TBR Challenge – Modern Love

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. Continue reading

Eagerly Awaited April Books

Sarah Mayberry, Carla Kelly, and Kristan Higgins all have many fans among our staff and since they all have new releases coming out in April, we were looking over that April release list with anticipation. If you are one of the many fans of the Pennyroyal Green series, you will be delighted to know that the latest installment is due that month. And, as you can see, there are a variety of other books out there catchout our eyes as well. What do you want to read?

Title and Author Reviewer
Her Kind of Trouble by Sarah Mayberry Her Kind of Trouble by Sarah Mayberry Lynn, Dabney, Heather, Lee, Mary, Caroline, Rike, LinnieGayl, Pat
The Wedding Ring Quest by Carla Kelly The Wedding Ring Quest by Carla Kelly Blythe, Heather, Lee, Caroline, Pat, Lynn, Rike, Mary
Waiting on You by Kristan Higgins Waiting on You by Kristan Higgins LinnieGayl,Lea, Mary, Jenna, Alex, Heather, Maggie, Lee
Between the Devil and Ian Eversea by Julie Anne Long Between the Devil and Ian Eversea by Julie Anne Long Dabney, Mary, Heather, Lee
Silence for the Dead by Simone St. James Silence for the Dead by Simone St. James Maggie, Lynn, LinnieGayl
After the Scandal by Elizabeth Essex After the Scandal by Elizabeth Essex Caz, Dabney
Prince's Fire by Amy Raby Prince’s Fire by Amy Raby Caroline, Melanie
The Day He Kissed Her by Julianna Stone The Day He Kissed Her by Julianna Stone Dabney, Lynn
Unlacing Lady Thea by Louise Allen Unlacing Lady Thea by Louise Allen Rike, Caz
Three Weeks With Lady X by Eloisa James Three Weeks with Lady X by Eloisa James Alex, Dabney
A Courageous Ride by Andrew Grey A Courageous Ride by Andrew Grey Pat
Night Diver by Elizabeth Lowell Night Diver by Elizabeth Lowell Heather
For the Right Reasons by Kara Lennox For the Right Reasons by Kara Lennox Rike
Heaven's Queen by Rachel Bach Heaven’s Queen by Rachel Bach Jenna
London's Most Wanted Rake by Bronwyn Scott London’s Most Wanted Rake by Bronwyn Scott Caz
It's Complicated by L.A. Witt It’s Complicated by L.A. Witt Pat
Moonlight on My Mind by Jennifer McQuiston Moonlight on My Mind by Jennifer McQuiston Caroline
Fire Inside by Kristen Ashley Fire Inside(mass market reissue of digital release) by Kristen Ashley Mary
A Shocking Delight by Jo Beverley A Shocking Delight by Jo Beverley Rike
Her Soldier Protector by Soraya Lane Her Soldier Protector by Soraya Lane Caroline
The Winter Bride by Anne Gracie The Winter Bride by Anne Gracie Lee
Sharing Heart by Ken Murphy Sharing Heart by Ken Murphy Pat
Shards of Time by Lynn Flewelling Shards of Time by Lynn Flewelling Melanie

TBR Challenge – Back to School and Some Catching Up to Do

gatheringstorm February proved to be quite the “challenging” month for me and I finished only four books that applied to my challenges. The good news is that reading three of those books helped me finish off my geography challenge. None of the books were standouts to me unfortunately, although A Gathering Storm by Rachel Hore was certainly the most memorable.

In Hore’s novel, Lucy Cardwell’s father seemed to have some sort of breakdown shortly after his mother’s death. He divorced his wife and seemed obsessed with some strange branch of family history. When Lucy sorts through his papers she finds out about an uncle she never knew she had. Intrigued she finds herself visiting her father’s childhood home, the once beautiful Carlyon Manor. The house has burned down but the village near it is still around and it is there that she meets Beatrice, an old woman who knows all the secrets of Lucy’s family. Starting in the 1930’s and ending shortly after the war we learn of a boy, a girl and a breathtaking adventure. Continue reading

Eagerly Awaited March Books

I can’t believe we’re already thinking about spring releases! But, March is just around the corner. Judging by the list of books we here at AAR are eager to try, I think it’s fair to say that Deanna Raybourn’s historical novels have our attention. Spring is bringing a variety of interesting-sounding books in other subgenres as well, and there seem to be more category romances than usual catching our eyes. So, what are you looking forward to in March?

Title and Author Reviewer
City of Jasmine by Deanna Raybourn City of Jasmine by Deanna Raybourn Lynn, Caz, Pat, Lee, LinnieGayl, Rike, Maggie, Alexandra, Melanie
The Jade Temptress by Jeannie Lin The Jade Temptress by Jeannie Lin Maggie, Caroline, Lynn
All a Man is by Janice Kay Johnson All a Man Is by Janie Kay Johnson Heather, Pat
Carolina Man by Virginia Kantra Carolina Man by Virginia Kantra Lee, Haley
Night Broken by Patricia Briggs Night Broken by Patricia Briggs Maggie, Heather
The Fall of a Saint by Christine Merrill The Fall of a Saint by Christine Merrill Caz
Awakened by His Touch by Nikki Logan Awakened by His Touch by Nikki Logan Rike
Secrets at Court by Blythe Gifford Secrets at Court by Blythe Gifford Lynn
Love Comes Calling by Siri Mitchell Love Comes Calling by Siri Mitchell Maggie
The Bride Insists by Jane Ashford The Bride Insists by Jane Ashford Lee
Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop Heather
Atonement by B.J. Daniels Atonement by B.J. Daniels Pat
For His Eyes Only by Liz Fielding For His Eyes Only by Liz Fielding Caroline
The Rebel Pirate by Donna Thorland The Rebel Pirate by Donna Thorland Alexandra
The Rome Affair by Addison Fox The Rome Affair by Addison Fox Lynn
Ghost Train to New Orleans by Mur Lafferty Ghost Train to New Orleans by Mur Lafferty Melanie
The Dark Affair by Maire Claremont The Dark Affair by Maire Claremont Caz
The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan Rike
Precious Thing by Colette McBeth Precious Thing by Colette McBeth Maggie
A King's Ransom by Sharon Kay Penman A King’s Ransom by Sharon Kay Penman Caz
Love Another Day by Gina Robinson Love Another Day by Gina Robinson Lee
The Kindred of Darkness by Barbara Hambly The Kindred of Darkness by Barbara Hambly Caroline
Dancing With Dragons by Lorenda Christensen Dancing With Dragons by Lorenda Christensen Lynn
The All You Can Dream Buffet by Barbara O'Neal The All You Can Dream Buffet by Barbara O’Neal Heather
Death by the Book by Juliana Deering Death by the Book by Julianna Deering Maggie
All I Ever Wanted by Kristan Higgins All I Ever Wanted(reissue) by Kristan Higgins Jenna
Double Blind by Heidi Cullinan Double Blind(reissue) by Heidi Cullinan Pat
An Arranged Marriage by Jo Beverley An Arranged Marriage(reissue) by Jo Beverley Rike

Eagerly Awaited February Books

As we get closer to time for February releases, I think it’s fair to say that more than a few of us are curious to see what Tessa Dare’s new historical romance series holds for readers. February also brings us a new series from Suzanne Brockmann. And if you aren’t in the mood to try a new series? Well, we found several other upcoming books to pique our curiosity. What do you want to read next month?

Title and Author Reviewer
Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare Lynn, Dabney, Cindy, Lee, Mary, Blythe, Caz, Alex
Do or Die by Suzanne Brockmann Do or Die by Suzanne Brockmann Blythe, Lea, Heather, Caroline, Caroline
The MacGregor's Lady by Grace Burrowes The MacGregor’s Lady by Grace Burrowes Mary, Caz
Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen Maggie, Haley
Jaded by Anne Calhoun Jaded by Anne Calhoun Dabney, Lynn
Walking on Air by Catherine Anderson Walking on Air by Catherine Anderson Lee, Pat
Concealed in Death by J.D. Robb Concealed in Death by J.D. Robb Maggie, Blythe
The Forbideen Queen by Anne O'Brien The Forbidden Queen by Anne O’Brien Caroline, Lynn
To Tempt a Viking by Michelle Willingham To Tempt a Viking by Michelle Willingham Haley
Shamed in the Sands by Sharon Kendrick Shamed in the Sands by Sharon Kendrick Caroline
Up From the Grave by Jeaniene Frost Up From the Grave by Jeaniene Frost Lea
In Search of Hope by Anna Jacobs In Search of Hope by Anna Jacobs Pat
At the River's Edge by Mariah Stewart At the River’s Edge by Mariah Stewart LinnieGayl
Alienated by Melissa Landers Alienated by JMelissa Landers Maggie
The Countess Confessions by Jillian Hunter The Countess Confessions by Jillian Hunter Lee
Winter at Mustang Ridge by Jesse Hayworth Winter at Mustang Ridge by Jesse Hayworth Pat
The Real Mr. Right by Karen Templeton The Real Mr. Right by Karen Templeton Caroline
Misbehaving by Tiffany Reisz Misbehaving by Tiffany Reisz Lynn
Curl Up and Dye by Sharon Sala Curl Up and Dye by Sharon Sala Maggie
Why Earls Fall in Love by Manda Collins Why Earls Fall in Love by Manda Collins Lee
M

Melting the Ice by Jaci Burton Haley
That Part was True by Deborah McKinlay That Part Was True by Deborah McKinlay Pat
The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan Maggie
After I'm Gone by Laura Lippman After I’m Gone by Laura Lippman Dabney
The Major's Wife by Lauri Robinson The Major’s Wife by Lauri Robinson Caroline

Getting Started on Those 2014 TBR Challenges!

threeriverranch Once again, I’m participating in the multi-blog TBR Challenge but this year we’re doing things a little differently here on the blog as a couple of my fellow AAR reviewers are working on reading challenges, too. So, each month we’ll all be talking reading challenges and if there are any challenges you want to hop onto for yourself, you’ll find links down at the bottom.

My challenge for the month was to read something short – a category novel or a novella or short story. I tend to buy plenty of category romance so this was no problem for me. When Entangled launched, I had purchased several books from their various category lines to try and a few were still sitting unread on the Kindle, so this time around I decided to try Three River Ranch by Roxanne Snopek. Three River Ranch is a 2012 release from the Bliss line, a line that seems to feature American settings, strong family/home/community themes and fairly low-level sensuality. I have a feeling this line would appeal to readers of Harlequin American Romance or Special Edition. Continue reading

Why I Love Reading Challenges

books.lots Back in 2008 several readers on the Romance Potpourri Board discovered they shared a similar problem – they weren’t reading much romance anymore. That problem had led to a secondary dilemma – since they were still buying romance novels they had rapidly growing TBR piles. The solution arrived at was the 9 in 2009 Reading Challenge. Participants were encouraged to read just 9 novels off their TBR that met specific criteria. For most the challenge was an unexpected success and thus the unofficial AAR Romance Potpourri Board Reading Challenge was born. Continue reading

Starting a New Year

penpaper There’s something about starting a new year that just feels fresh and inspiring. New places yet to see, new books still to be read, and somehow on that first day of each year, the world itself feels a little more new.

I moved recently, and as I’ve been unpacking my books (and even with my Kindle, there are still tons of paper books!), I find myself thinking about how I want to be reading in 2014. Here are some of the things important to me for next year:

Discovering new-to-me authors – I started reviewing at AAR when I was not long out of school. 2013 marked my 10th year here, and one of my favorite things about being a reviewer has been the discovery of books and authors I probably would not have discovered on my own otherwise. AAR is what led me to Continue reading

YA Corner – Dystopias

undertheneversky Welcome to the YA Corner! This is an ongoing feature in which Caroline and Jenna, two AAR reviewers who love their YA fiction, discuss a set of YA novels related by genre or theme.

The focus of this YA Corner is Science Fiction Dystopias, either full romance or with strong romantic elements. The books we chose are:

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi: Aria lives in the domes, which protect her from the toxic environment of her planet, so life expectancy and medicine are advanced, and technology like her SmartEye allows her to escape to virtual realities. Perry lives on the outside, where violence is too real and technology is less important than his heightened senses. When Aria learns a secret and is thrown out of the domes, her survival will depend on Perry – unless she can learn to save herself.

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey: Cassie and her brother are among the rare human survivors of the first four waves of an alien assault on Earth. She’s learned that she can trust no-one, so when her brother is taking by soldiers, she reluctantly joins forces with farmboy Evan to find him. But no group or individual is quite what they seem, and choosing wrongly will mean instant death.

Across the Universe by Beth Revis: Amy reluctantly agrees to follow her parents into cryo-sleep so that, after a three hundred year space journey, she can be one of the pioneers to settle on Centauri Earth. When Amy is mysteriously awakened some fifty years too early, she finds herself on a ship ruled by a dictator, ruling suspiciously compliant passengers, while other sleeping passengers have been murdered. Elder, the boy chosen to become the next leader, must help Amy solve the mystery. Continue reading

A Little Bit of Book News for the Holidays

christmastree Maybe it’s my lack of affection for the massive consumption side of Christmas(or my resistance to being anywhere near a mall between Thanksgiving and New Year’s), but for some reason, I always find myself coasting into those last few days before Christmas just a bit unprepared. Even as I resist the gift frenzy, I do find myself with an affection for holiday romance, listening to carols on Pandora, and maybe feeling a bit more festive as I wander the internet. Here are some of the interesting reads I’ve found in my travels lately:

– For those who completely missed out on their internet/social media ruling, there was A Kerfuffle last week. I thought about writing a blog piece to cover this trainwreck of a piece by Palash Ghosh and the backlash that ensued, but in the end decided that there really wasn’t too much to say that hasn’t already been said by me or other bloggers in the past – not to mention Laurie and some of the romance authors and reviewers who were online way before some of us writing today. Quite frankly, after having seen romance readers mocked in the press for years, this round of looking down on romance readers has a feel of “same condescension, different jackass” about it. Continue reading