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

Dear Author Changes for 2013

Dear Author sideways strip

Introduction

All the news today is about Dear Author and what you can look forward to in 2013. We also want to hear from you what you would like to read more about.

Dear Author Promotes Retail Diversity

As of January 1, 2013, we will no longer review books that are not available in at least two digital platforms: Kindle and ePub.  The reason for this is twofold.  First, many of our readers here do not own Kindles and do not want to own Kindles.  If we review a book and the reader is unable to purchase it in their desired format that is frustrating for them.

Second, we believe in promoting healthy competition.  Amazon as the sole provider of digital books hurts readers because without competition there is no real impetus for Amazon to keep prices low or constantly innovate.

Dear Author Book Club

We’ve had some fits and starts in reviving the Dear Author book club but nothing has really stuck. I operate on schedules and deadlines so we are going to run Book Club slightly different in 2013. I have a schedule of books that we are going to read/review/discuss and beat into the ground on the 15th of every month. This way readers can anticipate what books will be the focus of the 2013 bookclub months in advance.  This is our tentative book club schedule. The January through March books are set and will not be changed.

January 15 - One Small Thing by O’Shea, M.J., Vaughn, Piper ( A | BN | K | S )
Feb 15 – The One That Got Away by Kelly Hunter ( A | BN | K | S )
Mar 15 – Uncommon Pleasure by Anne Calhoun ( A | BN | K | S )
Apr 15 – Love Irresistibly by Julie James / Wrecked by Shiloh Walker (I liked the excerpt I read at the Amazon site)
May 15 – Meljean Brook’s last in the Guardian series
June 15  – Nalini Singh’s untitled book
July 15 – Cecilia Grant’s release

Dear Author Monthly Device Giveaway

In 2011, we gave away a device a month and for some reason I didn’t implement that in 2012.  In 2013, however, we are bringing it back.  On the first Sunday of every month, we’ll launch a Rafflecopter widget for you to enter the giveaway. You can enter once a day.  At the end of the month, we’ll announce the winner.

Dear Author Slight Redesign

In February or so we will be implementing a landing page so that new people that come to Dear Author can get quick exposure to all of our features.  A landing page is a static page but we’ll have a link to the blog so you can enjoy Dear Author in the same way you do now.  You may have to change your bookmark but navigation will be essentially the same.

Dear Author Essays / Letters of Opinion

We’ve posted these every Tuesday for probably five years and you may have noticed that in 2012, my essay writing declined. I was pretty tapped out.  We would welcome contributions from our readership.  We had a lovely post about prosthetics by author Inez Kelley, a guest list of “If You Like” stories about disabled protagonists from Ridley and a fantastic series about fan fiction from a variety of posters.  If you have a passion about a topic that dovetails with romance books, drop me an email.  More variety in voices on the blog always makes for interesting reading.

Conclusion

We are always trying to think of new ways to improve Dear Author.  Please let us know if there is something you think we should change, could do better or love.  You can leave a comment or contact me directly [email protected]

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

53 Comments

  1. Ros
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 04:52:24

    I think the Kelly Hunter is a great choice for the book club. I read it a couple of months ago and I definitely have some thoughts about it and would love to hear what other people made of it.

    Looking forward to some of the other changes too.

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  2. Kaetrin
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 05:09:20

    I’ve read the first two book club books and really enjoyed them so I’m looking forward to the discussion. No doubt I will read the Calhoun too as the books I’ve read from her have been special also.

    I love the idea of having more opinion pieces from guest authors/posters. I’m sure there will be some interesting discussion coming out of that.

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  3. Laura Vivanco
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 05:42:19

    If we review a book and the reader is unable to purchase it in their desired format that is frustrating for them.

    Yes, and unfortunately, that’s my experience with reading reviews of books that are only available as ebooks. Would it be possible to tag the reviews so that it’s clear from the start if something is ebook-only?

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  4. Frannie
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 06:21:54

    Hi Jane, I’m looking forward to seeing the changes to the site. I’m particularly pleased that you’ll only be reviewing books that are available in at least one digital platform other than Kindle – I have a Sony Reader which I love and am indeed frustrated when I find that a book in which I’ve become interested is not available to me. Dear Author is my favourite review site – it’s the first one I go to every day, and it appears to me that your proposed changes will make it even more interesting and fun to read.

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  5. msaggie
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 06:36:43

    I really like all the changes you have posted for 2013. Will the monthly device giveaway be only available to US/Canada readers (in view of the high cost of postage to ship internationally)? And it is true that in the US, Amazon seems to be able to offer the cheapest ebooks all round on kindle – and I already have fallen into their trap as it’s so easy to just get the kindle version. However, many of the deals on kindle are only available for US customers (I found out using my sister’s Australian based Amazon account as she couldn’t understand why I could get such and such a book for free or only $0.99, etc ). Are any DA contributors able to do a “daily deals” for non-US readers?

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  6. Sirius
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 06:39:15

    I like the changes, I am the most excited about book clun and so looking forward to One Small Thing discussion :-)

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  7. Ros
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 06:54:55

    @msaggie: I would love to see a non-US Daily Deals, but I bet it would be a ton of work to compile.

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  8. Brie
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 07:09:05

    I love the idea of bring back the book club, especially now that it will include broader sub-genres. At this point my one request if to keep Meljean Brook’s book on the schedule.

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  9. Jane
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 07:13:33

    @msaggie – US readers can’t actually “see” what the deals are in other countries. The books show as unavailable to us and won’t let us actually see the price.

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  10. Jane
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 07:15:57

    @Laura Vivanco – this is actually harder than you think because many self published books offer a print version. The digital first editions are about the only ones that don’t come with a print on demand feature.

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  11. Meri
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 07:24:46

    I don’t need a special international version of the daily deals – I click if anything interests me, buy if the deal is available and curse Amazon if it’s not. However, I miss the old lists of deals you used to do; now, if I miss a post I might not be aware that something is available. I wonder if there might be a way of combining the two approaches?

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  12. Laura Vivanco
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 07:30:10

    @Jane: Thanks for explaining, Jane.

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  13. Jane
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 07:33:38

    @Meri: I do tag all the deals and the list can be seen here. http://dearauthor.com/tag/deals/

    That’s not as easily accessible as the previous list.

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  14. Jane
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 07:34:22

    @Laura Vivanco: I think we could mark a review as “print and digital release” “digital first” or “self published”. That might be a helpful.

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  15. Laura Vivanco
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 07:37:46

    @Jane: That would be great! Thanks.

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  16. Liz H
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 08:54:58

    The proposed changes sound great. Any chance you’ll be continuing or expanding the digital/technology column you’ve done some weekends? You cover that stuff from a perspective not seen on other blog, and it is both useful and interesting.

    There’s been somewhat of a decrease in GLBT reviews over the last year since Sarah F.’s departure, and as Sunita noted in her year-in-review she didn’t find much m/m this year, and more would always be great. But your continuing efforts to increase reviews and discussion of diversity (sexuality, race, physical capabilities, etc.) in characters and publishing is really appreciated.

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  17. Mari
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 09:23:03

    I love that you do your best to promote diversity in romance reading ( and you really do need a replacement for Sarah F.) but I was wondering if diversity can include more Christian, religously themed romance? Even other religious (Jewish? Hindu? Muslim? wow, would I loooove to read a muslim-themed romance!) romances would be great! Also would love to see more of everything you guys do so well, more more more!!!!!!! More reviews, more essays, more STUFF! Love this site!

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  18. Lil
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 09:50:18

    Does this mean all your emphasis is going to be on digital books? Because I have to say, I really don’t like reading digital books and do so only as a last resort.

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  19. Jane
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 09:52:48

    @Lil: No, it means that when we do review digital first books or self published books, we will not review books that are exclusive to only one retailer like Amazon. Many authors, unfortunately, will place their books with Amazon exclusively for 3-4 months (or even more).

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  20. Serena
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 10:06:04

    All these new suggestions are great! I would personally like more m/m and paranormal reviews, but I still enjoy DA the way it is.

    Also, maybe as a possible August book club pick – the new Kate Daniels (MAGIC RISES, out July 30)? Or is that too much of an urban fantasy (ie not enough romance) for the book club?

    p.s. Will you still have the authors answer questions in the new book club?

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  21. Ann F.
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 10:16:13

    As a Nook reader I appreciate your effort to review books that are available in multiple formats. However, I’m beginning to wonder if fighting against Amazon is kind of a lost cause. This whole thing is reminding me a bit of my dad who was so sure that “Beta is gonna make it” and wouldn’t buy a VHS just to prove a point. I understand your concerns about an Amazon monopoly but at the end of the day wouldn’t it be so much easier if there was just one universal e-book format?

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  22. Keishon
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 10:17:03

    I love the Daily Deals. I love the news pieces and I applaud you all for spotlighting ebooks that are available in two platforms. If I had to add anything in the way of improvement it would be consistency in tagging.

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  23. Sheryl Nantus
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 10:21:46

    I appreciate the non-Amazon move. I own a Nook and there’s nothing more annoying than seeing a good deal that’s Amazon-only.

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  24. Gwen Hayes
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 11:02:51

    I think my husband was hoping you would say you were going to abolish the daily deals. My debit card is actually AFRAID of you.

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  25. Lia
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 11:09:23

    Sounds great!

    I however would like to add that even though Barnes & Noble sells an epub-format, it is not in actual format that can be read on Sony or other epub-reading devices. My last purchase with B&N dates back a year ago, so perhaps things have changed in the meantime, but it might be something to consider.

    Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble are a complete nightmare with regard to geographical restrictions on e-books to European customers :-(

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  26. Danielle D
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 11:17:41

    I also love that you will not review a book unless it’s in ePub and Kindle formats.

    I love your Daily Deals.

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  27. Darlynne
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 11:30:46

    I love the news and daily deals. The changes sound great and I’ve really enjoyed previous essays by guests. I’m just glad you’re sticking around, Jane, because any time someone mentions “change” at my favorite blog, I get nervous.

    @Mari: OT: They’re not romances per se (although there is a very strong romantic arc through the series) and they’re not inspirational, BUT Zoe Ferraris’s crime novels are set in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Have you read them? The main characters are a young Muslim woman who works in the coroner’s office and a devout Muslim desert guide. On the surface, this would be a scenario that couldn’t possibly work, but watching these two people work their way toward each other is so, so lovely. Finding Nouf is the first in the series.

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  28. cleo
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 11:34:39

    There have been a couple discussions lately about DA review trends – not enough m/m, too much New Adult and Kristen Ashley, also not enough multicultural / IR, etc. And sure, I would like to see more reviews in some of my fave areas, like m/m and fantasy/paranormal.

    But the more I think about it, the more I realize that I like the quirky, kind of random range of books reviewed here. I like that DA reviewers review what they’re interested in, and that those interests shift over time – it makes it more fun, even if sometimes that means there’s a string of reviews in an area I don’t care about (frex New Adult – I work with college students so reading about them doesn’t feel relaxing).

    I find the reviews of things outside of my normal reading tastes the most interesting – DA reviews have inspired me to try a lot of books that I would never have picked up on my own. Some were total busts, but others led me to new favorite authors and genres, like m/m. So, I guess this is a long winded way of saying, I like the reviews the way they are, and please keep reading new things (so I can too).

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  29. Mari
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 12:00:36

    @Darlynne:

    Thanks for the rec! I love stories where the odds of a HEA seem insanely insurmountable, but the author is skilled enough to make it work.

    @Jane: I second the love of quirkiness on this site. So many “differnent” romance books I have found and loved and NEVER would have picked up otherwise. SO keep up the greatness. If you do nothing to “improve” or change, you are still 100% great the way you are.

    Currently I am reading “Heat” on your rec. Never would have found this amazing, truly different and disturbing book without you. WHat a book! Highly reccomend. Only problem is, I can’t put it down!

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  30. RachelT
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 12:14:15

    One of my favourite features is the invitation or Open Thread to readers to share their reading finds, and what they are looking forward to each month. As Darlynne has shown above, other readers find such interesting books and authors that don’t appear in the mainstream, and so many of us would miss. This column has been getting shorter recently (I think there were only 12 comments in December, when 40/50 was not uncommon in the past). I wonder if this might be because it gets overtaken so quickly with all the subsequent interesting posts, and we therefore forget it is there. I haven’t been able to find it easily when I have gone back to look for it. Would it be possible to link it more prominently on the front page – I think it appeared in the right hand column in the past?

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  31. pook
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 12:38:15

    @darlynne

    Finding Nouf sounds fascinating. Thanks for the rec.

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  32. Lynnd
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 13:13:01

    I love your news and daily deals posts (even though many of the deals are not available to us in Canada). I also like that you will only review books available in more than kindle format. I have noticed that the reviews of Harlequin category books have dropped off significantly over the past couple of years and I do miss them – including the lightening reviews. I would also like to see more reviews of PNR/Urban Fantasy and speculative fiction-romance.

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  33. Christine M.
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 13:52:00

    @Ann F.:

    I might agree with you if Amazon was as easily accessible in just about every country as it is in the US, which is *not* the case.

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  34. Christine M.
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 13:57:00

    @Lia:

    Trust me, we’re having the very same issues in Canada. I actually think the restrictions apply to everything-but-the-US.

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  35. A.M.K.
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 14:28:59

    @Christine M.: I think it’s more complicated than just one “non-US” category. I happen to live in Europe, in a country with no separate Amazon division (unlike UK or Germany), so my kindle is registered to Amazon.com. It very rarely happens that a book presented here as ‘free on amazon’ is not free for me as well. Most price drops also apply* (althought not all of them). The only problem is that price drop or no price drop, most ebooks still have the annoying whispernet surcharge. So for example, most 0.99 books are actually 3.44 for me. Not cool.

    As for geographical restrictions, I find that Amazon often doesn’t block books that I can’t buy from other stores like ARE or BooksOnBoard.

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  36. pooks
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 14:45:11

    @A.M.K. As an author member of Book View Cafe, I’ve been told it’s important for us to let international readers know that there is no download surcharge on our books. Until your explanation, I never realized how much that whispernet surcharge could be! Wow.

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  37. A.M.K.
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 15:16:17

    As far as I know, the surcharge itself is $2 and then you add 15% VAT to the combined price. I think this calculation should work for other Amazon.com users residing in the European Union, because the 15% VAT is supposedly from Luxembourg. There’s certainly no 15% VAT in my country, so I don’t think it’s just us.

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  38. Lia
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 15:17:15

    @AMK perhaps Amazon – or the publishing houses, I never really figured out who was to blame for geographical restrictions – changed their policy in that regard. Must admit I haven’t tried it for quite some time, since Kindles aren’t widely available here (I live in the Netherlands) anyway.

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  39. Mandy
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 15:18:46

    I love Dear Author the way it is but since you give me a choice I would second some previous comments regarding a desire for more reviews of m/m and fantasy romance. I was hoping the ban on Dreamspinner press could be reconsidered since they are one of the few m/m romance publishers that produce full length novels. Plus maybe review some of the new exciting innovative authors (including self-pubbed) in m/m rather than the same old ones that have been around forever.

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  40. Lada
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 17:05:56

    I am like you, Jane, and appreciate schedules so I like what you’re doing with the book club. And thank you for focusing on books with more than one digital format. I was just checking out Sunita’s “Best of 2012″ list and immediately went to find Theresa Weir’s book only to be frustrated that it is only available at Amazon. (I’m a Calibre fan -thanks to you- so this wouldn’t be an issue except for the fact that my friends and family loaded me down with BnN gc’s for xmas that I need to burn through!)

    Really glad you’re keeping the essays going and encouraging new voices to share. Thanks for keeping up a great site!

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  41. Shel
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 17:12:13

    More device giveaways, sweet. Personally, I don’t care for daily entry contests, though.

    Glad to hear about ebook guidelines.

    @Ann F
    Epub IS actually a universal format, but amazon chooses not to use it like everybody else. They want you to buy books from them if you own a kindle.

    @Lia
    Hear, hear! It is frustrating to see authors who think amazon and B&N cover all their bases. I’m not sure if it’s lack of technical knowledge (that B&N’s epub is not generally supported on other epub devices like Sony and Kobo, and that nonamericans cannot buy from B&N) or if they really don’t care because they make the majority of sales from amazon anyway.

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  42. Annabeth Albert
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 19:46:27

    I loved One Small Thing. LOVED. Can’t wait to hear what others think. Like many mentioned on Sunita’s year-end post, I kind of miss the m/m reviews.

    I like the shift to requiring two formats–I own a nook and a kindle, but I greatly prefer reading on my nook. And I refuse to buy books that aren’t available both places. I don’t care if it’s a futile fight–I think it’s important to have more than one retailer as long as possible. And selfishly, I own several hundred nook books and I want to see that format supported–having to rebuy for kindle would seriously suck.

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  43. Ellie
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 20:56:51

    Love this site. My favorites are the technology (Calibre and ereader) and market information. The Christmas gift suggestions were very helpful. Thanks for keeping this site so interesting!

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  44. library addict
    Jan 03, 2013 @ 05:13:53

    I probably love the techno posts and reviews the most. I don’t always comment on reviews, but I read a lot of them and you’ve contributed to many of my purchases of books/authors I otherwise would not have found.

    One thing I wish is that all of the links in the news posts, etc would open in a new window. I try to remember to right click and select that as an option, but sometimes forget and then end up journeying away from DA when I don’t want to.

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  45. Christine M.
    Jan 03, 2013 @ 07:16:24

    @A.M.K.: Until less than six months ago, Canadians had to buy all their Kindle books through Amazon.com… no Canadian front. So I know about all those non-free books and the likes. And even with the Canadian Kindle front store, most issues remain. Whsipernet charges is one of the reason why I went for a Sony Reader.

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  46. LeeF
    Jan 03, 2013 @ 07:26:40

    @Gwen Hayes:

    Same here- perhaps you could start a Daily Deal/debit card support group :-)

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  47. Estara
    Jan 03, 2013 @ 12:35:30

    @RachelT: I second that suggestion to have the Open Threads appear in the right hand navigation again.

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  48. Moriah Jovan
    Jan 03, 2013 @ 12:51:48

    @Estara:

    I will third it because I, too, get frustrated when such posts get pushed down the page.

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  49. Wahoo Suze
    Jan 03, 2013 @ 20:17:46

    @Ann F.:

    I understand your concerns about an Amazon monopoly but at the end of the day wouldn’t it be so much easier if there was just one universal e-book format?

    I find it very easy to use ePub, and I’m all for a universal format. However, having that universal format be proprietary to one company who restricts content to their platform alone so that they are the only source would be very, very bad for competition.

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  50. k8899
    Jan 03, 2013 @ 21:55:42

    On the subject of different religious experiences, have you reviewed/are there any books with specifically non-religious characters who get a HEA without converting. I’ve never found one, and it would be nice to see (the best I tend to hope for to see someone like me is books where religion is never mentioned). (I’d rather have that than exclusively ridiculous/negative portrayals which is all I’ve seen thus far).

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  51. A.M.K.
    Jan 04, 2013 @ 02:22:11

    @Lia & Christine M.: Believe me, I am no fangirl of Amazon ;) I hate the surcharge and disapprove of many of their practices. Whenever I can, I buy DRM-free ebooks from other stores. All I wanted to point out was that the restrictions and inconveniences may vary depending on where outside US you live.

    However, as bad as Amazon is, out of the big ebook stores, it’s the only one even open to me. I cannot register to and buy from Sony Ebookstore or Barnes & Noble . I cannot buy a Nook. I can, however, buy a Kindle with a couple of clicks and even with the international delivery it will be the same price or cheaper than most ereaders available locally. So at least they have that.

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  52. Janine
    Jan 04, 2013 @ 12:46:05

    @k8899: I don’t know if it’s exactly what you’re looking for, but the hero of Jovah’s Angel by Sharon Shinn is an atheist who doesn’t convert. Here’s Jayne’s review of the book.

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  53. CG
    Jan 06, 2013 @ 08:42:12

    A little late to post but my suggestion would be to have the Blog Posts that are generating a lot of debate stay at the top or first blog page a little longer. The recent Rape Culture piece and ensuing debate was both enlightening and engrossing and I was sad to see it go (I know it didn’t literally ‘go’, but out of sight out of mind). If a piece is interesting, I think the longer it is visible the longer it will generate debate.

    The news and opinion posts are my main reason for visiting, but I found you because of your reviews.

    ReplyReply

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