Level Grind (The Twenty-Sided Sorceress #1-4)

Level Grind by Annie Bellet
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had a very loopy experience when I first began reading this…because I may not be a secret sorceress, but I translate from Japanese and Russian, speak nerd, and work in gaming (and there was some other similarity I forgot by now), and for a while there I was all ‘Um… Hi, Ms Bellet, do we know each other?’ … But then of course I reached the point where the main character says she speaks all languages, and calmed down.
I think a lot of people who read this would draw some parallels with ‘Kate Daniels’ series: a sorceress, a scary-scary older sorcerer after her blood, a big alpha cat, Russian, Japanese, gory battles, shifter society, being badass and usually passing out afterwards… There are definitely some similar points, but of course these are very different books.
The stories here are on the shorter side, but are filled with action, lore, fun characters, and nerd speak.
My only real complaint is that, while the nerd elements and romance make an attempt to lighten the mood from time to time, it doesn’t really work, and the overall mood of these books is rather too grim and angsty with not enough reprieve to keep the reading experience actually enjoyable.

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Midnight Angel (Stokehurst, #1)

Midnight Angel by Lisa Kleypas
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

If I knew this story involved ‘Russians’ I don’t think I would ever have picken it up. Because people trying to write from a point of view of real cultures that they don’t belong to and not doing a good job out of it a big pet peeve of mine. Yes, the author tried to do her research. She even used some words right.
But, imho, if you’re writing about a culture you don’t belong to, the least you could do is try not sounding like you’re an absolute authority on the subject. The whole ‘all Russians are like this’, ‘this is definitely unacceptable for Russians, and when the character shows her temper ‘it must be Slavic blood’ moments and phrasing made me see red in places. It’s was just not done smartly. And no, references to Russian culture did not read authentic in this book. At most, it sounded like a mix of weird stereotypes and things one could’ve picked up about the Russian society in 90s, not Imperial Russia. Also, words that don’t exist in Russian language. (And then I started wondering, what if the parts/books about England and English are equally inauthentic and just didn’t bother me because I never studied the period/culture closely to notice the wrong details?…And it kind of spoiled the whole book for me.)
The character of Lucas is interesting, though he jumps from being strong, smart, and reasonable, to fits of rage and lust, to indifference and mild scumbaggery. Anastasia, equally jumpy from one personality to other, but hardly any different from any other English heroine. If she was supposed to be? Then the weird supernatural elements. And those, mixed with sex and the whole attempt to base the book on a foreign culture, made the whole book feel like a mess.
Yet, I do suspect, that for those who know nothing of either cultures and don’t care about how they are written, this could be an enjoyable read.

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The Pirate (Ladies and Legends, #1)

The Pirate by Jayne Ann Krentz
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Short, simple, predictable, cheesy—what you would expect from a romance about a romance writer written by a romance writer in 1990.
Which I had to remind myself of every time I wanted to scowl at the prose and cheesy/poor word choices.
The story reads like it’s full of holes, as in most of events are skipped over and it’s difficult to keep track of time because everything is on fast-forward.
Expetably, also features a slightly idiotic and largely annoying heroine. She gets worse and worse towards the end of the book, and her arguments and ‘you must tell me all I want to know because I’m entitled to it’ and ‘I’m going to be stupid and unreasonable and nag over and over, but I will also call it ‘reasonable conversation’ and you must pay attention to me’ attitudes literally made my teeth hurt.
Not a fan of the ‘alpha male who all strive to please’ character presentation either.
Mleh on all accounts at best.

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undefined Friend-Zoned by Belle Aurora

My rating: 1 of 5 stars


Usually I’m a believer that as long as a book is not malicious, there is a time and place for it.
Apparently, the place for this book is when you wake up before 2am and can’t go back to sleep feeling like shit so you read something silly and fluffy and that doesn’t make you think much.

Unfortunately, you need to be really wobbly in the head and sleep deprived to continue reading through things like an adult woman who had given birth crying because she thinks the man’s dong won’t fit (let me also mention that the whole episode wasn’t even followed through), adult men behaving like 12yo girls, romanticising of night clubs, gangs and russian mafia, infantile language, a neighbour who discovered a murdered pet not calling it in (no police, no filing charges, no filing for a restraining order, even though everyone knows who did it), and the main character who acts, talks, and cries stupid.

I kept trying to figure out the mental age of this book over and over again, and couldn’t, because it feel’s like even kinds might have a bit more sense these days.
That said, it’s not like I completely don’t understand where the author was coming from.
At times, it might have even looked like something I could have written when I was 11-13, and only because I’m on the spectrum and liked to make up stories with characters who hardly ever resemble realistic humans in any way (and then would’ve had a panic attack from embarrassment and mortification a few years later).


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Breathe (Colorado Mountain, #4)

Breathe by Kristen Ashley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This book was not what I expected. Especially the beginning. The way it begun you would’ve thought it was some kind of modern thriller or heavy-crime-shit drama, instead of a romance.
There’s a lot of heavy and nasty themes here, and if people pick it up thinking they’re getting some light time with a contemporary romance they might be disappointed.

I didn’t like everything about it.
The writing is a bit too heavy on reflection and looong paragraphs of over-explaining and thinking back on things that already happened. Also, weird time skips, just to spend half of the chapter to recount what happened during the time that was skipped (two-steps-forward-one-step-back style). It also is very heavy on bad language and swearing.
I personally never been anywhere even close (as in on the same continent) as Colorado Mountains, so I don’t know how natural the speech in this book is, but it bothered from time to time. As in Chase’s manner of speaking did tend to get annoying. I couldn’t tell how much of it seemed too condescending because he was too condescending, and how much of it was just his speech manner.

Even with the points above and some other issues, I’m still going to give this book 5 stars, because it has some very good things going for it. The main relationship is about things that are very right. There are a lot of right things said, and the characters are written very well. You don’t need to like a character to know that they are written thoroughly and consistently.
This book also got better and better towards the end.
Since this is a romance, the beginning actually of the book makes you expect more of the ‘gory real-world-crime-shit’ that there actually is. Not to say that there still isn’t enough of it, some of it quite dark and gory. There isn’t too much, and it does take a background role. I also probably have a talent to imagining worse developments.
What I really appreciated about this book is how multiple characters got to ‘set the record straight’ by explaining to other people how things should be and what is right, and it actually got through. It’s not often that I find a book where I can not only breathe happily when people make logical arguments at length, but also don’t have to get all annoyed because no one listens to them anyway.
Also, humour. And geek humour, none the less.

Not what I expected from this book when I got it, but a good lengthy read that will go on my ‘favourites’ shelf.



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Archangel's Consort (Guild Hunter, #3)

Archangel’s Consort by Nalini Singh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This series maintains its high level and doesn’t disappoint.
I do have one complaint, however, and that it that sometimes it does feel a bit ‘too much’.
…But it is possible that I feel so because I read to fast, and when you read this book within 2 days (while doing full-time work in between) all the angst, gore, sex, and the emotions that do run thick in these books come in a doze that is too concentrated to feel good. (It affected my sleep, and I didn’t enjoy that>.)
But otherwise, this is a great, very well written and unique series.




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Rusty Nailed (Cocktail, #2)

Rusty Nailed by Alice Clayton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A very slice-of-life kind of book.
So few authors actually bother to continue the story of a pair after the initial ‘get together’ book, that this already deserves kudos based only on this point.
Though, to be honest, I didn’t think I would be able to give this book more than 3 stars for the 99.5% of it.
There is a couple of points.
1) Reading books where female characters are portrayed as hysteric idiots, and make you wish you were unrelated to the gender, is getting a little tiring (that’s polite speak for ‘effing annoying).
Mimi is difficult to stomach, but at least there was very little of her.
But the whole Sophia/Nill episode? Was there really a need for women to act so idiotic?
It’s not even a problem of if cheating occurred or not. It’s a problem of the necessity of all the hysterics, theatrics, property damage (car-keys-in-toilet-flushing), and inability to communicate like human being with a person you were supposed to be in a committed relationship with.
Dislike.
2) Main character’s thought processes were repetitive and loopy. She went on and on about the same things. Then the whole drama of her telling herself how she should be feeling about things instead of actually thinking about things. It was boring and annoying at the same time.
It was the fact that the resolution finally involved sitting down and actually talking to each other calmly and honestly, even though it came at the last possible moment, that I was able to add the 4th star to my review.
3) Speaking of boring and annoying, personally, the balance of things on which attention was spent in this book didn’t really agree with me. It was very disappointing to see the holidays get ‘brief digest’ treatment. I would prefer to actually read about holidays and meeting parents, instead of reading same things about work and sex over and over again.

Good things about this book include fun prose and light, easy to sink into, atmosphere and setting.
It will probably make a lot of people envious. With regards to both the partner and the house.
If not for the annoying female shenanigans, would be a great comfort book.



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