May 1st, 2018

books

Book Reports (31-40)...

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].

*****
The Woman Left Behind, by Linda Howard -- highly recommended for those who like adult romance, for those who like military-style situations, and for those who like Howard's writing -- William Morrow, 3/18

(This is Howard's latest, and I loved it! It's not as much mystery (as you meet the killer right up front) or suspense, but it's still good. I liked the developing relationship between Jina and Levi, and I liked how both had to come to terms with their attraction to each other. And I liked the details about the special ops group and their preparations.)

***+
The Ark, by Boyd Morrison -- recommended for those who like sci-fi thrillers, those who like rogue MCs (kind of like Indiana Jones, ha), and those who like a hint of romance -- Gallery Books, 5/10

(This was fun, but I will admit I tired of it about 3/4 of the way through and skimmed to the end. It just seemed really familiar by that point, and I was ready to be done. Still, if you like this kind of adventure/thriller tale, you'd probably enjoy it.)

****
Departure, by AG Riddle -- recommended for those who like sci-fi thrillers, those who like time travel, and those who like hints of romance -- Voyager, 10/15

(This was an entertaining and intriguing read. I liked the two MCs, and I liked the twists and turns in the plot. I found the ending really interesting and somewhat unexpected, as well. It's an unusual story, despite the trappings that looked very familiar, and I think that's what worked best for me.)

****+
The Trouble with Tony, by Eli Easton -- highly recommended for those who like humorous romance (male/male), those who like straightforward mysteries, and those who like novellas -- Dreamspinner Press, 8/13

(This is a fun novella, and I discovered a new writer (yay). I liked the humor, I liked both Tony and his 'doctor,' and I liked the light-hearted narrative style. I haven't read either of the other two in the series, and I don't know if I will. Even though this was fun, the others sound really different, and I'm not sure they'll hold the same appeal.)

****
Simmer, edited by Tricia Kristufek -- recommended for those who like anthologies, those who like male/male romance, and those who like foodie stories -- Dreamspinner Press, 2/16

(I liked this. There were a couple stories that I especially loved, a couple I didn't really like at all, and most that I enjoyed enough to re-read down the line. The two I liked the most introduced me to two new authors (though I will admit I haven't had a chance to look for books by them yet), and I'm hopeful to add to my ever-growing collection of male/male romance authors-that-I-love.)

*****
Bonfires, by Amy Lane -- highly recommended for those who love later-in-life love stories (male/male), school-centered tales, cop tales, dual POV, and realistic characters -- Dreamspinner Press, 3/17

(I really enjoyed this. Both MCs -- dual POV -- were really likable and realistic, imo. I liked how they interacted with each other, how they interacted with their kids (and each other's kids), and I liked that all the kids were at least teens too. It's one of those books with a world I enjoyed being in, and I would definitely go back. I know there's another book in the series, so I probably *will* return soon. ;) )

*****
Forbes Mates series, by Grace R. Duncan -- highly recommended for those who like shifter tales (male/male), those who like sweet and thoughtful characters, and those who like world building throughout a series -- Dreamspinner Press, 9/15-3/18

(I'm actually not a huge shifter person; they're okay, but I don't seek them out, by any means. But after I started the first one of these, I immediately grabbed the other three. I really like the gentle writing style, the world building across all the books, the intriguing shifter universe here, and the characters. I think the second book (Patience) was my favorite, but I enjoyed each of them. I certainly hope there will be more. :D)

Well, this is what happens when I don't make time to record my book reading for almost two months...yeesh. And I had about a dozen re-reads too (but I won't add all those).
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