books

Book Report (27-29)...

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; DNF means *did not finish*].

***

Jar of Hearts, by Jennifer Hillier -- recommended for those who like suspense, those who like creepy characters, those who like background romance, and those who don't mind violence against women -- Minotaur Books, 6/18

(I didn't love this. It was interesting, but the creepy factor overwhelmed the rest for me, and I just didn't like the main characters enough, either, to get invested in the story. It was okay but not great.)

**-

No Exit, by Taylor Adams -- recommended for those who like impossible situations, those who like antagonists with no conscience, those who like fiery heroines -- William Morrow, 1/19

(This definitely wasn't for me. The mystery wasn't that strong, and the 'bad' guy truly had no conscience at all. Plus, there was a child involved, and that just doesn't work for me. Blech.)

***+

Family Man, by Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton -- recommended for those who like male/male romance, those who like Italian families, those who like coming-out stories, and those who like family drama -- Dreamspinner Press, 3/19

(I liked aspects of this a lot, but the on-going drama with Trey's family (his mom is an alcoholic) and the frustration that never really got resolved regarding that drove me crazy and made reading the story tedious to me. But I loved Vinnie and his family, and I liked the relationship between the two...mostly. It was an interesting read, but not one I'm likely to return to.)
books

Book Reports (14-22)...

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; DNF means *did not finish*].

****+

The Valentine's Day Resolution, by Ava Hayden -- highly recommended for those who like sweet male/male romances, those who like dual POV, and those who like a solid resolution -- Dreamspinner Press, 8/17

(I like Hayden's writing, and this was similar to her other works in its overall satisfying feeling and sweet romance. There's always a hint of angst, but the characters are sympathetic, and the epilogue resolved pretty much everything (perhaps more tidily than is realistic, LOL).)

*****

A Merciful Fate, by Kendra Elliot -- highly recommended for those who like the Mercy Kilpatrick series, for those who like mystery/suspense, and for those who like stories with rural/unique settings -- Montlake Romance, 1/19

(I loved this 5th book in the series just as much as the others. I think my favorite parts are Mercy herself (she's the best combination of fiery and vulnerable), Truman (who's so calm and giving and real), their relationship (which is mature and lovely), and the colorful secondary characters (all of whom are pretty unique and complex). Okay, I just like everything about it. :D I can't wait for the next one!)

****

Last Look, by Mariah Stewart -- recommended for those who like suspense, those who like cold case files, and those who like romance (non graphic) -- Ballantine Books, 5/07

(I enjoyed the mystery aspects of this, but I thought the characterizations and romance could have been a little stronger. They weren't bad, by any means, but I like a little more emotion and heat between the love interests, and this was pretty mild. Still, the mystery really was pretty engaging.)

****

Dark Waters, by Toni Anderson -- recommended for fans of Toni Anderson, for those who liked the first one (Dangerous Waters), for those who like mystery/suspense, for those who like dual-POV, for those who like Canadian coastal settings, and for those who like steamy (though not too graphic) romance -- Montlake Romance, 8/13

(Although I didn't like this as much as the first, it was still an enjoyable read. This one focused on Brent Carver (Finn's older brother) and his involvement with his ex-cellmate's daughter. I like the Canadian setting, but I tell you what, I'm really glad I live in the US with its justice system (despite all the flaws) compared to what they face in Canada!)

****-

Dark Truth, by Mariah Stewart -- recommended for those who like mystery/suspense, those who like non-graphic romance, and those who like sympathetic characters -- Ballantine Books, 10/05

(I enjoyed the mystery here, although I figured out the killer pretty early on. Still, it was an interesting journey, despite the lack of heat in the romance.)

***

Screwups, by Jamie Fessenden -- recommended for those who like male/male romance, those who like college tales, those who like coming out tales, and those who don't mind somewhat selfish characters -- Dreamspinner Press, 3/14

(I didn't love this, sadly. The premise sounded intriguing, and the writing itself was fine. But I didn't really enjoy the way Danny made everything about him. I felt like Jake was a much more sympathetic character, and even though Danny clearly had a hard time of things, to me it didn't justify his behavior. *shrug* I think it just wasn't for me.)

*

[Sleepless in San Francisco, by Ryan Field -- recommended for those who like tons of graphic sex (male/male) with very little plot -- Riverdale Avenue Books, 12/18]

(Yeah, I didn't like this at all. The characters were one-dimensional, there was little-to-no world building, the emotional connection was pretty much non-existent...you get the picture. It was basically just a ton of sex -- really, just sex scene, filler, sex scene, filler, etc. Totally not my taste.)

****-

[Perfect Match, by AG Meiers -- recommended for those who like male/male romance, those who like mail-order-bride-type set-ups, and those who are willing to suspend their disbelief -- Riptide Publishing, 1/19]

(I ended up liking the two main characters quite a bit, but the whole set up was so outlandish and unbelievable to me that it kind of ruined the story some. Basically, there is this dating website that promises a 'perfect match,' and they sent a stranger to Canada to pretend to be another man's perfect match...it was just ridiculous. Also, Jayden's reasons for going along with the pretense also seem weak to me. But I like Sven, and I like Sven's family -- and Jayden grew on me.)

*****

[Off the Ice, by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn -- highly recommended for those who like male/male romance, those who like pro hockey, those who like coming-out tales, and those who like somewhat graphic (and fairly frequent) sex -- Riptide, 10/17]

(I loved this! I loved all the hockey aspects (which weren't overdone, imo), and in fact, I loved Tristan in every way. Sebastian took a little longer to warm up to, but he definitely felt like a good partner to Tristan. There was a part near the end that I didn't love, I will admit, and there was more sex that I personally prefer, but overall, this is a very entertaining read, and I can't wait for the next one in the series (doesn't come out till June, waaah).)
books

Book Report (9-13)...

****+

https://www.robinprehn3r.com/blog-1/robin-reads-the-boy-next-story

****

https://www.robinprehn3r.com/blog-1/robin-reads-that-s-not-what-happened

***

https://www.robinprehn3r.com/blog-1/robin-reads-the-almost-truth

***-

https://www.robinprehn3r.com/blog-1/robin-reads-the-hanging-girl

**

(I didn't review this one on my site because I really didn't like it much. There wasn't a single character in the book that I found sympathetic or even realistic. They were all whiny, selfish, and thoughtless -- ick. Micah (who's gay) was the closest to someone worth reading about, and by the end, I thought there might be hope for him...but it wasn't enough to save the book for me.)
books

Book Reports (1-4)...

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; DNF means *did not finish*].

*****
Beartown, by Fredrik Backman -- highly recommended for those who like contemporary drama, those who like sports tales (hockey), and those who like realistic and compelling characters -- Atria Books, 4/17

(So I read this because E's class is reading it (Honors English 9), and I wanted to make sure it wasn't too graphic. It's not, and man, it's a really engaging book. I read feverishly, and I was so caught up in the story (not a spoiler: the town lives and breathes hockey, but the high school team captain is accused of raping a girl...and the whole town gets involved in he-said-she-said). There's a sequel, and I don't know if I'll read that one or not, just because I was satisfied with leaving them all where I did -- but yeah, it was really good. A great start to reading this year!)

****+
Whisper of Warning, by Laura Griffin -- highly recommended for those who like Griffin's books, those who like romantic suspense, and those who like cop tales and spunky heroines -- Pocket Star, 3/09

(This is the second in the Glass sisters books, and I enjoyed it almost as much as the first, though I didn't think I would. But even though I didn't like Courtney quite as much as Fiona, I liked Will even better -- and I loved getting a sneak preview of Alex and Nathan here, as well (I wondered where they had first met when I read their story, and now I know). All in all, it was a very entertaining read, and I'm bummed because I've now read all Griffin's books and will have to wait for a new one. *sigh*)

****+
Dangerous Waters, by Toni Anderson -- highly recommended for those who like romantic suspense, those who like Canadian settings, and those who like family drama -- Montlake Romance, 11/12

(Yay, I remember the title! :D I definitely liked the setting and the characters. The romance (a female Canadian officer who falls for a suspect) is intriguing, and the many secondary characters (who don't seem secondary) make this feel very well-rounded. It wasn't outstanding writing, necessarily, but it definitely kept me engaged throughout, and I will be looking for more books by Anderson.)

****+
The Strength of His Heart, by Victoria Sue -- highly recommended for those who like the Enhanced series, those who like male/male romance, and those who like FBI (paranormal) tales -- Dreamspinner Press, 12/18

(This is the 4th in the series, and I liked it as much as the others. Sue does a great job showing us both viewpoints of the couple, and even though I didn't think Sam deserved Vance (who is really just a huge sweetie), he did make up for a lot of it at the end. Plus, the team is still fun to read about, and I enjoy the new peeks into this world.)
books

Book Reports (100-118)...

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; DNF means *did not finish*].

****+
Last Look, by Mariah Stewart -- highly recommended for those who like suspense/mystery (with professional players -- FBI) with a hint of romance -- Ballantine, 5/07

(This was engaging, and I liked the slow reveal of the mystery. Stewart seems to take us through the steps just as the 'pros' have to do it, so you see the missteps as well as the 'aha' moments. I could've used a little more romance, but it was still enjoyable.)

****-
Dark Truth, by Mariah Stewart -- recommended for those who like mystery (police and FBI, this time, along with amateurs) with a hint of romance -- Ballantine, 10/05

(I liked this, though I can tell it was earlier in her writing career. I figured out 'whodunnit' about a chapter into the book, but it was still enjoyable reading along to see how the characters discovered the truth. I will say, the romance was even more slight in this one, and the 'bad' guy kind of turned on a dime. :/)

****+
By His Own Hand, by Neal Griffin -- highly recommended for those who like an intriguing murder mystery (with pros -- police/sheriff) and a hint of romance -- Forge Books, 4/18

(This was very interesting, though I can tell it was written by a man. :D Male authors focus on such different aspects than females, in my experience. Anyway, I liked the slow reveal, I liked the grittiness (though it wasn't ridiculously graphic), and I liked the complexity of all the characters. This is the third in a series (same characters but not connected mysteries), but I had no trouble getting to know the characters. Griffin didn't really delve into the emotions much, and the relationship was established. All in all, interesting.)

***
Consumed, by J.R. Ward -- recommended for those who like mystery (firefighters, this time) with the focus more on the romance -- Gallery Books, 10/18

(I didn't love this one. I skimmed the middle third (or two thirds?). The characters just didn't appeal to me that much, and it really bugged me that the female (whose name escapes me) judged her love interest so harshly. Basically, the romance didn't work for me at all, and the characters seemed a little over the top. Just not my style, I think.)

***
Tailspin, by Sandra Brown -- recommended for those who like Sandra Brown -- Grand Central, 8/18

(This started out in an intriguing way -- a crashed airplane with an organ on board and a doctor who stole the organ -- but it fell into something fairly predictable too quickly for my taste. I go through phases where I read Sandra Brown, but I often forget in between how formulaic these become. I skipped to the end, and yep, it (the killer) was who I thought it was.)

****
Love and Snowball Fights, by J.R. Loveless -- recommended for those who like angsty but sweet male/male romance -- Dreamspinner Press, 12/16

(This was very sweet, although the MC had a rough, rough life (and man, I hurt for the poor guy). Also, he fell in love quickly, and his love interest didn't react fast enough for my taste...but it was a sweet holiday tale.)

****+
Chase the Stars, by Ariel Tachna -- this is the second in the Inherit the Sky, series, and it's highly recommended for those who like the series and those who like male/male romance in the setting of an Australian sheep farm -- Dreamspinner Press, 9/12

(I somehow missed this one when I read the series, but I definitely enjoyed it. It's the story of Chris and Seth (brothers) and how they came to Lang Downs. There's a bunch of Mac and Caine in this one too, so I liked that, as well.)

****
Loving Jay, by Renae Kaye -- recommended for those who like contemporary male/male romance (kind of a coming out tale) set in the UK -- Dreamspinner Press, 4/14

(This was entertaining but didn't really stand out much. I liked the MCs, and the fast-moving romance is nice (some sex, as well). Liam is the narrator, and therefore we only see Jay through his eyes. It's fine but not outstanding, I'd say.)

****+
Crocus, by Amy Lane -- highly recommended for those who read the first (Bonfires) and those who like a contemporary novel about an established relationship (male/male) with adult/teen kids involved -- Dreamspinner Press, 4/18

(I enjoyed this almost as much as the first. I think the two adults (a principal and a sheriff) are well-drawn characters, and their 'kids' (both adult and teen) are nicely done, as well. The entire cast of characters, really, is enjoyable and fun to read about, even with the drama all around.)

****+
A Deeper Blue, by S.E. Harmon -- highly recommended for those who read the first and those who like coming out tales of athletes (one of the MCs is a professional football player) -- Dreamspinner Press, 10/18

(So this is the second, and I didn't read the first. :D I read enough of the summary to suspect the first would only frustrate me, and I preferred to get their story (Kelly and Blue) after all the angst. In this book, they're already together, but Blue still hasn't come out to the larger world (including his dad or anyone on his team). I really liked the progression of Blue's thinking throughout the story, and I thought Kelly was realistic in his frustration and worry as Blue keeps putting it off. It was an interesting tale!)

***+
Love and Payne, by Charlie Cochet -- recommended for those who love the THIRDs series and those who like Austin (and Zach) -- Dreamspinner Press, 9/18

(I didn't love this one. It was okay, but Sloane and Dex aren't even in it (they're on their honeymoon), so it's really just focused on Austin and Zach. It was fine but a little forgettable.)

***
Stay With Me, by S.E. Harmon -- recommended for those who like contemporary male/male romance -- Dreamspinner Press, 4/14

(Meh. I didn't really like this one. Mac seemed a little erratic, and Jordan drove me crazy (he couldn't decide if he liked guys or not, so he kept leading Mac on). But since I didn't love Mac that much, it was hard to be invested in their so-called relationship. I'm glad I didn't read this one of her books first (I wouldn't have picked up any others)!)

*****
P.S. I Spook You, by S.E. Harmon -- highly recommended for those who like paranormal suspense (with a male/male romance, to boot) -- Dreamspinner Press, 6/17

(*This* is the one I read first, and I loved it! I love both Rain and Daniel, and the fact that they'd had an earlier relationship (which didn't work out -- for mysterious reasons, at first) only added to the tension of the story. I liked how Rain was working to redeem himself for something that didn't really need redemption, and I liked Daniel's skepticism warring with his feelings for Rain. It was just a really enjoyable story, and I'm so hoping she writes another about these two.)

****
Spring Break at the Villa Hermes, by Xavier Mayne -- recommended for those who like fun (though highly unlikely) contemporary stories about gay (or suddenly gay) men -- Dreamspinner Press, 4/15

(Okay, this was really fun, though totally unbelievable. :D Essentially, one established gay couple ends up spending spring break with 6 college guys who all have secrets. During a hurricane, the secrets are revealed, and of course, it turns out that 2/3 of the guys are suddenly gay (or bi or gay-for-you or...). It made me laugh, and I like the guys enough that I enjoyed the romp, even though it's not even remotely realistic.)

****
Pins and Needles, by A.J. Thomas -- highly recommended for those who like mysteries (amateurs) with male/male romance -- Dreamspinner Press, 8/17

(I enjoyed this. I liked the tattoo stuff (one of the MCs has tons of tattoos and works in a tattoo parlor) and the mystery, as well (even though I thought it was pretty obvious who was behind it). The balance of lawyer to tattoo artist/engineer was interesting, as well -- though I would agree with a critique I read about the disability aspect being downplayed quite a bit (the tattoo artist has one prosthetic leg and the other as severely injured/weak). However, since I don't really want to read about the ins and outs of that, it was fine with me.)

***+
A Kind of Romance, by Lane Hayes -- recommended for those who like contemporary gay romance -- Dreamspinner Press, 6/16

(This was okay. I enjoyed the romance between Zeke and Benny, though it was pretty corny in many places. Plus, both seemed a little unwilling to commit, and the lack of decision was annoying (to me, at least). Still, the secondary characters made up for a lot.)

****
[Too Hot, by Avery Giles -- recommended for those who like mysteries (firefighter/arson) with a male/male romance thrown in -- Riptide Publishing, 10/18]

(This was pretty good, although the romance between the two flies along -- until they have the typical miscommunication that trips them up. That always annoys me, and this was no different (it was mostly on Charlie's head, and it really bugged me that he blamed Eli for mistrusting him when Charlie was lying from the beginning). Still, I did enjoy it.)

*****
The Mystery of the Moving Image, by C.S. Poe -- highly recommended for all who like the Snow & Winter mysteries (antiques dealer and police detective) -- Dreamspinner Press, 9/18

(I loved this! I feel like each of these gets better, even though I loved the other two, as well. :D I just really like Calvin and Sebastian. Their relationship is so real, and Sebastian is quirky and wry and so unique. The mysteries Poe comes up with are incredibly original too -- all of them involve something old/historical/antique/etc. I can't wait for the next one!)

****-
The Hike, by John Inman -- recommended for Inman fans and those who like horror -- Dreamspinner Press, 9/17

(This was okay. I don't really like horror, so that part didn't appeal to me. But I did enjoy the two MCs (established though new relationship), and I thought the tale was realistic enough to truly spook a bit. The pacing was also good, and I liked the humor thrown in here and there, as well.)

Well, there we have it! Let's hope I get better at entering these as I read them instead of waiting months...sigh. :)