Friday, December 30, 2022

TBR Challenge 2022 Summary

The year is practically over and it's time for my now already traditional summary post of the TBR Challenge!

I could say it was another fun experience but the truth is that it always is! I love the part where we get to pick books to suit the themes and I add a little extra layer of challenge to myself by trying to use titles I had already picked for each month, meaning I sometimes allow myself some trouble fitting everything in. I just really like this part.

So, the titles for each theme in 2022 were the following:

January: The Darkest Destiny by Gena Showalter (novella) 5/10
A novella set in the Lords of the Underwold series, it was nice to read about an established world I love but I must confess I'm no longer fully invested, at least not emotionally, in it. I liked Viola had her HEA but it was a forgettable story...

February: The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner (fairy tale) 7/10
The tale of two sisters who will need to overcome some odds and difficulties regarding their family traits. Something wrong is happening to one of the sisters and there's a lot cultural and traditional aspects to understand before they can succeed. It was interesting, in the good sense of the word, but there was a lot of repetition which became too much at times.

March: Battle Royal by Lucy Parker (grumpy) 8/10
A fun romp between two pastry chefs with their own shops and how they must work together in a baking competition as judges, meaning they get to be close and finally understand how special the other one is. It was a romantic e cute story, just like I expected from this author.

April: Float Plan by Trish Doller (location) 7/10
A woman grieving decides to do the route she had planned with her fiancé through the Caribbean islands. This was amazing, mostly for the details on the islands, what fun to follow her path on google maps... as for the plot and development, things weren't always magical and the romance seemed a bit rushed.

May: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik (tales of old) 8/10
An ingenious fantasy novel about three young women who have impossible challenges to overcome, but magic and a true heart do the rest. There's even some romance which I liked. The writing is appealing and addictive and I had a great time reading!

June: To Taste Temptation by Elizabeth Hoyt (after war) 8/10
A man with a reputation travels to England after the war in the colonies so his sister can have a season. He requests the help of a society woman and they end up becoming closer and falling in love. I bet for many this would be considered predictable but I liked the characters and the emotional journey they went though before they got their HEA.

July: No Man's Bride by Shana Galen (vintage trope) 5/10
Another historical with one of those seemingly caricatured independent heroines who just haven't met her ideal guy. I think the story itself wasn't bad, but the execution and choice of scenes weren't always consistent. Some aspects did feel like they belong to an older style of plot.

August: The Bottom Line by Sandy James (blue collar) 4/10
My least favorite pick. The heroine contracts the hero to do renovation work in her newly purchased house and they end up falling in love. I found the writing to not be very appealing to me, the plot lacked interesting development and I felt the characters didn't show enough depth to their personalities for me to care about them.

September: Extreme Honor by Piper J. Drake (animals) 6/10
A woman who is an expert in animal behavior decides to volunteer at a kennel for military dogs. One of the men in charge seems to think she is wasting his time but is proved wrong. As the dog improves, the protagonists' relationship becomes stronger but someone is trying to get the dog, believing he might carry some secrets in his chip. This was action packed and had many elements I tend to like but the writing just didn't dazzle me...

October: Eat, Pray, Die by Chelsea Field (flirting and danger) 8/10
A fun discovery. A woman has a unique gene which means she can ingest some poisons and identify them before she dies. She starts working for a company that helps rich people from danger and death threats. This had action, fun, some romance... I plan on carrying on with the series in 2023.

November: Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain (lies) 7/10
Dual time story with strong and fascinating characters. A young woman leaves prison to work on a mural at the bequest of a renowned but recently deceased artist. We also have the story of the woman who painted the original mural. The two stories somehow are combined and we learn the secrets as they go.. so much potential, I could see the edge of what would have made this perfect but, sadly, I think the emotional aspects just didn't quite got there.

December: Christmas by the Book by Anne Marie Ryan (festive) 8/10
Festive can mean a lot, but for me it will always be easier to pick Christmas! This was a cute and cozy story, focused on bookshop owners Nora and Simon, but with plenty of Christmas' spirit and cheering within their small British community and how a kind gesture by them influences and helps six others and, consequently, all their families and friends... very charming as I expected.

Some notes:
- I had a good time going through most of them, as usually happens because, after all, the books in our TBR pile tend to be things we likely will enjoy or that we are interested in. What we can't guess is how the overall work will feel to us, whether it will be appealing or not.
- I've chosen different genres and authors to fit each theme and my average is definitely positive. There was only one entry to which I gave what, in my grading system, I consider a "negative" mark.
- Six of my choices were by authors new to me, so I have that one balanced with the other six being authors whose work I had tried before.
- Seven of the stories are set in contemporary worlds, the others are mostly fantastic and I have two historical picks.
- I don't tend to mind the themes, since they are vague enough to be interpreted at will, but this year they were a little extra vague. I don't really mind it; in fact, for me it works so much better, it's easier to fit to the list of books from which I'd choose the title.

All said, it was certainly fun, as it is to read the other participants' posts too.
I'm sighing-in for next year too!


  1. This is a very nice recap of your 2022 TBR Challenge, and you found a lot of good reads this past year! I'm glad you've decided to join again in 2023. Here's hoping for nothing but good reads ahead!

    1. Hello Wendy! Happy new year!
      True, it was a good challenge year :)