books

Book Reports (17-22)...

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].



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****
The Last Move, by Mary Burton -- recommended for those who like adult suspense, those who like serial killers, and those who like complex personal situations -- Montlake Romance, 9/17

(This was a little graphic in places for me, but overall, I enjoyed the suspense and the twists in the mystery. I also liked both Kate and Mazur and found the killer appropriately creepy. I like to try difference suspense writers when I can, and this was a nice change.)

****
Bait, by Karen Robards -- recommended for those who like adult suspense, those who like mob-influenced stories, and those who like secret identities -- Signet, 5/05

(This wasn't my favorite Robards, but I still enjoyed it. I liked the twists, but it dragged a bit for me in places. Still, I have another I will be reading soon. :) )

*****
Five Minutes Longer, Who We Truly Are, Beneath This Mask, by Victoria Sue -- highly recommended for those who like male/male FBI sci-fi suspense, those who like angsty romance, and those who like an on-going cast of characters -- Dreamspinner Press, 12/16-1/18

(I've discovered a new author and series that I *love*! This reminds me quite a bit of the THIRDS series by Charlie Cochet, but believe it or not, I like this one better. :) That's for a couple of reasons, but the main one is that this cast of characters isn't quite as similar to each other as Cochet's. Also, the regular humans here are truly average -- they're not like Dex (from THIRDS) who becomes just as strong in many ways as Sloan. Instead, Finn and Jake are just ordinary guys who are pursuing FBI work, and I like the added challenges that brings to the entire team. I can't wait for the next one to come out!)

***+
[Somewhere Over Lorain Road, by Bud Gundy -- recommended for those who like male/male romance, those who like cold case mysteries, and those who like a lot of slowly revealed background -- Bold Strokes Books, 2/18]

(This wasn't as much of a romance as I typically prefer, and all the backstory, though interesting, really slowed down the overall pace for me. The feel was grittier than I usually like, as well. Still, I thought the characters were realistic, though I didn't get as much insight into each character as I wanted.)
books

Book Report (16)...

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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****
[Fourth Dimension, by Eric Walters -- recommended for those who enjoyed the Rule of Three trilogy, those who like YA sci-fi, and those who like strong female leads -- Penguin Teen, 2/18]

(This was a fun read, and although not very tense, it flowed easily. I found all the characters likable, and the world situation is interesting (just as it is in Rule of Three -- it's the same incident and the same world). If there's another, I will definitely pick it up.)
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books

Book Reports (10-15)...

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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****
Fragments of the Lost, by Megan Miranda -- recommended for those who like YA suspense, those who like teen relationship drama, and those who like complex characters -- Crown BFYR, 11/17

(I enjoyed this, although I've read a couple with similar plots in the past year, so I wasn't surprised at the 'big reveal.' Still, as always with Miranda's books, the characters are multi-layered, and the plot is engaging.)

*****
The Unlikelies, by Carrie Firestone -- highly recommended for those who like thoughtful contemporary novels, those who like sweet teen romance, and those who like a diverse and intriguing cast of characters -- Little, Brown BFYR, 6/17

(Yep, my first five-star read of the year -- I loved it! All of the main characters were intriguing people, complex and realistic. Sadie is a wonderful narrator, with humor, humility, and genuine good-heartedness. Firestone blends poignancy and tragedy well throughout, and the book has a very hopeful feel, regardless of the bleak issues a couple of the characters face.)

***+
Openly Straight, by Bill Konigsburg -- recommended for those who like teen self-discovery, those who like teen angst, and those who like male POV -- Arthur A. Levine, 4/15

(This was well written, without a doubt -- but I had a hard time with the learning curve of the MC. He'd long been out, but when he went to a boarding school far from home, he wanted to see what it was like to live without labels...which is a great idea, except for the fact that he labeled everyone! That frustrated me to the point that I skimmed a good portion of the middle, hoping he'd discover his hypocrisy sooner. He did finally realize some important things, but it was pretty near the end. There were some interesting things going one while he struggled with this, and those kept me reading.)

****
Now That You're Here, by Amy K. Nichols -- recommended for those who like YA sci-fi with some cool twists, a sweet love story, and some nice action -- Alfred A. Knopf BFYR, 12/14

(This was an interesting and fun read, leaving me wanting more at the end. There's a companion book (which I picked up), but it sounds like it doesn't have the *more* that I was hoping for. Still, this is a great choice if you like YA science fiction.)

***** (R)
One of Us is Lying, by Karen McManus -- highly recommended for those who like YA mysteries -- Delacorte Press, 5/16

(I read this as a galley early last year, and seeing it in my top reads made me want to try it again -- so I bought it! :D I still love it; it was just as good the second time around.)

***+
[The Belles, by Dhonielle Clayton -- recommended for those who like fantasy, those who like bizarre yet lushly painted worlds, and those who like strong but sensitive heroines -- Freeform, 2/18]

(If you enjoy really unusual worlds that jump off the page, this is definitely for you! I found it really engaging as Clayton set up the society of Orleans, and I liked Camellia from the start. I did skim some of the middle, but the last 100 pages or so were so captivating I couldn't put it down. I will definitely pick up the next one!)
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books

Book Reports (6-9)...

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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****+
Written in the Stars, by Alix Bekins -- highly recommended for those who like sweet male/male love stories (friends to lovers), those who like geeky boys, and those who like astrology -- Dreamspinner Press, 4/12

(This was fun and funny -- cute and sweet. I just liked Bailey; he was such an adorable geeky scientist, and his interactions with John were fun. Quick and entertaining read!)

****
[And the Next Thing You Know, by Chase Taylor Hackett -- recommended for those who like multi-POV, male/male romance, and somewhat selfish MCs -- Kensington, 2/18]

(I ended up like the overall story, and although the narrative style is pretty different (almost like they're giving a TV interview or something -- talking to the reader), it was fast-paced, for the most part. But it really bugged me how self-centered Theo was throughout most of this. Obviously he was physically attractive (cute/adorable, it sounded like), but his mannerisms were kind of obnoxious, and although Jeffrey goes out of his way to change and become a better person, Theo kind of...doesn't. :/ Still, it held my interest throughout.)

****
Banker's Hours, by Wade Kelly -- recommended for those who like male/male romance, those who like 'opposites attract' ideas, and those who like quick-moving relationships -- Dreamspinner Press, 3/16

(I enjoyed this, for the most part, even though the two main characters end up getting married after a month of knowing each other. But the reasons for this are fairly realistic, and I liked that they had to work on their relationship instead of just having things flow easily. This was another one where one of the two was much more self-centered than the other, and that bothered me, as well. In fact, that was one of the less believable aspects of this story -- why on earth would Tristan ever fall for Grant? He really was unusually self-centered. *shrug* But I liked Tristan enough to read it all.)

****
Overly Dramatic, by Rebecca Cohen -- recommended for those who like humorous narratives, those who like male/male romance, and those who like the theater (stage acting) -- Dreamspinner Press, 8/15

(This was a fun read, filled with silliness (and crudity, in places). It was fast and entertaining.)
books

Book Reports (4-5)...

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 Mystery of Nevermore, by C.S. Poe -- highly recommended for those who like literary adult mysteries, those who like male/male romantic elements, and those who like clever and stubborn heroes -- DSP Publications, 8/16

****
The Mystery of the Curiosities -- recommended just as above -- DSP Publications, 3/17

(I enjoyed both of these, though the second one had a couple frustrating aspects -- first, Sebastian was so stubborn, and he refused to see how investigating the mystery could not only hurt him but Calvin; second, Calvin is also crazy stubborn, and how he fights getting any help for his PTSD definitely annoyed me some. Despite these things, the mysteries are interesting, and I really like the complexities of the characters (I suppose the annoying aspects just make them more realistic, right?).)
books

Book Reports (1-3)...

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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****-
Worthy, by Donna Cooner -- recommended for those who like contemporary teen drama, for those who like teen romance, and those who like simplistic resolutions -- Point, 3/17

(This was definitely entertaining, but it bugged me by the end. It could have been so much stronger. *sigh* First, the idea that the worthy app only judged the girls was touched on as problematic, but no one ever really dug into that idea (which would have added some much-needed depth to the characterizations). Second, Linden wanted a guy who really appreciated and paid attention to her, but she didn't do a great job of reciprocating. And not only did no one call her out on that (specifically Alex), but Alex actually apologized for not giving her what she wanted (even though it would have meant him giving up something very important to him and his family) -- ack! I doubt I'll re-read this, even though I read every word. It was just too frustrating!)

****+
The Date to Save, by Stephanie Kate Strohm -- highly recommended for those who like unique narrating styles, those who like humorous teen contemporary tales, and for those who like sweet (though secondary) romance -- Point, 9/17

(This one, at least, was fun throughout. The characters are thoughtful and original, and I liked how the plot focused on issues other than simply romance (though it included a few nice romances). All in all, an entertaining read.)

****
Horizon, by Scott Westerfeld -- recommended for those who like tween thrillers, those who like a cast of characters, and those who like multi-POV -- Scholastic, 3/17

(This is younger than I usually read, but it was quick and pretty interesting. I have the second one, as well, and I suspect I'll read it too. It's probably almost upper middle grade.)

This year, I'm trying to report every weekend...we'll see how that goes. ;)
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books

Top Reads of 2017...

First, the top 9 (-ish -- two series) five-star Young Adult:


(These are such a fun series, and I'm hoping more will come. Jack is a great MC, and I love the thriller feel -- but mostly the relationship between Jack and Leo, GLBT.)


(Best fantasy of the year, hands down -- second only to Tamora Pierce, imo)


(I especially like the unusual eclectic style in these sci-fi thrillers, and I'm looking forward to number three (coming out in May).)


(This was a very enjoyable contemporary drama.)


(A great mystery -- GLBT romance)


(Another great mystery)


(Great humorous book -- GLBT)


(Very sweet romance)


(Another great mystery -- GLBT romance)

Five-star reads seem to be rare these days, but all of the above were truly excellent books, imo!

And here are my adult five-star reads (only 4):









(You probably noticed a trend in my favorite adult reads -- all romantic suspense! And three by one author...hm.)
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Book Reports (121-127)...

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 Switch, by Sandra Brown -- recommended for those who like romantic suspense, those who like twin tales, and those who like cults/power struggles -- Warner Books, 8/01

(This was fun, though I did find the whole cult side of it pretty unrealistic...but definitely entertaining.)

****+
Color of You, by C.S. Poe -- highly recommended for those who like male/male romance, those who like brief but intense angst, and those who like synesthesia -- Dreamspinner Press, 12/17

(I really enjoyed this, even though the tension was pretty mild throughout (other than one brief moment). But the music and synesthesia combined made it especially enjoyable for me.)

****+
Kairos, by Mary Calmes -- highly recommended for those who like police stories, those who like strong families, and those who don't mind novellas -- Dreamspinner Press, 11/17

(This was good, as many of Calmes' books are, and it falls into a similar story-telling vein. It was a little short for me, as I wanted to see more of their lives -- but supposedly we'll hear from these two again, so that's promising.)

****
Regret Me Not, by Amy Lane -- recommended for those who like male/male romance, those who like short-but-sweet tales, and those who like holiday stories -- Dreamspinner Press, 11/17

(This was a quick and mostly sweet read. There was some angst, but for Amy Lane, it was pretty mild. Again, it's a novella.)

****-
Sounds of Love, by Susan Laine -- recommended for those who like cop stories, those who like male/male romance, and those who like characters with disabilities who live strong -- Dreamspinner Press, 3/12

(I really liked Sebastian in this, but Jordan was truly annoying (and he was the narrator). His words and actions rarely fit together, and I found his blustering irritating. So it was kind of a toss-up for me, in the end.)

****+
Tried & True, by Charlie Cochet -- highly recommended for those who have enjoyed the THIRDs series, for those who like male/male urban fantasy, and those who like cop-like stories -- Dreamspinner Press, 11/17

(I enjoyed this conclusion to the series, without a doubt. My only complaint was that a good third of the book (the first third) had no real plot and was simply about Dex and Sloane and their upcoming wedding. But once things started moving (almost the halfway point), the book really picked up speed.)

****
His Needs, by Kris T. Bethke -- recommended for those who like family tales, those who like male/male romance, and those who like a holiday emphasis -- Dreamspinner Press, 12/16

(This was a sweet novella, but the tension wasn't really strong enough for my taste. Plus, things were resolved pretty easily, and I will admit that the imbalance of emotion between Travis and Noah bothered me a bit.)
books

Book Reports (118-120)...

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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****-
Perfect Ten, by L. Phillips -- recommended for those who like dramatic teen love stories (male/male), those who don't mind a confused MC, and those who like a happy ending -- Viking BFYR, 6/17

(I liked many of the characters here, but the MC annoyed me because he kept doing to others exactly what he hated done to him (namely, he kissed one boy while 'dating' another). Plus, he was really fickle, and after supposedly not finding anyone to date for a couple years, he suddenly finds all kinds of boys...so it wasn't that realistic. Still, even though his fickleness really annoyed me, I like his main love interest enough to read it all anyway.)

****
This Mortal Coil, by Emily Suvada -- recommended for those who like dystopic thrillers, those who like mind-bendy twists, and those who like sweet romance -- Simon Pulse, 11/17

(This was a fascinating story! I thought the plot was stellar, but it did drag in places (for me). Still, I will definitely look for the next one -- the final-ish twist is truly wild.)

**
[Before I Let Go, by Marieke Nijkamp -- recommended for those who like angsty tales, those who like loyal friends, and those who are okay with not-so-happy endings -- Sourcebooks Fire, 1/18]

(This wasn't really my cup of tea, but the writing is good, and for those who like more somber and realistic teen books, this could do the job.)
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books

Book Reports (112-117)...

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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****
Low Pressure, by Sandra Brown -- recommended for those who like adult romantic suspense, those who like complicated family relationships, and those who like planes (ha) -- Grand Central, 9/12

(I enjoyed the mystery here, but the chemistry between the MC and Dent didn't work as well for me. *shrug* Actually, many of the characters didn't work for me, and I finished the book with kind of a 'meh' feeling (though I liked the mystery resolution).)

****+
In the Waning Light, by Loreth Ann White -- highly recommended for those who like complex characters, those who like adult romantic suspense, and those who like gritty resolutions -- Montlake Romance, 11/15

(The premise of this story is almost identical to Brown's book -- the previous review. But the characters in this one are so much more interesting. Their interactions, their struggles, their secrets -- all of it comes together to form a more realistic and compelling read. If you want to read a mystery about a girl writing a book about her sister's murder years ago, I'd choose this one!)

****
The Timpanist and the Stagehand, by Ava Hayden -- recommended for those who like low-angst male/male romance, those who like interesting jobs, and those who like quick reads -- Dreamspinner Press, 4/16

(I really liked the premise of this, but it's very low tension. Every time I thought something might be happening to ratchet it up, it deflated before that happened. Still, it's a sweet love story.)

***+
Joy, by C.S. Poe -- recommended for those who don't mind somewhat rushed love stories, those who like an atmospheric setting, and those who like shy love interests -- Dreamspinner Press, 4/17

(I really liked Silas, and I thought the relationship between Gideon and Silas was very sweet. But perhaps because it's a novella, it happened very quickly, and I wanted more depth. However, the setting is awesome -- and might have been my favorite part of the book. :D)

****+
Charlie's Hero, by Nic Starr -- highly recommended for those who like sweet male/male romance, those who like realistic and enjoyable supporting characters, and those who like loyalty in love -- Dreamspinner Press, 6/15

(This was a sweet and feel-good read, though again, the tension in the story is almost non existent. It's mostly between Charlie and his parents, who are -- to me -- horrible parents. But the rest of the cast is wonderful, and I enjoyed being a part of their lives for the duration of the story.)

****-
Andrew's Promise, by Nic Starr -- recommended for those who liked the first one (see above), those who like loyalty in love, and those who don't mind sadness and struggle -- Dreamspinner Press, 8/15

(It was nice to continue with the characters, but the resolution of the story is given away at the end of Charlie's Hero, which eliminates any chance of tension. *sigh* Still, I enjoyed the read, for the most part, and if I'd read it first, I think it might have been better...?)