July 31, 2015

Serving Pleasure by Alisha Rai (Pleasure Series, Book 2)Alisha Rai is becoming one of my favourite contemporary romance authors and this book shows why.

This is a guest review by Rudi Bremer. Rudi is a romance reader and radio broadcaster who owns The Most Awesome Shoes in the Universe. You can find her at @rudi_bee.

While Serving Pleasure can stand alone, it’s the second book in Alisha Rai’s Pleasure Series, which follows the three Malik sisters, a trio of Indian-American women who run a family restaurant together.

In this particular book, Rana Malik, the eldest sister, is brash and bold. She crosses lines and pushes boundaries, all with the intent of protecting the people she cares about. She’s also on a mission of self-improvement. She’s determined to turn herself from the family’s black sheep into the daughter of her conservative mother’s dreams. Which essentially boils down to Rana ditching her casual hook-ups, and falling in love with Mr. Right With A Law Or Medical Degree. The only problem? She just can’t seem to stop perving on The Hottie next door.

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July 30, 2015
2015 F Word: Romance via The Wheeler Centre

A video replay of the Wheeler Centre’s panel on romance fiction and feminism is now available online.

Last month, I was in Melbourne for what was probably the most intimidating panel I’ve ever been invited to. Not intimidating in a scary sense, but because it was at the Wheeler Centre for a series of talks targeted towards a more literary crowd. This is always a bit challenging for someone who reads largely in the romance genre. Not to mention, this series focuses on feminism, which I certainly identify with, but in which I can’t really claim any sort of authority.

By all accounts — at least, those I heard, which I admit is probably a very limited and biased sample — the panel went well. Maxine Beneba Clarke was a lovely host, and fellow panelists Kate Belle and Beth Driscoll offered a variety of different perspectives which made for a well-rounded session (at least, to me, but I’m obviously biased).

If you couldn’t make it to the event (it was sold out!), the Wheeler Centre has posted the video of the session, so you can replay it in all its glory. (I discovered, watching the replay, that I have a bad case of Resting Bitch Face, which is ever so slightly devastating.) I hope you guys find it interesting, maybe thought-provoking, and — most importantly for me — the start of new conversations to be had around literature, genre and women.

Watch the video here.

July 29, 2015

Some additional thoughts on John Havel’s plagiarism, why the term ‘jungle fever’ is offensive, and how not to conduct yourself after your website posts something stupid.

If you’re not sure what this post is about, you can catch up on the background here, here, here and here.

If you missed Eden Connor’s excellent rebuttal of John Havel’s article on The Hustle because you didn’t want to give the site any page views, head over to Her Hands, My Hands, where Azteclady has reposted the (unedited) article in its entirety. The post includes thoughts on the rebuttal from Connor:

[Many of Connor’s fellow writers are black women who] see Amazon for the chance it is, a chance for their words and their stories to be published and read by a ravenous audience, eager for more.

And the authors know that my closing remark in the rebuttal piece is the truth, that the doors of traditional publishing are still closed to them, even to those who regularly hit #1 in the IR category.

To game these women? Unforgivable.

AZ also discusses her opinions on The Hustle’s conduct, and they’re worth reading. AZ addresses the particularly douchey comments on this site by The Hustle founder Sam Parr.

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July 27, 2015

Congratulations to this year’s RITA and Golden Heart winners!

The romance equivalent of the Oscars was held yesterday at the Romance Writers of America conference in New York. This year, the event was live-streamed on the RWA website — from a reader’s perspective, this was such a fabulous idea. I can imagine that authors who couldn’t attend also enjoyed seeing colleagues being recognised for their work.

Alas, there were  no Aussie winners this year, but two of my favourite historical romance authors won the top prize.

Congratulations to all the winners! You can find the official list here.

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July 25, 2015

Penguin has released the official video of the Australian launch of The Captive Prince. Spot the Book Thingo bloggers!

This event was as much fun as it looks in this video. The Sydney venue was quite intimate, with moody lighting, so it’s great to see how clear the video is. You might spot a few Book Thingo bloggers in the audience. Mainly we’re caught talking. A lot. :)

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July 24, 2015

Eden Connor’s rebuttal to John Havel’s piece at The Hustle is boss. But you’ll have to give the site hits to read it.

The Hustle is on the ball about courting page hits, I’ll give them that. It’s not a bad thing, per se. It’s the currency of the blogging world, so I understand. By now, I’m a little cynical about why they decided to post a rebuttal piece addressing John Havel’s problematic Amazon experiment, but as the rebuttal is actually very good, I’ll give props where it’s due. Author Eden Connor’s piece is pretty great, and she tackles the problems with Havel’s article and approach head-on. She also explains why references to ‘jungle fever’ were extremely troublesome.

So, what was really accomplished here? You stole a book from someone, and in doing so, opened yourself and your publication to a lawsuit. You insulted every romance writer I know, and slung an extra measure of dung on the writer of color, writing in the interracial romance category, who checks her Amazon account and knows damn good and well that if she’d made both her characters Caucasian — or made up a profile purporting to be a white, middle aged woman — her books would reach a wider audience.

I particularly love this burn:

Thanks to a thing called the internet, we can now run you to ground and call you out for what you are. Turning off comments and switching Twitter links won’t save you, either. The first thing any entrepreneur learns is to not insult people as a matter of course.

Kudos to The Hustle for publishing the rebuttal. But minus points for some of Sam Parr’s comments on this site that basically amount to the old (and tired and unproven) argument that plagiarism in this case benefited the author by generating sales. That is douchey language, and undermines their otherwise seemingly in-good-faith apologies.

July 24, 2015

Blurb and cover for The Beast, plus general spoilers for the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, and tidbits on The Bourbon Kings. Warning: Major spoiler for The Shadows.

Click here for more BDB cheat sheets and pre-release spoilers.

The Beast by JR Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 14) - US editionWe now have a cover and blurb for Rhage and Mary’s novella-turned-novel, The Beast:

Rhage and Mary return in the new novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, a series “so popular, I don’t think there’s a reader today who hasn’t at least heard of [it]” (USA Today).

His name is Rhage—the deadliest fighter and most voracious lover of all the Brotherhood, whose inner beast could never be tamed. But Rhage found his eternal love in Mary Luce, a woman who once bore a life-threatening curse, while dreaming of eternity with her vampire warrior and protector.

They’ve made it to hell and back. Now their story continues in a new novel sure to draw fans back into the “frighteningly addictive” (Publishers Weekly) world of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.

I really liked The Shadows because I felt like we got more time with the characters again, such as when she shows what they were doing before they get the phone call that advances the plot. It felt more like the way the books used to, and I always enjoy spending time with Rhage. I knew that something big was going to happen, but avoided the spoilers until after I’d read it.

I mostly enjoyed the book until the big twist, but it felt as though the book only had room for one romance, but there were two couples. Trez and Selena got the courtship, but iAm and maichen got the HEA. Mainly, I’m just glad that nothing bad happened to Rhage.

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July 23, 2015

The Hustle publishes an official apology to Anna Cleary for infringing copyright.

Updated 23/7/2016 12:30pm: Added a link to the original article at The Hustle.

This morning (at least, from where I’m sitting), The Hustle updated John Havel’s piece on how to game the Amazon bestseller list (background here and here) with an apology to Anna Cleary, whose book, Untamed Billionaire, Undressed Virgin, was plagiarised as part of Havel’s experiment. Here’s a screenshot of the apology (link to source):

The Hustle apology to Anna Cleary - 23/7/2016

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July 22, 2015

A round-up of reactions to John Havel’s article, including responses from author Anna Cleary, publisher Harlequin, and John Havel.

Yesterday, I posted my thoughts on John Havel’s article in The Hustle where he essentially demonstrates how easy it is to exploit Amazon’s processes and circumvent its controls to make money without too much effort. Unfortunately, he did this by plagiarising an author’s work, which was still under copyright and, it seems, without permission from the author or publisher. The book he used was Untamed Billionaire, Undressed Virgin by Anna Cleary. (You can buy a copy at Amazon, iTunes and Kobo, or borrow a copy from your library.)

There has been a strong response to this article in the reader communities I hang out in. Not surprisingly, authors have been some of the most vocal. I don’t think Havel really appreciated the effect his actions would have had on authors, and the reception it would receive from people who take plagiarism seriously. I’ve read the article a few times now, and while I appreciate its sense of Hey, it’s a bit of a lark! that tone really just hits a raw nerve in the romance community.

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July 21, 2015

John Havel at the The Hustle tried to expose how scam artists can game the Kindle bestseller list to make money…by being a scam artist himself. Literally, he plagiarised Australian author Anna Cleary, and The Hustle is sidestepping criticism without issuing a formal apology.

I was randomly looking through my Twitter feed this morning when I came across this article in The Hustle. (That link goes to an archived copy to minimise page views for the website, but if you really must see the original page, it’s here. However, it won’t be the same as the archived version. I’ll talk about that in a sec.)

According to writer John Havel, he

…ripped off a free book that I found online, made up a middle-aged author from Ohio, and then played Amazon like a fuckin’ vintage banjo to become the #1 ranked book in not one, but two separate categories.

The book happened to be Untamed Billionaire, Undressed Virgin by Aussie author Anna Cleary. I reached out to Cleary to confirm that she was unaware of the experiment prior to the article being published. Cleary first found out about the article this morning through another author, who apparently was so upset on her behalf that Cleary couldn’t work out what she was saying at first. Cleary was shocked when she learned what had happened. She hasn’t received an apology or explanation either from John Havel or The Hustle.

Before I go into my rant about The Hustle piece, I wanted to showcase Cleary’s book first, so I asked her to tell us a bit about Untamed Billionaire, Undressed Virgin:

Untamed Billionaire, Undressed Virgin

Untamed Billionaire, Undressed Virgin by Anna ClearyMills & Boon | 9781742783468 (Aus) | 9781426832437 (US) | Extract

I loved writing this book! It’s a story about a quiet, intuitive young woman, one Sophy Woodruff, whose adoptive family have moved overseas while she remains in Sydney. At work one day, she accidentally sees for the first time her biological father, a silver fox with powerful old-Sydney connections. Thrilled at the chance of a relationship with her original family, Sophy contacts the old boy. Mysteriously, soon after she makes contact, an intriguing stranger, this tall, dark, annoyingly well-built guy with brooding eyes and the devil in his grin, moves into the office next door to hers and introduces himself as Connor O’Brien, lawyer. Thing is, Sophy doesn’t believe he’s a lawyer. But he’s a helluva good kisser!

Amazon | iTunes | Kobo | Library

The title is no longer in print, but you can find the ebook edition at your favourite Harlequin backlist bookseller!

Now, onto the rant…

Havel selected Untamed Billionaire, Undressed Virgin because he was looking for some very specific characteristics in order to maximise the chances of his fake-book making it to Amazon’s bestseller lists:

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