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

Read Along: A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire – Week Two

A Local Habitation - white

| Week Two |

Welcome to the Read Along of A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire, organised by Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow.

Welcome to the second post in the A Local Habitation Read Along! Despite some minor teething issues, so far, so good! The story is really starting to kick into the action and presents a whole heap of mysterious happenings and suspicious characters to rattle your cage. This week the lovely Lynn of Lynn’s Books is hosting and has many a juicy question to explore!

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 5th March)

Chapters 1-9 – hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow

Week 2 (Saturday 12th March)

Chapters 10-18 – hosted by Lynn’s Books

Week 3 (Saturday 19th March)

Chapters 19-25 – hosted by Books by Proxy (me!)

Week 4 (Saturday 26th March)

Chapters 26-End – hosted by The Bibliosanctum

There will be spoilers!

| Week Two Rating |

| The Questions |

| 1. |

ALH is a very odd place – what do you make of it so far and it’s inhabitants? It has a different feel to the last book doesn’t it?

A Local Habitation is most definitely another creature when compared to its predecessor. The combination of magic and technology, as well as a location removed from the city, give it an altogether different feel. Much like the prologue in Rosemary and Rue, there have been moments up to this point where I wasn’t feeling the storyline and Toby’s voice failed to connect with me on some levels. This is partially due to the ‘I’m Batman, I’m not a hero, this is just what I do’ vibe that she’s currently giving off – call me British but I much prefer the self-loathing.

However, not all is doom and gloom! There have been some corking moments thus far and as the drama and tension increase so too do my levels of excitement and intrigue. The line of suspicion which is carried through the narrative builds a tense atmosphere and the labyrinthine ALH makes for a very interesting location. I also love my fair share of weird and wonderful characters so the strangeness and diversity of the inhabitants makes for fascinating reading and adds yet another dimension to the populace of the Summerlands. Here’s hoping by the next section I’ll be so engrossed in the storyline that the negatives are no longer noticeable.

| 2. |

There is certainly a lot going on at ALH – different dynamics, what are your feelings on the people you’ve met. Anything at all about those remaining and those who have died.

My, my, they are a varied bunch aren’t they. First of all I’m really pleased to see Quentin have more of a role in this novel. The dynamic between him and Toby is both interesting and amusing, and having a partner in crime ( or un-crime?) gives a whole different flavour to A Local Habitation. The residents of ALH are a mixed and colourful lot, both dead and alive. Half-truths abound and the narrative practically brims with all those secrets bubbling beneath the surface. This section of the novel definitely goes some way to decrease suspicion in certain areas but – hello paranoia! – I’m not entirely convinced!

Last week I suspected that Alex and Terrie might be one and the same person but dismissed it as perhaps a silly and somewhat perverse suggestion. However this week I am utterly convinced that they are. Their never crossing paths, highly suspicious behaviour and creepy allure all combine to make a pair – or one – weird and slightly disturbing fae. However, January seems much more innocent in this section of the novel – just a girl in over her head – and April similarly seems a lot less creepy, despite her surprise appearances throughout (although she’s still on my radar!). Elliot seems to be losing control in all the chaos and Gordon has an interesting introduction. A snarky and bad tempered fae, she brings plenty of wit to the storyline and I quite enjoy her crotchety Coblynau ways.

As for the dead, Barbara’s double dealing seems a little obvious at this point so perhaps there is something more going on there. I find the thought of carrying about a Selkie skin highly disturbing (or any flayed skin to be honest), and the obvious fact that at least one of them should have been able to hold their own or fight back against whatever is hunting them makes for a confusing, exciting and tense situation.

| 3. |

The phone call with Tybalt. I was curious about his comment about Riordan and what do you think he intends to do next? We’re learning a little bit more about the Cat Sidhe – what do you think Tybalt’s next move will be?

Here kitty, kitty. Poor Tybalt and his bruised ego – Toby sure knows how to rile him up – even if his concern for her likes to sneak through even his most snarky and sarcastic comments. Clearly Toby is keeping him grounded; can’t let all that power go to his head can we now.

I love how the Cait Sidhe are portrayed and it’s always wonderful to learn more about fae politics and motivations.  It’s interesting to see how far removed they are from the other fae but it certainly begs the question as to why Barbara would work for Riordan in the first place. As for what Tybalt will do as a result of it… well something tells me that he’s unlikely to leave Toby – or his jacket –  defenceless.

| 4. |

Barbara – what do you make of the new evidence that has come to light with her dealings with the Duchess of Dreamer’s Glass? What is she up to?

As raised in the previous point, it really does seem odd for a Cait Sidhe to become involved with the political games of other fae courts so, unless she was being framed, blackmailed or manipulated, I really couldn’t say what she was up to before her untimely demise! I’m particularly intrigued by Dreamer’s Glass and the Duchess though, both of which are a complete mystery to me! 

| 5. |

It looks like Toby is going to try and summon the Night Haunts? Any thoughts on how this will go and speculation about the Night Haunts?

I’ve been wondering about the Night Haunts ever since the first novel so I can’t wait for this side of the storyline. They conjure such dark and creepy imagery – what exactly do they do with the bodies? Eat them? And how do they go about making the replacement mannequins? Magic alone? – but I almost feel that the revelation of what they actually are will come as a complete surprise. In fact I think I’d be a little disappointed if they were the obvious.

| 6. |

Any guesses so far as to what’s going on?

I’m still completely in the dark. I definitely suspect Alex and Terrie of being the same person and I’m sure we’re not getting the full story when it comes to Barbara but other than that it’s just wild stabs in the dark… exactly something which Toby should be avoiding!

Stay tuned for the next instalment of this Read Along on 19th March

Read Along: Rosemary and Rue – Week Two

Rosemary and Rue Read Along

| Week Two |

Welcome to the Read Along of Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire, organised by Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow.

Welcome to the second post of the Rosemary and Rue Read Along!! I am loving this Read Along so far and this section was no exception! I cannot wait to carry on! This week is being hosted by the marvellous Lynn at Lynn’s Books and she has some juicy questions in store for this week’s installment.  Here’s how the schedule looks:

Week 1 (Saturday 9th January)

Chapters 1-6 – hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow

Week 2 (Saturday 16th January)

Chapters 7-14 – hosted by Lynn at Lynn’s Books

Week 3 (Saturday 23rd January)

Chapters 15-20 – hosted by Anya at On Starships and Dragonwings

Week 4 (Saturday 30th January)

Chapters 21-End – hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow

There will be spoilers!

| Week Two Rating |

4 and a half Stars

| The Questions |

| 1. |

We finally get to meet Devin and Sylvester. They’ve both played important roles in Toby’s life. What were your initial impressions of both of them and the worlds in which they live. What were your first thoughts about them?

Devin is a rather disreputable character who Toby is obviously very drawn to. It seems as though it was quite an abusive relationship so I definitely don’t trust him all these years later. There’s something strange about her decision to go Home rather than face Sylvester when she probably would have gone to see him anyway. So perhaps there was a more personal reason… perhaps after losing so much she was craving Home. And Devin seems the sort of character that people are drawn to, whether out of desire or neccessity, and once he has you hooked it’s hard to let go. We always want what’s bad for us after all, and it looks like Toby is no exception!

Sylvester, however, is on the other end of the spectrum! He appears warm and loving and ultimately forgiving. He seems the sort of man who would never resent or blame Toby for any of the wrongs in his life, no matter how responsible she felt or seemed. But perhaps that’s why she felt she couldn’t face him, because she felt as though she had let him down and couldn’t forgive herself for it. Though it did come as a surprise to me that Luna and Raysel were fine and at the Knowe! It made it seem even more strange that Toby went to see Devin before she worked up the courage to go and see Sylvester. But poor Toby’s head is all over the place so who can blame her!

| 2. |

I’m totally intrigued by the Hope Chest – do you have any ideas about what exactly it is and what might be the significance of it being found?

I honestly have no idea what is in the Hope Chest! It seems like an incredibly important artefact to changelings and a not so important one to purebloods. Perhaps the Hope Chest grants changelings full pureblood powers, or perhaps it just fulfils their whims and desires, or perhaps it’s nothing like that at all and it contains an alternative fae dimension! Who knows! I can’t wait to find out though – especially when it’s worth killing for!

| 3. |

Tybalt – I was curious as to Toby’s reasoning to trust him with the Hope Chest – what do you think?

I think Toby reasoned that the last place anyone would look for the Hope Chest would be in the hands of her ‘enemy’. Not that I would call Tybalt an enemy. And the fact that he’s a pureblood means that the Hope Chest seems inconsequential to him and he would have the power to protect it. Or perhaps Toby thought that Tybalt couldn’t wait to get something to hand to hold over her so she just handed something over to be done with it! I was hoping for some more Tybalt involvement though so it’s all fine by me!!

| 4. |

We experience the reaction of other members of the fae to the murder of Evening and Toby telling them about the Queen’s reactions – did their reactions give you any clues at all??

Devin and the kids at Home seemed to take the murder of Evening quite badly. Though I don’t trust Devin one bit, I don’t think he had anything to do with her murder… even if he does run a half way house for changelings who might desperately want to get their hands on the Hope Chest and stop short of nothing to get it…

Sylvester and Luna seemed deeply saddened and Raysel seemed… well… crazy! I think she’s just slightly unhinged (and somewhat evil) though and can’t imagine her being involved in the murder of Evening. Raysel’s husband Connor didn’t seem the type to kill Evening either… though he is definitely still into Toby!

| 5. |

What were your thoughts on Raysel and Luna?

Luna seems lovely! A beautiful fae with a beautiful heart and a fondness for flowers. I can’t wait until we get to see more of her! Raysel however seems completely unhinged! Where Luna looks back on her bad experiences with sadness, there is something wild and crazy about Raysel which permeates her coldness and makes her seem dangerous. Very dangerous.

| 6. |

That ending, did we just end up back in the first post? – what is going on? Speculation?? Lets just talk about it please.

Oh my! What an ending! Poor Toby is having a very tough time of it!!! Clearly the Hope Chest is very important if someone is trying to kill for it. And kill for it so soon! So will Toby be lying with the fishes for yet another eternity? I guess we’ll have to wait and see! I am so excited by this storyline!

Oh and… favourite creature so far – the Rose Goblin! How can anyone not love something described as “the bastard child of a house-cat and a rosebush.”

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

Sci-Fi Month 2015 Read Along: Week 2 Catch-Up

the long way to a small, angry planet

| Week 2 Catch-Up |

Welcome back to the Sci-Fi Month Read Along of The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, organised by Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow. Here is my Week 2 catch-up to warm you up for the Week 3 post tomorrow! This book has really surprised me, combining both fantastic character dynamics with an absorbing plot.  I can’t wait to find out what happens next! The schedule is as follows:

Week 1 (Friday, November 6th):

“Transit” to “Port Coriol” – hosted by Over The Effing Rainbow

Week 2 (Friday, November 13th):

“Port Coriol” to “The Last War” – hosted by Chris @ Galleywampus

Week 3 (Friday, November 20th):

“The Last War” to “Heresy” – hosted by Claire Rousseau

Week 4 (Friday, November 27th):

“Heresy” to the end – hosted by Over The Effing Rainbow

| The Questions |

| 1. |

There has been significant conversation about AI, what it means to be alive, whether or not AI should have rights, whether or not a person can fall in love with a specific instance of AI, etc. This is a bit of a sticky situation. After the discussion between Pepper and Jenks, how do you feel about Lovey’s and Jenks’ relationship? Should they move forward with their plan?

Ahh, the ultimate question – what does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be alive? To think, to feel and to grow. If a machine is capable of such thoughts and feelings, if their experiences shape them and make them something more than just a replicable program, should they be denied the rights that humans (and other sapient kind) claim as their own? Lovey learns from her experiences and they make her who she is – there is not another Lovey and, unless an AI was exposed to the exact same ‘life’ as her, there never would be.

I’m really intrigued by Lovey as an individual character alongside her relationship with Jenks. I love the interchange of ideas and thoughts between them, and how Lovey has already been thinking the decision through alone and has been weighing up the pros and cons. Despite the dangers associated with acquiring a body, I really want to see Lovey continue to grow as something more than just the ship’s AI. And damnit! If she wants a body, she should be allowed to have one!

| 2. |

In the chapter “Intro to Harmagian Colonial History,” we see Dr. Chef’s perspective of having been a mother, though he is currently male, and Sissix’s perspective that children aren’t people yet. Ohan is referred to as they/them. The Akarak are referred to as xyr/xe. These perspectives and preferences are perspectives actually held by different groups of humans in our own world. Do you think assigning these perspectives to aliens rather than humans make them easier or harder to sympathize with?

I love the diversity displayed in this novel, I love the myriad of alien species and their unique and vibrant cultures. I love how the history of humanity has developed and how each of the new divisions of humanity views its own past. This is a great novel for contrasting the disharmony of human and alien history and politics with the comradeship shown between crew members of the Wayfarer and those they meet on their journey.

With regards to the question, I imagine on the whole it is easier to sympathise with the alien perspective. It is much easier to look at something that is entirely different to us and expect it to be so, and even excuse it for being so. If we see something of ourselves reflected in someone whose lifestyle, belief system or culture is completely opposed to our own, it is much harder for us to understand even if we do sympathise. But, to link this back to the first question, it is our differences as much as anything that make us who we are, that make us human. Otherwise we might as well be replicable programs to be uploaded into new and entirely manufactured bodies.

| 3. |

How might the ship robbery have been different if the Wayfarer were armed?

The robbery aboard ship allowed Rosemary to display her courage, her resourcefulness and her intelligence which, had the crew been armed, she wouldn’t have otherwise been able to show. Though the crew were already fond of her, Rosemary’s actions definitely establish her as a valuable asset to the crew of the Wayfarer. If the crew had been armed, this novel may have taken a much shorter (and messier) way to the end after all! And we also got to meet another weird and wonderful alien species. A win, win really!

| 4. |

As I finished the fourth chapter in my section, “Cricket,” I thought it might be a good place to stop and talk about some of our favorite humorous moments so far. What scenes really tickled your funny bone? Who makes you laugh the most and why?

This novel is definitely one which remains lightly humorous throughout, perhaps not laugh out loud funny, but definitely one which continually makes me smile. I particularly like Rosemary’s interactions with her pixel plant….

‘Aw, it’s not so bad!’ chirped the pixel plant. ‘Give yourself a hug!’

‘Oh, shut up,’ Rosemary said.