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Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire eARC {3.5 Stars}

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire eARC {3.5 Stars}

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire (Wayward Children #2)
Published by Tor.com on June 13th, 2017
Genres: Dark Fantasy
Page Length: 189 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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Twin sisters Jack and Jill were seventeen when they found their way home and were packed off to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.

This is the story of what happened first…

Jacqueline was her mother’s perfect daughter—polite and quiet, always dressed as a princess. If her mother was sometimes a little strict, it’s because crafting the perfect daughter takes discipline.

Jillian was her father’s perfect daughter—adventurous, thrill-seeking, and a bit of a tom-boy. He really would have preferred a son, but you work with what you've got.

They were five when they learned that grown-ups can’t be trusted.

They were twelve when they walked down the impossible staircase and discovered that the pretense of love can never be enough to prepare you a life filled with magic in a land filled with mad scientists and death and choices.

3.5 Stars

Note: I received an advanced copy of Down Among the Sticks and Bones from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

Thoughts:
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Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire {4 Stars}

Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire {4 Stars}

Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire (InCryptid #1)
Published by DAW on March 6th, 2012
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy
Page Length: 352 pages
How I got my copy: BookLender
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Ghoulies. Ghosties. Long-legged beasties. Things that go bump in the night... The Price family has spent generations studying the monsters of the world, working to protect them from humanity—and humanity from them. Enter Verity Price. Despite being trained from birth as a cryptozoologist, she'd rather dance a tango than tangle with a demon, and is spending a year in Manhattan while she pursues her career in professional ballroom dance. Sounds pretty simple, right? It would be, if it weren't for the talking mice, the telepathic mathematicians, the asbestos supermodels, and the trained monster-hunter sent by the Price family's old enemies, the Covenant of St. George. When a Price girl meets a Covenant boy, high stakes, high heels, and a lot of collateral damage are almost guaranteed. To complicate matters further, local cryptids are disappearing, strange lizard-men are appearing in the sewers, and someone's spreading rumors about a dragon sleeping underneath the city...

4 Stars

Strengths:
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Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire {4 Stars}

Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire {4 Stars}

Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire (October Daye #6)
Published by DAW on Sept. 4th, 2012
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Page Length: 353 pages
How I got my copy: BookLender
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It’s been almost a year since October “Toby” Daye averted a war, gave up a county, and suffered personal losses that have left her wishing for a good day’s sleep. She’s tried to focus on her responsibilities—training Quentin, upholding her position as Sylvester’s knight, and paying the bills—but she can’t help feeling like her world is crumbling around her, and her increasingly reckless behavior is beginning to worry even her staunchest supporters.

To make matters worse, Toby’s just been asked to find another missing child…only this time it’s the changeling daughter of her fellow knight, Etienne, who didn’t even know he was a father until the girl went missing. Her name is Chelsea. She’s a teleporter, like her father. She’s also the kind of changeling the old stories warn about, the ones with all the strength and none of the control. She’s opening doors that were never meant to be opened, releasing dangers that were sealed away centuries before—and there’s a good chance she could destroy Faerie if she isn’t stopped.

Now Toby must find Chelsea before time runs out, racing against an unknown deadline and through unknown worlds as she and her allies try to avert disaster. But danger is also stirring in the Court of Cats, and Tybalt may need Toby’s help with the biggest challenge he’s ever faced.

Toby thought the last year was bad. She has no idea.

4 Stars

Strengths:
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Reflections by Seanan McGuire Audiobook {3.5 Stars}

Reflections by Seanan McGuire Audiobook {3.5 Stars}

Reflections by Seanan McGuire
Narrated by Mary Robinette Kowal
(Indexing #2)
Published by 47North, Brilliance Audio on Jan 12th, 2016
Genres: Adult, Fairytale Retelling, Urban Fantasy
Page Length: 325 pages
Audio Length: 12 hrs and 18 mins
How I got my copy: Purchased
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“For her to love me, she had to be willing to kill me. Anything else would show that her heart was untrue.”

The struggle against not-so-charming storybook narratives isn’t the only complicating factor in Henrietta “Henry” Marchen’s life. As part of the ATI Management Bureau team protecting the world from fairy tales gone awry, she’s juggling her unwanted new status as a Snow White, dealing with a potentially dangerous Pied Piper, and wrangling a most troublesome wicked stepsister—along with a budding relationship with Jeff, her teammate.

But when a twisted, vicious Cinderella breaks out of prison and wreaks havoc, things go from disenchanted to deadly. And once Henry realizes someone is trying to use her to destroy the world, her story becomes far from over—and this one might not have a happily ever after.

Indexing: Reflections is New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire’s continuing new urban fantasy, where everything you thought you knew about fairy tales gets turned on its head.

3.5 Stars

Strengths:
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Indexing by Seanan McGuire Audiobook {5 Stars}

Indexing by Seanan McGuire Audiobook {5 Stars}

Indexing by Seanan McGuire
Narrated by Mary Robinette Kowal
(Indexing #1)
Published by 47North on Jan. 21st, 2014
Genres: Adult, Fairytale Retelling, Urban Fantasy
Page Length: 404 pages
Audio Length: 12 hrs and 5 mins
How I got my copy: Purchased
Amazon - IndieBound - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

“Never underestimate the power of a good story.”

Good advice...especially when a story can kill you.

For most people, the story of their lives is just that: the accumulation of time, encounters, and actions into a cohesive whole. But for an unfortunate few, that day-to-day existence is affected—perhaps infected is a better word—by memetic incursion: where fairy tale narratives become reality, often with disastrous results.

That's where the ATI Management Bureau steps in, an organization tasked with protecting the world from fairy tales, even while most of their agents are struggling to keep their own fantastic archetypes from taking over their lives. When you're dealing with storybook narratives in the real world, it doesn't matter if you're Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, or the Wicked Queen: no one gets a happily ever after.

Indexing is New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire’s new urban fantasy where everything you thought you knew about fairy tales gets turned on its head.

5 Stars

Strengths:
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One Salt Sea Read Along {Week 1}

one_salt_sea_readalong

Week 1!

We’re starting our read along of the next book in the October Daye series: One Salt Sea! This week we’ve read up to chapter nine, so things are just starting to get intriguing. Spoilers below as usual!

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Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire Audiobook {5 Stars}

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire is an audiobook and novella not to miss. I was originally worried about the ‘horror’ label that got stuck on it, but it’s really just dark fantasy with a bit of gore. More importantly, the worlds described and characters trying to get back to them will sink into your heart and make you exceedingly relieved that this is a series!

Note: I received an advanced copy of Every Heart a Doorway from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire Audiobook {5 Stars}

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
Narrated by Cynthia Hopkins
(Every Heart a Doorway #1)
Published by Tor.com on April 5th, 2016
Genres: Dark Fantasy
Page Length: 173 pages
Audio Length: 4 hrs and 44 mins
How I got my copy: Publisher
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Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Quests

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere... else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced... they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost.

5 Stars

Strengths:
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4 Stars: Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire

My book-loving mom has stopped by for a guest review!

This has been on my “want to read” list since Anya requested it for Christmas, but I was holding off to let her do the honors … and then let me borrow her copy.  (It pays to be a member of a bookish family.)  But, when I had a long wait at the San Francisco airport, I treated myself to a browse through one of its many bookstores: Books, Inc. Much to my amazement, they not only had a scifi/fantasy section, they had a GOOD one, and I snatched up a couple of paperbacks to read during the long trek back to the book desert of SE Wisconsin.

I had expected a light, easy read in the classic “elves and magic” vein and got a much better-written and fresh story in the urban fantasy genre than I ever expected.  And the fact that it is set in San Fran – which I was just leaving – made it all that more fun for me.  By the end of the book, I was at that perfect point where I had enjoyed a good story but wanted to know what happens next in the life of its spunky protagonist.

4 Stars: Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire

Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire (October Daye #1)on September 1st, 2009
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy
Page Length: 346 pages
How I got my copy: Purchased
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Purchases made support this blog

October "Toby" Daye, a changeling who is half human and half fae, has been an outsider from birth. After getting burned by both sides of her heritage, Toby has denied the Faerie world, retreating to a "normal" life. Unfortunately for her, the Faerie world has other ideas...

The murder of Countess Evening Winterrose pulls Toby back into the fae world. Unable to resist Evening's dying curse, which binds her to investigate, Toby must resume her former position as knight errant and renew old alliances. As she steps back into fae society, dealing with a cast of characters not entirely good or evil, she realizes that more than her own life will be forfeited if she cannot find Evening's killer.

4 Stars

Strengths:

  • I love the protagonist, October Daye.  She’s just the right mix of tough and vulnerable that I like in urban fantasy.  A bit of an underdog who has serious teeth when she chooses to use them, much like Harry Dresden.
  • The supporting characters of Rosemary and Rue have a delightful complexity about them although many of them are straight out of the classic structure of an urban fantasy. McGuire makes them each individuals, however, and I hope many of them will grace the pages of future novels.
  • Magic is not a solution to every problem, but the villains don’t have to be drawn unbelievably tough in order to give the hero a run for her money.  Take a traditional murder mystery and add shapeshifters and magic and voila, you have the world of Rosemary and Rue.
  • The parallel world hidden from human eyes is populated with all of the classic beastiaries of all the myths ever written, although vampires and werewolves are blissfully not present in Rosemary and Rue.  This is more an urban fantasy inspired by Shakespeare than Bram Stoker.

Weaknesses:

  •  I was tempted to give it 4.5 stars and then started thinking of a few things that bothered me.  Like the heroine going home to an old and abusive boyfriend.  While it doesn’t last long, it’s part of a pattern that I see played out in too many books with otherwise strong female leads.  Like a bad slasher flick, I start trying to tell the heroine, “Don’t trust him and certainly don’t go back to him!”  But they don’t listen any better than the teens who run off alone into the dark woods do….
  • A common trope in modern fairy tales is that nothing comes without a price among magical creatures, but by the end of the book I was getting weary of October’s constant need to bargain for help and her reluctance to accept help when offered freely by friends.
  • The complex backstory had me searching several times to see if there was a previous book.  October’s misfortunes of a past decade didn’t really have much relevance to this story – plenty happened to her to leave her with emotional scars to make her a hardened gumshoe.  The event at the beginning of the story does not really seem necessary considering she’d been abandoned by her mother, kicked out of Summerland, and ended up living on the streets with a modern day Fagin.  How many neuroses does a tragic figure actually need??

Summary:

Like many books I like, the sum is greater than the parts.  I really enjoyed Rosemary and Rue, despite some of the things that bother me about it in retrospect.  I’m looking forward to reading more of the October Daye series.  Maybe October will be the bookend to Harry Dresden?

-Barb

 Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire

Guest Post: Four Stars Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire

Someone seems to be writing a lot of guest posts huh? Almost like he likes to read books or something weird like that…. Please welcome my (frequent) guest poster Stochastic! And after reading this review, Ashes of Honor got added to my to-read list, oof! Also this is a book in a series so there are spoilers for the earlier books.

Stochastic: McGuire’s October Daye novels have had me hooked since book one. McGuire is the kind of writer who builds long-term storylines spanning multiple novels — and sometimes, just when you think her characters are cornered with no way out but deus ex machina, they’ll escape with a desperate gambit whose setup was established two or three novels ago. You can gauge an author’s skill by just how tightly they can paint their protagonists into corners, while still leaving unexpected and often totally insane escapes, and by this measure, Seanan McGuire is a fantastic author. The October Daye novels are gritty and brutal, and you’ll have little possibility of closing these books for the night and getting any sleep. I’ve been waiting on tenterhooks for the release of her sixth novel in the series, Ashes of Honor, and having just bought and blazed through the book overnight, I am neither rested nor disappointed.
Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire
Goodreads | Amazon
Title: 
Ashes of Honor: An October Daye Novel
Author: Seanan McGuire
Pages: 358
Genre-ish: urban fantasy/mystery
Rating: ★★★– witty and compelling, missing secondary characters of awesome
Setting:  California Bay Area, and realms of Faerie hidden therein
Premise:  Fellow Knight Etienne, full-blooded Fae, needs Toby’s help: he has just learned that he has a daughter, Chelsea, born of a love affair sixteen years ago with a human. And Chelsea has vanished, and may have been kidnapped. Worse, she is that rare Changeling of whom the most terrifying histories are written: she has tremendous power but no control, and unable to control when and where she teleports, she has begun to punch holes in the fabric of Faerie reality.

Strengths:

  •   McGuire does a good job of making the reader laugh between moments of tension, with a dry wit and snappy dialog.
  •  There are engaging subplots and long-term superplots, and McGuire has a knack for concealing plot elements she plans to use in a future novel. In Ashes of Honor, for example, a love affair reaches fruition that has been in development for five previous novels.
  • Consistent and interesting long-term character development. McGuire doesn’t let the characters fall by the wayside.Even those who die will, through their deaths, continue to play a role in future novels.

Weaknesses (I’m having a hard time thinking of any):

  •  There’s no sex. I’m reaching here: the lack of obligatory sex scenes is refreshing, so this might be considered a strength. But from the point of view of marketing, this is a weakness.
  • Instead there are mushy, tender moments to which your inner pre-teen may say “ick, gross, kissing!”
  •  Although certain characters of long-term importance are mentioned, their appearances are brief. I think McGuire is keeping these characters around so they can be used in future novels.

Summary:
Some of October Daye’s successes have cost more than failure. She has faced down legends and myths, and along the way has lost allies, friends, lovers, a daughter, and years of life. She spent a long time as a fish. Her twin sister is a death omen. The King of Cats appears to be at her beck and call. One of her cats is a rosebush. Toby is an interesting character.

In Ashes of Honor, one of the things the reader can enjoy is the way that McGuire matures her protagonist. Where Toby was once a reluctant hero, she now embraces her role and its responsibilities. She acknowledges the destructive streak she’s developed, resulting from her string of personal tragedies. She also acknowledges its effect on those closest to her. She also admits that she’s been in love for a long time.

This means that the main characters are primed for something interesting in the next novel. As waiting for the next novel will cause me a certain amount of mental anguish, I’m trying but failing to not speculate. In other words, I’m really looking forward to the next novel. In the meantime I’m going to reread the whole series to date.

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-Stochastic

Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire