books

Book Reports (69-74)...

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; DNF means *did not finish*].

DNF (stopped around 20%)
Stillhouse Lake, by Rachel Caine -- even though I didn't finish this, I think it will appeal to those who like psychological suspense; it's definitely filled with tension -- Thomas & Mercer, 7/17

(I really prefer more romance in my romantic suspense novels, and this was pretty much missing that aspect. That said, the writing is solid, and I found the premise intriguing. Also, because I stopped so early in the book, it's possible the romance was still to come (though the ending -- which I always read, of course -- didn't really seem to follow that idea).)

**-
The Color of Love, by Sharon Sala -- recommended for those who like romances along the lines of Sleeping with the Enemy, those who like books with strong settings, and those who like vignette-type stories -- Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2/18

(Ironically, this one was too much of a romance and not enough (not really any) of the suspense. I skimmed to the end, but it's definitely not to my taste. I don't really like the abused-wife trope, and although I *do* like strong setting and vignette tales (ala Fannie Flagg or Maeve Binchy), this one just didn't work for me.)

**
The Dry, by Jane Harper -- recommended for those who like stories set in Australia, those who like small-town settings, and those who like grit and mysteries from childhood -- Flatiron Books, 1/17

(This one was a rec, and I should have known it wouldn't really be to my taste. Many of my friends like more literary books, and this one definitely swings in that direction. I *don't* like literary books, so this just didn't work for me (though the writing is good).)

****
Shift's End, by A.R. Barley -- recommended for those who like male/male romance, those who like firefighter tales, and those who like some suspense/mystery -- Carina Press, 8/18

(I enjoyed this. It's a fun read -- not necessarily fantastic but definitely enjoyable.)

***
Alpha Unit One, New York, by Chris T. Kat -- recommended for those who like shifter tales, those who like law enforcement MCs, and those who like insta-love -- Dreamspinner Press, 7/18

(Hm...the premise to this was intriguing, and I read the entire book (though skimming was involved)...but I was *really* frustrated by the end. I think if I used stars to determine my level of enjoyment, this would get only 2 stars. :( My main complaints: the insta-love (yuck), the majority of the story took place off-screen (it was very confusing; I kept thinking there were chapters missing or something), and a premise (baby shifters) that was fairly original but just didn't deliver. I don't know if I'd pick up another by this author or not.)

****
Stalking Buffalo Bill, by J. Leigh Bailey -- recommended for those who like shifter mysteries (male/male) and those who like unusual settings (Cody, WY) -- Dreamspinner Press, 9/17

(This was another fun (though not awesome, necessarily) read. I liked the characters, I like the unusual shifter (buffalo? :D), and I loved the setting. I thought the romance was sweet and not too ridiculous (though any shifter romance with 'mates' has that insta-love feel, I think). Quick and easy. :) )

It's been kind of a dry spell for amazing books, sigh. I've been resorting to a ton of re-reads, and while that can be fun too, it's also frustrating not to find anything new to really *love*. Here's hoping things will pick up soon!
books

Book Reports (64-67)...

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].

****+
A Merciful Silence, by Kendra Elliot -- highly recommended for those who've read the rest of the Mercy series, for those who like unique situations (like Sovereign Citizens), for those who like an intriguing mystery, and for those who like established relationships and continued romance -- Montlake Romance, 6/18

(I really like this series by Elliot. She has some crossover with her other series, as well, and though I liked one of them (Targeted), the other was a little more gruesome than I prefer. This book also got a bit gruesome (losing 1/2 star), but I still like Mercy and Truman SO MUCH that I will continue on!)

***+
Auld Lang Syne, by Tia Fielding -- recommended for those who like ranch settings, those who like sweet (though brief) male/male romance, and those who like low-to-little angst -- Dreamspinner Press, 7/11

(This was sweet but a little shallow for my personal taste. It was a snippet, really, and although I liked both Jack and Blair, it didn't really delve into their characters enough for me to feel I knew them well.)

****
Thank My Lucky Scars, by Tia Fielding -- recommended for those who like UK settings, those who like sweet/sincere MCs, those who like dual POV, and those who like low angst -- Dreamspinner Press, 4/12

(Though it's the same author, I connected more with both Nick and Matty here. I think the dual POV helped with that. Plus, although it's a short story, a greater time period is covered, and even though some of it is definitely *telling* rather than *showing*, I still enjoyed seeing how they conquered their distance issue. It was sweet, and I'm more likely to re-read this one than the other.)

****-
Sinner's Gin, by Rhys Ford -- recommended for those who like gruesome, angsty tales, those who like male/male romance, those who like big families, and those who like cop tales -- Dreamspinner Press, 12/12

(So I got this one because I'd read about Kane and Miki in one of Mary Calmes' books, and I was curious. I especially liked the sound of Kane's huge family, and I *did* like that aspect. But Miki's background was so awful, and the graphic descriptions of the gore weren't to my taste, either. Plus, Kane falls so quickly for Miki -- like immediately -- and I couldn't really get what drew him in (even though he explains it to his partner near the end in a nice way...a way that I got even, but am I just supposed to take the author's word for it that this is why?). In other words, Miki's character was incredibly broken and rude and difficult, and I didn't ever *see* him behaving in the way that Kane said attracted him. *shrug* So I didn't love it, and I might pick up the next one (about Kane's older brother), but I suspect that will be it for me with this style.)
books

Book Reports (59-62)...

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].

****
[Lies, by T.M. Logan -- recommended for those who like psychological thrillers, those who like British settings, and those who like male narrators -- St. Martin's Press, 9/18]

(I got this ARC in the mail, and I read it in one sitting. It's definitely chilling (as advertised on the back copy), and the person behind it all was a surprise. Perhaps because it's written by a male (and has a male narrator), there's not a ton of emotional angst, but I still enjoyed the pacing and tension throughout.)

****+
The Moscow Deception, by Karen Robards -- highly recommended for those who read the first one (The Ultimatum), for Robards fans, for those who like romantic suspense (though the romance is fairly non-existent in this), and those who don't mind cliff hangers -- Mira Books, 6/18

(I definitely enjoyed this (and have been waiting since I read the first one for this to come out), but *another* cliff hanger?? Yeesh...still, Bianca is nice and feisty, and even though it seems unlikely that she could really pull off all she does, what do I know about thieving? :D And I think Colin will eventually make this romantic suspense, so I'm willing to wait and see.)

****-
A to Z, by Marie Sexton -- recommended for those who like male/male romance, those who like Colorado settings (yay!), and those who like oblivious love interests -- Dreamspinner Press, 3/10

(I enjoyed this, for the most part. I will admit that Zach's cluelessness started to irritate me by the end, though. Also, he went from being a total doormat as far as relationships are concerned to suddenly knowing his heart and deciding he was completely in love with Angelo...hm. That part just didn't seem realistic to me, I guess. There's a whole series about these two, and apparently their relationship turns into an open relationship -- and that's not really my thing. So I liked it but didn't love it.)

****-
BAMF, by SJD Peterson -- recommended for those who like male/male romance, those who like pseudo-mysteries, and those who like libraries (ha) -- Dreamspinner Press, 7/14

(I also enjoyed this one, though the actual mystery portion wasn't much of a mystery (and 99% of it happened off page). I also found it a little unrealistic, but again, I'm not an expert in witness protection and all it entails. Still, the romance is sweet, if a bit insta-love, and I liked the half-hearted attempt at making the library a setting (um, not that it was half-hearted but they she at least tried).)
books

Book Reports (57)...

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].

****
Darkness, by Karen Robards -- recommended for those who like a thriller setup, those who like Karen Robards, and those who like a dual fight between survival from the elements and survival from hired killers -- Pocket Books, 12/16

(This was an easy read, and I liked it. I personally prefer thrillers which also have a mystery/suspense component, and this was kind of missing that aspect. Still, it was entertaining, and as I read it on the plane, it definitely kept my interest.)
books

Book Reports (56)...

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].

****-
Love in Spades, by Charlie Cochet -- recommended for those who like military MCs, those who like dual POV, those who like Charlie Cochet, and those who like passionate male/male love stories -- Createspace, 4/18

(I liked this, though I suspect I'll enjoy later books more. This one rushed through the romance a bit (kind of insta-love, which I don't love, ha) and spent extra time on the world building. It annoyed me how often I'd read something like this: In the past weeks, he'd discovered... -- and what he discovered was all off page! Really? That's so not for me. But again, I think the next book will hopefully be more detailed and present with the couple (as most of her other books are that way). And, as is usually the case with Cochet, I like the set up (four friends running a security company). So I will be giving the next book a chance, even though I wanted to like this one much more than I actually did.)

Well, I'm still not doing a great job keeping this up-to-date. *eye roll* BUT I am getting a new website going -- and it will have all my YA reviews on it. I'll post that link when it's all ready to go. :D
books

Book Reports (50-55)...

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].

**
Folded Notes from High School, by Matthew Boren -- recommended for those who like unique narrative styles (all notes, in this case), those who like 'historical' contemporary tales (ha, because it's set in the early '90s), and those who like unsympathetic MCs -- Razorbill, 4/18

(I couldn't get past how awful the MC was, tbh. Not only that, but there wasn't really a story arc. She started out being mean and manipulative, and the story ended with her doing the same...I didn't see any growth or closure, and I honestly wasn't sure if those around her figured out what she was doing or not -- which was a fault of the narrative style, which I also didn't love. All in all, not for me.)

***
The Handsome Girl & Her Beautiful Boy, by B.T. Gottfred -- recommended for those who like non-traditional love stories, those who like dual POV, and those who like tales centered around gender/sexual fluidity -- Henry Holt, 5/18

(So I picked this up because of the gender/sexual fluidity, but it wasn't my favorite. The main characters (Art and Zee) are both so confused and angsty that I felt like I was on the precipice of a whirlpool of emotion the entire time -- and although I think that's pretty impressive for the author to accomplish, it didn't sit well with me, personally. That said, I think this is a pretty important book for any teen who is struggling with their sexuality or understanding their place in the world, and I liked the overall theme of acceptance (self and otherwise)).

****+
Ruthless Magic, by Megan Crewe -- highly recommended for those who like fantasy, those who like dual POV, those who liked The Testing and/or The Hunger Games, and those who like teen love stories (although this isn't the focus) -- Another World Press, 5/18

(I really enjoyed this! Of course, I'm a fan of Megan's books (and got to be a beta reader for her Fallen World trilogy), so it's not that surprising. But man, she did an awesome job of blending two fantasy aspects (the idea of taking a test to enter a magic school and competing against others 'to the death' for that spot) -- plus, there's enough hinting about political issues coming up to entice readers for the next in the series. I also liked both the MCs, which helps. :D)

****+
A Prom to Remember, by Sandy Hall -- highly recommended for those who like multiple POV, those who like a variety of love stories (gay and straight), and those who like thoughtful teen perspectives -- Swoon Reads, 4/18

(This is a fun read, though it has some thoughtful and insightful moments, as well. I liked most of the teen narrators, and I thought the different takes on prom and its importance/role were pretty spot on. The diversity here is also well done and realistic (diversity in sexual preference, economics, and race). All in all, a good read!)

****+
Not If I Save You First, by Ally Carter -- highly recommended for Carter fans, for those who like strong heroines (though she struggles physically but is determined), those who like survival tales, and those who like sweet romance -- Scholastic Press, 3/18

(This is another fun and quick read. I always enjoy Carter's books, and the heroine here isn't as immature as I found the one in the previous trilogy. I liked Maddie's determination and fierceness, and the relationship between her and Logan is truly sweet. The survival aspects (in the Alaskan wilderness) are also engaging.)

****-
Things I Can't Forget, by Miranda Kenneally -- recommended for those who like Kenneally's Hundred Oaks series, those who like religious characters, those who like summer camp settings, and those who like naive MCs -- Sourcebooks Fire, 3/13

(Well, I didn't love this one, which is sad (as I tend to really enjoy Kenneally's books). It was just too...too. The main character is naive and ignorant, at best, and her strict adherence to religious rules without understanding the ideas behind them really bugged me (perhaps because I knew people like this when I was young?). In some ways, she reminded me of me as a young teen (not an 18-year old), but the growth she *should* have experienced at that age just didn't happen. *sigh* I couldn't believe Matthew would be able to see past all that and stick with her (though it's nice that he did). Interestingly, Matthew is also the older brother of Jeremiah, the love interest in Breathe, Annie, Breathe, my favorite of Kenneally's books...)