Saturday, December 21, 2019

2019 TBR Challenge summary

The year is ending in a few days and I want to leave some notes on the TBR Challenge which, for me, is not about if I can do it or finish because I know I can, considering my reading habits and the fact I prepare monthly lists, with the challenge's choice included.

The fun of this for me is in picking a book to fit the theme and see if others have done the same.

This year, my choices all came from my TBR of course and it was good to see I managed to read some good books but others weren't that great. I don't like to switch my pick if a book is not being good. I prefer to write on why I didn't like than to only have great reads which wouldn't be indicative of how the reading year has been.

Here is my completed list of books:

January: Once Upon a Moonlit Night - Elizabeth Hoyt (short story) 8/10
This is a short story in the Maiden Lane series and features known characters. Hyppolita is saved by Matthew and they get along very quickly and very conveniently which obviously intends to justify their quick relationship. I liked it for being part of the series.
February: In the Eye of the Storm - Robert Thier (part of a series) 6/10
This is the second book in a series too, but while the first installment about a reserved distant man and his sassy, bubbly secretary pretending to be a man was incredible, this was very repetitive and not really good when it came to advance the plot.
March: The Matrimonial Advertisement - Mimi Matthews (favorite trope) 6/10
This historical story has two people falling in love while not initially suited to one another and trying to ignore each other's feelings but the circumstances make them spend time and time together. It was cute but not as emotionally complex as I hoped for.
April: In the Days of Rain - Rebecca Stott (something different) 7/10
This is a non-fiction about the childhood and young years of the author while part of a cult. I liked this story for the message, for the ways in which the cult and her life was shaped but there was a lot of introspection and repetition too. 
May: The Year We Fell Down - Sarina Bowen (backlist glom) 7/10
This is a NA story with an athlete recovering from an injury and a girl in a wheelchair while she recuperates too. They become friends and then more while navigating the college life and their own limitations. It was enjoyable.
June: The Game and the Governess - Kate Noble (historical) 7/10
This is an historical where the hero and a friend make a bet and the governess of the title ends up being the target of that bet. As the plot moves along, the main couple slowly falls in love but I think the resulting drama and angst should have been better done. 
July: Can't Buy Me Love - Molly O'Keefe (contemporary) 7/10
This romance reminded me of those contemporaries where the characters are always larger than life but with everyday situations and emotions. It also seems like problems are easily solved as long as someone can think of it. It was good but I expected more from it.
August: A House Without Windows - Nadia Hashimi (Random Pick)  6/10
This story has a message to convey, has a different culture to talk about but I think the real aspects of Afghan life and the fiction story were not really balanced and I finished with the feeling I never really connected with the characters.
September: Homeward Hearts - Alexis Harrington (kicking it old school) 8/10
This is a sweet old school western romance, where the heroine is brave and independent, the hero strong but in need of help and how they join forces and at last fall in love, even if everyone else disapproves. Great story to finish with a satisfied sigh.  
October: Do or Die - Suzanne Brockmann (romantic suspense) 6/10
A lot of action, a lot of detail, many characters, the usual writing from an author who created her name with military romances but to be honest, the main romance was not totally convincing while many elements felt clichéd and others didn't add much to the plot.
November: The Heiress of Winterwood - Sarah E. Ladd (sugar) 4/10
What a pity, this story had a promising plot of marriage of convenience, the care of a small child but the rather obvious preaching, the lack of romantic scenes and the constant nagging on things even before the expected marriage happened tuned this into a very boring book for me.
December: Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe - Debbie Johnson (holiday) 6/10
This is a sweet story of a woman learning to like herself again, of cozy cafes and comfort foods while people care about one another but the romance was too quick, not developed enough and the "lesson" learned too easily done as well.

Interesting facts:
I liked January and September the best and, of these two, September must win simply because it was a full length story and made it possible for me to have longer with the characters.
The one I didn't like that much was November because it was really poorly done, in my opinion.
All these books were in my pile because they have tropes or blurbs I was interested in and I can accept the idea that not all will be amazing just because their premises start well. In fact, it can be rather disappointing that not more of the books I have to read won't be even better for me, or more appealing to my tastes. Everything can be relative I know, but the hope to only get amazing reads is always there.

I can also say that of my reading year, most of the books I read were in the 7 or 8 category (out of 10) so I'm doing something well, but very few perfect grades and this average sort of reflects on the challenge picks too. Many 6 and 7, two 8, one 4 but no 1 nor 10.

I hope next year can be better, of course! 
Happy reading, people! đź’§

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