Oracle's Moon (Elder Races, #4)

Oracle’s Moon by Thea Harrison

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I find myself very cautious reading these books now…
Because, unfortunately, it’s been more and more difficult to enjoy books in the series because they (and some other books from the same author) 1) have been following the exact same theme and pattern (which on its own is already alarming) book after book; 2)and the pattern they tend to follow is a one that really doesn’t agree with me.
And yet, even after the alarming developments in the last two books, I still wanted to hope there still was a chance.
When I begun reading this book, at first I felt my hope pick up (because it at least seemed like it won’t be about another sentinel completely abandoning his post, life, and Dragos all together), but then, around Chapter 9 came the ‘oh shit’ moment. The ‘Oh shit, please tell me that this book is not going to go in the direction I think it’s going to go judging by this sentence…’ kind of moment.
And until the very very end of this book I was sitting on this ‘just please don’t go there’ feeling, while the topic was picked up over and over (in the end, it left on the ‘we won’t go there yet, but still might in the future’ note). Aaaand… it completely spoiled most of my experience reading this book.

Thing is, I really liked the very first book a lot (enough to buy a better edition after I read it for the first time and read it twice in one year already). But the first book also was also the one that had this underlying theme I’m having so much trouble with in the least amount (it’s not like it didn’t have it at all, but there at least appeared to be at a reasonable level).
I also still enjoy many things about the world and writing in these books. Personally, it’s the dialogues like this that I love especially:

‘I will clear away this mess and…I will achieve pancakes.’
‘You’ll achieve pancakes?’
‘I do not see why not.’
‘Have you ever achieved them before?’
‘That question is irrelevant. I will achieve pancakes now.’

But.
There is this same topic that I’ve already seen repeated as the main topic in 4-5 books by this author (and 3 more where it was present to a degree, even if it didn’t turn out as bad), and I apparently I can’t really enjoy these books anymore because I keep seeing just this same topic and pattern all the time.
(Here I am, instead of actually writing a review about the content of this book, writing about how I was not able to really enjoy it because I was too afraid it was about to turn out like the previous two.)
It makes me genuinely disappointed, but I’m beginning to turn to the idea that it likely will be better for my health to abandon the ship (this series as a whole, save fore the some novellas I’ve already purchased) and only re-visit the first book from time to time.
The world is great, the characters are fun, and the plot might be second-best after Dragon Bound so far in the series, …but there this underlying direction that leaves this very nasty after-taste that spoils the whole experience.
Sad.

I’ll say it again. One party in a relationship having to throw away everything about their previous life, their jobs, their loyalties, their other relationships, their nature, “for the sake” of the said relationship is NOT ROMANTIC AT ALL.

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Tempting Danger (World of the Lupi, #1)

Tempting Danger by Eileen Wilks

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


There is just something about this book that prevented it from grabbing me.
Maybe it was the world setting where the werewolves can only be male and like to walk around topless.
Maybe it’s the too many levels of political games (and dominance) and players.
(Clans, sorcerers, cults, police, various government agencies, etc; and the pissing contest within each one and among them all. Too much of boring and unpleasant to labour through it all.)
Maybe it’s the ‘all self-important’ (prejudiced, judging, I-know-better, and ‘I have to be this way to be taken seriously, so don’t expect me to get off my high horse any time soon’) side to the main character.
Maybe it’s all the ‘free sex’ and poly-amorous themes and sexualised imaginary everywhere (right until they are forced into insta-lust and monogamy by the powers above).
The content of this book just kept balancing on the very edge between ‘okay’ and ‘don’t like’ for me constantly, and I couldn’t really get into it.



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Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor (Friday Harbor, #1)

Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Am I the only one who sees a big fat problem with the central idea of this book that has a 6 yo child who just lost her mother making a wish for ‘a mother for Christmas’?
A part from an unbelievable child and a throw-away character of Shelby, who just shouldn’t have been in the book in the first place,
it’s a perfectly ordinary contemporary romance story with attractive characters, food, coffee, and an ugly dog.



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Warrior's Woman (Ly-San-Ter, #1)

Warrior’s Woman by Johanna Lindsey

My rating: 1 of 5 stars


DNF.
This book made my skin crawl so bad I couldn’t throw it away fast enough.
I don’t know what I was expecting, but this vulgarly over-sexualized…slavery/rape/humiliation kink?whatever this is, is definitely not my cup of tea.
I kept reading for some time thinking ‘maybe it will still redeem itself with some next development’ or ‘maybe it’s not actually as bad as it seems’ (that maybe a character who was supposed to be this highly-professional, impeccably-trained, highest rank security officer with knowledge and space technology will actually win or at least keep her dignity?)…but every turn brought only increasing disgust.
A future where humans are so obsessed with sex they become mindless and violent if they don’t get their ‘sex therapy’ from professionals daily?
Where women are required to lose virginity before certain age or they will be forced to do it by law (for their own health, of course)?
Where a wild ‘usurper’ appears to take over the planet and the first important matter of business he completes is to ship off fighter women into (sex)slavery and rob all other women out of employment immediately? And it just happens?
An AI (the “wise-cracking” one from the description) that is obsessed with the topic of her human not having sex and decides she (the human) must be raped by alien and enjoy it?
I can’t. This book made me so nauseous I think I need a bucket.




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Kitty and the Midnight Hour (Kitty Norville, #1)

Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn

My rating: 1 of 5 stars


DNFed.
This book lost me somewhere between mleh and disgusting.
A weak (in more than one sense) main character who surfs through the story on sheer dumbness and luck. It’s likely very subjective, but there just was nothing to like about her. The whole ‘Secret world of supernatural creatures? Hear me talk about it on the radio! A hired gun is coming to kill me and he needs to do it on the air? Of course I can’t quit the show and save my hide, the show is more important!’ way of thinking is just something I can’t get behind.
Her attitude towards everyone and everything is just..too dumb.
Then, even setting the protagonist aside, the whole “supernatural world” of this book is too immoral and distasteful. It’s all about dominating, bullying, and abusing each other. Mated alpha practically raping anyone he wants and she still wants to hide behind him and have him protect her? Main character’s close friend questioning her why she would protect herself from being raped by the guy who turned her against her will and telling her she’s “getting too cocky”? The main character in turn then deciding she would enjoy it to become a bully herself instead?
No thanks.



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Dead Man Talking (The Happily Everlasting Series, #1)

Dead Man Talking by Jana Deleon

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Very simple and very slow slightly paranormal story.
Speaking kindly.
Speaking truthfully, ‘boring’ might be more the word.
This book feels weak on practically every aspect, including writing quality.
The little things, really. How there can be several paragraphs in a row where the main character would only be referred to as ‘she’ in every sentence. A lot of too glaring dialogue short-cuts. Uncomfortable flow of the text.
Also…”Towel that felt like Kleenex against the skin”? Is that supposed to be a good thing?





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Tinker (Elfhome, #1)

Tinker by Wen Spencer

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Interesting world. Disappointing protagonist. Morally grey developments. Trigger warnings required.
Almost loved this book from the beginning. Or I really wanted to love it.
Because it has a weird complicated world of magic, elves, and space technology (and it’s all very weird because technology level ranges from ancient(absent) to futuristic and there’s no defined standard) and a weird, independent, smart heroine.
But then… A nasty love triangle enter stage left (it’s ugly and a waste of good positive character), weird sex spells enter stage right (a lot of morally grey questions there), and…it all just went downhill from there. But the worst disappointment was that the heroine is actually neither as independent nor as smart as I first wanted to believe. She mostly gets washed down with the flow left and right without questioning what is happening to her (see the weird sex spells and love triangles). She needs people to tell her what to do, and does what people tell her more often than not. She blabbers around to everyone. And it’s not that she is a badly written character. It is actually very believable neurological profile—person who is too smart in “maths” but likely forever to remain an ignorant child on the side of ‘life intelligence’. The problem is that she is more annoying than fun to read about.
Then there’s also the problem so many female writers suffer from: the abundance of attractive positive male characters, most of whom are very fond of the main character (and even some negative ones who inspire more sympathy than hate) versus female characters who come only in two categories: either complete bitches or crazy grandmas.
Then, as if grey-zone love triangles and sex spells were not enough, we get actual rape (which needs a big trigger warning). And torture. And the reactions from the main character that are closer to black than to grey. Judging from the authors obsession with things Japanese I half expected tentacles at some point.
And I’m not even going to go into the treatment of real-world cultures and political issues cough racism cough.

All in all, very promising premise/setting and beginning, which gradually goes more and more sour under the influence of a morally grey story, disappointing protagonist, and trigger-y treatment of female characters.



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Inquisitor (Witch & Wolf)

Inquisitor by R.J. Blain

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I have to say I wasn’t sure I really liked this book for 90% of it.
It was the feeling of constantly not knowing if every character with exception for the protagonist would die the next minute or betray her. It felt like there was not enough to grasp on, not enough solid ground. I suppose in some way it is actually consistent with the life the main character is living—disappearing and re-eventing herself, watching everyone die.
Also, too many innocent people dying left and right might have something to do with that.
Usually, ‘mind games’ is one of the themes I try to avoid in books.
But I was also pleasantly surprised by the ending, which took me right back to being excited to continue reading this series.



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Archangel's Kiss (Guild Hunter, #2)

Archangel’s Kiss by Nalini Singh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I find myself very cautious reading this.
There is simply too much senseless violence and gore. Their whole world is based on the survival of the strongest and proving it in the cruellest ways possible. Blood, torture, too many innocent victims… Too many triggers at every step.
But then there’s also a certain kind of captivating elaborateness that makes me keep reading.

It’s not a big surprise that the biggest factor that keeps me with these books is the main relationship. The kind of love that is longer than forever and strong enough to destroy the world for each other. I usually don’t like books where the relationship is wobbling near the line of using force and other dominance play tendencies, but since they don’t actually cross that line and are striving for a two-way street on most aspects of the relationship, I find myself captivated.
Also, the fact that the main character tries to stand against all the cruelty and heartlessness certainly helps.

It’s a very well-written book, with a complex and well-built world, multitude of no less complex and interesting characters, and captivating story.
But I find myself constantly waiting for it to cross some line where I won’t be able to follow it… because too much gore and sadism is too much.



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Must Love Otters (Revelation Cove #1)

Must Love Otters by Eliza Gordon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


A well-written realistic contemporary romance. There are details, imagination, well-built characters, self-deprecating humour.
While the writing is above average, the content itself…is 50/50 at best. The main character inspires more pity, than sympathy (although I do believe the book is self-aware of the fact), and definitely a lot of ‘why do you need to be so stupid’ thoughts. She is also a bit too venomous and judgemental towards her surroundings (in a cowardly way), for my comfort.
A lot of developments were very predictable, which only made the main character’s bad decisions seem even more stupid. And then, the drama in the end seemed a bit too ‘dragged in by the ears’…as in, too convenient and suddenly very not realistic, compared to the rest of the book. …It is likely, however, that it was necessary because nothing less would ever shake this main character enough to change something.
The writing does save this book though, it makes it enjoyable regardless.



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I was always against the idea that a book review should include a book summary. Want a summary? You can find on every page that sells the book and on the book itself. In a review, it’s a waste of space.

Anyone who read a book can write a summary. Tell me what you felt from reading it, only something you can do.

In addition to being against summaries in reviews, I also avoid reading them (the summaries) more and more overall. I skim at most (to see is there are any trigger words I’d want to avoid), and that only with new authors. On one hand, I’m getting more and more sensitive to spoilers, and have found out that I have much more fun reading a book when I don’t know what to expect; on the other, more often than not, a summary of a book have made me expect something else entirely, so I also want to avoid the unnecessary disappointment.

What then can I use to determine whether I want to buy a book or not, especially when I buy/read more than 20 of them a month?

Cover? Is a big factor. I also use the ‘genres’ and other tags that get listed on the Goodreads. The lists that the book appears in. The ‘similar books’ lists. Random mentions by other people.

The Prize

The Prize by Julie Garwood

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Quite possibly one of the most romantic romance stories I’ve read.
The main characters are very well-written and engaging.
Their interactions have a lot of depth and are truly fascinating to observe. There is something very appealing to me in both of their personalities, some sort ‘rightness’ they both carry and moral rules they both follow.
How she says without thinking ‘You’re my husband, if I escape you’ll have to come with me’ and how he ‘rolls with the punches’ and accepts responsibilities for people without thought.
They are two very similar people, who have some very similar qualities and dreams, but they are also so similar in their stubbornness that, even though they have the exactly same goal in mind, they simply can’t believe that his/her own way to achieve it is not the only possibly correct one.
The way they can’t seem to communicate is very aggravating, but the way they actually feel for each other somehow does make up for it.
(Admittedly, I would be tempted to side with Royce more than Nicholaa, because he chooses absolute honesty and logic where she chooses manipulation and pretending instead of working issues through, but they’re definitely worth each other.)

The only real problems I have with this book is the annoying ‘head-hopping’ writing style and the unresolved family issues.



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Friends Without Benefits (Knitting in the City, #2)

Friends Without Benefits by Penny Reid


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Everything about him at that moment made my internal organs bleed hearts and flowers and puppies and kittens and hot chocolate and hot apple cider and red wine and campfires and Star Trek and yarn—my favorite things.



(It’s so much easier to read these romantic comedies when the female part of your brain doesn’t push you to try to over-identify and empathise with a character just because you identify with some neurological characteristics.)

Yes to the humour, to the tone, to the sarcasm, to the Star Trek Voyager references, to the characters, to the “it has always been you” kind of love. I enjoyed reading this book much more than I expected myself to.

Though, as with the first one, there were also some moments that felt ‘just…no‘… Mainly everything to do with the TV show (including the whole scene in the end). And the fact that the ‘villain’ part, the non-romantic comedy part of the world, felt too half-baked.

If not for the tv show thing, Nico’s character could really be that perfect kind of romance hero.
I really don’t get this part of this book and the insistence on trying to make something trashy and sleazy sound like it’s not.



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