5-5

Patrick Sheane Duncan – Dracula Vs. Hitler

draculavshitleOh happy day for me! I’m a fan of Dracula stories, always in want of new, good ones. It was impossible to not notice “Dracula vs. Hitler” by Patrick Sheane Duncan (ISBN 1942645082; 441p.; Goodreads), so I saw it, I took it, and I’ve read it. And I loved it. I believe anyone who loves action-packed movies with Dracula, Van Helsing movie, or Hellsing in any form, will also appreciate it.

Monsters in human form roam the earth, Nazis. Bit by bit they’re occupying Europe, same tactics, same alternative facts on importance of “racial purity” bullshit. Their brutality is unmatched. And as Van Helsing watches guerrilla not only fail, but get slaughtered, as he watches his daughter Lucile, named after a tragic heroine, risk her all for it, he has to make a decision: could a monster vs monster work?

Some years ago he, and a few brave men, captured Dracula, overpowered, and imprisoned him. Not many know he is not really dead thou. And while Van Helsing often thought of coming back to the sarcophagus with the immortal creature within, he always thought it’d be for science sake, for experiments, research. By far he did not expect himself to stand over the prince’s body, prepared to wake him from the possibly eternal slumber, in hopes that Vlad the Impaler will be willing to defend his homeland once again, against a new enemy.

It’s a very amusing, action filled, and fast paced book. Dracula is well written, and I love that once again he is portrayed as a relentless reader. He muses about new creations humans have made, and doesn’t smell of rot. But then he kills like a walking fortress. I can give it full 5 out of 5, and hope to someday add a physical copy to my collection, for this is a worthy piece to my shelves.

Categories: 5-5, Books, Books of Dracula, Books of Occult, Books of Supernaturals, Gothic Books, Vampires, Vlad Dracula III | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Marissa Meyer – Heartless

heartlessI like re-tellings of Alice in Wonderland story. But I admit, I didn’t know this is one, when I took “Heartless” by Marissa Meyer (ISBN 1250044650; 453p.; Goodreads), and only after I got suspicious of why are there so many similarities, I went to google. This is a story of how Queen of Hearts has lost her own heart. And it’s pretty damn good.

In one night whole Catherine’s life turns over. She dreamed of being a baker, having her own little store, and living a simple life of baking delights. Instead here she stands, in a red dress her mother tricked her into wearing, before the King of Hearts, in one of his black and white parties, where everyone, of course, wears something black or white. From the ceiling descends his newly hired joker, and saves her fainting little self, too weak from lack of oxygen due to the nasty corset, and lack of food her mother strictly forbade. At least, he believes that’s what he’s saving her from. Instead, while Catherine is safe on her way home, the rest of the party goers, her parents included, are trapped inside the castle, where a myth of horrors, Jabberwock, is trying to get in…

Her parents want her to be a queen. Her best friends thinks it’s a great idea. They think baking is work fit for servants, not noble born girls. And nobody cares what Catherine wants. Due to them believing to know what’s best, she suffers a betrayal, after a betrayal, and her soft heart is slowly turning to ice.

It’s a pretty damn good story, that shines very fitting perspective on the Queen of Hearts as we know her now. I have not yet read anything else by this author, and I don’t even know why I picked this one up first, but her other books are already on the list. This one, in the meantime, gets a firm 4,5 out of 5 from me.

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

Neil Gaiman – Norse Mythology

norsemythologyYou know, I’m really starting to like Neil Gaiman, a lot. It started with American Gods, because all the stuff that I read before didn’t leave too great of an impression of the author. And now, after “Norse Mythology” (ASIN B01HQA6EOC; 304p.; Goodreads) I’m thinking what of his I could try next.

Book tells Norse Myths, as title suggests, of Viking Gods: Odin, Loki, Thor, and many more. It’s told as a story, not as myths are usually told, and while wonderful, and great at times, on other occasions it’s hilarious to the point where I laughed out loud. These guys get in all kinds of trouble and adventures, especially the younger gods. For instance, one day Thor wakes up to find his wife – bald. Who could’ve done it? Of course. Loki. And why? Well, because it’s kinda funny… So Thor promises him to break every single bone in his body, if he doesn’t get his wife’s hair back. And since he never done that, it might really, really hurt and take a lot of time. But he’s sure that he can get better with practice! So Loki runs off, to dwarves, the only folk who might really have the skill to make hair… And I promise, truly, not all stories are about Loki getting hurt.

The book is very funny, and finished with a cycle turn: a story of Ragnarok and what follows after. I truly recommend it to anyone who’s in the market for something funny, light, and just good. 5 out of 5, hands down.

Categories: 5-5, About Msg2TheMing, Fantasy Books, Funny Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Victoria Schwab – Vicious [1]

ViciousOkay, I think I can now really say that Victoria Schwab is my favorite author. I swallowed her “Vicious” (Villains 1; ISBN 0765335344; 364p.; Goodreads) in yet another single-sitting. And I really hope it’s not gonna be a stand-alone, because the ideas these pages were filled with, and that wonderful, amazing, superb ending to it!… Ah.

Victor and Eli seem similar at the first glance. Both smarter than your average students. Both ambitious. Both very likely to try and pick unlikely things and see where it brings them. Thus, once told to find a research topic, they ran with it: extraordinary abilities induced by or acquired due to near-death experience. And since research in theory went so well, they decided to take it up a notch, and try it in practice. Here the similarities of the boys ended. For in death it is the greatest desire that echoes the loudest, reaching back. And one of them just happens to have a whole different understanding of self.

This is a story of heroes and villains. Or so it seems to the characters inside. Robber, killed by a hero who just happened to be there on the right time, in the right place, had no weapon on him. Hero, who stalks, and befriends the prey. Villains who pick up the stray people, offering shelter from the rain, and possibly pain. And this endless battle, between what? Good and evil? Decisions and consequences? Self-righteous men who are right, and selfless vengeful men who are…

Here’s my take on this story. Two similar boys with different understanding of self. One sees himself as a person who wants to, say, grow. The other one, believes himself right. And therefor, it’s not the growing that concerns him. It’s the memory he will leave behind. Thus when it came to superpowers, one of them told himself that God gave it to him, and therefor he is right. While the other one simply believed that this is how things are, and there’s no right, or for that matter, wrong. 5 out of 5, because bloody hell this was an amazing trip.

Categories: 5-5, Books of Supernaturals, Treasures, urban fantasy | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sarah J. Maas – A Court of Wings and Ruin [3]

acowarUsed to be I disliked series. Now I love series! Because who wouldn’t love that odd sense you get after you finish one, where you don’t know what to do with your life anymore. Everyone’s living their lives, as if you hadn’t just survived a wizard war or, in this case, a fae war. Yes, I have finished “A Court of Wings and Ruin” by Sarah J. Maas (acotar 3; ISBN 1408857901; 699p.; Goodreads), the last one in acotar series or trilogy. And while they’re not as great as, say, Shades of Magic by V.E. Schwab, they’re still pretty damn amazing.

 

The Wall between humans and fae was never meant as permanent solution. It was made to cease fire, to give time for healing, to learn co-exist. Yet humans have short lives, and horror tales of fairies got worse, and worse with every new generation. While fae lived long enough to have seen humans freed, and witness this day with wall about to crumble. And not all who did feel that it is right to co-exist with great-great-great-great-grandchildren of their former slaves. The war is inevitable. All there is to do now is prepare.

Cauldron once created this whole world, so how does one stand against a weapon able to create the cycle of life and death itself? Fayra and Rhysand are trying to gather allies, rally everyone they possibly can. They’re seeking any advantage points in this overtipped scale, and if that means unleashing Death Gods themselves, Fayra is willing to make a bargain again. Bargain she was warned against while she was still mortal. And with worse beings than fae…

Rhysand, on the other hand, has his own little (or not so little) problem. How does one convince the world that this mighty High Lord of the Night Court to whom Court of Nightmares bows, wants to protect, and defend, rather than wreck havoc? How does he gain trust once the mask falls, and who will dare to stand with him? Especially with Tamlin running amok, with a tale of betrayal in his court, by no else than Fayra, his mate.

And Lucien? Lucien, like a stray kicked cat is testing the waters with caution. Being left courtless, which is pretty much homeless, twice in his life now, he fits into the Court of Dreams by his nature of an unwanted oddity alone. But can Rhys, this mortal enemy of Tamlin’s, his friend’s nemesis, really be trusted to not just give him up to his family, where he’d surely be killed? He’s willing to try his luck, if carefully, at the very least, for his mate, who now lives under Rhysand’s wings.

So, the book. Whole inner monologues of “how and why I feel” almost ceased to exist. And once you start believing that pace of the book is too slow – someone drops a brick on the heroes heads. Or an army.  There’s funny, there’s witty, there’s edge-of-the-chair intense. So I give it 5 out of 5, for now the story truly earned it.

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

Frank Herbert – Dune [1]

dune-coverI tend to dislike overly long books, even if they’re as good and wonderful as Frank Herbert‘s “Dune” (Dune 1; ISBN 0340839937; 604p.; Goodreads). For, simply, so much happens between the first page and the last, that it becomes as good as impossible to say one thing that would reflect it all.

Spice, melange, is the most wanted, and the most expensive substance in the cosmos, obtained in one planet alone, Arrakis, know to the open desert folk simply as Dune. It is said that it never tastes the same twice, that the spice adjusts to persons wants and needs, pandering to the desires, and soon creates an addiction. On top of it, it gives an almost supernatural insight, the Sight, without which navigators are as good as blind, unable to predict the dangers open space has in store for their ship.

The price of it lies not only in want and addiction, but the hardships of mining this substance. For Spice is closely guarded by giant creatures known as desert Worms, known to grow large enough to swallow mining factories, men, spice, and all – whole. The relation between the worms and the spice is too intertwined for anyone to risk killing more than one or two truly menacing ones, but no one, except maybe the free folk, truly know how it is with them.

I feel like I’ve just read an epic story, like Kalevala or whatever else. The book inside is thespicemustflowsplit into three, so it’s not difficult to read, and the story is so well paced, and so well braided with treacheries within treacheries, that I ate page, after page. The way people live in the desert, how moisture is preserved, and how even tears are frowned upon as wasteful, how treacherous sand can be, how easy it is to get buried and never found again, and oh, how the spice changes the color of the eyes… And most of all, how scary the damned giant sand worms are, forcing people to adjust even their way of walking just to avoid attracting one. Politics are unbelievable too, real easy to follow, and real interesting to watch unravel. 5 out of 5, there can’t be a question here.

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

V.E. Schwab – A Conjuring of Light [3]

A Conjuring of Light by V.E. SchwabMy journey through Londons ends, and I must say, I’m fairly content about it. With “A Conjuring of Light” by V.E. Schwab (Shades of Magic 3; ISBN 0765387468; 624p.; Goodreads) Shades of Magic trilogy ends. Some things were left untold, and it felt natural, for they were the things Red London didn’t speak about. Other things received their dots where dots were needed. And since there’s spoilers further on, my advice is to not read unless you’ve read the previous book. Know that I loved this book.

We’re all familiar with the concept of AI becoming self-aware, and what could that mean to us, to our world. In our “grey” world, if not per se London, this concept is the most interesting among theoretically possible ones, for having no magic means we advanced in other things. Red London, on the other hand, has full-on magic…

Once, due to a mistake, or worship, a spell became self-aware outside the will of the caster. And now this creature, believing self to be a God, for hey, they DID worship it where it’s from, is wrecking havoc on Kell’s home. And, of course, he’s prepared to kill it or die trying.

They say two heads are better than one, so how about four? Kell, Lila, Alucard, and their prisoner, sail out into the ocean, in search of the blackest market of all the black damn markets. If you need it – they have it. If you want it – bargain for it. And they’re nothing if not in need of weapons able to fight a divine power, where revered creatures as Antari don’t stand a chance to compete. Just imagine these four in close ship quarters for a week… Rhy, in the meantime, stays behind to defend London until they return, with a promise to Kell that he won’t get into TOO much trouble until he’s back. But that’s easier said than done, for there’s a monster outside alright, but what about the traitors on the inside?

I love how no one went out for a stroll in Black London, and the myth, more or less, stayed a myth, or at least a forbidden place no one wants to think about, like the ajar closet door at night. I like that prince was so utterly in love with his man, that he listened, and understood, and made things possible, as kings do. I like that Delilah stayed her own woman, with her own agenda, her own mind, even with all the stuff about Kell, and that it was him who got to consider that hey, maybe I’m not actually rooted into one spot after all (I hate those damn stories where girl stays behind, and doesn’t go to some uni, just because her new found love was too dumb to get in anywhere, and had to stay in some miserable hometown of theirs). I love that everything ended so well, and that the end, if firm, is not solid, and if need be – there could be a book 4, but if there never is – reader is content with absolutely everything. It’s a very right, and very good ending to have. So I give it 5 out of 5, something I have never done to an entire series before (I think, I might have done that to Harry Potter, but I can’t recall anymore), and will add it to my favorite list when I’m not too lazy about it.

Categories: 5-5, Books, Books of Supernaturals, Fantasy Books, High Fantasy, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature, Pirate Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

V.E. Schwab – A Gathering of Shadows [2]

gatheringofshadowsI forgot I didn’t yet tell you about this book until I realized I have barely any left of the third. So do let me tell you how great was the second book in V.E. Schwab trilogy Shades of Magic, “A Gathering of Shadows” (ISBN 0765376474; 512p.; Goodreads), for it was amazing. Mind you, if you haven’t read the first one, you might want to skip this review, and just know that I loved it cover to cover.

As Kell and Rhy are now sharing one life – a lot of things pass between them via that magical link. At first it was seemingly just pain, for if one dies – the other one dies too, only natural you’d feel the deadly prick just as the other party does. But then there’s all the mental stuff too, and before they strangled each other due to constant hum at the back of their heads, Rhy makes up his mind. His brother will have to attend the magical dueling tournament and release some of that built-up magical steam. For unlike your regular mages, this one will gladly slap you if you finish off his already thin patience, or scare him too much by nearly dying if he cared about you, etc. And, of course, since he’s the most powerful magician known, that people revere and fear as a god, he’ll have to enter in disguise…

Delilah Bard turns her ears up when Captain Alucard, after long months at sea and foreign ports, turns the ship around back to London. He intends to attend this magical dueling tournament, and Lila just happens to have discovered she has powers too…

In the mean time, White London, the drained and bleak one, is stirring. A legend came true. On their throne now sits a hero, a king that fairy tales claimed to be able to restore magic in their world.

I can’t stop admiring the characters, how much each one of them is their own person, acting on their own set of mind, and not just there to ask the right questions. I love how Rhy would flirt with a chair, but then is madly in love with one person, and keeping that feeling safe from the world. I love how Kell, at points indeed revered as god due to power is actually a hotheaded spirit, ready to stomp his feet in anger, and yell at you if you chocked and nearly died in his arms, because he got so scared, and you can’t do that! And I just love Delilah Bard, I do believe she is my all time favorite woman ever written. 5 out of 5, deserved every one bit.

Categories: 5-5, Books, Books of Occult, Books of Supernaturals, Fantasy Books, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

V.E. Schwab – A Darker Shade of Magic [1]

ADarkerShadeOfMagicAh, what a discovery, what a find! Thank You, Hannah Cassie, for all those relentless recommendations at P.S. I Love That Book, for at last I reached one and it was oh SO good. This is my first encounter with V.E. Schwab, and her first book in the superb fantasy trilogy “A Darker Shade of Magic” (Shades of Magic 1; ISBN 0765376458; 400p.; Goodreads) blew me away. One of those books I nearly finished all in one sitting, but then scolded myself, and reminded how bad it feels to not be able to continue the next day. I promise, there was more than 2 chapters left when I put it down.

Kell – a messenger from Red London, traveling among the other ones, passing letters from royals to royals. Grey London is mighty boring, no magic, no nothing. White London is fairly scary, for magic there is enslaved, and thus – fights back, draining the life out of the users to the bone. Legends say there was once Black London too, but people don’t speak of such nasty things in good company.

Of course, being one of the rare creatures who can travel among Londons is not the only talent Kell has. He’s a great damn smuggler too, taking little trinkets between the worlds, under the nose of the law. Sometimes just because it’s fun. Other times because it pays off, thou how is a heavy question: what do you need, belonging to royal family, with crown prince loving you as his own brother? And another time – just because he wanted to do something good to the desperate. On one such expedition Kell finds himself with an artifact that by all means, should not exist. The artifact creates magic, where magic shouldn’t be, as in – those who have no talent for it – suddenly can create like they were born into it. Worst of all, the inscription on the artifact is written in the language Kell knows for a fact was used so freely only in Black London. No, wait, that’s not the worst. The worst is that he notices it too late.

Oh, this was so amazing. Delilah is amazing, the most wonderful woman I have ever read about. Kell is fantastic, such a bad-ass with so little understanding of how bad-ass he is. No “fell off my unicorn due to how gorgeous you are” shit, they’re imperfect, usually dirty like chimney-boys, and so on. No “I wanted to travel, but I’ll stay here, because you’re here” bullshit either. The pace was perfect, build up – great, tension – even more so. 5 out of 5, this is definitely among my favorites of all time now.

 

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

Lynn Flewelling – Stalking Darkness

StalkingDarknessWhile I considered Nightrunner series by Lynn Flewellyn to be my slow night reads, I abandoned sleep until 4am just to finish “Stalking Darkness” (Nightrunner 2; ISBN 0553575430; 501p.; Goodreads). There’s just something about these books that feels familiar. Reminds me of those summers I spent reading through the night with a flashlight, all those fantasy books, Innkeeper’s Song, Swords against deviltry, Hobbit. And if the previous book got to you, well, this one will do so even more.

Politics are done, no one needs Seregil’s head anymore, but that seems to be the only piece of good news. No rest for the wicked, somewhere out there dark magic webs are being woven, and tendrils already reach his beloved city. It all started with small, simple, even insignificant things, like sudden renovations in the sewer system. A passing shadow in an alley there or here. Odd feeling in the dark. And then deaths. Seregil’s underground has been well rooted, pushing him out in the open to gather the information…

Further adventures were a test of morals, for attempts to break them were made in earnest. Brutal murder, destruction, carnage, and kidnapping set the four, Micum, Seregil, Alec, and Nysander apart, and the Darkness is prepared to break their wills before they’re given to the Eater of Death, where they’ll be set part of this nightmare for the rest of the eternity.

It’s a long book, as I said. The start of it is so different from the middle, and the end, that I can’t describe it in earnest without spoiling the living hell out of it. What I can say is that while slow paced it was intense, and had the edge-of-the-chair moments by the handful. Descriptions are down a notch, so it’s easier to read. But be aware, it is a mistake to think this is a light goodnight read. It’s too hard to put it aside for it to be a good bed companion. I’ll give it a full 5 out of 5 this time. And on to the next one!

Categories: 5-5, Books, Books of Occult, Books of Supernaturals, Fantasy Books, High Fantasy, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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