Posts Tagged ‘J.R. Ward’

AAR Staff Top 10 Favorites – Anne’s Picks

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

defynottheheart My first thought when I heard about this was “Eek! Only ten?” These picks are in no particular order, and some make no sense when I look at them. But these were the books I often think of when I try to pick favorites — often because they influenced me so much. Sadly, some of the romances I loved the most have titles like “That old Silhouette where the hero helped the heroine recover from an abusive childhood. Or something. I think it was blue.”

If I left your book off the list, don’t feel bad. It might be one of dozens of runner-ups. Or maybe it was one of those books I’ve been trying to remember for years. Was your book blue?

1) Defy Not the Heart by Johanna Lindsey

This book broke rules and yet still managed to be classic Lindsey, without being classic Lindsey that involved Viking slave collars and the like. Even the sex was mediocre at first, until the hero found out how to make it better for the heroine. That was a great touch. But I’ll always remember this book for the gay lady’s maid Theo. An unexpected find in a Medieval. Sure, the hero and heroine fought a lot. This is a Lindsey, right? Was it PC? Come on! This is a Lindsey! (more…)

Loving Problematic Books

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

chinagarden Grading books is not always straightforward. For me, there is no rubric, no check-list of Do’s and Don’t's. I have a few deal-breakers, but not many. When I assign a book a DIK grade, though, I often feel like it has to be perfect — or at least very, very close. The writing must be flawless. The characters, well-developed. The plot, exciting, believable, and interesting. But I’ve found that some of the books I go back to, the ones I re-read over and over again (the true test, in my opinion, of a DIK), are objectively problematic in some way.

“Problematic” can mean a lot of different things. Maybe there is a pretty huge logical fallacy upon which the plot hangs. Maybe there’s something that should be totally unromantic, unhealthy, or taboo. Recently, my fellow AAR reviewers and staff members got to talking about our favorite books that have some flaw or problem. (more…)

AAR Staff Top 10 Favorites – Heather’s Picks

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

paradise When you’re a voracious reader, picking a top 10 is a daunting task. There are so many books that I’ve loved and in many different ways or for different reasons. Some may be because they’ve brought me to a particular sub-genre. Some I’ve loved perhaps because they struck the right note for me for where I was emotionally at the time I read them. And some are on my favorites list just because they have that certain je ne se quois that causes me to connect with the story and characters. Whatever the reason may be, AAR has brought me fantastic recommendations for many years thanks to the wonderful community of reviewers, pollsters, commenters, and visitors to our message boards.

My highly scientific method of decision-making consisted of going through my reading log and if a book made me squee with delight, I short listed it. Then I began the arduous task of narrowing down my choices to ten. My choices represent a variety of genres and styles, but all have become favorites of mine in some way. There are some glaring omissions, notably due to the fact that there are no medievals on my list, and a few favorite authors, while I consistently enjoy the books they produce, did not make the cut.

And so now it is time for me to pick my favorite children, er, books. Gosh, this is harder than it sounded at first. (more…)

AAR Staff Top Ten Favorites: Cindy’s Picks

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

Hi, I’m Cindy, I have been doing AAR Reader polls with LinnieGayl and Lee for the last 7 years, and now I help with the updating of the Special Title Listings with Rike and LinnieGayl. It would be fair to say I love reading lists, my favorite lists being AAR Readers’ lists of favorite books. Now, ask me to rank my favorite romances and I freeze up. But I’ve learned from the best how every list created by a reader may have some caveats attached. I loved reading Jenna and Maggie’s lists because each came at it in different ways. Jenna took Pride and Prejudice off the table – it is just her very favorite book, it’s a classic and almost always ends up on a reader’s top romance ballot, so she posted it as a given. Maggie spoke of the books that created a journey to her reading preferences today and she mentioned the very first series book she read that would be considered an emotional favorite but left it off her final list.

In listing my favorites I originally made the rule that no author could be on the list more than one time. It forced me to think in a different way. Ask me to list my top 10 favorite Anne Stuart books and it would be agonizing, but to only allow one book made me look for the very best of each author’s work. I then promptly broke my rule because one author surprised me and showed me she could make any situation work. And finally, knowing this list wasn’t etched in stone helped me to move forward because I know tomorrow I can change my mind. With that, my list: (more…)

AAR Staff Top 10 Favorites: Jenna’s Picks

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

drumroll Note from our pollsters: AAR is pleased to announce that starting on Tuesday October 1st, 2013 we will open polling for AAR Reader’s Top 100 Romance List. To get everyone ready for Top 100 poll we will post our reviewer and staff picks for their personal Top 10 Favorite Romances every Tuesday starting now until the poll opens in October.

As a way to get to know me as one of the newer reviewers as well as something fun to get us all excited for this fall’s AAR Readers Top 100 Poll, mine is the first installment in a series of AAR staff posts discussing our personal Top 10 favorite romance novels. It’s always nice to rave about your favorite reads, and I’m excited for the chance to talk up these books, hopefully inspiring you to pick up a title that you, too, might love.

When deciding what books to include on my personal Top 10 list, I used one criterion above and beyond the “must be a romance” dictate. I applied the ultimate DIK question – if I had a chest that could only hold ten books to keep me happy while stranded indefinitely on a deserted island, which ones would I choose to put in it? (more…)

It’s Latin for Cop Out

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

deusexmachina NOTE: Given the nature of the topic, there are spoilers for various books and series throughout the text.

The other day I happened to catch an episode of the TV show Monday Mornings in rerun, and one of the characters mentioned deus ex machina. What caught my attention was how he pronounced it – DAY-oos eks MAH-kee-nah. I realized, then, that I didn’t recall ever having heard that phrase spoken out loud before and that all of this time, I’ve been mentally pronouncing it incorrectly. My high school and college French had me thinking it as dus oh mah-SHEEN-a. I felt really stupid at my mistake but also very educated because now I can jauntily throw that phrase about with the correct Latin pronunciation. Bonus: spelling it is now a piece of cake. (more…)

The Book Hangover

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

It is two o’clock in the morning. You have work the next morning, and maybe kids that will be up in a few hours and need to get dressed and fed and sent off to school. You should have been asleep hours ago, but the “one more chapter” bug has hit and you have a book you can’t put down. Finally, around 4 am, the book is finished, you have a wad of used Kleenex on the nightstand, your eyes feel like sandpaper, but you have a sense of euphoria at the wonderful book that you have just read. Sounds great right? Yeah – all except for the hangover that you are sure to get the next morning.

The Book Hangover. Have you ever had it? What is it? It is more than just the exhaustion that you have the next day when you stayed up too late reading a good book. That is a part of it. But just like a regular hangover, the headache isn’t the whole package. There is more to the situation. Even two days later, when you are all caught up with sleep, you just can’t wind down and read another book. That is the kicker. (more…)

Fantasy + Romance=Bliss

Friday, December 9th, 2011

kurland As a kid, I always loved the idea of a fantasy story. I liked the imagination of a world with elves and faeries where magic was possible. One would think that with this kind of an interest there would have been more than enough to keep me reading. There was the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Chronicles of Narnia. Those stories with their mythical beasts and a battle between good and evil should have been right up my alley. But no matter how hard I tried, I never enjoyed them. I could never get past the first book in each series. For a while, I figured the books were just too mature for me. I assumed that it was me who was in the wrong and that in a few years I would change, and the books would work. These books had an honored place on my bookshelves for many years just waiting for the time to be right, but all that they did was gather dust.
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Before They Were Authors

Monday, September 12th, 2011

career The recent Labor Day weekend had friends and I discussing the changing job market. Many of us had launched into second (and even third) career paths, something that certainly wasn’t expected when we initially graduated from college. This got me to thinking of others who have a secondary career path (or sometimes even just a second job!); the writers who keep me supplied in romances.

Contrary to what many in the media may think, an author does not, as Eileen Dreyer so succinctly put it, choose this path because she is “a sexually frustrated loser dressed in a robe and bunny slippers who lives in a dreary apartment with my cat and lives vicariously through my devastatingly beautiful heroines.” Most seem to choose it because it is a girlhood dream. And many, many, many of them come to writing only after having pursued another career first. I am fascinated by the diversity of what those careers are and thought others might be to. So here it is, a cataloging of what several of the greats did before they were romance writers.

Linda Howard worked at a trucking company, which explains to me at least why she can create such realistic men. I would imagine working in a male dominated field like that would show one a great deal about how the opposite sex thinks. Susanna Kearsley was a museum curator, and I think that is reflected in the wonderful historical settings of some of her novels. Justine Davis was in law enforcement before being a writer. She writes authentic romantic suspense with an authentic flavor now.  And Inez Kelly was a 911 dispatcher and Linnea Sinclair worked as a private detective and also a news reporter before taking on romantic science fiction. Sandra Brown also worked as a reporter, and Pamela Clare “went to work for a newspaper and held almost every position in the newsroom before becoming the paper’s first woman editor.” Karina Bliss, who has received a DIK here at AAR for Here Comes the Groom, worked as a travel journalist. And Carla Kelly? Well, among her many and varied careers, she has worked as a park ranger and was a Valley City Time Record feature writer.

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Serious Series Addiction

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

ShadowfeverI’m a romance reader who loves series books.  Give me books for all the brothers, sisters, cousins, friends, pack mates, or even coven members and blood brothers an author can come up with; I’m good with’em all if they’re well done of course. Luckily for me, my three most favorite series books will all soon to be released installments and while I’m looking forward to the releases, each one will be somewhat bittersweet.  My love for them, tied to my angst and worry over seeing them end, makes me wonder if I’ll find other books to take their place and who else out there feels the same way about these books and others.

I’ve written about Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series before and I’m still just as addicted to it today as I was when I read Faefever for the first time.  I’m sad to see it end.  I began with the third in the series and it didn’t take me long to get sucked into MacKayla Lane’s world of Seelie and Unseelie Fae.  The first person narration, suspense plot, and unique setting work for me in almost every way.  With four books already released in the series, the final installment, Shadowfever, will be released on January 18, 2011.  Hopefully, as many questions as possible will be answered and Mac will finally be with Barrons, but if not, I won’t be completely surprised because I have visions of the Lost finale with it’s lack of answers and have a feeling this will be similar since there are so many questions that need answers.  Plus, I read on Moning’s site that she’s signed with Random House for three more books set in the Fever World, so while Mac’s story arc may conclude the problems may continue.  Regardless, I’ll miss Mac and Barrons and hate to say goodbye.

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