Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Review: One Salt Sea - Seanan McGuire

October "Toby" Daye is finally doing all right. She's settling into her new role as the Countess of Goldengreen; she's actually dating again; she's even agreed to take on Quentin as her official squire. Live is looking up all around - and that inevitably means it's time for things to take a turn for the worse.

Someone has kidnapped the sons of Duchess Dianda Lorden, regent of the Undersea Duchy of Saltmist. To prevent a war between land and sea, Toby must not only find the missing boys, but also prove that the Queen of the Mists was not behind their abduction. She'll need all her tricks and the help of all her allies if she wants to make it through this in one piece.

Toby's search will take her from the streets of San Francisco to the lands beneath the waves, and her deadline is firm: she must find the boys in three days' time, or all of the Mists will pay the price. But someone is determined to stop her - and whoever it is isn't playing by Oberon's Laws . . .

As the battle grows more and more personal, one thing is chillingly clear. When Faerie goes to war, not everyone will walk away.

October Daye Series:
In Little Stars (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Rosemary and Rue
A Local Habitation
An Artificial Night
Late Eclipses
Through This House (Short story in the Home Improvement: Undead Edition anthology)
One Salt Sea
In Sea-Salt Tears (Free short story available on Seanan's website)
Ashes of Honor
Rat-Catcher (Free short story available on the Lightspeed Magazine website)
No Sooner Met (Free short story available on Seanan's website)
Chimes at Midnight
Never Shines the Sun (Short story included in the print version of Chimes at Midnight)
Forbid the Sea (Free short story available on Seanan's website)
Stage of Fools (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
The Voice of Lions (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
The Act of Hares (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Instruments of Darkness (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
With Honest Trifles (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
In Deepest Consequence (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Jealous in Honor (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Quick in Quarrel (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
The Winter Long
Heaps of Pearl (Free short story available on Seanan's website)
Shore to Shore (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Write in Water (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Live in Brass (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
The Fixed Stars (Free short story available on the Baen website)
A Red-Rose Chain
Full of Briars (Short story)
Once Broken Faith
Dreams and Slumbers (Short story included in Once Broken Faith)
The Brightest Fell
These Antique Fables (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Of Things Unknown (Short story included in The Brightest Fell)
Night and Silence
Suffer a Sea-Change (Short story included in Night and Silence)
When Sorrows Come (2019)

Visit Seanan McGuire's website for more information

Review:
Just when Toby finally feels like she has her life pretty figured out someone kidnaps the sons of Duchess Lorden from Saltmist, an undersea duchy that happens to be the court of Mists closest neighbour. Duchess Lorden believes that the queen of mists is behind the kidnapping and she has promised all out war between the land and sea if her sons are not returned to her safely. Toby doesn't just need to find the boys, she also needs to prove her queen's innocence or they will all be forced into a war that they stand absolutely no chance of winning.

I am so totally addicted to this series now and in One Salt Sea the stakes are higher than ever. Poor Toby just never gets a break and she faces some incredibly difficult decisions in this instalment. It was actually quite heartbreaking to see what she goes through and the choices she makes just go to prove how strong she is as a woman and how much she cares about others to put their needs above her own desires. One of the things I loved most about this book was getting the chance to visit Saltmist, I really hope we'll see more of the undersea duchy in the future because there were so many interesting different fae creatures down there. It was like visiting a whole new world and I'm sure there is plenty more to explore, especially now we're starting to learn more about the Luidaeg's history and her connection to the selkies.

Another thing I love about this series is the characters, it isn't just Toby that I've come to love but also all of her friends and the family she has made for herself. The bond between her and Sylvester, the brotherly affection she has for Quentin and now Raj (those two are becoming quite the double act!), the way she has accepted May like a sister and especially the chemistry she has with Tybalt and the way he always has her back. I hate to say it but I was a bit disappointed with the budding romance between Toby and Connor, I don't dislike him as a character but he's a bit of a bumbling idiot most of the time and they have absolutely zero chemistry compared to her and Tybalt. Let's face it though, Toby has terrible taste in men so I'm hoping she's just working through a few frogs before she captures the king of cats. There is just so much to love about this world and all of the different characters that it's hard to choose favourites.

There was one particular moment towards the end that I think should have had a bigger impact on me than it actually did but I think that was partly because I didn't love the character involved and partly because it got lost amidst another event that really did upset me. It was hard to see how much certain things hurt Toby though, she's been through so much that you can't help root for her to finally find some happiness. Other than that I really enjoyed this story though, the mystery was great and even though they have a pretty good idea who kidnapped the missing children fairly early on there's a big difference between knowing something and being able to prove it, or mount a rescue mission for that matter. Toby once again has to pay a high price for saving the world but I'm holding out hope that she'll receive her deserved rewards eventually.

Source: Received from DAW Books in exchange for an honest review.

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Paperback / Kindle:

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Review: Deacon - Kit Rocha

Ana has trained most of her life to achieve one goal: to prove that anything men can do, she can do better. Now she’s Sector One’s first female Rider, and being the best is the only way to ensure she won’t be its last. Distractions aren’t allowed–especially not her painful attraction to the reserved but demanding leader whose stern, grumpy demeanor has already gotten into her head.

Deacon has spent the last twenty years trying to atone for his past, but the blood he spilled as a mercenary and assassin will never wash away entirely. If his Riders knew the extent of his sins, he’d lose their trust and respect. It’s easier to keep them all at arm’s length, especially Ana. But his newest recruit’s stubbornness is starting to crack his defenses.

And their sparring matches are driving him wild.

The passion sparking between them can’t be denied, but neither can the vengeance barreling toward Deacon. When his old squad comes back to punish him for his betrayal, Ana and the Riders are squarely in the line of fire. The only way to save his people may be to make the ultimate sacrifice.

But first, he has to convince Ana not to follow him straight into hell.

Beyond Series:
Beyond Shame
Beyond Control
Beyond Denial (A Beyond Happily Ever After free short story)
Beyond Pain
Beyond Temptation (Novella in the Marked Anthology or as a separate ebook)
Beyond Jealousy
Beyond Solitude (Novella in the Alpha's After Dark Anthology or as a separate ebook)
Beyond Addiction
Beyond Possession (Novella)
Beyond Innocence
Closed Doors (A Beyond Happily Ever After short story)
Blank Canvas (A Beyond Happily Ever After free short story)
Beyond Ruin
Beyond Ecstasy
Beyond Surrender
Beyond Doubt (An O'Kane for Life novella)
Beyond Forever (An O'Kane for Life novella)
Creative Incentives (Free short story)
Cravings (Free short story)
Dessert (Free short story)

Gideon's Riders Series:
(Spin off series)
Ashwin
Deacon
Ivan

Visit Kit Rocha's website for more information.

Review:
Deacon is one of the few remaining original members of the Riders and he's also their trusted leader but he's been keeping a huge secret about his background and that past is now about to come back and bite him. Ever since becoming the leader Deacon has held himself at a distance from the others, partly because it hurts him to send them into battle knowing that they may never make it home but partly because he worries about what they'll think if they discover his secrets. When it becomes clear that his past has now put everyone he cares for in danger Deacon immediately steps up to sacrifice himself for the greater good but what he doesn't realise is how much the Riders care about him and that they'll never let him walk into a bad situation alone.

Ana is the first, and so far only, female Rider and that puts her under a lot of pressure. Her father was one of the founding members and he pretty much trained her for birth to join him, she always dreamed of being a Rider and after her father's death it became even more important as a way to honour his memory. A skilled fighter and fiercely intelligent Ana is a worthy member of the group but she always feels like she's being scrutinised and measured up against the guys, especially when she realises that she has become a role model to young girls in the sector who have dreams of joining the Riders and being just like her. Ana has always had feelings for Deacon but she hates the idea of people thinking the only reason she's a Rider is because she was sleeping with the boss so she's never acted on them. Then when she realises the danger they are all in she starts to realise that some things are worth fighting for.

I absolutely loved Deacon and Ana as a couple, they have a few issues to work through but in the grand scheme of things there is no major unnecessary relationship drama to keep them apart. They have fantastic chemistry and are both pretty good at talking things through but Ana does have a tendency to drive Deacon insane by refusing to blindly follow his orders when she knows he is making stupid choices. There aren't many that can stand up to Deacon and sometimes he needs someone who will question his decisions. The main tension in this story comes from outside sources, I'm not going to say much about that just that you can expect a lot of fighting, guns and explosions so there is lots of edge of your seat action, particularly in the second half!

We've met the Riders before of course but this book really gives us a chance to start connecting with them as individuals and as a group. Gideon's Riders may have totally different beliefs to the O'Kanes but the bond between members of their group is just as strong. The Riders promise to give their lives for Gideon and Sector One when they sign up, they even give up the chance of having a family of their own, and that has made them a little fatalistic because they don't have anything at home worth fighting to come home to. Even Gideon is starting to see the error in this, it's not that the Rider's won't have to sometimes risk their lives, and they might even die in battle one day, but they need to find a balance so that they actually live their lives to the fullest while they can. I think it's going to be really interesting to see how the group dynamics start changing as they begin learning how to live as well as to fight.

This series is turning out to be just as fantastic as the Beyond one and I can't wait to get my hands on the next instalment. I have a great feeling about Ivan already and it's going to be a lot of fun watching how Gideon reacts when he realises who the man has fallen for!

Source: Received from the author in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Paperback / Kindle:

Spotlight: Deacon - Kit Rocha


If you've been following my blog for any length of time then you'll already know I'm a total Kit Rocha fangirl, I love everything that Bree and Donna write (both as Kit Rocha and their other pen name Moira Rogers) and I've been following their Beyond series since the very beginning. Deacon is the second book in the spin off Gideon's Riders and this series is shaping up to be just as addictive as the original! I'll be posting my review later today but in the meantime let me give you all the info you need about the book!

Deacon


Ana has trained most of her life to achieve one goal: to prove that anything men can do, she can do better. Now she’s Sector One’s first female Rider, and being the best is the only way to ensure she won’t be its last. Distractions aren’t allowed–especially not her painful attraction to the reserved but demanding leader whose stern, grumpy demeanor has already gotten into her head.

Deacon has spent the last twenty years trying to atone for his past, but the blood he spilled as a mercenary and assassin will never wash away entirely. If his Riders knew the extent of his sins, he’d lose their trust and respect. It’s easier to keep them all at arm’s length, especially Ana. But his newest recruit’s stubbornness is starting to crack his defenses.

And their sparring matches are driving him wild.

The passion sparking between them can’t be denied, but neither can the vengeance barreling toward Deacon. When his old squad comes back to punish him for his betrayal, Ana and the Riders are squarely in the line of fire. The only way to save his people may be to make the ultimate sacrifice.

But first, he has to convince Ana not to follow him straight into hell.


Purchase Links:



For more information visit Kit Rocha's website, or follow them on Twitter or Facebook.


Meet the Characters:




Monday, 28 August 2017

Review: Mask of Shadows - Linsey Miller

I Needed to Win.
They Needed to Die.

Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class--and the nobles who destroyed their home.

When Sal steals a flyer for an audition to become a member of The Left Hand--the Queen's personal assassins, named after the rings she wears--Sal jumps at the chance to infiltrate the court and get revenge.

But the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. And as Sal succeeds in the competition, and wins the heart of Elise, an intriguing scribe at court, they start to dream of a new life and a different future, but one that Sal can have only if they survive.

Mask of Shadows Series:
Mask of Shadows
Future titles and release dates to be confirmed

Visit Linsey Miller's website for more information

Review:
I've been having a really hard time writing a review for Mask of Shadows, mainly because I so badly wanted to love it and in the end I just feel pretty ambivalent towards it. First I want to say how much I love the fact that Sal is a gender fluid main character, I love that this was just a part of who they were and wasn't used as some kind of cheap plot device. I was also really pleased that in general most of the other characters didn't make a big deal of it, the only one that really mentioned it in a negative way was the group bully who was just looking for anything negative to say and since theres always one that didn't bother me. Most of the characters initially asked Sal how they wanted to be addressed (Quote: I dress how I like to be addressed—he, she, or they. It’s simple enough.) and then happily went along with their choices.

Where the story fell down for me was in characterisation, I don't actually feel that I got to know Sal that well even though the story was from their point of view. I know they're gender fluid, I know they have a plan to get vengeance against the people who killed their family and that's about it. The world building was seriously lacking, I needed more history of the world. I needed to understand exactly what had happened to Sal's world and why they were so keen on vengeance. I still don't quite understand how the queen saved Sal's country. Was she the reigning queen when the massacres occurred or did she come along from somewhere else entirely and put a stop to it? How is the world structured? How many different countries are there? What caused things to go wrong in the first place? I'm so unclear about all of it that if it was included in the book then I completely missed it.

This first book focuses on Sal's attempt to become one of the queen's elite assassins so perhaps we'll get more answers to those questions in the next book but to be honest I'm not hooked enough to really want to continue the series. If I'm this confused now then there is no way I'll be able to jump into the second book in a years time without a reread and I just don't have enough interest for that. The auditions to become a member of the queen's left hand are basically a fight to the death as a group of candidates battle against each other to come out on top. Apart from Sal we don't get to know any of the side characters well enough to become invested in them which is a real problem in this kind of story. Books like Hunger Games work so well because even though you know going in that Katniss is almost guaranteed to survive the games you care enough about side characters to feel the fear of something happening to them. If you don't feel the intensity because you're not worried about anyone potentially dying then nothing has the impact it could have.

The same goes with the romance in this story, Elise could have been a fantastic addition to the story but I never felt the connection between her and Sal. It all felt too instant and unbelievable for me so I didn't really care if they made it as a couple or not.

This book really seems to be a polarising one, two of my friends gave it five stars but I struggled to finish it (it took me 8 days to get through and I usually read 4-5 books a week!) so don't let my review alone put you off trying it. I'd recommend checking a mix of positive and negative reviews and perhaps trying the free kindle sample because who knows you may end up being one of the people who loves it. I'm so disappointed that I wasn't one of them too.

Source: Received via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Hardback / Kindle:

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Review: Through This House - Seanan McGuire

The knowe known as "Goldengreen" has been locked and alone since the death of Evening Winterrose...which is why it's a bit of a problem when Toby and her allies are called upon to reopen the knowe. Knowes can have minds of their own, you see, and they don't take kindly to being disturbed. And since Toby would rather keep herself and her friends alive than actually succeed in her mission, it's entirely possible that things will not end the way that they were originally intended to.

Not that failure is an option. And not that trying to be careful is going to make any difference when the problem involves not just unreal real estate, but crumbling cliff faces, giant spiders, pixies, and smart-mouthed Fetches who insist on poking their noses in where they're not wanted. Oh, and did we mention that there's no coffee?

"Through This House" is best read between Late Eclipses and One Salt Sea, as it falls chronologically directly between these two books. It naturally contains spoilers for the first four Toby adventures.

"Through This House" was originally published in the anthology Home Improvement: Undead Edition, released in August of 2011.

October Daye Series:
In Little Stars (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Rosemary and Rue
A Local Habitation
An Artificial Night
Late Eclipses
Through This House (Short story in the Home Improvement: Undead Edition anthology)
One Salt Sea
In Sea-Salt Tears (Free short story available on Seanan's website)
Ashes of Honor
Rat-Catcher (Free short story available on the Lightspeed Magazine website)
No Sooner Met (Free short story available on Seanan's website)
Chimes at Midnight
Never Shines the Sun (Short story included in the print version of Chimes at Midnight)
Forbid the Sea (Free short story available on Seanan's website)
Stage of Fools (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
The Voice of Lions (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
The Act of Hares (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Instruments of Darkness (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
With Honest Trifles (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
In Deepest Consequence (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Jealous in Honor (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Quick in Quarrel (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
The Winter Long
Heaps of Pearl (Free short story available on Seanan's website)
Shore to Shore (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Write in Water (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Live in Brass (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
The Fixed Stars (Free short story available on the Baen website)
A Red-Rose Chain
Full of Briars (Short story)
Once Broken Faith
Dreams and Slumbers (Short story included in Once Broken Faith)
The Brightest Fell
These Antique Fables (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Of Things Unknown (Short story included in The Brightest Fell)
Night and Silence
Suffer a Sea-Change (Short story included in Night and Silence)
When Sorrows Come (2019)

Visit Seanan McGuire's website for more information

Review:
Through This House is a short story that can be found in the Home Improvement: Undead Edition anthology. It is set between Late Eclipses and One Salt Sea and definitely contains spoilers so I wouldn't recommend even reading this review if you've not that far into the series!

The Goldengreen Knowe has been empty since the death of Countess Evening Winterrose but now that Toby has been handed the reigns she needs to open it to make a home for Lily's subjects. If she can just get Goldengreen to accept her it should be a fairly simple job so she recruits May, Quentin and Danny to help her make the place liveable again. Unfortunately things aren't quite what they seem and the knowe has already accepted new inhabitants, ones who aren't quite so keen on letting Toby and her friends move in.

This is such a fun story and I enjoyed every minute of it. May, Quentin and Danny are some of my favourite side characters in the series and any time they're on hand to help Toby you just know chaos will ensue so you can expect some madcap antics in this one. Toby definitely gets more than she bargained for when she finds herself negotiating with the current pixie and bogie residents and it was really interesting to see just how sentient that the knowe actually is.

Source: Purchased

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Anthology Paperback / Kindle:

Review: In Little Stars - Seanan McGuire

In Little Stars is the third of the Patreon-only stories & it's a Toby-universe story. 

Ever wonder what King Gilad was like when he was a young man? Or how the Kingdom in the Mists was formed? Well, now you can find out. Pre-series, no explicit spoilers.

October Daye Series:
In Little Stars (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Rosemary and Rue
A Local Habitation
An Artificial Night
Late Eclipses
Through This House (Short story in the Home Improvement: Undead Edition anthology)
One Salt Sea
In Sea-Salt Tears (Free short story available on Seanan's website)
Ashes of Honor
Rat-Catcher (Free short story available on the Lightspeed Magazine website)
No Sooner Met (Free short story available on Seanan's website)
Chimes at Midnight
Never Shines the Sun (Short story included in the print version of Chimes at Midnight)
Forbid the Sea (Free short story available on Seanan's website)
Stage of Fools (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
The Voice of Lions (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
The Act of Hares (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Instruments of Darkness (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
With Honest Trifles (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
In Deepest Consequence (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Jealous in Honor (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Quick in Quarrel (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
The Winter Long
Heaps of Pearl (Free short story available on Seanan's website)
Shore to Shore (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Write in Water (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Live in Brass (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
The Fixed Stars (Free short story available on the Baen website)
A Red-Rose Chain
Full of Briars (Short story)
Once Broken Faith
Dreams and Slumbers (Short story included in Once Broken Faith)
The Brightest Fell
These Antique Fables (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Of Things Unknown (Short story included in The Brightest Fell)
Night and Silence
Suffer a Sea-Change (Short story included in Night and Silence)
When Sorrows Come (2019)

Visit Seanan McGuire's website for more information

Review:
In Little Stars is a short story set in the Toby universe that is only available to purchase through Seanan McGuire's Patreon Page. She writes approximately one short story each month (some stand alone & some part of existing series) and you can purchase them for as little as $1 each (plus when you sign up you get access to all the previous stories so it's a total no brainer really!).

This short fits before the rest of the books in the series timeline and it introduces us to a young King Gilad when the Kingdom of the Mists was newly created. This is quite a cute story and it even includes a little romance. It doesn't seem to contain spoilers for the main books and I don't believe it included any characters I'm familiar with from the series (I'm not up to date though so they may appear later on) so that's possibly why I didn't feel quite as invested as I usually do with Seanan McGuire's short stories but this was still a fun read. I'm most looking forward to the Tybalt short stories but I'm going to wait until I'm further along in the main series before I start those.

Source: Purchased

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Vuelio Top 10 UK Literature Blogs 2017


So something pretty cool (and incredibly shocking!) happened a couple of days ago. Vuelio announced their 2017 list of Top 10 UK Literature Blogs and I still can't quite figure out how but somehow I ended up being included! You can see the full list on the Vuelio website here and there are some really fantastic blogs on there so I'm honoured to be included amongst them.

I've been blogging at Feeling Fictional for nearly eight years now and sometimes it can get a bit overwhelming but I can't quite imagine life without it and I've met so many wonderful bloggers, publicists and authors since I started, many who have now become great friends. I just wanted to thank each and every person who visits my blog, interacts with me here, on Goodreads or on Instagram or who helps to supply my book addiction with review copies! I don't think I'd have kept this up for so long without all your support along the way and I definitely wouldn't have made a list like this one :o)

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Review: Late Eclipses - Seanan McGuire

Two years ago, October "Toby" Daye believed she could leave the world of Faerie behind. She was wrong. Now she finds herself in the service of Duke Sylvester Torquill, sharing an apartment with her Fetch, and maintaining an odd truce with Tybalt, the local King of Cats. It's a delicate balance - one that's shattered when she learns that an old friend is in dire trouble. Lily, Lady of the Tea Gardens, has been struck down by a mysterious, seemingly impossible illness, leaving her fiefdom undefended.

Struggling to find a way to save Lily and her subjects, Toby must confront her own past as an enemy she thought was gone forever raises her head once more: Oleander de Merelands, one of the two people responsible for her fourteen-year exile. But if Oleander's back, what's her game? Where is she hiding? And what part does Toby's mother, Amandine, have to play?

Time is growing short and the stakes are getting higher. For the Queen of the Mists has her own agenda, and there are more players in this game than Toby can guess. With everything on the line, she will have to take the ultimate risk to save herself and the people she loves most - because if she can't find the missing pieces of the puzzle in time, Toby will be forced to make the one choice she never thought she'd have to face again . . .

October Daye Series:
In Little Stars (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Rosemary and Rue
A Local Habitation
An Artificial Night
Late Eclipses
Through This House (Short story in the Home Improvement: Undead Edition anthology)
One Salt Sea
In Sea-Salt Tears (Free short story available on Seanan's website)
Ashes of Honor
Rat-Catcher (Free short story available on the Lightspeed Magazine website)
No Sooner Met (Free short story available on Seanan's website)
Chimes at Midnight
Never Shines the Sun (Short story included in the print version of Chimes at Midnight)
Forbid the Sea (Free short story available on Seanan's website)
Stage of Fools (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
The Voice of Lions (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
The Act of Hares (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Instruments of Darkness (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
With Honest Trifles (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
In Deepest Consequence (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Jealous in Honor (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Quick in Quarrel (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
The Winter Long
Heaps of Pearl (Free short story available on Seanan's website)
Shore to Shore (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Write in Water (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Live in Brass (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
The Fixed Stars (Free short story available on the Baen website)
A Red-Rose Chain
Full of Briars (Short story)
Once Broken Faith
Dreams and Slumbers (Short story included in Once Broken Faith)
The Brightest Fell
These Antique Fables (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Of Things Unknown (Short story included in The Brightest Fell)
Night and Silence
Suffer a Sea-Change (Short story included in Night and Silence)
When Sorrows Come (2019)

Visit Seanan McGuire's website for more information

Review:
Lily, Lady of the Tea Gardens, is supposed to be immortal so when she falls gravely ill Toby knows something strange is going on. Toby is determined to figure it out and save her friend but as more of her friends and allies start to suffer their own mysterious illnesses it quickly becomes clear that someone is trying to set her up. She's never been one to give up easily but knowing the people she cares about are in danger just makes Toby take even greater risks in the hope of saving them. Even though her enemies are circling like sharks waiting for the chance to do the most damage Toby is lucky enough to have friends who believe in her and they might be her only chance of surviving this latest battle.

I know I keep saying it but this series really is getting better and better with every book. So much has changed for Toby since the first book but Late Eclipses ramps things up to a whole new level and she's going to be dealing with the fallout for the foreseeable future. There are some fascinating revelations about Toby's past in this instalment as she starts to figure out some of the things her mother has been keeping secret but those revelations are almost minor compared to everything else that is going on. Toby has collected a group of really loyal friends but she's also gained some formidable enemies and they're all looking to take advantage of her when she's at her weakest.

As much as I love Toby Tybalt still remains my favourite side character, I have been rooting for those two from the beginning and I'm shipping them harder than ever now. May's character has also been a breath of fresh air, she may have started out just Toby's fetch, sharing all of her memories but she's now become a person in her own right and she brings a bit of lightness to the story with her sunny personality. Quentin is really proving himself as Toby's right hand man and it's been great to see him gain confidence since they first met. The one character I'm not too sure about is Connor, I don't dislike him but I don't like the way he's so keen to rekindle his past romance with Toby. I really don't want to see the potential triangle with them and Tybalt drag out for too long so I hope Toby makes a decision soon.

As amazing as this book was it isn't all sunshine and roses, I've mentioned in previous reviews that this series is darker than a lot of UF series I read and things get rather tense several times in this instalment. Toby is walking on a knife edge and it wouldn't feel so real if people didn't get hurt along the way. There were moments in Late Eclipses that actually brought me to tears but even when I was on the edge of my seat I was totally sucked into this world and waiting for Toby to find a solution. This series is going from strength to strength and I can't wait to dive into the next book!

Source: Received from DAW Books in exchange for an honest review.

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Monday, 21 August 2017

Review: Northern Lights - Philip Pullman

When Lyra's friend Roger disappears, she and her daemon, Pantalaimon, determine to find him. The ensuing quest leads them to the bleak splendour of the North, where armoured bears rule the ice and witch-queens fly through the frozen skies - and where a team of scientists is conducting experiments too horrible to be spoken about.

Lyra overcomes these strange terrors, only to find something yet more perilous waiting for her - something with consequences which may even reach beyond the Northern Lights . . .

His Dark Materials:
Once Upon a Time in the North (Novella)
The Collectors (Short Story)
Northern Lights (Released as The Golden Compass in the US)
The Subtle Knife
The Amber Spyglass
Lyra's Oxford (Novella)

The Book of Dust:
(Companion series to His Dark Materials)
La Belle Sauvage

Visit Philip Pullman's website for more information

Review:
I'm not sure it's possible for me to write an unbiased review of the Northern Lights (probably known as The Golden Compass to my American friends). I have loved this series since about 2000 and still own my original paperbacks that have been read countless times over the years so it's hard to be completely objective about a story that has been a part of your life for such a long time. Anyway, I'll do my best to try and explain why this story has always been one of my favourites but surely the fact that it's still on my shelf after 17 years is enough to hint at how good it is!

When her best friend, Roger, goes missing along with numerous other young children, Lyra and her daemon Pantalaimon, set out to find them and bring them home. What follows is an epic journey that takes her from her home in Jordan College, Oxford all the way to the frozen wastes of the North. She has help from numerous sources along the way - the gyptians who are also searching for their missing children, the witches of the North and even an armoured bear called Iorek Byrnison - but what she finds when she eventually catches up with the child snatching gobblers is something more horrific than she could ever have dreamed of.

Lyra is a brilliant character, she's fierce, stubborn and a little bit reckless, as an accomplished liar she can be cocky and thinks she knows everything but she's also very intelligent and will quickly learn from the mistakes she makes. I love how feisty she is and the way she jumps straight into the action because she is so determined to save Roger and the other children, she faces things that would terrify even adults and she does it with a great deal of bravery. The bond between her and Pantalaimon is brilliant, he's a bit more sensible than she is and is often the voice of reason when she's about to get herself in trouble, unfortunately for him she doesn't always take his advice but he is always there as her backup when she needs him.

While Lyra's world initially seems very similar to our own it quickly becomes clear that Philip Pullman has used his wonderful imagination to create something very different. Every human is born with their own daemon, a living, breathing entity that is basically the other half of their soul. Daemons can take any form throughout childhood, Pantalaimon often changes shape depending on the situation that Lyra finds herself in, but once puberty is reached it will choose one form to settle as. The bond between human and daemon is unbreakable and killing one will cause the death of the other so there are lots of strict taboos in place about not touching other people's daemons even though you can communicate with them. I love the sheer variety of different daemons found in these books and I've spent the last 17 years waiting for my own daemon to turn up! Unfortunately it's still nowhere to be found but I still live in hope.

Along with daemons this world also contains the panserborne, a race of warrior polar bears who have an affinity to metal and who are known to be brilliant protectors. Lyra is able to make friends with Iorek Byrnison, an exiled panserborne who has been living amongst humans for far too long, and he agrees to help her try to rescue the missing children after she frees him from captivity. Iorek is another brilliant character and a great ally for Lyra as she travels across the frozen wastes of a land similar to the arctic. Although this series has a lot of fun characters it also has some surprisingly dark elements, I'd actually forgotten how upsetting some parts of the story were so be warned it's not for the faint of heart but that darkness doesn't make it any less of a wonderful journey. There are lots of amazing elements to this story and from what I remember the series only gets more fantastical in the next two books.

I started this reread because I want to be ready for the new companion trilogy (the first book La Belle Sauvage will be released in October) and I can't wait to read new stories set in this world but I'm just as excited to continue with the original trilogy and remind myself of the rest of Lyra's adventures. There is a reason that this series holds up so well since it was originally published, it's something special and if you've not already read it you're really missing out.

Source: Purchased

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

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Saturday, 19 August 2017

Review: An Artificial Night - Seanan McGuire

Changeling knight in the court of the Duke of Shadowed Hills, October "Toby" Daye has survived numerous challenges that would destroy any mortal alike.

Now Toby must take on a nightmarish new assignment. Someone is stealing both fae and mortal children - and all signs point to Blind Michael. When the young son of Toby's closest friends is snatched from their Northern California home and his sister falls into a coma-like state, the situation becomes way too personal. Toby has no choice but to track the villains down, even when there are only three magical roads by which to reach Blind Michael's realm - home of the legendary Wild Hunt - and no road can be taken more than once. If she cannot escape with all the children before the candle that guides and protects her burns away, Toby herself will fall prey to the Wild Hunt and Blind Michael's inescapable power.

And it doesn't bode well for the success of her mission that her own personal Fetch, May Daye - the harbinger of Toby's own death - has suddenly turned up on her doorstep . . .

October Daye Series:
In Little Stars (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Rosemary and Rue
A Local Habitation
An Artificial Night
Late Eclipses
Through This House (Short story in the Home Improvement: Undead Edition anthology)
One Salt Sea
In Sea-Salt Tears (Free short story available on Seanan's website)
Ashes of Honor
Rat-Catcher (Free short story available on the Lightspeed Magazine website)
No Sooner Met (Free short story available on Seanan's website)
Chimes at Midnight
Never Shines the Sun (Short story included in the print version of Chimes at Midnight)
Forbid the Sea (Free short story available on Seanan's website)
Stage of Fools (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
The Voice of Lions (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
The Act of Hares (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Instruments of Darkness (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
With Honest Trifles (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
In Deepest Consequence (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Jealous in Honor (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Quick in Quarrel (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
The Winter Long
Heaps of Pearl (Free short story available on Seanan's website)
Shore to Shore (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Write in Water (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Live in Brass (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
The Fixed Stars (Free short story available on the Baen website)
A Red-Rose Chain
Full of Briars (Short story)
Once Broken Faith
Dreams and Slumbers (Short story included in Once Broken Faith)
The Brightest Fell
These Antique Fables (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Of Things Unknown (Short story included in The Brightest Fell)
Night and Silence
Suffer a Sea-Change (Short story included in Night and Silence)
When Sorrows Come (2019)

Visit Seanan McGuire's website for more information

Review:
Toby's day doesn't get off to the best start when she discovers her fetch (an omen of her impending death!) on her doorstep. Then when she finds out that two of her best friend's children have been stolen, along with 5 young cait sidhe from Tybalt's court, she decides that if she's destined to die she's damn sure going to make her death count by rescuing the missing kids first. Of course walking into Blind Michael's home and taking back children already claimed by the Wild Hunt isn't going to be an easy challenge, even if she does have some powerful friends willing to offer her assistance, but will Toby achieve her goal? And just how much will it cost her along the way?

This series just keeps on getting better, I enjoyed the first two books but this one was the best by far and I was hooked from beginning to end. Toby is such a great character, she doesn't always make the best decisions and she's still more than a little messed up from previous events, but her heart is in the right place and she always tries to protect the people she cares about. I loved seeing her start to realise how many people actually have her back in this book too, she has tried to keep people at a distance but in spite of that she has a lot of close friends who are willing to fight for her when she needs them the most.

Blind Michael was pretty terrifying as were the members of his Wild Hunt and I love the way Seanan McGuire is bringing in all kinds of different fae myths and legends into this series. We get to explore more of Faerie here and see just how scary it is outside of Sylvester's Summerlands and it's really interesting to see how the fae are so inhuman in a lot of ways but at the same time they do have a set of rules that they must follow. I think the author has done a brilliant job of capturing that fae alien way of thinking that is present in more traditional faerie stories and I love that the series is just that little bit darker than most of the urban fantasy series I've read.

As with most series I love it's the side characters who help sell me on the world, the Luidaeg is a particular favourite and the way you're never quite sure whether she's on Toby's side or how much she will charge for her services but my favourite is still Tybalt. I'm definitely rooting for a Toby/Tybalt romance in the future (please, please, please!) but I'm also desperately curious about the hints Tybalt was dropping in this book. He makes some interesting comments that I think will lead to big revelations in the future and I'm not quite sure what direction that will take the series. May has been an interesting addition too and I'm looking forward to seeing how her relationship with October develops over the next few books.

I'm definitely fully onboard the Toby Daye bandwagon and I'm so excited to continue binge reading the series so watch out for more reviews coming very soon!

Source: Received from DAW Books in exchange for an honest review.

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Paperback / Kindle:

Friday, 18 August 2017

Book Trailer: The Crown’s Game - Evelyn Skye

As a huge fantasy fan The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye is one of those books that has been on my radar for a long time now so I really have no idea why it's taking me so long to get around to reading it! The fact that it's compared to Shadow and Bone and the Red Queen in the blurb makes me a little nervous but if it can pull off those claims then I'm guaranteed to love it. If you've read The Crown's Game already I'd love to know what you thought of it.

Perfect for fans of Shadow and Bone and Red Queen, The Crown’s Game is a thrilling and atmospheric historical fantasy set in Imperial Russia about two teenagers who must compete for the right to become the Imperial Enchanter—or die in the process—from debut author Evelyn Skye.

Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love . . . or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear . . . the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.



More information about the series from Epic Reads:

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Review: A Local Habitation - Seanan McGuire

October "Toby" Daye is a changeling, the daughter of Amandine of the fae and a mortal man. Like her mother, she is gifted in blood magic, able to read what has happened to a person through a mere taste of blood.

Half-human, half-fae, outsiders from birth, most changelings are second-class children of Faerie spending their lives fighting for the respect of their immortal relations. Toby is the only changeling who has earned knighthood, and she re-earns that position every day, undertaking assignments for her liege, Sylvester, the Duke of the Shadowed Hills.

Now Sylvester has asked her to go to the County on Tamed Lightning - otherwise known as Fremont, CA - to make sure that all is well with his niece, Countess January O'Leary whom he has not been able to contact. It seems like a simple enough assignment - but when dealing with the realm of Faerie nothing is ever as simple as it seems. January runs a company that produces computer fantasy games, and her domain is a buffer between Sylvester's realm and a rival duchy whose ruler is looking for an opportunity to seize control. And that is the least of January's problems. For Tamed Lighting has somehow been cut off from the other domains, and now someone has begun to murder January's key people. If Toby can't find and stop the killer soon, she may well become the next victim . . . 

October Daye Series:
In Little Stars (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Rosemary and Rue
A Local Habitation
An Artificial Night
Late Eclipses
Through This House (Short story in the Home Improvement: Undead Edition anthology)
One Salt Sea
In Sea-Salt Tears (Free short story available on Seanan's website)
Ashes of Honor
Rat-Catcher (Free short story available on the Lightspeed Magazine website)
No Sooner Met (Free short story available on Seanan's website)
Chimes at Midnight
Never Shines the Sun (Short story included in the print version of Chimes at Midnight)
Forbid the Sea (Free short story available on Seanan's website)
Stage of Fools (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
The Voice of Lions (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
The Act of Hares (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Instruments of Darkness (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
With Honest Trifles (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
In Deepest Consequence (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Jealous in Honor (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Quick in Quarrel (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
The Winter Long
Heaps of Pearl (Free short story available on Seanan's website)
Shore to Shore (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Write in Water (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Live in Brass (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
The Fixed Stars (Free short story available on the Baen website)
A Red-Rose Chain
Full of Briars (Short story)
Once Broken Faith
Dreams and Slumbers (Short story included in Once Broken Faith)
The Brightest Fell
These Antique Fables (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Of Things Unknown (Short story included in The Brightest Fell)
Night and Silence
Suffer a Sea-Change (Short story included in Night and Silence)
When Sorrows Come (2019)

Visit Seanan McGuire's website for more information

Review:
Two books in and I'm already totally hooked on the October Daye series! Toby seemed a lot more settled in this book, she's still dealing with the emotional fallout of events from the first book but she's got past the stay in bed all day wallowing part and now she's more ready to face the world and her friends again. She's back doing what she does best, working as a PI taking on cases for both humans and the fae and she's starting to get her life back on track.

A Local Habitation kicks off with her liege Sylvester asking Toby to travel to his niece's realm Tamed Lightning to check on her. January normally calls him regularly and he's worried because she's been out of contact for weeks and isn't returning any of his phone calls. It should be a simple job, check out Tamed Lightning and remind January to call her uncle then come straight back home, but when she arrives Toby quickly discovers something suspicious is going on. People in Tamed Lightning have been dying in mysterious circumstances and it is up to Toby to try and figure out exactly what is going on - before she can become one of the victims herself.

This series is still pretty dark and watching Toby working her blood magic was disgustingly creepy at times but there seemed to be more lighter moments in this book than the first one. I was really glad that Toby had a new sidekick in trainee Quentin, he's a bit like a younger brother to Toby and adds a lot of humour to the story. We also got to see more of Connor who I like as a character but I'm really hoping doesn't turn into a love interest, he has history with Toby and it looks like he'd be more than willing to pick things up where they left off but he also happens to be married which is a total no go area for me even if his marriage is a political match rather than a love story. My favourite character by far is Tybalt though, he steals the show with every appearance and I have a strong suspicion that he's far more interested in Toby than she realises. I'm totally on board ship Tybalt and I'm hoping his role in the story will continue to increase as the series continues.

I don't want to say too much about what is happening in Tamed Lightning but I really enjoyed the way Seanan McGuire has mixed old and new to come up with something completely unique. There were definitely concepts that I've not come across before and I'm really enjoying how she's expanding her world. I had my suspicions about several of the characters and while some of my guesses were partly correct I was never quite able to nail things entirely because of the twists the author threw at us. There was a fascinating scene with the Night Haunts and we're introduced to a few other types of fae in this instalment so I'm enjoying learning about all their different abilities.

This series has me totally hooked and I'm planning on diving straight into the next one now I've finished writing this review!

Source: Received from DAW Books in exchange for an honest review.

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Paperback / Kindle:

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