The Winter Long (October Daye #8) by Seanan McGuire. Readalong week 1

the-winter-longToday is week one of a three week readalong of Seanan McGuire’s The Winter Long (October Daye #8).  Today Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow is hosting the questions.  The Goodreads page link is here.  Feel free to join in or just jump into the discussion in the comments and be aware that spoilers will be lurking below for not only this book but for the previous books in the series.  If you haven’t started reading the Toby Daye series and you like urban fantasy then I strongly recommend this series to you.

1. Simon is back, and unsurprisingly no one is happy. And he seems to be convinced that what he did to Toby saved her life… Do you think he’s telling the truth about that or is Team Toby absolutely right not to trust him?

I’m not sure to be honest.  The fact is, Simon was running around with Oleander – and she was all kinds of crazy and he seems a little unhinged himself.  That being said, he did seem to believe what he was saying – but that could just be delusional I suppose?  I don’t think you can trust him though – I think the real point for me with Simon is the way that his magic seems to smell rotten to Toby.  From the sound of what Sylvester said his magic didn’t always smell that way so that makes me think that the tarnished smell of his magic is a reflection of his own corruption somehow.  However, even though I think there is something off about him I can’t help thinking he seemed sincere – and conversely, although not the best solution maybe, turning Toby into a fish did keep her out of harms way didn’t it.  Just who is it that intends her harm??

2. Once again, Sylvester was keeping secrets – but this time he’s stepping up to the vengeful plate! Do you think Sylvester has what it takes to bring his brother down? And will he ever tell Toby the whole truth?

I’m beginning to think that nobody in the land of the fae will every completely spill the beans – it does of course make for a much more intriguing read that way.  I’m not sure if Sylvester has what it takes – in one respect I think he is very angry with his brother, but then in another do I really believe he could harm his brother if it came to that?  I’m not even sure I want Sylvester to turn into that person.  The other thing is it depends who is really at the root of all this – clearly somebody incredibly powerful?  Was Simon acting in fear – he seems to have been in hiding for a long time.  And I wonder what the incentive is for him showing up now?  Is he still working for the same person and is this all some sort of trap to lure Toby out somehow?

3. Never thought we’d see the day, but this time around the Luidaeg seems to be in trouble and it might well be up to Toby to get her out of it. So now we know that the villain behind all of this is someone Toby knew … Any guesses about who?

I’m not sure I completely understand how the Luidaeg got into trouble with the whole geas ‘thing’.  If she was able to give Toby an answer then surely it wasn’t going against the restrictions of the geas?  But, yeah, I’m not really sure what happened there. As to who this could be – I really don’t know.  I’ve been hazarding all sorts of daft guesses but can’t really come up with anything sound – like I said above, surely to have placed such restrictions even on the Luidaeg then this person must be somebody formidable?  The first thing I came up with was either Titania or Oberon – but that’s just really not a possibility and I can’t think of any reason why they would be involved.  Blind Michael is no longer in the picture and given his demise the geas wouldn’t still hold if it had been him.  Wasn’t there mention of another sister of Amandine and the Luidaeg?  That’s the only other person I can think of.

4. That’s it for questions but as always, feel free to highlight anything else of interest for you this week!

And Toby has a sister – August!  Who seems to have been missing for a very long time – and a similar number of years to the whole shenanigans with King Gilad.  I can’t quite put it all together.  I wonder if August was elf shot and has been sleeping??  And where is Armandine!!  So many questions that my head hurts as much as Toby’s.

It also occurs to me that the rather insane previous Queen of the Mists is still missing in action – is she working for the same person as Simon – was she involved?

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Chimes at Midnight (October Daye #7) by Seanan McGuire, readalong week 1

Today is the first week of a four week readalong of Chimes at Midnight by Seanan McGuire.    I’m loving this series and it feels as though each book just keeps adding more depth to the world created by McGuire.  Feel free to join us.  A Goodreads page is set up here or simply jump in with the comments.  Also, be aware that spoilers will be lurking below so be careful!

First, a little about the book:

chimesThings are starting to look up for October “Toby” Daye. She’s training her squire, doing her job, and has finally allowed herself to grow closer to the local King of Cats. It seems like her life may finally be settling down…at least until dead changelings start appearing in the alleys of San Francisco, killed by an overdose of goblin fruit.

Toby’s efforts to take the problem to the Queen of the Mists are met with harsh reprisals, leaving her under sentence of exile from her home and everyone she loves. Now Toby must find a way to reverse the Queens decree, get the goblin fruit off the streets–and, oh, yes, save her own life, since more than a few of her problems have once again followed her home. And then there’s the question of the Queen herself, who seems increasingly unlikely to have a valid claim to the throne….

To find the answers, October and her friends will have to travel from the legendary Library of Stars into the hidden depths of the Kingdom of the Mists–and they’ll have to do it fast, because time is running out. In faerie, some fates are worse than death.

October Daye is about to find out what they are.

Now to the Q&A hosted this week by Lisa at Over The Effing Rainbow:

1. We return to a couple of previously ‘spun’ story threads here, ie. Toby’s relationship with the Queen in the Mists, and the problem of goblin fruit on the streets in San Francisco – and the two are connected in ways Toby wasn’t expecting… Do you think the goblin fruit as a catalyst for Toby’s exile is just that, or did the Queen perhaps deliberately engineer this situation?

Well, from previous books we know that the Queen doesn’t like Toby and will use just about any excuse to get rid of her – even setting her up for execution!  So, I think there’s a good chance that the Queen knew that Toby would eventually show up at Court to discuss the problem of Goblin fruit.  Yes, deep down, I think the Queen has engineered this situation – she really does dislike Toby.

2. Speaking of queens and opposition, there’s a surprise revelation here: this queen was not the heir to her throne. Larger plots are kicking off now, and it seems the Luidaeg is deeply involved this time. What are your thoughts on this development, and where it might lead?

I was surprised but also not surprised by this revelation.  To be honest I really hadn’t guessed about the Queen not being the true heir – but, I knew something just wasn’t right.  I hope that this will lead to more revelations about the Luidaeg and why she seems to be so restrained in what she can and can’t say!  Clearly Toby is going to have to find the true heir and that’s going to be very interesting. And, let’s be honest – I love any story that gives me more about the Luidaeg!  She’s such a great character.

3. We also get some fresh exploring to do, in the Library of Stars! If you could visit a magical library like this, what sorts of books might you look for?

I would be like a child in a sweet shop.  I’d probably spend about an hour getting nowhere fast, dithering, and jumping from one thing to the other!  I think I would love to look at anything about myths and legends but more than that I would want to visit their SFF section!   Can you imagine – I can.  I have this idea that maybe they would have all sorts of original manuscripts for people like Wells, the Brontes, Tolkien – you could discover just about anything here and take it to that cosy living room between the shelves.  I think there’s a very real chance I would never re-emerge.

Plus, this:

‘librarianship is a form of heroism.  It’s just not as flashy as swords and dragons.’

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers, readalong week 1

closed-and-commonYesterday was the first post for our readalong of A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers.  Sorry I’m a bit late with this posting but I’ve been a bit laid low with a bad cold:

Here’s the schedule:

Week 1: Friday 2nd December – Start of Part 1 up to Page 94 (“…yellow, silver, white…”), hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow
Week 2: Friday 9th December – Page 95 (Jane, Age 10 “Jane was still tired…”) to End of Part 1, hosted by imyril at There’s Always Room For One More
Week 3: Friday 16th December – all of Part 2, hosted by Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Week 4: Friday 23rd December – Part 3 to End, hosted by Mogsy at The BiblioSanctum

 

To the Q&A with the customary spoiler warning!  Be warned folks, spoilers will be lurking.

1. So this story picks up more or less where The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet left off, but rather than having an ensemble cast on an adventure, it seems this story is much more intimately focused on Lovelace (later named Sidra) and ‘Jane 23’. What’s your initial response to this shift in the narrative style between books? Is it one you appreciate or do you think you’ll miss the ensemble aspect (assuming you’ve read Small Angry Planet)?

I’m enjoying this style very much to be honest.  Both of the characters are easy to read about and the difference in style for both works really well.  We have the flashbacks to Jane 23 which for me is making for a fascinating story and then we are experiencing Sidra’s reactions to her new body which are also really interesting to read about.  Very intriguing way to write the story.

2. Sidra’s first experiences of living confined to a body mean that readers get to see her new home, and her new world, through the eyes of someone who’s never experienced it in such a way before. What aspects of Sidra’s first days ‘on the ground’ on Coriol stand out to you, and why?

I think this is a great idea.  It allows the author to share lots of new things with us because we’re experiencing all these new things at the same time as Sidra.  It allows for information to be given in a way that isn’t resorting to huge info dumps or great chunks of dialogue that come off as unnatural.  I love the way Sidra’s tale is told in a detached way.  Like she talks about herself as though her body is just a ship or housing.  In terms of her first days on Coriol I think what stood out for me the most was the way Sidra experiences anxiety if she can’t really see things properly.  The way she jumps when somebody approaches her from behind (because she can’t see them beforehand).  The whole idea of getting used to being much more restricted is interesting to observe and really well done.

3. The POV switches regularly between Sidra in the present and Jane 23, a clone raised in some form of slave labour with many others of her kind, when she was a 10-year old girl. What do you make of Jane and her upbringing at this point, and where do you think her story might be going from here? Does her story interest you as much as Sidra’s (or vice versa)?

I find the Jane 23 story really intriguing to be honest and if forced to choose I’d say that aspect is the most interesting to me so far.  The way all these girls are being kept and used as slave labour.  It’s really awful and I’m curious to see whether anything happens to the camp after ‘Jane’ finally makes her getaway.  Clearly these girls are all clones and the camp has an ‘illegal’ type feel – to me anyway.  It puts me in mind a little of Cloud Atlas which also has a theme concerning the use of clones as little more than slaves and with no real rights or worth in society.  And the ‘mothers’ scary, brrr.  Faceless AI who can move fast.  I hate to think what ending Jane 64 met with.

4. In general, what’s stood out the most to you about these chapters so far, and why? Has anything raised questions or curiosity, or particularly turned you off? Discuss your favourite bits!

I think what stands out to me most so far is the difference in storytelling style between this and the first book.  And not only in terms of following the two main pov narratives.  Looking back at LWtaSAP the crew and their adventures had a really, almost warm and cosy glow or atmosphere, there was all the banter and the light hearted camaraderie between them all and even if some of the characters didn’t get along it had an almost homelike family feel.  Here we’re reading along with Sidra who is coming to terms with a whole new way of ‘being’ and also reading the back story of Jane.  Both are quite lonely and sad feeling.  Not in a way that puts me off or makes the reading dour, as I said above, I’m finding this quite fascinating at the moment – even though I have no idea at this point where the story is going in terms of plot – I’m just enjoying the more up close and personal feel to it all.

Favourite bits – I enjoyed Sidra’s first experience of a party, reading about her first introduction to alcohol and the images that come along with the experience. In terms of Jane – I really like the part that we just reached where having escaped whatever those monsters were that were chasing her, she finds herself on board some sort of capsule with an AI, and the AI decides to drop the numbers from her name – it’s a small thing but really quite touching!

Favourite quote:

‘And seriously, anybody working in a job that doesn’t let you take a nap when you need to should get a new job.  Present company excluded of course.  This!! (apparently I need to look for a new job – no naps in my current employ!)

Kushiel’s Mercy (Imriel’s Trilogy #3) by Jacqueline Carey readalong week No.1

kushiels-mercyHaving learned a lesson about thwarting the will of the gods, Imriel and Sidonie publicly confess their affair, only to see the country boil over in turmoil. Younger generations, infatuated by their heart-twisting, star-cross romance, defend the couple. Many others cannot forget the betrayals of Imriel’s mother, Melisande, who plunged their country into a bloody war that cost the lives of their fathers, brothers, and sons.

To quell the unrest, Ysandre, the queen, sets her decree. She will not divide the lovers, yet neither will she acknowledge them. If they marry, Sidonie will be disinherited, losing her claim on the throne.

There’s only one way they can truly be together. Imriel must perform an act of faith: search the world for his infamous mother and bring her back to Terre d’Ange to be executed for treason.

Facing a terrible choice, Imriel and Sidonie prepare ruefully for another long separation. But when a dark foreign force casts a shadow over Terre d’Ange and all the surrounding countries, their world is turned upside down, alliances of the unlikeliest kind are made, and Imriel and Sidonie learn that the god Elua always puts hearts together apurpose.

Today is the start of our readalong for Kushiel’s Mercy by Jacqueline Carey and it’s so great to be returning to this world and these characters – I didn’t realise that I’d missed them until I picked this up.  Anyway, here’s the Goodreads link and also the schedule is below in case you want to join in.  Beware of spoilers because they’ll be lurking.  Now over to the Q&A.
1) So far, what do you think of the variety of responses people have to Imriel’s and Sidonie’s relationship?  
I think this is much as I expected to be honest.  It was never going to be joy all round was it.  There are a few issues, firstly there’s obviously the issue of Imriel’s mother!  This isn’t an issue that’s just going to go away because it’s still too fresh and too many people lost loved ones in the war.  Not to mention that Melisande had the bad grace to up and escape punishment and is still on the prowl which doesn’t help Imriel’s case any because of course he could be plotting world domination with her!!  On top of this you have to remember the usual expectations about members of royalty – they don’t usually have the freedom to choose their own partners do they.  More often than not royal marriages are politically motivated or arranged in order to strengthen relationships between countries, etc, so you also have to remember that certain ambitions from other parties will be going fast down the drain as they observe this love match.  So, lots of resistance for our two young lovers!
2) Imriel starts the hunt for Melisande. What do you think of his efforts so far? Could you hand over a wayward relative to the authorities? 
Well, so far his efforts haven’t really been that strenuous have they – he’s too busy enjoying himself which I can’t really blame him for!  His efforts so far have consisted of a letter to Hyacinthe to ask him to make a search, discussions with Phedre and Jocelyn and translating a hidden message (well, I’m condensing a little there).  But, it’s hardly surprising if Imriel is a bit reluctant.  Of course he could just ask Sidonie to step down and all this would go away but I think that would almost make him look guilty somehow in the eyes of others.  I think it will be a lot harder for Imriel to hand his own mother over than maybe he thinks.  Obviously we already know that Imriel can make difficult choices and stand by them but this is so tough.  And, I have to question why it’s up to Imriel to bring his own mother to justice!  It feels a little unfair but then I guess that’s life.  Still – this is his mother!  Tough, tough choices.
3) Sidonie makes her first ventures into the spicier side of the love arts. Comment away!
Well, as usual with Carey, she has a wonderful way of writing relationships.  Imriel and Sidonie are just so intense aren’t they.  They practically jump off the page and you can feel the love they have for each other in every sentence.  It doesn’t surprise me that both of them are experimenting and seeing what they like and don’t like.  They’re enjoying each others bodies and learning to trust each other.
4) The priesthood weighs in on Sidonie’s and Imriel’s relationship. Do you think Imriel’s words were the clincher, or do you think the priests had mostly made up their minds before the meeting?
To be honest the whole thing with the priests felt a little bit like an exercise in futility.  That might seem a little bit harsh but I don’t think they were ever really going to make that big a difference.  It’s nice of course that they’re going to reinforce Sidonie’s and Imriel’s love for each other by at least agreeing that they’re both honest but it still leaves the very real issue of politics doesn’t it.  All that being said though – it must have felt good for Imriel to have the priesthood believing in his feelings.
5) It’s been two years since Imriel last celebrated the Longest Night in the D’Angeline fashion. What was the most interesting part of this night for you?
Well, the little spat inspired by L’Envers was the highlight really – more so for me because as I was reading about it, the build up, the costumes, the dancing, I’d really actually relaxed and for once wasn’t anticipating anything bad to happen, yes, I was just enjoying the moment and then look what went and happened.  I thought Ysandre was a lot more self contained than I would have been if somebody had been shouting ‘whore’ at one of my daughters and I thought it was a bit of a ridiculous scenario for L’Envers to get mixed up with – because, really, what did it achieve – well, I suppose he succeeded in ruining a perfectly good celebration but it really did feel a little bit of a peevish thing to do.  Is that really what he’s now resorting to.
6) We catch our first glimpse of the Carthaginians and the general Astegal. What do you think of their tribute? 
This all has a very bad feeling in my opinion.  All these tributes.  Why?  No such thing as a free lunch in my experience.  So, either something is expected in return – or, and this is the feel I’m getting from all of this, something a bit more sinister is afoot.  It’s like the Carthaginians have showed up and wowed everybody with all their wonderful gifts, everyone’s guards are down and they’re all rubbing their hands together gleefully, but, it feels like a distraction, like ‘oh, look at all this glittery stuff over here’ whilst over ‘there’ anything could be happening.  I don’t know why but it just feels like something sinister is about to drop on us all.
The Schedule:
Oct.  9th Week 1: Chpts. 1-10 (Hosted by Dab of Darkness)
Oct. 16th Week 2: Chpts. 11-22 (Hosted by Tethyan Books)
Oct. 23rd Week 3: Chpts. 23-35 (Hosted by Emma Wolf)
Oct. 30th Week 4: Chpts. 36-49 (Hosted by Emma Wolf)
Nov. 6th Week 5: Chpts. 50-62 (Hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog)
Nov. 13th Week 6: Chpts. 63-75 (Hosted by Tethyan Books)
Nov. 20th Week 7: Chpts. 76-END (Hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow)

Ashes of Honor (October Daye #6) by Seanan McGuire readalong week #1

ashesofhonorIt’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.

Today is week one of our readalong of Ashes of Honour (October Daye #6) by Seanan McGuire  The schedule is over on Goodreads and this week Lisa is our host Over The Effing Rainbow.  With the customary warning about potential spoilers lets get straight to the A&A.

1. The opening scenes in this book are interesting enough to touch on: This is the first time we’ve been given a plot that brings mortal belief in or knowledge of the Fae into the equation. That can’t end well… Can it? What are your thoughts on this so far?

This seems like something very refreshing to the series.  So far it feels like the series has focused mainly on the supernatural and we have had very little involvement with everyday people and that’s not really surprising because the fae go to such lengths to hide their existence so this feels like a really new development.  At the moment, given the horror that everyone has so far demonstrated over this potential broach in secrecy, then clearly this is not a good thing.  However, I’m tempted to say that with only one person being aware of the fae, I’m not sure how much damage this would really cause?  I suppose it depends on how much ‘other’ damage takes place with this latest missing child.

2. Etienne and Bridget: Didn’t see that one coming! What do you make of the usually uptight Etienne’s rule-breaking past? Any predictions for what might become of him if/when the dust settles?

I’m flabbergasted to be honest.  Etienne is such a stickler that this just feels jaw dropping doesn’t it – I like it though.  Who knew that Etienne could be so ‘real’.  Breaking the rules! I really can’t guess at how he will be punished but I’m hoping that Sylvester will go easy on him – that being said I suppose it depends on the fallout.

3. For that matter, let’s discuss Bridget a little more. This is the first time anyone mortal has been more than peripherally involved in any part of this story, and she is determined to stay on the defensive. Do you think this is a smart choice, or trouble waiting to happen?

I think Bridget is tipping the scales of hysteria at the moment but that’s understandable with her daughter missing.  I think she needs to trust Toby a little more but given her own knowledge she seems determined to go down the route of mistrust – at the moment she feels like she could explode in a very troublesome way.  I’m surprised that she didn’t get in touch with Etienne before – she really should have tried to understand a little bit more about what was going on but I think she was clearly to scared to do so.  It feels like she’s always anticipated her daughter being taken away and so has tried desperately to hide her – but this could now be backfiring terribly.

4. So the tables were turned on Tybalt a little after the events at the end of One Salt Sea: It’s been a year, Toby’s been avoiding him for a change, and it seems our kitty-cat was pining… But now things seem to be turning around, in a nod to the plot thread of Toby building healthier relationships… Might this finally be the start of something more for them?

I feel like a change is in the offing somehow – it’s taken a few books to reach this point but I definitely get the impression that things are going to change and there seems like an almost restless impatience to Tybalt – like he’s made up his mind about something!  Time will tell.

 

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