THE BRIGHTEST FELL by Seanan McGuire

Things are slow, and October “Toby” Daye couldn’t be happier about that. The elf-shot cure has been approved, Arden Windermere is settling into her position as Queen in the Mists, and Toby doesn’t have anything demanding her attention except for wedding planning and spending time with her family.

Maybe she should have realized that it was too good to last.

When Toby’s mother, Amandine, appears on her doorstep with a demand for help, refusing her seems like the right thing to do…until Amandine starts taking hostages, and everything changes. Now Toby doesn’t have a choice about whether or not she does as her mother asks. Not with Jazz and Tybalt’s lives hanging in the balance. But who could possibly help her find a pureblood she’s never met, one who’s been missing for over a hundred years?

Enter Simon Torquill, elf-shot enemy turned awakened, uneasy ally. Together, the two of them must try to solve one of the greatest mysteries in the Mists: what happened to Amandine’s oldest daughter, August, who disappeared in 1906.

This is one missing person case Toby can’t afford to get wrong.


Title : The Brightest Fell
Author : Seanan McGuire
Series : October Daye (book eleven)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 368
Genre : urban fantasy
Publisher : DAW
Release Date : September 5, 2017

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

I can’t believe it. I truly can’t. But we finally hit a book I.. liked? Enjoyed? Was moved by? Wow. Eleven books and finally an almost-winner.

I won’t say every aspect of this worked for me (this isn’t a five star, or even a four), but we got so close. And the bits that annoyed me? I mean, they were standard and expected at this point. But they were also very much in the minority. 

This book continued the thread of unravelling and explaining much of the why of went on in the first book and what shaped so much of.. well, a lot of the rest of the series. We had a redemption of sorts, we had a rescue of another sort, and then we lost some of the ground that was won. It was a very bittersweet, very emotional, circumstance that nearly had me crying. I full on welled up. 

I didn’t think I would ever say those words. After all this time, I didn’t think I’d ever write a mostly positive review for this series. Was it worth the journey to get here? Hahahah no, it’s too soon, this was too small a victory, but. But it reminds me of what I’ve talked about with my buddies; this is an author, though under a different penname, that I’ve enjoyed and outright loved. But those books I enjoyed were written much more recently than these. And I wonder if now that I’m catching up to her current day style, and her ability to make me love her worlds, that some of that magic is seeping through into this world, too. Maybe. 

Do I expect to love book twelve? No. I’ve run out of hope at this point (I am fueled only by stubbornness after all these lackluster reads, not to mention some weird ass novellas along the way, though a few good ones, too) b u t that doesn’t take away the fact that this experience was enjoyable. This installment did a lot for me. Today was a good day.

ONCE BROKEN FAITH by Seanan McGuire

Politics have never been October “Toby” Daye’s strong suit. When she traveled to the Kingdom of Silences to prevent them from going to war with her home, the Kingdom of the Mists, she wasn’t expecting to return with a cure for elf-shot and a whole new set of political headaches. 

Now the events she unwittingly set in motion could change the balance of modern Faerie forever, and she has been ordered to appear before a historic convocation of monarchs, hosted by Queen Windermere in the Mists and overseen by the High King and Queen themselves. 

Naturally, things have barely gotten underway when the first dead body shows up. As the only changeling in attendance, Toby is already the target of suspicion and hostility. Now she needs to find a killer before they can strike again—and with the doors locked to keep the guilty from escaping, no one is safe. 

As danger draws ever closer to her allies and the people she loves best, Toby will have to race against time to prevent the total political destabilization of the West Coast and to get the convocation back on track…and if she fails, the cure for elf-shot may be buried forever, along with the victims she was too slow to save. 

Because there are worse fates than sleeping for a hundred years.


Title : Once Broken Faith
Author : Seanan McGuire
Series : October Daye (book ten)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 418
Genre : urban fantasy
Publisher : DAW
Release Date : September 6, 2016

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

Sometimes it’s gratifying to see a thing you’ve complained about, or had issues with, in a story or world, actually get resolved.

I had a really hard time keeping my eyes open while reading this, whether from existential exhaustion or just being tired of this universe and the politics, but what didn’t exhaust me was that we finally saw a dialogue open up about elfshot, a poison often used via arrowhead (elf is shot, haha, get it) to send a faerie to sleep for a hundred years. It was a way of removing, or defeating, an opponent without breaking the only real law in this world : you don’t kill purebloods. But you can remove them from the chessboard for a time. However it wouldn’t be as kind to changelings, being lesser, as they would die.

This is more plot-recounting I’ve done in a while but it’s not spoilery, this is all talked about in book one, I’m pretty sure. It’s part of the world.

But anyway, in my review for book nine I talked about the stakes, the frustrations of this universe that had so many “rules”, though only one real one, and all the loopholes people used to get around it. And this book confronts that. I thought it did a great job of showing the pros and cons, even from perspectives that should’ve wanted the cure, and why it might also cause a new set of problems. So, points for that! I liked feeling validated about the wrongness.

What bored me were the politics, the posturing, and etiquette, blah blah. The actual particulars of the villain of this book, causing the murder and mayhem ironically amongst a gathering hoping to prevent further murder, was actually pretty interesting. There was a sense of unknown and mystery about it and the reveal was good, if sad.

But overall? I was definitely checked out of this story on the whole but I appreciate the strides it took towards the society and world of the fae. 

This series is far from over but I’m getting closer and closer to catching up to the most recent release and that makes me happy. It’s the only thing keeping me going right now.

BEACH READ by Emily Henry

A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.

Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

They’re polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.

Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.


Title : Beach Read
Author : Emily Henry
Format : eARC
Page Count : 384
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : Berkley
Release Date : May 19, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4.75 star review

Oh man. I have a bad feeling this book is going to confuse and mislead some readers because the vibe from the cover, and my understanding of the plot from the skimming I did of the summary when I requested it (#TeamMostlyBlurbFree), gives you a very different idea of what the whole of this experience is going to be. I’m not saying the book, or the marketing of said book, is a lie but that it’s so much more than what you think it’ll be. Also, like, I don’t think this book is a book you would actually take to read on the beach. But the title is still very relevant to the story.

With that said, though, I totally loved this? Sure, I picked it up thinking it would be the fluffy frothy happy delight I needed after some not-remotely-those-things reads, plus, like, I needed a break from the dystopian nightmare world we’re living in right now and instinctively reached for some brightness, but instead I got that and more.

You never told me what you write, Everett. I’m sure it’s something really groundbreaking and important. Totally new and fresh. Like a story about a disillusioned white guy, wandering the world, misunderstood and coldly horny.”
‘Coldly horny’? As opposed to the very artfully handled sexual proclivities of your genre? Tell me, which do you find more fascinating to write : love-struck pirates or love-struck werewolves?

This is definitely filled with banter, as these two writers of very different subject matter duel with words and perspectives and challenge each other to swap genres. It’s full of that delicious tension where amidst that challenge there’s even a promise they won’t fall in love with each other (a throwback reference to a popular romantic movie because this book has lots of references, but also, heyoooo). Equally (nay, more?) delicious were the makeout scenes leading up to fireworks because, uh, hi, hello. Have I been skimping on romance lately or is Henry just hella good at this because wowza.

But there was also an edge to this story, both in one of the subplots and in the characters. Each are dealing with things they’ve either carried with them throughout their lives or that have just sent them reeling and reevaluating so much of what they thought was true. There’s loss, grief, betrayal, abandonment.. there’s a lot to deal with. We also do have some bits of miscommunication between the leads but, delightfully (how many more times will I use this word, you might be wondering..), things are dealt with in a fairly timely manner. Like the summary says, these two are polar opposites. Gus is wrapped in layers, January wears everything on her skin, and while they fall into a headlong intense connection, full of that hot excited desperation to be around each other, it isn’t without work to stay together. To understand.

As different as I’d thought we were, it felt a little bit like Gus and I were two aliens who’d stumbled into each other on Earth only to discover we shared a native language.

Beyond the romance, though, we also have an amazing female friendship. Which is made more amazing by the fact that the friend gets hardly any page time beyond some text communications and yet I still felt the love. Don’t believe me? The first time I cried was during a scene where they are together on page. Friendships for the win.

Oh, yes, probably should’ve mentioned. I cried a few times. Or rather the same cry on and off near the end. You’ve been warned.

So, is this a book you might want to pack for the beach after release? And by beach I mean the towel you spread on your living room floor in front of your computer’s screensaver showing some tropical location in the effort to remain socially distant? Maybe not. But if you love banter or an opposites attract situation; if you love books about books; if you like some emotional backstory and good realistic, complicated, backbones to your fiction, you’ll love this. For me, this is like biting into a shortbread cookie and finding out the inside is stuffed with brownie. It was going to be good as it was, and instead it ended up even better, more substantial, and delightfully (!) delicious in an unexpected way.

Read this book.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

A RED-ROSE CHAIN by Seanan McGuire

Things are looking up.

For the first time in what feels like years, October “Toby” Daye has been able to pause long enough to take a breath and look at her life—and she likes what she sees. She has friends. She has allies. She has a squire to train and a King of Cats to love, and maybe, just maybe, she can let her guard down for a change.

Or not. When Queen Windermere’s seneschal is elf-shot and thrown into an enchanted sleep by agents from the neighboring Kingdom of Silences, Toby finds herself in a role she never expected to play: that of a diplomat. She must travel to Portland, Oregon, to convince King Rhys of Silences not to go to war against the Mists. But nothing is that simple, and what October finds in Silences is worse than she would ever have imagined.

How far will Toby go when lives are on the line, and when allies both old and new are threatened by a force she had never expected to face again? How much is October willing to give up, and how much is she willing to change? In Faerie, what’s past is never really gone.

It’s just waiting for an opportunity to pounce.


Title : A Red-Rose Chain
Author : Seanan McGuire
Series : October Daye (book nine)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 367
Genre : urban fantasy
Publisher : DAW
Release Date : January 1, 2012

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

I was clearly as burnt out from reading these books as you probably are from reading my reviews because I started this and didn’t finish it until four days later. I mostly blame a rewatch of Doctor Who but still. I was able to be distracted because too soon into this ninth installment, after the big broohaha from the book before, we were reunited with a villain I knew we’d see again.. just didn’t expect to see so soon after temporarily vanquishing her. And we got a new nasty piece of work as per counterpart in this one, too.

I don’t know, man. I find it really difficult to deal with some of the extremes of this world where there are so many rules, or maybe just a few really important ones, and how so many of the fae just let all these loopholes happen; these nasty loopholes that do so much damage and no one bothers with it. It’s pretty tiresome. This one went in pretty extreme places, too, and I just found it hard to take. Particularly when held up against the same old same old when it comes to Toby & co. Not that they don’t take things seriously when required but it’s just.. again, the stakes. 

Case in point : this elfshot poison that is the pureblood way around murder and instead sends them to sleep for a hundred years. Unless said poisoner has tinkered with the alchemy and it does horrible things while you dream, or slowly kills you over time. Or, if you’re a changeling, kills you dead. But who cares, they don’t count in the eyes of the do-not-kill law. It’s this loophole that I hate (because we’re supposed to, I get it) and just find frustrating to deal with.

I definitely know the problem is me because if I liked, or cared about, the characters, I would find it funny they joke about Toby not being covered in blood during one whole investigation or Tybalt being afraid to leave her side because inevitably something terrible will happen, etc etc. So, yeah. I wish I had quit reviewing this series six books ago because now I feel obligated to see out the last few (thank god only a few more left..) for consistency’s sake. Sorry about that. 

THE WINTER LONG by Seanan McGuire

For once, it seems like the Kingdom of the Mists has reached a point of, if not perfection, at least relative peace. Queen Arden Windermere is getting settled on her family’s throne; no one’s going to war with anyone else; it’s almost like everything is going to be okay. Even October “Toby” Daye is starting to relax her constant vigilance, allowing herself to think about the future, and what it might entail.

And then Simon Torquill comes back, and everything begins to fall apart. In Faerie, nothing stays buried forever. No matter how much you might want it to. 


Title : The Winter Long
Author : Seanan McGuire
Series : October Daye (book eight)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 368
Genre : urban fantasy
Publisher : DAW
Release Date : September 2, 2014

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 2.5 star review

I’ll give McGuire credit with this one. The long game she played to set this up? That deserves a round of applause. And I’m not just saying that because we had some questions answered. The villain of the week? Unexpected. The way so much was foretold and yet, like Toby, the reader was made oblivious? Well done. As for some of the reveals? I’m not surprised things are more complex than they appeared. But I’m surprised by almost everything we learned.

Are all the cards on the table? Hahaha of course not.

I really hope we see some consequences play out in the next book in the sense that some relationships were badly damaged in this one. We have been watching them fray for some time now, and in general I thought one of the two people in question were hella incompetent and I’ve been wanting Toby to break away from that sense of duty she’s been clinging to. As for the other, well. Like so many characters in this world, she’s only been concerned for herself, and I’ve never understand the dynamic, and I think it’s not surprising that if relationships are going to change, they will happen at the same time as they are part and parcel of the same issue. I know, this is so vague, I guarantee if I ever have to refer to this review again even I won’t know what I’m talking about.. but I’m wary of spoilers.

As usual, though, the sea witch as just a serious badass and I love her.

I’m still not rounding up on this book, though, because even though I just can’t stop reading this series, and I enjoy an aspect or two of the experience, overall I just don’t love cast and there is so much repetition (made worse by the binge, I’m sure). For all the good of some of the overall plotting, everything is really hard earned, few things are followed up on by the characters even when they are strung along with breadcrumbs, and that is forever frustrating; particularly when this is a common occurence, number one, but made even worse by a character who was once a private investigator and, like, investigates shit. Again, I mentioned before in one review or another, it’s hard to root for a character who is made to be woefully unintelligent in a lot of ways. Sure, she usually figures things out in the nick of time when she’s in the mess, but on the whole? Nope. 

Additionally, this series would be greatly improved by some sexytimes. I’m just putting it out there.

My last note? For those keeping track, we had an August added to the months-as-names list. No one is surprised, though, are they?

CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT by Seanan McGuire

Things are starting to look up for October “Toby” Daye. She’s training her squire, doing her job, and has finally allowed herself to grow closer to the local King of Cats. It seems like her life may finally be settling down…at least until dead changelings start appearing in the alleys of San Francisco, killed by an overdose of goblin fruit.

Toby’s efforts to take the problem to the Queen of the Mists are met with harsh reprisals, leaving her under sentence of exile from her home and everyone she loves. Now Toby must find a way to reverse the Queens decree, get the goblin fruit off the streets–and, oh, yes, save her own life, since more than a few of her problems have once again followed her home. And then there’s the question of the Queen herself, who seems increasingly unlikely to have a valid claim to the throne….

To find the answers, October and her friends will have to travel from the legendary Library of Stars into the hidden depths of the Kingdom of the Mists–and they’ll have to do it fast, because time is running out. In faerie, some fates are worse than death.

October Daye is about to find out what they are.


Title : Chimes at Midnight
Author : Seanan McGuire
Series : October Daye (book seven)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 369
Genre : urban fantasy
Publisher : DAW
Release Date : September 3, 2013

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

Plot-wise, this has maybe been the best of the bunch in this series.. so far. In the sense that I am satisfied with the turn things took and the resulting direction we’re now headed in. Does that mean I had a good time, had fun, am excited about this series again? No, nope, and maybe. 

The usual suspects (aka the things that annoy me about this series) were very much still present. But with the magnitude and schemery (it’s a word) going on, we had less time to dwell on them or even encourage them. This, in addition to the plot, make for big pluses.

A few new characters have opened up additional pathways into the ‘mystery of October’s heritage’ journey and I’m maybe into it? She’s achieved Super Special Snowflake status a dozen times over and I’m definitely more interested in her mother’s history, and how that ties in with the sea witch (shoutout to my girl!), but you can’t have one without the other, so. I’ll allow it. <– she says, as if she has any choice

I don’t have much more to say, I think this is the shortest of all my reviews, and the least ranty, but maybe that’s a sign. Maybe the tide is turning where we might see some higher ratings soon. Ever hopeful. Ever stubborn. Ever reading this series..

ASHES OF HONOR by Seanan McGuire

It’s been almost a year since October “Toby” Daye averted a war, gave up a county, and suffered personal losses that have left her wishing for a good day’s sleep. She’s tried to focus on her responsibilities—training Quentin, upholding her position as Sylvester’s knight, and paying the bills—but she can’t help feeling like her world is crumbling around her, and her increasingly reckless behavior is beginning to worry even her staunchest supporters.

To make matters worse, Toby’s just been asked to find another missing child…only this time it’s the changeling daughter of her fellow knight, Etienne, who didn’t even know he was a father until the girl went missing. Her name is Chelsea. She’s a teleporter, like her father. She’s also the kind of changeling the old stories warn about, the ones with all the strength and none of the control. She’s opening doors that were never meant to be opened, releasing dangers that were sealed away centuries before—and there’s a good chance she could destroy Faerie if she isn’t stopped.

Now Toby must find Chelsea before time runs out, racing against an unknown deadline and through unknown worlds as she and her allies try to avert disaster. But danger is also stirring in the Court of Cats, and Tybalt may need Toby’s help with the biggest challenge he’s ever faced.

Toby thought the last year was bad. She has no idea. 


Title : Ashes of Honor
Author : Seanan McGuire
Series : October Daye (book six)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 363
Genre : urban fantasy
Publisher : DAW
Release Date : September 4, 2012

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

I highly doubt anyone will be reading these reviews anymore because I’m becoming somewhat predictable. I’m saying nothing new and living through the same disappointments and clinging to the same small, itty bitty, hopes. It’s like a weird Groundhog Day.

Though there are some differences in details, I might as well just say “see previous reviews” but I mean.. there are differences. Like, the ship I was shipping? It has sailed. And I want to be happy but lolz, I’m not? I won’t say I wasn’t moved a bit by some of the confessions and big reveal moments but I’m going to reserve judgment until we get a whole book of them being coupley. There was too much of the maiming, running around, “we’ll talk later”s, etc, to revel in the moment. Also for all that I had settled into a slowburn for this.. things kinda went two time speed on busting out a certain phrase. At least on Toby’s part.

I’ve stood by and watched you throw yourself against the walls of the world, because I hoped the impact might shake the sense back into you.” <– this was a nice moment but the quote makes me laugh out of context because the second part of this. what a mood.

As for the mystery of the week? Snooze. Toby takes a case, Toby goes up against a strident terrible person being terrible even as Toby tries to help, Toby drinks a lot of coffee (always and forever), Toby talks about wanting coffee, Toby hates her own blood, Toby drinks her own blood, Toby loses lots of blood, Toby lets go of a breath she didn’t know she was holding (second time in six books.. not bad overall but my brain, it bleeds).. over and over. It’s the worst procedural ever. There is no sense of stake in anything because Toby nearly dies multiple times in each book and the only thing that seems to change is who is being unreasonably rude to her, what new information is revealed that Toby will just go on to ignore, who she’s into, and.. well, that’s it.

That said, I would die for Raj and the Sea Witch. Protect them at all costs. 

I don’t know how McGuire can occasionally write amazing characters like the Sea Witch (so far Raj is just adorable, not complex) and then have so many others that are either one dimensional or inconsistent or both. Some of the shine has even come off the King of Cats for me as I found him way more interesting before his motivations were revealed. It made him more interesting, gave him an edge. I want that back. Additionally, the flip between all the formal talk and then the modern slangs for almost every character who bothers with the formal stuff (I’m not counting the regular modern speakers who dip into formality when the occasion calls for it) drives me nuts. It was particularly bad in this one. Also there were some missed moments on continuity in editing in this one that made me cringe in sympathy because yikes that’s never fun.

So, yes, for those playing the home game : yet another October Daye read. Yet another two star rating. Yet another “maybe next time..” I’ll like/love/enjoy, etc.