Craig Alanson – SpecOps | Expeditionary Force 2

30342581For whatever reason I find it mighty hard to review sci-fi. You’d think it’s not that different, but it feels like it is. I’ve read “SpecOps” by Craig Alanson (Expeditionary Force 2; ASIN B01GJ6XSW0; 480p.; Goodreads) maybe a month ago, yet here I just sat with it, unable to review. And it was good, it was funny, so why was it so difficult?

Joe Bishop is off on a voyage with the brilliant mastermind AI, created by an ancient civilization, to explore the space a little. Skippy, the AI, agreed to help humans after they were captured, recruited, enslaved, and hunted in exchange for a chance that they, Joe specifically, will help him find out what happened to those like him, his creators, and whatever artifacts they had left. So they saved the humans, saved the world, and… After humans had a little argument over who should get how much credit for what, to whom does the alien spaceship Joe returned in belong, and who should control Skippy, and what should Skippy, for that matter, do – they’re out! Ah, space. So beautiful, and full of evil aliens who kinda want their ship back. Or whoever is in it.

It’s a slow paced story, if as funny as the previous one. Joe is really growing on Skippy the Magnificent, and Joe is learning a lot on the way. For instance, this AI feels himself to be a person, and does not appreciate people not treating him like one. Also, when he calls himself the “magnificent”, he might just not be exaggerating, for not many could rebuild a space ship out of stardust and hope.

I wish they would’ve explored the planet they visited – more. I also wish there was a little more action in this book, for I felt lacking. but other than that, it was just as great as the last one. Not to be an ass myself, I’ll give it 5 out of 5.

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

K.J. Charles – An Unseen Attraction | Sins of the Cities [1]

30517107Sometimes I catch myself wishing for K.J. Charles to rewrite Sherlock Holmes. The wish got the fuel added to it with the book “An Unseen Attraction” (Sins of the Cities 1; ASIN B01G0GD0E0; 247p.; Goodreads), where the detective plot-line really had me hooked!

Both Clem and Rowley prefer peace and quiet, which is likely why they soon found themselves having those common evenings together, by the fire, with tea and the lodging house cat named Cat. Rowley isn’t very talkative, and Clem has things to hide. And if that doesn’t make the foundations for sound friendship, then their common dislike of the loud drunkard neighbor does. Rowley can’t figure out why Clem won’t just kick him out, or why is he so devoted to his brother, who, it seems, gave this lodging house to Clem on an exact condition that this sorry excuse of a man gets to stay here, rent-free. Which is likely why Earl Edmund feels the need to come and haunt their doorstep soon after the man is dropped tortured and killed onto Clem’s doorstep, thus, by proxy, on earl’s.

As gloomy fog rolls over, clouding the streets in foul, obscuring sheet of stinking mist, even the daytime is dangerous, let alone the night. The dead man wasn’t the last event that got Rowley worried. Soon someone breaks into his shop, and failing to find whatever it was they needed, sets it on fire, nearly killing Rowley in the process. Whatever it is the drunkard died for, whatever for were the earl’s strange questions, Rowley has had enough.

This was one fine story. I wish there was a little more about Rowley though, since I found his character interesting, but lacking in air time. Clem was a special something though! Easy 5 out of 5 here, and let’s move on to the next, onwards!

I wish to invite you to my new favorite blog, for some tea, book themed delights, and books: Pen & Pin is that room with the fireplace and the cat named Cat in blog form.


Dear Reader,

long time no read. How has Your year begun? What is the weather like in Your corner of the world?

Over here the mornings mope about the absence of snow, cover themselves in thick blankets of fog, and refuse to get up.

Londoners took a perverse pride in the “particulars” of yellow, blinding fog; Clem had been raised in the countryside, where you could breathe.

Our local variety is no match for an old London pea-souper, but still manages to creep into coats of any thickness and chill you to the bone.

Why not stave off the chill and dreariness with a delightful biscuit (or a plate-full of them)?


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

Craig Alanson – Columbus Day | Expeditionary Force [1]

28525188I was missing both humor and sci-fi. Luckily, one of my friends recently discovered audiobooks, and thus was able to provide me with a recommendation of “Columbus Day” by Craig Alanson (Expeditionary Force 1; ASIN B01AIGC31E; 494p.; Goodreads). And let me tell you, it was hilarious.

It was Columbus Day in America when two alien races invaded Earth. One – devastated the land, messing up the infrastructure, electricity, communication, and whatever else it was. The other one seemingly rescued the poor little earthlings and chased the bad guys away. Soon after, they started recruiting Earth’s military to join them in further warring out in the space, on other planets. This is how our hero got onto this paradise-like planet, supervising evacuation of the locals here, the same bad guys who invaded his planet, who, seemingly, merely peacefully cultivated food on this planet. They seem kind and pretty willing to engage. Unlike their new higher-ups, who seem pretty disgusted by these new folk they have to deal with. And yet they still do. Why?

This and many more questions are soon to be answered, as our hero, during one serious battle in which he fought to keep his people, humans, alive, instead of taking sides or helping sides, where he accidentally finds what seems like a shiny beer can. A shiny beer can shaped ancient AI. A shiny beer can shaped ancient AI who is also an utter asshole.

I laughed out loud so many times! It’s a truly well action packed book with a very, very healthy dose of humor and cheek. 5 out of 5, couldn’t give it a point less if I wanted to.


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

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.

Categories: 5-5, Books: Fantasy, Fantasy Books, Sci-Fi Books | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 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.

Categories: 5-5, Sci-Fi Books | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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: , , , | 1 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: , , , , , , | 1 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.

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

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: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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