Second Grave on the Left (Charley Davidson #2)

Second Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


My impression is that this book felt a little too dragged out. A lot of circling around the same questions without actual developments. A lot of back-and-forward on relationships.
A lot of interesting side character, but so many questions…
Even the humour felt sometimes laid too thick and forced sometimes.
Also, …mostly frustrating and unsatisfactory ending.
Hoping for swift improvement in the future books…




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Hush, Hush (Hush, Hush, #1)

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


So much teenage idiocy…
I have a mixed feeling about this book, because, on one hand it seems that there is a passable fantasy-suspense story plot lurking on the background, and the main character is not too terrible (she even seems to use her head…sometimes…more so in the beginning, than towards the end), but the rest of it…
Characters, without exception, are either just creepy (or creepy and disturbing) or mostly faceless.
This book reminded me of that ‘find the main character’ meme where people make fun of anime by showing a picture with a room full of identical characters with brown-black hair and hardly any facial features drawn, and among them a single character with pink hair and detailed expression.
This is exactly how his book feels, with the exception that when a character has a face or a name they will be creepy as hell… Or, all males will be creepy and disturbing in a dangerous way, and all females creepy and preoccupied with sex (including the 70yo housekeeper). There are no classmates except for the creepy stalker boys and one vain venomous cheerleader. There are hardly any teachers other than the Coach “teaching biology” by talking about sex, and “councillor” who is even worse. People in the shops and restaurants are creepy. Police are creepy. (The mother maybe the only exception, but she is also absent most of the time.)
It would’ve actually maid so much more sense if the “twist” of this book was that all this time we were reading an account of a mentally unstable (paranoid and delusional) person (who understandably lost her marbles after her father was murdered), and that was the reason why every person who came into focus in her POV acted suspicious and disturbing, and why so much weird shit was happening around her. The explanation “it was all in her head” would’ve maid this a much better written book. Because when it’s not in her head, the “tunnel vision” and “one colour” world building make this into a rather weakly written fantasy book.

Then there’s the problem of the ‘best friend’ of the ‘who needs enemies with friends like this’ variety, (a.k.a. the reason for all problem situations in the book) where you want to strangle this ‘positive character’ more than all the creepy negative characters in the book. Literally the worst character in the whole book, by far. And I don’t comprehend her existence.

Things are kind of happening, but it actually feels like they are not, because we are not getting any closer to the answer to the “what the hell is going on” questions for at least for 250-80 pages, and things of repetitive nature (Someone got hurt. Did boy A or boy B do it? Is something supernatural going on or am I loosing my mind?) keep happening on the sidelines, keep raising the exactly same questions over and over, but giving absolutely no answers.

The ending was actually better than I expected it to be, but I wish we didn’t suddenly devolve into romance, just like that, after a whole book of unhealthy and not-okay behaviour.



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Tall, Dark and Wolfish (Westfield Wolves, #2)

Tall, Dark and Wolfish by Lydia Dare

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Pretty much in tone with the first book, but slightly lower on the humor count, and slightly higher on the ‘aggravating females’ count (a whole flock of them).
If I was in a bit more irritable mood when I read this book it is entirely possible I would be going on a rant about how much I dislike these types of people who think they ‘always know better’ and have a right to interfere with and manipulate others’ lives (friends, relatives, etc.)
The whole ‘refusing to realise your own feelings’ concept is also a bit too much of a tired cliche at this point, imho.
Other than that, I enjoyed this book because it’s light, fun, has well-developed characters, and reads smooth and easy. Even when there’s some concept I don’t really like, it doesn’t really ever get truly irritating.



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By the Sword (Valdemar)

By the Sword by Mercedes Lackey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I have a strong feeling I would probably have loooved this book if I read it in my early teens.
In fact, I wish I had read it when I was 12-14.
You know, somewhere around the hormonal times where thoughts like ‘why do they try to force me into their standards and act like I have to choose between acting ‘womanly’ or being a lesbian and can’t just be as I am?!’ and ‘am I the strange one or is everyone else?!’ were the biggest hit.
(Well, unfortunately, they are still pretty relevant, just very much old and tired news by now.)
By page 150 I could almost imagine myself being 13 again while reading it.

So, if I was 13, I would likely be very happy to read something to empathise with like this, and I would probably also be very happy about the number of ‘lessons’ this book tries to present. How it goes through every teaching and training detail and explains why.
I probably also wouldn’t have minded as much the way it chews on every detail too…but as I am now, I kind of do.
Over-explaining is the world. The writing mostly feels like a meal that was pre-chewed for you so you wouldn’t have to do much chewing yourself.
Much of this book feels not like a ‘tale’ but like a ‘reference manual’…with strong feminist inclination.
It spends entirely too much time teaching reader how to think (by explaining how people think and feel, and why, in detail at every step).

It’s also full of details that certain kind of teenage girls would feel very strongly about. The herds of too-smart horses and bit-less bridles. The telepathic wolves. The main character who can be a saint (strong morals, strong feelings about fighting fair), stubborn as a mule, and also smarter than most people around (can run a household, natural with horse-training and riding, natural with fighting, natural with strategy and leading others, etc.)
A girl who is there to prove that she can be a better boy than a boy and still be an attractive girl.
Including all the emotional stuntedness.

In fact it was that emotional stuntedness prevented me from actually empathising with the main characters herself. While this book encompasses decades of her life, she doesn’t really seem to change or grow up. Kero learns skills, but she hardly feels different in the end of the book compared to how she was in the very beginning. Personally, I feel that she was missing a certain kind of emotional maturity throughout the whole book.

To sum up…
As I think the teenage girl I used to be would give this book 5 golden stars, and the adult me, who was honestly bored by the repetitive and slow prose and had to keep myself from cringing at times, would probably give 3, I have taken the golden middle.




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Born of Night (The League: Nemesis Rising #1)

Born of Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon

My rating: 1 of 5 stars


For the love of all bookish I don’t understand why are these books so popular. The only reason I went there (commenting on a book’s popularity) is because it was due to this book showing up in all kinds of ‘best’ lists while having a high rating that likely made me order it by mistake, without realizing that when I last tried to read a book by this author I DNFed after first few chapters.

I did not get much further with this one either.
Made it 100 pages in, hoping to catch a glimpse of a reason so many people’ve read this, but decided not to torture myself any further.

Everything about this is awfully cheesy, trashy, and confusing.
With all the head hopping on top.
With all the time and word count spent talking about how hot and sexy everyone is and how much trouble they have being hard for each other all the time of course we can’t spend enough time to actually describe the world around us so that it would make some sense. Ah, but we also have time to mention rape and child murders and abuse, to add to ‘badass’ factor. But making sense of how planets, ships, stations, space travel work in this world? Not nearly important enough than all the sexiness.

In this book, the setting ‘implied’ and one actually presented never seem to match.
The ‘deadly assassins’ hardly act the part. The main male character is a disaster…
Little example: he hides his eyes. Not because they are some strange alien product of his mixed heritage, or because of some gruesome battle scars. But because they’re normal human green eyes that ‘show his beautiful soul’. He lives with a bunch of cats. He walks constantly hard when he is around the female main character. Really. The image of mysterious and aloof deadly assassin, don’t you understand?

The female main character… Her thought pattern is well described by this: ‘You saved me from assassins and are here to guard me because there’s a huge price on my head? You even put shields on my windows so that they wouldn’t shoot my head off? How dare you! You’re fired! Get out of my home!’

I rarely do this, but I’d like to pick up at the few more moments that made me want to bang my head against the nearest wall from the very beginning of the book:
FMC – kidnapped, almost raped, beaten, chained in the middle of compost pile on a ship that was just went through hostile take over. Sees a new person coming for her:

‘Kiara was amazed by the handsomeness of his face.’ 3 seconds later ‘For some reason she couldn’t fathom, she believed him (that he wouldn’t hurt her)


‘And she had to admit there was nothing hotter than a man with that kind of honed physique whose face was totally hidden.

I’m sorry. What? Is this some kind of ‘keep a bag over your face’ kink?
Just…what?

MMC – Professional assassin, one of the best out there, built up to be this powerful, mysterious, cold man with dark past and iron moral principles. First time we get his POV:

‘His body was so hard it was all he could do not to limp. And to think, he’d mistakenly believed he’d survived real torture in the past.’

Really? He carried a beaten woman out of space trash can where they just killed a few people, and all he can think is that her small breasts in the torn and dirty nightgown are torturing him more that years of child abuse and murder and outrunning a league of professional assassins? REALLY?
In what dimension are we supposed to find this romantic or even okay?

Another classy thought from the main character after she wakes up in a strange place and still thinks she might be held captive:

‘Tall and lean, he was the sexiest thing she’d ever seen in her entire life, and given the hot pieces of cheese employed by her dance company, that said a lot.’

Am I the only one who has problem with writing like this? Really?

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Storm Front (The Dresden Files, #1)

Storm Front by Jim Butcher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


First impression: This is fun and very well-written!
Second impression: …but this ‘(not so simple) PI with constant financial difficulties, tragic personal history, and everyone out to get him’ kind of protagonist also feels like a such an over-used concept…

I like this book a lot, but, to be honest, it begun losing me a little towards the end…instead of gripping me in hunger to catch every next word, it left me in the state of ‘and now I just want to get through all this action as fast as possible (skimming through some text) just to get through to the end’. And it’s not that I don’t like action. I think it was the overload of ‘frustration’ over everyone being out to get the main character a bit too much. The feeling you get when someone is desperately running against the clock and everyone else tries to get in their way by acting exceedingly stupid? I don’t handle it well.

Other than that, looks like a promising start of a series I’m looking forward to getting my hands on.



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Wanderlust (Sirantha Jax, #2)

Wanderlust by Ann Aguirre

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


And the curse of the 2nd novel strikes yet again.
As a sequel, this book felt much drier.
If the previous one was “depressing with an edge”, this one is more of “depressing and just grey, and more depressing”. Where the first book fights and grasps, this book just takes punches and waits for the next one to take it out. Where the first book had time for humour and banter, this one only adds another type of heartbreak on top of already presented one.
It’s a lot of “go through one deadly danger-get stuck somewhere for some period of time-go through another deadly situation-get stuck somewhere again”.
Personally, I believe that ‘getting stuck somewhere’ should have been used as an opportunity to progress character relationships, but apparently they (relationships) stay frozen and we just get told how many days they spent stuck in one or other uncomfortable state. I’m more than a little disappointed with how character relationships were treated here in general. It’s like there is a constant dark cloud hanging over, and these relationships are constantly shadowed. Either strained or bleak. And repeating the same note over and over, without really working through it.
And that’s only the first part. The second part just went in a direction I liked absolutely nothing about.
Overall, even though I couldn’t put the 1st book down, this one was increasingly difficult to get through…
Maybe this is spoiler-y, but I have to say it…
There. Is. Not. A. Single. Uplift. In. This. Book.

Hence a drop from 4 stars to 2 for me.

Also, the title doesn’t fit at all.



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Once Burned (Night Prince, #1)

Once Burned by Jeaniene Frost

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A vampire romance for extra violent

I must say I was a little surprised no actually enjoy this book, partially because I was expecting another cheesy oversexualised super-hot-vampire-and-damsel-in-distress ‘female fantasy’ kind of story, and partially because I kind of hated “Halfway to the Grave“. (Though I didn’t even realise this was by the same author and belonged to the same universe until I was already reading.)

This book has an interesting heroine, who is neither the ‘innocent saint’ nor the ‘sassy bitch in miniskirt’ type of the usual vampire novel heroine, and this is one of the things I like about this book the most. She doesn’t lie to herself much, she deals with the shit that falls on her, she does what she needs to. Also, I have a tendency to prefer characters who maybe a little too fearless in a way that they stand up for the things they believe in, even in the circumstances where normal human instinct would tell them not to dig their own grave. She also has morals.
I haven’t read any “Night Huntress” books after DNFing the first one, so this feels like an impressive improvement from a clueless-serial-killer(psycho)-playing-at-dress-up type of main character I saw there.
I did, however, see the similar love for unnecessary over-the-top violence and torture. Not a fan. Especially because of the fact that its senselessness (unnecessary-ness) is so very glaring. I mean, could you actually explain to me what is the point of all the torture when you 1)can read minds and 2) actually have a person who can touch someone and tell you what they’ve done and where they’ve been better than anyone can torture out? I don’t know if the author is just so in love with all the gore, but it’s nothing but gore for the sake of gore, and we have a main hero and ‘love interest’ who continues to torture other vampires with no reasonable justification.
Now, speaking of Vlad, I didn’t actually mind that this is another book about the Vlad. Though I do suppose it is a bit of a tired idea.
What I did mind is the fact that it feels like the only aspect in which the fact that Vlad is a centuries old vampire is in any way reflected is his tendency for violent resolutions of everything. I can’t really explain what exactly I’m expecting to see, but I think that the fact that these ‘people’ have been around for a very long time and have ‘seen it all’ should have been made a little more believable. This Vlad only reads like some sort of modern businessmen, just an abnormally bloodthirsty one.

Also, I hate when people translate Voivode (Wojewoda) as ‘prince’, or use them as synonyms. That’s not what it means at all. Yes, you can be both, but inherent meanings in the titles are very different.



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Gabriel's Ghost (Dock Five Universe, #1)

Gabriel’s Ghost by Linnea Sinclair

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Character-focused Sci-fi action thriller about fierce love and humanity

This book gets better as you go. I have a feeling I was tilting my head at some of the world details in the beginning, but now I can’t even remember what they were. While this sci-fi world isn’t one of more diverse/detailed/comprehensive out there, I think it’s developed enough for the scope of this book. It feels solid, and, more importantly, interconnected with its very real and complex characters.
I feel that this is mostly a character-focused story, with ‘bigger’, more important and terrifying, issues constantly present, but slightly further on the background; while the interactions and inner turmoils of the characters are more vivid and are always in the centre of the focus. I don’t mind it, and I liked a lot of things about these characters and developments between them. And I don’t mean only the main characters and the romance, but all positive and negative (or neutral) side characters they meet—none of them feel faceless or bleak, and they don’t just act in predictable one-pattern ways.

I can’t say this book didn’t keep me constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. (Not a feeling I enjoy…)
What I do find unfortunate is that it was only partially related to worrying about ‘what would happen’ and more heavily related to ‘how the main character is going to react’ to something that wasn’t difficult to predict to happen.
I must say, while a lot of the emotions and questions in this story spoke to me closely, there were times where I wished the main character would use her head a bit more (read between the lines better, make better arguments that for me felt very obvious), and not create more angst that was necessary.

(and say something like “I can promise you to accept without asking questions. But do consider this argument – saying that you’re afraid I will hate you if I know everything kind of feels you don’t trust me to love you at all.” and “The fear I sense when I imagine you see all of my thought is the same one that drives you to hide yourself from me. I’m afraid you will see something that will hurt you or will make you walk away. You don’t need to be a winged demon to think yourself ugly.)

Overall, other than getting a bit more of an adrenaline boost that I needed right now, this was a very enjoyable read and I can’t find many faults with this book.



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Crazy Hot (Steele Street, #1)

Crazy Hot by Tara Janzen

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


I could almost like this book. In the beginning.
It had a promising beginning—making me think it would be more of a ‘romantic story of a pair who had a mutual crush on each other for 15 years, reunited as adults (who each have been through their own hell) against the backdrop of a thriller of a crime fighting operation featuring stolen fossils, car chases, and gun fights ‘. Which this book almost was…but wasn’t.
… And so, firstly, I’m not made to read ‘romance’-type books without questioning reality of some details. Like having sex on the top of an overheated running car (so many things wrong with the whole scene), or choosing to drive the flashiest car while trying to lay low and hiding from mobsters, or kissing with having whole face painted, or the need for every positive male character (below the age of 70) to be hotter than sun, and the insistence that all women must like the car in red and hot pink (gag).
Secondly… Nikki. Oh how I wish we could just cut out the whole Nikki part and have the book without it. It’s both the character—psychopathic (voyeurism, violating other people through her cameras and ‘art’ without even thought about requiring a permission; no concept of propriety and personal integrity, or personal boundaries) egocentric, idiotic—and the whole ‘romance’ scene. Especially the ending.
I kind of wish Kid would’ve just knocked her out, gagged her, and delivered her where she needed to go in the trunk and never let her open her mouth. (Because, yes, yes, when an armed military man who came to protect you from bad people with guns tells you you need to leave now, let’s go looking for the cherry lip gloss in the bathroom, let’s also question his every request five times over, and then let’s freak out.)
Yes, I’m sorry, I dislike this character so much I actually got all riled up. Her behaviour sort of represents everything I hate in female romance characters—close-mindedness, false sense of self-importance, inability to listen or feel others….and so many more disturbing qualities.
Why did we need a character like this?
There shouldn’t have been any ‘romance’ involving Nikki. (On top of which, the whole scene was repetitive and not well-written at all.)
And then, the circumstances of Kid’s leaving and her reaction to it…
Brrr (shivers of pure disgust).
The whole book would be so much better off without this whole part.
Regan by herself might have been okay-ish (not perfect, but tolerable), but Nikki brings the level of that specific female-type idiocy so much over the top it ruins the impression of the whole book. Which is a shame.


Thirdly, the mess of the ending…with one stupid detail on top of another, one stupid dialog line on top of another, idiotic behaviour, pretty badly written ‘bad guys’ who just can’t wait to tell everyone what they do and how… Nope. Did not work for me at all.

I think the first part of the book was okay. Maybe even good. But then when we reached closer to the middle with whole unrealistic unhygienic car scenes and Nikki, the whole book just went down the drain.

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Love is Blind

Love is Blind by William Boyd

My rating: 1 of 5 stars


Couldn’t do it. DNF.
Yes, yes, the author certainly knows how to use his language, that is a fact. But the content…
It’s boring. It’s unpleasant. It’s full of cliches so thick I was gagging.
I almost quit right after the Part I (which I’d rather call ‘waste of pages irrelevant to the story’, personally), which consisted of an ‘introduction’ featuring a cliche prostitute interlude, a selection of no less cliche ‘random unsavoury side characters’ (completely irrelevant to the story), and the most cliche abusive father figure. Practically every element of this part one was nasty and distasteful, and left a heavy feeling that it existed only to stretch word count while pouring out author’s loathing towards humanity.

It’s a skilfully written account of a life of a man⁠—an average man⁠—who isn’t especially clever, talented, or interesting, who had some things happen to him in professional life, and had a lot of bad luck in his personal life (starting with his birth), and I believe that’s all it is.
If the main character is present there will be a mention of a cigarette on every page. Maybe five cigarettes. And 3 more cliches.
He, of course, also has brilliant ideas and great ambitions, while others exist only to make his life difficult.

I should stop justifying the fact that I couldn’t finish this book.
The real reason is only one—it was unpleasant to read.



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Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy, #1)

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


To be honest, this is a case of ‘I don’t think I’ll know if I even like this until (if) I read the sequel’.
There’s such thing as few too many twists and few too many lies.
For example, I’m not sure if I feel like all main characters changed their personalities and beliefs too abruptly for it to be believable, or if it can actually be believable in the circumstances.
(Should we really change sides so much and feel comfortable with characters who murdered and tortured under our noses?)
I feel uncomfortable to comment on any story developments, other than say that the ending is a chaos and I don’t think I enjoy where it went…unless I see it go somewhere else in a future book.
If I judge from the fact that I really don’t like ‘mind game’ books in general (as in constantly not knowing what is real and what is really going on), then I suppose I don’t like this book. But I think I need to see where it all tries to lead to just to be certain. Because right now, there are more questions than answers.
This book on its own gives too little to judge on.

There is an interesting style, and I especially enjoyed the ‘excerpts’ at the beginning of each chapter. More importantly, kudos for making it into a fantasy world ‘vaguely inspired’ by slavic cultures than actually borrowing from them more than names. I think it is an interesting and well-developed world, even if small and unhappy.
At the same time I feel there is a substantial room for improvement in terms of writing.
It’s on a simpler side, it doesn’t really grab you, it doesn’t make you feel like you can’t let yourself put the book down. And little things, like overuse of the word ‘boy’ got on my nerves sometimes.
Reading this book felt like watching its story on fast-forward. That unbalanced way of catching some random moments very clearly and just flying by the rest of events.
The action sequences were a bit hard to follow. Not really written in a way that would make it easy to see what is going on around the main character and why. Maybe this is also related to my ‘fast-forwarded’ impression.

Overall, ‘chaos’ is the most true impression of this book, and it leaves me confused. Question is, will it untangle or will it continue in the same tone and manner?



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Not His Dragon (Not This, #1)

Not His Dragon by Annie Nicholas

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I don’t think I’ve ever became sceptical of a book as fast as with this one. Simply because, in the very first tiny paragraph, of all the possible synonyms, the author chose to use the word ‘tits’ in a sentence that only talks about spilling scalding liquid over them. I mean, there’s such thing as TPO for words, and even something like ‘bazoombas’ would be better if you’re going for style or humour…as it is it’s just vulgar. (I think there was once a book I dropped even faster, it had something like 6 f-words on the very first, but didn’t as much get sceptical as closed that book and forgot what it was)
Anyhow, that first paragraph sort of represents the quality of writing, and the quality of writing sort of matches everything about this book – mleh.
It’s not bad, but it’s not good.
It’s half-baked, average, confused, full of story elements jumping out of nowhere and going nowhere, a lot of ‘wait. and?’ moments, with a heroine that cries about being strong and independent for the fist half, then turning 180 degrees for the other and being mostly a helpless coward, the resolution for the ‘mystery’ is half silly and cheesy, half not even there.
Just a short silly book that doesn’t require you to use your brain, to read and forget.



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