, and Ava Miles.

I’d never heard of Ava Miles before last year. Why? Because the first book she published was released on 2 July 2013. Yes, just a little over a year ago.

If you haven’t heard of Ava Miles yet, I’m going to tell you to go out and pick up one of her books. Yes, books. Since last July she’s published six books in her Dare Valley series and, as of Tuesday next week, two books in her spinoff Dare River series (I’m not counting the cookbook or songbook here). Yes, in just a little over a year, she has published eight titles that all should be on your must-read shelf.

09 August 2014

Happy Book Lovers Day: What Are You Reading Today?


Here are some fun images of people enjoying a good read to celebrate Book Lovers Day.

Right now, I'm reading a galley of Ava Miles' The Chocolate Garden (book two in her Dare River series).

What are YOU reading today?

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Are you on a boat?


At the beach?


Outside?
Camping?

In a hammock?

National Book Lovers Day: An open letter to Amazon's Jeff Bezos and Hachette's Michael Pietsch

National Book Lovers Day
Celebrating the authors and titles we love


9 August 2014

To: Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com (jeff@amazon.com)
      Michael Pietsch, Hachette (Michael.Pietsch@hbgusa.com)

Dear Mr. Bezos and Mr. Pietsch,

Today is National Book Lovers Day and I’m writing to both of you to ask you to cease and desist this fight that is putting not only your two respective companies in the battle zone, but also authors and readers alike.

You both probably have valid points in this argument - and I’m hardly qualified to say who’s right and who’s wrong. One thing I’m sure of is that there are probably more than fifty shades of gray between both points of view to choose from. Could you find one of those areas to begin a mediation process?

Candidly, first and foremost, I’m an avid reader and self-confessed bookaholic. Since hopping on the eBook train over seven years ago, I’ve ceased to purchase print books. At all. To me, eBooks are a green revolution. I'm saving trees as my reading habit well outstrips the national high average of two books a month. I read about forty titles per month. And that's a conservative estimate. Think of all those trees that don't have to be sacrificed, paper that doesn't have to processed and bleached (if using recycled) since my books, and so many other readers', are digital not print.

I began my eBook journey using the iBooks app on my Apple products (iPhone, iPad, and MacBook), but I stopped purchasing books through the Apple iTunes/iBooks store when word came down of the price-fixing plan. Yes, I did receive a check in that class-action lawsuit, but that didn’t take the sour taste out of my mouth caused by publishers and eRetailers willful collusion to artificially inflate prices.

Once that news hit, I added the free Kindle App to my devices and began to purchase books via the Amazon website. I never looked back. Soon I purchased Kindle eReaders and now read exclusively on a Paperwhite. Why am I telling you all this? Because I’m not alone. There are readers everywhere who are like me. Who day-in and day-out purchase eBooks from Amazon and help keep both of you, and other eRetailers, in business.


When your contract disagreement first hit the media, I was curious. As the editor of a romance book blog (that in full disclosure is an Amazon Associate), I saw posts from friends on both sides of the issue. I read the Douglas Preston petition at authorsunited.net as well as the counter argument led by Hugh Howey with the Change.org petition.

Reading the front page article in the New York Times yesterday that focused on Douglas Preston and Amazon’s notice to authors today requesting letters to be sent to you, Mr. Pietsch (ReadersUnited.com), I’m more than a bit distressed. It doesn’t seem like either of you is willing to take the high road here and try to resolve this in a more amicable fashion.

First of all, I do think that Amazon.com has a very valid point about the “elasticity of eBook pricing.” As a customer (remember them?), I’m not about to pay more than $10 for an eBook and even wince at a price over $5.00. Why? Because I’ve also worked in media and communications for more than twenty years and realize that eBooks’ value is what YOU decide it is. The production costs for an eBook are hardly those of a paperback or hardcover, why should the cost be equivalent?


Graphic from TheOnlineTestCentre.com

Let’s be frank. Books are all produced with digital layouts. So the basic structure of an eBook is at the foundation of your process of creating a book for print. You can argue (as I saw one publisher do) that there are additional costs associated with preparing that digital file to be listed for sale on the various eRetailer sites. Yes, I’m sure there is. Not only may each site take a different file type, but they may require the metadata and descriptions to be submitted in a slightly different format. I’m sure that it can be annoying to add additional staff to take on those jobs, but certainly not equivalent to the cost of purchasing paper, running printing presses, shipping books out, storage, handling remainders, etc. Plus you also have to figure in the additional revenues from the eBooks that PAY FOR the additional staff member(s) you may or may not have to hire. (I would think that publishing interns would be happy to get a foot in the door and take on jobs like these….)

As to Amazon.com suggesting author renumeration percentages. Well, if I were an author and receiving less than the 35% that Amazon suggested, or even less than 30%, I'd be distressed. Why? Because a 50/50 or even 50/40 split of what the publisher receives for an eBook would seem to be a truly fair assessment that would (a) cover publisher's cost and (b) provide income for a author, independent of print sales, who then can focus on writing more books. A win win situation.

Do I think Amazon.com should make this decision for you, Mr. Pietsch? Absolutely not. After all, it's your business to decide how much to reimburse your writers. But if you want to continue to keep them and not have them jump ship and begin to only publish Indie titles, then you're going to need to be fair. The barn door is open on the topic of renumeration and you're not going to close it again. No, I'm not referring to those authors with six or seven figure advances, but those who are your bread and butter. 

Let's face it. I've been watching the bestseller list the past few weeks and have seen Indie books, priced at $0.99, hit the top ten lists. Why? Because they're books people want to read and can afford. The authors receive up to 70% of the purchase price depending on how they publish their title (yes, I'm talking about KDP). Some of these authors may have submitted manuscripts to you and been turned away - and then published them independently. To great success. 


Graphic from Authorearnings.com
The publishing industry is definitely in the midst of a revolution as established and new authors may publish independently without the stigma that "self-publishing" used to carry. Are all the books published independently good? No. But many are. Especially if the authors pay for independent editing and design. There's also promotion of the titles, but the ironic thing about that is that many independent and traditionally published authors are already promoting the books themselves. That's part of the social media revolution, which is not to say your in-house publicity teams are not doing their job. It's just that authors know that by building their own dedicated fan base they're going to sell more titles. So in order to keep your authors you're probably going to need to give them a bigger slice of the pie. Just sayin'.

Now, as a reader, consumer, and book critic, what do I think the two of you should do?

FOLLOW THE FREE MARKET 

Certainly not collude on prices - in any way. But be open to the fair market idea. What does the public feel is a fair price for an eBook? What will bring in the most profit for you, your eRetailer partners, and the authors who write the books? I’m guessing Amazon.com will win that argument hands-down. They have the research and figures to back them up. But does that mean that no eBook can be priced above $9.99? I wouldn’t think that’s fair. Perhaps there are some eBooks that are more expensive to produce layout-wise and would easily deserve a higher price point.

STREAMLINE THE EBOOK SUBMISSION PROCESS

But perhaps you, Mr. Piesch and Mr. Bezos could get together with other publishers and eRetailers and work out a standard submission form for eBooks. I’m sure there might be minor differences, but the standardizing submission (excepting for the digital file itself - ePub, Mobi, PDF, AZW3) would, I’m sure, make all of your lives easier.

TAKE THE AUTHORS AND CONSUMERS OUT OF THE EQUATION

If I were an author published either by one of your imprints, Mr. Piesch, or independently via Kindle Direct Publishing, Mr. Bezos, I’d be concerned right now. Your argument is making everyone nervous and gradually impacting sales. As Mr. Preston noted in his article his sales are cut in half. Other lesser-known authors, who don’t receive large advances, are feeling the pinch too. Even if you can’t come to a total agreement on these issues, please take the authors out of the equation. Come up with a temporary agreement while you work on the fine points.

COME UP WITH A WORKABLE TRUCE

So, on National Book Lovers Day why don’t the two of you agree to disagree, but at the same time come up with a workable truce until you find a real solution. That’s right, Mr. Bezos, take the Hachette imprint books out of Amazon’s jail and let customers pre-order them again. Mr. Pietsch, work with him, please.

Let readers and authors everywhere celebrate National Book Lovers Day knowing that both of you can act as adults and think of others first. Truly, from the outside, this squabble that has escalated to a near war, seems like playground bullying by the both of you. If you were children you’d be given a time-out. As adults your actions have ramifications that effect far too many people. Take a deep breath and realize that no one may be a winner, but you both could compromise and call it a draw or even a tie-finish. Then you both could claim winning ground, but best of all, consumers and authors would win too.

Sincerely,

Emsy Van Wyck
Editor, Fab Fantasy Fiction

cc: doug@authorsunited.net, readers-united@amazon.com


**********OFFICIAL RESPONSE TO THE OPEN LETTER************

Here's the response I received this morning from Hachette's CEO, Michael Pietsch:

From: "Pietsch, Michael" <Michael.Pietsch@hbgusa.com>
Subject: Amazon's letter to readers and authors
Date: August 12, 2014 at 11:53:51 AM EDT
To: "fabfantasyfiction@gmail.com" <fabfantasyfiction@gmail.com>
 
Thank you for writing to me in response to Amazon’s email.  I appreciate that you care enough about books to take the time to write.  We usually don’t comment publicly while negotiating, but I’ve received a lot of requests for Hachette’s response to the issues raised by Amazon, and want to reply with a few facts.

·        Hachette sets prices for our books entirely on our own, not in collusion with anyone.
·        We set our ebook prices far below corresponding print book prices, reflecting savings in manufacturing and shipping.
·        More than 80% of the ebooks we publish are priced at $9.99 or lower.
·        Those few priced higher—most at $11.99 and $12.99—are less than half the price of their print versions.
·        Those higher priced ebooks will have lower prices soon, when the paperback version is published.
·        The invention of mass-market paperbacks was great for all because it was not intended to replace hardbacks but to create a new format available later, at a lower price.

As a publisher, we work to bring a variety of great books to readers, in a variety of formats and prices.  We know by experience that there is not one appropriate price for all ebooks, and that all ebooks do not belong in the same $9.99 box.  Unlike retailers, publishers invest heavily in individual books, often for years, before we see any revenue.  We invest in advances against royalties, editing, design, production, marketing, warehousing, shipping, piracy protection, and more.  We recoup these costs from sales of all the versions of the book that we publish—hardcover, paperback, large print, audio, and ebook.  While ebooks do not have the $2-$3 costs of manufacturing, warehousing, and shipping that print books have, their selling price carries a share of all our investments in the book. 
 
This dispute started because Amazon is seeking a lot more profit and even more market share, at the expense of authors, bricks and mortar bookstores, and ourselves.  Both Hachette and Amazon are big businesses and neither should claim a monopoly on enlightenment, but we do believe in a book industry where talent is respected and choice continues to be offered to the reading public.
 
Once again, we call on Amazon to withdraw the sanctions against Hachette’s authors that they have unilaterally imposed, and restore their books to normal levels of availability.  We are negotiating in good faith.  These punitive actions are not necessary, nor what we would expect from a trusted business partner.

Thank you again and best wishes,
Michael Pietsch
____________________________________
 Michael Pietsch | Chief Executive Officer 
 237 Park Avenue New York NY 10017 | 212.364.1479