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11 in 2011: Two Ways to Play
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karat



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 400

PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 7:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Third book in the challenge:
At the Movies!
Category 1: New Releases (aka New-to-Me Authors)

Take a Chance on Me by Susan Donovan

Quote:
From Amazon: Thomas Tobin-an undercover investigator of paid "hits"-discovers little Hairy trembling near the body of a key informant. Feeling responsible for the man's death, the usually cynical Thomas takes Hairy home, then consults animal behaviorist Emma Jenkins to help fix the dog's decidedly weird behavior. Emma responds immediately to Thomas's blinding sex appeal, but her recent divorce and her adoption of her best friend's orphaned daughter leave her with little energy for romance.


That was the best book I've read for the challenge so far. Thomas and Emma are a great couple, and Hairy... what a dog! Funny book, very entertaining.
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library addict



Joined: 06 Dec 2008
Posts: 1555

PostPosted: Fri Feb 11, 2011 5:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

At the Movies Challenge:
Category 2: Now Showing - Location with a Twist
Ancestral location book (Scotland) - Sea of Suspicion by Toni Anderson:
I had some issues with this book. The beginning is info-dumpy, the set-up involves a whole bunch of coincidences, and the killer was obvious fairly early on. The author makes a habit of naming all the songs playing which got old for me really quick. But despite the sometimes clunky writing and an unconvincing secondary romance, I found the story compelling enough to read straight through. The hero is out for revenge and willing to use the unsuspecting heroine to get it. Not in the usual I’ll-seduce-my-enemy’s-daughter/sister/wife kind of way, but I know the revenge trope is a hot button issue for some. (Don’t think I’m giving anything away as that’s spelled out in the blurb).

I loved the Scottish setting. And I like the fact that British slang is used, the hero is a Detective Inspector, 999 is used to call emergency, and all the touches that made the setting authentic (and that the text wasn’t “dumbed down”/changed as some books set in foreign countries are for US audiences). Once the plot got going, I enjoyed the book.

At the Movies Challenge: 3 down, 8 to go…
The Whittler Challenge: 3 down, 8 to go…
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Maggie AAR



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 2500

PostPosted: Fri Feb 11, 2011 5:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

At the Movies Challenge

Category: On Location with a Twist
Location where you grew up: St Louis MO

Fatal Judgment by Irene Hannon

U.S. Marshal Jake Taylor doesn't want his latest protection duty. Judge Liz Michaels drove his best friend to suicide and having to spend his time protecting her will put a real strain on his professionalism. Then he gets to know Liz better and realizes maybe his perception on the past might not be perfect. As things heat up on the job, will things also heat up between Liz and Jake?

One of the positives of this book is that the author does know her location. She had the culture, surrounding area, habits of the natives - all were just right.

This romance was very low key, though. Even the suspense didn't seem all that heated. And in the end, the actions of the villain were pretty unbelievable. In Harm's Way, her book before this one, is on my keeper shelf. This went in my UBS bag.

Three debut authors: 2 down, 1 to go
New to Me Time period: Done
On location with a twist: Done
Wild Card: Dinner and a Movie: 2 down, 1 to go
Yet to be determined ultimate challenge: 2 to go

7 out of 11 down

maggie b.
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Sandlynn



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 1854
Location: Washington, D.C.

PostPosted: Fri Feb 11, 2011 10:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am very slow this year. When the challenge began, I was already in the midst of reading one non-challenge book and had started another as well.

So, I just now have completed my first book for the challenge. It's an author who is new to me, but a book that I bought long ago and recommended to others (even though I hadn't read it).

So, first up: "If Andy Warhol Had A Girlfriend," by Alison Pace. Loved it. A fast read. Funny. Interesting background. The person who wrote the book clearly knew something about the setting, i.e., the art world. It was just such an enjoyable, effortless read. It's women's fiction more than romance. Absolutely no sex. Just a very long, very wonderful getting to know you, falling in love type book. Not falling into bed. They should do a Lifetime movie adaptation.

So glad I finally tackled this book.

Now, I have to decide what I'm reading next. May skip to another category as I haven't had time to fully flesh out all the possibilities.
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library addict



Joined: 06 Dec 2008
Posts: 1555

PostPosted: Sun Feb 13, 2011 4:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

TBR Pile Challenge: The Whittler
2 Books that are from an expired line:
The Art of Deception by Nora Roberts (Silhouette Intimate Moments):
This is another book which fits multiple categories in the challenge. Though in may ways older category romances seem dated, they also are often more tightly plotted, have a greater depth of characterization and better “flow” than the current crop of category romances. I’m sure the longer word count is a factor. Despite the obvious twists, I enjoyed this book. The plot is pretty basic, but the characters make it work. I liked the humor in the book, too.

I’m glad the challenge is motivating me to read some of the books which have been in my TBR pile for years.

At the Movies Challenge: 3 down, 8 to go…
The Whittler Challenge: 4 down, 7 to go…
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Maggie AAR



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 2500

PostPosted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 11:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Whittler
3 Books in a Series

Janice Kay Johnson's Lost But Not Forgotten series


Open Secret A
Lost Cause B
Kids By Christmas B+

One of the things I absolutely love about the challenge is that sometimes it helps me find the buried treasures in my own backyard. That was certainly the case here when I picked up the first book in this series and couldn't put it down.

Open Secret

Suzanne Chauvin's family was ripped apart when she was just six years old. Now in her thirties, she determines to right that wrong and sets out to find the brother and sister her aunt and uncle had put up for adoption after her parents died. To that end, she hires Mark, a PI who specializes in adoption cases, to find them. Mark finds the sister Carrie, rather easily and accidentally rips her life apart by telling her she was adopted. Carrie's confrontation with her adoptive parents doesn't go well and she finds herself leaning on Mark and his young son Michael during this traumatic situation. Can the relationship outlast the trauma? Of course it can, this is a romance!

Ms. Johnson does the most amazing job of character building that I have ever seen in a Harlequin writer. She packs a lot into her 300 pages, helping us share these lives so completely you find it hard to let go when done. Michael was perhaps a tad too great a kid but everyone else was realistically drawn and I really appreciated that the reunion wasn't a perfect, easy fit. Everyone had to work for their HEA. Mark and Carrie are a great couple and their romance sweet and warmly sexy. A terrific opener to the trilogy.



Lost Cause


Gary Lindstrom had a rough life from 3 to his midtwenties and now in his late twenties isn't anxious to add the sisters he lost in his adoption to his family. But a near death experience pushes him to make changes and he finds himself driving his Harley across the states to meet his sister Suzanne. He can hardly believe how easy Suzanne is to get to know -or how much he is drawn to her quiet life. Nor could he have imagined starting to fall for Rebecca, the young social worker helping Suzanne in her adoption proceedings.

This was a good story and had some real heart to it but I was disappointed by one fact. Gary, after an abusive childhood, had overcome to be a millionaire. I would have liked to have seen acceptance of a simple mechanic or something rather than him having to be wealthy. Too often in romance wealth = worth. That makes me sad.

Kids by Christmas
made me happier. Smile After ending an abusive marriage, Suzanne Chauvin had rebuilt her life, starting with finding her birth family. Now she wants to add to that family by adopting a child. It's only a bit of surprise when the social worker calls with an emergency situation- a brother and sister needing a home. Suzanne gladly opens up hers and is surprised by how neighbor Tom Stefanec steps up to help, aiding her in finding and moving inexpensive furniture in, getting the kids rooms ready and helping out with the children. Can the neighbor she always thought disdained her actually be the man for her? Of course he can!

This was a really solid story with tons of emotion. I loved how Tom and Suzanne fell in love over the little things. Some creeping questions - like the issue of insurance- crept in but really this is a great tale about building a family from those around you who need love.

This was the end of the trilogy but I found myself reluctant to let go. Johnson doesn't comfortably close off every issue - like the question of Gary's adoptive mom - because she knows real life is never that convenient. The issues don't interfere with the tale though, they enhance it. I couldn't help but want her to expand it - go back and answer those questions and move us forward and give us the kids romances etc. It was terrific to spend time with these three gems. If you have them in your TBR, pull them out. You won't be sorry.


maggie b.

The Whittler
3 down, 8 to go
At the Movies
7 out of 11 down
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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: 1555

PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2011 9:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TBR Pile Challenge: The Whittler
3 Books that have been in your TBR more than six months
Pride and Pregnancy by Karen Templeton:
I’ve had this book since it was released back in 2007. Karen Templeton is one of my auto-buy authors, but I’ll admit I have to be in a certain mood to read her books since many of her plots revolve so closely around children. She excels at making her characters feel three-dimensional; they have flaws and their attitudes/actions can be contradictory. She also has the ability to take plots that drive me bonkers in other books and make them work. The h/h in this story are at different places in their lives. The heroine has been married and divorced three times and has sworn off romantic relationships. The hero is a widower with twins boys who has decided to finally start dating again. They meet when he moves in next door. There were times the heroine’s attitude started to get on my nerves, but I could understand why she behaved the way she did. I liked the fact that even though he now had money, the hero never acted like the conceited-it-must-all-be-my-way type.

At the Movies Challenge: 3 down, 8 to go…
The Whittler Challenge: 5 down, 6 to go…
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Mark



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1401

PostPosted: Mon Feb 21, 2011 6:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Vacay Book - one book from a location where you have been on vacation.
Today I read The Perfect Wife by Victoria Alexander (Leisure Historical Romance Nov. 1996) (Locations mostly England & Egypt.) I recorded 4.5 stars for the humor. TPW is standalone (or at least I didn't recognize any connections to other books by VA). This has been fairly high in my tbr priorities for a few years, given all the other books by VA that I've enjoyed, but there are always more books waiting than reading time available.
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Maggie AAR



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 2500

PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2011 11:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Whittler
2 books that are part of a beloved authors back list

Winter Sea Susanna Kearsley
Season of Storms Susanna Kearsley

I love Susanna Kearsley/Emma Cole but hate the fact that I have to have books sent to me from England in order to read them. Still, well worth it in this case.

In Winter Sea Carrie McClelland settles herself into the shadow of Slains Castle to write about a little know aspect of Scottish history. But somehow, this particular novel begins to grip her in ways none of her other books ever have. She is living the story far more than she is just telling it. Can history actually be a part of us? Can we recall past events with the right trigger?

I loved this novel which is part paranormal, part mystery and all romance. Two love stories - one from the past and one from the present - join to form the perfect circle. This novel is available in the states right now and I strongly urge you to get it while you can. A fantastic tale.

Here is the blurb for Season of Storms:

Quote:
In the early 1900s, in the elegant, isolated villa Il Piacere, the playwright Galeazzo D'Ascanio lived for Celia Sands. She was his muse and his mistress, his most enduring obsession, and the inspiration for his most stunning and original play. But the night before she was to take the stage in the leading role, Celia disappeared.



Now, decades later, in a theatre on the grounds of Il Piacere, Alessandro D'Ascanio is preparing to stage the first performance of his grandfather's masterpiece. A promising young actress – who shares Celia Sands' name, but not her blood – has agreed to star. She is instantly drawn to the mysteries surrounding the play - and to her compelling, compassionate employer. And even though she knows she should let the past go, in the dark – in her dreams – it comes back.



Another fabulous book with really great secondary characters and wonderful mystery plot, as well as a sweet romance. Having to get it from England was the only downside.

maggie b.

The Whittler
5 down, 6 to go
At the Movies
7 out of 11 down
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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



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 2500

PostPosted: Thu Feb 24, 2011 4:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Whittler

1 Book by a new to you author

The Face
Angela Hunt

Renne is cleaning out her mothers storage unit when she finds a letter from the CIA regarding her late brother. She is stunned to learn that he was part of that secretive government agency but she is even more stunned to discover that the niece she was told was still born was in fact born with deformities - ill but most assuredly alive.

Determined to get to know her niece Renee begins a campaign that takes her to the heart of clandestine government operation.

Sarah never knew she had an aunt but meeting Renee sets her life on a course that will forever alter it. All her life she has looked like a monster-= does she have the courage to undergo the changes her aunt says are possible?

This book broke my suspension of disbelief. While well written, the plot seemed very artificial, like the characters were living people forced to take part in an action film. They seemed real, their lives did not. The only character who seemed unreal was the villain, who had zilch motivation for taking the course they did.

I may try the author again. The writing was that good. But this book goes to the UBS.

maggie b.

The Whittler
6 down, 5 to go
At the Movies
7 out of 11 down
_________________
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She is too fond of books and it has turned her brain. - Louisa May Alcott
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Susanna Kearsley



Joined: 03 Nov 2008
Posts: 85
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Fri Feb 25, 2011 1:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've only done four of my eleven so far. Here's the tally, with blanks left to fill so I can remember what I still need to read...

Category 1: New Releases (New-to-Me Authors)
1.
2.
3.

Category 2: Now Showing (On Location With a Twist)

1. Book from Somewhere I’ve Lived (Korea): The Calligrapher’s Daughter by Eugenia Kim
I’m just going to take this straight from the author’s web site: “In early-twentieth-century Korea, Najin Han, the privileged daughter of a calligrapher, longs to choose her own destiny. Smart and headstrong, she is encouraged by her mother—but her stern father is determined to maintain tradition, especially as the Japanese steadily gain control of his beloved country. When he seeks to marry Najin into an aristocratic family, her mother defies generations of obedient wives and instead sends her to serve in the king’s court as a companion to a young princess. But the king is soon assassinated, and the centuries-old dynastic culture comes to its end. In the shadow of the dying monarchy, Najin begins a journey through increasing oppression that will forever change her world. As she desperately seeks to continue her education, will the unexpected love she finds along the way be enough to sustain her through the violence and subjugation her country continues to face? Spanning thirty years, The Calligrapher’s Daughter is a richly drawn novel in the tradition of Lisa See and Amy Tan about a country torn between ancient customs and modern possibilities, a family ultimately united by love, and a woman who never gives up her search for freedom.” Having spent two years living in South Korea as a teenager, I really loved re-visiting the landscape and the history of a country that will always hold my heart.

2. Ancestral Location Book (London, England): Such Sweet Poison by Anne Mather
“Catherine was wary. After a failed marriage, despite her continued sense of guilt, she’d finally pulled the pieces of her life together. Now, content with her quiet life, in spite of the urging of well-meaning friends, she wasn’t interested in finding a new man. Morgan Lynch – attractive, articulate and clearly haunted by an unhappy past – was a man, however, who intrigued and challenged her. But involvement? Catherine just wasn’t sure.” This is a relatively (1991) early take on military post-traumatic stress disorder and how it affects a relationship, which made it interesting to read in this post-Bosnia/Iraq/Afghanistan world.

3. The Vacay Book (Portugal): Sweet Revenge by Anne Mather – The heroine, Toni, having just lost her position as a governess in Lisbon, runs into former boyfriend Paul and agrees to pretend to be his fiancee while he visits his less-than-welcoming family in Portugal, but his Uncle Raoul has her number. I’ll admit I have a soft spot for Anne Mather’s mistaken-identity plots, and this hero had both a scar AND a “luxury sports car with a speedometer that reached fantastic speeds.” And his name was Raoul. Total bliss.

Category 3: Wildcard (Haven’t decided my choices here, yet)
1.
2.
3.

Category 4: Ultimate Challenge (Military Movie)
1. A Town Called Christmas by Carrie Alexander
“It’s Christmas, and Navy pilot Michael Kavanaugh is home from deployment – with a ‘Dear John’ letter in his pocket. In spite of a rather serious case of Bah-Humbug, Mike heads to Christmas, Michigan, to spend the holidays with the York family. But then he meets Merry York, and spending Christmas in Christmas doesn’t seem such a bad idea after all…” This is part of the Harlequin Super Romance “Nine Months Later” line, so there’s a pregnancy involved, for anyone who likes to know that in advance. I read this in January, which helped me to extend that Christmas feeling I look forward to all year…
2.

I'm still wavering between a couple of choices for that third category...
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Susanna Kearsley



Joined: 03 Nov 2008
Posts: 85
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Fri Feb 25, 2011 6:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oops, maggie b., I just noticed your post from last Tuesday, above. Thanks so much. Embarassed
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library addict



Joined: 06 Dec 2008
Posts: 1555

PostPosted: Sat Feb 26, 2011 4:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

At the Movies Challenge:
Category 3: Wildcard – Dinner and a Movie!
Hero or Heroine work in film/TV industry - The Name of the Game by Nora Roberts:
Hero is an actor. Heroine is a game show producer. Not the most accurate portrayal of Hollywood-land I’ve ever read, but not the worst either. There are no big twists or surprises in this straight-forward romance. The characters are likeable, and the book held my interest as I was reading it, but Nora has written much more memorable ones.

At the Movies Challenge: 4 down, 7 to go…
The Whittler Challenge: 5 down, 6 to go…
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Maggie AAR



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 2500

PostPosted: Sat Feb 26, 2011 9:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Susanna Kearsley wrote:
Oops, maggie b., I just noticed your post from last Tuesday, above. Thanks so much. Embarassed


You're very welcome! I am looking forward to The Rose Garden this fall. The blurb and excerpt on your website make it sound incredible.

I have read all of yours EXCEPT Undertow, Gemini Game and Splendour Falls. I am hoping to get to that last one at some point though Smile (Undertow and Gemini are likely impossible.)

I love the combination of paranormal, mystery and romance you utilize. And you are a terrific author and easily one of my favorites Embarassed

Thanks for many happy reading hours!

maggie b.
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Maggie AAR



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 2500

PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 12:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Whittler

One book you got at a sale/with coupon


Hello, Gir
l Merline Lovelace

Lovelace is one of those hit or miss authors for me, which often results in her books sitting on my TBR. I was glad to get this one read, if for no other reason than to get it off the stack!

Lt. Col Ann Dunbar is all set to get a divorce --except her husband doesn't want one! Finding some paper work makes her wonder if she should give love a second chance. Learning the history of Marie Dunbar and the other Hello Girls of the first great war shows her the meaning of love, commitment and heroism.

While reading this novel I couldn't keep from contrasting it with Susan Wigg's The Ocean Between Us and the TV Show Army Wives.

In Army Wives the female warrior Joan (also a colonel) faces some of the same challenges as Ann. The difference is that Joan, unlike Ann, is not a pencil pusher. Her job involves combat. There is no real civilian equivalent for what she does. To me it makes sense that Joan stay in the army, doing what she loves and what she is trained for because she really has nowhere else to take her skill and shine. Her husbands job is a compliment to hers and allows him to work around her, so that her decision does not affect the family.

Ann on the other hand could do her job else where and make good money. She wants her job to be the axis around which her family revolves but there is no reason for it. It is a job she could easily do in the civilian quarter and while important, it is not earth shattering and does not affect nation security if she quits. By doing this, she was asking her family not just to make sacrifices of location (in terms of not having as much voice in where they lived) but of finances. Her husbands job paid much, much better. I don't think money should ever be a sole motivating factor but when it comes to family life, it should be weighed unless the cost to the family is greater in other things than the money is worth.

There is also a factor with Ann's health that is similar to that of what happened to Joan. Where Joan made sensible, logical decisions to deal with it Ann once more put her job first. It was so frustrating to watch someone put a career ahead of everything when their career just wasn't all that much.

I can understand a spouse wanting their turn. It wasn't so much that Ann was asking Brian to make sacrifices for her. In The Ocean Between Us that was the primary theme, and I really did understand Grace's point. But when a spouse is selfish over nothing, it ruins a book for me and that's what it felt like with Ann.

The sad part of it was, the Hello Girl portion was fantastic and covers a little known era of history and women in the military. I truly wish we had spent all our time there.

Another book for the UBS bag.

maggie b.
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