Books: Fantasy

Jordan L. Hawk “Stormhaven” | Whyborne & Griffin 3

2_stormhavenAuthor: Jordan L. Hawk
Title: Stormhaven
Series: Whyborne & Griffin 3
Genre: LGBT, Paranormal
Pages: 179p
Rate: 4/5 | Goodreads

If per chance you recall, I did not like the previous Jordan L. Hawk book in the series of Whyborne & Griffin. But as is seemingly a rule for me, that usually means I will like the next one. So, yes, “Stormhaven“, third book in the said series, was not an exception. Can anyone explain me why or how?

About: Whyborne keeps having these scary nightmares of an underworld city, with something lurking in the shadows. At times he can even hear someone sing, and it sounds almost like his mother. But, as is common in stories like these, he waves the dreams away as unimportant, and tells no one about them. Yet it seems he wasn’t the only one who heard the song. Allan Tambling, a kind hearted fella is found in a pool of blood, holding a knife and his beloved uncle’s body. According to him, he has no recollection of how he even got there. Which gives him first class ticket into a mental asylum. Here, being accused of murder, he fears for his life, for he will likely be sent off into the Fourth Floor ward, from where no one really ever returns. Griffin, having been in a situation like that, is feeling sorry for the man, and takes up to solve the case of who or what killed Allan’s uncle. His conviction that it wasn’t Allan is made stronger by the fact that Allan’s doctor is the same man who accused Griffin of being insane too.

My thoughts: The book seemed rushed. Most of the very good action took mere pages, where Griffin’s family and problems arising from that took whole chapters. I would’ve rather read more of this new cult on the rise (it’s not new per se), and the murderers working for them, or even the science behind summoning conducted there, than of whole that “let’s pretend we’re not boyfriends” stuff. But hey, at least Christine was as badass as always. Love that woman. She deserves her own book.

The book fell a bit short for my taste, but I can’t really complain, seeing how I saw the page number when I picked it up. But with all the cons in it, there were really decent plot twists that I absolutely did appreciate. So here’s 4 out of 5 from me, and let’s hope the next one isn’t bad again.

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Categories: 4-5, Books of Occult, Books: Everything, Fantasy Books, Gothic Books, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature, urban fantasy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

K.J. Charles “Spectred Isle” | Green Men 1

1_SpectredIsleAuthor: K.J. Charles
Title: Spectred Isle
Series: Green Men 1
Genre: LGBT, Paranormal
Pages: 271p.
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

I had to wait for quite a while until I got myself a chance to read one of the newest KJC books, the “Spectred Isle“, first in the series. And even then it is thanks to a friend for all the help. It was definitely worth the wait though. This book is a fine piece of paranormal.

About: After the disgraceful discharge from the military, Saul is happy to have any job, really. Even if it means working for a crazy eccentric fella whose life goal, it seems, is to get in touch with real magic. He pores over books he claims anonymous sources sent him, maps, and whatever other things he got to find certain places. Then he travels there, drags Saul along, or just sends Saul there alone, to trudge through mud, forests, ruins, and other kinds of not likely magical places. But this time Saul’s conviction shook at the foundation of it. First of all, this was a rare time when he got to a place and knew exactly that he was in the right place. And second of all, if the colossal ancient oak wasn’t enough eerie in itself, it suddenly burst into flames and burned like no living tree should ever, ever burn. That, of course, attracted attention, people, among which was the last member of the great and old family of occultists: Randolph Glyde. From then on every adventure Saul got himself into seem to have led him to the man. It would’ve been funny if it wasn’t so irritating and strange at the same time. Especially when they met in the Camlot Moat, the most unlikely of all places, the island that was so incredibly difficult to reach that even Randolph couldn’t believe what he saw. For Randolph’s duty is to protect the isle within the moat, and he knew full well how unlikely it was for Saul to just stumble in there, and them meet. This only confirmed his suspicions that Saul is involved in something sticky and occult.

My thoughts: Loved these two to bits. Saul is a very interesting, strong and intelligent man. And Randolph pretty much leads the rebels. Well, resistance if you please. The occult kind who don’t want to be ordered around by nasty Shadow Ministry. Those people, after all, are responsible for this thinning veil between their world and the one under it. They forced occultists of all kinds to summon, use, and abuse all manner of creatures and monsters. In one of those summonings, one that Randolph refers to as the Great Summoning, whole Glyde family has died, leaving Randolph alone to cope with all the secrets and knowledge that his family possessed. Thus he takes care of those like him, including Saul.

This was definitely a very great book, with very scary elements to it, so consider not reading at night. And, as is common for KJC books, the characters were indeed top notch. So here’s a 5 out of 5 for me, in hopes that second book won’t take too-too long. For it will take a while.

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

Hugh Howey “I, Zombie”

2Author: Hugh Howey
Title: I, Zombie
Series:
Genre: Horror, Zombies
Pages: 222p
Rate: 5-5 | Goodreads

I couldn’t figure out where I know the author from. And only now, as I opened goodreads, did I notice that Hugh Howey wrote Wool books too, Silo and all those. I didn’t like them much, to be honest. But this one was wonderful.

About: All the speakers in this book are either zombies, or people who are about to become zombies. Little by little, including interesting enough personal background stories, they tell a tale of how did this happen, to them, to their city. It’s scary, how it all began with a few infected on the street. They looked no worse than deranged sick vagabonds, so people avoided them. But apparently, they didn’t do so well enough. For not long after that, a gang of zombies, a shuffle, came along. They weren’t fast, what with their rotting, often broken bodies, but their need drove them forwards, causing panic, horror, and all the disasters that start with it. Some, now, like our very first speaker, are trapped in their rotting bodies, internally screaming against impulses they can no longer control, as their broken bleeding hands shove rotting flesh into their mouths, throats. Others feel relief, for they won’t have to worry about anything anymore, not the contamination, virus, not even death. But they’re all united with one need, one want: human flesh. They can always smell them, always feel them. So they know full well there’s choppers above, full of scientists and military, all people who do nothing but observe and research. And by the time they reach a conclusion: sacrifice a city for the sake of humanity, by the time they decide to bomb it… They already know there’s herds of living, delicious flesh behind the barricades of this city.

My Thoughts: This was a very scary read. From the very first story, where a completely conscious woman with a gaping hole in her cheek, explains the terror she feels when her hands shove guts into her throat, and how painful is the wind against her bare teeth. Then to living people, civilians. One had just enough bullets to show mercy to some, choosing to shoot women and children first, and put them out of this horror of existence. And finally, to those who didn’t see the rising sun of a bomb fallen, for they were pushing, scraping at the barriers between themselves and humanity. By the end of this book my heart was thumping. I am not someone who likes to be scared. But this was unbelievably amazing. Not every story was interesting or scary, but a total of the book was definitely worth it.

I am waiting for Dying Light 2 even more now, praying it’ll still have zombies, and not just gangs of people. I was never interested in zombies, never felt the need to read or watch anything with them, really. But this book had a teller who was one of those people who were actively preparing for a zombie apocalypse, like quite a few in our world actually do. And so it just brought it all to life, made it beautifully believable. I give it 5 out of 5, and to you I suggest to put it up for October, Halloween read.

Categories: 5-5, Apocaliptic Books, Books: Everything, Nosferatu Books, urban fantasy | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chloe Neill “Drink Deep” | Chicagoland Vampires 5

1Author: Chloe Neill
Title: Drink Deep
Series: Chicagoland Vampires 5
Genre: Fantasy, Vampires
Pages: 321p.
Rate: 4/5 | Goodreads

The greatest plus of these books is them being real easy to read. You start one, and it already ends. So I’ve read through fifth book in Chloe Neill series Chicagoland Vampires, “Drink Deep“, and I do believe I will read me another one too.

About: After the death of Cadogan House head, Merit’s love interest, no less, power assertion and drama begins. Vampires who took over have no love for this house and soon start changing the rules, rationing their blood, making their training more strict, etc. They don’t even hide their displeasure and want to get rid of some people, and we won’t point fingers to Merit. But to her this problem soon becomes secondary. After all, whoever turned Lake Michigan into black tar might just be more dangerous than a bunch of vampire assholes. So Merit goes off with the secret vampire organisation to follow up on any possible leads. Those include other supernatural races, such as fae in control of elements, water nymps, and so on. But as leads dwindle to nothing, magical apocalypse continues. Sky turns red, and lightening storms serve destruction.

My Opinion: The book, for the most of the first half, was as boring as one would expect from a story where one of the lovers died. Romance drama is one of the worst plotlines for me, so this is my own fault, for picking up books like that, I guess. To add to that, Merit keeps having dreams about Sullivan, and they seem to be trying to warn her. So I just rolled my eyes at the “there was a storm behind him, and I started to run“, and continued. Of course, not all was bad. I did really enjoy the magical catastrophe, it was very apocalyptic, and very horror genre worthy, what with all the lightening strikes, and sky turning red. New races were introduced fairly well too. There was a pretty great Sookie-Stackhouse moment when hungry vampires went insane over sweet fae blood scent.

So, all in all I still didn’t much like any of the books. They’re about there, where you can continue reading, with random goodies to sweeten the pot. In this book it was that magical apocalypse, so I can give it a 4 out of 5.

Categories: 4-5, Books of Occult, Books of Supernaturals, Books: Everything, Books: Fantasy, urban fantasy, vampires | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chloe Neill “Hard Bitten” | Chicagoland Vampires 4

1I get used to series. Then I read them, even if I don’t particularly like them. Same happened to me with Chloe Neill series Chicagoland Vampires. Lucky for me, though, “Hard Bitten” (Chicagoland Vampires 4; ISBN 04512333328; 350p. Goodreads) ended up with a very interesting note.

Tension is ever rising in House Cardogan. Protesters outside the windows demand day and night for these dangerous bloodsucking creatures to go back where they came from – hell. Some people go missing after especially brutal raves take place. New drug is rumored to be on the market, messing things up. And, seemingly, all of these strings lead to House Cardogan. Its master, Sullivan is under pressure from two different ramparts: the mayor of the city, and the vampire authorities from across the pond. Pressure itself wouldn’t be hard to handle, of course. It’s their orders that put him between an anvil and a hammer. One side wants him to take care of this, because Cardogan looks involved. Other side wants him to stop meddling in what the head of Cardogan is not supposed to meddle. So, clan reputation or his own skin?

Merit, on the other hand, seems to have found a way around all this mess. After all, the orders were to her liege, not her directly. And what her liege doesn’t know, her liege cannot be blamed for, right? Thus she picks up her contacts in dark deep places, and sets off after those who survived the raves. Sadly, the deeper she digs, the less she likes the secrets. Some of them are about to flip her whole world upside down. Like the one about her getting turned into a vampire…

The ending was a very interesting choice author made, and it got me real curious of how will this develop then. Still, I really won’t be recommending these to anyone who didn’t get this far to begin with. 3 out of 5 from me. Will read the next one though.

Categories: 3-5, Books of Supernaturals, Books: Everything, Fantasy Books, urban fantasy, vampires | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Neven Iliev “Fizzlesprocket” | Everybody Loves Large Chests 2

1Finally! Finally I got my hands on second book in Neven Iliev series Everybody Loves Large Chests, “Fizzlesprocket” (Everybody Loves Large Chests 2; ASIN B07B42T4YD; 306p.; Goodreads). First one was great. Second one – less so. Never thought I’ll say this, but there were too many dirty jokes, they got to a point where it was just vulgarity for the sake of it, it wasn’t funny, and it flopped half of a book as a result. The other half was great tho.

When Boxxy noticed that some adventurers surpass him in abilities and skills, even if their levels are lacking. This has gotten him curious, for a boost is always welcome for our little mimic who is just trying to survive. And get tasties. And get shinies. So he watched and inspected, and came to a sensible conclusion that it was the gear they wore that gave them this said tasty boost. Yet putting this knowledge to practice turned out to be mighty time consuming and complicated. For there are no shops, apparently, that sell box-shaped armor.

For one, people feel strange dread, fear, uneasiness around monsters, no matter how human they look. So even if Boxxy overcame the first obstacle, and found a way to look more human, if a little grotesque as men come, he still had to navigate through people who shunned him without knowing why. Fear can easily turn into anger, and that would just not be tasty. For two, learning a crafting skill turned out to be both time consuming, and shiny-costing, forcing Boxxy to take up some quests now again, which wasn’t all that bad, for he got to consume corpses afterwards, and get more gold for it. It’s the third thing that turned out to be a real pain. After the whole Calamity happened, humans got on edge. Security got tighter, adventurers in disguise started investigating who did it. For while official story claimed it was elves, since that allowed an open war against that nuisance of a race, secretly authorities worked towards finding and punishing the real culprit. After all, no one wants that to happen again. And you have to admit, tall dark strangers, especially the strong-silent types, are mighty suspicious to begin with, even if they didn’t make you feel all strange and uneasy.

So as I said, dirty jokes got far out of line. Vulgarity for the sake of vulgarity is never funny, and it really got old really fast. Luckily, it broke off quite suddenly too, and pace picked up as plot intensified. So the whole second part of the book was far better. I loved the ending too, so I will definitely read the third book too. This one gets 4 out of 5 for the time being.

Categories: 4-5, Books: Everything, Books: Fantasy, Books: Funny!, Fantasy Books, high fantasy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jordan L. Hawk “Threshold” | Whyborne & Griffin 2

2I enjoyed the first book in Jordan L. Hawk series Whyborne & Griffin, so it was only a matter of time, and finding the time, until I got into the second one, “Threshold” (Whyborne & Griffin 2; ISBN 0988564971; 249p.; Goodreads). I must say, this was the most unexpected turn of events. And yet I didn’t like it so much. But I do enjoy the Lovecraftian vibe the author has.

Whyborne’s father was never overly fond of his younger son. Especially not after he decided to make his own life, and not follow the path he provided. That slightly shifted after the battle with monsters from another dimension, where Whyborne showed immense knowledge and great courage. Still, even with that little bit of mending, Whyborne is mighty suspicious when his father hires Griffin to investigate supernatural happenings in one of his coal mines.

Miners hear buzzing, vibrations behind the walls. Some claim there’s voices telling them of rich coal veins nearby. People disappear or die in strangest accidents. Some return, strange and different. A lot of these strings lead to excavation site in a cave system nearby, so that’s where the trio heads. There’s nothing real special there, nothing archaeologists haven’t already taken account of. Up until the floor breaks under Whyborne’s feet, and he is plunged into the darkness of the caves below. Here walls are all covered in drawings of strange creatures enslaving humans. And there’s something lurking just behind the band of light…

SPOILER: this is a personal preference, but I really do not like when mild fantasy meets mild sci-fi, and results are aliens vs cowboys. END OF SPOILER. I think the biggest peeve here was the romance line. I really hate the whole “but I thought this, so I did that, because I thought…“, for as a reader you know exactly how that’ll go. There’ll be spilling sand between the fingers, then making up, and apologies, and in romance novel cases: make-up sex. Other than that, the events were very unexpected, so while I can only give this book 3 out of 5, I will definitely read the next one.

Categories: 3-5, Books of Occult, Books of Supernaturals, Books: Fantasy, Books: Horror, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature, Sci-Fi Books, urban fantasy | 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

Laini Taylor – Days of Blood & Starlight | Daughter of Smoke & Bone 2

1Right, so as it turns out, we do not have a Lithuanian translation for second book (even though we do have the first). That happens sometimes, and likely, native English speakers rarely even take it into consideration how amazing it is that they don’t have to have another language in their baggage of knowledge. Here, if series wasn’t all that popular, they’ll stop translating it wherever. And if you were one of the rare fans, well, too bad! Lucky for me, I guess. I picked up “Days of Blood & Starlight” by Laini Taylor (Daughter of Smoke & Bone 2; ISBN 0316133973; 517p.; Goodreads) in English. And, honestly, it wasn’t much good.

Karou has remembered her past. Past or past life, hard to say. For she has been beheaded by a man whom she was meant to, due to her betraying him. White Wolf, ruthless warlord, couldn’t let such a disgusting mockery go. So he executed Karou publicly, as a traitor, for loving a mortal enemy, an angel. He pretty much slandered her, and dragged her name through dirt. Her love for Akiva was true. But she was no traitor. And Brimstone knew that. He saw her love for an enemy as a chance to end the war, so he made sure to save her soul, and lock the awful memories in a wish bone, which he carried around his neck dutifully, until he no longer couldn’t.

As of why he couldn’t is best told in Karou’s words: imagine, Romeo wakes up, and finds Juliet dead. Instead of killing himself, he slaughters and enslaves her family. And so Juliet, Karou, once woke, couldn’t forgive him. Thus, tables turned, and enemies became friends, much as lovers became enemies. Karou now works with White Wolf, mostly hand in hand, if one can trust a creature like him, ever. She helps him build a new army, as the only living Resurrectionist, an army that’ll rise against the disgusting nation of angels.

The story was dragged. To add to that, there was that awful trope of “I thought that YOU thought, therefore I did what I did” that I loathe, for I know they’ll have to resolve it, and I suspect the resolution will not be logic based. Characters too felt very two dimensional, there to propel Karou’s story, instead of adding anything useful to the plot, which was pretty dull too. So I can only give it 3 out of 5, and, to be honest, I’m not sure I want to read the third book all that much. We’ll see.

Categories: 3-5, Books: Fantasy, Fantasy Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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