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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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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A Week to Be Wicked (Spindle Cove, #2)

A Week to Be Wicked by Tessa Dare

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The good: the ridiculous humor, the tone, the dialogues, the adventure, and the characters (Colin with his impostor syndrome, tendency to punish himself, and love to spin fantastic tales; Min with her determination, attentiveness to weirdest things, and freedom) .
The bad: the cover (oh, Avon, please do stop spoiling your books with tasteless covers), the slight overload of the ‘head in the sand’ behavior, where people keep doing things without letting themselves acknowledge what are they doing and why.
This book might also take a ‘lighter’ approach to its setting then some others, but I wouldn’t say that it suffers for it, only perhaps requires a less pedantic mind to really enjoy.



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The Viscount Who Loved Me (Bridgertons, #2)

The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Perhaps a level lower on the fun and giggles meter than the first book, but still delightful. Even brilliant in some places, like the roles bees played. I love the fact that behind all the humor and romance these books pick up on some very real and serious issues that occur in human psyche and do a pretty good job of showing what goes on in people’s heads.



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Null and Void: A Royal States Novel

Null and Void: A Royal States Novel by Susan Copperfield

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


It is fun. It is heartwarming. It has a badass main character who works her ass off in not easy situations. It has a crowd of lovable and too-good-to-be-true side characters. I’m a fan.

I also have to say that I made my experience reading this better and more exciting by avoiding spoilers, and because I had no idea where the book was going to go for the whole first part of it. I thought this was one of the most unpredictable books I’ve read, since it’s wasn’t before about page 120 that I begun to guess where this was going. Of course, when I read the description on the back of the book after I finished the book, I realized that most of the turns I found most surprising were already spoiled on there… So my advise to you kids, trust your gut and try not to read descriptions and reviews that describe the plot before reading the book, don’t spoil your experience. I suspect I might not have had as much fun with this and might not have given this book 5 stars if I read it knowing what was happening beforehand.



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Neanderthal Marries Human (Knitting in the City, #1.5)

Neanderthal Marries Human by Penny Reid

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Just as the previous one, this book continued to do this weird thing of hitting precisely the points I find very close and like a lot (the ostrich behavior, the structure of the relationship between the main characters, the unconditional love-friendship importance, Kitten, ASD qualities, etc.) and precisely the points I really hate very much (stilettos and women’s shoes, stockings, men who try to dress up women, women who find idiotic reasons to care about people opening doors for them, etc.).
Similarly to constantly randomly mixing things I love and hate, it also constantly mixes elements that could belong in a silly-almost-childish ‘girly’ fiction (wedding, fashion, girlfriends…not as much the topics as the way they are written about) with things belonging in more serious adult fiction (crime, mental disorders, broken families, real-life assholes).
It’s a fun and uplifting book on one side. The relationships are written especially well, and there are many things here that are worth stopping to think about for a few moment.
And I’m giving it 4 stars on my bookshelf because of it, …though, if I am to be really honest and remember the number of times the ‘female’ stuff in here made me gag (practically every time fashion and clothes/shoes came into focus, and the whole discussion of men opening doors for women, plus some of the behavioral decisions), I’d probably end up rating this book much lower. Good thing I’m so good at pretending that things I didn’t like weren’t there.



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Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1)

Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Other than the very much less-than-tasteful cover design, this could very well be the perfect mix of urban fantasy, action, and romance.
The world setting is powerful and distinct, the characters are interesting, deep, and developed. Nevada is not just another ‘I know how to kick their asses myself’ urban fantasy heroine. She has family, she has head on her shoulders, she has heart. Rogan may on surface seem like another ‘super hot male with too much money and power and damaged past’, but a) he does it well; b) there is more to things he does and why.
Some aspects of the story and future developments do seem predictable, but I think the tone and the way it’s done more than makes up for it.



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Serpent's Kiss (Elder Races #3)

Serpent’s Kiss by Thea Harrison

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was a bumpy ride, and I couldn’t tell if I’m going to give it 5 stars or lower than 3 half of the time… I really loved some parts of it, maybe even the whole first half, but I also have 2 major problems with this book that spoiled my experience and left me a bad aftertaste. (In fact, it also made me suspicious about the rest of the series I thought I would love…)
I was actually a little cautious about this book ever since I finished the previous one and got the hint of who this will be about in the end of it…because I didn’t like Carling in the previous book, and because I felt Rune should have a better story. As I was reading, I eventually saw that Carling was a very interesting character, and especially liked the glimpses of the past. But just as I was about to say ‘I was wrong and I probably will give this 5 stars’ I reached the ‘dressing up and painting face’ episode and my excitement fled down the drain. I’m sorry, but having people buy women make up and want them to put it on is a giant turn off. As are men who care about women using make up. And it made me very disappointed because Rune was really my favorite male character in this series right up to that point… This was the problem numero 1. The second problem was the whole damn ending – I felt many missed opportunities, scrambled events, a boring solution to what was a really interesting set up… and most importantly, personally, the fact that they didn’t go back to New York. Is this how this series is going to go from now on? Sentinels abandoning their lives and places that supposedly spent hundreds of years in, as well as abandoning their friendships and all other responsibilities, and just making their lives all about living on the terns of their mates’ circumstances? I don’t know, maybe it’s supposed to be romantic, to show them, as men, just giving it all up…but it feels wrong and idiotic, especially regarding their relationship with Dragos. I don’t like it. With Rune especially, the way this book ended spoiled my impression of the whole book, and made me afraid of reading the next one because I don’t want to read about another one doing the same thing Tiago and Rune did…



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Viking in Love (Viking I, #8)

Viking in Love by Sandra Hill

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A light and fun read, for those who don’t mind a cruder side of humor.
You look at this title and this cover and think this will be one of those porny cheesy romances with not much substance or credibility. I would never have bought this if I didn’t actually accidentally read an excerpt in the back of another book a while ago.
While it is still a romance, you can’t escape from that, this book is built on utterly ridiculous, sometimes entirely idiotic, humor, and this humor, even when it turns crude and sexual, is the best thing about it.
It a very well-constructed story for what it is. It is full of small ridiculous details and even brief side characters have vivid memorable personalities. The hero of this book is neither the ‘viking’ from the title, as many might have thought, nor is he a very typical romance hero, which is only a plus. He has a likable personality of someone who is very tired of other people’s shit (because it tends to fall on his shoulders), but still tries to do the right thing, if not entirely successfully. The heroine is not as unusual of a character, but still isn’t dull, boring, or annoying. Their friends and family (including the children) are precious. I do feel like I enjoyed reading this.

One thing I didn’t get about the writing were the cursive opening lines for most chapters…I’m not sure what purpose they served and have a feeling the text would be better without them—less interruption of the immersion, some of the remarks felt too modern to fit in. In fact, there were times where the text seem to lose its flavor and turn too modern from time to time in other places as well, but not enough to really bother, I think.


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Curran POV Collection

Curran POV Collection by Gordon Andrews

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I’ve been looking forward to reading this compilation and waited until I finished Magic Bleeds…but now I think I oversold it to myself.
I have a strong feeling the Curran in the main books gave out impression of something deeper, more intent, more awareness…in other words, it a clear case of ‘the version in my head was better’. Especially with regards to the first half of excerpts…the amount of insight they provided was a bit disappointing. The second half was better, but still…it could have been more.



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