Yearly Reading Challenges

This blog contains my book reviews for my yearly reading challenges. See all my reviews at

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

TBR Challenge 2012- October

The Warlord's Daughter by Susan Grant

Oct TBR Challenge: Romantic Suspense or Paranormal Romance
The Warlord's Daughter has been on my TBR list since Oct 14, 2011.
This book also qualifies as a SFR Reading Challenge 2012 book.

3 stars
Grade C+

It was great to catch up with several of the characters from Moonstruck, but otherwise this book was uninspired. I counted it for the TBR Challenge because it is a science fiction romance, which is the closest I came to a romantic suspense or paranormal this month.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

TBR Challenge 2012: How did this get here?

Loving Evangeline by Linda Howard
2/5 stars
Grade C-/D+ 

TBR Challenge 2012: July Category-- How did this get here?

I'm not sure why Loving Evangeline got on my to-read list, perhaps because of the author, but here it is! And it's been here for almost a year.

I enjoyed Evie, and the suspense was fine, but the manipulative bastard of a hero was too much for me. His actions were so unfeeling and cold, and I was never convinced he was sorry for them. And the "one look at her and he's got to have her even if she's guilty of treason" is way over the top.

It was okay because the general writing was decent and I liked several of the characters, but the hero was not my type at all.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

TBR Challnege 2012- June Category: Western

Sunrise Over Texas by M. J. Fredick

TBR Challenge 2012--June Category: Western. Sunrise Over Texas has been on my TBR list since 2010.

Grade B-/C+

Sunrise Over Texas is a the story of a three women left alone in a Texas fort in winter. Katherine "Kit" Barkley is a widow taking care of her late husband's mother and sister. They have no way to get to the nearest settlement, and don't have enough provisions to last the winter. Indians are also a concern. Into this scene rides Trace, a man running from a painful past and now too sick to ride further. Kit nurses him back to health and the two wary strangers find themselves drawn to each other.

I liked that Kit is portrayed as a woman with strong feeling and desires. Trace is more of a beta male, and it was a refreshing change. Although non-alpha, he was strong and sexy. I would like to read more books where the relationship is one of mutual strength, like Trace and Kit. I did get tired of Kit constantly being called "stubborn" because she made up her mind and had confidence in her decisions. Just because there was a man around didn't mean she couldn't think for herself.

Unfortunately, the writing lacked pizazz. It wasn't bad, but it didn't sparkle, especially the dialogue. Still, it was a good story and I will read more by this author. My favorite book by Fredrick so far is
Hot Shot.

TBR Challenge 2012--Personal Challenge

Shattered by Karen Robards

4 of 5 stars
Grade A-

TBR Challenge 2012--Personal Challenge: Shattered has been on my to-read list since 2010.

I thoroughly enjoyed this romantic suspense by Robards. The plotting is well done and I like both main characters. The mystery defies solution for most of the book. I could almost figure it out, but a few details prove elusive. The author does withhold one clue until the end, but it was necessary for the story.

Robards weaves all the parts of the story together, including the mutual history of Lisa and Scott. I liked that the heroine is no blushing ingenue, but instead an apologetically experienced woman.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

TBR Challenge 2012: Personal Challennge

Shades of Gray by Brooke McKinley

TBR Challenge 2012: Personal Challenge-- This book has been on my TBR list since June 2011.

Grade A

Shades of Gray is a well written book with great characters. I was drawn into the story from the first page. During the book, I found I was continually made to rethink preconceived ideas about what makes a person "good" or "bad." Both main characters, Danny and Miller, grow and change throughout the novel, overcoming, backsliding, and then moving ahead again. At first I thought of Miller as the "good guy" and Danny as the broken one, but as the story progresses I saw the flaws within Miller and the goodness within Danny.

The writing is tight, with no useless characters or information. McKinley does a masterful job of character development, but also with the action plot and the sexual tension. Even though the world of drug dealers and FBI agents is almost totally foreign to me, the character development felt real, and very believable. That doesn't mean every aspect of the story was believable, but overall the message and the people were real.

There is resolution, but not a neatly tied up ribbons-and-rainbows ending for everyone. That, too, makes it feel more realistic. Recommended.

Friday, June 1, 2012

SFR Reading Challenge 2012

Wreck of the Nebula Dream by Veronica Scott

SFR Reading Challenge 2012 Book 13

Grade B

This was a very enjoyable SFR. Wreck of the Nebula Dream is a retelling of the Titanic disaster with a futuristic space setting. The story is very well done and the plot moves quickly. The group trying to survive came upon realistic obstacles throughout. It kept me interested and reading. The main character, Nick, is well drawn and capable. He's a talented Special Forces officer, but he's not perfect. Mara is less well developed, but she's a sympathetic character. The secondary characters are well done, even the children.

I would have liked to see more development in the relationship between Nick and Mara, although what was there was sweet. I do appreciate the author not having the couple fall into bed during a major crisis. The short moments of tenderness between the leads were believable and appropriate to the story. Don't let the lack of overt sex scenes keep you from reading. It's a good story.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

TBR Challenge 2012-- May Category

Cry Wolf by Tami Hoag
TBR Challenge 2012: May Challenge- Read a book published prior to 2000.
TBR Challenge 2012: Personal Challenge- Cry Wolf has been on my to-read list since March 2010.

Grade C+
Lucky's Lady is one of my favorite romantic suspense books, and I looked forward to reading Cry Wolf when I saw it was labeled Doucet #3. Other than sharing the Bayou setting and having a one line mention of Lucky Doucet, there is nothing to tie this book to the others. Lucky's Lady also dealt with family troubles and a tortured hero, but I was able to believe the transformations and the happy ending. Cry Wolf on the other hand is one long downer. The book is full of characters who have been abused and traumatized. A few of the topics covered include repeated sexual abuse of a child by a custodial step-parent, physical abuse by an alcoholic parent, patricide, a disbarred lawyer, suicide, nervous breakdown, cold social climbing parent, and so much more. There are no well-adjusted characters here.

The suspense plot was slow to unravel, and the relationship between Jack and Laurel was push-me pull-you for half the book. The heavy angst in both of them was exhausting. Laurel is suppose to be a strong character, and in some ways she comes through in the end, but overall she seems helpless in the face of her grief over her failed case and loss of career. She seems like a ship tossed around on a stormy sea in every relationship: with her sister, her mother, Jack, Stephen, the sheriff, Jimmy Lee, and even the local bar patrons.

Even when the mystery is solved, I wasn't convinced of the happy ending. Way too much baggage weigh the characters down. Their HEA won't come without years of therapy for both of them.

I gave it 3 stars because the writing is good and the mystery kept me glued to the pages.