5-5

Adrian Tchaikovsky – Guns of the Dawn

23524779I can’t recall how this book reached me. But it did, and I’m brewing with happiness I’ve read “Guns of the Dawn” by Adrian Tchaikovsky (ISBN 1447272676; 658p.; Goodreads). It was an amazing read, one beautiful story in fantasy-steampunk realm, story of war, heroes, crimes, and the reasons behind it all.

Denland and Lascanne were once allies. Now they’re mortal enemies at war, for long enough too so that regular lascanner forgot the times denlander was but a neighbor. Lascanne king is pouring all he has into the war zone, all his warlocks, created by the spark of royal blood anointing them, giving them power to wield fire by burning an imprint on their skin. All his soldiers, and every able men. And, when even that wasn’t enough, he demands every third woman to be taken to serve too. In the end, they almost won anyway, so for them it’s merely a chance to get a medal and run back home, victorious! But if the war is truly almost done, why all this effort against Denland, country whose king was assassinated even before the war, thus a country with no mages to put to warring.

When towns and villages had only women, old folk, maimed folk, and babes left, and when even the women were required to come and serve, most genteel families sent off their maids, serving girls. Such noble families as Marshwics were expected to do the same, but Emily, their eldest, always had a heart a little too kind, a little too brave. So once the time came, she reported for duty, she and many other women, not many of any worthy rank, came to have their hair sheared short, and get taught how to use their weapons. Given the choice she even asked to serve in the worst of the worst of places, in one of the swamps covered by constant mists, full of giant beetles that thought of these meager humans as food, and as good as littered with dead of both sides. One of the last warlocks made by their king served here too. And so here, among these people she soon started calling friends, Emily learned what war is all about. For, after all, even the noble lips sometimes lie, even the most loyal hearts tend to believe wrong, and even the most deadly enemy with all the advantages sometimes offers peace, and most importantly, truth.

I can’t tell you how great this book was. Not a moment in it boring, not a moment dull. And so unique at times, what with magic only passed on by the burning touch of the royal line. But most importantly, I loved how to the very end I couldn’t tell how could this possibly be solved! It takes changes to change things. Unheard thing: drafting of women, was what it took to change the tide of the war, and then end it too. 5 out of 5, a glorious 100th book this year for me.

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Categories: 5-5, Books: Fantasy, Fantasy Books, Sci-Fi Books | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Andy Weir – Artemis

34928122I patiently waited for “Artemis” by Andy Weir (ISBN 0553448129; 305p.; Goodreads), and at last! The writer really got me with “The Martian” back in the day, and this book promised me more of what I like: the good author, moon, heists, smugglers and mobs. And while it was very different from what I expected – what I did get was beautiful.

Jazz Bashara came to live on the Moon with her Muslim father (pointing this out, because he’s practicing, she’s not, and it’s always interesting to see families work like that) from, I think, Saudi Arabia, when she was 6 years old. She grew up on Artemis, the only lunar city there, and going back to Earth is out of the question for her, no matter what happens. But she does have a friend there, on Earth, a friend who soon became her business partner. They both just wanted to live with dignity in a world where everything good that happened to them got trampled by effects of other people’s decisions. So now they control the smuggling business, everything that goes from Earth to the Moon and is considered illegal there. They’ve always been very careful about it too, especially Jazz who risks deportation to Earth if she gets caught. But when a million slug (their money) deal is thrown on her metaphorical table – well, you can’t blame a girl for dreaming big, can you?

To simplify and avoid spoilers: in Artemis they pretty much only have one big company that makes oxygen, and a handful of other products that just happen during the processes of smelting things down to get that said oxygen. It’s a heart-thing, if you please, but other than the air they breathe – nothing is of high value or importance, which leaves Artemis without the export part of the economy. But big people, smart people, find gold where there’s none, and Jazz with her heist just got in those big people’s way towards astronomical profits, money laundering, and other schemes. For the big people seem to be the good old-fashioned “killed you to make a statement” kind of mobsters, prepared to take over one way or another.

I bloody love Jazz. She’s funny, strong, real damn smart, and much like Watney when it comes to trying to survive in situations that just don’t inspire will to live. But be aware, if you’re searching for Martian 2 – this is not that book. This book might not keep you awake, as it has not kept me awake. I will give it a 5 out of 5, but that is because I love how refreshing it was, with new characters, new action.

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Neven Iliev – Morningwood: Everybody Loves Large Chests | Vol. 1

36469357If a funny book gets noticed, the funny book gets taken and read without waiting in the TBR line. I do like me a good comedy. And I am a gamer, so “Morningwood: Everybody Loves Large Chests” by Neven Iliev (ASIN B076NSQ6JT; 252p; Goodreads) was just a must-have and must-read-now book. I regret nothing!

It all began rather simply. A hero was raiding a low level dungeon on his own, expecting some not too dangerous monsters to help him level up. Then he could at last move on to bigger places, where loot and treasures were automatically better. His wish almost came true when, finally truly lost, he noticed a low level treasure chest at the end of the corridor. Hey, it may not be a monster he wished for, but treasure chest is a treasure chest, and he wasn’t big enough level yet to pass one when found. The chest waited patiently as hero came closer. And as the man finally bent over to open the lid – chest ate him whole. For the treasure chest wasn’t really a treasure chest. It was a mimic in whose nature it was to look like one, that’s all.

After mimic has sated the immediate hunter, it was ready to slump back down and await another traveler. Yet, an undefined thought spread in it’s brainless little head: his surroundings were suspicious, what with all the blood and discarded gear, and might scare off potential food. This logical decision to tidy up has sent the snowball rolling, levels gained, abilities unlocked, decisions more complex than going after food getting made, and even a very beautiful summoned companion mimic could, at the very least, eat up while bored.

The book was very amusing. At first one can’t even expect this is not a story of a hero on a stupid quest, but rather of a little low level mob. It is also very well written and funny, even with all the random gore there and here. Definitely a 5 out of 5.

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

C.S. Pacat – The Summer Palace | Captive Prince 3.5

33230173The beauty of C.S. Pacat‘s books is something to savor. Yet I swallowed “The Summer Palace” (Captive Prince 3.5; ISBN13 9780987622303; 30p.; Goodreads) in one night, not something my exhausted mind allows often these days.

The story is set after the third book, so make sure you’ve read them before heading into this one. After the gruesome battle with the regent and those loyal to him, or yet, opposing Damianos as rightful heir of Akielos, both him and Laurent took to their own kingdoms. To mend, secure their positions, and maybe set some order. Yet before doing so they agreed: when all of this is over, they will meet in an Akielon summer palace for a breath. And today is the day for that.

Laurent stood there, waiting, in Akielon garbs, his yellow hair now longer, watching the road for any signs of King Damianos and his entourage. But Damian took a shortcut, in a hurry to see his friend, his lover, and surprised both Laurent, and the scarce skeleton staff in the palace. He was in too much hurry to see him again, to talk, to rest. And discuss things, for there’s certainly still plenty of water under the bridge to sort out. Not the least or last question being what customs they’ll follow in their new palace on the border of their countries.

This was a beautiful recap of what happened, and an even more beautiful ending to it all. Also, I was right, the more Laurent trusted being safe in his surroundings, in people around, the less clothes happened. Theory confirmed, 5 out of 5.

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

Jeaniene Frost – Bound by Flames | Night Prince 3

BoundbyFlames-coverI love the way Jeaniene Frost weaves a web for the reader, one I can never get out of, for it seems, what, just another page, just another chapter. I couldn’t put “Bound by Flames” (Night Prince 3; ISBN 0062076086; 342p.; Goodreads), the third book in a series of four. To add to the pretty great plot, the character development keeps getting better. Yes, yes, especially Prince Dracula.

This is a far darker, and far greater book than the previous two. The pace is perfect, with one episode following the other one closely, with only this much room to sit and talk it out. Szilagyi continues to harass Vlad and his household, pushing wedges where he can’t pull allies. A turncoat thus soon appears in prince’s flock. And in disguise of napalm bombing of his home, they steal his wife away, where she successfully get’s tortured physically, and mentally. Szilagyi is confident that he found a way to break the prince once and for all, thus he speaks, and we find out why he’s such a disgusting rat’s ass. But little does this bastard know, that he’s dealing with people who do not believe in limitations, and who dearly trust in one another.

Vlad spares nothing in search for Leila, trusting she’ll do all it takes to survive until he does find her. This is officially a war between the two vampires, and maybe that’s just for the best. Vlad pulls favors, finds people, and lets us in on his past, all the while keeping a sharp, if a bit rude eye on Leila’s family, still caring for their safety. There is no doubt in his heart that he’ll find the bastard, and at last squish him. But of course, surprises await, bad and good for both sides. Curses, bindings, and unexpected family members from the old Dracul line of Basarabs.

So, yes. This was amazing. I loved it to bits. Which, sadly, means I’ll keep the final one unread for as long as I can. This one pulled me out out of a very dark place. 5 out of 5, well deserved.

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

Diversity: C.S. Pacat – Green but for a Season | Captive Prince Short Stories 2.5

31814812Most of you don’t even know that I recently re-read the Captive Prince trilogy. Well, I did, and then I remembered there’s short stories I didn’t yet get to! “Green but for a Season” by C.S. Pacat (Captive Prince Short Stories 2.5; ISBN B01LB1H41E; 24p.; Goodreads) is the first one, held between the second and third books, and concentrates on Laurent’s captain, Jord.

Jord is a lowborn nobody with a well honed fighting skill. It was because of this skill that prince Auguste has noticed him back in the day, and took him into the ranks. Later, as Auguste fell in the battlefield, and red regent flags covered up the blue ones of the prince, soldiers and guards either took up the red, or were put away. Lowborns were the least wanted. So here he was, trying to make due for years. Up until prince Laurent grew a little, and realized what game his uncle was playing. Seeing the dangers, he decided to form his own Prince’s Guard, with gold starburst on blue, not red, and for that he wanted only the best of the best. And his brother surely knew who the best were. So, again, here he was, Jord, trying to make due, as Laurent called upon him, promised him this will be even harder than it was with Auguste, and asking if he’ll take up arms for him, the way he did for his brother. Jord didn’t need to be asked twice.

Today Jord is a captain, proud to serve prince Laurent, who proved true to his word. The boy protected them, and in return, they were ready to kill and die protecting him. Still, a captain’s rank to a nobody seemed a dream beyond wildest of hopes. Especially in a situation where an actual high-born nobleman was present. A nobleman who was forced to serve the prince, as the youngest son, with least prospects, other than a good betting chip, in case Regent gets fooled. And maybe, just maybe Laurent knew it before Jord did.

This was a very fine read, shining light on many things at last. 5 out of 5, not even a half point less.

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A.R. Torre – If You Dare | Deanna Madden 3

+ifyoudareWow. I’ve finished Deanna Madden trilogy with the “If You Dare” book by A.R. Torre (Deanna Madden 3; ISBN 0316386693; 368p.; Goodreads), and I did not expect that. For one, the book mostly jumped off the regular topic, as one might expect in an evolving and ending story. For two, I think everyone expected a different ending!

Deanna blacks out just to wake up with a broken nose, a dark spot in her memory, and vague sense of dread. There’s a new really annoying woman living in the neighborhood. Her junkie helper is getting bold. Her boyfriend doesn’t pick up his phone, and the last she remembers seeing him, was the night before her nose got broken. After some digging in her mind, she is pretty sure, he was the one to do it too. To calm her down. But why was she so aggravated? Did she try to kill him? Did her madness overpower her? To the point where her boyfriend knocked her out, and ran for it?

Police shows up at Deanna’s door, armed with questions and prepared to search through her stuff. Deanna was pretty sure she cleaned all there was to clean when she had to, but here they are. In her car. With her knife. And blood on it. And so Deanna is arrested for attempted murder of her boyfriend.

This was one fine detective line, leading me on well to the end. I enjoyed this book greatly, and wish it were series, rather than just a trilogy! 5 out of 5, couldn’t give it less if I wanted to.

Categories: 5-5, About Msg2TheMing, Crime Books | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lynn Flewelling – Shards of Time | Nightrunner 7

+shardsoftimeDammit! “Shards of Time” by Lynn Flewelling (Nightrunner 7; ISBN 0345522311; 409p.; Goodreads) is the last book in Nightrunner series, so it ended, I’m done, dammit. And this one was so interesting too, with all the prophesies coming to a close. I just kinda already missed Beka, due to her being indisposed in a good way. But all the rest was great!

Due to all they’ve done, Alec and Seregil get a thanks in lands and titles. They gladly accept the land with the manor, fully intending to make it a perfect little dignified clanhouse for the former fae slaves, who can then make a living on their own, using what these two can provide. But that isn’t the only perk of the land. Sadly, the other one is far less pleasant. Back in the day something terrible has happened here, leaving the place haunted by ghosts, disturbed, and unhappy with the new excavations happening in sight.

Long ago this land was ravaged by a powerful dyrmagnos, a worshiper of one god, Seriamaius, the Dead God. It fed on human lives, and was so powerful, that it took insane magic, and death of two greatest wizards to seal the being away. Now in death they guard that what they could not kill. But greedy humans are taking things from excavation sites. They break, they chip away, they ruin the seals… And so the darkness slowly seeps into their time, into their world. Deaths begin.

This was a wonderful, strong, and yet simple, homely, very natural end of an adventure. I truly loved how imperfect and human everyone was. How life went on, and changed. How there were actions, and consequences. I can give it a 5 out of 5, and a 4 out of 5 for whole series, due to a couple of weaker books. This was a beautiful story.

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A.R. Torre – “Do Not Disturb” | 2

+donotdisturbIt took me a book and a half to figure out that Deanna Madden trilogy has a pattern on victims in Deanna’s life. It really seems obvious now, so how I didn’t notice – I don’t know. Anyway, “Do Not Disturb” by A.R. Torre (Deanna Madden 2; ISBN B00R1NS5VK; 325p.; Goodreads) was a very good read, and I enjoyed it very much.

Deanna enjoys the little freedoms she gave herself due to newly found improvement on self control. Life’s getting better, it seems. She, her psychotic murderous self, has a boyfriend, bought a fancy new car, and crossed the street for a snickers bar, all without killing anyone. Only her doctor is honestly worried about all of this. In his opinion, her steps are too fast, and will result in slipping and killing. Here he and Deanna agree only on one thing: it is not her who might be in danger, it is the people around her.

After long years in jail he’s finally free. Only a few more months of house arrest, and he can return to his life fully. Life of money, power, respect, women. To pass the time he seeks women online for the time being, until he stumbles upon a cam-girl site, where girls engage with you via their web cams. And there she is, that one, beautiful, with defiance in her eyes. There was something wrong there from the moment he asked her what can he make her do. Just a little bit later she actually made him ask for things nicely. She made him ask. And then, when he asked to meet her in real life, offering her plenty of money for it too, she dares to outright block him! Ah, but that’s fine. All he needs is someone skilled with computers, someone who can give him her real address. And then he’ll teach her respect. They all learn under his breaking hands. Deanna Madden is no exception.

This was one hell of a ride. The story is strong, and interesting to follow. I enjoyed it far more than the first book, and hey, I loved that one too. So here’s a 5 out of 5, well deserved.

Categories: 5-5, Crime Books | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Philip K. Dick – Do Androids Dream Electric Sheep?

7082This is, on mere technicality, a re-read. I was very little when I first put my hands on “Do Androids Dream Electric Sheep” by Philip K. Dick (Blade Runner 1; ISBN 0345404475; 244p.; Goodreads), and recall it best in relation to other non-related sci-fi books on bounty hunters, profession I highly wanted to participate in back then. Yet the reading now was delicious. Funny how sci-fi has such a special spot in my heart, and yet I read so little of it.

Rick Decard is a bounty hunter with a license to kill, if you please. His job is to test suspicious individuals and, if they can’t pass the test, kill them, any means necessary, excluding human endangerment. Otherwise his mission would sort of lose the purpose. For he kills androids who pose as humans, androids who escaped Mars, usually, after killing humans there, and who are getting just too good to track down. There is only one test they always fail. Androids, unlike real humans, are too logical to have proper empathy. They can be trained to respond, but there’s only that much you can wiggle your way out of. Yet Rick’s job is no easier due to this. No empathy, for starters means they’ll kill people if they have to, even if “have to” is a mere distraction.

So the hunt begins. Decard follows in the tracks of androids his colleague has fallen to. Falsely gaining confidence after the first kill, he soon finds himself in far more trouble, than he ever thought possible. Worse, slowly but surely he is uncovering a far deeper rooted plan to survive that androids have cast in a web across his city, if not planet. They infiltrated places they had no rights to be in, right under their noses, every day at their ears. And newer models make even him question the morality of his work, hell, even his own humanity becomes questionable… Because, what if memories are false too?

I really like the characters in this book. Decard is not the only protagonist, but I excluded the other one purposefully. I also really love how androids have this delusion of what a head hunter for androids is: this unstoppable machine they’ll fall to if they as much as lock eyes with. If you like cyberpunk – you must read this. It’s a very easy to read and follow book, and I’ll gladly give it a 5 out of 5. And if anyone’s wondering about those sequels – someone else wrote it, I don’t feel like reading them right now.

Categories: 5-5, Books: Everything, Books: Sci-Fi, Sci-Fi Books | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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