4-5

Diversity: Austin Chant – Peter Darling

33358438I always claimed that validation feels too tremendous to mean nothing. “Peter Darling” by Austin Chant (ISBN 1620049589, 164p.; Goodreads) is a good example of that. While the story itself is mediocre, it passes on a colossal message.

Peter Pan is a powerful story teller, with imagination so wild, and pain so severe – he almost tore the Neverland apart. He played his wars, fought the pirates, and lived his life free, as Peter, as a boy, until one day he remembered he had a family. A family who, truth be told, didn’t like the whole pretend games much, nor their daughter Wendy dressing up as a boy. Yet his love for them was far too great to just leave them like that, so he came back, sure they will have to accept him now, sure that he is indeed a real boy and they have to see it too. This way Peter doomed himself to a decade of living a pretend life, putting on a mask and a smile, just so his parents wouldn’t disown him or worse, put him into a mental hospital. For Wendy just cannot be Peter.

Ten years later Peter, unable to bear it no more, returns to Neverland, and as rules of this place demand – forgets having had any life outside this land at all. Now, a grown man, he still is unable to shake off the concepts of masculinity plastered on him, and tries to restore his former life here, regain power, and hopefully continue having fun with the Lost Boys, fighting those pesky pirates! But thing is, pirates flourished without him, and were perfectly able to live with no bloodshed under captain Hook’s rule. Lost Boys grew up and found there’s little fun to play a war against an enemy who isn’t really an enemy. The world has changed, but Peter is just unable to live and feel whole without his adversary. How else if not via killing the villains does one become a good man? Or, at the very least, a man?

Gender is a more complex concept than those who never had doubts about theirs would have you think. On top of having to accept yourself for who you are, you have to find your way through all the frames just ready and waiting. Peter’s actions might be hard to understand to those who were never in his or Wendy’s shoes, it’d seem cruel and silly to fight for the sake of fighting, or even make such silly gestures as claim you fight for you are a boy. But likely any transgender person will confirm: it is difficult beyond measure to allow yourself something that’s not considered normal to the gender you’re claiming to be. Trans men often avoid wearing make-up, for it lessens their word’s worth in the world, or at least it feels like it does. So while I can only give this book 4 out of 5, due to story being so-so, I still claim this is a fine message, with a fine transition out of a stereotype and into your own life.

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Categories: 4-5, Fantasy Books, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature, Pirate Books | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Laini Taylor – Daughter of Smoke & Bone | 1

+2Daughter of Smoke & Bone” by Laini Taylor (Daughter of Smoke & Bone 1; ISBN 0316134023; 422p.; Goodreads) was on my to-read list for forever now. And since I’ve read it, I can say I really regret not reading it sooner, before some other books of this genre. For I loved it, but I would’ve loved it even more.

If wishes cost pain proportional, how much could you endure for your heart’s desire? And if someone else could suffer for you, how much would you take, before you couldn’t sleep at night? Out there, somewhere deep in Prague, there’s an ordinary door, with an ordinary building behind them, if you open them yourself. But if you knock and they let you in… In the dark shop there’s almost a constant hum of tools polishing and drilling teeth. A djinn-like creature is putting them on strings into necklaces, for it is teeth that make the wishes come true. There’s certain rules to it, of course. Worn away teeth are little to no use. Baby teeth is not something a respectable place deals in. And the best wishes are right there, in your mouth. Anything you could possibly want in exchange of you extracting all your teeth by yourself, with nothing to dull the pain. What’s worth this price?

These beings are the only family Karou knows. They raised her, they taught her. And now that she’s all grown up, she runs little errands for them, in exchange for the smallest of the small wishes. Just enough to give someone an itch or permanently bad eyebrows. Karou, for the bigger part of her life, didn’t know what a wish costs, other than the general idea: one needs teeth to buy them with. In truth, her whole understanding of the world she lives in, and the world out there, was pretty vague and innocent up until that fateful night when all the doors marked with black scorched hand have burned the gates between the worlds. Between her and her family

The book was truly very interesting up until the part where all the remembering started happening. That’s when it got dull. And while I can still give it a solid 4 out of 5, I can say I would’ve put it on my favorites if not for Sarah J. Maas or Holly Black books.

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

Craig Alanson – Paradise | Expeditionary Force 3

+5Expeditionary Force, so far, is a great sci-fi ride that never fails to amuse. Thus, by book three, “Paradise” by Craig Alanson (Expeditionary Force 3; ASIN B01M27RSKA; 447p.; Goodreads) I can truly recommend it to anyone who likes good humor that steps on no toes, and maybe likes sci-fi too. That, I feel, is not mandatory tho.

Skippy the Magnificent, the glorious sassy ass of an artificial intelligence created by an ancient, now long gone alien race, and Joe Bishop, continue their questing among the stars in search for answers, and, really, anything that could help Skippy find his own folk, and maybe help protect Earth doing so. While they’re at it, Joe, with Skippy’s help, does his best to try and help humans left on an alien planned they dubbed Paradise, which is now more of a jail if not a death trap.

In the meantime, humans on the said Paradise are just trying to survive. They’re planting the crops and raising animals, seed stock they were given back in the day, when things were still going pretty well, and no one suspected it’s the first and last shipment. They’re trying to avoid conflicts too, which is very difficult, since humans already split in two camps: those who still support the warring alien race that got them into this mess; and those who understand the truth. On top of it, not even the locals wish to help them, in fear it’ll be taken as opposing the overlords. Peace is, after all, a very fragile thing.

The book is a little dragged, I admit, and the whole make-a-plan and break-a-plan got repetitive, since after a third such break you’re already conditioned to expect it not go accordingly. But the banter, and even the making of those plans, were amusing to read and/or listen to. I can give it a solid 4 out of 5, and be sure, I’ll grab the fourth one sometime soon.

Categories: 4-5, Books: Funny!, Sci-Fi Books | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Neil Gaiman – Coraline

17061I wanted to read “Coraline” by Neil Gaiman (ISBN 0061139378; 162p.; Goodreads) for an eternity now. But I kept postponing it, because Gaiman, sometimes, feels like Murakami: I can never be sure if I liked it or not, do I want more of what I’ve just read or not. But I worried for nothing. It was a fun book, and I enjoyed it.

Coraline and her family move into a house that has been separated into flats. It’s an old house, with plenty to explore inside, and outside. But as time goes by, and Coraline’s family doesn’t have enough time to play with her, Coraline is slowly but surely running out of ideas. It’s only that many times that she can visit the neighbors without bothering them, after all. And she already counted all the windows, found all the blue things, and, tasked by her mother, looked what’s behind every door. All except one. That one is locked. Her mother claims there’s a wall separating their flat from their neighbors there. But ever since the key was turned, and the door got left unlocked, strange things began to happen.

On the other side of the door there’s this same flat, but different. Out there, in the Other place, live Coraline’s Other mother and Other father, awaiting her dearly. The house looks fun, better stocked for a girl like Coraline, and her parents are always up to play with her. Yet there’s just something off about them, about their behavior, their black shiny buttons for eyes… Coraline, after one lovely night there, expresses her will to return to her actual family. And while Other parents let her go kindly, they claim they’ll be very, very sad without the girl around. And thus they must motivate her to return…

This was a fun story, a bit scary at times, but otherwise really entertaining. The ending left me wanting, as if it was missing a chapter, or at least 20 more pages, but it is as it is. 4 out of 5 from me, solid!

Categories: 4-5, urban fantasy | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Christina Henry – Alice | The Chronicles of Alice 1

23398606I can’t recall how I stumbled upon this book. I don’t think I had it in my to-read list. And while I like Alice in Wonderland re-tellings, especially the scary ones, I don’t go out of my way searching for them. But since I did read it, let’s talk about it. “Alice” by Christina Henry (The Chronicles of Alice 1; ISBN 0425266796; 291p.; Goodreads) was pretty good, and pretty scary. My only regret is that I didn’t put my hands on it in October. But hey, Nosferatu has a blog called Night Mode Reading for a horror reason, so maybe I shouldn’t complain?

For so many years now Alice lived in asylum, daily drugged, and haunted by the fear that the Rabbit was real. The only other person she gets to talk to is the man next door, as insane a creature as she herself. Maybe even more so. She was merely deluded and he actually chopped people up. But even with his oddities, he’s kind to her, and Alice is glad to have a friend. Even if that friend scares her with creepy stories of some dark creature living in the bowels of mental institution, waking…

Alice and Hatcher are likely the only people who survived the fire of the asylum. They’re definitely the only people who witnessed Jabberwocky rise from the flames. And thus it falls on them to stop the creature most would never even believe to exist. Luckily, as time goes by, the drugs they were fed with for all these years begin to wear off, releasing the suppressed memories. Yet whether they won’t break them mad again is a thing to be seen. After all, they’re going back to the very people who drove them mad with torture and horrors. They’re going to the Old City depths, to meet the Bosses of the gangs that rule this cursed place, for if anyone has anything that could stop the Jabberwocky, it will be them.

There’s a lot of blood and gore in this story. It’s dark, and at times – terrifying. But pretty good as stories on Alice go. I did enjoy it, and I can easily give it a 4 out of 5!

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

Kerri Maniscalco “Hunting Prince Dracula” | 2

+huntingprincedraculaI really waited for the “Hunting Prince Dracula” by Kerri Maniscalco (Stalking Jack The Ripper 2; ISBN 031655166X; 434p.; Goodreads), for obvious reasons. And while the book was pretty good, and really good as murder detectives in this time period go (the time of Jack the Ripper, Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, all loose on England), I’m still a little disappointed. For all the wrong reasons too. For as I said, the book is great. But I missed for Dracula around. It was obvious from the first book that there won’t be no threading the supernatural paths, so what the heck did I expect?

Audrey Rose comes to Romania to study forensic medicine in one of the old Dracula castles. Yet from the moment she sets foot on Romanian soil – strange things start to happen. From bones, to wolves, to strange people, to stranger deaths. There’s one dead, seemingly killed by a vampire. There’s another one, apparently killed by a vampire hunter. It didn’t take much digging for Audrey to find out that these dead people are of same bloodline Dracula was from (Basarabs, Danestis, Draculestis). So not only someone is purging the Dracula line, they’re trying to put a superstition, myth into the kettle too! But what the hell for? Is someone trying to reclaim Dracula’s throne?

The castle hides more than just corpses for students to practice on. There’s plenty of locked doors, pitch black corridors, dangerous creatures lurking in the dark, and traps, due to which Audrey had few too many near-death experiences. Yet the answers are far more important than her fear, for her most beloved friend is a Dracula descendant too. She can’t allow innocents to get murdered like that, and she absolutely can’t allow her friend endangered like this either.

I like how Audrey is written. She’s smart, kind, funny, and yet flawed as a human being would be, making her someone I’d gladly be friends with. The story is good too, even if the bad guys turn out to be deluded idiots, for the lack of better wording. But I’ll take one point for my own personal reason of: that’s not the Dracula I wanted. Trust me when I say, these books are very fine October reads: 4 out of 5 from me.

Categories: 4-5, Books: Dracula, Crime Books, LGBTQ+ Books, Nosferatu Books | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Brian McGreevy – Hemlock Grove

12510849Not that long ago I watched series on Netflix called Hemlock Grove. It wasn’t bad, to be honest, especially the first season. Later on I found out that there is a book by Brian McGreevy (ISBN 0374532915; 319p; Goodreads) on which the first season is actually based. And since it’s October, I figured, why not, right? Vampires, werewolves. My verdict? Not too bad.

 

In the town of Hemlock Grove girls are being killed gruesomely. They get torn to shreds, and parts of them are left for people to find. It doesn’t look like it’s wolves. And bears don’t exactly act like that either. That creepy giant of a girl with strange lights under her skin, the Godfrey daughter Shelly, might have had enough strength to tear a girl up tho, right? But to try and question the freak would mean stepping over Roman Godfrey, her weirdo of a brother. He looked normal, but bloody hell, the boy was not normal. Or maybe it’s that gypsy who moved into the trailer in the woods? Rumor has it he’s a werewolf. Hey, you never know, with the White Tower, pulsing it’s white light like the very heart of the Hemlock Grove, with the blasphemous experiments happening within the lab walls – werewolves might just be real.

Peter didn’t expect the new place they moved to to be this much of a muck. First he gets accused of being a werewolf. Then he befriends an actual upir, babbling something about the Order of the Dragon. And all those damned bodies. If it really is a werewolf – they’re in a lot of trouble, all of them. For the being changes on the wrong moon, and the rule, that werewolves change on full moon is there for a reason!

The book is easy to read, but is written a bit odd. Here you spectate from the third person perspective, there you’re reading a journal, or a letter. The best part was the mythology, the werewolves, the vampires. Tho there’s little to none of those, mind you. Still, I can give this 4 out of 5, tho I will refrain from recommendations. As for series, they’re watchable.

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

Lynn Flewelling – Casket of Souls [6]

10184855Yep. The last Lynn Flewelling book in Nightrunner series wasn’t the best (but it was pretty good anyway), therefore this one, “Casket of Souls” (Nightrunner 6; ISBN 0345522303; 476p.; Goodreads) is far better. Yes, the titles are very spoiler-filled, and author doesn’t care to keep any suspense whatsoever, but the characters are easy to like, and I will miss them dearly when the adventures are over.

People of Rhimenee, in hardships brought by war time, get struck down with a mysterious plague they call Sleeping Death. People, mostly just poorest of the poor, fall into a sleep-like coma, and stay so until death of starvation or thirst claims them. No one knows where it came from, what’s causing it, or even if it’s contagious. Not many even care to make a fuss about it, ask these questions out loud, until important people start falling ill too.

In the meantime there’s a new theater trope in the city, and everyone seems to love them. Alec and Seregil make sure to get into the fan crowd as part of it too, if only for the sake to have actors, with whom people often talk very openly, and who hear a lot of things too, on their side. Yet both of our beloved characters harbor healthy distance due to suspicion. After all, they got here just barely before plague started, and they did admit they had to run from their previous home.

You can likely guess that the story is very predictable. From the title, to the newcomers, to the author inserting actual chapters of the evil guys doing evil deeds as if she’s letting us in on a secret. But the adventures are usually fun, and characters – pleasant, so I really can’t give it any less than 4 out of 5. Lovely ending too!

Categories: 4-5, Books: Fantasy, Fantasy Books, high fantasy, LGBTQ+ Books | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Joe Dispenza – Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself

12951631I’m trying to read more nonfiction books too, among all the fiction. Don’t know yet how I’ll be able to review them properly, and should I, even. But let’s give it a shot, shall we? I picked up “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself” by Joe Dispenza (ISBN 1401938086; 329p.; Goodreads), due to many reasons, among which my belief that nothing changes, unless you start changing things, is not the smallest. And, honestly, it’s not a bad book, even if I can’t agree with all of it. Nor can I understand some of the instructions. But it was worth the time.

Author, with all the love and respect to your person, tells you outright – if you want to be someone else – stop being yourself. For instance, if you are, like me, a bit on the lazy side, and wish you could enjoy working more, so that you’d not feel too lazy before you even started it – start being that person. How, you ask, you’re still lazy? Well, that’s the damn thing. By associating things, we create shortcuts for them in our brain, to hell with the terminology, and end up unconsciously following patterns, rather than actually experiencing what’s before us. For me, my first jobs were gruesome hard work. So work equals hard, equals tired, equals don’t want to, equals lazy. Today my work is far less demanding, and yet I’m still lazy, because that’s what word “work” evokes in my brain. Author, thus, leads us through series of explanations, and meditations, of how to cut that cord, and make a new one. Basically, how to become your better self, or stop being your lazy self.

The other point he made was autopilot. Our brain trains our body to do, and react, and eventually body takes over. For instance, I might not be able to tell you my PIN, but I will enter it easily. The day I realized I can’t remember the numbers was the day I met a different key-pad. We do that with far more things than we imagine. Our body learns that, say, we react like this to this kind of comment, and so – we react. Rather than being present, and making a conscious decision, after a proper evaluation.

In the end, this was an interesting read. Reminded me a lot of The Secret, but then, I know, love, and respect many people who read that book, and took a firm grip on their life after that, so maybe this one’s just as good a manual of how. Because, let’s face it, if you won’t put the will into it, nothing’s gonna magically happen. Therefore I give this book 4 out of 5, because even tho this is a good manual, at points it felt like ikea manual. I really don’t know what to do, when I’m told “act like it already happened“.

Categories: 4-5, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Jeaniene Frost – Twice Tempted [2]

x2You didn’t think I’ll quit Night Prince series by Jeanine Frost just because it was a silly-ish romance, did you? That never happened, and there where’s Dracula – never will. So let’s get into the “Twice Tempted” (Night Prince 2; ISBN 0062076108; 360p.; Goodreads), the second book on Leila the lightening woman, and Vlad Basarab Dracula, the fire-starting vampire.

As much as Leila loves Vlad and his people, the treatment he’s offering is rubbing her the wrong way. He disappears without a word on why, where, when. He acts a bit cold. Makes her adjust to his vampiric life, making little effort to adjust to hers. And the final straw – he offers her vampirism in a party he threw, before all his subjects, when both she, and her sister thought really, he’s going to propose. In a state of anger Leila rage-quits everything, sparing no words or actions. She packs up, breaks it off, and leaves. And if she thought her broken heart was bad enough, wait ’till she finds out Vlad’s ex is back on the radar.

Not too late after this whole nasty drama, an explosion meant to kill Leila nearly succeeds, in her stead killing innocents, her friends. Who’d want her dead, and who’d take such indirect, gruesome measures to kill her? Well, honestly the list isn’t all that short, and she can put Prince of the Darkness on it too. Lucky for her, Vlad’s right arm man is ready to help her, and defend her if need be, even from Vlad himself…

This one, to be honest, was pretty good. While the petty things author tried to make you believe are not very believable, the other stuff, like that small little plot twist, gets the job done. Apparently there’s more than just vampires, heck, there’s whole witchcraft and wizardry thing going on. I can give this book a well deserved 4 out of 5.

Categories: 4-5, Books of Supernaturals, Books: Dracula, Gothic Books, Nosferatu Books, urban fantasy, vampires, Vlad Dracula III | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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