Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Arranged Marriages: Pixar vs. Sherry Thomas

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

handsThere were many things I loved about Sherry Thomas’ Ravishing the Heiress, secondary characters notwithstanding.  The writing.  Fitz and Millie.  The writing.  (Can you tell I love it?)  But there’s one particular aspect that stands out, and that’s how Ms. Thomas treats an arranged marriage.

I saw Pixar’s Brave the same weekend that I finished Ravishing the Heiress, and the contrast could not have been greater.  In the first, Scottish princess Merida rebels against her mother, traditional feminine pursuits, and the whole idea of an arranged marriage.  Forget embroidery, and to hell with marrying one of the chieftain’s sons to keep the clans together – Merida will win her own hand in marriage.  I’m not giving anything away if I tell you that by the end Merida will have reached a new understanding with her mother and learned the value of compromise – but she sure ain’t married either.

Things are different in Ravishing the Heiress, besides the obvious differences in audience (it’s a romance) and form (it’s a novel – duh).  Millie loves Fitz, and Fitz loves someone else.  But does Millie refuse the marriage because she wants to marry for love, and wait until he recognizes his love for her?  Nope.  Millie’s family wants social standing and Millie has been groomed for this her entire life; and Fitz needs to restore the decrepit estate.  So Millie goes through with it.  And it takes eight years – read that, eight years – before their relationship becomes true love.


Who Are You? And Who Needs to Know?

Monday, July 16th, 2012

CNSPhoto-Simpsons Everything I’ve ever written or posted at AAR has been under my own name. My real one. Since I’ve been doing this for well over a decade and have an unusual name, I figure I am about the easiest person to find on the internet. You google me, you get me. I made the choice early on, and I’ve always been comfortable with it. But we have several staff members who use a pseudonym. Reasons vary; for some it’s a professional issue, for others a privacy one. Honestly, when a reviewer wants to use an assumed name I don’t feel the need to ask them why. I don’t really care what you call yourself as long as you are professional.

eBook Lending – A Reader’s View

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

kindlebook Last week, I mentioned that certain publishers won’t let libraries lend their eBooks. To bring it home more, if you are looking for romance eBooks by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Lora Leigh, Keiran Kramer published by Macmillan Publishing at your local library or Simon & Schuster’s authors such as Jayne Ann Krentz or Sabrina Jeffries, don’t waste your time looking because their eBooks are not available for lending. If that is not enough, Penguin, which only offered backlist eBook titles for library lending, announced that it is terminating its contract with OverDrive, the library digital vendor, and starting February 10 will cease to offer any of its eBooks to libraries.

And…the Annual Reader Poll Begins!

Monday, January 16th, 2012

voting_m-300x225 It’s the beginning of a new year and many of us readers are looking forward to the next must-have title by our favorite authors and those wonderful cherry-on-top moments of discovering a new auto-buy author during 2012. We know this time is special and fun, and we ourselves are basking in the newness of it all. And yet, we need your help in looking back at the books you loved and those that left you wanting so much more from last year, 2011. Today is the start of our 16th AAR Annual Reader Poll .

The Annual Reader Poll has a long tradition at AAR, and is one of the highlights of the year for many readers. It is a time when AAR readers pick the best and worst reads of the previous year. This is your poll and your moment to help us determine what you think readers should have noticed and passed on in 2011. There are many AAR readers who keep charts and know exactly what titles and characters they will be entering on their ballot. If you haven’t kept a reading chart (and there are just as many readers who don’t), you can always use the Power Search function at AAR to search for reviews from the 2011 reading year. In Power Search you can search by genre, reviewer, year published, grade, and a host of other areas that should be helpful in preparing your ballot.


In Search of the Real Regency

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Regency In my search for good historical reading, I’ll admit that I’m sometimes guilty of something. I’ll moan about Regency-set historicals as a shorthand for “historicals with idiot twit leads, wallpaper settings and stupid gimmicks that make me crazy.” And I know that’s not fair of me. The Regency period itself has much to recommend it, and modern-day silliness dressed up in poofy gowns was certainly not what it was all about. I don’t dislike the Regency period as a historical era; it’s more that I’ve read too many books that claim this time period as their setting even though one would never be able to discern this from the text of the book itself.

Speaking of Audiobooks: December 2011 Releases

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

s LoverIt’s time to take a look at December’s romance audio releases and I imagine something will catch your interest.  When I compare our unabridged new releases list today to our 2009 December unabridged list, I see that there are twice as many on today’s list!  Either I’m better at finding new releases or the production of romance audio has increased significantly.  I think it’s some of both!

We also have seven reviews including Meljean Brooks’ The Iron Duke, Lisa Kleypas’ Midnight Angel, Christine Feehan’s The Twilight Before Christmas, Lisa Kleypas’ Stranger in My Arms, Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Nobody’s Baby But Mine, Anne Stuart’s Shameless, and Suzanne Brockmann’s Harvard’s Education.

Transcript Available for Narrators Forum

A written transcript of our Narrators Forum will be available this week.  Although you can read the forum in its entirety in the discussion area of the column, I know some desire to read the forum and the following discussion in one easy-to-read document.  Please email me and give me your name and email address if you desire a copy.

I must take a minute to state how thrilled I am with not only the forum but the discussion between readers and narrators after the forum ended (and it continued for days).  If you didn’t check back in after the first day, you missed some great discussion.

Audiobook Romances on Sale in December


Raising a Family of Book Nerds

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

blythe Confession: We scheduled our family vacation around the release of Harry Potter. We were originally going to leave later and come back later, placing us in the wilds of Montana on July 15. “We can’t do that,” my husband said. “None of the theaters in Bozeman are going to be good enough. We’ll have to be back here.” So we were back in Denver in plenty of time for the midnight showing, sitting in reserved seats in our favorite theater, It was, after all, a special occasion. All of us are fans of the books and movies. All my children have read all the books. They are all – to one degree or another – readers.

I’m not entirely sure that this has anything to do with me, other than genetics and the huge towering stacks of books lying available all around my house (I’m sure there are people who have more books than we do, but I’ve never met them). When the kids were little (they’re 19, 17, 14, and 11 now) I used to read parenting magazines all the time. They were full of helpful tips about raising a reader, the most obvious being to read to them every night (we did). My favorite, though, was the suggestion that you, the parent, should try to model reading so that your kids would see that adults read for pleasure. The idea that this required effort was always hilarious to me (what I really needed to hear: “Lady, put Outlander down and feed your kids something besides pizza.”) Whether it’s because I read Angelina Ballerina, Brown Bear, Go Dog, Go!, and Sylvester and the Magic Pebble something like thirty billion times or not, all the kids read now.

My oldest and youngest read the most. Scarlett chews through books like a very hungry caterpillar, and reads way faster than I do. If you don’t trip over her clothes when you enter her room, you’ll trip over the books; they’re everywhere. Finn likes The Hardy Boys and various fantasy series that I can’t really bother to keep straight. Abigail prefers literature (she has a snobbish streak, but so did I at 17). Duncan just started the Game of Thrones series.


The Buzzword? Digital.

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011
NYC Workout View

NYC Workout View

If there was one word we kept hearing last week at RWA, it was digital. We heard it from excited people, disillusioned people, scared people, and confused people. Digital options are opening up a Brave New World, but no one seems to be sure how that will change the current landscape, only that it will.

The most immediate change seems to be that most publishers are open to new ideas. If you follow either Lynn or me on twitter, you may have seen us live tweet from various publisher spotlights. We attended Spotlights for Avon, Carina, Harlequin Series, Pocket, Tor, and Berkley. There was only one (Pocket) that didn’t say they were looking for Westerns. Last year, I’m pretty sure no one was looking for Westerns, because I would have noticed.  Last year, the message was, “Here’s what we already publish; if you want us to publish you, please submit more of the same.” This year was, “We’re open to all kind of new possibilities.” (I think my favorite may have been the editor at Tor, who said she really wanted someone to submit a book about a ghost ship. Can someone get on that one?)

Why is that tied to digital? I think a large part of the credit goes to Carina Press, who started publishing digital first books last June and is showing all of us that it can be successful. They’re taking chances on different settings and niche books, and by and large it’s working. Avon Impulse is  - from what I understand – starting out with novellas, some of which are tied to other full-length print/ebooks that are coming out later. But they’re accepting full length books for digital first publishing, and that’s where they’ll take most of their chances on unusual settings.

And how will digital self-publishing change things? Many authors seemed to think it just might give them another option for their bag of tricks. I think a lot of people will be watching to see how Connie Brockway’s book does.

I met her at the Avon party, by the way. She’s very nice, though she told me as we all took yet another tiny but calorie laden dessert, that you pretty much have to plan on eating 10,000 calories a day at RWA. That is probably true, though in all fairness we chowed down at parties because they cut out dessert from both luncheons (and in one case, severely underfed the vegetarians). Nonetheless, I don’t think anyone was in danger of starving to death in New York. Which is why, like last year – I included a picture of my spectacular workout view. In this case, it’s from the 23rd floor of the conference hotel. Not too shabby.

RWA: Down to the Wire

Friday, July 1st, 2011

The longer this conference goes, the more tired I get.  It’s Friday morning now and I’ve got a marathon day on tap.  The last reserves of energy are going to be used today.

This morning I have a breakfast scheduled, then a lunch. Then I hope to work in a few workshops and/or publisher spotlights before hitting the Ritas tonight.  Then home in the morning.

A few impressions: (more…)

Free and Bargain eBooks – Blessing or Curse?

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

kindle I have caught a new addiction: I hunt the net for free and bargain eBooks. Thanks to the delightful folks at Mobileread and here at AAR Potpourri Forum, and thanks to special discounts offered by ebookstores like Fictionwise or Kobo, and by publisher sites like Harlequin, Avon or Carina, I pick up loads of books for comparatively little money. Let’s take the last two months: In April, I acquired 66 new eBooks, and altogether I paid $ 70. In May I acquired 171 new eBooks, and I paid $ 210. On average, that’s $ 1.18 per book, and considering I still paid full price for a number of them, you can see how many came completely free. Before I started to gather my numbers, I was going to write that I now bought more books than usual, but paid less for them than I had done with paper books. Faced with the exact numbers now, I must concede that while this is certainly true for April, in May I spent more on books than usual, ending up acquiring far higher numbers than in any other month before.

I made extensive use of Kobo’s delightful € 1 off discount for a lot of books, especially books from Smashwords and Harlequin that were cheap to start with, and with the discount came free, or virtually free. Similarly, in May there were very good discounts and bargain prices offered from Fictionwise and Carina Press. I want to point out that I acquired all of my new books legally, respecting geographical restrictions and never pretending I was from anywhere but Europe. And I want to add that were I a citizen of the United States, I would have had even more books available, and were I prepared to read books on my PC with a Kindle App, even more.