August 30, 2012

Attacking the Reviewer

I think I arrived a bit late to the game but yesterday one of my Facebook friends (and a published author) shared a link to a post on another blogger's site titled "Authors Behaving Badly."  The post is exactly what the title suggests - - a well known, published author (whom I shall call Ms. Author) who not only bemoans her bad luck to only be #2 on the bestseller list but who rallies her troops (her fan base, her assistant and even her husband) to go to battle for her against Amazon reviewers who give her book a low rating.  As if that isn't bad enough (and it's pretty bad in my book, no pun intended), one reviewer was called, harassed, called names, told she should just kill herself and even received death threats.  Ms. Author's response to that?  "If the reviewer is getting death threats, she should remove her review."  Unbelievable.  And all this started from an initial reviewer who gave the book in question one star and found it disappointing.  That was when Ms. Author's husband jumped in to call the reviewer "psycho", criticized how an "avid reader" could only have one review on Amazon and cautioned others to beware. 

Is this what we've come to?   Getting so angry over a differing opinion that employing harassing and threatening tactics to get them to change their opinion or remove their opinion is acceptable? 

There are so many things about this story that make me infuriated.  Let me start first with Ms. Author's incredibly entitled and pissy attitude about "only" being #2.  I know several book reviewers like myself who write, not just reviews, in their spare time and would practically sell their firstborn to be able to list "writing" as their career and able to make a living at it.  With the sheer volume of books published every year, to make #2 is a huge accomplishment.  It's not the tragic situation Ms. Author is trying to portray to her fans; what's tragic are the people who have lost their homes due to foreclosure or the members of our military who are separated from their families for up to a year at a time, or permanently when they give their lives for our freedom.  That is tragic. 

Secondly, why is Ms. Author and her husband so up in arms about one or two Amazon reviews?  Is she such a special little snowflake that she can't handle someone not liking her work?  If that's the case, honey, you definitely should not be in publishing.  I am an avid reader (go check my reviews, Ms. Author if you're in doubt) and I cannot think of a single book that every single reader has rated 5 stars or been over the moon about.  I can only speak for myself but a few negative or indifferent reviews don't keep me from reading a book if I'm interested in the book or like the author.  In fact, when I see nothing but 5 star reviews that gush "this is the best book ever!" I am suspect.   Frankly, I believe that if the original "avid reader" reviewer had given Ms. Author's book 5 stars, his/her sole review wouldn't have been met with such derision.

Thirdly, in what world does Ms. Author live in that the answer to death threats is to remove an "offending" review?  How can she justify the call to action she incited by posting about the "offending" reviews on her Facebook page, putting it on Twitter, and allowing her assistant and husband to join in the fray?  I think the incident would have ended with Ms. Author's husband posting on Amazon, for the most part, had Ms. Author not chosen to share the details on her Facebook page. 

The owner of the blog linked above had given the book in question a 4 star review but decided she could not in good faith support an author who supports the kind of behavior that went on after the initial one star review and so changed her review to a 1 star and explained why.  That's when the situation blew up and out of control and the name calling and threats kicked into high gear. 

I support the blogger 100%.  I believe that reviewers have the right to post their opinions on books, whatever they may be.  I can understand taking down a review if the review is vulgar and offensive but not removing it because the author got her little feelings hurt. 

This kind of behavior is unacceptable.  By anyone, be it an author, a fan, a reader, a reviewer.  It's becoming more prevalent and that's scary. 

As reviewers, we take our writing seriously.  The majority of reviewers/bloggers that I know thoughtfully craft their posts and spend their time to do so.  We strive to be honest and yet tactful and considerate.  We understand that a book is an author's baby.  We don't get paid for our work but we treat it as if it was a career.  This is time that we take away from our family, our friends in order to do what we are passionate about.  We love to read and we don't want that love affected by the disgusting behavior of others. 

I have been fortunate in that I have had to deal with very little sarcasm and criticism from authors and fellow reviewers.  In general I have found blogging and reviewing to be a wonderfully rewarding experience and I cherish the many people (fellow bloggers, authors, publicists, publishers) that I have been fortunate to meet since joining this terrific community. 

But harassment should not be tolerated and will not be tolerated.  None of us should tolerate it and authors certainly should not foster it.  Ms. Author's books will never be featured here for that reason.  I have removed her books from my Goodreads list and have no intention of ever putting a cent in her pocket or boosting her sales, either by direct purchase or by suggesting to others to read her books.  There are many authors out there who may not have her name recognition but just as much talent who would appreciate the purchase and the time for a review and I would rather give that to them.  The best way to get the message across to Ms. Author and people like her that such childish and improper behavior will not be tolerated is exactly where it will be felt - - in sales. 

August 29, 2012

SWEAT by Mark Gilleo


Sweat by Mark Gilleo
Paperback, 366 pages
Published August 28, 2012 by The Story Plant
ISBN 13: 9781611880519

When Jake Patrick took a summer internship at his estranged father’s corporation, he anticipated some much-needed extra cash and a couple of free meals from his guilty dad. He would never have guessed that he'd find himself in the center of an international scandal involving a U.S. senator, conspiracy, backroom politics, and murder. Or that his own life would hang in the balance. Or that he’d find help and much more than that from a collection of memorable characters operating on all sides of the law. Jake’s summer has turned into the most eventful one of his life. Now he just needs to survive it.

From the sweatshops of Saipan to the most powerful offices in Washington, SWEAT rockets through a story of crime and consequences with lightning pacing, a twisting plot, an unforgettable cast of characters, and wry humor. It is another nonstop thriller from one of the most exciting new voices in suspense fiction.


My Thoughts on Sweat


I love a good thriller and Mark Gilleo, an author previously unknown to me, delivered with Sweat.  The title may not sound like your typical run of the mill thriller but dig your heels in and dive headfirst into this book, that will have you rapidly turning page after page, and you will understand where the title derived from and why it is ultimately so appropriate. 

Jake is a very sympathetic hero and I liked him very much.  The rawness of his mother's death from  cancer, happening just prior to the beginning of this book, comes across starkly on each page as does his discomfort with his father, Peter.  Despite Peter being a fairly unlikable character, his interactions with Jake are among the best in the book, with an equal split of discomfort, resentment and hostility. 

Mr. Gilleo has a varied assortment of characters present in Sweat but well within reason.  There is not a single extraneous or tertiary character in attendance.  All of them serve a purpose and help to move the story along.  My favorite was a homeless CIA operative who provided some wry humor and a crucial push to the story. 

And what a story!  Sweat certainly has its fair share of action, intrigue, suspense and even espionage.  Washington politics are covered but not to the extent that it will be overwhelming if you do not care to read about such matters.  The suspense was so taut, so expertly penned, that I honestly had no idea what was going to happen - - to Jake, to his father, to his girlfriend . . . to anyone.  I have read a lot of books in my lifetime and it's not easy to keep this reader in the dark and yet Mr. Gilleo managed to do just that. 

I am surprised that I have not been introduced to Mark Gilleo's work prior to this based on how well written Sweat is.  He is a terrific storyteller and a gifted writer and marries the two into a fantastic piece of work that is sure to keep you up to the wee hours to wind your way through the crime and corruption with Jake.   

If you're looking for a solid thriller that will keep your pulse racing, Sweat is the choice for you.  I promise you will not be disappointed.  And if Hollywood has any sense, they will option this book immediately. 

Excellent work, Mr. Gilleo.  You have earned a place on my "authors I must read" list.

Sweat is available for purchase at major booksellers, including Amazon.  I am an Amazon affiliate.  If you make a purchase through my link, I will receive a small commission.

Review copy of this book provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.  In no way did the provision of this book affect the outcome of  my review.


About Author Mark Gilleo

Mark Gilleo holds a graduate degree in international business from the University of South Carolina and an undergraduate degree in business from George Mason University. He enjoys traveling, hiking and biking. A fourth-generation Washingtonian, he currently resides in the D.C. area. His two most recent novels were recognized as finalist and semifinalist, respectively, in the William Faulkner-Wisdom creative writing competition.

For more information, visit Mr. Gilleo's website.  

August 22, 2012

Reminiscing About Bookstores


I was posting some job frustrations on Facebook yesterday and my uncle told me that I needed to find a job that I loved, that I was passionate about.  It got me thinking - - if I could do anything, without regard to money, education, the economy, etc., what would it be?  Easy.  I would want my own bookstore, much like Meg Ryan's character in You've Got Mail but without the kids-only focus.  Of course the economy being what it is and the dearth of independently owned bookshops due to super stores like Barnes & Noble and the online presence of Amazon, make that dream a very distant and seemingly impossible one.  Sadness.

It did lead me to begin some nostalgic reminiscing about the brick and mortar bookstores that existed not only before the Kindle and the Nook but also before the big chain stores began to take over.  Don't get me wrong - - I love my Kindle (not that it would ever replace actual physical books though) and I have worked at Barnes & Noble (fondly known by me as The Mother Ship) twice in the past as a part-time job and they are wonderful.  I made some terrific friends and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there (as well as the many books I was able to read and purchase). 

But . . . I remember when there was a Little Professor operating in my home town.  It was run by a husband and wife team and the store was probably no bigger than your average Starbucks today - - if that.  They did have shelves in the front of the store, by the door, that stocked The New York Times' bestsellers - - paperback and hardcover.  They did carry local newspapers.  And they did have various other books.  But you wouldn't find a paperback version of every Stephen King novel in print, nor V. C. Andrews (one of my very favorite authors as a teenager).  Their shelves wouldn't support it (the shelves were only 2 books deep), nor would their stockroom.  There weren't "sections" to the store; there was a shelf, maybe two for a specific genre.  General fiction had the largest square footage, as I remember.  Childrens' books had maybe a shelf.  Nonfiction probably had half a shelf. 

We also had a B. Dalton at our local mall.  B. Dalton was the "big" bookstore, compared to Little Professor.  If Little Professor didn't have what you were looking for, you went to B. Dalton.  If B. Dalton didn't have it, you ordered it.  And waited for a good week.  But honestly, that anticipation over the book was a fabulous kind of torture. 

I remember going to the mall, with my babysitting money (or money from a part-time job, once I was over 15) safely tucked into my bag and walking into the Xanadu-like arena of B. Dalton, the smell of newly printed books filling my nostrils.  No coffee, no pastries then.   The excitement of either being on a mission to find a particular book or browsing the find a new favorite.  The thrill of seeing the display for the newest V. C. Andrews book - - most especially, the Flowers in the Attic series.  I remember sitting cross-legged on the floor, flipping through various paperbacks, reading the back cover and the first couple of pages.   The crispness of the book spine.  The sleek firmness of the cover.  The wonderful smell of newly printed pages. 

Eventually a Brentano's was added to our mall, with the mall addition and renovation.  It would ultimately help to put Little Professor out of business but the mall was the place to go with two options for book shopping. 

I loved it.  Remembering it all now, I am filled with a childlike wonder, a glee, and a sadness akin to homesickness.  There is still a Barnes & Noble in my hometown, right by the mall - - the same one I worked at.  But walking in the door and being overwhelmed by books, book displays, game displays, signs for Starbucks . . . well, it's just not the same.  You won't find people sitting on the floor to eagerly flip through a book because there are comfy chairs throughout the store.  Most people don't seem to browse any longer.  They look books up online and walk in to make a particular purchase.  In most cases, you don't know the employees by name because there are so many and many don't stay.  Not to mention that so many people purchase items online that repeat customers aren't what they used to be. 

Again, I'm not knocking Barnes & Noble, nor any other book chain.  But I find it sad that smaller bookshops can't seem to survive any longer.  Are we such an impatient society that we need to have every possible book at the ready for any possible situation?  When did "fully stocked" become more important than warm and cozy? 

I still fantasize and dream of being Meg Ryan's character from You've Got Mail.  The cute little bookshop.  Being surrounded by wonderful works of literature all day.  Helping to introduce readers (new and old, alike) to the incredible characters that were gifted with by so many talented authors.   Maybe one day .  . .

August 13, 2012

Book Giveaway Winner: MARRYING UP


And the lucky winner of Marrying Up by Wendy Holden is . . .

KIM LO

Congratulations, Kim!  I will be emailing you directly to get your mailing address for your new book.

A big THANK YOU to all who visited my blog and entered this giveaway. I do appreciate each one of you taking the time to visit and post here. I hope you all will stick around for future giveaways, reviews and interviews.

Thank you to Sourcebooks for making this giveaway possible.


Compliments to randomizer.org for selecting the lucky winner.



 

August 8, 2012

America's Royal Couple Contest - Win Marrying Up by Wendy Holden

Are you a royal family junkie?  Do you just love Will and Kate?  Albert and Charlene?  Or do you think the Queen and Prince Philip are royalty's number one couple?

Named a "Cinderella story for the beach bag", Sourcebooks is extremely excited to be releasing Wendy Holden's Marrying Up in August! 

Marrying Up has all of the crazy love, eye-opening snobbery and naked ambition to create a juicy cocktail worthy of any royal. 

After all, what's a relationship without a title and a tiara?

In honor of Wendy's new release, I am looking for America's royal couple.  Who is it?  You tell me!  Leave a comment with your suggestion for America's royal couple and you are entered to win a copy of Marrying Up!

Contest runs from August 8 until August 10, 2012.  USA and Canada only.  No email, no entry!
Good luck!

About Marrying Up
As women around the world watched Will and Kate walk down the aisle, many of them were plotting how they could find their own prince charming.
Razor-sharp in its wit and as fresh as newlywed royals, Marrying Up (ISBN 9781402270673, Sourcebooks Landmark, Fiction, Trade Paperback, $14.99 U.S., Aug 2012) by Wendy Holden reveals how sometimes a rags-to-riches story can rip a girl to shreds—and how sometimes the crown on your head can nearly crush you.
Only a title, a mansion, and a family tiara will do for a scheming social climber like Alexa, and she will go to great lengths to get it. Starting by befriending clueless aristocrat Florrie, who fills her life with parties, texting, and, above all, champagne, means that the grandest doors swing open and the prince of her dreams is within reach. But has Florrie’s mother, the formidable Lady Annabel, figured out Alexa’s intentions already?
Meanwhile, beautiful but penniless archaeology student Polly has found herself in love after a chance meeting with a dark-eyed stranger named Max. However, Max is hiding a big secret, a secret that could ultimately ruin any chance of him and Polly living happily ever after. 


Praise for Marrying Up
“Holden, a former writer for the Mail on Sunday, certainly knows her way around snarky royal gossip and delivers here a very guilty pleasure.”
Kirkus Reviews
“Anglophiles who stayed up all night to watch William and Kate walk down the aisle will have a lot of fun here, as will readers of Sophie Kinsella’s frothy Shopaholic series.”
Booklist
“Readers will rush through this dishy chick lit tale to find the answer. A Cinderella story for the beach bag.”
Publishers Weekly
“Gold-digging tale while providing a brimming bucket of laughs along the way.”
Shelf Awareness for Readers
“Entertaining with a witty and dry sense of humor”
RT Book Reviews  

About the Author
Wendy Holden (UK) was a journalist for the Sunday Times, Tatler, and The Mail on Sunday before becoming a full-time author. She has now published nine novels, all top 10 bestsellers in the UK. Her novels include Beautiful People, Farm Fatale, and Filthy Rich and feature sassy humor with a great cast of characters. For more information, please visit: www.officialwendyholden.com.