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A blog about books and other things speculative

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Melanie's Week in Review - November 29, 2015


Melanie's Week in Review - November 29, 2015


Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends and readers of this post. I hope you all had a wonderful day and lovely, delicious meals with friends and family. I need to get myself invited to someone's house for Thanksgiving as I miss pumpkin pie as it really isn't a British dessert. Feel free to send me one in the post. Anyway back to books.  What did I read?


Melanie's Week in Review - November 29, 2015
You may remember a few weeks ago that I had started Raptor which is the 6th book in Lindsay Buroker's Dragon Blood series. In this instalment Lieutenant Caslin Ahn feels that she should be punished rather than praised for the events at the end of book 5. The last thing she wants to do  is pick up the soulblade that ended her friend's life. On the command of the King Ahn has no alternative but to pick up the evil sword to defend her friends and country. Will she survive....will they survive? well you will have to read it to find out.

I have been rather disappointed with the later books in this series as the dialogue between some of the characters has been too flippant and 'kooky' which hasn't been consistent with the plotline or the environment. Raptor slightly improves but not until much later in the story. I had been struggling to get back in the plot and found the story a bit slow moving at first. It was still slower than I would have liked but did pick up towards the end with a bit of a cliff hanger. Luckily the series finishes soon with the release of the final book in a few weeks.


Melanie's Week in Review - November 29, 2015
In an attempt to tidy up my NetGalley shelves I realised that I hadn't yet finished Sorcerer to the Crown (Sorcerer Royal 1) by Zen Cho. This is one of books from September's Debut Author Challenge and I had been remiss in reading it in time for that. I really enjoyed this story and thought that Cho got the balance between story and characterisation just about right. Cho explores a few key themes throughout the story but it mainly centers on discrimination - discrimination based on race and discrimination based on sex. Zacharias Wythe is the rightful Sorcerer Royal but his fellow sorcerers don't believe he deserves the position as he is black and a former slave. The other main character, Prunella discovers she has magical powers but isn't allowed to reveal them as she is a woman. Set in the late 1800's women are far too delicate to be considered strong enough to wield any magic more powerful than what is required to make sure that dinner is cooked properly or the linens are well laundered.

I found this an enjoyable read even though the plot was a bit slow in parts. I think that Cho could have spent a little less time setting up Zacharias at the beginning of the story and more time developing his relationship with the other sorcerers towards the end of the story. Overall, this was as an excellent debut novel and I am looking forward to reading more of this series. (You may read an interview with Zen Cho here.)


Melanie's Week in Review - November 29, 2015
Finally, a couple of short stories to finish off my week. I chose this book from my Amazon recommendations - Beneath a Waning Moon: a Duo of Gothic Romances. I am not the biggest fan of Elizabeth Hunter but I have enjoyed Grace Draven's novels. I was also inexplicably drawn to the cover. I loved the woman's long flowing gown and the way the folds ripple and cascade down the steps. I thought it was rather painterly.

There are two short stories - The Very Proper Monster by Elizabeth Hunter which tells the story of Josephine Shaw who is full of live and energy yet, dying of tuberculosis. Everything changes when she marries Tom Dargin, a vampire unbeknownst to her, to save her father's legacy. This a good old fashioned story of how love comes in the most unsuspecting forms and and the most unsuspecting times.

Story 2 - Gaslight Hades has hints of Jane Austen's Persuasion to it but this time the Captain Frederick Wentworth character is a monster - the soul of one man in the body of another. Nathaniel Gorden thought his life had been reduced to guarding Highgate cemetery until one day his lost love Lenore Kenward strolls back into his life. Once dead, now Nathanial is very much alive and so is his love of Lenore.

Short stories need only short reviews (in my humble opinion). Hunter's short story can only be described as 'twee'. Josephine was fairly one dimensional and I felt Tom was a bit of a whiner. I ended up skipping some pages at the end. Draven's story had much more depth to it and I liked both of the lead characters. Not an unpleasant end to the week but just a teeny tiny bit dull.


That is all for me this week. I hope you all have a great week ahead and Happy Reading.




Raptor
Dragon Blood 6
Lindsay Buroker, October 27, 2015
eBook, 354 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - November 29, 2015
Responsible for her friend’s death, Lieutenant Caslin Ahn wants nothing more than to be left alone. She no longer deserves the company of comrades or the fulfillment she felt as a Wolf Squadron fighter pilot. But a summons from the king leaves her with no choice but to rejoin her teammates. An ancient evil has been unleashed, bringing death and destruction to the nation, and they are the only ones with a chance of stopping it.

Dragon Blood 6 brings back Cas, Tolemek, Ridge, Sardelle, Kaika, and Tylie, as well as her dragon, for a new epic fantasy adventure.



Sorcerer to the Crown
Sorcerer Royal 1
Ace, September 1, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - November 29, 2015
In this sparkling debut, magic and mayhem clash with the British elite…

The Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers, one of the most respected organizations throughout all of England, has long been tasked with maintaining magic within His Majesty’s lands. But lately, the once proper institute has fallen into disgrace, naming an altogether unsuitable gentleman—a freed slave who doesn’t even have a familiar—as their Sorcerer Royal, and allowing England’s once profuse stores of magic to slowly bleed dry. At least they haven’t stooped so low as to allow women to practice what is obviously a man’s profession…

At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers and eminently proficient magician, ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up. But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large…



Beneath a Waning Moon: A Duo of Gothic Romances
Hunter/Draven, September 29, 2015 (eBook)
CreateSpace, October 20, 2015 (Trade Paperback)

Melanie's Week in Review - November 29, 2015
Two delightfully dark tales of Gothic romance from Elizabeth Hunter and Grace Draven.

In A VERY PROPER MONSTER, Josephine Shaw spends long nights filling the pages of her Gothic stories with the fantastic and the macabre, unaware that the suitor her father has arranged is one of the dark creatures she’s always dreamed. For Tom Dargin, courting an ailing spinster was only one duty in a long life of service to his sire. But after he meets the curious Miss Shaw, will Tom become the seducer or the seduced? Can a love fated to end in tragedy survive a looming grave?

In GASLIGHT HADES, Nathaniel Gordon walks two worlds—that of the living and the dead. Barely human, he's earned the reputation of a Bonekeeper, the scourge of grave robbers. He believes his old life over, until one dreary burial he meets the woman he once loved and almost married. Lenore Kenward stands at her father’s grave, begging the protection of the mysterious guardian, not knowing he is her lost love. Resolved to keep his distance, Nathaniel is forced to abandon his plan and accompany Lenore on a journey into the mouth of Hell where sea meets sky, and the abominations that exist beyond its barrier wait to destroy them.

Melanie's Week in Review - June 22, 2014


Melanie's Week in Review - June 22, 2014


I have better reading news for you this time. I didn't like admitting last week that I had only finished one book.  This however, has benefited me this week as the two books I had started last week plus the new ones I started and finished this week makes me sound like a Reading Olympian. So what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - June 22, 2014
I finished The Golem and the Djinni by Helene Wecker. I LOVED this book. It was a beautiful book to read with the perfect balance of character and plot development. This was the story of love and friendship where a golem without a master and an enslaved djinni find their way in their respective communities of New York in the late 1800's. It was not just a story of their lives but it also discussed the societal and religious aspects of both the Jewish and Muslim communities where both characters found themselves. This was one of the few books I have read that didn't try to ram religion down my throat and I was really intrigued by what I learned about both cultures and religions. Wecker created a lovely story of both loneliness and longing. I loved everything from the first first word to the very last one. This is a definite must read so if you haven't bought it then make haste and buy it asap! Note: In the US the title is The Golem and the Jinni.

Melanie's Week in Review - June 22, 2014
I also finished The Singer by Elizabeth Hunter. This was the second instalment of the Irin Chronicles. I have mixed feelings about this series. I don't normally like books about angels and they really have to have something special in order for me to want to read more than one of them. This series has been fairly predictable so far but for some reason I want to keep reading it. I guessed almost every plot twist well before it happened. The hero and heroine don't really shine in this second book but I do think that their love story has an interesting twist...twisted enough for me to want to continue to book three. I can't say too much without giving it all away.

Once I finished this I turned to an eArc that I had forgotten about -The Buried Life by Carrie Patel. This is a debut novel and I am planning to write a full review.

Melanie's Week in Review - June 22, 2014I then switched genre to another book on my TBR - Bad Blood by Chuck Wendig. This is a novella in the Double Dead series.This was NOT a book for a mid week commute. It came across just a bit ...too much, almost too crass. I didn't enjoy it as much as Double Dead. This is definitely a series where you need a time and place to read it. It was gory with a capital 'G' and very unsettling. Wendig is one of the few authors that I like their irreverence and love of gore and swearing but it felt forced in this story.

Melanie's Week in Review - June 22, 2014Onwards and upwards in the unsettling stakes and I turned to Mira Grant with Parasite (Parisitology 1). I am partway through this novel and I can see why Grant has been nominated for a Hugo. It's almost like she has a brain the size of an asteroid in order to think up such a well constructed plot. Whole sections make you feel like you are reading someone's PhD thesis instead of fiction (at least I hope it is fiction!). I don't want to say too much until I am finished so check in next week to see what I thought.

Well ladies and gentleman that is it for me. I am looking forward to telling you what I have been up to on the reading front next week. I feel quite chuffed with what I accomplished this past week even though that was at the expense of my WIR last week. I hope you find something you read that you love as I did with Wecker's tale of friendship.  Let me know what you read. Until next week Happy Reading!

Melanie's Week in Review - June 15, 2014


Melanie's Week in Review - June 15, 2014


Well I would love to tell you all about all the great books I read this week but I can't lie...I only finished one book. So what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - June 15, 2014
I decided to finish off Emma Newman's Split Worlds trilogy with All Is FairI have enjoyed this series but almost in diminishing returns. I loved book 1, thought book 2 was good (see my WIR from 1st June) but was a bit indifferent about book 3. I thought William was a bit of a jerk and Cathy was the real hero of the story... although I think that was Newman's plan all along. The culmination of the Arbiter murders felt a bit forced and overall it felt like Newman was rushing towards an imaginary finish line. I liked Newman's world building and characterisation but think the series could have had a more balanced plot. That is just me nitpicking though!

I then decided to go for a book that Qwill read last year but that I haven't been able to find, reasonably priced in the UK. I came across The Golem and The Djinni by Helene Wecker quite reasonably price so jumped on it. I haven't finished it yet but so far I am loving it. I will have more to tell you next week.

Melanie's Week in Review - June 15, 2014
I was really trying to finish another book but didn't want to rush the story so decided to continue with the Irin Chronicles by Elizabeth Hunter. I started this series a few weeks ago with The Scribe and thought I could finish book The Singer (book 2) in a few hours but it wasn't to be so you will have to wait until next week to learn more about this book, as well.

I was wondering what you think of free serials. I am currently reading two. One by one of my long standing favourite authors and another by one of my newer faves. At first I thought free serials were the best thing since sliced bread.... free sliced bread that is, but I have changed my mind a bit. Free serials are only as good as the time the author has to spend writing them. Once other obligations like book tours, other writing.... or life come into play than the free book seems to drop off the radar. I have waited almost a month for a new chapter in some cases which really interferes with your reading flow. I do really appreciate that authors want to share something as amazing as a free book but wish they would think of us poor readers waiting anxiously for a new chapter!

It looks like with the World Cup on TV for the next 3 weeks I am going to have more reading time so hope to have more to share with you next week. Until then Happy Reading.


Melanie's Week in Review - June 8, 2014


Melanie's Week in Review - June 8, 2014


Welcome to June. I can't believe that the year is almost half over already. How time flies. I have no excuses this week for not getting some books read. So what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - June 8, 2014
I found The Scribe by Elizabeth Hunter last week and finished it on Sunday. It was the first instalment of the Irin Chronicles which I found in my Amazon recommendations. The story centers on Ava who hears voices in her head but doesn't know what is being said. She lives a fairly solitary life and has been searching for the cause of the voices that have plagued her life. She goes to Istanbul, where the story is set, to find answers to her condition but instead it opens the door to more questions about who she is and where she came from. On her journey she meets Malachi, the enigmatic stranger who has the knowledge of who she really is and what she is capable of. Needless to say, the tall, dark and handsome Malachi also introduces Ava to romance and to all things 'hot and steamy'. I was quite interested in Ava's story until it was revealed that her race, the Irin (or Irina in her case) were descendants of angels. I am not terribly fond of angel stories and the whole plot turned a bit bland once that was revealed. Ava was, of course being pursued by 'the fallen' and out came the traditional good versus evil plot line. I was quite surprised by the ending as it wasn't your typical ending to a romance novel and this was enough to capture my interest to investigate book 2  - The Singer. I am hoping to start that over the next few weeks.

Melanie's Week in Review - June 8, 2014I also started and finished The Severed Streets by Paul Cornell which is the second book of the Shadow Police series. I enjoyed London Falling, which I reviewed last year. I will be writing a full review of this book so I don't want to give too much away here.

Melanie's Week in Review - June 8, 2014I finished the week with book 5 in one of my favourite series - Monster Hunter International. I got the eArc of Monster Hunter Nemesis from NetGalley and was so excited to receive it that I turned my back on all the other juicy books on my TBR. I really like this series and Correia keeps it fresh by focusing this instalment on Franks, the agent from the U.S. Monster Control Bureau. Franks has been a regular in the series and often comes into conflict with almost everyone including Owen Pitt who is has been the hero of the series so far. Franks isn't just any agent - he is a monster fighting other monsters but the difference is that he is one of the good guys. I have weirdly had a soft spot for the real monster of Frankenstein and now its even bigger...like a big blob of strawberry jam. Franks lives by the code - he protects mankind from evil and mankind promises never to create any more of him. The code is violated by Director Stricken when he creates a a team of super agents who are more technologically advanced and potentially stronger than Franks. Stricken hates Franks and frames him for more murders than I have fingers and Franks is on the run but out for revenge. Monsters, Monster Hunters and Franks....Monster Hunter Nemesis has it all.

I really liked this book and liked the fact that Correia gave us a new perspective by telling the story from Franks' perspective. Correia also gave us snippets from Franks' past at the start of every chapter so we had the opportunity to learn how he was created and his journey to becoming one of the most effective agents in the agency. We also get to see a different side to Franks and find out more than 1 secret about the truculent agent. Overall, this is another great book in the series and I am already looking forward to book 6.

That is it for me for this week and I am looking forward to some new books I have received in the last few weeks. 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 - November 29, 2015Melanie's Week in Review - June 22, 2014Melanie's Week in Review - June 15, 2014Melanie's Week in Review - June 8, 2014Melanie's Week in Review - June 1, 2014

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