Take Control of Your TBR Pile Challenge


Take Control of Your TBR Pile Challenge

Hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer

I plan to take part in this month-long challenge. I have plenty of TBR books to choose from so I won’t have any problem choosing books! I have created a list for myself of possible books to read during the month. I have several books on hold at the library which I know will finally come to the library for me so that may keep me from reading as many books as I would otherwise.

I have also created a Take Control Shelf on Goodreads to add the books which I read during March which meet the criteria for this challenge. Kimberly is already a friend on Goodreads. I will also write at least a mini review on Goodreads for my books.

I think this will be a fun challenge and help me concentrate on my TBR books. I hope others will go to Kimberly’s blog @ Caffeinated Reviewer and decide to participate, too. You have to sign-up by Friday, March 2.


I want to try to read at least 8 TBR books in March.

Keep track of my books on a Take Control Shelf on Goodreads.

Write mini reviews on Goodreads for the books and then link to the Rafflecopter.

I hope to take part in the Twitter Party on March 11.



  • Link-up! This is open to everyone. If you do not have a blog then link a shelf entitled Take Control 2018 from your Goodreads account. It is a good idea to friend me if your shelves are private.
  • Create a Goals/Updates/Results post (can be combined) It can also be a shelf created on Goodreads. Be sure to friend me, so I can see it. Friend me: Kimberly
  • Begins midnight March 1st, 2018 and ends March 31, 2018, at 11:59 pm.
  • Read/listen to books from your TBR pile.
  • ALL books/audios must have been published before March 1,  2018. I don’t care where you got them, so old ARCS count.
  • Post a review to Goodreads, or your blog then add the URL link it to the Rafflecopter for an entry. ( These can be a mini review. Just one or two sentences)
  • You can combine events, challenges etc.
  • Page count must be over 100 pages to qualify.
  • The rafflecopter will only allow you to enter up to two books daily, so update as soon as you finish a book.
  • Use hashtag #TakeControlTBR
  • Twitter Party March 11th @ 2:30 pm (CST)  Come chat about books you have read and win prizes.
  • Earn extra entries for participating in the Twitter Party
  • Rafflecopter will close on April 2, 2018, at midnight and a winner will be chosen within 72 hours. Open internationally as long as Book Depository ships to you. Prize: New 2018 release valued at up to 20 US dollars or 1 Audiobook Credit from Audiobooks.com. I will do pre-orders as well. (may request eBook copy from Amazon or B&N)

HoHoHo Readathon Update

This is my favorite blogging extra curricular activity of the year. I love Christmas and winter and this helps me get in the holiday spirit. And I’m so happy Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer hosts it each year.

This year’s event ran from Wednesday, November 8th through Wednesday, November 15th at 11:59 pm. During the event, we could participate in challenges, win prizes, meet new friends and join the Twitter party. You could participate for a day or cozy up by the fire and hang out every day. The more you participated the more entries earned for the Participant Giveaway.

This is a fun and laid back activity so think about it for next year.


My goals and accomplishments:

Goal: I wanted to read at least three books

I read six! Several books were short, but I feel great about what I accomplished.

  • Miracle and Other Christmas Stories by Connie Willis
  • Christmas at Rosie Hopkins Sweetshop by Jenny Colgan
  • Wreck the Halls by Sarah Graves
  • Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen
  • Murder Goes Mumming by Charlotte MacLeod (library ebook)
  • “Christmas at Ladybug Farm” by Donna Ball (novella)
  • “Deck the Halls” by Donna Alward (novella)
  • Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie (e-audio)
  • “Christmas Present: A Chronicle of St. Mary’s Short Story” by Jodi Taylor (e-audio)
  • Classics of Childhood, Vol. 3: A Christmas Collection (e-audio)
  • Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien (e-audio)

Goal: Participate in two challenges

I participated in three challenges:

They were all lots of fun. Thank you to all the bloggers who created challenges for us. They were fun!

Goal: Participate in the November 15 Twitter Party


I don’t often take part in Twitter Parties. Sometimes I forget, other times other commitments make it hard to participate. However, I did take part in this party and it was lots of fun to see what other people had read and what their favorite book was. We also talked about holiday TV shows and movies which made me eager to watch a few during the next few weeks.

Kimberly gave away several book bundles at the end of the Twitter Party and I won one of them! I don’t win things too often so that was fun. Thanks, Kimberly!


I urge everyone to sign-up next year for this readathon. It gets me ready for the holiday season every year. Lots of fun activities, winter and holiday books to read and nice people participate. What could be better?

HoHoHo Readathon Winter Bingo Challenge

I’ve participated in this readathon and really enjoyed it. During the weeklong event I also completed a few challenges. This shows my completion of the HoHoHo Readathon Winter Bingo Challenge! This challenge was hosted by: I Heart Romance & YA. Check out the fun challenge: HoHoHoRAT Winter Bingo Challenge

My HoHoHoRAT books read:




Christmas Tree in Cover Classics of Childhood, Vol 3: A Christmas Collection narrated by Robbie Benson, John Waite, Jonathan Winters and others

Red and Green CoverChristmas on Ladybug Farm by Donna Ball

Christmas Themed AudiobookHercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie, narrated by Hugh Fraser


The word Christmas in the titleLetters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien, narrated by Derek Jacobi, John Moffatt and Christian Rodska

Ho-Ho-Ho Readathon Goals

This is my favorite blogging extra curricular activity of the year. I love Christmas and winter and this helps me get in the holiday spirit. And I’m so happy Kimberly hosts it each year. Thank you!

It’s that time of year when the holiday and winter-themed books hit the bookshelves. It’s also time to sign up for the Fifth Annual HoHoHo Holiday/Winter Readathon! hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer. Gather up your favorite cocoa, comfort foods, holiday music and books and join in the fun!

This year’s event will run from Wednesday, November 8th through Wednesday, November 15th at 11:59 pm. During the event, you can participate in challenges, win prizes, meet new friends and join the Twitter party. You can participate for a day or cozy up by the fire and hang out every day. The more you participate the more entries you will earn for the Participant Giveaway.

Visit Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer to sign up and to read the rules. If you love holiday and/or winter books give this a try. It’s lot of fun.

My goals for the readathon:

I want to read at least three books I’ve chosen as possibilities:

  • Miracle and Other Christmas Stories by Connie Willis
  • Christmas at Rosie Hopkins Sweetshop by Jenny Colgan
  • Wreck the Halls by Sarah Graves
  • Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen
  • Murder Goes Mumming by Charlotee MacLeod (library ebook)
  • “Christmas at Ladybug Farm” by Donna Ball (novella)
  • “Deck the Halls” by Donna Alward (novella)
  • Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie (e-audio)
  • “Christmas Present: A Chronicle of St. Mary’s Short Story” by Jodi Taylor (e-audio)
  • Classics of Childhood, Vol. 3: A Christmas Collection (e-audio)
  • Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien (e-audio)

I may find a few books from the library as well (even though I know I have many more books than I can read in a week…lol).

Participate in two challenges

Participate in the November 15 Twitter Party

The hardest goals for me are to participate in challenges and the Twitter party. They take time away from my reading…lol. However, I want to take part since Kimberly and her volunteers have taken the time to set these up and they are fun!

Ho-Ho-Ho Readathon Update

hohohorat2016buttonThis week I’m participating in the Ho-Ho-H0 Readathon (from Nov 9 – 15). It’s hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer and is so much fun.

the-magic-of-christmasI finished my first book!

The Magic of Christmas by Sarah Morgan

I enjoyed The Magic of Christmas. It’s a Harlequin Medical Romance which is the Harlequin line I like the most. Sarah Morgan is also one of my favorite contemporary romance authors.

I like the medical aspects of the book (in a London Emergency Department). I also really like the Christmas aspects of the book and the two young girls in the book–Dr. Christian Blake’s daughters. He’s a handsome doctor in the ED and Lara King is a smart, pretty ED nurse. You can all guess what happens next! Sarah Morgan’s characters are always vivid.

Romances aren’t something I read too often anymore, but I enjoyed the Christmas setting, the medical aspects, and the characters. I would give this a B- rating.

What I’m reading now!envious-casca

Envious Casca: Inspector Hemingway series by Georgette Heyer (audiobook)

Envious Casca is one of Georgette Heyer’s mysteries. She mostly wrote Historical Regency Romances, but she did write a few mysteries. This book includes a recurring Scotland Yard detective–Inspector Hemingway. Ms. Heyer wrote four books with this character.

The book includes a house party at Christmas and a locked room murder–classic mystery staples! I’m not very far into the story and I’m enjoying it so far!

eggnog-murderEggnog Murder by Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis & Barbara Ross

Three short stories:

  • “Eggnog Murder” by Leslie Meier
  • “Death by Eggnog” by Lee Hollis
  • “Nogged Off” by Barbara Ross

I’m reading “Eggnog Murder.” This is part of the Lucy Stone series. I’ve read a couple other books in this series: Mistletoe Murder and Trick or Treat Murder and like Lucy and the Maine setting.

I’m enjoying the story. I like that the series has moved forward: Lucy’s children are older and her oldest is living in Paris now! I like that the book shows the problems every family has and those often are exacerbated during Christmas! The mystery is good so far, too!




Ho-Ho-Ho Readathon Goals

HoHoHo Readathon Goals

I enjoy participating in the Ho-Ho-H0 Readathon every year. It’s hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer and is so much fun.

Besides reading or listening to books there are challenges to participate in as well as a twitter party (on Nov 15). And we can twitter our progress at #HoHoHoRAT.

Goals for Readathon

  • Read three Christmas/winter themed books
  • I hope I can take part in at least one challenge.
  • I want to tweet my progress during the week and participate in the twitter party.
  • I shared a favorite Christmas cookie recipe last year and hope to do the same this year.


I had this goal post written before my husband got sick. Because I’m going to focus on him especially the next couple of weeks my main participation is going to be reading. If I get anything else done that will be great, but I just have to see how it goes.

Books I’ll choose from

The Twelve Clues of Christmas by Rhys Bowen

Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen by Vicki Delany

Death of a Toy Soldier by Barbara Early

Eggnog Murder by Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis & Barbara Ross

Naughty or Nice: A Holiday Anthology edited by Jennifer Brozek

The Magic of Christmas by Sarah Morgan

Envious Casca: Inspector Hemingway series by Georgette Heyer

I also have a number of holiday romance short story anthologies so I may pick a story here and there from them.

If you haven’t signed up for this readathon check it out on Kimba’s website. It’s fun!









Christmas Gifts by Mary Balogh

christmas-giftsChristmas Gifts by Mary Balogh
Series: None
Genre: Historical Romance–Regency England
Setting: Christmas in England
Published by Class Ebook Editions Ltd., 2015 (reprints of three out-of-print novellas)
E-book, purchased
168 pages
Overall Grade: A-
Synopsis: CHRISTMAS GIFTS brings together three previously published and long out-of-print novellas, each on the theme of Christmas gifts that will last forever because the gift, in essence, is love.

In “The Best Christmas Ever” a boisterous house party is in progress and all the children when asked are eager to tell what they want for Christmas. But one man feels sad, for his young child has not spoken since her mother died and he does not know if the gifts he has bought her will be what she really wants. Unknown to him, her one fervent wish is for a new mother for Christmas, and when she sees one of the guests she knows who that will be. But the lady concerned has an unhappy history with the child’s father.

In “The Porcelain Madonna” a gentleman becomes involved with helping an impoverished lady, who thinks of everyone’s happiness but her own. However, he has seen her gaze with longing at a porcelain madonna well beyond her means displayed in a shop window.

In “The Surprise Party” a man and woman who are antagonistic to each other find themselves landed with the care over Christmas of children who are related to each of them. They quarrel over which of them should undertake the task. It is not a happy situation until the children teach them the true meaning of Christmas, and of love, and they discover that they can do it together.

Initial impressions

  • I know why Mary Balogh is one of my favorite authors when I read these novellas. These stories show how we all hope Christmas will be.
“The Best Christmas Ever”  — Rating: A
  • This is such a lovely story. A little girl (5 years old) who hasn’t spoken since she saw her mother drown three years ago. Her father who loves her fiercely, but is so worried she might never speak again.
  • Each of the children at their grandparents’ home tell their wish for Christmas. Except for Anna who doesn’t speak, but still makes a wish for a mother.
  • On Christmas Eve Day she sees the woman whom she is sure will be her mother, but her father doesn’t cooperate very well since he knows Emma Milford from the past and is still angry with her.
  • This is my favorite story in this series.
“The Porcelain Madonna”  — Rating: B+
  • This is a lovely story about a gentleman who has lost faith in people, is cynical and dislikes Christmas. When he sees a shabbily dressed young woman gazing into a jewelry shop window he sees it as “…the perfect picture of Christmas sentimentality….”
  • He stops a street urchin from running off with her reticule, but when he is going to teach the boy a lesson she stops him. She doesn’t want the boy harmed.
  • “But of course she was beautiful, and of course she was educated, and of course she was impoverished, he thought scornfully. What else could he have expected? And she had been admiring, not a golden bracelet or a diamond necklet, but a porcelain Madonna….”
“The Surprise Party” — Rating: B+
  • The parents of three young children have died. It’s nearly Christmas when their maternal uncle and paternal aunt arrive to take care of them. However, the aunt and uncle dislike each other and neither really wants the children.
  • However, when they decide the children should have a real and happy Christmas, they begin to forget their enmity and discover love for their nephew and nieces.


  • No real jeers. I just like one of the stories a little better than others.

And a few thoughts . . .

  •  These are lovely stories of people who have lost faith in themselves and others, who are down on their luck or need the spirit that can come at Christmas to change their lives.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • Mary Balogh‘s first book was published in 1985 and she’s been writing (over 70 novels and close to 30 novellas) ever since. The latest book is Only a Kiss, the 6th book in The Survivors’ Club series, published in September 2015.
  • She grew up in post-war Wales. She wanted to teach and travel so she took a 2-year contract in Saskatchewan, Canada. After a blind date with Robert Balogh she ended up marrying him and staying in Canada! She and Robert have three grown children. Her dream was to write, but that had to wait until their children were older.
  • When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, music and knitting. She also enjoys watching tennis and curling.

Reading Challenges

Christmas is Murder by C.S. Challinor

christmas-is-murderChristmas Is Murder by C.S. Challinor
Series: Rex Graves Mystery #1
Genre: Mystery
Setting: English countryside at Christmas
Published by Midnight Ink, 2008
E-book, purchased
203 pages
Grade: C-
Synopsis: Christmas is murder… when you’re stranded with a killer

Not even a blizzard can keep Rex Graves away from Swanmere Manor, a secluded Victorian hotel in the English countryside owned by the eccentric Dahlia Smithings. But instead of Christmas cheer, the Scottish barrister finds a dead guest. Was it a stroke that killed old Mr. Lawdry? Or an almond tart laced with poison?

When more guests die, all hopes for a jolly holiday are dashed. Snowbound and terrified, no one can escape the cold-blooded killer. Rex takes it upon himself to unravel the mystery. A biography of President George W. Bush found charred in the fireplace might offer a few clues. Could the killer be the sherry-swilling handyman? The gay antiques dealer with the biting wit? The quarreling newlyweds? Surely it’s not Helen D’Arcy, the lovely lass Rex seems to be falling for…

Initial impressions

  • This didn’t work very well for me. There’s not much Christmas cheer in this mystery. And it doesn’t feel cozy!


  • This is the classic isolated country home mystery often written about by Agatha Christie.
  • It was really hard to tell what time period this book takes place. I finally decided it was a contemporary after it mentions cell phones. It also mentions war and the hotel owner’s son killed in Iraq, but that could have been several wars. Part of my puzzlement about the time period is because the hotel is still lost in Victorian times.
  • It doesn’t bother me too much that this isn’t a cozy Christmas mystery. I like mysteries so the time of year didn’t matter.
  • However, I don’t like the characters very much. They were mostly one-dimensional and used to propel the plot.


  • I thought the mystery was far-fetched. The motive doesn’t work for me.
  • Rex Graves is in a relationship with someone who is now in Iraq, but he’s attracted to Helen D’Arcy. That bothered me.

And a few thoughts . . .

  • I bought this book to read last Christmas, but never got around to it.
  • This year I read it as part of the Ho-Ho-Ho Read-a-Thon and as a book for Wendy’s TBR Challenge. (See below)
  • Since this is the first in a series the books written after this may appeal to me more.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • C.S. Challinor was born in Bloomington, Indiana, and was educated in Scotland (St. George’s School for Girls, Edinburgh) and England (Lewes Priory, Sussex; University of Kent, Canterbury: Joint Hons Latin & French). She now resides in Southwest Florida. Her short stories have been published in women’s magazines in the United States and the United Kingdom. Challinor is a member of the Authors Guild, New York, and is the author of the Rex Graves cozy mystery series featuring Rex Graves, Scottish barrister-sleuth.

Reading Challenges

The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson

the-christmas-joy-ride-by-melody-carlsonThe Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson
Series: None
Genre: Christmas Fiction (Inspirational)
Setting: On the road between Chicago and Arizona
Published by Revell
Format: e-Arc (Release Date: Sep 1, 2015)
–I received a review copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.
176 pages
Grade: B
Synopsis: Miranda did not put adventure on her Christmas list, but thanks to her eighty-five-year-old neighbor Joy, that’s exactly what she’s getting this year. When Joy tells Miranda that she plans to drive an old RV decked out in Christmas decorations from their Chicago neighborhood to her new retirement digs in Phoenix–in the dead of winter, no less–the much younger Miranda insists that Joy cannot make such a trip by herself. Besides, a crazy trip with Joy would be more interesting than another Christmas home alone. Unemployed and facing foreclosure, Miranda feels she has nothing to lose by packing a bag and heading off to Route 66. But Joy has a hidden agenda for their Christmas joyride–and a hidden problem that could derail the whole venture.

No one captures the heartwarming fun of the Christmas season quite like Melody Carlson. Fasten your seat belt, because it’s going to be an exciting ride!

Initial impressions

  • Lots of Christmas cheer! A feel-good book.


  • I chose the book totally based on the cover. I thought it looked like a fun Christmas book and it was. I love the cover!
  • I didn’t realize it was an inspirational (Christian fiction), but though God and Jesus are talked about I didn’t think it was too much. After all, the book is about Christmas!
  • This is a road trip book which is always fun. And Joy has planned her trip stops to spread her Christmas joy to people who need help.
  • The author is good at creating unique situations and characters. I like that Joy who is 85 years old has a blog! And that Miranda who is Joy’s neighbor helps her with the blog. Joy has a motor home she plans to drive from Chicago to Arizona! Not many 85 year olds would plan a trip like that. Miranda steps in and insists on going with her to help.
  • I like that Joy doesn’t spend time feeling sorry for herself–her husband died, she had to sell the home she shared with her husband, she’s going to Arizona where her sons live to live in an assisted living facility. Instead she thinks about others and spreads Christmas joy wherever she goes.
  • Miranda is in worse trouble than Joy since she’s losing her home after her husband left her. She has little money and no job. But she’s willing to put her problems behind her to help Joy with her trip. (And it helps Miranda think about something besides her problems.)
  • There’s a bit of romance in the book.


  • All the people Joy picks to visit based on a contest on her blog are truly in need of help. There are no scams. I don’t think that’s realistic. However, the book is set at Christmas so it’s nice for that to happen.

And a few thoughts . . .

  • This was a quick read and a nice book for Christmas. A good reminder to think about others and not so much about ourselves.
  • I’m reviewing the book during the Ho-Ho-Ho Read-a-Thon for people looking for a Christmas book to read.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

–about Melody Carlson
  • “My husband Chris and I live in a cabin-style home next to the National Forest in the beautiful Cascade Mountain area of the Pacific Northwest. Our two grown sons and granddaughter live nearby and we try to see them as often as we can. We also have two “re-homed” pets to make life more interesting–our yellow Labrador retriever Audrey and a Maine coon cat named Harry.”

Reading Challenges

  • 2015 Goodreads Challenge
  • New Author Challenge–hosted by the Literary Escapism blog
  • Ultimate Reading Challenge–hosted by the Popsugar blog (a book set during Christmas)
  • Ho-Ho-Ho Read-a-Thon–hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer and Jennifer @ The Book Shelfery–a Christmas book review for people to enjoy during the Read-a-Thon.

Ho-Ho-Ho Read-a-Thon

Ho-Ho-Ho-Read-a-ThonThe Ho-Ho-H0Read-a-Thonis hosted

by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer and Jennifer @ The Book Shelfery.

December is one of my favorite times of the year and I really like reading holiday themed books set in the winter. I love sitting by my fire on a cold winter day reading and love reading about that, too! Kimba and Jennifer host a fun Read-a-Thon and I enjoyed participating last year.

There are challenges, a Twitter party (Tuesday, Nov 17 @ 7p.m. EST), a twitter hashtag (#HoHoHoRAT) and prizes. I have trouble participating in some of these things. I’m always torn between reading and participating, because I seldom get a book read during the Read-a-Thon.

My goals:

  • Read holiday books before the beginning of the Read-a-Thon and review them during the Read-a-Thon
  • Read holiday books during Read-a-Thon. List of books and stories I’m choosing from during the Read-a-Thon:

Christmas Gifts by Mary Balogh

Christmas Miracles by Mary Balogh

“Christmas Crumble” by M.C. Beaton

“Hot Toy” by Jennifer Cruisie

“Santa 365” by Spencer Quinn

My Buddhist Christmas by Jeremy Phillps

Christmas is Murder by C.S. Challinor

  • Participate in at least one challenge and the Twitter Party
  • Share one of my favorite Christmas cookie recipes

What about you? Do you enjoy reading holiday books? Are you participating in the Ho-Ho-H0 Read-a-Thon? If so, what are you planning to read?