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A blog about books and other things speculative

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Melanie's Month in Review - September 2019


Melanie's Month in Review - September 2019


Bye bye September the month of sunshine and rain.....lots and lots of rain. It has been one of those months that you get to spend the last days of summer sun reading outside and then others tucked up in bed reading while it chucks it down outside. All in all a good month to read some books.  So without further adieu what did I read?


Melanie's Month in Review - September 2019Sorry folks...its confession time. I have been very very tardy in posting my review of Sapphire Flames. I am ashamed to say that I got the eArc in May (sssshhhh don't tell Qwill) and I have yet to review it. I meant to do it in July right before it was published and forgot, I meant to post it August and again forgot. I am working on better late than never.

Book 4 of the Hidden Legacy series - Sapphire Flames stars Catalina Baylor - the younger sister of the heroine for the first three books. Catalina has a lot on her plate - she is a relatively new head of her house, the 3 year embargo on any other House messing with House Baylor is almost up and now her friend's mother and sister are murdered. Things get more complicated when the hunky Alessandro Sagredo turns up expectantly and turns Catalina's world upside down. A murder to solve, a nefarious organisation to bring down and a hot Italian to smooch. It's a hard day at the office at Baylor Investigations.

I liked Sapphire Flames but perhaps didn't love it like the others books of the series. I have read the book a few times between the e-Arc and the published version but I have never been able to put my finger on exactly what it is that didn't quite work for me. There is a lot of action and Catalina can definitely hold her own. The romance between Catalina and Alessandro is sweet but lacks some of the bite as the romance between Nevada and Connor. I am waiting for Caesar to come back.


Melanie's Month in Review - September 2019My audio book of choice for September was Philip Pullman's La Belle Sauvage which is book 1 in the Book of Dust series. The story is set approximately 20 years before the events of the Golden Compass. The hero of this story is the 11 year old Malcolm Polstead. Malcolm has a fairly normal life - helping out in his mom and dad's pub, helping the sisters in the local convent and hanging out with his daemon Asta in his beloved canoe 'La Belle Sauvage'.  When the little baby Lyra comes under the care of the sisters Malcolm can't comprehend how much his life is about to change. Danger is on ever corner and Malcolm will sacrifice everything to keep baby Lyra safe.

I LOVED La Belle Sauvage. I bought the audio version almost 2 years ago and didn't feel like listening to it until now. After the first sentence I was amazed that I hadn't listened to it earlier. I was gripped from start to finish. I can't imagine a better narrator than Michael Sheen. He really brings the young Malcolm and his daemon Asta to life. His west country accent is sublime! The story was very good but I am not sure if I would have been as gripped had I read the story rather than listen to it. If you were a fan of the first series and haven't had a chance to read La Belle Sauvage then get the audio version asap.


Melanie's Month in Review - September 2019My next two books are courtesy of NetGalley. I will start with The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man David Hutchinson. Alex Doolan is just a normal guy - his writing career has flatlined, he can't make his rent and things are looking bleak until the multi-billionaire Stanislaw Clayton turns up and offers him a deal he can't refuse - writing a book about Clayton's big research project - Sioux Creek Supercollidor. Clayton owns not just the research station but the whole town and everyone in it. Alex thought that was weird until weirder things things start to happen. Unfortunately for Alex he is right in the epi-center. Will he come out unscathed? Read it and find out.

This is a slow burn action story and Alex is the perfect anti-hero. Hutchinson teases the reader until the very end. Luckily this is a quick and easy read so you aren't kept trying to figure out what is going on for too long. Hutchinson takes a fairly mundane character in the form of failed writer Alex Doolan and after a series of bizarre events he turns into the reluctant hero of the story. As much as I liked the story the pace is almost too slow. Nearly 80% of the book is setting up the last 20% and there really isn't a lot of character development. I still enjoyed it but think the pacing needs some work.


Melanie's Month in Review - September 2019The final book I have to tell you about is by Charlaine Harris - An Easy Death which is the first in the Gunnie Rose series. The story is set in a post apocalyptic United States where magic is used but magic users are not trusted. Lizbeth Rose is a gun for hire with a fearsome reputation. When Lizbeth is  hired by two Russian wizards to find a minor magic user who just so happens to be a relative of Grigori Rasputin she doesn't realise this might just be her last job. A perilous journey across the lawless southwestern States for Lizbeth and her two clients. Her guns have never let her down and she is determined to get everyone through this alive.

An Easy Death is an apt title for this story as there is a lot of death and the killing starts from the first few pages and continues all the way through. There isn't a lot of character development as the story focuses on the action rather than providing Lizbeth's backstory or a history of what happened to result in the States being a fractured collection of mixed colonies. Harris likes to put her heroine's through a lot and that is definitely the case for Lizbeth.  She barely survives to the end of each chapter let alone to the end of the story. Did I like part 1 of Gunnie Rose?  hmmmmm I am not sure. I didn't dislike it but I didn't really warm to Lizbeth as a character.  This is one of the downsides of focusing on action rather than on the characters as it makes them rather one dimensional. I will continue to book 2 if I am able to source it from NetGalley but I don't think I would pay to read further in this series.


Well that is it for me and September and my September reads. Stay tuned for what I read in October. Book 2 of The Book of Dust series is out!  Hurrah!!!  One benefit of taking 2 years to read book 1...it means I don't have to wait that long. Until next time Happy Reading.





Sapphire Flames
A Hidden Legacy Novel 4
Avon, August 27, 2019
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Melanie's Month in Review - September 2019
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews comes an enthralling new trilogy set in the Hidden Legacy world, where magic means power, and family bloodlines are the new currency of society…

In a world where magic is the key to power and wealth, Catalina Baylor is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, and the Head of her House. Catalina has always been afraid to use her unique powers, but when her friend’s mother and sister are murdered, Catalina risks her reputation and safety to unravel the mystery.

But behind the scenes powerful forces are at work, and one of them is Alessandro Sagredo, the Italian Prime who was once Catalina’s teenage crush. Dangerous and unpredictable, Alessandro’s true motives are unclear, but he’s drawn to Catalina like a moth to a flame.

To help her friend, Catalina must test the limits of her extraordinary powers, but doing so may cost her both her House–and her heart.





La Belle Sauvage
The Book of Dust 1
June 4, 2019
Trade Paperback, 480 pages
 eBook, October 19, 2017

Melanie's Month in Review - September 2019
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Philip Pullman returns to the parallel world of His Dark Materials–soon to be an HBO original series starring Dafne Keen, Ruth Wilson, James McAvoy, and Lin-Manuel Miranda–to expand on the story of Lyra, “one of fantasy’s most indelible heroines” (The New York Times Magazine).

Don’t miss Volume II of The Book of Dust: The Secret Commonwealth

Malcolm Polstead and his daemon, Asta, are used to overhearing news and the occasional scandal at the inn run by his family. But during a winter of unceasing rain, Malcolm finds a mysterious object—and finds himself in grave danger.

Inside the object is a cryptic message about something called Dust; and it’s not long before Malcolm is approached by the spy for whom this message was actually intended. When she asks Malcolm to keep his eyes open, he begins to notice suspicious characters everywhere: the explorer Lord Asriel, clearly on the run; enforcement agents from the Magisterium; a gyptian named Coram with warnings just for Malcolm; and a beautiful woman with an evil monkey for a daemon. All are asking about the same thing: a girl—just a baby—named Lyra.

Lyra is at the center of a storm, and Malcolm will brave any peril, and make shocking sacrifices, to bring her safely through it.

“Too few things in our world are worth a seventeen-year wait: The Book of Dust is one of them.” —The Washington Post
 
“The book is full of wonder. . . . Truly thrilling.” —The New York Times
 
“People will love the first volume of Philip Pullman’s new trilogy with the same helpless vehemence that stole over them when The Golden Compass came out.” —Slate





The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man
Solaris, September 3, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

Melanie's Month in Review - September 2019
A thrilling science fiction masterwork of experimental disaster from the bestselling author of the Fractured Europe series The Guardian labelled ‘Magnificent’.

When Alex Dolan is hired by multibillionaire Stanislaw Clayton to write a book about the Sioux Crossing Supercollider, it seems like a dream job.

Then something goes wrong at the site. Very wrong.

After the incident, Dolan finds himself changed, and the only one who can stop the disaster from destroying us all.





An Easy Death
Gunnie Rose 1
Gallery / Saga Press, July 30, 2019
Mass Market Paperback, 336 pages
   Hardcover and eBook,October 2, 2018

Melanie's Month in Review - September 2019
“Immersive, involving, suspenseful, and intriguing, with a main character you’ll love.” —Lee Child, #1 internationally bestselling author of the Jack Reacher novels

“When a master of her craft offers to tell you a story, let her. The results are dazzling.” —Seanan McGuire, New York Times bestselling author of the Alex, Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Award-winning Wayward Children series.

The beloved #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Sookie Stackhouse series, the inspiration for HBO’s True Blood, and the Midnight Crossroad trilogy adapted for NBC’s Midnight, Texas, has written a taut new thriller—the first in the Gunnie Rose series—centered on a young gunslinging mercenary, Lizbeth Rose.

Set in a fractured United States, in the southwestern country now known as Texoma. A world where magic is acknowledged but mistrusted, especially by a young gunslinger named Lizbeth Rose. Battered by a run across the border to Mexico Lizbeth Rose takes a job offer from a pair of Russian wizards to be their local guide and gunnie. For the wizards, Gunnie Rose has already acquired a fearsome reputation and they’re at a desperate crossroad, even if they won’t admit it. They’re searching through the small border towns near Mexico, trying to locate a low-level magic practitioner, Oleg Karkarov. The wizards believe Oleg is a direct descendant of Grigori Rasputin, and that Oleg’s blood can save the young tsar’s life.

As the trio journey through an altered America, shattered into several countries by the assassination of Franklin Roosevelt and the Great Depression, they’re set on by enemies. It’s clear that a powerful force does not want them to succeed in their mission. Lizbeth Rose is a gunnie who has never failed a client, but her oath will test all of her skills and resolve to get them all out alive.

Melanie’s Month in Review - November 2018


Melanie’s Month in Review  - November 2018


Well hello again.  I can’t believe another month has passed me by and that there are only a few more weeks left in 2018! Does time really fly? Or at least it seems to. Well I won’t delay any further and let you know what I have been reading.

So I am going to start this post with a song...lucky for you that you will be reading it rather than listening to me sing! This was one of my favourite songs from Sesame Street. I am not sure they still sing it but here is the first verse and then by the end let’s see if you can figure out why I have been singing it in my head throughout November!

One of these things is not like the others
One of these things just doesn't belong
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?

Melanie’s Month in Review  - November 2018
The first book I am going to tell you about is Cogheart, the first in the Cogheart Adventures by Peter Bunzl. Set in a clockwork England, Lily’s life has been turned upside down when her father - the renowned inventor of automatons and other mechanical inventions - has gone missing. Lily finds herself on the run from the very men that caused her father’s disappearance. Luckily for Lily she is joined on her dangerous adventure by the son of the local clockmaker and her father’s mechanical fox Malkin. Together they take a hair raising trip across the country to find her father and save the day.

This is the perfect book for 8-12 year olds. It has adventure, humour, cool clockwork automatons and a mystery to solve. There is a murder of one of the secondary characters so if the reader is especially sensitive then maybe skip by this one scene. Otherwise, it has the correct pitch for a younger reader and pace. It is however a tad long, even for an alleged grown up reader such as myself! This would be a great gift for a girls as Lily is a strong and brave female lead.


Melanie’s Month in Review  - November 2018
Brandon Sanderson’s new series - Skyward (the first instalment is of the same name) is set in space on a near barren planet where the remainder of humanity have been trapped. They are under constant attack by an alien race called the Krell. The teenager Spensa has spent her young life in the shadow of her father’s life. He was a fighter pilot and a hero until during one battle he fled was killed by his squadron and branded a coward. Spensa and her family suffered with the stigma of father’s cowardice yet she wants nothing more than to follow him into the skies. As luck turns out Spensa is given the opportunity to learn how to be a fighter pilot and prove her father wasn't a coward. When she discovers an abandoned ship buried in a cave she knows that this ship, a sentient ship no less, is her escape and her way to see the stars.

Sanderson’s fantastic imagination is evident in his description of the debris laden planet Detritus. He does borrow from human folklore, history and literature as a frame of reference for the teenage Spensa - she wants to be a warrior like Boudicca or Genghis Khan. She acts in almost every way like typical teenager - impulsive, quick to temper, a bit self-centered. I did have to keep reminding myself that Spensa was a teenager every time she did something impetuous or immature....which was quite often. I found her a bit irritating towards the end. While Skyward is aimed for the younger reader the pace was a bit slow in parts and it was quite long. At a guess 80% of the story sets up the last few chapters and that is why I felt it dragged along. While I am unlikely to continue with this series because of the pace I would still recommend it for young adults.


Melanie’s Month in Review  - November 2018
Diamond Fire, by Ilona Andrews is a novella set in the Hidden Legacy world. Nevada Baylor and Connor Rogan are about to get married and her sisters Catalina and Arabella have taken responsibility for organising the wedding.  No mean feat especially when the extremely valuable diamond tiara, handed down by Connor’s mother, has gone missing and someone has poisoned the wedding cake. Catalina is tasked with not only ensuring the bride makes it down the aisle but also to figure out who has stolen the tiara, get it back and all without Nevada finding out.

I enjoyed this novella and enjoyed the development of Catalina as a character. I even bought the Audible version (preferred the narrator for this one). I don’t want to say too much other than if you enjoy the series then don’t miss out on Diamond Fire.


Melanie’s Month in Review  - November 2018
The final books I am going to tell you about are The Horn trilogy by J. Kathleen Cheney. I have only shown one of the book covers Oathbreaker (all covers below), but in fact I read all three including Original and Overseer. This series is set in the same world as Dreaming Death where families live in underground fortresses and the children grow up and marry into their own age groups. Oathbreaker focuses on Amal Horn who is the leader of the Horn fortress and what happens when her year group - the twenty-sevens -  come across a stranger who is searching for the long ago abandoned Salonen fortress. If the fortress falls into the wrong hands it might have to be destroyed. The stranger Daylan upsets the close knit Horn community not just by being there but what he represents. Book 2 - Original is told more from Daylan's perspective and the Horn's plan to find the Salonen fortress. By this novel Amal and Daylan are a couple and part of the plot centres on their relationship and what it means for the community. It's not until Overseer that the lost fortress even features as a mainstay of the plot. Daylan's 'relatives' turn up at the Horn fortress and it is clear how far the Cince (the enemy) are prepared to go to get their hands on the Salonen fortress.

I enjoyed these novels for the most part but the characters aren't as interesting as those in Cheney's other novels. They are a quick and easy reads and I had the whole series finished in just a few days. The abandoned fortress - according to the description  - doesn't really feature until the end of book 3 which I thought was a bit odd. The series is really more about the love story between Daylan and Amal. If you need something to read then give The Horn trilogy a go, but see my reviews of Cheney's other novels too.


Well that is it for me for November. Have you guess why I have been singing songs from Sesame Street? Can you tell which book is not like the others?  Leave me a comment with your guess. Until December Happy Reading!





Cogheart
Cogheart Trilogy 1
Jolly Fish Press, February 12, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 368
  8 - 12 Years
  (Published in the UK by Usborne, Sept. 1, 2016)

Melanie’s Month in Review  - November 2018
Thirteen-year-old Lily Harman always dreamed of adventure. A strong-willed girl, Lily felt trapped in a life of Victorian stuffiness at her prim boarding school. But after her father-a famous inventor-disappears on a routine zeppelin flight, Lily's life gets turned upside down.

Now cared for by her guardian, the heartless Madame Verdigris, Lily is quite certain that she's being watched. Mysterious, silver-eyed men are lurking in the shadows, just waiting for their chance to strike. But what could they possibly want from her?

There are rumors, Lily learns, that her father had invented the most valuable invention ever made-a perpetual motion machine. But if he made such a miraculous discovery, he certainly never told Lily. And all he left behind is a small box-with no key, no hinges.

With the help of a clockmaker's son, Robert, and her mechanimal fox, Malkin, Lily escapes London in search of the one person who might know something about her father's disappearance-and what he left behind.





Skyward
Skyward 1
Delacorte Press, November 6, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 528 pages
  Young Adult (Ages 12 and Up, Grades 7 and Up)

Melanie’s Month in Review  - November 2018
From Brandon Sanderson, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Reckoners series, Words of Radiance, and the internationally bestselling Mistborn series, comes the first book in an epic new series about a girl who dreams of becoming a pilot in a dangerous world at war for humanity’s future.

Spensa’s world has been under attack for decades. Now pilots are the heroes of what’s left of the human race, and becoming one has always been Spensa’s dream. Since she was a little girl, she has imagined soaring skyward and proving her bravery. But her fate is intertwined with her father’s–a pilot himself who was killed years ago when he abruptly deserted his team, leaving Spensa’s chances of attending flight school at slim to none.

No one will let Spensa forget what her father did, yet fate works in mysterious ways. Flight school might be a long shot, but she is determined to fly. And an accidental discovery in a long-forgotten cavern might just provide her with a way to claim the stars.





Diamond Fire
A Hidden Legacy Novella
Avon Impulse, November 6, 2018
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 160 pages

Melanie’s Month in Review  - November 2018
Nevada Frida Baylor and Connor Ander Rogan cordially invite you to join their wedding celebration. Summoning, weather manipulation, and other magical activities strictly forbidden.

Catalina Baylor is looking forward to wearing her maid of honor dress and watching her older sister walk down the aisle.  Then the wedding planner gets escorted off the premises, the bride’s priceless tiara disappears, and Rogan's extensive family overruns his mother’s home. Someone is cheating, someone is lying, and someone is plotting murder.

To make this wedding happen, Catalina will have to do the thing she fears most: use her magic. But she’s a Baylor and there’s nothing she wouldn't do for her sister's happiness. Nevada will have her fairy tale wedding, even if Catalina has to tear the mansion apart brick by brick to get it done.





Oathbreaker
The Horn 1
EQP Books (December 12, 2016)
eBook, 326 pages
  Also available in Trade Paperback

Melanie’s Month in Review  - November 2018
The chief of the Oathbreakers, Amal Horn is one of only a handful of people aware of the true power the abandoned underground Fortress of Salonen holds. The Cince Empire wants its secrets, though, and will do anything to get someone inside. When the Horn find a stranger trespassing on the glacier below it, they realize the Cince have formulated a new plan of attack. Now the Horn Family must decide whether to wake the sleeping Fortress so it can defend itself against the Cince…or kill it forever.



Original
Horn 2
EQP Books, April 27, 2017
eBook, 268
  Also available in Trade Paperback

Melanie’s Month in Review  - November 2018
Amal, Lady Horn, has always been called rash. She makes decisions far too quickly for the elders of the Horn Family. Bringing home a mysterious foreigner—one who has ties to her people’s ancient enemies, the Cince—is bad enough, but now she’s taken him as her lover. She might even want more from him.

Dalyan is an Original, a copy of a man long dead. The elders of the Horn Family thought they could use his singular knowledge to resurrect an ancient Fortress, a sentient underground city long abandoned by its people. But when Dalyan can’t access the memoires of the man from whom he’s copied, the elders begin to ask whether he’s an unfortunate liability instead. For Amal’s sake, Dalyan is determined to prove them wrong.

Together Amal and Dalyan work to build a coalition to raise the hidden Fortress, but they’ll need the help of Amal’s friends, of the Oathbreakers spread across the country, and—if possible—the king himself.



Overseer
The Horn 3
EQP Books, October 19, 2017
eBook, 328 pages
  Also available in Trade Paperback

Melanie’s Month in Review  - November 2018
Those who hold the secrets of the Fortresses can remake the world...

A new player has arrived at Horn Keep, and it’s up to Amal to decide whether he’s the key to keeping her people safe, or the threat they’ve feared the most. Aulis is, like Dalyan, a version of the same long-dead engineer, a Founder of the Salonen Fortress. That alone should make him worth keeping alive.

But he’s served the Cince Empire for almost two decades, the very people who want to steal Salonen Fortress. Now Amal is faced with the task of deciding whether he’s even capable of telling the truth, whether he can lie to Dalyan. The question is…are they the same man or not?

And is buying Aulis’ loyalty worth the risk of giving him the one thing he wants more than life itself? It’s within Amal’s power, but she knows that doing so will forever change her people’s world…

Melanie's Month in Review - September 2018


Melanie's Month in Review - September 2018


Welcome to my very first Month in Review. If you have been following my Week in Review then hopefully you still also enjoy my brand new monthly post. If you are new then I hope you enjoy hearing about what I have been reading.

September has been a nightmare on my work/life balance and as a result I haven't had a lot spare time to read. I have however, read a couple of 'goodies' and maybe a not soo goody to tell you about. I also had the opportunity to treat you to not 1 but 2 full reviews. Yipee!

I am going to start this post with a review of the audio books that I have been listening to. I have really gotten into audio books after not really enjoying them for years. This may or may not have something to do with my love of all things Hugh D'Ambray and the perfectly cast narrator Steve West.


Melanie's Month in Review - September 2018 Melanie's Month in Review - September 2018

Despite the fact that I have read and re-read White Hot and Wildfire by Ilona Andrews I decided to try the audio versions, narrated by Andrew's favourite narrator Renee Raudman. So I have listened to quite a few of Andrews' audiobooks over the last few months and I wasn't convinced that Raudman would make as convincing a Nevada Baylor as she did Dina Demille. I quite enjoyed these two instalments of the Hidden Legacy Trilogy. I thought that Raudman's vocal range worked well for both male and female characters and she didn't have the southern twang that she sported in previous recordings. The pace of the recording worked well and built the drama and action of the story. If you haven't read the books in this series then give the audio books a go.


Melanie's Month in Review - September 2018
Another fantastic audio release is David Sedaris' Calypso. We get a hilarious glimpse of Sedaris' life as he hits middle age. This book takes you from 'lol'ling about one of Sedaris' observations to feeling quite mournful as he recounts the events following the suicide of his sister Tiffany. It is a book of highs and lows and really makes you respect Sedaris' keen powers of observation and self deprecating sense of humour.

America - you are soo lucky to have Sedaris as one of your own but we have him now! Safely picking up roadside garbage in Sussex. You can't have him back!


Melanie's Month in Review - September 2018
I discovered that book 5 of Dannika Dark's Crossbreed series had been released and decided to give it a read. Blackout follows almost immediately after the events of book 4. Raven has no memory of her relationship with the vamp Poe and Shepherd struggles with the knowledge he has a child. More crossbreed madness is on horizon for the Keystone gang when a blackout hits the city and breed leaders end up dead. Keystone have a mission to do and the clock is ticking.

As the series progresses Dark has made the decision to increase the number of POV chapters, randomly swapping between characters but still focusing on Raven's experiences. There are only two words I can use to describe Blackout and they are 'hot and mess'. The random swapping of POV chapters really disrupted the story and the story itself wasn't that coherent in the first place. There is very little to the 'whose behind all the bad stuff' mystery and I predicted every major plot point. I decided not to continue with this series as I just don't care what happens to Raven or the other ragtag Keystone crew.


Melanie's Month in Review - September 2018
The final book I have to tell you about is Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett. I actually started this book quite a while ago and finally decided to pay it some attention and finish it. Qwill reviewed this book back in August so check out what she thought.

Foundryside took me by surprise. Usually for me, Jackson's stories hit me with a big KAPOW from the first few pages and I am in there, loving the characters and loving the story. This time, it took me a little longer to warm up to Sancia and Gregor. I found it difficult, at first, to know what was going on and how the characters and civilization all fit together. Because I wasn't immediately engaged I got distracted by other books and left Foundryside for several weeks. In retrospect this actually worked in my favour. While it took me a little bit longer to get into the story once I did I was completely hooked. Sancia was a little bit different and her past experiences were horrific but shaped her into the hero she didn't think she could be. Bennett added some really good twists to make sure that we all paid attention and didn't feel the need the spoon feed us with lots of backstory. In the end I thoroughly enjoyed Foundryside and while it will take quite a bit for it to eclipse his Divine Cities series for me I am willing to it a go.


This isn't quite it for my September reads  - be sure to check out my full reviews of Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews and Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven. Well folks here endeth my first MMiR. I hope you enjoyed it. See you in October!





White Hot
A Hidden Legacy Novel
HarperAudio, May 30, 2017

Melanie's Month in Review - September 2018
The Hidden Legacy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews continues as Nevada and Rogan navigate a world where magic is the norm…and their relationship burns hot

Nevada Baylor has a unique and secret skill—she knows when people are lying—and she's used that magic (along with plain, hard work) to keep her colorful and close-knit family's detective agency afloat. But her new case pits her against the shadowy forces that almost destroyed the city of Houston once before, bringing Nevada back into contact with Connor "Mad" Rogan.

Rogan is a billionaire Prime—the highest rank of magic user—and as unreadable as ever, despite Nevada’s “talent.” But there’s no hiding the sparks between them. Now that the stakes are even higher, both professionally and personally, and their foes are unimaginably powerful, Rogan and Nevada will find that nothing burns like ice …





Wildfire
A Hidden Legacy Novel
HarperAudio, July 25, 2017

Melanie's Month in Review - September 2018
From Ilona Andrews, #1 New York Times bestselling author, the thrilling conclusion to her Hidden Legacy series, as Nevada and Rogan grapple with a power beyond even their imagination…

Nevada Baylor can’t decide which is more frustrating—harnessing her truthseeker abilities or dealing with Connor “Mad” Rogan and their evolving relationship. Yes, the billionaire Prime is helping her navigate the complex magical world in which she’s become a crucial player—and sometimes a pawn—but she also has to deal with his ex-fiancée, whose husband has disappeared, and whose damsel-in-distress act is wearing very, very thin.

Rogan faces his own challenges, too, as Nevada’s magical rank has made her a desirable match for other Primes. Controlling his immense powers is child’s play next to controlling his conflicting emotions. And now he and Nevada are confronted by a new threat within her own family. Can they face this together? Or is their world about to go up in smoke?





Calypso
Hachette Audio, May 29, 2018

Melanie's Month in Review - September 2018
David Sedaris returns with his most deeply personal and darkly hilarious book.

If you’ve ever laughed your way through David Sedaris’s cheerfully misanthropic stories, you might think you know what you’re getting with Calypso. You’d be wrong.

When he buys a beach house on the Carolina coast, Sedaris envisions long, relaxing vacations spent playing board games and lounging in the sun with those he loves most. And life at the Sea Section, as he names the vacation home, is exactly as idyllic as he imagined, except for one tiny, vexing realization: it’s impossible to take a vacation from yourself.

With Calypso, Sedaris sets his formidable powers of observation toward middle age and mortality. Make no mistake: these stories are very, very funny–it’s a book that can make you laugh ’til you snort, the way only family can. Sedaris’s powers of observation have never been sharper, and his ability to shock readers into laughter unparalleled. But much of the comedy here is born out of that vertiginous moment when your own body betrays you and you realize that the story of your life is made up of more past than future.

This is beach reading for people who detest beaches, required reading for those who loathe small talk and love a good tumor joke. Calypso is simultaneously Sedaris’s darkest and warmest book yet–and it just might be his very best.





Blackout
Crossbreed 5
Dannika Dark, August 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 341 pages

Melanie's Month in Review - September 2018
The fate of millions rests on Keystone when they embark on their most important assignment of all…

After what was supposed to be a simple job, Raven and Christian uncover a sinister plot against the higher authority, and the stakes are as high as the body count. The assassins are merciless, with anyone who stands in their way becoming collateral damage. Meanwhile, Raven is still struggling to make sense of her feelings for Christian following a memory wipe.

During a blackout, the city erupts into chaos. With Breed on the brink of war, Keystone has only twenty-four hours to complete a secret mission. Raven seeks help from the most unlikely of places, but at what cost?

It’s a race against time to save lives in this explosive installment of the Crossbreed series.





Foundryside
The Founders Trilogy 1
Crown, August 21, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 512 pages

Melanie's Month in Review - September 2018
“The exciting beginning of a promising new epic fantasy series. Prepare for ancient mysteries, innovative magic, and heart-pounding heists.”—Brandon Sanderson

“Complex characters, magic that is tech and vice versa, a world bound by warring trade dynasties: Bennett will leave you in awe once you remember to breathe!”–Tamora Pierce

In a city that runs on industrialized magic, a secret war will be fought to overwrite reality itself–the first in a dazzling new series from City of Stairs author Robert Jackson Bennett.

Sancia Grado is a thief, and a damn good one. And her latest target, a heavily guarded warehouse on Tevanne’s docks, is nothing her unique abilities can’t handle.

But unbeknownst to her, Sancia’s been sent to steal an artifact of unimaginable power, an object that could revolutionize the magical technology known as scriving. The Merchant Houses who control this magic–the art of using coded commands to imbue everyday objects with sentience–have already used it to transform Tevanne into a vast, remorseless capitalist machine. But if they can unlock the artifact’s secrets, they will rewrite the world itself to suit their aims.

Now someone in those Houses wants Sancia dead, and the artifact for themselves. And in the city of Tevanne, there’s nobody with the power to stop them.

To have a chance at surviving—and at stopping the deadly transformation that’s under way—Sancia will have to marshal unlikely allies, learn to harness the artifact’s power for herself, and undergo her own transformation, one that will turn her into something she could never have imagined.

Melanie's Week in Review - July 30, 2017


Melanie's Week in Review - July 30, 2017


I can't believe that the summer is half way over. Waaaaaa! August is right around the corner and with that it means I am one step closer to having to wear tights (aka nylons) and long sleeves. Waaaa x 2! To help me through the trials of the passing seasons I turned to my Kindle. So what did I read?


Melanie's Week in Review - July 30, 2017
**** Avert your eyes if you haven't read White Hot by Ilona Andrews****


I did a little 'whoop whoop' when the third and final instalment of the Hidden Legacy trilogy - Wildfire - appeared on my Kindle. When I first heard the news that Andrews wasn't able to publish book 2 - White Hot - last year I was a tiny big put out even though both books would be published this year. It couldn't have worked out better. I loved reading both books within weeks of each other.
Wildfire starts immediately after the events of book 2. Nevada is back from her mini holiday to deal with the fact that her evil grandmother knows where the family live. There is only one alternative which is to form a House but that brings its own problems and could jeopardize her romance with Mad Rogan. When Nevada arrives home to find Rogan's ex sitting at her kitchen table she didn't think things could get worse....but it does...waaay way worse. On the trail of a kidnapper Nevada and Rogan are put to the test and not just magically. Can their love survive? Or more importantly will they survive? Read it and find out.

I loved the Hidden Legacy series. I wasn't sure I was going to when I first read the description of the series but it only took a few pages of book 1 - Burn for Me - before I was hooked. I believe part of the reason why I liked it so much was that it was only a trilogy. I didn't have to read 2 or 3 books before the romance started to happen or to discover one or two minor plot points or have to buy book 10 or 11 to find out 'who dunnit'. The plot moved quickly but Andrews didn't skimp on world building or characterisation. This series has heaps of both. Wildfire not only wraps up the overall plot arc of the mysterious conspiracy that wants to bring down the magical hierarchy (sort of) but also, wraps up Nevada's magical growth from untrained truthseeker to powerful Prime. The story was interspersed with quite a bit of romance as Nevada and Rogan navigate their way through their danger filled relationship. Wildfire is an action and romance laden end to the Hidden Legacy series. If you haven't started the series then don't miss out and start with book 1.


Melanie's Week in Review - July 30, 2017
The second book I want to tell you about is Dark Horse by Michelle Diener. As by coincidence this book was recommended by Ilona Andrews while I was waiting for Wildfire to be released. Dark Horse appealed to me as it won the SFR Galaxy Award and the Prism Award for Best Futuristic in 2016. I thought I was also onto a winner.

Dark Horse tells the story of Rose McKenzie who has been kidnapped from her home (on earth) and finds herself a prisoner on a spaceship millions of miles away in another galaxy. When Rose teams up with an artificial intelligence to escape she ends up one of the only survivors on a class 5 battleship. Alone, in another galaxy far, far away from home with a evil alien race on her trail Rose takes matters in her own hands and teams up with a much more friendly (and good looking) alien race in order to survive. Captain Dav Jallan can't believe his luck when the class 5 battleship ends up abandoned in his area of space. When he discovers that a frail female alien has been a prisoner on that very ship and now is one of only a few left alive he knows there is more to this than meets the eye and Rose is smack dab in the middle of it.

There are quite a few 'female human gets kidnapped by hunky alien' science fiction books out there and having read one or two I try to avoid them at all costs. Normally they veer too close to erotica for my liking. After reading the book description I was a bit surprised that this book had won so many accolades. I questioned this again when I got to the end. Dark Horse was very predictable and Rose and Dav were pretty generic characters. If this had been just a standalone novel I would have probably enjoyed it more but it is part of a series and I suspect that the plot is just much of the same. Book 2 - Dark Deeds - sounds very very similar. In fact one reviewer complained that it was just a re-hash of the first book. I was a bit disappointed with this book and unless you are a big fan of rather bland romantic science fiction then maybe give it a miss.


That is all for me this week. I hope you have a great week ahead and a even better book to read. Until next week happy reading.





Wildfire
A Hidden Legacy Novel 3
Avon, July 25, 2017
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - July 30, 2017
From Ilona Andrews, #1 New York Times bestselling author, the thrilling conclusion to her Hidden Legacy series, as Nevada and Rogan grapple with a power beyond even their imagination…

Nevada Baylor can’t decide which is more frustrating—harnessing her truthseeker abilities or dealing with Connor “Mad” Rogan and their evolving relationship. Yes, the billionaire Prime is helping her navigate the complex magical world in which she’s become a crucial player—and sometimes a pawn—but she also has to deal with his ex-fiancée, whose husband has disappeared, and whose damsel-in-distress act is wearing very, very thin.

Rogan faces his own challenges, too, as Nevada’s magical rank has made her a desirable match for other Primes. Controlling his immense powers is child’s play next to controlling his conflicting emotions. And now he and Nevada are confronted by a new threat within her own family. Can they face this together? Or is their world about to go up in smoke?


Melanie's Week in Review - July 30, 2017
Book 1
Melanie's Week in Review - July 30, 2017
Book 2





Dark Horse
Class 5 Series 1
Eclipse (June 15, 2015)
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 380 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - July 30, 2017
Some secrets carry the weight of the world.

Rose McKenzie may be far from Earth with no way back, but she's made a powerful ally--a fellow prisoner with whom she's formed a strong bond. Sazo's an artificial intelligence. He's saved her from captivity and torture, but he's also put her in the middle of a conflict, leaving Rose with her loyalties divided.

Captain Dav Jallan doesn't know why he and his crew have stumbled across an almost legendary Class 5 battleship, but he's not going to complain. The only problem is, all its crew are dead, all except for one strange, new alien being.

She calls herself Rose. She seems small and harmless, but less and less about her story is adding up, and Dav has a bad feeling his crew, and maybe even the four planets, are in jeopardy. The Class 5's owners, the Tecran, look set to start a war to get it back and Dav suspects Rose isn't the only alien being who survived what happened on the Class 5. And whatever else is out there is playing its own games.

In this race for the truth, he's going to have to go against his leaders and trust the dark horse.

Winner of a SFR Galaxy Award 2016 and the Prism Award 2016 for Best Futuristic.


Melanie's Week in Review - July 30, 2017
Book 2
Melanie's Week in Review - July 30, 2017
Book 3

Melanie's Week in Review - June 25, 2017

Melanie's Week in Review - June 25, 2017

Hello! I am back! Did you miss me? I hope so. I have been on holiday and my eldest sister was over so I wasn't able to keep you up to date on what I had been reading. Hopefully, this post will remedy that for you. Enough said, what did I read?


Melanie's Week in Review - June 25, 2017
I am going to start with the book that was my favourite - White Hot by Ilona Andrews, which is the second instalment of the Hidden Legacy series. The story starts a few months after the dramatic events of book 1, Burn for Me. Nevada hasn't heard a peep from the hunky Prime Mad Rogan since the big smooch that followed Rogan's declaration that Nevada was going to be 'his'. Nevada is thrown, quite literally, back into Rogan's life when she takes a case to solve the who murdered the animal mage, Cornelius's wife. It's not surprising that this continues the plot arc of the mysterious and extremely dangerous organisation that wants to bring down the magical hierarchy and all Primes with it. A number of secondary characters we met in book 1 are back to help Nevada, including her family. It's not long before Nevada and Rogan are the target and it's a race to discover who is behind the killings before they become the assassin's next victims.

I really, really enjoyed White Hot. I read it a few times in close succession. It stops just short of being excellent and I will tell you why a bit later. I like both Nevada and Rogan as characters. I also think the world building is well executed and the plot arc has me guessing. Andrews has got a lot to tell along with relationships and romances to build in only a few books as this is trilogy. Unlike the Kate Daniel's series and many others like it, Andrews doesn't have several books to have a slow burn romance between the main characters so no time is wasted bringing the love interests together. I find this quite refreshing and it must be challenging for the writers to make it believable and engaging. I think they have succeeded. I am also very intrigued to find out who the evil force is. I have no clue and that is a major achievement as I usually always guess 'who dunnit'. I don't have too long to wait as book 3, Wildfire, is out in July. I can HARDLY WAIT! So I mentioned that I felt White Hot fell a bit short of being excellent and that is down to the cover. I know I am a cover snob and I also know that the author is quite defensive of the covers as they are controlled by the publisher however, I can't see that this cover is a selling point. If I wasn't already invested in this author or the series I would have passed on this series purely based on the cover. I think the publisher has missed a trick by not having a more dramatic cover or a model that doesn't look like his six pack was drawn on with crayon. Just a minor downside of a great book and series.


Melanie's Week in Review - June 25, 2017Melanie's Week in Review - June 25, 2017
I am going to tell you about the next two books together as they are the first and second books of a new series by Dannika Dark called The Crossbreed novels. These books, I believe, are set in the same work as Dark's Mageri series. I have to say, I believe, as I haven't read that series. The story introduces the lead character Raven Black who is a crossbreed - part vampire and part mage. She has been living rough as a one woman vigilante, killing the baddies, that seem to be everywhere. So far she has been living on her wits and her crossbreed talents until she receives a proposition to join the covert organisation - Keystone - to take down baddies as part of a group of supernatural misfits. In book 1, Keystone, joining Keystone doesn't go quite to plan and that is mostly down to her partner, the vamp Christian but without giving too much away Raven overcomes her issues with being part of a team by book 2 - Ravenheart. In this instalment Raven and Christian are set to find a series killer who is targeting Breed women. The hunter becomes the hunter in this second instalment.

I have to be honest and say that Dark isn't one of my favourite authors but so far I like this series. It it isn't taking itself too seriously and so far, no one has jumped into bed together yet which isn't typical of this genre. If you enjoy a supernatural murder mysteries with a female lead character that is quite sarcastic then why not give this series a go? These are books well suited to the beach or a long commute. I am looking forward to seeing what Dark has in store for Raven Black.


Melanie's Week in Review - June 25, 2017
The last book I am going to tell you about is the novella - The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch. This is a story from the Peter Grant / Rivers of London series. PC Grant is on the case when ghosts are spotted on London Underground (aka the Tube). When the ghosts start to get more aggressive Peter enlists the help of his colleague from the British Transport Police, Jaget Kumar, and his trusty non-police dog Toby to track down why the spirits are haunting the Metropolitan line. When Peter discovers an actual human's life is at stake he realises that time is running out to solve this mystery. Lucky he has help in the form of his young teenage wizard cousin and an adolescent river god.

This is a great novella. I thought it was witty and gripping in equal measure. I am not always fond of novellas and short stories but this isn't one to miss.


That is it for me this week. I could tell you more but some of the books I read won't be published for a while yet so I need to keep my trap shut :-). I hope you have read some good books over the last few weeks. It would be great to hear what you read. I will be back next week so until then Happy Reading.





White Hot
A Hidden Legacy Novel 2
Avon, May 30, 2017
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 416 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - June 25, 2017
The Hidden Legacy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews continues as Nevada and Rogan navigate a world where magic is the norm…and their relationship burns hot

Nevada Baylor has a unique and secret skill—she knows when people are lying—and she's used that magic (along with plain, hard work) to keep her colorful and close-knit family's detective agency afloat. But her new case pits her against the shadowy forces that almost destroyed the city of Houston once before, bringing Nevada back into contact with Connor "Mad" Rogan.

Rogan is a billionaire Prime—the highest rank of magic user—and as unreadable as ever, despite Nevada’s “talent.” But there’s no hiding the sparks between them. Now that the stakes are even higher, both professionally and personally, and their foes are unimaginably powerful, Rogan and Nevada will find that nothing burns like ice …





Keystone
A Crossbreed Novel 1
Dannika Dark, January 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 310 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - June 25, 2017
With over 1.5 million books sold, USA Today Bestseller Dannika Dark introduces her next addictive series...

Raven Black hunts evildoers for fun, but her vigilante justice isn't the only reason she's hiding from the law. Half Vampire, half Mage,she's spent years living as a rogue to stay alive. When a Russian Shifter offers her a job in his covert organization hunting outlaws,dignity and a respectable career are finally within her grasp. The catch? Her new partner is Christian Poe - a smug, handsome Vampire whom she'd rather stake than go on a stakeout with.

They're hot on the trail of a human killer who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. One misstep during her probationary period could jeopardize Raven's chance at redemption, and her partner would love nothing more than to see her fail. Will Raven find the courage to succeed, or will she give in to her dark nature?

Dark secrets, unexpected twists, and a blurred line between good and evil will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Crossbreed is a powerful new urban fantasy series that will captivate your imagination. Follow Raven on her journey through a perilous world of secrets and lies.



Ravenheart
A Crossbreed Novel 2
Dannika Dark, May 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 329 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - June 25, 2017
“WE ALL HAVE SECRETS, RAVEN. DARK ONES. EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US.”

Two weeks after joining Keystone, Raven Black is ready to take on the world as a criminal hunter for hire. If only her partner wasn’t a bloodsucking Vampire with a penchant for getting under her skin. Despite her lavish surroundings, Raven misses the freedom of life without rules. And Keystone’s next assignment is about to test her self-control in more ways than one.

Dead bodies are popping up in the human district, and all signs point to a Breed serial killer. In order to catch him, Raven and Christian embark on a mission that takes their partnership into uncharted waters. Lives are at stake. Can Raven trust her instincts, or will she fall into a web spun from lies and deceit?

Time is running out in this pulse-pounding tale of dark secrets, murder, and forbidden desires.





The Furthest Station 
A Rivers of London Novella
Subterranean Press, June 28, 2017
Hardcover, 144 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - June 25, 2017
There have been ghosts on the London Underground, sad, harmless spectres whose presence does little more than give a frisson to travelling and boost tourism. But now there’s a rash of sightings on the Metropolitan Line and these ghosts are frightening, aggressive and seem to be looking for something.

Enter PC Peter Grant junior member of the Metropolitan Police’s Special Assessment unit a.k.a. The Folly a.k.a. the only police officers whose official duties include ghost hunting. Together with Jaget Kumar, his counterpart at the British Transport Police, he must brave the terrifying the crush of London’s rush hour to find the source of the ghosts.

Joined by Peter’s wannabe wizard cousin, a preschool river god and Toby the ghost hunting dog their investigation takes a darker tone as they realise that a real person’s life might just be on the line.
And time is running out to save them.

With this new novella, bestselling author Ben Aaronovitch has crafted yet another wickedly funny and surprisingly affecting chapter in his beloved Rivers of London series.

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 Month in Review - September 2019Melanie’s Month in Review  - November 2018Melanie's Month in Review - September 2018Melanie's Week in Review - July 30, 2017Melanie's Week in Review - June 25, 2017Melanie's Week in Review - November 2, 2014

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