book reviews

I am soooo excited! It’s been an awesome week. I just got the latest designs for my Romance Trading Cards and they’ve been ordered and will arrive early next week. Check them out…

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I’m giving away sets of Romance Cards to US Residents. Just email me at Nina AT NinaPierce DOT com with your snail mail address.

And in more news this week The To Be Read Pile gave BLIND LOVE 5 STARS! And Shyla said…

…these characters have layers like onion. Each time Nina peels away more skin we learn something we didn’t know, or expect. Nina has a way with mystery. She tells the reader just enough to make them think they have the puzzle solved. Only to turn around and reveal they were dead wrong. Blind love has it all. A romance that ranges from sweet, to sensual, to holy crap my eyes may fall out of their sockets. Characters that are well develop and a setting you relate to from the first paragraph.

This book surpassed my expectations and I would def recommend it as a read.

Oh, and I have a release date for INVITATION TO ECSTASY, the second book in the XTC Resorts series … AUGUST 10! When I have a cover I’ll share it with you along with the first look at an excerpt.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Publishing is a tough gig! Since I’m only in my adolescence when it comes to writing and publishing I can’t tell you if the days of the typewriter and printed manuscripts were harder than publishing is now. I really don’t know if the number of digital publishers and the ability to self-publish is making life easier or harder for the author.

What I do know is that there are a TON of books being released every day. No, I didn’t look up the exact numbers. (Feel free to google it.) But just think of all the traditional publishers, then add in small e-presses then add in self-published books and you have a lot of authors trying to find readers. It’s a regular cacophony of word music and it’s definitely hard for an individual instrument to stand out among all the overlapping songs.

There are only a few soloists who stand out, which means most authors are trying to find that one little trick that gets them heard. What will make their melody resonate above the river of music? Figuratively turn up the volume.

Okay, enough music metaphors. LOL! You get the idea.

Let’s face it, we all tag and like each other’s books. Why? Because there are rumors that the “likes” on Amazon affects the algorithms for a book and possibly give it a little extra to get up on the lists. (Since no one knows for sure, that information can’t be verified.) At the very least, when a reader pops over to a page and only 6 people have liked a book, it doesn’t quite have the psychological boost that a book with 231 likes gets. People wonder what they’re missing if that many people like a book. Is this gaming the system? Could be.

Knowing the impact of reviews, last year I began writing reviews on Amazon and Goodreads for the books I’ve read. And guess what? I read a lot of self-published writers because that’s who I’m hanging with these days. If readers wanted to start pointing fingers they could say I’m padding the reviews of my friends … even if my reviews are totally honest.

The internet is a buzz about authors buying honest reviews. Yet, publishers (and authors) buy advertisements in romance magazines and books get reviewed. Isn’t that the same thing? There are stories of bestselling author buying thousands of copies of their own releases to have the new release climb the charts. So is all this gaming actually cheating the system? How far does it have to go before it steps over the line?

Is offering a book for free as a loss leader considered cheating? Some say yes. I don’t think so. What I think is that it’s one of those tools that’s allowed my books to actually stand up in front of readers and scream “Try Me!“.

I’ve had three self-published books out for nearly a year. And you can see March Sales, May Sales and June Sales were nothing that could be called a living wage. But after several backflips (which ain’t easy for a woman with MS) and lots of groveling (see the post with the June sales), I finally got Amazon to price match BLIND HER WITH BLISS, the first book in the Tilling Passions series for FREE.

And guess what? I can actually say my writing is starting to make the kind of money I’d always hoped it would. Here are sales for the last six weeks.

Amazon:
Blind Her With Bliss: 80,000 Free, 14 sold = $30.00
Blind at UK site: 4663 Free, 0 Sold = $0.00
Deceive Her With Desire: 760 books = $1550.40
Deceive at UK site: 34 books = $35
Cheat Her With Charm: 563 books = $1148.52
Cheat at UK site = 22 books = $23

Barnes and Noble:
Blind Her With Bliss: Free
Deceive Her With Desire: 47 books = $91.18
Cheat Her With Charm: 39 books = $75.66

Smashwords:
Approximate sales for Apple, Kobo, Sony and Diesel = $480.33

As many of you know, I released a 4th self-published book this week. I’m hoping with an excerpt at the end of the third book that readers will begin buying that book and sales will only go up.

Will this last? I don’t know. I’m really pleased after all my back-breaking work last year that something is finally falling into place for me. All I can do is keep writing the best books possible and hope the readers continue to enjoy them.

So, what do you think? Do you think there’s too much “gaming” going on in the book business? Are the truly great books rising to the top or is it the author who knows how to play the system that comes out ahead? Let me know what you think, I’m curious about stuff like this.

There are very few movies I wait anxiously to see in the theater. But this one … this book made into a movie that everyone is talking about … is one of those that I have been chomping at the bit to see since November when I watched the first part of Breaking Dawn (which I thought was sloooow and boring). Of course, since they’re thinking this story will fit the audience watching the Twilight series, they previewed “The Hunger Games”.

I had heard whisperings of this interesting book set in the future. And as I usually do I gave it a try. I could NOT put it down! Do I think you’ll like it? I don’t know. I loved Twilight but couldn’t get through the Harry Potter series. I didn’t finish The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, but read The Host in one sitting. What can I say? But this series I have to admit, I haven’t heard anyone who’s read them who didn’t enjoy them.

Here’s the BLURB:
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games,” a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed.

I couldn’t help but wonder how the author Suzanne Collins was going to get this young girl to survive while 23 other teens died (some at her own hands) and not have her become a cold-hearted murderer. You know what? She did it. With wonderful mastery of writing, she managed to pull this story off and leave me wanting more.

The love story is a little schmaltzie (yes, that’s a real word 😉 ), but this is a story written for young adults, not a 50 year old woman who’s read her way through most of the romance section of the local library.

I’ve read a lot of wonderful books and usually have no desire to see the movie. But in this case I’ve become a squeeing fangirl. I was so jealous earlier this week when there was a premier somewhere. All kinds of people have gotten to see it before the official opening next Friday. I wanted to embed the trailer here, but Youtube wouldn’t let me. Click HERE to view the official movie trailer.

So what about you? Have you read the book(s)? Are you planning on seeing the movie? Does it interest you? Because you know me, I’m curious to know if I’m the only one anxiously awaiting the opening of this movie.

So today I have to think about doing some Christmas shopping. Mind you, I used the word think. I haven’t quite gotten to the actual motion of doing it, but hey, we’re counting down to a little less than 3 weeks and … what the heck? I’m not in panic mode … yet!

In the meantime, my crazy blog tour continues, with the accolades for DECEIVE HER WITH DESIRE continuing to roll in from the reviewers.

You can find another excerpt at Cocktails and Books and The Wormhole. Who also gave me a most awesome 4 STAR review and said…

Fantastic story! I fell in love with the characters. Ayden is fabulous, Deirdre is amazing. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading this one, but I was pulled in and couldn’t put it down. It’s a love story, but so much more than that. It tells a tale of love and loss, deceit and trust, faith and friendship. It questions what a person is willing to do for someone they love. I wasn’t expecting the twist at the end. I’m usually good at picking how the plot will play out, but I was so caught up in the romance and the relationships that I wasn’t looking for the end to come.
Well written, edgy and romantic. I went and bought books 1 and 3 as soon as I read the last page of Deceive Her with Desire ~ can’t wait to have time to read them too!

I don’t usually post the whole review, but that one makes me all warm and fuzzy.

And if I haven’t given you enough places to check out the second book in the Tilling Passions series, you can skip over to Sara Makala’s Blog for some more excerpt and promo goodness. DECEIVE HER WITH DESIRE is on sale during this whole blog tour for a mere 99 pennies. Heck, you can find that in the couch cushions or under you car seat. Wai…what? You actually vacuum your couch and your car. My bad.

Later folks. I’m headed out to my monthly writer’s meeting. Can. Not. Wait. They always motivate and inspire me. And my muse knows, I’m in desperate need of both!

November was INSANE as I prepped for a blog tour for DECEIVE HER WITH DESIRE. Now it’s here and I’m insane running around trying to share all the posts.

Lute at TBR Pile gave it 5 STARS and said this …

This story sizzled on the pages between the heated romance and the suspense. The plot was fast paced but I enjoyed every minute of it… adored Ayden and not just because he is the quintessential leading man who plays the underdog, okay, that pretty much had a lot to do with it. The romance kept my heart pumping and the suspense held me on the edge of my seat. I can’t wait to read the next installment of the series.

Check it out HERE. Comment by tomorrow, December 2 for a chance to win a copy!

And another 5 STAR review posted today at SAPPHYRIA’S BOOK REVIEWS. Check out what she had to say…

This was an awesome 105 page story. The shorter length of the book didn’t detract from the novel in any way. It didn’t seem rushed in any area nor did it leave out any crucial information that some shorter stories tend to do…The suspense and romance of the novel didn’t overtake each other; there was a nice balance of both. The romantic parts were hot and realistic and the suspense kept me engaged.

w00t! w00t! Snoopy dancing around the house. I love these two!

Also today begins a HUGE sale at Book Lover’s Buffet. ALL books in ALL genres are just $.99!! Including BLIND HER WITH BLISS. I hope you’ll check it out!

Authors love to write. It’s what we do. There’s an internal drive to turn the voices in our head into a book. Regardless of that fact, it is very scary to send our babies out into the world and risk rejection.

Of course we think our manuscripts are awesome. Beautifully crafted and entertaining. Our families and critique partners have gushed and given a thumbs up. But there is still the chance the editor at our dream publisher won’t feel the same. And when they do, there is still the readers and reviewers who may not fall in love with our characters the way we did.

There are some authors who don’t read their reviews. Don’t worry what the critics say. I’m not one of them.

I read every review, celebrating each 4 and 5 star review and kicking sand when someone only gives my book 3 stars or *gasp* lower. I totally understand that my stories aren’t necessarily everyone’s cup of tea, but it still stings. But the interesting thing about these lower reviews, after the initial disappointment, I usually learn something from them. Those well written ones from readers are especially beneficial.

But so few readers even write reviews. Even author-readers. I always try to write reviews for my friends’ books I enjoy. They don’t have to be long or written in flowery prose. They don’t even have to be a synopsis of the book. Just a few honest words about how you enjoyed the book. Anne Allen has a wonderful blog post talking about reviews, the ease of writing them and the impact they have on book sales. You should take time to read it.

Seriously. take a moment … I’ll wait.

Good right? I especially like how she compares review stars to rating a pair of jeans. She makes it so easy to understand.

So what about you? Do you write reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble? If you don’t why not? I’m always curious about these sorts of things.

And today you can check out a review (and give away) of “Deceive Her With Desire” at TBR Pile. I also have an short interview at Lisa’s World of Books. And I’ve got an excerpt from “Blind Her With Bliss” at 99 Cent Books. Whew. Busy day.

I feel fortunate that I skirted the worst of Irene. I rode out the tropical storm in southern Maine with a bunch of family. With a generator to run a crock pot we had warm food and great company playing a very spirited game of Spades while the wind howled and the rain came down in torrents. I’ve been without internet for the last week and though I’ve been going through withdrawals, it’s nothing compared to the people still without power and worst still … damaged property.

But while I was away, several reviews came around for my books. And since I’m working feverishly to catch up on all things blogging (including some over due guest blogs) I’ll leave you with some happy reviews.

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Lilly at Romance Junkies gave Love’s Bounty 3 RIBBONS and had this to say…

Passion and suspense go hand-in-hand in LOVE’S BOUNTY. Author Nina Pierce knows how to turn up the heat and keep it on high, which makes LOVE’S BOUNTY a deliciously erotic read. Couple that with the danger brought about by Ayden’s case and you’ll find that LOVE’S BOUNTY is definitely a high-octane thrill of a read.

MEDIUM

Stacey at Sizzling Hot Book Reviews gave Invitation to Ecstasy 5 Hearts and said…

Sara and Derek have both met their demons but they need each other to be able to face them and overcome what was left in the wake. By pushing the other one, each learns the art of letting go of the hurts others have welded upon them and they begin to believe in themselves once again.

Invitation to Ecstasy is a quick read that will suck you right into the lives of Sara and Derek. I laughed and I cried at different points of their story. Nina Pierce does a fantastic job of giving you enough details to understand the plot and the characters without drowning in them. Invitation to Ecstasy is one of my new favorite books.

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Stacey from Sizzling Hot Book Reviews also reviewed Maid for Master giving it 4 HEARTS and said …

Maid for Master is a sexy erotic romance with lots of emotion. Friendship, love, anger, and hate all forge bonds between the characters as they experience something new. Ms. Pierce brings to life the story of Claire and how her darkest desires do not make her a bad person. In Maid for Master, she explores the ability to live out those fantasies and still be a strong woman.

Maid for Master is the perfect book for someone looking for a story of love with hot fantasies and even hotter interactions. It has a softer romantic side of the BDSM lifestyle that is fun and exciting to read about.

 

I’m very excited. At the end of last week I received word that A TOUCH OF LILLY has finaled in Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal’s Prism Contest in the Erotica category. w00t! w00t!

This is the second final for this book. I’m not sure I mentioned it also finaled in Passionate Ink’s Passionate Plume Contest in the Science Fiction/Fantasy category.

Winners for both contests will be announced at RWA’s National conference at the end of June.

Also this week, ROMANCE JUNKIES gave BLIND LOVE 5 RIBBONS and Pam said:

BLIND LOVE is the first novel in the series, TILLING PASSIONS, by Nina Pierce. It was an intriguing page-turner from the beginning. I could not put it down…Julie’s character development throughout the story is very inspiring. Damon is the perfect man for her. He slowly coaxes her out of her shell, makes her realize her worth, and that in itself is incredible. BLIND LOVE is by far, the best contemporary romance I have read this year. I am looking forward to reading more by Ms. Pierce.

How about and EXCERPT:
He stopped short when he realized the door to the back offices of the club was blocked. A raven-haired beauty stared down the bouncer guarding the entrance from unauthorized customers. The woman stood defiantly with her hands on her hips. Her breasts pushed forward, brushing the guy’s barrel chest.

“Well, I guess I just don’t understand. You’ve let all kinds of people go through that door behind you. I’ve seen them coming and going. Why not me?”

He recognized the feisty woman. Twenty minutes ago, she’d acted like she didn’t understand what was going on when the dance floor spotlight flooded over her. It hadn’t taken much coaxing from the crowd to get her to join the dance competition. Damon had seen lots of women appear all innocent until they were nearly naked in front of the crowd. Not this one. He’d watched her ride her partner’s thigh, her body swaying sensually to the music, her lids hanging heavy with desire. He was sure she’d be like all the rest, slithering out of her clothes and satisfying herself in public. But she hadn’t. She’d done some kind of slink and roll and extricated herself quite gracefully from the writhing bodies on the dance floor, then disappeared.

She’d definitely caught his attention. Damon’s body reacted to the memory. Okay, so maybe he wasn’t too tired to enjoy a drink or two with a lively number like her.

“As I told you, only members can go through, or guests on the list.” The bouncer looked down his crooked nose at her, the strobe lights reflecting off his bald head. He pounded his stubby finger on his clipboard. “Ma’am, if you’re not on the list, you’re not going in.”

“Ma’am? Do I look like a ma’am to you?” she asked, poking the big man in the sternum.
Damon bit back a laugh. There weren’t many who would stand up to this particular bouncer. Just the size of his tattooed forearms was enough to intimidate most patrons of Starry Knights. She seemed unfazed by his size and gruff scowl. Maybe he could save the poor schlep blocking the door, give the woman access to the back rooms and find if she was interested in a little something more.

He didn’t feel quite so tired anymore.
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I hope everyone has a wonderful week!

I couldn’t do an update this week without telling everyone how fortunate I am to have such a wonderful mom. She raised 5 children (each of us a year apart … you do the math … FIVE teenagers! And she survived!) She’s been wonderful as I’ve become a mom. She hangs back until we ask for advice and then gently shares her wisdom. Mom lives far away from me and though we don’t talk on the phone very often, I think about her every day.

But 27 years ago when I married Mr. Nina another wonderful mom came into my life. I’m so fortunate to have someone else who loves me unconditionally, supports and encourages. I truly am doubly blessed.

I’m not going to be with either of my moms today. But they are in my thoughts and prayers. If you’re a mom … Happy Mother’s Day. And I wish for all of you the special love of a mom.

Now, onto the good news this week …

Sizzling Hot Books reviewed BLIND LOVE. Michelle had this to say …

Blind Love was a hot and sweet story. I enjoyed seeing a woman not holding back her feelings of discontent with her family and how she went for what she wanted … a book to go back to when you are in a sentimental mood, but with hotness thrown in.

And Miz Love Loves Books gave BLIND LOVE 5 STARS and Miz Terious had this to say…

Ms. Pierce has penned a wonderful mystery with twists and turns that will keep the reader guessing until the very end. The chemisty between Julie and Damon is smoking with sex scenes that will have you squirming in your seat. It doesn’t get much better than this. Intrique, family dynamics, hot sex and a true happy ending. I’ll be looking for the second book in what promises to be a great series.

And quite out of the blue I received an awesome 4 STAR review for DIVINE DECEPTION from Night Owl Romance. And Pauline had this to say …

Each and every character in this story was well developed and added to the plot. The emotions in this story are extensive and run the gamut from sorrow, guilt, anger, joy and hatred. The location itself is almost a character and Ms. Pierce brings it to life, I could almost smell the dirt and taste the wine. This author is one of my must-reads and this story showcases the talent that put her there.

How about an EXCERPT:
Having Nick present while she visited with Joseph wasn’t really in her plans. Frankie had tried to talk Nick into taking the motorcycle to the hospital later in the morning but Margaret had come running down the granite steps swinging a picnic basket as Frankie was climbing into the truck. She handed it to Nick with two quick kisses on his cheeks and stood watching as he climbed into the passenger side of the cab and they pulled from the driveway.

Now they were headed into town, the midmorning sun hanging in an azure sky, its rays dancing on Seneca Lake. Normally Frankie would have loved a day like this but the cab seemed claustrophobic with Nick Gradin’s surly attitude sitting between them.

“It’s not my fault you didn’t know who I was,” she said quietly.

Turning to her, he cocked a skeptical eyebrow and crossed his arms over his chest.

“You knew your father had a stepdaughter.”

“And a child bride,” Nick remarked coldly. “I expected my stepsister to have pigtails and braces. Not…” His hand motioned up and down her torso.

“Well, you didn’t seem to mind the package yesterday.”

“Yesterday I thought you were Joseph’s assistant.”

“Funny, yesterday I thought you were a womanizing pig of a manwhore.” She shot him a patronizing smile. “Guess one of us was right.”

He frowned. “If you’ll recall, I wasn’t the one who came on to you in the field.”

“As I recall, it was you who was ready for action in the wine cellar.”

“I was simply reading the signals you were sending out.”

“Then you have a faulty GPS.”

“My wiring is just fine thank you.”

“I suppose you think it is, with all the woman you have tumbling into your posh Philadelphia bed.”

“Now what the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“Oh, as if you don’t know.”

“I have no idea what you’re…oh, this is stupid. Pull over here.” Nick motioned to a dirt road that led to a small alcove near the lake.

She’d been parking there once in high school.

“I’m not going to see Joseph until we clear this up and can at least be civil to each other,” he said.

Frankie acquiesced. He was right. It wouldn’t do Joseph any good to have them bickering in front of him. She turned the truck into the trees, their pumpkin and gold leaves floating passively on the gentle breeze. They bumped down the dirt tracks, the center lane overgrown with the dried weeds of summer. Frankie felt as if she was entering the lion’s mouth. Anger surrounded Nick like the cloud of dust trailing behind them. She had no idea why he was so pissed when she’d only spoken the truth.

Shoving the truck in park and shutting off the engine, Frankie stared out over the lake. Its cobalt surface rippled at the gentle touch of the fall breeze. Maybe this was the perfect place to help Nick see things her way. Though she hadn’t exactly started the conversation off in the right direction, maybe she could try again. “I think—”

As if he hadn’t heard her, Nick got out and slammed the door. Pacing in front of the truck, he pulled at his bottom lip, an angry scowl furrowing his brows. What the hell was his problem? Frankie got out and stalked after him. “For someone who wants to talk, you’re damn rude, you know that, Gradin?”

He grabbed her and pressed her against the front of truck, the solid planes of his chest trapping her. “I don’t know what my father told you about me but I do not—I repeat, do not—have a rotating door on my bedroom. There is no harem of beauties waiting for me in Philly. When I choose to sleep with a woman I like there to be a little chemistry between me and the lady.” His mouth came down hungrily on hers, his taste already familiar. When his tongue ran the seam of her lips, she had no choice but to open to his assault. Fisting his hand in her hair, Nick controlled the breath-stealing tempo while his other hand surrounded her breast, squeezing the sensitive flesh. Warm shocks of want shot straight to her pussy. Frankie’s hands seized the soft chambray of his shirt, her heart racing in her ears. Nick broke from her as abruptly as he began. “And there’s no denying our chemistry, Francesca.”

I fuss about them. I wait anxiously for them. I hold my breath as my computer connects to the site, wondering what I’ll find when I get there. What am I talking about?

Reviews.

Yep those little blurbs that come with numbered stars (or ribbons or books or tombs). I read them ALL. And of course I have to swallow my pride when the review is less than stellar. I mean come on. I wrote it and subbed it to my editor believing the readers would really enjoy the story. My editor worked hard fixing it here, tightening it there so it would be the best it could possibly be when it went out into the world. Publishers certainly don’t give contracts to books that they believe wouldn’t appeal to their readers. So the long and the short … I want my story to be loved.

With 10 books out in the world I’ve had my fair share of reviews and they’ve run the gamet from amazing “top picks” to the “don’t bothers”. And the funny thing is they can be for the same book. Sometimes, like scores from a contest, I learn something from the reviewer. They have a very valid point about the plot or a particular character. I really don’t mind those reviews.

But I currently have a review out that’s a 1 out of a possible 5. And the comment? “I didn’t read this book, but the cover is the same as XYZ author’s cover”. Whaaat? I have no say on my covers. That’s not my fault. Fortunately several people marked the comment as “not helpful” which I appreciated. Another low score I got was at a site where the reviewer stated “I’ve never read erotica, but there seemed to be an awful lot of sex in the middle of a good story.” I’ll let you be the judge of THAT review.

Some authors are better than I, they don’t read their reviews. I’m not at that point yet. I scour every single one of them and take every one of them to heart. But here’s the funny thing. I don’t RELY on them to help me discover new authors. When looking for a great read, I don’t ever go to review sites to see what they have to say. I buy my books based on the author and/or the back cover blurb. Period.

Which brings me to this question … How do you feel about reviews? Do they influence you to either buy the book or put it down and back away slowly? Because you know me … I’m always curious about this stuff. 

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