Update roundup

I have a few events and readalongs and decided to round them all up into one place for your edification (because I’m just thoughtful like that):

Firstly, two readalongs – just in case you want to jump in:

Readalong of Ashes of Honor (October Daye #6) by Seanan McGuire.  There’s a schedule set up over on Goodreads (link here).  Feel free to jump in – if you’ve already read the first five books and want to jump in with No.6 then wait no longer.

Readalong of Kushiel’s Mercy by Jacqueline Carey.  This series is just so awesome – again, if you’re looking for a little incentive to pick up Kushiel’s Mercy then look no further.  Here’s the Goodreads link

Both of these readalongs get started this weekend so apologies for the short notice but it’s not too late to join in and there’s lots of great bloggers involved with both so no doubt the discussions will be awesome.  Feel free to come and join us.

ripStainless Steel Droppings Readers.Imbibing.Peril (RIP) has a month left so plenty of time for you to read some dark material and submit your link for us all to see!  I’ve read The Family Plot by Cherie Priest (which I thought was excellent, wonderfully creepy and gothic).  I also posted a review for a series called Stranger Things which I loved and I’ve just watched a very scary film called The Visit which I might also review.  In terms of books. I have The Apartment coming up, The Apothecary’s Curse, The Motion of Puppets, Certain Dark Things and The Witches of New York which I think will all fit in with the themes.  What you reading? If you have anything scary, dark, grim, a bit of horror maybe or some good old thriller story then check out the site here.  It’s good to share people.

Finally, over at Lipsyy Lost & Found there is an event that ties in very nicely with the RIP event above.  A celebration of Horror for the month of October.  As part of this event four writers have agreed to take part in a flash fiction event – the title of which will be decided by us.  This is not my event – I’m simply helping to spread the word  So, if you want to vote for your favourite story title then check out the detail here.  I’ve added the poll below so be sure to add your voice.


I hope you’ve seen something you like. 😀

Beyond the Pale edited by Henry Herz

I was given an opportunity to take part in a book tour for Beyond the Pale and given the authors involved in this piece of work jumped at the chance.  I love the way the book starts out with a definition of what the phrase ‘beyond the pale’ actually means – long story short it actually means to go beyond the boundaries of safety!!  I like that.  In fact the introduction got me off to a great start.  Not to mention that cover.  Just feast your eyes on it.  It’s simply gorgeous.

The line up is as follows:

Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela by Saladin Ahmed
The Children of the Shark God by Peter S. Beagle
Misery by Heather Brewer
Shadow Children by Heather Brewer
Even Hand by Jim Butcher
Red Run by Kami Garcia
Pale Rider By Nancy Holder
Frost Child by Gillian Philip
South by Gillian Philip
A Knot of Toads by Jane Yolen
The Adventures of Lightning Merriemouse-Jones
by Nancy & Belle Holder

There is undoubtedly much to choose from here and frankly I enjoyed all the stories for very different reasons.

The opening story is a great start involving a hermit and his wife and the man who they seek help from in order to achieve their dream.  An unusual tale – prepare yourself for demons!

Then move from demons to Gods and encounter the Shark God and the results of his love affair with a mortal woman.

Misery was completely intriguing.  A compelling little number about a strange town where each year the residents are given a gift – unfortunately this doesn’t always result in happiness as Alek is about to discover – he has a bad feeling this year!

Then be prepared to cast back in time as the Shadow Children recall your childhood fears.  What does lurk in the shadows?  Are there monsters under the bed or hiding in the closet.  Maybe!  Will you check it out or are you trembling under the covers!

Even Hand is Jim Butcher’s contribution and contains a story showing a completely different side to Dresden’s nemesis Marcone.  We see something of a softer underbelly in this story although it ultimately doesn’t bode well for Harry.  Fans of the Dresden series will love this story.  I certainly did.

We then move to a story called Red Run.  This is an excellent and creepy little addition where a young girl sets out on a mission of revenge.  To avenge the death of her brother who died out on Red Run – a route that most people, sensible people, never use after sunset!  There’s always one!!!

Pale Rider is an unusual tale about tortured souls and a strange world infected and blighted by Goblin and Fae magic leaking between two worlds.

Frost Child and South are Gillian Philip’s additions to the book.  The first a prequel to the absolutely fantastic Rebel Angel series which gives a little bit more background into Lilith and Griogair and their first deathly encounter.  The second a tale of selkies.  Can Philips write?  Oh yes.  Totally evocative.  I adore her writing.  It’s dark and powerful and she can make you see the beauty of the landscape in one sentence and totally give you the chills about a character in the next.  Fans of Firebrand simply must read Frost Child and for that matter South – after all there aren’t enough stories about selkies!

I also really enjoyed A Knot of Toads by Jane Yolen which is full of superstition, people willingly refusing to see what is in front of them and witches.  I love stories of witches so this one definitely caught my fancy.  Plus the toad shadows dancing on the walls – just read it and you’ll understand!

Finally we conclude with a rather cheeky little take on Stoker’s Dracula.

All in all – an excellent collection of stories with magic, demons, gods, ghosts, witches, – and, well frankly, a pretty comprehensive grouping of the supernatural.

Now, reading this was a bit of an eye opener for me.  I’ve read a number of anthologies and readily admit that short stories are not always my thing.  I want something to sink my teeth into as a rule.  I want character development, history, world building and plot and it’s pretty difficult to attempt this in just a few pages.  So, what was the difference with Beyond the Pale.  I think two things – firstly, this is a really good collection of stories from some awesome authors.  It almost puts me in mind of bedtime tales or tales that you sit and talk about round a camp fire!  They feel like real tales that people would tell,  Urban myths!  I think the second thing, and a bit of a revelation for me, was to take my time with this story and read the stories individually over time instead of attempting to gobble them all down in one sitting.  It made me feel nostalgic reading them in that way, not because they’re anything like Red Riding Hood or Rapunzel – but more because they put me back in time to when I used to love tales being told.  Strangely, I always preferred the creepy little numbers that my gran told as opposed to the more conventional stories!  Go figure.

This is my first contribution to RIP – an event hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings.  Does this artwork look familiar *wiggles eyebrows* suggestively!  (The amazingly talented Abigail Larson who is responsible for the artwork for Beyond the Pale – strange coincidence hey!!!!)

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

Just finished reading Boneshaker by Cherie Priest which is my (only just) October submission for Worlds Without End, Women of Genre Fiction reading challenge.  I loved this book.  It’s a seriously entertaining romping, steampunk adventure.  The main protagonists are a mother and son and we watch as they go in circles around each other in an almost despairingly frustrating fashion which is both fast moving and really compelling to read.

So, Briar and Zeke, mother and son.  They live in a less than comfortable condition and appear to be virtual outcasts.  Blair’s husband, now passed away apparently, was an inventor.  His last invention however was responsible for almost wiping out the city of Seattle.  A gold mining drill, built to dig through hundreds of feet of snow was set to test under the streets of Seattle causing massive destruction and mayhem leaving not only the collapse of many streets but the release of a noxious gas which kills and ultimately turns people into zombies – rotters as they’re now called.  In order to survive in the wake of this catastrophe the survivors built a massive wall around the perimeter of the blighted part of the city, not only to contain the zombies but also to prevent the spread of the gas which is too dense to breach the wall.

As you can imagine Briar and Zeke are not terribly popular.   Not only was Briar’s husband responsible for mass devastation but on the back of this Briar’s father caused further uproar when he returned to the doomed part of town to release the prisoners from jail before they could also be turned into the undead.  And, even though these events took place years ago bitter feelings still exist towards the two.  In an attempt to try and clear his father’s name Zeke, now a fairly headstrong teenager, decides to return to the blighted part of the city to find evidence.  And his mother returns to the same zone to try and find her son!  And so we have this dual tale where they both seem to circle each other during their individual adventures.

The blighted city is home not only to rotters.  Some people remained behind after the blight events took place and eke out a living in tunnels underground and boarded up places above.  Ways of traversing the city have been discovered and a number of rival factions exist.  It’s a dangerous place to live.  Of course there’s the ever present danger that the rotters present, not to mention the toxic gas that is becoming more concentrated by the year but one man in particular seems to be gaining a name and a reputation for himself and Briar and Zeke are about to come to his attention.

The setting is easy to imagine.  We have a sort of 1800s Seattle with a difference.  The author readily admits that she’s altered landmarks and historical events to fit in with the novel and after all if you’re reading about western type cowboys (and girls) flying around in dirigibles toting strange and weirdly fuelled weapons and fleeing from zombies then your imagination can certainly accommodate a few changes to history!

On top of this we have a number of strange and eccentric characters who we meet along the way, not to mention Briar is a great protagonist to read about.  There’s always an unknown element about the people who Briar and Zeke meet and whether or not they can really be trusted or whether they are acting out of ulterior motives.  I loved Lucy (no pun intended) and Princess not to mention Cly and Swakhammer and will gladly return to find out what eventually happened to them.

I also thought that using the different elements of gaining entry to the blighted city was interesting – Zeke using the tunnels and Briar using airship. It helped to give you a fuller picture of the city and was almost like a reflection of how the survivors lived within it’s confines – nobody lives on terra firma any more – you’re either under or over – and everyone wears masks.

I suppose if I had any criticisms at all they would probably relate to Zeke who at first I found a tiny little bit annoying.  He just seemed to trust people too easily and willing follow them, even when he had a bad feeling about it.  Of course he is still fairly young and I don’t think he ever expected the blighted city to be quite as bad as it actually was.  He was born after the catastrophe and so wouldn’t remember any of the former events that took place so I guess I forgave him eventually.  And, I suppose It must have been such a shock when he finally arrived not to mention the reality of how daunting his task truly was finally hitting home.

On the whole I found this a really enjoyable read.  I loved the pacing.   There was always something new and entertaining and I love the steampunk/horror/zombie fusion aspect.

I will definitely read the next in the series to find out what decisions Briar and Zeke make next.

I’m also submitting this for my Stainless Steel Droppings RIP event.  Check it out here.