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...)
books

Book Reports (41-49)...

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].

****
Time Bomb, by Joelle Charbonneau -- recommended for those who like YA thrillers, those who like multi-POV tales, and those who are okay with school bombing situations -- Houghton Mifflin, 3/18

(This is a quick read, and I found it interesting to get into the heads of the characters -- all seven of them. I figured out the perpetrator about 2/3 through, which is pretty good (I usually get it within the first quarter) for this book. I didn't love the ending (it seemed a little abrupt), but the rest was good.)

****
Portrait of Us, by Rhonda Helms & A. Destiny -- recommended for those who like sweet YA romance, those who like art tales, and those who like diverse characters -- Simon Pulse, 5/14

(This is a quick and sweet read. I liked Corinne and Matthew, though Corinne definitely was hard on him (and everyone else around her). I liked that it wasn't a big deal for Matthew or Corinne that they were a mixed-race couple, and I thought it was interesting that his biggest hang-up was how much money her family had compared to his.)

***
S.T.A.G.S., by M.A. Bennett -- recommended for those who like creepy YA school tales, those who like suspense, and those who like a background romance and diversity -- Delacorte Press, 1/18

(I liked the overall story here, but I will admit I kind of skipped over all the first half and started in the middle. Once there, I liked the rest, but the beginning was slow and a little too detailed for me. Still, it's an interesting take on a familiar boarding school trope.)

***
Seven Ways We Lie, by Riley Redgate -- recommended for those who like multi-POV tales, those who like somewhat immature characters (without a ton of depth, as well), and those who like teen drama/angst -- Amulet Books, 3/16

(This one is tough because it has many elements that I typically enjoy -- the school setting, the multi-POV, the angst -- but it just didn't work for me here. I think one of the main reasons for that is perhaps the immature outlook of all the characters. I felt like none of them could rise above their 'teen'-ness to see the big picture of life. And while that can definitely be realistic, it doesn't make for a great story (imho). At least one of them needed to be more mature and perceptive (and that's also realistic -- I had a few friends who could rise above the emo drama). It made me so very glad to be far removed from my own teen years (and having to deal with people like this day in and day out), that's for sure. ;) )

**
People Like Us, by Dana Mele -- recommended for those who like boarding schools, those who like teen angst/drama, and those who like somewhat unreliable narrators -- GP Putnam Sons BFYR, 2/18

(I can't say a ton about this because I skimmed pretty much the whole thing. However, I wanted to include it here on the off chance that someone reading might be looking for unreliable narrator tales -- and this kind of fits that bill. Plus, the narrator is bi-sexual, and it's hard to find those, as well.)

***
Here's to You, Zeb Pike, by Johanna Parkhurst -- recommended for those who like teens rising above difficult circumstances, those who like sweet YA (male/male) romance, and those who like family tales -- Harmony Ink Press, 7/16

(This book frustrated me to no end because the MC refused to ever talk about his feelings -- and the adults in his life, even those who were decent and caring, couldn't seem to figure out what was wrong (when it was obvious). So I felt like most of the problems here (other than those arising from the poor kid's wretched parents) should have been non-issues (or at least could have been minimized). However, I really liked the MC, and I love his boyfriend -- so I picked up the next one (see below).)

*****
Thanks a Lot, John LeClair, by Johanna Parkhurst -- highly recommended for those who like hockey, for those who like coming-out tales, and for those who like sweet teen romance -- Harmony Ink Press, 12/17

(I really loved this one! Emmitt is a great guy, even though he's worried that coming out will ruin any chances he has at a hockey career -- and that's a big issue since he's a very talented player. And Dusty isn't as frustrating this time because the book isn't from his perspective, so his lack of actually communicating isn't as obvious (though one of the problems in the book *does* arise from that, so be warned). This may be slightly unrealistic, but it's definitely a feel-good tale.)

****
[Surface Tension, by Mike Mullin -- recommended for those who like YA thrillers, those who like determined heroes, and those who like diverse characters -- Tanglewood, 5/18]

(This is well written (I like Mullin's style), and I was definitely into the story for most of it...and then it jumped the shark a bit. I think it's more of a personal taste thing -- as a parent, I just couldn't handle what was happening to the MC, and I couldn't read it anymore (which means Mullin did a good job putting me in the MC's head). So I skipped to the end. I'm pretty sure there will be another one, and I will pick it up, as I do like the story and the writing style.)

**-
[The Art of French Kissing, by Brianna Shrum -- recommended for those who like YA angst, those who like cooking tales, those who like selfish heroines, and those who like YA romance -- Sky Pony Press, 6/18]

(Okay, I'll be honest right up front and say that I really disliked the MC here. The premise is awesome, as you know I love foodie tales, and this is all about a cooking competition for teens to get into a culinary institute. However, I started getting nervous when I didn't the like MC in the first chapter. Then I thought, "Oh, this is the set up so we'll see her growth." Um, no. She doesn't grow. She continues on the same, self-centered, immature path throughout the book, and I couldn't handle it. I liked the love interest, except I had to wonder what on earth he saw in her -- seriously. She was horrible, and for some reason, he overlooked all her crappy actions and selfishness...and I guess that means he deserves her. *blech* Even the cooking contest couldn't save this story for me.)

Well, there we have it -- I'll try to update a little more frequently next time, as this took almost 2 hours! :D
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