Books: Other Fiction

book review | Vita Nostra by Marina Dyachenko | Metamorphozi 1

vita nostra marina dyachenko book coverAuthor: Marina Dyachenko
Title: Vita Nostra
Series: Metamorphozi 1
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Pages: 416
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

How does one describe a thing, a story as colossal as Vita Nostra by Marina Dyachenko? I said this before, and I will say this again, Slavs write very different fantasy, very big, very wast, very… It’s a lot, and it’s amazing.

About the Book: Sasha’s normal life ended that faithful summer when a strange man scared her near to death. Then sort of gave her a quest, a mission. Series of motions to perform every morning at the risk of great tragedies where she to refuse. So the girl obeyed, and every day performing – punctuated the strangeness by vomiting up a few gold coins. By the end of this ordeal she was accepted into an institute for Special Technologies, as they put it, as the strange man has put it, where professors as strange as he, as inhuman as he, teach them the oddest damn things, all the while repeating them: no one’s asking for impossible here. But is it not impossible to absorb and understand silence, differentiate between it? Is it not impossible to perceive meaning in language you never even seen, symbols you couldn’t even imagine? Is it not impossible to shed the limitations of your body, the limits of two legs, two arms? They’re all trying, of course, doing their best. For this world here, this middle-of-nowhere is ruled by fear, the same one Sasha felt that summer. To disobey, to do what you weren’t told to do, to do something you were forbidden to do, to fail, to be unprepared, all that meant bad news coming: illness, injury, misfortune, death even, among those you held dearest, you loved most. And children learned to blame themselves for it, and thus try harder very, very soon. So, it seems like Sasha’s normal life never even existed. For, what is normal in the Universe that was born out of a spark, a word, a thought, a meaning?

My Opinion: I have no clue how to describe, how to review this book. It was big, it was amazing, it was unbelievable and like nothing I ever read before. Written so well, so right, with a story so rich it becomes impossible to put it to words, these simple human words.

It’s a great book, definitely not for everyone, but a great book nonetheless. If you liked stuff by Pelevin or Max Fray, you might enjoy this one too, it’s a similar kind of mind boggling out-of-your-mind experience. A firm 5 out of 5 from me.

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

book review | The Passion of Cleopatra by Anne Rice and Christopher Rice | Ramses the Damned 2

anne rice christopher ramses the damned passion of cleopatra book coverAuthor: Anne Rice, Christopher Rice
Title: The Passion of Cleopatra
Series: Ramses the Damned 2
Genre: Horror, Historical Fiction
Pages: 416
Rate: 4/5 | Goodreads

Back in the day I’ve read Ramses the Damned by Anne Rice, thinking then it was a stand-alone with an open end to it. Cleopatra terrified me in that book, for I loathe monsters that cannot be killed. So, of course I had to pick up this belated sequel to it, and find out what has happened. I’ve no regrets.

About the Book: Cleopatra didn’t die, no. But her state of mind is a nightmare. Visions, dreams haunt the Queen. The memories just a moment ago so vivid and clear now gone, leaving only a memory of a memory that was and is no more. Cleopatra believes Ramses might have answers, and so she must face her nemesis again if only to get more eternal life Elixir that might, just might make her better.

But all the while behind their blind backs work forces older than either one of the former rulers of Egypt. They want wrongs righted. They want their stolen Elixir, and they want the immortals made by it.

My Opinion: I think I’ll have to look into Christopher Rice works. I’ve read quite a fair share of Anne Rice’s work to say this book had a very great improving touch in it, and now I must know if it was her son who steered it so well out of the maze of descriptions, details, and very long inner monologues that lead absolutely nowhere, normally. This here was perfectly balanced with action, tension, horror; long talks, politics, detailed descriptions of outfits and parties. And while some characters truly lacked depth, the overall picture the book has painted was truly good, or at least entertaining, and what more could one ask?

Many of us likely dream of being the great adventurers, explorers, finders of secrets long lost. But most of us likely have to be content with books about it. This book had means to satisfy that craving to an extent, for which I can give it a very solid 4 out of 5.

Categories: 4-5, Books: Everything, Books: Horror, Books: LGBT, Books: Other Fiction, Historical Fiction Books, LGBTQ+ Books, Nosferatu Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

book review | The Shanghai Factor by Charles McCarry

changhai factor charles mccarry book cover reviewAuthor: Charles McCarry
Title: The Shanghai Factor
Series: –
Genre: Spy Thriller, Mystery
Pages: 336
Rate: 3/5 | Goodreads

I’ve realized a little too late when I picked up The Shanghai Factor by Charles McCarry, that I’ve not inspected the genres well enough. This might be the first spy thriller I’ve read. And I don’t think it’s a genre for me.

About the Book: A nameless American spy placed in Shanghai with bare orders: learn the language, absorb the culture. Avoid other Caucasians, especially other Americans. Which turns out hard to do, for any other white person in Shanghai jumped at the opportunity to speak to a possible same origins kin. But he could trust no one, and knew patterns too well to fall for real, possible or imagined ploys. Up until a pure accident has sent him tumbling head-first into a very tight and sticky cobweb. For he ran into a bike of a very attractive young woman.

My Opinion: It was dull. This nameless fellow is yet again one of those guys whom men with power just want to pay to do nothing, and women are happy to have sex with him, and absolutely understand that he can’t stay, and must go, and can’t explain them shit. Secondary characters were cold and two-dimensional. Plot itself felt like a tumble of things that barely fit together to make some kind of unclear image. It didn’t feel like a thriller at all.

I understand there’s quite a bit of my own fault for choosing a book so poorly, so no matter how tempted I am to give this book less, I will give it a 3 out of 5, just in case it wasn’t as bad as it seemed to me.

Categories: 3-5, Books: Everything, Books: Other Fiction, Thriller Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

tag | Vampire Protagonists

Summer to me is very much a vampire time. Autumn is too, so I basically spend half a year wanting to read vampire books, even if I don’t read all that many of them. Mostly because it’s a bit hard to find good ones that aren’t just fifteen books of cheesy series with vampires who are almost humans with high metabolism and tendency to drink blood, if you get my drift. So, in hopes to find more, here’s a little tag from me to you. If you’re reading this, you’re automatically tagged, okay? Link me in the comments below or tag me, basically just inform me any way you can, so I can fill out my TBR with bloodsuckers! (Q’s and A’s are separate to make it easier for you to copy/paste)

The Summer Vampire TBR Tag:

  1. The Pride – LGBTQIA+ vampire or at least a book containing them.
  2. The VoC – Vampire of Color, bonus points if main character!
  3. The Classiest – Classic-type trope vampires, the fear of garlic, sun, etc.
  4. The Unique – The least classic-type vampires, or otherwise unique bloodsuckers.
  5. The Human – The most human vampires, and why or how are they so.
  6. The Monster – The least human, monstrous vampires, why or how they’re so.
  7. Underloved – Vampires who deserve more love than they got!
  8. Overrated – Vampires who don’t deserve the love they got!
  9. Dracula – Favorite book about or with Dracula in it!
  10. Dead Crush – The vampire I had a crush on is…
  11. I, Vampire – If I was a vampire, I would…
  12. The Last – The last vampire book I’ve read is, and the vampire(s) in it…
  13. The First – The very first vampire book or book with a vampire I’ve read is…

The Summer Vampire TBR | My Answers:

  1. The Pride – LGBTQIA+ vampire or at least a book containing them.
    From the top of my head I can name three. First being Blackwood’s Farm by Anne Rice with its protagonist Tarquin Blackwood coming out as bi. Then there’s Parasite Life by Victoria Dalpe with protagonist falling in love with a girl, though sexuality is not specified there. And the third is Joely Sue Burkhart series of which I’ve read first three, Their Vampire Queen. The Queen in question is polyamorous and the dynamics are beautiful.
    1 LGBT vampires
  2. The VoC – Vampire of Color, bonus points if main character!
    I am deeply ashamed to say that I don’t recall any protagonists of color. But I know for certain there were VoC in both Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice and in Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris.
  3. The Classiest – Classic-type trope vampires, the fear of garlic, sun, etc.
    Hm, this one’s easy too. First would be DrĀ Greta Helsing series/trilogy by Vivian Shaw. Then, one of my favorite comedies, The Unattractive Vampire by Jim McDoniel. And, of course, Anno Dracula series by Kim Newman.
    3 the classiest
  4. The Unique – The least classic-type vampires, or otherwise unique bloodsuckers.
    The Gilded King by Josie Jaffrey, a very unique book in itself. Empire V by Victor Pelevin, a strange breed that feeds not just on blood, but also on a thing they call “bablos“, which seems to be the essence of… Well, money.
  5. The Human – The most human vampires, and why or how are they so.
    Chicagoland Vampires by Chloe Neil. Just a bunch of humans who are immortal and occasionally drink blood. Like, in between heavy meals because hey, vampire metabolism. Apparently.
  6. The Monster – The least human, monstrous vampires, why or how they’re so.
    The Strain trilogy by Guillermo del Toro. Not gonna lie, I’m not a fan of creatures like that, but the idea was pretty damn great.
  7. Underloved – Vampires who deserve more love than they got!
    Yulric Bile from An Unattractive Vampire by Jim McDoniel. That bastard was too evil to stay dead. But the mess he gets into would rival What We Do In the Shadows! It’s hilarious!
  8. Overrated – Vampires who don’t deserve the love they got!
    Edward Cullen from Twilight series. And then possibly Lestat. Chronicles are FULL of really great vampires, and this one just happens to set the tune for them all for no real reason. And those guys from The Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin. I noticed it got hype recently, and I’m not quite sure why. The book is mighty damn dull.
  9. Dracula – Favorite book about or with Dracula in it!
    Night Prince series by Jeaniene Frost!
  10. Dead Crush – The vampire I had a crush on is…
    Other than Dracula, you mean? Eric Northman and Pam Swynford de Beaufort, I guess, from Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris. And Cian Mac Cionaoith from Circle Trilogy by Nora Roberts. No I have no shame.
    0 dead vampire crush
  11. I, Vampire – If I was a vampire, I would…
    I’d do what Lestat’s mother did. Go roam the deepest jungles, caves, explore!
  12. The Last – The last vampire book I’ve read is, and the vampire(s) in it…
    Sadly The Strain Trilogy by Guillermo del Toro.
  13. The First – The very first vampire book or book with a vampire I’ve read is…
    Now that’s a hard question. Yes, I know I wrote it… Since I hated school readings, and so read Dracula sometime on my own later, I think it might really be Blackwood’s Farm by Anne Rice. Other than the mentions of vampire cities in Swords And Deviltry by Fritz Leiber books.
Categories: book facts, Books of Supernaturals, Books: Everything, Books: Fantasy, Books: Horror, Books: LGBT, Books: Other Fiction, Books: Romance, Books: Supernatural, dark fantasy, Historical Fiction Books, historical romance, LGBTQ+ Books, Nosferatu Books, paranormal romance, vampires | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

book review | The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson | Millennium 2

the girl who played with fire millennium stieg larsson book coverAuthor: Stieg Larsson
Title: The Girl Who Played with Fire
Series: Millennium 2
Genre: Thriller, Crime
Pages: 503
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

Why do I want my darkest reads in the brightest of Summers? Well, no matter. I’ve read The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson, second book in Millennium trilogy. And it was as good as the first one.

About the Book: A couple of journalists contact Millennium requesting a book on sex trafficking in Sweden to be published via them. After a long and extensive work on it, on the eve of publication, both of them were found shot to death. And they’re not the last victims either. But to Mikael the worse is the fact that all the links, including the evidence, lead to Lisbeth Salinger. He categorically refuses to believe she’s to blame, and thus has only one path left before him. Find the young woman, and unbury her past. For someone wants her gone, but who and why?…

My Opinion: It’s a very dark thriller, but very good. Full of story lines that intertwine and make one whole good story. Not all of them are good, of course, but most I loved, and so, as a reader, I am pleased. More than that, I enjoyed reading of Lisbeth’s past, and finally getting to know the young woman better. I always admired girls like her, so this is no little crush I’m having. She’s smart, her morals are flexible (in a good way, as poor as that sounds), and she’s a techwiz. Something I always wanted to be, but never had the smarts to do. That, or I’m just too lazy, which is often a possibility among all of us, isn’t it? Mikael I still don’t like all that much, but I feel like I can’t exactly explain why without… Throwing accusations around.

Yep, so if you want a good thriller and, as I, have not read these yet for some reason, I can recommend. This one gets a 5 out of 5 from me. There’s really nothing I could’ve taken points off for. Maybe the too lightly thrown “dyke” around… I feel like male equivalent of that wouldn’t have been used as-a-matter-of-fact like that.

Categories: 5-5, Books: Crime, Books: Everything, Books: LGBT, Books: Other Fiction, Crime Books, Detective Books, LGBTQ+ Books, murder, Thriller Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

book review | In The Dark by Mark Billingham

mark billingham in the dark book coverAuthor: Mark Billingham
Title: In The Dark
Series: –
Genre: Crime, Thriller
Pages: 384
Rate: 4/5 | Goodreads

I keep seeking those good, good crime books. In the Dark by Mark Billingham is not one of those. But it did remind me why I believe that life’s too short to quit a book because it didn’t pick up for a while. The very end of it, and it’s not the first book to do so, has fixed so very much that it made it worth it.

About the Book: A cop driving at night. A gang with a crew member in need to prove himself. Secrets, lies, cover-ups, and victims.

Paul’s widow Helen, an officer herself, now lonely and expecting, can’t help herself but dig deeper into her husband’s life. It turns out he had way more secrets than she suspected. And much darker ones too. Bit by bit they’re making her see what seemed to be a random gang attack to be something entirely else.

My Opinion: The ending is emotionally brutal to the reader. It was dark, unexpected, hard, but so, so good. Story is very slow to pick up, the pace is horrible. Some dialogues were jagged, characters often turned out to be two dimensional, shallow, not to mention completely random unnecessary scenes. I was about to give this book a poor rating, but then it ended like that, and blew me away. See, as a reader you see a little more than Helen. You see the people around her, who she meets, who she talks to. And whom she starts to sympathize with. And it’s bloody beautiful.

Yeah, it’s one of those books. Makes you sad and happy at the same time. As a reader – you’re satisfied with how it happened. But as a human being you’re probably sad. I give it a shaky little 4 out of 5.

Categories: 4-5, Books: Crime, Books: Everything, Books: Other Fiction, crews, gangs, etc, murder, Thriller Books | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

book review | Heroes by Stephen Fry | Stephen Fry’s Great Mythology 2

stephen fry heroes mortals and monsters quests and adventures book coverAuthor: Stephen Fry
Title: Heroes
Series: Stephen Fry’s Great Mythology 2
Genre: Mythology, Fantasy
Pages: 478
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

I feel like Stephen Fry could make any book better. For instance, I don’t really like Greek Mythology due to it so overused in media that it feels more common than my native. But “Heroes” was a marvelous and very fun book that rekindled my interest.

About the Book: The Age of Heroes began, it seems, suddenly. Great people began cleaning out the world of monsters, curses, and scary things from scarier places, making it nice and proper for us to live in. They challenged the gods themselves, took up quests, adventures, solved riddles, and invented things we to this day use. And we ourselves took delight and joy in telling those tales, to our friends, to our children. From Hercules, to Orpheus, to Argonauts, to Icarus, and many, many more.

My Opinion: This is a fascinating piece. Stephen Fry does a great job explaining chronology and errors in it, overlapping and such. He does his best explaining us the relations among people too, how were they connected, who sired whom. The book is well written, tales are told in this light, easy fashion, with comparisons and descriptions fitting our modern world. In fact, once or twice I laughed out loud at some of those. Audiobook is great too, so if you’re new to them, or have troubles getting into them, Fry’s mythology books are a great start point.

Yep, it’s a great book, I give it a 5 out of 5, for making even such a seemingly dull topic – great. (I’m sure it’s not dull, and this is merely the perception of someone who had to study it all in school)

Categories: 5-5, Books: Everything, Books: Fantasy, Books: Other Fiction, epic fantasy, Mythology Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

book review | “Harry Potter: A History of Magic” by British Library, Author Collective

history of magic harry potter jk rowling book coverAuthor: British Library, Author Collective
Title: Harry Potter: A History of Magic
Series: –
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction
Pages: 256
Rate: 4/5 | Goodreads

I’ve no clue where I even got the “Harry Potter: A History of Magic” by authors collective. But I’ve read it, and it was quite nice.

About the Book: Any author, especially any aspiring one, should read this book, just to see how books earning millions to billions are constructed. And how books, in general, the good ones, get written. What it takes, what an overwhelming web it can be. But how it absolutely can be done.

This book describes the basics of how the whole Harry Potter world was created. From the symbolics surrounding the characters, characters that were in our history, to places, buildings, potions, magic beasts…

My Opinion: As an aspiring author I have found a lot of good in this book. Many authors, of course, if not each one, have their own strategies. The key is to find one fitting you. R.R. Martin somewhere wrote he’s the kind who plants a seed and watches it grow, meaning he starts writing and sees where it goes. While Rowling had this whole month-by-month sheet of data, scribbles and scrabbles, several ideas for a single scene, and so on. But as a reader… As a reader who grew up with Harry Potter, loving that world of hope and magic, I found this book full of repeated information. “And this relates to that, and this is equivalent of that in real life, and that means this…

Either way, the book is fun. I’d say it’s unnecessary for a reader, but might be good for an author, but definitely a fun read either way. So I give it a 4 out of 5.

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

book review | Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco | Stalking Jack the Ripper 3

escaping from houdini kerri maniscalco book coverAuthor: Kerri Maniscalco
Title: Escaping from Houdini
Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper 3
Genre: YA; Mystery
Pages: 416
Rate: 3/5 | Goodreads

Having some really tough time, not gonna lie. Needed something easy to read, so I picked up “Escaping from Houdini” by Kerri Maniscalco, third book in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series, for I knew her writing style to be perfect for this kind of mood. And it indeed did the job.

About the Book: A luxurious liner trip, with travelers gathered to admire a show troupe full of magicians, fortune tellers, acrobats, and so on, soon becomes a nightmare, as the ship becomes a gilded cage, a prison, with all the passengers trapped inside with a killer; A master in slight of hand, for no one is the wiser, even after someone is brutally murdered among them. Victims tend to disappear just to reappear in a tarot setting, dead. And it’s up to Audrey Rose to find the killer, and find them fast, for it is not just strangers in danger…

My Opinion: The writing style is pretty good, very light, and very easy to read. If you, like myself, aren’t native English speaker, but want to practice reading books, I can really recommend Kerri Maniscalco works. They’re unique and quite interesting. But one thing I did have an issue with in this particular book. It’s the scenes that seem to exist only to add to the volume of the book. I mean, I do understand there’s an attempt to set a scene, create the false calm before the storm, but often they just flopped as scenes designed to portray an outraged lady in society where so much is forbidden to women.

It’s a good lazy read, even if not my favorite. I can give it a very solid and firm 3 out of 5, and will definitely read the next book.

Categories: 3-5, Books: Everything, Books: Other Fiction, Detective Books, Historical Fiction Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

book review | Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson | Millennium 1

the girl with the dragon tatttoo stieg larsson book coverAuthor: Stieg Larsson
Title: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Series: Millennium 1
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Pages: 465
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

I have this trilogy for years and years now, so many that I’m ashamed to admit. But at last I’ve read the first Millennium trilogy book by Stieg Larsson, the “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo“, and it was amazing.

About the Book: In the chaos of family tragedy a girl disappears, leaving her loving uncle burdened by this painful mystery. For there was no trace, and no body, but he is certain, the girl must be dead, how else? Upon his birthdays he receives a pressed dried flower, every year, and it has become a wall of mockery, for the killer surely knows, and likes to pain him. Thus, he has made a decision to try one more time to shine some light on this mystery. He hires a journalist, who, in turn, hires Lizbeth, this fantastic alternative woman with almost supernatural mind that sees patterns where others only see chaos, white noise. Together they dig up old clues, old tales. But what if the truth is worse than the secrets?

My Opinion: This is a marvelously written, captivating book that’ll require your undivided attention. It’s easy to loose track, that’s all I’m saying. Other than that, the characters and the plot are amazing. My favorite being Lizbeth, with her intelligence and strength, she’s an amazing example of what characters I lean towards. Her ability to put up a show reminded me of Ghostman, so some small part of me was sated (I truly wish the author of those books was alive and well, and would write more of those unbelievably amazing books). Less so impressed by the journalist, but that’s also only my personal preference and lack of belief, so to speak. For he is written well.

So, yeah. This was an amazing book, and if you’re seeking a good detective, there’s surely a reason why these were such a phenomena at some point. 5 out of 5 from me.

Categories: 5-5, Books: Crime, Books: Everything, Books: Other Fiction, Crime Books, Detective Books, murder, Mystery Books, Thriller Books | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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