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Melanie's Week in Review - June 7, 2015


Melanie's Week in Review - June 7, 2015


Wowser! Its been a 3 whole weeks since I regaled you with reviews of all the books I had read. Have you missed me?  I certainly hope so for I have missed you and writing this. I apologise for the lack of WIR but I have been on holiday, mainly visiting my elderly mother which didn't leave a lot of time for either reading or writing reviews. I am back now and I have a couple of great books to tell you about.


Melanie's Week in Review - June 7, 2015
I started my holiday with the final book in Susan Ee's Penryn and the End of Days series. I absolutely loved book 1  - Angelfall which introduced us to the plucky teenager Penryn, her disturbed mother and disabled sister. She was doing everything she could to survive following the angel apocalypse. She is joined by one of the enemy  - an angel named Rafe who has lost his wings. I didn't however, enjoy book 2 - World After as much as I felt Penryn spent more time swooning over Rafe than she did trying to save her family. Book 3 is the end of the trilogy which finds Penryn a leader in the revolution against the tyranny of the angels. Part of her journey involves uncovering Rafe's past and she isn't sure whether or not he is as innocent as those snowy white wings have led led her to believe. I thought this final instalment was an improvement on the previous novel however, neither has lived up to the gripping excitement and overall 'coolness' of book 1 - Angelfall. I think that Ee would have had a much more powerful story had she not resorted to the happy ever ending.


Melanie's Week in Review - June 7, 2015
I then discovered that the latest in the Charley Davidson series by Darynda Jones had been published - Eighth Grave After Dark. The story starts several months after the end of book 7 with Charley and Reyes now living in an abandoned convent so that she can escape the hellhounds that are baying for her blood. Charley has more than just the birth of her baby to celebrate but the marriage of her best friend Cookie and her uncle Ubie. Nothing is ever straight forward for Charley as the ghost of an murdered nun needs her help to solve her murder, there is the issue of the hell hounds to resolve, Reyes hasn't slept in months and oh yeah, she is about to give birth to a prophecy. All in a days work.

I have enjoyed this series but I did find that this instalment really dragged until almost the ending. Apart from the dead nun plot line it could have read like one of those filler shows on TV composed of flashbacks. However, things started to get very exciting towards the end and Jones leaves us with a corker of a ending. I can hardly wait until book 9!


Melanie's Week in Review - June 7, 2015
Another instalment out this week was Red Angel which is the fourth in Helen Harper's Bo Blackman's series. Bo has become somewhat of a celebrity following the events at the ending of book 3. With the help of the daemon X Bo's rise to stardom turns meteoric much to her disdain. Her popularity with the press makes it very difficult to investigate the missing persons case of Tobias Renfrew - the billionaire daemon who went missing in the 60's. The investigation is secondary and you could even say tertiary to the real storyline which is Bo's relationship with her maker the enigmatic vampire Michael and the ever increasingly blurred line between her humanity and the monster within.

I liked this instalment. Harper keeps it gritty with Bo's descent into her dark side through the events that unfold during her investigation of the missing person's case. This is a very quick read as are all of Harper's books. I wouldn't say it is the best writing ever but still entertaining. Love, love, love the cover!


Melanie's Week in Review - June 7, 2015The final book I am going to tell you about switches from urban fantasy to science fiction with Elizabeth Bear's Jenny Casey series, specifically book 1  - Hammered. This is very much the story of the former Canadian soldier Jenny Casey who is one of the first human cyborgs. She had been enjoying relative anonymity until the army comes calling again and she finds herself just another cog in the race into space. Jenny is lured back to Canada with a tale that her implants are failing and without more pioneering surgery she will soon die. The stick to this carrot is that Jenny has to help the government get the first spaceship up and running. While the story is about Jenny we are also introduced to Razorface her enhanced friend and gang kingpin who along with a former cop and an assassin try to solve a murder and to find a way to help Jenny. The story also include POVs from other minor characters but the 'action' is focused on what is happening to Jenny and to Razorface.

I enjoyed this book and thought that Bear was brave having her protagonist be a 50 year old female who is covered in scars and is almost more machine than human. I also found the pacing consistent all the way through with a good mix of action and back-story. I did, however, find some of the wording a bit odd and I felt in parts that it had been translated into English (and not the parts where the characters were speaking French either!). Overall, a good read and I have already bought book 2.


That is it for me for this week. I hope you have had a good week in reading.  I have some crackers of books lined up for next week so until then Happy Reading.

Melanie's Week in Review - November 2, 2014


Melanie's Week in Review - November 2, 2014


Happy belated Halloween and Happy November. I hope you have had a good week. I have as we had lots of trick or treaters which is rare in the UK where Halloween still isn't that popular. I love dressing up, carving a Jack-o'-lantern and especially, eating the leftover candy. I am destined for a diabetic coma. Anyway, what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - November 2, 2014
Lucky for me I started the week with a new book from a series I have been enjoying - Seventh Grave and No Body by Darynda Jones.  If you have been reading this series you will remember that Charley was pregnant with the child of the son-of-Satan, Reyes at the end of book 6. Well she is trying to come to terms with that along with solving the murder of several young children while being chased by hellhounds. The hunky Reyes is determined to protect the lovely grim reaper no matter what but she keeps getting herself into trouble.

While there was a few murder mystery threads in this instalment the focus was very much on Charley, her unborn baby and the prophecy. Despite the fact that Reyes and her friends are almost killed more than once by hellhounds Charley continues to make sassy/smart alec remarks. It wasn't until the final chapter or two that Charley actually acts with gravity and maturity for her situation. In the previous books I thought that Charley could be as amusing as the chapter headings but as she grows up and really bad things continue to happen to those she loves I thought that she could lay off sounding like an insensitive teenager. Lots happens in this instalment so its a must if you have been reading this series. I hope that Jones doesn't drag it out for too longer as much as I enjoy these characters.

Melanie's Week in Review - November 2, 2014
Next on my reading agenda was Blood Deep (Blackthorn 4) by Lindsay J. Pryor. I have a love/not love relationship with this series. I really like Pryor's world building and the over-arching plot but do not like the subjugation/sexual dominance of the male lead over the female lead. This instalment was a departure from that with Jessie who is locked in the roughest area of Lowdown in an area controlled by the criminal Pummell. She has strong powers including the power of healing which is lucky when the hunky Eden lands on her doorstep close to death from a vicious beating. Jessie has something to hide and Eden is determined to find out what that is all while trying to save his niece, release Jessie from the prison of her life and not to get killed in the process.

Lots of the prophecy alluded to in previous books is revealed in this instalment through Jessie and the ending brings it full circle to the ending of the previous instalment. In fact I had to go back and re-read the ending of all the previous books to refresh myself as to what had happened. It was really well constructed by Pryor and quite clever. Pryor also creates two engaging characters. They weren't so black and white as previous characters and there was no virginal heroine caught in the trap of the big, hunky baddy. Eden was quite hard but had a big, squishy, marshmallow centre while Jessie was trapped by who and what she was as the witness in a nearly a century of brutality.  I am really looking forward to the next instalment.

Melanie's Week in Review - November 2, 2014
Finally, I ended my week with the first release in Ilona Andrews new series starting with Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy 1). If you have read my other reviews you will have guessed that I am a big fan of Andrews but of all their books the Kate Daniels series is by far my favourite. I was a bit hesitant about starting this series as I wasn't sure if I would enjoy it as much given its romance billing. I thought their Edge series was a bit average so another romance series didn't fill me with anticipation. I was however, pleasantly surprised. I liked Nevada, I liked her family, I liked Mad Rogan and I even liked Adam Pierce (well liked to dislike). I thought Nevada's inner dialogue was really amusing but she wasn't wise cracking when bad things were happening like Charley Davidson would have been.  There was a good balance between plot development and action all combined with good characterisation.

Nevada has been given the extremely difficult and most likely deadly task of bringing in the uber bad boy Adam Pierce. Just when she thought life couldn't get any more difficult she is kidnapped by the Prime/super powerful Mad Rogan. She ends up teaming up with the equally hunky and dangerous Rogan to bring in Pierce when she discovers the case is not quite straight forward. Magic, mayhem and great characters are at the heart of this story. Andrews fan or not this is a great start to a series.

That is it for me for this week. I hope you have had as good of a week in reading as I did....if not you have some good suggestions. Until next week Happy Reading.


Melanie's Week in Review - June 1, 2014



Melanie's Week in Review - June 1, 2014


Hopefully this post will be coherent and not a big ramble as I just got back from Canada and have a lovely case of jetlag. Thanks to Air Canada's old plane stock the hubinator and I ended up with seats where the sound didn't work on the TV system. That meant we had 6:57 hours of uninterrupted reading time...well apart from the food/drink service, duty free announcements and quite a bit of turbulence. So what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - June 1, 2014
I finished Sixth Grave From the Edge by Darynda Jones. I do really like this series and think it is quirky. I especially like the chapter headings....they are hilarious. Charley is a great character and her hottie boyfriend Reyes sounds as smouldering as the pits of hell where he was born. I do think that this instalment was the weakest of the series. There are so many subplots that my head was spinning by the end. Jones even starts one involving Charley and her father and does nothing with it. It feel like I had missed part of the book. Sometimes less is more. Sixth Grave felt like Jones was following some formula like

book plot = Charley must solve 2 murders + goof around with Cookie  x canoodle with Reyes \  convince Angel to work for her - drive to the abandoned asylum x drink lots and lots of coffee.

The ending was quite a shocker but this barely made up for the over egged sub-plots. I will still look forward to the next book but I hope Jones sticks to the Charley and Reyes plot rather than all the mini mysteries.

Melanie's Week in Review - June 1, 2014I then decided to take a plunge and bought the first book of the Legend of Eli Monpress series, The Spirit Thief by Rachel Aaron. If you will remember I read the Paradox series a few weeks ago which are written under Rachel's pseudonym Rachel Bach. When I expressed an interest to read her other series Rachel very kindly warned me they were quite different to the science fiction adventures of Devi Morris. The Eli Monpress series is fantasy which is different but equally good as the Paradox series. In The Spirit Thief, the accomplished thief and wizard Eli Monpress has kidnapped the king of Mellinor in an attempt to receive a hefty ransom and increase his bounty. Hot on his tails is Miranda on her oversized ghosthound who has been assigned the mission to apprehend Eli but ends up helping him in a plot twist that deserves to be read rather than talked about. Monpress finds that kidnapping a king isn't as straightforward as he hoped as the king's brother and equally powerful wizard is out to become king himself and bring back wizardry to Mellinor. It's up to Eli, his motley crew of companions and Miranda to save the day and the kingdom.

I like The Spirit Thief and think it was a solid start to a series. I also like Eli but I think I liked his companions more, especially Miranda (more of a reluctant companion) and her ghosthound Gin. You can't beat a giant talking dog. The story was equally split between Miranda and Eli which I think is unusual but effective.  I was slightly confused for the first 1/4 of the book about the spirits and how the wizards manipulated them as Aaron doesn't explain this until later in the book. Once I got my head around that aspect of the book it seemed to flow a lot more smoothly. I will be looking forward to reading more of Eli's adventures over the coming weeks.

Melanie's Week in Review - June 1, 2014
I then returned to a series I haven't read in months - The Split World series by Emma Newman. I finished Any Other Name on the flight home. I found it a bit difficult to get back in this series after such a long break but once I remembered 'who was who' then I eased back into the world that Newman has created. I am really conflicted about this instalment. While I like Cathy and feel sorry for her I also think she is quite whiny. This was totally unfair as she was being forced into a marriage of 'inconvenience' and her whole life was being controlled by her family and the other Fae. Overall, I find Any Other Name to be quite a 'middling book' which seems to really set the scene for the final book of the trilogy. I am not going to make the mistake of leaving reading it for too long this time!

Finally, I was trawling through my Amazon recommendations and, once I got over the horror of being recommended motorcycle themed books, I found The Scribe which is the first of the Irin Chronicles by Elizabeth Hunter. I am only a few chapters into this book but so far so good. I will let you know more next week so until then Happy Reading.

Melanie's Week in Review - May 25, 2014



Melanie's Week in Review - May 25, 2014


This week's WIR is brought to you from rural Ontario! I am not that far away from Kelley Armstrong...not that I am stalking her, of course. I have actually managed to get a book read in between eating too much apple pie and driving my elderly mother around. So what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - May 25, 2014
I finished He Drank and Saw The Spider by Alex Bledsoe which I will be writing a full review for so can't say too much. I then did a little tour of my recommendations on Amazon and found a new book in a series that I thought had already finished - The Emperor's Edge series by Lindsay Buroker. Buroker polled her fans who wanted to read more stories of Amaranthe, Sicarius and friends. Republic is book 8 of the series and starts a few months after the end of book 7 - Forged in Blood Part 2 - with our hapless heroine and her assassin boyfriend on board the President's submarine. They are called back by President Starcrest and its not long before they are embroiled in multiple plots from a murderous cult, attempts to kill the President to an alien plant that is taking over the city. Almost everyone is back. Rather than the story being told by just Amaranthe and one other character there are multiple voices in this one. There are POVs from the main characters Amaranthe and Sicarius plus Maldynado, the president's wife and daughter (Tikaya and Mahliki) and the former child emperor Sespian. It really made for a more robust plot having it told by the different points of view. I don't think this would have worked so well earlier in the series as it would have created too much noise and distracted from the development of the characters.

I am always a bit dubious when authors finish a series and then release more books. Invariably I am left a bit disappointed especially, when I liked the ending of the series. I felt that way with Republic. I started out really liking the series but thought it went on a book or two too long and finding another book made me really hesitate. I thought familiar characters would make it an easy book to read when I had the potential of lots of interruptions. The book ended up having 2 main threads - the assassination of Starcrest and the alien plant. Both of these plots lent themselves well to the characters that were involved in each and played to their strengths but were a tiny bit long winded. Overall, I thought Republic was OK. I kind of wished that Buroker would have left these characters in book 7 but it didn't ruin the series for me. I do hope that this is it for Amaranthe and friends as another book will be too much.

Melanie's Week in Review - May 25, 2014
Lucky me discovered a new book had downloaded on Tuesday - Sixth Grave on the Edge by Darynda Jones. This is the latest in the Charley Davidson series and finds my favourite grim reaper doing what she does best - getting in trouble. I am only half way through and was really hoping to have been able to tell you all about it this week but that would have involved rushing and I wanted to savour some of the funniest chapter headings I have ever read. I will be able to tell you all about it next week so until then Happy Reading.






Melanie's Week in Review - July 14, 2013


Melanie's Week in Review - July 14, 2013



I almost can't believe another week has gone by.  Another week of lovely summer weather. It was a scorching day today which had me snoozing instead of reading in the sun. I did manage to get a few things read this week though.


Melanie's Week in Review - July 14, 2013
I finished Three by Jay Posey but will be reviewing it so don't want to give too much away.  I started The Havoc Machine started by Steve Harper. It had one of the funniest author's 'forwards' I have ever read.  I wish the book was as amusing. I will be reviewing this one as well and haven't finished it so I don't want to speak too soon.  Don't be fooled by the cover.  Its not one of my favourite covers and doesn't really give you an impression of how gritty the book really is.


Melanie's Week in Review - July 14, 2013 I also read the newly released Fifth Grave Past the Light by Darynda Jones. I have been enjoying this series more for the quips and the chapter titles as much the plot. This books finds the grim reaper Charley with the son of Satan, Reyes, as a next door neighbor. Things heat up in this, thefifth book of the series....literally with lots of 'assignations' for the pair. In fact, remind me never to go over to Reyes's for dinner. I am sure what they were doing with the kitchen utensils was in violation of a few health and safety rules. While I enjoyed this installment I thought it was a tiny bit weaker than some of the previous books. Jones, seemed to want to cram one too many sub-plots into the mix this time although everything gets wrapped up with a bow at the end.


Melanie's Week in Review - July 14, 2013I was also super naughty and added more books to my TBR. I found out that The Glass God, the 2nd book in the Magical Anonymous series, by Kate Griffin was out so I had to buy it.  This is a fantastic series and completely funny. 


I also found 2 new books by Michael J. Sullivan on NetGalley: The Crown and The Rose and The Thorn. Both novels are part of the  Riyria Revelations series. I can hardly wait to read them.  I love this series. That is all from me. I have quite a few books to read so better get to them. Until next week Happy Reading!





Interview with Darynda Jones & Giveaway - February 8, 2011

Please welcome Darynda Jones to The Qwillery for the second in our 2011 Debut Author Challenge interviews.

Darynda: Thank you so much for having me at The Qwillery today!

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Darynda:  Probably my absolutely-must-have “skeleton key”. Or, well, I call it a skeleton key. It’s an outline that answers four basic questions: Where are we? What time of day is it? What major event happens in this scene or series of scenes? And in what order does the story unfold? It is like a road map and I am utterly lost without it.

TQ:  Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

Darynda:  So very many people. I love everything from Stephen King to Julia Quinn. And they were both huge influences, giving me permission to bend the rules a little, to have fun. I’d also have to say Janet Evanovich and Mary Janice Davidson. I’ve always wanted to be able to write like Stephen Hunter. He wrote the book that the movie Shooter with Mark Wahlberg was based on called Point of Impact. His writing is amazing. His heroes are to die for.

OH! And I can’t forget Terry Pratchett. Of all the people I’ve ever read, he is the one who taught me to not only bend the rules, but break them and grind them into dust, just do it with exquisite style and breathtaking prose. (I haven’t actually reached that pinnacle of existence yet, but I’m working on it.)

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a panster?

Darynda:  I plot like there’s no tomorrow, baby. I barely start a book without three distinct outlines.
1. The Skeleton Key that I spoke of earlier.
2. The Outline: This is a brief synopsis of the entire book. It is usually about 5-9 pages long and is what I send my editor for approval before actually starting the book.
3. The Detailed Outline: This is where I take the skeleton key, plug the outline into the appropriate areas, then add any details I’ve come up with including specific scenes, little extras I want to reveal here and there, funny lines or situations I want to use, and even internal and external motivation. These outlines usually run between 40 and 60 pages, but remember that part about adding scenes? Yeah, by this point I’ve already written a nice chunk of the book.
Next, I take the final detailed outline, copy and paste it into my manuscript, and delete as I go. This way I never stray far from the conceived story. I don’t wander around aimlessly, wondering where I’m going. I know exactly what is coming next, and very often, if it’s a “hard” scene (meaning I’m too lazy to write it at that moment), I’ll jump to another scene. I don’t get bored and/or stuck very often and I rarely pull my hair out by its roots. I’ve tried pantsing it. It wasn’t pretty. I had writer’s block by the time I got to page three.

NOTE: Let me just say that I write ALL over the place. I do not write linearly in any way, shape or form. By having such a detailed map of where I’m going, I can write on chapter two one day and chapter nineteen the next. Another (possibly more important) advantage to this technique is that there’s never a dull moment. Each scene has a purpose. Each scene moves the story forward. This makes the book tight, the pacing strong, and the story smooth. Just sayin’.

TQ:  What inspired you to write First Grave on the Right ?

Darynda:  Mostly desperation. As an aspiring writer trying to catch New York’s eye, I wanted something different, something that would grab an agent’s and editor’s attention. Thankfully, Charley did just that.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for First Grave on the Right?

Darynda:  I did quite a bit of research on law enforcement procedures and went to a couple of workshops. One was a chapter meeting in which the State Medical Examiner spoke. That was an eye-opener and a half. I learned so much about policy and procedure, like who can and cannot step onto a crime scene before the medical examiner is finished, and I got to see a real autopsy. I’ve never been the same. I also read books on police procedure and private investigations as well as keep a couple of friends in law enforcement on speed dial. Oh, and I watched a few episodes of Magnum, PI. That was hard. ;)

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in the book?

Darynda:  In one scene, My heroine Charley is basically undercover, trying to get a bad guy to confess. I love this scene because her inner thoughts just ramble and are so at odds with what is going on around her and the extreme danger she is in. While she is trying to play the damsel in distress, she is thinking about what a jerk the guy is and how he’s clearly overcompensating with the expensive suits and manicure, etc. It’s just fun and the tables are turned on her so quickly and tragically. But still her thoughts run amok.

TQ:  How many books are planned for the Charley Davidson series? Will there be any short stories or novellas set in Charley's world?

Darynda:  Interesting you should ask. I actually just completed a short story for a new romance/women’s fiction website St. Martin’s Press is going to launch soon. I was thrilled to be invited on its maiden voyage and can’t wait to see it go live. (The site, not necessarily my story.)

And as for how many books, right now the sky’s the limit. While I’m currently contracted for three and have just finished the final round of revisions for Third Grave Dead Ahead, the third installment in Charley’ story, we are looking more long-term with the project and hoping for this to be a long-lasting and well-loved series.

TQ:  What's next?

Darynda:  Well, since I just finished up Third Grave, we are turning our efforts to the first in a YA series I also sold to St. Martin’s Press, the first of which is titled Grimsight. It’s about a how one teenaged girl’s life is irrevocably changed when the grim reaper starts high school in her home town. I’m really excited because it’s such a fun story. And, yes, it’s also about a grim reaper, just in a very different way.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery

Darynda:  Thank YOU!!! I’m so excited to be here and appreciate the opportunity so much.


Darynda's Books

First Grave on the Right
Charley Davidson 1
(February 1, 2011)
Interview with Darynda Jones & Giveaway - February 8, 2011
A smashing, award-winning debut novel that introduces Charley Davidson: part-time private investigator and full-time Grim Reaper

Charley sees dead people. That’s right, she sees dead people. And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e. murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life...and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.

This is a thrilling debut novel from an exciting newcomer to the world of paranormal romantic suspense.


Second Grave on the Right (Charley Davidson 2) will be released in August 2011.


About Darynda

Interview with Darynda Jones & Giveaway - February 8, 2011
Winner of the 2009 Golden Heart® for Best Paranormal Romance for her manuscript FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT, Darynda was born spinning tales of dashing damsels and heroes in distress for any unfortunate soul who happened by, annoying man and beast alike. After the Golden Heart final, she pimped herself as best she could, landed an amazing agent and sold to St. Martin’s Press in a three-book deal. Darynda lives in the Land of Enchantment, also known as New Mexico, with her husband of more than 25 years and two beautiful sons, aka the Mighty, Mighty Jones Boys. She can be found at http://www.daryndajones.com/.



Links:
Website: http://www.darynda.com/
Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/darynda.jones.official
Twitterhttp://twitter.com/Darynda


The Giveaway
 
THE RULES
 
What:  One commenter will win a hardcover copy of First Grave on the Right.
 
How:  Leave a comment telling The Qwillery black, white or gray? Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.
 
You may receive additional entries by:
 
1) Being a Follower of The Qwillery.
 
2) Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.
 
3) Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.
 
There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.
 
Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. In addition please leave a way to contact you.
 
Who & When: The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Tuesday, February 15, 2011. Void where prohibited by law.
 
*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*
Melanie's Week in Review - June 7, 2015Melanie's Week in Review - November 2, 2014Melanie's Week in Review - June 1, 2014Melanie's Week in Review - May 25, 2014Melanie's Week in Review - July 14, 2013Interview with Darynda Jones & Giveaway - February 8, 2011

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