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12-in-2012 AAR Reading Challenge
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karat



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 382

PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2012 8:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The High Noon Challenge (new-to-you authors)

Slightly Married by Mary Balogh
My first impression of Mary Balogh's writing was not good. I tried to read Lord Carew's Bride and for some reason or other I could not finish.
However, after seeing many positive reviews about Slightly Dangerous, the 6th book in Balogh's Bedwyn series, I thought I should give it a try. The problem is, I am a usually a "read-in-order" type, and also I learned that the hero in Slightly Dangerous played an important role in the previous books in the series. Therefore, to get to Slightly Dangerous, I had to start with Slightly Married, and it took me a couple of years to finally pick it from my TBR. Little did I know I was in for a treat!
Aidan Bedwyn and Eve Morris embark on a marriage of convenience to protect the things they value the most: Aidan marries for his honor, to fulfilling a promise he makes to Eve's brother that he will protect her after the brother's death; Eve marries to keep the family property in her hands and be able to provide for several people that depend on her. They, of course, fall in love, and have to fight to several obstacles to have a true marriage: the resistance from the Bedwyn family (led by Wulfric Bedwyn, Duke of Bewcastle), their different backgrounds, and their belief that by staying apart they will be doing what is right for the other person.
Both Aidan and Eve are wonderful characters, but I specially liked Eve. Her strength and courage led to great scenes, particularly when she was dealing with the Bedwyn family. And the development of her relationship with Aidan was great. Finally, Wulfric Bedwyn is a great secondary character. I am eager to see him in the next books, and finally as a hero in Slightly Dangerous.

A Lady Awakened by Cecilia Grant
As Eve in Slightly Married, Martha Russell has to take extreme measures to keep a property in her hands and be able to protect other people. Her path, however, is less "traditional" than embarking in a marriage of convenience, as Eve did. Martha needs to get pregnant fast, to be able to pass of her child as the heir of her recently deceased husband. She manages to convince her neighbor, Theo Mirkwood, to help her.
I loved this book too! I was enthralled by Martha and Theo's story. The author has a great voice, and it felt fresh. And she showed great creativity - I really liked how she wrapped up all the plots to create the HEA. I believe this is Cecilia Grant's first book and she really had a wonderful start.

The Twelve Days of Christmas Challenge: Done!
The High Noon Challenge: 1 to go
The Jury Challenge: Done!
The Clock Challenge - Variation: 7 to go
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karat



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 382

PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2012 9:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Clock Challenge - Variation
2 books set in the 5th – 16th centuries (401-1600)


This is All I Ask by Lynn Kurland (Set in 1249)
When I first started reading romance novels, my favorite books were medievals. Over time, though, my preferences changed, and I had not read a medieval story in a long time. I was glad to use this challenge to encourage me to try a medieval romance again. And I am happy to say that I enjoyed this one.
Coincidentally, as in Slightly Married, the hero, Christopher of Blackmour, decides to marry the heroine, Gillian of Warewick, because of a promise he made to the heroine's brother before his death. But there are no other similarities between the two books. In This is All I Ask, both the hero and the heroine have a much more tormented past, and have to deal with a very different set of issues: Christopher is blind, and fights very hard to not depend on anyone. Gillian's father used to beat her, and she is constantly afraid. Together, Chris and Gillian heal each other.
I later realized that this book was part of a series, but I felt no problems in reading it as a stand alone. Very good book.

The Twelve Days of Christmas Challenge: Done!
The High Noon Challenge: 1 to go
The Jury Challenge: Done!
The Clock Challenge - Variation: 6 to go
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Maggie AAR
Site Admin


Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 2490

PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2012 5:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jury Challenge 2

Futuristic

Celebrity in Death J.D. Robb

A movie is being made about one of Eve's more interesting cases and she finds herself spending a social evening with the cast, directors and producers.
It should be a nice break from murder but wait! Someone dies in the roof top pool. Is it murder or a tragic accident? Even Eve will be surprised when she discovers just what is behind this case.

I liked it. It's the same old formula but that formula still works for me.

maggie b.

New Release Calendar Challenge 9 down, 3 to go
The Jury Challenge 2, 11 down 1 to go

The Jury Challenge, 12 down, 0 to go
The Dime A Dozen Round 2, 12 down, 0 to go
The Hign Noon Challenge, 12 down, 0 to go
Dime a Dozen Challenge, 12 down, 0 to go
The Calendar Challenge 12 down, 0 to go
The Clock Challenge: 12 down, 0 to go

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She is too fond of books and it has turned her brain. - Louisa May Alcott
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Maggie AAR
Site Admin


Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 2490

PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2012 5:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The New Release Calendar Challenge

October - Against the Tide Elizabeth Camden

Look for my review coming soon of this fantastic tale about opium in the US during the late 1800's. Loved it.

maggie b.

New Release Calendar Challenge 10 down, 2 to go
The Jury Challenge 2, 11 down 1 to go

The Jury Challenge, 12 down, 0 to go
The Dime A Dozen Round 2, 12 down, 0 to go
The Hign Noon Challenge, 12 down, 0 to go
Dime a Dozen Challenge, 12 down, 0 to go
The Calendar Challenge 12 down, 0 to go
The Clock Challenge: 12 down, 0 to go

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She is too fond of books and it has turned her brain. - Louisa May Alcott
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library addict



Joined: 06 Dec 2008
Posts: 1519

PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 10:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Counterclockwise Challenge: Cindy Gerard
The Outlaw’s Wife:
I really disliked the beginning of this book. The heroine becomes convinced the hero has been cheating on her, so she drugs him and shaves his head. The hero mopes around for a few weeks, then decides to kidnap her since she won’t talk to him Rolling Eyes This scenario was totally repulsive to me, but the author manages to make it work by making it clear the heroine is never scared and there’s no doubt he’d take her home if she’d decided she didn’t want to try and work on their problems. The hero’s actions before the kidnapping seem out of character and designed only to set the plot in motion. But afterwards the book concentrates on them learning to talk to one another again and really working through their problems both individually and as a couple. I ended up quite liking them both and rooting for their HEA.

Marriage, Outlaw Style: I liked h/h, but they were both so stubborn and prideful. They continually jump to conclusions about what the other is thinking and refuse to be honest or actually talk to each other, so the book was very frustrating. Also, I think it was meant to be humorous but I found it annoying that the hero kept thinking to himself and occasionally actually calling the heroine a shrew. Neither of them grovels enough in the end.

The Outlaw Jesse James: The hero is extremely self-centered. While he acknowledges this fact, it doesn’t make it less annoying. The heroine is too selfless much of the time. I didn’t really dislike them, I just found their story rather bland. A somewhat disappointing end to this trilogy.

Lone Star Prince: This was a secret baby story where I thought the heroine didn’t have a valid reason for keeping their son a secret from his father. This book was also part of a multi-author continuity series. Though there are numerous info-dump type mentions of the other characters’ stories, overall I didn’t have any problems reading this book without having read the others. The hero is the one doing the groveling at the end, which seemed unfair. The parts of the book set in Texas worked better for me than the parts set in the fictional country the heroine is the princess of.

A Dime a Dozen Challenge: 12 down 0 to go…
The Duodenary: Category Romance Challenge 12 down 0 to go…
The High Noon Challenge: 12 down 0 to go…
The Clock Challenge: 12 down 0 to go…
The Counterclockwise Challenge (Marie Ferrarella): 12 down 0 to go…
The Calendar Challenge: 12 down 0 to go…
The New Release Calendar Challenge: 10 down 2 to go…
The Counterclockwise Challenge (Cindy Gerard): 8 down 4 to go…
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karat



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 382

PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2012 8:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Clock Challenge - Variation
2 books set in the 18th century (1701-1800)


The Prince of Midnight by Laura Kinsale (Set in 1772)

I am once again amazed by Laura Kinsale's ability to create a very beautiful and unique story.
The hero, S. T. Maitland is characterized in the book descriptions as a "legendary highwayman" or as a "has-been highwayman". However, he is much more than that: he is a brilliant sword master, has a extraordinary talent with animals, and is a talented painter. But his main quality is his big heart, and that is what makes him take care of the heroine, Leigh Strachan, since the day they met, and later on it is what propels him to help her in her quest.
Leigh is a tormented heroine, who seeks revenge against the man who destroyed her family. She is a very cold person at the beginning of the story, which might make it hard for some readers to like her at all, but once the story moves forward I felt impossible not to empathize and cheer for her.
The story has many plot twists, and it kept me engrossed all the time. And in addition to the characters and the story we have Laura Kinsale's beautiful writing style. All together, these elements make a really outstanding book.

The Twelve Days of Christmas Challenge: Done!
The High Noon Challenge: 1 to go
The Jury Challenge: Done!
The Clock Challenge - Variation: 5 to go
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Sandlynn



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 1834
Location: Washington, D.C.

PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2012 9:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For the Dime a Dozen challenge, I finished the second book in the romantic suspense category.

I read Marilyn Pappano's Passion and it's pretty good. See the ratings here:
http://www.amazon.com/Passion-Marilyn-Pappano/dp/0446601179/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1351392246&sr=1-2&keywords=passion+by+marilyn+pappano

A good part of the beginning of the book is set "on the road" and in motels which resemble "cabin romances" that are my least favorite books. As such, I slogged through the first part of this story. Although I thought the plot was quite good, my dislike of the subgenre settings affected my enjoyment. In the second half of the book -- once they got off the road -- I flew through it, eating it up.

To put it simply, the plot involves a bestselling, reclusive writer whose identity is stolen by a sick admirer … admirer of what or whom, I won't say. It's up to this reclusive author to prove his identity has been stolen … and he involves others in this effort, including a woman who works for his agent and is his biggest fan.

Excluding the road/cabin aspect of the romance, I'd give the rest of this book a solid "B."
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Maggie AAR
Site Admin


Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 2490

PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2012 8:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Jury Challenge

Futuristic

Delusion in Death
J. D. Robb

Eve solves a case revolving around a cold, vicious mass murderer.

maggie b.


New Release Calendar Challenge 10 down, 2 to go The Jury Challenge 2, 12 down 0 to go
The Jury Challenge, 12 down, 0 to go
The Dime A Dozen Round 2, 12 down, 0 to go
The Hign Noon Challenge, 12 down, 0 to go
Dime a Dozen Challenge, 12 down, 0 to go
The Calendar Challenge 12 down, 0 to go
The Clock Challenge: 12 down, 0 to go

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She is too fond of books and it has turned her brain. - Louisa May Alcott
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karat



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 382

PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2012 1:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Clock Challenge - Variation
2 books set in the 20th century (1901-2000)


Don't Forget to Smile by Kathleen Gilles Seidel (Set in 1986)
Seidel is the author of a couple of my favorite romance books (Till the Stars Fall and Again, for instance), but since she (a) no longer writes romance and (b) has a short and sometimes hard to find backlist, I like to save my unread Seidel books for moments when I know I will be able to enjoy them. So Don't Forget to Smile had been siiting in TBR for a long time before I finally picked it up for this challenge.
Seidel did not dissapoint. What a nice book! Character development is one of Siedel's greatest talents, and the people in this book felt quite real, with problems, emotions, reactions and attitudes I could totally understand and relate with. This book is about much more than a romantic couple. It is about two very different families, it is about a town, careers and many other themes. But at the same time, the romance is at the center of everything, and is very well written. I loved how the author did the gradual development of the relationship between the hero and the heroine. Well, time to try and find another Seidel for my TBR!

The Twelve Days of Christmas Challenge: Done!
The High Noon Challenge: 1 to go
The Jury Challenge: Done!
The Clock Challenge - Variation: 4 to go
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Sandlynn



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 1834
Location: Washington, D.C.

PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2012 8:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For the Dime a Dozen challenge, I read After Caroline by Kay Hooper which fits into the paranormal category.

Really enjoyed this book. To be honest, it read like an old-fashioned cozy. A murder mystery. There certainly was romance as well. In fact, there was romance involving a number of couples, but the thread holding the story together is an accidental death that our heroine is convinced happened under suspicious circumstances. The trigger for our heroine is the onslaught of some alarming, unrelenting dreams about a second woman who went through a similar horrific experience, but had the misfortune to die because of it. Our heroine, who survives her accident, is compelled to seek out info on this dead woman, and ends up conducting her own amateur murder investigation with the help of an attractive sheriff who is somewhat suspicious of her. The book also includes a town full of characters who I was constantly running through my mind as potential suspects. Good story. I'd give the book a "B+"

With the completion of this book, I just have one more to read to finish off this challenge. The last book on my list is a second "young adults" novel: Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freedman. I'm not one who likes novels written by a tag team of authors, but this one comes with some good reviews and recommendations, so looking forward to it.
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karat



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 382

PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 9:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The High Noon Challenge (new-to-you authors)

The Real Deal by Lucy Monroe
Amanda Zachary is a young executive who identifies the opportunity of a merger between her company and a competitor organization (Brant Computer). After convincing her bosses and also Brant Computer's CEO (and one of the main shareholders), Eric Brant, Amanda has only one obstacle ahead: Simon Brant, Eric's cousin, also one of the main shareholders. Simon is a genius geek, and responsible for the design of most of Brant Computer's products. Simon is strongly opposed to the merger, and Amanda has to start a campaign to try and convince him. They end up falling in love with each other.
I ended up with mixed feelings about this book. The story is engrossing, and the characters likable enough, but there were way to many misunderstandings for my taste. And although I liked Amanda, her insecurities about her own value as a woman became tiresome after a while.

The Twelve Days of Christmas Challenge: Done!
The High Noon Challenge: Done!
The Jury Challenge: Done!
The Clock Challenge - Variation: 4 to go
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karat



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 382

PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 10:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The High Noon Challenge (new-to-you authors) - Done!

Angel's Blood by Nalini Singh - Favorite book in this challenge
Sweet Talk by Susan Mallery
Spotlight by Carole Bellacera
Behind Closed Doors by Shannon McKenna
Her Best Friend by Sarah Mayberry - Least Favorite book in the challenge
Overseas by Beatriz Williams
The Warlord Wants Forever by Kresley Cole - Favorite Paranormal (after Angel's Blood)
Fallen from Grace by Laura Leone - Favorite Contemporary
Extreme Exposure by Pamela Clare
Sligthly Married by Mary Balogh
A Lady Awakened by Cecilia Grant - Favorite Historical
The Real Deal by Lucy Monroe
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D Rogers



Joined: 31 Jul 2009
Posts: 157

PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2012 12:35 am    Post subject: Completed the Clock Challenge (variation) Reply with quote

Hi,

I thought I would share with you what I read for the challenge. I'm looking to see if some of these fit with other challenges (to do another one by the end of the year).

2 books set in the 5th – 16th centuries (401-1600).

Mel Starr (Hugh de Singleton)
Ariana Franklin (Mistress of Death)
Anne Stuart (Lord of Danger)

2 books set in the 17th century (1601-1700)

Beverle Graves Myers, Interrupted Aria
Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark


2 books set in the 18th century (1701-1800)
Imogene Robertson, Circle of Shadows
Andrew Miller, Pure

2 books set in the 19th century (1801-1900)

Mary Robinette Kowal, Glamour in Glass
Charles Finch, An East End Murder
Robin Adair, Death and the Running Patterer

2 books set in the 20th century (1901-2000)

Charles Todd, The Confession
Charles Todd, An Unmarked Grave
Simone St. James, The Haunting of Maddy Clarke
Laura Moriarity, The Chaperone

2 books set in the 21st century (2001-2100)

Karen Walker, Age of Miracles
Peter Robinson, Before the Poison (set in both the 20th and 21st century)
Qiu Xiaolong, Don’t Cry, Tai Lake


I'm trying to double the number of books for each period, as well as break away from only reading romances and mysteries.

Denise
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library addict



Joined: 06 Dec 2008
Posts: 1519

PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2012 9:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The New Release Calendar Challenge:
November – The Perfect Hope by Nora Roberts:
The last book in her Inn Boonsboro trilogy was okay. There’s not much conflict in the story and what there is of it is soon resolved. The h/h are both likeable. I enjoyed the interactions between the hero and his family and the heroine and her friends. I’m not a fan of the ghost story in this trilogy, but it was better integrated in this book than the first one.

December – Christmas Confidential by Marilyn Pappano and Linda Conrad: “Holiday Protector” by Pappano is part of her Copper Lake series. At least one of the earlier books is still in my TBR pile, but this worked as a stand-alone story. It starts off strong with the heroine getting out of prison after 14 months and the hero tracking her down in an attempt to find the money she embezzled. The timeline for the back story doesn’t quite work and the subplot with the villain is clunky and too easily resolved. But the h/h have a nice chemistry. “A Chance Reunion” by Conrad is also apparently part of a series (Chance, Texas). I definitely felt the complex family histories of the h/h were confusing so may have benefited from reading the previous books first. The story has an intriguing start and I wanted to like it. But I didn’t like the heroine keeping their child a secret from the hero and didn’t buy her reasons. The ending is very rushed.

A Dime a Dozen Challenge: 12 down 0 to go…
The Duodenary: Category Romance Challenge 12 down 0 to go…
The High Noon Challenge: 12 down 0 to go…
The Clock Challenge: 12 down 0 to go…
The Counterclockwise Challenge (Marie Ferrarella): 12 down 0 to go…
The Calendar Challenge: 12 down 0 to go…
The New Release Calendar Challenge: 12 down 0 to go…
The Counterclockwise Challenge (Cindy Gerard): 8 down 4 to go…
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Sandlynn



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 1834
Location: Washington, D.C.

PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 7:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As of today, I completed the Dime a Dozen challenge! Yea!

The book I read, for the young adult category, was Mrs. Mike by Benedict & Nancy Freedman. Written in the 1940's, its sexually very tame. In fact, the sex is non-existent, but the story makes up for it with flashes of violence and disturbing events that one might expect in a book set in the great white, wilderness of the Canadian north in the early 1900's. Wink To be honest, I'm not a fan of rugged, outdoor living without the comforts of a modern day lodge, however, the story was very well written. It's fascinating learning about the native indians, the settlers, and the folktales and folkways they both use and create to help them through a tough way of life. I liked the book a lot, but -- although uplifting and life affirming -- I can't say I enjoyed all the sorrows the characters had to deal with. After this little gem, I think I need a good laugh!

Anyway, I'd give the book an "A."

************

To summarize, here are the books I read for this challenge:

Contemporary
Sophie’s Secret by Tara Taylor Quinn
Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

Historical
My Darling Caroline by Adele Ashworth
Dream of Me by Josie Litton

Paranormal
The Starry Child by Lynn Hanna
After Caroline by Kay Hooper

Romantic Comedy
The Ten Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn
Too Good to Be True by Kristan Higgins

Romantic Suspense
Open Season by Linda Howard
Passion by Marilyn Pappano

Young Adult
A Company of Swans by Eva Ibbotson
Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freedman
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