Posts Tagged ‘TBR Challenge’

TBR Challenge 2013: Catching Up

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

onceuponascandal So my assignment for TBR challenge is to catch up on a series I’ve been neglecting. Since I read tons of books and have a tendency to fall off the series wagon midstream, I had so many possible books to read, it was downright mind-boggling! I’ve been craving a historical lately and I generally like Delilah Marvelle, so I decided to dive back into the neglected Scandal series with her 2011 release, Once Upon a Scandal. The promise of lovers reunited (love that plotline!) and a tale set at least partially in Venice appealed to me.

And then I started reading it. (more…)

TBR Challenge 2013: Categorically Speaking

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

Ah, new year…new resolve to dive deep into the TBR for the multi-blog TBR Challenge. This month we’re easing in with short reads (novellas, category books, etc..) and so I went pulled out 2004 release In Like Flynn from Harlequin’s now-defunct Flipside line. I didn’t remember having this book, but as soon as I saw the author’s name I knew immediately why I would have picked it up. Dorien Kelly is the author of Do-Over, which is to this day one of my very favorite lawyer romances. Most romances involving the law center on criminal practice, but I’ve always worked in the civil realm and Do-Over a pitch perfect portrayal of what life in a sizable corporate firm is like. Short on glamor, long on drudgery and intense politics.

With this book, Kelly turns her focus to life in a family-run restaurant chain. Annie Rutherford comes from an overachieving family and while she has an MBA, she’s still the black sheep as she works for a pizza chain in Ann Arbor rather than a silk-stocking investment firm or something of that nature. Annie dreams of showing the owner of the chain how to make it into a franchise, but Mr. Donovan has other ideas – he wants to create an Irish pub like one he enjoyed on vacation. (more…)

TBR Challenge 2012 – Where the Wild Things Are

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

This month’s TBR Challenge read gave me a choice between romantic suspense and paranormal romance. I read a fair amount of suspense (romantic and otherwise) anyway, so I decided to dig into my little stack of romances with random creatures. I came up with Edge of Hunger by Rhyannon Byrd, a 2009 HQN release. This book is first in the ongoing Primal Instinct series. I found it an engaging but rather strange read. I enjoyed the steamy romance and the paranormal worldbuilding is a bit of a twist on the shapeshifter idea. I could spot elements that reminded me of other paranormal series I’ve read, but the author definitely puts an original spin on her world. However, there’s more than a little bit of the crazy and cliched worked in there, too. While I did enjoy parts of this book, I also spent way too much time rolling my eyes and/or cracking up over some of the overwrought wackiness, so in the end I think I’d give this a C+.

TBR Challenge 2012 – And Now for Something Completely Different…

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

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. (more…)

TBR Challenge 2012 – Steaming Up the Place

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

dirty The TBR Challenge theme for August is hot, steamy reads. In a sense, the book I chose, Megan Hart’s Dirty, published by Harlequin Spice in 2007, fits the bill. The story contains plentiful sex scenes, and they certainly are steamy. However, that’s not what stands out most about this book. This story contains some of the most intense plotting and interesting characters I’ve read in ages, and it tackles issues not often encountered in romance of any subgenre. I don’t know why I let this book sit in my TBR so long, but it was an amazing find, and I’d give it an A-, Desert Island Keeper status.

Part of the story’s intensity comes from its narration. The heroine, Elle Kavanaugh, tells her story, and the twists and turns of her complex mind by turns draw sympathy, interest, and sometimes frustration from the reader. (more…)

TBR Challenge 2012 – How Did This Get Here?

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

jadepagoda When I saw this month’s TBR Challenge theme, I started digging in my TBR stacks and was surprised at all the random stuff I found that I could not remember getting. It took me a while to decide on a book to read for the challenge, so in the end, I decided to choose the oldest one I could find in the pile. It’s a gothic from 1992 called The Jade Pagoda and it’s by Marion Clarke, an author I can honestly say I’ve never heard of. It had a UBS receipt from 2006 tucked into it, so obviously it caught my interest somewhere along the way. Looking at it, I couldn’t imagine why.

The cover blurb sounds awful – overwrought mysticism and deep dark secrets meet the Home and Garden channel – and the picture on the cover is not all that enticing either. I can’t help snickering every time I look at the hero, who looks more vampiric than gothic. So what’s it all about? (more…)

TBR Challenge 2012 – Westerns!

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

stjohn Sadly, I missed a month on the TBR Challenge. Covering for a co-worker out on maternity leave left me in survival mode, with not much time for extra reading outside of review books. However, life is settling back to normal and I’m back on the wagon again – and just in time to read a western! I’ve enjoyed several of Cheryl St. John’s books from the Harlequin Historicals line and I knew that she also wrote for the Love Inspired Historicals line. When I saw that this month’s theme, I decided to dig her 2011 inspirational Western, Marrying the Preacher’s Daughter out of the TBR pile and give it a whirl. As with all of her books, it was sweet and cozy, though this one was marred by some editing issues and strange pacing that would make it a B- read for me.


TBR Challenge 2012 – Series Catch-up Edition

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

in_close I’ll admit that this month of the TBR challenge was a hard one for me, as it required me to catch up on a series I’ve neglected. I have almost an embarrassment of riches in my TBR pile as I have a bad habit of starting series and not finishing. Since I really wanted to finish a series, I picked 2011′s In Close by Brenda Novak because it was last in the series. Well that, and I was in the mood for good suspense, which is exactly what I got. I had enjoyed the previous books in this trilogy, but I think this one was my favorite. Were I reading it for review, it would get a B.

In Close is a lovers reunited story, and it’s also a tale about a fairly ordinary small-town woman who stumbles into one heck of a conspiracy. Fifteen years ago, Claire O’Toole’s mother Alana went missing and it’s pretty easy to see from the beginning of this book that the disappearance sent Claire’s world into something of a tailspin. Instead of going off to college, Claire has stayed in Pineview, Montana, where she operates a beauty shop and helps her wheelchair-bound sister. Haunted by the loss of her mother, Claire still returns to her painting studio every six months or so. Claire had always wondered what happened to her mother, but it wasn’t until her husband’s mysterious death, about a year before this book begins, that she really starts looking into things.

TBR Challenge – A Recommended Read

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

cotillion After one of my columns bemoaning discussing the rise of the light Regency, I got several emails from those who worried about me. And no, dearest emailer, I don’t torment small animals in my free time. I actually rescue cats and volunteer at the SPCA and – yikes! I’m a cute little urchin or reformed pickpocket servant away from being a Regency heroine! All of that aside, one kind soul wrote to suggest that I read Cotillion by Georgette Heyer. She described it as “the best of Regency romps, funny and clever at once.” Since I already had this book in my TBR pile(s), I decided to take it on for this month’s portion of the TBR Challenge.

I’ve loved a number of Georgette Heyer’s novels, so I had high hopes for this one. However, after Chapter One, I started to fear that this would be rough going. The book certainly seemed light and capery. However, it also brims over with inscrutable Regency-esque slang and the only characters who seemed to have much personality were the unpleasant ones. The basic set-up is this: Matthew Penicuik is a very wealthy old miser. He has called his great-nephews to his drafty old country house so that they can learn the terms of his will. Penicuik has decided to leave all of his wealth to his ward, Kitty Charing, on the condition that she choose and marry one of the nephews. This news prompts proposals from an uptight rector and an impoverished Irish earl who proposes more out of terror of his mother’s wrath than any real desire for Kitty.

TBR Challenge – Category Romance

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

doubledeception There’s always a TBR pile or several to be had at my house, so I decided to sign on for the 2012 TBR Challenge. This month’s theme is category romance, which made things easy for me. I’m a bit of a category romance hoarder, so I have a box of them in my guest room. To choose this month’s book, I just reached into the box and randomly picked – Double Deception (Harlequin Romantic Suspense, #1667) by Merline Lovelace. It’s an August 2011 title, so it hasn’t been aging in the TBR box as long as some.

When I started the book, I didn’t quite know what to expect. I’ve read a number of Lovelace’s books and my experiences have been all over the map. She’s written some wonderful historicals set in unusual times and places as well as romantic suspense set all over the globe. However, she’s also had a few books that didn’t really work for me. In the end, Double Deception was probably one that I’d grade at C+. It’s a bit better than the average, but still rather uneven.