Hate the Author, Not the Book?: When Horrible People Write Good Books

Erica here! One of the things I hope to do with By Her Shelf is to encourage readers to examine what their reading life says about them, and if it’s reflective of the person they are/want to be. In this vein, I’m opening up a controversial can of worms. This post doesn’t have the answers to the questions it asks…it just recognizes the need to have the questions and have the discussions. 

Although it just came out Friday, May 31st, it seems everyone on my social media has seen and is commenting on When They See Us, the new docu-drama based on the trial of the group of men formerly known as The Central Park 5 (now the Exonerated Five).

When They See Us

Ava DuVernay’s TV mini-series took over social media and Netflix, and has caused at least one key figure in the trial to experience book-related backlash.

The former head of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s sex crimes unit, Linda Fairstein, has been receiving backlash for her handling of the trial all over social media and in the media. Many who watched the When They See Us have started campaigns to have the mysteries Fairstein has written boycotted, with calls for booksellers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble to stop carrying her books and boycotts of her publishers, Simon & Schuster and Penguin Random House.

We live in an interesting time when it comes to how we treat the art of people we don’t agree with morally, politically, or religiously, regardless of what their work addresses. Yet many literary works that are considered part of the classic canon or well loved were written by extremely flawed individuals. The cold hard fact is talent isn’t given only to the most virtuous or agreeable among us. But what does this obligate us to as readers, if anything? Can I read literature by people whose personal lives or belief systems are repugnant? Should their work be judged on its merits alone, or must we take the person who created it into account when choosing what we read?

This issue isn’t just affecting readers. The #metoo movement has spotlighted several celebrities in the movie and music industries accused of sexual assault, and many of the accused have been cut out of movies or experienced plummeting sales as consumers make their disgust and outrage felt by not financially supporting their projects. The recent college admissions scandal cost Lori Laughlin several roles, and caused some to wonder about Felicity Hoffman’s inclusion in When They See Us playing the aforementioned Fairstein. Even Chick-Fil-A was allegedly denied a restaurant in an airport due to donations made to Christian groups with “a history of anti-LGBTQ discrimination.” It seems Americans and decision makers have decided to “cancel” artists over personal beliefs and conduct unrelated to their works.

Yet there are still several in the pop culture and literary canon who, given this line of thought, should be removed from required reading lists. Lists of beloved children’s authors and members of the American literary canon include men and women who were/are attempted murderers, sexual predators, racists, Nazi sympathizers, perpetrators of domestic violence, drug abusers and alcoholics. How far should these campaigns to scrub an author’s work go? What traits should they look for in authors to determine who should be effectively silenced? Who gets to decide?

Ultimately, America is touted as the land of the free. Every American has the right to choose whose books they will read, movies they will watch, and food they will eat (except in public schools with set curriculums in their formative years). You can spend your money and time in support of the things others are in opposition to if you’re so inclined. I’m most interested in the question of reader responsibility: What responsibility do we have to express our personal convictions in our reading lives beyond what we read? Should who wrote the book matter just as much as or more than the content of the specific work? Let me know your thoughts below. 

Articles of interest (not endorsements or agreements):

Respected Writers Who Were Actually Horrible People– Grunge.com

‘When They See Us’ Sparks Boycott of Linda Fairstein Books– New York Post

Central Park 5 Prosecutor Linda Fairstein Faces Backlash after ‘When They See Us’ – AM New York

Pay to Peruse?: What ARC-Gate Means to Readers & Reviewers

There’s a little drama playing out all across authortube, and while I realize this is a reading blog, I feel as if I would be remiss if I didn’t address this issue that may affect our reading lives as the book publishing realm continues to change.

For those of you who are unaware, Creative Entrepreneur and Young Adult/Self-Help author Kristen Martin sparked a bit of controversy when she announced how she was going to handle advanced reader copies (ARCs) of her upcoming releases. Martin has started a Patreon community, where fans of an author or artist’s work can subscribe for exclusive content, sneak peeks, and early access to offerings. Martin announced her plans to offer ARCs to those who are subscribed to her Patreon at the highest level of $50/month for at least 3 months, which prompted many to speak out against her $150 ARCs.

#ARCSAreFree
A small portion of the videos that come up when you search “ARCs are free.” Notice 3/4 pertain to Kristen and ARC-Gate

Traditionally, publishers offer advanced reader copies to reviewers, hosts and influencers free of charge. In fact, many send additional gifts to top influencers, all in exchange for mentioning/reviewing the book. The cost of the package they send is their price of admission to access the audience. It should also be noted that the goal of sending out ARCs is to create buzz ahead of a book’s release with honest reviews and endorsements. As the indie publishing sphere has grown, authors who self-published have started offering ARCs as well. The practice isn’t new to either group, and it seemed everyone accepted the fact that ARCs are about exposure and future profit, not a product for immediate profit. Martin’s move shook up the writing and reading community and called us to examine whether the way it’s always been is the way it should continue to be.

As a writer, reader, and reviewer, my thoughts have thoughts on this approach. The first thing I thought was that Martin’s business mentor or coach messed up. Maybe the person/people she’s looking to for guidance on growing her business didn’t fully understand the bookish community and saw an untapped opportunity for profit in a space reserved for exposure and honest early feedback. Maybe Martin focused in on an option offering exclusive access to her most invested fans without realizing how it would appear. Maybe she didn’t think people would conclude she’s charging $150 for access to her ARCs. As far as I’ve seen, Martin hasn’t addressed this at all, so I don’t know what her thoughts are on the backlash. What I do know, is that the rise in indie publishing and changes to the publishing industry in general have allowed us all the ability to question how things have always been done and whether that’s the best course of action going forward, even when it comes to something like this.

In my opinion, the purpose of Advanced Reader Copies is to generate buzz and reviews for a book ahead of its release. In order to keep the review process honest, no one should have to pay for a review copy, and no one should be paid by a publisher or author for writing a review. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with giving your biggest supporters ARCs of your book first. This is pretty much the purpose of launch teams. Launch teams—and, I would add, influencers, Patreon subscribers and members of similarly exclusive groups—are given other gifts in exchange for promoting the book, but they don’t have to pay for the privilege. I know the inherent cost of producing and distributing ARCs can be prohibitive for some, but this cost shouldn’t be past to those who support you the most.

A long time ago, when CDs were the way we consumed music, I got a bee in my bonnet over Usher’s Confessions album. I went to Best Buy when it came out and bought my copy like a real fan instead of illegally downloading it or waiting for the bargain bin. After the album had been out for a while, an extended version with additional songs was released, and I felt like I’d been punished for buying it earlier. They wanted me to pay the price of another CD for three or four additional songs, and I didn’t think it was fair to do that to real fans of his work. If anything, the first run of CDs should have had the exclusive content, in my opinion.

I feel the same way about ARCs. ARCs are usually uncorrected proof copies, not polished products. They are sent out for critical analysis ahead of the book’s release. True fans who are a part of your launch team or Patreon or other exclusive group should be given more than an ARC to show your appreciation. If I really enjoy an ARC, I buy the book when it comes out, even if only to sponsor a giveaway. I know how much it costs to offer a book for free. I’m committed to being better about reviewing the ARCs I receive for this reason as well. The official position of By Her Shelf is “Keep ARCs free, and reward your supporters with some other exclusive offering.”

What are your thoughts on Advanced Reader Copies? Should authors/publishers be paid for them? As a reader, what do you expect from authors and early reviewers? Let me know what you think below!

The Stories Have Changed, but the Love Remains the Same: Romance Novel Love

Happy Wednesday, Shelfies! I’m making it my mission to start posting regularly here, and while I was sorely tempted to post a simple WWW Wednesday post, this post peeked at me from my draft bin and begged to be shared. I’ve read three great romances lately, so this post seems fitting. I hope you enjoy it!

Romance has been one of my favorite genres since I began reading. I’ve been reading romance novels since my tween years, when I started sneaking my mom’s Harlequins.

In the twenty plus years since I started reading romance (o_O), the genre has changed as dramatically–and in some cases, even more dramatically–as the times we live in. Here are a few of the changes I’ve noted in romance novels over the years:

  1. I can hear men’s thoughts. When I start reading romance novels, they didn’t share the male point of view (POV). The entire story was told from the heroine’s perspective, and the reader was left to guess about the man’s motivations and the reasoning behind his actions just like the heroine. Today, most romances include both perspectives, and readers get to spend time in both characters’ heads. This  has given readers more opportunities to see the black moments and misunderstandings coming, and be even more frustrated they can’t do anything to help the characters avoid them.
  2. Now, that’s a man. In the older romance novels I read, not only was the hero’s POV often absent, he was often cast as cold, aloof, unfeeling, and even vengeful or mean toward the heroine until the last few pages where he confessed his undying love (in a totally masculine way, of course). In today’s romances, men are presented as much more three dimensional. Hardened alpha males with forceful personalities are given dimension and even ask for things. Authors cast men as the “inexperienced” one or give them beta male characteristics more often. Publishing finally realized more than one type of man could be attractive to women. Men are allowed to be concerned about what their romantic counterparts want, which brings me to my next point…
  3. Let’s talk about sex. In romances of old, no one used or discussed contraception, shared health records, or verbalized consent. I read at least a couple romances from earlier decades where the encounters are clearly rapes, and it’s disturbing anyone ever thought this was OK. In the romances of today, most open door sexual encounters address safe sex and consent on the page. Men and women are both given opportunities to state they are willing participants. Women aren’t being “ravished” without saying it’s what they want, which leads me to…
  4. I’m free! If you’ve been reading romances as long as I have, or read older romances, you may have come across the alarming trend of stories with false imprisonment or women forced into marriage. I clearly recall stories in which men kept women against their will to extract revenge for some perceived slight (usually committed by the heroine’s sister or cousin or worldly friend who was nothing like the sweet, innocent woman being held captive). Unlike Belle who chose to give up her freedom to save her father, these stories were women who didn’t have a choice. While there are some romantic suspense or niche stories that feature kidnapping or false imprisonment today, kidnapping isn’t positioned as a perfectly acceptable thing to do when you’d like the pleasure of a woman’s company.
  5. Making the hard choices. In many of the older romances I’ve read, all of the heartache and pain could have been avoided if someone hadn’t missed a phone call, letter, or visitor. Their conflicts could be resolved in seconds if the hero and heroine just sat down and TALKED to each other. Assumptions and misunderstandings abounded. Today, romances are showcasing conflicts that aren’t so easily resolved. Characters have to make real sacrifices or overcome tremendous odds to receive their happily ever after. It’s not always easy to choose to love, but somehow, they do.

There are several other changes I could highlight, but it’s more than obvious even from these few examples that the romance genre is a dynamic one, growing and changing with the times and the readers it serves. If you’ve avoided the genre because you think it’s all bodice rippers and erotica, ditzy dames and toxic masculinity, subpar sentences and too many adjectives for private parts, or where feminism or a moral code goes to die, I encourage you to take another look.

What’s the last great romance you read? For my romance loving readers, what changes have you noticed in the genre, and how do you feel about them? Let me know in the comments below.

BOOK REVIEW: Hers to Protect by Catherine Lanigan


On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Erica here: Guys! I’ve been horrible at sharing reviews for books this year! I haven’t signed up to review very many, and yet and still the reviews keep falling through the cracks in the surface of a BUSY first half of the year. But I’m committed to bringing you more reviews (ahem…ON TIME…ahem), and what better way to back up that promise than share my review of Hers to Protect, book #11 in the Shores of Indian Lake series by Catherine Lanigan? So let’s get to it, shall we? (Please note, I received an advance Kindle copy of this book in exchange for an honest review)

I have a confession to make. Somehow, I’ve missed the first 10 books in this series. A surreptitious search of my Goodreads shelves says I haven’t read anything else by Ms. Lanigan. I know, the rule is every books in a romance line like Harlequin’s Heartwarming line can be read as a standalone, but every time I read about a couple in this book, I wondered what happened in THEIR book. This didn’t detract from the story for me, but I figured you should know and take my perceptions with a grain of salt if you’re a die-hard, start at the beginning of the series and go straight through kind of reader like me. There’s a handy dandy “other books in the series” graphic at the end of this post in case you want to go back and read the others.

In Hers to Protect, we’re following Indian Lake rookie cop Violet Hawkins in her quest to become a detective. Up to this point, she’s done little more than hand out the occasional parking ticket, but she knows she has the instincts and skills to be a Grade A detective. She’s secured her first “real” assignment-a stakeout. She’s tasked with finding a suspect in a drug trafficking gang. Instead, she pulls over famous race car driver Josh Stevens.

Josh Stevens is week’s away from an important race when he ends up in Violet’s path. He doesn’t need the bad publicity of a speeding ticket and arrest in the final lead up to the big race. Both his lawyer and his manager advise him to lay low and find a way to get in the tiny town’s good graces. Just when he’s winning over the town, and the pretty Officer Hawks, her investigation and his past seem to place him on Violet’s bad side. Will Violet end up placing Josh under arrest again, or will her heart be the one behind bars?

I really enjoyed this book! I read it in a couple days (work and life interrupted, unfortunately). The plot was engaging and Ms. Lanigan kept the conflict strong throughout the story. The author did a great job of balancing moving both the plot and Josh and Violet’s relationship forward.

I have to admit, I didn’t like the characters right away. They both jumped to conclusions and made assumptions about each other that were a bit extreme. This doesn’t usually bother me, but these came before I felt I had the opportunity to learn their true characters. It took me a while to sort them out and grow to like and care about them.

Another thing that threw me off about them is how quickly they went from dislike/distrust to having strong feelings for each other. I was little more than 50% in when I felt like they might have the conflict resolved and race toward the happily ever horizon. Luckily, Catherine through some hairpin turns in the road to force them to slow down. I don’t have a problem with strong feelings early and often if the writer can keep the conflict equally strong, and Ms. Lanigan managed to do so.

Other than the conflict and plot, I also loved the subplot. The project Violet and Josh work on together with other members of the Indian Lake community not only brought out a bit of the characters’ backstories, it showed their commonality, yet sharpened their conflict at the same time (I won’t say how. You’ll have to pick up the book to find out!).

I would recommend Hers to Protect to anyone looking for a clean read with a compelling conflict, a light enemies to lovers angle, and plenty of small town heart.

Hers to Protect
(Shores of Indian Lake #11)
By Catherine Lanigan
Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 384 Pages
April 1st 2019 by Harlequin Heartwarming

She’s sworn to protect…

But does that include a speeding celebrity?

Violet Hawks is a by-the-books police officer—so when she catches a man speeding, she arrests him. Only, the man is famous race car driver Josh Stevens. To make amends, Josh launches a charm campaign, and it works on the small town…and on Violet. But when Josh is connected to an investigation, Violet begins to wonder—can she trust her instincts when her heart is involved?

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Other Books in the Series


About the Author

Catherine Lanigan is the international bestselling and award-winning author of over forty-five published titles in both fiction and non-fiction, including the novelizations of Romancing the Stone and The Jewel of the Nile. Ms. Lanigan’s novels have been translated into over twenty-four languages. Lanigan was tasked by the NotMYkid foundation to pen a collection of compelling and informative true stories of teen addicts. Ms. Lanigan’s SHORES OF INDIAN LAKE series for HARLEQUIN HEARTWARMING includes LOVE SHADOWS, HEART’S DESIRE , A FINE YEAR FOR LOVE, KATIA’S PROMISE, FEAR OF FALLING, SOPHIE’S PATH, PROTECTING THE SINGLE MOM, FAMILY OF HIS OWN, HIS BABY DILEMMA, RESCUED BY THE FIREFIGHTER and HER TO PROTECT (2019).

Ms. Lanigan is a frequent speaker at literary functions and book conventions as well as inspiring audiences with her real stories of angelic intervention from her Angel Tales series of books. She is an outspoken advocate for domestic violence and abuse and was honored by The National Domestic Violence Hotline in Washington, D.C. She has been a guest on numerous radio programs including “Coast to Coast” and on television interview and talk show programs as well as blogs, podcasts and online radio interview programs. She writes a monthly blog for Heartwarmingauthors.blogspot.com.

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Ends May 29, 2019

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Book Launch: The Speaking Season

Hello, Shelfies! Erica here. It’s been a while. I’ve been holed up in a corner, hunched over a laptop, printed pages stained with multicolored ink slashes, squiggles, and writing with more in common with Egyptian hieroglyphs than English words. All of my hard work has paid off, and I’m interrupting regularly scheduled programming to bring you this very, very special announcement: 
121418_SS Front Cover*deep breath*

I’m releasing a new book April 23, 2019 entitled The Speaking Season: Poems and Pieces. It’s 40 poems, their origin stories and explanations, and three creative non-fiction essays written to inspire dialogue and discussion, challenge you to look at a topic or issue from a different perspective, or express feelings you can meet with an enthusiastic (or teary-eyed) me, too.

If you love poetry and/or want to help me get this book in the right hands, sign up to be a part of my launch team: https://forms.gle/4jChxnDYqH8hg3Rt6

‘Kay, thanks, bye!

*runs around the corner* *faints*

Seriously, I’m so excited about this collection. It’s thought-provoking, challenging, and vulnerable in ways I’ve never been before, which makes me anxious in good and bad ways for readers to get their hands on it. If you have any questions about the collection, or just want to leave me some encouragement, feel free to do so in the comments section. 
XOXO,
Erica D. Hearns

The Meet Cute Enthusiast: Top Five Meet Cute Reads

Hi, my bookish readers! Catfairy is back from The Bookish Fairy blog!

There is nothing that tugs my heartstrings more than a meet-cute! All the teen shows I consumed made me desperate to recreate my own meet-cute since the fifth grade. I remember distinctly walking around school with my Beverly Hills 90210 bookbag, strategically dropping all my books in front of my biggest crush and watching him walk right past me while I sadly picked up all the books myself.

Here are my top five meet-cute reads that have filled the meet-cute void in my heart and that will fill your own hearts with all the swoon-worthy feels.

Roomies by Christina Lauren

Holland Bakker has admired the guitar-playing musician Calvin McLoughlin for months until they literally collide in a New York City subway. She has always been a girl that never takes chances until she spontaneously marries the swoon-worthy Calvin to save him from deportation and giving him the opportunity of a lifetime to play music for Broadway.

This is the perfect novel to kick-off March being that the main love interest is a hot Irishman musician! Roomies is one of my favorite meet-cutes because I love romances that have that infatuated love at first sight feeling. Holland Bakker falls in love with Calvin from afar while watching him play guitar in a New York subway and that is simply one of the most romantic meet-cutes I have ever read.

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Natasha’s family is about to get deported and she is trying to do everything in her power to keep her family in New York and then she bumps into Daniel and her whole universe changes.

Nicola Yoon creates the meet-cute of my hipster dreams when she has Natasha and Daniel meet for the first time in an independent record store in New York! This is a beautifully poetic story that captures the intensity of love at first sight when your sixteen-years-old. Natasha and Daniel have these deep soul-searching conversations while running around New York with approximately twelve hours to fall in love with one another. This is a book about fate and about how everything is connected in some way or another and those are all the perfect elements of a magical meet cute!

 The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

Andie is someone who always plans out her life and has learned to raise herself through the years. Her upcoming summer is meticulously planned out with the perfect internship until her father gets involved in a political scandal. Her whole summer plans go awry, and Andie will have to learn to embrace the “unexpected…”

Clark and Andie literally run into one another through a fluffy dog named Birdie and the perfect elements of a summery meet-cute is born! Morgan Matson knows how to develop a realistic romance between two characters while combining all the unforgettable fun elements of a summer romance!  The chemistry between Clark and Andie is heart-warming and they both push one another outside of their comfort zones. Not to mention, Clark is also a hot and nerdy beta-male who wears glasses, adorkable slogan shirts, and is a popular fantasy writer! If you want to fulfill the meet-cute of your summer dreams this is the book to read!

 Geekerella by Ashley Poston

 

Geekerella is an original Cinderella retelling written with the perfect blend of geek girl fandom! Elle Wittimer is the epitome of a geek girl and is a total fangirl for the SciFi show named Starfield. She writes a blog post where she criticizes the movie heartthrob Darien Freedman, for taking the lead role of one of her beloved characters for the Starfield movie remake. Suddenly her blog post goes viral and she gets the opportunity of a lifetime to enter a cosplay contest! In the cosplay contest known as ExcelsiCon, she will be one of the judges along with her nemesis Darien Freedman…

Ashley Poston’s book has a meet-cute/You’ve Got Mail vibe only instead of emailing there is texting. Their actual face to face meet-cute is none other than the quissetential Cinderella ballroom scene with a twist, filled with cosplay wearing cyborgs, Vulcans, night elves, and Klingons! When Darien Freedman lands eyes on Elle in the cosplay ball it is the ultimate cosplay turned fairy-tale.

Frenched by Melanie Harlow

Mia gets dumped by her fiancée a week before her wedding and she already has a fully expense paid trip to Paris. On a whim, she decides to fly to Paris for a single-moon and drowns herself on bottles of Bordeaux instead of buckets of ice-cream. What Mia doesn’t expect is that the city of lights holds the hottest and most romantic love of her life…

Frenched is an underrated meet-cute and even though I read this four years ago my old book boyfriend has forever been burned in my mind. Mia goes to a Canadian sports bar in the middle of Paris and meets the intellectual and irresistible Lucas who is a cross between Mark Ruffalo and Joseph Gordon-Levitt! If this doesn’t make you swoon I don’t know what will! After all, who doesn’t want to have a meet-cute in Paris?!

What are your favorite fluffy meet-cutes? Please leave me any suggestions of any swoon-worthy meet-cute reads you have in mind!

(This post can also be viewed on Frolic Media!)

Coffee Table Books Readers Will Love

Any reader will tell you that books bring value in a multitude of ways. It goes beyond reading the words on the page or losing oneself in a story. Books have their own aesthetic, their own sensory value that is powerful in and of itself.

I’m one of those readers that loves to be surrounded by books. I can look at covers and spines and remember when I read that story and how it made me feel. I can just as easily get lost in those memories as I would if I smelled the cologne of my first love. I have an appreciation for not only the story, but also the magic and history behind it. Other readers know that, when you hold a book in your hand, there is so much more to it than the physical object you hold.  So it should come as no surprise that I love the aesthetic beauty of a good coffee table book. And a book about books checks all the sensory boxes for me.

Next time you’re browsing the bookstore, consider picking up a coffee table book that celebrates all the different aspects of books that we readers just adore!

The Card Catalog: Books, Cards, and Literary Treasures by Carla Hayden

The Library of Congress brings book lovers an enriching tribute to the power of the written word and to the history of our most beloved books. Featuring more than 200 full-color images of original catalog cards, first edition book covers, and photographs from the library’s magnificent archives, this collection is a visual celebration of the rarely seen treasures in one of the world’s most famous libraries and the brilliant catalog system that has kept it organized for hundreds of years. Packed with engaging facts on literary classics—from Ulysses to The Cat in the Hat to Shakespeare’s First Folio to The Catcher in the Rye—this package is an ode to the enduring magic and importance of books.

I’d Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel

For so many people, reading isn’t just a hobby or a way to pass the time–it’s a lifestyle. Our books shape us, define us, enchant us, and even sometimes infuriate us. Our books are a part of who we are as people, and we can’t imagine life without them.

I’d Rather Be Reading is the perfect literary companion for everyone who feels that way. In this collection of charming and relatable reflections on the reading life, beloved blogger and author Anne Bogel leads readers to remember the book that first hooked them, the place where they first fell in love with reading, and all of the moments afterward that helped make them the reader they are today. Known as a reading tastemaker through her popular podcast What Should I Read Next?, Bogel invites book lovers into a community of like-minded people to discover new ways to approach literature, learn fascinating new things about books and publishing, and reflect on the role reading plays in their lives.

The perfect gift for the bibliophile in everyone’s life, I’d Rather Be Reading will command an honored place on the overstuffed bookshelves of any book lover.

The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell

We’re not talking about rooms that are just full of books.

We’re talking about bookshops in barns, disused factories, converted churches and underground car parks. Bookshops on boats, on buses, and in old run-down train stations. Fold-out bookshops, undercover bookshops, this-is-the-best-place-I’ve-ever-been-to-bookshops.

Meet Sarah and her Book Barge sailing across the sea to France; meet Sebastien, in Mongolia, who sells books to herders of the Altai mountains; meet the bookshop in Canada that’s invented the world’s first antiquarian book vending machine.

And that’s just the beginning.

From the oldest bookshop in the world, to the smallest you could imagine, The Bookshop Book examines the history of books, talks to authors about their favourite places, and looks at over three hundred weirdly wonderful bookshops across six continents (sadly, we’ve yet to build a bookshop down in the South Pole).

The Bookshop Book is a love letter to bookshops all around the world.

My Ideal Bookshelf by Thessaly La Force

The books that we choose to keep –let alone read– can say a lot about who we are and how we see ourselves. In MY IDEAL BOOKSHELF, dozens of leading cultural figures share the books that matter to them most; books that define their dreams and ambitions and in many cases helped them find their way in the world. Contributors include Malcolm Gladwell, Thomas Keller, Michael Chabon, Alice Waters, James Patterson, Maira Kalman, Judd Apatow, Chuck Klosterman, Miranda July, Alex Ross, Nancy Pearl, David Chang, Patti Smith, Jennifer Egan, and Dave Eggers, among many others. With colorful and endearingly hand-rendered images of book spines by Jane Mount, and first-person commentary from all the contributors, this is a perfect gift for avid readers, writers, and all who have known the influence of a great book.

You Oughta Know: YA Love: Young Adult Romance Tour


On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Book Tour Launch for
YA LOVE

We’re excited to be sharing books from four contemporary young
adult authors with you this week along with a fabulous giveaway…

Tour Schedule
(Links won’t work until the posts go live.)

February 11th: Launch
February 12th: Maggie DallenLove at First Fight
February 13th: Robin Daniels – Perfectly You
February 14th: Bria QuinlanSecret Girlfriend & Secret Life
February 15th: Kayla TirrellCourtside Crush
February 16th: Grand Finale

Books on Tour

Tour Giveaway

GIVEAWAY PRIZES:
1 winner will receive a $15 Amazon eGift Card (open internationally)
1 winner will receive a paperback copy of LOVE AT FIRST FIGHT by Maggie Dallen (US only)
1 winner will receive a signed paperback copy of PERFECTLY YOU by Robin Daniels (US only)
1 winner will receive copies of SECRET GIRLFRIEND & SECRET LIFE by Bria Quinlan (if in the US: choice between the 2 paperbacks or the ebundle, if outside the US, the ebundle)
1 winner will receive a paperback copy of COURTSIDE CRUSH by Kayla Tirrell (US only)

Ends February 20, 2019

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Cover Reveal: The Truth About Cowboys by Lisa Renee Jones

Happy Friday, Shelfies! Erica here. Today, I’m excited to bring you a cover reveal from Entangled Publishing. I love the team behind Entangled, and not just because they give me free books! I love the romances they are bringing readers, especially the sweet romances in their Bliss line. Although you all know I say you can’t judge a book solely by its cover, how could you not stop and pick up a book with a cover like this? 

The Truth About Cowboys Lisa Renee Jones

Erica again. Couldn’t you just pick this up and read it right now? If this cover looks right up your alley, read on for the back cover copy and links to pre-order your copy. The Truth About Cowboys releases August 27th!

About The Truth About Cowboys:
I had my life figured out.

Engaged to a successful man.

About to make partner at my firm.

Bought a high-rise apartment in downtown Denver.

And then, poof, it’s all gone. Now, like in some cheesy romantic comedy, my car has broken down in the pouring rain on my way to “find myself” in The Middle of Nowhere, Texas. Cue hot guy coming to my rescue and changing my tire. This is the part where we flirt and have a meet-cute, right? That’s how it works in romance novels, and I should know—after all, I’m coming to Texas to write my own cowboy romance. But nope. This sexy cowboy lights into me about not being prepared for the country roads and how inappropriate my high-heeled boots are.

Little did I know, Michael Montgomery would tilt my world into a new dimension with his sinful smirk and his bad attitude. Every time I turn around, he’s there to reluctantly save the day. And every time, I think there may be something to that spark we ignite. But there’s a reason the majority of country songs are about broken hearts. The closer I get to this man, the closer I get to learning the truth about cowboys.

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Entangled Publishing

About Lisa Renee Jones:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Lisa Renee Jones is the author of the highly acclaimed INSIDE OUT series. Suzanne Todd (Alice in Wonderland) on the INSIDE OUT series: Lisa has created a beautiful, complicated, and sensual world that is filled with intrigue and suspense. Sara’s character is strong, flawed, complex, and sexy – a modern girl we all can identify with. In addition to the success of Lisa’s INSIDE OUT series, Lisa has published many successful titles. The TALL, DARK AND DEADLY series and THE SECRET LIFE OF AMY BENSEN series, both spent several months on a combination of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling lists. Lisa’s other bestselling series include: DIRTY MONEY and WHITE LIES. She is presently working on her LILAH LOVE series to be published with Amazon Publishing/Montlake Romance. Prior to publishing Lisa owned multi-state staffing agency that was recognized many times by The Austin Business Journal and also praised by the Dallas Women’s Magazine. In 1998 Lisa was listed as the #7 growing women owned business in Entrepreneur Magazine. Lisa loves to hear from her readers. You can reach her at http://www.lisareneejones.com and she is active on Twitter and Facebook daily.

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5 Ways to Reach Your Reading Goals in 2019

Tis the season to talk about goals–how to set and achieve them. If you have one or two (or ten) goals focused on reading this year, here are five of my best tips, tricks, and tools to make the most out of your reading life in 2019.

  1. Utilize free or inexpensive sources for obtaining books. This is my favorite tip for readers because it removes the restrictions a lack of money places on readers. Utilizing your local public library, little free libraries, and low cost book buying options like Friends of the Library allows you to make more daring choices, get more books at once, and browse without fear of busting your budget. There are also free and low priced eBooks available on Amazon and through Wal-Mart’s eBook distributor, Kobo.
  2. Challenge yourself with reading challenges. Whether you want to read more, wider, in community, or what you already own (and STILL haven’t read *sigh*), a reading challenge might help you reach your goal this year. There are several reading challenges out there to choose from, including #theunreadshelfproject2019 Challenge, the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge, the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge, and a numbers-based challenge like the Goodreads. You can also join a subscription service like OwlCrate (YA books) or Book of the Month, or an online book club like Well Read Black Girl
  3. Develop a group of trusted review sources. A list of reviewers you trust will help you determine whether a book is for you right now. This will reduce the number of books you slog through or set aside. Find readers with similar tastes and search their feeds for book reviews or where they get their recommendations. Follow people with great taste wherever they post about books they love–Goodreads, Instagram, Pinterest, their website, etc. “Official” reviewers like Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus Reviews or lists in Entertainment Weekly, Essence, or other publications are also good resources.
  4. Create a habit or routine around your goal.  Schedule reading time. Take books with you to take advantage of wait times. Leave your current read on your nightstand or wherever you read. Participate in #readawholebooksunday. Do something to make reading a part of your routine, and you’ll be more likely to show up and READ.
  5. Get better book recommendations. The best way to reach your reading goals is to read better books. If you don’t choose books you want to read, no schedule, challenge, or price is going to help you. One way you can find good book recommendations is through sites like By Her Shelf. By Her Shelf showcases romance, YA, historical, literary fiction, memoir, poetry, thriller, horror, magical realism, suspense, self-help, contemporary fiction, non-fiction, and Christian non-fiction books. You can also find great recommendations on Modern Mrs. Darcy or genre specific sites. Another great resource for book recommendations is podcasts. Here at By Her Shelf, we’re big fans of What Should I Read Next, First Draft, DIY MFA, and The Librarian is In, along with podcasts that interview authors like The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey and That Sounds Fun with Annie F. Downs.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT!: I’m pleased to announce By Her Shelf with Erica D. Hearns is LIVE on Apple Podcasts and Messy.fm! BHS will be on other apps/sites soon. When I posted about buying a microphone in early November, I never imagined I would have recorded 16 interviews and launched with 3 live episodes less than three months later. For show notes, upcoming guests, featured books, and other exclusive content, subscribe to our weekly Shelf Talk newsletter here. Show notes can also be found by searching the podcast category of the blog.

I’m still scheduling future guests. If you’d like to discuss the books you read, write, or help produce, I’d love to host you! Simply fill out the form here.

Your Turn: What are you reading goals for 2019? How can By Her Shelf help you reach those goals?