Posts Tagged ‘TBR Challenge’

TBR Challenge – Modern Love

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

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. (more…)

TBR Challenge – New to Me Books

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

fairshine I went back to “Sunday” in the Back to School Challenge this month, to read the second of the books I’d chosen for that day.

The prompt was

- Read a book that has in its title the word “Sunday”, “Sun”, “light”, “shine”, “hot, “star” or “day”, or any variation of these words, or a word you think might have a similar connotation.

and I’d chosen a book by the British author, Sylvia Thorpe called Fair Shine the Day, which is a piece of historical fiction with romantic elements set during the time of the English Civil War. This period of English history seems to get a lot less attention than Tudor times, the Regency, or Victorian eras when it comes to historical romance and I can’t quite work out why. There’s plenty of actual history to get one’s teeth into, and of course, that whole Royalist/Puritan divide is, I’d have thought, a romance writer’s dream. (more…)

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

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

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. (more…)

Getting Started on Those 2014 TBR Challenges!

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

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. (more…)

TBR Challenge 2013 – Getting Into the Holiday Spirit?

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

comfortandjoy As we coast into the last month of the 2013 TBR Challenge, we get to one of my favorite categories – holiday romances. Since I was unpacking from a move, I just ended up reading the first holiday tale I encountered – Sandra Madden’s 2001 Christmas romance, Comfort and Joy. I probably should have kept right on digging because this frustrating little book definitely lands squarely in C grade territory for me.

The book has its good points. For starters, I loved the 1870s Boston settings. It’s refreshing at times to have a break from the Regency/Victorian England That Never Was. And since I tend to like romances with characters from different classes, the old money Boston hero and Irish immigrant heroine in this story caught my eye as well. Though acceptance of their romance comes perhaps a bit more easily than it would have in real life, the author does still give some consideration to the prejudices and class tension of the time. (more…)

TBR Challenge – Can’t Escape the Hype

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

exclusivelyyours This month’s TBR Challenge was to find a book that got inescapable buzz. As it turns out, I have had one sitting in my Kindle for ages, waiting for that perfect time to be read. When Carina Press launched back in 2010, one of their debut titles, Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey generated lots of chatter almost from the beginning and it filled my Twitter stream for months. In fact, this title generated so much buzz and so many sales that it ended up being picked up for reissue in print by HQN. As it turns out, it ended up being the perfect companion for me as I sat through my 3 hour glucose test(ah, the joys of pregnancy.) If you like single-title contemporaries, this one is a cute, light-hearted read. I’d give it a B+ for the huge smile it left on my face.

The basic set-up is this: Hero and heroine fall in love in high school. Heroine wants a life outside of small-town New England and she takes off for the West Coast, where she starts to build a career for herself writing for celebrity tabloids. Hero, meanwhile, goes on to become a famous author and also notoriously reclusive in his private life. (more…)

TBR Challenge – Things That Go Bump in the Night

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

everywheresheturns This month we’re reading romantic suspense and paranormals for the TBR Challenge. I’ve been gradually packing up for a move over the past month, so finding a book that (1)fit the category and (2)wasn’t boxed up posed something of a challenge in itself. As a result, I ended up reading the first romantic suspense I came across, Debra Webb’s 2009 release Everywhere She Turns. I don’t recall buying this one and all I can say after reading it is that it wasn’t just an average, run-of-the-mill thriller. This one was bad, even offensively bad at times. If I read this for review, I’d give it a solid D-.

So, what do we get in this story?
– misogynist villain killing women? Check.
– heroine with a chip on her shoulder who has returned home from the big city? Check and check.
– skanky villain sex? Check
– hero from the heroine’s past who might still have the hots for her ? Check (more…)

TBR Challenge 2013: The Wild West

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

daughteroftx For this month’s TBR Challenge, we’re reading Westerns – contemporary or historical. Most of the Westerns in my TBR are historical, but I was in the mood for a little mystery, so I decided the Texas Ranger tie-in of Terri Reed’s 2011 Daughter of Texas would work. This novel is 1st in the multi-author Texas Ranger Justice series from Love Inspired Suspense. LIS seems to do one of these series each year, and I’ll admit that they often suck me in. Each book has its own self-contained romance and mystery, but there is also an overarching suspense plot that winds through all 6 books of the series and doesn’t get solved until the end. When it’s done well, it can be addictive. In this case, I’d say Daughter of Texas starts things off fairly well. I have a few quibbles with the romance and the heroine sometimes drove me a little nuts, but this was still a pleasant enough read, and I’d give it a C+. (more…)

TBR Challenge 2013: Into the RITA Wayback Machine

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

rendezvousatgramercy This month’s theme for the multi-site TBR Challenge had me scratching my head a little. We’re supposed to read a RITA winner or runner-up. Now I have to admit that, at least in recent years, my reading tastes and the RITAs have diverged somewhat. I also noticed as I scrolled down the list of RITA winners that the books I did have from that list were almost all books I’d already read.

Then I got to the real oldies – books I would have been too young to read the first time around. My mother and grandmother both enjoyed Candlelight romances and I’ve ended up with a big box of their former keepers (some people get silver and china, some get antiques, I get old category romances and gothics – no wonder I write on a romance site). Sure enough, I managed to dig out a 1981 novel, winner of the 1982 Golden Medallion for Best Category Historical Romance, entitled Rendezvous at Gramercy by Constance Ravenlock. That’s right. This book goes back so far that they hadn’t even started calling the award the RITA yet. I wasn’t sure what I’d encounter when I read this one but it turned out to be a bit of a gem. I’d probably give it a B. (more…)

TBR Challenge 2013: New-to-Me Author

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

sleepwalker There are so many authors out there that one simply cannot keep up with them all, so finding a book in my TBR pile from an author I’d never read before seemed like an easy way to start this month’s TBR CHallenge.

And it was. Karen Robards has been writing romance for almost as long as I’ve been alive, but somehow I’ve never actually read one of her books. I must have gotten curious at some point because I had her 2012 thriller, Sleepwalker sitting in my stacks of TBR books. Robards’ chase across wintry Michigan has its moments, but it also frustrated me more than a little bit at times. Taken as a whole, I’d call it a pretty uneven and ultimately frustrating read, and I’d give it a C- if it were a review book.

The sleepwalker of the title is the heroine, Micayla Lange, and in the prologue, it’s pretty easy to see why she might have issues. At the age of 11, she sees her mother murdered in the streets of Detroit. Now grown, Micayla(“Mick”) is a police officer and over the holidays she is housesitting at the mansion of a family friend. (more…)