3-5

Stephanie Garber – Caraval

Caraval_Everywhere I turned there was this book. Social media is filled with pictures of this book. Whoever did the advertisement – got a serious hype response, and it’s admirable. Especially since oh so many of those said bookstagram pictures claimed people didn’t even read it, but were oh so excited to do so. Therefore I hurried up and read “Caraval” by Stephanie Garber (ISBN 1250095255; 407p.; Goodreads), just to see what’s all the fuss about. How was my trip on this bandwagon? So-so.

Dragna sisters live on hope, hope to escape their vicious, vile, murderous father, and this damned island they feel imprisoned upon. Arranged marriage might be the key to the door for Scarlett. She’ll just pack up her sister, and they’ll both escape to live with her wonderful husband, whose name she currently doesn’t even know. It’s left to her sister to wonder whether this said key is to freedom or simply a new prison. After all, what fair person would have dealings with their father?

In her life Scarlett had only one true dream: to see master Legend Caraval perform. He was there when she was very little, and all the girl has now are stories of magic, wonders, and most importantly – miracles. But with reality sinking in, her marriage behind the corner, Scarlett composes final letter to master Caraval as a farewell. Just to receive an answer, the very first ever, and three invitations to come to his performance. And just a few days before her wedding, with their father seething in anger…

Nothing is real, but everything feels very real. Clues scattered around, time ticking away, and the nightfall making people who didn’t make it to shelter disappear, quite literally. It sounds good, doesn’t it? But sadly it isn’t. The book is fairly simple, with a lot of high speech, and little actual things. Pompous descriptions mask lack of substance in plot. Scarlett had a lot of feelings about a lot of things, and everything was arranged to make her fall in love, but not completely, but she did fall in love, and did so completely, and of course he wasn’t who he said he was, so there had to be that awkward phase of “no more lies”. I had a very low rating prepared for this book. And the true reason why I won’t give it as little as I’d like to, is author herself. At the end of the audio book there was an interview, and honestly, I think her trying so hard has to be worth something. So I give this book 3 out of 5, and wish the author very best luck. After all, I’m sure there’ll be many who will love this book.

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Hugh Howey – Dust [3]

dustAnd so ends the Silo trilogy. With Hugh Howey book “Dust” (Silo 3, ISBN 1490904387; 458p.; Goodreads), which is not even translated to my native yet, but then I’ve read them all in English, so whatever. Not the best dystopian post-apocalypse story, but ended well, and thus it’s fine. I’m feeling very neutral about it…

All the while silos were told the world upstairs was poisonous, and unsuitable for living. Something happened up there long ago, and thus Silos doors need to stay firmly shut. But Jules is no longer content with their stories, proven too often to be nothing but a bunch of lies. She’s up to figure out what’s wrong with the surface on her own, careful to avoid the prying eye of Silo 1. Test the soil in earnest. Test the air. And if she really can’t cross her way via surface to the other silo, she might as well dig…

Silo 1 is in turmoil too. Something’s happening. Dead people, murdered people are appearing. Someone from the top was awakened from their cryogenic sleep, and is feeling enough guilt on what happened to those poor people for all. Things are about to be changed, whether these comfortable puppet masters want it or not.

The books are not bad, they’re just not for me. Everything’s clean, bright, but poisonous. I missed the mind-invading darkness of Metro 2033, and thus I guess my expectations were way off the radar. I’ll give it 3 out of 5, and I assure you, this is NOT a waste of time. In the end, it’s a good story.

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Hugh Howey – Shift [silo, 2]

shiftSo ominous the warnings, don’t dig, don’t search for the truth. Then the story gets told to the reader backwards, and I find myself rolling my eyes… “Shift” by Hugh Howey (Silo 2, Omnibus edition; ASIN B00B6Z6HI2; 520p.; GoodreadsGoodreads) was a challenge to read. I don’t have a good memory, and thus find it preferable to follow a plot, rather than try to remember several characters, and update their stories as they progress, or give prequels.

Story follows several characters. Some built the silos, back in the day. Others lived in those that fell first. Some survived the falls, others survived the truth. And each one has knowledge of something that could be groundbreaking, that could cause another silo, or all of them, to fall, riot. How was the world before, and what caused humanity’s retreat? Can they ever go back up, and could it be, that not all of the world is as devastated as this corner of the earth with buried silos is? Each one, in their own way, is prepared to go beyond these walls.

The book could really serve as a prequel with inserts of current event updates. There’s really little new to the now of it all, but a lot of backstories. Like Jimmy, the previously sole survivor of one of the fallen silos. Or Mission, who witnessed the start of the fall, and knew the culprits. Or Donald, who approved Lucas promotion, and spoke to Juliette, giving them grains of truth, without them knowing that he too, doing this, has rebelled.

Honestly, I find it a bit ridiculous with premonitions like “the truth will kill you, oh don’t go looking for the truth!” – it’s the same damn thing I keep getting in Nightrunner, and it makes my whole reading process lag. The truth is – nanotechnology. Great, that’s new and unique, unlike atomic bombs would be. But so what? I just can’t see why this kid, knowing his great great great great grandfather maybe helped doom humanity to live in a silo should beat himself over it. Strive to fix it, sure, but go crazy and run out, where the air itself is going to kill you due to the knowledge? 3 out of 5, no more. I’ll read the last one just to close it up. Story has and had potential, but having it, and using is – are two different things.

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High Howey – Wool [Silo 1]

wool_omnibusSuch a good rating, so many good reviews. And yet Wool by Hugh Howey (Omnibus; Silo 1; ASIN B00873GRU4; 509p.; Goodreads) didn’t make a fan out of me. While a good story, and thus not a bad book, it felt dull, at times – forced, and very repetitive.

Whole of the humanity is contained in a hundred story silo like tower underground. World above is devastated and deadly, watched via screens transmitting the image from sensors above. In the dusty dark brown world that eats everything which doesn’t belong these sensor lenses get dirty with time, making the oppressing view skewed. No one has memory or knowledge of how it happened to be so, but no one is ready to abandon the little glimpses of sun in dirty clouds either. Enter the cleaners.

A cleaner is someone on death row, or a volunteer, either way – a dead man walking, who gets an isolated suit, oxygen, and a piece of wool to go up, out, and clean the sensors. The rest of the silo treats this almost as a celebration, gathering by the screens as soon as the person, oddly euphoric, runs off into the distance, just to collapse in a similar distance to everyone else who ever did the same cleaning duty. For the atmosphere eats their suit, and then eats them too. Juliette’s friend just took this duty, just a few years after his wife went raving mad, begging to be let outside. After all, screens are not exactly windows…

I usually like this kind of books, but this one didn’t feel right. Constant repeating of events soon got to me: he found a grain, he committed a suicide, she didn’t believe it was a suicide, so she started searching, and found the grain, and… died? I hoped to get another Metro 2033, I guess, and instead received Ember City in a Silo. 3 out of 5, no more. But I will read the next one anyway.

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Frank Herbert – Dune Messiah [Dune 2]

dune2Right, well, Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert (Dune 2; ISBN 0441172695; 331p.; Goodreads) felt far longer than it actually was. Odd how the peak of the story came to be at the end of the previous book, and now – everything spiraled down. Truth be told, if there’s nothing to pick it all up in book 3, I’ll abandon the Saga, glad I’ve read the first book.

Muad’dib has power beyond measure. He’s in sole control of Spice mining, and everyone needs it, everyone wants it. Drowning in visions induced by air saturated with this very spice, Muad’dib is dreaming of the simpler days. With no empires to rule, no legions to control. With no intrigues, politics, and those nasty fate lines he can see so clearly now. One wrong step is all it takes for it all to fall. The face changing assassins. His dead mother’s sect in hunt of, what, his genes? Stolen worm to be taken to another planet in attempts to take away the monopolis from Muad’dib. The most trusted friend once dead, now alive again, dubbed Hate by smiling faces. Just one step, and…

The Dune is changing. There’s now plenty of water for everyone, but not everyone is happy about it. Worms went deeper, further away into the desert, for they fear all this moisture. And people too feel there’s something wrong in this lavish…

 

As you can probably tell already from the hard-to-read writings of mine, I didn’t like this book much. I can give it 3 out of 5, no more. For there were indeed plenty of very good parts, but they reminded me more of gold veins in marble. You follow this thin line, twisting, breaking, turning. The rest was filled with that superbly common topic of those on top dreaming to be simple men. It was mighty boring to read of a person with, what, super-awareness? Someone who can remember what her ancestors might have known, dreaming to “just be loved”.

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Elizabeth May – The Falconer [1]

FalconercoverfinalAh. There are books you read in one sitting, because they’re just THAT good. And then there are books you read in one sitting, because you already know what’s going to happen in the next page. I’m sad to say that “The Falconer” by Elizabeth May (The Falconer 1; ISBN 1452114234; 378p.; Goodreads) is the latter kind. If you read more of this YA kind of fantasy, there’s no reason for you to pick up this one. In short: time trial for the chosen one to close a thing before bad things come out of the thing.

She is one of the kind. And the last of her kind. The awkward Scottish lass leading her double life. During the day hours she is attempting her best to salvage her reputation scraps, and build new contraptions on the spare time (steampunk theme). And at night time (and I’m almost quoting here), she’s trying to sate her unquenchable bloodlust, her need for murder, power, by killing the very bad fae. The fae are usually all teeth and claws, fairly scary if you ask me, and they all feed on human energy. Those who resemble humans more can put you to such awe, that you’ll be tempted to throw your reputation in 1844 Edingburg right there, out the window. That’s called Faestruck, by the way, and our so very bad and murderous heroine is apparently immune. Apparently.

Time Trial begins. A gate to fae prison is opening, and she’s the only one who can close it before all the bad things come pouring out to hunt humans as they used to, and destroy all the things. So she packs up her flying contraption, her own made weapons, which are impressive, I admit, and the Mister Unfriendly Fae friend for whom, of course, she’s developing feelings, and goes to close that damned thing! Did I mention it has to be done during specific lunar event? Well, in my humble opinion, that was obvious anyway.

Now, don’t get me wrong, not all is bad about this book. I’ve simply had oh so many like this one in my hands before, that I can no longer appreciate the simple beat-the-clock script. If you don’t read many of this kind, it’s a very good starter book. Story has all the things, Steampunk, decent jokes, funny heroine, the inhuman love interest, best guy friend who will marry you because that’s his duty as your friend: to defend your tarnished honor, and references to Scottish folk tales, that are pretty damn great, if you ask me. But for me, in my own personal opinion, this is not worth more than 3 out of 5, and that’s mostly because her fiance drank his own tea, and then hers too, because her butler was too slow in filling his cup.

Categories: 3-5, Books, Books of Occult, Books of Supernaturals, Fantasy Books, urban fantasy | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Anne Rice – Pandora [New Tales of Vampires #1]

pandora3Post Marius’ book I realized I don’t know one important vampire mentioned there (more than mentioned). And it’s all my fault, for in the past, truly long ago, there were people who informed me on the chronology of these stories, and what is best to read after what. This sense was confirmed after finishing “Pandora” by Anne Rice (The New Tales of Vampires 1; ISBN 0099271087; 406p.; Goodreads), where at the very end of it I found it saying “the story will be continued in Vampire Armand” book. But it is as it is, nothing can be done now, and it’s not all that bad either.

David Talbot, probably overjoyed that now he has time for everything, continues to lightly harass all the older vampires for their life stories. Pandora got into his visor too, and barely even noticed the trick of his gift of notebooks, which she filled with her memories. Born in Roman Empire under the name of Lydia, living girl whose hand was requested by Marius himself. Escaping the execution by a hair, barely twisting herself out of yet another trap laid for her by someone dear, she is haunted by visions that seem to overtake great and greater portion of her life every night. For they come at night, these dreams. Dreams where she stands witness to a goddess tormented, blood drained from her, her burning in the sun, unable to die, yet in suffering killing off so many of those who foolishly thought themselves immortal…

The book, in my opinion, didn’t reach the full potential. Some good ideas where passed here and there, but abandoned quickly enough through the pages, in exchange for others, maybe more pleasing for the author, maybe merely more convenient. I’ll still give the book 3 out of 5, and consider it a worthy read if only to lift the veil of myth off this Pandora, Mad Love of Marius. For she herself put more passion into describing the fake leg of her servant, than Marius himself, even if she did claim loving him.

Pandora_full

Categories: 3-5, Books, Books of Occult, Books of Supernaturals, Fantasy Books, Gothic Books, Nosferatu Books, Vampires | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nick Dunn – Dark Matters: A Manifesto for the Nocturnal City

cover98642-mediumI can’t recall if I ever read a manifesto before. And right now, after “Dark Matters” (ISBN 1782797483; 120p.; Goodreads) by Nick Dunn I am mighty torn between whether I like it or not.

A manifesto, at least this one, is much like a geyser of thought, exploding out of the author, into the pages. Beautiful, possibly exaggerated, painted in thick saturated colors, full of passion… And as a result – very weighty. You end up reading this one giant sentence that is nothing more than an epithet for the topic at hand. What little information you do get (not necessarily actually little) is all entangled in these vines of burning want to express the feeling you get when you’re face-to-face with the topic.

And in this case, the author is mighty passionate about the night-time walks in the city. So what we have: alluring darkness that rises, rather than comes; a place so familiar suddenly alien due to lack of light and people; things that were taken for granted and went unnoticed in the said light and people mass become a sight to see; etc.

Not a bad read. Not a good read, but I think I feel this way mostly because it was rather meant to be read as it is meant to be written – in one breath that pulls the ground from under your feet. You get back up and walk away, so to speak. I spent days on it, and so the thoughts settled, as a result I have a tough time to even explain what this book was… So I’ll give it 3 out of 5, for two is too little, and four is too much. It was worth the time, that is for sure. There are a lot of great thoughts in it, and all the sources, kindly. So if you have a spare hour or two, feel free to indulge.

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George R.R. Martin – Fevre Dream

382450I’m always curious of what the now famous authors used to write when they were less so known. I also like vampire stories, so “Fevre Dream” by George R.R. Martin (ISBN 0553383051, 334p.; Goodreads) was a natural choice. In advance I will say, that this is the slowest paced book I have ever read, but hey, I assume that’s Martin’s style.

On the river of Mississippi a steamboat life is bubbling and boiling. It’s not all about the profit, not at all. There’s races, talk and boasting of sizes and speed, pride, piloting skills. Abner Marsh is watching this all bitterly from the shore, his steamboats taken away by forces of nature. Only natural thus that when a tall pale stranger walks in, giving him an offer of his life, a steamboat of his dreams, March jums at the opportunity. After all, in exchange, he only has to suffer the eccentric co-captain.

Joshua York sleeps during the day, has eyesight any lightening pilot would love to have, drinks wile wine, and sometimes makes the steamer stop for days at time. On top of it all, he forbade Marsh to ask any questions, telling him he’ll tell lies if he feels pressured. But then, maybe Marsh doesn’t even want to know, especially after making the mistake of waking Joshua up one bright and sunny day…

If I thought that Song of Fire and Ice is slow, and half of every book could be skipped without consequences – Fevre Dream takes the prize. The story is good, but there’s very little of it. And it all is solved in last three pages, out of which last one is merely a conclusion in an epilogue form. For that, no matter the beautifully made vampires I cannot give it more than 3 out of 5. Worth the read if you have the time for it.

Categories: 3-5, Books, Books of Occult, Books of Supernaturals, Gothic Books, Nosferatu Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Roald Dahl – My Uncle Oswald

1-uncle-oswald  Another book for the book club! Not so long ago I’ve read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. Just a bit after that a friend remembered once reading a real funny book in her teen years. I don’t remember now whether she recalled it due to remembering the author, or some other reason, but after some searches that book turned out to be “My Uncle Oswald” by Roald Dahl himself (ISBN 0241955769; 205p.; Goodreads), this one for adult readers strictly. And since she was both willing to re-read it, and had little to no memory of this book – we took it up as a book club suggestion.

A story within a story. Sometimes with another story. Someone is telling us of their uncle Oswald by giving chapters of his diary. Proper chapters of “now I’ll tell you of this“, rather than the Dracula type of “today” passages. Oswald takes it upon himself to tell us how he became multimillionaire by the pleasure, for the pleasure.

It’s a fairly short story of how sex and products of it can become a profit with no one getting judged in the process. Oswald finds out of this magical Sudanese blister beetle. When dried and powdered, a mere pinch on the tip of a needle point is enough to drive anyone up the wall with desire. So he goes on buying large quantities of it, and by spinning a story of a non-existent man with more authority than this 17 y/o that he was, sells pills by the thousands for thousands. But by far it is not enough for him. So when he returns home, and his good old friend tells him of his discovery how sperm can be frozen and kept for unlimited periods of time, and then used to impregnate, say, cows with prized bulls, he leaps to yet another mad plan. He finds a smart young woman, arms her with Blister Beetle powder and off they go on an adventure of, pardon the image, milking the greatest men of those times. For who wouldn’t want a baby of a king? Or, say, an actual child of Einstein? Naturally, they come across all sorts of hiccups, overdoses, mix-ups, gay men, and other adventures, which are described here.

While the book was amusing and funny in its own way, I can only offer it 3 out of 5, and would give less if not for the fact that author spent a great deal of time, it seems, thinking what other great men are like in bed. There’s too little explanations, and descriptions for some things, and we end up getting “rubbery thing”, and other “thingy thing” equivalents, and then miles and miles of wine, and food descriptions. Those bore me to death, and soon I learned I can skim over them, thus shortening whole read by probably good quarter of the book. I do understand this is satire, but satire can be better than this, and the fact that I’ve read better than this – leaves me preferring his children’s books.

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