Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles, #2)

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This book gave me too much anxiety.
Not that it means it’s a bad book. I suppose for those who like to be kept on their toes while reading and constantly worry who will betray who, who will give up on who, who will have to sacrifice what, how much longer will we need to suffer interactions that involve the evil queen that is too evil and too powerful, how many will die… it’s a big plus.
Yet, personally, I don’t need even a milligram of extra anxiety in my life and it made this book damn hard to read (I had to put it down a couple of times and read 2 other books while reading this one to dilute it).
Though this book does introduce a character that I feel like will be my most favorite in the series (but now I’m also feeling anxiety regarding the fact that they might be killed off in near future).



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Laird of the Mist by Paula Quinn

Laird of the Mist (MacGregors, #1)

Laird of the Mist by Paula Quinn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Would be a good comfort book of romance variety if it wasn’t for rather unfortunate quality of writing, at times bordering on cringy, and undeveloped/missed story opportunities that stand out like thorns. Also, very unfortunate cover design that is likely scare people off. If you can ignore the writing and cover problems, then you might discover some interesting side characters and a heroine who seems to know what she wants and listens to people around her for a change. I think the main thing about this book is that it avoids a lot of angst by featuring people who are actually willing to think for themselves and change their mind about things, without remaining stubbornly blind for too long.



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Heartstone by Elle Katharine White

Heartstone (Heartstone #1)

Heartstone by Elle Katharine White

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This re-telling had a lot of potential, as an idea, but some things just didn’t work… The contrast between ‘grumpy and misunderstood’ persona and ‘lovable’ persona of the hero was just not represented organically. The change between the two personas was too drastic, and the fact that Alastair constantly referred to common people like trash and said ‘loving someone like her is beneath him’ was too much and should not be forgiven/explained by temper. A lot of his actions didn’t look like something that could be explained by grumpiness and temper, but in stead appeared to be genuine cruelty. It was overplayed and not believable. In fact, there were a number points about the writing I’d like to pick on… Like the fact that the hero was constantly referred to by his family name, even in places where it felt unnatural, because there were multiple members of his family present in the scene.
The first half of this book was very mild and slow paced, presenting dozens of little mysteries of ‘why could’ve that person said that/acted that way’ in a constant stream. In that classic style of the literature this takes as the basis. Unfortunately, I feel like half of them were not even addressed properly by the end of the book. It builds a lot of mysteries, and then drops them in a very anticlimactic way. Too many questions not nearly enough answers.
And the ending was too rushed and mangled. It was both too bloody and too trivial. As in, there were supposedly all these lives lost on the background, cities destroyed, and many Riders who were supposedly as strong as the main heroes dead where named characters survived, and it didn’t even look like we were supposed to care much.
The human nemesis was dealt with behind the scenes on the background which was a throw away.
In fact, I’m not sure what exactly were we supposed to care about at that point… the revenge story line was skipped over, most of the war was skipped over, the romance was mostly skipped over, weddings were skipped over… None of the events of the ending were really brought into focus, and collectively felt like a short summary, compared to the slow pace of the first half of the book.
Also, the ultimate sacrifice by the ‘love rival’ felt like an unfortunate plot choice. Another life just thrown away in a convenient way (how much cooler it would be if she just cut out herself from the worm instead, eh?).



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Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Uprooted

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This book is like a modern version of old Slavic, or European in general, fairy tales. In both good and bad ways.
It has a magical, has a fully developed world, heavily based on Slavic influences yet still original.
It also asks you to believe and accept a lot of things shrewd modern minds would like to question.
What I didn’t really enjoy is how unnecessary bloody it turned towards the end. Really, the numbers were entirely disproportionate and stood out like a thorn in my eye. Though I suppose it matches the fairy tale style of old.
I also wish we would have gotten a bit more insight into Dragon. While the book works seamlessly as one told from the POV of the main character, it feels like I’m missing a big chunk of story.



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Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs

Blood Bound (Mercy Thompson, #2)

Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


If I wanted put my opinion about this sequel in a single word it would be ‘frustrating’.
It feels like this book follows practically the same arc as the first one did, and ended also in practically the same place. In fact, they were so similar that it actually made me wonder if every ‘Mercy Thompson’ book is going to follow this pattern of ‘An enemy appears-> Mercy gets involved (reluctantly) -> all her (few lifetimes older, more powerful, more experienced, supernatural) male friends tell her to stay out it, and then get hurt or likely captured by the evil guy -> Mercy, being the special cookie she is, rides in to save the day and all the powerful men in her life.’
I am also finding myself liking the main character less and less, which is unfortunate because I thought there was no way I wouldn’t like a headstrong independent heroine.
But the more I read the less I believe that Mercy is what we are supposed to believe she is. Here are the facts that bother me:
1) Powerful men of all races like her and care about her. Good human cop is her friend, one of the most powerful vampires (who are supposed to be evil) cares about her, very powerful fae (who are supposed to be uninvolved) like her and help her, the nicest alpha werewolf around is supposed to be in love with her, the very dominating son (and a doctor) of the most powerful werewolf (who also acts like her father figure) also wants her. Literally everywhere you look there will be a very powerful male ready to act all caring and protective towards her. Including powerful gay friends.
2) Every female character either acts like a bitch towards her, or openly submissive, or is a daughter of a man she is trying to date and is going to look up to her. I literally can’t remember a single positive female character in these two books, unless they are dead or Jesse.
3) She ‘cannot possibly choose between these two sexy men(her exact description)’, so she is going to live with one, and kiss and cuddle occasionally, and sometimes date and cuddle with the other one, but also act like she doesn’t want either <-the behavior I absolutely despise. If she at least owned it, it would be a choice, but she simply does it because she doesn’t know what she wants and just strings everyone along.
She is increasingly manipulative, wants to stay out of any pack power structures but enjoys showing off power over others every time she gets a chance a bit too much, and acts like she wants to be ‘one leg in one leg out as long as it’s convenient to her’ with everything, not only her love life.
Which looks less and less to me like a ‘strong and independent female protagonist’.
Also, author’s insistence on describing men as domineering assholes, even the good ones, over and over is getting tiring.
And I hate hate hate love triangles (especially ones that last for multiple books).



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Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh

Slave to Sensation (Psy-Changeling, #1)

Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Another one of my ‘I needed more books and wasn’t really paying attention to what I was buying’ episodes. When I skimmed the description, I ended up under impression that, despite of its title, this would be more of a contemporary fantasy thriller set in universe divided onto three major races–humans, shifters, and psy; and involve unusual alliances and hunting serial killers. With some romance as a bonus.
However, the first impression I got when I started reading is that this was going to be a book where characters think about sex 98% of time, and then somehow maybe find time to do something else in between…like hunt a serial killer, or build a housing project (which everyone seemed to completely forget about less than half way through), or hack the psy network. I don’t know if it got better or I just got used to it, but it did stop bothering me eventually.
What didn’t stop bothering me is the less than stellar quality of writing… Constant head-hopping, poor wording choices, same thoughts repeated over and over again, and unfortunate ‘romance’ related narratives that mostly enticed a lot of eye rolling. After first 6 or so chapters I felt that if I had to see words ‘sensual’ or ‘predator’ one more time my eyes would bleed.
Also, the rather disgusting habit of the main male character (and some other characters) to call the main female character pet names. ‘Kitten’ I can live with, but all the ‘darlings’ and ‘sweetcheecks’ or whatever it was… More than a bit disturbing, really.
All of the ‘mysteries’ were a bit too obvious. The main characters identity, the serial killer’s identity, the answers to many of their problems, all of it was amazingly easy to predict half way through the book. Though, to be honest, right now I appreciate the simple answers and non-angst happy ending more than I would have things being more complicated.
All in all, this book has a lot of flaws you could pick up on. But there are also some interesting ideas and story elements that maybe just enough to ignore the other uncomfortable stuff, and I personally am currently grateful to any book that actually deals with its angst and puts emphasis on such ideas as loyalty, honor, love.
P.S. No Russian would ever call their daughter Nikita, only western people do. Some research before assuming would be nice.



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Being completely unable to decide anything is one of the more annoying depression symptoms.

Sometimes it makes me have a panic attack in a store, unable to choose between a blue jacket and a green one, sometimes it makes me turn down a chance for a better work position, and sometimes I spend all day unable to figure out if I’m going to go to a concert by one of my favorite bands I brought ticket for 3 months ago, or give up and go home this evening.