books

Book Reports (5) ...

Because I've had trouble keeping up with my reading, I'm going to change my book report style a bit. Now I'm aiming to write reviews on Goodreads and simply post the link here. But I'm also going to change my star system:

* = Just not for me
** = Interesting premise but not engaging enough to complete
*** = Okay; didn't love but liked enough to finish (or at least skim)
**** = Good; liked the writing style and/or the plot enough to stick with it
***** = Loved; will definitely keep and/or re-read

****-
When We Were Worthy, by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen -- adult contemporary with slight mystery -- a story about the lives of four females after the death of three cheerleaders (allegedly caused by a boy in their school) and the secrets revealed in their small town

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3142512716
books

Book Reports (4) ...

Because I've had trouble keeping up with my reading, I'm going to change my book report style a bit. Now I'm aiming to write reviews on Goodreads and simply post the link here. But I'm also going to change my star system:

* = Just not for me
** = Interesting premise but not engaging enough to complete
*** = Okay; didn't love but liked enough to finish (or at least skim)
**** = Good; liked the writing style and/or the plot enough to stick with it
***** = Loved; will definitely keep and/or re-read

*****
One of Us is Next, by Karen M. McManus -- YA mystery/suspense -- the story of four teens who become unwitting targets of someone bent for revenge only 18 months after Simon Kelleher wreaked havoc on Bayview High (in the first book, One of Us is Lying).

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3138691130
books

Book Reports (3) ...

Because I've had trouble keeping up with my reading, I'm going to change my book report style a bit. Now I'm aiming to write reviews on Goodreads and simply post the link here. But I'm also going to change my star system:

* = Just not for me
** = Interesting premise but not engaging enough to complete
*** = Okay; didn't love but liked enough to finish (or at least skim)
**** = Good; liked the writing style and/or the plot enough to stick with it
***** = Loved; will definitely keep and/or re-read

****-
Tough Guy, by Rachel Reid -- adult, male/male romance -- a story about an 'enforcer' in hockey who is actually struggling with anxiety, body image, and fears of flying ... and how he re-connects with (and falls for) a former friend who is pretty much his opposite in every way. (fairly graphic sex)

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3133336911
books

Book Reports (2) ...

Because I've had trouble keeping up with my reading, I'm going to change my book report style a bit. Now I'm aiming to write reviews on Goodreads and simply post the link here. But I'm also going to change my star system:

* = Just not for me
** = Interesting premise but not engaging enough to complete
*** = Okay; didn't love but liked enough to finish (or at least skim)
**** = Good; liked the writing style and/or the plot enough to stick with it
***** = Loved; will definitely keep and/or re-read

***
Running with Lions, by Julian Winters -- YA contemporary (LGBTQIA themes and romance); story about a bisexual soccer player who falls for his ex-best friend (that he hasn't been close to for ~7 years) during a soccer camp over the summer between their junior and senior years in high school

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3130825441
books

Book Reports (1) ...

Because I've had trouble keeping up with my reading, I'm going to change my book report style a bit. Now I'm aiming to write reviews on Goodreads and simply post the link here. But I'm also going to change my star system:

* = Just not for me
** = Interesting premise but not engaging enough to complete
*** = Okay; didn't love but liked enough to finish (or at least skim)
**** = Good; liked the writing style and/or the plot enough to stick with it
***** = Loved; will definitely keep and/or re-read

****
Rated, by Melissa Grey -- YA dystopian (includes LGBTQIA themes); story about six teens living in a world where their ratings (given by grades, popularity, community service, etc) are public knowledge and determine everything (social standing, ability to get a job, housing, etc)

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3120487045
books

Top 13 5-Star Reads of 2019 ...

These are listed in reverse order (that I read them). All are 5-star reads, and I indicate their genre at the end.


The Mystery of the Bones, by CS Poe -- I love this series, I love Poe's style, and I love the quirky characters and the rich romance. Male/Male Romance/Mystery


Wolfsong, by TJ Klune -- I'm so glad I finally gave in and read this (despite my lack of love for shifter tales); it's truly remarkable in so many ways, and although I don't love Joe, Ox is amazing (one of my favorite characters of all time). Male/male New Adult/Urban Fantasy (Shifters)


Little White Lies, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes -- this is a delightful YA, and I love the Southern aspects, the plucky girls, and the hints of romance (book two, which I read in November, is also very good, even if not quite as strong). YA Contemporary/Mystery


Check Please, by Ngozi Ukazu -- I just loved this graphic novel, and I've read the online strip numerous times (plus, I now enjoy the fanfic too, LOL) -- the characters, the hockey, and the acceptance of this world is awesome. Male/male New Adult/Graphic Novel


Stone Cold Heart, by Laura Griffin -- as with all Griffin's books, I found this one delightful (I really enjoyed her love for Texas and the way she portrays her settings). I liked the mystery, the characters, and (as mentioned) the setting -- can't wait for the next one! Adult Mystery/Suspense/Romance


Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Saenz -- this is just a fantastic book! I loved it from start to finish (and my daughter did too -- so much so that she's already purchased it and reread it), everything from the 'historical' setting ('80s) to the sweet romance between the two boys to the lyrical writing style. YA Historical/LGBT


City of the Lost (and the rest of the series), by Kelley Armstrong -- these were a delightful discovery this year, and I enjoyed the setting, the unique premise, the mystery within each, the romance, and the characters -- just wonderful! Adult Mystery/Thriller/Romance


Made for You, by Anyta Sunday -- this is a charming romance with a unique (and intriguing) setting -- I really enjoyed it. Male/male Romance


The Deceivers, by Kiersten Simmons -- this is a solid and engaging book about teen con artists and their world (I'm hoping it's truly the beginning of a series, and I will definitely look for more). YA Thriller/Adventure


A Merciful Fate, by Kendra Elliot -- I love this series! I'm bummed that she's done now, but I so enjoyed my time with Mercy Kilpatrick, her family members, and her love (Truman). Adult Mystery/Romance


Off the Ice, by Piper Vaughn and Avon Gale -- these two make a great writing team, and I really like this new series (though the first book is my favorite so far); the romance between Tristan and Sebastian is realistic and intriguing, and I liked the hockey aspects too. Male/Male Romance


Two Can Keep a Secret, by Karen McManus -- just like her first book, this is well written, engaging, and filled with intriguing teens and situations. I'm already looking forward to her next book (coming next month). YA Mystery


Beartown, by Fredrik Backman -- I still love this book! For anyone who loves hockey and small towns, this is a must read (imo). Adult Contemporary/Literary
books

Book Reports (95-108)...

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*].

So, it's been a while, LOL. The reason for this (in case the five of you who read this are curious, hehe) is because I spent Aug thru mid-Oct working 2 jobs (basically) because I was long-term subbing at my kids' high school (teaching Digital Photography) while also keeping up with my online teaching job (high school writing). I did read, but I was swamped, and it's taken me this long (about a month) to get back to my regular routine after catching up with *Everything* that I set aside during those months. *Whew*

Here we go:

****
Lucky Break, by AM Arthur -- recommended for those who like Arthur's writing style, those who like ranch-based books, those who like dual-POV, and those who like male/male romance -- Carina Press, 10/19

(I enjoyed this, mostly because I liked Shawn's POV and story. Robin annoyed me a bit, and I felt like he was too hung up on the past (of his own life) to be strong enough for Shawn (not to save Shawn, per se, but to be his partner). Still, it was a sweet story, and I truly enjoyed Shawn's growth and their romance.)

***-
Clueless Cabot, by Andre Michaels -- recommended for those who don't mind the lack-of-communication trope, those who like supportive families, and those who like best-friends-to-lovers tales -- Ninestar Press, 9/19

(This was meh for me. I found the complete lack of communication between Lloyd and Cabot to be really annoying and immature, and by the end, I was just too frustrated to even care that much if they ever got together.)

***-
Breathe Out Slow, by AD Lawless -- recommended for those who like the New Adult genre, those who like tragedy-to-triumph, and those who like tons of angst -- Ninestar Press, 9/19

(This was also meh. Ryan's blaming of himself for his boyfriend's death was a little over-the-top, and it didn't help that Chris's mom also blamed him (very immature). Liam seemed almost too good and patient, and when Ryan learned what really happened the night Chris died, it seemed anti-climatic. *shrug* It just didn't work for me.)

**
[Summer of Hush, by RL Merrill -- recommended for those who like heavy metal and their fans, those who like band tours, and those who like dual-POV -- Dreamspinner Press, 1/20]

(I'm not entirely sure why I got this. I don't like heavy metal, so I didn't have any connection with that part of the story (which is most of it, LOL). Plus, I felt like all the characters spent too much time talking about bathroom aspects, which is not my thing at all. I ended up DNF-ing around 50% (though I did read the end, like I always do -- and that was satisfying, LOL).)

****-
Happy for You, by Anyta Sunday -- recommended for those who like Sunday's style, those who like Australian settings, and those who like family drama -- Anyta Sunday, 9/19

(I like Sunday's writing style, and I like this particular series (which is about different characters who live in the same town in Australia). I enjoyed the dual-POV, and I especially liked both Felix and Mort ... so the aspects I didn't like as much weren't as annoying, I guess. Overall, I will continue to look for Sunday's books.)

****-
Guarding His Melody, by Victoria Sue -- recommended for those who like the Enhanced verse, those who like dual-POV, those who like paranormal romance, and those who don't mind an age difference in the protags -- Dreamspinner Press, 9/18

(I picked this up because I love the Enhanced world, but this one wasn't as strong. For one thing, Finn and his crew didn't appear much at all, and the story felt too short and rushed to me (along with some other issues). Still, I did like both Gray and Seb, though they did seem a little under-developed.)

*****
The Mystery of the Bones, by CS Poe -- highly recommended for those who like Snow&Winter, those who like unusual and intriguing mysteries, and those who like unique heroes -- DSP Publications, 9/19

(I've loved every book in this series, and this was no exception. Even though the mystery here wasn't quite as strong as in the previous books, the relationship aspect was stronger to make up for it. I'm hoping there will be another!)

***
Crossroads, by Logan Meredith -- recommended for those who like dual-POV, those who like college friendship tales, and those who like sexual diversity (gray-ace, in this case) -- Dreamspinner Press, 1/8

(This was okay, even though the plot was very convoluted, and I couldn't really tell what the book was supposed to be about. I wouldn't go out of my way to find something else by this author.)

****+
Braving the Rapids, by Brandon Witt -- highly recommended for those who like CO settings, those who like dual-POV, and those who like realistic and complex characters -- Dreamspinner Press, 11/17

(I enjoyed this, especially because it's set in Estes Park, a place I've visited often throughout my life. I liked the realistic characters, as well, and I enjoyed spending time with them. I don't know if I'll read the first book, and this can obviously be read on its own.)

****-
Speed Dating the Boss, by Sue Brown -- recommended for those who like single-dad tales, those who like speed dating, and those who like fast-moving romance -- Dreamspinner Press, 6/18

(I enjoyed this more than I should, LOL. Gideon's character was so unrealistic, but I liked Dan and the speed dating parts enough to overlook that. It was a fun read.)

***-
The Imperfection of Swans, by Brandon Witt -- recommended for those who like relationship drama (and then some), those who like business-relationships-turned-more, and those who like supportive families -- Dreamspinner Press, 1/16

(I didn't love this, even though I enjoyed Witt's other book so much. In this one, I just didn't like Kevin very much, and since he was half the story, it kind of soured my whole impression. I felt like Caspar could've done better ...)

***+
Deadly Silence, by Rebecca Zanetti -- recommended for those who like alpha males, those who like females who apparently are overwhelmed by alpha males, and those who like sci-fi elements -- Forever, 4/17

(I picked this up because of the latter aspects (though I didn't know much about them), and that's really what kept me reading. I found the heroine annoying (she kept saying she didn't want him to stay with her or kiss her, but when he did, she just caved -- yuck!). His character *with her* was over the top, though without her, I liked him -- go figure.)

****-
Winter World, by A.G. Riddle -- recommended for those who like dystopic sci-fi, those who like slow-moving romance (that's not the focus), and those who like brilliant heroes -- Legion Books, 2/19

(I really enjoyed the first half of this and couldn't put it down. But then they returned to earth, and the pacing started slowing to the point that I almost completely lost interest (and skipped to the end). I'll wait for the third before I pick this up again.)
books

Book Reports (88-94)...

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*].

(I'm so far behind with these -- I apologize for the skimpy reviews for some of these.)

***-
[Hitting Black Ice, by Heloise West -- recommended for those who like suspense/mysteries, those who like male/male romance, and those who like FBI involvement -- Ninestar Press, 8/19]

(This was kind of meh for me. Here's a link to my GR review, if you're interested: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2941227805.)

****
[Goalie Interference, by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn -- recommended for those who enjoyed the first one, those who like male/male hockey-based romance, and those who like sports action -- Carina Press, 9/19]

(I enjoyed this quite a bit, even if it wasn't as strong for me as the first book. Still, the hockey action in this is detailed a fair amount more, something I liked, and even though the romance/love story isn't as strong, I still liked the two MCs (Emmett and Ryu) and found both sympathetic. I'll definitely look for the third when it comes out!)

****
[The Monument's Men Murders, by Josh Lanyon -- recommended for Lanyon fans, for those who like male/male romance (kind of in the background here), and for those who like history in their stories -- Vellichor Books, 6/19]

(I enjoyed this, just as I have all the other Lanyon books I've read. I thought the history aspects were fascinating, and I really liked Jason's narrative voice. The only downsides (and reasons it's not got a higher rating) came with Jason's relationship with Sam. It felt uneven to me, and that bugged me. Plus, the murder aspect of the mystery seemed like an afterthought. Still, I will look for the next one in the series (it doesn't come out until next year, I believe).)

****-
Whiskey Business, by Avon Gale -- recommended for those who like small town settings, those who like male/male romance, and those who like quirky MCs -- Dreamspinner Press, 12/16

(This was cute and fun. I liked it mostly because of the setting (small town in Kentucky) and the quirky secondary characters (and MC). It was dual POV, which I also like, though I felt like Adam's POV was a little stiff (kind of like Adam, himself). The romance is sweet though predictable, and Ryder's antics and personality drive the book.)

***+
Risky Behavior, by L.A. Witt and Cari Z -- recommended for those who like cop tales, those who like male/male romance, and those who like police procedural details -- Riptide Publishing, 5/17

(I didn't get to finish this (it was from Hoopla, and it went back when I was not even halfway, sigh), but I'm planning to check it out again when I can. I mostly wanted to mention it here because I really like police procedurals, and having one with the addition of the male/male romance is ideal. :) )

****+
The Blueprint, by S.E. Harmon -- highly recommended for those who like Harmon's writing, those who like sports-related stories, those who like professional athletes, and those who like male/male friends-to-lovers -- Dreamspinner Press, 3/18

(I loved this! It was just slightly less wonderful than the second book, which is why I only gave it 4.5 stars, but for a book about a professional football player who has to come to terms with his own sexual preferences -- and with dual POV that includes the snarky bff/boyfriend -- it was right up my alley. :D)

*****
Wolfsong, by T.J. Klune -- highly recommended for those who like shifter tales, those who like complex characters and situations, and those who like male/male mates/bonding -- Dreamspinner Press, 10/16

(I've heard about this book for a while now, but I wasn't invested enough to buy it. It finally became available through Hoopla, and holy cannoli...I'm going to have to buy it now. :D I loved it! Ox is one of my favorite characters of all time, and even though I didn't find Joe as attractive and sympathetic, I still will want to read this again. I'll probably even get the final book (which comes out in December, I believe).)