Saturday, October 06, 2018

Someone Else’s Fairytale (Someone Else’s Fairytale #1) by E. M. Tippetts

The concept of Someone Else’s Fairytale – a movie star falling for the one girl whose dream isn’t a hot movie star falling for her – was intriguing, but that was also all.

However, it kept me reading through to the end, which earns it half a star more than it would have for the plot and the characters. Because this was one of the dumbest stories I have ever read. And there were so many annoying things.

Of course the male BFF is actually pining for the main character in a romantic way. Or is she pining for him? I don’t know. Because clearly men and women can’t be ‘just’ friends. Right.

The said BFF also presumes to tell the protagonist who she shouldn’t be friends with and how often she should talk to them. Red flags rising my hackles all around.

Then, Chloe, from whose POV the story is written, sounds awfully immature, despite being through quite an ordeal in childhood and apparently having to take care of herself. She is 21, but her actions and even more her reasoning are those of a 15-year-old. As someone who basically had to grow up at 14, I couldn’t at all relate to her childishness – and it shows the author clearly wrote neither from experience nor from sufficient research.

But most of all, the story is just bland, as in, there isn’t any story – only enumeration of this and that which happens, and the reader knows the main characters will get a HEA anyway. There is some drama due to Chloe’s past, but it doesn’t really serve the story, although it is rather interesting on its own, and I think the author would have had more success with it if she had written a YA thriller about that ordeal instead of this ‘romance’.

The characters are equally bland. There are hardly any descriptions (and I don’t mean hair/eye colour, height and whatnot; there aren’t even any mannerisms and such that make up a person(ality)), unless you count  unfavourable ones of the supposedly hot movie star. And while leaving physical appearances up to the reader’s imagination can work out marvellously, this isn’t the case in Someone Else’s Fairytale. Hence, everyone seemed just words on paper, dead, and I felt no connection to any of them.

Which brings me to the last and worst: the story was feeling-less. It is supposed to be a romance, but I couldn’t feel a thing reading it. Angst? Love? (Who am I kidding?) Tension? Happiness? Sadness? Anything? Nope, nothing. A phone book makes me feel more.

At least it was free on Kindle.

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Siberia (2018)

DIRECTOR: Mathew Ross; CAST: Keanu Reeves, Boris Gulyarin, Ana Ularu…

SUMMARY (from IMDB)When an American diamond trader's Russian partner goes missing, he journeys to Siberia in search of him, but instead begins a love affair.


I watched this film the other day due to coming across some salacious gifs on Tumblr and I had some time to kill and wasn’t in the mood for anything from my lengthy back log of thought-provoking films I need to catch up with.

Though-provoking much, however, Siberia isn’t, since it follows a predictable template of an-American-vs.-Russian-mob thrillers, except perhaps in deciding for the less Hollywood-like ending of the two possible options in that sort of movies.

Keanu Reeves is a good actor, but he doesn’t do a particularly outstanding job in Siberia, perhaps due to the character he plays, who felt rather bland to me.

The one thing that does stand out once for a change in a Hollywood production is the casting of Russian and other actors with a great grasp on the language for the majority of Russian characters as well as using Russian for more than just a few standard catch phrases, all of which I highly appreciated.

RECOMMENDATION: Overall, Siberia is a rather mediocre film, employing all the typical (and overdone) tropes of the genre. It includes cheating and forced consent (the latter not between the main characters, fortunately), so beware. Reeves’s “stellar” performance in certain E-rated scenes and the very mediocrity, however, make it a good movie to kill some time and/or unwind with. 

Friday, September 21, 2018

The Hunger by Alma Katsu

NOTE: The book reviewed contains themes only appropriate for those above the age of majority.

Based on true events – which I didn’t know – The Hunger is a fictionalised story of a group of pioneers, known as the Donner party, travelling westward, with an added supernatural element.

The journey through a harsh terrain and in inclement weather conditions is full of hardships, exacerbated by bad choices made out of ignorance – sometimes wilful – and stubbornness of incompetent leadership.

The people at first appear to be mostly strangers, but the connections, past and present, between them slowly unravel over the course of the story, unveiling their diverse backgrounds, views, ambitions, and experience. With superstition and distrust abound, it doesn’t take long for the tensions to arise between such a collection of people and in-fighting to begin, culminating in fear that overrides reason and leads to the group’s ultimate demise.

For there is something else trailing the party. Hunger. And not just the one caused by the dwindling supplies.

There is something evil watching, lying in wait, splitting the group into smaller parts to make them an easier prey. Something with teeth and claws. A pack of wild wolves, some say. Monsters from natives’ myths. Or perhaps the monsters are just men. Might be neither. Might be all of the above.

The answers, all through to the final one, are never quite what you would expect, as nothing is ever black and white. And in that lies the true horror of The Hunger.

Masterfully told, The Hunger is eerie and gory (I wouldn’t recommend reading either on an empty or a full stomach; pick some healthy middle), but also wondrously poignant, showing the best and the worst of people when faced with evil, without and within.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Buy Me, Sir by Jade West

NOTE: The book reviewed contains themes only appropriate for those above the age of majority.

Buy Me, Sir takes obsession and deception on a whole new level with the amount of creepy stalking Lissa employs in order to get Alexander in her panties. It is downright scary, but also astounding and kind of awe-inspiring, especially with the sort of devotion she takes what she gets.

Lissa's mindset, combined with Alexander's dark sexual preferences and personal and domestic issues and a couple of despicable antagonists, provide for a highly intense, suspenseful story – so much so I needed to take a good three-weeks-long break right in the middle before continuing reading.

Thus, and with the help of a handful of other colourful characters, Jade West spins a multi-layered, well-rounded plot that digs into the depths of both main protagonists and draws a painful, but incredibly beautiful story that has you rooting for the couple 100%.

And to make it all better it delivers the kind of ending they deserve and that makes all the pain they - and the reader – go through worth it.

Count on Jade West for a well-written and well-developed dark romance.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Hostage (Criminals & Captives #2) by Annika Martin & Skye Warren

NOTE: The book reviewed contains themes only appropriate for those above the age of majority.

Cover of Hostage
Hostage was so good that I took a break for a week at about three quarters in so it would last longer, because I didn’t want it to end too soon.

Although we knew about Stone’s history from Prisoner, getting his point of view was equally if not still more devastating as we saw how he, being the eldest, took upon himself the responsibility of taking take care of the others, both in the past and in the present, and doing the dirty work himself so others wouldn’t have to.

And then there is Brooke, seemingly a spoilt rich girl who has everything, but who lets us see behind that façade from the get-go and gives a reader a lot of food for thought regarding how much of the ‘happiness’ and ‘wealth’ some people have could be just putting up appearances and following the invisible rules of the elite .

Brooke, somewhat naïve and innocent to an extent, with her highly-regulated life, and the hardened, disillusioned Stone, stripped of any notions of ‘propriety’ couldn’t be more different. And yet, they complement each other and fit together perfectly.

As Brooke puts it herself, she is a good influence on him and he is a bad (but in a good way) influence on her – while she shows him he doesn’t have to be a monster and can still have a life beyond vengeance, he teaches her how to stand up for herself and be her own person, and they both help each other see a way to live a life not predetermined by their past or other people and stay true to themselves even as they change each other.

Hostage takes place over several years, encompassing the time before and after Prisoner and brings the story to a wrap. Hence, although I would love to see other guys’ stories, I would also be fine with the series ending here, as the ending is very satisfactory and actually even more so than I had expected going in.  

Other qualities I praised in Prisoner – great writing, vivid side characters, real stakes, truly dark elements, and organic development of the romance among others – are also present in Hostage.

All in all, Hostage was what very few sequels are – even better than the first book, and I cannot recommend this duet enough to the lovers of dark romance.