books

Book Reports (88-90)...

For those of you who happened to Google your title and ended up here, please know that one star is not a bad thing in Robin's world -- just the fact that I picked up your book and started it means that somewhere it's getting good buzz (or that your blurb was really cool).

* I didn't make it beyond the first 20 pages.
** I made it to the end, but I either skimmed or skipped large sections.
*** I might have skipped/skimmed, but I liked it and might read it again.
**** I read at least 95% of the book and it was good -- probably will be reread.
***** I read every word, and I loved it! A favorite and definite reread.

This year, I'm only going to list the stars and a brief recommendation for the type of readers I think will enjoy the book [(R) means it's a re-read; [] means it's an ARC].



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*****
The Black Witch, by Laurie Forest -- highly recommended for those who like YA fantasy, those who like complex (and still understandable) world building, and those who like heroines who experience growth -- Harlequin Teen, 5/17

(So this has gotten a lot of press -- much of it originally very negative. I picked it up because of that, and I was pleasantly surprised at what I found. The characterization isn't perfect (there are a couple of antagonists who are pretty two-dimensional), and it takes the MC a looooong time to stand up for herself and begin to grow. However, this world is fascinating. I loved the diversity and how all the characters (other than the aforementioned) had strengths and weaknesses; there was no 'perfect' being, and they all had areas where they needed to grow, as well as areas where they could lead. I can't wait for the next one!)

****-
The Possible, by Tara Altebrando -- recommended for those who like unreliable narrators, those who like ambiguous endings, and those who like best-friends-to-romance -- Bloomsbury, 6/17

(I didn't find this as compelling as her first book (The Leaving), but it was still pretty fast-paced. The biggest issue was that I just didn't like the MC that much. She was okay, but she was also pretty self-centered and had tunnel vision. Even though she decided to change near the end, it was too little, too late (for me, at least).)

****+
[My New Crush Gave to Me, by Shani Petroff -- highly recommended for those who like sweet YA romance, those who like holiday tales, and those who like strong friendships -- Swoon Reads, 10/17]

(This was a fast and fun read. I liked the characters, and I loved the friendship between the MC and her bff. Also, despite being very predictable, the romance struggles were sweet, and I liked seeing how thoughtful her love was.)
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books

Book Reports (85-87)...

For those of you who happened to Google your title and ended up here, please know that one star is not a bad thing in Robin's world -- just the fact that I picked up your book and started it means that somewhere it's getting good buzz (or that your blurb was really cool).

* I didn't make it beyond the first 20 pages.
** I made it to the end, but I either skimmed or skipped large sections.
*** I might have skipped/skimmed, but I liked it and might read it again.
**** I read at least 95% of the book and it was good -- probably will be reread.
***** I read every word, and I loved it! A favorite and definite reread.

This year, I'm only going to list the stars and a brief recommendation for the type of readers I think will enjoy the book [(R) means it's a re-read; [] means it's an ARC].



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*****
The Ultimatum, by Karen Robards -- highly recommended for those who like suspense/thrillers, those who like strong but vulnerable heroines, and those who like hints of romance -- Mira Books, 6/17

****+
Superstition, by Karen Robards -- highly recommended for those who like paranormal thrillers, those who like family relationships, and those who like romantic suspense -- Signet, 5/06

****+
Hour of Need, by Melinda Leigh -- highly recommended for those who like romantic suspense, those who like dual-POV, and those who like strong family relationships -- Montlake Romance, 12/14
books

Book Reports (81-84)...

For those of you who happened to Google your title and ended up here, please know that one star is not a bad thing in Robin's world -- just the fact that I picked up your book and started it means that somewhere it's getting good buzz (or that your blurb was really cool).

* I didn't make it beyond the first 20 pages.
** I made it to the end, but I either skimmed or skipped large sections.
*** I might have skipped/skimmed, but I liked it and might read it again.
**** I read at least 95% of the book and it was good -- probably will be reread.
***** I read every word, and I loved it! A favorite and definite reread.

This year, I'm only going to list the stars and a brief recommendation for the type of readers I think will enjoy the book [(R) means it's a re-read; [] means it's an ARC].



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*****
A Merciful Truth, by Kendra Elliot -- highly recommended for those who've read the first (A Merciful Death), those who like slow-building mysteries, and those who like familial and romantic relationships as strong side plots -- Montlake Romance, 6/17

(This was just as good as the first, imo. I liked the building relationship between Mercy and Truman, and the mystery here was also very intriguing with a surprising twist (that I kind of guessed at, but still...). I can't wait for the third!)

****-
The Layered Mask, by Sue Brown -- recommended for those who like historical male/male romance, those who like novellas, and those who like happily ever after (even when slightly unrealistic) -- Dreamspinner Press, 7/15

(This was a quick read, and I liked the characters. For me, though, it just needed more...the ending could have worked better if we saw more about what happened after. *shrug* It was fun but not great.)

****
You Never Know, by Mary Calmes -- recommended for those who like Calmes' style, those who like contemporary male/male romance, and those who like 'first love return' stories -- Dreamspinner Press, 7/17

(I enjoyed this, even though it happened awfully quickly (the romance). I also thought the MC protested a LOT throughout the book that he wasn't in love with his first love still...and I wanted to see more about why Mitch gave up on Hagen in the first place (and how he ended up with a woman). Still, it's a sweet love story.)

****
Michael, Reinvented, by Diana Copland -- recommended for those who read David Renewed, those who like contemporary male/male romance, and those who like strong friendship tales -- Dreamspinner Press, 5/17

(I enjoyed this quite a bit, but it was more because of Gil and David/Jackson than Michael. It's just a personal annoyance of mine when a character stubbornly and continually refuses to admit to their own feelings, and that was part of the premise here. Still, I really like the idea behind the group of friends, and I will definitely read another book in this series -- maybe about Manny?)
books

Book Reports (77-80)...

For those of you who happened to Google your title and ended up here, please know that one star is not a bad thing in Robin's world -- just the fact that I picked up your book and started it means that somewhere it's getting good buzz (or that your blurb was really cool).

* I didn't make it beyond the first 20 pages.
** I made it to the end, but I either skimmed or skipped large sections.
*** I might have skipped/skimmed, but I liked it and might read it again.
**** I read at least 95% of the book and it was good -- probably will be reread.
***** I read every word, and I loved it! A favorite and definite reread.

This year, I'm only going to list the stars and a brief recommendation for the type of readers I think will enjoy the book [(R) means it's a re-read; [] means it's an ARC].



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****
Wesley James Ruined My Life, by Jennifer Honeybourn -- recommended for those who like YA romance, those who like Anglophiles, and those who don't mind a slightly predictable read -- Swoon Reads, 7/17

(This was fun, despite the predictability. I did find the main character's childish insistence that Wesley had ruined her life (the basis of the book) to be a little annoying, but I still sympathized with her struggles.)

****+
The Ends of the World, by Maggie Hall -- highly recommended for those who've read the rest of the series, those who like YA intrigue/suspense, and those who like sweet YA romance -- GP Putnam & Sons BFYR, 7/17

(This was a solid wrap up for the trilogy, and I liked both the plot and the character development. It did lose a little intensity for me in this final book, but it still had good pacing, and I liked the twists and turns throughout Avery's journey.)

** (DNF)
Six of Crows, by Leah Bardugo -- recommended to myself for future: even though I only read the first couple of chapters, I think I would really enjoy it when I'm in a different frame of mind -- Henry Holt, 9/15

(I didn't get far into this, but I like the characters. Right now, the world building is a little too complex for my summer-break state of mind. ;) But I think this is a book I'll really enjoy at another time.)

*****
Bait and Switch, by MC Lee -- highly recommended for those who've read the rest of the series, for those who like YA spy/intrigue, and for those who like sweet YA (male/male) romance -- Harmony Ink Press, 7/17

(I've enjoyed this series, even though it's hard to read at times because Jack is treated so poorly by many of the adults in his life. Still, the situations Jack finds himself in and how he gets himself out is intriguing and engaging. Plus, I like the romance. :) )
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books

Book Reports (69-76)...

For those of you who happened to Google your title and ended up here, please know that one star is not a bad thing in Robin's world -- just the fact that I picked up your book and started it means that somewhere it's getting good buzz (or that your blurb was really cool).

* I didn't make it beyond the first 20 pages.
** I made it to the end, but I either skimmed or skipped large sections.
*** I might have skipped/skimmed, but I liked it and might read it again.
**** I read at least 95% of the book and it was good -- probably will be reread.
***** I read every word, and I loved it! A favorite and definite reread.

This year, I'm only going to list the stars and a brief recommendation for the type of readers I think will enjoy the book [(R) means it's a re-read; [] means it's an ARC].



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***+
Shade Me, by Jennifer Brown -- recommended for those who like YA thrillers/mysteries, those who are interested in synesthesia, and those who like complicated families -- Katherine Tegan Books, 1/16

(The premise is interesting here, and I liked the plot. But I think what held me back from loving it was the weird way that the MC interacted with the male characters in the story. She seemed to 'fall in love' on a whim, and I could quite see what attracted her to any of the guys -- except one, and that's the one she kept pushing away. I will look for the next one, however, because I really did enjoy the mystery and want to learn more.)

****+
Noteworthy, by Riley Redgate -- highly recommended for those who love choir (especially acapella groups), those who enjoy feisty heroines, and those who like boarding school tales -- Amulet Books, 5/17

(I enjoyed this (and found the overall premise -- a girl disguising herself as a guy to get into a singing group -- intriguing and plausible), even though there was some hard-to-believe moments. The rivalry between the two boys' groups seemed a little over the top, but I could see how some of the characters felt the pressures they did. Some of the MC's inner thoughts seemed...contrived? For instance, when the other guys thought she was gay, and she started wondering if she was minimizing the real gay experience (or something along those lines) -- it didn't feel organic, I guess, but rather like someone was forcing her to think in a PC manner. Other than that, I enjoyed the story and all the characters quite a bit.)

***
And Then There Were Four, by Nancy Werlin -- recommended for those who like YA suspense, those who like romance (both straight and GLBT), and those who like triumphant heroes -- Dial Books, 6/17

(I thought this would be a little more suspenseful than it was. I actually didn't read the flap-jacket copy all that clearly, but I still figured out exactly what was going on from the very beginning -- and I personally found the narrative style of one of the MCs very annoying and hard to read. So it was okay but not great, and that's why I skimmed most of it.)

*****
whatever., by S.J. Goslee -- highly recommended for those who like humorous teen 'coming of age' stories, those who like strong supporting characters, and those who like quirky narrative styles -- Roaring Brook Press, 8/16

(Even though it took me a while to adjust to the narrative style, once I did, I really enjoyed this. Mike is so humorous and blunt -- and his struggles with accepting his sexuality, along with his perceptions of those around him, make this a realistic and very entertaining read. Plus, it has a very sweet love story. :D)

****+
[Coming Up for Air, by Miranda Kenneally -- highly recommended for Kenneally fans, for those who like athletic girls, those who like teen romance and angst, and those who like happy endings -- Sourcebooks Fire, 7/17]

(I definitely enjoyed this, and even though I thought the MC was a little over-the-top in her reactions from time to time, that's pretty realistic for some teens. And, as always with Kenneally tales, I really liked the athleticism and determination her characters hold.)

***+
[Genius: the Con, by Leopoldo Gout -- recommended for those who read the first one, those who like international tech thrillers, and those who like crazy smart teens -- Feiwel & Friends, 8/17]

(I enjoyed this, although about halfway through I realized that we'd been told what would happen, so all that was left was to see *how* it happened...and that kind of weakened the tension for me (and I started skimming). That said, it's still a very interesting premise, and I will definitely look for the third one to see how the final takedown occurs.)

**
[The Revenge, by Hannah Jayne -- recommended for those who like somewhat predictable 'thrillers,' those who like dual-POVs, and those who like mean/selfish teens -- Sourcebooks Fire, 7/17]

(I didn't really enjoy this much. I think it was supposed to be surprisingly twisty, but I figured out what was going on almost immediately (within the first chapter). So for me, the tension just wasn't there. Plus, I didn't feel like the ending was very satisfactory -- there wasn't a ton of (any?) character growth. It's quite possible, however, that the target audience (actual teens) would find it much more enjoyable.)
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books

Book Reports (66-68)...

For those of you who happened to Google your title and ended up here, please know that one star is not a bad thing in Robin's world -- just the fact that I picked up your book and started it means that somewhere it's getting good buzz (or that your blurb was really cool).

* I didn't make it beyond the first 20 pages.
** I made it to the end, but I either skimmed or skipped large sections.
*** I might have skipped/skimmed, but I liked it and might read it again.
**** I read at least 95% of the book and it was good -- probably will be reread.
***** I read every word, and I loved it! A favorite and definite reread.

This year, I'm only going to list the stars and a brief recommendation for the type of readers I think will enjoy the book [(R) means it's a re-read; [] means it's an ARC].



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***
Whenever I'm With You, by Lydia Sharp -- recommended for those who like sweet romance, those who like less familiar settings (Alaska, in this case), and those who like tales of healing -- Scholastic, 1/17

(This was sweet, and I liked the characters. It was a little slow-moving for my taste, which is why I ended up skimming the last half.)

***+
Split the Sun, by Tessa Elwood -- recommended for those who like sci-fi, those who like angsty circumstances, and those who like teen romance -- Running Press Books, 12/16

(This was mostly enjoyable, though the world building was weak. It also was a little annoying that Kit had everyone (and everything) completely against her. It simply didn't seem even slightly realistic...but the romance made up for some of it, though it was kind of instalove -- and not always well defined. I suppose that's why I did some skimming.)

****
Antisocial, by Jillian Blake -- recommended for those who like books about social media, those who like teen drama, and those who don't mind overly shallow teen depictions -- Delacorte, 5/17

(The premise here was pretty interesting -- and mostly realistic, I'd say. I also liked the main character and sympathized with her. However, her inner dialogue/personal narrative didn't really jive with statements regarding her past actions, including older texts by her. I didn't think someone with her sympathy and perception would be so mean to her friends. In fact, that was a weakness I found with most of the teen depictions here: all of them were mean or shallow or even cruel. It was like the author is trying to say that teens can't be thoughtful or careful or circumspect in their actions. It's very possible that the goal was to show how all that gets thrown out in social media or texting...and that's probably realistic. Many, many people text things or use social media in ways they would *never* do in person or to someone's face...so all in all, a thought-provoking tale.)
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books

Book Reports (62-65)...

For those of you who happened to Google your title and ended up here, please know that one star is not a bad thing in Robin's world -- just the fact that I picked up your book and started it means that somewhere it's getting good buzz (or that your blurb was really cool).

* I didn't make it beyond the first 20 pages.
** I made it to the end, but I either skimmed or skipped large sections.
*** I might have skipped/skimmed, but I liked it and might read it again.
**** I read at least 95% of the book and it was good -- probably will be reread.
***** I read every word, and I loved it! A favorite and definite reread.

This year, I'm only going to list the stars and a brief recommendation for the type of readers I think will enjoy the book [(R) means it's a re-read; [] means it's an ARC].



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***-
Whiskers of a Chance, by Tempeste O'Riley -- recommended for those who like shape-shifter male/male romance, those who like dual-POV, and those who like family drama -- Dreamspinner Press, 9/15

(I don't love shape-shifter books, but this one sounded interesting from the blurb. Sadly, for me, it didn't live up to the premise. One major reason why it didn't work for me is because the dual POV was poorly handled. A problem would be introduced in one character's narrative and then resolved off-screen while the other character was narrating. :( It made the entire tale really disjointed, and after just a few chapters, I honestly no longer cared about either character's struggles.)

****
Spiraled, by Kendra Elliot -- recommended for those who like the series (Vanished), those who like law-enforcement/FBI tales, and those who like psychological drama -- Montlake Romance, 9/15

(I'm still a fan, but I had to take a break after this segment. The characters continue to intrigue me, but I don't enjoy reading about people struggling with depression and other mental disorders -- just my own preference. Because Ava, one of the MCs, really 'spirals' quickly in this book, it was hard for me to read. I'm hoping the 4th and final book gives her a chance to recover and move forward.)

****+
Obsession, by Karen Robards -- highly recommended for those who like romantic suspense, those who like CIA tales, and those who like amnesia tales -- Signet Book, 5/08

(I liked the suspense here, and the tension between the two romantic leads was pretty good. It's a fun and quick read.)

****+
Shattered, by Karen Robards -- highly recommended for those who like 'cold case' mysteries, those who like romantic suspense, and those who like complicated families -- Signet Books, 4/11

(I especially liked the various characters in this one. The setting also played an important role in both the mood and the tension. Very enjoyable!)
books

Book Reports (53-61)...

For those of you who happened to Google your title and ended up here, please know that one star is not a bad thing in Robin's world -- just the fact that I picked up your book and started it means that somewhere it's getting good buzz (or that your blurb was really cool).

* I didn't make it beyond the first 20 pages.
** I made it to the end, but I either skimmed or skipped large sections.
*** I might have skipped/skimmed, but I liked it and might read it again.
**** I read at least 95% of the book and it was good -- probably will be reread.
***** I read every word, and I loved it! A favorite and definite reread.

This year, I'm only going to list the stars and a brief recommendation for the type of readers I think will enjoy the book [(R) means it's a re-read; [] means it's an ARC].



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****-
Darkest Hour Before Dawn, by Charlie Cochet -- recommended for readers of the THIRDS series, for those who like male/male romance, and for those who like sci-fi tales -- Dreamspinner Press, 4/17

(I purposefully didn't get one of the earlier books in the series because I didn't think I'd want to read in-depth narrative from that couple...and honestly, I should have left this one out too. I still read every word, but I was pretty disappointed by the end -- mostly because I felt like the doc was such a wimp. He just didn't stand up for what he wanted, and his waffling was almost painful to read. It just wasn't for me -- but I liked the other characters. :) )

****
A Day Makes, by Mary Calmes -- recommended for those who like Calmes' style, those who like male/male romance, those who like assassin/mob tales, and those who like quick-starting love affairs -- Dreamspinner Press, 4/17

(I read a couple of other reviews -- before I bought this -- which said that the first 2/3 was very compelling but it kind of sinks a bit after that. I would completely agree. I really enjoyed the introduction to Ceaton's unusual life, and I liked the set-up for what would come...but yeah, the last 1/3 seemed not only rushed but fairly convenient? Anyway, I would read more about Ceaton and Brinley, regardless.)

****+
Pursuit, by Karen Robards -- highly recommended for those who like romantic suspense, those who like lawyer tales, and those who like FBI agents -- Signet Books, 2/10

****
Justice, by Karen Robards -- recommended for those who enjoyed the first (and those who like all of the above) -- Signet Books, 7/11

(These were fun, and I like both characters -- Jessica and Mark. I like the plots, as well, though the second wasn't quite as compelling. Still, very distracting and enjoyable reads.)

****
Sleepwalker, by Karen Robards -- recommended for those who like romantic suspense, those who like cop heroines, and those who like roguish thieves -- Pocket Books, 7/12

*****
A Merciful Death, by Kendra Elliot -- highly recommended for those who like suspense/mysteries, those who like strong-but-vulnerable heroines, those who like dual-POVs, and those who like cop/FBI tales -- Montlake Romance, 1/17

(I really enjoyed this. The writing is laid back yet fluid, the characters are complex, and the plots are tight. I was engaged throughout, and I will definitely be looking for the next one in the series. :) )

*****
Vanished, by Kendra Elliot -- highly recommended for those who like suspense/mysteries, those who like dual-POV, and those who like cop/FBI tales -- Montlake Romance, 6/14

****
Bridged, by Kendra Elliot -- recommended for the same reasons as above -- Montlake Romance, 2/15

(Can you tell I've discovered a new author? :D I really like Elliot's writing style, and I'm currently devouring the Vanished series. I didn't like the second one quite as much, but that had to do more with the subject matter (and some of the gruesome details -- which weren't graphic but were still disturbing) than anything else. I still love the characters, and I'm currently a quarter through the third one.)

**
One Second After, by William R. Forstchen -- recommended for those who like apocalyptic tales, those who like family survival, and those who like sci-fi -- Forge, 3/09

(I liked this, but it was too intense for me to handle with everything else going on. I'm putting here mainly to remind myself to pick it up again when things have calmed down. :) )

Funny how I've found some adult books to love currently...my TBR pile is almost half-and-half, though, so the variety should be good.
books

Book Reports (48-52)...

For those of you who happened to Google your title and ended up here, please know that one star is not a bad thing in Robin's world -- just the fact that I picked up your book and started it means that somewhere it's getting good buzz (or that your blurb was really cool).

* I didn't make it beyond the first 20 pages.
** I made it to the end, but I either skimmed or skipped large sections.
*** I might have skipped/skimmed, but I liked it and might read it again.
**** I read at least 95% of the book and it was good -- probably will be reread.
***** I read every word, and I loved it! A favorite and definite reread.

This year, I'm only going to list the stars and a brief recommendation for the type of readers I think will enjoy the book [(R) means it's a re-read; [] means it's an ARC].



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****+
#famous, by Jilly Gagnon -- highly recommended for those who like dual-POV tales, those who like strong-but-vulnerable heroines, and those who like sweet (though angsty) teen romance -- Katherine Tegan Books, 2/17

(In some ways, this was hard to read because the heroine was maligned by *everyone* for the first 2/3 of the book...but eventually, people began to see what was really happening, and once the hero pulled his head out -- ha -- it came together.)

****+
The Body Market, by Donna Freitas -- highly recommended for those who read the first one (Unplugged), for those who like strong heroines, for those who like intriguing futuristic worlds, and for those who don't mind a bit of a love triangle -- Harper Teen, 3/17

(I definitely liked this one, though not quite as much as the first. But that's partially because I'm not a huge fan of love triangles, and this one is...well, complicated and not very beneficial for the heroine, to avoid spoilers. Anyway, I wasn't happy with how Freitas left things here, but that doesn't in any way diminish my desire to read the last book -- and my hope that everything will fit together perfectly. :) )

***-
Nemesis, by Brendan Reichs -- recommended for those who like unique dystopia, those who like gutsy heroines, and those who don't mind some mystery remaining at the end (this is the first book in a series/duology?) -- GP Putnam BFYR, 3/17

(I liked the premise a lot, and I especially liked the heroine...but I couldn't stand the majority of the other characters, and I didn't like the constant deception of many of the adults ((even once it's revealed why, it still irked me)). I will most likely pick up the next one, just to see what happens, but unless the other characters become more human, it's not really for me.)

****+
Hysteria, by Megan Miranda -- highly recommended for those who like YA thrillers, those who like strong heroines, those who like sweet teen romance, and those who like complex characters -- Walker & Co, 2/13

(I enjoyed this very much. I liked the complexity of all the characters, though I felt like Mallory's parents were ridiculously weak. Still, that's a pretty minor complaint, and the pacing of the book was strong, to me, and made up for that.)

**+
[Follow Me Back, by AV Geiger -- recommended for those who like multi-media presentations, those who like insta-love (in some ways), those who like dual-POV, and those who like cliff-hanger endings -- Sourcebooks Fire, 6/17]

(The biggest issue I had with this tale was the main heroine. I liked the hero a lot, and I felt like his struggles were realistic and relate-able. But I didn't get Tessa (for the record, I'm very much in the minority on this -- most readers seem to understand Tessa better). I didn't really like her, and I didn't have a ton of sympathy for her, either. I also didn't enjoy the overly (to me) dramatic feel to the narrative. I might or might not pick up the next one.)