Monday, January 5, 2015

Looking Back: Wendy's Recap Of 2014 TBR Challenge

The TBR Challenge was recently called a "Romanceland institution," which tickled me no end.  It was originally started by Angela James (these days the Editorial Director at Carina Press) and was hosted for a number of years by Keishon, who has one of the best crime fiction blogs around.  As Keishon's interests and blogging evolved, I asked to take over hosting duties, which I did in 2011 (uh, I think). 

Per tradition, we have themes every month.  I tell participants that themes are "optional," but as the host, I try to adhere to them.  Which is usually more than easy to do since I have a TBR Pile that can be seen from space. 

Title links will take you to full reviews.

January - We Love Short Shorts! - Baring It All by Megan Frampton - Grade = B+
  • I've known Megan a long time, and this was my first read by her.  This short, sexy novella hit the spot and I loved Frampton's "voice."  Looking forward to reading more of her work.
February - Series Catch-Up - His Best Friend's Baby by Molly O'Keefe - Grade = B-
  • A compelling read by O'Keefe and OMG, great conflict.  Unfortunately said conflict tended to overshadow the romance.  But, still, I liked this quite a bit.
March - New-To-You Author - Natural Law by Joey W. Hill - Grade = B-
  • Ground-breaking erotic romance (says me), even though it wasn't the book I wanted it to be.  Still, given it's 2004 publication date, color me impressed.  It also made me sad that BDSM in erotic romance is so frickin' "one note."  Hill did some things differently here, back in 2004Moar different!!1!1!!! says Wendy.
April - Contemporary - How to Misbehave by Ruthie Knox - Grade = B+
  • A picture perfect novella.  A great romance that works with the word count.  And when was the last time you read a "meet cute" that involved a tornado?
May - More Than One - Badlands Bride by Cheryl St. John - Grade = B
  • Classic St. John, a very nice romance.  All the more compelling because the blurb, on paper, should have annoyed the daylights out of me.  But the author totally makes it work.
June - Classic - Halfway to Heaven by Susan Wiggs - Grade = B
  • A Pygmalion themed romance set against Gilded Age Washington D.C.  I really enjoyed this one a lot, notable since I normally stay away from political-themed fiction.
July - Lovely RITA - Always to Remember by Lorraine Heath - Grade = A
  • The best book I read this year, not just for the Challenge.  Just....perfect.  Wonderful.  Amazing.  It's available in a digital version, go read it now.  Seriously.  It's amazing.
August - Luscious Love Scenes - Soloplay by Miranda Baker - Grade = B
  • A romance about a repressed librarian who has never had The Big O.  Let me tell you how much this story should have annoyed me.  But it didn't!  I really liked it!  It was fun!  Oh  man, how I miss "fun" erotic romance.
September - Recommended Read - Baby Makes Three by Molly O'Keefe - Grade = B+
  • Huh, I read two Molly O'Keefe books for the challenge.  Anyway, this is the first in the trilogy about a reunited, now divorced couple.  It's a real heartbreaker.  It's not perfect, but man - it blew the mercury out of the top of the Angst Meter.
October - Paranormal or Romantic suspense - She Walks the Line by Roz Denny Fox - Grade = D
  • A Chinese heroine.  And that's the only thing memorable I can say about this story.  It's drowning in continuity series baggage and the hero's plot moppet twins were BEYOND pointless.  I should have DNF'ed this.
November - Historical - A Dream Defiant by Susanna Fraser - Grade = B
  • I DNF'ed my original pick for this month, time was short, so had to go with a novella.  This was a short novella, in that I wish it had been longer, but it was a compelling read and I loved Fraser's "voice."  Will definitely read more by her.
December - Holiday - Mistletoe Marriage by Jessica Hart - Grade = B+
  • Everything I love about a Jessica Hart category romance.  A great friends-to-lovers theme and a light touch by the author, even when angst does come into play.  Not my favorite by her, but definitely worth seeking out.
Sign-ups for the 2015 TBR Challenge are well underway!  You can learn more at the Information Page.  Please leave a comment on this post or over at the Information Page if you would like to participate.  It really is a lot of fun, and a good way to help cull down the piles of books.


azteclady said...

Oh my goodness, Wendy, you had such awesome luck with your choices for the Challenge! Envy, thy face is aztec!

However, this year I'm already ahead--I've already read (and scheduled) my choice and it was GREAT.

So there.


Wendy said...

Oh believe me, I know how lucky I was! 2013 and 2014 were good TBR Challenge years for me. But looking back further though....

2012 gave me: 3 D's and 3 C's
2011 gave me: 5 C's and 3 D's

Blergh. I was lucky this year, but really - I should have DNF'ed that lone D read. I'm going to try to DNF more on Challenge books. I've got GOOD books waiting for me (I mean, obviously - look at my grades this year! LOL), why waste time reading something out of the TBR that's going to end up a D?

azteclady said...

Agreed--and if I manage to read the TBR Challenge books a little earlier this year, I'll DNF whatever is not working, and grab something else.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the kind words about my blog, Wendy. So glad this is still fun for you guys. Look forward to reading the reviews. I know I'm doing my own unofficial self-imposed tbr reading for the first three months. Not sure if you've read him but I finally picked up Jo Nesbo's standalone novel, The Son. So far, it's pretty good.

nath said...

You had some pretty good books in your TBR pile, Wendy! Guess the challenge is telling you: what are you waiting to read more from it?!

Maybe I should do like azteclady and plan ahead... Nah LOL

Wendy said...

Keishon: Jo Nesbo! I need to add him to my "try on audio" list - which is where I put most crime/suspense writers these days. Easy for me to fit them in that way.

Wendy said...

Nath: That's my problem a lot of the time too - hence why I read more than one novella for the challenge this year. I need to do a better job of starting my TBR read early, so if I do DNF, I have time to grab something else. I really want to focus on print books this year.