Tuesday, September 24, 2019

The Unkindest Tide by Seanan McGuire

Title: The Unkindest Tide
Author: Seanan McGuire
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: October Daye #13

Hardcover, 368 pages

Publication: September 9, 2019 by DAW

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.


Hundreds of years ago, the Selkies made a deal with the sea witch: they would have the sea for as long as she allowed it, and when the time came, she would call in all their debts at once. Many people assumed that day would never come. Those people were wrong.

When the Luidaeg—October "Toby" Daye's oldest and most dangerous ally—tells her the time has come for the Selkies to fulfill their side of the bargain, and that Toby must be a part of the process, Toby can't refuse. Literally. The Selkies aren't the only ones in debt to the Luidaeg, and Toby has to pay what she owes like anyone else. They will travel to the fabled Duchy of Ships and call a convocation of the Selkies, telling them to come and meet the Luidaeg's price...or face the consequences.

Of course, nothing is that simple. When Dianda Lorden's brother appears to arrest Dianda for treason against the Undersea, when a Selkie woman is stripped of her skin and then murdered, when everything is falling apart, that's when Toby will have to answer the real question of the hour.

Is she going to sink? Or is she going to swim?

Bringing back the Roane has been a long time coming. After hundreds of years The Luidaeg is finally fulfilling her promise and cashing in on Toby’s debts. With The Luidaeg, Toby, the gang and some tagalongs; the group travels to the Duchy of Ships for the Selkie Convocation as The Luidaeg determines the clans’ fate. But of course, this is Toby we’re talking about, nothing can ever be just as is. As the convocation begins, Toby finds herself in the middle of searching for a clan member’s murderer and rescuing Peter Lorden from Saltmist.
We’re thirteen books into the October Daye series and it is still going strong. The last couple of books were a hit and miss for me but the tides (pun intended) has changed with The Unkindest Tides. In the latest installment of the series, I begun to feel the same spark and enjoyment as I had when I first started the series ten years ago. In The Unkindest Tides, we find both The Luidaeg and Toby in a tough predicament. They are on the verge of righting a past wrong that will change all of Faerie.  By bring back the Roane, they’re bringing back not only an extinct race but also the power of seers/oracles and taking away the option for the Selkies to pass down their skins to their children. Which means those without skin will die as humans.
The Luidaeg has always been an enigmatic character; she’s a Firstborn, The Sea Witch, a legend and a monster to some. But we finally see the women beneath the mask; Antigone of Albany, a daughter, a mother, Cousin Annie and friend. I’ve always felt that The Luidaeg was wearing a mask and putting up walls, afraid of getting close to anyone. Thinking that she needed to uphold the image and expectations that people had of her. I could imagine how exhausting it was. I loved seeing this new unburdening and lighter version of The Luidaeg and learning more about her past and the Selkie/Roane.
I get pretty excited each and every time I see a new part of Faerie. In The Unkindest Tides, McGuire takes readers into an alternate dimension to the Duchy of Ships which is exactly like what you’d imagine. An island comprised out of shipwrecks and accumulated oddities from wine barrels, net, metal, barnacles and so much more. The duchy’s inhabitants are from all over the realms, most so unique even Toby can’t figure out their scent signature. And one of the last unexpected surprises was the island captain, which I won’t say much about except that Captain Jack Sparrow got nothin’ on Pete.
All in all, I thought The Unkindest Tides was a great addition to the series. Despite being thirteen books into the series, I still find myself excited to see all the mayhem and adventures the characters find themselves in. Crossing my fingers for a wedding in the next book!

Friday, September 20, 2019

The Rook by Daniel O'Malley

Title: The Rook
Author: Daniel O'Malley
Genre: Sci-fi/Fantasy
Series: The Checquy Files #1

Hardcover, 496 pages

Publication: January 11, 2012 by Ace

Source: Personal Library.


"The body you are wearing used to be mine." So begins the letter Myfanwy Thomas is holding when she awakes in a London park surrounded by bodies all wearing latex gloves. With no recollection of who she is, Myfanwy must follow the instructions her former self left behind to discover her identity and track down the agents who want to destroy her.

She soon learns that she is a Rook, a high-ranking member of a secret organization called the Chequy that battles the many supernatural forces at work in Britain. She also discovers that she possesses a rare, potentially deadly supernatural ability of her own.

In her quest to uncover which member of the Chequy betrayed her and why, Myfanwy encounters a person with four bodies, an aristocratic woman who can enter her dreams, a secret training facility where children are transformed into deadly fighters, and a conspiracy more vast than she ever could have imagined.

The Rook has been on my TBR pile since 2012! The shame. I found out STARZ network was developing a series adaptation of the novel, which was released late last month. The trailer looked promising and rekindled my interest in starting the novel. The Rook takes place in modern-day London and follows a Rook agent named Myfanwy Thomas…except Myfanwy doesn’t know who she really is. When the book opens, readers finds Myfanwy sprawled out on the concreate covered in blood with the rain pouring down on her and dead bodies riddled around her. Turns out Myfanwy is part of the last paranormal agency in London, an agency sworn to protect citizens against things that go bump in the night. I love books that are centered around secret organization!

While trying to figure out who she is and who she needs to become, Myfanwy is caught between ghost-alien cases, political board meetings, Shady German shape-shifters and hitmen at every corner. She’s trying to fake her way through every obstacle while concealing the fact that she has amnesia and has zero recollection of her past life. The Rook cover looks quite official and the tone of the beginning of book was grim with a no-nonsense vibe to it. Which was why Myfanwy's light-hearted humorous attitude and approach to everything was a welcome surprised. It was the perfect balance to all the unlucky, disgusting and downright horrible things she had to endure. I really like Myfanwy, her comical nature made her oblivious sometimes but other than that she’s quite brilliant, like a modern-day supernatural Nancy Drew.
I enjoyed The Rook much more than I thought I would and am looking forward to seeing more of the chequy.
Has anyone checked out Starz’s The Rook? If so, please do let me know what you think! I’m interested in seeing Gestalt!

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Blood Song by Anthony Ryan

Title: Blood Song
Author: Anthony Ryan
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Raven's Shadow # 1

Publication: January 2, 2012 by Ace

Source: Borrowed from the library.

Vaelin Al Sorna was only a child of ten when his father left him at the iron gate of the Sixth Order—a caste devoted to battle. Vaelin will be trained and hardened to the austere, celibate and dangerous life of a warrior of the Faith. He has no family now save the Order.

Vaelin’s father was Battle Lord to King Janus, ruler of the Unified Realm—and Vaelin’s rage at being deprived of his birthright knows no bounds. Even his cherished memories of his mother are soon challenged by what he learns within the Order. But one truth overpowers all the rest: Vaelin Al Sorna is destined for a future he has yet to comprehend. A future that will alter not only the Realm but the world.

The Raven’s Shadow series has many high praises and is known as one of the best fantasy series around. So, of course I wanted to know what the fuss was all about. I listened to the audiobook of Blood Song and it took me a couple of runs before I got into the story. The novel follows the journey of Vaelin Al Sorna, who was abandoned to The Sixth Order (monastery-like) at a young age to adulthood, where he began to acquire a notorious reputation throughout the entire realm as a skilled warrior.

The narrator of Vaelin Al Sorna did a wonderful job in bringing the character to life. I thought his voice was very pleasant and it suited the setting. A good portion of the novel took place in The Sixth Order, where Sorna and the other young men were trained and tested to become warriors of the realm. This by far was the most interesting part of the novel, seeing what the young men went through and how their relationship formed over the duration of their stay within the order. Then halfway through the novel, Sorna and a few of his brother departed the order, Sorna became the King’s hand…and that’s where things got messy, confusing, and slightly boring.

The story in my opinion morphed into another story that left me uninterested and withdrawn. Even as I write this review, I cannot recall much of what happened after Sorna left the order. I remember he was trying to find out who’s was trying to kill him and him trying to save Sister Clara (was that her name?). That’s pretty much it.

Blood Song was a hit and miss for me. I enjoyed the first portion of the novel, but the second half, not so much. The world building and characters could have been better developed in my opinion because as the story progressed, I felt as if the author spent more time on creating plot twists than anything else. I thought the writing was well-done, and everything flowed nicely but sadly everything else fell short in comparison. With that said, while I enjoyed some of it, I won’t be continuing with the series.

Monday, September 02, 2019

The Passengers by John Marrs

Title: The Passengers
Author: John Marrs
Genre: Fiction, Thriller
Series: N/A

Hardcover, 352 pages
Publication: August 27, 2019 by Berkley

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

Just as self-driving cars become the trusted, safer norm, eight people find themselves in this terrifying situation, including a faded TV star, a pregnant young woman, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and wife, and a suicidal man.

From cameras hidden in their cars, their panic is broadcast to millions of people around the world. But the public will show their true colors when they are asked, "Which of these people should we save?...And who should we kill first?"
I hope I’m not being too presumptuous by saying that driver-less vehicles are the future. We already see some aspect of it in the Google and Tesla cars. In Marrs’s latest thriller, The Passengers, Marrs paints a world where the emergence of autonomous vehicles are mandatory and the new norm. Say goodbye to human-error accident, traffic, and fuel consumption to name a few. Manufacturers and The Government assured the citizens that the driver-less cars are extremely safe and un-hackable. All good, right? Nope. The opening chapters shows eight hijacked autonomous vehicles with everything televised and broadcast all around the world. Giving the everyday citizens the right to be judge, jury and executioner on which passengers lives or dies.

The Passengers is my first Marrs novel and I must say, I am beyond impressed. While the concept and highly plausible potential of hacking technology isn’t quite new, Marrs took the idea and created an incredible and engaging plot that had me at the edge of my seat the entire time. I absolutely loved the writing and formatting of the book. Marrs timed and executed the chapters and passengers’ revelations perfectly. Marrs ended each chapter with just the right amount of information and detail to entice the reader guaranteeing that they’d continue along with the story. I know I was. I kept telling myself ‘just one more chapter…’. Readers were treated to various point-of-views, alternating chapters between the passengers and jury member, Libby. I’m usually not a big fan of multiple POVs but in this case, it worked well. I felt like I was getting to know each and every character intimately, their feelings and emotion so palpable they lept off the pages. Definitely a character driven novel, we delved deep into human behaviors.

On top of the driver-less vehicles, social media played a significant role in the story. In this day and age, the majority of the world is on some sort of social media platform or another. There isn’t a second that goes by when someone isnt’ sharing or exposing some part of theirs or others’ lives. Everyone has an opinion for everything, even if it’s unsolicited. What’s crazy and scary about Marr’s novel is that it’s all so freaking plausible. Most technology is indeed hackable but combine that with social media…and it’s an entirely different beast. In The passengers, strangers world-wide chimed on the fate of the passengers, making judgments, and deciding who lived or died based on basic thread thin facts. Sounds familiar right? Marrs did an excellent job at capturing that real world reality. 

All in all, I really enjoyed The Passengers. It is without a doubt a masterly well-written thriller. I call it now, The Passengers is going to get an adaptation some time in the near future! I highly recommend The Passengers, it was unputdownable! I can’t believe I haven’t read anything else by Marrs but I plan to remedy that soon.