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review 2018-07-13 18:55
Once Broken Faith / Seanan McGuire
Once Broken Faith: An October Daye Novel - Seanan McGuire

Politics have never been October “Toby” Daye’s strong suit. When she traveled to the Kingdom of Silences to prevent them from going to war with her home, the Kingdom of the Mists, she wasn’t expecting to return with a cure for elf-shot and a whole new set of political headaches.

Now the events she unwittingly set in motion could change the balance of modern Faerie forever, and she has been ordered to appear before a historic convocation of monarchs, hosted by Queen Windermere in the Mists and overseen by the High King and Queen themselves.

Naturally, things have barely gotten underway when the first dead body shows up. As the only changeling in attendance, Toby is already the target of suspicion and hostility. Now she needs to find a killer before they can strike again—and with the doors locked to keep the guilty from escaping, no one is safe.

As danger draws ever closer to her allies and the people she loves best, Toby will have to race against time to prevent the total political destabilization of the West Coast and to get the convocation back on track…and if she fails, the cure for elf-shot may be buried forever, along with the victims she was too slow to save.

Because there are worse fates than sleeping for a hundred years.

 

Thank goodness for Toby Daye. Yes, she’s a Fae hero who spends more time than she wants to rescuing the unwary and binding the wounds of her friends. And she even helped me—it’s true, this novel saw me through the last bit of the worst headache that I have had in many, many moons.

When I’m not feeling well, I reach for urban fantasy. It, along with pain killers, coffee, and soft lights, will see me through whatever is wrong in my world. This series is a particular favourite because I am also nuts about the Fae. Love ‘em. It all started with Patricia Briggs—I first encountered the Fae in her Mercy Thompson series—but it may culminate in McGuire’s October Daye series.

These books have perhaps become a bit predictable—Toby will end up covered in blood at least twice and will probably die/be on death’s door once. Two or three of her Buffy-like circle of friends will have something dire happen to them, which Toby must defy death to fix. Fae royalty will have to be told to get their heads outta their butts. But you know what? When you’ve got a migraine, predictable is good. It doesn’t take your best literary analysis skills to appreciate the book.

I enjoy all the various forms of Faerie found in these pages—someday I have to find time to read some folklore and get caught up on Selkies, Pixies, Coblynaus, etc. I also must reiiterate my fondness for the sea witch, the Luidaeg. She’s fierce and loving and uncompromising and loyal. And she’s got plans for our Toby girl. I’ll be reading on in the series to learn more about that, you betcha!

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review 2018-06-25 16:13
The Hazel Wood / Melissa Albert
The Hazel Wood - Melissa Albert

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother's stories are set. Alice's only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother's tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

 

Don’t go into this novel expecting a romance featuring a handsome prince or some fae lord. It isn’t that kind of fairy tale. This is one with a dark overtones, like some of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales that lived up to the grim part.

The first section of the book sets up Alice’s life with her mother Ella. They have spent their lives in transit, trying to stay one step ahead of the weird bad luck that has dogged their lives. Ella refuses to talk about her own mother, Althea Proserpine, or Althea’s property, the Hazel Wood. The book that Althea wrote (Tales from the Hinterland) that made her famous (or infamous) is almost impossible to find and Alice has become quite fixated on acquiring a copy. When Alice’s grandmother dies and her mother is kidnapped, Alice must decide whether to follow her mother’s last instruction: stay away from the Hazel Wood.

Of course if Alice wants her mother back (and she does) there is only one thing to do—find the Hazel Wood and figure out what the heck is going on. She must brave the Hinterland and all its strangeness to learn about her heritage once and for all. She discovers that the Hinterland contains a variety of folk—those who are refugees from her world and those who are native, consisting either of Stories or those who surround the Stories as supporting cast so to speak. If you are a Story, you relive your Story over and over again without end. Can Alice disrupt the Story that holds her life hostage?

It struck me that many of us are caught in similar loops in our lives that we have a difficult time recognizing and breaking out of. Don’t we all have that one woman friend who flees one abusive man only to end up almost immediately in a relationship with another jerk? Or your friend who is so busy collecting people to take care of that her own life goes nowhere? Or the man walks by a room full of nice women directly to the one woman who will never be faithful or committed to a relationship? It’s easy to see these patterns in others, much more difficult to recognize them in our own lives and much, much tougher to actually break those patterns.

So no, this is not a fairy tale romance, but it speaks to the patterns visible in fairy tales and in our own lives.

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text 2018-06-22 17:59
Reading progress update: I've read 33 out of 368 pages.
The Hazel Wood - Melissa Albert

 

I'm already entranced with this book, only a few pages in.

 

But I have miles to go before I sleep (or read) this evening.  Groceries to buy, supper to cook (Tandoori Chicken), a rhubarb apple crisp to make, charging my camera battery and getting all packed & organized for my mountain adventure tomorrow.

 

At least the desire to get back to The Hazel Wood will keep me motivated to get all the tasks done.

 

 

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review 2018-05-22 18:24
Robots Vs. Fairies
Robots vs. Fairies - Sarah Gailey,Lila Bowen,Alyssa Wong,Jim C. Hines,Maria Dahvana Headley,Linda Howard,Seanan McGuire,Mary Robinette Kowal,Madeline Ashby,Ken Liu,Lavie Tidhar,Annalee Newitz,William Ewart Gladstone,Jeffrey Ford,Catherynne M. Valente,Jonathan Maberry,John Sca

Rampaging robots! Tricksy fairies! Facing off for the first time in an epic genre death match!

People love pitting two awesome things against each other. Robots vs. Fairies is an anthology that pitches genre against genre, science fiction against fantasy, through an epic battle of two icons.

On one side, robots continue to be the classic sci-fi phenomenon in literature and media, from Asimov to WALL-E, from Philip K. Dick to Terminator. On the other, fairies are the beloved icons and unquestionable rulers of fantastic fiction, from Tinkerbell to Tam Lin, from True Blood to Once Upon a Time. Both have proven to be infinitely fun, flexible, and challenging. But when you pit them against each other, which side will triumph as the greatest genre symbol of all time?

 

A perfect coffee break book for those who appreciate either robots or fairy tales. I could read 1, sometimes 2, short stories per break.

My particular favourites were Build Me a Wonderland by Seanan McGuire, Murmured Under the Moon by Tim Pratt, and A Fall Counts Anywhere by Catherynne M Valente.

I’m a McGuire fan girl, so it’s no surprise that I enjoyed her story. It reminded me of her last novel of the Incryptid series, featuring an amusement park as it does. Ms. McGuire seems to be a fan of these facilities and so writes about them enthusiastically. She also writes the October Daye series, so is firmly on Team Fairy, although the story also features some robotic elements.

I will definitely be looking for more work by Tim Pratt! He has combined two of my favourite things, libraries and the Fae. I really, really liked this story.

Catherynne Valente’s offering was great, in that it utilized both robots and fairies, involved in a WWE type competition, complete with a combat ring and loud commentators! Her names for the robot contestants were excellent and she had me smiling all the way through the story.

I enjoyed all the stories to one degree or another, but those 3 were my highlights. I like robots just fine, but count me on Team Fairy all the way! I love those treacherous, dangerous, beautiful beings.

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review 2018-05-16 02:49
I hate to say good-bye to the Tufa, but this is the way to do it.
The Fairies of Sadieville - Alex Bledsoe

For many years [the Tufa] were on the wrong side of the South’s color line, and suffered for it. Their secretive ways and legendary musical aptitude spawned rumor and legend, which in turn prompted more and more withdrawal.

 

But now the twenty-first century, with its pervasive interconnectedness, pushed against this isolation. More and more Tufa risked the consequences of leaving and sought their way in the world. They all knew they would someday have to come back, since all Tufa were inextricably tied to Needsville. But they also knew that the seclusion of the past was no longer practical. Like it or not, the world now knocked on their door. 

 

Such a depressing thought, but a pretty good summary of the State of the Tufa.

 

I still remember some of the reactions I had back in 2011 during my first read of The Hum and the Shiver and met the Tufa. There was something otherworldly, ethereal and haunting -- and yet, very human, and even fun. It was, in short, magic. I thought the same when I re-read it before the sequel, and maybe it impressed me more that time. Each book since has felt the same -- not all have them as successful as the first, but they've all had that same core magic.

 

When it was announced a couple of months ago that this was going to be the final novel in the series I was struck by two thoughts -- the first, and strongest, was lament. The second was, "how?" There's not an overarching narrative that needs tieing up, a goal to meet or anything. Partway through this book, I started to understand how Bledsoe was wrapping things up and concluding the series -- and it felt perfect. I should add at this point that I was wrong about what he was doing, and that the reality was better than my guess.

 

As it's the final book, all bets are off -- the first novel contained many hints about the nature of the Tufa, but the successive books were less and less subtle in that regard, and ended up telling more than the previous. At this point, there's no hinting, no suggesting -- not only that, Bledsoe answers many questions readers have had since the beginning, and probably a few we should've had. And he does so in a way that enriches the series and the Tufa, not just something that reveals. There were so many little tidbits that came out that just made me smile or utter a quiet "Ah ha!"

 

I actually haven't talked much about the plot yet -- how odd. There are a couple of graduate students from a university in Tennessee -- one in psychology (would be parapsychology if she could get away with it) and one in English with a focus in folk music as a way to improve his own music (minor spoiler: I spent a few pages waiting for him to be revealed to be a Tufa -- nope, just a kindred spirit). These two have come across an old film -- silent film old -- shot near Needsville, showing a young woman losing her glamour and flying off on wings. There's no way that it could be silent film quality FX, it's a woman with wings. This town it was filmed in, Sadiesville, disappeared shortly afterwards. The two want to find this town and explore what happened to it.

 

Which brings them into contact with the people of Needsville -- and the night winds have instructed them to help these two find what they're looking for, despite the fact that no one in Needsville has a clue about the town. For readers, the idea that Tufa have forgotten anything that happened in their area is pretty astounding the kind of thing that piques your curiosity.

 

What happens next is wonderful, and horrible, and beautiful -- awful in every sense, archaic and otherwise. I loved it and hated it while admiring how Bledsoe played this out. Structurally, tonally, thematically different from the rest (as each book in this series has been), yet undeniably part of the series. I loved seeing friends who've been around since The Hum and the Shiver or those as fresh as Gather Her Round just one last time (not that the new characters are slouches. For example, Veronica, our aspiring parapsychologist, is someone I'd hope to see if there was going to be a book 7).

 

There are a million little touches here -- none of which I can talk about without ruining something, that make this good-bye the best installment of this series since The Hum and the Shiver. This is a must for Tufa fans (not that they need me to say it), and one more chance for me to suggest that people who haven't started the series yet get on it. I don't believe in actual magic -- but Bledsoe's series make me want to, especially if it looked like this. I hate to say good-bye to this series, but this is the way to do it.

 

Bravo.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2018/05/15/the-fairies-of-sadieville-by-alex-bledsoe-i-hate-to-say-good-bye-to-the-tufa-but-this-is-the-way-to-do-it
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