It’s not what you think. Or what my UPS guy thought as he delivered shiny pink packages to me every month, to the “Avon Addict” at my address.
About two years ago, in the midst of my historical romance/Julia Quinn/Eloisa James reading jag, Julia posted a link about her publisher’s new program, a street team of sorts who would receive advance copies of upcoming books.
Free books? I was immediately intrigued. Wearing out the route between my house and the library, I was also nearing the end of each author’s backlist, and needed something new. New authors, new genres–I thirsted for more.
So I applied for the program, and was lucky enough to be one of a group of 25 readers to be selected. And then the boxes began arriving. Once a month, full of paperbacks, swag, and a welcome letter from the publicity team that made me feel so special. It was like Christmas, but better, because I don’t *always* get books at Christmas!
And in return, I posted reviews of these books on Amazon and Goodreads, if I liked them. The funniest part of it all for me, though, was the discovery of book blogs. Now, perhaps I was behind the times. I knew about blogs, I have a scrapbooking blog and follow quite a few. And my husband has a food blog, and we follow a few of those too. But the thought of book blogs had never occurred to me, as odd as it sounds for someone who was reading over 100 books a year. Blogs where people discuss my favorite topic? Where I can go for recommendations on what to read next? It blew my mind. This was even better than the better-than-Christmas deal of receiving books every month. Even more so because I became friends with all these bloggers, my sister Avon Addicts. Built-in friends who all share a common interest? Score!
And I learned so much. In the beginning, my reviews consisted of a number of stars and either “I liked it” or “I didn’t like it.” (Though now I rarely post a review of a book I don’t like. If it doesn’t appeal to me, it may appeal to someone else). But after reading the reviews other people wrote, I learned more about plot, character, description, etc. than I think I ever had in high school English class (sorry, teachers). And while I learned about what I liked and didn’t like in a book, the long-suppressed dream of writing my own book resurfaced. The idea scared me at first. I’d read bad reviews and didn’t want to be on the receiving end of them. But ultimately the need to do it won out, and, well, I’ve blogged about my first NaNo experience before.
And then the cool part: our six months were up, and we found out we were white-listed on Edelweiss, which means eARCs for life! Christmas 365 days a year! They’ve kept us around, and we’ve made new friends with every group that comes in, and it has truly been a life-changing experience. It helped me finally figure out what I want to do when I grow up.
Anyway, now that I’m trying to blog more often, I thought I might start sharing book recommendations here. Not just romance, so don’t worry if that’s not your genre. I read it all. I’m currently finishing a fun urban fantasy that is not a romance, recommended by my husband. I love that we share books (except on release day of the new Game of Thrones books, because then things get bloody. Which is appropriate).
The first one, which I just finished, is an interesting piece of historical fiction called The People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. I adored Caleb’s Crossing, and this one was book-related so I snapped it up. My mother and I were taking a road trip and were looking for books we could listen to on the way that would also be OK for the kids to overhear, and this was perfect. So perfect, we hated having to pull over for rest stops. I highly recommend it.
The next few are Avon titles releasing today. I’ve read all three of these, which are each a part of their own series.
HARD AS YOU CAN by Laura Kaye
A great romantic suspense series about four ex-soldiers who run a renegade operation against an organized crime ring out of the back of a tattoo shop. Each book has its own love story, and its own suspenseful subplot, but there’s also an interesting overarching story line across the series.
This may sound odd, but I think what I like most about these heroes is that their tattoos are not part of a bad boy trope. The author goes into the meaning behind their tattoos, and they’re about the art, and I like that. My husband has four tattoos himself so I like the respect given to the ink, you know?
The first in the series was great; the second one is even better, and out today:
I love this series, and again, they just keep getting better. The best part of series like this and Troubleshooters by Suzanne Brockmann and the other ones on this page is getting to know the side characters bit by bit– and anticipating the day when they get their own love story.
Not to mention, she’s a thorough researcher so you feel like you’re learning something about firefighting and everything the firefighters do. So it’s educational!