Wednesday, December 18, 2013

TBR Challenge - Holiday Romance

'Tis the season, so this month's TBR challenge theme is Holiday Reads.

I chose This Wicked Gift, Courtney Milan's debut release and part of the 2009 HQN holiday anthology The Heart of Christmas. I bought it shortly after release because I'd heard so many wonderful things about Milan--including raves from a friend who finished second to her in an unpublished contest, then judged her entry in another contest and said she no longer had the slightest regrets about coming in second because Milan's writing was just that awesome.

And yet somehow I didn't get around to reading the novella until this year despite having read others of her books and completely agreeing that she is Just That Awesome. I'm not sure why, except that every time I looked at the anthology on my Kindle, it didn't happen to be the holiday season and I decided to save it for later.

Well, "later" finally came. I read the novella during a quiet evening on our Thanksgiving trip to Oklahoma (yes, I read my December TBR challenge book in November--I had lots of reading time for a change that week, and I knew my first half of December would be insane). It's brilliant. The anthology is worth the purchase price for that story alone, IMHO. It's such a rare treat to read a Regency with non-aristocratic characters, for one thing, and the writing and characterization are a pleasure for readers like me who live for smooth, skilled prose and characters who feel human and three-dimensional. Strong, strong recommend.

Much as I've enjoyed doing the TBR Challenge this year, I've decided not to join again for 2014. Looking back over my reading journal for this year, I decided I want 2014 to be more spontaneous. Somehow the instant I need to read a book, whether for a challenge like this, judging the Ritas, or for research, it becomes homework. And I'm enough of a Muggle version of Hermione Granger that I like homework in moderation, but for the past couple years I feel like I've been missing the joy of grabbing a book just because it's what happens to strike my fancy at that moment.


  1. I have this anthology buried in my TBR as well.

    I'm sorry to see you "go" for 2014, but understand. I'm in the process of thinking about my own reading for the new year. I really need to spend time with the TBR - which means more DNF'ing and less picking up shiny, shiny "new" books.

    1. My problem is I way overestimate how much time I'll have to read, leading to impulse purchases for the TBR, over-committing to challenges, every time I hear an interesting interview on NPR or The Daily Show putting the book on hold at the library, etc. Then I feel like I *must* read all these books because I promised I would, or they're due back at the library in 7 days, or whatever, and I feel guilty when I just don't have the time.

      So, 2014 is going to insofar as possible be the year of What Do I *WANT* to Read Next?