Seanan McGuire-The Brightest Fell

The Brightest Fell is the 11th book in Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series. This series just keeps getting better and better.

The October Daye series is an awesome urban fantasy series. I mean, seriously good. Seanan has written a series that drops hints along the way that you won’t figure out until 4 books later. I love that so much. It’s always fun to go back to do a reread and find something and go oh, I never noticed that before. It’s things like that that keep the series fresh and interesting and will keep readers like me coming back for more.

Anyway, the October Daye series starts with Toby, who’s a changeling. Her mother was a member of Fairy and her father was human. She is a private investigator who is working on a missing person case for her liege, Sylvester. His twin brother took Sylvester’s wife and child. Toby follows Simon and his co-conspirator to try to figure out what is happening, and he turns her into a koi fish. She spends the next 14 years of her life living in a pond with other fish, not knowing who she is or what is going on. When she comes back to herself, her entire life has changed. Her daughter didn’t know her and thought that she had abandoned her.

Eventually, Toby starts to pull her life together and build herself a new life, with loads of wonderful people in it, none of whom are actually human. All her wonderful people turn into a family that she will die to protect.

In The Brightest Fell, we open on Toby’s bachelorette party. She’s getting ready to marry her Cait Sidhe lover, Tybalt, the local King of Cats. All her friends show up at the karaoke bar to sing, drink, and celebrate. She gets home to find Tybalt and his nephew asleep on the couch, watching Shakespeare. Just as she and Tybalt start getting happy to see each other, there’s a knock at the door. It’s Amandine, Toby’s mom. Now, Toby and her mom have a really, really, really bad relationship for so many reasons. Amandine wants to hire Toby to find her older sister, who is pure-blooded, and the daughter of Amandine and her husband, Simon. Yes, the same Simon who turned Toby into a fish.

When Toby turns her down, Mommy Dearest takes Tybalt prisoner, along with Toby’s Fetch’s lover. (Sound complicated? Yeah, kinda is. Read the series, then it’s not. Trust me, it’s worth it.) Toby has to find her sister, August, in order to get her people back. And thus, we start going on Toby’s adventure to find her sister, get her fiance back, and try not to kill her mother.

I love this series. If I didn’t I wouldn’t write about it, obviously, but it’s a great series. It’s full of a lot of layers and dimensions, and there is always something to find on a reread. There is language, there is violence (Toby beats someone’s head in with a baseball bat), and there are some sex scenes, but they aren’t usually incredibly graphic. And of course, there is romance, adventure, and sometimes swordplay. The world building is awesome, and the mythology that Seanan created and uses is wonderful. Definitely a great read.

poor unfortunate soul

When you read the book, you will see how fantastically awesome this picture is as a spoiler warning. One of my favorite scenes, and the first time I laughed out loud while reading this book. I had to explain why it was so funny to my husband. He really just rolled his eyes at me. Silly man.

So, Toby’s mom has taken away Tybalt and Jazz, who are both shapeshifters. Amandine has laid down an ultimatium, and Toby has decided to start think about how many ways she can kill her mother, and why it isn’t a good idea right now. She’s doing the latter so that she doesn’t use the former.

Toby starts to talk to her allies to figure out what to do. That leads her to Simon. Now, legally, by the laws of Fairy, Simon is her father, even though he had nothing to do with her life. That’s because he was married to her mother at the time that Toby was born. Toby’s mom was married to a human man, Toby’s father, at the time, but that didn’t count, since he was human. Simon has also been elf-shot which means that he’s asleep. Toby’s friend Walter came up with an antidote to elf-shot, but Simon was sentenced to stay asleep because of his crimes. However, Toby needs him awake so that she can use him to find her sister.

Simon has tried to rehabilitate himself somewhat. In fact, he got elf-shot while he was saving Toby. But, he still did a bunch of terrible shit. And people who are angry at him have a really good reason to be angry at him. He did what he did out of the best intentions, but the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. However, right now he’s the only person who isn’t lying to Toby in any way, because he knows that she’s tired of being lied to.

Remember how I talked about Seanan leaving hints all over the place that lead back to later books? She did that when it comes to August. There are hints through several books about who and where she is. It’s totally awesome when we find out where she is. Unfortunately, she’s still lost, since she traded away her way home for help on her quest. She doesn’t recognize Simon, and she never knew Toby, so she gets a touch grouchy.

OK, I’ve put more than enough spoilers, but you knew they were coming, so if you read them, it’s all on you. Go read this book. I’ll be rereading this series very soon, just to track all the various hints and see where they intersect. I’ll be highlighting and putting notes on my Kindle just so I don’t miss anything.

Tomorrow, Maisy Archer’s MM romance, The Easy Way, written under May Archer. Wednesday will be The Girl in Black and White. Thursday, you are in for a huge treat, Stolen from Addison Cain. This is #1 in the Alpha’s Control series, and doesn’t come out until 9/26. I’ve read it and gotten permission to share it with all of you lovely people. It’s fucking awesome. I literally fell asleep reading it and only woke up when my Kindle hit me in the face. There will also be cover releases, recommendations, and other such things. Meanwhile, happy reading!

Advertisements

Kate Daniels Reread pt. 2

My next-to-last post was all about the world of Kate Daniels and such. Today we’re actually going to get into the books. I’ve read the first three, but this review may or may not talk about all three. From now on, the reviews will just be about one book at a time. I just got ahead in my reading. So, without further ado, let’s start reviewing!

Magic Bites

Magic Bites is the first book in the series. In it, we are introduced to Kate, a merc. She’s sitting in her house in Savannah, GA, drinking when a vampire shows up to ask if she’s talked to her guardian lately. Ghastek was the one who was navigating the vampire. He and Kate are going to have an interesting relationship over the series, so remember his name.

She rushes to Atlanta to find that Greg Feldman, the man who was her guardian after her father died, has been gruesomely murdered. He was the resident Knight-Diviner for the local chapter of The Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid. The Order is kind of like modern day Templars, only slightly less merciful. They will provide mercy, but sometimes that mercy is provided at the edge of a sword. The Order was founded right after the tech fell and the shift started. It is very regimented. Greg did get Kate into the Order’s Academy, and she tested out at electrum level, which is the highest you can go, and there have only ever been like 8. However, she walked out and became a merc, which drove a wedge in between her and Greg. There will be more about the Order in reviews to come. Anyway, she goes to the head of the local chapter of the Order to get help and ends up with permission to work with them to find Greg’s killer.

On the way to the solution, she goes to the morgue and meets Crest. She goes to Unicorn Lane and meets Curran, greeting him by saying “Here, kitty, kitty.” She goes to the Keep and meets Derek Gaunt, faithful, teenage, werewolf sidekick. And she goes to the Casino and has to talk to Nataraja. More to come in the spoiler section.

Magic Burns

In Magic Burns, a seven-year flare is coming. A flare is several days when the magic is extremely high. It’s a high peak of magic that plateaus during that time. Saiman, Kate’s magical expert, metamorph, and deviant extraordinaire, calls it the time of the gods. And he’s not wrong. During the flare, shifters have a hard time controlling themselves, Navigators have a harder time controlling their vampires, and magic users and magical people, like Kate, get a huge power boost.

This book starts out with Kate doing a merc job partnering Jim, a were-jaguar and the chief of security for the Pack. They are trying to track down a madman with a salamander. A salamander is a magical creature that starts fire. Just as Jim and Kate catch their firebug, he gets shot with a mysterious black arrow. Then Jim gets paged by someone in the Pack and has to leave. Remember, with the Pack, it’s us against them, and for Jim, he will drop everything when the Pack calls. He’s the Alpha cat and the security chief, so he’s super-duper responsible.

Later, Derek comes to ask Kate for help because someone has stolen maps from the Pack. Their maps are uber-accurate, and highly sought after. This person poofed in, grabbed the maps, and poofed out. While she was trying to figure out how to help with the maps, she runs across a street shaman named Red who had helped her a little bit in the last book, and his girlfriend, Julie. Julie’s mom is missing and Red tells Kate to take care of her. More in the spoiler section.

Magic Strikes

Magic Strikes starts out a few months after the flare. Kate is headed home from her job at the Order. She runs across Jim and some other shifters picking up a dead body. She offers them help, Jim turns her down. When she gets home, she gets a call from Saiman, telling her to come pick up something of hers. It turns out it’s Derek, who has snuck into his apartment to steal some tickets to the Midnight Games. The Games are an underground fighting tournament. In it, teams go into the Pit and fight each other. Derek has been working undercover in the Games and has found a young woman he’s trying to help, Livvie. That’s why he wants the tickets. Saiman extorts Kate into going to the Games with him, and Derek asks her to give Livvie a note from him. While this sounds like a minor little thing, it turns out to be pretty important.

So, we’ll leave it here until the spoiler section, which, as this is getting long, is going to actually show up tomorrow, I think. I don’t like to read long blog posts, so I don’t want to write them for people.

There is romance in the series, but there isn’t really any in the first books. Kate and Curran get a little kissy face going on, but nothing else really. It’s not until the fourth book that their romance really gets going. In these books they are still dancing around each other and kind of confrontational. Really, I think foreplay for them involves arguing and physically fighting with each other, in a sparring way, not in a bad way.

It’s a good series, well-written and enjoyable. The way the books work, they build on each other. Each book adds more to the characters and to the world, so there is always something new to find out. I really love that.

So, here is where this quick overview of books 1-3 ends, and we get ready for tomorrow’s post, which is going to be spoiler-iffic. And I’m going to leave you with this beautiful picture of a Barbary lion, just because.

TVCWAx9

Have Mercy! The World of Patricia Briggs

Welcome to another entry in my UF category, saga, whatever you want to call it. Anyway, today is Patricia Briggs and the world of Mercedes Thompson, which also includes the Alpha and Omega books, since they are a spin-off of the series.

At first glance, Mercedes Thompson looks like a Native American mechanic who specializes in working on Volkswagens. And yes, she’s heard all the jokes about Mercedes the mechanic who works on German cars. But, when you start to look deeper at her, you find out that there is a lot more to her than you think. One of those things is that she turns into a coyote. Unlike the werewolves in this world, which take a long time to change and who go through a lot of pain during their change, Mercy can change immediately, with no pain at all. That’s because unlike the werewolves, who have to be changed into being a werewolf, Mercy’s power as a skinwalker is innate. In the first book, we learn that her mother didn’t know what to do when she went into see her baby and found a coyote pup in Mercy’s crib instead of Mercy.

Because of that fact, Mercy isn’t brought up by her mother. She had an uncle who knew Bran, the Marrok. The Marrok is the Alpha of Alphas. He is the head of all the werewolves in the US, and while he doesn’t rule the other countries, he does have some influence, mostly because he is very old and very powerful. And when I say very old, I mean centuries, as in double digits of centuries. Grendel from Beowulf may be based on Bran. Anyway, he has a pack in Montana and finds Mercy a place with a foster family, where she spends her childhood until she’s a teenager when she gets sent to live with her mother and her mother’s family, in Washington State.

Back to Bran for a minute. Bran is Welsh and has two sons, Samuel and Charles. Charles is the only born werewolf. His mother was a Native American and had her own magic. She managed to hold off the change while she was pregnant so that she could give birth. Generally, female werewolves can’t carry children because the change is too violent. Charles has his own magic through his mother, and his change is more like Mercy’s, and he can come back fully clothed. He’s only a couple of hundred years old. He is also the main character of the Alpha and Omega series, with his wife Anna. She is a rare Omega wolf who is outside of the normal pack structure and acts as a calming influence. Omegas can help out with wolves who are out of control.

Samuel is Bran’s older son and isn’t too much younger than his father. When Mercy was a teenager, he romanced her and she fell in love with him. He wanted to have children, and he saw Mercy as a way to do that, since she wouldn’t lose her children due to her shifting, since her powers are in-born.

Mercy’s garage used to be owned by Zee, a fae who identifies as a gremlin. He’s one of the few fae who can handle touching cold iron. Zee has a long and storied history that he keeps pretty secret. He is powerful enough that the Grey Lords, the leaders of the fae, don’t like to bother him much. The fae are out and have been for years, and many of them live in reservations. The one nearest her is in Walla Walla.

One of Mercy’s loyal customer is Stephan, who loves Scooby Doo and owns a VW bus that has been painted to look like the Mystery Machine. He also just happens to be a vampire, and owes allegiance to Marsilla. Stephen and Mercy are friends.

And that brings us to Adam Hauptmann. Adam is Mercy’s neighbor. He is also the Alpha of the Tri-Cities pack. He also declared that Mercy is his mate. Mercy thinks it’s just to protect her and doesn’t realize how serious it is that he did that. He gets over-protective and she does what she can to annoy him, like leaving an old VW in a field between their homes that she vandalizes, just to ruin his view. Spoiler, Mercy does eventually find out how serious Adam is about the mate thing.

I really love these books, and I run through them about once a year. Patricia Briggs has great world building, and not only has characters you love to love, but she also has characters you love to hate, *coughChristiecough*. While there is sex and language in the books, they are relatively mild, and absolutely kink free. There is violence, but that’s to be expected in books like these.

The orders of the books is:

Mercy

  • Moon Called
  • Blood Bound
  • Iron Kissed
  • Bone Crossed
  • Silver Borne
  • River Marked 
  • Frost Burned
  • Night Broken
  • Shifting Shadows
  • Fire Touched
  • Silence Fallen 

Alpha and Omega

  • “Alpha and Omega”  published in On the Prowl and Shifting Shadows 
  • Cry Wolf
  • Hunting Ground 
  • Fair Game
  • Dead Heat 

Coming up in the next couple of days, reviews of two ARCs, Tears of Surrender by Sophie Kisker and Kavven by Hannah Davenport.

Urban Fantasy Pt. 3

Make sure that you check out Part 1 and Part 2. That way you’ll get the whole impact of my thoughts, opinions, and favorite authors.

Ilona Andrews

This husband and wife team have several series which would fit right smack dab in UF. One also works as post-apocalyptic. One, the Innkeeper series, I’m balancing between UF and straight fantasy. I haven’t quite decided how I would classify it as of yet. I haven’t read the Edge series, I’ve read synopsis of the books, and they just don’t grab me.

Kate Daniels is the main character for the Magic… series. She is a mercenary with a heaping helping of personal magic, and a huge secret that she is hiding. Her secret could get her killed. Her father, Vorin, taught her how to fight so that she would be ready when it came time to enact her revenge. Along the way, she meets and falls in love with Curran, the Beast Lord, defeats her all-powerful aunt, and tries to kill her real father.

Ilona has said that she based Kate’s sword fighting style after Cossack sword dancing, which makes sense, since Vorin was of Russian descent, and so is Kate on her mother’s side. BTW, Ilona is of Cossack descent herself, check out her blog post about it. Their blog is fun to read. They have snippets of WIPs, slice of life snippets, and a little bit of everything, including a look into the world of a professional author.

Cossack sword dancing is very cool to watch. Very cool.

This is what I think Kate must look like when she’s fighting.

And just because this fighting style is so fucking pretty, have another video.

I read the Kate Daniels books regularly, usually at 2x a year. That includes the companion novellas and the shorts. The upcoming book, the 10th Kate Daniel’s book, is going to be the final in the series. Sadly. I think there are going to be more written in that world, and be Kate-adjacent.

Hidden Legacy

Hidden Legacy takes place in Houston. In this series, various Houses pretty much rule the world, sometimes behind the scenes, sometimes not. Each House a type of magic associated with them. In walks Nevada Baylor, who has what she thinks is just a little truth sense talent. Turns out it isn’t just a little bit, and she’s a Prime. She’s a PI and while looking for Adam Pierce, she comes to the attention of Mad Rogan, one of the most powerful Primes ever. He’s very focused on her. They get their HEA, eventually, and sorta by the skin of their teeth.

So far, this is just a trilogy, and the last one just came out this month. Hopefully, there’ll be more to it. It’s a fun series, with a kickass hero and her cute, focused, somewhat insane boyfriend.

Innkeeper

The Innkeeper series started out being serialized on Ilona’s blog, but was popular enough that they were turned into books. In this series, there are special inns that are sanctuaries where the paranormal, alien, what have you, can stay if necessary, or hold meetings, and such like. The Inns are somewhat sentient, but they are under the control of their Keeper. This series has an inn that was closed off, but Dina, the Keeper, is determined to get her Inn back to good shape and get it highly rated again.

I like this series. It’s a pretty light series, all things considered, and generally a little less intense than the other two.

We’re going to have more posts about some of my favorite authors in this genre, but I think next week we’ll take a break and talk about something else.

As a reminder, 22 great authors, some of which I know, got together and wrote a set called Royally Mine. It’s only $.99 on pre-order, and it comes out 8/22. I’ve read some ARCs from the set, and they are hot, hot, hot!

Urban Fantasy Pt. 1

Urban fantasy is also called urban horror or some mash-up between the two. It’s a relatively new genre, having only been around about 20 years or so. One of the pioneers in the genre is Laurell K. Hamilton, with her Anita Blake series.

When most people think about fantasy, they tend to think about JRR Tolkien, elves, hobbits, barbarians, and sorcerers. That’s not what urban fantasy is. Well, UF does have some of those things, but they are taken out of the realm of Middle Earth and moved into the mid-city. Traditional horror characters like vampires, zombies, ghouls, and were-creatures move into the mid-city as well.

UF worlds are generally alternate Earths. On that Earth, magic exists, and all sorts of magical creatures live in the same world as you or I do. In some universes, all the creatures and magic users are open knowledge. For example, LKH’s Anita Blake series is one of these ‘verses. That series is based in St. Louis. Anita Blake is an animator, someone who raises zombies. It’s an inborn power, and if she doesn’t use it, then it just oozes out of her and zombies are accidentally raised. Everyone knows about vampires and various flavors of shifters. While some of the magical people still live in the broom closet, so to speak, the fact that there are werewolves or fairies, as a species, is well-known. In this world, werecreatures and vampires are created in the way that we would expect, although there are some that are born that way. They also have the traditional weaknesses that we would think of, silver, holy water, crosses, etc.

Then there are the other ‘verses. The ones where all those magical creatures exist, but they are a secret. Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files is an example of one of these worlds. Harry Dresden is a wizard, who actually advertises in the phone book, which is a whole different story. There are elves, fae, vampires, Knights of the Cross, and a whole host of other bad guys, who are all magical but the world doesn’t know about them. There are a few non-magical people who do know about them, like Dresden’s police pal, Karen Murphy, but they are the exception rather than the rule.

UF is really popular, with a plethora of authors and series out there. Part of the reason is that it is really accessible. It’s easier for people to relate to St. Louis or Chicago than it is for them to relate to Middle Earth. They also tend to cross genre a lot. You’ll see a lot of UF fiction, especially if it’s written by female authors and feature a female protagonist, marked under romance as well. Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels gets this treatment. Because of that, a lot of people who wouldn’t ordinarily read books that feature magical mercs and pushy lion shifters pick up the books and get hooked on the series.

I really like urban fantasy, and I read a lot of it. Thursday, I’ll list up some of my series and authors.