4-5

detective | “Jackrabbit Smile” by Joe R. Lansdale | Hap and Leonard 12

2Author: Joe R. Lansdale
Title: Jackrabbit Smile
Series: Hap and Leonard 12
Genre: Crime, Thriller
Pages: 256
Rate: 4/5 | Goodreads

So I took a book, I’ve read it, went to goodreads to mark it, and got deja vu. For once again, like in the good old times, I’ve read a hell knows which book in a series. But since I have no plans to read any more of these, it is as it is, and it’ll be fine.

About: Hap and Leonard weren’t all too pleased to accept a job from a white supremacists couple. They came to them as last resort, bringing in a handful of family along, expressed their displeasure of Leonard being black (little did they know, he’s gay too), and their grief over their missing daughter. She disappeared soon after giving birth to a black baby, and they no longer expect to see her alive. They merely want to know what happened.

The town these two go to investigate in is run by white supremacists and crazy folk. Most businesses are owned by a man called Professor, who has his own philosophy of why people of color and whites shouldn’t mix. Church was ran by folk who believed the world will end due to lizard people who live among us. And the mass there was held by a man who wanted to die of a gruesome torture, and seemingly got his final wish fulfilled. So, wherever you turn, there’s a something…

Mine: While the story itself was very mediocre, it’s written very well, and is full of good wit, funny jokes, and strong characters. And I’ve said this time, and time again: a good character can fix any plot. So if you ever need something light, funny, with maybe a little touch of scary shit, due to murder and all that, keep these series in mind. I will too.

I don’t really intend to read any more now, but hey, never say never. This book gets a solid 4 out of 5. I don’t know how those other ones are, but this one was nice and firm, and you can absolutely follow the story, no matter the past books.

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Categories: 4-5, Books: Crime, Books: Everything, Books: Funny!, Crime Books, Detective Books, LGBTQ+ Books, Thriller Books | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

fantasy | “Season of Storms” by A. Sapkowski | Witcher Saga 0

9Author: Andrzej Sapkowski
Title: Season of Storms
Series: The Witcher Saga 0
Genre: Fantasy, Dark Fantasy
Pages: 419
Rate: 4/5 | Goodreads

I never expected to pick up another book from the Witcher Saga after I finished the original one. Author himself once claimed he has no intentions on writing more, unless he’d be very, very short of money. And only recently did I find out how little in truth he got from the whole game industry that bought his rights to these marvelous characters. Yet, all in all, I believe he wrote it, because he wanted to write it, all reasons aside.

About: We all get those streaks of bad luck sometimes. To Geralt they began when he was asked to put his swords in a locker for safe-keeping. And, of course, they went missing. It seems that all things that could go wrong – did go wrong. Here he ends up on a boat with crew who robbed a relentless, vengeful creature. There he killed a beast that turned out to be a genetic experiment by one of the oldest mages alive. Top it with a fool goetia practitioner, and you have a whole pot of horseshit at your hands. And while Dandelion is writing romantic ballads out of these troubles, and Geralt tracks his swords, a storm brews around them. For such is the season, of storms. And what is a witcher in such a season, without his swords?

Mine: I really missed this. I missed Geralt, his badass skill, inhuman abilities, ace level sarcasm, and his extreme love for every sorceress he ever lays eyes upon. I missed Dandelion’s attempts to bravery too, and all the possible jokes they told each other, including the “that time this beast barged in on Vesimir in the latrine” stuff. The book is marked as zero, a stand-alone, but I do really strongly suggest you read it after you’re done with them all. That way you won’t get spoilers, for there are plenty. And you’ll get to know what happened before, and after that whole ordeal with Ciri has began. It was very interesting.

So while there were some serious hiccups, I must say, if you’re as nostalgic for Witcher books as I was, you’ll like this one. I’m giving it a very strong 4 out of 5. Would happily add points for the song Dandelion put together at the end, and that one dwarf…

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

diversity | “Dread Nation” by Justina Ireland | Dread Nation 1

2Author: Justina Ireland
Title: Dread Nation
Series: Dread Nation 1
Genre: Alternative History, Zombies
Pages: 455
Rate: 4/5 | Goodreads

Character-wise this book was like a gust of fresh air. For instance, our main hero is a young black woman warrior with attitude befitting someone with her skill and their underestimation. Yet, story-wise, the book was very mediocre.

About: The war between states of America has come to a halt when dead started rising on the battlefields, and killing the living. Like a plague they run over the whole nation, and possibly beyond that. Some say it is because slavery has been made illegal. Others care not for this nonsense, and still treat the colored folk as secondary. Which led to schools of combat made especially for them, where people of color were taught to fight and defend.

In some places in America there are walled off safe havens. But safety is relative in places where dead don’t stay dead. Jane McKeen could almost smell her graduation from Miss Preston’s School of Combat as her life got flipped, and the core of it might just lie in one of those places. It all started mildly. Like a lord turning into a shambler mid-ball. Then one of the best families in Baltimore disappeared, leaving everything behind. Next thing you know, she has been packed off to defend one of these undefendable forts people called havens. She was put in lines of poorly trained brothers and sisters of color. She was given weapons which wouldn’t cut grass, let alone zombies. And she was told not to kill, unless necessary… But once hordes come in, of creatures seemingly smarter than the stuff she killed before, she makes her mind up. To survive, and to get some damn answers.

Mine: Somewhere in the background there’s zombies, hordes of them, crawling through forests and planes. Those who died recently are fast, agile. Those who died before are slower, but gather in greater numbers. They are seemingly evolving too… And yet all we get to read about are intrigues, crushes, lies, politics, brutes, and Jane’s want to get away from every place she lands in. She complains about how her weapons are trash for long, long chapters, and yet kills things easy enough. In fact, everyone kills with little to no taste of horror in the air, even when lines are broken, and things start roaming in the streets. It seems all we get is this one narrow bubble with, well, no feeling to it. The only reason it wasn’t boring was Jane herself. I said time and again, a good character can save your lack of plot any day. Jane’s the only reason I’ll continue with the further books, with hopes they’ll improve story-wise. How do you make a zombie book so very… Not?

I don’t know, I didn’t like the way the story was told much. I’ll give it a wobbly 4 out of 5, only because the characters were interesting.

Categories: 4-5, Books: Everything, LGBTQ+ Books, zombies | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

crime | “Crew” by Tijan | Crew 1

4Author: Tijan
Title: Crew
Series: Crew 1
Genre: Crime, Young Adult
Pages: 500
Rate: 4/5 | Goodreads

Ah. Here’s a book I would’ve loved ten years ago. Even now I thought it was pretty good. Author seems to specialize in these romances of young criminals. The only thing not up my alley was their age. Dunno, I’m almost thirty, high-school seniors just don’t cut it.

About: Bren lost everyone she loved. Her mother died of cancer. Her father drank himself until he landed in prison. Her brother lived his life until he got her guardianship trust upon him. To fill in the void Bren joined the meanest and baddest Wolf Crew. This town is all about the crews, and the gangs. There’s a very clear line between “normals” and “crew“. Everyone did their own thing, operated their own ship, and lived their own lives. Up until someone got fed up with all these dangerous and armed kids. Reforms began. Improved security, special programs, new pressure. Many lost their minds in this new bright spotlight they were put to. Masks fell, some fell with them, others rose out of their ashes. Things are about to change, and change hard.

Mine: Even though romance was better than in most books due to characters being equal counterparts in the Crew and society, I still skimmed over it. I understand we’ve all been high-school teenagers and have loved and done things, but bloody hell, I’m having easier time to process them beating each other up to a pulp than confess eternal love to one another. Another thing, due to the distinct line between normal people and crew people, it felt like reading a fan-fic about werewolf packs. You need to remind yourself these are just humans now and again. Other than that, it was pretty great. Well written, and Bren was interesting too. I knew people like her. Heck, I am still friends with a person like her. It felt familiar, and I liked that little connection.

I really didn’t want to read this book. The annotation is horrible, cheesy. But I decided to read it anyway, and so I can give it a 4 out of 5. For it was really not bad at all. Might be worth looking into Tijan’s bibliography after all.

Categories: 4-5, Books: Crime, Books: Everything, crews, gangs, etc | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

diversity | “Armistice” by Lara Elena Donnelly | The Amberlough Dossier

3Author: Lara Elena Donnelly
Title: Armistice
Series: The Amberlough Dossier 2
Genre: Fiction, LGBT Literature
Pages: 400
Rate: 4/5 | Goodreads

The more you read these books, the more interesting they get. I blame the width of the perimeter you must keep your eyes locked on. There’s too many details to actually remember, not just notice. But as I read it for the second time, for I have done so, I figured I’ll read every single one in these series that author will provide. Because damn.

About: Amberlough is being destroyed by war. But the revolutionists are still fighting, the partisans, the guerrilla, known best as Catwalk organisation. Gathered together by former cabaret dancers, and led by them, they live in this nightmare with hope to see Amberlough as beautiful as it once was, free.

Cordelia wants to aid this revolution and survive too. So she smuggles herself into the enemy territory, into Armistice, where she roams around seeking contacts, work, help. She didn’t really expect to find actual friends out here, thriving. Nor that they’ll still want to do anything with her or this revolution, even if they loved their country. But here she is, working for a warmonger, arms smuggler, in hopes she can serve them enough for them to serve her in return.

Politics are more cutthroat and criminal than actual criminal world. Spies double-cross on moments notice. No one can be trusted. Not even your own cold fury and heartache.

Mine: Vintage, glam, smoke, spies, and striptease. The story is so damn attractive that for once, I’ve read and enjoyed every single detail. The world was amazing too, culture so foreign, so different, and yet still familiar enough to accept, understand, see what author did there (5 points if you get the reference). For instance, polygamy is okay, same sex marriage is accepted if not always understood. But gods forbid you’ll have dalliances if you’re a widower. You’ll be destroyed. I loved it. The only minus I got was the amount of names and code-names. Some names were too hard for me to remember, since I’ve a hard time with names as is. Others simply changed along the way. But this could just be my own personal problem. And, for those who care, diversity comes in these forms: most strongest leaders are women here; there’s different orientations present among main characters; main characters are by far not always white; the culture seems based on India and  possibly Middle Asia;

Beautiful book. Maybe not the very best story you’ll ever read, but so damn gorgeous that I, for one, will definitely await more with eager. 4 out of 5, as strong as it gets.

Categories: 4-5, Books: Everything, Books: LGBT, LGBTQ+ Books, Thriller Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

dracula | “Powers of Darkness” by Bram Stoker; Valdimar Asamundsson

1Author: Bram Stoker; Valdimar Asamundsson
Title: Powers of Darkness: The Lost Version of Dracula
Series: –
Genre: Horror Literature, Gothic Literature
Pages: 320
Rate: 4/5 | Goodreads

I set myself a small but not easy task. I want to read one book of Dracula every month this year. And I’ve started this challenge real well too, with, seemingly, the lost version of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”. For he had to edit and censor his for England of those times. But he didn’t have to send the edited version to every other publisher abroad, apparently. So, places like Iceland got something different from what our copies might be.

About: The book is not ground-breakingly different. The essence is exactly the same. Except that here, after a very, very long debate by translators and whoever else at the start, we get different proportions, and slightly differently toned characters. For instance, while we had a fairly short visit at Dracula’s castle, or at least a short description, for it wasn’t all that short for Harker, and then a longer story of the hunt for Dracula in England, here we got the opposite. Most of the book is purely Harker roaming about Dracula’s castle, realizing he’s a prisoner, and that he really, really likes Dracula’s niece. The rest of the book is told very quickly, in meager little chapters, and not in the already familiar diary form. As for differences in characters, Dracula is a bit more blunt, and fairly more sexual being, not at all timid with his words or compliments. Others got some alterations too, but due to lack of interaction with them, since there virtually was no continuation after Harker fled the castle, I’ve nothing to tell other than what translators at the beginning told.

Mine: At the start of the book the translators will tell you high and mighty what this book is supposed to be, how it’s different, how different are the characters, their interactions among themselves. After a long debate, they come to a conclusion that this is: a) a rewriting by Icelandic translator; b) a blessed by Stoker rewriting by Icelandic translator; c) the original that Bram Stoker wrote, but couldn’t publish. In my humble opinion, they spoke too much to serve us what they served. If this is not word-to-word translation, and is instead an abbreviation, for I honestly tell you, at the end we’re told “and then Dracula came, roamed around, and those guys killed him” rephrasing, then I’m more than a little bit upset. And then, if it is an uncut gem, fully translated book, then it is marvelously bad. Either way, it seems, I’m not very happy.

If you like Dracula the way I do, both the historical figure who might have inspired Stoker, and the myth, the legend, Count Dracula the Vampire, then you should read this book, no matter what. And Dacre Stoker’s works too, mostly for his own speeches in them. This is also the reason I give this book a 4 out of 5, no less. For otherwise, if you are not a fan, this is not worth that high of a score, no.

Categories: 4-5, Books: Dracula, Gothic Books, vampires | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

heist | “Vegas Heist” by Van Allen Plexico

1Author: Van Allen Plexico
Title: Vegas Heist
Series: –
Genre: Thriller, Heist, Crime
Pages: 240
Rate: 4/5 | Goodreads

I’m not a big fan of the Ocean 11 times heists. I prefer modern stuff, where you need a lot more brain to not get caught, and get anything out of the job. But this book honestly surprised me, and amused me plenty with, well, Karma.

About: Caesars Palace in Las Vegas was to open the doors for clients on New Years eve. Meaning fellas didn’t have much time to neither plan, nor prepare for the heist they’re about to pull. But they know just about enough to pull this off, and walk away with a large chunk of money. Yet, another problem, from the very beginning the team consisted out of guys who were no longer very keen on sharing. Especially when ever more people came in for a share, be it merely a half-share, or a full one. And, honestly, all it would take… Pull the trigger, press the detonator, stab your friend in the back. When the smoke settles, and rubble stops falling we’ll see who’ll walk away, and what share will remain in their hands. If anyone, if anything. For the net of angry criminals is wider than most of them think, and strings are being pulled from places far further than the vault room.

Mine: This book reminded me of the best bits from Ocean’s 11 movies, the very best parts. It was amusing, funny at times, but dealt serious business none the less. My favorite was the Karma, reminded me of a saying “easy does it“, but I won’t tell you why, just in case you might care to read it. Be sure, the ending is damn right perfect. And the book itself is written well too. If you follow the plot closely, it’s great, you get it, you know. Because of the names. That being the big minus for me; I’m not okay with is having to re-read parts, because it’s easy to mix up very, very similar characters pulling different ends of the web.

It’s a good, refreshing, and amusing book. I can give it a solid 4 out of 5, with only that one minus about too similar characters being my problem. I’d read more. And I might just read more by the author, just to see.

Categories: 4-5, Books: Crime, Books: Everything, Crime Books, heists, Thriller Books | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

diversity | “Reign of the Fallen” by Sarah Glenn Marsh | 1

3Author: Sarah Glenn Marsh
Title: Reign of the Fallen
Series: Reign of the Fallen 1
Genre: Fantasy, LGBT Literature
Pages: 374
Rate: 4/5 | Goodreads

This book has been on my TBR for a very long time now. Back in the day, due to it being Young Adult fantasy, and not Adult fantasy, it got a little bit hyped as an LGBT literature piece. So I figured, between Hawk and KJC, I might as well pick it up sooner than later.

About: In the secluded kingdom of Karthia the dead reign. People, upon the law of their eternal king, refuse any change. So their king and everyone else who can afford the services of the blue-eyed necromancers, get killed periodically, and then brought back from the Deadlands with the help of their close relatives. The dead then must wear shrouds and layers of clothing, for even the slightest piece of them seen by mortal eyes will turn them into all-devouring monsters called Shades.

But even with the change forbidden and the king – honestly caring and loving, not all are happy. Not all are content to be forever second by the table. Not are are okay with being unable to compete with someone who has hundreds of years of experience over them. And, apparently, judging from the greatest Shade Odessa has ever seen, who just tossed mangled body of the greatest, oldest necromancer among them, just as she opened the gates to bring back the king yet again, someone’s ready for some change right now. No matter the price.

Mine: I like a story that doesn’t remind me of any other. I like a hero who is not much of a hero. And I like romance where love is not an obstacle towards something greater. The fantasy in this book could easily be considered high-fantasy. Magic is split into casts according to your eye-color, but apparently isn’t limited to it. And the way it ended leaves the future clear: adventures are on the way. LGBT itself is served similar to the video games such as Elder Scrolls (Oblivion, Skyrim, ESO), meaning: nobody cares whom you love. And is not limited to side characters either. If you like books driven by adventure and revolution, if you liked what Shades of Magic was, and maybe even the Fifth Season, you will surely like this one too. For it is like them, but absolutely not anything like them.

This was a very good book. And while I use this word often these days: it was unique. At times it was a little bit slow, so I can only give it a 4 out of 5, but as pace picked up – I’d forget all about it time and again.

Categories: 4-5, Books: Everything, Books: LGBT, F/F Literature, Fantasy Books, high fantasy, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“City of Ghosts” by Victoria Schwab | Cassidy Blake 1

2Author: Victoria Schwab
Title: City of Ghosts
Series: Cassidy Blake
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal
Pages: 272
Rate: 4/5 | Goodreads

Wanted something good to end the year with, so I picked up another book by V.E. Schwab. She’s one of my favorite authors, all things well written. I hope someday we get her books translated into Lithuanian, there’s plenty of genres to choose from, and it’d enrich any library.

About: Cassidy has died. Well, not really. She nearly died by drowning in a freezing river. But a ghost boy named Jacob saved her. And ever since – they’re best friends. But beside this new friend and new appreciation to life, Cassidy was left with another gift. She can enter through the Veil of the dead, where spirits who have not moved on reside, often re-living their death over, and over, in a little unchanging bubble. She can see them, talk to them, and, as later turns out, help them move on to wherever dead people go. But all that is by far not as fun as it sounds, and the girl was very happy to go to a summer house for a vacation. Not many ghosts there. Sadly, her parents had different plan. They’d go to the City of Ghosts, Edinburgh, Scotland, instead.

Mine: Wow, okay, I did not expect this to be such an interesting, intense, a bit scary even, story full of great adventures. Schwab writes very well, every detail is polished off, and nothing burdens the reader. To add to that, she can also write her endings well. And here I thought I’m in for a story of best friend ghosts and how we need to learn to let go of those said best friends. It was… Cozy. I know for a fact I would’ve breathed and lived this book if it was given to me in those times when I was reading Harry Potter. Cassidy herself is obsessed with those stories, so it felt familiar, even to my 29 year old self. I enjoyed this very much.

If you got older kids or young teenagers, give them this delight. It’s such a fun read, so well written. I’m real happy to have discovered Victoria Schwab. This book gets 4 out of 5, and I will certainly continue with the series, for I feel it can only get better.

Categories: 4-5, Books: Everything, Books: Horror, ghosts, Paranormal, urban fantasy | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Wanted, A Gentleman” by K.J. Charles

2Author: K.J. Charles
Title: Wanted, A Gentleman
Series: –
Genre: Historical Romance, LGBT Literature
Pages: 131
Rate: 4/5 | Goodreads

It seems I am nearing the end of KJC’s bibliography. Which is both fun and sad. Fun, because who doesn’t want to read everything one of their favorite authors ever wrote? And sad, because this means I’ll have to wait for any other book to be written.

About: Theodore Swann publishes ads in papers. Not just any though, no. The Matrimonial kind, the dating kind. Basically he’s the middleman in ancient Tinder published in papers. One of these days, while work went as always, a fine tall man walks in, demanding information on one particular suitor. For the said fox seems to be attempting to lure an underage girl of a very wealthy family into a marriage without her parents consent. But Theodore’s whole livelihood depends on him being discreet! Who’d ever write him if he gave up addresses to anyone who asked. To not tell is to get a very possible thrashing and never seeing this handsome man again. To tell is to risk everything. But Swann has a secret: he earns a coin or two on the side by writing cheap romance novels, and is very, very familiar with the villains. Enough to maybe, just maybe find a solution that’d suit everyone.

Mine: It’s a very short, not the very best, but certainly amusing book of an ad writer, who has a secret life of an author good only in his villain writing. I really enjoyed the simplicity of this book, it was short, fast, and didn’t beat around the bush too much, nor did it have a band of evil doers in a cabal. On top of that, as always, it’s the characters that made my day. KJC doesn’t recycle.

It’s a good, if extremely short little book. Not my favorite, but hey, not all books can be of Magpies and Murder, right? 4 out of 5, firmly.

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

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