Archive for the ‘Maggie AAR’ Category

Buried Treasures: The Movie Version

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

simplyirresistible We’ve discussed romantic movies here several times, most recently in Jean’s March 2012 blog. Many of the films we talk about are popular, something we most likely have all seen or at least heard of. However, a recent viewing of a movie I literally stumbled across while searching for something else had me thinking of films that sit quietly waiting to be discovered. I don’t know that the movies are obscure so much as just not often discussed and therefore often hard to find (or at least, find out about).

A romantic movie doesn’t necessarily have to be a romantic comedy, although all the films listed below do contain that element. It does have to have a couple actually falling in love, though. Too many films meant to be romances lack actual romance. And for me, if the couple is going to be doing battle I’d prefer it to be of the sweet and zany variety. Downright cruelty, such as that highlighted in The Ugly Truth starring Katherine Heigl, doesn’t appeal to me.

The humor can be subtle – a smile can work every bit as good as a laugh. And the love story can be as sweet and silent as a snowflake. And like Sleepless in Seattle I don’t need a complete HEA, the promise of a future one is enough. (more…)

Rotten Apples

Friday, July 12th, 2013

rottenapple On April 3, 2010 Apple launched the iPad. One other important thing happened that day. Apple’s late CEO Steve Jobs had numerous interviews with reporters, natural given that his company was launching a major product. What came as a surprise was that when asked why consumers would pay $14.99 to Apple to purchase an e-book that was selling at Amazon for $9.99, Jobs replied, “Well, that won’t be the case.” As a follow up to a question as to why that wouldn’t be the case Job’s responded, “The price will be the same.”

While Apple would have us believe that Mr. Jobs and the company as a whole did nothing illegal to ensure that the prices were equal, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote ruled differently. Apple has been found guilty of price-fixing and in the process violated antitrust laws. If you’re interested, you can find the decision here. (more…)

Dipping My Toes Into New Waters

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

2815306040_bb5605976c_z I’ll be blunt here and say that I used to have little faith in self-publishing and small press publishing. There seemed to be so many terribly edited self-pubbed books out there, and I also used to believe that a good writer could find herself a major publisher. I mean, it only made sense. How many bad (really bad) writers have I had the pleasure of reviewing over the years, all of them with larger publishers? Yet recent events have shaken my faith in that fact. Connie Brockway, a favorite among AAR readers, had considered self-publishing before serving as the launch author for Amazon’s Montlake division. It took Diana Miller six years to find a publisher (again Montlake) for her 2006 Golden Heart Award Winning manuscript Dangerous Affairs. I couldn’t help but emphasize the word winner in that sentence. It seemed so ridiculous that a winner for excellence in an unpublished manuscript would then be unable to find said manuscript a publisher.

I wonder, perhaps, if this doesn’t have something to do with the type of books disappearing from the market. Lynn discussed the narrowing historical romance market in her May blog. Numerous posts have been made on the Mystery and Suspense Books Discussion thread on the Let’s Talk Romance Novels forum message board regarding the lack of romantic suspense books. While the market seems flooded with paranormals and small town contemporary series, there seems to be a near drought in other sub-genres of romance. (more…)

Favorite Movie Kisses

Friday, May 24th, 2013

One of my favorite scenes in a romantic movie is The Kiss. In many films dealing with romance there are lots of kisses but there is one kiss that is emphasized. The scene is highlighted through background music and dramatic setting. The moment is at a special point in the plot. We have reached a place where the kiss has meaning. Somehow it has become a pivot point for our two characters. And that kiss, that moment can often be the image most associated with that film. The following kisses are some of my personal favorites, in no particular order.

The Princess Bride

princessbridekiss

In The Princess Bride we are told: “Since the invention of the kiss, there have only been five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind.” I can’t vouch for that but the scene is certainly beautiful. (more…)

AAR Staff Top Ten Favorites: Maggie’s Picks

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

pandp Before I begin, I must issue a disclaimer. I don’t have ten favorite books. I have hundreds of them. I imagine most of us here at AAR do. When the idea for the Top Ten Tuesday came up I was panicked wondering how I would narrow my list down to just ten. How could I do that? The simple answer is I can’t. I didn’t. The following list will cover one of my favorites from ten of my favorite romance subgenres. Each book is actually representing many peers. And that is an amazing thing. In looking over a few decades of reading romance novels I’ve fallen in love with the genre all over again. There have been so many fantastic reads over the years, so many books that captured the essence of just what I want from a romance novel.

Just what is that you might ask? The answer is both simple and complex. I want a lovely love story. Easy enough, right? Wrong. So many authors still confuse lust with love, giving us two bickering people who have hot sex while barely being able to be in the same room together without making us want to smack them both. Other authors confuse excitement with love, delivering fascinating tales which happen to include people falling in love but not really focusing their story on that magical fact. Yet other authors provide us with caricatures falling in love; their books could contain a disclaimer about no humans being involved since I certainly don’t recognize any humans I have ever met in their characters.

So what happens when authors do get it right? We have two people who genuinely get to know each other. We have the surface action of physical attraction and the emotional aspect of two people being enchanted by each other. We have real lives going on while the romance takes place. We meet friends and family who aren’t just set ups for the next book but who provide us with insight into our primary couple. And we have focus – an intense look into watching the characters fall for each other. That to me makes for a luscious love story. (more…)

A Touch of Paranoia – Brought to You by Amazon.com

Monday, April 1st, 2013

amazon I have been a loyal Amazon customer. If I am going to buy a book, new chances are Amazon will either be shipping it to me or sending it to my Kindle. I am also a member of the Goodreads community. My primary reason for being a member is simple: Their online listing of books I’ve read or want to read via shelves I can create for myself is far superior to my former methodology of keeping a list on a word document. Since I like both companies I shouldn’t feel at all threatened by the recent buyout, right? Wrong. (more…)

Pandora’s Box: Soul of Kandrith

Monday, March 18th, 2013

soulofkandrith Last month we were talking about historical fiction in Pandora’s Box, but this month we turn to the realm of fantasy romance. This month we’re doing a Pandora’s Box discussion on Soul of Kandrith, conclusion of the Kandrith duology by Nicole Luiken.

Sara had once been a great lady, daughter of the Primus of the Republic of Temboria. She still has her legendary beauty but lost her soul in an epic battle to save Kandrith, a nation that serves as sanctuary to runaway slaves. Her beloved Lance is a healer of the goddess Loma, a user of the slave magic which demands great personal sacrifice. While he is able to heal any affliction of the body the creation of a soul is beyond his powers. The two are traveling through Kandrith, hoping that familiar places and faces will restore Sara to her former self. However, instead of help they find fear, and in place of friendship they most often encounter hostility. Sara is a frightening shell of the woman she once was, zombie-like in her lack of emotions, but ruthless when it comes to defending herself and Lance. She has also become addicted to pain, since it seems to be the one thing she can feel. Lance’s devotion to the shadow of the woman he once loved concerns his family but there is little they can do to separate them.

When Lance is charged by his sister, the ruler of Kandrith, with a mission to encourage a budding rebellion within the territory of Gotia, it is with the hope that he will leave Sara behind. Instead, the two embark on the dangerous journey together, with uncertainty facing them along every step of the way. Will they be able to perform the mission and gain Sara a soul?

Note: This discussion may contain some slight spoilers. (more…)

Pandora’s Box: Garden of Stones

Monday, February 25th, 2013

gardenofstones This month, we’re jumping into Pandora’s Box with Garden of Stones by Sophie Littlefield Here’s a bit about the plot: On the surface, fourteen year old Lucy Takeda seems to have a charmed life. Her father Renjiro is the well-respected owner of a prosperous business packaging and shipping dried apricots worldwide. Her mother Miyako is revered for her breathtaking beauty and elegance. And Lucy looks just like her mother. Their home is one of the nicest in the community. Still life is not always serene. Miyako is delicate and suffers from mood swings, spending some days in her darkened room, and then others with a surplus of energy. The high energy days, though, almost always end with Miyako in tears, as Lucy’s elderly father tries to comfort her.

But with the war, the pattern of Lucy’s life is changing. For the first time, her status as a wealthy man’s daughter doesn’t prevent her from being judged by the color of skin and slant of her eyes. Teachers bypass her for class positions, and friends ignore her presence. But nothing prepares her for the changes in her life on December 7, 1941. In a little over two hours, Japanese bombers almost destroy America’s navy and air force plus kill two thousand citizens and injure over a thousand. After the attack, Americans of Japanese ancestry are viewed with suspicion and distrust. Within weeks, Lucy and her mother are ripped from their home, and sent to Manzanar War Relocation Camp, located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California’s Owens Valley. Conditions there are harsh and dismal but Lucy’s spirits are buoyed by her youthful optimism.

Maggie has talked often about War World II stories, so as soon as I saw this book, I knew I had to read it. Since Maggie is more familiar with this time period, I asked if she would like to do a Pandora’s Box together. (more…)

Pandora’s Box: Shadow Woman

Monday, December 17th, 2012

Imagine if you woke up one morning and the face in the mirror did not belong to you. How would you react to that? For Lizette Henry, the thought that all is not as it should be triggers violent headaches and bouts of vomiting. When she makes the obligatory call to tell her boss she’s ill, she gets another surprise. Her boss mentions that Lizette hasn’t been sick for the whole three years she has worked for her. Lizette thought she had worked there for five years. Slowly, she realizes that she is missing two years of memories.

Even as Lizzie becomes aware of her missing memories, she realizes she has instincts she has no business having. For example, she has the certain knowledge that her cell phone is being used to spy on her. Slowly she becomes aware of a whole host of things that seem out of place: her unnaturally quiet life style, the neighbor who pays too much attention to her, her growing sense that she is being watched wherever she goes. Small changes in her routine seem to be a trigger to have people start following her. Is she slowly going crazy? Or are people really out to get her?

For Xavier, it has been three long years of waiting to see if Lizzie ever woke up. Now she is doing so and some small part of him hopes the wake up will be complete, that she will remember him. And yet he realizes that her returning memory could actually cause a much darker outcome. For the return of her memory will mean the activation of their enemies. And that could mean the end of them both. Sound intriguing? Then follow Leigh and Maggie into Pandora’s Box to see what they thought of Shadow Woman, Linda Howard’s latest release. (more…)

Multicultural Challenge: Books With African-American Characters

Friday, December 14th, 2012

Prior to this challenge, I had read only a handful of romances starring African American characters. My favorite of those books wasn’t even technically a romance – What Looks Like Crazy On An Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage is actually a woman’s fiction book and an Oprah’s Book Club selection. So before sitting down to do this column I wanted to be sure and get some serious reading done. Here are the results.

My first read was Heart to Heart by Kayla Perrin. I absolutely loved it. Deana Hart was a singing sensation with a bestselling album to her name. Personal issues have caused a slide in her career and put a damper on her creativity. Hoping to find healing, Deana heads home to Cleveland. Circumstances lead her to Eric Bell, the brother of an old flame. Eric was always a friend, always there for Deana when she needed him and now she realizes that the sexy high school principal would be happy to be more. Given her history, she wonders if she can take a chance at love. And what about her future? Is she ready to give up her dreams of stardom and settle down in Cleveland?

(more…)