March 10th, 2018

books

Book Reports (23-27)...

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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***+
Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys), by Amy Spalding -- recommended for those who like teen drama, those who like friendship tales, and those who don't mind hints of cheating -- Poppy Books, 4/16

(This was kind of cute, but it annoyed me that Riley was so rigid about her views on how guys should treat her when she treated them in such a cavalier manner. She came across pretty hypocritical, and that weakened the overall story for me.)

***-
You Will Be Mine, by Natasha Preston -- recommended for those who like horror tropes, those who like a YA feel, and those who are willing to really suspend their disbelief -- Sourcebooks Fire, 2/18

(I don't love horror, and this wasn't graphic, imo, so I gave it a try. But I couldn't get past the numerous points where I had to just say, "Okay, I guess this is just fiction." In other words, it was so unrealistic that anyone could stalk another person like this without the police ever catching on. Plus, the characters were soooo one-dimensional. I'm kind of surprised I finished the book.)

****+
The Dangerous Art of Blending In, by Angelo Surmelis -- highly recommended for those who like overcoming abuse, those who like GLBT coming-out tales, and those who like friendship moving to love -- Balzer+Bray, 1/18

(This is one of those books which breaks your heart while you read it. I'm glad I did, but man, what a painful ride! I ached for Evan, who just couldn't catch a break. His mother is brutal (and yikes, I wanted to rescue him from the get-go), and his dad's bewildered distance was also hard to watch. I love the growing relationship between Henry and Evan, but even that was challenging at time. It's based on the author's own growing-up experience, which makes it that much more poignant and powerful, to me.)

****
[Out of Left Field, by Kris Hui Lee -- recommended for those who like unique voices, those who like teen waffling and angst, those who like friends-to-more, and those who like girls kicking butt in boys' sports -- Sourcebooks Fire, 5/18]

(I enjoyed this overall, but I will admit that the immaturity of the MC (Marnie) annoyed me a little bit. She has great heart, and I love her fighting spirit -- but man, she really struggled to be honest with those around her (and even herself). In some ways, it felt like the author was relying a little too heavily on the trope of miscommunication (and lack of communication) to build tension too. But all in all, it's a sweet story with many positives.)

****
[The Dating Debate, by Chris Cannon -- recommended for those who like sweet teen romances, those who like feisty heroines, and those who like multi-POV tales -- Createspace, 1/18]

(I liked the characters here, and I like their unique situations. I didn't like how rigid Nina was...her bias was definitely explained and had solid reasons, but it still annoyed me that she expected West to do all the changing. West, for his part, was a more sympathetic character to me, and I thought he went above and beyond to show Nina his feelings. So it was a little uneven to me but still made for a sweet story.)

I also re-read three mysteries (One of Us is Lying, Last Seen Leaving, and White Rabbit, all five-star reads from last year -- and I still loved each of them).
books

Book Reports (28-30)...

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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***
Setting the Hook, by Andrew Grey -- recommended for fans of Andrew Grey, for those who like fishing tales, and for those who like male/male romance -- Dreamspinner Press, 5/17

(I didn't love this. The premise seemed really interesting, but it just didn't work for me. I'm not a huge fan of Grey's writing style, but it had been a while, so I thought I'd give it another try. *meh*)

***-
Designs of Desire, by Tempeste O'Riley -- recommended for those who like her writing style, those who like overcoming abuse tales, and those who like artists and insta-love male/male romance -- Dreamspinner Press, 7/13

(I'd gotten another of O'Riley's books but had forgotten why I disliked it so much. It didn't take long for me to remember with this one. She tends to keep all the important discussions and ideas off page, and it drives me crazy. She'll actually write this great chapter, with all kinds of build up, and then you turn the page, and days have gone by. Everything was resolved off page, and the reader is only left with a brief (and, for me, unsatisfying) mention of what happened. *blech* It's probably one of the worst writing styles I've ever encountered. That said, she gets some great reviews by her fans, so clearly many people love it. The story itself was okay. I liked James well enough, but Seth seemed arrogant and controlling, and I could NOT see the attraction, especially since James was coming from a background of abuse. I think it's safe to say this wasn't for me.)

****+
Late in the Day, by Mary Calmes -- highly recommended for those who like Calmes, those who like secret ops, those who like male/male romance, and those who like intriguing supporting characters -- Dreamspinner Press, 10/17

(This is classic Calmes, to me, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. AS with many of her books, I always want more, but at least Darius is interesting here. It's really a love story -- with flashbacks -- of how Darius and the only man he's ever loved meet up again. If that had been integrated a little more deeply with the on-going plot she's building (in this series and a couple of others), it would have been five stars for me. Still, I really enjoyed it, and I'm left wanting more!)

I've been re-reading other adult books too, waiting for some library holds to come in (and a new release to release -- next week!), but I'm not counting them here.