Excerpt and Giveaway: The Rogue Not Taken

The Rogue Not Taken

I am beyond excited right now. Sarah MacLean is coming out with a brand new book to kick up another spectacular series. If you’re new to this blog, you might not know about my deep and overwhelming love for Nine Rules and the Rules of Scoundrels series. But if you’ve been reading for a while, you know that I have a book release countdown calendar for my favorite authors of all time, and Sarah MacLean is ON IT. The Rogue Not Taken releases on Dec. 29th, so take note, and read on for an exclusive excerpt, giveaway, and other fun goodies.

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Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Wishes I’d Ask The Book Genie To Grant Me

Like so many Top Ten Tuesdays before it, this week’s prompt is just an excuse for book nerds like me to enter full fangirl mode. Should one day we discover that a Book Genie, a magical creature who can grant all book-related wishes, actually exists, these would be my top ten wishes, in no particular order.

(And no, I would not wish for more wishes because we all know that never works out well in the end.)

    1. For the spirit of Diana Gabaldon to continue to write the Outlander family saga long after she has passed from this world (because thinking about the last book with Claire, Jamie, Brianna and Roger makes me want to bawl).
    2. For Diana Gabaldon to write MOAR LORD JOHN GREY BOOKS FORTHELOVEOFGODPLEASE. Ahem, pretty please.
    3. To one day have my very own tiny house in the woods where I can escape with a pile of books whenever the need arises (often).

      Tiny House

      The Shed by Benjamin Chun on Flickr

    4. For Tessa Dare to write a Spindle Cove reunion book where Colin and Minerva have at least 3 daughters who proceed to make science-related mischief at the Duke of Halford’s home.
    5. To one day read Ulysses.
    6. For Junot Diaz to release a new novel already (hell, I’d settle for another short story collection).
    7. To read at least one biography of all the United States Founding Fathers and Mothers before I die.
    8. To one day not feel like I have to hide the cover of the romance novel I’m reading while in a public space.
    9. For my son to grow up to love reading as much as I do.
    10. To not have missed out on reading something amazing simply because it was different.
Little girl reading

Out of My Reader’s Funk

I know, I know, it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything. I’ve been reading, I swear, it’s just been a bit…uninspiring. I was in a bit of a romance reader’s funk: everything I started felt a bit mediocre, a bit repetitious, sometimes boring. So I switched genres for a while, giving fantasy (my other weakness) a try. It was a much needed change of pace. If, like me, you have a love of fantasy, do yourself a favor and pick up Sorcerer to the Crown (Victorian England with a magical twist) and The Inheritance Trilogy (high fantasy at its best / off-the-charts amazing).

With just a quick change of pace, and thanks to some truly amazing romance e-galleys, I’m returning to blogging, reviewing, and fangirling on the regular. You have been warned.

The Library at the Rijks Museum in Amsterdam. Photo by Roman Boed on Flickr

Libraries & Romance Novels, Part 2: Making Romance Accessible

I’m continuing my exploration of the intersections between academic libraries and romance novels this week, because nothing makes me happier than bringing together two of my favorite things. Last week I wrote about the potentially beneficial, sometimes awkward, and often complicated relationship between self-published authors, librarians, readers, and reviewers. Michelle Boule has a great response to my post up at her wonderful blog, A Wandering Eyre, where she goes into greater detail about getting indie books onto library shelves and into the hands of readers who love them.

Today I’m continuing the conversation about making romance novels accessible to library patrons/users by highlighting two recent librarian-authored articles published in the Journal of Popular Romance StudiesI can’t even begin to say how happy I am to have found this journal, and to know that colleagues in libraries are thinking about broader issues surrounding romance novel accessibility at their institutions.

Romance Novel Accessibility and respect

Librarian and romance novel advocate Vassiliki Veros wrote a fantastic article examining the implications of cataloging (the process by which libraries organize, categorize, and share their collections) on the “findability” of romance novels in libraries. She argues that although romance novels, as the most lucrative fiction genre, bring in enormous amounts of economic capital (aka $$$$) but very little cultural capital (aka respect). Although she does not explore the many reasons why this discrepancy exists (it’s not the the focus of the article after all) she does go into great detail about how this lack of respect for romance writers and readers has been expressed in library cataloging. Many Australian libraries reduce paperback collections, and as a consequence, romance novels, to numbers attached to a publisher (e.g. Mills & Boon, Harlequin). This makes finding specific romance authors and novels extremely difficult and reduces library users to browsing, which is both inconvenient and inefficient. The whole point of effective library cataloging is to connect library patrons to their intended resource (book, DVD, CD, whatever), but the practices at many Australian libraries seem to work against this intent.

I’m curious: How easy is it for you to find romance novels at your public libraries? I’ve written a bit about the difficulty accessing self-published romance novels via the library, but I wonder if, as Veros writes, readers are encountering additional roadblocks on the way to connecting with a well-loved genre.

building a popular romance collection in an academic library

Shifting gears slightly from public to academic libraries, the latest issue of the Journal of Popular Romance Studies also has a wonderful new case study by George Mason University librarians, Sarah Sheehan and Jen Stevens on their efforts to build a popular romance collection in their library. At a university that hosts the Popular Romance Project and has an English department where faculty teach classes like “Why Women Read Romance Novels” and “Marriage Plots,” this collection is a perfect fit. Sheehan and Stevens describe their efforts to create a collection that is thoughtful and focused. Their approach to purchasing popular romance novels acknowledges the complexities of building a collection in a genre that is heavily entrenched in e-book and mass market paperback sales rather than the easier to preserve, sturdier hard cover format. They address the difficulty of selecting novels that represent the diversity of sub-genres and themes in popular romance and note the challenge of selecting representative works from a particular author or category. As someone who buys ALL THE ROMANCE NOVELS from my local library and bookstore bargain carts, I am in awe at the self control exhibited by these librarians who created a sustainable model for a fascinating collection.

I’m also curious about borrowing statistics for these books and wonder if they’ll primarily be used by students and scholars for class-related reading, or if they’ll find their way into the hands of students, faculty, and staff (both at George Mason and in other academic libraries via Interlibrary Loan) interested in simply reading for fun. Academic libraries have a long history of promoting recreational (aka non-scholarly) reading on college and university campuses, and this collection could potentially meet a need that secret romance readers have been too shy to express. I sometimes wonder if such a collection would find a willing audience at my own academic library.

At the end of the article you can find a list of the novels purchased by Sheehan and Stevens throughout the 2013-2014 academic year. I’m curious: If you were building a popular romance collection for a research/academic library, what titles and authors would you include? 

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Finished Series I Haven’t Finished Reading

I love Tuesdays (or as my son has taken to calling them, Scooby-doos-day). It’s the day I don’t have to do daycare drop-off and can leisurely enjoy a cup of coffee at work. It’s the day one one of my favorite podcasts releases a new episode, and of course, it’s the day for The Broke and the Bookish‘s fun weekly meme: Top Ten Tuesday.

This week’s theme feels tailor-made for me. As much as I love losing myself in series, there are so many I’ve started and can’t quite finish. I rarely read them in order, especially if they’ve been out for a while, and, thanks to my love of spoilers, I’ve been guilty of starting at the end more times than I care to admit. Here are a few series I haven’t managed to finish yet, am holding off wrapping up for one reason or another, or will never ever complete.

Top Ten Tuesday

1. Jackson: Girl’s Night Out by Victoria Dahl
I started with the last book in this series,Taking the Heat, and loved it so much that I went back and purchased the prequel novella. My journey to complete this series is currently underway.

2. The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth
As much as I wanted to enjoy Divergent, it just didn’t happen. I’ll have to content myself with watching Theo James as Four on the big screen.

3. The Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin
I just started this trilogy thanks to a recently released omnibus and plug on NPR’s Book Concierge. I’m totally in love. It’s brilliant, funny, escapist high fantasy and I’m already lost in the world of Sky.

Cover: I Loved a Rogue4. The Prince Catchers by Katharine Ashe
Started with the last book in this trilogy and just haven’t moved the rest up my TBR pile yet!

5. Rogues of the Sea by Katharine Ashe
Started this series in the middle–just to keep things interesting–and although seafaring romance isn’t usually my thing, I’ll make an exception from time to time, especially when it’s for Katharine Ashe.

6. The Wanton Dairymaid Trilogy by Tessa Dare
As much as I adored Goddess of the Hunt, I wasn’t in any hurry to spend more time with Sophia. I’m sure she’s a fully realized character in Surrender of a Siren, but I found her a little too meek and biddable to be interesting in Goddessespecially when held up against Lucy. That said, I did end up reading A Lady of Persuasion, just to see how poor, beautiful Toby would end up. Dare did not disappoint.

7. The Stud Club Trilogy by Tessa Dare
This is probably my least favorite Dare series, and I think it might have something to do with the publisher. The Stud Club Trilogy was published by Ballantine Books, and I felt as though the first two books could have used a heavier editorial hand. Dare is always a lovely writer, but something about the storylines felt a bit clunky. I have the third book in the series and will read it eventually, just not any time soon.

8. The Affairs by Moonlight Trilogy by Juliana Gray
A Lady Never Lies is amazing, y’all. There’s an unwanted house party of circumstance, car racing, and a duke running naked through the forest. In fact, after writing this, I’m prompted to move this entire trilogy up my TBR pile.

9. The Bachelor Chronicles by Elizabeth Boyle
I actually don’t know if this is a completed series (Mad About the Major was just released earlier this summer), but I’ve danced around these books for the past year. I love being able to read them out of order as I find them at the library.

Season for Surrender10. Holiday Pleasures by Theresa Romain
Because these are set around Christmastime, I’m holding off reading the last two books in the series until the temperatures fall below 40. I highly recommend starting with Season for Surrender if you love a good rake + bookworm love story.

Libraries and Romance Novels, Part 1: Self-published Books

More often than not, my professional life as an academic librarian and my love-of-books life as a romance novel reviewer and blogger intersect. That happened earlier this week when I stumbled across two different pieces–an academic journal article and a blog post–that brought together these two worlds. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write about them here or on my blog about librarianship, but I thought this might be a nice place to start. I’m focusing today on one of those works, the blog post, below, and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

As I was scrolling through one of my favorite librarian groups on Facebook earlier this week, I noticed a link to Why Librarians Don’t Want Your Self-Published Book, originally published and written by Molly Weta, blogger at Wrapped up in Books last week. Molly makes a straightforward case for her reluctance to add self-published books to her library, which is primarily about the time, money, and the effort needed to vet, acquire, catalog, and process self-published books. The availability of independently published ebooks on Overdrive via Smashwords makes it (debatably) easier for libraries to share these works with patrons, but she still feels as though print poses a problem.

As a librarian I’m well aware of the stressors on our time, limitations of shelf space, and the need to build a collection that meets the needs of library users. But as a public library patron, a reader, and a romance novel reviewer, I’m know that some of the best authors in romance, and some of my favorite authors in the genre, are all indie-authors. Obviously Courtney Milan and Grace Burrowes immediately come to mind, but I’ve also greatly enjoyed recent works by Michelle Boule and Sandra Schwab, both of whom self-publish. I was pleasantly surprised to find Milan and Burrowes’ books on the shelf (and in Overdrive!) at my local public library. I think the romance community’s very vocal authors, readers, reviewers, and bloggers are at the cutting edge of incorporating self-published works into libraries and promoting them to a wide audience. That said, I will admit to being hesitant about agreeing to unsolicited book review requests. I can’t guarantee that I’ll like the book in question, and I don’t know if the requestor is only interested in positive press. I’m much more inclined to pick up work by a self-published author if I’ve communicated with them on Twitter, or if they explicitly state that all reviews–even negative ones–are welcome. Thankfully, that’s more often been the case with many of the indie-authors I’ve met.

The blogger mentioned above manages young adult (YA) and graphic novel collections for children and adults. I don’t know a great deal about publishing in those genres, but perhaps they might not have the same robust self-publishing / indie-publishing community found in romance. I know that a lot of romance bloggers are librarians, a lot of librarians are romance readers, and more than a fare number of romance authors are library users (and librarians, too!). So I’m curious about your thoughts on incorporating self-published works in libraries, particularly in the romance genre.

  • Librarians: To what extent do we have an obligation to highlight the voices of independent authors and publishers? If the primary focus is meeting the needs of our users, and our users want self-published romance, shouldn’t we be making it more readily available?
  • Indie-authors: How do you approach your local (or not-so-local) libraries about incorporating your books? What’s worked for you? What’s surprised you?
  • Readers, reviewers, and bloggers: Do you want to see these self-published romance novels at your public library? Do you work to incorporate them into collections?

Happy Women’s Equality Day!

Today’s the day to celebrate some seriously badass ladies. 95 years ago today women were granted the right to vote in the U.S. when the 19th Amendment was certified into law. Check out these amazing feminists from the Flickr Commons Archive:

What does this have to do with romance novels? Quite a bit, in my opinion. I read romance novels for love and sex and angst and escape, but I also read them because they feature some of my favorite heroines in literature. Women in romance novels are strong, interesting, complex, and multi-dimensional, and the women who write these fascinating heroines are some of the smartest ladies I’ve ever encountered.

So celebrate Women’s Equality Day today by picking up your favorite feminist romance novel and giving it another read. I’m leaning towards The Suffragette Scandal by Courtney Milan for obvious reasons. What will you be reading today? Who are your favorite feminist heroines in romance?