* 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; DNF means *did not finish*].
[Dream Daddy, by Leighton Grey, Vernon Shaw -- recommended for those who have played the video game (I guess -- I'd never heard of it before) and those who like graphic novels/comic books (with a m/m slant) -- Oni Press, 5/19]
(This was an e-galley, and I honestly knew nothing about it. I thought it would be more of a graphic novel male-male romance -- it's not. It was fine, but I didn't love it.)
[Arctic Wild, by Annabeth Albert -- recommended for those who like male/male romance, those who like Alaska settings, and those who like May-December romance -- Carina Press, 6/19]
(This was also just okay. I liked aspects of it a lot -- such as Reuben, who's a great character -- but I also really struggled with some of it -- like Toby's injuries and how they were handled. All in all, the lack of research and understanding regarding what it would take for Toby's care added to Toby's overall selfishness and immaturity kind of ruined the whole book for me, despite how much I enjoyed Reuben (and perhaps because of it -- Reuben deserved a LOT better than Toby). Even the cool setting couldn't make up for those weaknesses for me.)
The Devil's Breath, by A. Nybo -- recommended for those who like Australian characters (in a Canadian setting), those who like mystery (or some semblance of one), those who like successful vengeance (or justice), and those who like male/male romance -- Dreamspinner Press, 1/19
(Even though this is pretty much insta-love (after insta-hate, LOL), I still enjoyed it. I really liked Birch and his laid-back and compassionate approach to life. And even though Henri was quirky, I felt like the explanation for that made sense. The 'mystery' was a little odd and over-the-top, and I definitely had to suspend my disbelief for a lot of the set-up and execution of that aspect of the story. But the romance between Birch and Henri was actually quite sweet and thoughtful, so I enjoyed it for that alone.)
Blind Spot, by Maggie Kavanagh -- recommended for those who read the first two, those who like solid mystery/thrillers, and those who like male/male romance -- Dreamspinner Press, 1/16
(I only read the first of this trilogy, but it was enough to have me invested in Sam's and Nate's future, so I had to pick this one up too. It's definitely engaging, and although there are a couple aspects I didn't love, overall, it's a solid story, and I like the growing relationship between Sam and Nate. Plus, I like how the mystery really strings together all three books, and that was definitely worth reading.)
[Made for You, by Anyta Sunday -- highly recommended for those who like male/male romance, those who like New Zealand settings, and those who like realistic kid tales -- self published, 4/19]
(I really enjoyed this one. And even though it's set in New Zealand, the only aspects that specifically pointed that out involved the birding (which I also love), so anyone could enjoy it, I think. The relationship between Milo, Ben, and Jack is really great, and the romance between Jack and Ben seemed very realistic and thoughtful. My only real complaint was how long it took Jack to really step up -- but even that was handled mostly well. And I loved the epilogue. :D)
La Famiglia, by Deanna Wadsworth -- highly recommended for those who like Italian families, those who like male/male romance, those who like coming-out tales, those who like small-town settings, and those who like MCs with disabilities (deafness, in this case) -- Dreamspinner Press, 1/18
(This is a good read. I really liked Forrester and his family, and I especially enjoyed how Wadsworth gave us glimpses into each of his brother's lives and their own insecurities. I thought all the characters were well-rounded and realistic, in fact, and the story itself is rich and filled with little aspects that make you glad to visit this place and these people. My only minor complaints all circle around Kyle -- he's a good character, without a doubt, but I felt like his story really took place before this one...in other words, he feels a bit like a cut-out character, someone Forrester can fall for and use as motivation to come out to his family. Despite Kyle getting his own POV, it still felt very much like Forrester's tale, and honestly, I think it would've been stronger *without* Kyle's POV. Still, I liked visiting this group of people, and I'd enjoy meeting up with them again. :) )
Afraid to Fly, by LA Witt -- recommended for those who like military-life settings, those who like male/male romance, and those who like overcoming PTSD tales -- Riptide Publishing, 1/17
(This was good, although it didn't have a strong climax/resolution. Instead, it's kind of a gentle (though intense) build to the end with one brief mis-step by Travis. I liked the dual POV (as always), and I thought both men were mature and thoughtful characters.)
Refraction, by B.A. Tortuga and Jodi Payne -- recommended for those who like male/male romance, those who like artists, and those who like angst -- Dreamspinner Press, 6/18
(I enjoyed this mostly because of Tucker and the romance between Tucker and Calvin (even though Calvin wasn't my favorite person all the time). Tucker's a bit of an exaggeration when it comes to the 'tortured' artist aspects, but he's still incredibly lovable. I enjoyed their relationship, although Calvin wasn't as strong as I wanted him to be for Tucker -- still, their connection was palpable and drove the story.)
[The Rumor, by Lesley Kara -- recommended for those who like slow-developing mysteries, those who like a cast of characters (but only one POV), and those who like family drama -- Ballantine Books, 6/19]
(This was a little too slowly developing for my taste. Plus, I just didn't love Joanna (the MC) enough to want to spend time in her head. She wasn't distasteful; she was simply uninteresting to me. I ended up skipping to the end and felt like I hadn't missed anything...the mystery aspect was good, I'd say, though I had my suspicions (accurately so). Basically, I just didn't care enough about any of the characters to truly care about the outcome.)
Whew -- I really need to keep up with these better. ;) I'm currently reading two more (both library books), so I'll try to post those right when I finish (ha).