M/M Literature

Madeline Miller – The Song of Achilles [diversity]

thesongofachilesWhen you loathe a character, you need to stop and ask yourself why: because author wrote them so bad? Or is it because they wrote them so good, that you’d wish to strangle the fictional person? I had this problem, and need of constant reminder with “The Song of Achilles” By Madeline Miller (ISBN 1408816032; 352p.; Goodreads). The book is well written, but Achilles was driving me nuts.

Achilles is a half-god. His mother is a sea nymph. His father – a powerful king. He himself is a warrior with no equal, and without his aid, the war against Troy has no chance. Patroclus is almost a complete opposite. His father is a mediocre unknown king, his mother is weak of mind, he’s barely a decent soldier himself. And when he was exiled from his father’s court for accidentally killing a guest for trying to take something away from him – he didn’t expect anything good. Instead, he found an instant friend in Achilles, who not only didn’t judge him, or mock him, but respected him, and treated him fairly. And very soon he found himself in love, hoping beyond hope…

His mother wasn’t too happy about this friendship, and lingering feeling of love underneath. But to kill Patroclus, would be to tear her son’s heart out. Instead, thus, she sends him away. To study first, just to find Patroclus there, risking it all just to find Achilles again. Then further away, into hiding, where Patroclus again shows cunning beyond his seeming capabilities. And then at war for beautiful Helena, war against Troy, where Patroclus can barely keep his own weight, but still hardly ever leaves her son’s side. And Patroclus knows this well, her resentment to him. It frightens the young man, this anger of a goddess. Who does one invoke, who does one pray to, when a god is angry at them?

The story is pretty good. Fantasy elements were in place, and there weren’t too much of them either. Love story is pretty good too, felt fair, and natural. But. Achilles got on my nerves a lot. His pride kept getting hurt in that damn war, and I kept waiting for him to hold his breath and threaten to not breathe until he’s apologized for. Patroclus, on the other hand, got wiser as time went, and they both filled each other out very well, one being a master of this, and other – of that. So I can give this book a 4 out of 5.

Diversity: M/M romance, well written, with little non-graphic sex. They were fair to each other, and cared for each other.

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

Friday: Diversity // LGBTQ+

I had a chat with one other book blogger recently, where we discussed the lack of diversity in books we’re, so to speak, served. In a sense, unless you look by yourself, for yourself – you might not come around a lot of diversity. So I started digging through my blog, just so I could mark things down: which books had people of color? Were they main characters, or merely sidekicks? What about LGBT people? Different religions? In the end it was fairly hard to find books from different, less popular countries, let alone bigger things, like gender or color.

So we came to a conclusion, or rather, she did, and I stole it, as I do, as should you with good ideas if they’re not copyrighted: maybe we should speak up a little. Education is lacking, points of view are lacking. So let’s help each other out. Let’s find the good things, the diverse things and share them. Let’s educate ourselves, for no one else will!

Schedule will be this, if all goes well: Fridays. Every other Friday we speak of a topic, then next Friday I try to read a book for the previous topic. All suggestions are very welcome.

Today’s topic is LGBTQ+, and the books are V.E. SchwabShades of Magic trilogy [1]; [2]; [3]:

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Shades of Magic is a wonderful fantasy trilogy of three Londons. Grey one is dull, without any magic in it. White one is where magic bites back, eating the very life-force of the world, people. And the Red one is wonderful, full of beautiful, peaceful magic. There’s two main heroes here, Delilah Bard, who comes from Grey London and dreams of adventure. And Kell, who is basically adopted by the royal family, and considers their legitimate son Rhy – his brother. He’s the key to Delilah’s adventure, for she soon finds a way to get him to take her away from the Grey London, into his, Red.

Rhy gets a time to shine in third book, even thou there’s plenty of him in other ones too. He’s a delightful man of tan skin, beautiful eyes, easy flirt, and charming character, with a lot of strong emotions that seemed very true, and honest. And while his bed was warmed by lovers of both genders, his heart secretly belongs to only one: Alucard Emery. Alucard is a captain of a ship Delilah Bard finds herself in while on an adventure to, basically, find more adventures.

While Alucard was beaten by his brothers and thrown out of the home by his father due to where he spent the night (Rhy’s bed), homophobia here is a matter of isolated incidents and oddities of distant lands. Little if any pay attention to Rhy’s orientation, and the worst thing that came out of it was a consequence to Alucard not explaining why he left, for Kell swore to beat him to a pulp for breaking his brother’s heart.

SPOILERS:

Everything solves in the end, and we get a happy ending for everyone, including Rhy and Alucard. Alucard comes back with solid proof of his love, and Rhy, being a smart young man, finds a way to work his love into his life.

SPOILERS END:

These are truly delightful books. No one’s perfect, and yet the logic these characters show is so very refreshing. There’s no love triangles, there’s no abandoning of dreams for love, but rather true, and honest reaching for the stars, not letting go of anything, not compromising. They’re captivating and wonderful, and everyone should read them!

Categories: LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

V.E. Schwab – A Conjuring of Light [3]

A Conjuring of Light by V.E. SchwabMy journey through Londons ends, and I must say, I’m fairly content about it. With “A Conjuring of Light” by V.E. Schwab (Shades of Magic 3; ISBN 0765387468; 624p.; Goodreads) Shades of Magic trilogy ends. Some things were left untold, and it felt natural, for they were the things Red London didn’t speak about. Other things received their dots where dots were needed. And since there’s spoilers further on, my advice is to not read unless you’ve read the previous book. Know that I loved this book.

We’re all familiar with the concept of AI becoming self-aware, and what could that mean to us, to our world. In our “grey” world, if not per se London, this concept is the most interesting among theoretically possible ones, for having no magic means we advanced in other things. Red London, on the other hand, has full-on magic…

Once, due to a mistake, or worship, a spell became self-aware outside the will of the caster. And now this creature, believing self to be a God, for hey, they DID worship it where it’s from, is wrecking havoc on Kell’s home. And, of course, he’s prepared to kill it or die trying.

They say two heads are better than one, so how about four? Kell, Lila, Alucard, and their prisoner, sail out into the ocean, in search of the blackest market of all the black damn markets. If you need it – they have it. If you want it – bargain for it. And they’re nothing if not in need of weapons able to fight a divine power, where revered creatures as Antari don’t stand a chance to compete. Just imagine these four in close ship quarters for a week… Rhy, in the meantime, stays behind to defend London until they return, with a promise to Kell that he won’t get into TOO much trouble until he’s back. But that’s easier said than done, for there’s a monster outside alright, but what about the traitors on the inside?

I love how no one went out for a stroll in Black London, and the myth, more or less, stayed a myth, or at least a forbidden place no one wants to think about, like the ajar closet door at night. I like that prince was so utterly in love with his man, that he listened, and understood, and made things possible, as kings do. I like that Delilah stayed her own woman, with her own agenda, her own mind, even with all the stuff about Kell, and that it was him who got to consider that hey, maybe I’m not actually rooted into one spot after all (I hate those damn stories where girl stays behind, and doesn’t go to some uni, just because her new found love was too dumb to get in anywhere, and had to stay in some miserable hometown of theirs). I love that everything ended so well, and that the end, if firm, is not solid, and if need be – there could be a book 4, but if there never is – reader is content with absolutely everything. It’s a very right, and very good ending to have. So I give it 5 out of 5, something I have never done to an entire series before (I think, I might have done that to Harry Potter, but I can’t recall anymore), and will add it to my favorite list when I’m not too lazy about it.

Categories: 5-5, Books, Books of Supernaturals, Fantasy Books, High Fantasy, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature, Pirate Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

V.E. Schwab – A Gathering of Shadows [2]

gatheringofshadowsI forgot I didn’t yet tell you about this book until I realized I have barely any left of the third. So do let me tell you how great was the second book in V.E. Schwab trilogy Shades of Magic, “A Gathering of Shadows” (ISBN 0765376474; 512p.; Goodreads), for it was amazing. Mind you, if you haven’t read the first one, you might want to skip this review, and just know that I loved it cover to cover.

As Kell and Rhy are now sharing one life – a lot of things pass between them via that magical link. At first it was seemingly just pain, for if one dies – the other one dies too, only natural you’d feel the deadly prick just as the other party does. But then there’s all the mental stuff too, and before they strangled each other due to constant hum at the back of their heads, Rhy makes up his mind. His brother will have to attend the magical dueling tournament and release some of that built-up magical steam. For unlike your regular mages, this one will gladly slap you if you finish off his already thin patience, or scare him too much by nearly dying if he cared about you, etc. And, of course, since he’s the most powerful magician known, that people revere and fear as a god, he’ll have to enter in disguise…

Delilah Bard turns her ears up when Captain Alucard, after long months at sea and foreign ports, turns the ship around back to London. He intends to attend this magical dueling tournament, and Lila just happens to have discovered she has powers too…

In the mean time, White London, the drained and bleak one, is stirring. A legend came true. On their throne now sits a hero, a king that fairy tales claimed to be able to restore magic in their world.

I can’t stop admiring the characters, how much each one of them is their own person, acting on their own set of mind, and not just there to ask the right questions. I love how Rhy would flirt with a chair, but then is madly in love with one person, and keeping that feeling safe from the world. I love how Kell, at points indeed revered as god due to power is actually a hotheaded spirit, ready to stomp his feet in anger, and yell at you if you chocked and nearly died in his arms, because he got so scared, and you can’t do that! And I just love Delilah Bard, I do believe she is my all time favorite woman ever written. 5 out of 5, deserved every one bit.

Categories: 5-5, Books, Books of Occult, Books of Supernaturals, Fantasy Books, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lynn Flewelling – Stalking Darkness

StalkingDarknessWhile I considered Nightrunner series by Lynn Flewellyn to be my slow night reads, I abandoned sleep until 4am just to finish “Stalking Darkness” (Nightrunner 2; ISBN 0553575430; 501p.; Goodreads). There’s just something about these books that feels familiar. Reminds me of those summers I spent reading through the night with a flashlight, all those fantasy books, Innkeeper’s Song, Swords against deviltry, Hobbit. And if the previous book got to you, well, this one will do so even more.

Politics are done, no one needs Seregil’s head anymore, but that seems to be the only piece of good news. No rest for the wicked, somewhere out there dark magic webs are being woven, and tendrils already reach his beloved city. It all started with small, simple, even insignificant things, like sudden renovations in the sewer system. A passing shadow in an alley there or here. Odd feeling in the dark. And then deaths. Seregil’s underground has been well rooted, pushing him out in the open to gather the information…

Further adventures were a test of morals, for attempts to break them were made in earnest. Brutal murder, destruction, carnage, and kidnapping set the four, Micum, Seregil, Alec, and Nysander apart, and the Darkness is prepared to break their wills before they’re given to the Eater of Death, where they’ll be set part of this nightmare for the rest of the eternity.

It’s a long book, as I said. The start of it is so different from the middle, and the end, that I can’t describe it in earnest without spoiling the living hell out of it. What I can say is that while slow paced it was intense, and had the edge-of-the-chair moments by the handful. Descriptions are down a notch, so it’s easier to read. But be aware, it is a mistake to think this is a light goodnight read. It’s too hard to put it aside for it to be a good bed companion. I’ll give it a full 5 out of 5 this time. And on to the next one!

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

Anne Rice – The Vampire Armand [VC #6]

1Oh, what an amusing little thing this was. After the fairly annoying and outright boring previous two books in Vampire Chronicles, “The Vampire Armand” by Anne Rice (ISBN 0345434803; 457p.; Goodreads) has fixed quite a few things in this relationship of ours. I’m not much entertained of stories on mighty love for gods on Earth, or slow pace of telling them, but I do indeed love a good story of a vampire from the days he was a mortal, further to his turn, and all the way to today.

Born Andrej in deep cold Russia boy painted icons dubbed “not made by human hands“. Kidnapped from this life, tormented, and then saved by Marius, who named him Amadeo, loved him, cherished him, taught him, protected him, and later even turned him to be as he is – a child of darkness. But fate was unkind and he was ripped from this life of love and knowledge too, thrown into the darkness of superstitious, demonic, and oh so very gothic vampires, where as one of them, as Vampire Armand, he led a covenant of his kind, the infamous Theater of Vampires, all until Louis came to wreck havoc.

Armand, the boy who was mistakenly thought to speak with Lithuanian accent. Armand, who gave an icon to Prince Michael of Lithuania. Armand, the boy who could paint as if through divine torrent. And what a wonderful tale he had for us, even with Anne’s love and care for the details, even with all the slow inching through the years described. I’ll give this book a very firm 4 out of 5, but mind you, one point is surely there due to the hope it gave me that the further books in Chronicles will be even better. After all, I have already had the pleasure of the two (previously) last ones, and I know what a great impact they might be.

thevampirearmand

Categories: 4-5, Books, Books of Occult, Books of Supernaturals, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature, Nosferatu Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lynn Flewelling – Luck in the Shadows

74270Luck in the Shadows” by Lynn Flewelling (Nightrunner 1; ISBN 0553575422; 479p.; Goodreads) is one of those books where you love the topic, and the beautiful ideas. But then there’s a whole bunch of useless action and descriptions. But I guess that might be a flaw in most of the high-fantasy books, for what better way to introduce the reader to a magical city, than to force the hero onto a walk via it, say, by buying a new horse, and taking it for a test-ride.

Seregil is a rogue with no equals. With some training in magic, and no real talent for it, he’s also a master of disguise. On a mission to steal a magical artifact, he got purposefully caught, and thrown into the dungeon, where he found young Alec. Alec, an orphan, finally caught for poaching got his share of luck in shadows, as Seregil, escaping, grabbed him along. Happy to have his life back in his hands, Alec didn’t expect to end up in an adventure of that scale. Magical city, mages, mythical beings, legends come to life!

Seregil overestimated his strength, and soon the artifact started overpowering him. Strange visions, blood thirst, and insanity are slowly, but very surely taking him over, and he’s afraid he might not reach his mentor in time. Young Alec is no less worried for his friend, for in this strange new world he’s at, lands and seas across from home, he has no one else but Seregil. By all means he can’t let him die.

The book is truly a pleasant read, and I will start the second one right away. Yes, it’s full of useless things, like a whole chapter describing what animals heroes turned into. So the best I can give it is 4 out of 5, but I expect latter books to get better.

Categories: 4-5, About Msg2TheMing, Books, Books of Occult, Books of Supernaturals, Fantasy Books, High Fantasy, M/M Literature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

K.J. Charles – Flight of Magpies [3]

21529170Well, this ended way too soon. I wasn’t prepared for it to end! But at least it did end well. So, the third K.J. Charles book in A Charm of Magpies trilogy “Flight of Magpies” (ISBN 1619224291; 212p.; Goodreads), and the last one so far… (I say “so far”, because there’s a willing answer of “maybe” in author’s page)

Lucian’s nagging to leave for China sounds more and more appealing to Stephan, as his world is slowly but surely trying to choke him. His only able co-worker takes a maternity leave, thus making him the only witch present in the battlefield. Someone steals his Magpie ring. His student is suspended due to suspicions of thieving! And worst of all, he can no longer put up with all the harassment. London is being plagued by gruesome deaths that leave no magical trace for him to follow, and most of the dead people are police officers. Those still alive demand justice to be given to the law, to them, and the only one they can demand this from is Stephan. The pressure is on, and all of it is on him.

Which is getting on Lucian’s nerves. Watching his beloved come in overworked, irritated, and sometimes even bruised, and battered is a torture in itself. Every time he leaves, Lucian is afraid he’ll never see him again due to the danger of justiciars work, doubled by him doing it all alone. On top of it, some nasty truths come to surface, his magical enemies are closing in, still dreaming of Magpie Lord power, and this time they have a superb advantage up their sleeves, a huge weakness in Lucian’s defense: the lonely soldier, Stephan, now so very weakened by the missing ring, and lack of allies…

Truly, a beautiful piece, these stories. Magic in Victorian London, law-forbidden love, refreshingly honest too, detective, and horror elements, yes, all that. To each book I gave fours, since something was missing, and this one would get a four too, if not for me wanting to allow it a high-note end. I give it a 5 out of 5, for all the intriguing ways people got killed in it, all the odd, funny, sarcastic, stubborn, smart-ass, cheeky characters it had, and the awareness they had of themselves.

Categories: 5-5, Books, Books of Occult, Books of Supernaturals, Fantasy Books, Gothic Books, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

K.J. Charles – A Case of Possession [2]

18074870I am the worst, I know. I finished the book probably a week ago, but here I am, only now making up some kind of a review. K.J. Charles book “A Case of Possession” (A Charm of Magpies 2; ASIN B00D89QGW8; 159p.; Goodreads) is the second book in the trilogy, and I must admit, I am more than half way done with the third by now. And not that this book wasn’t as good or anything, it’s just… I get lost in comparisons, I guess.

Peter S. Beagle taught me that there’s no force more dangerous, than a magician who found no peace in death. When giant rats start flooding London, coming from no where, going hell knows where, killing mercilessly – Crane finds himself able to help his magical lover, and point him in the right direction. No matter how modern you are, how deeply you abandoned old beliefs, and how much you don’t care for superstitions, if a Shaman dies in your care, you’d want to make sure they found peace, just as a precaution… For giant rats is a myth told in Shanghai, that is proving to be very real, and very hard to stop back here, in London. And if that didn’t get under the Lord Vaudrey’s skin, the next best thing over fluence is coming when the magic in his blood is noticed by the very worst…

This book was pretty intense, I’d say. Blood and gore is just as present here, as it was in the previous one, but add the unappealing idea of dog-sized rats inflicting the gut-tearing. It’s not too badly detailed, I’d not dare call this a horror story, but author really knows how to dash the dark colors into the lines. I’ll give this one another 4 out of 5, for while better than the previous one, it still fell short… And maybe that’s the problem: it was short.

To those curious, yes, there’s smut here, fairly rough but absolutely consensual sex between two similar age guys with severe size difference (Stephan is short and red-haired, while Crane is tall and blond). Njoy the ride!

 

Categories: 4-5, Books, Books of Occult, Books of Supernaturals, Fantasy Books, Historical Books, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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