Books: Fantasy

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.

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

Victoria Dalpe – Parasite Life

4Received “Parasite Life” by Victoria Dalpe (ISBN 1771483970; 260p.; Goodreads) from the publishers, or maybe the author, I can’t recall. It was intriguing, and I had nothing better to do, so why not a vampire book, right? Yes, right. I didn’t expect to get what I got, and I can’t figure out whether that’s bad or brilliant. So let me just tell you of the book.

Jane lives her life in a creepy old house, with her dying mother. She’s asocial, but not by choice. her nature, invisible to the eye, is pulling at the primal instincts in people, making their skin crawl. Even her own mother, with as little expression as she has left, seems to show no will to communicate with her daughter. So, with no friends, hated and shunned, Jane tries to survive until she can finally leave. Somewhere. Anywhere. Up until a new girl, a gorgeous gothy Sabrina shows up, and turns her whole world around. Starting with this new sensation of having a friend, and escalating to love. And passion, during which Jane unceremoniously got drunk with Sabrina, forced herself on her, after a very clear no, and gnawed at her neck to sate the beast inside. For Jane is a vampire, and her mother is dying due to this dark nature of hers.

Sabrina, either to her own kind heart, stupidity, or compulsion of a vampire, forgives Jane, and they set off on a quest to find Jane’s father, the very one who passed this gene upon her. Jane hopes he’d know of a cure, or at least some substitute she could use instead of constantly abusing Sabrina. Or, maybe he could teach her how to be better. And oh boy, does Hugh McGarrett has lessons for her. Not the least one is how easy it is to manipulate those who aren’t afraid of their kind. People like Sabrina.

Jane is a horrible little monster. First bells rang in my head when she called herself a “seducer” after she forced herself on this girl. Rapist is the word, Jane. Second, she thinks she’s giving something by, what? Caring for a stray cat, and dying mother, who is dying because of this “care” she’s providing? Or was it caring to drag a girl on a wild chase of some man who never wanted to have anything to do with her, because hey, that friend has a license, can take her mum’s car, and oh, Jane can feed on her all the way there, all the while smooching up, and playing with the “I love you, I need you” cards. And then the very, very final straw was when this girl, while laying down the body of the person who saved her, claimed she has saved herself. Yes, you locked yourself in, good job on saving your sorry ass. So, as you can see, I’m feeling extremely negative towards this book. But I will give it a 4 out of 5 anyway (3 might be more fitting, due to lack of substance in secondary characters, like Sabrina). Here’s why: I hope that author is not insane, but rather – brilliant. Jane is a very classic vampire. A disgusting creature, deluded into believing any demented reason they come up with on why their existence is good. I do believe that if Stoker’s Dracula would’ve been written from his perspective, we would’ve heard how kind and generous he is too. So with that hope, that’s the rate I’ll give this book. Don’t read it if you don’t like the image of the modern vampire tarnished.

Categories: 3-5, 4-5, Books of Supernaturals, Books: Everything, F/F Literature, Gothic Books, Nosferatu Books, urban fantasy, vampires | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jordan L. Hawk – Widdershins | Whyborne & Griffin 1

2I love high-fantasy genre the most. But once tired from yet another world, yet another magic system, I tend to rest with books that have magic in our world, and preferably – not too modern. Thus I was recommended “Widdershins” by Jordan L. Hawk (Whyborne & Griffin 1; ISBN 0988564106; 236p.; Goodreads). A fine book of magic, occult, and homunculi-like beasts that seem to have crawled out of a Tzimisce wet dream.

Whyborne lived his life in a self-built prison. He studied, he worked, and he tried not to think too much. When he was little, his best friend, and likely the first crush, has drowned due to young Whyborne being unable to hold on to him in a stormy lake. So he buried himself under his work, in awful conditions, suffering through mockery, bullying, and lack of family connections, due to him not pursuing the career his father chose for him. Whyborne is one of the best translators around, so there’s plenty of work at any given time. Thus one can imagine, detective Griffin Flaherty, previously from some fine post in a far bigger place, barging in with a sort of a necronomicon for Whyborne to translate for some obscure case – didn’t amuse him much. He hoped to translate it, and be done with this nuisance of having to deal with another person, who isn’t his only friend – Christine.

But the more he read the book, the odder it got. Not only did spells seemingly work, for Whyborne, against his better judgement, did try one or two, the book keeps referring to a god worshiped by a ruler in Egypt who was systematically deleted from history. His tomb was discovered by Christine, untouched for all the treasures. It seemed then, that the tomb was not sealed for keeping the looters out, but rather, to keep something, or someone – inside.

This was a great adventure. Romance part wasn’t my thing in this case, too tacky, too cheesy, with too many cliche moments. But the magic was great! I hope to learn more about the book Whyborne translated in the next one, so I can give this one a fair 4 out of 5.

Categories: 4-5, Books: Fantasy, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chloe Neill – “Twice Bitten” | Chicagoland Vampires 3

7060582I cannot recall majority of the events from the previous Chicagoland Vampires books. Just had to read “Twice Bitten” by Chloe Neill (Chicagoland Vampires 3; ISBN 04512306447; 355p.; Goodreads), and then skim over it the second time. Now I just don’t think it had any impact on me understanding the plot. I can easily say, this is the lazy-day reading, when you don’t want to think too much. On a scale I’d put it below Sookie Stackhouse, which was also simple, but I loved it anyway.

When vampires came out into the public eye, shifters chose to stay in the dark due to their nature being so much more harder to detect. And, apparently, it’s not the first time they backed away, leaving vampires on their own. But now that air is heavy with another impending war, Merit’s house is trying their best to secure shifter alliance, and persuade shifters to fight along side them. With great hopes they won’t leave again. Not an easy task, what with benefits of this alliance would mostly fall into the vampire yard. Not to mention the turmoil behind the scenes. Not every shifter is happy with current rule, nor the need to obey laws or decisions they voted against.

In the meantime, Merit is entertaining the possibility of joining a secret vampire organization, meant to protect all supernaturals, not just the heads of the houses. They collect the best, members being required to be able to fight their battles, and so, Merit got on their radar. Joining them would mean standing front lines in emergencies, defending everyone without an exception. Which means, leaving her main duty: standing by her liege and defending his life with her own. And really, only his.

I’d say the book was good, but then the romance part happened and UGH. It’s one of those where you see where it’s going, you see what will happen, and then you know how things will be solved in the distant future, split among many, many books. I’ll give it 3 out of 5, can’t give it more, but won’t give it less either. We’ll see if I can manage another. I might just. (Let’s face it, I’ve read worse.)

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

Diversity: Austin Chant – Peter Darling

33358438I always claimed that validation feels too tremendous to mean nothing. “Peter Darling” by Austin Chant (ISBN 1620049589, 164p.; Goodreads) is a good example of that. While the story itself is mediocre, it passes on a colossal message.

Peter Pan is a powerful story teller, with imagination so wild, and pain so severe – he almost tore the Neverland apart. He played his wars, fought the pirates, and lived his life free, as Peter, as a boy, until one day he remembered he had a family. A family who, truth be told, didn’t like the whole pretend games much, nor their daughter Wendy dressing up as a boy. Yet his love for them was far too great to just leave them like that, so he came back, sure they will have to accept him now, sure that he is indeed a real boy and they have to see it too. This way Peter doomed himself to a decade of living a pretend life, putting on a mask and a smile, just so his parents wouldn’t disown him or worse, put him into a mental hospital. For Wendy just cannot be Peter.

Ten years later Peter, unable to bear it no more, returns to Neverland, and as rules of this place demand – forgets having had any life outside this land at all. Now, a grown man, he still is unable to shake off the concepts of masculinity plastered on him, and tries to restore his former life here, regain power, and hopefully continue having fun with the Lost Boys, fighting those pesky pirates! But thing is, pirates flourished without him, and were perfectly able to live with no bloodshed under captain Hook’s rule. Lost Boys grew up and found there’s little fun to play a war against an enemy who isn’t really an enemy. The world has changed, but Peter is just unable to live and feel whole without his adversary. How else if not via killing the villains does one become a good man? Or, at the very least, a man?

Gender is a more complex concept than those who never had doubts about theirs would have you think. On top of having to accept yourself for who you are, you have to find your way through all the frames just ready and waiting. Peter’s actions might be hard to understand to those who were never in his or Wendy’s shoes, it’d seem cruel and silly to fight for the sake of fighting, or even make such silly gestures as claim you fight for you are a boy. But likely any transgender person will confirm: it is difficult beyond measure to allow yourself something that’s not considered normal to the gender you’re claiming to be. Trans men often avoid wearing make-up, for it lessens their word’s worth in the world, or at least it feels like it does. So while I can only give this book 4 out of 5, due to story being so-so, I still claim this is a fine message, with a fine transition out of a stereotype and into your own life.

Categories: 4-5, Fantasy Books, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature, Pirate Books | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Holly Black – The Cruel Prince | The Folk of the Air 1

26032825Holly Black‘s book “The Cruel Prince” (The Folk of the Air 1; ISBN 0316310271; 384p.; Goodreads) was an impulse read to me. Just a book I kept seeing everywhere, and heard everyone talk about. The last time this happened, I got mighty disappointed. This time it was better. In fact, the book ended so well, I will read the next one, just to find out whether it worked or not, and how if it did.

Jude and her two sisters, then little, were taken by a fae warlord out of our world into the High Court of Faerie, all because the eldest was his legitimate daughter. Madoc, the said warlord, or rather a general, I guess, came in with no mood for compromise, for he thought his wife dead, as he found remains of what he thought was her some years back, after his home was set ablaze, and now he knew he was lied to. But who’d give up their child so easily? So he slayed all he found living in the house, and took all three girls with him: his wife, so his daughters. The girls swore to hate him forever, but as years went by, and he was nothing but kind and attentive to them, the promise grew hard to keep. And Jude wants nothing more than to have a place among the fae folk. Every day of her life is filled with bullying, ridicule, and even fear for her life. They despise humans, and she seems to be right at the end of the spectrum too. They think her a liar, for folk cannot lie. They think her already dead, rotting in her own shell, for she was born a mortal. They can glamour her into jumping out of towers, if she’s not extra careful, or eat the fae fruit, that’d drive her mad with wish to make them happy for another bite of it. With all that knowledge, her wish seems insane.

Yet when the time comes to either run, or seize power, Jude has no doubt she wants to stay and become something here, in the Faerie. So she becomes a spy to the King-to-be, one of the many princes in the royal family. Each one is more cruel than the next, and it fills her heart with dread to think one of them the High-King. On top of it, her work as a spy, at which she is very good, keeps revealing more and more secrets, intrigues, and gruesome plots. To the point where Jude’s not sure at all whom can she ever trust.

Author has a great writing style, the plot twists were perfect, often I didn’t even suspect one coming. I loved that Jude wanted to be a knight to set her feet in the Faerie, and not, say, find a good match of a husband to do that for her. What I didn’t like was the romance line. The whole “I treat you like dirt, because I like you” and “I almost killed you, because THEY would’ve killed you” is unpleasant to read to say the least. I hate how easily heroines, yes, heroines! forget all about the fear and horror they’ve been put through by the man who is kissing them now. I’ll give this book 3 out of 5, and will read the next one, with hopes it grows into something better. The plot outside the romance is great, and romance can improve, the way Sarah J. Maas books did (that’s personal opinion, of course).

 

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

Laini Taylor – Daughter of Smoke & Bone | 1

+2Daughter of Smoke & Bone” by Laini Taylor (Daughter of Smoke & Bone 1; ISBN 0316134023; 422p.; Goodreads) was on my to-read list for forever now. And since I’ve read it, I can say I really regret not reading it sooner, before some other books of this genre. For I loved it, but I would’ve loved it even more.

If wishes cost pain proportional, how much could you endure for your heart’s desire? And if someone else could suffer for you, how much would you take, before you couldn’t sleep at night? Out there, somewhere deep in Prague, there’s an ordinary door, with an ordinary building behind them, if you open them yourself. But if you knock and they let you in… In the dark shop there’s almost a constant hum of tools polishing and drilling teeth. A djinn-like creature is putting them on strings into necklaces, for it is teeth that make the wishes come true. There’s certain rules to it, of course. Worn away teeth are little to no use. Baby teeth is not something a respectable place deals in. And the best wishes are right there, in your mouth. Anything you could possibly want in exchange of you extracting all your teeth by yourself, with nothing to dull the pain. What’s worth this price?

These beings are the only family Karou knows. They raised her, they taught her. And now that she’s all grown up, she runs little errands for them, in exchange for the smallest of the small wishes. Just enough to give someone an itch or permanently bad eyebrows. Karou, for the bigger part of her life, didn’t know what a wish costs, other than the general idea: one needs teeth to buy them with. In truth, her whole understanding of the world she lives in, and the world out there, was pretty vague and innocent up until that fateful night when all the doors marked with black scorched hand have burned the gates between the worlds. Between her and her family

The book was truly very interesting up until the part where all the remembering started happening. That’s when it got dull. And while I can still give it a solid 4 out of 5, I can say I would’ve put it on my favorites if not for Sarah J. Maas or Holly Black books.

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

John Patrick Kennedy – Princess Dracula [1]

33763808I started reading John Patrick Kennedy book “Princess Dracula” (Princess Dracula 1; ASIN B01MSQGCS3; 203p.; Goodreads) last year, and barely managed to finish it last night. It’s a very plot-lacking book that smells of a man not knowing he can just write a woman like she’s a person, and not an alien.

Ruxandra Dracula, daughter to Walachian prince Vlad the Impaler, has been raised in a covenant for most of her life. One of these nights he comes to collect his daughter, and Ruxandra can only pray it is so he can marry her off to someone kind and handsome, like one of the knights that came with him. Instead Dracula takes her into a cave where a ritual for demon summoning is being prepared. He offers the demon his own daughter, confident he’ll be able to control the powers given, and use them against the Ottoman Empire. But demon only laughed, for it had spiteful plans of its own.

Ruxandra craves blood. At times her own body fights her, and all too often completely overpowers her, with this need to survive, while she herself is not exactly feeling like it. But she’s a Dracula, meaning she’s stubborn and determined. Determined to not hurt people, and find a way to die eventually. Until a beautiful young man finds her in the woods. Kind and caring he inspires hope in Ruxandra’s dead heart.

Too much work was put into explaining the logic of why the female protagonist has to be naked time and again. Too little work left, thus, on the plot, which was mediocre at best. For most of the book – nothing happens. And what does happen, like the brides of Dracula take (there’s an unevolved plot-line where those “brides” are actually Ruxandra’s friends, and they’re having this strange poly-amorous relationship, it could work, it would be an interesting take of Dracula’s Brides, seeing how Ruxandra is Dracula), gets left mentioned by a word or two across whole book. So I start a year with a book I can only give 2 out of 5 to. But that doesn’t mean I won’t read further.

Categories: 2-5, Books: Dracula, Books: LGBT, Fantasy Books, LGBTQ+ Books, Nosferatu Books, vampires | 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

The Witcher | Sword of Destiny

+3

I am so happy they’re doing new releases of The Witcher for us. I will, of course, forever be grateful to Dagon, for that very first publishing, and Eridanas, for the whole Witcher series that we got before the first game ever came out, and many other great books they published while they still lived. But I am thankful to Alma Littera too, for the covers are wonderful, and the shape of the book is great (it’s narrow and tall, with beautiful separations between chapters)

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

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