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 →
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?
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 →
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?
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.
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 →
For this month’s TBR Challenge, we’re reading Westerns – contemporary or historical. Most of the Westerns in my TBR are historical, but I was in the mood for a little mystery, so I decided the Texas Ranger tie-in of Terri Reed’s 2011 Daughter of Texas would work. This novel is 1st in the multi-author Texas Ranger Justice series from Love Inspired Suspense. LIS seems to do one of these series each year, and I’ll admit that they often suck me in. Each book has its own self-contained romance and mystery, but there is also an overarching suspense plot that winds through all 6 books of the series and doesn’t get solved until the end. When it’s done well, it can be addictive. In this case, I’d say Daughter of Texas starts things off fairly well. I have a few quibbles with the romance and the heroine sometimes drove me a little nuts, but this was still a pleasant enough read, and I’d give it a C+. Continue reading →
As with everyone else here, I found it quite difficult to whittle my list of book loves down to 10. I could handle 50 or even 25, but 10 just seems like such a paltry number when compared with the sheer number of books and characters I truly adore. Just to keep things manageable, I kept my list to post-1970s romance, which cut out some classic favorites such as Persuasion, Venetia, my little stash of Betty Neels books, or Elswyth Thane’s wonderful Williamsburg novels. I also stuck with romance, rather than picking some of the books I’ve loved in other genres which have romantic elements, such as Julia Spencer-Fleming’s mysteries or Catherine Asaro’s science fiction. So, what did I come up with? Well, in no particular order, here they are:
To Love and To Cherish by Patricia Gaffney – The controversial emotional powerhouse that is To Have and To Hold tends to get most of the attention, but this first novel of the Wyckerley trilogy is the one that I’ve always loved the most. It’s a tender, touching love story and hero’s struggle over his love for a woman trapped in a horrible marriage is filled with such amazing tension. If you like your romances emotional and angsty, this is one not to miss. Continue reading →
An enjoyable read, but good luck finding it in the romance section!
Back in the late 90s, when I was still in school, I remember one of my friends raving about a book by science-fiction author Octavia Butler. I wanted to give her a try, so the next time I was in Borders, I went looking in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section for one of her books. To my surprise, I could find no books by this award-winning author on the shelf. I knew Butler had won Hugo and Nebula awards as well as receiving a MacArthur genius grant, so I decided that perhaps the store now classified her as “literary”, and I went looking in general fiction.
I must have looked lost because at that point, a clerk asked me what I was trying to find. When I told her, she smiled and said, “Oh yes. We’ve got several of her books.” To my surprise, she led me back through the store to a small alcove by the bathrooms – and a single bookcase labeled “African-American Literature.” Sure enough, Octavia Butler’s books resided there, shelved in with everything from The Color Purple to the works of Maya Angelou to Frederick Douglass’ Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. It made little sense, and one reason I remember the incident so clearly is because of how much it bothered me. The store grouped all of the other books in the store by genre and/or subject matter. All these books had in common was the race of their authors, and that grouping made no sense. If a fantasy book by any other author is fantasy first and foremost, why should a fantasy novel by an African-American author suddenly become a work that is first about the author’s race and only secondarily about the type of story written? Continue reading →
The idea of the street team isn’t brand new; it’s been around the music industry for a while now and it started crossing over into romance at least 5-6 years ago. However, as self-publishing has grown and as ebooks have opened up a whole new world for indie publishers, these seem to be popping up more and more. At RWA this past year, we heard “street teams” mentioned in every other workshop, it seemed. Authors discussed them, and publishers highlighted them as an important part of the marketing process. The idea of authors branding themselves was everywhere and street teams definitely constituted a significant portion of that.
It seemed like everyone wanted to get book bloggers on board with the idea of street teams and certainly the promise of exclusive info and fun freebies has its allure, but what exactly does it mean to join a street team? Continue reading →