Eagerly Awaited February Books

As we get closer to time for February releases, I think it’s fair to say that more than a few of us are curious to see what Tessa Dare’s new historical romance series holds for readers. February also brings us a new series from Suzanne Brockmann. And if you aren’t in the mood to try a new series? Well, we found several other upcoming books to pique our curiosity. What do you want to read next month?

Title and Author Reviewer
Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare Lynn, Dabney, Cindy, Lee, Mary, Blythe, Caz, Alex
Do or Die by Suzanne Brockmann Do or Die by Suzanne Brockmann Blythe, Lea, Heather, Caroline, Caroline
The MacGregor's Lady by Grace Burrowes The MacGregor’s Lady by Grace Burrowes Mary, Caz
Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen Maggie, Haley
Jaded by Anne Calhoun Jaded by Anne Calhoun Dabney, Lynn
Walking on Air by Catherine Anderson Walking on Air by Catherine Anderson Lee, Pat
Concealed in Death by J.D. Robb Concealed in Death by J.D. Robb Maggie, Blythe
The Forbideen Queen by Anne O'Brien The Forbidden Queen by Anne O’Brien Caroline, Lynn
To Tempt a Viking by Michelle Willingham To Tempt a Viking by Michelle Willingham Haley
Shamed in the Sands by Sharon Kendrick Shamed in the Sands by Sharon Kendrick Caroline
Up From the Grave by Jeaniene Frost Up From the Grave by Jeaniene Frost Lea
In Search of Hope by Anna Jacobs In Search of Hope by Anna Jacobs Pat
At the River's Edge by Mariah Stewart At the River’s Edge by Mariah Stewart LinnieGayl
Alienated by Melissa Landers Alienated by JMelissa Landers Maggie
The Countess Confessions by Jillian Hunter The Countess Confessions by Jillian Hunter Lee
Winter at Mustang Ridge by Jesse Hayworth Winter at Mustang Ridge by Jesse Hayworth Pat
The Real Mr. Right by Karen Templeton The Real Mr. Right by Karen Templeton Caroline
Misbehaving by Tiffany Reisz Misbehaving by Tiffany Reisz Lynn
Curl Up and Dye by Sharon Sala Curl Up and Dye by Sharon Sala Maggie
Why Earls Fall in Love by Manda Collins Why Earls Fall in Love by Manda Collins Lee
M

Melting the Ice by Jaci Burton Haley
That Part was True by Deborah McKinlay That Part Was True by Deborah McKinlay Pat
The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan Maggie
After I'm Gone by Laura Lippman After I’m Gone by Laura Lippman Dabney
The Major's Wife by Lauri Robinson The Major’s Wife by Lauri Robinson Caroline

Getting Started on Those 2014 TBR Challenges!

threeriverranch Once again, I’m participating in the multi-blog TBR Challenge but this year we’re doing things a little differently here on the blog as a couple of my fellow AAR reviewers are working on reading challenges, too. So, each month we’ll all be talking reading challenges and if there are any challenges you want to hop onto for yourself, you’ll find links down at the bottom.

My challenge for the month was to read something short – a category novel or a novella or short story. I tend to buy plenty of category romance so this was no problem for me. When Entangled launched, I had purchased several books from their various category lines to try and a few were still sitting unread on the Kindle, so this time around I decided to try Three River Ranch by Roxanne Snopek. Three River Ranch is a 2012 release from the Bliss line, a line that seems to feature American settings, strong family/home/community themes and fairly low-level sensuality. I have a feeling this line would appeal to readers of Harlequin American Romance or Special Edition. Continue reading

Starting a New Year

penpaper There’s something about starting a new year that just feels fresh and inspiring. New places yet to see, new books still to be read, and somehow on that first day of each year, the world itself feels a little more new.

I moved recently, and as I’ve been unpacking my books (and even with my Kindle, there are still tons of paper books!), I find myself thinking about how I want to be reading in 2014. Here are some of the things important to me for next year:

Discovering new-to-me authors – I started reviewing at AAR when I was not long out of school. 2013 marked my 10th year here, and one of my favorite things about being a reviewer has been the discovery of books and authors I probably would not have discovered on my own otherwise. AAR is what led me to Continue reading

A Little Bit of Book News for the Holidays

christmastree Maybe it’s my lack of affection for the massive consumption side of Christmas(or my resistance to being anywhere near a mall between Thanksgiving and New Year’s), but for some reason, I always find myself coasting into those last few days before Christmas just a bit unprepared. Even as I resist the gift frenzy, I do find myself with an affection for holiday romance, listening to carols on Pandora, and maybe feeling a bit more festive as I wander the internet. Here are some of the interesting reads I’ve found in my travels lately:

– For those who completely missed out on their internet/social media ruling, there was A Kerfuffle last week. I thought about writing a blog piece to cover this trainwreck of a piece by Palash Ghosh and the backlash that ensued, but in the end decided that there really wasn’t too much to say that hasn’t already been said by me or other bloggers in the past – not to mention Laurie and some of the romance authors and reviewers who were online way before some of us writing today. Quite frankly, after having seen romance readers mocked in the press for years, this round of looking down on romance readers has a feel of “same condescension, different jackass” about it. Continue reading

TBR Challenge 2013 – Getting Into the Holiday Spirit?

comfortandjoy As we coast into the last month of the 2013 TBR Challenge, we get to one of my favorite categories – holiday romances. Since I was unpacking from a move, I just ended up reading the first holiday tale I encountered – Sandra Madden’s 2001 Christmas romance, Comfort and Joy. I probably should have kept right on digging because this frustrating little book definitely lands squarely in C grade territory for me.

The book has its good points. For starters, I loved the 1870s Boston settings. It’s refreshing at times to have a break from the Regency/Victorian England That Never Was. And since I tend to like romances with characters from different classes, the old money Boston hero and Irish immigrant heroine in this story caught my eye as well. Though acceptance of their romance comes perhaps a bit more easily than it would have in real life, the author does still give some consideration to the prejudices and class tension of the time. Continue reading

What Books Are You Thankful For?

thankfulbooks Perhaps it’s the fact that Thanksgiving was yesterday and the crazy crowds of Black Friday are something I try to avoid when possible. Or maybe it’s that I’m in the midst of moving. As I pack up my books and decide what to keep and what to donate, I’ve felt like I’m at a reunion with old friends. I pick up each book and remember encountering the characters within, and I have a few seconds of savoring that first time I encountered favorite characters ranging from Alinor of Roselynde, the Bridgertons, Katniss, or the cast of the Harry Potter books.

I pick up Venetia and want to read just a few scenes, or I find Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series and try to decide if I can spare a few minutes from packing to enter that world. I spend plenty of time picking out the weaknesses of books with improbable plots, poor writing and idiot characters, but there are so many good things to read as well. And for some reason, today I’m feeling sentimental and very thankful for the ways that the best books make me feel.

So, today instead of lots of commentary, I have a question for readers to answer in the comment section below. I want to know what book you’re thankful for and why. I’m curious to see what people say. I’m also planning another column for later and could use your help on this, so please do chime in!

I’ll give one to start. Since I’m rereading Bet Me at the moment, I’ll use that one. I love this book and I’m thankful for it because it’s one of those sweet, fantasy/wish fulfillment books that leaves me with a smile on my face. The dialogue makes me laugh every time.

Now, what about you? What book are you thankful for and why?

– Lynn Spencer

TBR Challenge – Can’t Escape the Hype

exclusivelyyours This month’s TBR Challenge was to find a book that got inescapable buzz. As it turns out, I have had one sitting in my Kindle for ages, waiting for that perfect time to be read. When Carina Press launched back in 2010, one of their debut titles, Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey generated lots of chatter almost from the beginning and it filled my Twitter stream for months. In fact, this title generated so much buzz and so many sales that it ended up being picked up for reissue in print by HQN. As it turns out, it ended up being the perfect companion for me as I sat through my 3 hour glucose test(ah, the joys of pregnancy.) If you like single-title contemporaries, this one is a cute, light-hearted read. I’d give it a B+ for the huge smile it left on my face.

The basic set-up is this: Hero and heroine fall in love in high school. Heroine wants a life outside of small-town New England and she takes off for the West Coast, where she starts to build a career for herself writing for celebrity tabloids. Hero, meanwhile, goes on to become a famous author and also notoriously reclusive in his private life. Continue reading

Eagerly Awaited December Books

As we coast into the holidays, December is looking like it will shape up to be a slower reading month for many of us here at AAR. I’d love to get my hands on a good meaty historical, but those seem to be perilously thin on the ground lately. Several of us are happy to see new releases from Anne Stuart and Connie Brockway, and we’ve still got several other books we’re looking for on shelves as well. What about you? Looking forward to any end of the year reading?

Title and Author Reviewer
No Place for a Dame by Connie Brockway No Place for a Dame by Connie Brockway Lynn, Lee, Caz
Never Trust a Pirate by Anne Stuart Never Trust a Pirate by Anne Stuart Lea, Caz, Cindy
The Devil Wears Kilts by Suzanne Enoch The Devil Wears Kilts by Suzanne Enoch Caz, Lee
No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean Dabney, Caz
Passion and Peril by Suzanne Brockmann and Jill Sorenson Passion and Peril by Suzanne Brockmann and Jill Sorenson Rike. Lynn
The Heart of a Duke by Victoria Morgan The Heart of a Duke by Victoria Morgan Lee, Caz
Running From Scandal by Amanda McCabe Running From Scandal by Amanda McCabe Lynn
Heirs of the Body by Carola Dunn Heirs of the Body by Carola Dunn Rike
Wild Justice by Kelley Armstrong Wild Justice by Kelley Armstrong Maggie
Out to Lunch by Stacey Ballis Out to Lunch by Stacey Ballis Lee
Caught Up in You by Beth Andrews Caught Up in You by Beth Andrews Rike
Christmas at the Castle by Marian Lennoc Christmas at the Castle by Marian Lennox Caroline
Wake to Darkness by Maggie Shayne Wake to Darkness by Maggie Shayne Maggie

Eagerly Awaited November Books

It looks like both historical and contemporary romance lovers have big releases to look forward to in November. On the historical side, our staff are all looking forward to reading the newest books from favorite authors Sherry Thomas and Julia Quinn. And if you like contemporary, Kristan Higgans has a new one coming out, too. What if you’re not in the market for big releases? Well,there are plenty of other interesting-sounding books catching our eyes as well.

Title and Author Reviewer
The Luckiest Lady in London by Sherry Thomas The Luckiest Lady in London by Sherry Thomas Lynn, Lea, Caroline, Dabney, Cindy, Rike, Heather, Jean, MaryLee, Jenna, Caz, Alexandra
The Sum of All Kisses by Julia Quinn The Sum of All Kisses by Julia Quinn Blythe, Caz, Mary, Heather, Lee, Wendy, Rike, Lynn, Alexandra
The Perfect Match by Kristan Higgins The Perfect Match by Kristan Higgins Lea, Lee, Maggie,Alexandra, LinnieGayl, Heather, Wendy, Jenna, Mary
Striking Distance by Pamela Clare Striking Distance by Pamela Clare Brenda, Dabney, Cindy, Lea
Archangel's Legion by Nalini Singh Archangel’s Legion by Nalini Singh Jean. Lea, Wendy, Brenda
When the Marquess Met His Match by Laura Lee Guhrke When the Marquess Met His Match by Laura Lee Guhrke Lee, Caz, Mary
Kinked by Thea Harrison Kinked by Thea Harrison Wendy, Jean, Brenda
Sins of a Wicked Princess by Anna Randol Sins of a Wicked Princess by Anna Randol Caz, Lynn
The Counterfeit Mistress by Madeline Hunter The Counterfeit Mistress by Madeline Hunter Mary, Lee
Dark Witch by Nora Roberts Dark Witch by Nora Roberts Blythe, Alexandra
Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger LinnieGayl, Maggie
In Love With a Wicked Man by Liz Carlyle In Love With a Wicked Man by Liz Carlyle Dabney, Cindy
Don't Want to Miss a Thing by Jill Mansell Don’t Want to Miss a Thing by Jill Mansell Heather, LinnieGayl
Through the Evil Days by Julia Spencer-Fleming Through the Evil Days by Julia Spencer-Fleming Lynn
The Misfortune Cookie by Laura Resnick The Misfortune Cookie by Laura Resnick Rike
The Boleyn Deceit by Laura Andersen The Boleyn Deceit by Laura Andersen Caz
The Tulip Eaters by Antoinette van Heugten The Tulip Eaters by Antoinette Van Heugten Maggie
Rumor Has It by Jill Shalvis Rumor Has It by Jill Shalvis Haley
Jagged by Kristen Ashley Jagged by Kristen Ashley Wendy
What the Bride Didn't Know by Kelly Hunter What the Bride Didn’t Know by Kelly Hunter Lynn
Promise Me Texas by Jodi Thomas Promise Me Texas by Jodi Thomas Pat
Horde by Ann Aguirre Horde by Ann Aguirre Maggie
Playing Dirty by Jennifer Echols Playing Dirty by Jennifer Echols Jenna
Unbreakable by Stephanie Tyler Unbreakable by Stephanie Tyler Lee
The Silvered by Tanya Huff The Silvered by Tanya Huff Melanie
The Trap by Andrew Fukuda The Trap by Andrew Fukuda Maggie
Royal Airs by Sharon Shinn Royal Airs by Sharon Shinn Pat
Stones for Bread by Christa Parrish Stones for Bread by Christa Parrish Lynn
Just Like Other Daughters by Colleen Faulkner Just Like Other Daughters by Colleen Faulkner Maggie
Once a Rake by Eileen Dreyer Once a Rake by Eileen Dreyer Lee

Pondering Reviews, Community – and a Bit of Goodreads

bookscommunity Even before all the fun and games started at Goodreads over the weekend, I found myself thinking quite a lot about reviewing, community and boundaries. This piece from Liz over at Something More started it. Her arguments in favor of writers reviewing one another made me think. On the one hand, I’ve known some authors who have expressed discomfort with the idea of writing in-depth, critical reviews of other romance novels because they fear that they either (1) would not be able to be objective or (2) would not be perceived as objective. Romlandia can be a small world at times, so I understand those concerns. I can also see the difficulties for authors not wanting to damage relationships or hurt their own careers. Then again, as a reader, I would love to see authors who know their craft reviewing books and telling us what they really think of them. Such reviews would carry much more weight with me as a reader than a glowing cover blurb that does little to tell us why Author X thought this book was “such a fun read!” Continue reading