I 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…)
Archive for the ‘Books’ Category
I’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?
mentioned in this post are:
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…)
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||Lynn, Lee, Caz, Lea, Rike, LinnieGayl, Alex|
|Backwoods by Jill Sorenson||Heather, LinnieGayl, Heather, Rike, Maggie, Lynn|
|Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon||Mary, Blythe, Mary, Alex|
|Shield of Winter by Nalini Singh||Cindy, Alex, Maggie|
|Weekends in Carolina by Jennifer Lohmann||Dabney, Lynn|
|How to School Your Scoundrel by Juliana Gray||Caz, Lee|
|The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith||Jean, Blythe|
|Scandal’s Virginby Louise Allen||Mary, Rike|
|City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare||Shannon|
|Baby, It’s You by Jane Graves||Haley|
|Dreamweaver Trail by Emily March||Lee|
|Wicked Temptation by Zoe Archer||Caz|
|Avenge Me by Maisey Yates||Dabney|
|To Scotland With Love by Patience Griffin||Lee|
|A Long Time Gone by Karen White||Shannon|
|Small-Town Redemption by Beth Andrews||Rike|
|Take My Breath Away by Christie Ridgway||Mary|
|All I Want Is You by Toni Blake||Haley|
|Nine Months to Change His Life by Marian Lennox||Caroline|
|Grim Shadows by Jenn Bennett||Lynn|
|The Lost by Sarah Beth Durst||Maggie|
|A Dream of Desire by Nina Rowan||Caz|
|Save the Date by Mary Kay Andrews||Lee|
|The Lemon Orchard by Luanne Rice||Shannon|
|The Virgin of Clan Sinclair by Karen Ranney||Mary|
|Stormy Persuasion by Johanna Lindsey||Mary|
Sharon 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…)
As 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?
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||Lynn, Dabney, Jean, Lea, Melanie, Pat, Heather|
|It Happened One Wedding by Julie James||Lea, LinnieGayl, Heather, Caroline, Caroline, Maggie, Mary, Alex|
|Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris||Mary, Pat, Maggie, Caroline|
|Dreams of Lilacs by Lynn Kurland||Lee, Alex, Pat, Caz|
|It Takes a Scandal by Caroline Linden||Dabney, Mary, Caroline, Caz|
|Far Gone by Laura Griffin||Heather, Lee, Maggie, Lynn|
|The Windflower by Laura London||Caroline, Lynn, Shannon|
|The Witch of Clan Sinclair by Karen Ranney||Mary, Melanie|
|How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days by Laura Lee Guhrke||Alex, Lee|
|Lawless by HelenKay Dimon||Dabney|
|Fair Play by Deeanne Gist||Maggie|
|The One and Only by Emily Giffin||Shannon|
|Searching for Perfect by Jennifer Probst||Haley|
|To Charm a Naughty Countess by Teresa Romain||Caz|
|Possession(mas-market reissue of hardcover) by J.R. Ward||Shannon|
|Flying by Megan Hart||Heather|
|Dark Serpent by Kylie Chan||Caroline|
|Otherwise Engaged by Amanda Quick||LinnieGayl|
|One Night to Risk It All by Maisey Yates||Dabney|
|Breakable by Tamara Webber||Pat|
|The Collector by Nora Roberts||Lea|
|The Secret Woman(reissue) by Victoria Holt||Lynn|
|Noble Intentions by Katie MacAlister||Melanie|
|Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris, 1932 by Francine Prose||Dabney|
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…)
Currently 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…)