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Melanie's Week in Review - April 15, 2018


Melanie's Week in Review - April 15, 2018


Hello readers. Hope you have had a good week. I started to get over my uber bad cold so also able to read something challenging on my commute into work.I did however, only read one book but boy, it was a good one! So what did I read?


Melanie's Week in Review - April 15, 2018
I finally decided to buy City of Miracles which is the final book of Robert J. Bennett's The Divine Cities trilogy. This book has been out for some time and I highly recommend you read the Qwill's review. I absolutely loved this series but had to wait for the price to drop a bit on the Kindle version before I bought it.

Rather than recount the plot for you I am going to focus on a couple of themes I picked out. I felt the most prominent theme was the theme of loss. The loss of a mother's love, the loss of friendship and the loss of identity. Loss was on every page and every chapter. Sigrud acutely felt the loss of his daughter and his beloved friend and as the story progressed we discovered what else he lost through the choices he made. Grief was the other prominent theme and Bennett explores, through his characters, individual responses to grief.  In fact loss and grief were the prevalent themes throughout all three novels with the deaths of Vohannes in City of Stairs, Signe in City of Blades and then Shara's death in the final book. In my view, Bennett is a master of handling the very sensitive and personal topic of grief. Bennett's standalone novel The Troupe is another testament of his ability to deal with this topic. The counter balance to grief was the theme of love - parental love, romantic love, friendship. This theme was a bit more subtle in how it played out but it was definitely there.

Bennett is one of my favourite authors even though I haven't yet read everything he has written. For me his books are like a good quality, expensive chocolates. I don't want to eat them all the time or they won't be such a treat. The Divine Cities has superb character development, excellent world building and tight plot arc. This final book is very poignant and you should probably have some tissues handy. This series is a must read but be sure to start with book 1 - City of Stairs.


That is it for me this week. I won't be with you next week as I am away to Spain for a city break. I am super excited that it is going to be 28°C. After two weeks of non stop rain and grey skies I am really looking forward to my vitamin D not coming from a bottle. Until next time Happy Reading.





City of Miracles
The Divine Cities 3
Broadway Books, May 2, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 464 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - April 15, 2018
Revenge. It’s something Sigrud je Harkvaldsson is very, very good at. Maybe the only thing.

So when he learns that his oldest friend and ally, former Prime Minister Shara Komayd, has been assassinated, he knows exactly what to do—and that no mortal force can stop him from meting out the suffering Shara’s killers deserve.

Yet as Sigrud pursues his quarry with his customary terrifying efficiency, he begins to fear that this battle is an unwinnable one. Because discovering the truth behind Shara’s death will require him to take up arms in a secret, decades-long war, face down an angry young god, and unravel the last mysteries of Bulikov, the city of miracles itself. And—perhaps most daunting of all—finally face the truth about his own cursed existence.



Melanie's Week in Review - April 15, 2018
UK Cover - Published by Jo Fletcher Books





Previously

City of Stairs
The Divine Cities 1
Broadway Books, September 9, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 464 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - April 15, 2018
An atmospheric and intrigue-filled novel of dead gods, buried histories, and a mysterious, protean city--from one of America's most acclaimed young SF writers.

The city of Bulikov once wielded the powers of the gods to conquer the world, enslaving and brutalizing millions—until its divine protectors were killed. Now Bulikov has become just another colonial outpost of the world's new geopolitical power, but the surreal landscape of the city itself—first shaped, now shattered, by the thousands of miracles its guardians once worked upon it—stands as a constant, haunting reminder of its former supremacy.

Into this broken city steps Shara Thivani. Officially, the unassuming young woman is just another junior diplomat sent by Bulikov's oppressors. Unofficially, she is one of her country's most accomplished spies, dispatched to catch a murderer. But as Shara pursues the killer, she starts to suspect that the beings who ruled this terrible place may not be as dead as they seem—and that Bulikov's cruel reign may not yet be over.


See Qwill's review here.



Melanie's Week in Review - April 15, 2018
UK Cover - Published by Jo Fletcher Books




City of Blades
The Divine Cities 2
Broadway Books, January 26, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 496 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - April 15, 2018
A triumphant return to the world of City of Stairs.

A generation ago, the city of Voortyashtan was the stronghold of the god of war and death, the birthplace of fearsome supernatural sentinels who killed and subjugated millions.

Now, the city’s god is dead. The city itself lies in ruins. And to its new military occupiers, the once-powerful capital is a wasteland of sectarian violence and bloody uprisings.

So it makes perfect sense that General Turyin Mulaghesh— foul-mouthed hero of the battle of Bulikov, rumored war criminal, ally of an embattled Prime Minister—has been exiled there to count down the days until she can draw her pension and be forgotten.

At least, it makes the perfect cover story.

The truth is that the general has been pressed into service one last time, dispatched to investigate a discovery with the potential to change the world–or destroy it.

The trouble is that this old soldier isn’t sure she’s still got what it takes to be the hero.


See Qwill's review here.



Melanie's Week in Review - April 15, 2018
UK Cover - Published by Jo Fletcher Books

Review: City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett


City of Miracles
Author: Robert Jackson Bennett
Series:  The Divine Cities 3
Publisher:  Broadway Books, May 2, 2017
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 464 pages
List Price:  US$16.00 (print); US$11.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780553419733 (print); 9780553419740 (eBook)

Review: City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett
Revenge. It’s something Sigrud je Harkvaldsson is very, very good at. Maybe the only thing.

So when he learns that his oldest friend and ally, former Prime Minister Shara Komayd, has been assassinated, he knows exactly what to do—and that no mortal force can stop him from meting out the suffering Shara’s killers deserve.

Yet as Sigrud pursues his quarry with his customary terrifying efficiency, he begins to fear that this battle is an unwinnable one. Because discovering the truth behind Shara’s death will require him to take up arms in a secret, decades-long war, face down an angry young god, and unravel the last mysteries of Bulikov, the city of miracles itself. And—perhaps most daunting of all—finally face the truth about his own cursed existence.



Qwill's Thoughts

City of Miracles is the 3rd novel in the Divine Cities Trilogy by Robert Jackson Bennett and focuses on Sigrud je Harkvaldsson (one of my favorite characters from the series). Like in the previous 2 novels in the series, City of Stairs and City of Blades, there is a mystery to be solved and Sigrud is the man to do it.

After the events in City of Blades, Sigrud is a wanted man and has been hiding away from civilization for 13 years. He has been waiting for Shara Komayd to reach out to him to tell him that his name has been cleared and he may return. The news of Shara’s death, his closest friend, working partner and mentor, shakes him badly and brings him out of hiding.

Sigrud travels to Ahanashtan to avenge Shara’s death. This is no simple assassination. Why it was done and who is behind it drives the entire story. Shara, ever the planner and spy, has left clues for Sigrud at various places. Sigrud using spycraft he hasn’t used for years finds touches of the Divine around the hotel where Shara was killed. If the Divine is somehow involved Sigrud realizes that this is not just about Shara’s death but there is more likely a larger threat to the world. He knows that he must find Shara’s daughter, Tatyana, and protect her.

Bennett excels at delving into the emotional landscape of his characters. Sigrud feels deeply that he lets down those he cares about and more than anything City of Miracles is Sigrud’s emotional journey. The depth of his despair about how he has conducted his life, his feelings of self-loathing for his failure to protect those he loves and the things he has done are gut-wrenchingly palpable. Sigurd’s psyche is an uncomfortable place to be at times, but Sigrud is a decent man and a fierce protector despite what he thinks about himself. There are revelations about Sigrud that are remarkable.

As in the prior novels there is plenty of action and the fantastical and Divine. We learn more and more about this world and, if a certain Divine entity is to be believed, what historically has gone before the events of the Divine Cities Trilogy and what is likely to occur in the future. There are some wonderfully philosophical moments in City of Miracles. There are again issues regarding the tension between the Continent and Saypur but only insofar as how it drives various character's actions.

Bennett deftly weaves together threads from the prior novels to show us a world that is changing and, more important, how his characters have changed over the course of the Trilogy. Bennett finishes the series by creating something new in his world. Sigrud’s journey is breathtakingly emotional, surprising, and ultimately satisfying.

The Divine Cities Trilogy is fabulous and City of Miracles is nothing short of brilliant.


Note:  I strongly recommend you read City of Stairs and City of Blades before reading City of Miracles.





Previously

City of Stairs
The Divine Cities 1
Broadway Books, September 9, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 464 pages

Review: City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett
An atmospheric and intrigue-filled novel of dead gods, buried histories, and a mysterious, protean city--from one of America's most acclaimed young SF writers.

The city of Bulikov once wielded the powers of the gods to conquer the world, enslaving and brutalizing millions—until its divine protectors were killed. Now Bulikov has become just another colonial outpost of the world's new geopolitical power, but the surreal landscape of the city itself—first shaped, now shattered, by the thousands of miracles its guardians once worked upon it—stands as a constant, haunting reminder of its former supremacy.

Into this broken city steps Shara Thivani. Officially, the unassuming young woman is just another junior diplomat sent by Bulikov's oppressors. Unofficially, she is one of her country's most accomplished spies, dispatched to catch a murderer. But as Shara pursues the killer, she starts to suspect that the beings who ruled this terrible place may not be as dead as they seem—and that Bulikov's cruel reign may not yet be over.


See my review here.



City of Blades
The Divine Cities 2
Broadway Books, January 26, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 496 pages

Review: City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett
A triumphant return to the world of City of Stairs.

A generation ago, the city of Voortyashtan was the stronghold of the god of war and death, the birthplace of fearsome supernatural sentinels who killed and subjugated millions.

Now, the city’s god is dead. The city itself lies in ruins. And to its new military occupiers, the once-powerful capital is a wasteland of sectarian violence and bloody uprisings.

So it makes perfect sense that General Turyin Mulaghesh— foul-mouthed hero of the battle of Bulikov, rumored war criminal, ally of an embattled Prime Minister—has been exiled there to count down the days until she can draw her pension and be forgotten.

At least, it makes the perfect cover story.

The truth is that the general has been pressed into service one last time, dispatched to investigate a discovery with the potential to change the world–or destroy it.

The trouble is that this old soldier isn’t sure she’s still got what it takes to be the hero.


See my Review here.

Review: City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett and Video Interview


City of Blades
Author: Robert Jackson Bennett
Series:  The Divine Cities 2
Publisher:  Broadway Books, January 26, 2016
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 496 pages
List Price:  $15.00 (print); $9.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780553419719 (print); 9780553419726 (eBook)

A triumphant return to the world of City of Stairs.

A generation ago, the city of Voortyashtan was the stronghold of the god of war and death, the birthplace of fearsome supernatural sentinels who killed and subjugated millions.

Now, the city’s god is dead. The city itself lies in ruins. And to its new military occupiers, the once-powerful capital is a wasteland of sectarian violence and bloody uprisings.

So it makes perfect sense that General Turyin Mulaghesh— foul-mouthed hero of the battle of Bulikov, rumored war criminal, ally of an embattled Prime Minister—has been exiled there to count down the days until she can draw her pension and be forgotten.

At least, it makes the perfect cover story.

The truth is that the general has been pressed into service one last time, dispatched to investigate a discovery with the potential to change the world–or destroy it.

The trouble is that this old soldier isn’t sure she’s still got what it takes to be the hero.


Qwill's Thoughts

City of Blades is the second novel in The Divine Cities series by Robert Jackson Bennett following City of Stairs, which was my favorite novel of 2014.

General Turyin Mulaghesh is forced out of retirement and sent to Voortyashtan. If you've read City of Stairs (and you really really should) you've already met Mulaghesh. Mulaghesh is tasked with finding out what happened to a Saypuri operative who is missing though Mulaghesh's cover story has more to do with pensions than missing persons. Once there Mulaghesh finds that everything is much worse than expected. She encounters her old commander, General Lalith Biswal who is in command of Voortyashtan, and Signe Harkvaldsson, a Dreyling who is overseeing the clearing of the harbor so it can be used again and is the daughter of Sigrud (who played a pivotal role in City of Stairs). A strange substance with potential useful properties has been discovered - thinadeskite - and Mulaghesh wonders about it and whether it is divine.

Mulaghesh is fabulous and difficult. In City of Blades Bennett shares much more of her story and what she has been through that makes her who she is now. She is complex. I really love that Mulaghesh is an older woman who has literal and figurative battle scars, has the skills needed to figure out is going on and will get the job done no matter the cost to herself.

I did not have quite the same degree of wonder as first time I was introduced to the divine, the Blink, and more, but City of Blades does not disappoint in the slightest. The wealth of worldbuilding continues and the mythology of the divine Voortya is fabulous and frightening. The mystery that Mulaghesh has to solve takes many unexpected twists and turns. There is so much going on for Mulaghesh to sort through, but Bennett brings all the pieces together beautifully.

As in book 1 issues are raised about cultural and religious suppression and more, but City of Blades deals with a different divine entity - a war and death goddess and the afterlife that she had promised her followers. This is utterly fascinating.

Bennett's has created characters who are unique yet deeply relatable. There is so much emotion in City of Blades, along with action, outstanding and thoughtful worldbuilding and a great story. City of Blades is superb.





I had the pleasure of interviewing Robert at New York Comic Con 2015:






Previously

City of Stairs
The Divine Cities 1
Broadway Books, September 9, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 464 pages

An atmospheric and intrigue-filled novel of dead gods, buried histories, and a mysterious, protean city--from one of America's most acclaimed young SF writers.

The city of Bulikov once wielded the powers of the gods to conquer the world, enslaving and brutalizing millions—until its divine protectors were killed. Now Bulikov has become just another colonial outpost of the world's new geopolitical power, but the surreal landscape of the city itself—first shaped, now shattered, by the thousands of miracles its guardians once worked upon it—stands as a constant, haunting reminder of its former supremacy.

Into this broken city steps Shara Thivani. Officially, the unassuming young woman is just another junior diplomat sent by Bulikov's oppressors. Unofficially, she is one of her country's most accomplished spies, dispatched to catch a murderer. But as Shara pursues the killer, she starts to suspect that the beings who ruled this terrible place may not be as dead as they seem—and that Bulikov's cruel reign may not yet be over.


Review here.

Melanie's Week in Review - November 16, 2014


Melanie's Week in Review - November 16, 2014


My reading this week was a bit like the weather - bright and sunny one minute and grey and drizzly the next. So what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - November 16, 2014
Instead of trying to clear another book from my TBR I had a little look on NetGalley and found the Paper Magician trilogy by Charlie N. Holmberg. I really liked the  covers so made the decision that the story was going to be as good. I was only partly right. I really liked the premise with teenage Ceony starting her apprenticeship with the paper magician Emery Thane. In Holmberg's world humans are bonded to the different elements or man made materials. Ceony had hoped to be able to be a Smelter bonded to metals bit instead she has chosen to control paper under the tutelage of the magician Emery Thane. Ceony isn't happy to be bonded to paper but soon changes her mind when Thane gets his heart ripped out in front of her eyes and in a nearly ridiculous chain of events Ceony ends up inside Thane's heart. Now Ceony just has to find a way out, defeat the evil magician who almost killed Thane, return his heart and finish her studies.

I started out quite liking this book. I liked the snippy Ceony and her journey to discovering how cool paper magic really is. At first I thought this was aimed at a younger reader but by the end and after some really grisly events I realised it was how Ceony was written. She was making quite immature decisions and always doing the opposite of what anyone else said to do. She also instantly falls in love with her tutor and guardian which was a tad unbelievable.

Melanie's Week in Review - November 16, 2014
Despite this I went back to NetGalley and requested book 2 The Glass Magician. In this instalment Ceony spends quite a bit of time swooning over Emery, blushing and when she has time learning a few new magic spells. Her life is in peril when not 1 but 2 baddies are after her following the events of book 1. A lot happens in this book and yet again Ceony defies her more magically experienced colleagues to try to save her friends, family and of course, Emery. I thought this book was just ok. I really wanted to give Ceony a few good slaps as she got on my nerves with her whining about being in danger and then running headlong into the next deadly situation quite unprepared. I think Holmberg needs to make a decision on Ceony as she can't be both shy and demure and a bold, firecracker who eats danger for breakfast.

You might remember that I was reading City of Stairs by Robert J Bennett which I finished. I loved this book. It had such great characters and an excellent plot set in a world that was rich in detail. This is a must read and one of the best books I have read this year.

That is it for me folks. I hope you have a good week. I am on annual leave so I may not have very much to tell you about next week. Until then Happy Reading.

Melanie's Week in Review - November 9, 2014



Melanie's Week in Review - November 9, 2014


Hello! I hope you have had a great week. I have been marginally frustrated with my reading progress this week. I felt like I was reading really quickly but not getting through very many books. So what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - November 9, 2014

I started the week with The Red Magician by Lisa Goldstein which I received from the good people at NetGalley. As you can see from the cover this novel is an award winner. Winning an award isn't always an indicator of palatable book but in the case of The Red Magician it is a must read. I can't candy coat it and say that this is an easy read as that wouldn't be doing justice to either the book or the author.

The Red Magician tells the story of Kicsi, a teenager living in a small town in rural Hungary. Her life completely changes when her father invites a a wanderer home for dinner. Voros, the red headed magician irrevocably changes Kisci's life. Voros tries to warn the village of the impending destruction of their way of life. The one person in his way is the local rabbi who is determined to silence Voros one way or another. Events take their toll not just on Kisci but everyone she knows and loves. World War 2 finds Kisci's village captured by the German army and most of her family are brutally murdered in the holocaust. She survives in an internment camp but is a shadow of her former self. Once again Voros comes into her life just when she thought hers was at an end. Faith and the power of friendship play an important part in the life of the teenage Kisci. 

This is a lovely story, a story of friendship, faith, belief in the impossible/improbable and new beginnings. Goldstein creates a story with a fairytale like feel and characters who are believable and realistic. This is a quick read but beware as its quite 'sniffy' at the end so if like me you read predominantly on public transport you may need to keep some tissues on hand.

Melanie's Week in Review - November 9, 2014
Book 2 of the week was less intense  - Pack of Lies by Annie Bellet which is the third in the Twenty-Sided Sorceress series. I started this series a few months ago and haven't really found the story challenging but it is a quick and easy read. This instalment starts a few months after the events of book 2 where Jade is still recovering for her part in the death of her father and abandonment by the hunky Justice, Alex. Trouble seems to follow Jade when a century old peace treaty amongst the wolf shifters is threatened when both shifters and human's are found murdered. Jade and her friends try to solve the murders and try not to get killed in the process. Yet again, this was an easy read but I wasn't especially challenged. I will keep reading only for the moderately big cliff-hanger at the end of this instalment.

Melanie's Week in Review - November 9, 2014
I then turned to another book from NetGalley - City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett. Qwill reviewed this book back in September. I am only partway through the novel but so far I am gripped! I shouldn't be surprised though as any book Qwill likes then I am sure to agree. In fact most of my favourite books have been recommended by Qwill so don't miss out.

That is it for me folks for this week. I hope to find some good books next week and I hope you do too. Until then Happy Reading.


The View From Monday - September 8, 2014


Happy Monday! This is a fairly light release week. There are no debuts this week. I do strongly recommend (something I rarely do) that you pick up Robert Jackson Bennett's City of Stairs tomorrow. It's a fabulous novel. More on that tomorrow!

Out this week from previously featured Debut Author Challenge Authors:

Red Blood (Jessica McClain 4) by Amanda Carlson;

Sword of the Bright Lady (World of Prime 1) by M.C. Planck;

and

Yesterday's Hero (No Hero / Arthur Wallace 2) by Jonathan Wood.



The View From Monday - September 8, 2014



September 8, 2014
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Carniepunk: The Cold Girl (e) Rachel Caine UF
The Land Beyond All Dreams (e) Bryan Fields UF
Carniepunk: The Demon Barker of Wheat Street (e) Kevin Hearne UF - Iron Druid Chronicles
Carniepunk: The Sweeter the Juice (e) Mark Henry Ap
Rogue's Paradise (e) Jeffe Kennedy PNR - Covenant of Thorns 3
Carniepunk: A Duet with Darkness (e) Allison Pang UF - Abby Sinclair



September 9, 2014
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
City of Stairs Robert Jackson Bennett F - City of Stairs 1
Red Blooded Amanda Carlson UF - Jessica McClain 4
Tuckitor's Last Swim: A Tor.com Original (e) Edith Cohn F
The Lazarus Prophecy (e) F. G. Cottam M
The Lazarus Prophecy: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and The People Who Play It (h2tp) David M. Ewalt Social Science / Popular Culture
Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future Ed Finn (ed)
Kathryn Cramer (ed)
SF - Anthology
The Witch with No Name Kim Harrison UF - Hollows 13
Nature Futures 2: Science Fiction from the Leading Science Journal Henry Gee (ed)
Colin Sullivan (ed)
SF - Anthology
Just His Taste (e) Candice Gilmer PNR - Guys and Godmothers 3
Doctor Who: The Blood Cell James Goss SF - Doctor Who
Exo Steven Gould SF - Jumper 4
Burning Desire: Part 1 (e) Donna Grant PNR - Dark Kings
Yesterday's Kin Nancy Kress SF
Doctor Who: Engines of War George Mann SF - Doctor Who
The Falcon Throne Karen Miller F - Tarnished Crown 1
The Old Reactor David Ohle Dys
Sherwood Nation Benjamin Parzybok Ap
Sword of the Bright Lady M.C. Planck F - World of Prime 1
Pathfinder Tales: Reign of Stars Tim Pratt F - Pathfinder Tales
The Thief Taker C.S. Quinn Su/F
Doctor Who: Silhouette Justin Richards SF - Doctor Who
Dark Redemption Angie Sandro SoGothic/R - Dark Paradise 3
Bloodeye (K e) Craig Saunders H
Rivers (h2tp) Michael Farris Smith LF
The Bloodline Feud Charles Stross UF - Merchant Princes Omnibus
Doctor Who: The Crawling Terror Mike Tucker SF - Doctor Who
Yesterday's Hero Jonathan Wood UF - Arthur Wallace 2
Stormcaller Chris Wraight SF - Warhammer 40,000: Space Wolves 2



September 10, 2014
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
As Good as New: A Tor.Com Original (e) Charlie Jane Anders F



September 11, 2014
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Aurora: Meridian (K e) Amanda Bridgeman SF


e - eBook
e K - Kindle eBook
ed - Editor
h2tp - Hardcover to Trade Paperback

Ap - Apocalyptic
Dys - Dystopian
F - Fantasy
H - Horro
LF - Literary Fiction
M - Mystery
PNR - Paranormal Romance
R - Romance
SF - Science Fiction
SoGothic - Southern Gothic
Su - Supernatural
UF - Urban Fantasy


Melanie's Week in Review - April 15, 2018Review: City of Miracles by Robert Jackson BennettReview: City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett and Video InterviewGiveaway:  City of Blades by Robert Jackson BennettMelanie's Week in Review - November 16, 2014Melanie's Week in Review - November 9, 2014Review - City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett and Giveaway - September 9, 2014The View From Monday - September 8, 2014

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