Review: An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire. (October Daye #3)

An Artificial Night (October Daye, #3)

“Experience the thrill of the hunt in the third October Daye urban fantasy novel.

October “Toby” Daye is a changeling-half human and half fae-and the only one who has earned knighthood. Now she must take on a nightmarish new challenge. Someone is stealing the children of the fae as well as mortal children, and all signs point to Blind Michael. Toby has no choice but to track the villain down-even when there are only three magical roads by which to reach Blind Michael’s realm, home of the Wild Hunt-and no road may be taken more than once. If Toby cannot escape with the children, she will fall prey to the Wild Hunt and Blind Michael’s inescapable power.”

~ Goodreads Description.

An Artificial Night is book 3 of the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire. One of THE best Urban Fantasy series around at the moment!

It doesn’t really work well as a stand alone – there’s far too much going on that the reader is expected to know from the previous two books in the series. but If you like reading Urban Fantasy, this series is excellent, and this book – book three is where things really start to get interesting – setting up the chain of events and plot points that are going to cascade onwards throughout the rest of the series!

An Artificial Night is really, really good! (I would say it’s actually better than book 1 – Rosemary and Rue!) It’s fantastic!

If you only read one Urban Fantasy series – read this series!

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Review:What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe.

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

“From the creator of the wildly popular xkcd.com, hilarious and informative answers to important questions you probably never thought to ask.

Millions visit xkcd.com each week to read Randall Munroe’s iconic webcomic. Fans ask him a lot of strange questions: How fast can you hit a speed bump, driving, and live? When (if ever) did the sun go down on the British Empire? When will Facebook contain more profiles of dead people than living? How many humans would a T Rex rampaging through New York need to eat a day?

In pursuit of answers, Munroe runs computer simulations, pores over stacks of declassified military research memos, solves differential equations and consults nuclear reactor operators. His responses are masterpieces of clarity and hilarity, complemented by comics. They often predict the complete annihilation of humankind, or at least a really big explosion.”

~ Goodreads description.

From the creator and visionary behind the XKCD web-comic comes What If? A non-fiction masterpiece.

This book is a fantastic collection of detailed and well thought out answers to many of those “What If…” questions you often hear. You know, the kind that certain people will scoff at as a stupid question or “It could NEVER happen…”. Instead, Randall Munroe takes various questions and actually works out what WOULD happen (assuming this or that), often with fatal consequences for someone!

This book will make you interested in science! (If you weren’t already.)
Give you nightmares! (If you’re easily scared!)
Give you ideas for your next evil device or plot. (If you’re an evil villain in a hollowed-out dormant volcano.)

This is a fun book!

Review: Harvest Season: An Anthology by the SF Squeecast.

Harvest Season: An Anthology by the SF Squeecast

“The cold is coming.

An orange harvest moon rises above the horizon and the chill air carries the promise of the first frost that will soon be crunching beneath our feet. There is the tang of smoke in the air, of leaves piled together and burning brightly as we push back against the darkness. It is time now, time to reap so that later it will be time to sow, time to gather in the harvest of summer past to sustain us during the long, cold nights that will arrive far too soon.

It is a time for endings, and change, and new beginnings to come.

Join the members of the Hugo Award-winning SF Squeecast as they take us on a journey around this world and other worlds not so far from our own, to places where it is time at last for the Harvest Season.”

~ Goodreads description.

The SF Squeecast was a fantastic podcast that saw a cool group of SFF writers generally squee about things that they were really enjoying (This podcast won Hugo Awards!). It was fun, positive and hugely entertaining! At some point, a number of the SF Squeecast crew managed to put together this fantastic anthology of short fiction.

Featuring stories by Catherynne M. Valente, Elizabeth Bear, Michael Damien Thomas and Seanan McGuire – This anthology is a great way to sample and get a taster of the styles of writing each author has on offer!

This anthology is great! Mostly stories (mainly novelette – novella in length) with a poem and some detailed bibliographies of the contributors (great If you want to hunt down any other short stories by a particular author).

Every story here is fantastic.
One story made me cry actual tears when it was over! (It was my favourite!)

I came to this anthology after the Podcast that inspired it was wound down. But I hope that, like the return of the seasons – the Squeecast will return. As another anthology like this one (which would be awesome!) or another podcast of some kind.

I’m not going to say which story was my favourite – they were all so good, that if you decide to give them a try, you should come to each of them untainted by presumptions.

Buy this anthology. Read these stories! Enjoy the words! There are not enough stars to give this!

Buy it on Amazon Kindle UK.

Buy it on Amazon Kindle US.

Search all other ebook stores for SF Squeecast.

SF/F Read Alongs: Any Other Name By Emma Newman. (Week 4)

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This read along of Between Two Thorns was organized by the SF/F Read Along group on Goodreads, and has been broken down into four, one week chunks, each week participants are asked some questions on what they think so far.

There WILL be spoilers beyond this point – and possibly swearing, prepare for profanity!

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Review: Temporally Out of Order.

Temporally Out Of Order is an Anthology of short fiction edited by Joshua Palmatier and Patricia Bray, where all stories share a theme or idea of temporal dislocation – ordinary objects behaving temporally out of order and how they might change everyday lives.

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It’s a wonderful idea that has spawned quite a few excellent stories. The Anthology was originally funded through Kickstarter (which is how I got my copy) and is now available via Amazon.

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The Nightmare Stacks by Charles Stross. (Events)

Wednesday 22nd of June: On Wednesday, Charlie was interviewed by the Edward James at an event hosted by the BSFA. I watched the interview online via periscope (As I couldn’t get down to London on the Wednesday) and it was full of interesting nuggets of gold. Check it out via the embedded tweet below!

Thursday 23rd of June*: On Thursday, Laundry Files fans finally saw in the release of the latest Laundry novel by Charles Stross (In the UK). The seventh novel in the series, It’s a book that a lot of fans have been looking forward to.

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The Nightmare Stacks by Charles Stross

“Alex Schwartz had a great job and a promising future – until he caught an unfortunate bout of vampirism, and agreed (on pain of death) to join the Laundry, Britain’s only counter-occult secret intelligence agency. His first assignment is in Leeds – his old hometown. But the thought of telling his parents he’s lost his job, let alone their discovering his ‘condition’, is causing Alex almost as much anxiety as his new lifestyle of supernatural espionage. His only saving grace is Cassie Brewer, a student from the local Goth Festival who flirts with him despite his fear of sunlight (and girls). But Cassie has secrets of her own – secrets that make Alex’s night life seem positively normal …

James Bond meets H. P. Lovecraft in the latest occult thriller from Hugo Award winner Charles Stross, in a series where British spies take on the supernatural.”

I popped down to London to attend the signing because I am one of those fans who’s been looking forward to this book. (So I got to attend at least one of the events!***)

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At 6pm there was a creaking table full of shiny new hardback books to be signed, and at 6pm the man himself got to work signing and personalising books for many (damp**) fans.

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Charlie, ever cheerful – dropped many hints as to the future direction of Laundry Files novels yet to be published (The Delirium Briefs), things that would definitely NOT please Bob – one of the main characters.

Friday 24th June: Charlie headed back north to Edinburgh for a reading and signing at Blackwell’s Bookshop. I would have loved to have attended that event – but alas, life!

I urge anyone who enjoys novels of Urban Fantasy, the Occult, Pastiches of common tropes or spy stories to give the Laundry Files a try! They really are that good!

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Did you attend the Edinbugh signing/reading? Are you a fan of the Laundry Files? Let me know what you think.

*Let’s not mention what else was happening on the 23rd of June. At least not in this post.

**The weather was absolutely crap ok! Torrential rain and flash flooding in various parts of London make for many wet and damp geeks!

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Look how wet I got!

 

 

***Of the three events, I would have preferred to attend the Edinburgh event – because Edinburgh is bloody lovely! Alas, I couldn’t get the day off on Saturday – which scuppered that idea!

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A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent – by Marie Brennan.

A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent – by Marie Brennan.

A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent (Memoirs of Lady Trent)

I read a lot of books that have Dragons in them. But I’m by no means an expert on the sub-genre of Dragon/Fantasy – which is my way of making excuses for how I’ve overlooked this wonderful series of books for so long by Marie Brennan.

Marie Brennan (aka @swan_tower on Twitter) has written several other novels in various other series. Until this book, my only other experience of Marie Brennan’s writing were the Doppelganger books – a Duology that I highly recommend! (Side note: In writing this post, I just became aware of a novella set in that world – so YAY, more reading!)

“You, dear reader, continue at your own risk. It is not for the faint of heart—no more so than the study of dragons itself. But such study offers rewards beyond compare: to stand in a dragon’s presence, even for the briefest of moments—even at the risk of one’s life—is a delight that, once experienced, can never be forgotten. . . .

All the world, from Scirland to the farthest reaches of Eriga, know Isabella, Lady Trent, to be the world’s preeminent dragon naturalist. She is the remarkable woman who brought the study of dragons out of the misty shadows of myth and misunderstanding into the clear light of modern science. But before she became the illustrious figure we know today, there was a bookish young woman whose passion for learning, natural history, and, yes, dragons defied the stifling conventions of her day.

Here at last, in her own words, is the true story of a pioneering spirit who risked her reputation, her prospects, and her fragile flesh and bone to satisfy her scientific curiosity; of how she sought true love and happiness despite her lamentable eccentricities; and of her thrilling expedition to the perilous mountains of Vystrana, where she made the first of many historic discoveries that would change the world forever.

Marie Brennan introduces an enchanting new world in A Natural History of Dragons.”

~ Goodreads Book Description.

Told in the delightful fashion of the memoirs of a Lady Trent of Scirland, renowned traveler and scholar of Dragons. This fantasy is told from the point of view of a Victorian-esque Lady, relating an account of her early life and her first foray into and with a scientific expedition to study Dragons.

The tale abounds with wonderful turns of phrase, adventure and excitement – but also sorrow. If you are a reader of some delicate disposition, you should be aware this novel contains an account of the killing and dissection of a Dragon for scientific understanding.

Let us also admire the fantastic cover art! Todd Lockwood is one of those artists that, when his art graces the cover of a book – makes me spend far much money than I really should! The cover art for this (and the follow-on novels in this series) is no exception… just look at it! Wow.

I loved this novel. I’m upset I missed out on it when it was first released. I’m looking forward to enjoying further accounts from the adventures of Lady Trent!

In short, this book is awesome. You should read it sooner rather than later – future you will curse you for waiting longer than necessary!