Reading is beyond a doubt my favorite hobby. You probably wouldn’t be reading this blog if it wasn’t one of yours as well. One of the many things I love about books is finding words that express what I feel. So often authors concisely say in a few lines concepts I have been struggling to give words to. Over the years many of those lines, or rather quotes, have made up a large part of the thread from which I weave my beliefs and behaviors. But some I collect just for fun. And among those just for fun favorite quotes are pithy comments about reading. I am surprised – and delighted – at how I find them everywhere. For example, I was tickled when in the film Ratatouille brother Emile asks hero Remy, “You read?” in an accusatory voice. His slightly defensive response? “Well, not excessively.” Yep, I’ve been in that defensive position myself when someone asks, “Is that another book?” in much the same tone you would ask, “Good Lord, is that heroin in your pocket?” (more…)
Archive for the ‘Books’ Category
Note: Do you ever wonder what authors enjoy reading when they’re not busy writing? So do we! So we decided to pose the “What are your Top Ten favorite books?” question to some authors. Today we welcome beloved author Carla Kelly to the blog to talk about some of her favorite books.
Put it to music, because books are music to me. The idea of narrowing down my ten favorites is trickier than I thought it might be. I’ve discovered – ahem – that the older I get, the longer the list. What I’m offering here are lists of fiction and non-fiction. I’m a historian by training and trade, and an author of historical fiction, so please allow this old girl that leeway. I’ll tell you what and why they mean so much to me. (more…)
The Tormented Heroines list, for us, is one of the “you know it when you see it” sort. The main female character is deeply unhappy and dissatisfied for some reason, and this reason may lie in her own character, or in dramatic events in her past that influence her self-image to a strong degree. Amending the definition was not so easy, and we ended up making it more descriptive than it used to be. This is how it stands now:
“These tormented heroines are at complete odds with the world around them – either because there is something in their past for which they feel deep remorse or shame, or because they are misfits who have not found yet a place in which they can be happy and fulfilled. They could be cynical, emotionally distant, unhappily eccentric, or wild. What they share is an edge that stems from their deep frustrations.”
We hope that you will find it more helpful than the last version. Now one problem was that when we asked you to nominate books for this list, the old definition was still in place. Fortunately, almost all nominations fit the new definition very well, and we are pleased to add 38 new titles to the list. Only a very few books didn’t make it, mostly because although the heroines are eccentric, we felt they lacked the desperation that makes a heroine truly tormented. One example is Yasmeen from Meljean Brook’s Heart of Steel, who has an extremely colorful past but actually deals quite well with it. Another example is Millie Fitzhugh from Sherry Thomas’s Ravishing the Heiress. Millie is unhappy, but that unhappiness stems mostly from her unrequited love she feels for her husband. Otherwise, she has forged a place for herself very nicely in revolutionizing the concept of marketing for the company she owns with her husband.
With the older titles already on the Tormented Heroines list, we were left with a dilemma: Do all of them really fit the new definition? We checked those we had read, but with many, we just didn’t know. That’s where you come in: Do you spot a title on the Tormented Heroines list whose heroines is not truly tormented according to our definition? If so, please let us know and we can remove that title.
Please don’t forget to nominate Virginal Heroes and May/December and December/May romances! The ballots are still open until Thursday October 24 at midnight.
- Cindy Smith, LinnieGayl Kimmel and Rike Horstmann
This month we’re reading romantic suspense and paranormals for the TBR Challenge. I’ve been gradually packing up for a move over the past month, so finding a book that (1)fit the category and (2)wasn’t boxed up posed something of a challenge in itself. As a result, I ended up reading the first romantic suspense I came across, Debra Webb’s 2009 release Everywhere She Turns. I don’t recall buying this one and all I can say after reading it is that it wasn’t just an average, run-of-the-mill thriller. This one was bad, even offensively bad at times. If I read this for review, I’d give it a solid D-.
So, what do we get in this story?
– misogynist villain killing women? Check.
– heroine with a chip on her shoulder who has returned home from the big city? Check and check.
– skanky villain sex? Check
– hero from the heroine’s past who might still have the hots for her ? Check (more…)
When we prepare to open one of our Special Title Listings, we look at the original definition and we look at the books that were nominated in the past and made their way onto the list, and matters seem straightforward enough. Then we write a little bit for the blog, trying to illustrate further what is so especially fascinating about that particular trope, and what variations there may be within it. Then you, our readers, nominate books. With most, the procedure is simple enough: They obviously fit the category, they have received glowing reviews here at AAR or at other respected sites, and on the list they go. But then there are the borderline books: They don’t quite fit the definition, but yet they are very close to it. Do we change the definition to encompass a larger range of books, to permit a wider variety within the list? Or do we stick to the definition because we don’t want to water down the list? (more…)
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||Lynn, Lea, Caroline, Dabney, Cindy, Rike, Heather, Jean, MaryLee, Jenna, Caz, Alexandra|
|The Sum of All Kisses by Julia Quinn||Blythe, Caz, Mary, Heather, Lee, Wendy, Rike, Lynn, Alexandra|
|The Perfect Match by Kristan Higgins||Lea, Lee, Maggie,Alexandra, LinnieGayl, Heather, Wendy, Jenna, Mary|
|Striking Distance by Pamela Clare||Brenda, Dabney, Cindy, Lea|
|Archangel’s Legion by Nalini Singh||Jean. Lea, Wendy, Brenda|
|When the Marquess Met His Match by Laura Lee Guhrke||Lee, Caz, Mary|
|Kinked by Thea Harrison||Wendy, Jean, Brenda|
|Sins of a Wicked Princess by Anna Randol||Caz, Lynn|
|The Counterfeit Mistress by Madeline Hunter||Mary, Lee|
|Dark Witch by Nora Roberts||Blythe, Alexandra|
|Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger||LinnieGayl, Maggie|
|In Love With a Wicked Man by Liz Carlyle||Dabney, Cindy|
|Don’t Want to Miss a Thing by Jill Mansell||Heather, LinnieGayl|
|Through the Evil Days by Julia Spencer-Fleming||Lynn|
|The Misfortune Cookie by Laura Resnick||Rike|
|The Boleyn Deceit by Laura Andersen||Caz|
|The Tulip Eaters by Antoinette Van Heugten||Maggie|
|Rumor Has It by Jill Shalvis||Haley|
|Jagged by Kristen Ashley||Wendy|
|What the Bride Didn’t Know by Kelly Hunter||Lynn|
|Promise Me Texas by Jodi Thomas||Pat|
|Horde by Ann Aguirre||Maggie|
|Playing Dirty by Jennifer Echols||Jenna|
|Unbreakable by Stephanie Tyler||Lee|
|The Silvered by Tanya Huff||Melanie|
|The Trap by Andrew Fukuda||Maggie|
|Royal Airs by Sharon Shinn||Pat|
|Stones for Bread by Christa Parrish||Lynn|
|Just Like Other Daughters by Colleen Faulkner||Maggie|
|Once a Rake by Eileen Dreyer||Lee|
Over the summer the AAR staff has shared with you our top ten romances. These posts were fun for us, and now it’s your turn to join in the fun and tell us what your favorite romances of all time are. And we’re not asking you to list just your top 10 you can list up to 100 romances. Yes, today is the opening of the 2013 AAR Top 100 Poll with voting closing on Sunday, October 20 at midnight, United States Eastern Standard Time.
This is the sixth AAR Top 100 poll, with previous polls held in 1998, 2000, 2004, 2007, and 2010. The original poll in 1998 was prompted by the release of one of the many 100 Best Books of the Century List (see for example the Modern Library’s Top 100 and Radcliffe Rival 100 Best Novels ). The AAR poll quickly became a valuable resource for romance readers. Many new romance readers use the lists as a place to begin reading the “best of romance.” (more…)
Nick is a romance hero. He’s never – no, never! – going to get married. You can see why, of course; you need conflict to drive a plot forward, and if Nick sees Elizabeth, falls in love with Elizabeth, proposes to Elizabeth, and marries Elizabeth without a hitch you’ve got one short (and probably not all that interesting) book. A hero (or somewhat less frequently, heroine) who is never – no, never! – going to get married can provide that hitch in the relationship that makes for a good conflict and interesting reading. Well, except when it’s totally lame. If there is one knee jerk conflict that authors like to turn to, this is it. I see it more often in contemporary novels, likely because birth control is widely available and modern sexual mores more permissive. But if pops up fairly often in historicals too, usually for different reasons. I can hardly open a book without running into Nick or one of his ilk. Since the my most recent read with a marriage phobic hero got on my last nerve, I decided to provide this helpful list of acceptable and unacceptable reasons to never – no, never! get married. (more…)
I put off writing my top ten until the last possible moment for a variety of reasons. I wanted some time to think about it, but I knew even though I had lots of time I’d still be making choices at the last minute; it’s not unusual for me to make my Reviewer’s Choice top pick while I’m writing the column. I also decided my top seven fairly easily, and then got stuck on the final three. I agonized over which three deserved the final honors, and then ended up with some also rans. I’ve been reading romance for a long time, and that presented its own problems. Should I choose early, sentimental favorites, or more of the quality Johnny come lately offerings? Well, in reverse order, here’s my top ten (ish).
Also rans: Just for fun, my books that didn’t quite make the short list but almost did: Paradise by Judith McNaught (overwrought in all the best early 90s ways, and my favorite of all her books). Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn – the popular favorite of her Bridgerton books, and my favorite as well. In the obscure category, Dana Ransom’s Wild Texas Bride or any of the books from her Bass series. You want a good western? These are the real deal. Ditto for Maggie Osbourne’s I Do, I Do, I Do, which has the added bonus of being a wagon train story, a particular weakness of mine. Susan Elizabeth Phillips Nobody’s Baby But Mine (and yes, I know the heroine was manipulative and dishonest. No, I don’t care). And old Signet regencies by Diane Farr and Elisabeth Fairchild – just in general. (more…)