Cycling in the city

bike-fashionConfession: I’m completely lazy.  If I do something, it’s because I enjoy it, not because I feel I should or it’s good for me.  So when it comes to physical activity, I have to find something I like and enjoy, or else I won’t do it.

Considering how expensive public transit is getting in T.O., and considering I refuse to drive downtown, the most sensible decision that combines transport and fitness is cycling.  And I figure if it’s 2 hours round trip, that’s a pretty excellent fitness regime. In the month or so since I’ve gotten back into it, here are some random cycling notes:

  • It’s scary.  It’s soooooooooooo scary.  Toronto is not the most cycling friendly city in the world, and when you have to cross a 16-lane highway into the bargain, it just complicates things on a whole other level.
  • Scariest part of all?  The pedestrians.  And the other cyclers.   […]
By | September 29th, 2012|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Jean AAR, Real Life|Tags: , , , , |8 Comments

News and Musings

Sometimes, instead of one long blog post, I find myself with lots of smaller things I want to share. Today is one of those days.
– Earlier this week, I read an interesting piece in Forbes comparing Harlequin with Harvard Business Publishing. What could they have in common? Well, according to Nick Morgan, both have put lots of time and effort into community building. There are folks that just buy the occasional book here and there, but the most dedicated readers I know love to talk about books, so I’m all for having communities where we can do that. Reader-oriented sites and publisher sites obviously offer different things, but I know I’ve visited both and I suspect many readers have as well. Personally, I first discovered the online book world just as I was emerging from the free time-less fog known as law school and I’ve so enjoyed the people and ideas I’ve encountered there. Things have evolved a lot, particularly in the past few years, and I’ll be curious to see where publishers go in their community building. I think Harlequin has a headstart on most, but I see others getting into it as well, with blogs, Facebook pages and sites such as Heroes and Heartbreakers.
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By | September 28th, 2012|Categories: Book news, Lynn AAR, Publishing|Tags: , , , |9 Comments

Food Network

cupcake wars I have been smugly proud of the fact that I limit my TV viewing. I have certain shows I watch and when I am in the mood for a television fix, they are readily available on the DVR. However, the last few weeks my DVR has been a waste land. Many favorites have not yet started. Their summer substitutes have already ended. Enter Food Network. One evening while sitting on my sofa, clicking through literally a hundred channels looking for something to watch, I stumbled upon Cupcake Wars. On this show, cupcake bakeries compete for an opportunity to cater a high profile event and win $10,000.00 dollars. Let the yummy battle begin! […]

By | September 28th, 2012|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Cooking, Maggie AAR, Television|Tags: , , , |3 Comments

Sometimes Lavender, Sometimes Purple: A Love Affair With Adjectives and Adverbs

While many of you are aware of “copywriting boobos”, I tend to be more aware of descriptive information. I want it to seep into my subconscious setting the scene, showing me the action but not be a part of the story. I think of adjectives and adverbs as the structure or foundation of a novel. You know that it there and it makes an impression but it doesn’t scream out at you.

I am not saying that stark and unadorned writing doesn’t have its place, but adjectives and adverbs are wonderful things when used correctly. They take you from, “See Leigh run,” to “See exhausted but unwavering Leigh stagger wheezily to the finish line.” They change a simple black and white thought by adding vibrant color to it(albeit sometimes purple color), and crafting an image that comes alive in our mind. And having stories come alive is of critical importance.
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By | September 26th, 2012|Categories: Books, Leigh AAR|Tags: , , , , |36 Comments

Earworm of the day: Marathon Kiss by Marianne Faithfull

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoWcgP7SUD4 For me, Marianne Faithfull is a true “mood” musician. Sometimes, I don’t listen to her for months, next I take an album of hers and listen to it non-stop. […]

By | September 25th, 2012|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Music, Rike Horstmann|Tags: , , |1 Comment

Is This Our Collective Fantasy?

My workout playlist runs to guilty pleasures, and Whatever You Like is among the guiltiest. I prefer this more indie, Joan as Policewoman version to the TI original. In case you’re not interested in listening – or unfamiliar with the words – the message in a nutshell is “I find you attractive and want to sleep with you, so I will buy you stuff. Expensive stuff.”

I got to thinking about this during the summer when I read two books with uber-rich heroes back to back. Both of them are household names: Roarke from the long running J.D. Robb series, and Johnny come lately Christian Grey from Fifty Shades. Roarke is of course the classic. He owns half the planet and plenty of stuff off the planet. In the earlier books, he was always working, wheeling, and dealing. Lately he seems to have enough time to own the world and serve as expert consultant, civilian on Eve’s cases. It’s a nice gig, if you can get it.
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By | September 24th, 2012|Categories: AAR Blythe, Heroes, Romance reading|31 Comments

Pandora's Box: A Lady Never Lies

ladyneverlies And Pandora’s Box is back again! This time around, Blythe Barnhill and Jean Wan are taking on a European historical by debut author Juliana Grey. In A Lady Never Lies, Lady Morley has fled to Italy to escape creditors and there she meets inventor Phineas “Finn” Burke. Each of the two, and their traveling companions, are staying in a remote castle in Tuscany. With an unusual setting and a backstory involving the invention of motorcars, this book stood out among recent historical romance offerings.

Blythe: I chose A Lady Never Lies by debut author Juliana Gray for two reasons: 1) she was a brand new European Historical author I’d never tried and 2) I happened to have two copies on hand. Well, from my end, it was a happy accident. I really loved the book. I had no idea that it was set in 1890 – in Italy, no less – and featured a hero who designed electric cars. I am predisposed to like novelty, so this suited me down to the ground. Then I ended up liking the hero and heroine as well. But what did you think?
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By | September 21st, 2012|Categories: AAR Blythe, Jean AAR, Pandora's Box|Tags: , , |1 Comment

TBR Challenge 2012 – And Now for Something Completely Different…

indian_bride I read across a wide variety of genres, so choosing a non-romance book for this month’s TBR Challenge proved rather tricky. In the end, I went with a mystery, because I really wanted to get back into Karin Fossum’s Inspector Sejer series. Set in rural Norway, this series follows Inspector Sejer on his investigations and stands apart from many other mystery series in that it focuses much more on the psychology and the human side of the various crimes presented. The Indian Bride comes 4th in the portion of the series that is available in English, but it works well as a standalone. Though it starts off slowly, this book still holds the attention and as it progresses, it becomes almost compulsively readable. It’s not the most exquisitely perfect mystery I’ve ever read, but I’d give it a very solid B+.

The book centers around Gunder Jomann, a shy, simple salesman from a small Norwegian village. The middle-aged bachelor Gunder is spellbound by the beauty of the Indian women he sees in books and finally one day he decides to travel to India and hopefully meet a woman to marry. He lives simply, so he has enough money saved up for the trip and he even purchases a beautiful silver filigree brooch to give his future bride. […]

By | September 19th, 2012|Categories: Lynn AAR, Reading|Tags: , , |2 Comments

On vacation in Southern Bavaria, part 2

12Sta249The best part of my recent trip was a visit to Rose Island or Roseninsel, as it’s called in German, in the Starnberger See. There is only the one small islet in the whole of the rather big lake, and it’s a truly magical place.

The first people settled there in the Stone Age, and from one point at the shore, you can see the remains of their stilt houses in the water (when it’s clear enough). I was fortunate enough to be able to see them, but taking a good picture didn’t work!

King Maximilian II of Bavaria bought the island from a local fisherman, and used it as a summer retreat for himself and his family. […]

By | September 19th, 2012|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Rike Horstmann|Tags: , |2 Comments

Speaking of Audiobooks: Julie James Interview and Giveaway!

9780425246955_AboutThatNig_CV.indd After getting a taste of the winning combination of author Julie James and narrator Karen White with Penguin’s release of Just the Sexiest Man Alive in 2010, romance audio fans have been begging for more from this talented team. After all, Julie’s A Lot Like Love won the Best Contemporary Romance award in AAR’s 2012 Annual Reader Poll and Something About You won that same award in 2011. And since Karen’s narration of Just the Sexiest Man Alive, she has been praised throughout the romance audio community for her performances.

Tantor Audio delighted those same fans by releasing Something About You this past June followed by A Lot Like Love in August. About That Night releases today and we decided that’s reason for a celebration. […]