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June 2017

#RomBkLove Week 4: Journey

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#RomBkLove Week 4: Journey. Traveling can make or break a relationship. What are the most memorable character journeys you have read? What are your favorite road-trip/travel romances?

Summer Vacation begins this week for me.  Growing up almost all our vacations were road-trips of some sort or another. We would fly up to NYC, rent a car and sight-seeing up and down the East Coast.  These vacation adventures became fodder for family inside-jokes, which we still love to retell to each other, from the endless evening spent looking for an affordable hotel in Montreal to how we lost our dad's new hat somewhere between Boston and Niagara Falls and he was so mad he didn't talk to us for the rest of the day.  Traveling together can make or break a relationship.  That particular trip was the first one where we kids noticed that my parents marriage was falling apart. It was second-to-last family vacation and their last as a married couple.  But in Romance trips often throw couples together.

I love road-trip/travel romances so much that I keep a shelf of them Goodreads.

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Two of my favorites are  Joanna Bourne's The Forbidden Rose and Laura Kinsale's The Prince of Midnight.  In both these tales, danger stalk the couples as they get to know each other, and slowly see behind each other's masks while on the road together.

 

What are your favorites?

 

 

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Next Month:

Daily #RomBkLove returns!  Jennifer Porter (@JenniferRNN) will be hosting a sexy version of #RomBkLove tackling the tropes and conventions of erotic romance.  I'll retweet the prompt graphic when she is ready to launch it.   I won't be posting weekly prompts while Sexy #RomBkLove is going on, but I'll be back with more Weekly prompts in Aug.

Also on July 1st, I'll be co-hosting #readRchat's mid-year conversation on the Best Books of 2017.  Drop in to share which books you have loved so far this year. 

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#RomBkLove Week 3: Change

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RomBkLove W3: Change In what ways has the genre changed since you started reading? What change do you want to see in the genre?

I sometimes wish someone would put out a Mindset List for romance.  As someone who only started reading romance in the last decade, I am short on historical perspective. There are things that define my experience as romance reader, things that I take for granted that are still suspicious newfangled innovations for people who have been reading romance for 40+ years.

If I were to write a mindset list for myself it would include some of these statements:

  • Romance has always been digital
  • Self-publishing has always been a thing.
  • Covers have always featured headless torsos or inanimate objects
  • Social media like twitter and fb have always dominated romance fandom.
  • Erotic Romance and m/m have always been a subgenres

But in these short decade I have also seen a lot of change. I've seen several publishers crash and burn, many more be absorbed into large publishing empires. I have seen trends come and subgeneres rise and fall in popularity (Bikers, Billionaires, Massive Box Sets, Serials...).   Hard to know what changes will stick or where they genre is going next. I do know that I love the Diverse book movement and the greater visibility of #ownvoices books and authors in the romance community.  There is still a lot of change needed in the way Romance portrays the stories of marginalized people and how it recognized voices that are not white-cis-het but I'm in awe of the work by LGBTQ, Black, Asian,and Latino authors to bring their stories out despite the foot-dragging of gate-keeping editors and reviewers.

What changes big and small have you noticed in Romance since you started reading? What changes are needed or wanted? 


#RomBkLove Week 2: Discovery

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RomBkLove Week 2: Discovery

How do you find new books? Who do you trust for recommendations? What are you looking for?

Romance readers probably struggle with this more than most other readers because of our voracious reading habits. Romance is also a huge genre and it incredibly easy to get overwhelmed and lost in a sea of choice.

I did not have a trusted friend or a treasured aunt slipping me a book to read next when I entered Romancelandia. First I exhausted my library's ebook collection, reading anything that was remotely interesting and plenty who were not all good. Then I stumbled into madly googling for read-a-likes as I tried to figure out what kind of reader I was.  I found Dear Author and Smart Bitches, and gorged on their old-joint podcasts and then followed them on twitter, and through them I started picking up rom readers and reviewers to follow. Eventually I learned the language of tropes and helped search for books for effectively. Knowing what kind of story worked for me helped me find more stories like it.  I also started following the authors I liked, and reading the books they recommended.

And this is where things are both really great, but also very sketchy.  Overall I have loved a lot of the books I read because of author recs. But not every author is judicious with their recs and early on it was hard to distinguish a true enthusiastic rec from a friendly promo exchange.   Not every sale retweet is endorsement based on actual familiarity with a book. After stockpiling too-many of these "bargains", I stopped click on most of them, unless there was a trusted review backing it up.  I still click on author recs, but I am way more selective to who I listen to.  

Right now I think I find 95% of what I read through Twitter. Over the years I have found many fellow readers whose opinions I trust. They have become my trusted circle for recs. They can convince me to read a book in a way that beautiful graphic, 1,000 five-star reviews or hashtag filled tweet cannot. I also have certain tropes or premises that trigger my interest. If I see them in a review I perk up, and investigate. 

 So how do you discover new authors and books? Where do you go for book rec? How was that trust established? What are you looking for?


Mini-RT Book Review Round up: Danced Close by Annabeth Albert & KJ Charles's An Unnatural Vice

My reviews for Danced Close by Annabeth Albert and KJ Charles's An Unnatural Vice are now available for everyone to read: 

Danced CloseDanced Close:

Albert’s Portland Heat series continues to charm. Albert’s balances the excitement of  infatuation and romantic discovery with the tension and uncertainty of a new not-quite-defined relationship to craft a story that is both romantic and nearly-heartbreaking. Todd and Kendall are fascinating and frustrating as they struggle to define their feelings and reach beyond their self-imposed boundaries. ...for more go to RT BookReviews

51EKw4JefHLAn Unnatural Vice:

The fierce and frantic enemies-to-lovers romance in K.J. Charles second Sins of the Cities novel was a surprising contrast to the first book’s gentle friends-to-lovers story. Animosity and attraction surge in equal measures when Nathaniel Roy, investigative journalist, faces off against Justin Lazarus, the Seer of London. Their opposing vocations and radically different backgrounds create a powerful and fascinating conflict. Although An Unnatural Vice can be read as a stand-alone, Charles continues to build tension and add menace by deepening the overarching mystery introduced in the first novel. The series is building to a fire-cracker conclusion. ...for more go to RT BookReviews.


The Return of #RomBkLove. Week #1:

#RomBkLove (3)Is your TBR bursting after May's #RomBkLove? I heard it over and over last month, people blowing their books budgets on recs from the tag. What did you choose to read and why? Was it a genre or author you never tried before? What did you think? What goes into your reading choices you make? How do you choose what to read next?

As a reader I dread finishing a book if I don't know already what I am planning on reading next.  But I can't live by schedules or lists, at least not for all my reading. As a reviewer, I always have some idea of what I should read next, or what I have to read if I'm going to meet a deadline.  But I am also a very moody reader, and if I try to read a book at the wrong time, I might end up dnfing a perfectly good book.  

Right now I am alternating between some review, beta and contest books I have committed to read and re-reads for comfort.  I also have a large TBR on Audible but I have been having a hard time finding something that fits my mood. But recs on #RomBkLove for Kinsale, Garwood, Grant, Kleypas, and Quick have reminded me that I have been stockpiling some well recommended titles by these author and I should try them. How about you?


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For weekly #RomBkLove I will post a topic each week.  Hopefully they will be big enough topics to sustain conversation for a week. I'll try to reframe the topic through out the week with follow ups, but mostly I will trust you all to carry the conversation where you want it to go.

The topics for the rest of the month are Choice, Discovery, Change and Journey:

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 and I am coordinating with Ellie and Ava of #readRchat to host chats connected to the #RomBkLove topics. The first chat will be June 17th at 4pm EST (10pm CET). NBwgKwQV

In July, Jennifer Porter of Romance Novel News is organizing a sexier more OTT version of #RomBkLove, look for more info by the end of the month.

 

 


May 2017, Recent Reads: The Enforcer by Dimon,

51rYOor275LThe Enforcer (Games People Play #2) HelenKay Dimon:  The Enforcer plays with a lot of similar tropes and themes as The Fixer. The male protagonists are quite similar. Like Wren, Matthias is also a gruff, secretive and awkward around people. Trust, truth and family history play a big part in the conflict. The common elements don't feel repetitive, simply familiar and comfortable. These books hit my sweet spot of fun, sexy and suspenseful and I had a hard time putting it down to get other stuff done this week.

512NoQCF4SLIn His Hands  (Blank Canvas #3) by Adriana Anders (Aug 2017):  This book was not the book I was expecting. While it once again features protagonists on the run from violence (abusive fiancee in the 1st book and revenge seeking bikers in the 2nd book), I was wasn't expecting a spiritually and physically abused escapee from a apocalyptic cult.  It took me a long while to settle into understanding both the protagonists and while I ended up liking them both I don't think the chemistry and romance really ripened, but instead felt rushed and cluttered. (ARC provided by publisher)

51GwK5l3VDLSave the Date by Annabeth Albert and Wendy Qualls  Fun opposites attract/one-night stand romance.  I smiled a lot while reading this. These tropes really work for me, and the writing was smart and fun with great characterization. Although their romance progresses quite quickly it felt genuine and believable as they were both open life-changing love. I am already Albert fan, but I will be giving Wendy Qualls a try again in the future. 51At-pLns8L

Knit One, Girl Two: a sweet Jewish f/f by Shira Glassman Very much a falling into like story rather than a full-blown romance, this novella was sweet in both senses of the word. The hesitant flirtation, the enthusiastic bonding over shared fandom, collaboration and undeniable affection were delightfully rendered, but I was left wanting more from its HFN ending, because there was very little conflict at all. However I would love to read about them again as they were adorable and as a fan of indie dyed yarns and knitting everything about that storyline felt right. I think this story is perfect for my queer teen daughter, as I think she would see herself in these characters and adore the low-conflict storyline. (This is  the next #NotaBC pick, and we will be discussing it June 11th).

51+d3vTatbLAllegiance of Honor (A Psy-Changeling novel) by Nalini Singh Unbelievably it took me nearly 11 months to finish reading this novel. I stalled out half-way last year but switching over to audiobook finally enabled me to finish it. This was very much an ensemble book without a central couple, instead the central story is that of the new Trinity Accords and the testing of the new bonds between the Psy, Changeling and human races, as they try work together to rescue a kidnapped changeling.   This will not be my favorite of this series because of all the frequent POV changes and the occasionally sagging pacing, it did set up the new status-quo in the Psy-changeling world and lay the groundwork for the new directions she will be pursuing in her next books.


#RomBkLove Thank You!

RomBkLove

A little over 6 weeks ago, I had a thought, just a germ of an idea, and I threw it out there on twitter and got tons encouragement and some really great prompt suggestions.  My goal was simple: more romance conversation.   And that goal was met beyond my expectations.

I have been blown away by all the responses. It has been an absolute joy to open up my notifications and the tag each day and hear from so many different people sharing passionate opinions, numerous book recs and so many amazing memories and stories about their reading life.

As a reader of romance, I love finding new readers and authors to follow. My TBR has grown exponentially larger and my reading community has expanded.  That wouldn't have happened without all of you. When I searched the tag late yesterday, there were over 6200 posts tagged #RomBkLove this past month. That is amazing to me, especially when I think of all the spin-off response tweets that were not tagged!

So what is next?  I would love to hear your ideas on how to keep the conversation going.  In the short-term I am going to go back to my semi-regular reviewing schedule, as I have a month worth of review books to catch up on, but I don't want the romance conversations to end.  I can't sustain daily prompts but I can post a weekly one, and I would love to continue to collect prompt suggestions but most of all I want to hear your ideas.

So again: THANK YOU!