4-5

John Burdett “Bangkok Haunts” | Sonchai Jitpleecheep 3

22So then. I really loved first Sonchai Jitpleecheep series book by John Burdett. And I hated the second one just as much. Thus I picked up the third book, “Bangkok Haunts” (Sonchai Jitpleecheep 3; ISBN 0307263185; 305p.; Goodreads) very carefully. I was really worried it’ll now become a common detective with some family drama to it, set in Asia. Lucky for me, that did not happen.

Sonchai received a snuff movie. The kind of a pornographic video where one of the parties gets killed. And while it’s strange in itself that someone would sent it to a cop, it is far stranger that the victim seemed to be willing and encouraging the killer to get on with it. What kind of logic could get someone so willing to die, on a video too, for someone’s sick pleasure? It’s not like the dead need money, but there’s definitely a hint towards some kind of gain the dead woman got.

Worse than the video itself for Sonchai is the fact that he knew the woman in the video, and was madly in love with her at some point. To add to injury, in the video she wore a ring he gave her, as if expecting him to one day see the tape. Sonchai, thus, has no choice, but to try and solve this master plan someone birthed.

This was a strange and interesting read. It definitely got better at the end. I loved the crazy occult things, spiritual reaping, madness, and even the description of human cruelty. I can give it a strong 4 out of 5 for sure.

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Categories: 4-5, Books of Occult, Books of Supernaturals, Books: Everything, Crime Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Peter Monn “The Before Now and After Then”

2I watched Peter Monn on YouTube for a while before I actually learned that he wrote a YA romance book called “The Before Now and After Then” (ASIN B00M8B6CLE; 304p.; Goodreads). As Peter in his videos points out, sometimes YA falls into that category, because the protagonists are young adults, while in truth the book might by for adults, merely having teens as characters. Maybe that’s the reason this book felt like a mature piece of work, a well polished piece by someone, well, like Peter. There’s a lot of him to be found here, and it’s likely made better by his vlogs, for you can really see where the things are coming from then. But even without them, this is a fine book.

Danny is a twin. His brother died in an accident, getting hit by a drunk person while going home from a park. Park was part of the plan. Sam wished to help Danny come out to their parents, so he got away from home, giving Danny time. Afterwards he was supposed to come back, crack a silly gay joke, and relief any possible tension. Thing is, they didn’t even expect tension, it was just a precaution. And yet that precaution got Danny’s life upside-down.

He found his parents fighting over his father’s affair. He blurred out that he’s gay. And then a doorbell rang, there – an officer here to tell of Sam’s death. Now, six whole months later, Danny is waking from the death’s stupor. He’s starting to realize that he has no idea who or what he is. Everyone around him seem to define him by these too broad or too narrow titles. Before it was so much easier: Sam’s friends were his friends, Sam’s hobbies were his hobbies… But new school (or new school year?) means new experience. He soon meets a charming girl named Cher, who befriends him right away. And then there’s the handsome Rusty for whom Danny is head over heels in mere moments. Time for the living to figure the damn life out.

It’s a beautiful love story. At points it got a little too idyllic, but it worked with the general way author wrote and described things. I really loved the evolution of characters, that was pretty damn brilliant. At the end of the book I preferred the bully more than the love interest. Merely because that one took actions when action was needed, while Rusty ran off without even trying, and next thing you know, came back expecting everyone to take him back. Yes, expecting. He stated the fact first, and asked later. I give this book a very solid 4 out of 5, one point away due to something greatly missing in the whole picture. And be sure, when Peter finishes his next book, I’ll be there to snag it.

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

Neven Iliev “Fizzlesprocket” | Everybody Loves Large Chests 2

1Finally! Finally I got my hands on second book in Neven Iliev series Everybody Loves Large Chests, “Fizzlesprocket” (Everybody Loves Large Chests 2; ASIN B07B42T4YD; 306p.; Goodreads). First one was great. Second one – less so. Never thought I’ll say this, but there were too many dirty jokes, they got to a point where it was just vulgarity for the sake of it, it wasn’t funny, and it flopped half of a book as a result. The other half was great tho.

When Boxxy noticed that some adventurers surpass him in abilities and skills, even if their levels are lacking. This has gotten him curious, for a boost is always welcome for our little mimic who is just trying to survive. And get tasties. And get shinies. So he watched and inspected, and came to a sensible conclusion that it was the gear they wore that gave them this said tasty boost. Yet putting this knowledge to practice turned out to be mighty time consuming and complicated. For there are no shops, apparently, that sell box-shaped armor.

For one, people feel strange dread, fear, uneasiness around monsters, no matter how human they look. So even if Boxxy overcame the first obstacle, and found a way to look more human, if a little grotesque as men come, he still had to navigate through people who shunned him without knowing why. Fear can easily turn into anger, and that would just not be tasty. For two, learning a crafting skill turned out to be both time consuming, and shiny-costing, forcing Boxxy to take up some quests now again, which wasn’t all that bad, for he got to consume corpses afterwards, and get more gold for it. It’s the third thing that turned out to be a real pain. After the whole Calamity happened, humans got on edge. Security got tighter, adventurers in disguise started investigating who did it. For while official story claimed it was elves, since that allowed an open war against that nuisance of a race, secretly authorities worked towards finding and punishing the real culprit. After all, no one wants that to happen again. And you have to admit, tall dark strangers, especially the strong-silent types, are mighty suspicious to begin with, even if they didn’t make you feel all strange and uneasy.

So as I said, dirty jokes got far out of line. Vulgarity for the sake of vulgarity is never funny, and it really got old really fast. Luckily, it broke off quite suddenly too, and pace picked up as plot intensified. So the whole second part of the book was far better. I loved the ending too, so I will definitely read the third book too. This one gets 4 out of 5 for the time being.

Categories: 4-5, Books: Everything, Books: Fantasy, Books: Funny!, Fantasy Books, high fantasy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shane Dawson “It Gets Worse: A Collection of Essays”

3Oddly, second collection of memoir essays by Shane Dawson, “It Gets Worse” (ISBN 1501132857; 256p.; Goodreads) was, well, worse. Ironically, because it didn’t get any worse: I feel like he already told the darkest stories in his previous book. But that being said, I still did enjoy reading it, I am absolutely happy that I did, and if there’d be a third one, I’d read it too.

This time stories revolve on three main topics: dealing with new knowledge of sexual orientation; paranormal activities due to dead loving grandma; becoming a film director. The first topic lead to some fine stories of terrifying world of dating apps, kind strangers, and self-acceptance. I like how there’s the common theme for likely a lot of people with the less common sexual orientations: once you figure out what is it, it shines light on your whole life experience so far. Shane, too, seemingly figured a lot of things of why it was the way it was. Second topic scared the living hell out of me, for I have no reason to think people lie when they tell stories like that. Avoid reading stories about his grandma at night. Nightmares for days. And the third topic, my favorite, was of him breaking free as a film director. Shane’s humor is definitely not for everyone, and sometimes those who encouraged it to blossom, end up misunderstanding everything the most.

So, all in all, it’s worth reading both of these books, they’re good. Shane’s a very interesting person, and I’m happy that he’s finding happiness, little by little. I’ll give this book a 4 out of 5, for it lacked a little. But as I said before, if there’d be more, I’d read more.

Categories: 4-5, Biographies, Books: Everything, Books: Funny! | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Victoria Dalpe – Parasite Life

4Received “Parasite Life” by Victoria Dalpe (ISBN 1771483970; 260p.; Goodreads) from the publishers, or maybe the author, I can’t recall. It was intriguing, and I had nothing better to do, so why not a vampire book, right? Yes, right. I didn’t expect to get what I got, and I can’t figure out whether that’s bad or brilliant. So let me just tell you of the book.

Jane lives her life in a creepy old house, with her dying mother. She’s asocial, but not by choice. her nature, invisible to the eye, is pulling at the primal instincts in people, making their skin crawl. Even her own mother, with as little expression as she has left, seems to show no will to communicate with her daughter. So, with no friends, hated and shunned, Jane tries to survive until she can finally leave. Somewhere. Anywhere. Up until a new girl, a gorgeous gothy Sabrina shows up, and turns her whole world around. Starting with this new sensation of having a friend, and escalating to love. And passion, during which Jane unceremoniously got drunk with Sabrina, forced herself on her, after a very clear no, and gnawed at her neck to sate the beast inside. For Jane is a vampire, and her mother is dying due to this dark nature of hers.

Sabrina, either to her own kind heart, stupidity, or compulsion of a vampire, forgives Jane, and they set off on a quest to find Jane’s father, the very one who passed this gene upon her. Jane hopes he’d know of a cure, or at least some substitute she could use instead of constantly abusing Sabrina. Or, maybe he could teach her how to be better. And oh boy, does Hugh McGarrett has lessons for her. Not the least one is how easy it is to manipulate those who aren’t afraid of their kind. People like Sabrina.

Jane is a horrible little monster. First bells rang in my head when she called herself a “seducer” after she forced herself on this girl. Rapist is the word, Jane. Second, she thinks she’s giving something by, what? Caring for a stray cat, and dying mother, who is dying because of this “care” she’s providing? Or was it caring to drag a girl on a wild chase of some man who never wanted to have anything to do with her, because hey, that friend has a license, can take her mum’s car, and oh, Jane can feed on her all the way there, all the while smooching up, and playing with the “I love you, I need you” cards. And then the very, very final straw was when this girl, while laying down the body of the person who saved her, claimed she has saved herself. Yes, you locked yourself in, good job on saving your sorry ass. So, as you can see, I’m feeling extremely negative towards this book. But I will give it a 4 out of 5 anyway (3 might be more fitting, due to lack of substance in secondary characters, like Sabrina). Here’s why: I hope that author is not insane, but rather – brilliant. Jane is a very classic vampire. A disgusting creature, deluded into believing any demented reason they come up with on why their existence is good. I do believe that if Stoker’s Dracula would’ve been written from his perspective, we would’ve heard how kind and generous he is too. So with that hope, that’s the rate I’ll give this book. Don’t read it if you don’t like the image of the modern vampire tarnished.

Categories: 3-5, 4-5, Books of Supernaturals, Books: Everything, F/F Literature, Gothic Books, Nosferatu Books, urban fantasy, vampires | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jordan L. Hawk – Widdershins | Whyborne & Griffin 1

2I love high-fantasy genre the most. But once tired from yet another world, yet another magic system, I tend to rest with books that have magic in our world, and preferably – not too modern. Thus I was recommended “Widdershins” by Jordan L. Hawk (Whyborne & Griffin 1; ISBN 0988564106; 236p.; Goodreads). A fine book of magic, occult, and homunculi-like beasts that seem to have crawled out of a Tzimisce wet dream.

Whyborne lived his life in a self-built prison. He studied, he worked, and he tried not to think too much. When he was little, his best friend, and likely the first crush, has drowned due to young Whyborne being unable to hold on to him in a stormy lake. So he buried himself under his work, in awful conditions, suffering through mockery, bullying, and lack of family connections, due to him not pursuing the career his father chose for him. Whyborne is one of the best translators around, so there’s plenty of work at any given time. Thus one can imagine, detective Griffin Flaherty, previously from some fine post in a far bigger place, barging in with a sort of a necronomicon for Whyborne to translate for some obscure case – didn’t amuse him much. He hoped to translate it, and be done with this nuisance of having to deal with another person, who isn’t his only friend – Christine.

But the more he read the book, the odder it got. Not only did spells seemingly work, for Whyborne, against his better judgement, did try one or two, the book keeps referring to a god worshiped by a ruler in Egypt who was systematically deleted from history. His tomb was discovered by Christine, untouched for all the treasures. It seemed then, that the tomb was not sealed for keeping the looters out, but rather, to keep something, or someone – inside.

This was a great adventure. Romance part wasn’t my thing in this case, too tacky, too cheesy, with too many cliche moments. But the magic was great! I hope to learn more about the book Whyborne translated in the next one, so I can give this one a fair 4 out of 5.

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

Kevin Kwan – Rich People Problems | Crazy Rich Asians 3

1Ah. It’s been a long time, fam, since the last time I’ve read a third book in the series, not realizing there’s the first and the second before it. But here I am, in the Age of Goodreads, with “Rich People Problems” by Kevin Kwan (Crazy Rich Asians 3; ISBN 0385542232; 398p.; Goodreads), third book in the series, or trilogy, I don’t even know. Must say, it was pretty good. Not the best of the best, and neither the funniest in the genre or, well, in general. But it was amusing, and I think I will read the other two too.

Shang-Young clan is a mighty and wide family, with each child and grandchild on one path to greatness or another. Some married as class demands, and are now as good as royalty, sporting pretty ridiculous titles, and demanding to be treated with full protocol. Others pursued love. While in rare cases it didn’t bring much money, most were still happy. With more commonly the children of these love marriages being bitter about not being anyone of importance, virtually nobodies, in the thick cream of Singaporean somebodies. And of course, there are those who had falling outs with the family, society, or just chose too extreme a lifestyle to be part of anything Shang-Young related. All up until they all ended up united by the deathbed of their beloved mother and grandmother, Su Yi. After a heart failure, this might truly be the last time for them to be with her, and possibly – make it up to her, and get into that lavish will…

Su Yi has a chance to set her records straight, now that the sudden heart failure has rendered her sort of free, and with majority of the family – at hand. Thus, behind the backs of loving and/or greedy children and grandchildren, she pulls at her strings. With the help of the loyal servants, whose faith is in her hands too, she intends to give blessings where blessings are due, forgiveness where such is needed, and her own apologies, in hopes to see the most loved ones return to the flock. After all, it is those latter ones she needs to entrust with her biggest secrets, and she has plenty of those. Granny Su Yi will make peace, and make them make peace too!

It’s an amusing read. The main, or rather the general story is pretty plain, and average at best, but the exaggerated stuff was fun. The whole famous rich bloggers from Singapore, the half-white children, the dresses with gold plating, sabotage of enemies, and the terrible need to hide any possible lack in every possible sense. The ridiculousness of these people was what drove this book for me. So I can happily give it a 4 out of 5, and, I guess I’ll read the other two too.

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

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.

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: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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