Dark Lover by J.R. Ward

Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #1)

Dark Lover by J.R. Ward

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m not usually a fan of ‘dark’ and ‘vampires’, but I picked this book up because I saw “fans of Black Dagger Brotherhood will love this” on another book’s cover. Admittedly, I mistakenly thought that 1) reverse should be true as well; 2) if publishers bothered to put something on the front cover it should actually make sense. (The two books had absolutely nothing in common.)
I gave this three stars because there were a few points and moments (like the blindness and cat communication) that I actually liked, but overall this was not a very pleasant experience.
First, I made up this book to be scarier than it was for about 60% of it. This would be because it started very low. Murder, rape, prostitution, psychopaths, a thick layer of immorality on every side, and a gathering of tortured souls with very disturbing pasts. From the very beginning it is filled with too much malice and violence.
Second, there is something very unsavory and ‘underdone’ about this book’s writing and language. The extra ‘kind of’s in descriptions, the fact that Darius’s name is the only one that didn’t fit into the pattern of the Brotherhood like he didn’t belong from the beginning, the cheesiest ‘Mr. X’, the ‘awesome responsibility’, the dialogs that felt like they needed a few more edits… I kept stumbling over these, and the reading didn’t feel smooth or nice, especially in the beginning.
And then also the ‘street/gang’ talk cops and Brotherhood kept using and the whole rap music and ‘we’re so bad and badass’ tone done in a way that just wasn’t my cup of tea.
Then we get an unappreciated-as-an-individual extremely beautiful heroine and a super-strong, super-inhumanly-hot main hero. Skip the insta-romance and jump into insta-lust. And ‘You’re a vampire, Harry.’ cherry on top.
I’m not sure if my perception is screwed by the fact that I couldn’t bring myself to read through the ‘Mr. X’ parts because of whole cliché-ism and distastefulness of them and skipped most of them, but I also felt like the main character suddenly lost most of her personality and just turned into ‘perfect wife and queen that says and does only the right things’.
About the same time, the book lost most of its scarinesses and it became clear that nothing as terrible as I imagined was actually going to happen. Which is actually a plus, because I liked the ending more that the beginning. Just still not enough to like the book overall.

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Storm’s Heart by Thea Harrison

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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Heart on Fire by Amanda Bouchet

Heart on Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles, #3)

Heart on Fire by Amanda Bouchet

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I can’t. My love for the first book just couldn’t win over all this angst. The repeated over and over soul-crushing conversations of fate and greater good. The pain, the losses, the manipulation, the sacrifices. Where did the humor and the fantasy of the beginning go? I definitely liked the ‘in denial and running away Cat’ much better the ‘the Queen Catalia’, and when the bigger picture was not in the picture. This book begins with a blow, drags on through all kinds of pain and doubts with hardly any reprieve and then ends in an entirely anticlimactic way with the weight of all that happened still on everyone’s shoulders.
I mostly feel sad that this series lost so many good things and went in this direction…and so betrayed I might cry.
If we don’t get a lighter ‘do over’ in some time in future and if Kato doesn’t come back, I believe I’ll have to forget about the existence of books 2 and 3 and just re-read the first one on its own from time to time.

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Breath of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

Breath of Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles, #2)

Breath of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While I thought I love this series too much to give it less than 5 stars (or more like I love the 1st book and the characters so much I decided I must love the series), I do feel like this book was sometimes difficult to get through… (and then I read the 3rd one right after this, got my hope got snuffed out entirely). It’s really disappointing that so many authors decide that sequels must always be twice as angsty and, as a result, lose more than half of the good things that were going on in the first book. I still love a lot of things about this book, but I just couldn’t enjoy it as much as the first one because of all the heavy emotional events. Also, a number of rape-y events that did not sit with me (especially the Kato one). And the fact that the Beta Team kept drawing short strings for angsty developments.
It’s still a very well-written, imaginative, and engaging story. Just…, compared to the first book, not nearly enough fun and a tad too heavy on negative emotions to be as enjoyable or leave a good aftertaste.

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Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller

Warrior of the Wild

Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Very simple, very short, very shallow, very YA. In other words: mleh.

I don’t really understand why YA publishers keep doing this…putting is so much efforts and hype, making beautiful covers and lots of promotion for something that has practically no substance inside? Seems to me like it should stand against the pride of anyone working in book publishing, but oh well…
This book is supposed to be about almost-adults being outcast and dealing with deadly dangers and tasks, but it reads like about a group of 12 y.o. kids playing around at heroes.
This story is not bad. There’s just nothing to it. Same can be said about the quality of writing.
The plot turns are extremely predictable, the characters are flat and stop feeling authentic because of the way they speak time after time, a lot of the settings (like ‘spears’ being old weapons and no one knowing how to use them) are weird and unplausible, the insta-love, the gay sidekick, the main character who is naive, self-absorbed, and uninteresting…

‘It’s not about giving in to the first boy who ever acted interested.’
Yes, it is. And you’ve done it twice.

But this book also doesn’t really last long enough for any of this to really really get on the nerves…so ‘mleh’ remains is the most fitting description. So sad when the cover is the only really good thing about the book.

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The Mortal Word by Genevieve Cogman

The Mortal Word (The Invisible Library #5)

The Mortal Word by Genevieve Cogman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Imaginative and unique, but dry and overwhelmingly political.
The most powerful impressions I had while reading this were ‘too much’ and ‘too dry’.
On one hand, it speaks of the author’s powers of imagination and detail control, on the other… Too many characters, too many of whom are absolutely sure they are the most important and right beings in the universe, too many things happening and trying to pull the blanket in all directions at the same time, etc… In fact, the book is actually rather self-aware that there is ‘too much going on’, and it tries to address it by having the main character constantly remind herself or others of ‘all things that are going on and are at stake’ time after time, but instead of helping reader to re-focus it only makes the text even more cluttered and repetitive. Most of the conversations are highly manipulative and tiring. And very often repeating practically the same dynamic but with multiple different characters.
There is very little, if any, excitement or enjoyment in this.
With politics taking most of the focus, human relationships in turn turn very dry. There might have been a romantic element, but the way the main character is so very distant and uninterested towards it, it’s practically not there.
Finally, the whole complexity of things might have been justified if the culmination was shocking or surprising at all… But in reality, we actually get hinted very heavily at the culprit at the very beginning of the book, and then have to go through all those tedious events just to reach the conclusion we foresaw from the very beginning…

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Pride Mates by Jennifer Ashley

Pride Mates (Shifters Unbound, #1)

Pride Mates by Jennifer Ashley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

To be honest, I first, after reading the description, was actually planning to avoid these series… The whole ‘Shifters are Collared and controlled, outcast from humanity’ concept doesn’t appeal to me at all. Not that I’d have hard time imagining humans being discriminating asses trying to degrade, insult, and control others on every step, but just because I don’t really like to be reminded of these disgusting human traits. I only picked this up because I have read Bodyguard by chance first and thought maybe it wouldn’t be so bad after all.
It’s not a bad story. The plot is there, not dissolved behind the romance, and the characters are interesting and mostly well-developed. And yet, too much of this book talks about these issues of control, power over others, dominance and submission… even if the main character says she is not ‘into it’, everything in this book rotates around these concepts. Which honestly kind of puts me off.
Also, the insta-love and thick-headed main female character did seem clichéd, even if not enough to be annoying.

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