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!” (more…)
Archive for the ‘Lynn AAR’ Category
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+. (more…)
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. (more…)
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? (more…)
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? (more…)
As we ease back into fall, there’s no one blockbuster book that has everyone buzzing around here for September, though more than a few of us are looking forward to Jeannie Lin’s newest historical. It’s more of a grab bag of things – everything from paranormal to category romance to suspense to more historical (and boy, do I wish there were a greater choice of historicals coming out in September!). What do you want to read this fall?
|Title and Author||Reviewer|
|The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lin||Lynn, Caroline, Maggie, Dabney, Alexandra|
|Her Favorite Rival by Sarah Mayberry||Heather S., Pat, Caroline, Lynn|
|Sometimes a Rogue by Mary Jo Putney||Lee, Mary|
|Styxx by Sherrilyn Kenyon||Wendy, Melanie|
|Garment of Shadows(trade pb reissue of hardcover) by Laurie R. King||Jean, Melanie|
|The Runaway Countess by Amanda McCabe||Lynn|
|The Hero by Robyn Carr||Pat|
|The Arrangement by Mary Balogh||Lee|
|Soul Kissed by Erin Kellison||Wendy|
|Love Overdue by Pamela Morsi||Maggie|
|Gentle on my Mind by Susan Fox||Pat|
|Gabriel: Lord of Regrets by Grace Burrowes||Lynn|
|Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson||Lee|
|Thankless in Death by J.D. Robb||Maggie|
|Junk by Josephine Myles||Pat|
|The Rake’s Midnight Kiss by Anna Campbell||Mary|
|Perdition by Ann Aguirre||Wendy|
|Cast in Sorrow by Michelle Sagara||Melanie|
Do you ever find certain types of characters difficult to like? I wouldn’t say that any particular type of hero or heroine is completely a “no go” for me. I firmly believe that, in the hands of a good author, just about anything can be made to work. However, when I come across certain character types on a book blurb, the description is not going to have me clamoring to pick up the book – often because it’s something I’ve seen handled less than skillfully way too many times before.
Pirates definitely fall into that category for me. I don’t know if it’s my background of having studied European and Middle Eastern history, but nothing I know about pirates makes them terribly romantic to me. Most historical accounts I have read make them sound uneducated and brutal, and conditions onboard ship sound filthy and unappealing. While I will admit that Jennifer Ashley’s pirates worked for me, the first pirate hero I remember encountering came in Joanna Lindsey’s somewhat infamous A Pirate’s Love. If you look up “rapey ‘hero’” in the dictionary, you just might find an image of Tristan there.
Other pirate/privateer novels I read over the years tended to have similar issues. However, even among the ones that didn’t feature rapist “heroes,” I just couldn’t move beyond the difficult life of a pirate to see the story as particularly romantic. Various authors, including Meagan McKinney, wrote pirates or privateers that one could consider dashing, but Jennifer Ashley was the first author I found who managed to humanize that sort of hero and make him truly appealing.
On the heroine side, while I haven’t found too many in recent novels, I used to run across gypsy heroines in older books and I have to admit that they have yet to work for me. As any of us who cut their teeth on Barbara Cartland novels knows, Cartland had a huge interest in gypsy culture that extended to founding several gypsy camps in England. This interest seems to have extended to a hugely romanticized view of gypsies in her novels. (more…)
Today was the first full day of conference and even though I felt like I was scurrying all over the hotel, there’s a pretty high energy mood here this year and I can’t say that I felt particularly tired. I attended publisher spotlights with Carina Press, Avon and Grand Central, and picked up other tidbits of information in chats here and there.
After hearing presentations from three publishers, there are some definite themes emerging at this conference. For starters, one hears the phrase “author branding” everywhere. At all the publisher spotlights and even in more informal conversations with publishing reps, I’m hearing a real emphasis on building brands around an author. (more…)
It looks like August will be a promising month for historical fans. We’re excited about a new (non-Regency!) Carla Kelly, as well as new releases from Jo Beverley, Lauren Willig, Grace Burrowes, Kaki Warner, Caroline Linden and several others. As with every new month, I keep hoping that this one will bring more happy reading discoveries and hopefully not disappointments. Hope your summer of reading is going well!
|Title and Author||Reviewer|
|The Double Cross by Carla Kelly||Lynn, Rike, Wendy, Caroline, Melanie|
|The Passion of the Purple Plumeria by Lauren Willig||Blythe, LinnieGayl, Lee,
|Seduction in Silk by Jo Beverley||Lee, Rike, Anne|
|Love and Other Scandals by Caroline Linden||Dabney, Mary, Caz|
|Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews||Heather S.. Wendy, Maggie|
|Behind His Blue Eyes by Kaki Warner||Mary, Pat, Lynn|
|Once Upon a Tartan by Grace Burrowes||Caz, Mary|
|Blood Warrior by Lindsey Piper||Wendy|
|Meet Me in the Middle by L.A. Witt||Pat|
|What Happens Between Friends by Beth Andrews||Rike|
|Guardian Demon by Meljean Brook||Wendy|
|Heirs and Graces by Rhys Bowen||LinnieGayl|
|Into the Whirlwind by Elizabeth Camden||Maggie|
|My Cowboy Heart by Z.A. Maxfield||Pat|
|The Marriage Merger by Jennifer Propst||Haley|
|Winter in Full Bloom by Anita Higman||Maggie|
|Heart of Briar by Laura Anne Gilman||Lynn|
|The Devil of Clan Sinclair by Karen Ranney||Mary|
|Let Me Go by Chelsea Cain||Anne|
|Fairest of Them All by Carolyn Turgeon||Melanie|
|Turn and Burn by Lorelei James||Pat|
|Night Film by Marisha Pessl||Dabney|
|On Distant Shores by Sarah Sundin||Maggie|
|The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty||Lee|
|Blood of Tyrants by Naomi Novik||Rike|
|From This Day On by Janice Kay Johnson||Pat|
|To Sin With a Viking by Michelle Willingham||Haley|
|A Place of Confinement by Anna Dean||Rike|
|Why Dukes Say I Do by Manda Collins||Lee|
|Highland Hearts(reissue) by Hannah Howell||Mary|
|Animal Attraction(reissue) by Jill Shalvis||Caroline|
This month’s theme for the multi-site TBR Challenge had me scratching my head a little. We’re supposed to read a RITA winner or runner-up. Now I have to admit that, at least in recent years, my reading tastes and the RITAs have diverged somewhat. I also noticed as I scrolled down the list of RITA winners that the books I did have from that list were almost all books I’d already read.
Then I got to the real oldies – books I would have been too young to read the first time around. My mother and grandmother both enjoyed Candlelight romances and I’ve ended up with a big box of their former keepers (some people get silver and china, some get antiques, I get old category romances and gothics – no wonder I write on a romance site). Sure enough, I managed to dig out a 1981 novel, winner of the 1982 Golden Medallion for Best Category Historical Romance, entitled Rendezvous at Gramercy by Constance Ravenlock. That’s right. This book goes back so far that they hadn’t even started calling the award the RITA yet. I wasn’t sure what I’d encounter when I read this one but it turned out to be a bit of a gem. I’d probably give it a B. (more…)