Ever been so deep in your head you stepped into a huge puddle of vomit on the floor and stood around there for a while?

In my defense, it was in the middle of convenience store in Japan where you’re not supposed to expect mess. (This is going to sound bad, but figures it had to happen in the immigration office.)

But I did stand around in it for a bit while choosing drinks and only noticed because my feet started to slip around.

I have a feeling this day will go into the ‘those embarrassing things I did I wish I could forget but remember better than my name’ memory bank.

At least I didn’t fall in it.

Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller

Warrior of the Wild

Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Very simple, very short, very shallow, very YA. In other words: mleh.

I don’t really understand why YA publishers keep doing this…putting is so much efforts and hype, making beautiful covers and lots of promotion for something that has practically no substance inside? Seems to me like it should stand against the pride of anyone working in book publishing, but oh well…
This book is supposed to be about almost-adults being outcast and dealing with deadly dangers and tasks, but it reads like about a group of 12 y.o. kids playing around at heroes.
This story is not bad. There’s just nothing to it. Same can be said about the quality of writing.
The plot turns are extremely predictable, the characters are flat and stop feeling authentic because of the way they speak time after time, a lot of the settings (like ‘spears’ being old weapons and no one knowing how to use them) are weird and unplausible, the insta-love, the gay sidekick, the main character who is naive, self-absorbed, and uninteresting…

‘It’s not about giving in to the first boy who ever acted interested.’
Yes, it is. And you’ve done it twice.

But this book also doesn’t really last long enough for any of this to really really get on the nerves…so ‘mleh’ remains is the most fitting description. So sad when the cover is the only really good thing about the book.

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The Mortal Word by Genevieve Cogman

The Mortal Word (The Invisible Library #5)

The Mortal Word by Genevieve Cogman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Imaginative and unique, but dry and overwhelmingly political.
The most powerful impressions I had while reading this were ‘too much’ and ‘too dry’.
On one hand, it speaks of the author’s powers of imagination and detail control, on the other… Too many characters, too many of whom are absolutely sure they are the most important and right beings in the universe, too many things happening and trying to pull the blanket in all directions at the same time, etc… In fact, the book is actually rather self-aware that there is ‘too much going on’, and it tries to address it by having the main character constantly remind herself or others of ‘all things that are going on and are at stake’ time after time, but instead of helping reader to re-focus it only makes the text even more cluttered and repetitive. Most of the conversations are highly manipulative and tiring. And very often repeating practically the same dynamic but with multiple different characters.
There is very little, if any, excitement or enjoyment in this.
With politics taking most of the focus, human relationships in turn turn very dry. There might have been a romantic element, but the way the main character is so very distant and uninterested towards it, it’s practically not there.
Finally, the whole complexity of things might have been justified if the culmination was shocking or surprising at all… But in reality, we actually get hinted very heavily at the culprit at the very beginning of the book, and then have to go through all those tedious events just to reach the conclusion we foresaw from the very beginning…

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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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