Archive for the ‘Pat Henshaw’ Category

Roses are red, violets are blue. Like love poems? Here a few.

Friday, February 28th, 2014

love lineBefore romance novels there were love poems. Sometimes sweet, sometimes tender, sometimes raunchy but always intimate and direct. Most love poems are from the author to a specific lover, a genuine communication that wasn’t necessarily intended for commercial  consumption.  That authentic, sincere emotional communication can often capture the essence of love in far fewer lines than a romance novel. And it does so in such a way that it lingers on the mind and tongue in a way that a book often doesn’t. (more…)

We pick the “Buried Treasures” of 2013

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Starfish-beach-wallpaperIn 2013, self-publishing was mainstream, social media allowed authors more specific ways to publicize their work, and everyone had a strongly held opinion about what constituted a great romance novel.  This environment makes the idea of a “buried treasure” more difficult to define. So, let’s agree to accept this definition: a buried treasure is a book you loved you think isn’t as well known as it should be. (more…)

The results of the AAR Top Ten Lists are in and the winner is….

Monday, October 7th, 2013

loverawakenedBack in April, we began, on each Tuesday, publishing a reviewer’s Top Ten list. There were no rules other than the books be in the romance genre. Over the next five months, we published twenty-three lists. Out of the 230 entries, we listed 201 books. We hit every genre (although we have a definitive fondness for historical romance), and waxed upon the works of 121 authors. After every one had weighed in, only one book garnered five–the most–votes: J.R. Ward’s Lover Awakened. (more…)

AAR Staff Top Ten Favorites – Pat’s Picks

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

slightlydangerous Coming up with a list of my top romances is not romantic at all. In fact, it can be downright unromantic as I found out the first year I tried to compile a list of my Top 100 favorite romance novels. Really? They must be joking, right? Especially since I’m constantly reading.

My first try at a Top 100 garnered 76 titles, and as I go back over the list, I can barely remember some of the books after #50. How can the books after that be called “top”? So now I keep a running Top 100 list that I purge now and again. But the Top 12 seem to stay fairly constant—until I change them.

What puts a book on my Top 12 list? Readability. I’ve read these books over and over. They are my comfort reads. They are safely tucked away on my Kindle and go with me everywhere. When a review book gets so annoying I want to throw it at the wall, I read one of these. When I have a few minutes of free time, I read one of these. They are my blankies and my Teddy Bears. (more…)

Reading Is Dangerous!

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

turkeyMy early recollections of the dangers of reading center around sunburn. I would lie out on a beach towel in the backyard and get so engrossed in Nancy Drew or some other thrilling story that I would forget the time. Then, lobster-like I would come inside the house suffering.

As I grew, however, the perils of reading became even greater. Three stories illustrate my point.

When I was in high school, I was a page at my local library. For some reason that totally escapes me, I was enthralled with the Jalna series, one of those sprawling historical sagas, by Mazo de la Roche. I remember one afternoon leaving the library with the newest book in hand and wanting to get home quickly so I could continue the story.

What happened is that I backed straight into the brick side of the library. My father couldn’t understand it. “The library wasn’t moving,” he said to me. “How could you just deliberately hit it?” I don’t remember what my answer was, but it certainly wasn’t that reading was dangerous. Yet that’s what the real reason was. In my haste to read, I’d become a hazard in my car.


The Dilemma of Reviewing Books in a Series

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

book stack Three years ago I was very vocal when another reviewer here at AAR reviewed a highly anticipated book without having read the previous books, stating how can a reviewer judge a book if they don’t know the characters’ history and conflicts. I still think it is important and my preferred way of reading a book, being able to start a series with the very first book is becoming more and more difficult. While I really want to break out a little from my preferred genres of women’s fiction, contemporary, and chick lit to read more science fiction and fantasy – genres that incorporate a lot of worldbuilding – I am stymied because so many of the interesting-sounding books I find end up being mid-series books. Is it unreasonable to expect a series book to stand on its own? I feel ambivalent about that. I don’t think I should have to read an author’s whole backlist to enjoy a book, but I have also seen the amount of anticipation that certain authors build over five or six books. Is there really a right answer? I asked fellow reviewers Maggie and Pat to share their opinions as we discuss this debatable topic.

What a Pain

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

manHaving had major surgery a few weeks ago, I was a little disconcerted when my next two review books featured protagonists in pain. I was immediately struck by the realization that physical pain is something that many authors don’t portray realistically at all.

We all know the cliché: Hero is shot, stabbed, beaten up, whatever, and his immediate thoughts turn to sex. Sex?! Having just been sliced open under the best sterile surgical conditions, I can say without a doubt that sex was the last thing on my mind. Adding a pain killer like the norco I’m taking doesn’t change my mind at all. General oral pain killers, it seems to me, mask the pain as long as you don’t probe the wound, but don’t totally kill it. You need a shot near the wound site for that.

But Victoria Dahl’s cowboy hero Cole in Close Enough to Touch, recuperating from having a horse fall on him and suffering from a broken tibia and pelvis is ready to roll at the drop of a hat. And does.


What’s Your Dream Reaction?

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

crying-womanSo it was a half hour before my husband got home from work, and I was sitting in the living room sobbing. Huge tears running down my face. You know the expression, I’m so happy I could cry?  I was. Both.

He walked in and like many men was immediately concerned and wondering what to do. When he’d left home that morning, he’d left a wife who was cheerfully reading her review book and ready to embark on a number of non-threatening chores: Go to the grocery store, return books to the library, nothing that should make someone cry.

What he didn’t know is that I’d just finished reading the review book and was feeling, no actually wallowing in the moment.

This is a luxury for a book reviewer. Finishing a book for a reviewer often means immediately writing a review and then starting to read the next book in the review pile. Pausing means thinking about what to say in the review, not usually letting the moment linger.


eReading Survey

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

The must-have device for readers these days seems to be an e-reader whether Kindle, Nook, Sony, BeBook, or other dedicated reader. For those who want to do more than simply read on a device, there are always computer screens, tablet computers, netbooks, and more.

To test how up to date you are on eReading, I’ve come up with a little multiple choice quiz. (I’m a former teacher. Testing’s in my blood.) The answers come from the recent PEW Report on E-Readers published in April 2012. (The questions use PEW wording so that the results stay true.)

What percentage of Americans have read an eBook?


A Slow Books Addendum

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

cloudsI just read an article from The Atlantic online called A Slow-Books Manifesto and wanted to add my addendum to it.

Writer Maura Kelly refers to The Slow-Book Movement whose “sole purpose is to reawaken modern society to the pleasures of slowing down to read, and savor, good literature.”

And there, we have the problem. What’s “good literature”? Slow-book movement founder Alexander Olchowski says he knows, although it looks as if he only knows that his own book is worthy. But the idea of slowing down to read a book instead of going to a movie or watching television while it isn’t new is valid. The idea that the only book worth reading is “good literature” isn’t.

Let’s skip the arguments by feminists and racial groups that the Literary Canon is too male-dominated and go to the heart of the matter: What makes a book worthy of the title “literature”?