Martynas Starkus “Stuck in Central America”

1Author: Martynas Starkus
Title: Istrige Centrineje Amerikoje
Series:
Genre: Travel
Pages: 312
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

If I remember this right, I bought “Stuck in Central America” (Istrige Centrineje Amerikoje) after the show they hosted. They told great stories from previous trips (him and his travel friend Vytaras Radzevicius), and I laughed to tears. So I snagged the book when I could, and must say, it was a very good read. Easy, light, and interesting, so I took my time with it.

This is a story of a trip around Central America in an ever breaking car they named Veronica. The two of them, Martynas and Vytaras, got to walk around ancient Mayan ruins, of which there were plenty, many empty of tourists too. They did their best to get to know locals, hear tales of the land, and the tales of the tellers too. There and here, of course, they had to fight off crooks, avoid gangs, and steer clear of mortal danger. For, as in many poorer lands, there’s two kinds of poverty present: the kind where people are blissfully happy with what little they have; and the kind where people turn to criminal life to survive. So among the beautiful views Martynas described, gangs were too a prominent topic.

The other part of the story was of constant hiccups while traveling. Be it Veronica constantly breaking down on them, or border patrols not wishing to let them through with that junk yard of a car. Martynas here showed some serious kind-hearted sarcasm that you could feel in his sentences, and I loved it.

So, yes. This book, to my knowledge, is not translated into any language. But those of you who read in Lithuanian, this is a great piece. 5/5 from me, and hopefully it never turns out that the authors of this book are bad people, as it seems to get a common theme in my native picks.

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Categories: 5-5, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tag: Pride Flag

1. Red (Life) – A book with a spirited protagonist totally proud of who they are. Someone who gives you LIFE!
1– K.J. Charles “A Charm of Magpies“, Lucien Vaudrey being the character. Those books cut a hole in the wall I had between myself and the rest of the world, and apparently rainbow glitter started pouring out. I used to avoid pointing out why I liked this book or that one if it was a queer character who was the driving force. I’d concentrate on plot and just hint that this person is interesting. After I met Lucien – the world will just have to deal with it, much like I and anyone like I lived our lives surrounded by straight romance left and right (and I’m sure people of color can say the same about all the whiteness, for even I’ve had enough, thanks, but that’s exactly why KJC is life with her books).


 

 

22. Orange (Healing) – A book that made you, as the reader, find a deeper meaning or catharsis in your own life.
– I could give you the same answer as for red here. But for the sake of it… C.S. Pacat and the “Captive Prince” trilogy. Their dynamic just felt so natural, it unfolded without being questioned, and if it was, it was because someone out there decided they’re supposed to be enemies, because their fathers were. The rest was a matter of fact. The light bulb in my head not only lit up, it shattered. Because why WOULD anyone question heart’s matters, right? Right.

 

 


33. Yellow (Sunshine) – A book that fills you with so much joy it could brighten even your darkest day.
– Right now it’d probably be Becky Albertalli “Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda“. It’s a double edged sword, really, but sometimes it’s only through pain that we find bliss, so it fits anyway: the kid has an accepting family, he was born this tall handsome man (aka – fitting his mental gender too), his friends were really mature about everything, and even in the moment of heat, they managed to take a step back, and recollect things back into the shape of friendship. It’s a book about someone who, after holding his breath, could finally exhale. It took him 4 years. For me it was more like 12 if not more. That’s what breaks my heart. But I hang on the idea that at least now… And that gives me some semblance of sunshine.

 


A Darker Shade final for Irene

4. Green (Nature) – A book that is set out of this world — a reality different to our own.
– V.E. Schwab “Shades of Magic” trilogy. It’s mostly set in the Red London, while there’s  two more (one of them being ours, mundane, magicless), and one that is more a legend than truth. A crown prince who is madly in love with previously a son of a respected man, now a… well, a pirate, I guess. I love how they allowed each other to explain things when the opportunity happened, something that rarely happens in books. And then there’s wonderful Kell, a mage so powerful he might as well be a black-eyed god, and yet so constantly scared for his loved ones that it drives him mad whenever they actually encounter danger. And of course, Lila. That is the most wonderful female character I have ever read. Ever. She’s strong, independent, and will do whatever she sets her mind on. You can’t tell her she can’t. Because, oh boy, she can. And you may come along, because she sure as hell won’t stay put just because you’d like her to.


55. Blue (Peace) – A book where one of the characters finds peace with a difficult truth.
– Austin Chant’s “Peter Darling“. It’s hard for me to dwell on this book, because it would’ve fit Orange answer too – I reached a point of breaking together with the character. We both had to admit to ourselves that some of the things we do, we do because it’s part of our idea of how we’re supposed to justify our words. While truth is, we don’t have to justify our words to begin with. This is a book about a transgender character having to accept the truth, stop try to justify it with faux gestures, and move past the fact that there’s people, even very close people, who can’t accept it.

 

 


6

6. Purple (Spirit) – A book that deals with LGBT+ themes and religion.
– Well, in a sense John Burdett’s books “Sonchai Jitpleecheep” fits, it’s just not the religion  we’re so used to. They’re Buddhist there, and I enjoy the logic behind it. For instance, Sonchai has a partner who is what we’d define as transgender. To him it’s a simple matter: either a) your spirit left your body, and another spirit inhabited it to keep you, as a person, alive, and that spirit was of different sex than you, or b) you simply reincarnated into a body that didn’t fit your mind gender, possibly to learn something, and it is likely one of the hardest reincarnations you’ll have, thus not such a common one (for a lot of spirits have a choice, and avoid this one as much as they can due to discomfort it causes). Other choice of mine would be Shane Dawson’s memoir book “It Gets Worse” where he speaks of his own bisexuality in the face of being a firm religious Christian.

Categories: Books: Everything, Books: LGBT, LGBTQ+ Books | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Roger Hobbs “Ghostman” | Jack White 1

4Author: Roger Hobbs
Title: Ghostman
Series: Jack White 1
Genre: Crime, Heist, Detective
Pages: 400p.
Rating: 5/5 | Goodreads

I picked up “Ghostman” by Roger Hobbs almost by an accident. I simply wanted something different, this one got in the way, so I took it. Must say, has been forever since I accidentally found such a treasure. It’s a marvelously written heist book.

Our protagonist doesn’t have a name anymore. He’s a ghostman. The kind of a criminal who melts in the crowd and becoems a whole other person, elsewhere. But for the time being, we can call him Jack. For that was the last name his former employer knew him by. Employer who had a need to call in an old debt. For, you see, back in the day, this genius evil mastermind had Jack and a few others on a heist. It was meticulously planned and went pretty well, assuming the risks they were taking. It would’ve made them all a couple millions richer. But a few days prior, Jack has made a mistake. And they all paid for it during the heist. With money, with lives. Simply, Jack owed more, so now he has to pay one last time.

Another masterful heist went south. This time there were no real mistakes. Another group has attacked them after they robbed the money convoy. And while Jack is a chameleon, this man today, another tomorrow, his inner world doesn’t change. And on the inside he’s in this game for the thrill, for the passion. He liked complex things, and interesting deals, dangerous crime games. And this mess is nothing but all that. Because, for one, there’s honor among thieves too. Criminal organisations need each other to survive, there’s rarely such insane attempts to cross each other. After all, they’re not some amateur gangbangers. Second, the money will become void in 48 hours or so, becoming as worthless as the paper banknotes are printed on. And third, why the hell his former boss even steal that hard to liquefy cash? It’s a game of “are you that powerful, or that dumb” from the moment Jack steps on the trail of the only heist member who escaped. With some luck the man will be alive and will be able to answer some question. Hell, with some luck, he didn’t ditch the money either.

This was such a great and intense read, I loved it. I loved Jack’s details, so precise, so professional. If you want a heist thriller slash detective, story told from the criminal point of view, then this is it. 5 out of 5

Categories: 5-5, Books: Everything, Crime Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

K.J. Charles “The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal”

3Finally I got me another chance for some leisure with K.J. Charles. This time I read “The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal” (ASIN B06XVF3GW8; 232p.; Goodreads), a sort of a prequel to Green Men series I’ll be starting right after this. It’s a very sherlocky book, but all cases are supernatural, and clients are mostly angry spirits.

Robert Caldwell worked as a journalist when he met Simon Feximal. You see, he inherited this old, crumbling little manor or castle, or whatever the hell, and a raging spirit of his angry ancestor with it. I mean, one can deal with many things. Things moving, doors closing, sounds and moans. But once the walls start bleeding, well, most of us would probably draw a line. So Robert called for help. Simon showed up, with his mysterious demeanor, body of a boxer, and impressive knowledge on the occult. He made them a circle and told Robert to not put a finger out, whatever happens. Spirit started raging, strange symbols appeared on Simon’s skin, and… Well, of course, Robert broke the damned circle.

From there on adventures and cases begin. Robert soon learned what World under the World is, and just how much more there is than meets the eye. And it’s not just angry spirits! There’s angrier zealous colleagues, England’s Secret Service, and even a war at the gate.

If you fancy a supernatural detective, than this is definitely for you. It was damn great, with lots of amazing characters and secrets. 5 out of 5 from me, can’t go any less.

Categories: 5-5, Books of Occult, Books of Supernaturals, Books: Everything, Books: LGBT, Historical Books, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

John Burdett “Bangkok Haunts” | Sonchai Jitpleecheep 3

22So then. I really loved first Sonchai Jitpleecheep series book by John Burdett. And I hated the second one just as much. Thus I picked up the third book, “Bangkok Haunts” (Sonchai Jitpleecheep 3; ISBN 0307263185; 305p.; Goodreads) very carefully. I was really worried it’ll now become a common detective with some family drama to it, set in Asia. Lucky for me, that did not happen.

Sonchai received a snuff movie. The kind of a pornographic video where one of the parties gets killed. And while it’s strange in itself that someone would sent it to a cop, it is far stranger that the victim seemed to be willing and encouraging the killer to get on with it. What kind of logic could get someone so willing to die, on a video too, for someone’s sick pleasure? It’s not like the dead need money, but there’s definitely a hint towards some kind of gain the dead woman got.

Worse than the video itself for Sonchai is the fact that he knew the woman in the video, and was madly in love with her at some point. To add to injury, in the video she wore a ring he gave her, as if expecting him to one day see the tape. Sonchai, thus, has no choice, but to try and solve this master plan someone birthed.

This was a strange and interesting read. It definitely got better at the end. I loved the crazy occult things, spiritual reaping, madness, and even the description of human cruelty. I can give it a strong 4 out of 5 for sure.

Categories: 4-5, Books of Occult, Books of Supernaturals, Books: Everything, Crime Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Harvard Lampoon “Bored of the Rings”

1I got this book from second-hand store in UK about forever ago. And since “Bored of the Rings” by The Harvard Lampoon (Cardboard box of the rings 3; ISBN 0451452615; 149p.; Goodreads) is such a small book, it traveled with me for a couple years. I just thought, hey, what if I don’t have my e-reader with me, my phone is old, battery doesn’t last, etc. But that didn’t happen during all that time, so I just took it out and read it at home. And it wasn’t good.

As the title suggest, this is a parody of Lord of the Rings. Absurd kind of humor, which is very much not for everyone, and very much not for me. It felt childish and tasteless majority of the time, and there wasn’t a damn joke I found funny, which is disappointing, because I like funny things, and I really wanted funny things, that’s why I got the damn book in the first place.

Anyway, Frito gets his heirloom One Ring that can rule all the others, at least those that weren’t lost or recalled for manufacturer errors, and thus now has to go on an adventure to destroy this evil thing. The voyage is scary, so first one has to form a Brotherhood, but, really, no one wants to go on this dumb trip, so they just push one another forth, until no one’s left and a Brotherhood is formed out of offered up men, not volunteers. Really, no one wanted this adventure.

I can give this book a 2 out of 5, for at least it was well written. Other than that, the puns didn’t work, the jokes were childish and not funny, and the dirty stuff was just tasteless. Not for me. For someone maybe tho, because humor is really a personal thing.

Categories: 2-5, Books: Everything, Books: Funny! | 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

John Burdett “Bangkok Tattoo” | Sonchai Jitpleecheep 2

3I really didn’t feel like reading anything, so I picked up second book in John Burdett series Sonchai Jitpleecheep, “Bangkok Tattoo” (Sonchai Jitpleecheep 2; ISBN 1400032911; 320p.; Goodreads). I loved the first one phenomenally. But this one just didn’t feel right. In fact, it felt normal, like many other thriller detectives. For, somehow, the characters lost their characters.

A CIA agent is killed and mutilated in a room of a bar girl. They had a one-sided love history and a romance, with kind enough parting between them. And Chanya just doesn’t seem to have a heart for such a violent act, even if circumstances seem to point at her. Yet due to him being an American CIA agent in Bangkok, and this world being set just after the tragic 9/11 terrorist attack, there’s a chance that if there’s any of those evil group members around – they wouldn’t have missed a chance either. But forwards come the Muslim community, prepared to do whatever it takes, whatever means necessary, to keep this blame off of them: it’d destroy the solid community out here. So Sonchai does what Sonchai does better, he picks up whatever strings are left for him, and heads out to see what tangles he can rustle up. What could get a man like that killed anyway?

Apparently, a tattoo. And it might just not be over. Out there, in the dark underground, a good classic / traditional tattoo artist is valued, and so are their works. To the point where murdering and skinning is almost a norm, for owning a piece is a sign of status. The agent had one. And so does Chanya. Yet she’s still alive.

In some dumb sense, Sonchai got too simple for my liking. He lost his fatalistic self, settling down, calming down. And since he’s the one telling the story, and he’s the main hero in it too, it hits the whole tale quality over the head. I can’t give it more than 3 out of 5, but I’m also not ready to give up on the series just yet.

Categories: 3-5, About Msg2TheMing, Books: Everything, Crime Books, LGBTQ+ Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Peter Monn “The Before Now and After Then”

2I watched Peter Monn on YouTube for a while before I actually learned that he wrote a YA romance book called “The Before Now and After Then” (ASIN B00M8B6CLE; 304p.; Goodreads). As Peter in his videos points out, sometimes YA falls into that category, because the protagonists are young adults, while in truth the book might by for adults, merely having teens as characters. Maybe that’s the reason this book felt like a mature piece of work, a well polished piece by someone, well, like Peter. There’s a lot of him to be found here, and it’s likely made better by his vlogs, for you can really see where the things are coming from then. But even without them, this is a fine book.

Danny is a twin. His brother died in an accident, getting hit by a drunk person while going home from a park. Park was part of the plan. Sam wished to help Danny come out to their parents, so he got away from home, giving Danny time. Afterwards he was supposed to come back, crack a silly gay joke, and relief any possible tension. Thing is, they didn’t even expect tension, it was just a precaution. And yet that precaution got Danny’s life upside-down.

He found his parents fighting over his father’s affair. He blurred out that he’s gay. And then a doorbell rang, there – an officer here to tell of Sam’s death. Now, six whole months later, Danny is waking from the death’s stupor. He’s starting to realize that he has no idea who or what he is. Everyone around him seem to define him by these too broad or too narrow titles. Before it was so much easier: Sam’s friends were his friends, Sam’s hobbies were his hobbies… But new school (or new school year?) means new experience. He soon meets a charming girl named Cher, who befriends him right away. And then there’s the handsome Rusty for whom Danny is head over heels in mere moments. Time for the living to figure the damn life out.

It’s a beautiful love story. At points it got a little too idyllic, but it worked with the general way author wrote and described things. I really loved the evolution of characters, that was pretty damn brilliant. At the end of the book I preferred the bully more than the love interest. Merely because that one took actions when action was needed, while Rusty ran off without even trying, and next thing you know, came back expecting everyone to take him back. Yes, expecting. He stated the fact first, and asked later. I give this book a very solid 4 out of 5, one point away due to something greatly missing in the whole picture. And be sure, when Peter finishes his next book, I’ll be there to snag it.

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

Becky Albertalli “Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda” | Creekwood 1

1I have troubles watching movies based on books if I have not read the book. And since seeing “Love, Simon” is on the agenda, I had to go ahead and read it. So I took myself a little vacation with this simple book “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” by Becky Albertalli (Creekwood 1; ISBN 0062348671; 303p.; Goodreads). I say “simple“, because, really, there’s many books like this, with light romance, fair amount of stress, and stories of friendships getting rejuvenated. The only different thing is that instead of Simon in all of those we’d have a girl.

I can’t recall what it was exactly, but once, on Tumblr, Simon found a post he could relate to, and replied with his email. The author of the post replied, and soon their internet friendship became something more, I’d go into as cheesy a line as “a breath of air” for Simon. For due to anonymity they agreed upon, Simon could be completely open about everything with the boy he only knew as Blue. And since they both seemed to have been developing crushes on each other, it only makes sense that Simon seeked to check his email wherever he could, thus one day forgetting to log out. This is where the stress begins.

The emails get found by his class mate. The class mate is ready to swear upon the graves of his heroes, that he has nothing against Simon, nor his orientation. All he wants is for Simon to help him hook up with his friend. So, no pressure, but pressure. Not blackmail, but some blackmail. Simon feels like this guy just took away his choice on how to come out and whether to come out at all, which results in him trying to get any semblance of control over the situation, aka start telling people, before that guy told everyone. But if only it was all so simple. Apparently there’s more drama in coming out than just the possibility of hidden homophobia!

Title plays into the book real nice, since you can see how people make Simon’s coming out about themselves in most of the cases: you didn’t tell me first; you should’ve told me sooner; oh wow, that’s a big deal; you didn’t trust me! And yet none of them ever had the strain of coming out, due to heterosexuality being commonly considered default. In general the book was sweet, fluffy, and simple, much like a chick-flick would be, but with a protagonist being a young gay guy. I can give it a 5 out of 5, even if it’s not the Mona Lisa of books on gay teenagers.

Categories: 5-5, Books: Everything, Books: LGBT, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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