White Hot (Hidden Legacy, #2)

White Hot by Ilona Andrews

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A rare occurrence in literary world—a second book of the series that is as good as the first, if not better. (Except for the cover, the covers are still cheesy and terrible.)
Gripping action, solid developments, compelling characters, powered-up romance. It’s a very difficult book to put down.

Personally, it’s the moments like this that I love the most about these books:

Rogan regarded me with his blue eyes, took out a baseball hat, and put it on. Dragon in camouflage, going down to the village to spy on the delicious people living there.
He clicked his teeth, biting through the air.
I had to stop thinking about dragons.

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Magic Dreams (Kate Daniels, #4.5)

Magic Dreams by Ilona Andrews

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A very short side story. Personally, I didn’t really enjoy the Japanese culture involvement much. Firstly, because of how the cultural behaviors were painted. Secondly, because everyone always zeroes-in on jorougumo all the time. It gets old. (I do realize that this novella was written a while back.)
Jim is great (as always), but Dali’s low self esteem issues are a bit too idiotic (the ‘I think it’s better to be a pretty idiot, that be smart and look like me’ ones…she’s an idiot enough). I don’t think I enjoy how her character was painted here much at all. And it turned into a story of ‘good, strong, smart, and powerful’ man loving ‘an awkward idiot’ despite her idiocy…which also gets old.



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Whatever for Hire: A Magical Romantic Comedy (with a Body Count)

Whatever for Hire: A Magical Romantic Comedy by R.J. Blain

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The body count might be a bit larger than usual (than in previous books). The main characters are great – unique, complex, and fun. My only complain is that I wish we had more time with them. Learn more about Malcolm, more about Kanika’s transformations and origins, more interactions with beings other than Satin and archangels, and so on. Then, there’s the fact that the ending is hardly complete and the little details like that we, as readers, missed the parts of which Kanika has no recollection. So I do hope there’s some kind of a sequel, because the mix of cultures in these two characters is really interesting and it would be terrific to explore them more.



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Blue Diablo (Corine Solomon, #1)

Blue Diablo by Ann Aguirre

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


It’s a skillfully written book, strongly above average, with some interesting concepts and characters, but it also felt…diluted. Or confused. Things are happening, but it also feels like nothing is. The beginning was definitely the better part of the book, while the end felt anticlimactic. To much of the set-ups seems to be aimed at the later books to come, so this book ended with very little actually resolved, which meant there was very little satisfaction from the reading experience overall.
There’s such thing as too many question marks.
Unfortunately, the worst part of this book is the protagonist. She is cowardly, manipulative, and too preoccupied with herself and deciding which one of the attractive men she should or shouldn’t ‘let herself get involved with’. She could be worse, I wouldn’t exactly put her together with the truly annoying female protagonists of paranormal romance I’ve seen before, but she’s still difficult to like.



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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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American Witch (American Witch, #1)

American Witch by Thea Harrison

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I’ve wavered between 3 and 4 stars for a while, and I might still change my mind… While I did enjoy most of the story and characters, there is a couple of points that really bothered me:
1) The Russian.
Rasputin is just such a tired and overused figure, when I saw the name I practically groaned. Then there’s the language… It made me feel like watching those tv dramas that think their audience are too stupid to care if they use Chinese actors who can’t pronounce Japanese words to act as Japanese and have a ton of American actors speak some kind of mumbo-jumbo pretending to sound Russian or any other kid of Slavic language. Okay, none of the words used were actually wrong, but… It just felt unnatural. For example, replacing word ‘darling/honey’ where it would fit in English sentences with Russian version is just not enough. Would it fit there if the sentence was in Russian? Would it be used in such way at all? Would it be natural for a male who lived in pre-revolution Russia to use these specific words and in such way? I’m not an expert, but my language instincts tell me ‘no’. It just felt unnatural. It’s a huge pet peeve for me.
2) The treatment of the main male character that is getting very old and tired.
We get an enigmatic, whole, character who is attractive in his drive and independence. The whole reader-favorite ‘dark and dangerous’ package. But then as the book unfolds he slowly gets morphed and forced to fit some kid of ‘ideal image from a woman’s perspective’, until at the very end he only says and does things like ‘a woman’ would want him to (with all the ridiculous proposals and sitting quietly in the background). This made me a little angry. For one, not all women like and want same things. For another, it just feels fake, and the concept of the male character just giving up all that he was and had, and then making him fit into the life the female character just decided to choose for herself is unfair and tiring. I don’t like it and this story flow has been used a few too many times already.



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A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1)

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


What I like about this book is that it’s like a big thick juicy steak. That you can chew and chew on. With some sauce. Maybe even some mashed potatoes on the side.
I don’t think it’s a book everyone would like (and not just because things like that don’t exist). This is not an action-packed book. In fact, a remarkably small percentage of these 690 pages is devolved to ‘exciting action’, as one may call it. And, admittingly, when it is, it tends to be of a somewhat frustrating/irritating variety, the kind where very strong people suddenly lose fights for no logical reason, or just make careless mistakes you would expect them to avoid.
Don’t get me wrong, there is enough of action and intrigues in here, but I don’t think this book will appeal to anyone who likes their fiction fast-paced or jaw-gripping.
This book will only appear to readers who will find themselves quite content to read through looong looong discussions of books, history, science, magic, wine, food, and a very slowly developing relationship on top of it all, with some more sinister events unfolding from time to time.
I’m also a bit biased because this book took me back to missing the good things about my days in Oxford.
I think a great deal of thought and effort went into creating this, and I think that the result turned out as big and delicious meal for the brain.
I can’t say there were’t any things I questioned in terms or believability and logic (or necessity), but I can say that they weren’t significant enough to spoil the experience or leave as lasting of an impression as the good things did.
It’s an ideal book to hide behind to have yourself a couple of long quite evenings of reading and tea. It’s also a perfect ‘first book’, a book where all the good stuff before the ‘shit hits the fan’ is, to re-read multiple times, regardless of how the rest of the series will unfold.



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Darkfever (Fever, #1)

Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Mostly dark, woman-hating, and sexual in a decidedly unpleasant way fae-themed urban fantasy.

While the language itself was not unpleasant and there were enough of interesting turns of phrases and stylistic choices that could have made this book a bit above average writing-wise, the story content and details made it feel rather cheap.
The things the main character focused on (pink nail polish, hair, clothing, expensive cars) and the descriptions of the main character in her own words (overly emphasized attractive qualities, sometimes unrealistic, and the ‘I could never become ugly’ approach); the fact that sex is only present as a weapon of humiliation and death (and scenes with V’lane were so cringy I practically had to skip them); the fact that there is not a single positive character in the whole book (women who are alive are other bitches or brainless trophies, men are either villains or just bullies; every single person tries to walk over others)…
I haven’t read many books with this kind of ‘recounting’ (looking back approach) style of narration, but I have to say I really don’t like it. As in, saying: “Before long, I would understand that nothing had been what it seemed that night, and the reason … was not…” and then doing nothing to explain what it actually was. I don’t know if someone who thinks they know all about writing said that this is a good technique to use to keep readers interested, personally I find it nothing but annoying. If you’re not going to say what it is just don’t say it…
Since there hardly was anything pleasant or positive/attractive in the whole book, for me this was a kind of book I just couldn’t get done and over with soon enough… A tiring experience.



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Call of the Highland Moon (The MacInnes Werewolves Trilogy, #1)

Call of the Highland Moon by Kendra Leigh Castle

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


I’m not sure how to categorize this impression I’ve got from this book… On one side it felt almost childish, on another it reminds me of a b-rated fantasy movie, especially with the very villainy villains and magic stones with magic crystals. The writing didn’t feel engaging, especially the villainy parts, I could barely keep myself from skipping some of them because they were both boring and unpleasant. But the biggest were these details that kept poking out… like (let’s take the very beginning) woman finding a bleeding wounded animal at her workplace, loading it into her car, taking it home, dumping it in her spare room and going to sleep to wait and see if it’s going to be alive in the morning or not? In what world this was supposed to make sense?
I don’t know. Maybe it’s just a question of compatibility, but this really didn’t work for me.



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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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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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Knight (Sons of the Alpha, #1)

Knight by Addison Carmichael

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


While I expected to like this book enough, black wolf protectors and all, there was a number of issues that just really bothered me:
– Personalities of main characters seem inconsistent and floating. They jump from one kind behavior to another in a way that doesn’t feel natural. The heroine switches from acting like a reasonable young woman kidnapped out of her life and being hostile and suspicions, to suddenly being all accepting and understanding and kind to everyone, to suddenly playing at being the lead detective on a case and having authority, to playing at girlfriends, to cuddling with a person and propositioning them, to shutting them out and down 5 mins later… and on and on. The hero only appears to be better because there is much less text in his POV, but his personality also felt like it flipped over half way through. There’s also this ‘brainless’ disease I’ve seen a number of times before, where characters talk and act but pretend that they have no ability to analyze or comprehend why they are doing something and just exist in denial.
– A tad too much hate towards women. As in, it’s very hard to find a positive female character who is not dead. I half expected for Rachel to turn out to be the killer. Because the remaining female characters were a lying traitor who sold people out for money and an aggressive egocentric bitch who couldn’t take no for an answer. A vivid contrast to a whole collection of attractive males who also all look like they are in their twenties, regardless of their age, and of course like the main character.
– The fact that people kept forgetting and ‘letting be’ the serial murderers they had to catch. The treatment of this part of the plot didn’t seem appropriate, as it was constantly pushed behind something else, as if catching the murders before they killed again was far less important than a whole list of other things. Or at least that was the impression I got.
– While the ‘twist’ conclusion itself was not boring, something happened to writing on the last 20% where it turned jaw-numbingly cheesy and dry. The places that were supposed to make me swoon made me grimace. It’s like suddenly there was something very unsavory about the tone of the book and it spoiled the conclusion. The bare facts of which, again, weren’t actually bad on their own… there was just something about the way it all was presented.



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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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Guilty Pleasures (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #1)

Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


First, I’d like to say that there isn’t really anything negative to say about the quality of the book, writing and imagination. It’s a very well-written book.
The problem that I have with this book is that it’s a big gorey mess of malice and misery. I don’t think I’ve seen a single positive thing in the whole book. Rape, murder, manipulation, torture, control and humiliation, and children mixed into all of that. I’m sure there are people to whom it would appeal. I’m not one of them. In the end I had to force myself to finish this book just so that I would see its horrors be over and it wouldn’t haunt me. I also felt like I needed to wash my brain with gentle soap and warm water afterwards.

… It also occurred to me that a lot of people could be mislead by the title in combination with ‘vampire novel’ and buy this thinking it would be another half-silly paranormal romance… they’re in for a nasty surprise.



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Angels' Blood  (Guild Hunter, #1)

Angels’ Blood by Nalini Singh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I haven’t really read any angel-themed fantasy before (though I’m aware there are plenty), so this world was new and unique to me. The world and its concepts are interesting and well-developed, even though it’s also full of ‘intimidating and possibly sadistic alpha males’ that are kind of old hat by now. The characters, including minor ones, are well developed, as are the relationships between them. The main character has a head on her shoulders most of the time and is interesting to follow.
I enjoyed this more than I expected, despite how very bloody and violent it is.
I was also positively surprised by the level of writing, because before this I’ve read only Slave to Sensation and it was difficult to believe this was written by the same writer.



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