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Sunday Reflections: Upcoming Books, Fun Stuff and Great Deals You Might Have Missed, Week of October 27, 2013

27 Oct

Upcoming Books and New Releases

There are a few long-awaited novels that have just had publication dates announced and, believe me, you’ll want to pre-order! First up is the next full-length novel in Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series (*whimper) Shield of Winter, which will feature the story of Vasic, the Arrow who has been subversively supporting the overthrow of Silence while realizing at the same time that its demise could mean his death. A damaged woman fighting for her people as his love interest and a release date of June 3rd means that I’m getting a terrific present right around my birthday. Thank you, Nalini!

In related shifter news, those readers who adore Shelly Laurenston’s Pride series filled with sexy bears, cats and wolves will be thrilled to know that the 9th book, Bite Me, is slated to be released as of March 25, 2014. Since one side of the couple shifts into a honey badger, I’ll be very interested to see how this plays out!

The next Kate Daniels book by Ilona Andrews, Magic Breaks, doesn’t have a cover (or at least not a released one, author Ilona Andrews made clear on the blog that this writing couple doesn’t want to hear the cranky comments from so-called fans who gripe at every release – can they just not read them so we polite readers can enjoy?) but it does have a date – August 5, 2014. Kate’s back in Atlanta as consort to the Beast Lord and it’s clear that her evil father Roland will be arriving soon – and everyone needs to get ready. Unfortunately things are getting complicated with the vampires and Kate has to pitch in to clear up a delicate situation (and we know how she does with delicate). Color me there!

In addition to all the announcements about big 2014 releases, it’s getting to be that time of year – holiday book time!!! Considering that I spend all December reviewing holiday books (I save them up for you to enjoy with hot chocolate and a fire in your fireplace), this is pretty exciting for me. Since I do love anthologies, those are a favorite and just a couple weeks ago, Entangled released one of their presents for the season, A Very Scandalous Holiday featuring stories by Nancy Fraser, Sophia Garrett, Amber Lin and Crista McHugh. These historical romance writers capture the spirit of the season across the centuries, from the Regency and Victorian eras to 1920s Chicago and the turmoil of World War II, so transport yourself to a different time with this bargain at a mere $2.99.

Fans of Jeaniene Frost‘s Night Huntress series (and I consider this one of the BEST series out on the market) should be pleased to note that Frost is going to release the previously published Home for the Holidays novella starring Cat & Bones (and all her related characters) as a stand alone novella for only $1.99, starting on November 5, 2013 when it comes out. While this is technically a novella, as I reviewed it in my post on the series, it reads like a much longer work, due to Frost’s fantastic writing and the harrowing threat to the couple’s happiness contained within it.

Contests and Giveaways

Vikings seem to be a hot new subgenre of historical romance and Harlequin is offering great novels from authors like Michelle Styles for readers enjoying these fur-clad pillagers. Her latest novel, Paying the Viking’s Price, is due out on November 1st, but readers have a chance to win a copy on Goodreads if they enter prior to October 30th. When a warrior who is finally granted lands and home from the king, he is surprised to discover the beautiful former lady of manor refusing to leave her home or her people. He’s happy to allow her to stay, providing she becomes his concubine.

Fans of shifter romance will want to enter the Goodreads giveaway prior to October 31st for the three pack of Ambrielle Kirk‘s first three novels in her Caedmon Wolves series. This five volume series features dark and edgy writing and plenty of werewolves finding their mates, even if it’s not under the best circumstances. A winning extra feature is that Kirk’s characters are racially diverse – so you benefit from reading interracial (as well as interspecial) romance, which is all too hard to find even in this day and age.

Maya BanksColters’ Legacy series is one of the most emotionally packed menage series I’ve read, so it’s wonderful that the fifth book, Colter’s Gift, due out on November 5th is being offered as part of a Goodreads giveaway for readers who love the ratio of more than one man interested in loving a strong woman who has undergone some recent emotional upheaval after trusting the wrong man. Enter before November 1st to see if you can win.

Harlequin always manages to deliver heart-warming holiday romances and that’s what I expect, A Little Bit of Holiday Magic by Melissa McClone to be. Featuring a widow and her young son rescued by a hunky fireman who has sworn off dating for the season, we can all guess what Santa is going to leave under this tree. Considering that Goodreads is having a giveaway for people who enter the contest prior to November 1st, I’d hop over there and see if you can get an early holiday present delivered to your doorstep.

Cynthia Eden is celebrating the latest release in her wonderful Mine suspense series, Mine to Hold, which was published on October 21st, and I’m sorry, is there anything hotter than a gorgeous billionaire who decides a woman too damaged to trust must be won? No, unless it’s when the author is amazing enough to also offer a $50 book gift card to the seller of your choice (Amazon or Barnes & Noble) giveaway to celebrate it! Head over to Eden’s Facebook page to enter using the Rafflecopter interface before the end of the month.

Suspense fans will want to enter the giveaway for a copy of Lena Diaz‘s Undercover Twin, the second book in her Morgan Brothers series. Featuring a DEA agent who left the love of his life behind only to come back into her life when her twin sister is kidnapped, this suspenseful tale is due to be released on November 19th. Enter the contest prior to November 1st for your chance to win a copy.

To celebrate a bunch of juicy-sounding paranormal releases, the Entangled in Publishing blog is giving away a Kindle Fire this week for people who enter their Rafflecopter giveaway by promoting the contest via social media. Keep in mind that these books are going for a mere $1.99, so you might want to give yourself something less calorie laden then chocolate for the holiday (or, like me, give yourself BOTH!).

Someone needs to do a study on the birth control failure rate in Harlequin novels (or maybe they are all just swept away and forgot to don a condom), which results in all those surprise pregnancies! In Expecting a Bolton Baby by Sarah M. Anderson (the third book in her Bolton Brothers series) a businessman never expects to see the hottest one night stand he ever experienced since the lady in question revealed she was the daughter of an intense rival. Yet now he discovers she’s pregnant with his child and he wants more than nothing else to make things right and marry her, preferably without letting her know of his feelings. Enter the Goodreads giveaway before November 1st for a chance to win a copy.

The Vampire Book Club blog can always be counted on, both for in depth reviews and fun giveaways and you can imagine that October is an important month for them! To celebrate three terrific Urban Fantasy reads that they feel are going to end up on the ‘best of’ lists this year, they are having a Rafflecopter giveaway to win copies of Larissa Ione’s Bound by Night, Kelley Armstrong’s Thirteen and Karen Chance’s Tempt the Stars. Head over there before October ends to enter!

For Writers

The Popular Romance project, a fantastic source of all things related to the romance industry, released a terrific video clip of an interview with Jessica Andersen regarding what makes writing category romance so attractive to romance writers. Andersen herself is a well-regarded writer for Harlequin’s Intrigue line as well as the Nocturne line for her paranormal series like Royal House of Shadows. Like her (her Nightkeepers line is out under Signet), many writers who have made it big on the single title market continue to keep an oar in category romance, putting out a couple books a year (think Jill Shalvis and Catherine Mann) and even more best-seller authors got their start in category. Why? Watch the clip.

Writer Pat Haggerty is a whiz at Scrivener (and shared his wisdom via a well-regarded Savvy Authors class that my fellow RWA chapters members enthusiastically endorse) but in his post at Romance University, he kindly illuminates how writers can employ the “Save the Cat” screenwriting formula recommended by editors in the industry using that wonderful piece of software.

Tracey Devlynwhose latest book A Lady’s Secret Weapon I adoredwrote a post over at Romance University about how to handle it when your publishing house decides to let you go, right in the middle of your series. I’m not sure what her publisher’s (Sourcebooks) motivation was (I’m guessing the books weren’t selling the way they wanted?) but I’m grateful that we live in a day and age where a writer can continue a high quality series on her own to satisfy the numerous fans who do not want to see it end prematurely.

Fun Stuff

Do you remember those little Golden Books you read when you were little, the ones with colorful covers and gold foil spines? So does artist Ryan Jude Novelline who created a ballgown from the illustrations and spines of those iconic first reads. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, Novelline got his degree in illustration, yet his work continually attempts to reinterpret established ideas and push boundaries. Take a look at the Pinterest board showing the many stages of the creation of this masterpiece.

When you are a reader, you love to snicker at clever t-shirts and I happen to love the ABC’s of Literature t-shirt on sale at Threadless. Whether it’s Ginsberg’s glasses or the Route 66 sign for Kerouac, this simple black shirt will have kindred spirits giving you the “nice one” head nod when you wear it (and help you steer clear of the “I don’t get it” people).

Similarly, readers and librarians alike will enjoy the pulp fiction-styled Attack of the 50 Foot Librarian t-shirt from Funny Baby. I don’t know what I like best, that the figure has auburn hair (ahem) or that she seems to be holding an ereader (replacing the car in the original image) with classic books and glasses strewn in panic on the highway beneath her. Whatever the reason, this must-wear item has gone into my Etsy cart!

Great Deals

You don’t get better than free and that’s exactly what Amy AndrewsGirl Least Likely to Marry – a Harlequin KISS book – is right now on Amazon! With a wealthy, football playing hero with a good sense of humor and a scientist who couldn’t care less (and probably falls on the autism spectrum with her ability to read people) reviewers are raving about this outstanding addition to Andrews’ The Wedding Season series.

Historical romance author Elizabeth Boyle has updated the covers of her Brazen series, re-releasing this mid-1990s series with a fresh new look. At the moment, Brazen Angel, the first book in the trilogy, is a mere $.99 for the ebook version, allowing fans of romance novels with strong spying/privateer themes to sigh in happiness.

Fans of Urban Fantasy might want to try the second book in the Crimson City series, A Taste of Crimson by Marjorie M. Liu, which highlights a romance between a strong vampire and a rebel werewolf who find themselves working with what would normally be a natural enemy in a fallen City of Angels. The Crimson City series is one of those put together by an editor employing different authors to write each installment and with authors like LIz Maverick, Jade Lee and Patti O’Shea, chances are these high ratings are well-earned.

Romantic suspense fans might want to take advantage of Pamela Clare‘s Breaking Point (from her I-Team series) being on sale for $1.99 right now on Amazon. Unlike the common security company trope, Clare has created a series based around a group of mostly women investigating (hence the “I” in I-Team) the shadowy corners of society where they stumble across “the alpha males of the their dreams.” Considering that this entire series of nine books and novellas consistently range above a four on Goodreads, I’d say this angle has proven darn successful for Clare (and I plan on trying it out at these prices!).

Close out Breast Cancer Awareness month by taking advantage of not only a great deal for the paranormal anthology Entangled (whose proceeds go to Breast Cancer research) but which also offers you 424 pages of stories from amazing authors like Cynthia Eden, Jennifer Estep, and Michelle Diener. At only $2.99, you’ll feel like you are giving yourself (and all women) a present for Halloween.

Fans of the sheik romance might remember my post on Sarah Morgan’s Lost to the Desert Warrior, but for readers who have not yet gotten to sample it, please be aware that not only is that title on sale for $1.99 right now, but it’s predecessor, Woman in a Sheik’s World is also available at the discounted price. Considering that books hero and heroine (living their HEA) make an appearance in Lost to the Desert Warrior, it would be fun to get both to enjoy Morgan’s excellent writing about these gripping characters.

Happy reading this week (and happy Halloween)!

E-reader Lust: How Amazon’s Newest Paperwhite and It’s MatchBook Program Can Make You a Better Reader

5 Sep

The Kindle Paperwhite is incredibly bright, offering no glare in outdoor conditions and a strong contrast for readers, making it easy on the eye.

My e-reader lust knows no bounds. Perhaps because I am such a voracious reader and love ebooks as much as paper ones (sometimes more) I’ve yet to meet the e-reader I didn’t like – Kobo, Nook, Kindle, and tablets like the Nexus or my wonderful iPad (both sizes are amazing). I have an iPad which I use for other aspects of my life, but naturally my Kindle app (and iBook and Nook apps) are the center of my reading existence as they allow me to access the more than 1300 ebooks I have in my Amazon account (and no, I am not making that number up). With so many authors putting out novellas and short stories ONLY available in e-book form (and many outstanding authors debuting solely with electronic books), I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the romance genre without one.

Yet despite my slutiness in all gadgets electronic, I do believe strongly in Kindle products and apps because I think that Amazon has the market cornered with its combination of great selection, some of the best prices, and access to my library with virtually every electronic device on my desk and in my pocketbook. Whether it’s my phone, computer or iPad, I can grab a hold of my books virtually anywhere and since I will begin reading my book in progress if you leave me alone for two minutes, that’s pretty important to me.

I actually bought a basic level Kindle last Christmas as a present to myself because 1) with the push buttons to advance rather than a touch screen I could put it in a ziplock and read ebooks during my marathon bubble baths, 2) I’m an Amazon Prime member for the free shipping and Amazon Instant Video access (so worth $79 per year) and that means I get to borrow books for free each month with an actual Kindle device and 3) it was only $69.

The shot of Goodreads on the newest Paperwhite.

All the various Kindles since the original one debuted haven’t really tempted me since their color screens and multimedia abilities are all matched, if not surpassed by my iPad 2. But when the Kindle Paperwhite came on the scene, oh, that’s when my e-reader infidelity ramped up! The Paperwhite is light just like my original Kindle (it’s the height and depth of a ballpoint pen, so extremely comfortable to hold) but the contrast with its e-ink beats everything on the market, with a no-glare screen that makes reading into the wee hours easy on tired eyes. But the newest Paperwhite, just announced a couple of days ago and priced at $119, has features which have ramped up the urgency and catapulted it into this year’s holiday gift category. Namely, Amazon is choosing this model of Kindle as the featured device to promote its seamless integration with Goodreads.

Now THIS is a development. While some people threw up their hands when Goodreads was acquired by Amazon earlier this year, I haven’t noticed any changes to that community as of yet, so I’m not getting my knickers in a twist about the partnership, particularly because I was hoping something like this would occur. You see, with those aforementioned 1300 books, I spend a pretty decent amount of time putting titles into my Goodreads account since I use it to religious track my reading, and a device/Goodreads integration would save me a lot of time and energy.

Organizing your Kindle books into collections is only an option on actual Kindle devices.

I adore Goodreads not just for the rating and tracking ability, but because I can organize my books into shelves, which are mostly for me to indicate where I keep said book (“in kindle,” “Lendle”, “my paper copy” or “in library”). But with the endless stream of book covers in my Kindle app, my inner librarian aches for a better way to organize these. On any actual Kindle device you can actually organize your books into “Collections” which would be utterly A-M-A-Z-I-N-G as I have always wanted to push each new book I buy and finish into subgenre romance categories (Paranormal, Suspense, Contemporary, Holiday, etc.) which would make it a breeze to pick for better blogging. Having my NetGalley books in a “Review These” collection would also be pretty nifty, making me that much more efficient, and this librarian adores efficiency like Seven of Nine loves running a diagnostic (Star Trek Voyager fans, anyone?)

Whether it’s with a thirty cent Ziplock bag or a state-of-the-art waterproof case, reading and baths are synonymous for romance readers.

But attachment to touch buttons is also becoming a thing of the past as the bathtub becomes fair game with the advent of accessories like the DryCase which works with a variety of devices (including my iPad) and would enable me to bring any device (*manic giggle*) into my fabulous cast iron tub circa 1930. I could even use their DryBuds to listen to music while I’m soaking since the case has a waterproof headphones jack! My God, I’d never get out…Take a look at the video to see how great this is and they are not even expensive – the DryCase retails for around $60 for the tablet size and the special earbuds are around $30. Considering that I’d pay as much for a decorative case that wouldn’t even offer protection from rain, I don’t consider that an exorbitant one-time cost.

MatchBook, bundling print and ebooks for voracious readers who want their authors anywhere, anytime.

Okay, so my most-wanted reading device is clearly fantastic, but Amazon also listened to experts like those at Publisher’s Weekly and realized that bundling ebooks with print books was a damn clever way to push more books. Duuuhhhhh. Enter MatchBook (super clever name!) where – like their audiobook offers which are discounted when you purchase the ebook – an ebook version of a book might be offered at a significant discount, with the majority landing in the $.99 to $2.99 range.

This could be a goldmine for Amazon, as I sometime make a print/Kindle choice for a lot of my books, often choosing a used print copy to save money since the Kindle version is not a discounted price (if I’m not going to pay the list price for the paper book, I’m hesitant to do it for the Kindle version). A used copy makes Amazon less money (and makes the publisher no money since they got their profit on the first sale of the book), but by bundling a new book and it’s ebook companion, I get two versions of the book (which I like to have for my favorite authors and series) and Amazon and the publisher make more of a royalty off me, while I actually save money. MatchBook will be retroactive, offering readers the discounted ebook versions off everything they’ve purchased from Amazon since 1996 that has an eligible ebook. With those 1300 books, I’m kind of curious to see how many offers I might have!

So I’ll be going to sleep with a smile on my face, dreaming of Paperwhites and bubble baths and even more books for my money. Take a look and see if Amazon’s newest offerings can fulfill your e-reader lust or if another device will fit the bill, but whatever you do, keep reading.

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