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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The Duke and I (Bridgertons, #1)

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I never expected it to be this much fun. At first, the venomous undertone of the humor in the prologue made me a little suspicious. But then I had the hardest time stopping myself from grinning while reading (in public places), mostly because of the dialogs. The dialogs are definitely my favorite part about this book. I didn’t really enjoy the topic of the main ‘drama’ as much, but regardless, this book was still a surprise and a delight.



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Playing with Fire (Magical Romantic Comedies, #1)

Playing with Fire by R.J. Blain

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This was such a pleasant surprise.
This book is fun, thought admittingly sometimes to a chaotic degree, very detailed, very well-developed, and very unique.
I really can’t help but admire the author’s imagination and humor.
I gave it 4 and not 5 stars because I feel that sometimes it might have been just a bit too chaotic and crazy (and sadistic towards the main character, with whole decontamination business), and a bit too abrupt, but I still would recommend it to any lowers of fantasy who enjoy having books sweep them up and away somewhere else. Definitely a book to come back to from time to time.



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Summer Breeze (Keegan-Paxton #3)

Summer Breeze by Catherine Anderson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A skillfully written, slow, sweet, and simple story of a young woman who has spent last 5 years unable to leave 4 walls because of a trauma-induced panic disorder and a ‘reluctant temporary caretaker’ who is of course a dashing gentleman who will change her world.
It follows very traditional story arc, with romance so thick and sweet you could spread it on a toast, but then have hard time chewing through it. With sprinkles of stetsons, sheriffs, horses, gold, and bullets.
Perfect fit for people who are looking for a quality pure romance.
Though it is also likely simple enough that those of us not too open-minded to transparent romance will have to fight through some skepticism.


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Storm's Heart (Elder Races #2)

Storm’s Heart by Thea Harrison

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


There is this something about Thea Harrison’s characters and style of writing…when, even if usually I would’ve found this ‘teeny-tiny girly woman that likes pink lipstick and stiletto heels’ and ‘very big and very scary power man’ pair of main characters too cheesy and stereotypical, there’s something about the insight into them and their interactions that makes me ignore the voice of cynicism and actually enjoy the story.
I did feel a little put off at first at how much sexual undertone there was in this, in descriptions on both sides from the very beginning. But the plot was also there and not actually lost behind it. I have a feeling the first book was tamer, with more focus on fantasy setting, but I might be not remembering correctly. Also, the floating POV…
This is very much a female ‘comfort book’ through and through. Tricks was about to leave the safety of her found family out of necessity and begin a new life all alone surrounded by people she couldn’t trust, and this is about having a person who not only came to save her from danger, but decided to stay forever and trade a whole old life for a new one with her, and take it all in a stride. I might not understand high heels and lipstick, but I understand ‘tell me when are you going to leave me, because I need to know what will happen’ and the dream of someone saying ‘never’ and meaning it. And also actually enjoying it.



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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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Magic Burns (Kate Daniels, #2)

Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


On one hand, I can’t help but feel that these novels (especially this one) are too short, on the other hand, they are so packed with non-stop action that I also believe if it was any longer I would actually get tired reading it. The main character hardly has any any time to rest, she spends more time passed out after almost dying again than sleeping, she hardly eats, she goes from one deadly battle to another, ‘almost dies’ multiple times, and the whole book hardly covers more than a couple of days.
I enjoyed this book more mostly because there weren’t really any unreasonable blunders like in the first one, but I do think I would enjoy it even more if there was more ‘room to breathe’ between all the action.



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Dragon Actually

Dragon Actually by G.A. Aiken

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fun, unexpected, and explicit in more ways than one.


The way this book started, I thought I’d give it 5 stars. The tone, the humor, the characters and interactions, everything seemed great. Even thought this book is plenty bloody and violent. Unfortunately, later on the ‘rapid POV switching’ style, while fresh and enjoyable in the beginning, seemed to turn the story a progression bit too abrupt. Puff! Enemies are about to attack this specific village. Puff! We’re in the middle of the battle. Puff! It’s all over. Puff! A year has passed. (And I do feel like making it a year was neither realistic nor reasonable).
It also progressively turned a bit too porny, and when we reached “Chains & Flames” also too S&M-y for my tastes. It’s probably because, once again, I thought I was getting a ‘fantasy novel featuring some romance’, while it actually picking up ‘erotica in fantasy setting’. While it still could be the former if it tried just a little bit harder, it definitely is much more closer to the latter.



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Moonshadow (Moonshadow, #1)

Moonshadow by Thea Harrison

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This might be the closest I felt to a female protagonist. Which is probably over-sharing.
And yet, I did find a few too many things I found myself empathizing with.
Other than that:
Yes to the banter, yes to the setting (though I do wish we would explore it a little more), yes to emphasizing thinking for yourself, yes to keeping your promises, and yes to men in black with swords.
I don’t know how much we will come back in the other 2 books of these series, if at all, but it does feel like some of the concepts and ideas were left a little underdeveloped. Like the forms and identities of the remaining knights not being addressed after the beginning, or Dark court relationships in general. I think the ending could be expanded a bit more, instead of saying ‘in next few weeks things like these happened’… But oh well, this is more like asking for more, than real complains.
Also, I had about 4-5 scenarios in my head of how this book could go horribly wrong all the time while reading, and I couldn’t be happier that it didn’t touch any of them.
One more book like this and Thea Harrison might become a name a on my ‘automatic buy’ list.

The only real complain I can give is the cover…



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