I don’t need my therapist to tell me (I can tell it her myself) that I’ve been reading so many silly, and not so silly, fantasy romance-ish books, which I would previously consider kind of uncharacteristic, because I use them to fight my deepening depression and anxiety on the very chemical level.

It also would be why I get so uncontrollably angry and disappointed when a book that I desperately needed to pull me up, has so much angst (because apparently too many people believe angst is fashionable, cool, and deep) it actually managed to bring me down.

Which is not really fair to the books I read, because having angst doesn’t make books bad objectively, but right now in my eyes, it kind of does.

A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught

A Kingdom of Dreams (Westmoreland, #1)

A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A well written archetypal historical romance.

While 14-16 y.o. me would’ve loved this, given it 5 stars, and squealed in delight while re-reading favorite parts multiple times, there’s a part of me that is apparently a bit too old and cynic for this.
The younger me loved that the heroine was actually clever, resourceful, resorting to unusual choices, and not simply blindly stubborn and arrogant; loved the conversations between main characters (even though there were 1-2 dialogs my fingers just itched to re-write); loved that many of the characters actually used their heads and altered their opinions. Also the hero… Big, strong, fearsome and fearless “Black Wolf” on a big black horse? He is practically the model (template) hero for the majority of these romance novels (the ones that don’t deal with the ‘fair-haired and beautiful noble hero’ type). It feels like I’ve seen a few dozen of his twins before. Even if it works…
(Though I do suppose an allowance should be made for the fact that this book was published in 1989 and I’m influenced by the books that came after.)
The older me narrows her eyes at how young the main character is (I know it’s historically accurate, I can’t help it), and at the fact that this book suffers from the ‘I got addicted to the angst and added some more…and more…and more again’-syndrome. I’m not convinced that the final family-related angst sequence was entirely necessary. As wasn’t the mini-angst detail of the Epilogue. Some of the plot turns, especially the ones that sacrifices positive characters, felt excessive.

Overall, I think this is definitely one of the better examples of ‘romance with actual plot’ variety, but I also think that it would be mostly appealing to younger readers.

(Unrelated to the content of the book, I happened to get the edition with rather terrible printing. The problems ranged from about twenty extra pages getting stuck in a wrong place in the book, to constantly missing punctuation marks… Even for a 30 y.o. edition, it’s a bit too much.)



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Mr. Perfect by Linda Howard

Mr. Perfect

Mr. Perfect by Linda Howard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


50% ‘Criminal Minds’-style thriller, 50% insta-romance explosion

This is a skillfully-written story, with some subtle twists that keep you guessing, and enough humor and romance to keep you distracted from the gruesome reality of the thriller portion. Other that the clear introduction to the where this is going to go in the Prologue, the story actually starts pretty slow, taking plenty of time to introduce all the characters and relationships. To be honest, I have my doubts about believability of the main concept—the one where the list becomes the nation-wide news feature and where so many people feel offended by it—but I know close to nothing about US society so I can’t really judge. The romance may feel a bit too fluffy and instantaneous, but then again, isn’t that the dream. I did also appreciate the fact that the culprit wasn’t a generic ‘his mother treated him bad so he grew up a woman-hating psychopath’ kind of deal, but then again, the twist I imagined in my head for the later part of the book might have been a little twistier that the actual one, which led to me feeling that this was after all a 4-star read, rather that a 5-star.



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Approximately 24 hours of my life:

My breasts hurt for a week before I’m about to go on a vacation for a few days, because my PMS is trying to wait exactly for the day I’m planning to be walking around in the nature for most of the day. It reaches the point where it hurts so much I actually spend a whole night dreaming about walking around with bust three times heavier and bigger than it is, which is not as fun as it sounds because it’s also full of pain.

I sigh, say ‘Okay’, and pack half of my small suitcase with sanitary products.

I want to buy some coffee and lunch before getting on the shinkansen, to start my vacation by reading one of my favorite books while seeping on some delicious coffee and listening to writing music.

But the morning crowd pushes me into the station entrance that has no coffee shops, and to reach the only Starbucks (which wouldn’t be my choice for coffee anyway, but it’s the only choice I have) on the station I need to go down to the platform, and then go back up on the other side. I walk the whole length of the platform, trying to find upwards escalator or elevator. No such luck.

I sigh, say ‘Okay’, and drag my suitcase up the the stairs. It’s not too heavy, but my wrist is injured and I have to spend next 20 minutes to try to get it to turn again without feeling like I’m about to throw up every time I move it in a wrong way.

As I’ve finally reached the city, left my suitcase with the hotel staff, and walk the quiet streets that hardly change, I think I should be finally free for next 48 hours.

After a minor incident where I had to pit my bladder against two elderly ladies who were buying great many things and couldn’t let me get to the cashier in my favorite paper shop (it might have been my fault for forgetting to find a toilet in the hotel lobby and holding it in for hours), I finally reach my favorite cafe with soups and banana-hojicha smoothies. Just as I’m trying to get my nerve knots to uncoil, I get a message from work that something has happened, and the co-worker who was supposed to cover in my absence is not there. It’s not voiced out loud, but I’m sure they’d want me to re-schedule my vacation if I was still in Tokyo.

I sigh, say ‘Okay’ and try to pretend like this piece of news is not going to spoil my mood. Or that I won’t start hating myself for feeling someone else’s misfortune is part of a conspiracy against me.

I make it back to the hotel. Try to not feel my disappointment prematurely when they tell me my room is on the 4th floor, because I’ve been thinking about looking out over the city during the sunset the whole time on my walk back. When I check my room my hear sinks. My window faces a solid wall 50 cm away.

I sigh, say ‘Okay’, and think that’s what you get for booking an untried new hotel last minute instead of my favorite place which was unfortunately fully booked. Now, at least, it makes sense why this was so cheap. I can’t bring myself to go ask for a new room.

After getting settled a little, and frowning at the hand towel that looks and smells clean, but feels strangely sticky after I wipe my hands (like they didn’t wash the detergent out completely), I try to unpack. I enter my code in the lock on my suitcase, and it doesn’t open. I look it over, making sure it’s mine, then try every combination I’ve been known to have on this kind of lock. There’re not many of those. I look in my bag in case I still have the ’emergency’ key, which I don’t. I don’t know if it just broke or someone tried unlocking it and got it stuck.

I sigh, say ‘Okay’, and settle down trying every combination possible on the dial for the next hour. When that doesn’t work, I take the ice tongs from the ice bucket and wrench the pull tubs out from the sliders and then from the lock. I get my suitcase open, but I doubt I’ll be able to use the lock ever again. I’m resourceful, because asking strangers for help is always the very last resort. I also kind of didn’t want people thinking I was asking them to open someone else’s suitcase.

I’ve been dreaming about sleeping while breathing in the clear air of this town for more than a year. Not only am I robbed of that, because I can’t open the window in this room, I can hardly sleep all night because the bathroom keeps making these noises like it’s a space ship. Something thuds very loudly at least once every hour, almost making me jump, something seethes, something gurgles, and I wake up every time. I wake up for good at 4 am.

I sigh, say ‘Okay’, and think that at least hardly getting any sleep is nothing new to me these days and I won’t get as hysterical as I would be previously when deprived from my 7-9 hours of sleep on vacation.

I bought my breakfast in a convenience store the day before. I have a salad I need to mix and a soup, and in the morning I realize there were no utensils in the bag. Which you have to be really really unlucky to have happen to you in Japan. They can forget to ask you if you need them and put some inside anyway, but to just forget to put anything… I can’t say this ever happened to me before.

I sigh, say ‘Okay’ and settle to have only a yogurt drink and a piece of cake I have to eat with my hands for breakfast.

I don’t want to list any more.

Believe it or not, this kind of ‘pattern’ has been my life for months. Many of them. Sometimes worse, sometimes better. It’s not really bad enough to feel like being kicked constantly, but it’s that sort of minor annoyance like trying to walk and have something constantly grab at your hair and clothing and stagger you back. Or constantly hear universe say ‘haha, f*ck you!’ in your year. Or trying to take a deep breath and smile just to have your face slapped for your efforts, every time.

I’m just so…fluffing tired.

Pride Mates by Jennifer Ashley

Pride Mates (Shifters Unbound, #1)

Pride Mates by Jennifer Ashley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


To be honest, I first, after reading the description, was actually planning to avoid these series… The whole ‘Shifters are Collared and controlled, outcast from humanity’ concept doesn’t appeal to me at all. Not that I’d have hard time imagining humans being discriminating asses trying to degrade, insult, and control others on every step, but just because I don’t really like to be reminded of these disgusting human traits. I only picked this up because I have read Bodyguard by chance first and thought maybe it wouldn’t be so bad after all.
It’s not a bad story. The plot is there, not dissolved behind the romance, and the characters are interesting and mostly well-developed. And yet, too much of this book talks about these issues of control, power over others, dominance and submission… even if the main character says she is not ‘into it’, everything in this book rotates around these concepts. Which honestly kind of puts me off.
Also, the insta-love and thick-headed main female character did seem clichéd, even if not enough to be annoying.



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Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews

Magic Burns (Kate Daniels, #2)

Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


On one hand, I can’t help but feel that these novels (especially this one) are too short, on the other hand, they are so packed with non-stop action that I also believe if it was any longer I would actually get tired reading it. The main character hardly has any any time to rest, she spends more time passed out after almost dying again than sleeping, she hardly eats, she goes from one deadly battle to another, ‘almost dies’ multiple times, and the whole book hardly covers more than a couple of days.
I enjoyed this book more mostly because there weren’t really any unreasonable blunders like in the first one, but I do think I would enjoy it even more if there was more ‘room to breathe’ between all the action.



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Dragon Actually by G.A. Aiken

Dragon Actually

Dragon Actually by G.A. Aiken

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fun, unexpected, and explicit in more ways than one.


The way this book started, I thought I’d give it 5 stars. The tone, the humor, the characters and interactions, everything seemed great. Even thought this book is plenty bloody and violent. Unfortunately, later on the ‘rapid POV switching’ style, while fresh and enjoyable in the beginning, seemed to turn the story a progression bit too abrupt. Puff! Enemies are about to attack this specific village. Puff! We’re in the middle of the battle. Puff! It’s all over. Puff! A year has passed. (And I do feel like making it a year was neither realistic nor reasonable).
It also progressively turned a bit too porny, and when we reached “Chains & Flames” also too S&M-y for my tastes. It’s probably because, once again, I thought I was getting a ‘fantasy novel featuring some romance’, while it actually picking up ‘erotica in fantasy setting’. While it still could be the former if it tried just a little bit harder, it definitely is much more closer to the latter.



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