Fantasy Books

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

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

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

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

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

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