dies · Extra Extra · happy dance · stuff I read

Pre-order alert: New Alexander Chee essay collection!

35721123“To write is to sell a ticket to escape, not from the truth, but into it.”
– “On Becoming an American Writer,” Alexander Chee

Y’all, mark April 17, 2018, on your calendar, get your pre-order in at your bookseller, prepare your spring reading nest. Alexander Chee’s new collection of essays How to Write an Autobiographical Novel is stellar beyond words. I’ll have a longer review much closer to the review date.

Dear FTC: I read a paper galley of this book offered by the publisher and I’m surprised I’m still alive to tell you this because I almost died in the fancy marker pen aisle of my local Michael’s when Fersh’s text message appeared to ask if I wanted a galley. There may have been shrieking.

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Extra Extra · Romantic Reads

Extra, Extra: A first look at Sarah MacLean’s new novel, The Rogue Not Taken!

News Flash: Announcing a sublime – and scandalously wonderful – new series from New York Times, USA Today and Washington Post bestselling author Sarah MacLean!

The author aroused immediate interest when she announced this high-concept affair: “I’m thrilled to announce my next project — the Scandal & Scoundrel series, which I pitched to my editor as ‘Old School TMZ,’” says MacLean. “It’s modern celebrity gossip with a pre-Victorian twist. Basically, this is my way of convincing my husband that all those glossy magazines in our house are ‘work necessities.’

The first novel in the series, THE ROGUE NOT TAKEN (Avon Books; ISBN 9780062379412; eISBN 9780062379399; on-sale 12/29/15) is a riff on a certain elevator incident made famous at a Met gala several years ago. But in MacLean’s imagination, the scurrilous turns absolutely sensational, as a ballroom imbroglio sets off a very heated carriage journey along the Great North Road. It’s a long way from London to Scotland…you would be quite amazed at how much drama can ensue between a seemingly ill-matched duo on such a wild ride!

[Melissa’s editorial: Are you intrigued yet?  I, for one, I was offering to do considerable groveling for an advance copy of any or all manuscript versions.]

The Rogue Not Taken description:

Lady Sophie’s Society Splash
When Sophie, the least interesting of the Talbot sisters, lands her philandering brother-in-law backside-first in a goldfish pond in front of all society, she becomes the target of very public aristocratic scorn. Her only choice is to flee London, vowing to start a new life far from the aristocracy. Unfortunately, the carriage in which she stows away isn’t saving her from ruin . . . it’s filled with it.

Rogue’s Reign of Ravishment!
Kingscote, “King,” the Marquess of Eversley, has never met a woman he couldn’t charm, resulting in a reputation far worse than the truth, a general sense that he’s more pretty face than proper gentleman, and an irate summons home to the Scottish border. When King discovers stowaway Sophie, however, the journey becomes anything but boring.

War? Or More?
He thinks she’s trying to trick him into marriage. She wouldn’t have him if he were the last man on earth. But carriages bring close quarters, dark secrets, and unbearable temptation, making opposites altogether too attractive . . .

[Melissa’s further editorial: I’m eleven chapters into The Rogue Not Taken and I might love Sophie more than I love Pippa from One Good Earl Deserves a Lover.  Maybe…Sophie still hasn’t dissected a goose….or had a no-touching scene….]

To celebrate the new book, cartographer Amy Solomon designed a beautiful map of Sophie and King’s route to Happily Ever After!  Isn’t it lovely?  Sarah has provided some commentary for the route:

Stop #1: “Sophie Stows Away” (English Country Estate near London)
Author Commentary:
There are moments in life when you know that you just can’t go on without a change. Lady Sophie Talbot, the youngest of the infamous Talbot Sisters (darlings of the gossip rags and nicknamed the Dangerous Daughters) knows this is the case when she lands her odious, philandering brother in law backside-first in a fish pond at a major event of the London Season. And so, Sophie does what’s necessary. “I simply need conveyance home,” she requests of Kingscote, Marquess of Eversley, notorious rake and her only chance of escape. Sophie’s desperate, and in possession of the Marquess’s boot, so she thinks she has a leg up, so to speak. King has other ideas.

Stop #2: “The Carriage”
Author Commentary:
Lady Sophie Talbot, youngest and least interesting of the scandalous Talbot sisters (think 19th Century Kardashians) isn’t so uninteresting once she’s decided to stow away atop a carriage belonging to the Marquess of Eversley — notorious rogue and her recent nemesis. Indeed, she cannot wait for the horrible man to discover that she’s disguised herself as an outrider and stolen conveyance home to central London. There’s just one problem…

Stop #3: “The Fox and the Falcon Posting Inn”
Author Commentary:
By the time Lady Sophie Talbot finds herself outside the Fox & Falcon Posting Inn, miles from her home in London, she’s realized she’s made a huge mistake. She only ever intended to hitch a ride home to Mayfair–and simultaneously stick it to the arrogant, handsome, horrible Marquess of Eversley, who happens to be minus a boot, thanks to Sophie. Suffice to say, things got out of hand. And now, dressed as a male servant in the drive of a roadside inn, things are about to get much much worse.

Stop #4: “Beware Highwaymen!”
Author Commentary:
Suffice to say, being on the road with an arrogant aristocrat is no fun at all, so Lady Sophie Talbot does what any self-respecting woman would do, she “borrows” his money, and gets herself on the next mail coach north. All seems fine — until Highwaymen arrive, and that arrogant aristocrat arrives just in time to see her entire plan go pear-shaped.

Stop #5: “The Warbling Wren”
Author Commentary:
Being shot on the Great North Road isn’t exactly a thing people expect to happen, and Lady Sophie Talbot finds herself in the rooms above The Warbling Wren pub, under the welcome care of a rather mad doctor and the watchful eye of the rather infuriating (and infuriatingly handsome) Kingscote, Marquess of Eversley. There are worse things, she supposes. Or are there? Not for King.

Stop #6: “Mossband”
Author Commentary:
Lady Sophie Talbot, youngest and least interesting of the infamous Talbot sisters, has decided that her best bet to escape London and the aristocratic life for which she’d never been intended is to take herself home — to the small village on the Scottish border where she spent the first ten years of her life. And perhaps, after a disastrous journey north, something would go right, and her childhood friend Robbie, now the village baker, would make good on their silly youthful promises and marry her. Of course, Sophie isn’t alone. She’s saddled with the horrible, handsome Marquess of Eversley. Who has done everything to ruin her plans. Until now.

Stop #7: “Lyne Castle”
Author Commentary:
The Country seat of the Dukes of Lyne, Lyne Castle is the childhood home of Kingscote, Marquess of Eversley, who left home at eighteen after a terrible tragedy and never returned. Summoned home by his ailing father, King finally returns–with the unexpected addition of Lady Sophie Talbot, irritating and somehow irresistible. The estate boasts one of the most complicated labyrinths in Britain…where King and Sophie find solace, and heartbreak, and each other.
Here’s an excerpt from Stop #7:

Sophie would want love. She’d want it pure and unfettered, given freely, along with all its trappings. She’d want the marriage and children and happiness and promise that came with it.

King could see it, the life she wanted. The line of little girls, blue-eyed and brown-haired, in love with books and strawberry tarts. For a moment, he imagined them smiling at him the way their mother did, filled with happiness and hope.
For a moment, he let himself believe he might be able to give it to her.

But she would want love, and he would never be able to give it.

He didn’t have it to give anymore. And those children, they would never be his.

He set her down on the edge of the fountain, coming to his knees, as though she was Ariadne and he the Minotaur, worshipping at her feet, adoring her even as he knew she could not survive in the labyrinth, and he could not survive beyond it.

“Tell me about last night,” he said softly, looking up at her, his hands at the hem of her skirts.
“What—” She caught her breath as his fingers explored the skin of her ankles. “What about it?”
“I hated it,” he said. “I hated stopping.”

She pressed her lips into a thin, straight line. “I hated that you stopped.”

His hands were beneath her skirts, pushing them back, farther and farther, up and over her knees. He pressed his lips to the inside of her knee, swirling his tongue there, loving the little gasp of surprised pleasure that came at the touch.

“I hate that I will have to stop today, as well.”

[Melissa’s further, further editorial: Three other excerpts were released today, look for other The Rogue Not Taken teaser posts from bloggers.]

Intrigued?  Yes?  Need more?  Here’s what Elyse from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books had to say: “The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean is my favorite book of hers to date. If you’ve read her, or know me, then you know that I just said a thing.”

The Rogue Not Taken, Scandal & Scoundrel Book 1, will be available in the US on December 29, 2015, wherever books are sold – so get those pre-orders in now!  Now, if you’re looking for signed mass market copies, anyone who orders a signed, print copy of the book from WORD Bookstores will get a gorgeous printed copy of the map!  Visit the WORD website for more information: http://www.wordbookstores.com/book/9780062379412 (link via Sarah’s website: http://www.sarahmaclean.net/the-rogue-not-taken).

You can also try your luck with our giveaway from Avon Books!  Click the Rafflecopter link for a chance to win a very exclusive early bound manuscript of THE ROGUE NOT TAKEN, along with some artisanal honey. Yum!  [Melissa’s even further editorial: Honey is very important in this story, trust me.]

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks so much to Avon Books and Sarah MacLean!

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Extra Extra · Reading Matters

Oprah has the "Freedom" to pick whatever she likes

But it is a bit strange that she went with Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m reading it right now – Freedom is a great book, well-written, and a great portrait of middle-american disaffection.  However, there are any number of less well-known writers with wonderful books available to choose from.  Why the Franzen?  I saw an idea floating around on Twitter that perhaps its some sort of karma-thing before her TV show ends.

Whatever the reason, I do hope her discussion with Franzen will be interesting.  That’s the one thing that was a big failure when The Corrections was selected in 2001.  The discussion.  Earlier this year, I read Kathleen Rooney’s book Reading With Oprah and she also had misgivings that the Franzen interview was cancelled.  Rather than having a schmaltzy book discussion, Oprah could have had a fierce, hard-hitting discussion with Franzen about highbrow vs. lowbrow culture or why the television format makes an Oprah’s Book Club pick seem more like fluff than the book might actually be.

Regardless of what I, or anyone else, think, Oprah has earned the right to do whatever the hell she wants.  I, on the other hand, will be happily reading Freedom on my nook (and mine was pre-ordered, ha!, so no Oprah stickers for me).

Extra Extra

Beth Fish Reads: Harper Perennial Books: Reviews

Beth Fish is spotlighting books from Harper Perennial!  You know, the HarperCollins imprint with the “olive” on the spine and oftentimes a nice “P.S.” guide in the back?  It’s an imprint I, personally, look for when I’m buying books – I’m kind of a geek in that I like my imprints to look nice on the shelf when lined up next to each other with their pretty spines (I “collect” other imprints, too).

Check out Beth Fish’s Introductory post as well as Beth Fish Reads: Harper Perennial Books: Reviews to see what other Harper Perennial titles are abuzz in the blogging world.  Use the “Mr. Linky” to link up your Harper Perennial posts.  I linked up my reviews to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Poisonwood Bible, and It Could Be Worse, You Could Be Me – I hope to have The Falls, The Moonflower Vine, A Vindication of Love, and Vanishing and Other Stories coming along in the next few months, too.

(And if you have time, mosey on by The Olive Reader – Harper Perennial’s fantastic blog)