A Difference of Opinion

I wanted to share with you all a rather unpleasant experience I had recently regarding a pretty unfriendly response to one of my reviews. It’s not that I necessarily want to draw more attention to what happened, but instead to let you know that if this has happened, or does happen to any of you, you’re not alone. 

I write honest reviews. Whether I loved a book, or hated it, I hold nothing back when it comes to letting you all know how I felt about my reading experience from start to finish. I recently wrote a review of a book provided to me by a publishing house, and I had quite a lot of negative things to say about the actions and opinions of the main character. Unfortunately, it seems the author took my problems with the protagonist as a direct personal attack.

After posting my review I received an influx of comments from the author, the author’s spouse, literary agent, and “fans” about what they thought of my review. I was accused of trolling, bullying, attacking the author, of being stupid, a racist, a liar, a poor excuse for an American, that I should get a real job, get an education, apologize to the author, that I was afraid of rough sex, and that I was a c*nt. One even said they couldn’t be happier that they weren’t related to me. Finally, something we can agree on 🙂


“…let me see, what else can we pile on? Is there any more sh*t we can pile on…? Is it possible?”

First Impressions

Well, this isn’t exactly how I saw my day going. My initial gut instinct was to delete the review. I thought on it for a while though, and realized that I would just be giving in to what considered to be bullying. My second instinct was to remove all of the negative comments. However, everyone is entitled to an opinion. Even though they seemed to think that I wasn’t worthy of having one, I decided to let them express an opinion which was different from my own.

To Engage, or Ignore? 


This was the biggest question I faced all day. How to respond? I considered ignoring them all, but instead I chose to write back saying that it looks like we had differing opinions when it came to the book, but if they liked it that’s all that matters. I also responded to the author’s negative comments saying that instead of focusing so much attention on my one negative review, it might be better to focus instead on the positive ones out there.

Plot Twist

Turns out, all that time I spent trying to cordially respond to every negative comment was a waste. Not only did the comments escalate from insulting my intelligence to calling me a bitch, but then the “fans” started going after another reader of my blog who tried to defend me. That’s when I decided the comments had to stop. Imagine my surprise when I did some digging and realized all of these “fans” were writing from the same exact IP address as the author.



So what happens now? Well, I won’t apologize for expressing my honest opinions. I didn’t like the book. That’s that. Let’s move on. I did make the difficult decision to remove all 48 of the negative comments though. If they had been made from actual supporters of the book I probably would have kept them up there, but I just found the whole scenario to be rather misleading. 

I have had readers of my blog disagree with some of my reviews in the past, and I always welcome a discussion of differing opinions. A reader will find a heroine I liked to be too inactive for their tastes, while others might think an alpha male I thought was sexy to be too demanding for them. If your opinion differs from my own, that’s great! Let’s talk about it. Maybe you’ll make me realize something I hadn’t initially considered. Believe it or not, I can sometimes be persuaded to change my mind. But please don’t just say I’m stupid for expressing my own opinions, as I would never call you stupid for expressing yours.

freedomopinion 2


I would also like all of the authors and publishers out there to take note of my new “review policy” tab. It lists the genres I prefer, as well as those that might not be my cup of tea. Main thing to remember: considering the title of my blog the book should have some romance in it. My review policy also clearly states that I write honest reviews, positive and negative, so you should be prepared for that. Looking back on the whole experience I can’t say it was a fun one. I lost a LOT of sleep over it, and couldn’t eat much of anything for about 2 days. I’ve also started to get nervous every time I see a new comment on one of my reviews, even though the comments on this particular review have stopped. That being said, I can’t ignore the irony of it all. After all, here I was being accused of bullying and misleading everyone. Oh well, moving on!


Secondhand Heart by Kristen Strassel

Daisy Mangold is only twenty-one, and already a widow. Her husband, who was also her best friend from childhood, died due to a road-side bomb explosion while serving in Afghanistan. Now that it has been over a year since her husband’s death, Daisy’s family and friends think it is time for her to start getting her life back on track. Her sister in particular thinks she should move on with Cam Hunter, a hunky town local who won a singing reality TV show, and is back in town to open up a bar and get his country singing career in order after splitting up with his wife. Sounds like a match made in heaven.

secondhand heartHonestly, I had some issues with the first half or so of this book, mainly in regards to Daisy and Cam’s relationship. She is just starting to date again after losing someone ridiculously important to her, and Cam’s divorce isn’t even final yet before he and Daisy start seeing each other. At first it seems like they are both on the rebound, and because they are so emotionally vulnerable they sort of latch onto each other. I don’t know, it just didn’t seem as real as I would have liked. I think another contributing factor to this was that we only hear Daisy’s point of view on the relationship. Even during her conversations with Cam everything is more focused on her thoughts and feelings rather than his. I understand that this is more realistic considering that we never really know what another person is thinking, but for a romance novel it’s sort of nice to feel like both persons are wholly invested in the relationship. He didn’t even really contribute much to the conversations. Because we really only hear what Daisy is thinking, it sort of made it seem like the relationship was one-sided. For about the first half of the book I actually questioned whether or not Cam was really into her, or if he just saw her as a way to pass the time in the evenings.

Daisy and Cam’s relationship moves along at a ridiculously fast pace, to the point where after about a month of dating he asks her to move in with him, and she agrees. Come on Daisy! Do you really know enough about this guy to make such an important life-altering decision after only a month? What side of the bed does he sleep on? Does he prefer orange juice with or without pulp? And perhaps the most relevant question of all: does he like Coke or Pepsi? These are the very foundations of any relationship! I mean, yeah it would also be good to know whether or not he is actually divorced before moving in with him, or if you’ll be responsible for any rent or utility payments considering you don’t have a job, but soda preference is key.

I struggled to understand Daisy’s reasoning behind moving in with Cam so quickly, but at one point I really couldn’t sympathize with her. To be fair, Daisy does give the reader permission at one point to think of her as “nuts”, so I see no problem in simply agreeing with that characterization. It’s the moment when she tells her parents about her new living arrangements, and she gets all pissy because her mom isn’t more on board with the decision like her father is. I tried to envision what it would be like if I sat down with my mom and dad and told them that I was gonna move in with a guy they’d never met before after only dating him for one month. In my opinion, Daisy got off easy. My mom wouldn’t just give me attitude, she’d give me the glare. You know what I’m talking about. The most literal translation would probably be, “Excuuuuuse me?!” I’m pretty sure my dad would also enlist the help of my two older brothers to track down this boyfriend of mine and teach him a lesson. Ah, family. Gotta love ’em.

All things considered, the second half of the book was a billion times better than the first.There is a major plot twist in the latter half which I won’t spoil, but it definitely turned the story onto a new path. The book was no longer just a romance novel, but showed the importance of family and having loved ones in your life to help you through the hardest of times. There were some other elements present throughout the entire book that I really enjoyed. From start to finish, Daisy has to deal with the loss of her husband, and what it means to move on after losing a loved one. I can’t even attempt to imagine how much of an inner-battle that would be. To constantly question whether or not it is ok to feel something for someone new. Does moving on necessarily mean that you have to forget who came before? One of my favorite features of the book was that Daisy always wore her husband’s dog tags. It was interesting to see how such an immaterial object could come to symbolize an entire person, and was a way for Daisy to always keep a piece of her husband close. The dog tags were almost like another character. I think what made his loss so much more poignant was that he wasn’t just her husband, he was also one of her closest friends. Daisy learns that keeping him close is possible, but she still has room in her heart for someone new.

*A copy was provided by the author for an honest review*

Series: I don’t think so

Should You Read It? If you stick with it through the first half I think you’ll enjoy it. The ending is also adorable, and by far my favorite part of the book!

Smut Level: Some parts were pretty PG, but others were downright dirty. It made me realize why people really go to the drive-in. I remember how much fun I used to have as a kid dressing up in my PJs to go see a movie at the drive-in. Now I wonder what was really going on in the back seats of the other vehicles.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here

An ARC What Now?

For those of you who regularly read my blog (thank you much) you have probably noticed that at the bottom of a post or five I include the disclaimer *An ARC has been provided for an honest review*. Now if you have a book review blog of your own, or you have surpassed the intelligence of a 10 year old, you can probably guess what an ARC is. Basically, an author provides me with an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of their book in the hopes that I will post a review of it on my lovely little blog here. AKA, marketing in the modern world. Honestly, when I was first contacted by an author who wanted to give me a free copy of their book to review, my first thought was: what the hell kind of a scam is this! I really thought that the minute I downloaded the book a virus would corrupt my entire computer. So I researched the author, looked up what the heck “ARC” stood for, and held my breath as I hit the download button. Paranoid much? Alas, no technological tomfoolery ensued, and my time as an ARC reviewer began! I really have no idea if it’s politically correct to classify yourself as an ARC reviewer, but what the hell, I’m just going with the flow.

I’ll admit I was so unbelievably excited when that first author contacted me to review their book. Ever since then, I’ve noticed that every time an author sends me an e-mail requesting a review, two thoughts immediately go through my head, 1) holy crap, another author has somehow stumbled across my blog and wants to give me a free book!! 2) shit, now I have homework!! It seems like every time I finish an ARC, I get two more in my inbox. Rest assured all you authors out there, if you have sent me a copy of your work it is now safely stored on my Kindle, and now that the holidays are coming up I should have plenty of free time from work to do nothing but sit and read. Well, and eat a ridiculous amount of food that nobody should consume in one sitting. What else are the holidays for?

One of my favorite things about reviewing books that authors give me is that it sort of forces me to branch out as far as what I read. I always tend to default to the contemporary romance genre, with a focus on friends or co-workers falling in love. But I’ve read ARCs that feature paranormal characters, leads suffering from loss and depression, action-packed chase scenes in the Middle East, and even some with a bit of BDSM erotic qualities. Each one of these is definitely out of my comfort zone, and yet I’ve enjoyed a large number of them. Whenever I tell someone I know that an author wants me to review their book, one of my favorite questions they undoubtedly will ask at some point is, “What happens if you don’t like it?”. Well, ladies and gents, if you ask for an honest review, that’s what you’re gonna get. I must say, I have a lot of respect for all of you authors out there brave enough to provide me with your works. If you have done your necessary research, and read through a few of my reviews you’ll know that I can either praise your book from cover to cover, or I can rip it apart like a sarcasm sundae, covered in dry humor frosting, and top it all off with some inappropriate curse words. However, I do have a little message for all you authors out there: if I happen to dislike certain aspects of your book, or the whole thing entirely, just remember that you are far more talented than I. Sure, I can critique your novel in a short 800 word post, but you have written an entire book! That is something that I have not accomplished, and you can hold it over my head for all time. I hereby give you permission to do so. Enjoy.

I must say I’ve been having a lot of fun reviewing all these ARCs, and I hope to continue getting more in the future. If you’re an author who has written a novel which contains romance in some form, and would like me to feature a review of it on my blog, feel free to e-mail me at romance4thebeach at gmail dot com. A mobi or epub version would be best for my Kindle, which I feel I should really give a name at this point due to my overwhelming feelings of love for the device. What do you think of Kiki the Kindle? Koko? In case you’re wondering, I do this a lot. I can’t help it, I find giving names to inanimate objects amusing. The weirder the better.