Review: The Arabian Mistress

The Arabian Mistress
The Arabian Mistress by Lynne Graham
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I think this book would have been a very good case study for “misinformation”. Yes, you heard me. Misinformation, not misunderstanding. The whole book is filled with “oh I thought you were implying thia instead of that” from BOTH main characters. While reading, I was really tempted to do a short presentation on this book that concludew with this: “so now we know how important it is to learn foreign language, especially the one your lover speaks.”

So, both characters were at fault, but somehow I dislike the heroine more. I mean, the hero might be a jerk at the beginning of the story, plus with him hiding the fact that they were still married for half the book (although I could smell it from miles ahead), but at least he tried to save their marriage. He was a stubborn and proud man, but I can accept that from his character. On the other hand, the heroine kept jumping into conclusion. Also, after two weeks together, did it ever dawn on her that she MIGHT be still married to Taariq, what with all those attitudes from the servants? Worse, she tried to act brave/independent, but failed. Big time. At some point I even symphatized with the hero for having to fave the heroine.

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Review: The Hating Game

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The Hating Game
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 star. I’m torn.

3.5 star. I’m torn.

Reasons for 4 star:
– It’s funny. Despite the fact that 1st person POV is not my favorite POV, this book cracked me up at many points. I really enjoyed reading it
– The rivalry between Lucy and Josh is funny, if not immature. But I like it. Love-hate relationship is my thing, and this book lives up to my expectation in that aspect
– They are both equally crazy, as a couple. But maybe a bit too crazy

Reasons for 3 star:
– Halfway down the book, i realized something: the main protagonists were screwed-up in the head. Each one was so fricking OBSESSED with the other it was really fortunate that the other was equally obsessed as well. I realize, though, that anyone could be obsessive when it comes to 1-2 things in their life but reading this in a book…enjoyable, yes, but clearly not a relationship goal. On the other hand, this is what makes me read the book all the way through the end. Lucy and Joshua were clearly made for each other!
– At some point, I think the plot was just…circling? Look, I know Lucy was confused of her feeling toward Josh and the “new game”, but what she did was just..I don’t know, circling in the same place? It got me bored and i had to force myself to finish it, but once they (or Lucy) took initiative, it sailed quite smoothly. However, I can’t help but think that this book could be ended in 250-300 pages instead of 384 pages

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Review: The Summer Palace

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The Summer Palace
The Summer Palace by C.S. Pacat

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU C. S. Pacat for writing this epilogue of Captive Prince series! This (short story) book also happens to be my first book in 2017. I swear I didn’t plan it.

As much as I like Kings Rising, I do feel like there should be more to the ending. Of course, after all what they’ve been through, I’d love to see how they settle into their new roles as kings ruling side-by-side. While this short story doesn’t cover that, at least readers get to see how they mended their relationship. Like it or not, their relationship had a rocky start and they did have some things that are off-limits to talk about (i.e. Auguste, the lashing). At least in this story they start to get more open with each other about those sensitive issues.

The writing is as expected from C.S. Pacat, but with less politics and more sweetness. As much as I had prepared myself that The Summer Palace would be “so sweet it might be diabetic”, I have to admit that I almost CRIED when Laurent bowed in front of Damen’s mother’s statue, asking for permission to court him. To me, that’s one powerful scene in this book, showing how much Laurent loved, cared, and respected Damen.

All in all, a fitting epilogue for Captive Prince. Can’t wait for the next two short stories!
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Review: Green but for a Season

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Green but for a Season
Green but for a Season by C.S. Pacat

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So, how do I say this…

The plus points in this short story is that I came to like Jord even more. During and after Prince’s Gambit, I get to see Jord’s character for more than who I thought he was. I get to see how much he cared about his Prince. This short story only affirms it. I LOVE reading the part where he was reminiscing past events with Laurent, how he came to work under Laurent, and some glimpses of how Laurent’s cared about his subordinates.

However, in regards of Jord’s relationship with Aimeric, I feel that this short story is just retelling the same thing as in the book. I mean, after everything that happened with Aimeric, I would LOVE to see his point of view on all this political matters/intrigues. Instead, I get so little of that.

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Review: The Greek Tycoon’s Blackmailed Mistress

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The Greek Tycoon's Blackmailed Mistress
The Greek Tycoon’s Blackmailed Mistress by Lynne Graham

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is one of the few Lynne Graham books that I managed to finish. In short, I like the writings – good amount of tensionsband UST and misubderstanding – but I have problems with the characters, especially the hero.

Throughout the whole book, the hero comes off as obsessive control freak. What’s with the agreement and everything? He evem told her how to dress. And in the last bit of the story, ugh! If he didn’t do that for security reasons, I would very much question the why the heroine even loves him. What makes it worse is that, as a reader, I didn’t see him changed his character or at least developed some sense. Sure, at the end he “compromised”, but it’s explained only through several paragraphs.

As for the heroine, I actually kind of like her, except for the fact that she gave up her profession, signed that fricking agreement, and basically only had her prejudice left – of which the hero didn’t seem to want to correct her assumptions. But anyway, I still like the heroine better than the heroine in Bond of Hatred. While I quite enjoy their bickering, I often wonder how long would their relationship survives when both parties have explosive traits like that.

All in all, a decent (harlequin) read.

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Review: The Innocent’s Surrender

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The Innocent's Surrender
The Innocent’s Surrender by Sara Craven

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

For a Harlequin book, the writing is actually okay. I can feel the emotion from both the hero and heroine, although it is told mainly from heroine’s (3rd) POV. However, I do admit that sometimes it dwells too long on the heroine’s inner monologue.

Concerning the character, as the story progressed I found that I was liking the hero more but liking the heroine less. Even with that unpleasant “first encounter” at the beginning of the story, there are times when I actually felt pity for the hero. On the contrary, there are times when I wish the heroine would pay more attention to her surrounding (the way the hero talks, etc). I mean, although the misunderstanding would still be inevitable, at least it wouldn’t be that big.

Nevertheless, I do enjoy the writing.

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Review: Shocking Pink Sky Vol. 9

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Shocking Pink Sky Vol. 9
Shocking Pink Sky Vol. 9 by Akisato Wakuni

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve just finished re-reading this series and am still amazed how it still manages to make me laugh and excited. Ever since I read Bumi Masih Berputar, I somehow put my trust in sensei to write stories with unique premises. Well, I was disappointed with Geisha Vol. 1, but Shocking Pink Sky does it very well!

The basic premise alone is not something unusual in manga world: reversed harem. You can change the setting, but it’s basically one woman surrounded by a dozen men. In this case, sensei uses the premise of “host club in the air”, which is quite unique. Their characters are also unique and feels 3-dimensional for me (I mean, 3-dimensional as it can be in the Akisato Wakuni’s crazy universe). I really like Menou and James, both by themselves and as a couple. Their romance progresses slowly, but quite naturally in a day-to-day workplace setting. In the meanwhile, we are presented with the silliness and quirky stuff done and experienced by their co-workers and/or the passengers. I like that most of the side characters here have their own quirks (I even came to like Capt. Houston because of his antics!).

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Review: 半路擒君 [Bàn Lù Qín Jūn]

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半路擒君 [Bàn Lù Qín Jūn]
半路擒君 [Bàn Lù Qín Jūn] by Ling Bao Zi

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ever since the first chapter, this novel screamed “Angst!” to me. I’ve been in the mood for angsty romance lately, so it was fine. This is my second (translated) Chinese novel. I don’t know if it’s due to the translation or not, but the story and the characters make more sense than the last one that I read. This novel is a short and predictable, and actually quite well-written (I think). I’ve anticipated this to be a light read, but what I didn’t expect is to found so many tropes that are typical in many, many Chinese angsty (historical) drama series that I watched during my childhood.

Yes, I’m going to rant about those tropes now. Major spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned.

Trope #1: One of them gets poisoned and it can be cured/transferred through sexual intercourse
Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve only read 2 Chinese novels (in historical setting) and both books have this trope going. In this novel, Yun Zhai was poisoned and Lan Xun/Zhen Yu offered to “do it” with him to transfer the poison. Of course, Lan Xun/Zhen Yu had to suffer the consequences of having disfigured face and failing health. (And of course, Zhen Yu left Yun Zhai, thus begin Yun Zhai’s quest for his long-lost love.)

Trope #2: But of course, the poison can be cured
How do you think they get their happy ending?

Trope #3: Angst! Angst everywhere!
I admit that I enjoy the “misunderstanding/miscommunication” trope, which usually leads to angst. In this novel, every chapter IS angst, especially when it comes to Lan Xun/Zhen Yu’s character. I don’t think there’s a single chapter where Zhen Yu doesn’t cry. With all the melancholy, Zhen Yu could pass up as “damsel in distress”. Considering the tone of the novel, most of the time I was okay with this. But there are times when I just wanted to tell Zhen Yu to “man up!”.

Trope #4: The b*thcy love rival
This one is not exclusive to chinese drama, though. Here, we have Xiao Hong a.k.a. the fake Xiao Lan Xun.

Trope #5: Everyone except the love interest is mean to the main character
Which is perfomed pretty well by the Xiao family (and to my dismay, Xi Ning, for 2/3 of the book).

Trope #6: Confused? Frustrated? Alcohol is the solution
Yun Zhai in denial is not a pretty sight, which leads to…

Trope #7: Drunk sex!
So, okay, their first time (at the beginning of the novel) is done due to Yun Zhai being poisoned. But their second time is obviously drunk sex. When reading this, I wanted to scream “YOU DID WHAT????” to Yun Zhai because he was rough. No weird or nasty play, but it was just…ugh.

Trope #8: Denial, denial, denial
I hate to say this, but I think the way it depicts Yun Zhai in denial after the second time is quite realistic. I’ve read comments where they don’t like the fact that Yun Zhai “cheated” with random women in red light district when trying to distract himself from thinking of Zhen Yu. To me, I think his reaction is natural.

Trope #9: Suicide attempt by banging your head to the nearest pillar/wall
Ooooh, this one is my favorite! Nearing the end, where things unravel and the tension between Yun Zhai and Zhen Yu is at its peak (with Yun Zhai carousing and womanizing IN FRONT of Zhen Yu’s eyes and Zhen Yu was cured but feeling guilty as hell), Zhen Yu did attempt suicide by banging his head to the pillar. At that time, I was like “Awww, maaaaan~! Seriously?” This is so Chinese drama!

To be honest, while reading this book, I was caught between wanting to roll my eyes, wanting to laugh, and feeling nostalgic at the same time. Despite everything I said, I do enjoy reading this book (ooh, the angst from the misunderstanding is nicely done!). Well, at least I’m amused. Three stars.

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Review: 将军抱抱要睡觉

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将军抱抱要睡觉
将军抱抱要睡觉 by 千草

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ok, so this is the first time I’ve ever read C-Novel. I grew up watching wuxia series and Chinese drama series, so to actually read a light romance novel in a semi-wuxia setting is a new experience for me. But seriously, it reminds me of those harlequin series, but with different touch.

As for this novel, the early chapters sure shows some potentials. Well, the plot is kind of predictable, but it’s funny, with witty heroine and awkward-but-gentlemanly hero. I like reading the interaction between the two. However, at some point, I feel like the plot gets a bit weird with all the politics/war thrown in, plus some intrigues from a jealous love rival. It also doesn’t help that, nearing the end, the hero becomes more and more possessive and oh-so-alpha without a strong basis in the character.

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Review: Forget Me Not

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Forget Me Not
Forget Me Not by Cherry Zhang

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Meski buku ini adalah prequel dari An Offer of Marriage saya membacanya belakangan. Untuk ukuran sebuah cerita ala “harlequin”, 300+ halaman buat saya cukup “wow”. Dan ternyata memang ada plus-minusnya juga sih.

Yang saya suka dari buku ini masih sama dengan yang saya suka di An Offer of Marriage. Gaya tulisnya yang mengalir dan enak dibaca, plotnya yang jelas mau ke mana, dan dialog-dialognya yang EYD bingits. *saya antara suka dan gemes sih, dan kadang bertanya-tanya “who speaks like this in Indonesia?” yah tapi mungkin ada aja sih* Selain itu, tebalnya buku ini juga cukup dimanfaatkan untuk menceritakan latar belakang hubungan antara Amelia dan Daniel (kalau soal love at first sight ya udah lah ya terima aja namanya juga novel romance). Meski saya kerap merasa sebal atas keputusan dan tindakan Amelia, namun karakter Amelia sangat masuk akal dan manusiawi. Pekerjaan dan passion kedua tokoh utama atas profesi mereka masing-masing juga tergambar dengan baik, meski singkat.

Sayangnya, ada beberapa hal juga yang membuat saya gregetan sama buku ini. Pertama, dan yang paling utama, adalah Daniel. Gimana ya, cheating di dalam novel romance itu benar-benar topik yang harus dituliskan dengan hati-hati. Meskipun dalam kasus Daniel itu untuk menunjukkan begitu kuatnya perasaan Daniel pada Amelia, but it’s still cheating. Tambah lagi, karakter Clara, tunangan Daniel, digambarkan sebagai wanita baik, sukses, mandiri, dan – yang paling penting – mencintai Daniel. Okelah, saya masih bisa menerima kalau setelah Daniel “malam pertama” dengan Amelia, Daniel setidaknya tidak melanjutkan rencana pernikahan dengan Clara. Tapi ini nggak. Daniel baru berubah pikiran setelah tahu semua itu tipu muslihat orang tuanya. Lagipula, dalam kasus Daniel, saya tidak bisa melihat kenapa dia bisa terus mencintai Amelia, selain atas alasan obsesi.

Kedua, meski saya suka bahwa ada cerita latar belakang, namun buat saya bagian awal kisah kasih Daniel dan Amelia terlalu memakan waktu, apalagi itu diceritakan secara kronologis. It’s too sweet it’s diabetic. Belum lagi hubungan mereka yang serba kilat itu masih cukup rapuh. Masalahnya, saya tidak melihat usaha penulis untuk menggambarkan bagaimana pasangan ini memperbaiki pondasi hubungan mereka menjadi lebih solid. Yang saya tangkap cuma obsesi Daniel dan keminderan Amelia. Apa yang akhirnya membuat Amelia sadar bahwa she deserves to be loved by Daniel? Apa yang membuat Daniel segitu cinta pada Amelia?

Ketiga, soal Jared, adik Amelia, juga tidak dijelaskan dengan detil. Berbeda dengan ayah Amelia yang jelas ujung-pangkalnya, nama Jared hanya disebut sambil lalu, tapi tiba-tiba di paruh kedua sempat disebut bahwa Amelia membiayai Jared. Kapan ketemunya? (ya memang dijelaskan di buku kedua sih, tapi itu pun gak cukup).

Keempat – dan yang ini personal sih – teaser-nya Nayla dan Matt di bagian akhir itu agak menganggu sih. Saya tahu beberapa novel romance suka menyelipkan teaser di epilog, tapi ya gak sampai makan porsi ngalah-ngalahin tokoh utama gitu. Yang lebih nyebelin, saya kemakan teaser-nya dong! Jadinya kan penasaran dong! Tapi kenapa buku kedua justru tentang Jared???? (buat mbak penulis, saya tunggu buku tentang Nayla dan Matt, kalau ada. Hihihi)

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