Shammed

Shammed by Bernadette Franklin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

These books make me happy.
They are not for reading in overly sceptical and realistic moods, they are for reading for fun and to feel good.
I snickered on the parts regarding toilets (because washlets with glowy parts, button panels, and automatic lids are more of the norm around here even in some public restrooms), had a sad sigh on the topic of refurbishing an entire big dream house in 3 weeks for just half a million (I know people who can’t find a way/people to do it for almost 2 years already), pretended that I would’t myself run away and refuse to return to a room with a tarantula in it, wondered if 10,000 trashy romance novels would fit in my apartment even I got rid of all furniture and packed the books from floor to ceiling, like into a box … and generally had a lot of fun reading this disregarding of any realities.

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Silver Thaw (Mystic Creek, #1)

Silver Thaw by Catherine Anderson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A very standard ‘rescue story’ about a woman with a little girl trying to escape abusive marriage and meeting a man with almost unlimited kindness, money, and patience who saves her first from weather disaster and poverty, and then from her past.
While this book tries very hard to go through all the emotional and legal pitfalls that can happen in these situations, it overdoes it a little. When you chew on the same ideas and sentiments over and over again they sort of lose their sincerity, and that’s what happens here. The first half of the book is marginally better; by the last 150 pages or so it turns outright laborious and as difficult to chew through as old stale bread.
Another big problem of this book is the ‘cardboard cinderella’ image of its main character, who is simply beautiful, innocent, is a of course genius cook, and loves cleaning.
This message, that you have to be young, beautiful, perfect housewife to be a heroine of a rescue story such is this is really not a right one to send.

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Gentle Warrior

Gentle Warrior by Julie Garwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sometimes I sigh and feel very silly for still reading these books…especially when I need to pretend not to think about details like ‘a girl catching a big hawk on her arm without a glove and not only being able to hold him up, but also having not a single scratch’, use of word ‘beige’ in 11th century, and various other small plot holes and skips.
But then I reach little parts that make me smile like an idiot, and I decide that I can still close my eyes on the glaring writing problems for silly comfort books about knights and stubborn women who try to conquer each other and make the other see reason.
My favourite part of this book is the very last page, and because of that last page I kind of forgave and forgot everything else.

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undefined The Captive King: A Royal States Novel by Susan Copperfield

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


At first I thought this book was remarkably similar to the first one (the auction, similar type of a heroine), but then, of course, the focus of this book turned out to be on an entirely different subject and of a very different direction.
Incidentally, since I know very little about the cultures touched in this book, I was able to enjoy it as a fantasy without wondering if the historical/cultural details seemed believable enough.

P.S. Typos…I see you. I can’t unsee you. There is a place in this book where a typo level practically reaches a ‘fatal’ mark (wrong character’s name is used in a scene)…



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Claustrophobic

Claustrophobic by Bernadette Franklin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


You know those days when you just need something fun, fluffy, ridiculous, and with a bonus sprinkle of justice?
This is a perfect book for one of those days.
This is not an explicit romance. The romance is the driving force veiled with humour.
There are games, designer clothes, Christmas presents, and some very bad people getting what they deserve.



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Rusty Nailed (Cocktail, #2)

Rusty Nailed by Alice Clayton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A very slice-of-life kind of book.
So few authors actually bother to continue the story of a pair after the initial ‘get together’ book, that this already deserves kudos based only on this point.
Though, to be honest, I didn’t think I would be able to give this book more than 3 stars for the 99.5% of it.
There is a couple of points.
1) Reading books where female characters are portrayed as hysteric idiots, and make you wish you were unrelated to the gender, is getting a little tiring (that’s polite speak for ‘effing annoying).
Mimi is difficult to stomach, but at least there was very little of her.
But the whole Sophia/Nill episode? Was there really a need for women to act so idiotic?
It’s not even a problem of if cheating occurred or not. It’s a problem of the necessity of all the hysterics, theatrics, property damage (car-keys-in-toilet-flushing), and inability to communicate like human being with a person you were supposed to be in a committed relationship with.
Dislike.
2) Main character’s thought processes were repetitive and loopy. She went on and on about the same things. Then the whole drama of her telling herself how she should be feeling about things instead of actually thinking about things. It was boring and annoying at the same time.
It was the fact that the resolution finally involved sitting down and actually talking to each other calmly and honestly, even though it came at the last possible moment, that I was able to add the 4th star to my review.
3) Speaking of boring and annoying, personally, the balance of things on which attention was spent in this book didn’t really agree with me. It was very disappointing to see the holidays get ‘brief digest’ treatment. I would prefer to actually read about holidays and meeting parents, instead of reading same things about work and sex over and over again.

Good things about this book include fun prose and light, easy to sink into, atmosphere and setting.
It will probably make a lot of people envious. With regards to both the partner and the house.
If not for the annoying female shenanigans, would be a great comfort book.



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Playing for Keeps (Neighbor from Hell, #1)

Playing for Keeps by R.L. Mathewson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This book is built from a couple of parts I don’t really believe fit seamlessly together.
First comes a strange and bumpy beginning, where the antagonistic feelings (and circumstances causing them) between the two were so over-emphasised that the rapid transition to friendship felt very far from natural.
(Would you invite a neighbour you hated for months (at least, I don’t remember) with no manners, who just physically fought with you to rip out your poor flowers to shreds, to your home, shower, and feed him pizza? Just like that?)

Then comes a fun middle part, filled with all kinds of shojo-manga and fanfiction favourite cliches (food talents and obsessions, comparisons to other bitchy females, carnivals, sleep-buddies who can’t sleep without each other, comic relief family vs. assholes-only family, etc.) It’s fun, it’s mostly lighthearted, with hardly any seriousness in there at all.

Then comes a weird ‘drama’ part, with identical idiotic pissy fits from both sides.
This part especially drives in the point that colours all of this book – everything about the main characters and their behaviour paints them as teenagers at most, not at all as 30yo adults as they were supposed to be. (I had an urge to mostly skip through this part as it made very little sense, if any. I feel like there could have been better topic choices to fill this ‘required drama space’ in the plot, and that it wasn’t done very well.)

The book overall isn’t bad, just…requires a non-questioning mind set and an agreement to enjoy the fun childish part as it is and not look too closely at the rest.



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Games of Command

Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This book has the best blurb I’ve ever seen on a book, and it might get 5 stars just for that.
Because ‘strong feline companions’ says it all.

In other news, this book latches on to your sympathy with sharp claws and will pull you along by it all the way.

I have only 2 real complains: 1) it’s a bit too nerve-sucking for my peace of mind; 2) ‘mind games’ and ‘hallucinations’ themes are big pet peeves for me…as in I can hardly stand them. I had to exercise a lot of will power to get through them.
Otherwise, it’s a great sci-fi romance with action and mystery.
And strong feline companions.

P.S. I also have a feeling that this book might especially appeal to people who had, at some point of their lives, found themselves reading a lot of Trek TOS fanfiction.




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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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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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