Fantasy Books

Lynn Flewelling – Shadows Return [4]

2065091The tradition continues with Nightrunner series. Every second book is far better than the previous one. So while I didn’t much like the fae realms, I did love all that happened in “Shadows Return” by Lynn Flewelling (Nightrunner 4; ISBN 0553590081; 522p.; Goodreads). It had a good pace, and a great, alchemy filled story.

Seregil and Alec return to Rhimenee, hoping to create a new runner persona, since their previous alter ego had to die. Even the most clueless nobles of the city might have otherwise noticed the pattern: Cat returns when Lord Seregil returns! Odd! Yet their fate had other plans for them. Remember that prophecy by oracle? Time to put it back in motion. Seregil and Alec end up in slavers hands, and are taken to enemy lands, where fae blood, especially the kind Alec has in his veins, is highly valued. Thus, they are separated, and sold…

Seregil, away from Alec, ends up at the mercy of his former lover, the man who betrayed him, the man who had him exiled. The only joy Seregil now has is the bittersweet knowledge: he is a slave too, if gilded.

The story was really pretty great, reminded me of Anne Rice’s “Claiming Beauty” trilogy, and C.S. Pacat “Captive Prince” too. I’ll give it a firm 4 out of 5, and hope it continues with these great topics!

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

Victoria Schwab – Our Dark Duet [2]

32075662I waited for this, it seems, for forever, even thou it wasn’t so long, really. And with “Our Dark Duet” by Victoria Schwab (Monsters of Verity 2; ISBN 0062380885; 510p.; Goodreads) the duology ends. Yet my waiting continues, since now my favorite author is writing a sequel to Vicious…

Kate Harker, in a sense, felt safe. Monsters were all known. You looked at the body, and by what was missing, you knew what you’ll be hunting. None of them were a match for her either. Until that fatal night when something fleeting passed her vision. People turned their weapons one against the other, and killed without remorse. The blur in her vision turned more physical, and soon she was gazing into its eyes, mirroring her own, calling for violence, cold, alien…

August Flynn just wanted to be human. That is, until humans showed him how much more use they have from a monster who is strong, and in control of themselves. So he hunted, killed, and fed. And he gave orders, as due to a high ranking officer. What a strange, and unexpected turn his life took. And how much more strange it’ll get when Kate Harker will return to Verity. Kate Harker, with one eye no longer blue. Kate Harker, with one eye filling up with the mirror shard there. Kate Harker, with one eye that made the cameras blur out of focus when she looked at them. Kate Harker, the infamous monster hunter, with one eye of a monster.

This was one damn amazing piece, and I am beyond happy with it. Events turned and twisted, pace was perfect, as always, and people were their own beings. I loved it, it concluded everything perfectly. 5 out of 5, this was wonderful.

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

Diana Wynne Jones – Howl’s Moving Castle [1]

17890590-e307-0133-a222-0eb4fb0e56f1Howl’s Moving Castle is probably my most favorite movie of them all. And thus it is a bit strange that I’ve only read the book of same title by Diana Wynne Jones (Howl’s Moving Castle 1; ISBN 006441034X; 329p.; Goodreads) now. Okay no, it’s not that weird. I was made worried by all those reviews claiming the movie, and the book to be two very different things. Now I know. They’re different, yes. But not that much, and by far not in a bad way either.

Sophie has made peace with her fate to take over the boring family business of hat making. She passes her days by chatting with the said hats, telling them to bring luck to their owners, riches, good husbands. And as flood of customers grows, Sophie is surprised to know that most of the owners indeed had a happy turn of events. All seemed to go well, up until Witch of the Waste entered through her door, bitter for reasons unknown. She put a curse on Sophie, turning her into an old woman, and unable to speak of it either…

But Sophie is not one to cry over spilled milk. She grabbed her essentials, and went out to meet her destiny, if you please. Sophie, thus, went to find the castle she saw in the horizon, Howl’s castle. After all, who else could lift this damned curse? And now that she’s all old, he surely won’t want her heart.

 

Sophie finds the castle, of course, and Calcifer, if a little reluctantly, lets her in. Much like in the movie, they make a bargain to break each others’ contracts, and Calcifer keeps throwing little hints at Sophie via whole book, until she finally figures it out. Howl himself? One walking adventure, with more to him than meets the eye. I loved this book, and will give it 5 out of 5. So worth reading!

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N.K. Jemisin – The Fifth Season [1]

fifthseasonI took this book for all the wrong reasons, yet loved it to bits never the less. “The Fifth Season” by N.K. Jemisin (The Broken Earth 1; ISBN 0316229296; 468p.; Goodreads) is a colossal fantasy book, falling under the general genre of sci-fi too. The world is nothing like I ever read before, and the threat to it is even more so. There’s just nothing I can compare it to. And I promise, it feels like pure high-fantasy, so if you don’t like sci-fi, don’t even think of it as of such.

Father Earth is angry with all those crawling little things at the top. No one is sure why, but the anger is constantly there, on ever shifting, trembling, constant seismic activities undergoing surface. Any quake can start a new Season, and humans can only pray they have enough to outlast it, until sun comes out the ash-filled skies, lava cools, and volcanoes choke their last. It is because of this constant threat that people hate, and fear the breed of people called Orogenes. For even a babe in a cradle can quench a tremor, tapping into it as easily, as it breathes. And just as well, that babe can grow, get angry, and set off something that’ll kill them all. And that’s not the only odd race of beings here.

Damaya was one of the orogenes given away to Guardians, assassins who can turn their power against them, if need be, and thus, by humans, considered the lesser evil, even if they aren’t. But Damaya trained, learned, and not being of seemingly any special skill, was put to pair with a ten-ringer Alabaster. Her chaotic accidental power, born out of no where, to his well bred potential. It’s just that they don’t like each other much, and yet not only are they required to try for a baby, but get on with an assignment too. One that changed their lives forever, and the rest of the world’s too.

This was a superb book I cannot even begin describing. If I thought that Final Empire / Mistborn was great, then this is more. The characters are so very interesting, with their own personalities, that don’t just fill in for others. There’s easy acceptance of trans character being who they are, and a little tiny love triangle where Damaya and Alebaster fell for the same guy. But it went well, that guy liked them both anyway. There’s beings that walk through stone like it’s water, and mountains, well, obelisks, that follow people around, inching with their colossal size towards them. It’s all so very amazing. 5 out of 5, really.

Categories: 5-5, Apocaliptic Books, Books, Fantasy Books, High Fantasy, LGBTQ+ Books, Sci-Fi Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lynn Flewellin – Traitor’s Moon [3]

74273The tradition of slow pace, and plot only gaining something at near end continues with third book in Nighrunner series by Lynn Flewellin, “Traitor’s Moon” (Nightrunner 3; ISBN 0553577255; 540p.; Goodreads). But I got used to this by the middle of second book. Once you make a connection with characters, plot, pace of it, becomes secondary.

With war at the gate, Skala’s greatest hope lies with the Aurenan ports, and possibly their soldiers. The dying queen thus gives final orders. She names an heir, her oldest daughter, and sends the younger one to Aurenan for negotiation. The soon-to-be queen is opposing it already, but once princess Klia is gone – all things are set to motion, not to be stopped. At least, not with someone like Seregil at her side. For this need to negotiate opened the door home for him. And so, with anxious heart, he and Alec make their journey to the lands of legend. Yet all that doesn’t mean Phoria won’t try to sabotage the mission…

Aurenan is full of pulsing magic, apparitions, ghosts, spirits, secrets, and dragons who deem it fit to chew on you, if you’re worthy the honor. The only true nuisance there are the fae themselves. They’re in no hurry with their long lives, and honor is law, yet everyone schemes for the good of their clan, because that, in a sense, is honorable too. Sorry, Seregil, but your people are the worst.

Well, I’m happy the illusion of some magical Lord of the Rings elven forest was broken. There’s great things in this book, but really, I came to dislike the fae a great deal. I can’t seem to get into Seregil and Alec being a pair either, their relationship is so odd, and in a sense it’s amazing how much they seem to simply just be friends, but then… I don’t know. But don’t let me digress, 4 out of 5 for this baby, and I will, absolutely, continue with the series.

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

Kristin Cashore – Bitterblue [3]

bitterblueFinally, with “Bitterblue” by Kristin Cashore (Graceling Realm 3; ISBN 0803734735; 576p.; Goodreads) I have finished the Graceling Realm trilogy. After all three of them, I can say that they are indeed simple enough to be liked, and this third one was pretty good, in compare to the other two. Still, this was very much not my cup of tea. While I love the worlds that aren’t yet fully explored, I dearly dislike having all the action happen elsewhere, and return in form of a story only, and not even something we can witness first-hand via someone else eyes.

Bitterblue became the queen of Monsea, after her cruel, mind-control graced father, has finally been killed. Yet even after his death her kingdom is filled with fog. People don’t know what’s real, and what’s only lies told by Leck. Bitterblue is determined to find a way to make this fog lift once and for all. She wants the truth. But here’s the thing with the truth: while some things people were made believe by king Leck could still be fixed, say, like the funeral traditions in Monsea. Others weight so heavy that people get killed for them. Or choose death themselves. What could Leck have made them do, or see, for her own trustworthy, good soldiers, to kill innocent people, and commit suicides? Can a truth be that bad?

In the meantime, Po gets sick with fever, and his grace becomes erratic for the time being. During one of such delirious moments he speaks of path through the mountains opening up, and Katsa jumps to investigate. Because if anything did open, and they can get through, then, truly, someone might just be able to get in also. And when she returns, Bitterblue’s world shifts again. For in Katsa’s hands there’s a pelt of a rat, so vivid and gorgeous in colors, that it can be nothing else but a Monster from the stories her father used to write. Could it be that out there, behind the mountains, there’s another world, another kingdom?

Well this was an odd review. So many questions I gave you, like I’m trying to sell it. In truth, I can’t really recommend these books, since while they’re pretty okay, or even good, there’s just way too many way better ones. You take these when you’re done with all other things, not before. Or maybe indeed before, so you don’t get disappointed. The very good part here is the political bit. Whole ruling of the land happening is interesting. And a very bad part is that you get the story through eyes of someone who gets told about the adventure, rather than lived it. So I guess you’d like these books, if you like good old classics, where whole story is written by two people sitting down, and one of them telling their best adventure. Still, I can absolutely give this book a 3.5, which we’ll translate to 4 out of 5 for the sake of it. I’ve no regrets.

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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.

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Kristin Cashore – Fire [2]

fireI’ve read the first Graceling Realm book fairly recently, and can’t say I liked it. It’s just that I liked it about enough to get to the second book. And after I’ve read “Fire” by Kristin Cashore (Graceling Realm 2; ISBN 0803734611; 480p.; Goodreads), I don’t know how to pick up the third one, so that I can actually finish the trilogy.

The setting of this story is just behind the mountains that separate Seven Kingdoms and some other place. This place has no gracelings. Instead here live monsters. Really, just regular things, but so intense, so vivid, in color, in presence, in mind, that no one can resist them. People walk out willingly to be eaten by giant raptor birds. They might kill a regular biting beetle, but not the shiny blue monster beetle, who, by all means, is the same beetle, but severe and saturated. And of course, there are human monsters too. Fire is one of them. With her hair the color of fire, her flawless beauty so startling, and her power to influence thoughts, and emotions, she seems almost divine. And men do want pretty things…

While a monster might want to eat her, due to her own monster nature, human men are much more graphic when they lose their wits in sight of her, much more violent in expressing what should happen before they kill her. Thus Fire lives her life constantly nudging, pushing, and altering the course of people’s thoughts, steering them away, trying her hardest to quench their desire to hurt, rape, and murder what they can’t have. It doesn’t help that there’s spies appearing in their forests. Tension for warfare is rising, and their small land is far too little to defend themselves. They’ll be needing allies. To make allies they need to know where the spies came from. And to know that one only needs Fire’s powers. And everyone knows the value of such a tool in the shed.

The book is very pointlessly long, and happens before Graceling took place. In a sense, this is a prequel: King Leck’s Rising, if you please. And the idea of monsters is, of course, wonderful. But most of the book concentrates on telling the reader how horribly everyone wishes to either marry or rape Fire, and her crying for not being able to have children doesn’t help the already heavy feeling that sets before us. She walks with guards surrounding her, and still people randomly run at her with knives, or yell obscenities. And there’s a lot of this walking back and forth, with war happening somewhere out there, with someone else fighting it… So… All in all I can only offer this book a 2 out of 5. While the idea is truly good, execution of it was poor.

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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

Stephanie Garber – Caraval

Caraval_Everywhere I turned there was this book. Social media is filled with pictures of this book. Whoever did the advertisement – got a serious hype response, and it’s admirable. Especially since oh so many of those said bookstagram pictures claimed people didn’t even read it, but were oh so excited to do so. Therefore I hurried up and read “Caraval” by Stephanie Garber (ISBN 1250095255; 407p.; Goodreads), just to see what’s all the fuss about. How was my trip on this bandwagon? So-so.

Dragna sisters live on hope, hope to escape their vicious, vile, murderous father, and this damned island they feel imprisoned upon. Arranged marriage might be the key to the door for Scarlett. She’ll just pack up her sister, and they’ll both escape to live with her wonderful husband, whose name she currently doesn’t even know. It’s left to her sister to wonder whether this said key is to freedom or simply a new prison. After all, what fair person would have dealings with their father?

In her life Scarlett had only one true dream: to see master Legend Caraval perform. He was there when she was very little, and all the girl has now are stories of magic, wonders, and most importantly – miracles. But with reality sinking in, her marriage behind the corner, Scarlett composes final letter to master Caraval as a farewell. Just to receive an answer, the very first ever, and three invitations to come to his performance. And just a few days before her wedding, with their father seething in anger…

Nothing is real, but everything feels very real. Clues scattered around, time ticking away, and the nightfall making people who didn’t make it to shelter disappear, quite literally. It sounds good, doesn’t it? But sadly it isn’t. The book is fairly simple, with a lot of high speech, and little actual things. Pompous descriptions mask lack of substance in plot. Scarlett had a lot of feelings about a lot of things, and everything was arranged to make her fall in love, but not completely, but she did fall in love, and did so completely, and of course he wasn’t who he said he was, so there had to be that awkward phase of “no more lies”. I had a very low rating prepared for this book. And the true reason why I won’t give it as little as I’d like to, is author herself. At the end of the audio book there was an interview, and honestly, I think her trying so hard has to be worth something. So I give this book 3 out of 5, and wish the author very best luck. After all, I’m sure there’ll be many who will love this book.

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