Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Hachette vs. Amazon: Show Me the Money

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Blam-Pow160I am no Amazon fangirl. In April 2013 I blogged about my concerns when they took over Goodreads. On the other hand I have what is probably an unhealthy attachment to my Kindle and I visit their site several times a week vis-à-vis books. Amazon seems to be one of the few companies aware that the book world is changing and certainly acts interested in helping readers navigate that world. They not only provide new books cheap but help you get old books and books from overseas. While I may not want Amazon to take over the book world, I certainly want them to be a large part of it. (more…)

Not Your Ordinary Hero

Friday, June 6th, 2014

logan-veronica-marsI’ve spent the past few weeks watching the TV show Veronica Mars (I so love Amazon Prime.) I’d seen it when it first came out but my husband hadn’t. When the movie came out this year, I thought it would be fun to check out Veronica and her pals in Neptune again.

There are many things to love about Veronica Mars–Kristen Bell’s adorable snark, the stinging accuracy of its portrayal of class, the haunting and hip soundtrack, just to name a few. But the thing that strikes me the second time around is how unusual a hero Logan Echols (played brilliantly by Jason Dohring) is.

Logan is the son of two spectacularly screwed-up movie stars played by real life spouses Harry Hamlin and Lisa Rinna. Logan’s grown up with money, fame, and access. In the first half of the first season he is an unmitigated ass. And yet…

By the end of the first season, he’s a man in love, a guy who most of the time, I find myself cheering for even as I struggle to define him.

If you listen to Logan without seeing him, he sounds like an obnoxious, overly confident alpha male. And if you turn the sound off, and just watch him, his mien is that of a beta guy. His body leans away as he speaks, his facial expressions are gently mocking. He routinely holds up his hands as if to say, don’t mind me, I’m backing away. But he’s never really backing away. His laid-back schtick barely hides the rage that undergirds his character . He finds his own path, one that almost always leaves him on top of the proverbial high school heap. I find him fascinating.

The hero in romance novels who most reminds me of Logan is  Sebastian Verlaine, the hero of Patricia Gaffney’s controversial historical romance To Have and to Hold. Like Logan, Sebastian is, when the reader first encounters him, an awful person. And yet, midway through the book, he’s the hero of the piece, a man I trust. Sebastian, like Logan, is neither a villain or a hero. He’s something else entirely–a complicated man whose actions belie his admitted sins.

I’d like to encounter more such men in my reading. Who are the heroes who defy easy categorization? And do you like them? Or do you find that some sins are too grave for you as a reader to overcome?

Dabney Grinnan

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TBR Challenge: Lots to Choose From

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

midnightangel Today we’re taking a little break from the RT author interviews for May’s installment of the TBR Challenge. For this month’s adventure through the TBR pile, I went looking for a book by an author represented multiple times in my stash of books waiting to be read. I’ve read a lot of Lisa Kleypas, but I still have plenty of her books in the TBR. The Russian angle of her 1995 historical, Midnight Angel appealed to me, so I decided to give that one a whirl.

Though the heroine is Russian, most of the book is set in England as we are treated to a governess and employer romance. Early on in the book, we as readers learn Tasia’s big secret.
She is actually a Russian aristocrat in disguise who has fled the country as she has been sentenced to death for killing her betrothed. Tasia has no memory of what happened to the man or whether she may have harmed him, but she is determined to live. Conveniently, she has relatives in England who give her a new identity and find a place for her as governess to Lucas(Luke) Stokehurst, Marquess of Stokehurst. (more…)

Eagerly Awaited June Books

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

In terms of subgenre, our tastes are all over the place this June. Both Lauren Willig’s latest historical as well as some romantic suspense from Jill Sorenson are catching several of our eyes. And then of course there’s the latest installment of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, as well as an assortment of other historicals, contemporaries, paranormal, category novels, you name it. How do you want to start your summer of reading?

Title and Author Reviewer
That Summer by Lauren Willig That Summer by Lauren Willig Lynn, Lee, Caz, Lea, Rike, LinnieGayl, Alex
Backwoods by Jill Sorenson Backwoods by Jill Sorenson Heather, LinnieGayl, Heather, Rike, Maggie, Lynn
Written in My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon Mary, Blythe, Mary, Alex
Shield of Winter by Nalini Singh Shield of Winter by Nalini Singh Cindy, Alex, Maggie
Weekends in Carolina by Jennifer Lohmann Weekends in Carolina by Jennifer Lohmann Dabney, Lynn
How to School Your Scoundrel by Juliana Gray How to School Your Scoundrel by Juliana Gray Caz, Lee
The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith Jean, Blythe
Scandal's Virgin by Louise Allen Scandal’s Virginby Louise Allen Mary, Rike
City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare Shannon
Baby, It's You by Jane Graves Baby, It’s You by Jane Graves Haley
Dreamweaver Trail by Emily march Dreamweaver Trail by Emily March Lee
Wicked Temptation by Zoe Archer Wicked Temptation by Zoe Archer Caz
Avenge Me by Maisey Yates Avenge Me by Maisey Yates Dabney
To Scotland With Love by Patience Griffin To Scotland With Love by Patience Griffin Lee
A Long Time Gone by Karen White A Long Time Gone by Karen White Shannon
Small-Town Redemption by Beth Andrews Small-Town Redemption by Beth Andrews Rike
Take my Breath Away by Christie Ridgway Take My Breath Away by Christie Ridgway Mary
All I Want is You by Toni Blake All I Want Is You by Toni Blake Haley
Nine Months to Change His Life by Marian Lennox Nine Months to Change His Life by Marian Lennox Caroline
Grim Shadows by Jenn Bennett Grim Shadows by Jenn Bennett Lynn
The Lost by Sarah Beth Durst The Lost by Sarah Beth Durst Maggie
A Dream of Desire by Nina Rowan A Dream of Desire by Nina Rowan Caz
Save the Date by mary Kay Andrews Save the Date by Mary Kay Andrews Lee
The Lemon Orchard by Luanne Rice The Lemon Orchard by Luanne Rice Shannon
The Devil of Clan Sinclair by Karen Ranney The Virgin of Clan Sinclair by Karen Ranney Mary
Stormy Persuasion by Johanna Lindsey Stormy Persuasion by Johanna Lindsey Mary

Interview and Giveaway with Sharon and Tom Curtis

Monday, April 28th, 2014

9781455573288_p0_v1_s260x420Sharon and Tom Curtis. The husband-and-wife team started writing in the 70s and stopped writing in the 90s, and since then some of their books – especially the pirate romance The Windflower - have entered into legend. Hyperbole from a fan? Well, if you haven’t yet read the Curtises, who publish as Laura London, you’ve got your chance. Grand Central is reissuing all but two of their stories, which includes tomorrow’s release of The Windflower. To celebrate, we have an interview with the authors, and we have three (3) Advanced Reader Copies of The Windflower to give away. To put your name in the draw, just comment below before 11:59PM EST, Wednesday April 30, 2014, and we’ll pick three winners. (Unfortunately, because of the cost of postage, this contest is only open to those in Canada and the USA.)

And now without further ado, Sharon and Tom Curtis. – Jean AAR

You’re a writing duo!  I know of a few others in the business (fantasy author Ilona Andrews immediately comes to mind, although I know there are other collaborations), but there aren’t that many because, I imagine, it must be difficult finding someone whose style meshes with yours, much less turn into something even semi-coherent.  And your books are more than coherent – they’re magical.  How did you decide to start writing together, and why romance novels?

Tom and I were married in our teens, and we were both huge Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer fans. In our midtwenties, I started telling Tom that I wanted to write a regency romance. I wanted to live in that world in my imagination. One afternoon, I sat down at the typewriter and wrote the first page and a half of A Heart Too Proud. When Tom came home from work, he was excited to read it, and said “Hey, it sounds like a real book.” Tom wanted to join the fun, and so that evening, we began to write as a team. We can’t thank you enough for calling our books magical. What a wonderful compliment! Good feelings. (more…)

What’s Your (Guilty) Pleasure?

Friday, April 25th, 2014

cuttingedgeAs I was reading A Wedding by Dawn, a book I had to admit was pretty bad, I also noticed that I was sort of enjoying it. Not because it got better (because eventually, it kind of did), but because it was kind of ridiculous. What do I mean by that? Well, the heroine is determined not to marry the hero, who has come looking for her in Malta because her dad has promised him 50,000 pounds if he marries her. She escapes (so many times I lost count) throwing herself into increasingly ridiculous situations and almost deciding several times that losing her virginity to a random stranger would be a great idea. Ridiculous. And yet, so silly and ridiculous that I didn’t mind reading it. Somewhere along the line, silly books have become a new guilty pleasure.

I’m not sure this was always the case. Early on in my reviewing career, think I took myself more seriously, and I think I probably took romances more seriously too. Funny was great, but silly? Weren’t we too intelligent and important for that? I scoffed at madcap Regencies by Emily Hendrickson and Sandra Heath, wondering why we hadn’t gotten beyond such ridiculous fare. On the other hand, I felt no guilt liking funny regencies by Diane Farr or Emma Jensen.

I’m not sure what changed. It isn’t my grading, because something truly ridiculous would rarely merit higher than a C in my book. Nonetheless, I find myself kind of enjoying the occasional stupid heroine or far-fetched plot line. You know, the stuff that verges on parody with cross-dressing heroines who manage to fool people, silly will provisions, zany bluestocking archeologists and the like. I can’t in good conscience recommend them per se, but I don’t exactly mind reading them either – probably because I am laughing too hard.

In order to meet my guilty pleasure needs, it really needs to be so bad it’s good. And lord knows, it can’t be boring. Boring doesn’t qualify. It also works best for me in romance. I recently attempted to get through Clara and Mr. Tiffany, an historical fiction novel, for my book club. I let myself stop after fifty pages of tortuous prose, stilted dialogue, and flat characterization. It was ridiculous alright, but it was no pleasure.

At the risk of opening a can of worms, I’d put the Fifty Shades books in the guilty pleasure category. Granted, I was laughing too hard at the end of the second one to bother with the third, but the point is that I was laughing.

One of my guiltiest pleasures is our own bad reviews. Sometimes when I can’t sleep, I’ll look up old D and F reviews in the database and read them for hours, laughing at how funny they are (because even when a bad book is hard to read, the review is often fun to read and write).

My family’s cinematic guilty pleasure is The Cutting Edge. If you’ve never seen it, you’re missing some of the cheesiest dialogue ever written. It’s a romantic comedy featuring a washed up hockey player and almost washed-up figure skater who skate their way to (presumably) an Olympic gold medal in pairs skating – and of course, fall in love along the way. It’s horrible. And yet brilliant. If you don’t love lines like: “There are two things I do well…and skating’s the other one”…well, you’re probably a better person than I.

How about you? What’s your guilty pleasure, whether cinematic or bookish? And do you like a good, silly book once in a while?

Eagerly Awaited May Releases

Monday, April 21st, 2014

With new books from Jo Goodman and Julie James, May is shaping up to be a month that just might be hard on the wallet. And let’s not forget, the legendary historical, The Windflower is finally being reissued in May. After hearing about this book my entire reading life, I’m curious to see if it’s as good as they say. What about you? Looking forward to anything this May?

Title and Author Reviewer
In Want of a Wife by Jo Goodman In Want of a Wife by Jo Goodman Lynn, Dabney, Jean, Lea, Melanie, Pat, Heather
It Happened One Wedding by Julie James It Happened One Wedding by Julie James Lea, LinnieGayl, Heather, Caroline, Caroline, Maggie, Mary, Alex
Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris Mary, Pat, Maggie, Caroline
Dreams of Lilacs by Lynn Kurland Dreams of Lilacs by Lynn Kurland Lee, Alex, Pat, Caz
It Takes a Scandal by Caroline Linden It Takes a Scandal by Caroline Linden Dabney, Mary, Caroline, Caz
Far Gone by Laura Griffin Far Gone by Laura Griffin Heather, Lee, Maggie, Lynn
The Windflower by Laura London The Windflower by Laura London Caroline, Lynn, Shannon
The Witch of Clan Sinclair by Karen Ranney The Witch of Clan Sinclair by Karen Ranney Mary, Melanie
How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days by Laura Lee Guhrke How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days by Laura Lee Guhrke Alex, Lee
Lawless by HelenKay Dimon Lawless by HelenKay Dimon Dabney
Fair Play by Deeanne Gist Fair Play by Deeanne Gist Maggie
The One and Only by Emily Giffin The One and Only by Emily Giffin Shannon
Searching for Perfect by Jennifer Probst Searching for Perfect by Jennifer Probst Haley
To Charm a Naughty Countess by Teresa Romain To Charm a Naughty Countess by Teresa Romain Caz
Possession by JR Ward Possession(mas-market reissue of hardcover) by J.R. Ward Shannon
Flying by Megan Hart Flying by Megan Hart Heather
Dark Serpent by Kylie Chan Dark Serpent by Kylie Chan Caroline
Otherwise Engaged by Amanda Quick Otherwise Engaged by Amanda Quick LinnieGayl
One Night to Risk It All by Maisey Yates One Night to Risk It All by Maisey Yates Dabney
Breakable by Tamara Webber Breakable by Tamara Webber Pat
The Collector by Nora Roberts The Collector by Nora Roberts Lea
The Secret Woman by Victoria Holt The Secret Woman(reissue) by Victoria Holt Lynn
Noble Intentions by Katie MacAlister Noble Intentions by Katie MacAlister Melanie
Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris, 1932 by Francine Prose Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris, 1932 by Francine Prose Dabney

TBR Challenge – Modern Love

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

returntotomorrow When I saw that this month’s TBR Challenge category called on us to read a contemporary romance, I found almost an embarrassment of choices. Did I want to go mainstream or inspy? Small town or big city? Something serious or more chick lit in tone? In the end, the setting drew me into Return to Tomorrow, a 2010 re-release of a 1990 title.

The premise of this novel is definitely not run of the mill. The characters were all shaped by their experiences in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, and even 20+ years on, the author shows how the war affected them. Rachel McKendrick spent years in a prison camp in Laos, and not surprisingly, has a lot of emotional issues to work through. After her rescue, she never intended to return to the region but a promise made to a priest she respected deeply brings her to a refugee camp.

There she meets Brett “Tiger” Jackson, a man with a dangerous reputation. Tiger fought in the war and has stayed behind working a variety of shadowy jobs and living among a trusted group of expats who, like him, never could quite return home after the war. Rachel’s brother back home knew and trusted him, but on the ground in Thailand, he has a reputation as a dangerous drug smuggler. There is obviously more to him than meets the eye, but readers are only slightly ahead of Rachel in learning this. (more…)

Jonesing for Jocks

Monday, March 31st, 2014

David BeckhamCurrently I am assiduously avoiding sports. Literally. Much of my family is in another room swearing at the television as my husband’s alma mater fights to move forward in the NCAA tournament. In the time they’ve cared deeply about the outcome of this game, I have chatted on Twitter, painted my nails a lovely shade of grape, bought two, actually three, new romances based on recommendations from my Twitter feed, and burned a pan of sweet potato fries. (more…)

I Wish You’d Come Back Revisited

Friday, March 28th, 2014

 What a difference two years makes.  Almost to the day two years ago I wrote a blog about authors, or author styles, I wished would come back to us readers.  I wasn’t planning to revisit the blog, but as I was browsing the Overdrive website today I saw something that made my eyes pop: Laura London, aka Sharon and Tom Curtis, will be available on eBook on April 1st.The Windflower (more…)