Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view


Daily Deals: Freebies, vampires, and more

Daily Deals: Freebies, vampires, and more

Kindle Paperwhites are on sale for $99.00 (almost wrote .99c)


Twilight Watch: Book Three Sergei LukyanenkoTwilight Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko. $ 1.99 AMZN | Google

From the Jacket Copy:

The third book in Sergei Lukyanenko’s dark and thrilling Night Watch series—a visionary blend of urban fantasY and riveting thriller, set in contemporary Moscow
Night Watch and Day Watch revealed the “Others,” an ancient race of supernatural beings—magicians, shape-shifters, vampires, and healers—who live among us and swear allegiance to either the Dark or the Light. For a millennium, these opponents have coexisted in an uneasy truce, guarding each other and tottering on the brink of war.In Twilight Watch, the Others face their greatest threat yet. An ancient book of spells with the power to turn ordinary humans into Others has fallen into the wrong hands, threatening to destroy the precarious balance between the forces of Darkness and Light. Now the Night Watch and the Day Watch must cooperate to stop the culprit. Anton, the hero from Night Watch, is back, but when the renegade Other turns out to be closer to home than he expected, the race to prevent global war becomes more urgent than ever. And as Anton gets closer to discovering the true nature of the Others, he begins to question how much of a difference there truly is between the Dark and the Light.

This is the third book in the series which was / is a Russian bestseller. The first book has been optioned for a movie. This is what the blurb says for the first book because obviously you’ll have to buy the first book as well. (Although you could wait until it is on sale):

In The Night Watch, the first of a quartet, and reminiscent of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials in its ambitions and achievement, the setting is contemporary Moscow. A small number of Muscovites with supernatural powers – those who are Other, owing allegiance either to the Dark or the Light – co-exist in an uneasy truce, each side keeping a close eye on the other’s activities around the city.

Anton, an Other on the side of the Light, is a night-watchman, patrolling the streets and Metro of the city as he protects ordinary people from the vampires of the Dark. On his rounds, Anton comes across a young woman, Svetlana, whom he realizes is under a curse that threatens the entire city, and a boy, Igor, a young Other, as yet unaware of his own enormous power. Partnered by Olga, an Other who is in the form of an owl, he struggles to remove the curse and thereby save the city, while at the same time prevent Igor from falling into the clutches of the Dark.

The Night Watch explores the nature of good and evil and the tensions between the individual and the collective in a gripping narrative that owes as much to The Master and Margarita as it is does to the richly realized worlds of Philip Pullman and Tolkien.

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Naked in Death J. D. RobbNaked in Death by J.D. Robb. $ 2.99 AMZN | Google

From the Jacket Copy:

In a world of danger and deception, she walks the line–between seductive passion and scandalous murder…
Eve Dallas is a New York police lieutenant hunting for a ruthless killer. In over ten years on the force, she’s seen it all–and knows her survival depends on her instincts. And she’s going against every warning telling her not to get involved with Roarke, an Irish billionaire–and a suspect in Eve’s murder investigation. But passion and seduction have rules of their own, and it’s up to Eve to take a chance in the arms of a man she knows nothing about–except the addictive hunger of needing his touch.

I’m a huge fan of the first three books of this series and recommend them to readers who are just not sure whether romance is for them. If my memory serves me correctly Robb/Robert had only planned for the series to be a trilogy (like many of her books/series are) but because they were so popular she began to write more episodes about the characters and it has become one of the longest running series written by one person.

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The Shadow Society Marie RutkoskiThe Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski. $ 2.99

From the Jacket Copy:

Darcy Jones doesn’t remember anything before the day she was abandoned as a child outside a Chicago firehouse. She has never really belonged anywhere—but she couldn’t have guessed that she comes from an alternate world where the Great Chicago Fire didn’t happen and deadly creatures called Shades terrorize the human population.

Memories begin to haunt Darcy when a new boy arrives at her high school, and he makes her feel both desire and desired in a way she hadn’t thought possible. But Conn’s interest in her is confusing. It doesn’t line up with the way he first looked at her.

As if she were his enemy.

When Conn betrays Darcy, she realizes that she can’t rely on anything—not herself, not the laws of nature, and certainly not him. Darcy decides to infiltrate the Shadow Society and uncover the Shades’ latest terrorist plot. What she finds out will change her world forever . . .

In this smart, compulsively readable novel, master storyteller Marie Rutkoski has crafted an utterly original world, characters you won’t soon forget, and a tale full of intrigue and suspense.

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The Vicar's Wife by Katharine SwartzThe Vicar’s Wife by Katharine Swartz. $ 1.99.

From the Jacket Copy:

A powerful drama of domestic life following two memorable women who shared a house eighty years apart

A New Yorker all her life, Jane Hatton loved her job as the head of a charity championing women’s rights, but her fourteenyear- old daughter, Natalie, had fallen in with the wrong crowd at her Manhattan school. So Jane and her British husband, Andrew, have decided to move their family to the English countryside.

The Hattons have bought the large old vicarage in a small village on the Cumbrian coast, near Andrew’s new job. The silence and solitude of a remote village is quite a change. Natalie hates her new school, and eleven-year-old Ben struggles academically. Only seven-year-old Merrie enjoys country life. Has Jane made a horrible mistake? What of her career? Her own identity?

Putting on a brave face for the family, Jane tackles renovating the rambling, drafty old house. When she finds a scrap of a very old shopping list, she grows curious about Alice, the vicar’s wife who lived there years before.

As the twin narratives unfold—of Jane in the present and Alice in the 1930s—we discover that both are on a journey to discover their true selves, and to address their deepest fears.

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The “Art” of Beta Reading

The “Art” of Beta Reading

BetaAbout six or seven years ago, an author who I was friendly with, Monica Burns, asked me to beta read what would become her novel Kismet for her saying, “You’re one of the pickiest readers I know, I think you can help me.” And a beta reader/author relationship was born. I went on to beta read five books for Monica, and learned a ton about the “art” of beta reading from her.

As word got around that I beta read for Monica, I picked up other authors. Some I beta read one or two books for, some I now I have long-standing relationships with. I’ve beta read for indie authors who self-publish and for authors who are extremely well known. But in all cases, I approach the process the same manner.

As a member of Dear Author’s review staff, I cannot review the books I beta read, nor can I mention them on Top 10 lists, or list them as DA Recommended Reads. Other reviewers here at Dear Author can review their books, but I don’t, which I think is an excellent policy. I’ve always thought it’s a conflict of interest to review a book that you’ve assisted an author with. Oh, I gush about them on Twitter, and try to do my part to get interest up via other social media means, but not through Dear Author.

I always ask authors when they send books to me to let me know if there is anything they’re worried about in the manuscript. Generally speaking, most authors want a cold read, meaning they don’t point out potential issues before I read the book. They want to know whether it even causes a blip on my radar. Sometimes I receive four or five chapters to read and react to. In other cases, I get the complete book. Sometimes I have a few weeks to react; some authors need a really quick turnaround.

For me, beta reading is much like reading for review. I pay close attention. I highlight passages that stick out to me. I try to keep track of particular issues that I’m having with characterization, dialogue or motivation. And in the end, I try very hard to give my honest opinion about what I’ve read. I do NOT read for grammar or punctuation (unless something is terribly egregious).

I make it a policy to only read for authors who write in genres that I read regularly (for example, I don’t beta read Steampunk, because it’s not a genre I enjoy). And I don’t usually read for authors who aren’t known to me. Which makes sense, if you think about it, as an author, why would you give a reader you’re unfamiliar with the opportunity to read something you’ve written before you’ve published it?

Then the fun part begins, I either call or send an email to the author with my reactions. This can spark a fantastic discussion about the work. There are times, though, that beta reading is no fun at all. Sometimes you have to tell an author you don’t like what they’ve written. Or you have an issue with some aspect of the book. Usually a conversation can resolve the issue, and I’ve never found those discussions to be anything but productive with the authors I work with. Generally, they are looking for that reader reaction and they like the fact that they have someone to bounce ideas off of. But it can be a delicate conversation. Being an author is a solitary thing, and sending your work out to a beta reader can be nerve-wracking. I always try to be really respectful of the hard work that goes into putting words on the page.

I did an informal poll on Twitter the other night, asking other readers who are beta readers how they got started and what their process is, and also asking authors whether they use beta readers in their process. I received probably 15 responses, and to a person, the authors said that they found beta reading to be invaluable to the process. But all stressed that it the success of the beta reader/author relationship is predicated on trust. First, the author must be confident that you’re not going to share the manuscript. They also have to trust your opinion as a reader. They need to know that you’re not just going to give a reaction of “OMG! I LOVE THIS BOOK!” While they love the positive feedback, it’s not necessarily helpful. I think that authors are mostly looking for the unvarnished truth about a beta reader’s reaction to the manuscript. If it’s a positive reaction, that’s great. If it’s not, what would have made the book work for you?

For many authors, beta reading is a valuable tool they use before publishing a book. For beta readers, it’s a great opportunity to collaborate with authors on their work.

If you’re an author, do you use beta readers? If so, how many? How did you find them? If you’re a beta reader, how did you get started? Do you read for more than one author, or across genres?