The Qwillery | category: Jamie McLachlan


The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Melanie's Week in Review - November 12, 2017

Melanie's Week in Review - November 12, 2017

Welcome to November! I am feeling very novembery as I write this. Perhaps I should be explicit. I am feeling very novembery in the UK - chilly, grey and raining. Boo hoo. I was having one of those 'meh' days until I realised that I have not 1 but 2 end of trilogies to tell you about. Please queue blue skies and rainbows :) Here I go!

Melanie's Week in Review - November 12, 2017
Soulbound is the final instalment of Bec McMaster's Dark Arts series. At the end of Hexbound everything the good guys were fighting for seems lost and London is only days away from being destroyed. Sebastian has never had anyone stick up for him before and when his father sacrifices his own very soul to a demon to save him Sebastian doesn't know how to react. He is drawn to his beautiful wife but doesn't want to hurt her. He doesn't know how to survive in a world where others want to fight to save him but he needs to find the strength to fight for everything that he has grown to care about.

Meanwhile Cleo yearns to save Sebastian but doesn't know how to reach him. She has had a terrible vision of the destruction of London and she knows that she is pivotal to the event and needs Sebastian's help along with their new friends to save them both. The race is on to save their love, their friends and themselves.

I think this series improved with each book. That isn't uncommon but in this case there was less sex and more action with each book which I appreciated. Cleo was quite sugary sweet but this was balanced out by the much darker Sebastian and his half brothers. McMaster included a few of the lead characters from previous books to work alongside Cleo and Sebastian which made them more interested and well-rounded than they would have been had the story focused only on these two. Overall, I liked this series and appreciated that McMaster didn't drag the story out over a longer series, which I think would have made it too mundane. If you are like steampunky fantasy and don't want to invest years reading to find out who wins then this is the perfect series for you.

Melanie's Week in Review - November 12, 2017
The second trilogy that I finished was the Memory Collector series by Jamie McLachlin with Rise of the Phoenix. The author wraps up the story of Moira, the empath and her forbidden love the police detective Keenan. In this instalment Moira has to come to terms with her role in the deaths of prominent Elite members. At the end of book 2 she discovers who the Phoenix really is and now he wants her to continue his mission to free all empaths, despite the cost. Moira is torn. She has always been a slave and desperate to be free but the price for freedom may be too much.

I really liked this series. I think that Moira is a truly conflicted character and this conflict is even more prevalent in this instalment. Moira learns the true extent of what happened to her when her memories are returned. She was a slave in more ways than her body. The Phoenix takes almost everything away from her and I couldn't even guess how she was going to save herself and the newly found love for Keenan. McLachlan also delivers a HUGE twist towards the end of the book which I did not see coming. There is quite a bit more sex in this instalment than I would have preferred but it was still a great ending to a great series.

That is it for me this week. I am going to find another series to love. Any and all suggestions are welcome. Until next week. Happy Reading.

The Dark Arts Trilogy 3
Lochaber Press, October 24, 2017
eBook, 400 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - November 12, 2017
A dark force is rising in London...

Sebastian Montcalm knows freedom for the first time in his life, but it has come at the cost of his father's soul. If he can learn to harness his uncontrollable sorcery then he might be able to save his father from a demon's grip, but every move he makes leads to failure. The only thing that gives him hope is the innocent touch of Cleo Sinclair, the woman he was forced to marry. But will his darkness drown out her light?

He could be her destruction…

Cleo knew her father only ever loved her for the power of her visions, but when he bartered her away in marriage to a man she'd never met, she realized how little value she truly had. Her husband, Sebastian, was nothing more than a dark warmth in her bed, a stranger who refused to touch her. But together, the two tortured souls found friendship. And now, when he needs her the most, he won't even look at her.

...Or she could be his salvation...

When Cleo receives a powerful vision of a darkness that threatens London, she knows she is the key to defeating it. Only by working together can she and Sebastian prevail. But is Sebastian the one who can end this prophetic doom, or the one bound to begin it?

Melanie's Week in Review - November 12, 2017
Melanie's Week in Review - November 12, 2017

Rise of the Phoenix
The Memory Collector 3
Penner Publishing, October 24, 2017
eBook, 339 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - November 12, 2017
Moira has dreamed of freedom ever since she became a concubine at the Pleasure House. With the Phoenix locked in prison, she's finally as free as a slave to the Elite could ever be.

But the Phoenix, a serial killer intent on freeing empaths, is not who she thought, and this time he wants her to use her powers of persuasion to help him. Moira must decide what's worth more: freedom, survival, or the destruction of her enemies. Her growing relationship with Detective Keenan Edwards threatens all three, even if he offers her something she never dreamed of—love.

When she's imprisoned for an Elite member's death, she finds herself back where it all began: facing her execution. In her darkest moment, she'll have to dive into the deepest parts of her mind to defeat the Phoenix once and for all. But the past won't stay hidden for long, and it demands a price.

Her freedom. Her life. And the only man she's ever loved.

Melanie's Week in Review - November 12, 2017
Melanie's Week in Review - November 12, 2017

Melanie's Week in Review - February 21, 2016

Melanie's Week in Review  - February 21, 2016

Sorry folks for missing last week especially as it was Valentine's Day and you missed finding out who my paperback valentine was.  Unfortunately, now you will have to wait until February 14th, 2021 to find out!

Melanie's Week in Review  - February 21, 2016
I was very surprised and thrilled to be contacted by Penner Publishing to ask if I wanted an e-Arc of Pawn of the Phoenix which is the second in Jamie McLachlan's The Memory Collector series. This came out of the blue and a nice January surprise. Yes, January! If you can believe it I gobbled this book up a few weeks ago and then had seemingly convinced myself I had written the review! It wasn't until the very helpful Qwill confirmed that I hadn't.

Book 2 starts immediately after the ending of book 1 - Mind of the Phoenix - and when I say starts it actually reads more like a continuation with both books seamlessly flowing into each other. If you want a recap of what I thought here is my review of book 1. In this is instalment there are more deaths at the hands of The Phoenix and Moira and Detective Keenan Edwards are no closer to finding out who the mysterious killer is. As they continue their investigation Moira's attraction to the reclusive detective continues to grow. However, when she uncovers a secret in the Detective's past she threatens to unravel, not only their relationship but the noble detective himself. This is just one thread however, in the Pawn of the Phoenix. Before Edwards' life starts to unravel he starts to suspect that Moira may have been The Phoenix's first victim and the reason why she killed her previous owner. Locked away in her mind could be the identity of the murderer they have been trying to find all this time. Uncovering the truth could destroy them all.

I enjoyed this second instalment but perhaps not quite as much as the first. Moira is an engaging character but I didn't feel that she acted with much common sense in certain parts of the book. It was also a lot more sexy which I didn't really feel added to the story. As a victim of so much abuse I thought it was odd that Moira would use such a flimsy excuse to throw herself into harms way and for no other reason than to make Keenan jealous. The story did have a good pace and Keenan's revelation was dramatic indeed. And the ending!!! What a shocker! Bring on book 3. I can hardly wait.

Melanie's Week in Review  - February 21, 2016
My journey to my next read was an interesting one. I received The Custodian of Marvels by Rod Duncan and after page 2 I discovered that it was the final book of a trilogy. I did what I don't normally do - I went back and started from the beginning with The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter. The story starts by introducing us to Elizabeth Barnabas who is eeking out a meagre existence in hiding from the Duke of Northampton who wants her for his plaything. Elizabeth is a private detective in this alternative England that despite being set in the 21st century could be taken for the late 1800's. Elizabeth's case is to find a missing aristocrat which leads her to join a travelling circus. Having grown up in the circus this was a life that Elizabeth was used to but when she comes under the watchful eye of the Patent Office then life starts to become all the more dangerous for the young PI.

Let me start by saying this is a FANTASTIC read. I really enjoyed Duncan's interesting and complex version of England with its bureaucracy and strict class structure. Each chapter starts with a quote from the Bullet Catcher's Handbook which were as interesting as some of the developments in the plot. Elizabeth is a great character who could think on her feet and stick up for herself. The Patent Office was the perfect sinister character, shrouded in mystery, and not just a law unto itself but the law of the land. Overall, great characters, superior world building and a solid plot. My favourite kind of book. Be sure to check out next week to see what I thought of book 2 - Unseemly Science.

Until then, Happy Reading!

Pawn of the Phoenix
The Memory Collector 2
Penner Publishing, February 9, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 234 pages

Melanie's Week in Review  - February 21, 2016
Braxton, 1903

The serial killer known only as the Phoenix continues to roam the streets and a new victim falls prey. For Moira and Detective Keenan Edwards, still on the hunt for the Phoenix, the rules have changed. The killer remains beyond their grasp.

Moira is willing to give into her fierce attraction to Keenan. However, the detective proves to be more reluctant despite a moment of heated passion. Then discovery of a secret Keenan never planned to share creates an unwelcome rift between the new lovers.

Keenan isn’t the only one hiding something. In this continuation of the Memory Collector series, Moira makes a startling disclosure about her past. This revelation will not only test the boundaries of love, but might also prove to be the clue that will finally unravel the mystery of the Phoenix.

The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter
The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire 1
Angry Robot Books, August 26, 2014 (North America Print and ebook)
  September 4, 2014 (UK Print)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages
Cover Art by Will Staehle

Melanie's Week in Review  - February 21, 2016
Elizabeth Barnabus lives a double life – as herself and as her brother, the private detective. She is trying to solve the mystery of a disappearing aristocrat and a hoard of arcane machines. In her way stand the rogues, freaks and self-proclaimed alchemists of a travelling circus.

But when she comes up against an agent of the all-powerful Patent Office, her life and the course of history will begin to change. And not necessarily for the better…

File Under: Fantasy

Melanie's Week in Review - October 11, 2015

Melanie's Week in Review - October 11, 2015

Firstly, to all those reading this in Canada - Happy Thanksgiving. To everyone else Happy October 11th. I hope you have all had a great week. I didn't get a lot read but the two books I did finish were excellent. So what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - October 11, 2015
I was really excited when I found The Paladin Caper by Patrick Weekes on NetGalley. I had it on pre-order from Amazon but now I got a chance to finish the last book of the fantastic Rogues of the Republic earlier than it's release date of October 27th. In this instalment Loch and her merry band of thieves and rogues are back trying to save the Republic from not only, the ancients but in many cases from itself. It all kicks off when the innocent/central figure in a diabolical prophecy - Dairy is kidnapped and going to be used to open the gate that will bring the ancients back. Unfortunately the rescue attempt wasn't completely successful and the ancients get through and start to insinuate themselves in the very highest ranks of the Republic. Loch and her crew need to use every resource, contact, friend and sometimes enemy to try to send the ancients back where they belong.

When we last left Loch she had almost died and almost everyone still thought she was dead, including her uncle. She doesn't have time to stay dead after Dairy is kidnapped and the ancients start to take over high ranking Republic officials (including her uncle) through the paladin bands which have been sold, as what could only be described in modern speak as a type of Apple watch. Now batting for the bad guys is the sentient warhammer Ghyl that has inside knowledge of Loch's crew after years of living with the love/death priestess Desidora. The odds are almost impossibly stacked against them especially as Loch's assassin sister and a rampaging daemon all want to see Loch really and truly dead. All is not lost for the Republic as Loch is joined with her friend and fellow soldier Kail, Desidora, the virgin loving unicorn Ululenia, the lockpick Tern, and her magician boyfriend Hessler, the former acrobat Icy, and the innocent farm-boy Dairy. This motley crew have it cut out for them in this exciting conclusion to the series.

I LOVED this book. It has everything in it I like - some action but not too much, great characters, excellent world building, well balanced humour and a tiny bit of romance (just enough to make it believable). The ending has so many twists and double crosses it had my head spinning. Weekes also writes for Bioware games including Mass Effect and the Dragon Age series. I really felt there was a resonance between some of the characters in the the Rogues of the Republic series and Dragon Age but love the games so more than happy to enjoy this author in a completely different medium. I can't recommend this series enough but start with The Prophecy Con as you don't want to miss one single word about any of these characters. Looking forward to whatever Weekes has in store next.

Melanie's Week in Review - October 11, 2015
The second book I read this week also came from NetGalley which was Mind of the Phoenix by Jamie McLachlan. This book was released by in September so you can go order it the minute you finish reading this post. The story is set in the late 1800's and starts in a dark and filthy jail cell where the empath Moira is facing execution for murdering her master. Moira lives in a world where empaths are kept as either concubines or blockers but they are all owned nonetheless. Moira was once a concubine and repeatedly torture and abused by her master and killed him trying to escape. No one is more surprised than her when the police offer her a deal - a chance to have her sentence commuted if she helps them catch a serial killer who has murdered several powerful city leaders. Moira is soon paired with a handsome, yet somewhat mysterious Keenan Edwards who is not swayed by her beauty. When Moira discovers that the Phoenix (the serial killer's moniker) is another empath she is both determined to stop him/her before he/she murders someone else and is partly supportive of the crimes as the victims were cruel and merciless masters. What Moira doesn't anticipate is her growing attraction to the detective and her desire to see justice done even if it means she has no chance to escape being just another kind of slave.

I wasn't anticipating enjoying this book quite as much as I did. Based on the description it could have gone either way for me with either being too graphic or too romantic but I think Lachlan got the balance right. This is a very dark story as Moira's life and those of the other empaths are truly horrid. Forced into prostitution from an early age Moira has hardly had any kind of life. She was bought at nineteen by someone who is even more abusive than the owner of the pleasure house where she lived and this taints her outlook on life and plagues her very dreams. The Phoenix murder plot is well paced but not solved by the end of the book which just adds to the tension of the 'who dunnit'. There is however a murder sub-plot that is resolved. I felt that Lachlan could have left this second story line out completely as it was very predictable and somewhat stereotypical. I am still trying to figure out who the Phoenix is and will really be looking forward to the next book in this series.

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

The Paladin Caper
Rogues of the Republic 3
47 North, October 27, 2015
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 480 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - October 11, 2015
A thief’s good deeds are never done.

Loch and her crew are determined to stop the ancients from returning to reclaim the world they once ruled, but the kidnapping of a friend throws their plans awry. When a desperate rescue turns into a shocking reunion, the ancients return and seize power. Determined to stop them, Loch and the group look for a way to close the gate to the ancients’ world, but this time, they find themselves up against an enemy that has insinuated itself into the highest ranks of the Republic. Cruel, cunning, and connected, the ancients target the crew’s families and histories, threatening to tear friendships apart.

If that weren’t bad enough, Loch must deal with her treacherous assassin sister, her turncoat ancient friend, and a daemon who has sworn to hunt her to the ends of the earth. In order to save the Republic and pull off her largest con ever, Loch will need her friends…and maybe her enemies too.

Mind of the Phoenix
The Memory Collector 1
Penner Publishing, September 14, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 286 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - October 11, 2015
Moira is a powerful empath, a psychic graced with the ability to read emotions and memories. Her skill is as much a curse as a gift, for in the harshly stratified city of Braxton empaths are slaves. Clever and beautiful, Moira has learned to rely on no one but herself. Determined to escape life as a concubine, she kills her master, and is imprisoned for the crime.

This could be the end for Moira, but the government has need of her skills. A mysterious serial killer known as the Phoenix has been planting suggestions in his victims' minds that drive them to murder and suicide. To gain her freedom, Moira partners with Keenan Edwards, a handsome young detective, to stop the killer.

Hunting the Phoenix will bring Moira on a more dangerous road than she imagined, forcing her to confront dark minds, twisted moralities, and her growing feelings for the detective. to confront dark minds, twisted moralities, and her growing feelings for the detective.

Melanie's Week in Review - November 12, 2017Melanie's Week in Review  - February 21, 2016Melanie's Week in Review - October 11, 2015

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