Claustrophobic

Claustrophobic by Bernadette Franklin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


You know those days when you just need something fun, fluffy, ridiculous, and with a bonus sprinkle of justice?
This is a perfect book for one of those days.
This is not an explicit romance. The romance is the driving force veiled with humour.
There are games, designer clothes, Christmas presents, and some very bad people getting what they deserve.



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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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Perfection (Neighbor from Hell, #2)

Perfection by R.L. Mathewson

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


What I really don’t understand is why this series is called ‘Neighbour form Hell’, when clearly ‘Dudes with Inhuman Food Obsession’ (eating disorder, bottomless stomachs, etc) would be a much more appropriate title..

If the first book at least had a “fun fluff” section in the middle of its “ridiculous hang-ups” parts, this one is all only about the ridiculous hang-ups.
Also much more numerous boring monotonous reflection parts and abrupt time lapses.
Where the fist book was more about weirdness for comedy, here it feels more like an actual mental instability weirdness.
Overall, while the quality of the first book was nowhere near perfect, it actually went down a few levels in this one.

He: Self-centred, hardly ever governed by conscience, wants to marry a ‘perfect on paper’ woman, once he finds one to fit his criteria, believes himself above being attracted to women who don’t fit into that criteria, judgemental, forceful, unhealthily obsessed with food… Generally, an unapologetic asshole from all sides.

She: No self-esteem, eating disorder and body image issues that make her starve herself, unhealthy obsession with ‘cute’ things, tendency to be both blind and deaf to people around her.

Both have three wagons of relationship and sefl-image issues, and are permanent residents of the land of DeNial. They don’t know what they want and feel like ridiculous, pretty, empty-headed characters. As in, no evidence of using brain mass to think can be found.
And the more you think about actual content of this book the weirder it seems.
These characters don’t really read as actual human beings…

Honestly, I only finished this book because I was in this weird mood and wanted to reach a happy ending.



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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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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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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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A Week to Be Wicked (Spindle Cove, #2)

A Week to Be Wicked by Tessa Dare

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The good: the ridiculous humor, the tone, the dialogues, the adventure, and the characters (Colin with his impostor syndrome, tendency to punish himself, and love to spin fantastic tales; Min with her determination, attentiveness to weirdest things, and freedom) .
The bad: the cover (oh, Avon, please do stop spoiling your books with tasteless covers), the slight overload of the ‘head in the sand’ behavior, where people keep doing things without letting themselves acknowledge what are they doing and why.
This book might also take a ‘lighter’ approach to its setting then some others, but I wouldn’t say that it suffers for it, only perhaps requires a less pedantic mind to really enjoy.



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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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Neanderthal Seeks Human (Knitting in the City, #1)

Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This book wasn’t really what I expected it to be. The cover-description combination made me imagine something lighter/sillier, somewhere closer to a young adult/new adult comedy with some romance sprinkles. In fact it’s a bit more serious than that, deals with adult enough lives and concepts, though it still is neither heavy not explicit in any way.
The weakness of this book lies in the fact that it seems to crumble some of its plot details a bit too much, instead of resolving them. You discover some piece of information that should have seemed important and represented some twist in the plot, but instead it brings a ‘uh, so/and?’ feeling, because it gets mentioned but not worked out. Sometimes this is explained by the fact that the reader stays with the MC perspective, and when she gets told ‘it’s been taken care of’ and doesn’t ask for more, readers don’t get any explanations either. It felt like there were a lot of small loose plot ends left hanging everywhere.
For me personally, it also walks on that edge of being just a bit too close, because of some shared issues, when, on one hand, some matters are very easy to identify with, while on the other hand the differences stand out too much because it feels like they shouldn’t be there…
Also, the writing is pretty good, and I’ve actually had to save a few quotes that really spoke to me:

‘I, on the other hand, always hovered in the space between self-consciousness and sterile detachment; my gracefulness was akin to that of an ostrich. When my head wasn’t in the sand, people were looking at me and probably thinking what a strange bird!

my therapist called me it an already natural propensity to observe life rather than live it.

Since I spent much of my childhood being left behind and ignored, one might think that, as an adult, moments of perceived abandonment would feel old hat. The truth is, as an adult, I’m always waiting to be left behind. I’m always ready to be discarded and, therefore, I spend significant amount of time preparing for this eventuality.

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Viking in Love (Viking I, #8)

Viking in Love by Sandra Hill

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A light and fun read, for those who don’t mind a cruder side of humor.
You look at this title and this cover and think this will be one of those porny cheesy romances with not much substance or credibility. I would never have bought this if I didn’t actually accidentally read an excerpt in the back of another book a while ago.
While it is still a romance, you can’t escape from that, this book is built on utterly ridiculous, sometimes entirely idiotic, humor, and this humor, even when it turns crude and sexual, is the best thing about it.
It a very well-constructed story for what it is. It is full of small ridiculous details and even brief side characters have vivid memorable personalities. The hero of this book is neither the ‘viking’ from the title, as many might have thought, nor is he a very typical romance hero, which is only a plus. He has a likable personality of someone who is very tired of other people’s shit (because it tends to fall on his shoulders), but still tries to do the right thing, if not entirely successfully. The heroine is not as unusual of a character, but still isn’t dull, boring, or annoying. Their friends and family (including the children) are precious. I do feel like I enjoyed reading this.

One thing I didn’t get about the writing were the cursive opening lines for most chapters…I’m not sure what purpose they served and have a feeling the text would be better without them—less interruption of the immersion, some of the remarks felt too modern to fit in. In fact, there were times where the text seem to lose its flavor and turn too modern from time to time in other places as well, but not enough to really bother, I think.


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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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