Home Forums Let’s Talk Romance Forum The AAR 19 in 2019 Reading Challenge

Viewing 4 posts - 61 through 64 (of 64 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • library addict
    Participant
    Post count: 221

    The Nonchalant Nineteen Challenge (The Whittler)
    Fractured Stars by Lindsay Buroker:
    The heroine’s ship was commandeered by an evil sheriff to deliver prisoners to an ice planet penal colony. She struggled to keep her android business partner and her dog off his radar. The hero was a pilot and deputy with numerous secrets of his own. Conflicting motivations, intergalactic politics, and intriguing plot twists were interlaced with plenty of humor. While I would classify the plot more as a futuristic action/adventure the book also contained an endearing slow-burn romance. Though written as a stand-alone I hope the author will eventually write the possible sequel mentioned in the Afterword.

    The Nonchalant Nineteen Challenge (The Whittler) — novellas
    Junkyard by Lindsay Buroker:
    Used to tracking down people, the heroine was reluctant to take a job involving the mysterious theft of two-hundred tons of maple syrup. Published after the series only full-length book, this was a cute prequel novella detailing how the heroine met her faithful canine companion. A very fun read.

    • The 20th Century Challenge: 5 down, 14 to go…
    • The Alphabet Challenge Variation: 15 down, 4 to go…
    • The 19 in 19 Phonics Challenge: 15 down, 4 to go…
    • The Nonchalant Nineteen Challenge (The Whittler) — novellas: 8 down, 11 to go…
    • And The Award Goes To… Challenge: 18 down, 1 to go…
    • The Alphabet Challenge Variation Reprise: 12 down, 7 to go…
    • The Nonchalant Nineteen Challenge (The Whittler): 2 down, 17 to go…
    Sandlynn
    Participant
    Post count: 92

    Continuing with the 2019 Phonics Challenge:

    G for guardian — Read a romance where the heroine and/or hero is on active duty with a military, naval, police, or fire-fighting organization. Or read a romance where the heroine and/or hero is a parent.

    The book that fits this prompt is from a new-to-me author, Olivia Dade. Her Teach Me was published in 2019 and has been receiving a lot of good word of mouth.

    The story, no more than 238 pages, focuses on two high school teachers, Rose Owens who has been successfully teaching history at Marysburg High School for years and Martin Krause, a new arrival, who the local school administrator (who has been out to get Rose) has decided will be taking over some of Rose’s classes which will potentially affect her future ability to attract students, and therefore funding, for her upper level AP courses. This initial – somewhat one-sided conflict – creates a chilly atmosphere between Rose and Martin. That doesn’t stop Martin from admiring Rose, finding her both attractive as well as a gifted teacher. Despite Rose’s antagonism, it doesn’t take her long to see that Martin is also a great educator, and that he’s not at fault for what the loathsome administrator had done. She also finds out that Martin’s whole reason for transferring to her school was to be near his teenage daughter, who is a student there since his ex-wife remarried and moved to the area. This last year of high school, before college, is his last opportunity to be a part of his daughter Bea’s everyday life. As for Martin, he slowly and steadily begins to thaw Rose’s ice queen veneer. But, will she ever open up enough to him to let him in, especially after suffering through her own disastrous marriage?

    Despite the cartoony cover, Teach Me is a book about real people with real issues. Both lead characters are in their 40’s and have a boatload of insecurities and scars from damaged childhoods as well as relationship battles as adults. Rose has a problem letting people in. She has pride and has learned to depend on no one, even if they love her and want to help. Martin, on the other hand, is open to a relationship and to love. However, he was taught from an early age that he was found wanting as a man, too sensitive and caring. His former wife compounded this by seeming to suggest he wasn’t exciting enough for her. What I loved about this book is that most of us can identify with one or more of these hang-ups. Furthermore, the characters mostly deal with each other intelligently and not immaturely – such that you aren’t finding them to be “too stupid to live” or one dimensional. Another strength of the book is that it’s a realistic portrayal of what it’s like to be a good teacher who fights for “their kids” and cares. Sure there’s not a sense that the school is terribly diverse and therefore there’s little discussion of race or ethnic differences, but the emphasis on class issues is well drawn and there is a touch of gender diversity too. But, I felt the latter was kind of tacked on for no discernable reason. In any event, I enjoyed this read and would give it an A-.

    ******


    The Alphabet Variation Challenge – 14 down, 5 to go (A, B, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, O, S …)
    The Phonics Challenge – 7 down, 12 to go

    Sandlynn
    Participant
    Post count: 92

    Continuing with the 2019 Phonics Challenge:

    T for time — Read a futuristic or time-travel romance.

    For this reading prompt, I picked up an old-school romance from 1997, Linda Lael Miller’s My Outlaw.

    This story focuses on 30 year old Keighly Barrow, a sculptress and gallery owner living in L.A. in the late 1990’s who is engaged to a surgeon. Despite these ties, Keighly still feels drawn to her grandmother’s old, grand, dilapidated house in Redemption, Nevada. As a child, she would often stand in the ballroom of the house and from time to time see a young boy about her own age in the wall length mirror. The boy was dressed in western clothing from the late 1800’s and stood in an old saloon where cowboys drank and ladies in garish colors danced and entertained. Not only did she see the boy, but he saw her. Even though they couldn’t speak to each other, they managed basic communications through signs and she was able to learn that the boy’s name was Darby Elder. Over the years, as Keighly grew, she saw the boy less and less especially after she went off to boarding school. However, she never forgot Darby and felt a special connection that she couldn’t relinquish. Years later, Keighly inherits the house from her grandmother. Although her fiancé wants her to sell it, she finds she can’t, especially when she suddenly sees Darby in the mirror again – a full grown man. This puts the adult Keighly on a mission to find out who Darby was and what happened to him. With the help of the town librarian and a distant ancestor of Darby’s, Keighly learns more than she bargained for, 1) that somehow Keighly becomes Darby’s wife and 2) that Darby dies that very year, leaving a pregnant Keighly behind with his estranged family in the late 1880’s.

    Although I found the plot of My Outlaw incredibly busy and I wasn’t always on the same page as the heroine, I was interested enough in the story to see how the author would resolve everything. Instead of a “simple” time-travel plot, the two lead characters end up bouncing back and forth between the two centuries in ways that weren’t totally consistent. (Even though time travel is not a reality, if you have it in your story, it should follow some rules.) Furthermore, I found it hard to believe that the characters were able to avoid suspicion as to who they were and how they ended up in the wrong century! To be honest, besides the time travel, the 1880’s plot – in particular – just appeared to be a straight western and the fact that a strange woman just showed up one day barely registered.

    Another little thing that put me off is Keighly’s attitude towards her former fiancé, who she seemed to see as just someone to sire the children she badly wanted regardless of the fact that she didn’t really love him. And then, the moment she’s in the arms of her true lover in the 1800’s, she immediately decides that she’s pregnant. She just senses it without any verification. This is the one part of the story that felt very old-school to me since many romances in the day focused on children equaling happiness for a woman. The upside to this book is that the author didn’t make the heroine’s former significant other out to be a bad guy and, in fact, he’s allowed to be a hero as well and acquire his own heroine. In fact, other than the most obvious baddies, most of all the other important characters were fully formed human beings.

    Anyway, everyone had their happy ending, but I think the plot took a very convoluted route on the way to finish. I would give this book a B-/C.

    ******

    The Alphabet Variation Challenge – 14 down, 5 to go (A, B, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, O, S …)

    The Phonics Challenge – 8 down, 11 to go

    Sandlynn
    Participant
    Post count: 92

    Switching back to the Alphabet Variation Challenge:

    Letter R

    For this reading prompt, I picked up a book that had been in my TBR pile for a decade: Marie Bostwick’s River’s Edge, published in 2006.

    This story stretches from the mid 1930’s to the mid 1940’s. It begins in Germany during Hitler’s rise to power. Elise Braun is 8 years old in 1933. Born to a upper middle class German couple, her father is a military officer from a long line of illustrious military men. Her mother runs their home but is beginning to suffer the symptoms of TB. Elise’s upbringing is loving but very orderly and strict, especially in terms of being a proper young lady. The activity she enjoys the most is playing classical piano for her mother, somehow hoping that it will help improve her mother’s health. Unfortunately, Elise’s mother is eventually sent to a sanitarium and dies and her father, called upon to take up his duties in the German military and fearful for what Hitler is embarking on, decides to ask his wife’s distant relatives in Connecticut to take Elise in until sanity returns to his homeland. Therefore, at 13 or 14, Elise is sent to live with the Muller family in Brightfield, Connecticut, a rural area that grows tobacco. The Muller’s are not farmers, however. Carl Muller is the beloved pastor at the local church. His warm and rambunctious family includes his wife, Sophia, and five children, including a daughter Elise’s age. The Mullers are very welcoming to Elise, but it doesn’t take long for her more quiet, proper mannerisms to put her in conflict with the older Muller children. She also faces some taunting at school and, before long, the growing war in Europe puts her at odds with people in town who are looking for a scapegoat. Still, over the years, Elise learns new ways, new skills, and eventually makes lifelong friends who guide her into womanhood.

    I think the reason it took me so long to pick up this book is that I thought it would be too heavily Christian in content. I don’t mind romantic inspirationals that aren’t too focused on religion, but if the religion is front and center, that puts me off. That being said, this book is an exception. The heroine is not a believer, but she moves in with a family whose father is a preacher. However, Carl and his wife’s beliefs are not shoved down the other characters’ or the reader’s throats. They demonstrate their beliefs by being good, loving people. Their care for Elise is not heavy-handed, and their children certainly spend most of their time doing fun, secular things and have very everyday concerns. In a sense, Elise’s life in Germany was much more restrictive and regimented than it is with the Mullers. The beauty of this book is in watching Elise grow into a capable, loving, open woman who learns hard lessons, withstands prejudice, and falls in love, while all the world is falling down around her. Since the story is set during WWII, there are definitely some tough developments, but the ending is uplifting. I think the only problem I had with the story initially was that Elise was open so early to calling the Muller couple Papa and Mama, but I figured that that title didn’t replace her feelings for her parents since she always called them Father and Mother. I also thought the ending was tied up a little too quickly and nicely. As the family began to suffer losses, most of their suffering was done off page or was wrapped up a bit fast. I expected there to be more issues involving the things that happened to Sophia, Junior, and Elise’s father. On the upside, I was surprised how much I enjoyed this book in spite of it being heavier on exposition than dialogue. That being said, this entire story was told through Elise’s eyes and her experiences, so it made sense. All in all, I really enjoyed the story and was moved by it. I’d give it an A and would certainly read more by this author. I just wish I hadn’t taken so long to start.

    ******

    The Alphabet Variation Challenge – 15 down, 4 to go (A, B, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, O, R, S …)

    The Phonics Challenge – 8 down, 11 to go

Viewing 4 posts - 61 through 64 (of 64 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.