Reader Testimonials for AAR's Tenth Anniversary

Updated January 11, 2008

Tee I don't frequent a lot of romance book sites out there; but the few times I have, I've not felt comfortable for one reason or another. This one appealed almost from the first day, even though I waited a couple of years before I began participating publicly. In spite of the format change (which I have accepted graciously), I still continue to return here because the readers have much to share and know how to accomplish that well enough and the site still remains comfortable.
NoirFemme I started with AAR and despite my forays to other blogs and websites, I have ended up spending the bulk of my time here because of the wonderful atmosphere fostered here. There is no prevailing "tone" to the boards and everyone pretty much respects one another here. I look forward to continuing my reading journey with this wonderful community.
SandLynn

I find AAR to be one of the more civilized places on the internet. [Cyberspace can be a] pretty rough place where you're either moderated to death or there's no holds barred. And, to be honest, I prefer the latter over the former. But, overall, I prefer self-moderation and civility.

As for blogs, I don't read them. The few times I have been sent to one via a link I found them to be much more slanted, pointed, tart, controversial, etc. Because they are in such competition, they need to be "sexy" and "hip" to grab attention and develop a following. To be honest, I like participating on boards that do not have a distinct point-of-view managed by TPTB. I think AAR achieves this by letting "a thousand voices" speak instead of having everything directed by the few people who run a site.

Lynda X I love this site. I'm soo happy that I found it. It's the ONLY place I know where the book reviews tell an unbiased truth. I find them generally to be accurate, not harping on something trivial or worshipful. AAR has encouraged me to read a whole slew of new authors whom I am unlikely to have discovered on my own. It encourages me to see opinions through the eyes of other people, and comments from people from other countries especially enlightening. I'm often totally amazed at the depth of general knowledge of history, politics, fashion, literature, etc., not just romances. Frankly, when it seems as if the whole world holds romance novels in contempt, the relief and excitement that I experience when I can "talk" about my addiction with intelligent, dedicated people is profound. You'd be surprised at how often I tell my friends about comments from this site--and they are people who profess to NEVER reading romances (and I believe 90% of them. What a loss for them).
Jitterbug I admit that until some two years ago I was prejudiced against the genre, but then I stumbled on your site, read some of the reviews, found them diversified, helpful and not composed of blind devotion and so I decided to give romances a chance. After that I promptly started visiting AAR regularly. I often thought it fortunate that your site was my first approach to the genre, because it struck me as professional (for lack of a better word) from the very beginning and I haven't found another one better structured or more reliable yet.
Mark I’ve been visiting AAR since 1998 and it is one of my few daily web sites. I am comfortable with most discussions here, so the openness level works for me. I have briefly visited other sites over the years but the only romance-reading site I still visit daily is AAR.
Malvina It was probably shortly after you established yourself on the net that I found AAR - we didn't have a computer with internet access previous to then. Oh, the hours thoroughly enjoyed browsing on AAR since then. I find it interesting to compare the reviews here to those in Romantic Times Bookclub and elsewhere. I also enjoy the ATBF columns, and also your honesty about things happening behind-the-scenes. Bring on the next ten years, congratulations on reaching this landmark.
msaggie bought my first PC in 1995 and once I started surfing, discovered The Romance Reader and Laurie's reviews there. I still remember Laurie announcing she was leaving TRR and setting up AAR. Since then, I have been a frequent visitor to the site (and I hardly go to TRR anymore) - usually daily, and frequently at least twice in a day to check on comments on the message boards although my posting at the boards has waxed and waned in the last 10 years depending on how busy my life was. AAR is such a wonderful resource - for reviews, views and opinions - and in the last 10 years, it has gone from strength to strength. There are so many romance review sites and blogs now - but AAR's strength, I think, lies in the interaction between the many, many readers and posters from all over the world, as it provides a platform for us all to share our joys (and dismays) about romance novels, in addition to giving and getting recommendations on the next book to read. Many congratulations, Laurie, and many thanks for your ceaseless endeavours to make AAR better all the time, to the extent that AAR has become almost an institution (am I allowed to say that? It's meant as a compliment!) devoted to the propagation of the romance novel and genre. I am so glad that AAR is a great success, and look forward to the next 10 years (and more)!
Kayne I've been coming to the AAR sites for 8 years and appreciate all of the comments, insights and recommendations for this fabulous genre of romance. I check in daily and especially enjoy the DIK (Desert Island Keeper) reviews, both old and new. There are so many fabulous books I would never have known about if it weren't for this site. It is also a treat to hear from favorite author's and anticipate upcoming new releases with others that share the excitement. ALso, many thanks to the volunteer reviewers.
HeatherB I only discovered AAR just a little over a year ago and since then not a day goes by that I don't visit at least once. I had no idea the world of romance and the community that it involves existed on the Internet until I found this site through a simple search. Wow!, the world of romance really opened up then. Like Katiebabs, I didn't realize there were that many others out there that love romance at much as I do.

I enjoy everything that the site offers, especially the reviews, and I am very proud to be a tiny little part of that.

Thank you, Laurie, for making the site avaliable and making it a place of dialogue for those who enjoy the genre. And - thank you to all the others who contribute to all that it is.

Here's to another 10 years.

Schola AAR is the reason I've returned to reading Romances!

A friend who loves SF sent me a link to an ATBF column which tackled the charge that Romance is inferior because it's "formulaic" by exposing the formulas in lauded Contemporary Fiction. Now, we both can't stand Contemporary Fiction (with some notable exceptions, of course), and I reasoned that the enemy of our enemy must be our friend . . . so I became interested in the Romance genre again.

"Interested" may be an understatement, though. My friends think I've gone mad!

Tinabelle I discovered AAR purely by accident a few years back and have been a daily visitor ever since. I "lurked" for a long time before I started posting and am now comfortable sharing my thoughts and my views with other readers. While I occasionally visit other sites, AAR is my "go to" source for everything romance.

I enjoy the diversity represented on the boards, the often lively banter, and the wide variety of topics discussed. I have learned so much about books, authors, genres, and trends here at AAR. I am frequently in awe at the knowledge and information posters here can share. I have greatly expanded my list of authors to read and titles to add to my growing TBR pile. This site has been a wonderful resource for me.

I have come to rely on the reviews for honest critiques of books. On so many other sites, all books seem to get high ratings which makes me very skeptical and deflates the value of the review. I refer to it as the "Harriet Klausner Syndrome." The AAR reviews are very specific about what the reviewer liked and did not like about the book. This specificity allows me to determine whether or not the book would appeal to my reading tastes.

So, congratulations AAR for building a wonderful online romance community. I look forward to spending many happy hours here in the future.

Syd 've been lurking, and very rarely posting, at AAR for almost as long as it has been around. I owe Laurie, the reviewers, the posters, and the authors more than all of you combined can imagine for the countless hours of enjoyment and entertainment I've received from your often wise and witty counsel.

Because of you, I'm currently reading The Morning Gift by Eva Ibbotson, and will give it to my daughter (16) when I'm through. Because of you, I finally read Pride and Prejudice for the first time several years ago. (I've since read it yearly). Because of you, I read The Outlander and books by Laura Kinsale. I now know of Carla Kelly, MJP, and SEP. I read Loretta Chase, Jo Beverley, and because of you I'm even reading Georgette Heyer. She's not awful which is what I thought 30-ish years ago in high school. I WILL pat myself on the back and admit to finding JD Robb before your reviewers did, but am gratified to see that we are all in agreement re: her worthiness.

Thank you for 10 fantastic years. I thought it was longer. You're a part of my daily life. Actually you're my home page. God bless.

Sula I had read romance novels from a young age. Indeed, thinking back, I suppose I've been reading them in one form or another all my life. My parents read a lot of inspirational novels that always had a strong romance theme (if totally soaked in religiousity) and I moved on to Janette Oke and other Christian authors in junior high. When we returned to the U.S. when I was 16, I suddenly had access to public libraries and books that would not necessarily have made it through the censors at our missionary school. Once I had my driving license and could visit the library without anyone seeing what I checked out, I started to get more adventurous. As long as the cover was nondescript and a flip through the book assured me that there was a romance to be had, I'd check it out. In college, I had access to a big city library system and the romance novels even had their own section. Oh glorious day! But how to find the good ones? It was very hit and miss. And always my own little secret because the conservative Christian schoolmates I had would not approve of my smutty reading habits.

One day on a whim I did an internet search on romance novels (feeling rather illicit and adventurous while I did so) and stumbled across AAR. This must have been around 98 or 99. It seems that it was called Laurie Likes Books or something to that effect. Anyways, I was totally amazed to find that there were other people out there who loved romance novels like I did. I suddenly felt less alone in the world. And the reviews! Finally a place where I could get the REAL scoop on a book before picking it up. I think that discovering AAR and being a lurker for the past 8 or 9 years, throughout my various moves to different continents, really helped me feel like I was not some sort of abnormal freak for loving to read romance. So I will always be grateful to Laurie and to everyone who participates in this community for that.

Jillian

I'll never forget the day I discovered AAR, it was like seeing the rainbow after a long, dreary and rainy day (so says the purple prose fan). I was on Amazon, trying to get some reviews on a couple of dozen books that I had just picked up, on impulse, at the library and one of the reviews mentioned the review on All About Romance. Well, it didn't take long for me to add dot com and discover a whole new and wonderful world of people who love romances like I do.

Laurie, I can never thank you enough for opening up the world of romance to me.

Here's to many more decades - Hip Hip Hooray !!!!!!

KristieJ

I've loved and read romance for years. As my love and passion grew I was a bit bewildered by my obsession for them. No one I knew was like me. Then I found TRR and through them AAR. For the longest time it was just the reviews I read. And then one day I discovered the message boards. I don't know how I had missed them for so long. I lurked for a while before getting up the nerve to post. I've very happy that I did finally overcome my trepidation!

I can't begin to say what a difference it's made since I started visiting here. I realized I had people! Others who were just like me! When my sisters made fun of me yet again - I could proudly tell them I was not alone - that there were a huge group of people from all over the world, from all walks of life, who shared my passion. And then I slowly began making friends on line through my connection with AAR. Over the heartbreakingly difficult past year and a half, I've managed to survive mainly through these wonderful friends I've made and continue to make.

I thank AAR and everyone connected from the bottom of my heart for the difference it has made in my life. It really is a Community - one I am so happy to be a part of.

Here's to many, many more years.

Bree I know a site like this is a lot of work, Laurie -- with, perhaps, limited rewards in terms of cash and glory Wink -- but it has brought me (and a lot of other people) a lot of pleasure for many many years. I check AAR on a daily basis to see what's up, and to see what people are chatting about, and to discover new authors and new titles. As other folks have said, I find the site comforting and validating in a way it's hard to overstate. I like to read romance (although I'm fairly picky about what makes a "good" book) and I am so glad I have a place to go where the genre is taken seriously!

Thanks so much for everything you (and all of the reviewers and columnists) have done over the years to make AAR an excellent resource and a congenial community.

Irene I apologize in advance for this novella. A perpetual lurker, I finally have some courage and too much to say. Oh dear.

Although I discovered AAR only four months ago, it really means a lot to me. I’ve read over 30 novels and even more AAR articles in that short time. Once, because of computer eye strain, I printed out over fifty pages worth of past articles. If that’s not obsessed, I don’t know what is. I swear I’m working on moderation. But I digress…

One fateful day, a good friend recommended a book, the first romance novel I ever read, by my future-favorite author. After a mini-glom and fearing an overdose, I decided to try someone else but didn’t know where to start. Although it seems like I have too much time on my hands, I really don’t.

Enter AAR: visually beautiful, so organized, and easy to navigate. Through several honest and informative resources, I found many authors. Some I loved, some not so much, but in all cases, I made informed decisions that I didn’t regret. And then…and then I searched reviews for my favorite author, and I was really bummed when there were some not-so-favorable grades.

You know how LLB says, “Hell hath no fury like a woman whose favorite author has been scorned”? Well, in my case, it was less fury and more inferiority. By that I mean I doubted myself and my tastes, thinking “Is there something wrong with me?” Obviously, I was being ridiculous. You know how that oft-quoted Eleanor Roosevelt saying goes: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”? That’s so true. I was choosing to be offended. After a little time passed, I was able to realize that AAR is not about putting people down nor is it about making people who have different opinions feel inferior. It’s quite the opposite, empowering readers to be proud of their fervent views. In my case, I needed to be more confident in myself and stop wallowing. Society makes one feel like her opinion isn’t valid unless everyone else agrees. This is not true. My opinion is of value simply because it’s mine. Everyone’s opinion matters.

When presented with thoughtfulness and received with respect – that’s when opinions are most useful and interesting. AAR encourages this kind of expression so we can have thought-provoking discussion. That is why AAR has never gotten old. Everyone is welcome to share her opinion.

The reviews are delivered with wit and candor, but it’s important to remember that they are not personal attacks on the author or reader. You know, for a second, I forgot that very important truth. Was I a modern TSTL heroine? No, I just thought I was and consequently acted like one. Now, I am able to laugh at myself. I believe I, too, am an intelligent and discriminating reader. It’s human to feel defensive or disheartened when your favorite author, the one who touched you the most, isn’t well-received. However, after this initial shock, that’s when you can give your own thoughtful and passionate analysis.

The insightful articles, interviews, and many other features of AAR enhance my love for this genre. The staff’s courage and confidence to express unabashed and honest opinions are admirable. Their encouragement that I do the same is inspiring.

Thank you, AAR, for forcing me to challenge and believe in myself.

I know the site has been through a lot and faced much controversy, but I hope it has been worth it.

Thank you to the dedicated AAR staff and the intelligent readers who have kept this site going for so long. May you continue to attract and welcome new fans for years to come. And thanks so much, Laurie, for everything.

Lee I stumbled upon AAR 9 years ago when I was trying to find some "Beauty and the Beast" type books, and lo and behold, came across "Special Title Listings." Although other sites have tried to copy these informative lists, none compare to the original.

I also love the fact that some of my favorite writers post here and that you can actually communicate with them fairly quickly.

But probably my favorite thing about AAR is getting to know the other posters. I know automatically if I will like a new release by the reactions of other posters who like what I like.

Thanks Laurie, and long may you reign.

MaggieB

One of the things -- in fact the main thing -- AAR means to me is books. Reviews of books, chances to talk about books, book recommendations. I was thinking about just how many authors I have been introduced to by AAR and am wondering about the rest of you. How many authors did you meet specifically because of AAR? I know I will only touch on the tip of a Titanic sized iceberg here but here it goes: (Maggie's list featured fourteen authors).

Tee I haven't given much thought to this question before, maggie, but it was interesting to go back on my authors' list to see which ones I picked up here. Some were because of reviews and others (probably most of them) were ones suggested by other readers. (Tee's list featured 13 authors)
BeckyD One of the best things about this site is that you can find a reviewer or reader with similar tastes to your own, then use that to help discover similar authors/books.

In my own case, I know I would not have discovered these following authors had it not been for AAR recs or other reader recs... (Becky's list featured fourteen authors)

Susan Several years ago I posted the same question, after a period when it seemed that AAR had come under attack for what was perceived as negativism about Romance. I thought that AAR demonstrated its respect for romance by providing honest and well-thought out reviews, and I knew that almost 100% of my reading was authors discovered at this site (about the only ones I knew of before were Amanda Quick and Mary Balogh, recommended to me by a friend). Because the reviews here are in depth discussions of the books rather than fan girl ravings or ad hominem attacks, I trust them. I may not always agree -- and often don't -- but I think Laurie and the reviewers set a tone that supports Romance as a genre even if the review of a particular romance is negative. Without the reviews and discussions here, I'd read far fewer romance novels because I'd never have heard of the authors and would be afraid of wasting my time and money.

My bank account doesn't necessarily thank you, nor does my family as I drag them into book stores, UBS, and charity shops looking for the lastest publication or the OOP masterpiece, but I definitely thank you for hours of reading pleasure.

 

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