Review: “Indexing (Indexing #1)” by Seanan McGuire

A review by Amanda.

Special Agent Henrietta Marchen, or Henry as she prefers, works for an agency that doesn’t officially exist, called ATI Management Bureau. Her job, and that of her team, is to prevent fairy tales from gaining a foothold in the real world. The fairy tale narrative is almost a living being, and all it wants is to bring those classic stories to life, with disastrous results. The narrative seeks people who fit the circumstances of certain fairy tales and then manipulates events to get the story to play out, only no one gets a happy ending. Dispatchers at the Bureau monitor events for signs of incursions. Henry’s team is responsible for verifying and averting whichever tale is playing out, using the valuable company Index as a resource. The team is made up of people who are aware of the narrative and what it can do, either because of a brush with it on the periphery or because they managed to avert or pause their own story.

This book is a page-turner, especially for fans of twisted fairy tales and urban fantasy. Fans of Seanan McGuire’s other works, such as the October Daye series, will recognize her quick wit and clever twists. Henry is stubborn, intelligent, and thinks outside the box. Having a personal connection to more than one narrative, she is willing to do whatever it takes to keep fairy tales out of the real world. The supporting characters are diverse people with very distinct personalities. Plotwise, the twists and turns are well thought out and unexpected. The story does continue past what was assumed to be a natural ending, and gets a bit convoluted. Hopefully that will clear up in future books. There are several character dynamics that will be exciting to explore, both romantically and otherwise. Indexing not only turns classic stories on their heads, but also skims the surface of fate vs free will, and if good and evil are really so black and white.

The first two books have been released in both paperback and ebook format.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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Review: “Alice Takes Back Wonderland” by David D. Hammons

Review of "Alice Takes Back Wonderland” by David D. Hammons A review by Amanda.

Alice’s adventure in Wonderland was real, although the story by Lewis Carroll got some things wrong. For instance, Alice was not from 19th England, but 21st century Missouri. When she returns to her family, spewing tales of talking white rabbits, a murderous queen, and a disappearing cat, her parents send her to therapy and she is prescribed medication to stop her “hallucinations”. After a while, even Alice begins to think that she imagined the entire thing. One day, though, she’s late to take her pills, and the white rabbit from her dreams comes to bring her back to Wonderland.

Things have changed drastically in the ten years since she left Wonderland. The Ace of Spades is in charge, the Cheshire Cat is dead, and many of the inhabitants of Wonderland have had their “wonder” removed. Ace has seen what Alice’s world is like – full of logic and reason, not madness and silliness – and he wants to remake Wonderland in the same image. The White Rabbit has brought Alice back to convince Ace that her reality is not all that it’s cracked up to be. When that doesn’t work, an old friend sends Alice on a mission to other worlds, other fairy tales, to raise an army and save the wonder of Wonderland.

Alice Takes Back Wonderland is a hodge-podge of classic tales. Alice meets several characters from stories that she recognizes as fairy tales from her own world, not realizing at first that she is one as well. It’s not only fairy tales either; other well-known people from famous stories and events find their way into this book, such as Hercules and Davy Crockett, albeit not exactly as readers will remember them. Fans of the ABC show Once Upon A Time will appreciate the combination of stories and the overlap of characters, but others may find it to be overwhelming. Several of my favorite tales were mentioned, like Peter Pan and Pinocchio, and I loved the differences between the familiar stories and this one. This appears to be a standalone novel, with no sequel in sight. If you are a devout defender of the classics, this book may not be for you. I do recommend this book to those who are fans of updated retellings.

 

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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BOOK TOUR: Review: “Ella, The Slayer” by A.W. Exley

"Ella The Slayer" b A.W. ExleyA review by Maria.

I would like to thank author A.W Exley for allowing me to read her book: Ella, The Slayer in exchange for a fair and honest review.

This book was a pleasant combination of Cinderella, Downton Abbey, and The Walking Dead.

Ella’s father is the master of their house, and her deceased mother was a servant; but Ella still lived an elegant life. Several years back her father re-married. Her stepmother and two stepsisters forced her to live the life as a servant and not a lady. When her father came back from the war brain-damaged and disabled, 17-year-old Ella was left to care for the estate and the whims of her ambitious stepmother. Then the dead started to rise up and started attacking the living. When Ella kills one of the undead she’s deemed hell-bound and acts as the official slayer for her town since she’s already doomed. Then she meets Seth deMage, the new Duke of Leithfield, by nearly decapitating him thinking he was one of the undead. A partnership born of attraction and respect is formed. But Ella’s stepmother and stepsister will stop at nothing to gain Seth’s hand in marriage.

Ella is a braver version of Cinderella; one who is capable of saving herself and those around her. She’s kind, witty, stubborn, and courageous. She’s prepared herself to kill the undead even though the church says it is at the cost of her soul. But better one soul lost in the killing of the undead rather than many. Ella proves resourceful both in her slaying but also in thinking of ways to spend time with Seth. She knows the attraction can’t go anywhere because he’s nobility and she’s a servant but she enjoys their time together. She worries that one day he’ll learn her secret or worse, her step-family will.

Seth was a very pleasant substitute for Prince Charming in the story. Instead of hiding behind his noble birth, Seth went and fought in the war and continues to fight now against the un-dead back at home. He’s fascinated with the capable katana wielding Ella; and wants to get to know her more.

Also worth mentioning were the wonderful characters in the servants quarters both in Ella’s home and Seth’s. Through Ella, the book offers glimpses at how hard the life of a servant still was in 1918 and what little rights they had.

The only complaint I had about this novel was that I wished the author had delved more into the multiple character’s lives during their time in the war and a little more about how the undead zombies came into existence. But the theory on what motivates the undead and comparing them to a beehive was a fantastic new take on the zombie lore.

Fans of Cinderella, Downton Abbey, and The Walking Dead would enjoy this book as it’s a terrific blend of all three. I recommend this book to young-adults and adults alike. Even though the legend of Cinderella factors into this story I wouldn’t recommend it to younger readers as there’s plenty of gore and zombies in it.

My rating: 4.5/5 stars.

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Welcome to my tour stop for Ella, the Slayer by A.W. Exley. Ella, the Slayer is an Edwardian retelling of Cinderella with an undead problem. It is an upper young adult novel.

The tour runs August 10-21 with reviews only. Check out the tour page for more information.

ELLA ebookAbout the Book:

The flu pandemic of 1918 took millions of souls within a few short weeks.
Except it wasn’t flu and death gave them back.

Seventeen-year-old Ella copes the best she can; caring for her war-injured father, scrubbing the floors, and slaying the undead that attack the locals. ‘Vermin’ they’re called, like rats they spread pestilence with their bite. Ella’s world collides with another when she nearly decapitates a handsome stranger, who is very much alive.

Seth deMage, the new Duke of Leithfield, has returned to his ancestral home with a mission from the War Office — to control the plague of vermin in rural Somerset. He needs help; he just didn’t expect to find it in a katana-wielding scullery maid.

Working alongside Seth blurs the line between their positions, and Ella glimpses a future she never dreamed was possible. But in overstepping society’s boundaries, Ella could lose everything – home, head and her heart…

 

A.W. ExleyAbout the Author:

 

Books and writing have always been an enormous part of A.W. Exley’s life.
She survived school by hiding out in the library, with several thousand fictional characters for company. At university, she overcame the boredom of studying accountancy by squeezing in Egyptology papers and learning to read hieroglyphics.
Today, Anita writes steampunk novels with a sexy edge and an Egyptian twist. She lives in rural New Zealand surrounded by an assortment of weird and wonderful equines, felines, canine and homicidal chickens.
 
GIVEAWAY:
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Signed paperback of Ella, the Slayer by A.W. Exley
Open Worldwide
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Prizing is provided by the author, hosts are in no way responsible.
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