Dana reviews Black Balled (Black Balled series Book 1) by Andrea Smith and Eva LeNoir (Published May 4, 2015, 313 pages. Released on audio June 8, 2016 9 hrs 28 mins. Narrated by Joel Leslie) An audio copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Why I read: I was given a copy of this book by the narrator. This week was audiobook review week at RGR so I chose to listen to this book for this week.
Two dominant males, two worthy adversaries, in a business that takes no prisoners will soon learn that fate refuses to be ignored.
My name is Troy Babilonia, but I’m best known as Babu, a renowned literary critic with my own online column. I’m followed by thousands! I’m a living god in the literary world. I have no filter, and for that my flock of humble followers are forever grateful. If it weren’t for me, they wouldn’t know what to read. I have zero tolerance for weak-minded attention seekers, nor do I have respect for the self-proclaimed geniuses of the indie world. My advice to all indie authors is to never break the cardinal rule in this cutthroat business. Ever.
My name is L. Blackburn, and I’m an indie author. My extraordinary genius was loved and worshiped throughout the literary world until one egocentric critic tried to obliterate my career. It seems I broke some “cardinal rule”, and now I’m paying the price for it. But I don’t plan on going down without a fight.
The narration: I have become a big fan of this narrator, Joel Leslie. He creates so many different accents and tones that it seems every character has it’s own voice. I have enjoyed several of his narrations in the past, and would definitely listen to more from him in the future.
The story: I have to admit I had reservations about listening to this book because it is at least partially based on a real life fiasco that occurred on Goodreads. There are a lot of low rated reviews, and plenty of people who shelved it as will never read because of it. The fact that I received a review copy and the need to form my own opinions made me decide to put aside my doubts and check it out for myself.
One of the things that made it easier for me to listen to was that the authors do not just villainize the reviewer but also the author as well. They even make the reviewer’s sycophants look bad. I appreciate that it wasn’t a one-sided blame game.
The story opens up on a review posted by Babu for L.(Larson) Blackburn’s newest book. The reviewer tears the book apart, questions the author’s sexuality, and hints that he hopes it is just a woman writing about things women just don’t write well and urges “her” to stick to romance and chick-lit. Babu’s followers immediately thank him for saving them time. Since many of them are women, I don’t understand how the sexist remarks don’t bother them. They are definitely portrayed as mindless suck-ups that accept the word of a popular reviewer without checking things out for themselves. While Larson appears to be victimized by this reviewer, his thoughts upon reading the review, don’t make him sound like a much better person. Apparently being called a female is the worse thing that could happen to him. Obviously he needs to prove his manhood.
Now I’ve seen drama shared on Facebook and Goodreads, where an author will have problems with a reviewer or sometimes another author. I do my best to stay out of the arguments and side-taking, because it bothers me to see people publicly bashed and to see others take sides without knowing the whole story. It all just leaves a sour taste in my mouth. It was that same feeling I had for a few chapters into this book. Babu and Larson are pretty unlikable characters, but this is not the first book I’ve read where the mc’s are kind of nasty. Though I prefer nicer personalities, the truth is, there are people on this planet that aren’t easy to like and it just makes the story more realistic. Ultimately, I couldn’t stop listening to this drama filled story because, though the subject was sort of scandalous it was also engaging. Reality shows show how addicting people behaving badly can be.
As the story continues, we do learn more about Babu and Larson that sheds light on some of the reasons they act the way they act. The other facets of their personalities begin to redeem them some. Their hateful remarks to each other becomes like foreplay. An anonymous hookup between them, and a case of mistaken identity later lead to a physical fight. But when the smoke clears, the two must admit their attraction to each other. As a pairing, I actually like them. I’d have to say they deserve each other and not all in a bad way.
Though they do become a bit more likable, I can’t say that either of them changes completely. There will always be friction because they will always be stubborn. I felt the story was a telling commentary on the way some people act in the writing and reviewing community. I think constructive criticism can be helpful, but try to stick by the saying “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. I don’t want to discourage people from reading reviews, because I write reviews and enjoy reading others thoughts on books. I do definitely encourage people to form their own opinions on whatever is being reviewed. We are all different and can’t allow others to think for us or speak for us. If I hadn’t ignored the naysayers, I might not have had this enjoyable listening experience.
p.s. The bonus stories from the point of views of the neighbor and her cat were just hilarious. Probably my favorite part of the book because of the humor and lack of drama.
8.5/10 Pots of Gold (85% Recommended) – Compares to 4.25/5 Stars
USA Today and Amazon Bestselling author Andrea Smith has a wicked sense of humor. No matter the genre, she is able to infuse laughter throughout.
She is an open book to her friends and family. She celebrates her successes and reflects on her failures with those she holds dear.
Andrea is an Ohio native, currently residing in southern Ohio. She is the mother of two grown sons, and through the years has always held on to her dream of publishing fiction.
Having previously been employed as an executive for a global corporation, she decided to leave the corporate world in June of 2012 to pursue her life-long dream of writing romantic fiction.
Andrea Smith is the author of Past Tense Present Perfect (formerly published as the Baby series), The G-Man series, These Men (Novella that was part of an 8-author Erotica Consortium compilation entitled Bend) and she is due to self-publish her first Paranormal novel, Silent Whisper, August 2014. This is Book #1 in the ‘Limbo Series.’
Eva LeNoir grew up travelling with her parents to various countries in the world. Reading was her constant companion during her travels and her ability to adapt to different cultures fed her mind with endless possibilities. The characters swimming in her head are always from various horizons with a multitude of dreams and aspirations however they always have one thing in common: The women are strong and independent. A true believer in the female cause, Eva’s wish is to portray the women in her books as the leaders. She sees them walking hand in hand with their partners and not be the sheepish followers of the male gender. But most of all, Eva LeNoir wants to offer her readers a moment of pleasure as they dive into the world of her mind’s creation.