books

Book Reports (14-22)...

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*].

****+

The Valentine's Day Resolution, by Ava Hayden -- highly recommended for those who like sweet male/male romances, those who like dual POV, and those who like a solid resolution -- Dreamspinner Press, 8/17

(I like Hayden's writing, and this was similar to her other works in its overall satisfying feeling and sweet romance. There's always a hint of angst, but the characters are sympathetic, and the epilogue resolved pretty much everything (perhaps more tidily than is realistic, LOL).)

*****

A Merciful Fate, by Kendra Elliot -- highly recommended for those who like the Mercy Kilpatrick series, for those who like mystery/suspense, and for those who like stories with rural/unique settings -- Montlake Romance, 1/19

(I loved this 5th book in the series just as much as the others. I think my favorite parts are Mercy herself (she's the best combination of fiery and vulnerable), Truman (who's so calm and giving and real), their relationship (which is mature and lovely), and the colorful secondary characters (all of whom are pretty unique and complex). Okay, I just like everything about it. :D I can't wait for the next one!)

****

Last Look, by Mariah Stewart -- recommended for those who like suspense, those who like cold case files, and those who like romance (non graphic) -- Ballantine Books, 5/07

(I enjoyed the mystery aspects of this, but I thought the characterizations and romance could have been a little stronger. They weren't bad, by any means, but I like a little more emotion and heat between the love interests, and this was pretty mild. Still, the mystery really was pretty engaging.)

****

Dark Waters, by Toni Anderson -- recommended for fans of Toni Anderson, for those who liked the first one (Dangerous Waters), for those who like mystery/suspense, for those who like dual-POV, for those who like Canadian coastal settings, and for those who like steamy (though not too graphic) romance -- Montlake Romance, 8/13

(Although I didn't like this as much as the first, it was still an enjoyable read. This one focused on Brent Carver (Finn's older brother) and his involvement with his ex-cellmate's daughter. I like the Canadian setting, but I tell you what, I'm really glad I live in the US with its justice system (despite all the flaws) compared to what they face in Canada!)

****-

Dark Truth, by Mariah Stewart -- recommended for those who like mystery/suspense, those who like non-graphic romance, and those who like sympathetic characters -- Ballantine Books, 10/05

(I enjoyed the mystery here, although I figured out the killer pretty early on. Still, it was an interesting journey, despite the lack of heat in the romance.)

***

Screwups, by Jamie Fessenden -- recommended for those who like male/male romance, those who like college tales, those who like coming out tales, and those who don't mind somewhat selfish characters -- Dreamspinner Press, 3/14

(I didn't love this, sadly. The premise sounded intriguing, and the writing itself was fine. But I didn't really enjoy the way Danny made everything about him. I felt like Jake was a much more sympathetic character, and even though Danny clearly had a hard time of things, to me it didn't justify his behavior. *shrug* I think it just wasn't for me.)

*

[Sleepless in San Francisco, by Ryan Field -- recommended for those who like tons of graphic sex (male/male) with very little plot -- Riverdale Avenue Books, 12/18]

(Yeah, I didn't like this at all. The characters were one-dimensional, there was little-to-no world building, the emotional connection was pretty much non-existent...you get the picture. It was basically just a ton of sex -- really, just sex scene, filler, sex scene, filler, etc. Totally not my taste.)

****-

[Perfect Match, by AG Meiers -- recommended for those who like male/male romance, those who like mail-order-bride-type set-ups, and those who are willing to suspend their disbelief -- Riptide Publishing, 1/19]

(I ended up liking the two main characters quite a bit, but the whole set up was so outlandish and unbelievable to me that it kind of ruined the story some. Basically, there is this dating website that promises a 'perfect match,' and they sent a stranger to Canada to pretend to be another man's perfect match...it was just ridiculous. Also, Jayden's reasons for going along with the pretense also seem weak to me. But I like Sven, and I like Sven's family -- and Jayden grew on me.)

*****

[Off the Ice, by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn -- highly recommended for those who like male/male romance, those who like pro hockey, those who like coming-out tales, and those who like somewhat graphic (and fairly frequent) sex -- Riptide, 10/17]

(I loved this! I loved all the hockey aspects (which weren't overdone, imo), and in fact, I loved Tristan in every way. Sebastian took a little longer to warm up to, but he definitely felt like a good partner to Tristan. There was a part near the end that I didn't love, I will admit, and there was more sex that I personally prefer, but overall, this is a very entertaining read, and I can't wait for the next one in the series (doesn't come out till June, waaah).)
books

Book Report (9-13)...

****+

https://www.robinprehn3r.com/blog-1/robin-reads-the-boy-next-story

****

https://www.robinprehn3r.com/blog-1/robin-reads-that-s-not-what-happened

***

https://www.robinprehn3r.com/blog-1/robin-reads-the-almost-truth

***-

https://www.robinprehn3r.com/blog-1/robin-reads-the-hanging-girl

**

(I didn't review this one on my site because I really didn't like it much. There wasn't a single character in the book that I found sympathetic or even realistic. They were all whiny, selfish, and thoughtless -- ick. Micah (who's gay) was the closest to someone worth reading about, and by the end, I thought there might be hope for him...but it wasn't enough to save the book for me.)
books

Book Reports (1-4)...

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*].

*****
Beartown, by Fredrik Backman -- highly recommended for those who like contemporary drama, those who like sports tales (hockey), and those who like realistic and compelling characters -- Atria Books, 4/17

(So I read this because E's class is reading it (Honors English 9), and I wanted to make sure it wasn't too graphic. It's not, and man, it's a really engaging book. I read feverishly, and I was so caught up in the story (not a spoiler: the town lives and breathes hockey, but the high school team captain is accused of raping a girl...and the whole town gets involved in he-said-she-said). There's a sequel, and I don't know if I'll read that one or not, just because I was satisfied with leaving them all where I did -- but yeah, it was really good. A great start to reading this year!)

****+
Whisper of Warning, by Laura Griffin -- highly recommended for those who like Griffin's books, those who like romantic suspense, and those who like cop tales and spunky heroines -- Pocket Star, 3/09

(This is the second in the Glass sisters books, and I enjoyed it almost as much as the first, though I didn't think I would. But even though I didn't like Courtney quite as much as Fiona, I liked Will even better -- and I loved getting a sneak preview of Alex and Nathan here, as well (I wondered where they had first met when I read their story, and now I know). All in all, it was a very entertaining read, and I'm bummed because I've now read all Griffin's books and will have to wait for a new one. *sigh*)

****+
Dangerous Waters, by Toni Anderson -- highly recommended for those who like romantic suspense, those who like Canadian settings, and those who like family drama -- Montlake Romance, 11/12

(Yay, I remember the title! :D I definitely liked the setting and the characters. The romance (a female Canadian officer who falls for a suspect) is intriguing, and the many secondary characters (who don't seem secondary) make this feel very well-rounded. It wasn't outstanding writing, necessarily, but it definitely kept me engaged throughout, and I will be looking for more books by Anderson.)

****+
The Strength of His Heart, by Victoria Sue -- highly recommended for those who like the Enhanced series, those who like male/male romance, and those who like FBI (paranormal) tales -- Dreamspinner Press, 12/18

(This is the 4th in the series, and I liked it as much as the others. Sue does a great job showing us both viewpoints of the couple, and even though I didn't think Sam deserved Vance (who is really just a huge sweetie), he did make up for a lot of it at the end. Plus, the team is still fun to read about, and I enjoy the new peeks into this world.)
books

Book Reports (100-118)...

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*].

****+
Last Look, by Mariah Stewart -- highly recommended for those who like suspense/mystery (with professional players -- FBI) with a hint of romance -- Ballantine, 5/07

(This was engaging, and I liked the slow reveal of the mystery. Stewart seems to take us through the steps just as the 'pros' have to do it, so you see the missteps as well as the 'aha' moments. I could've used a little more romance, but it was still enjoyable.)

****-
Dark Truth, by Mariah Stewart -- recommended for those who like mystery (police and FBI, this time, along with amateurs) with a hint of romance -- Ballantine, 10/05

(I liked this, though I can tell it was earlier in her writing career. I figured out 'whodunnit' about a chapter into the book, but it was still enjoyable reading along to see how the characters discovered the truth. I will say, the romance was even more slight in this one, and the 'bad' guy kind of turned on a dime. :/)

****+
By His Own Hand, by Neal Griffin -- highly recommended for those who like an intriguing murder mystery (with pros -- police/sheriff) and a hint of romance -- Forge Books, 4/18

(This was very interesting, though I can tell it was written by a man. :D Male authors focus on such different aspects than females, in my experience. Anyway, I liked the slow reveal, I liked the grittiness (though it wasn't ridiculously graphic), and I liked the complexity of all the characters. This is the third in a series (same characters but not connected mysteries), but I had no trouble getting to know the characters. Griffin didn't really delve into the emotions much, and the relationship was established. All in all, interesting.)

***
Consumed, by J.R. Ward -- recommended for those who like mystery (firefighters, this time) with the focus more on the romance -- Gallery Books, 10/18

(I didn't love this one. I skimmed the middle third (or two thirds?). The characters just didn't appeal to me that much, and it really bugged me that the female (whose name escapes me) judged her love interest so harshly. Basically, the romance didn't work for me at all, and the characters seemed a little over the top. Just not my style, I think.)

***
Tailspin, by Sandra Brown -- recommended for those who like Sandra Brown -- Grand Central, 8/18

(This started out in an intriguing way -- a crashed airplane with an organ on board and a doctor who stole the organ -- but it fell into something fairly predictable too quickly for my taste. I go through phases where I read Sandra Brown, but I often forget in between how formulaic these become. I skipped to the end, and yep, it (the killer) was who I thought it was.)

****
Love and Snowball Fights, by J.R. Loveless -- recommended for those who like angsty but sweet male/male romance -- Dreamspinner Press, 12/16

(This was very sweet, although the MC had a rough, rough life (and man, I hurt for the poor guy). Also, he fell in love quickly, and his love interest didn't react fast enough for my taste...but it was a sweet holiday tale.)

****+
Chase the Stars, by Ariel Tachna -- this is the second in the Inherit the Sky, series, and it's highly recommended for those who like the series and those who like male/male romance in the setting of an Australian sheep farm -- Dreamspinner Press, 9/12

(I somehow missed this one when I read the series, but I definitely enjoyed it. It's the story of Chris and Seth (brothers) and how they came to Lang Downs. There's a bunch of Mac and Caine in this one too, so I liked that, as well.)

****
Loving Jay, by Renae Kaye -- recommended for those who like contemporary male/male romance (kind of a coming out tale) set in the UK -- Dreamspinner Press, 4/14

(This was entertaining but didn't really stand out much. I liked the MCs, and the fast-moving romance is nice (some sex, as well). Liam is the narrator, and therefore we only see Jay through his eyes. It's fine but not outstanding, I'd say.)

****+
Crocus, by Amy Lane -- highly recommended for those who read the first (Bonfires) and those who like a contemporary novel about an established relationship (male/male) with adult/teen kids involved -- Dreamspinner Press, 4/18

(I enjoyed this almost as much as the first. I think the two adults (a principal and a sheriff) are well-drawn characters, and their 'kids' (both adult and teen) are nicely done, as well. The entire cast of characters, really, is enjoyable and fun to read about, even with the drama all around.)

****+
A Deeper Blue, by S.E. Harmon -- highly recommended for those who read the first and those who like coming out tales of athletes (one of the MCs is a professional football player) -- Dreamspinner Press, 10/18

(So this is the second, and I didn't read the first. :D I read enough of the summary to suspect the first would only frustrate me, and I preferred to get their story (Kelly and Blue) after all the angst. In this book, they're already together, but Blue still hasn't come out to the larger world (including his dad or anyone on his team). I really liked the progression of Blue's thinking throughout the story, and I thought Kelly was realistic in his frustration and worry as Blue keeps putting it off. It was an interesting tale!)

***+
Love and Payne, by Charlie Cochet -- recommended for those who love the THIRDs series and those who like Austin (and Zach) -- Dreamspinner Press, 9/18

(I didn't love this one. It was okay, but Sloane and Dex aren't even in it (they're on their honeymoon), so it's really just focused on Austin and Zach. It was fine but a little forgettable.)

***
Stay With Me, by S.E. Harmon -- recommended for those who like contemporary male/male romance -- Dreamspinner Press, 4/14

(Meh. I didn't really like this one. Mac seemed a little erratic, and Jordan drove me crazy (he couldn't decide if he liked guys or not, so he kept leading Mac on). But since I didn't love Mac that much, it was hard to be invested in their so-called relationship. I'm glad I didn't read this one of her books first (I wouldn't have picked up any others)!)

*****
P.S. I Spook You, by S.E. Harmon -- highly recommended for those who like paranormal suspense (with a male/male romance, to boot) -- Dreamspinner Press, 6/17

(*This* is the one I read first, and I loved it! I love both Rain and Daniel, and the fact that they'd had an earlier relationship (which didn't work out -- for mysterious reasons, at first) only added to the tension of the story. I liked how Rain was working to redeem himself for something that didn't really need redemption, and I liked Daniel's skepticism warring with his feelings for Rain. It was just a really enjoyable story, and I'm so hoping she writes another about these two.)

****
Spring Break at the Villa Hermes, by Xavier Mayne -- recommended for those who like fun (though highly unlikely) contemporary stories about gay (or suddenly gay) men -- Dreamspinner Press, 4/15

(Okay, this was really fun, though totally unbelievable. :D Essentially, one established gay couple ends up spending spring break with 6 college guys who all have secrets. During a hurricane, the secrets are revealed, and of course, it turns out that 2/3 of the guys are suddenly gay (or bi or gay-for-you or...). It made me laugh, and I like the guys enough that I enjoyed the romp, even though it's not even remotely realistic.)

****
Pins and Needles, by A.J. Thomas -- highly recommended for those who like mysteries (amateurs) with male/male romance -- Dreamspinner Press, 8/17

(I enjoyed this. I liked the tattoo stuff (one of the MCs has tons of tattoos and works in a tattoo parlor) and the mystery, as well (even though I thought it was pretty obvious who was behind it). The balance of lawyer to tattoo artist/engineer was interesting, as well -- though I would agree with a critique I read about the disability aspect being downplayed quite a bit (the tattoo artist has one prosthetic leg and the other as severely injured/weak). However, since I don't really want to read about the ins and outs of that, it was fine with me.)

***+
A Kind of Romance, by Lane Hayes -- recommended for those who like contemporary gay romance -- Dreamspinner Press, 6/16

(This was okay. I enjoyed the romance between Zeke and Benny, though it was pretty corny in many places. Plus, both seemed a little unwilling to commit, and the lack of decision was annoying (to me, at least). Still, the secondary characters made up for a lot.)

****
[Too Hot, by Avery Giles -- recommended for those who like mysteries (firefighter/arson) with a male/male romance thrown in -- Riptide Publishing, 10/18]

(This was pretty good, although the romance between the two flies along -- until they have the typical miscommunication that trips them up. That always annoys me, and this was no different (it was mostly on Charlie's head, and it really bugged me that he blamed Eli for mistrusting him when Charlie was lying from the beginning). Still, I did enjoy it.)

*****
The Mystery of the Moving Image, by C.S. Poe -- highly recommended for all who like the Snow & Winter mysteries (antiques dealer and police detective) -- Dreamspinner Press, 9/18

(I loved this! I feel like each of these gets better, even though I loved the other two, as well. :D I just really like Calvin and Sebastian. Their relationship is so real, and Sebastian is quirky and wry and so unique. The mysteries Poe comes up with are incredibly original too -- all of them involve something old/historical/antique/etc. I can't wait for the next one!)

****-
The Hike, by John Inman -- recommended for Inman fans and those who like horror -- Dreamspinner Press, 9/17

(This was okay. I don't really like horror, so that part didn't appeal to me. But I did enjoy the two MCs (established though new relationship), and I thought the tale was realistic enough to truly spook a bit. The pacing was also good, and I liked the humor thrown in here and there, as well.)

Well, there we have it! Let's hope I get better at entering these as I read them instead of waiting months...sigh. :)
books

Book Reports (85-99)...

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*].

****+/*****
Tracers books, by Laura Griffin -- highly recommended for those who like romantic suspense, those who like FBI/police involvement, those who like dual POV, and those who like a good blend of romance and mystery -- Gallery Books/Pocket Books -- 2009-2017

(Clearly I'm going through a phase. :D I really like Griffin's writing style. I think it's partly the dual POV and partly the balance she has between the mystery aspects and the romance. Plus, she's not overly graphic (in either romance/sex or violence). My only nitpick is that she could tie the books together a bit more (ie, she could mention past characters more than she does). Also, every now and then, she doesn't quite tie up all the loose ends -- all the big stuff definitely gets resolved, but she'll bring up tiny details along the course of the investigation without always letting the reader know about those. But really, these are minor complaints, and overall, I'm really enjoying having discovered a new-to-me writer!)

****
Alpha Crew series, by Laura Griffin -- recommended for those who like romantic suspense, those who like military special ops, and those who like plucky heroines -- Pocket Star, 2016/2017

(This isn't as strong (for me) as the other books, mostly because they're not as well balanced between romance and mystery. The first one (two -- two novellas which tell one story), especially, was much heavier on the romance. Still, it wasn't too graphic for my taste, and the second one was much better.)

***-
The Prey, by Allison Brennan -- recommended for those who like romantic suspense, those who like multi-POV, and those who like graphic sex scenes -- Ballantine Books, 12/05

(So I picked up this one because she's co-written a series with Laura Griffin (which I haven't read yet, btw). But although the premise was pretty interesting, I didn't like her characterizations much at all. Everyone in the book reacted to life like a toddler would -- there were no deeper introspections, no wisdom, no life ponderings. On top of that, there was a LOT of sex, and it was much more graphic than I personally prefer. I read one review that called it borderline porn, and I'd personally agree (mostly in the terminology Brennan uses). Anyway, just because it's not to my taste doesn't mean it won't work for others. :D)

****
The Zozobra Incident, by Don Travis -- recommended for those who like noir-style mysteries, those who like a hint of romance (male/male, in this case), and those who like New Mexico settings -- DSP Publications, 11/16

(This is a slow read for me, but I'm enjoying it. I like BJ's narrating style, I like his low-key romance with Paul, and I like the details about New Mexico. I don't know that I'd want to read a bunch of Travis's books in a row, but once in a while, it's a nice change of pace.)

**
Wild Ride, by Julie Ann Walker -- recommended for those who like secret ops, those who like romantic suspense, and those who like motorcycles -- Sourcebooks Casablanca, 4/17

(This wasn't really to my taste. I did like the emotional angst Walker puts us through (it's dual POV), especially with Ozzie. But I found Samantha rather annoying, and the extremely slow pace of both the mystery (which was not as much of a focus as I would've liked) and the romance. Meh. It just didn't work for me.)

**
Hot as Hell, by Julie Ann Walker -- recommended for those who like short romances (it's a novella), those who like dual POV, and those who like military involvement -- Sourcebooks Casablance, 6/16

(So I tried this because I liked the emotional interactions in the book above, but this was basically just a romance, which is not my thing.)

***
Any Closer, by Mary Calmes -- recommended for those who like male/male romance, those who like novellas, and those who like Mary Calmes -- Dreamspinner Press, 6/11

(This simply wasn't long enough for me. I felt like I'd just gotten a taste of the characters and their lives when the books ended.)

DNF
Fish out of Water, by Amy Lane -- recommended for those who like male/male romantic suspense -- Dreamspinner Press, 7/16

(I've enjoyed other Amy Lane books, and when I saw she had a mystery/suspense, I figured it would be great. But it didn't work so well for me. The violence was a little more graphic than I prefer, and the romance between the main characters wasn't as strong as I'd like. *shrug* It just didn't work for me, and I gave up about halfway through.)

So I have about 20 books on my TBR pile (sadly, not much of an exaggeration), but I'm so pressed for downtime right now (the day job is keep me crazy busy -- especially combined with two teens in high school) that even when I have a chance to read, it's hard to then report back. But I will do my best, especially since I like to have a log of what I've read.
books

Book Reports (77-84)...

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; DNF means *did not finish*].

****+
Tracers series, by Laura Griffin -- highly recommended for those who like romantic suspense, FBI/police MCs, DNA-type clues, and a nice balance between romance and the rest of the story -- Pocket Star, 11/09-(present)

(So yay, I discovered a new-to-me author! Like any author, Griffin isn't always spot on, but of the five I've read (in order) so far, I've really liked all of them and loved a couple of them. My only minor complaint is that she doesn't always follow through on some of her characters. For instance, the first book in the series is about Alex Lovell, and she only appears in two of the next four -- and only peripherally, at that. There were definitely some opportunities to have her join the work at Delphi more often, but Griffin didn't take advantage of it, and that was a minor annoyance for me. But I definitely like the heroines and the relationships they build with their male counterparts, and the actual mysteries are very interesting and not too graphically revealed (the violence), which I also prefer.)

****
She Was the Quiet One, by Michele Campbell -- recommended for those who like psychological thrillers, those who like boarding-school settings, and those who like slow builds -- St. Martin's Press, 7/18

(This was very intriguing, though I found myself really frustrated with one of the characters for holding her silence when she could clearly see issues...and she held back long enough that people were hurt (well, yeah, since someone was murdered). In the end, another of the characters comments that everything was hardest for the above character (other than the victim, of course) and she therefore deserved the most sympathy, but I'm not sure I agree. It's true that she had the most challenging time after all was said and done, but she could have avoided so much if she'd just acted rather than letting things slide. However, this is part of what makes the book so compelling -- would *I* be strong enough in her position to speak up? Hm...)

****
Tequila Mockingbird, by Rhys Ford -- recommended for those who like the series (Sinner's Gin), those who like male/male romance, and those who like angsty/gritty character backgrounds -- Dreamspinner Press, 6/14

(I definitely liked this one better than Sinner's Gin, mostly because I liked Forest better than Miki (I like all the Morgan family members). Even though Forest also had a depressing and almost over-the-top horrible childhood, it wasn't as present in his current life as Miki's had been, and that made it more palatable for me personally. I suspect I'm done with this series after only these two, however. I'm all for creating challenges for your characters, but the circumstantial pummeling of these boys is a bit much for me, and even the Morgan family doesn't make up for it.)

****-
Spirit, by John Inman -- recommended for those who like paranormal mysteries, those who like humor, and those who like male/male romance -- Dreamspinner Press, 3/14

(This was a fun and quick read, but I will admit that to me it seemed to struggle to find the balance between paranormal and realistic. In other words, Jason appeared to fight against the possibility of a ghost for too long, and because of that, he also fought what must have happened in his home for too long. I guess I got tired of him constantly saying it couldn't be true, even though everything happening around him supported it. Also, we didn't get much of a build-up of Sally's and Jason's background, so I didn't feel like I knew her at all. She was very one-dimensional (and so was Jason, for that matter). Timmy also wasn't that realistic for a 4-year old (perhaps Inman doesn't spend much time around children?), though that could also be because of the ghost and how he affected Timmy. All in all, I did enjoy it, and I liked the relationship (surface-y though it felt at times) between Sam and Jason. As an aside, the humor was one of its greatest strengths, and if another of his books had a more solid plot, I *would* pick it up, just because of the humor.)