David Ebershoff – The Danish Girl

danishgirlI keep picking up these fairly popular books on transgender people, and I keep getting disappointed. It seems all of the trans people are disappointed in life, depressed, schizophrenic, had a very clear choice, and/or has atrophied bits or other gender reproductive system organs in them, that simply needed to be found during the surgery. Convenient. Wow. So I grabbed David Ebershoff book “The Danish Girl” (ISBN 9781474601573; 336p.; Goodreads), with hopes that maybe, maybe this will be better. But once again I got disappointed. So if you don’t feel like reading my rants, know that the movie was pretty okay, even good, but this book is just not worth the trouble, and time.

Einar is a painter, married to a painter. He paints, well, mainly the bog he grew up by, landscapes. She paints portraits, unsuccessfully. The best sold portraits she ever made were of Lilly. Or rather, of her husband dressed as a woman. And while this continues, Einar is sinking deeper, and deeper into some kind of mental illness, split personality disorder. And I mean it. He pulls up the pants, and forgets how he got here, who Lilly spoke to. There’s two completely separate people in his body.

 

Through the book we’re seeing this disorder intensifying. He even gets monthly nose bleeds, which leaves me wondering whether it’s his mind fighting through somehow, or did he have a tumor that split his persona, or otherwise affected him. Mind you, I am not claiming Lilly wasn’t a real woman, or that Einar wasn’t transgender. No, I am sure that was the case. But I am also sure that she was mentally ill too first and foremost, and that they should’ve helped her untangle everything before pushing her to choose: another brain doctor that’ll make your mind masculine again (yes, this is NOT a choice, but the book gave it as one), or a sex change. Oh, and surprise surprise, they open her up, and find some remnants of atrophied female reproductive system bits.

I hated the suggestions in this book: trans people have split personalities; trans people are most likely physically secretly the gender they feel like, you just have to dig deep during surgery; trans people are nuts. They aren’t. Or if they are, it’s not a trans trait, it’s simply a human trait. I await the day where the trans character I’ll read will be happy, living their life, having adventures. This book gets 2 out of 5 for trying.

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Patrick Sheane Duncan – Dracula Vs. Hitler

draculavshitleOh happy day for me! I’m a fan of Dracula stories, always in want of new, good ones. It was impossible to not notice “Dracula vs. Hitler” by Patrick Sheane Duncan (ISBN 1942645082; 441p.; Goodreads), so I saw it, I took it, and I’ve read it. And I loved it. I believe anyone who loves action-packed movies with Dracula, Van Helsing movie, or Hellsing in any form, will also appreciate it.

Monsters in human form roam the earth, Nazis. Bit by bit they’re occupying Europe, same tactics, same alternative facts on importance of “racial purity” bullshit. Their brutality is unmatched. And as Van Helsing watches guerrilla not only fail, but get slaughtered, as he watches his daughter Lucile, named after a tragic heroine, risk her all for it, he has to make a decision: could a monster vs monster work?

Some years ago he, and a few brave men, captured Dracula, overpowered, and imprisoned him. Not many know he is not really dead thou. And while Van Helsing often thought of coming back to the sarcophagus with the immortal creature within, he always thought it’d be for science sake, for experiments, research. By far he did not expect himself to stand over the prince’s body, prepared to wake him from the possibly eternal slumber, in hopes that Vlad the Impaler will be willing to defend his homeland once again, against a new enemy.

It’s a very amusing, action filled, and fast paced book. Dracula is well written, and I love that once again he is portrayed as a relentless reader. He muses about new creations humans have made, and doesn’t smell of rot. But then he kills like a walking fortress. I can give it full 5 out of 5, and hope to someday add a physical copy to my collection, for this is a worthy piece to my shelves.

Categories: 5-5, Books, Books of Dracula, Books of Occult, Books of Supernaturals, Gothic Books, Vampires, Vlad Dracula III | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Iorveth

Iorveth_resize

[Iorveth]

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Kristin Cashore – Bitterblue [3]

bitterblueFinally, with “Bitterblue” by Kristin Cashore (Graceling Realm 3; ISBN 0803734735; 576p.; Goodreads) I have finished the Graceling Realm trilogy. After all three of them, I can say that they are indeed simple enough to be liked, and this third one was pretty good, in compare to the other two. Still, this was very much not my cup of tea. While I love the worlds that aren’t yet fully explored, I dearly dislike having all the action happen elsewhere, and return in form of a story only, and not even something we can witness first-hand via someone else eyes.

Bitterblue became the queen of Monsea, after her cruel, mind-control graced father, has finally been killed. Yet even after his death her kingdom is filled with fog. People don’t know what’s real, and what’s only lies told by Leck. Bitterblue is determined to find a way to make this fog lift once and for all. She wants the truth. But here’s the thing with the truth: while some things people were made believe by king Leck could still be fixed, say, like the funeral traditions in Monsea. Others weight so heavy that people get killed for them. Or choose death themselves. What could Leck have made them do, or see, for her own trustworthy, good soldiers, to kill innocent people, and commit suicides? Can a truth be that bad?

In the meantime, Po gets sick with fever, and his grace becomes erratic for the time being. During one of such delirious moments he speaks of path through the mountains opening up, and Katsa jumps to investigate. Because if anything did open, and they can get through, then, truly, someone might just be able to get in also. And when she returns, Bitterblue’s world shifts again. For in Katsa’s hands there’s a pelt of a rat, so vivid and gorgeous in colors, that it can be nothing else but a Monster from the stories her father used to write. Could it be that out there, behind the mountains, there’s another world, another kingdom?

Well this was an odd review. So many questions I gave you, like I’m trying to sell it. In truth, I can’t really recommend these books, since while they’re pretty okay, or even good, there’s just way too many way better ones. You take these when you’re done with all other things, not before. Or maybe indeed before, so you don’t get disappointed. The very good part here is the political bit. Whole ruling of the land happening is interesting. And a very bad part is that you get the story through eyes of someone who gets told about the adventure, rather than lived it. So I guess you’d like these books, if you like good old classics, where whole story is written by two people sitting down, and one of them telling their best adventure. Still, I can absolutely give this book a 3.5, which we’ll translate to 4 out of 5 for the sake of it. I’ve no regrets.

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Diversity: The Danish Girl

I sat here, thinking. So I failed to write about people of color, which has no excuse really, seeing how I’ve read plenty of books on Far East. And I didn’t want to just randomly skip a Friday, and then make a half-assed entry either. But most of all, I didn’t want to wait more before talking about the Danish Girl. So I’ll owe people of color a good post after this one, but here we go.

Transgenders. I thought I’ll write about past books I’ve read, and tell you all about the shitty message they spread. For instance, Palahniuk’s book Invisible Monsters has a seemingly trans character. Then they go ahead and admit they did this to spite their parents. They chose to change sex to spite parents. Let that sink in. And there’s a couple more I would’ve bashed. Including The Danish Girl. I fumed after reading it, and ranted on my social media, until a friend told me to go ahead and watch the movie, because what she saw, was not what I’ve read. So today let’s talk about the movie, and next Friday – about the book.

Einar is a painted married to another painter. He paints nature. She paints portraits. And when one day her model doesn’t come in, she asks her husband to pull on some socks and hold the hem of the dress so she could continue with her work. She doesn’t realize that by doing so she touched and woke someone Einar buried deep. She woke Lilly.
I assume that in the past understanding what you are, when you’re not cis, was even harder than it is now, when we actually have words to describe it, and internet to explain it. So, most likely due to defensive mechanisms that got triggered in Einar’s head, he takes Lilly as another person. What she does is not what he does. And yet soon he comes to understand that he alone is able to split the two like this.
After a couple rough attempts to figure out what is wrong with him, his wife finds a doctor who can actually fix his body, rather than attempt to fix his mind. In books he was sort of given a choice: another crazy scientist that’ll screw holes in your skull to make your brain masculine again, or a different crazy scientist who will reassemble you to make your body right for you. In both scenarios, even if in the movie it’s a mere fleeting hint of a suggestion, Einar chose surgery. Simply here he was sure of it, he knew this was the right path.
The movie is, sadly, a drama, so after a few successful steps in transition, there’s no happy ending for it. Or, rather, there is, as good as circumstances allow, but I, per se, hate when this is the “good” ending kind we get.
I’m glad to see this movie to be fairly popular. And yet I hope people will be too lazy to pick up the book. The book sends off a wrong message, believe me. There, Einar is very much mentally ill, and I have great doubts about him being trans as a foremost reason for it. But we’ll talk about it on Friday.
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Anthony Horowitz – Moriarty [2]

moriartyI am very happy I didn’t buy “Moriarty” by Anthony Horowitz (Sherlock Holmes 2; ISBN 00623717183; 285p.; Goodreads), but rather chose to borrow it first. The book was dull to say the least. And in shorts, it’s about a deluded fan of Sherlock Holmes who got used due to being deluded.

After the death of Crime Napoleon, professor Moriarty, there’s a vacancy to take that spot, and all the ruthless, best of the best in this black cream, are up to try their luck. And when one unlikely fella finally fills in the spot, and starts expanding – our fan of Sherlock Holmes decides it is time to investigate it all. Full with a friend at his side who can narrate us the greatness of his deduction skills, he’s out there, questioning the criminals, having dinners, and taking up leads for, well, whatever the hell it was he tried to solve before an actual bombing happened to warn him off this investigation.

When there’s no Moriarty in a book titled “Moriarty” – you end up suspecting things, much like you would if you saw a famous actor in a minor role at the start of the movie with an undercover superhero, or a serial killer. This is the case, suspect everyone, because that might just help you get through this book!

I really can’t figure so what this book was about. It was fully summarized in the final chapter, when we finally found the most important, but too late, thing in the book, so I can’t even tell you that, in case you actually want to read this. There’s really a lot of nothing here, accompanied by poorly written characters, and mediocre detective story that didn’t have a core (no, really, this all was done for a very small reason, and it made no sense to make it so grandiose). I can only give it 2 out of 5, and I apologize to the author, I’m sure they are talented and wonderful, but these books, his books, are not for me.

Categories: 2-5, Books | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Promo]: P.S. I Love That Book on YouTube

BookTube is a fairly new thing for me, but little by little the subscription box is getting fuller. One of the first ones I ever subbed to was P.S. I Love That Book. It was pretty new back when I got there, I think I saw the first video as it came out, or maybe the second one… Anyway, it’s just nice to see how everything got so much better, and turned so perfected!

Hannah tells us of all kinds of books, even thou it all started with YA and fantasy. Now anyone can get recommendations there, and best of all – not just for things that would’ve ended up in your alley anyway. No, she picks up books some of us would never get to read if this didn’t happen, either due to it being too obscure, not a popular topic, or just in general a tad overseen book. Thanks to her I’ve read Shades of Magic, and they’re my very favorite now!

Any of you got a booktube? Or even just vlogs, or gaming channels?

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Anthony Horowitz – The House of Silk [1]

11093329I’m not the biggest Sherlock fan, but I’m still a fan. And everywhere I turned in Lithuania, I kept seeing other book by Anthony Horowitz, second book to “The House of Silk” (Sherlock Holmes 1; ISBN 0316196991; 294p.; Goodreads), so I had to start from the start, before moving on to Moriarty. And I must say, I’m not very impressed…

Book is narrated by our one and only, John Watson. On his own request it is published after his death due to sensitive, and gruesome case that it is. And it all started like such an ordinary case. A man came to their, his and Sherlock’s, place, claiming a gang leader has followed him all the way from America, and will kill him to avenge his dead twin brother. But from the moment Sherlock started investigating the man’s family, everything started going down hill, fast.

Their mother died suffocated in her own room. His sister is getting weaker by the day, as if poisoned, even thou all her food is being tasted. And while the man himself keeps seeing his to-be murderer, here he is, alive, and well. What concerns Sherlock more, thus, is that one of his boys, a kid he hired off the street to help, has disappeared after, apparently, seeing the gang leader’s face. Later kid was found tortured to death, with a white silk ribbon tied around his wrist. What could possibly evoke such brutality? Was it truly the mere fact that the kid saw a face?

The book is fairly interesting, but much too simple. Author tried to make it up with shock-effect, but any reader will agree with me – that doesn’t help mediocre books. Even as a detective it was pretty weak. But. It was easy to read, and had the perfect Sherlock-y tone to it, so I can give it 3 out of 5 easily. It’s worth the while, even if it’s not the best detective novel you will ever encounter.

Categories: 3-5, Books | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dmitry Glukhovsky – Metro 2035

2035Let me tell you straight away, I’m angry. I am very angry at “Metro 2035” book by Dmitry Glukhovsky (ISBN 1539930726; 497p.; Goodreads), the final book in the story. All that you might have loved about those books is destroyed here. You’ve been lied to, you’ve been deceived. This is no better than another Silo/Wool book, because all I hated about those is now true here.

Artyom, for hell knows what reasons, keeps fighting his way out of the station, onto the surface. There he climbs the highest towers, undisturbed by anything living, with not a single monster in sight. Then he takes out his radio, and tries to contact the rest of the world, hoping that the Moscow Metro, the same one that thinks him a hero for ridding the world of the Dark Ones, is not the only humanity left. Only his own station knows the truth, and thinks him a madman. They believe that the Dark Ones, back in the day, cracked his brain a tad bit, and constant exposure to radiation is by far not helping the condition. They’re getting more annoyed by a day, for, by going out, what’s he dragging back in? All that opening and closing of the seals can’t be healthy. And it’s hardly a coincidence, that the mushrooms, the same ones whole Metro is eating as main source of food, is now suffering a devastating plague.

Homer travels all the way to the station Hero lives in, hoping to hear his story from his own lips, hoping to write a book. In the end, it wasn’t just Miller who mentioned Artyom, but Hunter too. He has to see this legendary young man, and find out why he, he alone, the savior of this Metro, believes that he doomed the humanity by destroying its worst enemy – the Dark Ones.

 

I loved the first book. Nothing was real in the darkness, and you could trust no senses. The voice might be real, but it might as well be the dark seeping through your ears, telling you lies. Artyom, in the dark, was told to stop once, and he did. And that saved his life. I loved the second book too. Hunter was a broken man. Dark Ones tried to communicate, but found his mind incompatible, thus accidentally, or purposefully, splitting it. Now he lives with madness inside of him, and constantly battles his other self. And then there’s this shit. Whatever you loved – is a lie. Whatever you liked – was faked. To add to that, the plot has ridiculous holes to it too. So I give it 3 out of 5, merely because of good wishes, and memories of those other good books. Metro 2035 is a book about mushrooms. Metro saga ended at ’34.

Categories: 3-5, Apocaliptic Books | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Marissa Meyer – Heartless

heartlessI like re-tellings of Alice in Wonderland story. But I admit, I didn’t know this is one, when I took “Heartless” by Marissa Meyer (ISBN 1250044650; 453p.; Goodreads), and only after I got suspicious of why are there so many similarities, I went to google. This is a story of how Queen of Hearts has lost her own heart. And it’s pretty damn good.

In one night whole Catherine’s life turns over. She dreamed of being a baker, having her own little store, and living a simple life of baking delights. Instead here she stands, in a red dress her mother tricked her into wearing, before the King of Hearts, in one of his black and white parties, where everyone, of course, wears something black or white. From the ceiling descends his newly hired joker, and saves her fainting little self, too weak from lack of oxygen due to the nasty corset, and lack of food her mother strictly forbade. At least, he believes that’s what he’s saving her from. Instead, while Catherine is safe on her way home, the rest of the party goers, her parents included, are trapped inside the castle, where a myth of horrors, Jabberwock, is trying to get in…

Her parents want her to be a queen. Her best friends thinks it’s a great idea. They think baking is work fit for servants, not noble born girls. And nobody cares what Catherine wants. Due to them believing to know what’s best, she suffers a betrayal, after a betrayal, and her soft heart is slowly turning to ice.

It’s a pretty damn good story, that shines very fitting perspective on the Queen of Hearts as we know her now. I have not yet read anything else by this author, and I don’t even know why I picked this one up first, but her other books are already on the list. This one, in the meantime, gets a firm 4,5 out of 5 from me.

Categories: 4-5, 5-5, Fantasy Books | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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