Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday Review Contest: All I Ever Wanted by Ellen Fisher

This week's indie romance novel review is Ellen Fisher's All I Ever Wanted. Dr. Drew Cooper is a Barbie look-alike with a Ph.D. in English Literature who wants to be worshipped for her rhetoric and comp skills, not her looks. Maxfield Sinclair is a popular sci-fi writer who is worshipped for creating an imaginary world ala Gene Roddenberry. The two meet under unusual circumstances at a sci-fi convention and, as is so often true in romance novels, get off to a rocky start.

The first page of Fisher's book used so many adverbs that I began to literally groan when I flagrantly noticed the seemingly endless number of abundantly ubiquitous adverbs. By page two, though, they thinned out and the characters came into sharper focus. By page four I was hooked.

The story line is simple (I like simple sometimes): she's a gorgeous, uptight, elitist intellectual and he's a mainstream slob with cultlike fans. There's a mystery thrown in, a wedding (or two), a kidnapping, and Max has a secret about his ex-fiance that softens Drew. Overall the characters are well drawn and the romance is your standard together-conflict-tension-more tension-together pattern.

The sex scenes are interesting, as Max isn't your standard "alpha male," though he doesn't act like a man as gorgeous as he's described in the book. Not to stereotype, but stunning men tend to have the sexual experience to match the chiselled look. Fisher has departed from convention and it makes the book all the better.

Aside from the abundantly abundant adverbs, which make an unexpectedly frequent appearance here and there, All I Ever Wanted is a nice, light romp.

Available on

Amazon ($.99)
B&N ($.99)

To win a free Kindle OR Nook copy of All I Ever Wanted, just leave a comment here. The winner will be announced next Monday on the blog!

(Edited to add: I can do a Nook eBook for the winner as well!)

Last Monday's contest winner!

Congratulations to a reader from North Carolina for winning a free Kindle copy of The Fashion Police by Sibel Hodge. A big thank you to everyone who entered!

Stay tuned - a new Monday Review Contest is about to be posted, so enter and try again for the new romance novel.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Monday Review Contest: The Fashion Police by Sibel Hodge

Yes, I know it's Tuesday, but I'm stubbornly sticking to my Monday Review Contest theme. And yes, I know I missed last week, so I'm reviewing TWO wonderful indie romance titles to make up for it this week (wait for the next one and check back soon!).

Sibel Hodge's The Fashion Police (Amber Fox Mystery) is the first book in a series of romantic mysteries starring Amber Fox, a former policewoman who turns to detective work between jobs.

Hodge uses first person for The Fashion Police, and after reading a bazillion (yes, I counted) romance books written in third person, with tons of head hopping, it took a few pages for me to shift to reading in first person.

It's all tell in The Fashion Police, and Amber Fox is a spunky police officer/detective with a (kinda, sorta) weak spot for her former fiance, Brad Beckett. Brad hires her to do some insurance work for him at Hi-Tec and when the owner of a fashion company she's investigating goes missing, the mystery and suspense develop into a humorous, goofy romantic suspense ride.

Hodge writes Amber with stream-of-consciousness, non-stop observations. A model is "so thin she looked like she'd been photocopied" (I laughed out loud at this). At times, though, she has Amber telling us about the emotions of others - emotions that would be better explained through description. A character doesn't give Amber a once-over - Hodge has to have Amber noting her "disdain." The showing works better stripped down, without the exposition.

This is a $3.49 eBook and a full-length novel. Hodge bucks the $.99 trend and I admire that; any good novel under $5 will likely sell well, and writers need to carefully weigh out their financial and marketing options when looking at price points.

While I'm not, personally, a big fan of first-person fiction, Hodge has done well with this point of view within the genre, and I can respect the style - readers who do enjoy viewing the world of Amber Fox through her own eyes and observations will find this a likeable journey. The Fashion Police is the first in Hodge's series, with follow-up book Be Careful What You Wish For (Amber Fox Mystery) just released.

Also available on B&N ($3.99) and Smashwords ($3.99).

As with all my contests, one lucky blog reader will win a Kindle copy of The Fashion Police this week. You don't need to own a Kindle to read a Kindle eBook - remember, you can use an iPhone, iPad, Android device, PC, Mac, etc.

All you need to do is comment on this post! I'll announce the winner next Monday. Thanks!

Legs has a COVER!

I've started the next book in the series, Arms, while I wait for edits on Legs. Then life becomes an intriguing mixture of writing the second book while editing/revising the first, then getting the cover going for the second while getting a revised draft for Legs out to a bunch of beta readers, with a goal of May (May 31 at 11:59 p.m. counts as "May," no?).

I'm thoroughly enjoying this process.

And here's a larger pic for your enjoyment:

Friday, April 15, 2011

NEW free romance novels on Kindle right now

Many of the free romance novels from last week have gone to paid, so I hope you downloaded them for free while you could!

Here are the freebies right now - be sure to act fast and download before they start charging:

Almost Perfect (Perfect Trilogy)

Irresistible Forces

Slow Ride: A Rough Riders story

A Fool Again: A Novella

13 Little Blue Envelopes Free with Bonus Material

Delivered With Love

Howling for My Baby

Stolen Hearts


Slow Hands -- This title is a Harlequin Blaze book.

Fools Rush In

Destiny by Design

Dancing in the Moonlight

Ghostly Awakening

The After Party

Many of these are repeats from last week - if you've read them, please comment and share your opinion! The new freebies are listed first.

Happy free reading!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Better Late Than Never: Winner of Last Week's Monday Review Contest

A reader from Colorado won a copy of Kiana Davenport's House of Skin on Kindle.

It's been a crazy week in the Alibeck household, so my Monday Review Contest will be a Wednesday review contest this week! Check in tomorrow. Hot new romance to be reviewed and one reader wins a copy!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Backstage Pass by Olivia Cunning - get it FREE NOW!

I'm reading a wide array of books, and am only halfway through Backstage Pass by Olivia Cunning but I have to say - buy it. Now. Don't wait. Now. I'll write a proper review later, but it's FREE right now on Kindle, so go download it. Do it. And then read the first two chapters and don't forget to respire.

Friday, April 8, 2011

TONS of Free Romance Books on Kindle Right Now!

I've never seen so many free romance books in the Top 100 on Kindle before. Here are a few I've downloaded already to my iPhone for convenient reading later. In many cases the freebies get pulled fairly quickly, so don't hesitate - buy with 1 Click and move on to the next one, then read away later!

Slow Hands
Ghostly Awakening
Fools Rush In
Dancing in the Moonlight
The After Party
Stolen Hearts
Destiny by Design
Truth and Consequences
Howling for My Baby
Delivered With Love
A Cottage By the Sea
Backstage Pass
50 Ways to Hex Your Lover

Many of these titles are from Samhain and Ellora's Cave, while others are from a smattering of different publishing houses. Indie publishers cannot list their eBooks for free on Kindle (yet), so if you're looking for free indie romance novels, these aren't.

Download now, and FAST, and enjoy. Happy reading!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

One of the Greatest Romantic Movies Has a Sequel: When Harry Met Sally 2!

In 1989 I must have gone to the movie theater at least 10 times to watch When Harry Met Sally. We own it on DVD and I have practically worn a hole in my CD soundtrack. It was - and remains - one of my absolute favorite romantic movies of all time.

Rob Reiner and Billy Crystal are pitching a sequel to When Harry Met Sally. When Harry Met Sally 2 is making the rounds - squee! Enjoy this short film about it!

Romance Writers of America - Joining and Attending Local and Regional Events

At the end of the month the New England chapter of Romance Writers of America is holding a regional conference in Salem, Mass. I'm going. Romance Writers of America is the biggest organization of writers in the romance genre, and their reach is astounding. The local chapter here in Mass. meets at Brandeis University in Waltham once a month, and I'll attend my first meeting in a week and a half; the topic is guns and firing guns.

I started laughing when I saw that, but then it really hit me how much sense it makes to have a gun demonstration/discussion for authors. When I'm writing a scene (there are no gun scenes in Legs or Arms, though), I strive for realism. With the exception of writing paranormal sections of books, or fantasy elements (in which case writer's block is cheerfully fixed by handling plot obstacles with a simple "It's magic! I can make s%!t up!" fix), the work has to be as plausible as possible, or you can feel the reader's eyeballs rolling out of their collective heads from hundreds of miles away. Not wishing to be responsible for a mass ophthalmological catastrophe, I'll attend the gun workshop, because who knows when a character might need a firearm?

I'm more intrigued by the RWA's stance on membership. You can attend up to three meetings as a non-member, and after that they cut you off and membership is required. No problem. I'm amazed you can attend three meetings without membership - I can't think of another writer's organization I've been part of (SCBWI comes to mind) where that's the case. The New England chapter is thriving, with plenty of members securing book deals and publishing independently each month. Behind the scenes romance is big business, and the RWA is a pivotal part of that $1.3 billion that readers shell out each year for the genre.

Most writers I know are fairly reclusive. Not in some J.D. Salinger way, but more in a busy mom/shy sort of way. I don't fall into this category; standing in front of college students for 17 years on and off as I taught, plus four years of speech team in high school means I can talk before large groups, and sometimes it's hard to get me to shut up when I'm discussing a favorite topic. But asking a writer to walk into a meeting where all the other people:

-- know each other
-- are writers
-- have been writing in the genre longer than you
-- are probably better than you
-- will laugh hysterically at your poor writing ability
-- and plan to kill and roast you as a sacrifice to the great god Harlequin

is a bit intimidating.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Monday Review Contest: House of Skin by Kiana Davenport

I normally don't jump on bandwagons, but I followed the J.A. Konrath blog post on Kiana Davenport with great interest. After Davenport, a well-received writer of literary fiction that touches on the erotic and romantic, wrote a touching email to Konrath about her depression and experience as a writer, Konrath encouraged his readers to discover her work for themselves.

While much of the writing blogosphere focused on the power of a Konrath consideration (her short story collection, House of Skin, moved up by 40,000%+ within a day of Konrath's post), what I found most amazing about her book, House of Skin, is that I had never read any of her work before, and wondered why on earth I'd never heard of her.

Priced at an obscene bargain at $1.99 on Kindle, House of Skin is one of those books that gets - pardon the pun - under your skin and slinks into your mind, inhabiting it during quiet moments and mulling over the stories from different angles. Davenport's stories have appeared in some of the best anthologies in literary fiction, from The Pushcart Prize Stories to The Best American Short Stories and Story Magazine itself.

The title story, "House of Skin," is worth the $1.99 cover price alone (really, it's worth so much more...). Lyrical and sensorial, yet stripped down like a Ray Carver story, it conveys so much with such economy of words, but a plethora of images. I was not expecting the end (no spoilers, so don't worry) and my emotional response was in tandem with that of the main character - Davenport evoked in me, the reader, what she shows in her protagonist. Remarkable writing.

In "Her Walking Stick," Davenport's imagery in sentences like "Mama hears them in bed at night, frenzied bodies shaking the wall so Jesus turns sideways on his crucifix" build instant pictures in the reader's mind carrying the story forward frame by frame like a story board with rich narrative as an added layer, each playing off the other.

Amazon classifies House of Skin as erotica, and I can see why, yet it is literary erotica, with an elegance and simplicity that conveys timelessness and a foreign enchantment to all Davenport describes. House of Skin inspired me to buy more books by Kiana Davenport, and in this brave new world of indie publishing, Konrath has not just done one writer a great service, but he has also served readers well by bringing Davenport to the attention of so many.

Available on:


Enter to win a free Kindle copy of House of Skin - all you have to do is friend me on Facebook: Harper Alibeck.

That's it! One winner will be randomly chosen to receive a copy of the book - I'll use the Kindle book gift program to do it, so make sure you either have a Kindle or that you've downloaded the Kindle free app to read books on your PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android or Blackberry.

Good luck! Winner will be announced here on Sunday, April 10!

Excerpt from Legs - please read and critique

One of the hardest aspects of being a writer involves letting people actually read your work.

::Blink. Blink. Let that sink in.::

I've hesitated to put any of my writing out there, so I'm cleaning up a nice 5-page sample to post later this week. Today I'm focused on getting my Monday Review Contest review ready, but in the meantime, here's a one-sentence excerpt:

She buried her hands in the thick curls at the back of his head and kissed him so thoroughly he was sure she'd lick her own palm.

There you go. Literary fiction at its finest.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Winner of a free copy of Intentions of the Earl!

A reader (and commenter) in California won the free copy of Rose Gordon's Intentions of the Earl. Yay! She's been contacted already and if she chooses to post here, that's up to her - I won't name her.

Stop back tomorrow for my new Monday Review Contest post and enter - you may win the next one. Enjoy the rest of the weekend!