Tag Archives: Seanan McGuire

Dead Man’s Hand edited by John Joseph Adams

Overview
Image result for dead man's hand book cover

Title: Dead Man’s Hand
Author: John Joseph Adams, Joe R. Lansdale, Ben H. Winters, David Farland, Mike Resnick, Seanan McGuire, Charles Yu, Alan Dean Foster, Beth Revis, Alastair Reynolds, Hugh Howey, Rajan Khanna, Orson Scott Card, Elizabeth Bear, Tad Williams, Jonathan Maberry, Kelley Armstrong, Tobias S. Buckell, Jeffrey Ford, Ken Liu, Laura Anne Gilman, Walter Jon Williams, Fred Van Lente & Christie Yant
In: Dead Man’s Hand (John Joseph Adams)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Science fiction, Short story collections, Weird western
Dates read: 4th June – 26th November 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Titan Books
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: “Am I interrupting?” she asked.

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Synopsis

HOW THE WEST WAS WEIRD!

From a kill-or-be-killed gunfight with a vampire to an encounter in a steampunk bordello, the weird western is a dark, gritty tale where the protagonist might be playing poker with a sorcerous deck of cards, or facing an alien on the streets of a dusty frontier town.

Here are twenty-three original tales – stories of the Old West infused with elements of the fantastic – produced specifically for this volume by many of today’s finest writers. Included are Orson Scott Card’s first “Alvin Maker” story in a decade, and an original adventure by Fred Van Lente, writer of Cowboys & Aliens.

Thoughts

What a fantastic collection. And a great new genre to add to my ever-expanding knowledge of / collection of books. Before reading Dead Man’s Hand and Westward Weird, I had never heard of Weird westerns. And now it’s a genre that I’m seriously keen to find more of. There is just something amazingly fun and awesome about this collection. Very, very enjoyable.

The gunslingers and card players throughout this anthology took me on an absolutely joyous ride. One that I was kind of disappointed finished so quickly. The idea of the wild west has always intrigued me, making this the first time that I was completely able to thrown myself into this fascination.

This anthology didn’t quite get five stars because I didn’t fall head over heels for each and every story. Having said that, I would most definitely read this again. Even those stories which weren’t quite as holy crap amazing as the others.

<- Dead Man’s HandThe Red-Headed Dead ->

Image source: Amazon

Westward Weird edited by Martin H. Greenberg & Kerrie Hughes

Overview
Image result for westward weird book cover

Title: Westward Weird
Author: Martin H. Greenberg, Kerrie Hughes, Jay Lake, Larry D. Sweazy, Anton Strout, Seanan McGuire, Brenda Cooper, Christopher McKitterick, Steven Saus, Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Jennifer Brozek, J. Steven York, Jeff Mariotte & Jody Lynn Nye
In: Westward Weird (Martin H. Greenberg & Kerrie Hughes)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Short story collections, Weird western
Dates read: 15th June – 14th November 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Daw Books
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: She pulled the last of the pins free and shook out her hair.

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Synopsis

When you were a kid did you long to put on your cowboy boots, belt on your guns, saddle up, and ride off to find adventures? Did you sit glued to the TV watching The Lone Ranger, Marverick, bonanza, The Wild Wild West, The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. and Firefly, to name just a few of the many series that have been popular over the last sixty years? And were you caught up in movies like Outlands, Time Bandits, Serenity, or Back to the Future Part III? If so, Westward Weird is the book for you.

The thirteen original stories included here ride a very broad range between science fiction, fantasy, and the paranormal – and all of htem are told from a Wild West perspective. So get ready for some good old-fashioned adventure as:

  • The Old Gods cross paths in the Old West
  • Two thieves are given a job they can’t refuse, but no one told them they’d encounter aliens along the way
  • A mining family never expected their claim to be jumped from parallel universes
  • A Mars colony may be about to find out exactly how the West was won
  • Cowboys will be hard-pressed to ride herd on the living dead
Thoughts

This was a fantastic collection that introduced me to a genre that I never really knew existed – Weird westerns. I absolutely loved it. Whilst I haven’t really been getting into Westerns all that much, I most definitely love the science fiction and fantasy spin to the topic. Now I have a whole new genre to read and things to fill my shelves with… that wish list just keeps on growing.

Now that I’ve read this collection, I need to find a few weird western full-length novels. After all, it’s a genre that I’ve most definitely fallen in love with and want even more of. I can’t wait to read more and more weird westerns and fill my brain with all sorts of cyborg wild west stories. Tales of werewolves and vampires. And just…. Fun.

This is a fantastic collection that not only fits great into my shelf of books that I already own, but it also introduced me to a great new sub-genre, authors and just… fun. Now I need to save up some money to get some of the books that this has left on my wishlist…

<- Lone WolfThe Temptation of Eustace Prudence McAllen ->

Image source: Amazon

Home Improvement: Undead Edition edited by Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner

Overview
Image result for home improvement undead edition book cover

Title: Home Improvement: Undead Edition
Author: Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner, Victor Gischler, Patricia Briggs, Rochelle Krich, Heather Graham, James Grady, Melissa Marr, E. E. Knight, Seanan McGuire, S. J. Rozan, Stacia Kane, Suzanne McLeod & Simon R. Green
In: Home Improvement (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Short story collections, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 7th June – 24th October 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: Two weeks after their first post they met in the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf on Larchmont.

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Synopsis

There’s nothing like home renovation for finding skeletons in the closet or otherworldly portals in the parlour… And when you add in a hefty dose of the supernatural, the normal, everyday challenges of home D-I-Y become even more hazardous!

International number 1 bestseller Charlaine Harris has joined forces once again with award-winning mystery writer Toni L.P. Kelner to construct a brilliant anthology of fourteen forays into the frightening world of home improvement.

Thoughts

This is a great and fun collection. It’s amusing and light. Filled with lots of gorgeous paranormal stories and just seriously fun. What I love most about it though is that each and everyone of these stories features the process of home renovations in some way, shape or form. And, as a home owner myself… I can attest to the fact that sometimes home improvements are literally hell…

I love that this collection brings the supernatural and paranormal into our everyday experiences. Everyone has a home and, in the case of these somewhat more magical lives… after all, even vampires and witches and the fae still need a home… but their complications are a lot worse than the ones that I have had to face…

This collection had some authors and series that I’m familiar with. And some that are new to me. As with many of the good anthologies that I read, my wish list has grown yet again. Which is really what I want when I read a good anthology.

<- In Brightest DayIf I Had a Hammer ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

The Lay of the Land by Seanan McGuire

Overview
The Lay of the Land (Incryptid, #0.21) by Seanan McGuire

Title: The Lay of the Land
Author: Seanan McGuire
Series: InCryptid #0.21
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Strong women, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 4th October 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Free online short story
Publisher: Seanan McGuire
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: “But you don’t think Mr. Price is a part of that.”

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Synopsis

Thomas Price has seen the world, has studied and fought unbelievable creatures on every continent, and knows more about cryptids than almost anyone else alive. But he’s never seen anyplace like Buckley Township, Michigan, and he’s certainly never met anyone like Alice Healy, who is far too young for him, far too much a Healy for him, and far too wild to disregard. This is going to be an interesting assignment.

Unable to understand why her ever-tolerant father wants her to write off a newcomer as dangerous solely because of his origins, Alice Healy has set herself on a collision course with Thomas Price–a man who needs companionship, answers, and someone to guide him through the tangled ecosystems of the local wood, where the unwary go in, but don’t come out.

It’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship, and a new chapter in the story of the Healy family. Assuming that Alice can get Thomas through the woods alive, and Mary can convince Alice not to get Thomas murdered by her father.

Thoughts

Alice is growing into absolutely everything I expected… and more. I almost don’t want to leave the world of the InCryptid short stories. She’s got so much gumption. And is incredibly accident prone. Two things which I absolutely adore in a strong female character. It doesn’t fail to brig a smile to my face, opening my Kobo and reading one of the stories which feature her and her amazingness.

I love that in this story, she’s showing Thomas around. The independent, matter of fact way in which she does so helps to draw you ever further into the InCryptid world and Alice’s great personality. She’s most definitely Fran’s daughter. And although I still miss Fran, I love that there is someone there to fill that void with their humorous take on life.

This story was a great way to see all of the things in the InCryptid world that go bump in the night. Even the more innocent of the creatures that go “bump” were included. I wish there was an illustrated encyclopaedia of all of these amazing creatures… I could almost die a happy woman then.

<- The Way HomeTarget Practice ->

Image source: Goodreads

Target Practice by Seanan McGuire

Overview
Target Practice (InCryptid, #0.22) by Seanan McGuire

Title: Target Practice
Author: Seanan McGuire
Series: InCryptid #0.22
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Strong women, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 5th October 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Free online short story
Publisher: Seanan McGuire
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: It was a rare moment of absolute calm – at least until the blonde blur broke through the blueberry bushes, running hell-bent for the border.

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Synopsis

Buckley Township is starting to grow on Thomas Price, rather like a particularly aggressive strain of moss. He still has a lot to learn about his new environs, and about the people they bring him into contact with. People like Alice Healy, whose talent for getting herself into trouble is only exceeded by her inexplicable ability to get out of it again. Luck is not a dependable survival mechanism. And hers is running out.

When Alice stumbles over something that even the ecologically unusual Buckley woods shouldn’t be able to sustain, it’s anyone’s guess whether she’ll be able to handle it on her own–and if she can’t, whether she’ll be able to find the help she needs to stop an invasive species from damaging the town and people she cares about. Thomas, meanwhile, just wants to avoid being shot by her father.

Tensions are high and stakes are higher as Alice and Thomas both begin taking aim on what they want, and where they want to be when they get it.

Thoughts

The first dot point that I wrote in my notes on this short story sums it up perfectly:

  • Naw. Alice finally broke Jonathan!

That’s pretty much it. There was something that became steadily more irritating about Jonathan as these short stories unfolded. Don’t get me wrong, it’s understandable. But it was still dang annoying. So when Alice finally manages to “break” him… it left me feeling happy. Nothing like a rebellious teen having a point to make me love a story.

As with the other short stories so far in this collection, now all I want is to get the next books in this series and stick my nose into them! But I’m trying so hard not to buy anymore until I finish some from my teetering TBR… I may actually get buried under an avalanche soon.

But I digress… this was a fun story and showed how well Alice’s grandmother knows her, and how the scars of the past and worries for the future can have the exact opposite effect to what you desire. Luckily, things will steadily get more interesting (I’m sure) as the rest of the series about Alice’s children unfolds…

<- The Lay of the LandTailed ->

Image source: Goodreads

The Way Home by Seanan McGuire

Overview
The Way Home (InCryptid, #0.20) by Seanan McGuire

Title: The Way Home
Author: Seanan McGuire
Series: InCryptid #0.20
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Strong women, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 30th September 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Free online short story
Publisher: Seanan McGuire
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: And about that time, pigs would fly.

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Synopsis

Alice Healy is sixteen years old and chafing at the yoke of her father’s regard. His overprotective streak has blossomed in the absence of his wife, leaving his teenage daughter sneaking out at every opportunity, trying to find herself and her place in the world without any parental support. But she knows the woods, and she knows what she wants to do with her life; it’s just a question of whether she can keep herself alive long enough to actually accomplish her planned future.

Thomas Price is a man still paying for his past. He’s smart enough to understand that his assignment is essentially an exile, and has enough of a sense of self-preservation not to argue. Those who vex the Covenant of St. George rarely live long enough to explain themselves. At least in Buckley Township, he’ll be far away from danger…unless you’re counting Alice Healy.

Worlds will collide and a new story will begin as Thomas Price arrives in his new home, and Alice Healy does her best to stay alive long enough to say hello for the first time.

Thoughts

Oh, HELL YES!!! A story of Alice as a teenager, man I’ve been hanging for this ever since Snakes and Ladders. And it was everything that I expected – Alice is sassy, accident prone and wonderfully independent, just like her mother. The fact that she also seems to like knives a little… wow.

This story is not only Alice’s first appearance as a teenager, but it also has Thomas and Alice’s first meeting. Which, again, I fell completely in love with. I can now completely understand how they had Verity as a daughter, and I can’t wait to meet the rest of their children and get to know the family even more (when I have the money to buy the books anyway…).

I was intrigued to see how Thomas truly left the Convent. You get to understand the rationale for the Healys throughout the rest of the short stories, but I wanted something at least slightly different for the next deserter. And I got it. It was great, fun and I can’t wait to keep sticking my nose into this fantastic series!

<- The Star of New MexicoThe Lay of the Land ->

Image source: Goodreads

The Star of New Mexico by Seanan McGuire

Overview
The Star of New Mexico (InCryptid #0.14) by Seanan McGuire

Title: The Star of New Mexico
Author: Seanan McGuire
Series: InCryptid #0.14
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Strong women, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 25th September 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Free online short story
Publisher: Seanan Mcguire
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: “We’re not set up for long term storage,” the funeral home director had said.

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Synopsis

Almost twenty years ago, Jonathan Healy rode a train across the country to investigate reports that something was killing people in the wake of a small family circus. Almost twenty years ago, he brought home the woman who would be his wife, the mother of his children, and his partner in the endless quest to protect the cryptids of the world. The time has come for Fabulous Fran, the Flower of Arizona, the Star of New Mexico, to take the stage for the final time, and take her final bow.

Fran touched a lot of lives in her time in Buckley, and the people who loved her are coming to say goodbye. It’s not going to be easy. The things that are most important so very rarely are.

They say she never missed a shot; she was the darling of the west. But now she’s gone, and the ones she’s left behind must figure out what this means for them.

Thoughts

After reading Broken Paper Hearts, I thought McGuire was done with breaking my heart. Boy was I wrong. Oh, so damn wrong. Evil woman managed to do it again. I finished this short story with that same horrid feeling of sadness and confusion that the previous short story left. But, it was somehow even worse because this was actually saying goodbye and dashing all hopes that Fran would be coming back…

This short story most definitely asks the question – how do you say goodbye to the ones that you love? And, more importantly… what would you do if you had to say goodbye? Would you come back from the dead? Or would you stay gone and let your family move on? How do you move on? So many questions and thoughts running through my head right now!

One of the things I love about this is that Alice is obviously a little butt-kicker and I can’t wait to see how she’s going to kick butt into the future. I think the next few InCryptid short stories are all about her… so I look forward to finding out just how tough a woman she is going to become!

<- Broken Paper HeartsThe Way Home ->

Image source: Goodreads

Broken Paper Hearts by Seanan McGuire

Overview
Broken Paper Hearts (InCryptid, #0.13) by Seanan McGuire

Title: Broken Paper Hearts
Author: Seanan McGuire
Series: InCryptid #0.13
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Strong women, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 10th September 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Free online short story
Publisher: Seanan McGuire
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: We have to take her home now.

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Synopsis

Valentine’s Day has come to Buckley Township. For Alice, that means cupcakes and paper hearts. For Jonathan, it means sleepless nights and fear, because Fran hasn’t come home.

Everything ends eventually. No matter how much you hope that it won’t.

Everything ends.

Thoughts

This is. My heart. My heart. My heart.

That’s pretty much the entirety of this review – this tiny little, short as, almost non existent short story just completely tore my heart out and then stomped on it. Just for a bit of good measure.

I’ve actually never had a short story make me cry. That was a very new experience… I think this was about seven pages – and they made me weep. Again. My heart.

I get that everything ends, and this had to too. But, without giving anything away. Seriously McGuire! WHY? Did THIS have to end now?

My heart.

<- Snakes and LaddersThe Star of New Mexico ->

Image source: Goodreads

Snakes and Ladders by Seanan McGuire

Overview
Snakes and Ladders (InCryptid, #0.12) by Seanan McGuire

Title: Snakes and Ladders
Author: Seanan McGuire
Series: InCryptid #0.12
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Strong women, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 7th September 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Free online short story
Publisher: Seanan McGuire
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: “Damn mice.”

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Synopsis

There’s nothing that little girls love more on Halloween than going trick or treating with their mother, a sackful of talking pantheistic mice, and their dead babysitter. All right, maybe there are a lot of things that little girls love more, but for Alice Healy, a nice out with her beloved mama and her favorite ghost is just about perfect.

Right up until someone snatches her off of a porch, that is.

For Alice, this is the most terrifying thing that has ever happened. For Fran, this is the end of the world, and something she may not survive; if she doesn’t get her little girl back, she may be joining Mary in the grave. And for the snake cult that grabbed Alice, this may be the chance that they’ve been waiting for…

It’s tricks and treats on a Buckley Halloween, and this time, there are more than just the usual masked monsters roaming the streets.

Thoughts

Alice is just the cutest character I’ve read in a long time. Alright, she’s going to grow up into a pretty kick ass woman by the time the full-length novels roll around. But in this short story? Yeah. She’s damn cute. And adorable. And just so funny. I love how she pretty much takes everything in her stride and just rolls with all of the insanity which is happening in her life.

Being an Aussie, I’ve never been too involved in the whole Trick or Treating thing… but this short story definitely gave me a whole new dimension of understanding. Alright, I get that this isn’t what is normally meant by trick or treating. But I still loved that the Halloween spirit was bought into this story in the typical, slightly insane InCryptid manner.

In Discount Armageddon, snake cults are mentioned a few times. This was a much better introduction to the cults – so it might have been useful to read this before actually reading the novel. I love how McGuire has been able to construct a world in which each of the short stories are introducing a new cryptid and drawing you further and further into her fantastic world building.

<- Bury Me in SatinBroken Paper Hearts ->

Image source: Goodreads

Through This House by Seanan McGuire

Overview
Image result for home improvement undead edition book cover

Title: Through This House
Author: Seanan McGuire
Series: October Daye #4.5
In: Home Improvement (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Fae, Paranormal fantasy, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 30th August 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: It liked them.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

It’s hard enough doing home improvements. But attempting home improvements on a sentient house that doesn’t really want you… that’s a whole other level of difficulty.

Thoughts

I’ve read a few books in which there is the subject of fae property. It’s always fluid and responsive. But this is the first time I’ve read a story of any kind in which someone has to try and reclaim the fae property. And, in this circumstance, the fae property is not overly happy with being claimed. Leading to one hell of a home improvement job and moving in day…

I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting October Daye in my reading of novels (this shall soon be rectified). And so I really enjoyed not only her characterisation, but also all of her many sidekicks. I loved this odd bod bunch that just want to find a home that can keep them safe… it was quirky and a little zaney. Humorous and just generally thoroughly enjoyable.

I absolutely adored this short story. It was funny and cute. Filled with great drama and world building. And now I just can’t wait to sink my teeth into this series…

<- Woolsley’s Kitchen NightmareThe Path ->

Image source: Hachette Australia