The Mammoth Book of Futuristic Romance.

The Mammoth Book of Futuristic Romance. by Trisha Telep

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

  1. FLYING IS FASTER by Jeannie Holmes
    ★★

    2. STAR CROSSED by Cathy Clamp
    ★★★★

    3. NATURALLY BEAUTIFUL by Jaime Leigh Hansen
    ★★★

    4. SEVEN MONTHS OF FOREVER by Linnea Sinclair

    ★★★★★

    5. MEMORIES OF GRAVITY by Patrice Sarath
    ★★★

    6. FADE AWAY AND RADIATE by Michele Lang
    ★★
    (DNF. Couldn’t stomach something about the writing.)

    7. NEW EARTH TWELVE by Mandy M. Roth
    ★★★★
    (I’d like to meet Oliver.)

    8. RED DAWN by Delilah Devlin
    ★★★
    (Something very realistic about world setting, but very unrealistic about human setting.)

    9. RACING HEARTS by Kiersten Fay

    ★★★
    (Background setting seemed interesting, but faded behind some kind of immature relationship drama…)

    10. IN THE INTEREST OF SECURITY by Regan Black
    (-)
    DNF. Something about the theme and tone of prologue turned me away.

    11. END OF THE LINE by Bianca D’Arc
    ★★★★

    12. SPACE COWBOY by Donna Kauffman
    ★★★★

    13. TALES FROM THE SECOND CHANCE SALOON: MACAWLEY’S LIST by Linnea Sinclair

    ★★★★★

    14. WASTELAND by Jess Granger
    ★★★

    15. NUNS AND HUNS by Charlene Teglia
    ★★★

    16. SONG OF SAIRE by Leanna Renee Hieber
    ★★★★★

    17. THE NOAH by C.L. Wilson
    ★★★

    18. WRITTEN IN INK by Susan Sizemore
    ★★★★

    19. NOBODY’S PRESENT by Marcella Burnard
    ★★
    (Character setting that might be interesting, but creepy sex disease/kidnappery.)


    -would like to continue reading more of.



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Playing for Keeps (Neighbor from Hell, #1)

Playing for Keeps by R.L. Mathewson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This book is built from a couple of parts I don’t really believe fit seamlessly together.
First comes a strange and bumpy beginning, where the antagonistic feelings (and circumstances causing them) between the two were so over-emphasised that the rapid transition to friendship felt very far from natural.
(Would you invite a neighbour you hated for months (at least, I don’t remember) with no manners, who just physically fought with you to rip out your poor flowers to shreds, to your home, shower, and feed him pizza? Just like that?)

Then comes a fun middle part, filled with all kinds of shojo-manga and fanfiction favourite cliches (food talents and obsessions, comparisons to other bitchy females, carnivals, sleep-buddies who can’t sleep without each other, comic relief family vs. assholes-only family, etc.) It’s fun, it’s mostly lighthearted, with hardly any seriousness in there at all.

Then comes a weird ‘drama’ part, with identical idiotic pissy fits from both sides.
This part especially drives in the point that colours all of this book – everything about the main characters and their behaviour paints them as teenagers at most, not at all as 30yo adults as they were supposed to be. (I had an urge to mostly skip through this part as it made very little sense, if any. I feel like there could have been better topic choices to fill this ‘required drama space’ in the plot, and that it wasn’t done very well.)

The book overall isn’t bad, just…requires a non-questioning mind set and an agreement to enjoy the fun childish part as it is and not look too closely at the rest.



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The Wolf Next Door (Westfield Wolves, #3)

The Wolf Next Door by Lydia Dare

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


I’ve expected from the very beginning to have to treat this book as ‘something push through in order to continue reading the rest of the series.’
That would be because, unfortunately, I haven’t liked Prisca since book 1.
She is a spoiled brat. There is a difference between having an opinion and believing your opinion to be above everyone else’s. She sticks her nose in everyone’s business, thinks she has a right to manipulate everyone’s lives, and doesn’t care to listen to anyone but herself.
The whole situation where she ‘loved’ him, but chose to believe the worst about him and leave him a note cursing him to hell, when she actually made a promise to elope…doesn’t do anything to improve my opinion of her either.
She doesn’t listen and think, she stops her foot and screams that everything must be as she wants it.
A very annoying lead female character.
In fact, it’s like she was on purpose written in a way to annoy readers to hell.

Then the “love rival”‘s behaviour didn’t help this book’s impression either…
I really don’t enjoy reading books where all you want to do is smack a character on the head hard and long enough until you can shake some brains into there.

The only thing I actually really liked about this book is that the characters of the previous books, all family members, were present and active participants of the story.



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Oracle's Moon (Elder Races, #4)

Oracle’s Moon by Thea Harrison

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I find myself very cautious reading these books now…
Because, unfortunately, it’s been more and more difficult to enjoy books in the series because they (and some other books from the same author) 1) have been following the exact same theme and pattern (which on its own is already alarming) book after book; 2)and the pattern they tend to follow is a one that really doesn’t agree with me.
And yet, even after the alarming developments in the last two books, I still wanted to hope there still was a chance.
When I begun reading this book, at first I felt my hope pick up (because it at least seemed like it won’t be about another sentinel completely abandoning his post, life, and Dragos all together), but then, around Chapter 9 came the ‘oh shit’ moment. The ‘Oh shit, please tell me that this book is not going to go in the direction I think it’s going to go judging by this sentence…’ kind of moment.
And until the very very end of this book I was sitting on this ‘just please don’t go there’ feeling, while the topic was picked up over and over (in the end, it left on the ‘we won’t go there yet, but still might in the future’ note). Aaaand… it completely spoiled most of my experience reading this book.

Thing is, I really liked the very first book a lot (enough to buy a better edition after I read it for the first time and read it twice in one year already). But the first book also was also the one that had this underlying theme I’m having so much trouble with in the least amount (it’s not like it didn’t have it at all, but there at least appeared to be at a reasonable level).
I also still enjoy many things about the world and writing in these books. Personally, it’s the dialogues like this that I love especially:

‘I will clear away this mess and…I will achieve pancakes.’
‘You’ll achieve pancakes?’
‘I do not see why not.’
‘Have you ever achieved them before?’
‘That question is irrelevant. I will achieve pancakes now.’

But.
There is this same topic that I’ve already seen repeated as the main topic in 4-5 books by this author (and 3 more where it was present to a degree, even if it didn’t turn out as bad), and I apparently I can’t really enjoy these books anymore because I keep seeing just this same topic and pattern all the time.
(Here I am, instead of actually writing a review about the content of this book, writing about how I was not able to really enjoy it because I was too afraid it was about to turn out like the previous two.)
It makes me genuinely disappointed, but I’m beginning to turn to the idea that it likely will be better for my health to abandon the ship (this series as a whole, save fore the some novellas I’ve already purchased) and only re-visit the first book from time to time.
The world is great, the characters are fun, and the plot might be second-best after Dragon Bound so far in the series, …but there this underlying direction that leaves this very nasty after-taste that spoils the whole experience.
Sad.

I’ll say it again. One party in a relationship having to throw away everything about their previous life, their jobs, their loyalties, their other relationships, their nature, “for the sake” of the said relationship is NOT ROMANTIC AT ALL.

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I was always against the idea that a book review should include a book summary. Want a summary? You can find on every page that sells the book and on the book itself. In a review, it’s a waste of space.

Anyone who read a book can write a summary. Tell me what you felt from reading it, only something you can do.

In addition to being against summaries in reviews, I also avoid reading them (the summaries) more and more overall. I skim at most (to see is there are any trigger words I’d want to avoid), and that only with new authors. On one hand, I’m getting more and more sensitive to spoilers, and have found out that I have much more fun reading a book when I don’t know what to expect; on the other, more often than not, a summary of a book have made me expect something else entirely, so I also want to avoid the unnecessary disappointment.

What then can I use to determine whether I want to buy a book or not, especially when I buy/read more than 20 of them a month?

Cover? Is a big factor. I also use the ‘genres’ and other tags that get listed on the Goodreads. The lists that the book appears in. The ‘similar books’ lists. Random mentions by other people.

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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Second Grave on the Left (Charley Davidson #2)

Second Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


My impression is that this book felt a little too dragged out. A lot of circling around the same questions without actual developments. A lot of back-and-forward on relationships.
A lot of interesting side character, but so many questions…
Even the humour felt sometimes laid too thick and forced sometimes.
Also, …mostly frustrating and unsatisfactory ending.
Hoping for swift improvement in the future books…




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The head-hopping pov is turning very quickly into one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to writing.

(somewhere between the ‘using foreign languages when you can’t do it without mistakes’ and ‘adding rape for the coolness factor’)

I can’t believe how many writers don’t find not okay… I really think it’s nowhere close to okay, when your pov changes from thoughts of one character to another in the same paragraph. Or even in the next paragraph without a clear text break. Bite me.

Once Burned (Night Prince, #1)

Once Burned by Jeaniene Frost

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A vampire romance for extra violent

I must say I was a little surprised no actually enjoy this book, partially because I was expecting another cheesy oversexualised super-hot-vampire-and-damsel-in-distress ‘female fantasy’ kind of story, and partially because I kind of hated “Halfway to the Grave“. (Though I didn’t even realise this was by the same author and belonged to the same universe until I was already reading.)

This book has an interesting heroine, who is neither the ‘innocent saint’ nor the ‘sassy bitch in miniskirt’ type of the usual vampire novel heroine, and this is one of the things I like about this book the most. She doesn’t lie to herself much, she deals with the shit that falls on her, she does what she needs to. Also, I have a tendency to prefer characters who maybe a little too fearless in a way that they stand up for the things they believe in, even in the circumstances where normal human instinct would tell them not to dig their own grave. She also has morals.
I haven’t read any “Night Huntress” books after DNFing the first one, so this feels like an impressive improvement from a clueless-serial-killer(psycho)-playing-at-dress-up type of main character I saw there.
I did, however, see the similar love for unnecessary over-the-top violence and torture. Not a fan. Especially because of the fact that its senselessness (unnecessary-ness) is so very glaring. I mean, could you actually explain to me what is the point of all the torture when you 1)can read minds and 2) actually have a person who can touch someone and tell you what they’ve done and where they’ve been better than anyone can torture out? I don’t know if the author is just so in love with all the gore, but it’s nothing but gore for the sake of gore, and we have a main hero and ‘love interest’ who continues to torture other vampires with no reasonable justification.
Now, speaking of Vlad, I didn’t actually mind that this is another book about the Vlad. Though I do suppose it is a bit of a tired idea.
What I did mind is the fact that it feels like the only aspect in which the fact that Vlad is a centuries old vampire is in any way reflected is his tendency for violent resolutions of everything. I can’t really explain what exactly I’m expecting to see, but I think that the fact that these ‘people’ have been around for a very long time and have ‘seen it all’ should have been made a little more believable. This Vlad only reads like some sort of modern businessmen, just an abnormally bloodthirsty one.

Also, I hate when people translate Voivode (Wojewoda) as ‘prince’, or use them as synonyms. That’s not what it means at all. Yes, you can be both, but inherent meanings in the titles are very different.



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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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Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy, #1)

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


To be honest, this is a case of ‘I don’t think I’ll know if I even like this until (if) I read the sequel’.
There’s such thing as few too many twists and few too many lies.
For example, I’m not sure if I feel like all main characters changed their personalities and beliefs too abruptly for it to be believable, or if it can actually be believable in the circumstances.
(Should we really change sides so much and feel comfortable with characters who murdered and tortured under our noses?)
I feel uncomfortable to comment on any story developments, other than say that the ending is a chaos and I don’t think I enjoy where it went…unless I see it go somewhere else in a future book.
If I judge from the fact that I really don’t like ‘mind game’ books in general (as in constantly not knowing what is real and what is really going on), then I suppose I don’t like this book. But I think I need to see where it all tries to lead to just to be certain. Because right now, there are more questions than answers.
This book on its own gives too little to judge on.

There is an interesting style, and I especially enjoyed the ‘excerpts’ at the beginning of each chapter. More importantly, kudos for making it into a fantasy world ‘vaguely inspired’ by slavic cultures than actually borrowing from them more than names. I think it is an interesting and well-developed world, even if small and unhappy.
At the same time I feel there is a substantial room for improvement in terms of writing.
It’s on a simpler side, it doesn’t really grab you, it doesn’t make you feel like you can’t let yourself put the book down. And little things, like overuse of the word ‘boy’ got on my nerves sometimes.
Reading this book felt like watching its story on fast-forward. That unbalanced way of catching some random moments very clearly and just flying by the rest of events.
The action sequences were a bit hard to follow. Not really written in a way that would make it easy to see what is going on around the main character and why. Maybe this is also related to my ‘fast-forwarded’ impression.

Overall, ‘chaos’ is the most true impression of this book, and it leaves me confused. Question is, will it untangle or will it continue in the same tone and manner?



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Yet, I believe what really grinds my gears, and prevents me from leaving this topic alone and not wasting my energy on thinking about it for 2 days already, is that if the situation was the opposite, as in, if the main characters were supposed to be from somewhere from Africa (or say Asia or Middle East), but instead white British actors were hired to play their roles, there would have been 10 times more outrage.

And then thousands of people who never even read the books would also flock to protest and express their outrage once they’d sniff it out, because how dare the tv producers not respect people’s races and cultures.

And I highly doubt the author would have been able to write her ‘proud post’ about how she thinks the cast is just right, and she never even remembered that her own main character had eyes of a specific colour. and that he is ‘right for the role in every way that matters’ (except race, because race doesn’t matter). Because she would just get stoned for that.

…In everyday circumstances, I would be among the first to say that race doesn’t matter. Because, in everyday life, I don’t really care (and, to be honest, my cognitive abilities are failing enough that sometimes I can’t tell Japanese people from foreigners when I’m outside…).

But when we talk about integrity of cultures and world settings… I think every culture and setting should be equally protected and represented as it was historically, or as it was written to be.