Read-Along: Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey – Week Two


Welcome to the Kushiel’s Dart Read-Along, where week by week we read and explore the first in the Kushiel’s Legacy series by Jacqueline Carey. If anyone would like to join in with this Read-Along, just head on over to the Goodreads group page and sign up.



| Week Two |

Welcome to the Week Two in the Kushiel’s Dart Read-Along, where week by week we read and explore the first in the Kushiel’s Legacy series by Jacqueline Carey.

After a somewhat slow start in which a number of issues presented themselves, Chapters 17 to 31 of this Read-Along have really upped the ante and have definitely suckered me into the world of Terre D’Ange. Scroll down for sex, magic, politics and murder as I answer a number of questions prepared by Susan at Dab of Darkness.

Be warned – there will be spoilers!


| The Questions |

| 1. |

We get a few more hints of magic or the supernatural in this section. Phèdre sees Kushiel’s visage after Alcuin is injured; Hyacinthe’s mom & he himself both have things revealed via the dromonde; that moment of deep peace at Elua’s statue. What do you think of magic in this world?

The magic in this world appears subtle and strictly low fantasy. In fact, at this point I hadn’t actually thought of it as magic at all. It appears more like the faith and magic woven into our own history, where powerful and painful experiences create religious fervour and experiences of the unknown weave their own magic when no other explanation is to be had.

Phèdre has grown up in service to Naamah, well before she pledged herself, and her faith and beliefs are an intrinsic part of her character – how could they not be when they themselves are descended of angels – so it seems right that, as she undertakes assignations in Naamah’s name, she feels the spiritual connection much more deeply, resulting in visions in moments of pure pain and ecstasy.

As for the Tsingani, the supernatural premonitions that they experience seem more akin to our own folklore and mysticism. I look forward to seeing how this connection to the dromonde, and the subtleties involved in this type of supernatural magic, develops over the course of the novel.

| 2. |

More politics! For those new to the series, what do you make of Baudoin and his mother, the Lioness of Azzalle? For those rereading, are you noticing details you missed before?

The intrigue and politics of Terre D’Ange really up the ante in this section of the novel as we are thrown head first into conflict between powerful houses. And, for me, this is where things really start to get interesting.

As we are pulled away from Phèdre’s previously youthful and somewhat naive experiences in the Night Court, and as we begin to understand the dangerous and calculating game played by the nobility, we are given a glimpse of the power struggles, manipulations and extent to which people will go to bring land, people and houses under their control. And, for all that Delaunay is secretive with his own motivations, it also becomes clear how deeply rooted both he and Melisande are in this deadly game.

Both Baudoin and the Lioness of Azzalle appear fascinatingly flawed and brilliant characters and, although we are only given brief glimpses of their lives and sins, we can clearly see their desire, their power and their guilt. Where Baudoin is the epitome of spoilt arrogance and entitlement, the Lioness is a skilled and powerful manipulator who I am sorry we didn’t get to see more of at the height of her power. I only wonder who will come to take her place…

| 3. |

What do you think of Alciun’s final assignation? Guy’s death? Would Alcuin have been happier, but perhaps less useful, as something other than Naamah’s servant?

At this point in the novel we really see how much Alcuin despairs of his service to Naamah as he risks everything to gather Delaunay’s secrets and complete his marque, resulting in his pain, guilt and sorrow at the death of Guy.

I really felt for Alcuin at this point and it made me question Delaunay and his single-minded pursuit of powerful secrets, when it was so clearly at the expense of Alcuin’s own feelings and wishes. It also made me wonder why, for all Delaunay’s masterful perception, he had not realised how badly this service suited his charge.

With perhaps the exception of Phèdre, it also reiterates the point that children growing up in this world are groomed into positions they neither want nor enjoy and that it really shouldn’t be a choice a child should have to make. Whether out of loyalty or his love for Delaunay, there are infinite ways Alcuin could have repaid any debt to him. Indeed, Delaunay could have tutored him to gather information and secrets in much the same way he does himself, without having to sell his body in the process. At this point, I truly have no love lost on Delaunay.

| 4. |

Phèdre has a new bodyguard – a Casseline Brother, Joscelin Verreuil. What do you think his life was like before this posting? Are you surprised that Anafiel didn’t dismiss him after the confrontation with Childric d’Essoms?

I find the concept of the Casseline Brotherhood very intriguing and would love to understand more about their background, their training and their beliefs. Joscelin Verreuil seems young, untested and inexperienced, but the contrast he provides to Phèdre’s vibrant, sexual and mischievous character is wonderfully done. I’m looking forward to seeing how both his character and his relationship with Phèdre develop over the course of the novel.

| 5. |

We finally meet Barquiel L’Envers. How dangerous do you think this man is? What do you make of his history with Anafiel?

Oh how I enjoyed watching Delaunay squirm under Barquiel L’Enver’s powerful gaze. I am almost a bit worried that I’m enjoying all the villains of the novel far more than those we are supposed to empathise with…

| 6. |

How did you feel about Phedre granting Childric another assignation? Was she right that she owed him a debt?

As a servant of Naamah, Phèdre used her power over Childric D’Essoms to bargain with him outside an official assignation. Therefore, in her view, she still owed him a debt in return for this favour. Her motivations are also not entirely selfless as she also used this experience to feel pain, pleasure and forget her mounting woes at the time. I also particularly enjoyed the stark contrast between the pain inflicted by D’Essoms and the care he takes to ease Phèdre’s pain afterwards.

| 7. |

Alcuin has completed his marque and displays it to Anafiel. How do you feel about the shift in their relationship? Phedre’s response to it?

I found this latest development somewhat horrifying. Alcuin was rescued and raised by Delaunay from childhood, they display a father and son relationship throughout the entirety of the novel up until this point, and Delaunay still holds considerable power over his charge. Moving from father and son to lovers makes me incredibly uncomfortable and I almost wish Carey had taken the time to develop a love and bond between them which doesn’t revolve around sex, lust and desire. After all, we can all feel love and loyalty to others without the need for lust or romance. This development does not sit well with me.


| The Schedule |

Week One

[ Thursday 03rd September ]

Chapters 1 – 16 – hosted by Imyril at There’s Always Room For One More

Week Two

[ Thursday 10th September ]

Chapters 17 – 31 – hosted by Susan at Dab of Darkness

Week Three

[ Thursday 17th September ]

Chapters 32 – 47 – hosted by Zezee at Zezee with Books

Week Four

[ Thursday 24th September ]

Chapters 48 – 61 – hosted by Mayri at BookForager

Week 5

[Thursday 01st October ]

Chapters 62 – 79 – hosted by Peat Long at Peat Long’s Blog

Week 4

[ Thursday 08th October ]

Chapters 80 – End – hosted by Lisa at Dear Geek Place

If anyone would like to join in with this Read-Along, just head on over to the Goodreads group page and sign up.


Stay tuned for Week Three of this Read Along on 17th September

What are your thoughts on this week’s instalment of Kushiel’s Dart?

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This Week by Proxy: 31 August – 06 September


Welcome to This Week by Proxy. Join me as I link up with the Caffeinated Reviewer to look back on the past week and see what I’ve been reading, posting, watching and playing!


| This Week by Proxy: 31 August – 06 September 2020 |

Having not had a holiday in over six months, the other half and I made our way to the Lake District on Monday and spent the next four days reading books (or playing on the Switch), exploring the local landscape and visiting remote and ruined castles. It was wonderfully relaxing, completely peaceful and I only wish our stay could have been for just a bit longer.

The weekend, however, was spent picnicking in the park with my stepdaughter, visiting my mum and dad on their narrowboat, and relaxing with many a good book. Brilliant fun all round!

I hope you’ve all had a fantastic week and I will try to catch up on all the posts I’ve missed over the next few days! 


| Books Read |

Over the past week I completed both ‘The Trouble with Peace’ by Joe Abercrombie and ‘The Doors of Eden’ by Adrian Tchaikovsky and still managed to squeeze in a little Pratchett before the end. All different, all brilliant, and all a joy to read from beginning to end!


| Currently Reading |

This week I’m continuing to read ‘The Court of Broken Knives’, a brutal but beautifully written grimdark fantasy epic by Anna Smith Spark. Unfortunately, in my haste to pack my Kindle, I forgot to bring the book with me to the Lake District and I’m a little further behind than I wanted to be. I did, however, manage to pick up a wonderful assortment of books in the Kindle sale and have started ‘Tombland’, the seventh book in the Matthew Shardlake series by C.J. Sansom.

I am also taking part in the Read-Along for Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey, organised by Imyril at There’s Always Room for One More. My Week One post, which covers Chapters 1 – 16, can be found here. If anyone would like to join in with this Read-Along, just head on over to the Goodreads group page and sign up.


| Upcoming Reviews |

Having spent an entire week on holiday (and most of that time spent reading!) I am even more behind on the review front, but will hopefully get a few out in the coming week! Every single one of these books was amazing so expect a whole host of glowing reviews!


| Watching |

Season One of Absentia was both an enjoyable and exasperating experience. Stana Katic was incredible as Emily Byrne and the overall plot was tense and unpredictable, but Nick Durand, Emily’s ex-husband and FBI agent, was an incredibly frustrating character who treated Emily like dirt, had serious trust issues, and couldn’t find a clue if it was stapled to his face.  He annoyed me so much I almost stopped watching altogether. However, I am glad I continued as it did have quite a gripping plot and Season Two is proving a far less rage-inducing experience.

Meanwhile, the other half and I are watching Season Five of Lucifer, which is as lighthearted and comedic as ever, and Season Two of The Boys, which is both brutal and bloody brilliant.


| Gaming |

As the past week has been spent in literary bliss up in the Lake District, I’ve only had time for a few short but sweet games of Apex Legends since our return.


| Posts |

Review: The Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor

 

Music Mondays: Gurdy’s Green

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Foodie Book Covers

Teaser Tuesdays: Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett

Waiting on Wednesday: God of Night by Tom Lloyd

Read-Along: Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey – Week One

The Friday Face-Off: Cold and Crisp

My Top Ten Games of the Past Two Years


I hope you all have a wonderful, book-filled week!

What have you been reading, watching and playing this week? Have you accomplished any goals?

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Read-Along: Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey – Week One


Welcome to the Kushiel’s Dart Read-Along, where week by week we read and explore the first in the Kushiel’s Legacy series by Jacqueline Carey. If anyone would like to join in with this Read-Along, just head on over to the Goodreads group page and sign up.



| Week One |

Welcome to the first post in the Kushiel’s Dart Read-Along, where week by week we read and explore the first in the Kushiel’s Legacy series by Jacqueline Carey. If anyone would like to join in with this Read-Along, just head on over to the Goodreads group page and sign up.

The first novel in the Kushiel’s Legacy series has got off to a rather slow start but, while I’m not fully invested in Phèdre or the Night Court just yet, I am keen to see how the narrative unfolds in this popular fantasy read. This week Imyril at There’s Always Room For One More has some juicy questions to kick off the Read-Along in which I’ll discuss the elements of the narrative I enjoyed and those that weren’t entirely to my taste.

Be warned – there will be spoilers!


| The Questions |

| 1. |

You know it’s an epic fantasy when it starts with not only a map but a list of Dramatis Personae. How do you feel about this approach to beginning a new story? Do you read the character list or use it for reference along the way?

I am always here for a map, and the more of them the merrier!

I don’t often read through Dramatis Personae, unless I am starting a subsequent book in a series and need a bit of a refresh, but I have no problem with either starting or ending a book with one, especially when there are so many characters with incredibly florid names.


| 2. |

What are your first impressions of Elua and his Companions, and of D’Angeline culture? Are you comfortable with the way in which Jacqueline Carey has re-imagined the world?

This romanticised and dreamlike take on our world is interesting and detailed, if a little too idealised. There is an incredible amount of information to take in at this stage, and the florid language only serves to add another layer of complexity to a world which is already verging on the confusing for this first time reader.

| 3. |

Phèdre’s story begins in the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers. What are your thoughts on the Court, its adepts, the service of Naamah and the earning of marques? What House would you patronise – or belong to?

The Court of Night-Blooming Flowers is one of the most confusing, disturbing and interesting aspects of this novel so far.  The Night Court is described in such a way that it seems as though it is the centre of noble society – a society seemingly made entirely of courtesans. Now I understand this is probably confusion on my part but, apart from the vaguest hints, where are all the other citizens? What do they do when they don’t belong to the Night Court or use its services? I know there’s only so much that can be put into these overlong opening chapters but I found this lack of clarity very confusing.

I also found the aspect that children grow up to serve Namaah and are essentially groomed to join one of thirteen houses of the Night Court incredibly disturbing and off-putting. While the children, Alcuin and Phèdre included, do make their own choice to serve Namaah when they ‘come of age’, and I’m all for sex positivity, it is a choice bred of grooming, psychological manipulation and a lack of worldly knowledge and I’m not entirely comfortable with that. There also seems to be much buying and trading of flesh between houses which amounts to little more than slavery. These aspects of the novel make me incredibly uneasy and I find Phèdre’s obsessive desire at such a young age, and the desire of numerous adults for those who can only be considered children, unbelievably disturbing.

| 4. |

Guy, Alcuin and Phèdre are all devoted to the mysterious Anafiel Delaunay. Do you think he deserves their love? For first time readers, what are your theories about his past – and what do you think he is trying to achieve?

Both Alcuin and Phèdre seem content to blindly follow Delaunay to the ends of the earth, even though his motives are most certainly not clear at this stage. He  treats them well, or as well as you could treat someone you’ve bought with the intention of controlling, but he is not entirely honest and his protégés most definitely hero-worship with little thought to the reasons behind their purchase.

| 5. |

What do you make of Phèdre’s choice of signale?

Phèdre’s choice of signale is both sad and beautiful. To have but one true friend in the world who doesn’t require anything in return for that friendship highlights what a lonely existence children of the Night Court lead. I am all here for Phèdre and Hyacinthe’s honest, beautiful and roguish friendship.

| 6. |

Last but not least, the big week one check-in: now that you have seen a Showing and witnessed Phèdre’s first assignation, are you still in?

While, for me, this was something of a slow start which wades through much of Phèdre’s childhood in excessive, flowery detail, the incredible number of good reviews from so many respected reviewers means I am more than happy to stick with it in hope that the narrative will soon start to kick off. I’m also looking forward to enjoying the story from Phèdre’s adult perspective as I find the childhood sexualisation and servitude somewhat disturbing.


| The Schedule |

Week One

[ Thursday 03rd September ]

Chapters 1 – 16 – hosted by Imyril at There’s Always Room For One More

Week Two

[ Thursday 10th September ]

Chapters 17 – 31 – hosted by Susan at Dab of Darkness

Week Three

[ Thursday 17th September ]

Chapters 32 – 47 – hosted by Zezee at Zezee with Books

Week Four

[ Thursday 24th September ]

Chapters 48 – 61 – hosted by Mayri at BookForager

Week 5

[Thursday 01st October ]

Chapters 62 – 79 – hosted by Peat Long at Peat Long’s Blog

Week 4

[ Thursday 08th October ]

Chapters 80 – End – hosted by Lisa at Dear Geek Place

If anyone would like to join in with this Read-Along, just head on over to the Goodreads group page and sign up.


Stay tuned for Week Two of this Read Along on 10th September

What are your thoughts on this week’s instalment of Kushiel’s Dart?

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The Month Ahead: February 2018


Welcome to this February’s The Month Ahead at Books by ProxyBringing you blog related news and announcements!


| Announcement |

After a somewhat extended interval Books by Proxy is back! And I’m so looking forward to getting back into the swing of posting – believe me, I’ve missed it!

At some point in 2016, and again in 2017, my inability to strike a work / life / blog balance lead to a complete fall off the edge of the book-o-blogosphere – As many fellow bloggers can attest, sometimes we forget to just take it easy.

Life is considerably busier these days; 2017 saw me move into my new home with the other half, continue my foray into (not-at-all-wicked) step-motherhood, and commence the final step in my professional qualifications whilst assuming more responsibility at work. Something definitely had to give somewhere and, unfortunately, it was this blog.

Reading, however, remains my passion and, as I begin to organise my time more effectively and remember that this blog is for fun and my own peace of mind, it seemed like the perfect time to kick things off once again – both books and blogs are here to be enjoyed after all!

So here’s to catching up with reading, blogging and the wonderful online book community in 2018!


| Currently Reading |

Once again I am reading far too many books at one time – but why change the habit of a lifetime! This month I’m continuing my read of The Vagrant by Peter Newman and Half the World by Joe Abercrombie – two books which were started a considerably long time ago but got left behind when I moved house.

They are joined this February by the esteemed company of Lois the Witch by Elizabeth Gaskell, which I’m reading as part of The Gaskell Society lecture events in Manchester, The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, as part of my There and Back Again feature (see below). heart


| Coming Up on Books by Proxy |

There and Back Again: A Journey Through Middle Earth, is an indefinite season of all things Tolkien here at Books by Proxy. Join me as I make my journey through the most defining literature of my childhood, and unravel the details behind one of the most spectacular fantasy worlds ever made.

Beginning with a re-read of The Hobbit – where week by week I explore the novel in Chapter and Verse – I aim to bring you a series of continuing posts which take us on a journey through the works of Tolkien.

This series will be ongoing and fluid with both regular, weekly posts and one-off explorations – Expect Middle Earth related content a-plenty!

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It’s back! I couldn’t return to this blog without returning to one of my favourite memes of all time – Tough Travelling, now hosted by The Fantasy Hive. Join me once again as I explore the biggest tropes and clichés in fantasy fiction.heart

During my prolonged absence, my wonderful blogger friends have continued with The Friday Face-Off and kept it alive for well over a year – something which makes me immensely happy! I’ll be jumping back into the meme with the list compiled by the amazing Lynn over at Lynn’s Books, where you’ll be able to see all upcoming themes.

Here’s what’s coming up this February in The Friday Face-Off:

02nd February 2018 | Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

A psychedelic cover

09th February 2018 | My, What Big Teeth You Have

A cover featuring a cloaked figure

16th February 2018 | Groovy Baby

A cover that is retro

23rd February | There are too many steps in this castle, and it seems to me they add a few every night, just to vex me

A cover featuring a staircase


| February Goals |

To read four books

Status: 0 of 4 Complete

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To write a review once a week

Status: 0 of 4 Complete

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What are you reading at the moment? What are your goals for the month ahead? 

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Read Along: Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman – Week One




| Week One |

Welcome to the Read Along of Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman, organised by Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow.

Welcome to the first post in the Between Two Thorns Read Along! The first novel in The Split Worlds series has got off to an interesting start and, with a good dose of intrigue and excitement even at this early stage, looks set to be a fantastic read. This week Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow has some juicy questions to kick off the Read Along!

Here’s how the schedule looks:

Week 1 (Monday 9th May)

Chapters 1-9 – hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow

Week 2 (Monday 16th May)

Chapters 10-18 – hosted by On Starships and Dragonwings

Week 3 (Monday 23rd May)

Chapters 19-25 – Imyril at OneMore.org

Week 4 (Monday 30th May)

Chapters 26-End – hosted by Lynn’s Books

There will be spoilers!

If anyone would like to join in with the Read Along, just head on over to the Goodreads group page and sign up.


| Week Four Rating |


| The Questions |

| 1. |

Let’s tackle the setup, first of all. The world of the Nether is caught between the Fae world and ours, and is also apparently too old-fashioned for Cathy, our escaping protagonist, to want to live in. What were your first impressions given her views on her home and family?

Only a short way into the novel and I’m already thoroughly intrigued by this fascinating and rather complicated world! Even though we’ve only just begun to explore the relationship between the Mundane, the Nether, and the Fae world beyond, it already presents a delightful clash of classes, cultures, tradition and history which will do doubt prove central to the storyline.

The modernity of the Mundane world and the ability for the Fae-touched to interact with it, gives a flavour of realism to this magical affair, and the introduction of a protagonist who has come from an entirely different world only to have become rooted in our own, seems like a refreshing take on the genre.

Cathy is already a fascinating character who seems to be burdened with curses, wishes and a mysteriously complex past which looks set to unfold over the course of the novel. A girl who seems to have been lost in her upbringing, preferring the forbidden lessons of her governess, Miss Rainer, to the tradition of Fae-touched life, Cathy is an oddity of her kind. With the exception of her brother, it seems as though her home life was less than a happy one and, with an abusive and controlling father and something of a manipulative mother, it’ll be fascinating to see how she will cope with the imminent loss of her freedom and her return to the Fae court.

The introduction of the mysterious Shopkeeper and his subsequent betrayal of Cathy, along with the arrival of the dangerous Lord Poppy, lends a powerful and unpredictable air to the storyline – one which is fascinating from the start and looks set to give Cathy a run for her money! Oh, and I just love that irritating little faerie!!!

| 2. |

There appears to be corruption and murder afoot among the Arbiters, a sort of supernatural police, and it doesn’t lead to good times for Max. What do you make of the magical soul surgery that the Arbiters undergo to do their jobs?

A supernatural police force severed from their souls and seemingly incorruptible? What’s not to love?! The Arbiters and Max’s story arc are definitely a highlight within this section of the novel and have provided a tense and exciting narrative from the get go. With thousands of questions raised but very few answered, Between Two Thorns looks set to take us on quite the ride through to hell (or perhaps just the Nether) and back.

The concept of the soul chain is wonderfully unique and completely fascinating. They exhibit an inherently twisted quality which brings a sinister undertone to the Arbiters – a faction who already seem a powerful, dangerous and relentless force! The dramatic events which culminate in the destruction of the Bath Arbiters, and the sinister undertakings of the London Chapter, make Max’s narrative incredibly difficult to pull away from – and that’s without the introduction of the wonderfully comedic Gargoyle! I can’t wait to see what happens next!

| 3. |

Even more mysterious is Sam’s accidental involvement in the mystery. Any thoughts on the hapless mortal and what might become of him?

The unfortunate Sam brings a touch more humour to the storyline with his ridiculous introduction to the Fae world. There is definitely something about him – or about an unknown object in his possession – which has given pause to the Fae, and their subsequent decision to considerately bludgeon the memories out of him leads one to suspect that something is most certainly afoot. Sam, the Fae who nicked his wallet, the one who dropped dead in his office, and not to mention the body they were carting off pre-bludgeoning, all look set to lead us down a very intriguing path!

Stay tuned for the next instalment of this Read Along on 16th May

The Month Ahead: May 2016


In The Month Ahead, I will be rounding up the books I’m currently reading, the ones I will start this month, and the ones I intend getting my mitts on… if I haven’t already! Expect news and features by the bucketful!


| Currently Reading |

This month I’m embarrassed to say that NOS4R2 and Emma are still on my currently reading pile – one day they’ll leave it, I promise! – but this month they’re in the wonderful company of Lustlocked by Matt Wallace and Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman.

What are you reading at the moment? 
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| May Events |

Here are the upcoming themes for this month’s Friday Face-Off:

06th May 2016 | You Got The Blues

A cover which is predominantly blue

13th May 2016 | Which Witch is Which?

A cover which features a witch and/or witchcraft

20th May 2016 | Just Then Flew Down a Monstrous Crow

A cover which features a bird

27th May | Renewed Shall be Blade That Was Broken

A cover which features the word ‘blade’ in its title


The Between Two Thorns Read Along

Organised by Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow

Week 1 (Monday 9th May)

Chapters 1-9 – hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow

Week 2 (Monday 16th May)

Chapters 10-18 – hosted by On Starships and Dragonwings

Week 3 (Monday 23rd May)

Chapters 19-25 – Imyril at OneMore.org

Week 4 (Monday 30th May)

Chapters 26-End – hosted by Lynn’s Books

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For this month’s Read Along we’ll be reading the first book in The Split Worlds series by Emma Newman, Between Two Thorns. If you’re interested in joining in then head on over to the Goodreads group page and sign up!heart

| Synopsis |

Something is wrong in Aquae Sulis, Bath’s secret mirror city.

The new season is starting and the Master of Ceremonies is missing. Max, an Arbiter of the Split Worlds Treaty, is assigned with the task of finding him with no one to help but a dislocated soul and a mad sorcerer.

There is a witness but his memories have been bound by magical chains only the enemy can break. A rebellious woman trying to escape her family may prove to be the ally Max needs.

But can she be trusted? And why does she want to give up eternal youth and the life of privilege she’s been born into?

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| May Goals |

This May I’ve decided to mix up my usual goals (which inevitably fail) and set a challenge I may actually complete. Having been a member of the Goodreads Group for a while now but having yet to participate, this month I will be starting my RMFAO Genre Challenge. I’ve put together quite a large list – intention is everything after all – so hopefully I’ll tick at least a few off and actually get some classics read this year!heart

| The Target |

Level 5

Bookiopath

5 books or more (challenging)

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| The Books |

Bulldog Drummond by Sapper (PB)

Service with a Smile by P.G. Wodehouse (PB)

Ashenden by W. Somerset Maugham (PB)

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (PB)

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick (PB)

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells (EB)

Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne (EB)

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For a list of the rules, levels and each month’s genres, head on over to the Goodreads page


| May Releases |

And here is a (by no means comprehensive) list of the releases I’m most looking forward to this May – dates are from UK publishers only (though many will coincide!).

10th May

Too Like The Lightning

by Ada Palmer

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Children-of-Earth-and-Sky-Guy-Gavriel-Kay1

Children of Earth and Sky

by Guy Gavriel Kay

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19th May

The Sudden Appearance of Hope

by Claire Northheart

TheTowerofTheSwallow

The Tower of the Swallow

by Andrzej Sapkowski

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medusa-chronicles-cover-reveal

The Medusa Chronicles

by Alastair Reynolds and Stephen Baxterheart


24th May

26239013

A Blade of Black Steel

by Alex Marshallheart

Have you picked up any great books lately? What are your goals for the month ahead? 

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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

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

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




| Week Two |

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

Welcome to the second post in the An Artificial Night Read Along! And wow – what a week! This section was exciting, terrifying and despairing all rolled into one – Seanan McGuire has really upped the ante in this one! This week is hosted by your truly, so scroll down for the Q&A!

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 Two Rating |


| The Questions |

| 1. |

Toby makes her journey to Blind Michael’s realm with the aid of the Luidaeg – who is back and on form and has, as yet, decided to hold off on killing Toby. What did you think of Toby’s journey by candlelight and her first encounter with the Wild Hunt? What do you think this favour is going to cost her with the Luidaeg?

Well what an amazingly exciting and scary section this turned out to be! Seanan McGuire is not holding back and this novel has taken on a distinctly dark and sinister aspect. As soon as the Luidaeg agreed to help I almost felt that it was something she would not strike a bargain with – it just seemed overwhelmingly important. And by the end of this I can’t help but feel that Toby is the one who will be owed – after all, why isn’t anyone else willing to help with such an important task? It almost makes me angry! However, I do love that we get to see more of the Luidaeg’s power and, all the way through this novel, a little more about the powers of the Firstborn and their complicated existence.

I loved how creepy and sinister Toby’s journey by candelight was. Not knowing what she was doing or how the candle might help her made for an incredibly tense read – but I suppose being told very little about what might help her shows just how important it is for her to get there and back again in as little time as possible. Her discovery that the Luidaeg had turned her into a child was a fantastic twist but rather worrying all the same as the one thing that would both help and hinder her in equal measure.

As for the Wild Hunt:

“The horns sounded a final time, and Blind Michael’s Hunt poured over the hill. There were at least a dozen of them, dressed in mismatched armour and mounted on vast horses whose hooves ripped the earth as they ran.”

With the descriptions of the Wild Hunt, McGuire creates a truly powerful and formidable enemy whose introduction whilst chasing a small girl is both heartbreaking and terrifying. There is something both very predictable and very unpredictable about Blind Michael’s Hunt; there are no individuals, it’s just the Hunt – almost a collective conscience – and their absolute determination to exact Blind Michael’s will. We just don’t know whether the horns will be blaring and the hooves will come pounding, or whether freedom is just around the corner…

| 2. |

As a prisoner of Blind Michael, Toby encounters a disturbing number of altered and transformed children and, assisted by Quentin, discovers the children who are yet to be toyed with. What were your thoughts when Toby discovered these child monsters and other detainees? Do you think there is any hope for them? And what did you make of Quentin’s bargain with the Luidaeg?

Oh Quentin – will you stop getting yourself into all this trouble! Quentin’s arrival was both a relief and frustrating; one part of me is absolutely firm in the belief that Toby should not have to face Blind Michael alone but Quentin… will you just do as you’re told and stop trying to get yourself killed! However, the bargain he made with the Luidaeg shows that he has the utmost belief in Toby and, despite being too like her for his own good, is determined to do the right thing even if everyone else has abandoned the cause.

Toby’s discovery of the transformed children, however, was both scary and incredibly sad. After all, these children are changed and completely unpredictable but they are still children, even if they’ve been that way for hundreds of years. I’m not certain there is any hope for them, certainly not while Blind Michael is alive to force his glamours on them, but I remain in hope that something can be done to make their lives a little better. I can’t help but feel that the answer we’re looking for may be found during the brief introduction where Danny gives a home to some dangerous Barghest pups… Danny’s Home for the Terrifyingly Transformed and Monstrously Misaligned? I guess we’ll have to wait and see!

| 3. |

In spectacular style, Toby swoops in and relieves Blind Michael of his prisoners and vows to put an end to his evil ways. How do you think Blind Michael will react when he discovers Toby and the children are missing? What do you think Toby will do for those she left behind?

With powerful glamours which make children, and anyone else that falls under his spell, worship him as a god, Blind Michael comes across as very creepy and incredibly sinister. His motives are as much a mystery as anything else in this realm – which makes it all the more scary! – and his adherence to the rules of children’s games seems a woefully insubstantial thing to rest ones hopes on.

However, I was extremely relieved when Toby found the recent abductees unaltered, except of course for poor Katie. I truly felt for her when she had to leave some of the children behind in order to escape with the others, but I can’t help but feel that her decision to take more children than she bargained for is going to cause a whole world full of trouble. Blind Michael is going to exact his vengeance – it goes without saying – but what will happen next remains a complete mystery to me. No one is going to get through this one unchanged.

| 4. |

Whilst straying into the forests within Blind Michael’s realm, Toby encounters Acacia whose revelations regarding Blind Michael and her own daughter are nothing short of astounding. Were you expecting this? What were your thoughts and reactions?!! How does this change your view of the characters involved?

Wow – just wow – I really wasn’t expecting this! Luna and Sylvester were definitely acting suspiciously and were obviously hiding something but I hadn’t expected this to be the answer! I don’t blame Luna for hiding her heritage, I wouldn’t have expected anything else had I known who her parents were, but I do blame her for doing less than she could have to aid Toby. But at least she pointed her in the direction of the Luidaeg. Luna is clearly a lot more powerful than at first thought and I can’t wait to see how this revelation changes things from here on in.

Acacia, however, is a very interesting character in her own right who I almost feel sorry for. She seems almost trapped in that realm, tending her tree children and claiming those who cross her borders, but without the daughter she so clearly loves. I can’t wait to see how her own story will play out within the narrative and whether she will play a part in bringing about the end of Blind Michael’s rule or in aiding him. Whether she will be a force for good or a force for evil is as yet unknown, but her connection to well established characters is sure to make this an even more thrilling read!

| 5. |

Toby seems to have escaped Blind Michael’s clutches – for now! – and is currently enjoying the company of her Fetch, May. What do you expect will happen from here? Do you expect her to pursue Blind Michael to the end? And what are your thoughts on Toby’s sentient portent of death and its implications for her future?

As usual, I have no idea how this will pan out! Blind Michael is sure to come after Toby after her rescue of the children and Toby is sure to fight him every step of the way. Whatever happens, I expect it to be pretty epic! No doubt this is where May will have a role to play, but as yet I’m uncertain about what her arrival truly means – we do have a whole series to come after all – but for now, I’m just going to enjoy this strange and ridiculously upbeat Toby doppelgänger. I fully expect the rest of this novel to blow me away!

Stay tuned for the next instalment of this Read Along on 23rd April