Victoria Schwab – Vicious [1]

ViciousOkay, I think I can now really say that Victoria Schwab is my favorite author. I swallowed her “Vicious” (Villains 1; ISBN 0765335344; 364p.; Goodreads) in yet another single-sitting. And I really hope it’s not gonna be a stand-alone, because the ideas these pages were filled with, and that wonderful, amazing, superb ending to it!… Ah.

Victor and Eli seem similar at the first glance. Both smarter than your average students. Both ambitious. Both very likely to try and pick unlikely things and see where it brings them. Thus, once told to find a research topic, they ran with it: extraordinary abilities induced by or acquired due to near-death experience. And since research in theory went so well, they decided to take it up a notch, and try it in practice. Here the similarities of the boys ended. For in death it is the greatest desire that echoes the loudest, reaching back. And one of them just happens to have a whole different understanding of self.

This is a story of heroes and villains. Or so it seems to the characters inside. Robber, killed by a hero who just happened to be there on the right time, in the right place, had no weapon on him. Hero, who stalks, and befriends the prey. Villains who pick up the stray people, offering shelter from the rain, and possibly pain. And this endless battle, between what? Good and evil? Decisions and consequences? Self-righteous men who are right, and selfless vengeful men who are…

Here’s my take on this story. Two similar boys with different understanding of self. One sees himself as a person who wants to, say, grow. The other one, believes himself right. And therefor, it’s not the growing that concerns him. It’s the memory he will leave behind. Thus when it came to superpowers, one of them told himself that God gave it to him, and therefor he is right. While the other one simply believed that this is how things are, and there’s no right, or for that matter, wrong. 5 out of 5, because bloody hell this was an amazing trip.

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Friday: Diversity // LGBTQ+

I had a chat with one other book blogger recently, where we discussed the lack of diversity in books we’re, so to speak, served. In a sense, unless you look by yourself, for yourself – you might not come around a lot of diversity. So I started digging through my blog, just so I could mark things down: which books had people of color? Were they main characters, or merely sidekicks? What about LGBT people? Different religions? In the end it was fairly hard to find books from different, less popular countries, let alone bigger things, like gender or color.

So we came to a conclusion, or rather, she did, and I stole it, as I do, as should you with good ideas if they’re not copyrighted: maybe we should speak up a little. Education is lacking, points of view are lacking. So let’s help each other out. Let’s find the good things, the diverse things and share them. Let’s educate ourselves, for no one else will!

Schedule will be this, if all goes well: Fridays. Every other Friday we speak of a topic, then next Friday I try to read a book for the previous topic. All suggestions are very welcome.

Today’s topic is LGBTQ+, and the books are V.E. SchwabShades of Magic trilogy [1]; [2]; [3]:

x_shadesofmagic

Shades of Magic is a wonderful fantasy trilogy of three Londons. Grey one is dull, without any magic in it. White one is where magic bites back, eating the very life-force of the world, people. And the Red one is wonderful, full of beautiful, peaceful magic. There’s two main heroes here, Delilah Bard, who comes from Grey London and dreams of adventure. And Kell, who is basically adopted by the royal family, and considers their legitimate son Rhy – his brother. He’s the key to Delilah’s adventure, for she soon finds a way to get him to take her away from the Grey London, into his, Red.

Rhy gets a time to shine in third book, even thou there’s plenty of him in other ones too. He’s a delightful man of tan skin, beautiful eyes, easy flirt, and charming character, with a lot of strong emotions that seemed very true, and honest. And while his bed was warmed by lovers of both genders, his heart secretly belongs to only one: Alucard Emery. Alucard is a captain of a ship Delilah Bard finds herself in while on an adventure to, basically, find more adventures.

While Alucard was beaten by his brothers and thrown out of the home by his father due to where he spent the night (Rhy’s bed), homophobia here is a matter of isolated incidents and oddities of distant lands. Little if any pay attention to Rhy’s orientation, and the worst thing that came out of it was a consequence to Alucard not explaining why he left, for Kell swore to beat him to a pulp for breaking his brother’s heart.

SPOILERS:

Everything solves in the end, and we get a happy ending for everyone, including Rhy and Alucard. Alucard comes back with solid proof of his love, and Rhy, being a smart young man, finds a way to work his love into his life.

SPOILERS END:

These are truly delightful books. No one’s perfect, and yet the logic these characters show is so very refreshing. There’s no love triangles, there’s no abandoning of dreams for love, but rather true, and honest reaching for the stars, not letting go of anything, not compromising. They’re captivating and wonderful, and everyone should read them!

Categories: LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Victoria Schwab – This Savage Song [1]

thissavagesong-usYou might know Victoria Schwab as V.E. Schwab. I fell for this author for her Shades of Magic trilogy, the unbelievable world and characters. Therefor, I can’t really say that “This Savage Song” (Monsters of Verity 1; ISBN 0062380877; 494p.; Goodreads) was an impulsive read. But it kinda was.

This Savage Song is of a city split in two. A city where violence breeds very real and physical monsters, demons. Corsai are all teeth and claws, they eat people. Malachai are sly, and drink blood. Sunai look very human, and their black eyes are hard to spot without taking a picture. These will sing you a song, steal your soul, and devour it. This Savage Song is of monsters born of human violence. Mass killings, suicides, murder, brutal actions, heartlessness, savagery.

 

On one side of city, where Kate Harker lives, people live by paying for their protection. Her father makes sure of it. Kate is almost a legendary hunter with oh so plenty of hate for all those demonic beings. The other side of the city, is for those, who are always at war, and their song sounds with drums and gunshots. This is where August Flynn lives. He is the legendary kind of a monster, the kind that looks human, is hard to detect, and is born out of the worst kind of death.

I swallowed this book in one day, which, seeing how many pages there are, is not really normal for me. It’s just that V. Schwab is so, oh so very amazing in creating her settings, telling her legends in a light manner of speaking, rather than that whole “once upon a time, according to my great great great great grandma”. Her characters, at least the ones that matter, are never dumbed or toned down. So here’s a 5 out of 5, well deserved with this dark unique piece.

Monsters, monsters, big and small, 
They’re gonna come and eat you all. 
Corsai, Corsai, tooth and claw, 
Shadow and bone will eat you raw. 
Malchai, Malchai, sharp and sly, 
Smile and bite and drink you dry. 
Sunai, Sunai, eyes like coal, 
Sing you a song and steal your soul. 
Monsters, monsters, big and small, 
They’re gonna come and eat you all! 

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Bookmarks

All that is currently available can be found @ [BLACKWOOD]; and trust me when I say, a lot more is coming up!

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Sarah J. Maas – A Court of Wings and Ruin [3]

acowarUsed to be I disliked series. Now I love series! Because who wouldn’t love that odd sense you get after you finish one, where you don’t know what to do with your life anymore. Everyone’s living their lives, as if you hadn’t just survived a wizard war or, in this case, a fae war. Yes, I have finished “A Court of Wings and Ruin” by Sarah J. Maas (acotar 3; ISBN 1408857901; 699p.; Goodreads), the last one in acotar series or trilogy. And while they’re not as great as, say, Shades of Magic by V.E. Schwab, they’re still pretty damn amazing.

 

The Wall between humans and fae was never meant as permanent solution. It was made to cease fire, to give time for healing, to learn co-exist. Yet humans have short lives, and horror tales of fairies got worse, and worse with every new generation. While fae lived long enough to have seen humans freed, and witness this day with wall about to crumble. And not all who did feel that it is right to co-exist with great-great-great-great-grandchildren of their former slaves. The war is inevitable. All there is to do now is prepare.

Cauldron once created this whole world, so how does one stand against a weapon able to create the cycle of life and death itself? Fayra and Rhysand are trying to gather allies, rally everyone they possibly can. They’re seeking any advantage points in this overtipped scale, and if that means unleashing Death Gods themselves, Fayra is willing to make a bargain again. Bargain she was warned against while she was still mortal. And with worse beings than fae…

Rhysand, on the other hand, has his own little (or not so little) problem. How does one convince the world that this mighty High Lord of the Night Court to whom Court of Nightmares bows, wants to protect, and defend, rather than wreck havoc? How does he gain trust once the mask falls, and who will dare to stand with him? Especially with Tamlin running amok, with a tale of betrayal in his court, by no else than Fayra, his mate.

And Lucien? Lucien, like a stray kicked cat is testing the waters with caution. Being left courtless, which is pretty much homeless, twice in his life now, he fits into the Court of Dreams by his nature of an unwanted oddity alone. But can Rhys, this mortal enemy of Tamlin’s, his friend’s nemesis, really be trusted to not just give him up to his family, where he’d surely be killed? He’s willing to try his luck, if carefully, at the very least, for his mate, who now lives under Rhysand’s wings.

So, the book. Whole inner monologues of “how and why I feel” almost ceased to exist. And once you start believing that pace of the book is too slow – someone drops a brick on the heroes heads. Or an army.  There’s funny, there’s witty, there’s edge-of-the-chair intense. So I give it 5 out of 5, for now the story truly earned it.

Categories: 5-5, Books, Books of Supernaturals, Fantasy Books, High Fantasy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tag: Women Authors

That time again, the time I just nick a tag I liked from [P.S. I Love That Book]. Please do let me know if you do it too, for I’m a curious bastard, I want to know what you answered. This time it’s all about our wonderful female authors.

Pardon my liberty to rephrase the questions, and not include the more/less reasoning behind the tag.

  1. My favorite female authors: Currently it must be V.E. Schwab. I love the women she writes, and I love her writing, and I love her stories.
  2. Female written book that changed my perspective/views: Felicia Day’s biography “You’re never weird on the internet (almost)“, and Lilly Singh’s “How to be a Bawse
  3. Favorite gothic novel written by a female author: I’m torn between Frankenstein and Interview with the Vampire (or Blackwood Farm by same author)
  4. Favorite detective novel written by a female author: It’s easier to just name the two gem women who write amazing detectives, for by them I’d read anything – Agatha Christie, and Kathy Reichs
  5. Favorite poet / poem: Not a fan of poetry, have no real knowledge
  6. A book by a woman that I’d always recommend to a woman: I don’t think I read books that’d be easier to recommend to one sex/gender more than the other, so I’m at a loss here too. What do you like? I’m sure I can name a book or two to recommend if I know.
  7. Recently discovered gem by a female author: Shades of Magic, hands down. And then several more…
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Lilly Singh – How to be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life

Bawse_final-coverFor past two months I worked twice as hard as I normally do. Worst is not the tiredness I constantly feel, but rather the lack of point in the work, since more work is not necessarily rewarding, or at least it isn’t in short-term. Lilly Singh and her “How to be a Bawse: a Guide to Conquering Life” (ISBN 0425286460; 272p.; Goodreads) was a natural choice here, for a tired, drained mind. It’s biographical, but not a biography. It’s not “the Secret”, and by far not the sugar-coated guide to success via “be positive! love your self! be kind and work hard!”. Rather, it’s a book on previously depressed unicorn who survived, and is about to tell you how conquer.

If a behavior results in free cake, one must always perform that behavior.” – Lilly Singh

My life is often burdened by weekend-hustlers, people who had months to do a fairly big amount of work, but decided to roll their sleeves up on the final weekend, and I, as a translator, need to hurry up for both of us (lesson one: deadlines). Priority fees are then argued (lesson two: bargaining), because these weekend-hustlers feel entitled to their own time, and their own work (lesson three: sense of entitlement), and see me as an obstacle, rather than a tool. And I wish I could translate this damn book for them too (lesson four: goals!). Using her own life as example, and then adding a few more for good measure, Lilly teaches us how hustling, prioritizing, and tunnel-vision really works. It helped me unwind, taught me things, gave me insight on who this Lilly is (I’m a long-term fan, this is just phrasing), and best of all, I can now improve my own game using the lessons she gave. So to every hard-working friend I have out there – get this book, get this book on paper, and while you’re at it, get those neon-colored sticky bookmarks to mark the pages, and maybe a couple sharpies too. There’ll be a lot to mark down, highlight, and take notes from.

For good measure, a rephrased quote: ask for more than you need, because no one got more than they asked for.

And now, the bad part. I was perfectly okay with telling myself I can’t control the situation, so I must control how I react to it. I was okay with “some things you can’t change, and that’s okay” going with “I don’t believe in impossible“. I was happy at the start of the book, when Lilly thanked her past self for listening and keeping on. But then, when we reach another truly important lesson of how to stay grounded, and not let the success of conquering get to your head, Lilly said: believe in a higher power. Not god per se, but a higher power of your choosing. Thank this higher power for what you have, because without them… wait wait… wait. Without them you wouldn’t be where you are, and wouldn’t have what you have, and this all would not be possible? If we speak in terms of Nature – thanks for being here, and thus making me, a human with opposable thumbs, possible – okay, thanks Mother Nature! But my hard work? No. I’ll rather believe in Minecraft random spawn point: you can give in and make a new world for yourself, or you can make it work. So in the end I chose to pretend this chapter didn’t exist, and stick with the idea it taught: you’re not the biggest bawse – as the idea it preached before – there’s always someone to learn from. I gave this book 4 out of 5, even if Lilly’s bargain skills made it real hard to not give it the whole five. It’s a great book, truly worth having.

Categories: 4-5, Biographies, Inspirational | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Rhysand [acotar]

Rhys_resize

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Kristin Cashore – Graceling [1]

graceling_1Some time ago I was subscribed to a YouTube vlogger Katers17 (now I’m subscribed to her new channel: KateInRealLife, tho she posts very little). I always loved people who read, and with her I realized I love the chaos, and passion books provide. “Graceling” by Kristin Cashore (Graceling Realm 1; ISBN 015206396X; 471p.; Goodreads) was probably one of the very first books I added to to-read list on my Goodreads, and that was thanks to Katers. And now, a million years later, I finally came around to read it. Heck, I even have a physical copy…

Graced aren’t very liked or loved. Two different eyes mean you will be kept away, in some corner where people won’t see you, even if your grace is merely baking good pies. Of course, there are graced that are feared for a reason, with nasty, treacherous, and dangerous powers. Like Ketsa’s. Held on a leash by the king himself, she is graced with killing, and serves as a maiming, torturing, and murdering tool to intimidate those who displease her king. Even if they paid a double-fold for what they did. Even if she hates herself for doing it. She simply doesn’t know a different way of life. Thus, when prince Po crosses her path, confused and surprised of why indeed she’s following orders she hates, when it would take her king an army to subdue her, she… She’s confused.

In the meantime, Po is keeping an eye on a different kingdom, a different king. An orphan, praised for his kind heart and love for all injured, a boy who was once so loved by the king and queen of that realm, that when they had no children of their own – they named him the heir. A boy, now a grown man, a king, with only one eye, and a sickening horde of people who are prepared to defend his very honor offended, no matter how far they are, or how little they have reasons to…

The story is good, unique, with wonderful characters. But it fell a little short. There’s a ton of wonderful things here, the way things work, that it simply felt lacking in the end, and that’s the only reason why I will now give it only 4 out of 5. I will continue reading, in hopes that author delves deeper in all the things further on, the graces, the kingdoms, the way graces happened, and worked. But just know that I’d consider this a light read to the point where it was a bit too light. (but good, really)

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

Sarah J. Maas – A Court of Mist and Fury [2]

ACOMAF-cover1How can a book annoy so much, and yet be so great? Second book in the Court of Thorns and Roses series, “A Court of Mist and Fury” by Sarah J. Maas (ASIN B015FELXQ0; 626p.; Goodreads) was a killer with all the inner monologues on feelings. But it had a great message, and I believe it passed it on perfectly.

Amarantha is destroyed, but the plans to tear down the wall separating Fae world from the mortal realm are still bubbling as before, they merely changed hands. In the meantime, Fayra is not allowed to train, because that would send a wrong message to her people, she’s not allowed to leave without guards to escort her, because Tamlin is terrified for her safety (but doesn’t let her train anyway), and eventually, she’s locked the hell up in the Spring Court. In desperation, suffocating in this gilded cage where she’s not allowed news or any activities beyond brushing her hair and dressing up, Fayra sends a message down the bond she now has with the High Lord of the Night Court.

They say you ought to be careful for what you wish for. Being owed a week every month as bargain between them demanded, Rhysand takes no time in storming the Spring Court and kidnapping Fayra. Is it kidnapping per se, if the victim is willing? Either way, Night Court is infamous. It is said, that Amarantha’s own Court under the mountain was made in example of the one Rhysand, the most powerful and wicked High Lord that ever walked the realm of Fae rules. Torture for entertainment, schemes, and other wicked deeds are awaiting, and Fayra can do no more but brace herself, when… Rhysand puts an alphabet before her, intending for her to finally learn how to read. At least. (yes “least”, not “last”.)

Okay, now to the point. This book is full of gooey love stuff I don’t really like in any books. Didn’t like it here much either. Sappy, annoying, and saturated even more so with Fayra constantly analyzing it all. But. This book has a message I hope every reader caught on: No matter how much you love your prince Charming, the day he makes you his birdy in a cage, he is no longer the good kind man, and it’s time for you to get the hell away. Fayra doesn’t want to be saved. She wants to be able to save herself. And when she’s denied that right, she makes the hard decision. So here’s 4 out of 5 for that, for the strong lady who didn’t want to be a statistic number.

Don’t stay in abusive relationships.

 

Categories: 4-5, Books, Books of Supernaturals, Fantasy Books, High Fantasy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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