Am I Allowed to Ask Why?

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been the victim (several times) of the dreaded Amazon Review Removal Syndrome. Happened again. Two reviews for two of my books were removed this past week. One review was removed from a book for which I haven’t had a new review on in, oh, I don’t know… Maybe two years?

It strikes me as so arbitrary because I–

A. Don’t ask anyone to write a review for me, ever.

B. Don’t send out ARCs or review copies of my self-pubbed works— nothing, nada.

C. Don’t know a single one of the reviewers, aside from Tom Stronach who states up front that he knows me, yet his reviews are still there, (probably won’t be for long), and maybe a couple other reviewers from way back in the day when I was a new author with small publishing houses and my pubs sent out ARCs.

D. I know a number of authors who have fake five star reviews posted on their book pages and those reviews never seem to disappear.

Most authors I know tell me they have never had a review removed. So I ask you, what’s up with this? Is there like a target on my back?

Time on my hands…

So I’m reading and working. Still in bed. The knee is okay. (It’s on ice.)

Oscar is taking amazing care of me. Jake’s going a little nuts but like I keep asking, when is Jake not nuts?

Plus we’re getting a some heavy soaking rains which is great.

Yesterday my sister (the non-exorcising sister) and I were talking about how when you get bored you start to look at celebrity gossip sites. Yeah. She’s so right. Just before her phone call I had been reading one site entitled Secret Smokers and I was heartbroken to learn that Kate Winslet and Jessica Alba are secret smokers. (I always knew Jennifer Aniston smoked, no big surprise there.) But Kate Winslet signed something or other regarding never getting plastic surgery which, if she continues to smoke she’s definitely gonna need. While Jessica Alba has always promoted herself as the epitome of good health habits. So it’s like I figured– every single article about how celebrities stay thin because they eat healthy and work out and take care of themselves is a bunch of crap. They stay thin by smoking. Done. And one of these days each of these beautiful women will morph into Bette Davis from Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.

Yikes!

Yikes!

And how about that Beyonce? Oh god no! Let’s just say what little admiration I may have felt for her, and I can’t say I’ve felt a whole lot over the past few years, has evaporated entirely because I can’t un-see this or un-hear this. I need brain bleach, stat. It’s the lyrics, babies. Like I said before, Miley pushes the envelope, but she’s 21 and into publicity Madonna-style, and the truth is Wrecking Ball is a dang good song and she sings it well. But I think there’s something gross and more than a little disturbing about Beyonce upping the raunch factor. But to be brutally honest, I don’t really give a damn because I’m not into what’s becoming her trademark un-music.

Books- The Great, The Good, The Disappointing.

The Great:

War, by Sebastian Junger

WarIn WAR, Sebastian Junger (The Perfect Storm) turns his brilliant and empathetic eye to the reality of combat–the fear, the honor, and the trust among men in an extreme situation whose survival depends on their absolute commitment to one another. His on-the-ground account follows a single platoon through a 15-month tour of duty in the most dangerous outpost in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley. Through the experiences of these young men at war, he shows what it means to fight, to serve, and to face down mortal danger on a daily basis.

Very intense gripping nonfiction. Junger’s writing style is so visceral you can feel the bullets whiz by your head.

Revolver, by H.P. Oliver

RevolverIn his second novel-length caper, H. P. Oliver’s wise-cracking Hollywood gumshoe tackles a mystery from history right in his own backyard when studio boss Jack Warner calls Johnny in to find out who is sabotaging the production of a film on the Warner Bros. Burbank lot. With a cast of characters that reads like a 1930s Hollywood Who’s Who and a plot with more dangerous curves than a sound stage full of Goldwyn Girls, REVOLVER takes readers on a deadly tour of Tinsel Town hotspots as Johnny describes the investigation in his own unique style. REVOLVER will keep you guessing who dunnit right along with Johnny until the final action-packed chapters!

This book is flat out old fashioned entertainment at its best. Great stuff! Besides, how can you not adore the cover? I’ve got these two to read as well. I’ve already started Silents:

Silents

Intriguing from word one.

Lillian Lawrence, the silent-era’s newest starlet, is found shot to death in her room at the Hollywood Hotel only days after she announces plans to leave motion pictures for the less glamorous roles of wife and mother. Lillian’s many friends at the studio and her legions of fans across America are all asking the same question: Who could have done such a dastardly deed?

That’s exactly what Los Angeles Police Department detectives Robert Winfield and C.K. Mackie are determined to find out as we follow them down the boulevards and through the back alleys of Hollywood in search of the one person who would profit from Lillian Lawrence’s death. What the detectives learn as Silents! reveals its twists and turns will leave you as baffled as they are.

Then the detectives catch a break in the case that brings Lillian Lawrence’s killer to justice . . . or does it? In typical H.P. Oliver fashion, the final solution to the murder comes as a surprise to all but the sharpest fans of mysteries in history!

And Goodnight San Francisco~

Goodnight

Nineteen-thirty-seven was a hell of a year for news. Japan invaded China, Amelia Earhart began her ‘round-the-world flight, the Hindenburg blew up, and the people of San Francisco were listening to the crime story of the decade on their radios. The man they were all listening to was Parker Atkins.

Atkins, the news reporter at station KDG, witnesses the hit-and-run murder of a young San Francisco socialite. He sets out to find the woman’s killer, but the deeper Atkins digs, the stranger the case becomes.

At the bottom of it all he uncovers a bizarre blackmail scheme concocted by a gang of cold-blooded killers. Suddenly the situation becomes a horrifying matter of life and death when Atkins’ girlfriend is kidnapped with the dead woman’s sister.

As a decorated former LAPD homicide detective, Parker Atkins has the skills to solve the case and save the kidnapped women, but as a former drunk, does he have the nerve to see it through? A bloody climax in the wilds of Marin County tells the tale. Goodnight San Francisco is classic H. P. Oliver from start to finish!

Just bought it. I’m telling you, H.P. Oliver gives great covers and weaves engrossing old-timey mysteries.

Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior, by Phil Jackson (yeah, that Phil Jackson)

Sacred HoopsAn inside look at the higher wisdom of teamwork from Chicago Bulls’ head coach Phil Jackson. At the heart of the book is Jackson’s philosophy of mindful basketball — and his lifelong quest to bring enlightenment to the competitive world of professional sports, beginning with a focus on selfless team play rather than “winning through intimidation”.

Mr. Jackson’s philosophy is applicable in the wider world. I’m liking this book a whole lot.

The Good, or rather, the as yet Undecided, or maybe a work in progress with tremendous potential:

Finn McCool Rises, by Mark MacNichol

FinnTold by her editor she must walk away from a politically sensitive story, intrepid journalist Fiona MacDonald is helped by Celtic legend Finn McCool. Under his protection her goal is to get the information into the public domain. Both the secret service as well as dark supernatural forces use all of their powers to try and stop them.

Mr. MacNicol is a new-to-me author. The good~ time travel and a Scottish hero from the Highlands of Scotland. A twisting-turning-intriguing mystery. Hard to go wrong there. The undecided~ the heroine. I have to be honest, sometimes I think it is difficult for male authors to get into the head of a female protagonist and make her seem, well, female. There’s a quote I’d like to use from Orphan Black but in order to find it I’d have to scroll through all the later episodes, so I’ll paraphrase. Beth’s partner, Art, says something along the lines of– Women fight differently, sound different, smell different… That’s the one thing I’m missing in Finn McCool Rises, the difference.

Which brings me to The Disappointing:

This book which did not work for me at all. Not no way, not no how. And I was especially disappointed because based upon reviews I’d read I expected to love this book.

Painted Faces, by L.H. Cosway

PaintedCome forth with an open mind, for an unconventional tale of love..

Dublin native Freda Wilson considers herself to be an acquired taste. She has a habit of making offensive jokes and speaking her mind too often. She doesn’t have the best track record with first impressions, which is why she gets a surprise when her new neighbor Nicholas takes a shine to her.

Nicholas is darkly handsome, funny and magnetic, and Freda feels like her black and white existence is plunged into a rainbow of colour when she’s around him. When he walks into a room he lights it up, with his quick wit and charisma. He is a traveling cabaret performer, but Freda doesn’t know exactly what that entails until the curtains pull back on his opening night.

She is gob-smacked and entirely intrigued to see him take to the stage in drag. Later on, Nicholas asks her if she would like to become his show assistant. Excited by the idea, she jumps at the chance. Soon she finds herself immersed in a world of wigs, make-up and high heels, surrounded by pretty men and the temptation of falling for her incredibly beautiful employer.

In this story of passion and sexual discovery, Nicholas and Freda will contend with jealousy, emotional highs and lows, and the kind of love that only comes around once in a lifetime.

Smokin’ hot cover. Intriguing blurb. The story fell flat, flat as a flat flat flat pancake that had been flattened by a steam roller. The characters, especially the female protagonist, were so unlikeable as to be grating in the way fingernails grate on a chalkboard. Sorry, that’s my take on Painted Faces. Feel free to disagree. Doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

I don’t often review books, especially when they are written by authors I’ve had some contact with. Today I’ve made a couple of exceptions. Most of the authors above I don’t know and I’ve had no contact with them. I hate publicizing the fact that I didn’t enjoy a book because I know how much sweat equity, how much heart, goes into everything we write. Just so you know~ I don’t plan to do this very often. Maybe once in a blue moon, if that.

I guess I feel like being real today. Sometimes a book is a fail for me. And that’s all there is to it. There’s no deeper hidden meaning and no agenda.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I feel like Sally Field – Somebody ‘gets’ me.

The reviewer got the story. She really really got it.

Head over to Amazon and read the most recent review for Captured, my Science Fiction Romance and, frankly, my favorite work. I can’t quote the review here, that’s against Amazon’s policy. But I’m telling you, this reviewer grokked the story. Made me fuckin’ cry.

Link:  Captured

Captured-full-200x300

Just for the smell of it…

An Olfactory-Invoked Recall:  According to scientists, a faint fragrance can bring back the memory of a long-forgotten time.

Maybe not so forgotten. I love the smell of books. Always have, always will. Lawrence Block gifted me with both a memory and a keepsake, a signed lettered edition complete with a postage stamp. I haven’t felt so content since those long ago days spent browsing through the stacks in the (haunted) Council Bluffs, Iowa Carnegie Library.

The Burglar Who Counted Spoons.

The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons.

I was one of the lucky ones– I got to proofread the book before its release.  Yeah, baby. Totally cool!  The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons is classic Lawrence Block. The book heralds the return of Bernie Rhodenbarr, a gentleman’s gentleman, Renaissance man, jack of all trades, burglar par excellence. The murder mystery unfolds like a crossword puzzle– every single letter must be positioned exactly right. And of course Mr. Block is a genius at puzzles. He’s so spot on and I’m so jealous. The Burglar Who Counted Spoons is worth reading for a taste of Juneau Lock alone.

I was a reading fool on this recent Christmas vacation. Here’s my list and all are recommends. Total recommends, well, except maybe the one book I haven’t yet begun.

Speaking of Lawrence Block… The second book I read, yes, promoting the second book first, was outstanding. Best book I’ve read since A Week As Andrea Benstock, by Lawrence Block writing as Jill Saunders. The author of this particular book, a man writing as a woman, has, in a sort of tongue-in-cheek way, categorized the book as chicklit. Well I say, ha! Ha! Ha! It’s lit fic through and through. And damn fine lit fic. Contemporary literary fiction tends to turn me off – too whiny, too nihilistic, too self-aware, and too narcissistic (which I suppose is the same as too self-aware but taken to an extreme). The Tennis Player from Bermuda, by Fiona Hodgkin, is none of those things.

the tennis playerThis book epitomizes everything the word novel connotes. Don’t ask, just read. I detest tennis yet I read the book from cover to cover in a single day. Here’s the link. It’s only $4.99 on Kindle.

Point of Impact

The first book was one I could not put down. It is such a deliciously twisted thriller I read and read and read and then I wanted to read it all over again. Point of Impact, A Bob Lee Swagger Novel, by Stephen Hunter. The thing is, there’s something about the movie The Shooter, with Mark Wahlberg, that fascinates me. I’m not sure what it is… Perhaps it’s the way the protagonist is manipulated. Perhaps it’s the way he exacts his measure of revenge, or rough justice, if you will. Perhaps it’s Leon Helm’s fantastic cameo. I have no idea. The Shooter is based on Point of Impact. Despite some differences, the movie manages to channel the heart and soul of the book. Both are winners in my world. I’ve already ordered the next two Bob Lee Swagger books. I’m reading these in paperback for a penny. Gotta love that penny. Link. (Not the edition I purchased but whatever…)

In the queue:

In the land of invisible womenIn the Land of Invisible Women: A Female Doctor’s Journey In the Saudi Kingdom, by Qanta Ahmed. Looking forward to reading about an experience from a perspective far removed from my own. Link.

Last but not least, written by a man I’ve come to admire, I’m currently reading–

Things that MatterThings That Matter, Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics, by Charles Krauthammer.

The book is not a political diatribe. It’s the heroic and beautiful story of his life, loves and pursuits told via articles, essays, opinion pieces. Loving it.

What freaks me out is this– and I’m only aware of this because my husband is also reading the book. He was so fascinated by some of the stories he did a little research.

Dr. Krauthammer, an intensely private man, is a quadriplegic. (He is remarkably nonplussed. I would be very plussed.)

What freaks me out even more is that back in the day Dr. Krauthammer bore an eerie resemblance to my husband, and without a doubt I would have fallen for him in a heartbeat. He was my kind of guy – Jewish, built, athletic, adventurous, intelligent, intuitive, optimistic. Possessed of a Jew-fro. I had a visceral reaction. The snapshot was a punch in the gut. This is what  my husband sent: Interview with Charles Krauthammer. Link to the book. Courage is the word that comes to mind.

So 2014, eh? Well, here’s hoping it’s about a million times better than 2013. Tomorrow my recipe for hibiscus syrup to pour into your glass of bubbly!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday Evernight Publishing!

Hi! Beginning October 8th through October 12th, I am one of the authors hosting the Evernight Birthday Blog Hop. The celebration runs through the 12th.
A note:  Stephanie, at Fangs, Wands and Fairy Dust, let me know she is posting a review of my latest release, Stay, on her site on the 8th.  Here is the link:  Stay
I want to say a word about Evernight – When every other publishing house rejected my unusual work of Women’s Fiction, Come Back To Me, Evernight snatched it up. I will be forever grateful for their wonderful enthusiasm, the editing, the cover, the support they provided me.  Come Back To Me was the toughest book I’ve ever written because it’s autobiographical and it is definitely not fun and games.  

I recently received an incredible review on Amazon – made me cry – I’m not going to quote the review but I will point you in the right direction:  Julia deserves many more reviews.  No, I don’t know the reviewer, no I didn’t pay her or send her a copy, and yes, I did burst into tears.

Thank you, Evernight!  I’ll be giving away one Kindle copy and one print copy of Come Back To Me.  (Print copy for U.S. residents only.)

Sometimes the safest path is to keep people at a distance…especially men. Cara’s life has been one nightmare after another. Abused as a child and neglected by her parents, she’s quick to blame herself for every cruel thing that happens to her. And then there’s James, the only man capable of making her forget her misgivings and learn to love again. James, a young doctor in training, is aware of Cara’s history. He’s determined to break through her barriers and build a life with her…and fails. Cara runs away in an attempt to reinvent herself and James fears he’s lost her for good. When she falls into the hands of a drug dealer and mob boss, life as they know it is about to get a whole lot worse. Can their love withstand the demons of her past and present?

Welcome to the Evernight Publishing birthday blog hop!
 
Evernight Publishing opened its doors two years ago. In those two years we’ve signed over one hundred and sixty authors and published over three hundred books. From paranormal to contemporary, we’ve had more best sellers than we can count and made thousands of people smile, sigh and gasp. So, as a thank you to all our readers and everyone who has supported us, we’re holding this blog hop and we have a whole lot of prizes to offer you.
 
Here’s how it works… the more blogs you hop to (shown below) the more chance you have of winning prizes. Each author on the hop is offering a prize and Evernight is offering the following grand prizes, a Kindle, a $100 Amazon gift certificate, two Evernight swag bags (which includes a tote, a tee, vouchers, a mug and other coolness) and a personalized Facebook banner. To be in with a chance of winning the author prize simply follow the blog you’re visiting and leave a comment which includes your email address. Each entry on each blog is then counted towards the grand prize draw. The more entries you have, the better your chance of winning a grand prize! You also get extra points for liking the Evernight Facebook pagehttp://www.facebook.com/#!/evernightpublishing. Just make sure you let us know in the comments that you’ve done so.
 
Good luck and happy hopping!

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…