Tale as Old as Time… Our Favourite Beauty and the Beast Stories

When I heard that there was going to be a live-action version of Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson I was incredibly excited. Disney’s cartoon version was a childhood favorite of mine and, even though I was disappointed with the live-action take on Cinderella, I hoped that the the choice to keep the film a musical would help retain some of the original magic.

I saw Beauty and the Beast on opening weekend and I have to say, I loved it. Watson was perfectly cast as the modern Belle, who is just a beautiful as the original, but more strong-willed and inventive. Hearing new takes on the familiar songs brought out the child in me, but I also enjoyed some of the new numbers, particularly the Beast’s heart wrenching song “Evermore”.

Leaving the theater, my first thought (after wanting to download “Evermore” to listen to again) was that I wanted to read something Beauty and the Beast! There are so many fantastic adaptations out there that I knew I could either go […]

AAR Picks the Best of 2014

(This column will not be the only piece we run on the best books of 2014. We will still run a separate Buried Treasures piece and several staff members will be sharing their lists of the best books they read this year.)

Each year, we ask the AAR staff to pick one book as the best romance published this year. Here are our picks for 2014:

MiMaggieMambo in Chinatown by Jean Kwok was my number one read of 2014. I loved the Cinderella nature of the tale, the unique look into Chinese-American culture, the heroine Charlie and her irrepressible spirit and generosity and the gentle, hopeful nature of the love story. So few books do a good job of capturing what it’s like to be a first generation American but this novel, reviewed here,  captured it perfectly.

LeaWILaYWhat I Love About You by Rachel Gibson. These days I tend to […]

Mr. Darcy: Douchebag or Dreamboat? (a new series at AAR)

Welcome to the AAR Douchebag or Dreamboat series, in which AAR staffers take famous literary heroes to trial for perceived slights, misdemeanors and otherwise unsavorybehaviours. Are they a victim of their circumstances, time and/or personality, or are they just plain douchey?

Mr. Darcy:  Imperious Misanthrope or Just a Shy Guy

DB2

 

or

DB1

[…]

By | 2017-06-23T08:30:28+00:00 July 14th, 2014|Categories: AAR Jenna|Tags: , |20 Comments

Summer Resolutions

reading-vintageNew Years Eve is the traditional time for most people to make resolutions; plans they have to improve their lives, old habits they’d like to break, more healthful habits they’d like to adopt. Some people make bucket lists of things they’d like to accomplish or experience over the course of the coming year. This is all well and good, but I’ve never found myself compelled to jump on the New Year resolution bandwagon. Part of this could be my overall feeling that New Years is an overhyped holiday, and after a solid month of holiday merry-making, I really want nothing to do with any of it. […]

By | 2017-06-23T08:30:28+00:00 June 23rd, 2014|Categories: AAR Jenna|Tags: , |8 Comments

It Has a Name: The Comma Splice

Comma Police“Among the signs that more particularly betray the uneducated writer is inability to see when a comma is not a sufficient stop. Unfortunately little more can be done than to warn beginners that any serious slip here is much worse than they will probably suppose, and recommend them to observe the practice of good writers.”

 – H.W. Fowler, The King’s English, 2nd ed.  1908.

It’s been over three decades since I was an elementary school student, so I admit that things could have changed in the years since I learned the basics of proper English punctuation. I also sort-of agree with my husband’s philosophy that, as long as a person is able to clearly get across the message he or she intends to communicate, over-focusing on details such as correct spelling and recognizable sentence structure might make one a fussy, pedantic priss.

That said, I find myself scratching my head at what appears to be complete anarchy when it comes to comma usage by […]

By | 2017-06-23T08:30:29+00:00 May 9th, 2014|Categories: AAR Jenna|Tags: , |61 Comments

Roses are red, violets are blue. Like love poems? Here a few.

love lineBefore romance novels there were love poems. Sometimes sweet, sometimes tender, sometimes raunchy but always intimate and direct. Most love poems are from the author to a specific lover, a genuine communication that wasn’t necessarily intended for commercial  consumption.  That authentic, sincere emotional communication can often capture the essence of love in far fewer lines than a romance novel. And it does so in such a way that it lingers on the mind and tongue in a way that a book often doesn’t. […]

The SA in NA

NA column Image Credit: India Times

A few months ago, I wrote a tongue-in-cheek guide to writing a successful New Adult novel. I wrote this piece after reading yet another book that seemed to follow such a formula as to be suspect, that this Mad Libs method of simply filling in the blanks with different names, locations and minor details had gone beyond the realm of coincidence. While my blog post was meant in fun, I do believe that there is a definite pattern that far too many NA books follow. But if readers are snatching them up in record numbers, who am I to argue with the maxim, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it? […]

By | 2017-06-23T08:30:33+00:00 January 31st, 2014|Categories: AAR Jenna, Defining Romance|13 Comments

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 […]

YA Corner – A Few American Contemporaries

perfectchem 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.

How do we choose our books? First, because this is All About Romance, these novels are all romances or books with strong romantic elements. They are books at least one of us has already read and given a grade above a B. All things being equal, we’ll choose a more obscure book or non-AAR reviewed book over a more recent, buzzed-about one, in the hopes of showing something you haven’t seen before. Within our grade range, we also prioritize books which do something original, like show an unusual setting or feature under-represented characters. We’ll avoid spoilers whenever possible.

Our first YA Corner features American contemporaries. The books we chose this time around are: […]

Adults in Young Adult

YA stack AAR is – and will remain – primarily focused on the adult romance genre, but we often foray into other areas of publishing as books catch our interest that we think might catch yours, too. Young Adult fiction(and New Adult, for that matter) has become a tremendous force over the past decade or so, and many AAR reviewers have been swept up in the wave. In the interest of indulging and sharing our love of YA literature, Caroline Russomanno and Jenna Harper are launching the Young Adult Corner, a series of posts discussing YA titles and topics of interest. So, if there’s anything YA-related that interests you, let us know in the comments.

Perhaps the first step is to talk about what, exactly, makes something a “Young Adult” title. There seems to be much debate, particularly with the rise of the New Adult category. Given the fact that 55% of YA books are purchased by those over 18 (Publishers Weekly), […]

By | 2017-06-23T08:30:35+00:00 November 15th, 2013|Categories: AAR Jenna, Caroline AAR, Reading|Tags: , , |14 Comments