Posts Tagged ‘linda howard’

Speaking of Audiobooks: Top Ten 2013 Romance Listens

Monday, January 6th, 2014

FFTS and MM -final coversAlthough we’re seeing the audio romance section over at Audible brimming with unknown authors and narrators these days, it’s an indication that romance audiobooks are more popular than ever and the number of quality titles is on the rise as well. 2013 offered the best selection yet of highly entertaining, exceptionally written and performed audiobooks. My Top Ten List could easily number twenty-five.

When choosing the year’s Top Ten romance titles, it goes without saying that the author’s writing and the narrator’s performance are the most influential factors. With the proliferation of home studios, production plays a bigger role each year as those who take the time to give us a seamless listen without awkward corrections, noisy intakes of breath, or poor sound quality deserve recognition as well. And although all of these elements were taken into consideration when making my selections, there’s another dynamic that sometimes comes into play and overrides all the others – it’s that sense of being swept away – a gut feel that tells me “This was a perfect listen for me.”  Here’s hoping that my Top Ten Listens will provide you with the same. (more…)

Romances I Want to See on the Large or Small Screen

Monday, November 25th, 2013

byrdtheatre Recently we’ve seen a spate of books made into movies – Ender’s Game, Catching Fire and The Book Thief being three of the most recent. Which got me to thinking about romance novels I think would make excellent films or TV series. Books that I feel contain enough grit and depth to appeal to a wider audience while still containing the kind of luscious love stories that romance fans adore. I’ve added some casting hints just in case Hollywood needs the help. Here’s my list:

1. Nobody’s Baby but Mine – Susan Elizabeth Phillips – The story: Football hero and brainy scientist meet in the most unusual of ways. I can totally see Emma Stone as the brainy, feisty Jane. Cal is a bit harder but I can picture Mathew Fox (or a younger, hotter version of him) delivering the cereal killer line with aplomb. This sweet tale of a brainy gal and the jock she brings to his knees would make a terrific rom com. (more…)

Speaking of Audiobooks: November 2013 Audio News

Monday, November 4th, 2013

DeadlineWe have general romance audio news today as well as an announcement from AAR. We also have something new for Speaking of Audiobooks – sound clips from several promising audios.

Speaking of Audiobooks Review News

You know all those audiobook reviews you have seen in the Speaking of Audiobooks columns through the years? There are hundreds and we have mourned the inability to search or even find a listing of those reviews we know are there but are seemingly just out of our reach. Oh, they are all still there, tucked away in a Speaking of Audiobooks column somewhere. Well, the good news is – things are a-changing.

Slowly but surely, we are moving those audio reviews into AAR’s review database. As with any review of a print book, you can now go into the Power Search and search by author or title. You can also choose to view our entire selection of audiobook reviews – select Audiobook under Book Type and it will bring up all audiobook reviews ordered by most recent. Right now there are 61 reviews but we will have more than 300 from the past 4 ½ years when we have transitioned all over to the reviews database.

In many of those reviews, you will find more information than that which was included in the original Speaking of Audiobooks review thanks to a number of audio reviewers, both past and present, who have volunteered to provide an overall grade, separate grades for narration and content, and sensuality ratings for a good number of their past reviews. On all audio reviews, you’ll find the length of the audio and prices for both hard copies (if available) and Audible.

Future Audio Review News

And more big review news. We are now writing new audio reviews and publishing those right along with AAR’s print reviews. Regularly, you will see audiobook reviews mixed in with print reviews six days a week in our New Reviews area.

Our audio reviewers at this time are LinnieGayl, Caz, and myself. Our first new audiobook review ran this past Saturday – Caz’s review of Laura Kinsale’s My Sweet Folly. Each column, I’ll provide links to audiobook reviews published since the last column. All reviews included in the current and future Speaking of Audiobooks column are written by me – Lea Hensley and will be shorter in length than the general audio reviews. These SOA reviews will be added to the reviews database after each column runs.

Coming Soon Audio Reviews

Although we have around 25 audio review titles in the works at this time, here are a few you will soon be seeing:

RealClare, Pamela – Striking Distance  Narrated by Kaleo Griffith

Evans, Katy – Real  Narrated by Charlotte Penfield

Heyer, Georgette – Sylvester (unabridged)  Narrated by Nicholas Rowe

Kinsale, Laura – Shadowheart  Narrated by Nicholas Boulton

Milan, Courtney – The Duchess War  Narrated by Rosalyn Landor

Shalvis, Jill – Always on my Mind  Narrated by Annie Greene

Graeme Simsion – The Rosie Project  Narrated by Dan O’Grady

Willig, Lauren – The Passion of the Purple Plumeria     Narrated by Kate Reading

 

Sound Clips – a Welcome Addition to Audio Reviews

As romance listeners, we want to hear interaction between the hero and heroine in sound clips yet, that’s rarely the case. Since Audible’s sound clips typically feature the first few minutes of an audio, we usually hear the intro to one of the characters or the prologue. Starting with today’s Speaking of Audiobooks column, we’re offering a few sound clips you won’t find at Audible. Each will contain that hero/heroine interaction and hopefully help you decide if a particular audio is of interest to you.

We’re featuring all male narrators today (it just happened that way – not purposefully): Stephen Lang – narrator of Sandra Brown’s recent Deadline, Kaleo Griffith – narrator of Pamela Clare’s Defiant, and Nicholas Boulton – narrator of Laura Kinsale’s For My Lady’s Heart and My Sweet Folly.

Deadline – Sandra Brown

Narrated by Stephen Lang

I’m a big Sandra Brown fan who eagerly anticipates each of her new releases while relistening to my Brown favorites to keep my bouts of Brown fever at bay. Not only can I rely on another entertaining romantic suspense each year, but I rest in the knowledge that her new title will be released simultaneously in print and audio formats with the audio featuring an experienced talented narrator. Stephen Lang adeptly delivers Deadline with all the suspense one could hope for while paying homage to the romance within.

Dawson, a well-known journalist who has just returned from Afghanistan, overwhelmed and still suffering from his experiences there, follows a close FBI contact’s suggestion that he cover the presumed murder case of a soldier who looks to be the biological son of infamous terrorists. Amelia is the dead soldier’s wife and mother of his two children. Their romance builds slowly and believably as each discovers Amelia is being targeted – someone wants her dead. Deadline is more romantic that Brown’s other more recent releases and provides complete satisfaction in more ways than one. Aside from some noticeable production issues, Lang’s narration combined with Sandra Brown’s storytelling is a complete winner. My grades – an A- for narration and an A for content. Sensuality: Warm

The following sound sample features one of Dawson and Amelia’s first encounters.

 

 

Defiant – Pamela Clare

Narrated by Kaleo Griffith

The third in the Mackinnon’s Rangers series, Defiant delivers an above average American Historical tale set during the French and Indian War. To better visualize this time frame, think Daniel Day Lewis in The Last of the Mohicans. Although I see Lewis as Iain (the hero of Surrender), the action and politics seen in that movie are present as well as cruel treatment from a Native American tribe – this time the Shawnee.

At times, it’s tough to listen to Connor and Sarah’s experiences with the tribe (and it reminds me of Clare’s Ride the Fire) but the bigger story lies beyond those trials. Pamela Clare doesn’t write wallpaper historicals and Defiant is rich with historical facts blended with tender romance. Kaleo Griffith, narrator of Ms. Clare’s audiobooks to date, continues to bring to life these engaging tales with easily distinguished characters while imbuing each scene with the appropriate tension, humor, and attention to tenderness – an absolute requirement for this at-times heart wrenching tale. Grade: Narration – B+ and Content: A.  Sensuality: Hot

Our sound clip features one of those tender scenes between Connor and Sarah.

For My Lady’s Heart – Laura Kinsale

Narrated by Nicholas Boulton

I was hesitant to listen to For My Lady’s Heart as I read that it contained (horrors) Middle English. I want my listening to be easy but the lure was strong with all the highly favorable comments I was reading and … it’s a Medieval, a sub-genre I thoroughly enjoy. And that Middle English? I barely noticed it after hearing the first bit of dialogue as the author seamlessly blends the more archaic language into the overall text.

Nick Boulton, a stage actor more than a little familiar with Shakespeare, delivers it all with such great skill that I only thought about the beauty of the story, it’s complex characters, and the sheer intrigue Kinsale’s words convey. Facing a difficult heroine once again (Prince of Midnight featured such a heroine as well – an A listen for me), I didn’t run away as is my tendency. I have learned that in the hands of this author, it will work for me. I’m sure I’ll accept her character well before the story’s end and appreciate its inclusion. My grades – A+ for narration and A for content. Sensuality: Warm

Here’s a taste of what is waiting for you in For My Lady’s Heart:

My Sweet Folly – Laura Kinsale

Narrated by Nicholas Boulton

Folie (Folly) is quite simply an endearing heroine. A widow and responsible yet loving stepmother, she’s faced the difficulties in her life with great aplomb. She’s paired with what can best be described as a challenging hero who, while at times seems the ultimate in kindness and consideration, can also appear a bit unhinged and downright difficult.

Nick Boulton, once again, gives an outstanding performance and helps the listener understand Robert’s trials and uncertainties. I have learned that Laura Kinsale’s books usually contain an arduous character or plot element that I must accept fully while trusting her to turn it around and deliver an excellent tale in the process. My Sweet Folly is no exception and I reveled in the mystery surrounding Robert and his relationship with Folly that starts so innocently and beautifully only to veer way off the beaten path. In her audio review, Caz gave My Sweet Folly an overall B+ grade. My grade is higher – an overall A with an A+ for narration and an A- for content. Sensuality: Warm

This sound clip features one of their more challenging conversations – Nick Boulton gets every nuance and performs each character even better than my mind can envision:

 

Romance Audiobook News

Linda Howard

Dare we hope to see her unpublished (after 1986) audio titles soon? In particular, we are talking about Duncan’s Bride and her Kell Sabin series, which includes Midnight RainbowDiamond BayHeartbreaker, and White Lies.

Well, Midnight Rainbow is scheduled for release on December 1st by Dreamscape Media! I’m smiling but concerned about the choice of unknown narrator Brenda Sweeney. I was hoping for one of the audio industry’s best narrators with this Linda Howard jewel. Let’s hope Brenda Sweeney fits that bill.

All Through the Night BockwayConnie Brockway

Connie Brockway’s All Through the Night will be released in audio format on November 19th. We are hoping this is an indication that her entire backlist will soon be released in audio format as her debut novel, Promise Me Heaven, is also being released on the 19th. Both are narrated by Alison Larkin, she’s well-known and trusted. Fingers crossed for more audio releases.

The Lost Suzanne Enoch Audios

For a couple of years, we have talked about Suzanne Enoch’s five lost audiobooks originally released by Harper Audio, specifically:

The Rake

London’s Perfect Scoundrel

England’s Perfect Hero

Always a Scoundrel

The Care and Taming of a Rogue

This is (and was) especially significant news since the highly talented Tavia Gilbert narrates these lost titles. Released in 2011, these audios were available at Audible for a matter of only months. We discovered in February 2012, that the audios had disappeared. The search was officially on at our Romance Audiobooks Goodreads group and Tavia jokingly referred to it as The Goodreads Disappearing Audiobooks Smackdown Possee.  Well, we have news! Tavia reported on October 21st that Harper had confirmed their rerelease of these titles sometime this fall. In fact, two are already available at Audible – The Rake and London’s Perfect Scoundrel. You’ll also see Ms. Enoch’s newest series, Scandalous Brides, (released in 2012-2013 by Tantor) with Anne Flosnik narrating.

Laura Kinsale

For those of you who have been waiting for For My Lady’s Heart or wondered what happened to it, it is now available at Audible once again. Audible inadvertently left Chapter 14 out of the audio and had to remove the book. Replacement took weeks causing listeners to ask in frustration “Where did it go?!” Surely there is a better way than to just remove an audio in such a situation (the same happened with Pamela Clare’s Surrender earlier this year although it was Tantor making the changes).

Nora Roberts’ Whiskey Beach

Brilliance released Whiskey Beach earlier this year with Peter Berkrot narrating. The reviews were mixed but apparently caused concern for Brilliance as they rereleased Whiskey Beach in October with a new narrator – Luke Daniels. Apparently, there were complaints about Berkrot’s narration and action was taken. Reviews are also mixed on Daniels’ performance. I noticed that the unabridged MP3 CD at Amazon still includes Peter Berkrot as narrator while the abridged version names Luke Daniels as the narrator as does the Audible unabridged version. Confusing as that is, we must applaud Brilliance for their move – they responded to listeners’ complaints.

ALS AuctionThe Fight Against ALS

The audio community is rallying around one of their own, Bob Deyan, who is battling ALS (aka Lou Gehrig’s disease). His company, Deyan Audio, has probably produced at least one if not dozens of the audiobooks you have listened to. In support of his battle and to help him raise money to research ALS, two fundraisers are planned – one a live 24-hour read-a-thon in Los Angeles and the second, an online auction of unique audiobook related items. The online auction is currently underway. The flyer to the right will direct you to the online auction. If you want to know more about the read-a-thon or Bob’s story, visit here.

Ending Notes

Check out our Speaking of Audiobooks Facebook page to see romance audio updates, industry news, and links to articles of interest.

For those new to our Speaking of Audiobooks column, be sure to check out our audio archives for further recommendations and discussions.

Our affiliated Goodreads group – Romance Audiobooks keeps growing and now has 629 members. Come join us for discussions in between columns.

Enjoy your listening!

-       Lea Hensley

 

AAR Staff Top Ten Favorites – Alexandra’s Picks

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

ravishingtheheiress Although I know other reviewers and staff have had a lot of trouble deciding upon their top ten romance novels, I have to confess it was mostly easy for me. This likely has something to do with the fact that I’ll be stranded on what is essentially a desert island for the next few months—that’s right, I’m off to college. There’s not much space in a dorm, so only the crème de la crème of my romance novel collection travels with me, and since many of those books have already been mentioned, it’s actually been fairly simple to whittle my list down to just ten.

Even so, I still have some books (like Julia Quinn’s Romancing Mr. Bridgerton or Laura Kinsale’s Flowers from the Storm) which I ache to write about and recommend. The books on my list have all been read and reread dozens of times. I take scrupulous care of all my books, and if you ran your hand down the spines of everything sitting on my bookshelf, you’d find perhaps 80% are in fairly pristine condition. These ones, however, look much more worn. They’re carted around (on vacation, off to college, etc.), they’re lent out to family and friends, and they’re the books most likely to be found sitting on a coffee table waiting to be spilled on.

So, without further ado, here are, in no particular order, some of my top bunch of romance novels—the true DIKs which I’ll be carting off to college this week. (more…)

AAR Staff Top Ten Favorites – Lea’s Picks

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

keeperofthedream As I’m sure a number of other AAR reviewers discovered when choosing their Top Ten Favorite romance books, it’s not an easy task. I whittled my list down to twenty and realized some of my absolute favorites still had to be marked off the list. I wondered, should I include those ultimate favorites from ten years ago when I was most passionate about the romance genre? Or, now that my tastes have evolved, should I choose newer discoveries that more closely match my tastes today? And since I listen to so many audiobooks, how could I keep those with excellent audio deliveries from influencing my choice of print books? Not easy. But then I realized just how much my Top Ten audiobooks list would differ from those books available in print format only and decided to not mix the two. I’ll save my list of top audiobooks for a Speaking of Audiobooks column.

As I reduced the list to only ten books, I decided to include a number of romances that were A+ reads years ago and a number that are my first choices today. After painfully marking a good number of extremely good, completely satisfying reads off the list, here are my Top Ten Favorites in no particular order. (more…)

AAR Top Ten Picks – Laurie Gold’s Picks

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

castles Note: Laurie Gold has graciously agreed to share her Top Ten picks here this week. Longtime readers here will remember that Laurie founded All About Romance, and you will see many columns and reviews from her in our archives. Though Laurie retired from AAR in 2008, she now contributes to Heroes and Heartbreakers, and still has plenty of opinions on books. – Lynn
———–

When Blythe asked me to write this blog, she sent me a link to AAR Reviewer Maggie’s entry. I immediately liked it because, like Maggie, I have an impossible number of favorites from which to choose, and thought her idea of sampling from among subgenres was smart. Here, then, are my top ten romances, culled from historical, contemporary, paranormal, and romantic suspense subgenres, with funny, sad, and an erotic option thrown in for good measure. And to make it perhaps more useful, more than once I went for a less well-known author/book. (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 Ten Favorites – Mary’s Picks

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

There is absolutely no possible way that I can trim my favorite romance novels down to ten. Therefore, I am going to take a page from other reviewers’ entries and exempt those written in the 19th century (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell). I am also going to state that Outlander by Diana Gabaldon is a given, but because the story continues and the end has not yet been written, it will be excluded from my top 10 list. I am also going to exclude A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught, because Jenna included it her list and I would not want to be redundant. So…in no particular order and with the caveat that I could exchange some books on this list at any time, here is my qualified Top 10 list: (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 Ten Favorites: Maggie’s Picks

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

pandp Before I begin, I must issue a disclaimer. I don’t have ten favorite books. I have hundreds of them. I imagine most of us here at AAR do. When the idea for the Top Ten Tuesday came up I was panicked wondering how I would narrow my list down to just ten. How could I do that? The simple answer is I can’t. I didn’t. The following list will cover one of my favorites from ten of my favorite romance subgenres. Each book is actually representing many peers. And that is an amazing thing. In looking over a few decades of reading romance novels I’ve fallen in love with the genre all over again. There have been so many fantastic reads over the years, so many books that captured the essence of just what I want from a romance novel.

Just what is that you might ask? The answer is both simple and complex. I want a lovely love story. Easy enough, right? Wrong. So many authors still confuse lust with love, giving us two bickering people who have hot sex while barely being able to be in the same room together without making us want to smack them both. Other authors confuse excitement with love, delivering fascinating tales which happen to include people falling in love but not really focusing their story on that magical fact. Yet other authors provide us with caricatures falling in love; their books could contain a disclaimer about no humans being involved since I certainly don’t recognize any humans I have ever met in their characters.

So what happens when authors do get it right? We have two people who genuinely get to know each other. We have the surface action of physical attraction and the emotional aspect of two people being enchanted by each other. We have real lives going on while the romance takes place. We meet friends and family who aren’t just set ups for the next book but who provide us with insight into our primary couple. And we have focus – an intense look into watching the characters fall for each other. That to me makes for a luscious love story. (more…)