5-5

K.J. Charles “The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal”

3Finally I got me another chance for some leisure with K.J. Charles. This time I read “The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal” (ASIN B06XVF3GW8; 232p.; Goodreads), a sort of a prequel to Green Men series I’ll be starting right after this. It’s a very sherlocky book, but all cases are supernatural, and clients are mostly angry spirits.

Robert Caldwell worked as a journalist when he met Simon Feximal. You see, he inherited this old, crumbling little manor or castle, or whatever the hell, and a raging spirit of his angry ancestor with it. I mean, one can deal with many things. Things moving, doors closing, sounds and moans. But once the walls start bleeding, well, most of us would probably draw a line. So Robert called for help. Simon showed up, with his mysterious demeanor, body of a boxer, and impressive knowledge on the occult. He made them a circle and told Robert to not put a finger out, whatever happens. Spirit started raging, strange symbols appeared on Simon’s skin, and… Well, of course, Robert broke the damned circle.

From there on adventures and cases begin. Robert soon learned what World under the World is, and just how much more there is than meets the eye. And it’s not just angry spirits! There’s angrier zealous colleagues, England’s Secret Service, and even a war at the gate.

If you fancy a supernatural detective, than this is definitely for you. It was damn great, with lots of amazing characters and secrets. 5 out of 5 from me, can’t go any less.

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Categories: 5-5, Books of Occult, Books of Supernaturals, Books: Everything, Books: LGBT, Historical Books, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Becky Albertalli “Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda” | Creekwood 1

1I have troubles watching movies based on books if I have not read the book. And since seeing “Love, Simon” is on the agenda, I had to go ahead and read it. So I took myself a little vacation with this simple book “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” by Becky Albertalli (Creekwood 1; ISBN 0062348671; 303p.; Goodreads). I say “simple“, because, really, there’s many books like this, with light romance, fair amount of stress, and stories of friendships getting rejuvenated. The only different thing is that instead of Simon in all of those we’d have a girl.

I can’t recall what it was exactly, but once, on Tumblr, Simon found a post he could relate to, and replied with his email. The author of the post replied, and soon their internet friendship became something more, I’d go into as cheesy a line as “a breath of air” for Simon. For due to anonymity they agreed upon, Simon could be completely open about everything with the boy he only knew as Blue. And since they both seemed to have been developing crushes on each other, it only makes sense that Simon seeked to check his email wherever he could, thus one day forgetting to log out. This is where the stress begins.

The emails get found by his class mate. The class mate is ready to swear upon the graves of his heroes, that he has nothing against Simon, nor his orientation. All he wants is for Simon to help him hook up with his friend. So, no pressure, but pressure. Not blackmail, but some blackmail. Simon feels like this guy just took away his choice on how to come out and whether to come out at all, which results in him trying to get any semblance of control over the situation, aka start telling people, before that guy told everyone. But if only it was all so simple. Apparently there’s more drama in coming out than just the possibility of hidden homophobia!

Title plays into the book real nice, since you can see how people make Simon’s coming out about themselves in most of the cases: you didn’t tell me first; you should’ve told me sooner; oh wow, that’s a big deal; you didn’t trust me! And yet none of them ever had the strain of coming out, due to heterosexuality being commonly considered default. In general the book was sweet, fluffy, and simple, much like a chick-flick would be, but with a protagonist being a young gay guy. I can give it a 5 out of 5, even if it’s not the Mona Lisa of books on gay teenagers.

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

Craig Alanson “Black Ops” | Expeditionary Force 4

1I was a little reluctant to get into fourth book in the Expeditionary ForceBlack Ops” by Craig Alanson (Expeditionary Force 4; ASIN B07121G4ZC; 673p.; Goodreads), due to repetitive action in the third one. But I still read this one. And there were times where I cried laughing. So I think it’s good.

Merry band of pirates is of on a mission to make sure Earth is safe and sounds. All they really need to do is get information on who could be threatening them, and sabotage the living heck out of it. Since with Skippy’s help they were training to fight aliens, fight like aliens, and fly alien ships too, the whole crew is pretty confident that they can pull this off. And if not, well, they have to try anyway.

But bad news don’t end with the “evil alien race wants to eradicate Earth because you’re annoying creatures“. Skippy went into the AI shell of the dead one they found, expecting to figure out why and how they were made, and maybe – what killed the AI. What he found was no happy news at all. Apparently, the race who made them, haven’t made them all sentient. Some became so with time. Fearing that others would go rogue too, they made and possibly inserted it into every AI a worm that’d destroy it if it went rogue. So did the AI Skippy found was rogue? Or was it the worm itself that misbehaved? That question likely bothers Joe Bishop more than any other, for mid sentence Skippy the Magnificent simply went silent, leaving the Merry Band of Pirates to fend for themselves in far away space.

This was so funny at times, I was crying. Other times it was very intense and kept me on the edge. And then sometimes it was so intense, and so funny at the same time… Anyway, 5 out of 5 for this one.

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

Jurga Lago “Land of Rain” | Lietaus Žemė

6After reading Norse Mythology and Mythos, and then playing Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, where the main character is a Pict (North Scotland) warrior who ventured into the underworld to fight Hela herself, I needed more myth retellings in my life so bad. So one day, as I was in the post office, doing my thing, sending stuff out, my eye was drawn to the little shelf they have there for books. I knew nothing of the author, nothing of the book, but the artwork style on the book, and the title told me I need to have it. So I got myself “Land of Rain” by Jurga Lago (Lietaus Žemė; ISBN13 9786094413476; 184p.; Goodreads), and I was never more happy with an impulse purchase ever.

Lietuviai and Zemaiciai have fought among themselves for so long, that our Thunder God named, well, Thunder, Perkunas, sent an ever lasting rain upon the land. It would pour until these two Lithuanian tribes finally made up. So, pretty much, forever, for neither side knows nothing else but how to hate the other side! From young age folk are conditioned with stories to feed the fighting spirit. And one of the fiercest among the Lietuviai was Siurbele (Leech). He, as many other old men, still remembered dry days and sunshine. But ever since Lietuvio son has disappeared soon after birth, his fighting spirit cared for no forgiveness, and he wickedly helped those dwindling armies collide, clash, and slaughter each other. During one such battle he was about to escape to safety when he found himself drowning in a bog called Black Honey. Making peace with his gods Siurbele got distracted by a child. Scrawny, thin thing with a lisp. He claimed he knows a path out of the bog, and will exchange the information for a couple of fishies. Small price for a life, Siurbele thought, and agreed. In fact, he felt so sorry for the poor child, that he gotten him to a farmer, and being of infamous name, had that one guarantee a livelihood for the kid during many winters to come.

One rainy night, as all nights were, one of the shepherds returned weeping: a water piggy got lost, and the master will surely beat him to death for it. Zaltys (grass snake), for that was the name of the kid who saved Siurbele, told the kid to calm down, and went to search for the piggy. Being kind-hearted, he didn’t regret finding it, even if it was at the feet of the Devil.

Now, mind you, in our mythology Devil was no friend to Perkunas, and Perkunas was sort of like Thor: An eldest god below his own father. But he wasn’t an evil creature. Mischievous – maybe. But absolutely not evil.

The Devil spoke a bit, corrected Zaltys every time he lisped a word, until the boy stopped lisping, due to magic the being wielded, or the sheer terror he induced in the kid. And finally agreed to give the piggy back. In exchange, Zaltys would go to Zemaiciai. What for? Well, that remains to be seen, Devil said. And so, the very next day Zaltys took off, through forests full of godlings, beings, creatures, beasts, talking lakes, and gods themselves. He knew enough to survive, being raised by one of the Wise Men, and likely there was no one prepared for such a journey better than he. As much as he didn’t wish to go to a mortal enemy who’d likely kill him on spot, not caring one bit that the Devil himself made him come, and he meant no harm.

Zemaitis, in the meantime, had a daughter. Sure, he wished for a son to take his place, but what can one do? The girl, Lyja (Raining), was raised among the soldiers, and soon enough had no equals with a bow in the forest. Still, as fierce as she was, her father saw her as a girl only suitable for kitchen work, thus when final battle came, he had to leave her behind. And well he did, for in the dark of night, with no soldier and only old or dying men around, Lyja was the only one who had the strength and bravery to face the stranger who knocked on the door.

The story is VERY good. I’d say it’s like Sapkowski’s Witcher, but in our boggy swamplands. I loved it a lot, and I wish it was translated to English, so everyone could enjoy this beautiful mythological story. 5 out of 5, well deserved.

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

Stephen Fry “Mythos: A Retelling of the Myths of Ancient Greece”

5If you liked Neil Gaiman‘s “Norse Mythology“, you will absolutely love Stephen Fry’sMythos: A Retelling of the Myths of Ancient Greece” (ISBN 0718188721; 416p.; Goodreads) too. After reading both of them, and incidentally playing Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, I hope one of these two will write more myth retelling books.

As title and my rambling suggests, this books is all about dem gods, mythological beings and creatures, and their stories, how they came to be, what’s their origin. All those mighty beings roamed heaven and Earth alike once, and caused quite some ruckus doing so, for they were just like us. Spiteful, jealous, silly, ridiculous. One of my favorite examples would be story or Arachne, whose woven things were better than those of gods themselves. Knowing how cruel can offended gods be, Arachne was prepared to die, for what is life if she cannot weave . The goddess whom she beat in this art saw the distress and knew what caused it, so instead she did the best she could, and turned Arachne into ever weaving being: a spider, so she could knit webs for an eternity. I don’t know if that’s the case in the actual myth, but from what I did know, this story was the only one that had a positive vibe to it that I did not expect to be there (for there were plenty of positive stuff, and if only I could remember one…), for the goddess thought of this as a gift, not a punishment, it seemed. Add Fry’s good humor to these stories, and you’ve a glorious book.

I can’t recommend this book enough. Same goes for Neil Gaiman “Norse Mythology”. Brilliant book worth a spot in the shelf, 5 out of 5.

Categories: 5-5, Books of Supernaturals, Books: Everything, Fantasy Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

K.J. Charles “An Unsuitable Heir” | Sins of the Cities 3

4Yes, I’ve read this book forever ago. Yes, I was too lazy to review it. Yes, it was very good. And if you’re not buying into it just yet, let me just say this one thing: K.J. Charles book “An Unsuitable Heir” (Sins of the Cities 3; B01MZ7SF83; 246p.; Goodreads) has a gender fluid character, and the fact alone could’ve made my day. But good plot harmed no one, ever.

A murderer continues to lurk in London’s toxic fog. Their goal is pretty clear to Mark, who is fully involved in the investigation of Clem’s brother’s death, marriages, and living heirs. The killer is surely after the next in line, and if Mark wasn’t motivated enough by what’s at stake already – Clem’s livelihood, for instance, then the deal was sealed by the heirs themselves. Twins. A male and a female in the most loose sense one can put genders into. Pen being the one murderer would want, with his beautiful long hair, well trained body of a trapeze artist, Mark’s dream, in other words.

Pen has absolutely no wish to be no damned heir. To be one would mean to be part of the gents society: cut your hair, wear a suit, contain yourself in a single shape and form forever now. Behave. His love for Mark is too strong to just toss it all away for a case of gold anyway. But then, if he does choose his freedom and Mark over the earldom, he will betray his sister. Sister, who wishes to stop being a trapeze artists, who wishes a calm and peaceful life, a home, a husband, on whom she already has an eye set.

The book was so very great. And while I’m aware someone gender fluid might not be defined by he/him pronouns, for most of the time Pen did refer to himself in such a manner, so I’ll just hope he wouldn’t mind if he read my review. For this was a fine end to a great series, with people getting what they deserved left and right! 5 out of 5, of course.

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

Shane Dawson – I Hate Myselfie: A Collection of Essays

3I liked Shane Dawson. Then I hated Shane Dawson. Then I liked Shane Dawson again, and this time I stayed. I like biographies and memoirs too, so it was just a matter of time until I finally get into his “I Hate Myselfie: A Collection of Essays” (ISBN 1476791546; 228p.; Goodreads). It was a very easy read, full of dark humor, satire, heart-breaking stuff, and, well, character development.

The book is written in short chapters, that don’t continue one another, but tell a story each. They start with a piece of artwork, and a few words about the artist who did it, for which I take my hat off for Shane: it’s always wonderful to see a great artist try to squeeze in as many others into their own light, as possible. There’s no seeming order to them, and criteria is likely only one too – stories that were stepping stones. Stepping stones through which Shane, as hard and unbearable as it was, waded through, grew as a person, and became this wonderful human being that he is today.

He grew up with two brothers, and parents, who eventually got divorced. It didn’t help his meager social life that they had to move, and he had to change schools thus. A morbidly obese kid with a pretty face, as you may guess, is not the popular one. So he spent his days with his mom, alone, or in a group of misfits just like himself. Not one story, no matter how sad or cruel it sounded, ever made me feel like this is a pity show. In fact, I believe Shane to be a very strong person to be able to go through this all, and leave it behind. And what’s not yet behind – is still a work in progress, or at least so it seems from his wonderful videos.

I admit, these stories shone light not only on Shane Dawson himself, but via his prism – on mine too. I recognized some flaws in myself, and much like him – started working on them. Lucky me, I have an example of what not to do too, ha! I will give this book a 5 out of 5, but I don’t know if it’s relevant to those who don’t know Shane Dawson, or do not like him. It felt too personal to be taken out of the perspective of who he is in broader view. And now, to the next one!

Categories: 5-5, Biographies, Books: Everything, Books: Funny! | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

KJ Charles – An Unnatural Vice | Sins of the Cities 2

2Long overdue that I finally continue with Sins of the Cities by KJ Charles, so don’t let me digress, let’s talk about “An Unnatural Vice” (Sins of the Cities 2; ASIN B01M0HH1IH; 250p; Goodreads), second book in the trilogy. I loved the first book, but I loved this one even more. KJC, much like one of her protagonists here, is mighty capable of playing just the right strings for me, and likely – most.

Justin Lazarus is a famous seer of London. Lost a loved one? Want to talk to a dead relative? It’s him you come to. Much like this woman, of seemingly no interest. She wished to find her runaway twins, and instead of taking her meager savings to a detective, she took a drawing of them straight to Lazarus. Drawing, which Lazarus kept until the lady, whom he consoled as best he could, vaguely promising her that they’re alive and well, got back home to bring him the money she owed. For it seems, someone robbed this village woman out of her pennies. The fact she never returned didn’t surprise or concern Lazarus either. It happens. Up until he ran into journalist Nathaniel Roy, and his detective friend Mark.

Nathaniel Roy dedicated his time to expose people like Lazarus, thus the interest and crossing of paths happened naturally. The less natural was Lazarus appearing at his doorstep, cold, shivering, and seemingly worse for the wear, in need of help. For he nearly lost his life over that damned lost woman, and her runaway twins, it seems. Turns out, neither the woman, nor Mark, are the only people searching for the pair. And by far not every seeker has their well being in their hearts.

This was a very fine piece of detective work, and two mighty fine characters. I really loved the plot, and I loved the development of both it, and the people in it. Characters had substance, they filled another out well, tugging at flaws, and seeking best ways to mend what’s mendable. 5 out of 5, and I think I’ll jump straight to the third right now.

Categories: 5-5, Books: LGBT, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

John Burdett – Bangkok 8 | Sonchai Jitpleecheep 1

706011I wanted to read this book for a very long while. Might be ever since I figured out Asia is so much more interesting than Europe. Or America, for that matter. I regret slightly that I’ve not read “Bangkok 8” by John Burdett (Sonchai Jitpleecheep 1; ISBN13 9789955235439; 375p.; Goodreads) a little earlier, since this was one amazing book. The characters, the story. It was nothing I expected, and I love it.

Thailand. Third World occult beliefs, religion, charm, and beauty. It might be hard for a westerner to understand, and that might be one of the great reasons why so many of them lose their hearts here, having to return time and again, just to reconnect. It is definitely hard for FBI to grasp it, not when Sonchai tells them straight: he’ll kill whoever had his soul brother killed, there will be no trial. What do they know of these delicate matters of heart even Buddha would forgive? They went there, to the crime scene, to investigate traffic, commotion. Just to find a raving black giant in a bolted car full of expertly drugged, raging snakes killing him, consuming him. Sonchai’s partner did his best to save the man, but in the end, they both died, leaving Sonchai alone, and oh so very broken. Fatalism, as in many Thai’s, was in his blood, and destruction is always at hand in this throbbing heart of a city. Yet his duty didn’t let him go too far.

FBI had no right to follow an investigation in Thailand, so Sonchai was requested to assist detective Jones on this, in mutual exchange of information. They taught each other as things progressed, and learned to work together, as odd as it felt for both of them. In the end, they found many strings, all leading towards jade and this mysterious goddess-like woman whom no one knows. Yet, as alien as she is, could she really have killed the man like that? What sort of rage had to be consuming the killer to put anyone through this kind of horror?

This was one of the most unique thrillers I have ever read, and I loved every page of it. Characters felt natural, human. Sonchai was unique and wonderful. Jones was strong, with her own opinion, her own actions. There wasn’t much predictability, and if you could predict something, there was likely a surprise hidden in it anyway. I can give it a firm 5 out of 5, for this surely has to go to my favorites.

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

K.J. Charles – Think of England

3When tired and not feeling like choosing next book to read, I just pick whatever I have by K.J. Charles. So I just grabbed “Think of England” (ISBN 9780995799004; 239p.; Goodreads) audiobook, muted my game, and propped my ears up. Whatever I expected, I did not expect such an intense plot full of spies, blackmail, extortion, and bluffs!

A faulty shipment of guns that exploded upon use has left Captain Archie Curtis maimed, lacking fingers, with dead comrades, friends, and many questions. Not the least one is: was it an accident or has someone sabotaged them? On a quest to find answers Curtins soon finds himself in a company of a poet, Daniel da Silva, at an isolated country house party. He has full intentions to find a way to break into the office of the host, in hopes of finding any proof on either guilt or innocence.

The thick-walled house hides many secrets. Under guise of night, determined to uncover at least one of them, Curtis sneaks out of his room and towards the office. Just to run into the poet, and a whole different secret. The poet, as it turns out, is not who he seems to be. And while neither trust another enough to share their secrets, they both seem to have a common goal inside the host office. It’s firmly locked, and booby-trapped, and since there’s now two men trying to get in, they both can be sure of one thing at least: the hosts do have something to hide.

This was a great damned book! Thieves, soldiers, spies, plots, sieges and lies! Like a small-scale James Bond movie with a dash of Agatha Christie vibes. I can happily give it a 5 out of 5.

Categories: 5-5, Books: Everything, Books: LGBT, Crime Books, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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