Thursday, September 3, 2015

Digital Review: Danger. Johnny Danger.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00JVDDVQ2/themisaofsupe-20
If nothing is going to officially tip the scales for blog readers that Wendy has finally lost her marbles - well Outside The Lines by Bella Love is the book that could possibly be the nail in my coffin.  I'll be blunt - when it's not borderline absurd, it's outright absurd.  It's an over-the-top cocktail of hot contemporary erotic romance, romantic suspense, and holy heck - the hero's name is Johnny Danger.

Yes. Johnny. Danger.

And if you think it possibly couldn't get any more absurd?  The heroine's name is Juliette Jauntie.

If you've made it this far into the review, congratulations!  Now, on to the pertinent details - you know other than Johnny. Danger.

Juliette is an accountant who has her own firm.  Well, of sorts.  She's the firm, being a one-woman operation.  She's very small potatoes.  She's hired by a soon-to-be-ex judge's wife, to do a valuation of their assets, in what is supposed to be a fairly amicable divorce.  The fly in the ointment?  Johnny. Technically her competition and not small potatoes.  His ritzy boutique accounting firm is upstairs in the same building and he is representing the judge's interests as a favor to his business partner (a close, personal friend of the judges').

This could be Juliette's big break, and admittedly she's excited to maybe take Johnny down a couple of notches.  So she ends up working through Christmas, realizes there's something rotten in Denmark, but....screw it.  She's pissed that Johnny Danger would just assume she has no life (OK, so she doesn't - but he doesn't need to know that), so once she turns in her mic-drop-valuation, she hits the nearest ski resort.

Naturally Johnny is unthrilled with Juliette's findings, as are the clients.  The directive?  Find her and bring her to heel.  Tracking Juliette down at the resort however leads to a lot more than burning the midnight oil over financial records.  For one thing these two crazy kids stumble on to a mystery and for another?  They want to rip each others' clothes off with their teeth.

In some ways this story is kind of a mess.  I have no idea exactly who Johnny is other than a guy with an absurd name.  He's this weird combination of accountant, lawyer and fixer all rolled into one.  For a while I thought he was just an accountant - but then...other stuff comes into play and frankly he smacks of another Romance Novel Gazillionaire Who Does Everything For A Living.

Juliette was an easier sell for me.  She hasn't been handed anything in life and she's worked really hard to get where she is - to the detriment of friends, having a life, doing anything other than working with numbers for a meager living.  Even if she wasn't pissed at having to work over Christmas, it's not like she has any better options, which is just sad.

This all makes it sound like the book was ho-hum for me.  If you can roll with Johnny. Danger. it's actually pretty good.  The suspense subplot was interesting, although probably could have been fleshed out more thoroughly (this is a category length novel), and the sex scenes are hot enough to peel wallpaper.  The first one at the ski resort, in particular - ooo la la!

Was it borderline silly at times?  Sure.  Was it still fun to read?  Hey, I didn't DNF it and I literally inhaled it while sitting on an airplane.  And honestly?  All the accounting stuff, the talking about numbers - well, it was kind of hot.  You'll just have to trust me on this.

It does end on a happy-for-now and it's obvious that Johnny. Danger. has commitment "issues." Which means, you guessed it, a second book in the series is in the works.  Which I get that some readers find annoying, but hey - at least this first book doesn't end on a cliffhanger.

Final Grade = B-

Note: There are two versions of this book. Seriously.  The first-person edition (that I read) and a third-person edition.  I have a lot to say about this.  Most of it involving frothing at the mouth and staring dumbly at the Amazon page in disbelief.  Authors - write the damn book how you want to write it.  How you "conceive" it.  For every reader that intensely dislikes first person, there are an equal number (seriously) of us who love it.  You can't please every reader, all of the time and this smacks (to me) of trying to do that.  Seriously. Please don't let this become "a thing."  I probably shouldn't hate it as much as I do (really, it's a silly thing to "hate on") but ugh - it just annoys me.  Write. The. Book. You. Want. To. Write.  Trying to please us readers all the time - well, that way lies madness.  And I say this as a reader who acknowledges that I have my own nutty quirks when it comes to likes and dislikes.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Mini-Reviews: Wendy's A Big Ol' Meanie Pants

I have (somewhat) of a reputation for being a cranky reader.  Or, if not cranky, at least a "tough" grader.  But this year?  I've lost my mind.  For a variety of reasons, I'm in a slump. And part of that slump seems to be that I'm either reading books I really, really love or books that I really, really am disinterested in.  As in, they may not necessarily be "bad" books - they just aren't engaging me for "reasons."  And given the size of my TBR and the looming ARC pile?  I'm giving myself permission to DNF more.  Here are the latest additions to the DNF pile - one of which was written by someone I consider a friend.  See?  Wendy is mean even to people she knows!

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00O92RPQW/themisaofsupe-20
I have read three books by Susan Meier and none of those books cracked out of my C grade range.  So why do I keep reading her?  Because of The Angst.  She can write angst really well.  But Her Brooding Italian Boss might finally be the book that has me saying, "Oh well, so long. We're just not a good fit for each other."  I got to 30% and called it a day.

Heroine has just found out she's pregnant by her ex.  Oh, and she's unemployed (or underemployed - I can't remember now. But suffice it to say money is a BIG issue).  Anyway, instead of hauling the Baby Daddy to the nearest courthouse, she's at a friend's wedding where she runs into our Hot, Emotionally Wounded By Evil First Wife, Italian Artist Hero.  Before you can say Rescue Fantasy (thanks in large part to Hot Hero's meddling Bazillionaire Father), she's working as his personal assistant and getting all fluttery around him.

Here's the thing with Meier - she's really fond of the Rescue Fantasy and she tends to lay them on pretty thick.  Like, with a trowel.  It was little annoyances at first.  Ho hum, another rescue fantasy.  How many times is the heroine going to fret about being "pregnant with another man's baby?"  And then, it happens.  We learn about Evil First Wife and I was DONE.  Fading from glory supermodel hitches to hero's rising star wagon.  She plays around on him - uh, a lot.  Gets pregnant with his baby (presumably), doesn't tell him, then gets an abortion.  Hero now a shell of a man because of her betrayal, but naturally everyone around him (including the heroine) thinks it's because he loved her SO MUCH!!!!

I found this conflict...annoying.  The shorthand that only women who are Pure Evil would ever have an abortion.  The genre has never been good with handling this particular issue well - but it's comical how totally Old School it is here and honestly?  I found it rather insulting.  So, I'm out.

Final Grade = DNF

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0062352202/themisaofsupe-20
So, yeah.  I've known Megan Frampton a long time.  In Internet years we're like 239 years old.  She was also my editor at Heroes & Heartbreakers for several years and brought me in on that project back when it was still "a project."  I knew going into this book what to expect from her "voice," so I started The Duke's Guide to Correct Behavior expecting a frothy, light read.  I called it quits at the 40% mark when I realized I just didn't give a hoot about the characters and what happened to them next.

Through a series of improbable circumstances (namely three people dying before him), the hero is now a Duke.  He's very whiny about this.  All he wants to do is travel, be footloose and fancy free, drink and bed a bunch of women.  Um, dude.  What exactly do you think Romance Novel Dukes do?  Anyway....

His young daughter arrives on his doorstep after the child's mother dies.  What's refreshing here?  He knew he had the daughter - she isn't a secret and he had been paying Early Victorian Equivalent Child Support to the Baby Mama.  But ye gads!  More responsibility!  So he decides to hire a governess through heroine's employment agency.  A Duke using their service is a major step up for them, but oh noes!  No eligible governesses!  No matter, the heroine will take the job herself.

And....that's pretty much it.  After 40%.  I do have a reputation for loving The Angst, but yes - I am capable of enjoying light and fluff.  But I also expect conflict in my light and fluff and there just really isn't much conflict to be found here.  Other than the hero having NO clue how to be a Duke, which seemed odd since it's not like he was born in a gutter.  The guy knows how society works, so him not having the faintest clue how Duke's behave just makes him seem stupid.  But anyhoodle....maybe conflict shows up later in the story?  Entirely possible.  But at 40% I just didn't really care about these people in their thinly drawn early Victorian (1840) world and.....done.  Have you seen my pile of ARCs?  Of which this was one and it came out in November 2014?

Megan is a friend (hopefully still is if she sees this blog post....), and if I had been reading a print edition I would have skimmed through to the end.  But I just can't seem to skim digital with any sort of efficiency, so I'm moving on.  I'm hoping for better with Frampton's more recent work and chalking this one up as a bump in the road.

Final Grade = DNF

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Fatal Flame

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0399169482/themisaofsupe-20
The Fatal Flame by Lyndsay Faye is the third, and final, book in her historical mystery series set in 1840s New York City starring reluctant police detective Timothy Wilde.  I listened to the first two books in this series on audio and became obsessed.  I loved the history, I loved the vernacular slang dialogue, I loved the characters, I loved the mysteries and I loved the narrator, Steven Boyer.  When I heard that The Fatal Flame was coming I drove my audiobook buyers at work fairly nuts over it.  For months - no audio version listed anywhere.  Wendy took to stalking the Interwebs, hoping for a morsel of news, and finally!  Finally!  Audiobook version announced.  Except......

THEY SWITCHED NARRATORS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Look, I'm sure Kirby Heyborne is a decent bloke, but he's not Steven Boyer, who at this point I began to obsess over.  But I couldn't just drop this final book - so, I ditched audio and read it like a chump.  And I loved every minute of it.

This time out, "bright young copper star" Timothy Wilde finds himself embroiled in his least favorite pastime - politics.  The odious alderman, Robert Symmes, wants Timothy's reprobate brother, Valentine, to clean up a little mess.  There's a radical suffragette, a former worker at one of Symmes' sweatshops, who is threatening to burn his various real estate holdings to the ground.  Long story short, Valentine is appalled with Symmes' potential "reward" for handling this business, and loathing the man anyway, decides to throw his hat into the upcoming election.  The Democrats are already splintered into two factions, Valentine going up against Symmes could lead to the city tearing itself apart.

When Symmes' suffragette appears to be making good on her threats, it's up to Timothy to ferret her out.  All of this complicated by his brother's campaign, and unrequited love, Mercy Underhill, turning up in New York again, having been living in London for the last couple of years. 

This book can probably be read as a stand-alone but I wouldn't recommend it.  At this point the trilogy has really built itself one on top of the other, and this installment especially shows it.  Timothy loathes Symmes for a lot of reasons (well, the man did want to kill him in the last book - so the animosity is sort of understandable), but finds himself backed into a corner helping him since he very well cannot sit idly by while an arsonist torches the city.  Also the character development has been increasingly getting deeper with each installment.  Valentine's guilt, his various romantic entanglements, Timothy's love/hate relationship with his brother, his very real fear of fire, and his completely jacked up feelings for Mercy, not to mention his relationship with Bird Daly (an orphan waif he rescued in book one) and his landlady, Elena, whom he is sharing a sexual relationship with.

There are a lot of things about this series that recommends itself to romance readers.  For one thing, the history is outstanding.  If you like historical romance but have been whining displeased with the increased amount of wallpaper, this is your kind of series.  Also, despite the unpalatable morphine addiction, Valentine is pretty much textbook rake-slash-wounded hero material.  And Timothy?  Timothy is your Beta hero with some rough Alpha edges (he can hold his own in a street fight) pining away for an unrequited love.  Really, it's fantastic.

Where this series may stumble for romance readers?  Well, it's dark.  And I mean....dark.  The first book is about sexually exploited children.  The second book is about free blacks getting kidnapped in the north and sent south, as supposed "escaped" slaves.  Compared to those previous two books, this one is almost like a Sunday walk in the park, with bitter men bemoaning working women, seamstresses working in appalling conditions, and violence against women.  While sex trafficking, and sexual assault, plays heavily in this story, all of it takes place off-page.  That said, pretty much all of Faye's conflicts have been textbook examples of why trigger warnings exist.

I'm glad I listened to the first two in this series on audio, because I'm the sort who can have a hard time with period language.  I need to get an "ear" for it.  Faye employs a lot of period slang, also known as "flash."  One of the reasons Timothy is so good as a police detective is that having been raised, in large part, by his brother - he can speak and understand "flash."  It's a different way of communicating, that's for sure - but having now been immersed in it for two previous books, this final third installment flowed for me.

I went through this entire book hoping, praying, that Faye would have a change of heart and not end this series as a trilogy.  But the epilogue kind of kills that dream.  I will say that I think she's done the right thing by giving readers closure, and while the romance reader in me was somewhat disappointed (I like pretty endings - and no I won't apologize for that), I think the author ends the series well, the way she has to end it.  She doesn't pull any punches, but she also doesn't pull anything out of left field that doesn't make sense.  Where her characters end up is where they should end up - which, at the end of the day, is all I ever want as a reader.

I have loved these books.  I loved the Steven Boyer audiobooks and I loved reading this final installment (like a chump).  If you love historicals and can deal with dark these are the real deal.  I haven't been this excited about a series in a long, long time and now *sigh* it's all over. 

Final Grade = A

Friday, August 21, 2015

Librarians Blogging, Recent H&H Posts & Going Dark

I'm over at Read-A-Romance Month today talking about the "joy of romance" in the form of "emotional truth."  Or in shorthand, Why Wendy Reads and Loves the Genre.

You can also read my secret confession about actors named Chris, and enter a to chance to win a prize pack from the RWA Conference that was in New York City this past July.  Over there I call it a "mystery box," but you dear blog readers get an actual photo (see right) of the goodies to behold.  Print books, ebook download cards, swag, and an official RWA tote bag (which is super nice, a quality canvas tote bag).

The drawing is only open to US residents (because I suck) - but you should check out all the posts at RARM because oh my, lots of authors, lots of giveaways, lots o' fun.

+++++

I've been kind of lax with posting my various Heroes & Heartbreakers ramblings over here.  In case you've missed it - I still post a monthly column on Unusual Historicals.  Here is the most recent post for August.  I'm a put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is kinda gal - so yeah.  Instead of b*tching about All Regency Dukes All The Time, go out and support the different when you can.  I know, we all have budgets to live with.  Will all of these Different Historicals be winners?  Heck, are all Regency Dukes winners?  But you won't know unless you try. 

I also had a post up recently about the wondrous world of delicious sexual tension, detailing three stand-out books I've read so far this year.  A just-kisses historical, a PG-13 historical and a steamy contemporary erotic romance.  Great sexual tension can be found all over the genre, you just have to be lucky enough to find it.

And as always, if you look under the links section on the right-hand sidebar of this blog - there's a direct link to All Wendy at H&H anytime you need to catch up.

+++++

This blog will be dark pretty much all of next week as I'm going to be traveling on business.  In lieu of blogging I hope to find some good eats, some quality vino, and some time to actually, oh I don't know, read.  Being trapped on an airplane is usually how I get a lot of reading done.  So hopefully I'll have some books to chat about once I land back at Bat Cave Central next weekend.

Behave yourselves while your Auntie Wendy is away, and be kind to each other.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

#TBRChallenge 2015: Beware the Ides of Impulse

I often tell TBR Challenge participants that the idea behind the challenge is "fun."  You don't need to read to the monthly theme.  You can skip months without feeling guilty.  And you can DNF.  DNFs are totally allowed.  In a bid to "practice what I preach" I thought I would detail the long, sad strange trip that this month's Impulse Read theme sent me on.  Four DNFs and, finally, a novella I managed to get through.  I'm ready to stick a fork in this theme and declare it done!

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00AHI5KQO/themisaofsupe-20
I love historical westerns, and have impulse bought a lot over the years to "support" the sub genre.  I had the epic (see left) Dorchester Leisure print edition of After the Ashes by Cheryl Howe in my TBR, but it's since been reissued self-pub by the author.

Post-Civil War the heroine leaves Kentucky to live with her baby brother in New Mexico, the only family she has left.  The hero, a bounty hunter, shows up looking for said brother thanks to a stagecoach robbery gone bad.  Heroine just knows there's some mistake, because baby brother is a precious snowflake.  Hero leaves, baby brother returns, and convinces heroine to go into town and "sweet talk" the hero into letting him be.  Yes, dear baby brother suggests the heroine whore herself out - although not in so many words, and she....goes to town.  OK, not figuratively.  They don't actually "do it."  Then her and hero return to cabin only to discover baby brother has run off with what little money heroine had to her name.  Then a deputy shows up, a man the hero doesn't like, and in full Protect The Heroine mode, he tells the guy they're married.  Another heroine who will walk through fire for a relative who doesn't deserve it, plus for someone who managed to survive living through the Civil War - she was just too naive for my tastes.  It wasn't horrible, but I wasn't engaged.  DNF'ed after about 50 pages or so.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0345503937/themisaofsupe-20
I picked up Wicked As Sin by Jillian Hunter at RWA 2008 - which I drove to.  Not having to ship books home = Wendy takes every book not tied down.  This starts out OK, but lost steam for me and I DNF'ed after 75 pages or so.  Hero is a former soldier and gambler who wins stately manor in poker game.  Stately manor is located in the town where he grew up and developed his wicked reputation.  Heroine is next door neighbor, pleased to be a spinster thanks to a fiance' who "took advantage" of her before he left to fight Napoleon.  Thankfully he had the good sense to get himself killed and now everybody thinks she's consumed with grief over the death of her beloved fiance'.

The mix of banter and humor juxtaposed against angsty backstory didn't always gel for me.  It was like this story didn't quite know what it wanted to be.  Also, it's the eighth book in a series, and while that wasn't a problem in the early chapters, I could see it heading down the Past Couples Showing Up road and I just wasn't in the mood.  The final nail in the coffin though was that the heroine's almost-brother-in-law shows up acting all skeevy towards her, although with more subtlety than his brother.  He drives all the way out to country to say, "Hey I know what my brother did to you, he was so uncouth and lacked finesse - you should totally be MY mistress!"  Really?!  It didn't work for me.  So, moving on.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0037NB4DO/themisaofsupe-20
Category romance, besides historical westerns, is one area where I happily impulse read.  I'm sure I picked up The Officer's Girl by Leigh Duncan at an RWA conference, but not sure which year.  Heroine is taking temporary job assignment in Florida and has rented a house on Cocoa Beach, which the Realtor assures her NEVER gets hurricane action.  Except a hurricane is on it's way, but the heroine is just SURE it's no problem.  The barrier island is literally evacuating, but she apparently fails to see people leaving town in packed up cars or homes with storm shutters and boarded up windows - so she pulls in, unpacks her boxes and is angry that the cable guys are late in arriving.  The hero is a cop driving around making sure everyone is evacuating like good little monkeys, when he spies the heroine.  He starts telling her she needs to leave.  She's dumbfounded.  He decides to slap the handcuffs on her to get her to listen.  I mean, really - what did he expect?  There she in all polished, put-together, in her designer clothes and fancy manicure.  She's totally a "me me girl" (literally, his words). Selfish and self-absorbed.

So first impressions?  She's a moron and he's an asshole.  I couldn't DNF this one quickly enough.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B004IATBG2/themisaofsupe-20
Hearts Are Wild by Laura Wright was either an impulse used bookstore purchase or library book sale find.  It's amazing how dated 2002 is now.  Heroine is starting her own matchmaking business (which includes videotaping clients "My name is Sharla, I like puppy dogs and long walks on the beach...."), and in walks the hero, with his leather jacket and his motorcycle out front.  He claims to be her new roommate and he's there to pick up the keys.  Seems Dear Old Granny rented him a room before she went into assisted living.  Heroine says, I can't live with you.  He says, I signed a lease.  She says, I don't care.  He says, too bad.  Then she says, hey give me four weeks to find you the perfect woman/match and I'll give you the keys and let you stay in the house. Um, sweetie?  HE'S SIGNED A LEASE.  Frankly I'd be torn between kissing Dear Old Granny on the lips (leather jacket wearing hunky hero on a motorcycle is cliche, but hello nurse!) or smothering the old bat in her sleep.  Decisions, decisions.

I love category romance and I'll obviously read a lot of wacky plots (amnesia, secret babies, boss/secretary romances) - but this meet-cute strained considerably for me.  DNF.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00QFHW2QM/themisaofsupe-20
 I normally like to focus on "older" books in my TBR for the Challenge, but I was desperate to not end this month with a string of DNFs.  Plus, time was running out which means....novella.  I picked up a print copy of Snapped by Christine D'Abo in the Goodie Room at RWA this year and while it wasn't a smashing success, I managed to actually finish it.  I should probably give it a resounding A for that reason alone.

Heroine is the business brains of a small interior design firm she has with her BFF (the creative talent).  They're based out of Toronto, but have gotten roped into being judges on an interior design reality show.  The heroine's "job" is to be the bitch, which is a role she knows how to play.  While in New York filming, she's also gunning for a contract that they desperately need to stay afloat.  Too bad she's getting distracted by the hero, the assistant director, and a man she had a relationship with three years ago before it imploded in spectacular fashion.

This was a quick, sexy read and the first person narration really helped me find a reading groove after four DNFs in a row.  I also like the reality show setting.  What didn't work as well for me was the business deal sub-plot (Another "smart business-minded" heroine who drops the ball?  Really?!) and the first couple of sex scenes which take place in abandoned buildings.  In New York City.  (The hero is an amateur photographer and likes to photograph abandoned buildings).  Dude.  Not sexy.  Am I the only one who thinks Abandoned Building + New York City = Rats + Squatters?  I think this first sex scene is supposed to convince me how hot the couple is for each other - but dude, really?  An abandoned building?

This novella is connected to an earlier release, Nailed (the BFF's romance), which I haven't read.  It's obvious this is the second book in a duet, but I had no problem keeping up and didn't feel like the story suffered because I hadn't read the first one. 

This wasn't a resounding success for me, but hey - I finished it, and I would read D'Abo again.  So Final Grade = C+

And now let us all declare the Impulse Read theme D-E-A-D dead.  Praise Jeebus.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Little Miss Crabby Pants Talks Community

I’ve been stewing on this post idea for a while and as I told a fellow blogger in an e-mail exchange recently, “I’ll only write it once I can get past the use of swear words and keep the explanation points to a minimum.” I’ve finally seem to have landed in a perfect storm however – between recent brouhahas in RomLand, a workshop proposal I’m a part of for the upcoming RT Convention about “voice” and blogging (let’s see if it gets accepted) and various Twitter conversations I’ve been unabashedly eavesdropping on, but have not participated in.

I have definite feelings about how the romance community is operating these days. I’ve talked about it at a bare minimum for reasons – most of them involving beating dead horses and coming off like the cranky granny sitting on her front porch with a shotgun telling the damn kids to get off her lawn. When you’ve been around as long as I have you’re kind of in a quandary with stuff like this, plus I’ve never been one to believe my own hype. Call it Middle Child Syndrome. I still go to conferences these days and just assume that nobody knows who the heck I am. My blog is one tiny corner of the community and I’m more than aware that not everybody 1) reads it or 2) knows I exist. Even if I do have people around me who think I’m some sort of “influencer” in the world of romance novels. Wendy thinks that Wendy isn’t that important and my feet stink just like everybody else’s. Translation: Wendy is not a special snowflake.

I have strong opinions about things that have happened in my corner of the community over the last several years. The ones I react strongest to are the ones that have me asking, “How would I feel if someone else’s snafu sucked me up in its wake and reflected badly on me – when I really didn’t do anything wrong?” Online RomLand largely exists on the (mostly) unpaid talent of the fans. And when we are paid (like I am for my H&H posts), it’s kind of the equivalent of play money (I can support my book habit, maybe pay a conference registration fee – but I’m not feeding my family on it). Which begs the question of why do we do it? I can tell you why I do it, but it’s not necessarily why everybody else does it – and it’s up to the individual reader to determine, at the end of the day, what really matters to them.

When I started blogging I didn’t do it for fame or glory – which is probably a good thing since neither has found me. OK, RWA gave me that nice Librarian of the Year honor in 2011 and My Man does call it my “National Award” – but yeah. To be fair, I haven’t done any of the hard work one needs to do to gain fame or glory, but since it’s not why I started and not why I’m still doing it 12 years after the fact I’m obviously OK with this.

I started blogging because I love to talk about books, especially romance novels, and I had no way to scratch that itch outside of listservs (remember those?) back in 2003. I didn’t want to be one of those people who “took over” on the listserv so figured blogging was a good solution. All of the Wendy Narcissism All of the Time and people could decide for themselves if they really wanted to subject themselves to that. I’ve always operated the blog using my own moral compass, but as time has marched on, and things have changed (for one thing, authors and publishers noticed that blogs were easy and cheap marketing tools), I’ve had to be a bit more firm with disclosure. Why? Because I feel like I owe it to anyone who reads my blog. Yes, dear blog reader – I OWE it to you.

Here’s the thing about this gig. You’re only as good as your word. Yes, it’s the Internet and yes, seemingly everybody lies on the Internet. Trolling is practically an Olympic sport. It’s easy to point fingers and grab your popcorn when you’re hiding behind a keyboard. I strive to be pleasant to everybody. Even when I think you’ve left the figurative bathroom with your skirt tucked up in the back of your panties. The idea of a “cut direct?” I’m from the Midwest. I’m pretty sure my DNA makes me incapable. That doesn’t mean I think Everybody Should Love Everybody. Nobody is immune to being called out – even Little Miss Crabby Pants, and I’m sure I have been called out online and in public over the years. Hey, that’s OK. You can think I’m wrong. You can also choose to not read anything I have to say….anywhere. The Internet is a wide and vast place. I think everybody should spend their time at places where they want to be – not at sites or interacting with folks on Twitter that are the equivalent of having a root canal done.

At the end of the day you are your own barometer. How folks carry themselves online, how they run their blogs, how they run their sites, how they interact with publishers/authors/publicists? These are things you need to decide for yourself. If something bothers you – how are you going to proceed? Will you stop reading that blog or taking recommendations from that person on Twitter? Or will the benefits outweigh the squirkiness for you? You need to find your line in the sand. Over the years I’ve found mine – over and over again. I don’t publicly spout off what they are on this blog, because frankly I don’t think anyone really cares that much. Also there’s the very really perception that Wendy Is Just Blogging About This To Beat Dead Horses and Raise Blog Traffic. But for the sake of transparency, here are things I have done over the years:

1) I’ve stopped reading some blogs. As in, deleted out of my feed reader because I could not be bothered anymore. In most cases they were blogs I largely lurked at anyway so it wasn't a major bloodletting.

2) One author so offended me that I weeded every single one of her books that I owned. Both TBR and books in the keeper stash. I bought them all brand new, so she already got my money – but, done. I’m out. I donated them to a library. Hopefully the Friends of the Library raised some money for “good.”

3) There’s a certain publisher I won’t buy books from or promote on this blog. This sucks because I like some of the authors they publish. Oh well.

4) I still read some blogs (mostly because of specific features I like) but no longer link to them (hence, no promo from me) and no longer comment.

5) There are some folks I will not take book recommendations from any longer. If I was planning on reading the book anyway? Fine. Will they sway me to buy/try a book?  That ship has sailed.

At the end of the day does any of this really matter? No. I’m sure the blogs don’t miss me and to be perfectly frank – my sphere of influence is such that I can’t believe either the author or publisher are wringing their hands over me not being in their camp. But it does matter to me. It also matters to me that readers of this blog know what they’re going to get when they get here. This is why I have the disclosure page. This is why I disclose before some reviews by certain authors. You can make the argument I shouldn’t have formed some of these relationships to begin with – and that’s your right. But I like these relationships and I don’t want to quit them. This means – disclosure. And you, dear blog reader, with making up your own mind.

I don’t think we need personal manifestos of Who I Trust and What Blogs I Read, and that probably includes me writing this post. But at the end of the day you can only control you. Find your line in the sand and draw it. Some people will be on the other side of that line, and that’s OK. The Internet is a lot of things – big is one of them.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Reminder: #TBRChallenge for August

For those of you participating in the 2015 TBR Challenge, this is a reminder that your commentary is "due" on Wednesday, August 19.  This month's theme is Impulse Read.  The book you bought because of the cover or the book you bought on impulse or the book you cannot remember why you bought in the first place!  However, maybe you make book shopping lists and are strict about sticking to them so the idea that you ever would "impulsively" buy any book is just bizarre to you.  Hey, no problem!  Remember - the themes are totally optional and are not required.  It's not about the themes but reading something (anything!) out of your TBR.

For more information, or just to follow along with all the participants - check out the 2015 TBR Challenge Information Page.