Read Along: An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire – Week Four




| Week Four |

Welcome to the Read Along of An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire, organised by Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow.

Welcome to the fourth and final post in the An Artificial Night Read Along! After finishing in spectacular style, this book has become my favourite of the series so far! This week Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow is taking up the reins again to bring us our final round of questions.

Here’s how the schedule looks:

Week 1 (Saturday 9th April)

Chapters 1-7 – hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow

Week 2 (Saturday 16th April)

Chapters 8-17 – hosted by Books by Proxy (me!)

Week 3 (Saturday 23rd April)

Chapters 18-24 – hosted by Lynn’s Books

Week 4 (Saturday 30th April)

Chapters 25-End – hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow

There will be spoilers!

If anyone would like to join in with the Read Along for the fourth book in the October Daye series, Late Eclipses, just head on over to the Goodreads group page and sign up.


| Week Four Rating |


| The Questions |

| 1. |

Things pick up right where we left them, with Tybalt and Toby. What do you make of the not-quite-nine-lives thing? And do you have any fresh insight into what, if anything, is going on between him and Toby?

Not-Quite-Nine-Lives you say? Very interesting indeed! An addition such as this would usually irritate me because of the lack of justification but… it didn’t! I was just relieved that Tybalt wasn’t dead. Perhaps if it’s expanded upon in future books then it will make a little more sense but at the moment I’m quite happy to run with it. It’s quite a nice take on a popular myth too and fits well with the other themes which run throughout the series.

And clearly there is something between the two of them – that much is obvious. However, I’m still in utter confusion when it comes to what on earth Tybalt is going on about with all his cryptic messages!!! What a way to make you want to pick up the next in the series… I have a suspicion that whatever Toby did to resurrect Alex made Tybalt suspect that she may have used the Hope Chest in some way… but I guess we’ll have to read the next one to find out!

| 2. |

As predicted, Toby is far from finished with Blind Michael and returns to his realm, trading herself for Karen’s freedom. Things get pretty dark from there, but all isn’t lost… What’s your take on the Luidaeg’s rescue effort?

At first this return to the fray seemed quite pointless – Toby had to break Blind Michael’s spell but we hadn’t really seen the full effect of it in the ‘real world’ so it came across as almost a little premature. However the hazy, hallucinogenic ride and the darkness which would have befallen her had she not been rescued added some justification to this. It was also interesting to see Acacia continuing her role in the Wild Hunt with almost weary resignation – as though her spirit had been broken a long time ago.

The rescue was a nice touch though. It was fantastic to see more of the Luidaeg’s powers and her obvious care for Toby – even if it meant the death of one of her siblings. I was also more than happy to see the others come to Toby’s aid as it had felt incredibly wrong that none of them had offered any real help in the first place!

| 3. |

After all that, Toby still isn’t done. Do you think she did the right thing, going after Blind Michael to end things once and for all? And after all’s said and done, what do you think of Blind Michael himself?

Blind Michael was a corrupt and evil firstborn who cared more about his own enjoyment and pleasure than the innocent lives he twisted and ruined. Toby was certainly justified in going back to finish him off, though I’m not sure I would have felt the hesitation she did when weighing up whether he needed to die or not… but I guess that makes her a better woman than I! At the end he seemed weaker and more sorrowful; it certainly didn’t justify what he had done but it perhaps signalled that he really didn’t understand the evil of it either, which in a way is much more sad.

However, the one thing which has persistently grated on me throughout this series is the continual and repetitive ‘hero’ theme. Could all the characters go on about it any more?! Every time I read a section where Toby questions her hero status/decides to be a hero/reflects on being a hero/talks about being a hero/hero hero hero I feel like I want to kill her myself! *calms* So yes… I could do with a little less of that.

| 4. |

Quentin has a hard choice of his own to make in the aftermath, as the Luidaeg explains… Do you agree with her choice of consequence, or was she too hard on him?

Poor Quentin has certainly had to grow up fast, and the influence Toby has had on him is shining through more than ever. The choice he had to make seemed right; once another side of the world is open to you it could either make or break you – especially as a human – and it didn’t seem as though Katie’s mind could really handle the truth. I’m not sure Quentin could live with himself if he trapped her in the Summerlands, forever beholden to him. He’s too good a person. However, I don’t believe it was the Luidaeg’s choice at all… it came across as though she had as little sway over the matter as Quentin did. It seemed like the price faerie would exact from all.

| 5. |

We get one more scene with the Luidaeg, and it’s quite a turnaround, character-wise. What do you think of where she and Toby seem to stand, at this point?

Oh Luidaeg… I love this character so much! She’s definitely had a stand-out role throughout the series and has fast become a favourite. I love that she’s cranky and dangerous and completely unpredictable, but I also love that she’s prepared to let her walls down, even just slightly, to let Toby in.

Their friendship is such a fantastic part of the novels and it’s wonderful to see someone with such a weight of past and history, whose own myth makes the whole of faedom quake in its boots, become an integral part of Toby’s life. By the end of An Artificial Night it certainly seemed as though this friendship was as strong as ever – but I don’t think this makes her any less of a danger for the future.

Join us this June for a Read Along of the fourth October Daye novel, Late Eclipses

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The Friday Face-Off: Like One, That on a Lonesome Road


Welcome to The Friday Face-Off, a new weekly meme here at Books by Proxy. Join me every Friday as I pit cover against cover, and publisher against publisher, to find the best artwork in our literary universe.


A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn


Welcome to this week’s Friday Face-Off! This week we’re looking at covers which feature a road… preferably a lonely one!

Published by Titan in the UK and by Penguin / NAL in the US, A Curious Beginning is a book which fell into my lap through Goodreads a few months ago – and one which I am still yet to read! This Face-Off features two stunning covers in completely different styles, making this week’s choice incredibly difficult. Take a look and see which one, if any, came out on top!


Titan – UK Cover

Artwork by Julia Lloyd

Penguin / NAL – US Cover

Artwork by Michael Heath


| The Friday Face-Off: Winner |

This week is a definite draw! The style of the UK artwork is wonderful – and even better in real life! This eye-catching, illustrative cover is a light hearted edition which uses various Victoriana motifs to hint at the contents within. The colour palette – and that aged aquamarine especially – works perfectly as a backdrop to this elegantly fun composition, and the scroll-work and typeface used are interesting, detailed and work to draw the eye.

The US cover is a completely different affair and works with an atmospheric image to capture another side to the story. The use of lighting and a warm colour palette, especially the pink overlay to the street scene and the swirling mists, work together to create an eye-catching image – an image which almost feels like you could follow the figure into it – and the typeface is simple and elegant.

Which cover wins your vote this week? Have a cover of your own? – Post the link below!

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads


Post LinksTomorrow’s theme is: You Got The Blues

A cover which is predominantly blue

Remember to check The Friday Face-Off Feature Page for upcoming themes

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The Friday Face-Off: Dead Men Tell No Tales – Update


Welcome to The Friday Face-Off, a new weekly meme here at Books by Proxy. Join me every Friday as I pit cover against cover, and publisher against publisher, to find the best artwork in our literary universe.


The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud


Welcome to this week’s Friday Face-Off update! Apologies for the late post, Amsterdam beckoned! Last Friday we were looking at covers which feature something relating to death… so there was one motif that had to crop up (time and again) – the skull!

Published by Doubleday in the UK and by Disney / Hyperion in the US, The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud – the second book in the Lockwood & Co. series – features two creepy covers to sink our teeth into. Scroll down to see which one won last Friday’s vote!


Doubleday – UK Cover

Artwork by Alessandro ‘Talexi’ Taini

Disney / Hyperion – US Cover

Artwork by Michael Heath


| The Friday Face-Off: Winner |

Well this Face-Off was something of a landslide. The UK cover really didn’t win me over and presents an almost amateur look – I’m not sure I would assume Stroud was an established author if I hadn’t read and enjoyed him previously. The skull is certainly creepy and draws the eye but looks oddly photoshopped into the sky, nor is the figure in the foreground interesting enough to lift the composition, and the typeface doesn’t do it any favours at all. Definitely a disappointing cover from this side of the pond.

The US cover however is wonderful! I love that creepy skull in the glass vial. I love that glowing, smoking green liquid and the chains, dirt and grime which surround it. This is definitely an interesting and eye-catching composition which benefits from a diverse range of lettering – and I certainly find my eyes drawn to the ‘Lockwood & Co.’ title. The US cover is the hands down winner for this Friday Face-Off!

Which cover wins your vote this week? Have a cover of your own? – Post the link below!

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads


Post LinksTomorrow’s theme is: Like One, That on a Lonesome Road

A cover which features a road

Remember to check The Friday Face-Off Feature Page for upcoming themes


| Links |

DJ @ MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape – Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton

Zezee @ Zezee With Books – The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

Drew @ TheTattooedBookGeek – The Shotgun Arcana by R.S. Belcher

Lynn @ Lynn’s Books  – The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

S J Higbee @ Brainfluff – Doomsday Book by Connie Willis

Nick V Reys @ The Paper Dragon – Mort by Terry Pratchett

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Read Along: An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire – Week Three




| Week Three |

Welcome to the Read Along of An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire, organised by Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow.

Welcome to the third post in the An Artificial Night Read Along! Apologies for the lateness of this post – I’ve been away! Week three was hosted by the lovely Lynn of Lynn’s Books who had some rather juicy questions for us to answer!

If anyone would like to join in, just head on over to the Goodreads group and sign up. Here’s how the schedule looks:

Week 1 (Saturday 9th April)

Chapters 1-7 – hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow

Week 2 (Saturday 16th April)

Chapters 8-17 – hosted by Books by Proxy (me!)

Week 3 (Saturday 23rd April)

Chapters 18-24 – hosted by Lynn’s Books

Week 4 (Saturday 30th April)

Chapters 25-End – hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow

There will be spoilers!


| Week Three Rating |

four star


| The Questions |

| 1. |

We’ve seen a good deal more of May and her interactions with Toby – any speculation on how this might play out yet??

I really love the dynamic between Toby and May, especially during that car ride. So tense and funny and ridiculous – and it’s so unusual to have such a cheery version of Toby! May is clearly quite reticent about assisting Toby too much – there seem to be quite a few Fetch rules that we’ve only been given snippets on so far – but I love that she can be talked round into doing the very thing she’s protesting against. It makes her quite an endearing doppelgänger. Toby is, of course, sure to survive (at least in some shape or form) but I’ll be quite sad to see the back of May. I hope it’s not quite the end for her – I quite like the idea of her sticking around to make a nuisance of herself!

| 2. |

Tybalt – what did you make of his rather cryptic comment about what he found out and particularly that he now knows that Toby didn’t lie to him?

That was very cryptic now wasn’t it. Well for one – I have no idea what Toby may or may not have lied about! I was certain that when Tybalt buzzed off he had gone in search of answers to Toby’s unusual blood magic after resurrecting Alex… and now I’m almost sure he did! But I really couldn’t begin to guess what he found out. Perhaps he was referring to the Hope Chest and whether Toby had used it… or maybe there was another message further back which I missed… but whatever it is, I’m very VERY intrigued!!

| 3. |

We finally discovered a little bit more about Luna. What are your thoughts on her now, why did she run away, thoughts about her character, why she sent Toby into Michael’s realm?

Luna’s tale is a very sad one and I can’t help but feel both her and Acacia. She was more than justified in running away from her former life and it seems that she has found true love and happiness after all with Sylvester and her roses. However I feel like there must have been something more she could have done to help Toby, even if it was just giving her some advice. It seemed as though Toby was woefully unprepared to make the journey to Blind Michael’s realm yet the only people who could or were willing to help her in any obvious way were the Luidaeg and Quentin. But one thing is certain after all these revelations – it sure as hell explains Raysel.

| 4. |

What were your first impressions of the Court of Cats?

I almost feel like the Court of Cats is overwhelmingly underwhelming. I secretly hope there is a hidden aspect to it that isn’t revealed to any old changeling so that I can put my disappointment aside and truly bask in the wonder that is the Cait Sidhe. In fact I’m almost certain that Toby mentioned as much… Having said that, it is a very interesting and unusual court – in a grubby alley cat kind of way – and it has some really intriguing aspects to its function, hierarchy and its methods of inheritance. But no matter how much this intrigues me… I don’t want that Raj killing our Tybalt!

| 5. |

And, finally, back to Tybalt – what on earth just happened!!

Ahhh! I’m sure these chase scenes are going to give me a heart attack – they’re too fun by half! This latest run through the shadows was no exception and it looks like Tybalt’s paid Toby back tenfold. I loved the fact that he was there when she needed him – it seems like he would do anything to aid her – even if he was only recently stalking her from one darkened alley to the next. Toby’s reactions are definitely one of the most entertaining aspects of their interactions. Then he goes and saves her from the hunt… here’s hoping Tybalt survives to see the next page!

Stay tuned for the next instalment of this Read Along on 30th April

The Friday Face-Off: Dead Men Tell No Tales


Welcome to The Friday Face-Off, a new weekly meme here at Books by Proxy. Join me every Friday as I pit cover against cover, and publisher against publisher, to find the best artwork in our literary universe.



Happy Friday everyone! I’m afraid I’m going away for the weekend and haven’t had time to write a post before I fly! Post your links below and I’ll update as soon as I get back!


Post LinksNext Friday’s theme is: Like One, That on a Lonesome Road

A cover which features a road

Remember to check The Friday Face-Off Feature Page for upcoming themes

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Review: The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu



The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories

by Ken Liu

Speculative Fiction | Anthology | 450 Pages | Published by Saga Press in 2016


| Rating |


This book was received from Netgalley in return for an honest review

The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories is an anthology of short fiction which stormed to the top of my reading pile following the success of The Grace of Kings last year. Throughout this anthology, Ken Liu, who has received much acclaim for both his feature length work and his short stories, explores a series of isolated narratives which strike a fine balance between truth, history, fantasy and science fiction.

An author who doesn’t shy away from the dark; within his narratives Liu weaves together the horrors which come with both truth and history and delivers it with a flair for the fantastic. Through addiction, memory and the choices we make, he constructs tales of the collective conscience where cultural memory, technological evolution and the growth of the species are the constant throughout. These are tales which resound with morality, with the choices we make as human beings, and with the weight of our own global past; attributes which make The Paper Menagerie an altogether beautiful, eloquent and often harrowing collection.Ken Liu has published almost 100 short stories and won nearly every genre award in existence. Here, he has selected his 15 favourite stories, including The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary (Finalist for Hugo, Nebula, and Sturgeon Awards), Mono No Aware (Hugo Award winner), The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species (Nebula and Sturgeon award finalists), and the most awarded story in Science Fiction and Fantasy history, The Paper Menagerie – the only story ever to win the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards.

The Book Making Habits of Select Species is a beautiful, transcendent tale of the written, carved, created and experienced word. In a universe where a myriad of cultures and alien species have innumerable methods for documenting knowledge and memory, the one constant is the desire to record, whether the method is obvious or not. This succinct tale is a lyrical exploration of books and the passage of information, a tale which provides an intriguing opening in which to introduce Ken Liu and his beautiful and captivating writing style.

State Change is a story of a young woman whose soul takes the form of a physical object – an ice cube. In a narrative which shows the pains she takes to protect and nurture her soul, this tale becomes a metaphor for those parts of ourselves we cling to and which become the defining force in our lives, even when beyond all sense and reason. Both poignant and humorous, this is a story about personal growth and the things we must sacrifice in ourselves to truly live.

The Perfect Match is a disturbing prospect of the future. In a world where huge technical corporations take control of every aspect of our lives, privacy and individual thought and reason become almost none existent. Both catering to our every need and taking away all our freedom of thought and action, these companies come to rule the lives of anyone linked to their technology but, perhaps most disturbing of all, it is a world that we have  already dipped a toe into.

Good Hunting is a story about cultural growth and change. In a tale where the face of China is changed forever, the inherent folklore and traditional magic which once permeated society is pushed aside by the coming of the British and the age of steam. No longer do the creatures of myth and legend stalk the nights, no longer are demon hunters required to protect their villages; but this is the age of steel and steam, where the possibilities produced by progress may just echo the magic of the past. Through the device of a fantastic alternative history, Liu’s narrative illustrates how tradition must adapt if it is to survive the future.

The Literomancer is a beautiful but harrowing tale of a young American girl living in China. When just one seemingly innocent word can have such unfortunate consequences, The Literomancer illustrates how fate can both bring two people together and tear them apart. This is a narrative about words and stories, about the futures we can discover through their telling, and the futures which may be lost because of them, demonstrating a darker and more haunting side to Liu’s writing.

Simulacrum is a tale about the invention of a technology which allows an exact record of a person to be projected and interacted with in three dimensions, and the consequences such a technology might have on society. In a narrative which switches between the inventor and his estranged daughter, this is a story about how a girl railing against the simulacrum is in fact acting as one herself by capturing a single moment of memory and replaying it over and over until the real person no longer remains.

The Regular is one of the highlights of this collection and showcases the diversity in Liu’s writing. A dead prostitute, body mutilation and an unknown killer on the loose; The Regular is a dark sci-fi thriller following the story of Ruth Law, private investigator, as she tracks down a murderer who is targeting the city’s working girls. Tense and exciting, this is a longer piece which touches on sorrow as Law’s cybernetic improvements become a necessity to take away the pain of her past.

The Paper Menagerie is  heart-breaking tale of a young boy of half American and half Chinese heritage who struggles to accept his shared culture. In a tale woven with enchantment and magic – a magic that comes with innocence and one which is almost lost in the desire to be something and someone else – Liu explores the themes of cultural identity, acceptance and the consequences of not realising what we have until it’s gone.

An Advanced Readers Picture Book of Comparative Cognition is a lyrical exploration of time and space which showcases the breadth and beauty of Liu’s writing through the vastness of the universe and the human desire to discover. In the same vein as The Book Making Habits of Select Species this is a tale which, through a number of fascinating literary sketches, explores a myriad of alien species in something akin to a field guide for the universe.

The Waves is a story about humanity and their existence, growth and evolution as they sail through time aboard The Sea Foam. As technology advances and immortality is within our grasp, this is a tale which asks how difficult it would be to let go of our pasts and become something new.  In a narrative which explores stories of creation, The Waves illustrates how the choices we make can lead to our adaptation and evolution, and how such growth may spark our transcendence from humanity to creators.

Mono No Aware is an incredibly beautiful but sad tale about the last days of humanity and the chance of survival given by the Hopeful. In a narrative which showcases the strength and beauty of a people who accept their fate and will do all they can for the survival of the whole, Mono No Aware tells the story of the survivors of an asteroid impact through the voice of the last Japanese man in the universe. This man, who has seen the loss of both his family and his entire people, finds that it is his decisions which will ensure either the destruction or survival of humanity.

All The Flavors is a long and sprawling tale of the Chinamen of Idaho. In a narrative which weaves together history, folklore and mythology, All the Flavors is both a story of cultural identity and acceptance, and the strength and adaptation of tradition. Despite the fascinating tales of China and its history told by Lo Guan, this tale was perhaps my least favourite in the collection and failed to capture my imagination as readily as the other stories.

A  Brief History of the Trans-Pacific Tunnel is a short alternative history which tells the tale of a great tunnel built between the Americas and Asia and its impact on the history of the twentieth century. This story demonstrates that no matter how much we change history, there will always be people who make the wrong choices and who will discriminate and subjugate others to their own ends. History may have changed but the players remain the same, ensuring the survival of the same prejudices and the same oppression which comes so readily to mankind.

The Litigation Master and the Monkey King is a tale about a cunning litigation master who makes his living aiding peasants in their troubles with the law; a litigation master who can both speak to and see the Monkey King. In a dark and distressing tale which resounds with history, truth and bravery, The Litigation Master and the Monkey King weaves together the story of the Yangzhou Massacre and how one man may change the course of the future by the revelations of the past.

The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary closes this anthology with a science fiction narrative which bears witness to a horrific truth. A terrible and traumatic tale, this is a story which details the horrors of Unit 731 at Pingfang and the atrocities committed by the Japanese against its Chinese prisoners during the Second World War. Denied, covered up and used by those who claim to fight for justice to further their own ends, this narrative reads like a future documentary where individuals are taken back in time to witness the shocking brutality, and raises the question of who, if any of us, has a claim on history.The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories is a wonderfully inventive, beautifully composed and impressive collection of stories which weaves together history, fantasy and science fiction with a thoughtful and moral undertone. Ken Liu has an effortlessly engaging and lyrical style which is almost poetic in its transmission, and constructs tales which explore both the vastness of the universe and the breadth of our own history. Evocative and intelligent, this is an anthology which I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… SFF Books That Will Make You Laugh


Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday – a weekly feature hosted by those lovely bookworms over at The Broke and the Bookish. Expect a new top ten list every week!


| Top Ten… SFF Books That Will Make You Laugh |

After something of a break, I’m returning to Top Ten Tuesday with my top ten comedic reads in the world of science fiction and fantasy. From the outright comedic to the darkly humorous, this is a list of those books that never fail to put a smile on my face!
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| 1. |

Envy of Angels

Book One of Sin du Jour

by Matt Wallaceheart

In New York, eating out can be hell.

Everyone loves a well-catered event, and the supernatural community is no different, but where do demons go to satisfy their culinary cravings?

Welcome to Sin du Jour – where devils on horseback are the clients, not the dish.heart

| 2 |

Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits

by David Wongheart

Nightmarish villains with superhuman enhancements.

An all-seeing social network that tracks your every move.

Mysterious, smooth-talking power players who lurk behind the scenes.

A young woman from the trailer park. And her very smelly cat.

Together, they will decide the future of mankind.

Get ready for a world in which anyone can have the powers of a god or the fame of a pop star, in which human achievement soars to new heights while its depravity plunges to the blackest depths. A world in which at least one cat smells like a seafood shop’s dumpster on a hot summer day.

This is the world in which Zoey Ashe finds herself, navigating a futuristic city in which one can find elements of the fantastic, nightmarish and ridiculous on any street corner. Her only trusted advisor is the aforementioned cat, but even in the future, cats cannot give advice. At least not any that you’d want to follow.

Will Zoey figure it all out in time? Or maybe the better question is, will you? After all, the future is coming sooner than you think.heart

| 3 |

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

by Douglas Adams

heartSeconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.

Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”) and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox–the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years. heart

| 4. |

The Colour of Magic

A Discworld Novel

by Terry Pratchett
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In the beginning there was… a turtle.

Somewhere on the frontier between thought and reality exists the Discworld, a parallel time and place which might sound and smell very much like our own, but which looks completely different. Particularly as it’s carried though space on the back of a giant turtle (sex unknown). It plays by different rules.

But then, some things are the same everywhere. The Disc’s very existence is about to be threatened by a strange new blight: the world’s first tourist, upon whose survival rests the peace and prosperity of the land. Unfortunately, the person charged with maintaining that survival in the face of robbers, mercenaries and, well, Death, is a spectacularly inept wizard…heart

| 5. |

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass

by Lewis Carroll
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Weary of her storybook, one “without pictures or conversations,” the young and imaginative Alice follows a hasty hare underground–to come face-to-face with some of the strangest adventures and most fantastic characters in all of literature.

The Ugly Duchess, the Mad Hatter, the weeping Mock Turtle, the diabolical Queen of Hearts, the Cheshire Cat–each more eccentric than the last–could only have come from that master of sublime nonsense, Lewis Carroll.

In penning this brilliant burlesque of children’s literature, Carroll has written a farcical satire of rigid Victorian society, an arresting parody of the fears, anxieties, and complexities of growing up.

Carroll was one of the few adult writers to successfully enter the children’s world of make-believe: where the impossible becomes possible, the unreal–real, and where the height of adventure is limited only by the depths of imagination. heart

| 6. |

The Lies of Locke Lamora

The Gentleman Bastard Sequence

by Scott Lynch
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In this stunning debut, author Scott Lynch delivers the wonderfully thrilling tale of an audacious criminal and his band of confidence tricksters. Set in a fantastic city pulsing with the lives of decadent nobles and daring thieves, here is a story of adventure, loyalty, and survival that is one part “Robin Hood”, one part Ocean’s Eleven, and entirely enthralling…

An orphan’s life is harsh — and often short — in the island city of Camorr, built on the ruins of a mysterious alien race. But born with a quick wit and a gift for thieving, Locke Lamora has dodged both death and slavery, only to fall into the hands of an eyeless priest known as Chains — a man who is neither blind nor a priest.

A con artist of extraordinary talent, Chains passes his skills on to his carefully selected “family” of orphans — a group known as the Gentlemen Bastards. Under his tutelage, Locke grows to lead the Bastards, delightedly pulling off one outrageous confidence game after another. Soon he is infamous as the Thorn of Camorr, and no wealthy noble is safe from his sting.

Passing themselves off as petty thieves, the brilliant Locke and his tightly knit band of light-fingered brothers have fooled even the criminal underworld’s most feared ruler, Capa Barsavi. But there is someone in the shadows more powerful — and more ambitious — than Locke has yet imagined.

Known as the Gray King, he is slowly killing Capa Barsavi’s most trusted men — and using Locke as a pawn in his plot to take control of Camorr’s underworld. With a bloody coup under way threatening to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the Gray King at his own brutal game — or die trying…heart

| 7. |

The Blade Itself

The First Law Trilogy

by Joe Abercrombie
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Logen Ninefingers, infamous barbarian, has finally run out of luck. Caught in one feud too many, he’s on the verge of becoming a dead barbarian – leaving nothing behind him but bad songs, dead friends, and a lot of happy enemies.

Nobleman Captain Jezal dan Luthar, dashing officer, and paragon of selfishness, has nothing more dangerous in mind than fleecing his friends at cards and dreaming of glory in the fencing circle. But war is brewing, and on the battlefields of the frozen North they fight by altogether bloodier rules.

Inquisitor Glokta, cripple turned torturer, would like nothing better than to see Jezal come home in a box. But then Glokta hates everyone: cutting treason out of the Union one confession at a time leaves little room for friendship. His latest trail of corpses may lead him right to the rotten heart of government, if he can stay alive long enough to follow it.

Enter the wizard, Bayaz. A bald old man with a terrible temper and a pathetic assistant, he could be the First of the Magi, he could be a spectacular fraud, but whatever he is, he’s about to make the lives of Logen, Jezal, and Glotka a whole lot more difficult.

Murderous conspiracies rise to the surface, old scores are ready to be settled, and the line between hero and villain is sharp enough to draw blood.heart

| 8. |

The Palace Job

Book One of the Rogues of the Republic

by Patrick Weekes
heart

The most powerful man in the republic framed her, threw her in prison, and stole a priceless elven manuscript from her family.

With the help of a crack team that includes an illusionist, a unicorn, a death priestess, a talking warhammer, and a lad with a prophetic birthmark, Loch must find a way into the floating fortress of Heaven’s Spire–and get past the magic-hunting golems and infernal sorcerers standing between her and the vault that holds her family’s treasure.

It’d be tricky enough without the military coup and unfolding of an ancient evil prophecy–but now the determined and honourable Justicar Pyvic has been assigned to take her in.

But hey, every plan has a few hitches. heart

| 9. |

Rivers of London / Midnight Riot

Book One of the Rivers of London / Peter Grant Series

by Ben Aaronovitch
heart

Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic. heart

| 10. |

Storm Front

Book One of The Dresden Files

by Jim Butcherheart

Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment.

Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he’s the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things—and most don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a—well, whatever. There’s just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks.

So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name. And that’s when things start to get interesting.

Magic – it can get a guy killed. heart

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Teaser Tuesdays: April 19


Welcome to Teaser Tuesdays – a weekly feature hosted by Books and a Beat. Expect a new teaser every week!


| Teaser Tuesdays: April 19 |

Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits

by David Wong

Science Fiction | Humour | 480 Pages | Published by Titan in 2015


Within ten steps she was walking precariously on a jagged pile of debris – busted cinder blocks and shards of glass and twisted metal beams – that got more treacherous as she neared the black bowl where the warehouse had been. There were yellow bulldozers and backhoes and other vehicles scattered around the crater like toys, making it look like a giant sandbox some enormous toddler had been playing in.

~ 29%, Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits by David Wong


| Synopsis |

Nightmarish villains with superhuman enhancements.

An all-seeing social network that tracks your every move.

Mysterious, smooth-talking power players who lurk behind the scenes.

A young woman from the trailer park. And her very smelly cat.

Together, they will decide the future of mankind.

Get ready for a world in which anyone can have the powers of a god or the fame of a pop star, in which human achievement soars to new heights while its depravity plunges to the blackest depths. A world in which at least one cat smells like a seafood shop’s dumpster on a hot summer day.

This is the world in which Zoey Ashe finds herself, navigating a futuristic city in which one can find elements of the fantastic, nightmarish and ridiculous on any street corner. Her only trusted advisor is the aforementioned cat, but even in the future, cats cannot give advice. At least not any that you’d want to follow.

Will Zoey figure it all out in time? Or maybe the better question is, will you? After all, the future is coming sooner than you think.

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads


| Join In |

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Please leave a comment with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your ‘teasers’ in a comment here!

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Review: Dragon Hunters by Marc Turner



Dragon Hunters

Book Two of The Chronicles of the Exile

by Marc Turner

Fantasy | 496 Pages | Published by Titan Books in 2016


| Rating |


This book was received from the author in return for an honest review

Having not read the first novel in the Chronicles of the Exile, When the Heavens Fall, I was a little reticent about embarking on a literary adventure which began with its sequel, Dragon Hunters. But with two phenomenal covers and an incredibly intriguing premise, it wasn’t long before I fell under its spell and into a world of power struggles, rising tides and deadly dragons.

In a narrative which can essentially be read as a standalone novel, Dragon Hunters conjures up a vibrant and magical world where deadly assassins stalk the streets and terrifying dragons rule on the high seas. With a sprawling cast of sea farers, mages and the strong arm of the law, Marc Turner has created an absorbing, creative and entirely unique world on which to enact this intricate drama  – a drama which had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish.

The sequel to When the Heavens Fall features gritty characters, deadly magic, and meddlesome gods.

Once a year on Dragon Day the fabled Dragon Gate is raised to let a sea dragon pass from the Southern Wastes into the Sabian Sea. There, it will be hunted by the Storm Lords, a fellowship of powerful water-mages who rule an empire called the Storm Isles. Alas, this year someone forgot to tell the dragon which is the hunter and which the hunted.

Emira Imerle Polivar is coming to the end of her tenure as leader of the Storm Lords. She has no intention of standing down graciously. She instructs an order of priests called the Chameleons to infiltrate a citadel housing the mechanism that controls the Dragon Gate to prevent the gate from being lowered after it has been raised on Dragon Day. Imerle hopes the dozens of dragons thus unleashed on the Sabian Sea will eliminate her rivals while she launches an attack on the Storm Lord capital, Olaire, to secure her grip on power.

But Imerle is not the only one intent on destroying the Storm Lord dynasty. As the Storm Lords assemble in Olaire in answer to a mysterious summons, they become the targets of assassins working for an unknown enemy. When Imerle initiates her coup, that enemy makes use of the chaos created to show its hand.

As mysterious earthquakes threaten to send Olaire under the sea, the Storm Lord capital marches on in earnest with its Dragon Day traditions. Once a year when the Dragon Gate is raised, one of the great sea serpents is allowed to pass into the Sabian Sea as the great and (not often) good of the lands gather to participate in the momentous hunt.

But this year marks the end of Emira Imerle Polivar’s tenure as leader of the Storm Lords, a tenure she is not willing to leave quietly. As dangerous Chameleon Priests vie to wreak havoc on the Dragon Day celebrations, and merchant seafarers, mysterious prisoners and powerful mages are caught up in the machinations of the Storm Lords, this is one day which is sure to change the course of history forever.

The world depicted in Dragon Hunters is one ruled by the sea. With islands, harbours, and the cities themselves falling to the steady rise of tides, Marc Turner has created a stunning seafaring world where not even the twisted alleys and decaying architecture of Olaire, the Storm Lord capital, are safe from the ever encroaching seas. In a narrative which revels in sumptuous description and phenomenal action, the intricacies of this world are strung out on a tightly woven plot which only benefits from this supremely well-imagined landscape.

As the flooded districts of Olaire become home to less salubrious characters, the narrative winds through this evocative urban landscape giving chase to assassins, uncovering treacherous plots and doing bloody battle against enemies unknown. But whilst the cityscape is undoubtedly impressive, it is the sheer power and brute force of the titular dragons of this tale who provide some of the most stunning moments. Captured in action-packed prose and descriptive detail, these monsters of the deep are tireless and destructive predators, great sea serpents who provide a deadly and unpredictable enemy in this antagonistic tale.

Dragon Hunters is undoubtedly a tale where enemies abound, playing host to an extensive cast of characters whose personalities vie for attention as the complex narrative unfolds. With perspectives from Chameleon Priests, battle-hardened warriors and the all-powerful Storm Lords, these characters create a detailed picture of a world which is always on the brink of action. From the enigmatic Mazana Creed to the scheming Imerle Polivar, from the long-suffering Septia Kempis Parr to the dangerous but naïve Karmel Flood, Dragon Hunters details an impressive assortment of personalities who drive the story along at a relentless pace.

Dragon Hunters is a complex and intricate tale which forms a world which is breathtakingly real. Turner’s command of the narrative and well thought out plot distinguishes the many characters caught in its web and allows the myriad threads of the tale to break apart and come together in frequent and spectacular style. In a torrent of evocative language, generous description and unimpeded action, Marc Turner doesn’t drop the thread once, creating a spellbinding and fully fleshed out world which layers intrigue upon intrigue and leaves me in great anticipation for the next instalment.

If you’re looking for a unique and captivating world, and are undaunted by a sprawling cast of characters and a complex narrative, then Dragon Hunters is certain to impress. Marc Turner has succeeded in blowing me away with this sumptuous and intricate world and his incredibly compelling writing style. This might be the second book in the Chronicles of the Exile, but I’m certain that it won’t be long before I’ve read and devoured When the Heavens Fall in eager expectation of the third in the series.

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads

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