TBR Challenge: Lots to Choose From

midnightangel Today we’re taking a little break from the RT author interviews for May’s installment of the TBR Challenge. For this month’s adventure through the TBR pile, I went looking for a book by an author represented multiple times in my stash of books waiting to be read. I’ve read a lot of Lisa Kleypas, but I still have plenty of her books in the TBR. The Russian angle of her 1995 historical, Midnight Angel appealed to me, so I decided to give that one a whirl.

Though the heroine is Russian, most of the book is set in England as we are treated to a governess and employer romance. Early on in the book, we as readers learn Tasia’s big secret.
She is actually a Russian aristocrat in disguise who has fled the country as she has been sentenced to death for killing her betrothed. Tasia has no memory of what happened to the man or whether she may have harmed him, but she is determined to live. Conveniently, she has relatives in England who give her a new identity and find a place for her as governess to Lucas(Luke) Stokehurst, Marquess of Stokehurst. Continue reading

AAR Staff Top Ten Favorites: Dabney’s Picks

RMBIt was the summer of 2008 and I, a passionate reader, had my first Kindle. It was magical–a device you could just push a button and get books, as many as you could find and afford, and read to your heart’s content. I’d had the thing for a couple of weeks and was perusing the Amazon Kindle page. I can’t remember if it was free or it was the most downloaded book of the day but that day I decided to buy Karen Marie Moning’s Darkfever. At the time, I hadn’t read a romance novel for over thirty years. That book sucked me in and I still haven’t been spit out. I had a problem, however. I wanted to read more romance but had no way to figure out which ones sucked and which rocked. Thank the gods for the internet. A few clicks and, boom, I discovered AAR. For the next two years, nearly every romance I bought I found through AAR and its Power Search feature. I discovered quickly that I loved well-written romances that were, well, hot. Continue reading

AAR Staff Top Ten Favorites – Alexandra’s Picks

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. Continue reading

AAR Staff Top Ten Favorites – Pat’s Picks

slightlydangerous Coming up with a list of my top romances is not romantic at all. In fact, it can be downright unromantic as I found out the first year I tried to compile a list of my Top 100 favorite romance novels. Really? They must be joking, right? Especially since I’m constantly reading.

My first try at a Top 100 garnered 76 titles, and as I go back over the list, I can barely remember some of the books after #50. How can the books after that be called “top”? So now I keep a running Top 100 list that I purge now and again. But the Top 12 seem to stay fairly constant—until I change them.

What puts a book on my Top 12 list? Readability. I’ve read these books over and over. They are my comfort reads. They are safely tucked away on my Kindle and go with me everywhere. When a review book gets so annoying I want to throw it at the wall, I read one of these. When I have a few minutes of free time, I read one of these. They are my blankies and my Teddy Bears. Continue reading

AAR Staff Top 10 Favorites – Melanie’s Picks

the_wedding So, like the other AAR staff who have submitted their Top Ten, I’ve been struggling to make decisions about what belongs on my personal top ten. And as I made a list of some of my favorite books, I noticed a pattern – I love clever heroines. I can put up with a lot of flak from the hero, if only I can relate in some way to the heroine. The heroines (or, in the case of #10, one of the heroes) try harder, go further, than expected of them. For many of them, they are smart and educated, but that’s not everything. They have a certain spark to them that pulls me in and makes me root for them. And in the end, I am ecstatic for them when they get their happily ever after.

There were, sadly, many, many books that got kicked off the list. I tried to put in a little bit of everything, but in the end, there was really only two criteria – how many times have I read it? And if I don’t own it, would I pay full price for it for the chance to read it again? Continue reading

AAR Staff Top Ten Favorites – Caz’s Picks

splendiddefiance Normally, the question “what’s your favourite book/piece of music/film?” is one that’s likely to turn me into a jibbering idiot and turn my mind completely blank. I mean really – just one favourite? And in any case, it usually depends on my mood on any one day. One day might demand Mozart and the next, Mahler. Or I’ll be in the mood for Die Hard one evening and Wall-E the evening after. By that token, if my choices tend to be mood dependent, how was I going to produce a list of titles that wasn’t going to change from day-to-day? So I decided the first thing I needed to do was to decide on the benchmark qualities I look for in a book that would qualify it for a place in my Top Ten.

Anyone that knows me knows I’m a bit of a stickler for good spelling and grammar, and for writing that displays at least a basic grasp of good sentence construction and logic. But those things should be a given in any good book, so they should be taken as read. So, was my criteria to be based on good writing or an unusual storyline; good characterisation or a talent for sparkling dialogue?

Eventually, I realised I was leaning more and more towards one particular thing – how did the book make me feel? I read romance novels because I enjoy becoming invested in the characters and their stories, so my list is based very much on my emotional response to each title. Did it make me laugh and/or cry? Was it one of those books that, as I finished the final page, made me feel emotionally drained (in a good way)? Did I finish it on a high? Was it the sort of book that makes it hard to get into another one for a day or so? Continue reading

AAR Staff Top Ten Favorites – Jane’s Picks

outlander I started reviewing for AAR when I was pretty young – 18 years old, and still fairly new to the genre. My tastes have changed and evolved quite a bit in that time. Looking at my reviewer profile, which hasn’t been updated since I started, I am rather skeptical of my “favorites,” some of which I don’t even remember anymore. I couldn’t tell you a damn thing about Hidden Fires by Sandra Brown, except that 6 years ago it was apparently one of my favorites.

My philosophy in choosing favorites is two-fold. One, my Top Ten should be more than a fleeting “books I’m enjoying now,” and therefore aren’t recent reads, or ones that I’ve read only once. Two, they should have something in them that would appeal beyond the romance. I think there is a subtle distinction between “books that a romance reader would enjoy” and “books non-romance readers would enjoy.” There are definitely some stories that I would recommend to fellow romance readers, but not anyone else. The best books are the ones that I think, “I could give this to a friend, and they would understand why I love romance novels.”

So, here we go: my top ten. Continue reading

Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor to Be a TV Movie

sean_faris_1296940989Lisa Kleypas has finally made the announcement, which means I am free to reveal the news I’ve been sitting on for months.  Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor will be an ABC and a Hallmark channel movie this year called Christmas with Holly.  Better still, unlike some other past “movie deals,” we know it’s the real thing because the movie is already shooting up in Canada for airing this holiday season.

Here’s the Hallmark press release:

Filming begins this week in and around Halifax, Nova Scotia on the newest Hallmark Hall of Fame production, Christmas with Holly.  It will premiere on ABC in December, 2012, with encore presentations on the Hallmark Channel.

“I’ve been holding on to my old dreams.  But I realize I need to make room for new ones.”  So says Maggie Conway, played by Eloise Mumford (The River, Lone Star), in the film.  She’s decided to move on in life after being left at the altar months earlier.

Continue reading

Dream Lake by Lisa Kleypas Five-Book Giveaway (Giveaway Closed)

LKSummer is 2/3 over and it’s a perfect time to relax with a great book – even better when it’s a highly anticipated book by a much-loved author.  Thanks to the generosity of Lisa and her publisher, I’ve got five copies of Dream Lake to giveaway to five lucky readers.

Honesty alert: I’m in the middle of this one now and I’m loving it.  The third in the author’s series of books set on Washington state’s San Juan Island, this one is Nolan brother Alex’s story.  Here’s what the publisher has to say about the book:

Dream Lake takes readers once again to the exquisite setting of Friday Harbor, and tells the story of Zoe Hoffman, an innkeeper who has all but given up on love. She’s a gentle, romantic soul, but has been so hurt in the past that she dare not trust her heart with anyone. Especially not Alex Nolan. Alex is the most haunted of all the Nolan brothers. He drinks to keep his demons at bay and not only has he given up on love, he has never, ever believed in it. Zoe and Alex are oil and water, fire and ice, sunshine and shadow. But sometimes, it takes only a glimmer of light to chase away the dark. Dream Lake is classic Lisa Kleypas: romantic, powerful, emotional, and magical.”

Continue reading

Books with Buzz: Lisa Kleypas Interview and 10-Book Giveaway (Contest Closed)

RainshadowAt long, long last after a draught of one solid year without a book from Lisa Kleypas, her loyal readers catch a break at last when Rainshadow Road is finally released on Tuesday, February 28th.   To celebrate, we’ve got Lisa herself to answer a few questions and she doesn’t come empty handed.  Lisa has 10 books donated by her publisher to give away to 10 lucky winners.  To enter, all you need to do is comment to this blog by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, February 24th.  Winners will be notified by email on Saturday morning and will have 24 hours to respond.  If we don’t hear from a winner within that time, a new winner will be selected.  This contest is designed for readers, so please don’t enter if you review for another Web site or blog.  Due to the high cost of international postage, entries are open only to those from the U.S. and Canada.

Now, let’s hear from Lisa!

Lisa, thanks so much for joining us today.  Could you please tell our readers a bit about Rainshadow Road?

Sandy,  thank you so much for inviting me!  Rainshadow Road is the first in a series of contemporary romances set in Friday Harbor,  Washington.  It’s about a young glass artist,  Lucy Marinn,  who is dumped by her boyfriend at the beginning of the story–and if that’s not bad enough,  she discovers that he’s dumped her for her younger sister!  So about fifteen minutes after this happens,  she sees this handsome stranger on the beach,  who happens to be Sam Nolan,  a local vineyard owner.

Continue reading