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Melanie's Month in Review - January 2020


Melanie's Month in Review - January 2020


Happy 2020! I am hoping its not too late to say that. I can't believe it is already February. Christmas, NYE, my and the Hubinator's birthdays just whizzed by. The festive season isn't a big reading season for me and it can take me to get back into the reading groove in January. So in this post I am including a few of the books I enjoyed in December AND in January. Lucky you! Let me get to it.

The Hubinator is a big fan of the TV adaptations of Miss Marple and Poirot written by the author Anthony Horowitz. Horowitz is quite a prolific writer and the author of the YA, Alex Rider series. The 'Hubbs' loves listening to audio books and as a Horowitz fan he has many of Horowitz's novels. He convinced me to listen to the first two instalments of the Hawthorne series - The Word is Murder and The Sentence is Death.

Melanie's Month in Review - January 2020
Both of these novels are unique in that the main character is Horowitz himself....or I suppose a slightly fictional version of the himself. The story centers on the murder of the wealthy mother of a famous actor, Diana Cowper. She is murdered just hours after planning her own funeral. Reading it in the papers was the closest that Horowitz thought he would come to victim. He would never have guessed that he would be brought on board to help investigate the crime. Horowitz is in between novels when he is asked to write a series based on the ex-police detective, Hawthorne. Now a consultant to the Metropolitan Police Hawthorne has been brought in to find out who murdered the widow Cowper. To chronicle Hawthorne's methods and to document the man in action Horowitz joins Hawthorne on the case. They become a modern day Holmes and Watson as they try to solve the murder of Diana Cowper. Soo many suspects and so little time to discover 'who dunnit'. Both Horowitz and the reader are never too sure if the real mystery is the murder of Diana Cowper or the enigmatic Hawthorne.

The charm in this story (if a murder mystery can have charm) is the relationship between Horowitz and Hawthorne. Horowitz finds the secretive Hawthorne extremely frustrating and is determined to prove he is the better investigator. Instead Horowitz finds himself 2 steps and several clues behind the talented Hawthorne. The scenes between the two lead characters steal the 'show' and for me figuring out who did it was secondary to their relationship.

Melanie's Month in Review - January 2020
In book 2 - The Sentence is Death - the mystery loving duo are back to figure out who murdered the highly successful divorce lawyer of the rich and famous Richard Pryce. The tee-total was bludgeoned to death by a £3000 bottle of wine and the more Horowitz and Hawthorne look into his life the more suspects they uncover. More secrets to uncover, more clues to solve and not just about the murder scene as Horowitz continues his quest to uncover the 'real' Daniel Hawthorne.

This is the start of a great series. The murder mysteries are complex and while I usually guess who the culprit is I didn't for either book. You would think it would be really easy to write about yourself but Horowitz wasn't kind to himself. There is a hilarious scene where he attempts to chase down a 'would be' criminal and it's not as easy as in the movies. Again, it's the relationship between these two characters that really shine for me. I listened to the audio version of both books which are narrated by Rory Kinnear. What a coup! He is a fantastic narrator and if I ever have the chance to meet Anthony Horowitz I am going to be really disappointed if he doesn't sound like Kinnear!

Two great murder mysteries!


Melanie's Month in Review - January 2020
I also read the first instalment of Kate Kane Paranormal Investigator by Alexis Hall (notice the murder mystery theme?). The story is set in a paranormal London with the brash and brazen investigator Kate Kane on the case to solve who brutally murdered a werewolf on the steps of a nightclub owned by a powerful 800 year old vampire. All the paranormal factions are suspects and Kane has to find out who is responsible and try not to get killed in the process.

Not much to say about this book as I didn't really like it. If Kane spent half as much time trying to figure out who the killer was as she did lusting over the vampire prince then the book would have been over after the first chapter. For me it felt like Kane was based a bit too heavily on Jessica Jones and I didn't find anything too original about the plot.


Melanie's Month in Review - January 2020
Ilona Andrews was back with another instalment of the Innkeeper Chronicles. This time a holiday novella - Sweep with Me. I didn't even know there was such a thing as a holiday novella but what a treat...and released on my birthday to boot! Two gifts in 1. The story starts not long after the events of the last book. Dina and Sean are together, just shared a belated Christmas celebration and are trying to recover from siege that almost destroyed them all. Dina is very nervous about her future as she and Sean have been summoned by the Council to present themselves as worthy of having the Gertrude Hunt. Before that can happen Dina is asked to host guests that could mean the end of everything she holds dear....but she can't refuse as it's the Treaty Stay - a sacred holiday Innkeeper holiday when they celebrate the signing of the treaty that brought all the inns together. No Innkeeper can refuse to offer lodging to a guest during Treaty Stay regardless how dangerous they are. It's up to Dina, and now Sean to make sure that the comfort and security of their guests are there number 1 priority. Good luck! They will need it.

This was a great novella and definitely more lighthearted than previous instalments. I enjoyed the overall plotline and there was development of each of the main characters despite this not being a full length novel. A perfect holiday treat. Yes again, the illustrations - especially the cover are gorgeous and I have spent a lot of time gazing at the cover and wondering how the illustrator managed to make Dina and Sean look exactly how I thought they would. The story was released on Andrew's blog twice a week, right when they said it would which meant that there was no need to constantly press 'refresh' on the blog checking for new chapters. There is even a teaser chapter for Sapphire Flames. A hidden present from the authors.


Well folks, that is my holiday reading for you. A little later than I had hoped but hopefully I have given you some options on what should be on your TBR. Until next time Happy Reading!

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 - July 2019


Melanie's Month in Review - July 2019


I can't believe July is over. The month has evaporated just like all the water I keep putting on my tomato plants (lets just ignore the fact that my tomatoes keep turning black!) Unlike my wilting toms I have been quite productive and read a couple of really good books. I am 'booking reading smug' this month as I got through more books then I expected. I am one of the Qwillery's agents for the next SPFBO and I wasn't sure that I would get much read but I managed to read some of my own books and some of the SPFBO books. Hurrahs!


Melanie's Month in Review - July 2019
First up is Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan. I have to admit that I listened to the audio version rather than read it. The characters really come to life through the narrator Billy Howle. If you are still aren't sure about audio books then this is a safe bet.

The story is set in an alternate 1980's England with a backdrop of the Falklands war. The main character, Charlie has so far successfully avoided having a real job and drifts through life following the news about the Falklands and secretly pining over his next door neighbour Miranda. When Charlie inherits some money he decides to buy one of the very first synthetic humans - a male named Adam. Despite designing Adam's personality with Miranda it's not long before Charlie is relegated to the third wheel when a love triangle starts to form. It's not long before Charlie starts to regret his impulse purchase. The story really starts to evolve when a secret from Miranda's is exposed which tests her relationship with Charlie and leaves Adam grappling with the morality of the situation.

For me, the story had two main themes. The obvious one - whether a machine, regardless of how human it appears, can truly think and act like a human. This was a question that Charlie regularly tried to grapple with and something that becomes Miranda's undoing. The second theme was the different types of love - romantic love, love for a friend, love from a child, love for your parents/family. McEwan explores these different types of love through the lens of the machine - Adam. Again, another exploration of whether a machine can love or understands what it means to love. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. McEwan is a master at creating characters that you don't always like but can always relate to. The science was plausible. You could also believe, based on McEwan's, prose that you were reading non-fiction rather than fiction in his explanation of how technology evolved to create a living, breathing android. Adam puts Star Trek's Data to shame. If you need a book that gets you thinking then I highly recommend Machines Like Me. This is going to be in my top books of 2019!


Melanie's Month in Review - July 2019
My next two books are courtesy of the publishers via NetGalley. I used to get the majority of my books from NetGalley but I haven't had much luck finding anything I want to read that wasn't a 'wish for it'. First up is Thea Harrison's American Witch. Molly Sullivan's life has turned upside down. On the same day she discovers her husband has been unfaithful, again she also discovers that she has new powers awakening. Josiah Mason, a very powerful witch and leader of a secret coven has offered to help Molly manage her powers but can she trust him? Molly finds she doesn't have a choice when both her husband and her divorce attorney are brutally murdered. A deadly secret links Molly's husband and Josiah's sworn enemy. They decide to join forces to bring down someone who hides in the shadows and who is merciless and cruel. Its not long before what draws Josiah and Molly together isn't just the hunt for the killer but their explosive mutual attraction. Will they survive long enough to see if their romance has a chance?

I didn't realise when I requested this book that it was also in the same world as the Elder Races although none of the characters from that series popped up. My disappointment was that I was really hoping for something completely new. Overall, the story was a bit of a re-hash of Harrison's other novels - boy meets girl, boy and girl don't get along, boy and girl become attracted against all odds and despite immanent threat to their 'persons', boy and girl fall in love for ever and ever. Molly does in the end stand up for herself and become a power in her own right. The love interests were just a bit too one dimensional for my like. If you are looking for something to read at the beach then this may be a book to consider.


Melanie's Month in Review - July 2019
Book number 2 from NetGalley is The Blacksmith Queen by G.A. Aiken which is the first instalment in The Scarred Earth Saga series. The story starts out with lots of violence that follows the death of the old King where his sons go on a rampage of killing each other and anyone loyal to them in order to gain the throne and the power that it represents. However, a prophesy tells of a queen who will ascend the throne ....a daughter of a farmer. As the different factions fight it out the story switches to Keeley Smythe, the big and powerful blacksmith who likes nothing more than working her forge and loving her family. When a band of kilt wearing mountain warriors come to her small village she doesn't at first realise how much she will depend on their help and protection. Especially from the gruff but hunky Caid. When the prophesy seems to point to Keeley's bookish sister Beatrix as being the intended queen she has no choice but to defend her family from the royals who don't want to see a farmer's daughter on the throne. Luckily she has some help because she is going to need it.

The Blacksmith Queen is written in a similar style to Aiken's Dragon Kin series with fun loving characters, strong female heroines, and super natural beings. Keeley is fun, strong (both physically and mentally) and knows her power. The romance really didn't make an appearance until near the end of the book which was refreshing and the sex scenes weren't as 'detailed' as in some of Aiken's other books. What is also different is that there are chapters from Caid's POV which gives a different perspective and works well when Keeley wasn't able to be part of the scene (no spoilers here). There is also a very good twist involving one of the baddies that I wasn't expecting and makes me really want to see how this character gets their comeuppance. I am very likely going to continue with this series and if you are a fan of her other books I suggest you give The Blacksmith Queen a go.


Melanie's Month in Review - July 2019
The final book I am going to tell you about - a novella really - is Sweep of the Blade by Ilona Andrews. This is a novella and part of the Innkeeper Chronicles series. The story is told, this time, from Maud's (Dina's sister) POV. Maud has travelled with Arland to his home world along with her daughter Helen. There is a big wedding planned between two, former rival vampire Houses which House Kaur are hosting. In the backdrop of Maud's reluctant romance with Arland there is something much more sinister at play and it's up to Maud to uncover what the other Houses are really up to and to protect her daughter and Arland's family in the process.

If you follow my posts you will know that I have already read Sweep of the Blade when it was released as a serial. I love this series and especially Dina, the Innkeeper. I have to admit that I didn't enjoy this serialised short story as much. I thought the plotline and the prose were tightened up from the serialised story to the book which made for a much sharper and enjoyable story line. There are also a few of the gorgeous drawings throughout the book which have been one of my favourite parts of reading these books. Even if you have already read the serialised version I urge you to give the published version a go. I am confident you will love it.


That is all for me for July. I hope you have had as many good books to read as I have had. Keep your fingers crossed that I have as many reviews in August for you. Until then Happy Reading.





Machines Like Me
Nan A. Telese, April 23, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages

Melanie's Month in Review - July 2019
New from Ian McEwan, Booker Prize winner and international bestselling author of Atonement and The Children Act

Machines Like Me takes place in an alternative 1980s London. Charlie, drifting through life and dodging full-time employment, is in love with Miranda, a bright student who lives with a terrible secret. When Charlie comes into money, he buys Adam, one of the first synthetic humans and—with Miranda’s help—he designs Adam’s personality. The near-perfect human that emerges is beautiful, strong, and clever. It isn’t long before a love triangle soon forms, and these three beings confront a profound moral dilemma.

In his subversive new novel, Ian McEwan asks whether a machine can understand the human heart—or whether we are the ones who lack understanding.





American Witch
American Witch Trilogy 1
Teddy Harrison LLC, April 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 476 pages

Melanie's Month in Review - July 2019
From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Thea Harrison comes the first in a new spellbinding trilogy…

Power can change a person…

For months Molly Sullivan endures the inexplicable: electrical surges, car breakdowns, visions. She even wonders if she might be the cause… and wonders if she might be crazy. Then she discovers her husband has cheated on her. Again. Now Molly realizes she is a newly awakening witch and a woman pushed over the edge.

Revenge can shape a person…

Josiah Mason is a Powerful witch and the leader of a secret coven with a shared goal: to destroy an ancient enemy who has ruined many lives. Josiah lost years to this man, and his sole focus is revenge. He’s prepared for every contingency—except encountering a beautiful new witch who understands nothing of the immense Power building within her or the attraction she wields over him.

Danger can bring them together…

When divorcing her husband, Molly uncovers a dangerous secret he’s willing to kill to protect. She turns to Josiah for help, and they discover a connection between Molly’s husband and Josiah’s enemy.

As they work together, a spark ignites between them that threatens to become an inferno. But Molly is done compromising herself for any man, and Josiah’s mission is his top priority. And the enemy is cunning, cruel, and drawing ever closer.

As the danger escalates, so does the tension between them. Is a lasting relationship possible? Will either of them live long enough to try?





The Blacksmith Queen
The Scarred Earth Saga 1
Kensington Books, August 27, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

Melanie's Month in Review - July 2019
When a prophesy brings war to the Land of the Black Hills, Keeley Smythe must join forces with a clan of mountain warriors who are really centaurs in a thrilling new fantasy romance series from New York Times bestselling author G.A. Aiken.

The Old King Is Dead

With the demise of the Old King, there’s a prophesy that a queen will ascend to the throne of the Black Hills. Bad news for the king’s sons, who are prepared to defend their birthright against all comers. But for blacksmith Keeley Smythe, war is great for business. Until it looks like the chosen queen will be Beatrix, her younger sister. Now it’s all Keeley can do to protect her family from the enraged royals.

Luckily, Keeley doesn’t have to fight alone. Because thundering to her aid comes a clan of kilt-wearing mountain warriors called the Amichai. Not the most socially adept group, but soldiers have never bothered Keeley, and rough, gruff Caid, actually seems to respect her. A good thing because the fierce warrior will be by her side for a much longer ride than any prophesy ever envisioned.





Sweep of the Blade
Innkeeper Chronicles 4
NYLA, July 16, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 314 pages

Melanie's Month in Review - July 2019
Maud Demille is a daughter of Innkeepers—a special group who provide ‘lodging’ to other-planetary visitors—so she knows that a simple life isn't in the cards. But even Maud could never have anticipated what Fate would throw at her.

Once a wife to a powerful vampire knight, Maud and her young daughter, Helen, were exiled with him for his treachery to the desolate, savage planet of Karhari. Karhari killed her husband, and Maud—completely abandoned by his family—has spent over a year avenging his debts. Rescued by her sister Dina, she's sworn off all things vampire.

Except... In helping Dina save the world, she met Arland, the Marshal of House Krahr, one of the most powerful vampire houses. One thing led to another and he asked for her hand in marriage. She declined. Arland is not used to hearing the word ‘no;’ and try as she might, Maud can't just walk away from Arland. It doesn't help that being human is a lot harder for Maud than being a vampire.

To sort it all out, she accepts his invitation to visit his home planet. House Krahr is extremely influential and Maud knows that a woman—a human, with a very questionable past—who's turned down a proposal from its most beloved son won't get a warm reception. Maybe she’s not sure about marrying Arland, but House Krahr isn’t going to decide for her. Maud Demille has never run from a fight, and House Krahr will soon discover that there's a lot more to Maud than they’re expecting.

Melanie’s Top 5 of 2018


It’s that time of year when I look back at all the books I read in previous year. At first I didn’t think that there were many stand-outs for me in 2018 but I had to whittle down a rather longer list down to these 5 faves. I will start in reverse order.


5.  Space Unicorn Blues by T.J Berry and The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson

Melanie’s Top 5 of 2018
Sorry, there is a tie for my 5th favourite book of 2018 as I couldn’t decide between these two fantastic debut novels.

April bought not only showers but Tyrell Johnson’s post apocalyptic The Wolves of Winter onto my Kindle. I was pleasantly surprised that this debut didn’t end up in the cliche it could have been when the tall, dark and handsome stranger stumbles into the young Lynn’s lonely life. Tyrell’s snowy landscape had a life of its own and almost became another character in the tale. If you enjoy character driven stories than this is definitely one you need to read. Check out my review.

Melanie’s Top 5 of 2018
I enjoyed Space Unicorn Blues in July, during the hottest summer we have had in the UK in years. As a little reminder here is my review. The plot line of this story is truly unique and Berry carefully balances action, characterisation and world building. She did an excellent job.

Gary, the half unicorn prince and hero of this tale is a great conflicted character and you can’t help but to cheer him on. This story is very action packed and has one of the best cliff hangers of the year. I am really looking forward to the next instalment



4.  Foundryside by Robert J. Bennett

Melanie’s Top 5 of 2018
Bennett very nearly had 2 books in my top 5 but Foundryside just pipped City of Mirrors to make it into my top 5. This is the first instalment of Bennett’s new series The Founders set in a world where magic has been industrialised and only the Founders have any power. It’s Sancia, a thief who inadvertently turns the world upside down when she ends up stealing an artefact of unbelievable power. Sancia is a great character and she is joined by an eclectic cast of characters. Bennett has such an amazing imagination and writes characters that are so interesting and complex. Foundryside is no different. This is an all round great book. See my review here.





3.  The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

Melanie’s Top 5 of 2018
The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is the best ‘who dunnit’ I have read in a long time. I actually
listened to this as an audiobook and I am so glad that I did as the narrator is excellent and really sets the mood. This book had me on tenterhooks as I couldn’t guess who the committed the murder or why Aiden Bishop kept jumping from body to body. The story is like reading a game of Cluedo (or Clue in the US/Canada) but where you get to play every character. Murder mystery lovers this is a must read.



2.  Magic Triumpths by Ilona Andrews

Melanie’s Top 5 of 2018
I would be remiss if I didn’t include the final instalment of the Kate Daniels series in my top 5 so here it is - Magic Trimphs. I almost can’t believe the series is over. I have been reading this series for almost 10 years (I was a late comer to the series and read the first 3 books together) so it feels a bit weird that it is over although I am glad that it is as I feel that Andrews has written all she could about these characters. I am glad they decided to finish it rather than keep churning out the books like other authors have done. Rather than re-hash my review check it out& here.





1.  Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews

Melanie’s Top 5 of 2018
What can I say I loved Hugh! If you follow my reviews you won’t be surprised to learn that Iron and Magic is my fave book of 2018. I read the e-ARC, I bought the book and I listened to the Audible version.....more than once. I was soo surprised I liked Hugh as much as I did. I have to admit I thought Andrews were bonkers when I first read that they were planning a book about the 2nd biggest baddy in the Kate Daniels series. I was on the verge of being upset that they were ‘wasting’ their time writing about this character when I was waiting for Kate or an Innkeeper book. Good thing I am not in charge of their publishing schedule as I love, love, loved this book. It wasn’t the complicated plot or originality that made me like it so much....it was all down to Hugh’s redemption and general ‘coolness’. If you want to find out more here is my review.



There you go...my top 5. If you are looking for a good book hopefully you will find one here. I would love to know what is on your top 5. Leave me a comment.




Space Unicorn Blues
The Reason 1
Angry Robot, July 3, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

Melanie’s Top 5 of 2018
A misfit crew race across the galaxy to prevent the genocide of magical creatures, in this unique science fiction debut.

Humanity joining the intergalactic community has been a disaster for Bala, the magical creatures of the galaxy: they’ve been exploited, enslaved and ground down for parts. Now the Century Summit is approaching, when humans will be judged by godlike aliens.

When Jenny Perata, disabled Maori shuttle captain, is contracted to take a shipment to the summit, she must enlist half-unicorn Gary Cobalt, whose horn powers faster-than-light travel. But he’s just been released from prison, for murdering the wife of Jenny’s co-pilot, Cowboy Jim… When the Reason regime suddenly enact laws making Bala property, Jenny’s ship becomes the last hope for magic.

File Under: Science Fiction [ Rocks in Space | Stand Up to Reason | The Human Experiment | Last Unicorn ]





The Wolves of Winter
Scribner, January 2, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages
   Trade Paperback, December 4, 2018

Melanie’s Top 5 of 2018
A captivating tale of humanity pushed beyond its breaking point, of family and bonds of love forged when everything is lost, and of a heroic young woman who crosses a frozen landscape to find her destiny. This debut novel is written in a post-apocalyptic tradition that spans The Hunger Games and Station Eleven but blazes its own distinctive path.

Forget the old days. Forget summer. Forget warmth. Forget anything that doesn’t help you survive in the endless white wilderness beyond the edges of a fallen world.

Lynn McBride has learned much since society collapsed in the face of nuclear war and the relentless spread of disease. As the memories of her old life continue to haunt, she’s forced to forge ahead in the snow-drifted Canadian Yukon, learning how to hunt and trap and slaughter.

Shadows of the world before have found her tiny community—most prominently in the enigmatic figure of Jax, who brings with him dark secrets of the past and sets in motion a chain of events that will call Lynn to a role she never imagined.

Simultaneously a heartbreakingly sympathetic portrait of a young woman searching for the answer to who she is meant to be and a frightening vision of a merciless new world in which desperation rules, The Wolves of Winter is enveloping, propulsive, and poignant.





Foundryside
The Founders Trilogy 1
Crown, August 21, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 512 pages
   Trade Paperback, May 21, 2019

Melanie’s Top 5 of 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.





The 7 1½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Sourcebooks Landmark, September 18, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 448 pages
    Trade Paperback, May 7, 2019

Melanie’s Top 5 of 2018
One of Stylist Magazine's 20 Must-Read Books of 2018
One of Harper's Bazaar's 10 Must-Read Books of 2018
One of Marie Claire, Australia's 10 Books You Absolutely Have to Read in 2018


The Rules of Blackheath
Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m.
 There are eight days, and eight witnesses for you to inhabit.
We will only let you escape once you tell us the name of the killer.
Understood? Then let’s begin...

***

Evelyn Hardcastle will die. Every day until Aiden Bishop can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others...

The most inventive debut of the year twists together a mystery of such unexpected creativity it will leave readers guessing until the very last page.





Magic Triumphs
Kate Daniels 10
Ace, August 28, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages
   Mass Market Paperback, May 7, 2019

Melanie’s Top 5 of 2018
Mercenary Kate Daniels must risk all to protect everything she holds dear in this epic, can’t-miss entry in the thrilling #1 New York Times bestselling urban fantasy series.

Kate has come a long way from her origins as a loner taking care of paranormal problems in post-Shift Atlanta. She’s made friends and enemies. She’s found love and started a family with Curran Lennart, the former Beast Lord. But her magic is too strong for the power players of the world to let her be.

Kate and her father, Roland, currently have an uneasy truce, but when he starts testing her defenses again, she knows that sooner or later, a confrontation is inevitable. The Witch Oracle has begun seeing visions of blood, fire, and human bones. And when a mysterious box is delivered to Kate’s doorstep, a threat of war from the ancient enemy who nearly destroyed her family, she knows their time is up.

Kate Daniels sees no other choice but to combine forces with the unlikeliest of allies. She knows betrayal is inevitable. She knows she may not survive the coming battle. But she has to try.

For her child.

For Atlanta.

For the world.





Iron and Magic
The Iron Covenant 1
NYLA, June 28, 2018
eBook, 322 pages

Melanie’s Top 5 of 2018
No day is ordinary in a world where Technology and Magic compete for supremacy…But no matter which force is winning, in the apocalypse, a sword will always work.

Hugh d’Ambray, Preceptor of the Iron Dogs, Warlord of the Builder of Towers, served only one man. Now his immortal, nearly omnipotent master has cast him aside. Hugh is a shadow of the warrior he was, but when he learns that the Iron Dogs, soldiers who would follow him anywhere, are being hunted down and murdered, he must make a choice: to fade away or to be the leader he was born to be. Hugh knows he must carve a new place for himself and his people, but they have no money, no shelter, and no food, and the necromancers are coming. Fast.

Elara Harper is a creature who should not exist. Her enemies call her Abomination; her people call her White Lady. Tasked with their protection, she's trapped between the magical heavyweights about to collide and plunge the state of Kentucky into a war that humans have no power to stop. Desperate to shield her people and their simple way of life, she would accept help from the devil himself—and Hugh d’Ambray might qualify.

Hugh needs a base, Elara needs soldiers. Both are infamous for betraying their allies, so how can they create a believable alliance to meet the challenge of their enemies?

As the prophet says: “It is better to marry than to burn.”

Hugh and Elara may do both.

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.

Romantic Fantasy Starter Kit - Giveaway!


Would you like to win a Romantic Fantasy Starter Kit from Penguin Random House?

Go here to enter: https://sweeps.penguinrandomhouse.com/enter/fantasy-romance-starter-kit-giveaway

The winner will win the following six first-in-series books!

Romantic Fantasy Starter Kit - Giveaway!

20 runners-up will receive an advance reading copy of Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven!

Open to US residents, 18 and older. Hurry and enter! The giveaway ends on September 19, 2018!




Romantic Fantasy Starter Kit - Giveaway!
PHOENIX UNBOUND by Grace Draven
A woman with power over fire and illusion and an enslaved son of a chieftain battle a corrupt empire in this powerful and deeply emotional romantic fantasy from the USA Today bestselling author of Radiance.


Phoenix Unbound
The Fallen Empire 1
Ace, September 25, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

A woman with power over fire and illusion and an enslaved son of a chieftain battle a corrupt empire in this powerful and deeply emotional romantic fantasy from the USA Today bestselling author of Radiance.

Every year, each village is required to send a young woman to the Empire’s capital–her fate to be burned alive for the entertainment of the masses. For the last five years, one small village’s tithe has been the same woman. Gilene’s sacrifice protects all the other young women of her village, and her secret to staying alive lies with the magic only she possesses.

But this year is different.

Azarion, the Empire’s most famous gladiator, has somehow seen through her illusion–and is set on blackmailing Gilene into using her abilities to help him escape his life of slavery. Unknown to Gilene, he also wants to reclaim the birthright of his clan.

To protect her family and village, she will abandon everything to return to the Empire–and burn once more.


Look for Melanie's review of Phoenix Unbound later this month!




Romantic Fantasy Starter Kit - Giveaway!
MAGIC BITES by Ilona Andrews
Ilona Andrews invites you to experience the first novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling series featuring the intriguing fantasy world of mercenary Kate Daniels…


Magic Bites
A Kate Daniels Novel 1
Ace, December 31, 2012
Trade Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

#1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews invites you to experience the first novel in the “intriguing world” (Locus) of Kate Daniels with this special edition of Magic Bites

Kate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck mercenary who makes her living cleaning up magical problems. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, her quest for justice draws her into a power struggle between two strong factions within Atlanta’s magic circles. Pressured by both sides to find the killer, Kate realizes she’s way out of her league—but she wouldn’t want it any other way…

This special edition includes in-depth information about the world of Kate Daniels, with descriptions of its characters and factions. Explore Kate’s Atlanta like never before with answers to FAQ and a quiz to find your place there. And don’t miss the prequel story “A Questionable Client,” as well as scenes of events in Magic Bites from Curran’s point of view.




Romantic Fantasy Starter Kit - Giveaway!
WRITTEN IN RED by Anne Bishop
Enter the world of the Others in the first novel in New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop’s thrilling fantasy series: a place where unearthly entities—vampires and shape-shifters among them—rule the Earth and prey on the human race.


Written in Red
A Novel of the Others 1
Roc, March 04, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 512 pages

Enter the world of the Others in the first novel in New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop’s thrilling fantasy series: a place where unearthly entities—vampires and shape-shifters among them—rule the Earth and prey on the human race.
As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut—a gift that feels more like a curse. Meg’s Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions. But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard—a business district operated by the Others.

Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job. First, he senses she’s keeping a secret, and second, she doesn’t smell like human prey. Yet a stronger instinct propels him to give Meg the job. And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she’s wanted by the government, he’ll have to decide if she’s worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow.




Romantic Fantasy Starter Kit - Giveaway!
CRY WOLF by Patricia Briggs
#1 New York Times bestselling author Patricia Briggs presents the first Alpha and Omega novel—the start of an extraordinary series set in Mercy Thompson’s world, but with rules of its own…


Cry Wolf
Alpha and Omega 1
Ace, July 29, 2008
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

#1 New York Times bestselling author Patricia Briggs presents the first Alpha and Omega novel—the start of an extraordinary series set in Mercy Thompson’s world, but with rules of its own…

Anna never knew werewolves existed until the night she survived a violent attack…and became one herself. After three years at the bottom of the pack, she’d learned to keep her head down and never, ever trust dominant males. But Anna is that rarest kind of werewolf: an Omega. And one of the most powerful werewolves in the country is about to recognize her value as a pack member—and as his mate.




Romantic Fantasy Starter Kit - Giveaway!
WILD HUNGER by Chloe Neill
In the first thrilling installment of Chloe Neill’s spinoff to the New York Times bestselling Chicagoland Vampires series, a new vampire will find out just how deep blood ties run.


Wild Hunger
An Heirs of Chicagoland Novel 1
Berkley, August 14, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

In the first thrilling installment of Chloe Neill’s spinoff to the New York Times bestselling Chicagoland Vampires series, a new vampire will find out just how deep blood ties run.

As the only vampire child ever born, some believed Elisa Sullivan had all the luck. But the magic that helped bring her into the world left her with a dark secret. Shifter Connor Keene, the only son of North American Central Pack Apex Gabriel Keene, is the only one she trusts with it. But she’s a vampire and the daughter of a Master and a Sentinel, and he’s prince of the Pack and its future king.

When the assassination of a diplomat brings old feuds to the fore again, Elisa and Connor must choose between love and family, between honor and obligation, before Chicago disappears forever.




Romantic Fantasy Starter Kit - Giveaway!
SLAVE TO SENSATION by Nalini Singh
THE FIRST PSY/CHANGELING NOVEL from the New York Times bestselling author of Shards of Hope, Shield of Winter, and Heart of Obsidian

The book that Christine Feehan called “a must-read for all of my fans.”


Slave to Sensation
Psy-Changling 1
Berkley, September 5, 2006
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

THE FIRST PSY/CHANGELING NOVEL from the New York Times bestselling author of Shards of Hope, Shield of Winter, and Heart of Obsidian…

The book that Christine Feehan called “a must-read for all of my fans.”

In a world that denies emotions, where the ruling Psy punish any sign of desire, Sascha Duncan must conceal the feelings that brand her as flawed. To reveal them would be to sentence herself to the horror of “rehabilitation”—the complete psychic erasure of everything she ever was…Both human and animal, Lucas Hunter is a Changeling hungry for the very sensations the Psy disdain. After centuries of uneasy coexistence, these two races are now on the verge of war over the brutal murders of several Changeling women. Lucas is determined to find the Psy killer who butchered his packmate, and Sascha is his ticket into their closely guarded society. But he soon discovers that this ice-cold Psy is very capable of passion—and that the animal in him is fascinated by her. Caught between their conflicting worlds, Lucas and Sascha must remain bound to their identities—or sacrifice everything for a taste of darkest temptation…

Review: Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews


Magic Triumphs
Author:  Ilona Andrews
Series:  Kate Daniels 10
Publisher:  Ace, August 28, 2018
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages
List Price:  US$26.00 (print);  US$12.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780425270714 (print); 9780698136823 (eBook)

Review: Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews
Mercenary Kate Daniels must risk all to protect everything she holds dear in this epic, can’t-miss entry in the thrilling #1 New York Times bestselling urban fantasy series.

Kate has come a long way from her origins as a loner taking care of paranormal problems in post-Shift Atlanta. She’s made friends and enemies. She’s found love and started a family with Curran Lennart, the former Beast Lord. But her magic is too strong for the power players of the world to let her be.

Kate and her father, Roland, currently have an uneasy truce, but when he starts testing her defenses again, she knows that sooner or later, a confrontation is inevitable. The Witch Oracle has begun seeing visions of blood, fire, and human bones. And when a mysterious box is delivered to Kate’s doorstep, a threat of war from the ancient enemy who nearly destroyed her family, she knows their time is up.

Kate Daniels sees no other choice but to combine forces with the unlikeliest of allies. She knows betrayal is inevitable. She knows she may not survive the coming battle. But she has to try.

For her child.

For Atlanta.

For the world.



Melanie's Thoughts

Kate thought it was too good to be true. Over the past two years she has married her hunky shapeshifter Curran and had an adorable son, Conlan, her business is thriving and there is no sign of her megalomaniac father Roland who has tried kill her loved ones.....so far. However, when an ancient power decides that humanity has lived long enough and wants to purge the world Kate knows she has to make a stand. If she has to ally with the enemy then she is prepared to do what it takes to save everything and everyone she loves. War is on her doorstep and Kate isn't sure she has the power to survive.

I can't believe that it is finally here - Magic Triumphs the - 10th and final Kate Daniels instalment. I have been a fan from the very start and Kate has been one of my favourite heroines. There has been a lot of hype about Magic Triumphs and it doesn't disappoint. This story is almost more of a continuation of Iron and Magic* than it is of Magic Binds with the return of the soldiers and beasts that Hugh D'Ambray fought in the first book of the Iron Covenant series. I thought that this was an interesting re-use of a really scary baddy. Obviously Kate has grown up now  - a wife and mother and while she loves her new life she is desperate to keep her family safe. Roland has always been a threat to her and her family but Neig is the bigger threat and she isn't sure she has the ability to defeat them both. It is this vulnerability that makes Kate even more interesting as a character than she was before.

Andrews brings back so many of the characters that I have loved over the series - Andrea, Derek, Dali, Doolittle and Saiman. Even Grendel, the mutant poodle is back! However, when one of my newest favourite characters makes a dramatic appearance I actually did a fist pump and whooped. I can't really say that there was more character development in Magic Triumphs but there is 'rounding' out of a few of the lead characters - specifically Derek, Christopher, Erra and to a small extent Adora. Andrews uses the action and fight scenes to further establish Kate's relationships with regular characters and helps to setup the new ones. There are quite a few fight scenes and these all lead to the epic battle at the end.

Overall, I really enjoyed Magic Triumphs and thought the ending of the book and of the series was really satisfying. Ten books makes for a long series but this instalment was worth waiting for. Andrews avoided making the ending too sugary and sweet, which I appreciated. The epilogue is a bit of a tease and is creating A LOT of discussion on the blog. It's good that not everything was spelled out for us even though it is a bit of a very small cliffhanger. I am looking forward to see what Andrews has in store for us besides two more Hugh books (hurray!). Magic Triumphs is a great book and even better ending to a great series.


*See my review of Iron and Magic here.

Melanie's Week in Review - August 5, 2018


Melanie's Week in Review - August 5, 2018


Welcome to August. I can't believe that 2018 is already half over. Where does time go?  Some of you may have seen on the news that the UK is still in the grips of a heatwave. This summer has actually been a summer! I also can't believe that it is August and the weather is still in the high 20's and low 30's. The downside of all this lovely weather (despite sweating buckets at work) is that I can't concentrate on reading. I usually feel a bit like a wet noodle and can't pick up a book. I have however, read 1 book this week that I can tell you about. So what did I read?


Melanie's Week in Review - August 5, 2018
Berkley has published the 4th instalment of Karen Chance's Dorina Basarab series - Shadow's Bane. Not a lot has changed for the newly appointment Senator as her life is just as wild and crazy as ever. When the nephew of one of her fey friends goes missing and presumed sold into slavery Dory is on the case. She discovers that slaves are being bought and sold to take part in illegal fight - a sort of underground fight club. Well this is what it seems on the surface. Dory and her alter ego Dorina are determined to find the missing fey and put the slavers out of business, permanently. All this while fending off assassins who want to take her place on the council and the growing dominance of her true vampire self, Dorina.

I prefer this series to Chance's Cassie Palmer series mainly due to the pace. While the pace is still frenetic at least Dory has the opportunity to eat dinner and have a heart to heart with her bestie Claire. Dory isn't as driven by her sex drive as Cassie is and there tends to be more of a plot in this series. It was interesting, that  while Dory is supposed to be the star of this story, it is Mircea that steals it. Dory's present day story is interlaced with chapters dedicated to Mircea's story back in the 1400's when he was trying to find a way to separate Dorina and Dory to help his daughter survive. It is through these back flash chapters that the background to the story's whole plot starts to unfold. We are also given insights into Dorina's real powers which add another element to the plot in the present day story.

The prominent theme in this instalment is one of belonging or perhaps more about family. Dory worries that Dorina is becoming more dominant and that she will take over and destroy everything that she has tried to hold onto like her relationship with the hunky vampire Louis-Cesare. There are a few sideline plots with her roommate Claire and the battalion of fey soldiers that are living in their back garden protecting Claire and her baby (and heir to the Light Fey throne) Aiden. Dory desperately wants to belong and keep hold of the community of friends she has started to think of as family. In the past Dorina, when she takes over, she manages to destroy any relationships that Dory has tried to build....until now. In between the Dory/Dorina elements of the plot is a lot of action. Usually with Dory getting her butt kicked and ending up with bruises on her bruises. Saucy scenes  between Dory and Louise-Cesare are still there but these are more like filler between the slaver plotline and the Mircea POV chapters. Overall, this was a good balance between action, romance and plot. A few of the characters that have been missing in previous books return along with the introduction of new ones. It did kind of feel like a final book as there was a resolution to a number of plot threads from previous books. It seemed like things were being tied up for Dory so I don't know if this is the last we will hear of the 5 foot nothing, hard as nails dhampir.


I hate to sound like a Hugh D'Ambray groupie but I bought the audio version of Ilona Andrews Iron and Magic.  I loved the narrator - Steve West  - who did the voice over for Galahad in the video game The Order 1886 (which I also loved.....a must play for any gamers out there). He has a very swoony voice and it worked perfectly for Hugh. Some of the female characters didn't sound anything like I imagined they would but he did such a great job of Hugh I wasn't too disappointed.


The temperature is going to drop a bit this week so hopefully I can get some of my reading mojo back. Until next week Happy Reading!





Shadow's Bane
A Midnight's Daughter Novel / Dorina Basarab 4
Berkley, July 31, 2018
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 624 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - August 5, 2018
Half-human, half-vampire Dorina Basarab is back–and facing her biggest challenge yet in the next urban fantasy in the New York Times bestselling series.

Dorina Basarab is a dhampir–half-human, half-vampire. As one of the Vampire Senate’s newest members, Dory already has a lot on her plate. But then a relative of one of Dory’s fey friends goes missing. They fear he’s been sold to a slaver who arranges fights–sometimes to the death–between different types of fey.

As Dory investigates, she and her friends learn the slavers are into something much bigger than a fight club. With the Vampire Senate gearing up for war with Faerie, it’ll take everything she has to defeat the slavers–and deal with the entirely too attractive master vampire Louis-Cesare….





Previously
[click to embiggen]

Melanie's Week in Review - August 5, 2018
Book 1
Melanie's Week in Review - August 5, 2018
Book 2
Melanie's Week in Review - August 5, 2018
Book 3

Review: Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews


Iron and Magic
Author:  Ilona Andrews
Series:  The Iron Covenant 1
Publisher:  NYLA, June 28, 2018
Format:  eBook, 322 pages
List Price:  US$ 6.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9781641970358 (eBook)

Review: Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews
No day is ordinary in a world where Technology and Magic compete for supremacy…But no matter which force is winning, in the apocalypse, a sword will always work.

Hugh d’Ambray, Preceptor of the Iron Dogs, Warlord of the Builder of Towers, served only one man. Now his immortal, nearly omnipotent master has cast him aside. Hugh is a shadow of the warrior he was, but when he learns that the Iron Dogs, soldiers who would follow him anywhere, are being hunted down and murdered, he must make a choice: to fade away or to be the leader he was born to be. Hugh knows he must carve a new place for himself and his people, but they have no money, no shelter, and no food, and the necromancers are coming. Fast.

Elara Harper is a creature who should not exist. Her enemies call her Abomination; her people call her White Lady. Tasked with their protection, she's trapped between the magical heavyweights about to collide and plunge the state of Kentucky into a war that humans have no power to stop. Desperate to shield her people and their simple way of life, she would accept help from the devil himself—and Hugh d’Ambray might qualify.

Hugh needs a base, Elara needs soldiers. Both are infamous for betraying their allies, so how can they create a believable alliance to meet the challenge of their enemies?

As the prophet says: “It is better to marry than to burn.”

Hugh and Elara may do both.



Melanie's Thoughts

Hugh is back but this time not as Roland's right hand man. He has lost everything  - his job, his wealth, his power, his immortality but more importantly the man he considered a father. He has nothing and no where to go. Along with his 300 elite soldiers - the Iron Dogs - Hugh is desperate to find a base and a purpose to keep on living. The White Lady, Elara Harper, has almost everything - a community devoted to her, a fortress and a lot of power. What she doesn't have is protection for her people. Elara is about to understand the saying 'better the devil you know' when she agrees to an alliance with the devil himself - Hugh d'Ambray. Their enemies won't know what hit them if they don't kill each other first.

When I first read that Ilona Andrews was writing a book about Hugh I thought that it was a joke. I couldn't believe that Andrews would spend time writing about the biggest baddie who murdered his way through at least three of the Kate Daniels books. I couldn't understand how the authors could make Hugh a credible hero after all of the things that he did to Kate and her friends. However, I dutifully read the sample chapters that Andrews put on their blog and when I saw that the eArc was available on NetGalley I dropped everything and rushed to download it.

I was a bit more than pleasantly surprised with Iron and Magic. Hugh is everything that I was expecting - arrogant, violent and driven. A brutal killer who seemed to have no moral compass. Through the story and his interactions with Elara we get to see a different side of Hugh and the man he wanted to be rather than the one he was. Hugh doesn't make excuses for his past behaviour which made him a more realistic, genuine character rather than turning into a 'baddie turned hero by the love of a good woman'. Had Hugh been written in any other way the story wouldn't have been as good, in my opinion.

Elara and her people are the newbies in this story that has so many characters from the Kate Daniels' series. She was referred to, not by name, in book 9 of the Kate Daniels series (Magic Binds) as the abomination and I wasn't certain how Andrews was going to weave the two stories together. This was done in a very clever way that both connects Elara to characters in Kate Daniels world but also serves to develop Hugh's character and backstory at the same time. I liked Elara. She was an interesting character that was as dominant as Hugh but in a much more subtle way. I am looking forward to seeing what direction Andrews' will take this character.

Overall, I really, really enjoyed this book which I think was partly down to the fact I didn't think I would. I like a good surprise and Iron and Magic gives you a few of those. Due to the nature of the main characters this book seemed a lot more violent than any of Andrews' other books. In retrospect, it probably isn't any more violent but just seems that way because Hugh is such a dark and broody character who has murdered his way through the last couple of books on Roland's behalf. It's not as sexy as I was expecting which I prefer. I never like when characters find the time to get all hot and sweaty in the middle of a big battle or in life or death situations. The steamy scenes in this story are fitting to both the characters and the plotline. I won't say that this is a prefect novel. I noticed a couple of lines borrowed from other books and other series written by Andrews which I am hoping will be sorted out before the book is published. This doesn't detract from the plotline but could have had the characters not been so strong. This is a great teaser to Magic Triumphs and I can hardly wait, even more now, for that instalment to come out. While Iron and Magic is billed as it's own series I don't think you will get that much from it if you haven't read at least the first 5 or 6 Kate Daniels' books. These are books you can read over and over so start from the beginning. For die hard fans get Iron and Magic on pre-order now!
Melanie's Month in Review - January 2020Melanie's Month in Review - September 2019Melanie's Month in Review - July 2019Melanie’s Top 5 of 2018Melanie’s Month in Review  - November 2018Melanie's Month in Review - September 2018Romantic Fantasy Starter Kit - Giveaway!Review: Magic Triumphs by Ilona AndrewsMelanie's Week in Review - August 5, 2018Review: Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews

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