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The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

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Melanie's Week in Review - October 25, 2015




Hello! I would just like to start this post by saying that I have had an excellent week in both the number and quality of books I have read. It has been a bit hit and miss of late and last week I had to suffer the indignity of only finishing 1 book. I am still suffering the ill effects of that terrible admission. So shall I get on with it and tell you what I read?


I bought the The Harvest by Chuck Wendig a while ago and forgot it was waiting for me on my Kindle. This is the final book of the The Heartland Trilogy and Wendig does and excellent job of wrapping up the story of Cael, the Blight and the remains of the Empyrean empire. When we last left Cael he was falling to earth after bringing down the Saranyu flotilla and now a year later he has been saved by none other than the Maize Witch. The entire world has now changed and not really for the better. While there are no longer the Obligations and the Harvest festivals many of the towns are now dead and their inhabitants turned into mechanical creatures (I imagined Cybermen from Dr Who). Cael gathers his friends for a final mission to destroy the remaining war flotilla by finding the one weapon that could kill the corn used to fuel the ships.

I have really enjoyed this series and The Harvest is definitely the best book of the series. I loved Cael and I found it hard to remember that he was only 17. This is as much a story of love, friendship and growing up as it is about defeating the 'bad guys' and there are quite a few of them in this story to defeat. All of Cael's friends are back and some of his not-so friends such as Boyland, the bully from his youth. His love interest Gwennie returns and there is an interesting love triangle that develops with the now powerfully Blight infected Wanda, Cael's obligated. Wendig gets the balance between plot development, characterisation and action perfectly balanced, not just in this instalment but all the way through.  There were so many themes at play - family, racism, facism, love, homophobia to name a few but none were rammed down your throat like in some other novels I have read, especially in fiction for younger readers.  Wendig has blended the different elements along with a richly vibrant world to create an excellent series. I am sad to see Cael disappear from my TBR but completely satisfied with the ending. Even if science fiction or young adult fiction isn't your favourite thing this is a fantastic series.


I was super duper lucky to receive an ARC of Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews. The rest of you will have to wait until the 13th November (a Friday 13th no less!) but I urge you to rush to your computers and order/pre-order Sweep in Peace, the second book in the Innkeeper Chronicles.  That is all I can say at the moment as I am writing a full review which will hopefully be posted soon. You can stare at the cover until then and read my review of Clean Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles 1) here.


I was also very naughty this week by reading 2 books that I am writing full reviews for so again, I can't tell you much. Keep your eyes out for my full review of Lost Causes by Mia Marshall which is the 4th novel in the Elements series. Loved it!  All I am saying.


I hope you have a great week ahead and until next week (and my post Halloween sugar hangover) Happy Reading.



The Harvest
The Heartland Trilogy 3
Skyscape, July 14, 2015
Hardcover, Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 437 pages

Blood will water the corn...

It’s been a year since the Saranyu flotilla fell from the sky, and life in the Heartland has changed. Gone are the Obligations and the Harvest Home festivals. In their place is a spate of dead towns, the former inhabitants forced into mechanical bodies to serve the Empyrean—and crush the Heartland.

When Cael awakens from a Blightborn sleep, miles away from the world he remembers, he sets out across the Heartland to gather his friends for one last mission. As the mechanicals, a war flotilla, and a pack of feral Empyrean girls begin to close in on the Heartland, there isn’t much time to make their next move. But if they can uncover a secret weapon in time, Cael and his friends might just find themselves with the power to save the world—or destroy it—resting in their hands.


Melanie's Week in Review - August 17, 2014


Melanie's Week in Review - August 17, 2014


Well after the embarrassing events of last week (only having finished one book) I stepped it up a bit this week by reading 2 and one short story. The short story was so short its not worth telling you about so I will focus this week's WIR on full length novels. So what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - August 17, 2014Qwill very kindly pointed out that Engraved, the 5th in the Cherry St Croix series was available on NetGalley. Needless to say I dropped everything else and rushed off to request it. I will be writing a full review of Engraved (Carina Press, 8/11/2014)  so keep your eye out for it. It has already been released so if you are a diehard fan of the series then its available at all good retailers (and perhaps some not so good ones!) - eBook format only. I can't say too much other than I really enjoyed it and, despite all the action, Engraved has some relatively pleasant moments for Cherry who seems to go to hell and back (and then back again) during every book.

Melanie's Week in Review - August 17, 2014Next on my list to read was Blightborn by Chuck Wendig (Skyscape, 7/29/14). This is the 2nd novel in his dystopian YA Heartland Trilogy. Both my husband and I really enjoyed Under The Empyrean Sky. This trilogy is no less harrowing than many of Wendig's other books but he can really write convincingly from a teenager's POV.

Cael is back and still on the run with his friends Rigo and Lane. Cael is determined to rescue his sister Merelda and his girlfriend Gwennie who has found that life as a lottery winner on the flotilla isn't as glamorous as it was made out to be. Chasing Cael are Boyland Jnr, his obligated Wanda, Rigo's father, as well as, a mysterious hobo who is out for revenge. The story is told from several different POVs including those of Cael, Gwennie, Merelda, Cael's friends Rigo and Lane plus a few scenes with the misfit Wanda. This works well as the action occurs both on the flotilla and in the Heartland where Cael and friends have been caught up in a terrorist group called the Sleeping Dogs. Action and different shades of friendship are all mixed together with the folklore, mythology and religion of the Heartland. The Maize Witch is introduced who is the Heartland's version of the bogeyman. She is used to scare young kids into thinking they will be turned into 'the blighted' those poor individuals who are part human and part plant. Is she myth or is she real? Well you will have to read it to find out.

This series is another great example of Wendig's prodigious imagination. In Blightborn we learn more about the engaging characters from book 1 along with some new characters who vacillate between being bad and not so bad or bad and very very bad. You are always kept guessing what will happen next to this plucky group of teenagers who are tied to one another through bonds of love and friendship. This is a great series and even if you aren't a fan of books aimed at younger readers. There is really something in this series for everyone.

Well that is it for me. One more book than last week and hope to keep whittling down my TBR. I wish you all a happy week in reading.


Melanie's Week in Review - December 15, 2013


Melanie's Week in Review - December 15, 2013


Hello everyone! Hope you had a good week. I had a very busy one at work with loads of interviews (the interviewer not the interviewee). I think I could offer courses on interview technique. My two top tips for anyone looking for a new job is not to tell the interviewer they are wrong and never, ever swear in an interview. So a week of lots of work stress I thought I would need to take it easy on the reading front. I am quite surprised this was not the case. So what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - December 15, 2013
I started the week nice and easy with a short story  - The Last Vampire by J.T. Geissinger. If you been following my reviews or my WIR (Week in Review) you will know that I have read and enjoyed Geissinger's Night Prowler series and this short story did not disappoint. The story is told through a love letter from one vampire to a soon to be other vampire. I think that Geissinger excels at writing sniffy, heart wrenching love letters as this was quite reminiscent but significantly longer than the one at the start of Shadow's Edge (Night Prowler 1). I loved it but wonder how it will continue into a series. If you like this author then The Last Vampire is a must read.

Melanie's Week in Review - December 15, 2013
I then hit my Kindle to look for a full length book to go to next. From my ever growing TBR I went for Under the Empyrean Sky (Skyscape, July 2013) which is the first in the Heartland Trilogy YA series by Chuck Wendig. I love this author. He is a prolific writer and seems to churn out a couple of books a year....in different series and in different genres or styles. His Miriam Black series is as addictive as the drug 'blue blazes' from his Mookie Pearl series. Under the Empyrean Sky is a dystopian story in which the earth has been scorched and only corn will grow. The rich and lucky live on flotillas high in the air while everyone else scratch out a living on earth, fighting for survival against both the corn and mutating cancers. The story focuses on the seventeen year old Cael McAvoy who yearns for a better life. Cael wants something better from himself and it burns like a fever through is body. His life, and that of his friends take a big change (not necessarily for the better) when they come across a secret garden, a garden that shouldn't exist amongst the corn.

This is a fantastic read and I loved every minute of Cael's story. Unlike many of Wendig's other characters, Cael is likeable and it isn't hard to feel sympathy for his plight and of those around him. I thought the plot was a tiny bit reminiscent of Suzanne Collin's Hunger Games series with the elite having everything and the poor having nothing but despair. I am really looking forward to finding out what happens next and I tip my imaginary hat at Wendig's ability to change genre and his ability to write such an engaging tale.

I then started...but literally only just started Clockwork Fairytales: Collection of Steampunk Fables.  This is an anthology of stories by such authors as Philippa Ballantine, Kat Richardson, James C. Bassett and many more. I have really only read one story so will have to will have to share with you what I thought another time.

Melanie's Week in Review - December 15, 2013I needed something quick to read that wasn't going to break my interviewed out brain so I turned to Eternal Kiss of Darkness (Night Huntress World 2) something I had read before. You might remember I re-read two of Jeaniene Frost books a few weeks ago. I couldn't really remember how Mencheres came on the scene so went back and read his story.  I haven't enjoyed it as much as the others I think mainly due to Mencheres. I think he is a bit overly noble and perfect. Plus he was a pharoh and born in something like 2000 BC? I don't really like it when a character is that old as it seems too preposterous. Overall, this was a great time filler and I appreciated having a re-read that 're-read' so quickly.

If you read my WIR last week I said I had planned to give you my thoughts on Three Lives of Tokomi Ishikawa by Benjamin Constable in a full review but have decided against it. This is largely due to the book not actually being speculative fiction but almost more importantly, I didn't really like it. I don't like to write DNF reviews, perhaps more than I reading a DNF book! I did finish this book but I only read it due to my desire to see if it got any better. The story centres around Ben Constable (yes, the author names his character after himself) and his friendship with Tokomi who he believes has committed suicide. Tokomi has sent him on a treasure hunt, leaving him clues that take him around Paris and to New York. Ben soon realises that there is a lot he doesn't know about his good friend.

I couldn't figure out who annoyed me more - Ben Constable or Tokomi Ishikawa. Both were completely and utterly self obsessed with not one ounce of moral fiber. Sometimes this type of character lends itself well to the plot but in this case I was just left thinking 'who cares' and 'what is this book about?. I am still not sure what message Constable was trying to make and part of me wishes he hadn't bothered.

All in all I thought I did quite well considering at one point I was certain I would only get one book read. I am keeping my fingers crossed for a more productive week next week. Until then Happy Reading. 
Melanie's Week in Review - October 25, 2015Melanie's Week in Review - August 17, 2014Melanie's Week in Review - December 15, 2013

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