Posts Tagged With: book review

Craig Alanson “Black Ops” | Expeditionary Force 4

1I was a little reluctant to get into fourth book in the Expeditionary ForceBlack Ops” by Craig Alanson (Expeditionary Force 4; ASIN B07121G4ZC; 673p.; Goodreads), due to repetitive action in the third one. But I still read this one. And there were times where I cried laughing. So I think it’s good.

Merry band of pirates is of on a mission to make sure Earth is safe and sounds. All they really need to do is get information on who could be threatening them, and sabotage the living heck out of it. Since with Skippy’s help they were training to fight aliens, fight like aliens, and fly alien ships too, the whole crew is pretty confident that they can pull this off. And if not, well, they have to try anyway.

But bad news don’t end with the “evil alien race wants to eradicate Earth because you’re annoying creatures“. Skippy went into the AI shell of the dead one they found, expecting to figure out why and how they were made, and maybe – what killed the AI. What he found was no happy news at all. Apparently, the race who made them, haven’t made them all sentient. Some became so with time. Fearing that others would go rogue too, they made and possibly inserted it into every AI a worm that’d destroy it if it went rogue. So did the AI Skippy found was rogue? Or was it the worm itself that misbehaved? That question likely bothers Joe Bishop more than any other, for mid sentence Skippy the Magnificent simply went silent, leaving the Merry Band of Pirates to fend for themselves in far away space.

This was so funny at times, I was crying. Other times it was very intense and kept me on the edge. And then sometimes it was so intense, and so funny at the same time… Anyway, 5 out of 5 for this one.

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Categories: 5-5, Books: Everything, Books: Funny!, Sci-Fi Books | 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

Shane Dawson – I Hate Myselfie: A Collection of Essays

3I liked Shane Dawson. Then I hated Shane Dawson. Then I liked Shane Dawson again, and this time I stayed. I like biographies and memoirs too, so it was just a matter of time until I finally get into his “I Hate Myselfie: A Collection of Essays” (ISBN 1476791546; 228p.; Goodreads). It was a very easy read, full of dark humor, satire, heart-breaking stuff, and, well, character development.

The book is written in short chapters, that don’t continue one another, but tell a story each. They start with a piece of artwork, and a few words about the artist who did it, for which I take my hat off for Shane: it’s always wonderful to see a great artist try to squeeze in as many others into their own light, as possible. There’s no seeming order to them, and criteria is likely only one too – stories that were stepping stones. Stepping stones through which Shane, as hard and unbearable as it was, waded through, grew as a person, and became this wonderful human being that he is today.

He grew up with two brothers, and parents, who eventually got divorced. It didn’t help his meager social life that they had to move, and he had to change schools thus. A morbidly obese kid with a pretty face, as you may guess, is not the popular one. So he spent his days with his mom, alone, or in a group of misfits just like himself. Not one story, no matter how sad or cruel it sounded, ever made me feel like this is a pity show. In fact, I believe Shane to be a very strong person to be able to go through this all, and leave it behind. And what’s not yet behind – is still a work in progress, or at least so it seems from his wonderful videos.

I admit, these stories shone light not only on Shane Dawson himself, but via his prism – on mine too. I recognized some flaws in myself, and much like him – started working on them. Lucky me, I have an example of what not to do too, ha! I will give this book a 5 out of 5, but I don’t know if it’s relevant to those who don’t know Shane Dawson, or do not like him. It felt too personal to be taken out of the perspective of who he is in broader view. And now, to the next one!

Categories: 5-5, Biographies, Books: Everything, Books: Funny! | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

KJ Charles – An Unnatural Vice | Sins of the Cities 2

2Long overdue that I finally continue with Sins of the Cities by KJ Charles, so don’t let me digress, let’s talk about “An Unnatural Vice” (Sins of the Cities 2; ASIN B01M0HH1IH; 250p; Goodreads), second book in the trilogy. I loved the first book, but I loved this one even more. KJC, much like one of her protagonists here, is mighty capable of playing just the right strings for me, and likely – most.

Justin Lazarus is a famous seer of London. Lost a loved one? Want to talk to a dead relative? It’s him you come to. Much like this woman, of seemingly no interest. She wished to find her runaway twins, and instead of taking her meager savings to a detective, she took a drawing of them straight to Lazarus. Drawing, which Lazarus kept until the lady, whom he consoled as best he could, vaguely promising her that they’re alive and well, got back home to bring him the money she owed. For it seems, someone robbed this village woman out of her pennies. The fact she never returned didn’t surprise or concern Lazarus either. It happens. Up until he ran into journalist Nathaniel Roy, and his detective friend Mark.

Nathaniel Roy dedicated his time to expose people like Lazarus, thus the interest and crossing of paths happened naturally. The less natural was Lazarus appearing at his doorstep, cold, shivering, and seemingly worse for the wear, in need of help. For he nearly lost his life over that damned lost woman, and her runaway twins, it seems. Turns out, neither the woman, nor Mark, are the only people searching for the pair. And by far not every seeker has their well being in their hearts.

This was a very fine piece of detective work, and two mighty fine characters. I really loved the plot, and I loved the development of both it, and the people in it. Characters had substance, they filled another out well, tugging at flaws, and seeking best ways to mend what’s mendable. 5 out of 5, and I think I’ll jump straight to the third right now.

Categories: 5-5, Books: LGBT, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 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

Victoria Dalpe – Parasite Life

4Received “Parasite Life” by Victoria Dalpe (ISBN 1771483970; 260p.; Goodreads) from the publishers, or maybe the author, I can’t recall. It was intriguing, and I had nothing better to do, so why not a vampire book, right? Yes, right. I didn’t expect to get what I got, and I can’t figure out whether that’s bad or brilliant. So let me just tell you of the book.

Jane lives her life in a creepy old house, with her dying mother. She’s asocial, but not by choice. her nature, invisible to the eye, is pulling at the primal instincts in people, making their skin crawl. Even her own mother, with as little expression as she has left, seems to show no will to communicate with her daughter. So, with no friends, hated and shunned, Jane tries to survive until she can finally leave. Somewhere. Anywhere. Up until a new girl, a gorgeous gothy Sabrina shows up, and turns her whole world around. Starting with this new sensation of having a friend, and escalating to love. And passion, during which Jane unceremoniously got drunk with Sabrina, forced herself on her, after a very clear no, and gnawed at her neck to sate the beast inside. For Jane is a vampire, and her mother is dying due to this dark nature of hers.

Sabrina, either to her own kind heart, stupidity, or compulsion of a vampire, forgives Jane, and they set off on a quest to find Jane’s father, the very one who passed this gene upon her. Jane hopes he’d know of a cure, or at least some substitute she could use instead of constantly abusing Sabrina. Or, maybe he could teach her how to be better. And oh boy, does Hugh McGarrett has lessons for her. Not the least one is how easy it is to manipulate those who aren’t afraid of their kind. People like Sabrina.

Jane is a horrible little monster. First bells rang in my head when she called herself a “seducer” after she forced herself on this girl. Rapist is the word, Jane. Second, she thinks she’s giving something by, what? Caring for a stray cat, and dying mother, who is dying because of this “care” she’s providing? Or was it caring to drag a girl on a wild chase of some man who never wanted to have anything to do with her, because hey, that friend has a license, can take her mum’s car, and oh, Jane can feed on her all the way there, all the while smooching up, and playing with the “I love you, I need you” cards. And then the very, very final straw was when this girl, while laying down the body of the person who saved her, claimed she has saved herself. Yes, you locked yourself in, good job on saving your sorry ass. So, as you can see, I’m feeling extremely negative towards this book. But I will give it a 4 out of 5 anyway (3 might be more fitting, due to lack of substance in secondary characters, like Sabrina). Here’s why: I hope that author is not insane, but rather – brilliant. Jane is a very classic vampire. A disgusting creature, deluded into believing any demented reason they come up with on why their existence is good. I do believe that if Stoker’s Dracula would’ve been written from his perspective, we would’ve heard how kind and generous he is too. So with that hope, that’s the rate I’ll give this book. Don’t read it if you don’t like the image of the modern vampire tarnished.

Categories: 3-5, 4-5, Books of Supernaturals, Books: Everything, F/F Literature, Gothic Books, Nosferatu Books, urban fantasy, vampires | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Laini Taylor – Daughter of Smoke & Bone | 1

+2Daughter of Smoke & Bone” by Laini Taylor (Daughter of Smoke & Bone 1; ISBN 0316134023; 422p.; Goodreads) was on my to-read list for forever now. And since I’ve read it, I can say I really regret not reading it sooner, before some other books of this genre. For I loved it, but I would’ve loved it even more.

If wishes cost pain proportional, how much could you endure for your heart’s desire? And if someone else could suffer for you, how much would you take, before you couldn’t sleep at night? Out there, somewhere deep in Prague, there’s an ordinary door, with an ordinary building behind them, if you open them yourself. But if you knock and they let you in… In the dark shop there’s almost a constant hum of tools polishing and drilling teeth. A djinn-like creature is putting them on strings into necklaces, for it is teeth that make the wishes come true. There’s certain rules to it, of course. Worn away teeth are little to no use. Baby teeth is not something a respectable place deals in. And the best wishes are right there, in your mouth. Anything you could possibly want in exchange of you extracting all your teeth by yourself, with nothing to dull the pain. What’s worth this price?

These beings are the only family Karou knows. They raised her, they taught her. And now that she’s all grown up, she runs little errands for them, in exchange for the smallest of the small wishes. Just enough to give someone an itch or permanently bad eyebrows. Karou, for the bigger part of her life, didn’t know what a wish costs, other than the general idea: one needs teeth to buy them with. In truth, her whole understanding of the world she lives in, and the world out there, was pretty vague and innocent up until that fateful night when all the doors marked with black scorched hand have burned the gates between the worlds. Between her and her family

The book was truly very interesting up until the part where all the remembering started happening. That’s when it got dull. And while I can still give it a solid 4 out of 5, I can say I would’ve put it on my favorites if not for Sarah J. Maas or Holly Black books.

Categories: 4-5, Books of Supernaturals, Books: Fantasy, urban fantasy | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Andy Weir – Artemis

34928122I patiently waited for “Artemis” by Andy Weir (ISBN 0553448129; 305p.; Goodreads), and at last! The writer really got me with “The Martian” back in the day, and this book promised me more of what I like: the good author, moon, heists, smugglers and mobs. And while it was very different from what I expected – what I did get was beautiful.

Jazz Bashara came to live on the Moon with her Muslim father (pointing this out, because he’s practicing, she’s not, and it’s always interesting to see families work like that) from, I think, Saudi Arabia, when she was 6 years old. She grew up on Artemis, the only lunar city there, and going back to Earth is out of the question for her, no matter what happens. But she does have a friend there, on Earth, a friend who soon became her business partner. They both just wanted to live with dignity in a world where everything good that happened to them got trampled by effects of other people’s decisions. So now they control the smuggling business, everything that goes from Earth to the Moon and is considered illegal there. They’ve always been very careful about it too, especially Jazz who risks deportation to Earth if she gets caught. But when a million slug (their money) deal is thrown on her metaphorical table – well, you can’t blame a girl for dreaming big, can you?

To simplify and avoid spoilers: in Artemis they pretty much only have one big company that makes oxygen, and a handful of other products that just happen during the processes of smelting things down to get that said oxygen. It’s a heart-thing, if you please, but other than the air they breathe – nothing is of high value or importance, which leaves Artemis without the export part of the economy. But big people, smart people, find gold where there’s none, and Jazz with her heist just got in those big people’s way towards astronomical profits, money laundering, and other schemes. For the big people seem to be the good old-fashioned “killed you to make a statement” kind of mobsters, prepared to take over one way or another.

I bloody love Jazz. She’s funny, strong, real damn smart, and much like Watney when it comes to trying to survive in situations that just don’t inspire will to live. But be aware, if you’re searching for Martian 2 – this is not that book. This book might not keep you awake, as it has not kept me awake. I will give it a 5 out of 5, but that is because I love how refreshing it was, with new characters, new action.

Categories: 5-5, Sci-Fi Books | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

A.R. Torre – If You Dare | Deanna Madden 3

+ifyoudareWow. I’ve finished Deanna Madden trilogy with the “If You Dare” book by A.R. Torre (Deanna Madden 3; ISBN 0316386693; 368p.; Goodreads), and I did not expect that. For one, the book mostly jumped off the regular topic, as one might expect in an evolving and ending story. For two, I think everyone expected a different ending!

Deanna blacks out just to wake up with a broken nose, a dark spot in her memory, and vague sense of dread. There’s a new really annoying woman living in the neighborhood. Her junkie helper is getting bold. Her boyfriend doesn’t pick up his phone, and the last she remembers seeing him, was the night before her nose got broken. After some digging in her mind, she is pretty sure, he was the one to do it too. To calm her down. But why was she so aggravated? Did she try to kill him? Did her madness overpower her? To the point where her boyfriend knocked her out, and ran for it?

Police shows up at Deanna’s door, armed with questions and prepared to search through her stuff. Deanna was pretty sure she cleaned all there was to clean when she had to, but here they are. In her car. With her knife. And blood on it. And so Deanna is arrested for attempted murder of her boyfriend.

This was one fine detective line, leading me on well to the end. I enjoyed this book greatly, and wish it were series, rather than just a trilogy! 5 out of 5, couldn’t give it less if I wanted to.

Categories: 5-5, About Msg2TheMing, Crime Books | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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