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A blog about books and other things speculative

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Melanie's Week in Review - September 7, 2014


Melanie's Week in Review - September 7, 2014



*** BUMPER WEEK IN REVIEW ***

Yes folks I have a bumper crop of books to tell you about. I finished 5 books and mid-way though a 6th. So no messing around. What did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - September 7, 2014
Melanie's Week in Review - September 7, 2014If you read my WIR last week you will remember that I read Evernight (Darkest London 5) by Kristen Callihan and was a tad ashamed to say I couldn't remember the series or the characters. I decided to go back and read a few of the books. I started back at the beginning with Firelight, moved quickly onto Moonglow and ended my re-read with Winterblaze. I have discussed these books before so I won't bore with the details again. The first time I read the books I had the biggest issue with Moonglow  and while I still thought the explanation of the GIM (Ghost in the Machine) was flawed there was something else that bothered me this time I read it. I thought I would explain this in the form of a quiz.

Imagine you are arriving back at your lycan lover's stately home and are involved in a serious case of heavy petting in the back of the carriage (tee hee...petting your werewolf boyfriend....tee hee) when your most beloved sister arrives to inform you that your brother-in-law has been mortally wounded in a werewolf attack.  Do you ....

a)  ignore your sister and continue with the hot and steamy with your furry honey;
b)  go with your sister to the bedside of your brother-in-law only to leave your shell-shocked sister alone to go back to your love interest's home for some 'tupping';
c)  pop down to the local pub for a nice lunch as all the excitement makes you hungry;

or

d)  all of the above.

Well which do you think the heroine of Moonglow chose to do? Please let me know! I decided not to bother with book 4, Shadow Dance, as everything had come back to me and I had other books to read.

Melanie's Week in Review - September 7, 2014
I was quite excited to discover that not 1 but 2 books I had pre-ordered on Amazon had popped down onto my Kindle. I started with Knight's Honor by Thea Harrison which is the 7th in the Elder Races series. This book is a bit of a departure from the previous books and doesn't centre on Dragos, Pia or one of the Sentinels. This time it tells the story of the mousey, shy, computer geek Tess who finds herself as a human attendant in the dangerous vampire, Xavier. Tess is on the run and trying to hide from a revengeful Djinn. Tess has got everything and nothing to lose by working for the hunky vamp, except maybe her heart...of course (this is PNR after all).

I like the fact that Harrison chose to write a book in the Elder Races world but not about Dragos or Pia (or friends). I also like the fact it was set back at the same time as the Sentinel Wars so before book 6 - Kinked. However, I think the characters are a bit bland and far too goody good for my liking. Tess is quite dull which is disappointing as I think Harrison missed a trick by not exploiting her humanity and computer genius skills. Xavier is a former priest/assassin/spy who quotes poetry to his lady love and tries to teach her to waltz. Not very gritty. Even still it is a quick read and quite good on a long tube journey.

Melanie's Week in Review - September 7, 2014Book number 5 on my reading list for the week was Forged by Desire* by Bec McMaster. This is the 4th book in the London Steampunk series and tells the love story of Captain Garrett Reed and his fellow Nighthawk Perry. Reed never noticed the mannish Perry until she displayed her assets in a lovely ball gown while in disguise in The Curious Case of the Clockwork Menace (a novella). Reed is suffering from the ill effects of the vampire disease and there is only a matter of time before he turns into a violent killer. In the meantime Perry is confronting a secret from her past while investigating the murder of two innocent girls. Can Perry and Garrett get together before her past comes back to haunt her or before Garrett succumbs to the disease?  Well I won't tell you. This is a gritty tale and Perry's past is a deep, dark secret indeed. Some of my favourite characters from the previous books appeared including Blade. You will be glad to know that Honoria still hasn't given him those elocution lessons!

Melanie's Week in Review - September 7, 2014
My final book for this week is Our Broken Sky by Sarah Harian. This is a novella in the Chaos Theory series. I have only just started this so not much to tell. Well that is it for me. I am super impressed with my book reading accomplishments this week. Fingers crossed I don't revert back to my previous poor performance. Until next week Happy Reading.








* You may read an excerpt of Forged by Desire here and see a list of all the books and novellas in this series.


Melanie's Week in Review - December 29, 2013


Melanie's Week in Review - December 29, 2013


Wow! I can't believe this is my last Week in Review (WIR) of 2013. I also look like a reading hero as I get to tell you about ALL the books I read in the last two weeks. My last WIR was high in rhyming abilities and low in telling you what I read and I have plowed through quite a few books over the last fortnight. At least you have a lot of pretty book covers to look at this time! So what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - December 29, 2013
Going back to almost two weeks ago I finished Sins of the Lost by Linda Poitevin (Intermix, October 15, 2013) which is the third in the Grigori Legacy. I got this instalment from the good people at NetGalley and it has taken me much longer than it should have to actually read it. You may know if you have read any of my other posts that I haven't been the biggest fan of angel series. I did however, warm to this series during book 2, Sins of the Son. I liked the fact that Poitevin did the unpredictable with her characters and didn't have the fated end up together. I  am not too sure about this instalment however, as I think that Sins of the Lost is a tad too dark. Odd  to say I know, especially given that this is a story about heaven vs hell but between Lucifer, Seth - who has given up his powers, The One who is dying, and the abused Alex there isn't much a reprieve. It is one major crisis after another. I had also forgotten quite a bit about what had happened in the previous books and was always going 'he/she did what?'. I like a book to be balanced, otherwise I end up wondering how it is possible for the lead character(s) to go on. Hopefully, something remotely nice can happen in the next book....fingers crossed.

Melanie's Week in Review - December 29, 2013I was trawling through Goodreads when I noticed that the fourth and final book of the Book of the Order series by Philippa Ballantine  - Harbinger  - had been released since July and I had never noticed. I could NOT believe that I had missed the release of the final book of a series that I have loved. This final book did not disappoint and I think it is the perfect ending to a fantastic series. Sorcha Farris is my favourite kind of heroine - strong, brave, conflicted and willing to risk everything to save those she loves. In fact, I loved all of the characters, even the baddies. You will know from my recent review of Kindred and Wings that I am a big fan of Ballantine's. So far there isn't a book of hers that I haven't really liked. That isn't an easy feat as I am quite fussy! She also has the most amazing book covers. Check out the cover of Harbinger...it is gorgeous. If you like fantasy then I urge you to start at book 1. Geist.

Melanie's Week in Review - December 29, 2013
I then had a bit of a panic attack when I had a look at the results of the Goodreads  - 2013 Reading Challenge. Gulp! I was 4 books behind schedule and just over a week to go before the new year. How embarrassing! I almost ran to my iPad and brought up my Amazon recommendations to find something I could read quickly. I was soooo lucky as I came across Firelight by Kristen Callihan. This is the first novel in Darkest London series which is billed as PNR but is quite dark and has some quite gruesome parts. This is story of the star crossed lovers  - Miranda who is a very beautiful and talented fire elemental but is very, very poor. No one is no more surprised than Miranda when the extremely wealthy Lord Archer proposes. Archer wears a mask and it takes almost the whole book to find out what deformity is hiding behind it. This is just one of the many surprises in Firelight. Lucky for me the first four books have been released and it didn't take
Melanie's Week in Review - December 29, 2013long to get through Moonglow, Winterblaze and finally, Shadowdance. Apart from Shadowdance the other books of the series are the stories of Miranda's sisters, each of which have their own special, magical talents. There is a lot of suspense, intrigues and gory murders galore. Not your typical PNR. I'm not saying there aren't any heaving bosoms or throbbing  manliness but it didn't take precedence over the murder(s) mystery. Overall, I enjoyed this series but had a big problem with book 2 - Moonglow. I thought that the GIM (part clockwork, ghost fueled people) were overtly complicated and they didn't really make sense. I also thought it was illogical to have a immortal being brought low by a very mortal disease. In my mind, this plot device didn't work for me. Having said that I continued on and read books 3 and 4 and am really looking forward to the 5th book in the series, Evernight.

With only days left to go to reach my reading challenge goal I am reading not 1 but 2 books - Broken Homes (Peter Grant/ Rivers of London 4) by Ben Aaronovitch and Master of Crow by Grace Draven. Both books are excellent...very different but great in their own way. I am looking forward to finishing them and not just to make my reading challenge!

Well that is all for me for this week. The next time you hear from me it will be 2014 so until then Happy Reading.


Interview with Kristen Callihan and Giveaway - January 27, 2012

Please welcome Kristen Callihan to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Firelight (Darkest London 1),  Kristen's debut, will be published on February 1 along with Ember, a prequel..


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

Kristen:  I don’t know if it’s a quirk, but I write in bursts –something I probably have to change. So if I’m into it, I’ll put down 60k in a month. If I’m not, I stare at the walls for days. Yeah, I’ll probably have to address that unevenness at some point. Lol. Other than that, I always write in my PJs. But don’t all writers do this?

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

Kristen:  Favorite writers, oh, wow, there are too many to list. My favorite genres, however, are romance and mystery. And of course anything paranormal in flavor.

As for influence. I’ve realized that the writers who have influenced me the most are the ones I first read when I discovered books. As a teenager, I read what was lying about the house, from Jackie Collins (yes, I know), Robert Ludlum, Jean M. Auel, and Hemingway, to C.S. Lewis and Laura Ingalls Wilder. Looking back on that, and comparing those books with what I write now -historical romances with suspense, mystery, and fantasy- I can see the seeds taking root. These are not my favorite writers, per say, but perhaps they had more time to sink into my subconscious.

The first author I picked up on my own was Anne Rice. The richness of her prose and depth of her characters are something that I admire greatly. And Diana Gabaldon’s, Outlander, with its wild mix of genres and incredible love story, outright got me into trying writing myself.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Kristen:  I used to be a pure panster. But when I started adding mysteries into my stories, I needed to plot a bit. Now, I am somewhere in between. There is a plot in my head, like the framework of a house. The story flows around that. I may add a wing, tear down a wall or two, but I have a good idea of end design.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Kristen:  Revisions! Lol. Revisions are that point in the process when everything feels like it’s tumbling down. Nothing is working the way I want it to, or the whole story is so large and twisted, it’s like wrestling with a twenty-foot anaconda.

TQ:  Describe Firelight (Darkest London 1) in 140 characters or less.

Kristen:  Oh boy, I’m absolutely terrible at summation. Let’s see… Firelight is: A Victorian gothic Beauty and the Beast tale in which a cursed man must choose to give up his soul in order to save the woman he loves.

TQ:  What inspired you to write Firelight?

Believe it or not, Disney’s Beauty and The Beast. Lol. My daughter was watching that movie when I got the idea. But more deeply, the Norwegian tale that inspired B&B, West of the Moon and East of the Sun. In that tale, a polar bear claims a young maid as his bride and takes her off to his castle. At night, he becomes a man and joins her in bed, hidden by the dark. But when she accidentally burns him with candle wax in an attempt see his face, he is whisked off, and it is up to her to save him.

I loved the idea of this hidden identity. Could you love someone who hid his face from you? Someone everyone else thought an inhuman beast? To me, there is such great conflict to play with. Miranda and Archer must both learn to trust each other. And they must ignore logic and follow their instincts.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Firelight?

Kristen:  When I started Firelight, there was the idea and the characters. They started talking immediately. But what era should the live in? If you are going to write a historical, I think it should resonate with readers of today in some way. For that reason, I chose the Victorian era. I think there is a huge parallel to that time and ours. They experienced a burst in technology just as we have –and all the issues that come with it! And like us, they were homebodies for the most part, but it was very important to keep up with the Jones.

However, I didn’t know much more than that about my chosen era. I had to start from the ground up. So research included learning as much as I could about the Victorians, London of the 1880s, English peerage, dress, slang, medical technology of the time –Archer is a surgeon- and everything in between.

TQ:  Why did you set the novel in London, England?

Kristen:  If I was going to go Victorian, then London was the natural setting. It was wonderfully atmospheric, haunting and haunted. Thick fog, cobble stone lanes, the sharp whistle of the Watch, and the mournful wail of foghorns…who could resist? :)

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?

Kristen:  Diana Gabaldon has this wonderful classification for characters. The can be onions with many layers that you have to delve through, or nuts that are very hard to crack, or mushrooms that simply pop up fully-formed. In Firelight, most of my characters were mushrooms. Archer and Miranda were extremely easy for me to write because once they started talking, they never stopped. It was simply a matter of keeping up with them.

The hardest character to write was Billy Finger. Not because I didn’t get him as a character but because of his damn slang! Lol. I’d constantly have to stop, check slang dictionaries, find Victorian street slang that worked with what he was saying, and so forth. Hard, but also very fun.

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

Kristen:  I don’t really have favorite scenes –I love them all! Heh. Ahem. What I like best, however, is Archer and Miranda’s verbal banter, which is much like foreplay for them. Watching them match wits and circle around each other was great fun for me.

Then again, there is this scene that includes a certain back alley wall… That scene was bloody hard to get right, and therefore all the more satisfying when I got it down the way I wanted it.

TQ:  What's next?

Kristen:  Up next is Moonglow, Daisy’s story, which includes a mad werewolf of London, and the lone werewolf who must save her, without turning mad as well. Then it is Winterblaze, which takes us deeper into this other, supernatural London and the organization that keeps all these hidden beasties in check.

I also have a short story coming out alongside Firelight. This is a companion piece to Firelight and features Miranda and Archer in the years they were apart.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Kristen:  Thank you so much for having me! I really enjoyed the visit.


About Darkest London

Firelight
Darkest London 1
Forever, February 1, 2012
Mass Market Paberback and eBook, 400 pages

Interview with Kristen Callihan and Giveaway - January 27, 2012
London, 1881
Once the flames are ignited . . .
Miranda Ellis is a woman tormented. Plagued since birth by a strange and powerful gift, she has spent her entire life struggling to control her exceptional abilities. Yet one innocent but irreversible mistake has left her family's fortune decimated and forced her to wed London's most nefarious nobleman.

They will burn for eternity . . .
Lord Benjamin Archer is no ordinary man. Doomed to hide his disfigured face behind masks, Archer knows it's selfish to take Miranda as his bride. Yet he can't help being drawn to the flame-haired beauty whose touch sparks a passion he hasn't felt in a lifetime. When Archer is accused of a series of gruesome murders, he gives in to the beastly nature he has fought so hard to hide from the world. But the curse that haunts him cannot be denied. Now, to save his soul, Miranda will enter a world of dark magic and darker intrigue. For only she can see the man hiding behind the mask.


Ember
Firelight Companion
Forever, February 1, 2012
eBook

Interview with Kristen Callihan and Giveaway - January 27, 2012
After a fire consumes the Ellis family fortune, the beautiful and resourceful Miranda finds herself faced with an impossible dilemma: enter a life of petty crime or watch her family succumb to poverty. But once her fiancée learns of her descent into danger--and of the strange, new powers she's discovered --saving her family may come at the high price of her heart.

When Lord Benjamin Archer's one chance for redemption is destroyed by corrupt London antiquarian Hector Ellis, he vows to take what Ellis values most-his daughter Miranda. Forced to hide his face behind masks, Archer travels the world hoping to escape the curse that plagues him so that he can finally claim his prize.

But once Archer returns home to London, will it be revenge he seeks? Or will the flame-haired beauty ignite new, undeniable desires?


Moonglow
Darkest London 2
Forever, August 1, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

Interview with Kristen Callihan and Giveaway - January 27, 2012
Once the seeds of desire are sown . . .

Finally free of her suffocating marriage, widow Daisy Ellis Craigmore is ready to embrace the pleasures of life that have long been denied her. Yet her new-found freedom is short lived. A string of unexplained murders has brought danger to Daisy's door, forcing her to turn to the most unlikely of saviors . . .

Their growing passion knows no bounds . . .

Ian Ranulf, the Marquis of Northrup, has spent lifetimes hiding his primal nature from London society. But now a vicious killer threatens to expose his secrets. Ian must step out of the shadows and protect the beautiful, fearless Daisy, who awakens in him desires he thought long dead. As their quest to unmask the villain draws them closer together, Daisy has no choice but to reveal her own startling secret, and Ian must face the undeniable truth: Losing his heart to Daisy may be the only way to save his soul.



About Kristen

Interview with Kristen Callihan and Giveaway - January 27, 2012
Kristen Callihan is a child of the 80’s, which means she's worn neon skirts, black-lace gloves, and combat boots (although never all at once) and can quote John Hughes movies with the best of them. A life long daydreamer, she finally realized that the characters in her head needed a proper home and thus hit the keyboard. She believes that falling in love is one of the headiest experiences a person can have, so naturally she writes romance. Her love of superheroes, action movies, and history led her to write historical paranormals. She lives in the Washington D.C. area and, when not writing, looks after two children, one husband, and a dog — the fish can fend for themselves.

Her current manuscript, FIRELIGHT, a gothic retelling of Beauty and the Beast set along the shadowy lanes of Victorian London, will be published by Grand Central Publishing in February of 2012.

Kristen's Links:

Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter


The Giveaway

THE RULES

What:  One commenter will win a copy of Firelight (Darkest London 1) from Forever! US/Canada Only.

How:  Leave a comment answering the following question:

What is/are your favorite fairytale(s)?

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 and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US or Canadian mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Friday, February 3, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*
Melanie's Week in Review - September 7, 2014Melanie's Week in Review - December 29, 2013Interview with Kristen Callihan and Giveaway - January 27, 2012

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