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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Gabriel's Ghost (Dock Five Universe, #1)

Gabriel’s Ghost by Linnea Sinclair

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Character-focused Sci-fi action thriller about fierce love and humanity

This book gets better as you go. I have a feeling I was tilting my head at some of the world details in the beginning, but now I can’t even remember what they were. While this sci-fi world isn’t one of more diverse/detailed/comprehensive out there, I think it’s developed enough for the scope of this book. It feels solid, and, more importantly, interconnected with its very real and complex characters.
I feel that this is mostly a character-focused story, with ‘bigger’, more important and terrifying, issues constantly present, but slightly further on the background; while the interactions and inner turmoils of the characters are more vivid and are always in the centre of the focus. I don’t mind it, and I liked a lot of things about these characters and developments between them. And I don’t mean only the main characters and the romance, but all positive and negative (or neutral) side characters they meet—none of them feel faceless or bleak, and they don’t just act in predictable one-pattern ways.

I can’t say this book didn’t keep me constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. (Not a feeling I enjoy…)
What I do find unfortunate is that it was only partially related to worrying about ‘what would happen’ and more heavily related to ‘how the main character is going to react’ to something that wasn’t difficult to predict to happen.
I must say, while a lot of the emotions and questions in this story spoke to me closely, there were times where I wished the main character would use her head a bit more (read between the lines better, make better arguments that for me felt very obvious), and not create more angst that was necessary.

(and say something like “I can promise you to accept without asking questions. But do consider this argument – saying that you’re afraid I will hate you if I know everything kind of feels you don’t trust me to love you at all.” and “The fear I sense when I imagine you see all of my thought is the same one that drives you to hide yourself from me. I’m afraid you will see something that will hurt you or will make you walk away. You don’t need to be a winged demon to think yourself ugly.)

Overall, other than getting a bit more of an adrenaline boost that I needed right now, this was a very enjoyable read and I can’t find many faults with this book.



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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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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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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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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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Grimspace (Sirantha Jax, #1)

Grimspace by Ann Aguirre

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Action-packed, blood-thirsty, emotional. Impressive.

I was really about to give this book 5 full stars.
But then I made myself consider a couple of points:
-This book works for me in some ways I kind of wish it didn’t (it’s kind of discouraging to see yourself identify like never before with a protagonist who is grieving, broken, and clearly not conventionally sane…not that any of this is a surprise), and it sort of made me question whether I would still feel the same way about this book if I was in a healthier state of mind.
– This book actually has a very simple/traditional structure (as in highs and lows and their timing) that hides behind very good writing, but once you see it…it makes it a bit too predictable.
– The bloodthirstiness sometimes comes over the top. We start at a point of great loss, and then we go on from death to death. This book is full of sacrifices and it constantly exists on an edge of complete hopelessness and desperate hope. It’s not a very pleasant journey. Despite the way the book addresses the issue on the very last page…I have my doubts about whether the balance was actually achieved.

Regardless though, the writing is great, it has depth and style and I was caught from the very chapter. Depressing or not, this book is definitely a one for my Favorites shelf.




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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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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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One Fell Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #3)

One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I’m still a little sad that this series has traded a big portion of humor for angst, but I did enjoy this book much more than the second one. I think we could do with fewer ‘almost deaths’ per novel. But the Hiru story was very good.
It’s too bad that it looks like it’s going to be a while before we get any continuation with the story with Dina, if ever.



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Sweep in Peace (Innkeeper Chronicles #2)

Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Unfortunately, this series didn’t manage to escape the ‘curse of the second novel’. It was so much drier, heavier, and compressed, I can’t even really say I enjoyed it. It made me rush to finish it not because I couldn’t look away, but I wanted it to be over quickly so I could see if the next one is any better. Most of the good content that was in this was practically suffocated from two sides by too extensive dry recapping of the events of the first book in the beginning, and a wave of angst in the end; the humor and flavor of the first novel didn’t really have any space to breathe here.
Also, the twist with Sean was too obvious. I really hate it when I get this ‘well wouldn’t it suck if this happened’ feeling in the middle of the book and it just comes true.
I’m giving this 4 stars because it’s not a bad book (even if I can’t help but feel like there should have been a better way to write it.) But it is also is a book that didn’t really leave me feeling good.



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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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