Friday, October 28, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Marian’s Christmas Wish is not a new Christmas book strictly speaking. It was first published in 1989, but it has been reissued as both in print and as an ebook for the 2011 Christmas season. Some of Kelly’s Christmas stories are also available. When I recommend Christmas reads, Carla Kelly is always high on my list. If you’ve never read a Carla Kelly book, Christmas is a great time to give yourself the gift of some of the best Regency romance ever. As for me, I’m counting the days--19-- until her collection of new Christmas stories is released.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
This Winter Heart by PG Forte
She was nothing more than a mechanical contrivance wrought by human hands, created for no other reason than to tempt him. He did not doubt it for a minute. Nor did he doubt his religion would deem her very existence a sin. What was she, after all, but a graven image, a blatant attempt to ape the Almighty?
Note: I had every intention of posting this review Friday and following it with another review of a new Christmas read Saturday to complete Happy Christmas Reads Week, but problems with a disc in my neck made typing and posting painful. I have been online only briefly for the past several days. I am better and I plan to post the fifth review Thursday and return to regular Tuesday/Friday posts on Friday.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Release Date: October 1, 2011
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
By Vicki Lewis Thompson, Jill Shalvis, Julie Kenner
Release Date: November 1, 2011
The Christmas Set-Up by Jill Shalvis
The New Year's Deal by Julie Kenner
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Friday, October 14, 2011
When I google “romance novel blogs,” I get almost nine million hits; “romance novel message boards” adds another million plus. In addition to reviews, the romance forum at Amazon has over a thousand threads, and B &N offers Heart to Heart (a romance blog), Romantic Reads (a message board), and Reading Romance (a monthly column by Eloisa James). Then, there are publisher-sponsored sites such as Heroes and Heartbreakers (Macmillan), Pocket After Dark, Avon Romance, Romance at Random, and Harlequin Blog. And in all these places--and more--readers and writers are talking good and bad about romance novels—and exerting influence.
I respect bloggers who choose to review books that fail to meet their criteria for good books, but I prefer talking about books I’m glad I read. Not every book I review is a five star read, but those I review or include in lists on special topics are all books that I believe are worth the time and dollars I’ve invested in them. I may address disappointments or weaknesses that I see in a book, but my overall take will be positive. So call me a Pollyanna if you will. I have been called worse things. :) But if I talk about a book and give you the title and author, be prepared for me to recommend the book. I reserve my negative comments for private discussions. When someone comments here or elsewhere that he or she has read and enjoyed a book I recommended, I am delighted. I don't think I'd experience the same pleasure if someone said he or she had avoided a book to which I'd given one or two stars.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
By Various Authors
Publisher: Random House/Ballantine
Release Date: October 11, 2011
Jane Austen Made Me Do It, subtitled Original Stories Inspired by Literature’s Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart, is a collection of original short stories edited by Laurel Ann Nattress of Austenprose. Nattress asked the authors to “stay within the theme of exploring Austen’s philosophies of life and love by reacquainting readers with characters from her novels or introducing original stories inspired by her ideals.” Contributors include Pamela Aidan, Elizabeth Aston, Stephanie Barron, Carrie Bebris, Jo Beverley, Diana Birchall, Frank Delaney & Diane Meier, Monica Fairview, Amanda Grange, Syrie James, Janet Mullany, Jane Odiwe, Beth Pattillo, Alexandra Potter, Myretta Robens, Jane Rubino & Caitlen Rubino Bradway, Maya Slater, Margaret Sullivan, Adriana Trigiani, Laurie Viera Rigler, Lauren Willig, and debut author Brenna Aubrey, Grand Prize winner of a short story contest sponsored by Ballantine Books, Austenprose, and The Republic of Pemberley. The overall quality of the collection is high, and rare will be the reader who fails to find a few favorites to delight an Austen-loving heart.
Friday, October 7, 2011
I was something of a misfit that summer. Although I am a woman of average height, at ten I was suddenly taller than most of my friends, awkward and uncomfortable with my new inches and with the new protuberances on my chest. Avoiding neighborhood gatherings at the swimming pool and on our makeshift softball field, I retreated into books where I gained the invisibility I longed for, even as I resented the easy charm that allowed my younger sister, still in the fairy princess stage, to bask in the approval of the extended family and neighbors. Emily’s Nobody poem became my mantra. I gloried in the kinship that existed between me and this poet who celebrated her own invisibility and pitied the noisy, froggish Somebodies. Jane understood that nobody conundrum too. She said, “I was a discord in Gateshead Hall; I was like nobody there; I had nothing in harmony with Mrs. Reed or her children.” My parents, a hardworking pair who loved me at my most impossible, bless them, were nothing like Mrs. Reed, but they did insist on my forsaking my books occasionally for a swim or a bike ride. Clearly I was misunderstood and out of harmony with my family.
In junior high (no middle schools then) and high school, Jane saved me more than once on book report day when teachers--as lacking in harmony as my parents—refused to let me write about Emilie Loring’s chaste couples or Mazo de la Roche’s Whiteoaks of Jalna. I lacked the vocabulary then to write about the conflict between reason and passion, Rochester as Byronic hero, or Jane as feminist heroine, but I certainly understood the appeal of Rochester’s dangerous love, the pull of the life of service and sacrifice offered by St. John Rivers, the strength of a heroine who remained true to her own code, and the sigh-worthy satisfaction of the sentence “Reader, I married him.”
Jane went with me through college where I performed close readings of favorite scenes from the book and engaged in heated discussions about whether the 1943 movie starring Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine (with a very young Elizabeth Taylor as Helen Burns) made the story too much Rochester’s. [I must note that the Welles-Fontaine film was decades old when I saw it. I’m not that old.] A few years later when I brought Jane into the classrooms where I taught, watching a handful of girls claim the character for their own was a particular delight. In grad school, seduced by literary theory, I argued passionately for Jane’s status as a feminist heroine who rescues both herself and the hero. Later Jane frequently found a spot on my syllabi for undergraduate survey courses. One of my fondest teaching memories remains teaching Jane’s story along with Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (the story of Bertha's early life in the West Indies and her life with her sexually repressed English husband) and The Eyre Affair by Japer Fforde.
I’ve enjoyed watching Jane on the big screen and the small one over the years. However, I know her well enough by now to be certain that the actresses who have portrayed her--Fontaine, Susannah York whose Rochester was George C. Scott in 1970, Charlotte Gainsbourg in Zeffirelli’s 1996 film, Ruth Wilson in the BBC’s 2006 version, and Mia Wasikowska in the 2011 movie—are all too pretty to really be Jane Eyre. The filmmakers like to forget she is plain Jane. But I can forgive them since some of the changes they make please me very well. I ‘m happy that Jane got more than smoldering looks from Rochester (Toby Stephens) in 2006, and I rejoice that her story is too compelling to be truly distorted by screen writers.
Are you a Jane Eyre fan? What’s your favorite movie interpretation?
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Susan Mallery calls her fictional world of Fool’s Gold, California, “The Land of Happy Endings.” The growing cast of appealing, distinctive characters and the uniqueness of Fool’s Gold with its man shortage and the history behind that shortage make this series a standout among the ever-growing subgenre of small-town series. I’m a long-time Susan Mallery fan, but I knew she had hit upon something special with this HQN series when I read the first book, Chasing Perfect, in April 2010. I’m hooked for the duration.
Mallery recently added three more happy endings for citizens of the small town with three books about the Hendrix triplets, younger sisters of Ethan Hendrix, hero of Almost Perfect, (Fool’s Gold Book 2).
Only Mine (July 26, 2011) is the story of Dakota, a psychologist who joins the production staff of a reality show filming in Fool’s Gold to protect the interests and image of the town and Finn Andersson, a pilot from South Salmon, Alaska, who plans to be in Fool’s Gold only long enough to make sure that his twin brothers give up their absurd idea of being contestants on the show and return to complete their final semester of college. I gave Dakota’s story four stars in my review at The Romance Dish in early August. Books 5 and 6 arrived on bookshelves on the heels of Only Mine.
Physically and emotionally scarred by an abusive childhood and an isolated adolescence, Simon is a loner who defines himself by his medical practice, flying all over the world to treat burn victims. He has no family, few friends, and no place he calls home. He is the opposite of Montana with her large, closely connected family, her circle of friends, and her roots in Fool’s Gold. Their differences add to the attraction, but they also magnify the obstacles that stand in the way of an HEA.