Book Review: Be the Serpent (October Daye, #16) by Seanan McGuire

Title: Be the Serpent
Series: October Daye, #16
Author: Seanan McGuire
Publisher: DAW
Publication date: August 30, 2022
Print length: 384 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Source: Purchased
Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

October Daye is finally something she never expected to be: married. All the trials and turmoils and terrors of a hero’s life have done very little to prepare her for the expectation that she will actually share her life with someone else, the good parts and the bad ones alike, not just allow them to dabble around the edges in the things she wants to share. But with an official break from hero duties from the Queen in the Mists, and her family wholly on board with this new version of “normal,” she’s doing her best to adjust.

It isn’t always easy, but she’s a hero, right? She’s done harder.
Until an old friend and ally turns out to have been an enemy in disguise for this entire time, and October’s brief respite turns into a battle for her life, her community, and everything she has ever believed to be true.

The debts of the Broken Ride are coming due, and whether she incurred them or not, she’s going to be the one who has to pay.

Includes an all-new bonus novella! 

Some long-term ongoing fantasy series overstay their welcome. And then there’s October Daye, a series that 100% proves that there’s no such thing as too much or too long, so long as the writing and the plot make it worthwhile.

And in the name of Oberon himself, I’m here to declare that the 16th October Daye book blew me away, caught me in its spell, and will haunt me for the coming year (until #17 comes along).

In Be the Serpent, we pick up two months after the events of the previous book, When Sorrows Come. That book brought the long-awaited wedding of Toby and Tybalt — and being a book about October Daye, hero of the realm and a total bad-ass knight, it also brought plenty of bloodshed, mayhem, attempted overthrow of a kingdom, and an assortment of awful bad guys.

But hey, it ended with happiness! Toby and Tybalt are married — and in book #16, Be the Serpent, they’re living together in wedded bliss. I’m a little peeved that we didn’t actually get to see them enjoying their Disneyland honeymoon (I’d pay good money to see Tybalt on the Dumbo ride), but they had fun, and that’s what counts.

Happiness doesn’t last long, however. As the story opens, a hearing in the Kingdom of the Mists is just concluding when the children of Toby’s closest childhood friend begin to scream as if in dire pain. Rushing to their family home, Toby discovers a scene of blood and heartbreak. It’s almost too much to bear, and how can Toby share such terrible news with her dearest friend?

As the plot unfolds, true terror is revealed. And I really can’t say much more about the plot than that, because it’s a doozy and it took my breath away. What I will say is that events occur that upend Faerie as we know it, and that tie together storylines that go all the way back to the first book in the series.

The ending is a total gutpunch as well, and I can’t think of another book in the series that ended without our heroes being (at least temporarily) in a fairly good or at least safe place. The ending here is upsetting and nightmare-inducing, and I think I’m going to spend the next year really mad at Seanan McGuire for leaving me in such an upset state!

The book includes a bonus novella, Such Dangerous Seas, which is also deeply dark and sorrowful. (As opposed to the novella at the end of When Sorrows Come, which was basically a fun romp through Toby and Tybalt’s wedding reception — which now feels like a brief shining moment of joy before the horrors of Faerie came crashing back down). Such Dangerous Seas features the sea witch, the Luidaeg, one of my favorite characters — but it’s a terribly sad story about her earlier years and the awful things that happened to her.

Be the Serpent is shocking, heart-breaking, and scary as hell. It’s also yet another brilliant showcase for our hero Toby and her chosen family, who band together no matter what. Whatever happens to these characters, they love one another unreservedly, and their family ties, commitment, and loyalty are big pieces of what makes this series so special.

Having to wait a year for the next book is going to be terrible for my well-being! And I guess that’s a pretty clear indication of just how great Be the Serpent is. If you’re an October Daye fan, you’re probably already reading it!

And I’ll say, yet again, that if you haven’t read the October Daye series yet, you’re missing out on something special. Start from the beginning (Rosemary and Rue) — you won’t be able to stop!

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Books Releasing In the Second Half of 2022

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Most Anticipated Books Releasing In the Second Half of 2022.

Where do I even start? I want to read ALL the books… but here are ten I’m really excited about.. while also trying not to repeat books I’ve highlighted in other TBR posts already!

  • The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (7/19)
  • The Bodyguard by Katherine Center (7/19)
  • Carrie Soto Is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid (8/30)
  • Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn (9/6)
  • Be the Serpent (October Daye, #16) by Seanan McGuire (9/6)
  • Fairy Tale by Stephen King (9/6)
  • Drunk on Love by Jasmine Guillory (9/20)
  • The Spare Man by Mary Robinette Kowal (10/11)
  • Scattered Showers by Rainbow Rowell (11/8)
  • Well Traveled by Jen DeLuca (12/6)

What new releases are you most looking forward to? Please share your links!

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Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 I want to reread in 2022

Yes, you read that right! This post is a Top 5 Tuesday post — I’m participating in the meme originally created by Shanah @ Bionic Book Worm, now hosted by Meeghan Reads.

My usually Tuesday lists are linked back to the Top Ten Tuesday meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, but I just wasn’t feeling this week’s prompt, so I thought I’d do something different.

Books to re-read!! This topic is definitely in my sweet spot, since I’m a big fan of re-reading my favorite books. I’ll usually let at least a few years go by, although sometimes, when the next book in a series is on the horizon, I’ll do a quick re-read (or audiobook listen) to get a refresher on all the details.

Here are five I plan to re-read in 2022:

  • The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien: I’m actually planning to start a LOTR re-read this year, and I’m leaning toward starting with the audiobook of The Hobbit (narrated by Andy Serkis) — but I also have this illustrated edition on my shelf that I may choose to spend time with instead.
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling: I’m looking forward to enjoying the gorgeous MinaLima edition of HP#2.
  • When Sorrows Come by Seanan McGuire: The newest October Daye book (#16, Be the Serpent) comes out in the fall, so before then, I’ll be doing an audio re-read of #15.
  • Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone by Diana Gabaldon: I read the 9th book in the Outlander series as soon as it was released this past November, but starting next week, my book group will be doing a group read, sharing and discussing two chapters per week.
  • Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller: This is another one for a book group discussion, and I absolutely do not mind the idea of reading it again!

Do you plan to re-read any books in 2022?

As always, if you have a TTT or T5T post this week, please share your link!

Top Ten Tuesday: Lines Worth Remembering — a selection of great passages from my recently read books

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Memorable Things Characters Have Said (quotes from book characters that have stuck with you). I think I’ve done posts on characters’ quotes before, so this time around, I thought I’d share a random bunch of passages that I highlighted*, for one reason or another, in books that I’ve read recently. (In general, these will be lines that made me laugh, or at the very least, smirk).

*And don’t worry — I’m referring to using the highlight functions on my Kindle, not an actual neon yellow highlighter on an actual physical book! I would never!

What did one say when a gentleman confessed to a shortcoming? She couldn’t recall ever hearing one do so before, but surely, sometime in the course of history, some gentleman had. And someone would have had to make a reply.

On the Way to the Wedding (Bridgertons, #8) by Julia Quinn

If he were furniture, he’d be a really nice-looking shag carpet.

Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

Taking his clothes off tonight would test his ability to open not just his pants but his heart for Clara.

The Roommate by Rosie Danan

“We didn’t see them until they got there! The foe has sneakily snucked a sneak attack behind our lines, like a sneaky sneak!”

Battle Ground (Dresden Files, #17) by Jim Butcher

“How did you get here, little girl?” she said, in a voice that suggested gingerbread cottages and the slamming of big stove doors.

Equal Rites (Discworld, #3) by Terry Pratchett

To speak frankly, I am not in favour of long engagements. They give people the opportunity of finding out each other’s character before marriage,

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

Another voice, dry as tinder, hissed, “You would do well to remember where you are.” It should be impossible to hiss a sentence with no sibilants in it, but the voice made a very good attempt.

The Light Fantastic (Discworld, #2) by Terry Pratchett

“Why didn’t you bring me a milkshake?” is not an inquiry befitting a Prince of Cats.

The Unkindest Tide (October Daye, #13) by Seanan McGuire

If I was forty years younger, of a different sexual orientation and my son wasn’t married to you, I’d be after you in a heartbeat.”

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

A werewolf was lower than a Californian, all things considered – rough rural hillbillies with too much hair. And open shirt collars. And no table manners.

How To Marry a Werewolf by Gail Carriger

I probably could have filled up my whole list with Bridgerton or Discworld quotes… but it’s fun to mix things up a bit.

If you wrote a TTT this week, please share your links!

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Book Review: When Sorrows Come (October Daye, #15) by Seanan McGuire

Title: When Sorrows Come (October Daye, #15)
Author: Seanan McGuire
Publisher: DAW
Publication date: September 14, 2021
Print length: 384 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Source: Purchased
Rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Toby’s getting married! Now in hardcover, the fifteenth novel of the Hugo-nominated, New York Times-bestselling October Daye urban fantasy series.

It’s hard to be a hero. There’s always something needing October “Toby” Daye’s attention, and her own desires tend to fall by the wayside in favor of solving the Kingdom’s problems. That includes the desire to marry her long-time suitor and current fiancé, Tybalt, San Francisco’s King of Cats. She doesn’t mean to keep delaying the wedding, it just sort of…happens. And that’s why her closest friends have taken the choice out of her hands, ambushing her with a court wedding at the High Court in Toronto. Once the High King gets involved, there’s not much even Toby can do to delay things…

…except for getting involved in stopping a plot to overthrow the High Throne itself, destabilizing the Westlands entirely, and keeping her from getting married through nothing more than the sheer volume of chaos it would cause. Can Toby save the Westlands and make it to her own wedding on time? Or is she going to have to choose one over the other?

Includes an all-new bonus novella! 

I’m willing to put a stake in the ground and state definitely that all October Daye books deserve at least 4 stars. (Well, maybe not quite books 2 & 3, but the series was still finding its footing at that point, so we’ll just pretend those were growing pains.)

15 books in, I’m at that difficult point in a series where I love the characters so, so much that I just want them all to be perfectly happy all the time. But where’s the excitement in that? So naturally, even though this book is very much about our lead character’s wedding, knowing October Daye, it absolutely can’t go off without a hitch. And lots of blood.

In When Sorrows Come, Toby and Tybalt are finally almost at their wedding day. Toby very much wants to marry Tybalt, but also very much does not want anything to do with wedding planning. Just tell her when to show up, basically. And so, the whole gang is off to Toronto, to the demesne of the High King, to celebrate the couple’s big day.

And of course, they stumble right into a nefarious plot to overthrow the High King, complete with Doppelgangers, assassination attempts, and a household thrown into chaos. What’s Toby to do but wade into the thick of things, figure out the deadly plot, and still make it to her wedding in one piece?

The story is action-packed, but also leaves time for Toby to reflect on how her relationship with Tybalt has grown over time, her relationships with the other members of her found family, and what might come next in the tangled world of Faerie.

All the favorite characters are here, Toby has some lovely reunions with long-lost connections, and there are some teary-eyed sentimental beats that left me feeling swept away. Plus, as I mentioned, buckets of blood.

When Sorrows Come includes the humor and wit that feature in all Seanan McGuire books. I adore the writing! Some choice selections from minor moments:

One entire wall was ovens and stoves and open holes leading to oceans of flame that probably had some reasonable name like “pizza ovens” or “big fucking baking place,” but looked to me a lot more like gateways into the human concept of Hell.

… and …

Maybe the knowe understood that we really weren’t civilized people and was just trying to save us the embarrassment of me forgetting which fork was supposed to go in my salad versus which fork was supposed to go in the person I was trying to kill.

… and …

If everyone got to stab someone on my wedding day except for me, I was going to be even more annoyed than I already was.

… and …

Being fae doesn’t make you immune to being a massive nerd. It just gives you more time to really plumb the depths of your potential nerdery.

You get the idea.

I gave this book 4.5 stars instead of 5, mainly because the sedition plotline really is a way to prolong the lead-up to the wedding, and the more it stretched on, the more annoyed I got at the delay. Just let Toby and Tybalt get married already!

Needless to say, the book ends with the wedding, and includes a bonus novella at the end, “And With Reveling”, set at the wedding reception, that adds a nice little finish filled with humor and love.

It’s often a fear that in an ongoing series, once the wedding happens, the story is basically done. But clearly, Toby and Tybalt getting married doesn’t equate to a Happily-Ever-After, The End, Nothing More to Say. There are many challenges and adventures ahead of them, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

After their Land of Disney honeymoon.

In case it isn’t perfectly clear, this is my favorite urban fantasy series, and I recommend it to one and all. Start at the beginning with Rosemary and Rue (which I just re-read via audio this week), and keep going. It gets better and better, and you’ll love the characters as much as I do.

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Buy now at Amazon – Book Depository – Bookshop.org

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Read In One Sitting (or would have if I had the time)

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Books I Read In One Sitting (or would have if I had the time). My list is a combination of both… here are my top ten:

The Blue Salt Road by Joanne M. Harris

This illustrated retelling of the selkie legend is slim but beautiful. At 215 pages, it was pretty easy to read it all in an afternoon.

Fables graphic novels by Bill Willingham

I loved the entire Fables series, and gobbled up each new volume as soon as it was released. It wouldn’t be possible to read the whole series in one setting, but each individual book is definitely doable!

The Duke & I (Bridgertons, #1) by Julia Quinn

The Bridgertons books have become my go-to reading material for plane trips. I read this one on a coast-to-coast 5-hour flight!

October Daye books by Seanan McGuire

These are more “I wish I could read in one sitting” type of books. As soon as a new one comes out, I have to drop everything and read it, but all in one sitting is typically more than I can manage.

Wayward Children books by Seanan McGuire

Speaking of Seanan McGuire… the novellas that make up the Wayward Children series tend to be under 200 pages, and keep me reading straight through from start to finish.

The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman

This is a short (60-page) book that I read with my book group. Given its length, it’s no wonder that I read it all in one sitting… but the story flows so well that I think it might lose a bit of its magic if read in smaller chunks.

The Long Walk by Stephen King

This book is so strange and creepy, and I was thoroughly hooked. Luckily, I was on a beach vacation when I started it, and spent the whole day on a beach chair reading this book!

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

It’s easy to look back at the Twilight craze now and sneer at the books… but remember when the first book came out, and how insane everyone was about it? Sure, I have tons of issues with the writing and the plot and the basic logic of it all… but at the time, I devoured this book.

Written In My Own Heart’s Blood (Outlander, #8) by Diana Gabaldon

At 800+ pages, this is absolutely not a book that can be read in one sitting. But I really wish it were! When this book came out in 2014, I was on a family vacation… but basically ignored my family during every single moment of down time and stayed up ridiculously late until I finished the book.

I’m already expecting similar behavior when #9 comes out in November!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling

I was so terrified of stumbling across spoilers when HP7 was released that I spent every waking hour reading, until I just couldn’t stay awake a moment longer… and ended up calling in sick to work the next day so I could finish!

What books have you read in one sitting… or do you wish you could read in one sitting? Please share your TTT links!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2021

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2021. I just recently did a top 10 list of my summer TBR, which included mostly new releases, so I’ll attempt not to repeat myself!

July

Any Way the Wind Blows by Rainbow Rowell – the 3rd Simon Snow book! (July 6)

The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig (July 20 )

August

My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones (August 31)

September

When Sorrows Come by Seanan McGuire — the 15th October Daye book! (September 14)

Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune (September 21)

October

The Vanished Days by Susanna Kearsley — I will ALWAYS read a new novel by this author! (October 5)

A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow (October 5)

Well Matched by Jen DeLuca — the 3rd book in the series. These books are so cute! (October 19)

Grave Reservations by Cherie Priest (October 26)

November

Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone by Diana Gabaldon — It’s the new Outlander book!! After a 7 year wait! (November 23)

What are your most anticipated new releases for the 2nd half of 2021? Do we have any in common?

Please share your links!

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Book Review: A Killing Frost (October Daye, #14) by Seanan McGuire

Title: A Killing Frost (October Daye, #14)
Author: Seanan McGuire
Publisher: DAW
Publication date: September 1, 2020
Print length: 336 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley
Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

When October is informed that Simon Torquill—legally her father, due to Faerie’s archaic marriage traditions—must be invited to her wedding or risk the ceremony throwing the Kingdom in the Mists into political turmoil, she finds herself setting out on a quest she was not yet prepared to undertake for the sake of her future…. and the man who represents her family’s past.

14 books in, what is there left to say about my super-duper favorite urban fantasy series? I love these books, and A Killing Frost is no exception!

For those unfamiliar with the series, October Daye is a changeling, born of a human man and a powerful Fae woman. Over the course of the series, October (Toby) has come into her own as a knight and a Hero of the Realm, gaining strength in her magical abilities and gifts and setting out on quests to right wrongs. As she so readily admits, hardly a day goes by when she doesn’t end up covered in blood.

Toby is an amazing character, and the series as a whole is a richly detailed world, set in and around human San Francisco, with complex rules, hierarchies, relationships, and power dynamics. The characters are so much of what makes these books so good — Toby has a found family by this point in the series, including her sort-of sister May, her fiance Tybalt, her squire Quentin, and an odd assortment of friends and associates who love Toby and keep her always on her toes.

In A Killing Frost, Toby and Tybalt (King of Cats) are getting closer to setting a wedding date, when Toby is informed that if she doesn’t invite her stepfather Simon to the wedding, he or anyone connected to him can claim offense. And in Faerie, that can lead to dire consequences, including forced servitude or other truly unpleasant outcomes.

Simon, however, is lost. In book #11, he traded his own way home in order to rescue his long-lost daughter. After having reformed his nastier ways, he’s back to being a bad guy, having forgotten all the good in his life. Toby’s only option is to search for Simon, bring him back, and find a way to break the spell so that he can truly be found again.

I won’t give too much away. Naturally, Toby ends up covered with blood — mostly, but not only, her own. There’s danger to her and to her companions, and the damage is truly gruesome at times.

I was scared for Toby, especially toward the end, when I couldn’t see a way that her actions wouldn’t end in disaster. Naturally, I ended up surprised in all sorts of ways, especially by a huge new development that will have major ripple effects from here on out.

I feel confident saying that if you’ve loved the October Daye series so far, you’ll love A Killng Frost too. If you haven’t started the series yet… well, go ahead!

Obviously, I adore October Daye, and I love basically everything written by Seanan McGuire.

A Killing Frost is a total treat. And now it’s back to the sad state of waiting a year for the next book in the series!

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten authors I’ve read the most books by

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Authors I’ve Read the Most Books By.

It looks like I did this topic back in 2015, but my reading habits have changed since then — so, new and improved for 2020, here are ten authors whose books dominate my shelves.

Note: The numbers as reflected in Goodreads aren’t entirely reliable, since they include novellas and stand-alone stories that I’ve marked as read as well as actual novels and other published materials. So… take the the numbers below with a grain (or ten) of salt.

Seanan McGuire – 38 

Because I adore the October Daye series and the Incryptid series, as well as her various other novels and novellas and, well, basically anything she writes. And this doesn’t even include the 12 works I’ve read by her alter ego Mira Grant.

 

Jim Butcher – 29

And more coming this year, with two new Dresden Files books releasing this summer and fall! Besides the Dresden books, this number includes Codex Alera, some story collections, and Bigfoot!

 

Dana Stabenow – 27

The Kate Shugak series is at 22 books (and counting), plus there are 4 Liam Campbell books published so far, and I’ve read a collection of her non-fiction travel writing. (Plus, I have more books of hers on my TBR, but who’s counting?)

 

Patricia Briggs – 25

I love the Mercy Thompson series, as well Alpha & Omega, plus I’ve read any and all Mercy-verse stories that have appeared in various anthologies.

 

Diana Gabaldon – 23 

I’m going to keep using this picture, because hey, I met DG once in person and it was awesome!

No, there aren’t 23 books in the Outlander series, but this include the Lord John books, the reference books, and the various novellas and stand-alone stories.

 

Gail Carriger – 23

According to Goodreads, that’s 4 each for the Finishing School and Custard Protocol series, 4 for the Parasol Protectorate, a whole bunch of novellas, and two works published as G. L. Carriger.

 

Stephen King – 21

Considering how many books he’s written, this is just scratching the surface! I don’t think I’ll ever run out of backlist King books to read, not to mention keeping up with the never-ending new releases.

 

Tamora Pierce – 19

I went on a Tamora Pierce reading binge last year, reading basically ALL of her Tortall books, one after another. And loved them all! (Mostly.)

 

John Scalzi – 19

So there’s the Old Man’s War series, the Interdependency trilogy, the Lock In books, and various others too.

 

And finally, one that maybe should go into a separate category…

Robert Kirkman – 33

Because I’ve read the entire Walking Dead series in trade paperback editions, and that’s 32 books, plus one more about Negan.

 

Which authors have you read the most? Do we have any in common?

Please share your links!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2020

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2020.

I’m so excited for all of these! Since I just did a summer TBR post a couple of weeks ago that included a bunch of new releases for June through August, today I’m focusing on books coming out in fall to early winter. And the scary thing is, most of these are being released in September. How will I possibly have the time to read them all?

  1. A Killing Frost (October Daye, #14) by Seanan McGuire (release date 9/1/2020)
  2. Anxious People by Fredrik Backman (release date 9/8/2020)
  3. The Ghost Tree by Christina Henry (release date 9/8/2020)
  4. The Trials of Koli (The Book of Koli, #2) by M. R. Carey (release date 9/15/2020)
  5. Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (release date 9/15/2020)
  6. Well Played (Well Met, #2) by Jen DeLuca (release date 9/22/2020)
  7. A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik (release date 9/29/2020)
  8. The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher (release date 10/6/2020)
  9. Over the Woodward Wall by A. Deborah Baker (release date 10/6/2020)
  10. The Once & Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow (release date 10/13/2020)

Are you planning to read any of these? What new releases are you especially excited about for the 2nd half of 2019? Please share your links!

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