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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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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Games of Command

Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This book has the best blurb I’ve ever seen on a book, and it might get 5 stars just for that.
Because ‘strong feline companions’ says it all.

In other news, this book latches on to your sympathy with sharp claws and will pull you along by it all the way.

I have only 2 real complains: 1) it’s a bit too nerve-sucking for my peace of mind; 2) ‘mind games’ and ‘hallucinations’ themes are big pet peeves for me…as in I can hardly stand them. I had to exercise a lot of will power to get through them.
Otherwise, it’s a great sci-fi romance with action and mystery.
And strong feline companions.

P.S. I also have a feeling that this book might especially appeal to people who had, at some point of their lives, found themselves reading a lot of Trek TOS fanfiction.




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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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Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor (Friday Harbor, #1)

Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Am I the only one who sees a big fat problem with the central idea of this book that has a 6 yo child who just lost her mother making a wish for ‘a mother for Christmas’?
A part from an unbelievable child and a throw-away character of Shelby, who just shouldn’t have been in the book in the first place,
it’s a perfectly ordinary contemporary romance story with attractive characters, food, coffee, and an ugly dog.



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Archangel's Kiss (Guild Hunter, #2)

Archangel’s Kiss by Nalini Singh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I find myself very cautious reading this.
There is simply too much senseless violence and gore. Their whole world is based on the survival of the strongest and proving it in the cruellest ways possible. Blood, torture, too many innocent victims… Too many triggers at every step.
But then there’s also a certain kind of captivating elaborateness that makes me keep reading.

It’s not a big surprise that the biggest factor that keeps me with these books is the main relationship. The kind of love that is longer than forever and strong enough to destroy the world for each other. I usually don’t like books where the relationship is wobbling near the line of using force and other dominance play tendencies, but since they don’t actually cross that line and are striving for a two-way street on most aspects of the relationship, I find myself captivated.
Also, the fact that the main character tries to stand against all the cruelty and heartlessness certainly helps.

It’s a very well-written book, with a complex and well-built world, multitude of no less complex and interesting characters, and captivating story.
But I find myself constantly waiting for it to cross some line where I won’t be able to follow it… because too much gore and sadism is too much.



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Must Love Otters (Revelation Cove #1)

Must Love Otters by Eliza Gordon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


A well-written realistic contemporary romance. There are details, imagination, well-built characters, self-deprecating humour.
While the writing is above average, the content itself…is 50/50 at best. The main character inspires more pity, than sympathy (although I do believe the book is self-aware of the fact), and definitely a lot of ‘why do you need to be so stupid’ thoughts. She is also a bit too venomous and judgemental towards her surroundings (in a cowardly way), for my comfort.
A lot of developments were very predictable, which only made the main character’s bad decisions seem even more stupid. And then, the drama in the end seemed a bit too ‘dragged in by the ears’…as in, too convenient and suddenly very not realistic, compared to the rest of the book. …It is likely, however, that it was necessary because nothing less would ever shake this main character enough to change something.
The writing does save this book though, it makes it enjoyable regardless.



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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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Friends Without Benefits (Knitting in the City, #2)

Friends Without Benefits by Penny Reid


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Everything about him at that moment made my internal organs bleed hearts and flowers and puppies and kittens and hot chocolate and hot apple cider and red wine and campfires and Star Trek and yarn—my favorite things.



(It’s so much easier to read these romantic comedies when the female part of your brain doesn’t push you to try to over-identify and empathise with a character just because you identify with some neurological characteristics.)

Yes to the humour, to the tone, to the sarcasm, to the Star Trek Voyager references, to the characters, to the “it has always been you” kind of love. I enjoyed reading this book much more than I expected myself to.

Though, as with the first one, there were also some moments that felt ‘just…no‘… Mainly everything to do with the TV show (including the whole scene in the end). And the fact that the ‘villain’ part, the non-romantic comedy part of the world, felt too half-baked.

If not for the tv show thing, Nico’s character could really be that perfect kind of romance hero.
I really don’t get this part of this book and the insistence on trying to make something trashy and sleazy sound like it’s not.



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Hush, Hush (Hush, Hush, #1)

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


So much teenage idiocy…
I have a mixed feeling about this book, because, on one hand it seems that there is a passable fantasy-suspense story plot lurking on the background, and the main character is not too terrible (she even seems to use her head…sometimes…more so in the beginning, than towards the end), but the rest of it…
Characters, without exception, are either just creepy (or creepy and disturbing) or mostly faceless.
This book reminded me of that ‘find the main character’ meme where people make fun of anime by showing a picture with a room full of identical characters with brown-black hair and hardly any facial features drawn, and among them a single character with pink hair and detailed expression.
This is exactly how his book feels, with the exception that when a character has a face or a name they will be creepy as hell… Or, all males will be creepy and disturbing in a dangerous way, and all females creepy and preoccupied with sex (including the 70yo housekeeper). There are no classmates except for the creepy stalker boys and one vain venomous cheerleader. There are hardly any teachers other than the Coach “teaching biology” by talking about sex, and “councillor” who is even worse. People in the shops and restaurants are creepy. Police are creepy. (The mother maybe the only exception, but she is also absent most of the time.)
It would’ve actually maid so much more sense if the “twist” of this book was that all this time we were reading an account of a mentally unstable (paranoid and delusional) person (who understandably lost her marbles after her father was murdered), and that was the reason why every person who came into focus in her POV acted suspicious and disturbing, and why so much weird shit was happening around her. The explanation “it was all in her head” would’ve maid this a much better written book. Because when it’s not in her head, the “tunnel vision” and “one colour” world building make this into a rather weakly written fantasy book.

Then there’s the problem of the ‘best friend’ of the ‘who needs enemies with friends like this’ variety, (a.k.a. the reason for all problem situations in the book) where you want to strangle this ‘positive character’ more than all the creepy negative characters in the book. Literally the worst character in the whole book, by far. And I don’t comprehend her existence.

Things are kind of happening, but it actually feels like they are not, because we are not getting any closer to the answer to the “what the hell is going on” questions for at least for 250-80 pages, and things of repetitive nature (Someone got hurt. Did boy A or boy B do it? Is something supernatural going on or am I loosing my mind?) keep happening on the sidelines, keep raising the exactly same questions over and over, but giving absolutely no answers.

The ending was actually better than I expected it to be, but I wish we didn’t suddenly devolve into romance, just like that, after a whole book of unhealthy and not-okay behaviour.



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Tall, Dark and Wolfish (Westfield Wolves, #2)

Tall, Dark and Wolfish by Lydia Dare

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Pretty much in tone with the first book, but slightly lower on the humor count, and slightly higher on the ‘aggravating females’ count (a whole flock of them).
If I was in a bit more irritable mood when I read this book it is entirely possible I would be going on a rant about how much I dislike these types of people who think they ‘always know better’ and have a right to interfere with and manipulate others’ lives (friends, relatives, etc.)
The whole ‘refusing to realise your own feelings’ concept is also a bit too much of a tired cliche at this point, imho.
Other than that, I enjoyed this book because it’s light, fun, has well-developed characters, and reads smooth and easy. Even when there’s some concept I don’t really like, it doesn’t really ever get truly irritating.



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By the Sword (Valdemar)

By the Sword by Mercedes Lackey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I have a strong feeling I would probably have loooved this book if I read it in my early teens.
In fact, I wish I had read it when I was 12-14.
You know, somewhere around the hormonal times where thoughts like ‘why do they try to force me into their standards and act like I have to choose between acting ‘womanly’ or being a lesbian and can’t just be as I am?!’ and ‘am I the strange one or is everyone else?!’ were the biggest hit.
(Well, unfortunately, they are still pretty relevant, just very much old and tired news by now.)
By page 150 I could almost imagine myself being 13 again while reading it.

So, if I was 13, I would likely be very happy to read something to empathise with like this, and I would probably also be very happy about the number of ‘lessons’ this book tries to present. How it goes through every teaching and training detail and explains why.
I probably also wouldn’t have minded as much the way it chews on every detail too…but as I am now, I kind of do.
Over-explaining is the world. The writing mostly feels like a meal that was pre-chewed for you so you wouldn’t have to do much chewing yourself.
Much of this book feels not like a ‘tale’ but like a ‘reference manual’…with strong feminist inclination.
It spends entirely too much time teaching reader how to think (by explaining how people think and feel, and why, in detail at every step).

It’s also full of details that certain kind of teenage girls would feel very strongly about. The herds of too-smart horses and bit-less bridles. The telepathic wolves. The main character who can be a saint (strong morals, strong feelings about fighting fair), stubborn as a mule, and also smarter than most people around (can run a household, natural with horse-training and riding, natural with fighting, natural with strategy and leading others, etc.)
A girl who is there to prove that she can be a better boy than a boy and still be an attractive girl.
Including all the emotional stuntedness.

In fact it was that emotional stuntedness prevented me from actually empathising with the main characters herself. While this book encompasses decades of her life, she doesn’t really seem to change or grow up. Kero learns skills, but she hardly feels different in the end of the book compared to how she was in the very beginning. Personally, I feel that she was missing a certain kind of emotional maturity throughout the whole book.

To sum up…
As I think the teenage girl I used to be would give this book 5 golden stars, and the adult me, who was honestly bored by the repetitive and slow prose and had to keep myself from cringing at times, would probably give 3, I have taken the golden middle.




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Born of Night (The League: Nemesis Rising #1)

Born of Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon

My rating: 1 of 5 stars


For the love of all bookish I don’t understand why are these books so popular. The only reason I went there (commenting on a book’s popularity) is because it was due to this book showing up in all kinds of ‘best’ lists while having a high rating that likely made me order it by mistake, without realizing that when I last tried to read a book by this author I DNFed after first few chapters.

I did not get much further with this one either.
Made it 100 pages in, hoping to catch a glimpse of a reason so many people’ve read this, but decided not to torture myself any further.

Everything about this is awfully cheesy, trashy, and confusing.
With all the head hopping on top.
With all the time and word count spent talking about how hot and sexy everyone is and how much trouble they have being hard for each other all the time of course we can’t spend enough time to actually describe the world around us so that it would make some sense. Ah, but we also have time to mention rape and child murders and abuse, to add to ‘badass’ factor. But making sense of how planets, ships, stations, space travel work in this world? Not nearly important enough than all the sexiness.

In this book, the setting ‘implied’ and one actually presented never seem to match.
The ‘deadly assassins’ hardly act the part. The main male character is a disaster…
Little example: he hides his eyes. Not because they are some strange alien product of his mixed heritage, or because of some gruesome battle scars. But because they’re normal human green eyes that ‘show his beautiful soul’. He lives with a bunch of cats. He walks constantly hard when he is around the female main character. Really. The image of mysterious and aloof deadly assassin, don’t you understand?

The female main character… Her thought pattern is well described by this: ‘You saved me from assassins and are here to guard me because there’s a huge price on my head? You even put shields on my windows so that they wouldn’t shoot my head off? How dare you! You’re fired! Get out of my home!’

I rarely do this, but I’d like to pick up at the few more moments that made me want to bang my head against the nearest wall from the very beginning of the book:
FMC – kidnapped, almost raped, beaten, chained in the middle of compost pile on a ship that was just went through hostile take over. Sees a new person coming for her:

‘Kiara was amazed by the handsomeness of his face.’ 3 seconds later ‘For some reason she couldn’t fathom, she believed him (that he wouldn’t hurt her)


‘And she had to admit there was nothing hotter than a man with that kind of honed physique whose face was totally hidden.

I’m sorry. What? Is this some kind of ‘keep a bag over your face’ kink?
Just…what?

MMC – Professional assassin, one of the best out there, built up to be this powerful, mysterious, cold man with dark past and iron moral principles. First time we get his POV:

‘His body was so hard it was all he could do not to limp. And to think, he’d mistakenly believed he’d survived real torture in the past.’

Really? He carried a beaten woman out of space trash can where they just killed a few people, and all he can think is that her small breasts in the torn and dirty nightgown are torturing him more that years of child abuse and murder and outrunning a league of professional assassins? REALLY?
In what dimension are we supposed to find this romantic or even okay?

Another classy thought from the main character after she wakes up in a strange place and still thinks she might be held captive:

‘Tall and lean, he was the sexiest thing she’d ever seen in her entire life, and given the hot pieces of cheese employed by her dance company, that said a lot.’

Am I the only one who has problem with writing like this? Really?

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