The Best Science Fiction of the Year (2015) ★☆☆☆☆ DNF@5%

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Title: The Best Science Fiction of the Year (2015)
Series: The Best SF of the Year #1
Editor: Neil Clarke
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF Short Story Collection
Pages: DNF@5%
Words: DNF@5%



Synopsis:

Table of Contents

“Introduction: A State of the Short SF Field in 2015” by Neil Clarke

“Today I Am Paul” by Martin Shoemaker

“Calved” by Sam J. Miller

“Three Bodies at Mitanni” by Seth Dickinson

“The Smog Society” by Chen Quifan

“In Blue Lily’s Wake” by Aliette de Bodard

“Hello, Hello” by Seanan McGuire

“Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfiang

“Capitalism in the 22nd Century” by Geoff Ryman

“Hold-Time Violations” by John Chu

“Wild Honey” by Paul McAuley

“So Much Cooking” by Naomi Kritzer

“Bannerless” by Carrie Vaughn

“Another Word for World” by Ann Leckie

“The Cold Inequalities” by Yoon Ha Lee

“Iron Pegasus” by Brenda Cooper

“The Audience” by Sean McMullen

“Empty” by Robert Reed

“Gypsy” by Carter Scholz

“Violation of the TrueNet Security Act” by Taiyo Fujii

“Damage” by David D. Levine

“The Tumbledowns of Cleopatra Abyss” by David Brin

“No Placeholder for You, My Love” by Nick Wolven

“Outsider” by An Owomeyla

“The Gods Have Not Died in Vain” by Ken Liu

“Cocoons” by Nancy Kress

“Seven Wonders of a Once and Future World” by Caroline M. Yoachim

“Two-Year Man” by Kelly Robson

“Cat Pictures Please” by Naomi Kritzer

“Botanica Veneris: Thirteen Papercuts by Ida Countess Rathangan” by Ian McDonald

“Meshed” by Rich Larson

“A Murmuration” by Alastair Reynolds

2015 Recommended Reading List

My Thoughts:

I made it to the 3rd story before giving up. Horribly depressing. Perverse. Self-righteous. Smug.

While Clarke didn’t write these stories, he did choose them as the Best of 2015. That is just horrible. I think I’m going to be avoiding anything else with his name on it from now on.

If Woke Cli-Fi is your thing, then have at it. As for me, I’m going to go read something that is actually good.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Frightful’s Mountain (My Side of the Mountain #3) ★✬☆☆☆

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Title: Frightful’s Mountain
Series: My Side of the Mountain #3
Author: Jean George
Rating: 1.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Middle Grade
Pages: 146
Words: 55.5K



Synopsis:

From Bookrags.com

In “Frightful’s Mountain”, Frightful, the female peregrine falcon formerly a pet of Sam Gribley, attempts to reintegrate into the wild, while maintaining her ties with Sam and Bitter Mountain. The novel begins where “On the Far Side of the Mountain” ends: Sam, knowing that it is illegal for him to keep a pet peregrine falcon, and wanting Frightful to have a good and full life in the wild, refuses to call Frightful to him when he sees her flying around in the sky. Frightful then befriends and becomes the mate of Chup, a male peregrine falcon, and becomes the adoptive mother to Chup’s motherless children, Drum, Lady, and Duchess. It is a crash course for Frightful, who must not only learn to eat new kinds of food –primarily ducks and other birds, whereas she had been trained to hunt small game by Sam –but to care for wild baby falcons.

As November comes on, and all the falcons and other birds migrate south, Frightful stays on, determined to find her old mountain, and her old home. She is electrocuted on a utility pole, nearly killed, by nursed back to health by falconers Jon and Susan Wood, and is released in the spring. Frightful seeks out Bitter Mountain, and finds Sam, where she spends some time with him and hunts. She then decides to nest on the bridge in the town of Delhi. She attracts a mate named 426, a bird tagged and tracked by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and she lays three eggs. Yet, as this happens, a construction crew moves onto the bridge to begin work. Sam sneaks up to the bridge every day, and spends hours keeping Frightful calm, so she can incubate her eggs. Leon Longbridge, the local conservation officer, and a group of school kids, including Molly and Jose, try to get the construction to cease until Frightful’s babies hatch, but the crew cannot stop work without orders from the state government. The construction crewmembers feel bad they cannot stop work, but they have no choice in the matter. Attempts to move Frightful and her eggs fail, so when it comes time to paint the bridge, the crews decide they will paint the section of the bridge with Frightful on it, last. Finally, Frightful’s babies hatch.

One morning, two agents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service show up to remove two of the baby falcons. In reality, they are Bate and Skri, two poachers arrested in “On the Far Side of the Mountain”, and back in the business of illegal selling of falcons. Sam helps track them down, and the police arrest Bate and Skri as they hide out in the old summer lodge of nature writer John Burroughs. From there, Frightful’s two babies will be raised and hacked into the wild. Meanwhile, Frightful raises her daughter, Oski, on her own on Bitter Mountain with Sam. Ultimately, they all fly south for the winter. When Frightful returns, she visits Sam as usual, but decides to nest in town, rather than on Bitter Mountain. Oski, however, decides that Sam’s mountain is a perfect place to nest.

My Thoughts:

Ok, here we go. There was a forward. I skipped it until I’d finished the book and then I went back and read it. It was written by Bob Kennedy Jr. While I can’t say anything about JFK, I can say that I’ve seen nothing good from his living relatives throughout the decades so a Kennedy’s name in the forward was not a good thing or an added draw. Especially when he goes off about how George inspired him to become a lawyer. Great, just what our country needs, more lawyers. Thanks a lot Jean George.

Secondly, and more to the point, this wasn’t much of a novel, middle grade or otherwise. It was much more of a National Geographic eco-documentary about birds. Sure, Sam is mentioned and some stupid kids and even dumber adults act emotionally and irrationally in response to “evil” electric companies and state governments but that’s not enough to make a real story out of.

Thirdly, but in conjunction with the above, this was written 40 years later and shows that George was more concerned with her message than actually telling a story. It was a big disappointment to see how George treated her human characters and how she leveraged the popularity of her first book to sell this one.

Overall, the first book should have been left alone as a standalone. It was excellent and fun and told a wonderful story. Each successive book has gone down hill and I suspect the two books after this one to be even worse. I certainly won’t be finding out.

Someone asked me why I was reading these books when I reviewed the second book and it basically comes down to trying to read some middle grade so I don’t take everything so seriously. To replace this series I’ll be adding most of Roald Dahl’s children’s books to the rotation. At least that I know will be light and funny.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

The King of Plagues (Joe Ledger #3) ★☆☆☆☆ DNF@30%

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Title: The King of Plagues
Series: Joe Ledger #3
Editor: Jonathan Maberry
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 492 / 160
Words: 151K / 50K



Synopsis:

DNF@30%

My Thoughts:

By the 30% mark Maberry had used the term “hate crime” 15 times. I quit reading when he used the term to justify a muslim special forces guy beating people so badly that they ended up in the Emergency Room because they used words he didn’t like. It’s called Free Speech, for good AND bad. When you start telling people what words they can and cannot say or use, you have entered the Deep State.

So adios Maberry, you confirmed my fears about you and I’ll be avoiding you like the plague from now on.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

The Future is Yours ★✬☆☆☆

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Title: The Future is Yours
Series: ———
Authors: Dan Frey
Rating: 1.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF Thriller
Pages: 226
Words: 69K



Synopsis:

From the Publisher

If you had the chance to look one year into the future, would you?

For Ben Boyce and Adhi Chaudry, the answer is unequivocally yes. And they’re betting everything that you’ll say yes, too. Welcome to The Future: a computer that connects to the internet one year from now, so you can see who you’ll be dating, where you’ll be working, even whether or not you’ll be alive in the year to come. By forming a startup to deliver this revolutionary technology to the world, Ben and Adhi have made their wildest, most impossible dream a reality. Once Silicon Valley outsiders, they’re now its hottest commodity.

The device can predict everything perfectly—from stock market spikes and sports scores to political scandals and corporate takeovers—allowing them to chase down success and fame while staying one step ahead of the competition. But the future their device foretells is not the bright one they imagined.

Ambition. Greed. Jealousy. And, perhaps, an apocalypse. The question is . . . can they stop it?

Told through emails, texts, transcripts, and blog posts, this bleeding-edge tech thriller chronicles the costs of innovation and asks how far you’d go to protect the ones you love—even from themselves.

My Thoughts:

I have seen the future. And it is narcissistic jackasses and emotionally stunted losers. This book was pushing the DNF line almost the entire time and I ended up reading it in one sitting so that I wouldn’t DNF it. Why didn’t I DNF it? Because I wanted to see the ending. And then I regretted that decision when I got there.

Both Ben and Adhi disgusted me to the core of my being. They adequately represented everything that I think is wrong in the world today and it was not one bit entertaining or fun to read about them. Personally, a good old fashioned apocalypse that killed them both, and millions and possibly billions like them, would be an acceptable solution to me. As characters they disgusted me that much. Not one shred of moral fibre was shown, not one tiny bit of backbone was revealed and Principles were jettisoned from the get-go. I actively disliked them the entire book. Even the ending where Adhi shows Ben a solution is so like him, he shoves all the responsibility onto Ben and it’s pretty obvious from Ben’s behavior in “the past” (which is the future) that we all know that the loop will continue. It was enough to make me want to use some profanity and tell them both to grow up and simply make ONE responsible decision in their entire lives.

The fact that Frey writes characters like these is reason enough for me to add him to my Authors to Avoid list. I don’t want to spend time reading the words of somebody who can think this qualifies as entertainment. I’ll give up fiction reading altogether before accepting something like that.

Read at your own risk.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

Break the Chains (Scorched Continent #2) ★☆☆☆☆ DNF@37%

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Title: Break the Chains
Series: Scorched Continent #2
Author: Megan O’Keefe
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 316 / 117
Words: 106K / 39K



Synopsis:

DNF@37%

My Thoughts:

I was completely bored. And I shouldn’t have been. Some of the side characters had gotten thrown in a top level prison to find a genius tactician and the main characters, when I stopped, had just tried to rob an army vault. It should have been wicked exciting. Instead, I found myself wondering what the temperature outside was.

This is exactly what happened to me in the first book the first time around and I just figured it was me. Well, lesson learned. This is all on the author for boring me to death. Nothing bad, not even bad writing or anything I can say “No, I will not accept that”, just plain old boring boringness.

I sentence this writer to be cast out into the outer darkness where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth for the terrible sin of boring me. * bangs gavel * Case dismissed!

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Drood ★★★★☆

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Title: Drood
Author: Dan Simmons
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Horror
Pages: 725
Words: 281K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia & Me

The book is a fictionalized account of the last five years of Charles Dickens’ life told from the viewpoint of Dickens’ friend and fellow author, Wilkie Collins. The title comes from Dickens’ unfinished novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. The novel’s complex plot mixes fiction with biographical facts from the lives of Dickens, Collins, and other literary and historical figures of the Victorian era, complicated even further by the narrator’s constant use of opium and opium derivatives such as laudanum, rendering him an unreliable narrator.

Collins narrates the story of how Dickens met a strange fellow named Drood at a railroad accident. Dickens is convinced that Drood is some sort of evil incarnate while Collins is pretty sure Dickens is just being Dickens.

As time passes however, Collins is no longer so sure that Dickens was wrong. Dragged along by Dickens in his quest to find Drood and uncover the mystery of who he is and what his goals are, Collins becomes a pawn of the mysterious Drood. Drood is King of the Underworld and a practitioner of dark arts lost since the times of the Pharoahs. At the same time Collins is also wooed by one Inspector Fields, a former head of Scotland Yard who is convinced that Drood has killed over 300 people and plans on some sort of supernatural takeover of London.

Caught up in his own literary world, Collins must contend with Drood, Fields, the success of Dickens and his own increasing use of drugs such as laudanum, opium and morphine to combat the pain and hallucinations brought about by syphilis and the scarab beetle put into his brain by Drood to control him. With the death of Dickens, Collins is sure that Drood will leave him alone, even though Dickens revealed to him that everything that had gone on before was a combination of mesmerism, hypnotic suggestion and drugs, all as an experiment on Dickens part and making use of Collins.

Collins knows better though and even though he outlives Dickens by many years, the shade of Drood haunts him to the end.

My Thoughts:

I went into this completely blind. I was hoping for a completion of Dickens’ unfinished The Mystery of Edwin Drood. This was not that book. This was the syphilitic hallucinatory ramblings of an opium and morphine addict.

There were times that the narrator would talk for a whole chapter and then at the beginning of the next chapter you realized that the entire thing had happened in his head, or in his opium dreams or was just a wish fulfillment on his part. It was disturbing to say the least and by the end of the book I was having bad dreams. I didn’t realize it, but this WAS horror and it affected me as such. Not your gruesome 80’s slasher kind of horror, but the invisible dread that hovers over your soul kind of horror. While I’ve read some of Simmons SF, I’d never sampled his horror offerings. After this, I won’t be trying out anything else by him.

With all of that, this was fantastically written, kept me glued to the pages and even though an unreliable narrator tends to send me into the screaming heeby jeeby rants I never once thought of stopping. Simmons kept me reading page after page like he had inserted a magic beetle of his own into MY brain. And that was disturbing to me too.

I think that some familiarity with Wilkie Collins’ works, at least his Moonstone, would help a lot. Since this is a fictionalized account, I’m not sure that too much knowledge would actually help as the confusion between fiction and reality would make this even more of a psychedelic read. Unless you LIKE having your mind messed with, then by all means, dive into this head first and see what happens.

As a completion to The Mystery of Edwin Drood this was a complete failure. As a standalone horror story, it was a complete success. I shall try my hand again at finding another “ending” to the Mystery. I have my eye on one by David Madden but considering it was never released as an ebook, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get a hold of it. If you’ve heard of any other books or authors who tried to complete the Mystery, let me know please.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Auxiliary: London 2039 ★★☆☆☆


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Title: Auxiliary: London 2039
Series: ———-
Author: John Richter
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 242
Words: 68K



Synopsis:

Carl Dremmler is one of the few remaining human detectives left on the police force in London 2039. Investigating cases where people have died from staying in virtual reality too long, whether on purpose or not. However, one case gets the interest of his boss. A man with an artificial arm murders his girlfriend and claims he didn’t do it, that the arm did it, against his will.

Dremmler begins running down the rabbit hole trying to prove that the unhackable TIM (the AI running everything) was hacked. This brings him into contact with some other corporations that are trying to create their own versions of TIM and robots that are indistinguishable from humans. Forced to rely on TIM from everything from giving him rides in podcars to opening his own door, Carl is pretty much an Auxiliary indeed.

Then he gets a break from an anti-robot commune that his wife joined years ago, where their daughter died and whose leader Carl would gladly kill with his bare hands. His wife has some info and Carl has to infiltrate the commune to get it. He’s caught, things start to go bad, then killer drones show up and start slaughtering everyone, all on Carl’s boss’s command. Carl and his wife flee and they separate for safety’s sake. Carl goes to his boss’s house to confront her only to find her corpse, which from its condition, has been a corpse since BEFORE Carl started the investigation.

Carl realizes TIM has other plans and before he can escape, he hears the scuttling of killer rat robots behind him. The End.

My Thoughts:

This book’s rating is very much of the “I hated it” variety than the “this was a poorly constructed and badly written book”. It was well written and for what it’s worth, engaging.

However, between what I talked about in my Currently Reading post, the general malaise of the human spirit and the outright horrible ending, I couldn’t recommend this book, not at all. I’ve added Richter to my list of authors to avoid on general principle.

Nothing is unhackable. Nothing is proof against human distortion and manipulation. AI “life” will never be a thing. If there had been a human behind everything at the end of the story, it would have ameliorated some of the issues. I guess the whole point of the book was the death of the human race by slow degrees and so that kind of ending wouldn’t have fit. But for every Sherlock there is a Moriarty and for every Moriarty, there is a Sherlock. This book was lacking one of those.

If you are a fan of nihilism by robot and the degradation of the human spirit in every regard, then by all means, dive into this book and enjoy.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

God of Night (God Fragments #4) ★★★★☆


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Title: God of Night
Series: God Fragments #4
Author: Tom Lloyd
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 421
Words: 145.5K



Synopsis:

When the Cards released the seals on Magic, not only did more magic enter the world, thus stirring up all the creatures that used and fed on magic, and not only did it make mages more powerful, but it also had the side effect of making the god fragments even more powerful. One of the Militant Orders has figured out that if they can bring enough god fragments of their particular deity together, it might just resurrect it. And with a resurrected god on their side, they’ll rule the Riven Kingdoms as undisputed masters.

Does anyone think the Cards are just going to sit back and let this happen? Of course not. When they discover that one of their mages of Tempest has the ability to destroy god fragments merely by touching them, they hatch a plan, a daring plan to capture as many of the god fragments as possible and destroy them. Doesn’t matter that most god fragments are housed in the Militant Orders most secure locations, nothing is going to stop the Cards.

Using double and triple dealing, backstabbing, betrayals and general kick assery, the Cards manage to destroy the majority of fragments from 3 of the 4 Orders. The last Order is the most powerful however, and it’s cache of fragments is located in a duegar stronghold underground and is currently being overrun by magical underground creatures.

Once they’ve gotten into the Stronghold, the Cards find out that the gods were using a chained creature of magic to siphon power from. Now that the gods fragments are being destroyed and the magic has been released back into the world, this elder god is awakening. The Cards must therefore defeat the final god fragments, which are reassembling into its god AND defeat a creature so powerful that it made gods from mere duegar hundreds of millennia ago.

Tons of people die, the Cards succeed and Lynx is elected the new leader of the Cards because Anatol was one of the people killed. There are still god fragments in the world and the warlord of his people is still alive, so Lynx figures their new mission will be to invade So-Han and kill the warlord. Thus the book and the series ends.

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this but by the end, with some realizations, was glad this was the end of the series.

The fights were awesome. Realizing what the Militant Orders were up to was even awesomer. Finding out there was an elder god involved and that the Cards were going to kill it was the awesomest of all! The final massive battle in the Duegar ruins between the Cards, the remaining Militant Order personnel, the magic monsters and the elder god was everything I could have asked for. Magic galore, flintlock fantasy bullets and grenades by the metric ton and a monster so huge and gruesome that it made the monster from the first book look like a teddy bear? How could I not like everything about that? Even the ending was good. Lots of the Cards die. Important Cards die, like Anatole. Lynx becoming the new Master of the Deck slotted in perfectly with the series.

Unfortunately, and this is ALL me, was that I was used to the god fragment bullets and the grenades and bombs, etc. They didn’t have the same impact on my as they did in the first book. I also realized, after finishing reading, that Lloyd had worked in some homosexual characters without playing it on a trumpet. I suspect if I were to go back and re-read the other books, I’d be finding more understated circumstances like this. Hence why I’ll be done with Lloyd from here on out.

In regards to the series overall, I really enjoyed my time reading each book and short story and thought it was about 100 times better than Lloyd’s Twilight Reign series. I’d recommend this wholeheartedly if mercenaries using dead god bodies to power their flintlock guns sounds like your kind of thing.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Blackwing (Raven’s Mark #1) ★☆☆☆☆ DNF@30%

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Title: Blackwing
Series: Raven’s Mark #1
Author: Ed McDonald
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 325/120
Words: 119K/40K



Synopsis:

DNF’d at approximately the 30% mark.

My Thoughts:

Besides the profanity I mentioned in my previous Currently Reading & Quote post, McDonald also crossed one of the lines for what I’ll not accept in my entertainment reading. As such, I am done with this book, this series and this author.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Rosemary and Rue (October Daye #1) ★☆☆☆☆


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Title: Rosemary and Rue
Series: October Daye #1
Author: Seanan McGuire
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 287
Words: 106K



Synopsis:

From October-daye.fandom.com/wiki/Rosemary_and_Rue

Prologue: June 9, 1995

Half-fae changeling October Daye is on a stakeout for her private investigator / knight errant job when she gets a call from her human boyfriend Cliff and Gillian. Simon Torquill appears and Toby follows him to the Japanese Tea Gardens in Golden Gate Park in the hopes of locating the missing Luna and Rayseline Torquill. Simon meets up with Oleander, then turns Toby into a fish when he catches her spying. She is kicked into the koi ponds where she and Lily are trapped and forgotten for fourteen years.

Chapter 1-2: December 23, 2009

Toby regains her true form and seeks help from her longtime friend Evening Winterrose to set up a new human identity. She rejects most of Faerie including Sylvester and her changeling friends Mitch, Stacy, and Kerry, choosing instead to work at Safeway and occasionally offer toothpicks as aid in the local pixies’ territory wars. When Mitch visits the store, she pretends not to know him even though Gillian and his daughter Cassandra used to be playmates.

While heading home from a work shift, Toby is caught by the dawn and her human illusions are forcibly stripped away. Tybalt appears while she recovers from the pain of the magic, and they banter before going their separate ways. She arrives home to find a page of Duke Sylvester’s service waiting with a message, but she refuses to hear it as she has refused all the other messages.

Toby dreams about her mother Amandine, who had been married to Toby’s human father until Toby’s Changeling’s Choice, administered by Sylvester, forced mother and daughter back to the Summerlands. She also dreams of the day she escaped the koi pond and sought Evening’s help to get back on her feet, even as Cliff and Gillian rejected her for abandoning them for fourteen years.

Chapter 3-4: Awoken by her cats Cagney and Lacey, Toby listens to several increasingly frantic voicemails from Evening which culminate in Evening binding Toby to find Evening’s killer right before Toby hears Evening get murdered over the line. Toby drives to Evening’s apartment where she magics the human police into believing she belongs there. She finds splatters of Evening’s blood and the human-like corpse left by the night-haunts. She uses her Daoine Sidhe abilities to taste the blood and relive Evening’s final moments, learning that unidentified attackers killed her with iron bullets.

Chapter 5-7: Toby travels to the Court of the Queen of the Mists to announce the death using the fae’s formal customs, but the semi-mad Queen refuses to believe her. Next Toby goes to Home, an underground community of Changelings led by Devin, who had given refuge to Toby as a teenager after she ran away from Amandine and the Summerlands. Toby confronts teenagers Dare and Manuel before they allow her to see Devin. She recalls her own time as Devin’s lover and lackey, and how she and Devin had argued when Toby started dating Cliff and became pregnant with Gillian. In the present, Devin insists that he would have helped Toby after her return from the pond if Toby had allowed it. He explains that Evening was a benefactor for Home, and he pledges Home’s resources to helping Toby find her killer. In exchange, Toby will be in his debt. Devin encourages her to break ties with Sylvester, since although she won’t talk to Sylvester she is still his sworn knight, but she refuses.

Chapter 8-10: On the way home, Toby encounters a rose goblin who gives her an unmarked key. Evening’s binding tells Toby that the key is important, so Toby next heads to Evening’s mortal place of business, Third Road Enterprises. The binding tells her that the key will “open the way into Goldengreen,” Evening’s knowe. Using the key at the mortal business gives Toby access to the offices and leads her to a hidden hope chest. Toby recognizes that she must hide it, so she makes a bargain with Tybalt to keep it safe. He refuses at first, telling her to take it to the Queen or the Tea Gardens, but then accepts it and puts Toby in his debt.

Chapter 11-12: Although she is exhausted, Evening’s binding uses increasingly painful means to urge Toby to keep hunting the truth. Toby visits Shadowed Hills to inform the Torquills of Evening’s death and to ask for help. She recalls that Sylvester went mad when Luna, Raysel, and Toby all disappeared, and only snapped out of it when his wife and daughter returned to him. Toby’s magical abilities are tested by a footman who makes her design a court outfit with her magic, which adds to her magic burn. Quentin, the page who visited her home earlier, announces her to the Torquills. Sylvester is delighted to see her but shocked by the news of Evening, and more shocked by Toby’s binding to find the killer. As the Torquills mourn Evening’s death, Toby flees to the rose gardens and is followed by Connor, who attempts to make small talk with her but is clearly unhappy in his politically arranged marriage to Rayseline.

Chapter 13: Quentin finds Toby after Connor leaves, and she learns that he is in blind fosterage to Shadowed Hills. She tries to relax his pureblood prejudices and formal mannerisms, and they agree to hang out after things calm down. Sylvester and Luna are upset that Toby indebted herself to Home on her quest, and they reiterate her welcome at Shadowed Hills. She promises to stay in touch.

Chapter 14-16: On her way home, Toby realizes someone is in the car with her and she drives manically to keep them off-kilter. The intruder shoots her with iron and she flees the car, escaping on a city bus that takes her to Golden Gate Park. She tricks the Tea Garden’s gate attendant into letting her in and, growing increasingly weaker, she falls into a koi pond only to be rescued by Tybalt, who brings her to Lily. The Undine heals Toby, then chides her for her apparent death wish before sending her off with Julie and Ross as escorts. The trio are attacked en route to the taxi and Ross is killed. Tybalt kills the attacker and claims he helped so he won’t be stuck with the hope chest.

Chapter 17: Toby is driven home by Danny to find Devin waiting on her doorstep. Devin administers to Toby’s latest wounds and they sleep together, Devin trying to convince her to give up her hunt.

Chapter 18: Toby is fired from Safeway for being no call-no show. She can’t make herself care given everything going on. A doppleganger posing as Gillian visits and attacks Toby, who wants to believe her daughter is ready to make amends. Dare and Manuel come to the rescue and Dare kills the doppleganger with her iron knife, but in the attack Toby is yet again injured.

Chapter 19-20:They take her to Home, where Devin yells at the kids for slacking on guard duty. He tries to persuade Toby to give up her hunt for Evening’s killer, which she physically cannot do even if she wanted to. Dare asks how Toby met Devin, and Toby recalls how he rescued her from the streets as a teenager. She encourages Dare to break free of Devin, but Dare brushes her off. Devin tells Toby that he will send word to Sylvester that she is safe. Toby learns that Devin called in a favor from the Luidaeg to heal her.

Chapter 21: Toby, Manuel, and Dare head to Goldengreen to investigate further. She runs into Connor, who was sent by Sylvester, and discovers that Devin lied about updating the Duke. She makes Connor cut himself to prove he is not another doppelganger, identifying him by the scent of his blood and magic. Toby suggests that Raysel might be the killer, and they again acknowledge their mutual attraction even though Toby refuses to let Connor cheat on Raysel. They realize they are not alone in Goldengreen, and in fleeing they accidentally jump off a cliff into the ocean. Connor uses his selkie abilities to rescue Toby from panic-drowning as she flashes back to the pond.

Chapter 22: Dare and Manuel find them on the shore and they return to Shadowed Hills. Luna agrees to give the teens sanctuary. She also recognizes that Toby has been healed by the Luidaeg and tells Toby she must visit the Luidaeg to learn how to escape Evening’s binding. The rose goblin shows her the way.

Chapter 23: The Luidaeg introduces herself, shows Toby a vision of Maeve’s Firstborn, and identifies herself as one of them. Toby barters Evening’s key for the answers to her questions. She learns that hope chests can turn changelings fully human and that Devin has future plans for Toby. Toby does not ask her final question, which leaves the Luidaeg furiously in her debt.

Chapter 24: Back at home, Toby names the rose goblin Spike; the cats have warily accepted its presence. Toby asks Cagney and Lacey to bring her to Tybalt, being his subjects, and they grudgingly take her to the Court of Cats. She asks Tybalt for the bloody shirt he had worn at the park, and Julie attacks her because she blames Toby for Ross’s death. Tybalt asserts dominance over Julie, gives Toby the shirt, and tells Toby to leave as Julie continues to struggle.

Chapter 26: Toby seeks Lily’s help to reawaken the blood on Tybalt’s shirt. Lily tries unsuccessfully to dissuade Toby from riding the blood, and Toby learns that Devin is Evening’s killer. The binding nearly lulls Toby into a peaceful death, but Lily snaps her out of it. Danny takes Toby to Home where she confronts Devin. He says he killed Evening so he could use the hope chest to become a pureblood. He wishes Toby had come back to him, then orders Manuel to shoot her. Manuel hesitates and he, Dare, Devin, and Toby fight. Devin kills Dare. Manuel kills Devin.

Chapter 27: Sylvester and Shadowed Hills arrive for cleanup. Dare is buried. The hope chest is returned to the Queen, who is now in Toby’s debt. Toby accepts her place in the world of the fae.

My Thoughts:

I had seen several reviewers who were long time fans of this series (it’s up to book 14 or 15 I think?) and from what they had written, it sounded very interesting. I knew this was Urban Fantasy, a genre I have a VERY mixed relationship with, but was hoping it would stay away from the tropes that have driven me away from the genre in general. Unfortunately, as you can tell from the rating I gave the book, this read didn’t work out as I was hoping it would.

This was the very definition of female urban fantasy as far as I’m concerned. Everything that bugs the living daylights out of me about UF was here, in spades.

  • Spunky, full of attitude woman
  • multiple love interests from the past
  • family drama ramped up to 11
  • poor decisions by the main character leading to drama ramped up to 20
  • main character “taking care of herself” even while being rescued by others over and over and over
  • did I mention attitude coupled with bad decisions?
  • Bad Decisions
  • doing things for the good of others without asking them, talking to them about it or in any way seeing if it actually IS good for them
  • alienating family, friends and pretty much anyone who could help in the name of being spunky and full of attitude

And that’s enough for me. I will not read a main character who acts stupidly, gets away with it because of authorial fiat and then gets to call it “I can take care of myself” bullshit. Toby Daye (the titular character’s named shortened obviously) is exactly the kind of character who I hate. Not the kind of character I love to hate, or love to hate and read about, but simply hate.

I hated almost every page I read and seriously thought about DNF’ing this at the 9% mark. I guess I fell into the trap of thinking that this couldn’t possibly stay this bad and so kept reading. By the end, I was seething on the inside, almost frothing on the outside and felt like I had wasted my time. Even Psychic Grandma rattled her chains at me for being so dumb as to go all the way to the end. Considering I never listen to her about her ironing tips, I wasn’t about to start with “reading advice” from her either though.

The only good thing is that at under 300 pages I didn’t invest much time and I can now get rid of the whole series from my tbr list. 13’ish books gone in one fell swoop and able to add another series to my reading rotation.

If the bullet list of things sound like something you’d like, then go for it and may you find more joy than I did.

Rating: 1 out of 5.