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by Jennifer Brozek 5. July 2017 15:08

October “Toby” Daye is hearing wedding bells in her future—or she would be if her mother, Amandine the Liar, hadn’t just walked back into her life with an ultimatum: Find her missing sister, August, or suffer the consequences. To ensure Toby’s obedience, Amandine has taken hostages: Toby’s fiancé Tybalt, the local King of Cats, and Jazz, the Raven-maid girlfriend of Toby’s Fetch. …

It is no secret that I adore the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire. THE BRIGHTEST FELL is book eleven in the series and the first slated to come out in hardback.

Over the series, Toby has changed, grown, and become comfortable in her own skin. She’s got friends, allies, a dysfunctional family that is slowly on the mend, a loving fiancé, and a squire who has grown along with her from teenager to young man. Of course, McGuire can’t leave Toby so happy. This is a book where some past debts and past demons come home to roost.

It’s one of the reasons I enjoy the Toby books. Nothing written in the series is a throwaway line. Everything has a purpose. Even actions I didn’t understand when they happened. A lot of those questions are cleared up with THE BRIGHTEST FELL. This book feels a bit like a tour of Toby’s life. She is forced to travel with an old enemy and to revisit some of the scariest places she’s been. There, she’s required to face the consequences of past actions and to understand why certain people have hurt her so badly.

The best this about this book is McGuire’s ability to give the reader another point of view. To make you want to sympathize with the most evil of characters. To understand why they did what they did. Even to cry for them a little. None of this stops you from still wanting to punch them in the face, but does give you a better understanding of their motivations.

It is one of those books in the series that a new reader can pick up and enjoy the ride. While they may not get the same emotional impact that long-time readers of the series will get, they will still feel the urgency of Toby’s quest and the hard choices she’s required to make. For new fans and old, this is one of those don’t-miss novels.

THE BRIGHTEST FELL includes an original novella, OF THINGS UNKNOWN, set in the County of Tamed Lightning. I cried throughout this novella. That’s all I’m going to say about it.

5/5 stars

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(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

I'm deep in the throes of writing NEVER LET ME DIE, Melissa Allen #3, so I'm not checking Twitter or Facebook right now. However, lots has happened. Here's a Bubble & Squeek for you.

Award: I was nominated for a Hugo Award. This is both exciting and terrifying.

Convention: I've been added to OrcaCon's Special Guest lineup. I'm also on their kickstarter with a custom game of Katanas & Trenchcoats for you and four of your friends.

Interview: I was interviewed by Douglas Hawk for his 7 Questions series. Want to know what my workspace looks like?

Publication Release: DocWagon 19 is out the door! Get it here:  Amazon | BattleShop | DriveThruRPG

Recommendation: Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix is one of the best, messed up horror books I’ve read in a long time. I will never look at a large home store the same ever again.

Recommendation: Science STYLE - Taylor Swift Acapella Parody. I just really liked this video.

Review: Goodreads review of Chimera Incarnate.

Review: Goodreads review of DocWagon 19.

Sale: I sold The Last Days of the Salton Academy to Ragnarok Publications! Yay!

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(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)


HALF-OFF RAGNAROK
Series: InCryptid (Book 3)
Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: DAW (March 4, 2014)
Highly Recommended


Cryptid, noun: Any creature whose existence has not yet been proven by science.
Cryptozoologist, noun: Any person who thinks hunting for cryptids is a good idea. See also “idiot.”



HALF-OFF RAGNAROK is the third book in the InCryptid series by Seanan McGuire. This book introduces a new protagonist from the Price family, Alex Price. Alex, older brother to Verity, the protagonist of the previous two InCryptid novels, DISCOUNT ARMEGEDDON and MIDNIGHT BLUE-LIGHT SPECIAL, is a Price through and through. Specializing in rural and reptilian cryptids, Alex is at home knee deep in mud as he explores the flora and fauna in the wilds of Ohio. His current (secret) projects include the study of frickins in the area as well as getting a pair off hibernating basilisks to breed.

The main theme of this novel is Family. The importance of family, the duty of family, the sacrifices made for family. This isn’t just with the Price family—who are in constant danger from the Covenant of Saint George—it’s with the family structure, breeding, and culture of Aeslin mice, gorgons, basilisks, frickins, wadjets, and lindworms. McGuire highlights the needs and pain of family again and again without actually saying “Families can be hard but are usually worth it.” This comes through loud and clear.

Joining Alex is Shelby, an Aussie big cat specialist visiting the zoo that Alex is temporarily working at as a reptile specialist. As much as I love Alex, I adore Shelby—despite her obvious flaws. Shelby was a surprise on a number of levels and I won’t spoil any of them for you. Just know that she’s more than a match for the eldest Price boy. Together, they’re a ton of fun and just as much trouble.

The novel’s mystery—someone’s been turning people to stone in and around the zoo both Shelby and Alex work for. When the original suspect, a wild basilisk, shows up at the Price family home, Alex realizes there’s more to this crime than meets the eye. It’s a fun mystery with some clear clues for the careful reader.

HALF-OFF RAGNAROK is my favorite book in the InCryptid series thus far. I thought Verity was interesting but I’m half in love with Alex. The whole Price family is a hoot and Shelby is an interesting wild card in the mix. If urban fantasy, intriguing animals, and fast-paced adventure is your thing, you’re going to love HALF-OFF RAGNAROK. Highly recommended.

(Reviewer note: DAW sent me this book for a review.)



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(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

For those of you who are familiar with Amanda Pillar’s work on anthologies, it will come as no surprise that she has done it again and produced an anthology well worth your time. BLOODSTONES (Ticonderoga Publications, Nov 2012) is an anthology of unusual monsters in both familiar and unfamiliar places.

Shunning the familiar vampires, werewolves, and zombies, the BLOODSTONES anthology looks to the ignored monsters—the toyol, the gorgon, the foam born—for its stories of survival, love, and revenge. Not every story knocks it out of the park but every story is intriguing in a way that sinks its claws in and doesn’t let go. When I made my list of standout stories, I listed half of the anthology. Cutting them down to the top three was difficult work.

My top three standouts are: “Euryale” by Nicole Murphy in which one of Medusa’s sisters must teach one of her progeny a very hard lesson about living with humans. The next is “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” by MD Curelas in which a bean-sidhe’s need for belief leads her to kill to create a new believer. The third is “Sanaa’s Army” by Joanne Anderton in which a shaman teaches us all that bones are love.

These three stories are the ones that stuck with me long after I closed the book. Especially “Sanaa’s Army.” I can’t tell you why. Each of these stories struck a personal chord within me and that, I believe, is the strength of BLOODSTONES. Each story has a personal touch that allows the reader to identify with the monster’s tale.

From experience, I know that Amanda Pillar takes each story in her anthologies and runs it through the editorial wringer until it is as good as she can make it. That care and attention to detail shows in this anthology as well. BLOODSTONES is a nice mix of emotion and the macabre and is a lovely, chilling read. Buy this anthology. You won’t regret it.

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(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

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

ASHES OF HONOR is the sixth book in the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire. For those who have not read this series, think changeling noir set in the San Francisco Bay Area. I have been a long time fan of McGuire and this series. There are few books that make me want to dance around, shouting “You’ve got to read this book!” ASHES OF HONOR is one of those books. It is an emotionally satisfying and wonderful addition to the October Daye series.

However, for the first time, I have to say that this is not a book in the series that you should pick up and read first. The previous five books are well set up to jump right in and then go back to the previous books. McGuire does an excellent job of giving readers enough of the relevant background to keep up with what is going on while giving good story. This is not to say that ASHES OF HONOR does not do the same thing. It’s just that readers who pick up this book first will not get the emotional impact of it and what it means in the scope of the rest of the series.

While the ASHES OF HONOR story is unusually straight-forward, intriguing, and sometimes heart racing, this book is about relationships. Toby’s relationships with Tybalt, Etienne, May, Quentin, Raj, the Court of Cats, and traditions. There are some huge pay-off moments throughout the book—some that we’ve been looking forward to since book one, ROSEMARY AND RUE. These pay-off moments will not have the same impact for readers who have not read what comes before.

As usual, one of the things McGuire excels at is expanding the world of Faerie. In ASHES OF HONOR, we learn about some of the lands that have been sealed away by Oberon, we learn more about the Court of Dreamer’s Glass, and we learn a whole lot more about the Court of Cats. I love these nuggets of Faerie history and culture. They are a part of why the October Daye series is so engaging. There is a weight to the history. A sense of long years and traditions.

Finally, I most appreciate how October herself continues to change, to grow, to mature. She is not a static character. She has her flaws. When she deals with her flaws, new ones pop up. Just like life. Make no mistake, McGuire is mean to her characters and Toby gets the worst of it. However, Toby always makes it back—with healing and a whole lot of help from her friends.

ASHES OF HONOR is the book that October Daye fans have been waiting for. It is a great story to read, an interesting mystery to solve, and a shifting of relationships to cringe through as well as enjoy. This book is not for the first time reader of the series but it is exactly the kind of book the series craved and the fans have been clamoring for. 

Amazon
Barnes and Noble

*Note: This reviewer was sent an ARC of the book for review.

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(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)


The Hole Behind Midnight by Clinton J. Boomer is best described as a fist fight between Richard Kadrey, Warren Ellis, and Neil Gaiman. It is brutal, profane, magical, surreal, and entertaining. Did I mention profane? And vulgar. Sometimes too much so for my taste but not in a way that is completely gratuitous. I enjoyed the book immensely. It’s worth buying as long as you are thick-skinned about bad language, gross descriptions upon occasion, demonic she-males and goat boys. There is a neat little mystery mixed up in it all that comes to a satisfying end—even if it is clear there is a sequel to a dangling plot.

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