5-5

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.

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

Diversity: Angie Thomas – The Hate U Give

32613366Holy damn. No, but really. Why didn’t I get this book sooner? “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas (ISBN 1406372153; 438p; Goodreads) puts a crown on my this year’s reads. It’s definitely the best contemporary book I have ever read. I wish there was more, but what could top this?

Starr already had a pretty complicated life. Attending a school where she and a couple more students were the only black people around, she felt pressure acting more like the people around her did, to avoid the whole “black girl from the hood” stereotype getting attached. At home she hurried to shake that all off, to not seem lame, because, really! Add regular teenage problems to that, and there you have it. But all that falls to dust in one night. Her life, and the life of her whole community fall apart as her childhood friend get brutally murdered with several shots to the back by a police officer. He stopped them for no real reason, got irritated over the smallest things, dragged Khaleel out of the car, and as he bent to ask terrified Starr if she’s okay – he shot him in the back. Over, and over, and over.

“Thug”, “dealer”, “gangbanger” are all epithets Khaleel’s name get changed with. Even the seemingly most sympathetic people are more affected by the officer’s father slobbering over the television of what a hard time his son is having over this “human mistake”, as if Khaleel was less. After all, Khaleel was indeed a dealer, so he would’ve died anyway, one gangbanger less, right? But Starr knows the truth behind the name, she knows the boy behind the titles, and slowly, being pushed by anger and injustices, even if discouraged by threats officers make on her, she speaks up. After all, she has the support of her family, and her wonderfully united community. And so the story of protests turned to riots turned to war zone begin.

I can’t begin telling you how good, and how important this book is. At time I’d forget I’m reading fiction, for it seems it’d be enough to change a title, change a name, and you’d recognize the people. I hope to someone this book will be an eye-opener. I can only give it 5 out of 5, and recommend.

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Laini Taylor – Strange the Dreamer [1]

28449207I asked for a recommendation and have received “Strange the Dreamer” by Laini Taylor (Strange the Dreamer 1; ISBN 0316341681; 536p.; Goodreads). Must say, has been a hot minute since I’ve read such a colossal book. I think the last one was the gruesome Fifth Season, which I also recommend. But this one was lighter to bear, with almost constant sense of sunshine, likely due to lighter people, personalities within.

A great war has taken place in the city ruled by ruthless gods. People rebelled, climbed their tower, and slain everyone they found bearing the blue skin of godspawn. But gods are not easy to slay. They fought back as best they could, and took vengeance in death too. First they took their sky, shielding it with the massive wings of their home. Then they left humans dreading, haunted by nightmares for as long as they sleep under the winged dome. They’re too worried to move, for it would mean that even in death the gods have taken victory on their lives. And finally, they took the very name of the place, leaving it known across the world only as Weep, a name that leaves ones lips bitter with ash and salt.

Lazlo Strange is an orphan, taken by monks off the streets, almost grey with sickness. They nursed him back, and soon, as the boy grew, got to calling him Strange The Dreamer, due to the nature of work he took. For, you see, Lazlo is mostly interested in stories. Especially those of Weep, a place he believes to be more than a fairy tale. He goes as far as dig up old recipes of purchases, just to prove this or that mediocre thing to be real. No one takes him seriously, of course, and people are far more interested in his knowledge on alchemy, than some fairy tale land. Up until the day delegates from Weep march into his city, kindly asking for volunteers who could bring new knowledge into their devastated lands. Lazlo can’t even dare dreaming they might need a tale teller…

This book feels huge. And it’s not as dark as some high fantasy books get. If you like the genre, I can’t recommend this one enough. In the mean time, I give it 5 out of 5, and await the next one eagerly.

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

K.J. Charles – Jackdaw

34861586I miss A Charm of Magpies so much. So, of course, I went ahead and took the “Jackdaw” by K.J. Charles (ISBN13 9780995799059; 222p.; Goodreads), for it is set in the same world, has familiar characters, and the family of four that we love turns up too. And I loved it, I very much did. But now I miss them even more, dammit!

Jonah is the infamous windwalker thief, who worked for the bad guys in the final book of Charm of Magpies. He was blackmailed to help them capture Stephen Day, or his source of power – the Ring of the Magpie Lord, and Lucien Vaudrey, tho it is unlikely anyone knew that one didn’t work without the other. It worked as a trap for Stephen, and that’s all that mattered. That’s how Jonah made sure Ben, his beloved, lives.

Ben, due to his relation with the infamous windwalker thief, and their relationship, ended up in prison for a few months. Worse than the experience was his false belief, that Jonah used him, and then discarded of him. He walks out determined to settle the scores. Time for Jonah to taste the prison bread. As a practitioner he will have to be restrained, of course. As a windwalker, he’ll likely get hobbled. He’ll never walk, let alone fly… And the more Ben thinks of this, of that charming, smiling being, the time they spent together, the more he doubts his plan as fair. So he arranges to meet the man before hand. Next thing you know, they’re escaping justice together, over the rooftops, through the air!

This was a lovely book. Almost idyllic, tho nothing goes through butter. It reminded me how much I love Lucien and Stephen. For that alone I could give it all the points. But luckily, the story was good too, so it’s a 5 out of 5, for more fair and less biased reasons.

Categories: 5-5, Alternative History Books, Books of Occult, Books: Fantasy, Books: LGBT, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature, urban fantasy | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

George Orwell – 1984

5470It was due time I picked up “1984” by George Orwell (ISBN 0451524934; 328p; Goodreads), what with all the things happening in real life. It is also one of those rare classic books that got good reviews from some people I follow, who I didn’t expect to rate it well. So I’ve read it, and I’m pretty blown away.

Individual makes mistakes. Only together, led by strong Party, people, their nation, can survive among the enemies, win wars, thrive, prosper. Individual thinking, thus, is a weakness punishable by jail, or even death. For if you seek to think on your own, declining the Big Brother doctrine, you, obviously, wish for the Party, and therefore – your own nation, to fail. By disagreeing with the truth given by Party, by not destroying the false memories, you are doing ill for your nation, you’re a traitor, and thus, you must be punished.

 

Winston tried to live with the memories of yesterday’s enemy, who, today, is a friend that was never an enemy. He tried to live one step behind the Big Brother, the all seeing eyes, the all hearing ears. He tried to live with false, individual thinking induced freedom, believing that at least in his own head – he must be safe.

From the reviews I’m seeing, I dare assume the book is on the harder works of literature. But that aside, I also saw some reviews claiming this is too thick a fantasy book to feel realistic. So let me tell this: ideas never die. If you believe that things like communism have died, let me show you the images of Confederate flag, defended as part of South history. Let me show you the photographs of Neo Nazis, marching with their stupid tiki torches. Let me show you the thriving “I’m better than thou” individuals, who are gathering into clusters. As one smart boy in a video game once said: It’s dangerous when too many men in same uniform believe themselves right. No idea that can make an insecure little man believe himself better than someone else will ever die. So I give this book a 5 out of 5, and I pray that we never forget.

Just because you didn’t suffer it, doesn’t mean it’s not happening (e.g. if as a woman you were never discriminated against, doesn’t mean you don’t need feminism; if as a person you never been racially, ethnically, religiously, or otherwise persecuted, doesn’t mean it’s not happening out there)

Categories: 5-5, Books: Dystopian, Books: Other Fiction | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

William Bass – Death’s Acre

15251I feel like “Death’s Acre” by William Bass (ISBN 0425198324; 320p.; Goodreads) goes together with the previous book “Beyond the Body Farm” very well. They feel like one book split in two, no matter which way around you pick it up. The only bad thing about it, is that I can say all the same things about this book, as I told of the previous one.

Dr Bill Bass tells a fine story of how it all got started. From the shabby spaces no one else wanted, to an angry janitor, who found an experiment body in his closet, to an acre of land somewhere behind a prison, and the need for a privacy fence. The experiments got more elaborate, sometimes going as far, as marking the flies, that’s how much those bugs are important when it comes to solving the crimes. They even helped a famous murder detective author write a book, by figuring what body leaves in the first spot of keeping, when transferred to another.

This is a book every murder detective lover must read, really. Dr Bill Bass is an amazing person, highly aware, and considerate of people around him, even if sometimes he seems to care about the dead a little more, due to the stories, and truths they can tell (remember the poor janitor?). It’s a great book, really.

All in all, if you read Death’s Acre, read Beyond the Body Farm too, for they go together perfectly. I can give this book 5 out of 5.

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Mackenzi Lee “The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue” [1]

29283884I waited for “The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue” by Mackenzi Lee (ISBN 0062382802; 513p.; Goodreads) even before it was released. Which is a mighty rare thing for a first book (or a stand alone, we’ll see), and not, say, second or third in the series. Luckily, I didn’t get disappointed either!

Henry Montague is a fine man, an heir to a fairly great estate, and a son of great disappointment to his father. He was kicked out of school for, allegedly, starting a fight. He dallies with anyone on two legs, men, and women. He’s rarely ever sober, and shows little to no interest in running the estate! His father’s last hope is a voyage across Europe on which he sends Henry out, together with a very strict guardian, his sister, and his best friend. With whom Henry is secretly in love with…

The tour starts out pretty boring at first. Their guardian keeps his word, and makes sure everyone’s in line. Henry can’t go party, he’s not allowed to drink, and he’s going crazy. Yet he’ll surely miss these simple days once adventures come uninvited. Highway men, pirates… And all due to a damned box he pocketed!

The story was very fun, and often – very funny. It was easy to read, and I’m real happy about everything in it. So I’ll give it 5 out of 5, and won’t mind a sequel if such comes to be.

Categories: 5-5, Books of Occult, Books: Everything, Books: Funny!, Friday: Diversity, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dr. Bill Bass – Beyond the Body Farm

95092Have you ever heard of Body Farm? If you ever watched series Bones, you likely did. And this book here, “Beyond the Body Farm” is written by Dr. Bill Bass (ISBN 0060875291; 282p.; Goodreads), creator of one of the very first such farms.

What is this body farm, you ask? Well, if you ever considered donating your body to science, and I dare being so brave as to say yes, please do, no matter how gruesome some things they might do to you post mortem might be, imagine the mark in science you could leave, instead of a mount in the ground. But if you had considered it anyway, without me kindly prompting you here, body farm is where one could end up. Bodies there are kept in various conditions for decomposition research purposes. Basically the “what happens if…” corpse edition. And what’s this macabre thing for, you then ask? Dr Bill will tell you all about it. How little it takes to learn so much about the life a body was leading!

Small things, things as the filling in your tooth, can identify you. Your skull can tell them what race, and possibly what sex you were, what was your approximate age. Any possible oddities or less common traits you had, might assure your family – it is truly you.

The book is very interesting, and I jutted down pages worth of notes. The author is not dry, he jokes, he even teases. Say, he tells us about the C.S.I. fans, and how series, and reality are pretty damn different, especially when it comes to time everything takes. But then adds: at least they taught people to not mess with the crime scene, in case of contamination, but rather wait for experts to roll in. I must give this book a 5 out of 5, it’s only fair.

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Roxane Gay – Hunger: A Memoir of (my) Body

22813605I admit, sometimes I take books due to their intriguing titles, without even reading the annotation. It doesn’t happen often, really, but here it happened, with “Hunger: A Memoir of (my) Body” by Roxane Gay (ASIN B013PKAFOC; 320p.; Goodreads). I thought I’m taking a book on eating disorders. Turns out I took a book on people’s cruelty towards theirs, and other bodies.

Roxane, this wonderful woman tells us her nightmare of a life story of violence, rape, abuse, and the need to hide that followed. She ate to make herself a fortress. She ate to become bigger, unattractive, invisible in her own way. She ate, to have a wall between herself, and violence human beings have for each other.

Roxane is Super Morbidly Obese. She tells us why it happened, and then goes on on telling how people treat her due to the space she takes up. How WE treat people who are obese, fat. For instance, she buys two seats in an aircraft, and still has to tell the person in the third seat that no, they cannot put their bag on the spare seat, that she paid for that seat, and she needs that space. You can imagine, some, if not all, do take offence. She has to go as far as google restaurants, to make sure there’s space to accommodate her, and that the chairs won’t be flimsy artworks, more suitable to look at, than sit.

The story is really, really interesting. At times, tho, it was so very hard to read. I really don’t understand where do people who are able to put others through so much violence, and torture ever come from, who raised them? Who gave birth to those animals? I only know one thing: I hope one day each one of them falls on their ass, and finds a broken bottle underneath, or something. To Roxane Gay, and her wonderful Memoir I give 5 out of 5.

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Eddie Izzard – Believe Me

24611840Ah, Eddie. It’s hard to not love this wonderful person, with his simple, honest humor. Once I laughed to tears when he cracked a joke about printers, I’ll add the video below if I can find it. So when I saw his memoir “Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, And Jazz Chickens” (ISBN 1611764696; 368p.; Goodreads), I grabbed it right away. Because, come on, it’s the one, and only: Eddie Izzard.

This is the type of memoir I like – about everything, in details, from the beginning, with fill-in’s, and explanations. Eddie Izzard seems to be a mighty flexible person, able to adjust to almost anything. Starting with his career as street performer, then stand-up comedian, writer, TV star, and so on, and to this day. He followed his heart, and so today we know him both as cold hearted killer in, say, Hannibal series, and as that wonderful transgender comedian, a man in a dress on stage, killing it!

When Eddie was still a child – his mother died. He loved her, and still does, very much. Father, unable to care for children, and work at the same time, sent them to boarding school. Eddie, with his poor health, and away from home, and loving parents, felt quite abandoned. Add his gender identity to it, and you get a fairly poor cocktail. Yet his spirit was ever so wonderful, and his wonderful childish discoveries were everything, I tell you. For example, one time someone told their class there’s a spot in, I don’t remember now, either a better class, or even a higher class, and so they asked whether anyone would like to pass there. Before little Eddie could even roll this thought in his head, some kid just raised his hand, and bam, that was that. Eddie thus came to conclusions: if you just learn to raise your hand real fast, one day you might even become the president of some country!

The memoir is full of everything, as I already mentioned, including the backstage of comedian life, what it’s like, how are the people. The only problem people might get with it: Eddie has a mighty complex way to telling his story, full of long sentences, side clauses within, explanations, and even footnotes. It’s not an easy book, is what I’m saying. But oh how worthy it is, 5 out of 5, there’s no way I can give less.

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

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