Book Review – The Hanging Tree (Peter Grant #6) by Ben Aaronovitch

Blogland,

This is my first post written in the new WordPress editor. If you have tried it already and have any hints or suggestions, please let me know, because this is a trip. I think I like it. Image result for uncertain gifIt’s very clean, with less clutter to distract the eye. But that means I have to relearn how to navigate a system I’ve used religiously for like… seven years.

A/N: 108 words into the new editor and I already had to revert back to the Classic Editor. The new format handles content in blocks, which doesn’t really allow me to embed gifs and pictures the way I like to. Or at least, I wasn’t able to figure out how to do in a timely fashion. I’ll keep poking at it for awhile and see if I like it. As of this moment, it’s getting a thumbs down from me.

Additional A/N: Turns out, reverting back to the Classic Editor part way through royally screws with the formatting. I was unable to resolve it no matter how much I tried until I went back into the new editor and manually fixed every single error. I officially hate this “update” and I doubt I will be using it in the future.

After bouncing around the entire library consortium, I finally got my hands on the only copy of The Hanging Tree available in the whole Chemeketa Cooperative Regional Library Service. It’s been a very popular book.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

Peter Grant and company are back at it, this time investigating what seems to be a routine drug overdose. Except, the deceased shows evidence of thaumaturgical degradation (aka her brain was a bit gooey from exposure to magic). And, Lady Tyburn’s daughter was at the scene.

As if that isn’t a big enough pain in Peter’s backside, there’s a member of the demi-monde, known unironically as Reynard Fossman (etymologically speaking, Fox Foxman), has come to the Folly to offer Nightingale something he can’t refuse: Newton’s Third Scientific text, the Principia Chemica.

Alchemy. It was rumored that the genius had worked out the laws that governed transmutation and the like, but that the text was lost to mankind. Until Reynard waltzes in and tries to sell it to the highest bidder. Because, why would he only offer it to Nightingale?

And guess who else has his metaphorical eye on the prize? Yep! None other than the dastardly Faceless Man himself.

Which, it’s about stinking time! My biggest gripe about the last Peter Grant story I read was that there wasn’t enough substance in regards to the Faceless Man and Lesley. I wanted MORE! Well, this book delivered, let me tell you.

All the things I’ve come to expect from a Peter Grant book remained true for this one. Fantastic dialogue that begs to be read aloud, a wide and dynamic cast of characters, an intricate and compelling plot told in a voice that is self-deprecating, fun, and clever as hell.

All that being said, it took me longer to read than I would have expected, mainly because I’ve just been too tired to stay up and read lately. Which, as I’ve discussed, is really shit timing. Every book under the sun seems to have a release date this month, and here I am too swamped and too sleepy to do a darn thing about it.

36534574

One of those November releases is the next book in this series, the long anticipated Lies Sleeping. But, DO NOT read the synopsis for this book before you’ve read The Hanging Tree, otherwise you’re in for a giant spoiler.

I found that out the hard way while I conducted research to recommend the library purchase a copy of the newest book in the series. Whoops!

Also, my library doesn’t own any of the Peter Grant books, but several of the smaller libraries in our consortium own copies. But, none of them had purchased Lies Sleeping yet. Two weeks before the book is out and no one had bought it yet?Not acceptable. So, I recommended the purchase, and now I’m first in line on the hold list.

Image result for napoleon dynamite yes gif

So, in summary, this book was another solid entry in the Peter Grant series and the perfect book to read just a week or so before the newest installment is released here in the US. It’s nice to be caught up.

I’ve got a slew of books queued up for the rest of the year, which I mentioned in yesterday’s goals summary post. I’ll be a busy reading bee all the way through the new year.

Just the way I like it.

I’ll see you all again on Monday, maybe sooner if I have something to talk about. But we have a friendsgiving celebration on Saturday, so don’t expect much from me the rest of this week.

Until later, Bloggos.

BZ

Advertisements

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 45

Oi, Bloggos!

This past week was oddly eventful, which of course means I didn’t get all that much done. At least, in my estimation. Let’s see what the blog has to say about it.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Barker line edits
  • Finish reading The Hanging Tree
  • WRITE!

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Nope. Not for the first time this year, but it has been a much rarer occasion than in previous years, so this is still a bummer.
  • Barker line edits
    • …No. BUT, I’ve got them downloaded and should be able to dedicate some serious reading time to them this week.
  • Finish reading The Hanging Treethe hanging tree.jpg
    • Yes! Finished it on Saturday.
  • WRITE!
    • YES! I’m writing pretty consistently, and while it isn’t happening every day, my word count average for November so far is 922. My goal is 800, so that’s rocking steady.

Weekly Word Count: 4,566

So, this last week was a bit of a wash. I got the “important” things done, but at the expense of the other goals. I’m pleased with my word count, although it is about 1k words shy of where I should be. Thank goodness for that 1,100 word cushion I came into Nano with, hehe.

As expected, my reading has slowed, which is unfortunate since there are so many good books out this month. I’ve got a copy of A Map of Days on my nightstand, a copy of Sanderson’s Skyward on the hold shelf waiting for me at the library, plus the next Peter Grant book is out this week and N.K. Jemisin’s short story collection comes out soon!

Yikes. That’s a lot of reading to get done before the end of the year. But, I only need to read three more titles in order to reach my goal of 65 books this year. I’m confident that I’ll pull it off.  Especially since I read The Hanging Tree, WicDiv vol. 7, and Saga vol. 9 this week.

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Barker line edits
  • WRITE!

So, all in all, a pretty straightforward week. I’ve got the review for The Hanging Tree to post this week, so I should have no problem with that goal, and with nothing else but writing, I should FINALLY be able to get those line edits done for Obadiah. Then I can get back to reading The Audient Void submissions.

This is a good opportunity to remind you all that The A.V. is open for submissions through the 15th of November! There’s just a few days left to send your Weird/Dark Fantasy poems and short stories to us!

a map of days

I’d love to say I could finish reading A Map of Days this week, but it’s almost 500 pages long, and with my work schedule and Nano there’s just no way I can get it done in a week. But, if it’s anything like its predecessors, it will go fast for its size. Fingers crossed.

Until later Blogland,

 

BZ

The Recap – October 2018

Bloggos!

It’s November! Whaaaaaaaat? How can that be? It’s NaNoWriMo season already?

whaaaat

What in tarnation did I even do with October?

October Goals

  • Tumblr prompt
  • Edit That Which Illuminates Heaven
  • Research/Outline for NaNo project
  • Keep reading!
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Finish chapter 7 of Sanctuary

How’d I Do?

  • Tumblr prompt
    • Yes. Although, it’s been so long now that I hardly remember doing it.
  • Edit That Which Illuminates Heaven
    • Yes! It took six drafts, but the final proofread is done and ready to be put into the computer. I plan to submit it tomorrow.
  • Research/Outline for NaNo project
    • Yep! Over 4,000 words of research and not a whole lot of outlining. Which is still more than I’d normally do.
  • Keep reading!
    • Yes! I read three books, all of which have been reviewed here.
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yep. Both Lifelike and The Cost of Rain received rejections this month, although Lifelike did get a really wonderful personal rejection. They have both since been submitted to the next magazine on the list.
  • Finish chapter 7 of Sanctuary
    • YES! It took an age, but I finally made this happen.

Total Monthly Word Count: 2,628

This month was a strange one. It was extremely productive, as you can see from the above list of successes, but I didn’t really feel like I accomplished much in the day-to-day. Writing was minimal, which sucks, but was also the plan.

Editing was in full swing this month, with That Which Illuminates Heaven seeing multiple revisions, a full proofread of The Charlatan and the Coinshot, and reading submissions for The Audient Void (still ongoing).

Reading was slow but consistent. Three novels in a month is nothing to sneeze at and is probably better than the reading that will happen in November.

Submissions are still rolling along. I was just telling my husband how now I’m less anxious about them and increasingly becoming more and more impatient. I’m getting so close, getting wonderful feedback and reaching high levels of consideration. I’m ready for someone to finally say “yes”. Sadly, I know this feeling to be premature. I’ve only submitted 22 times this year, both stories combined, and many stories have to go out to more magazines than that before they’re published. I have a long road ahead of me yet.

Sanctuary is still hanging in there. I’m feeling pretty far away from the project right now, which is logical since I won’t be working on it at all this month. Maybe after two months of posting The Charlatan and the Coinshot I’ll feel a little more energized about this longfic.

November Goals

  • Write 800 words/day Logo_of_National_Novel_Writing_Month
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Keep Reading!

I don’t think there’s really much more to put here. National Novel Writing Month pretty much monopolizes all my time in November. If I can read a couple books and keep up with my short story submissions this month, I’ll be happy.

And, yeah, that’s what’s up. That’s where I’m at on this first day of November. Feeling pretty great about October, even if I didn’t at the time, and looking to ride that momentum and success into and through NaNoWriMo.

Unless I read an entire novel in the next two days, you won’t hear from me again until Monday. You know, weekly goals and whatnot.

Until then, Blogland!

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 43

Blogland,

The weekend was too short, with social engagements and a migraine. But now it’s Monday, which means it’s time to talk about goals!

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Edit That Which Illuminates Heaven
  • Edit The Charlatan and the Coinshot16f84a70-8aac-4b1c-8a3d-58061c8b2146 (1)
  • Research and outline NaNo project
  • Read A.V. submissions
  • Finish reading Rosemary and Rue

How’d I Do?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Edit That Which Illuminates Heaven
    • Yep. I think it’s very close, I just need to perfect the last few sentences and really drive home the ending.
  • Edit The Charlatan and the Coinshot
    • Yes? I edited 7 chapters, out of 17. That’s a couple week’s worth of posts so it feels like success, but I’ll need to get considerably more done tonight and tomorrow before Nanowrimo starts.
  • Research and outline NaNo project
    • Yes! Got a big chunk of research done this week, and have some books waiting at the library to help me over the next two days.
  • Read A.V. submissions
    • Yep! Submissions are impressive this round and I can’t wait to see what else is in store for this issue.
  • Finish reading Rosemary and Rue
    • Yes! I didn’t expect this to be the case, but the last half of the book was pretty compelling.

Weekly Word Count: 0

Another week of no writing, which again was the plan. I hate it. It feels wrong. Luckily, this is the last week where that will be the case. I start writing again on Thursday! Really this week was all about reading and editing. I read eight short story submissions for The Audient Void, I finished reading Rosemary and Rue, I read/edited That Which Illuminates Heaven, and I read the the first third of The Charlatan and the Coinshot.

This week will be much of the same.

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish That Which Illuminates Heaven
  • Continue editing The Charlatan and the Coinshot
  • Barker line edits
  • Continue Research/Outlining
  • WRITE!!!!

There will be no shortage of blog posts this week, with this post, a NaNoWriMo prep post, and the monthly recap all scheduled. I have a couple sentences to tweak and perfect in That Which Illuminates Heaven, and then I think it’ll be ready to submit. I’ve already made a list of potential markets and can’t wait to share this story with the world! I’ve got 10 chapters left to edit for The Charlatan and the Coinshot, which will go quickly. I’m really just proofreading and making sure that there aren’t any glaring errors or inconsistencies. It’s a pretty clean draft, so I’m mostly just enjoying the story as I read through it one last time.

av submissions.jpg
Now through November 15th

Obadiah gave me an extra project on top of reading submissions for The Audient Void, so I’m doing line edits for him this week. I need to keep researching as much as I can before I dig into writing my new novel, and with only a few days left I am feeling the pressure.

And of course, the big goal is writing in the last half of this week! I’ll have a post up soon about what my NaNo goals are and what to expect from me over the course of November.

I have a few writing related events later this week as well, so hopefully I’ll have an opportunity to talk about them soon.

Talk to you soon, Bloggos!

 

BZ

Book Review – Rosemary and Rue (October Daye #1) by Seanan McGuire

Blogland,

The last half of this book went much faster than I expected, and I am so happy to bring this review to you this week.

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars

rosemary and rue

October Daye is more than she seems. Half Daoine Sidhe, half human she’s what’s known as a Changeling. She can cast simple illusions, which is a good thing since she can’t really pass for human with pointed ears and violet eyes. But, while her fae nature makes blending in difficult, her human blood makes her a second-class citizen in Faerie. As if keeping her nature a secret from her husband and child isn’t enough, there’s a lot of prejudice against changelings by the pure-blooded fae that Toby has to contend with.

She does this by remaining faithful and boundlessly loyal to her Liege Lord, Sylvester Torquill. He’s the only pure-blood she’s met that she actually likes, and she refuses to fall into the flighty stereotype of changelings by abandoning him. That is until his less than honorable brother curses her to life as a koi fish.

For FOURTEEN YEARS.

She returns to herself in 2009 only to find that the world has changed and her family has long considered her dead. Now she has to pick up the pieces of a life everyone thought was over and learn who she is in a whole new millennium.

I struggled with the first half of this book. Mainly because it picks up six months after she wakes up and is back in her body. We don’t see her try and reconnect with her family, we don’t see her navigating those first awkward, and shocking moments when she discovers she was a fish for fourteen years. We just see her as angry and reclusive, trying to avoid Faerie as much as possible.

It was alienating because it was such a hard shift from who Toby was in the prologue. She was a loving spouse, devoted mother, and incredibly loyal knight to the Torquills. But when we see her again she is so shut off and so angry that I had a really hard time liking her. She was a bit of a bitch, to be honest, and though she has good reasons, they aren’t made apparent until much later in the book.

But, I really liked the side characters (particularly Tybalt, the King of Cats) and the politics of the Faerie court were fascinating. It was enough to keep me invested in the story and willing to open the book time and again.

By the end I was much happier with the book, and actually enjoyed October as a character quite a bit. I definitely plan to read the next book, though I wouldn’t call myself a fan just yet. I’ll reserve that judgement for further reading.

Image result for october daye

This is another urban fantasy novel that seems to thrive on the strength of its side characters. Dresden didn’t start out that way, but has definitely relied more and more on its broad cast to keep readers engaged as the series has gone on. The Peter Grant books have a large cast, but I think Peter is still a good narrator and main character; he’s holding his own. The October Daye books might end up being the opposite of The Dresden Files in that the side characters carry the story early in the series, but Toby warms up and becomes stronger as the novels progress.

I hope that’s the case. I want to love this series. Right now I’m happy with it, but not in love.

Next in my reading list is The Hanging Tree, the sixth Peter Grant book. Just in time for the new book’s release in November! After that is Hounded by Kevin Hearne, which I’m excited for since it’s set in Tempe, Arizona. Then I’ll look into reading the next book in the October Daye series. And that’s if I don’t get sidetracked by some other book. I think Sanderson has a new YA releasing in November, so I’m sure I’ll sneak that in somewhere before the new year.

I’ll be back on Monday for the usual goals discussion, but you probably won’t hear from me again before that. I’ve got social engagements tonight and tomorrow that will keep me pretty busy.

Until then, Bloggos!

 

BZ

Book Review – War for the Oaks by Emma Bull

Blogland,

First stop on my Urban Fantasy tour is the book that’s credited with spearheading the genre. The War for the Oaks won the Locus Magazine award for Best First Novel in 1988, and I can definitely see why.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

war for the oaks

Eddi McCandry is sick of her boyfriend and frontman Stuart. He’s a mess. Too drunk to play his parts, and too busy pissing off bar managers to get their shitty band another gig. So she leaves the band, and him, taking the drummer with her.

Breaking up is hard to do, so it was already a rough night. But a terrifying encounter with fairy tale creatures on the midnight streets of Minneapolis leaves Eddi caught up in a war she knew nothing about.

The Seelie Court has selected her to be their bound mortal. With her on the battlefield the Fae will be rendered mortal, and their wounds will be deadly. And she will be a target, no matter her opinions on the matter. So, the Seelie Court sends a literal guard dog.

The Phouka is a Fae who looks like Prince by day and can turn to a dog at will. He’s a trickster, adorable, witty as all get out, and posted up at Eddi’s apartment until further notice to protect her from their enemies, the Unseelie Court.

prince phouka

He’s silver-tongued and devious. She’s stubborn and pissed off. Hilarity ensues.

I was worried about this book holding up over the years. Released in 1987, it’s older than I am, and you can definitely tell. The lack of cell phones really stood out to me, because there were a few situations Eddi found herself in that only happened because she couldn’t contact someone unless she was home or used a payphone. There was a slightly racially insensitive moment in which Eddi “pulls at the corners of her eyes to see what she’d look like if she were Chinese” that was mostly jarring because why did that line make it through editing? And dear lord the clothes.

Yes. This book lives solidly in the 80s. But, it was no less engrossing because of it. I loved every minute with this story and felt that the setting development of Minneapolis was very well done. Dialogue was solid throughout, and though the ending was a little cliched, it probably wasn’t in 1987.

I also appreciate that The War for the Oaks isn’t trying to be anything it isn’t. It’s a fun, pretty indulgent, fairy tale come to life. It set the expectations of Urban Fantasy pretty high when it comes to entertainment value, but kept the literary pretensions out of the mix. Sometimes, you really need to turn your brain off and just have a good time. This book is very good at that.

It was also nice to see a different take on the Fae. I’ve only really experienced them through the Dresden novels, and while they’re very similar, I don’t think Jim Butcher has ever featured a Phouka. Also, the Fae aren’t as malignant in this book as they often are in Butcher’s series.

Now I’m seeing another view of the Fae as I read the first October Daye novel, Rosemary and Rue. Goodreads has recommended this book to me for years, probably because of all the Dresden books in my “Read” list. We’ll see how it goes.

I don’t think I’ll be back this week. I’ve got the next two days off and they are going to be busy with catching up on my weekly goals and house chores. Then it’s the Hozier concert on Saturday night!

hozier.jpg

If ever there was a Fae among us, it would be Andrew Hozier-Byrne. I can’t wait to be thoroughly enchanted by him once again.

Until next week, Bloggos,

 

BZ

Book Review – Legion: Lies of the Beholder by Brandon Sanderson

Bloggos,

If it’s been awhile since you’ve read the first two novellas in this series, I recommend checking out my reviews for Legion and Legion: Skin Deep before delving into this one. I know I needed the refresher before I tucked into this book.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

Image result for legion lies of the beholder

Stephen Leeds is back, and so are his aspects. Ivy, J.C., and Tobias are still front and center, but a few others come in to play over the course 105 page novella. Personal faves were Lua and Jenny, an all new aspect intent on harassing Stephen as she follows him and writes down every bit of his adventures. His own personal biographer, all in his head!

In this story, Leeds and Co., are on the hunt for the elusive Sandra, who recently texted Stephen a single word: Help. Leeds panics. Sandra hasn’t contacted him in years, and now she reaches out in apparent distress? His anxiety is through the roof, and Ivy and J.C.’s distrust of the situation does nothing to help. But that’s what Tobias is for.

To make matters worse, Leeds is losing control. Two of his aspects have disappeared, turning into Nightmares. Spectral/undead versions of themselves, intent on harming Leeds and his remaining aspects. Turns out, his personas can kill one another. And that’s a painful lesson to learn.

This lack of control only ups the stakes for Stephen. He has to find Sandra. She was the one that helped him gain control in the first place, maybe she can help him again. But as the hunt continues Leeds begins to question who and what is real, and whether the price of ‘normal’ is really worth it.

I have a lot of warm fuzzy feelings for this story. It’s the first Sanderson book I’ve read in quite a while, and it really reminded me why I love him so much. It also struck a resonant chord in me, because Legion is a very personal story for Sanderson and it really showed in this novella.

Leeds is a man with voices and characters in his head. People as real as the neighbors you wave to each morning or the barista who hands you your coffee when you’re running late to work.

And that’s how it feels to be an author. You create these people, often times without really meaning to, and they are suddenly vibrant and demanding and so much more real than you ever anticipated.

The end of this novella actually brought a tear to my eye. And while that’s not unheard of for Sanderson stories, I definitely wouldn’t say I expect to get emotional from his books. This was a bittersweet tear, a feeling wholly satisfied and melancholy.

It was beautiful.

I know Sanderson is widely admired for his giant works of fantasy. Books like Mistborn, The Stormlight Archive, Elantris, and Warbreaker. And they are wonderful. I love them all. But man, I think he’s actually at his best when words are at a premium. All three Legion novellas were powerful in their own way, and let’s not forget the Hugo award-winning The Emperor’s Soul.

Legion: Lies of the Beholder is available in a few different formats. As a standalone e-book and in a hardbound collection of all three novellas called Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds. This is the copy I read courtesy of the library, and will eventually Image result for legion lies of the beholderpurchase, once we catch up from our expensive vacation. The cover art is phenomenal, and even better are the ink-blot chapter illustrations that change over the course of the series.

I was impressed with this book overall. Can you tell? I was impressed with the clever plot, and the depth of emotion Sanderson put into so few pages. I was impressed with the book design, both for the cover and the interior and would greatly recommend the series to fans of detective stories with a slight Sci-Fi spin.

I’m making good progress on War for the Oaks, and am optimistic that I’ll be able to review it next week. After that I’ve got a few more Urban Fantasy novels queued up, so we’ll see what strikes my fancy.

Until then, Blogland,

 

BZ