If you'd like to see my recent four-plus- and five-star recommendations, visit Robin ReadsnWrites.
* 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.
I was lucky enough to be able to read a TON during the car portions of the trip -- we were gone nine days, and I read ten books ;) I'm going to list them alphabetically, so I can keep closer track of them:
The Amanda Project: Revealed, by Amanda Valentino & Peter Silsbee ***+ This was a fun read. I really liked the first one, and this one kept up much of that fast-paced feel. I liked how this one was from Hal's POV, and I enjoyed learning more about Amanda's life. There's still much of the mystery which hasn't been revealed, however, which makes me a little nervous. I'm wondering if all the story will be told or if they'll stop publishing the books before that happens...still, I know there's a third which came out in the last month (I'm pretty sure), so I'll definitely be reading that one too. The story: Hal, Callie, and Nia continue to look for clues to understand where Amanda has gone and how they can help. The mystery deepens as Hal uncovers some facts of Amanda's past -- and he learns that the three of them were targeted on purpose. Plus, it looks like some of that purpose is known to more than just Amanda, as their vice-principal (who was attacked in the first book) had a list of their names on his computer (along with pictures of their lives). The three must continue to work together before danger gets even closer. (YA mystery, released 7/11, publisher: Harper Teen)
[Cop Out, by K.C. Burn **** I found this very interesting. I've read a couple of 'coming out' stories about teens, but this is about a man who realizes that the reason he's never really had a successful relationship with a woman is because he's gay. Coming from a large and strongly Catholic family, he never considered that he could have those leanings. I don't know how realistic that would be, but it felt realistic as I read it. The story: Kurt is understandably upset when his detective partner is killed in the line of duty, but he's stunned to learn that his partner has left behind a man -- his life partner. Kurt befriends the grief-stricken man and begins to learn things about his working partner he'd never known before -- things beyond simply his sexual orientation. As Kurt struggles to handle what he's discovering, he begins developing feelings for Davy, the man his partner had a long-term relationship with -- the man his partner had been isolating from the rest of the world. Kurt's never thought about why he can't seem to make a relationship with a woman work, or why he usually prefers avoiding dating altogether. But now, as his attachment to Davy grows, he starts to wonder about his own sexuality -- and what that will mean to his Catholic family and to the other detectives he works with. (Adult, GLBTQ, released 11/11, publisher: Dreamspinner Press)]
Dark Inside, by Jeyn Roberts ***+ I'm not a huge zombie fan, and this moved in that direction (though I wouldn't say it was truly about zombies). However, despite the horror feel in places, I still felt engaged. Of course, I loved the multi-POV! If you're a fan of Stephen King, I think you'd definitely like this. This story: Around the world, strange happenings occur, including earthquakes and terrorist attacks. Five teens are affected, and as they make their way (separately) to a safer point in the United States, they learn that some kind of Darkness is taking over humanity. (I'm pretty sure there will be another book in this series -- trilogy? -- and I'll look for it.) (YA dystopic/horror, released 11/11, publisher: Simon & Schuster)
[Dawn in the Orchard, by Cooper West *** This had some compelling moments. I liked the music as one of the focal points. I thought the Southern flavor was nice. My main complaint was that it felt like the story was finally taking off when the book ended. The story: Gary inherits a run-down house (and pecan farm) in North Carolina. As he's very much a struggling musician, he decides to go and live there (since he can't really afford the taxes on the place). Gary's been drifting for years, and at first, he does the same in NC. But then he meets Chuck and begins to fall for him -- however, Chuck is definitely not 'out', and despite the connection and similar interest in bluegrass music, Gary doesn't see how they can possibly make a life together. (Adult romance, M/M, released 10/11, publisher: Dreamspinner Press)]
Ex-Mas, by Kate Brian ***+ This was cute and a fast read. I liked the fast pace and the sweet romance. Lila was definitely a bit self-centered (and she had some serious tunnel vision), and I wasn't quite sure she really deserved Beau -- but I enjoyed the romance, regardless. The story: Lila is grounded for the weekend before Christmas when he younger brother spills the plans she'd made for a party -- and to get her revenge, Lila suggests to him that global warming will harm Santa. Her little brother takes off with his best friend to 'save' Santa, and Lila has to find him before her parents return from their trip. Unfortunately, she can't do it alone (as she has no means of transportation); worst yet, her ex-boyfriend, Beau, is the brother of the other missing boy. Still, Lila is determined, and if Beau begins to remind her what he life used to be like -- in all the best ways -- Lila's going to ignore him...right. (YA romance, released 2009, publisher: Simon & Schuster)
Goy Crazy, by Melissa Schorr ***+ I enjoyed this one, as well. I liked the glimpses into Jewish life (though Rachel's family is definitely not orthodox), and Rachel is a humorous narrator. The story: Rachel meets a Catholic boy at a bar mitzvah, of all places. She likes him, but she's worried that her parents won't approve. So she pretends she's dating her Jewish neighbor, instead -- but as time goes on, Rachel begins to wonder why she's working so hard for this non-Jewish boy, in the first place. Is it only because her parents disapprove (the forbidden fruit), or does she actually like him? (YA contemporary, released 2008, publisher: Hyperion)
If I Tell, by Janet Gurtler ****+ I really enjoyed this! I had the privilege of reading this before it was published, and I loved reading it again and seeing how it's changed and tightened. I think Janet does a great job with something that often bothers me in other books: Jasmine has a secret, and she can't tell -- and it's not only realistic that she wouldn't tell, but the struggle between telling and not telling is also realistic (and not at all convenient). I also like Jasmine's conflict over her black-white heritage and her changing relationship with Jackson. All in all, it was a compelling book! The story: Jasmine sees her mom's boyfriend making out with Jasmine's best friend -- and before she can tell her mom what's happened (so her mom can break up with the loser), her mom informs Jasmine that she's pregnant. Now Jasmine feels trapped, and soon the pressure of knowing this secret, combined with the daily struggles in being one of the only mixed-heritage girls in her school and her growing feelings for a new boy with a shady past, get to Jasmine. She begins to lash out, but when her mom has the baby and things are not going well, Jasmine has to learn when a secret works more harm by being kept than it does out by being known. (YA contemporary, released 10/11, publisher: Sourcebooks)
Legend, by Marie Lu ****+ I definitely enjoyed this, as well. My only real complaint (which is pretty lame) is that I didn't like how Day and June were at odds. I understood it (in the context of the story), but it frustrated me. :) Still, the pacing was pretty strong throughout, and I loved the mystery. The story: Day is infamous as a criminal mastermind against the Republic -- and June is one of its heralded soldiers. However, when Day seeks medicine for his sick brother, he runs across June's older brother -- and the resulting altercation brings June and Day together. June wants revenge for her brother's death, but her guilt and confusion about Day's role in it all grows...until she's not sure what really happened or whom she should trust. (YA dystopic/science fiction, released 11/11, publisher: Penguin Putnam)
Shades of Twilight, by Linda Howard ****+ I liked this one too! The biggest challenge in reading this is that I felt so sorry for Roanna. She just never seemed to catch a break, and it's hard to watch a likable character being forced into a role of unloved or unappreciated. The angst was almost too much for me, in places, but I persevered ;) The story: Roanna falls in love with her cousin (distant), but he (Webb) marries another cousin, instead. Roanna watches as her inheritance is shared between the two of them, but even knowing that their marriage isn't happy doesn't help her own grief over losing the man she adored. But when Webb is accused of murdering his wife (as is Roanna, briefly), he leaves the family home in disgust. Years later, Roanna is sent to find Webb, as her grandmother is aging and needs Webb's help. She still loves him, and although time has hardened him in many ways, he realizes he's cared for her too. But the person who killed his wife is still out there...and the killer's not too thrilled when Webb returns. (Adult romantic suspense, released 1996, publisher: Pocket Books)
[Unshakeable Faith, by Lisa Worrall ****+ I enjoyed this one quite a bit, as well. It reminded me of Sandra Brown's books, both in style and substance. The only real difference is that this is male-male romance, rather than male-female. I thought the pacing was nicely done, and I liked Brody a lot as a main character. Nash was more complex (and a bit selfish), but I thought the reasons behind his behavior were nicely explained. The story: Brody helps a man (Nash) who's lost his memory after a vicious attack. He offers him a job and a place to stay (Brody's spare room). Soon, the two are friends and more...but Nash's memory is no closer to returning. When Nash is attacked again, he wakes up in a hospital room -- and this time, he can't remember the time between the two attacks. He's forgotten all about Brody, and he returns to his home at the other end of Texas from Brody. Nash's mom is worried enough to hire a bodyguard, and when Brody sees Nash's picture on the news (and hears about the attack), he rushes out to find the Nash he knew. Nash's mom assumes he's there for the bodyguard position, and even though Brody's never done anything like that, he decides to take it so he can be close to Nash...even though Nash still doesn't remember him at all. Brody's not sure he likes this 'new' Nash, but there's no doubt that someone is after him -- and Brody wants to do what he can to protect Nash. More than that, he hopes Nash will somehow remember their life together.... (Adult romantic suspense, M/M, released 11/11, publisher: Dreamspinner Press)]
On Deck: I still have a ridiculous pile -- and I borrowed two more ARCs from my niece in Phoenix...we'll see what grabs my attention next!