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Melanie's Week in Review - March 12, 2017

Melanie's Week in Review - March 12, 2017

I apologise in advance if I start typing mmmmm as I write this. Today has been one of those days required post work chocolate and the sweetie of choice is M&Ms. I am stuffing my face with peanut M&Ms as I write this so my fingers may end up typing the odd errant M in between shoving this chocolaty treat into my mouth. So what did M read?

Melanie's Week in Review - March 12, 2017
Hilarity abounded this week as I enjoyed book 3 of the Clovenhoof series by Heide Goody and Iain Grant. No Jeremy this time. What you say? No Jeremy Clovenhoof everyone's favourite former Prince of Hell? That's right no Jeremy. This story starts in the Celestial City and everyone is in an uproar as a being named Simon has been discovered in Toulon. That might not sound very unusual but Simon has no soul. Even more odd is that Simon is looking for Mary (aka Mother Mary, mother of Jesus). No one has heard from Mary in decades so it is up to Joan of Arc, St Francis and St Christopher to go down to earth to find Mary and solve the mystery of the souless Simon. Sounds simple enough but nothing is ever as easy as it seems especially when 3 of Heaven's B or possibly C team are sent down to Earth to find Mary. It's almost mission impossible for this hapless trio. From the red light district of Amsterdam to the Louvre in Paris and down to Toulon this celestial squad try to best to navigate modern culture, to hilarious results in their search of Mary and a way to stop Armageddon.

I didn't think it was possible for a book in this series to be funny without Jeremy in it. I was wrong. Godsquad is HILARIOUS. Perhaps the teeny tiniest not as funny as the books with Jeremy in them but very, very funny indeed. I especially enjoyed the chapter involving the training course that Joan, Francis and Christopher had to attend to prepare themselves for earth hundreds of years after they had last been there. I am not sure how the writing duo of Goody and Grant do it. How is it so funny book after book? I was lolling and rolfing all the way into work. Yet again I highlighted so many sections of this book that it would take several pages to tell you all about them. I think you could easily read this as a standalone story. Get it, read it asap!

Melanie's Week in Review - March 12, 2017
I thought I better give my stomach a break from all the lolling and discovered that the final instalment of the Night Prince series was available. Into the Fire by Jeaniene Frost wraps up the story of Vlad and Leila. After the horrific events of the previous book Leila is still left magically connected to Vlad's enemy Mircea. If he is hurt, she is hurt. If he dies she dies. A powerful necromancer is involved who Vlad and Leila need to find before Leila pays the ultimate price.

I am glad that Frost decided to wrap up this series. While I don't mind a bit of PNR to talk my mind off 'real life' I probably shouldn't have followed the Clovenhoof books with Into the Fire. I just found that I didn't really care what happened to Leila and all the charred bodies and exploding heads got to be a bit dull in the end. There were a number of points where I wished Jeremy Clovenhoof would come trotting into the scene and do something outrageously funny rather than reading another chapter where it was OK if Vlad killed someone as long as he loved. I am sure that fans of this series will be sad to see these characters go whereas I am left feeling a bit disappointed that this instalment feels like the story was dragged out a bit too long.

That is it for me this week. I am going to try to mix my reading up a bit this week. I won't commit to not reading any Clovenhoof though!. Until next week happy reading.

Clovenhoof 3
Pigeon Park Press, February 6, 2015
     Trade Paperback, 316 pages
Pigeon Park Press, April 23, 2015
     eBook, 318 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - March 12, 2017
The Team:
Joan of Arc, the armour-plated teen saint of Orleans.
Francis of Assisi, friend to all the animals whether they like it or not.
St Christopher, the patron saint of travel who by papal decree has never existed – no matter how much he argues otherwise.

The Mission:
An impossible prayer has been received by Heaven and it’s a prayer that only Mary, Mother of God, can answer. Unfortunately, Mary hasn’t been seen in decades and is off wandering the Earth somewhere. This elite team of Heavenly saints are sent down to Earth to find Mary before Armageddon is unleashed on an unsuspecting world.

A breathless comedy road trip from Heaven to France and all points in-between featuring murderous butchers, a coachload of Welsh women, flying portaloos, nuclear missiles, giant rubber dragons, an army of dogs, a very rude balloon and way too much French wine.

Into the Fire
A Night Prince Novel 4
Avon, February 28, 2017
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages
Hardcover, 320 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - March 12, 2017
In the explosive finale to New York Times bestselling author Jeaniene Frost’s Night Prince series, Vlad is in danger of losing his bride to an enemy whose powers might prove greater than the Prince of Vampires’ . . .In the wrong hands,  love can be a deadly weapon

For nearly six hundred years, Vlad Tepesh cared for nothing, so he had nothing to lose. His brutal reputation ensured that all but the most foolhardy stayed away. Now, falling in love with Leila has put him at the mercy of his passions. And one adversary has found a devastating way to use Vlad’s new bride against him.

A powerful spell links Leila to the necromancer Mircea. If he suffers or dies, so does she. Magic is forbidden to vampires, so Vlad and Leila enlist an unlikely guide as they search for a way to break the spell. But an ancient enemy lies in wait, capable of turning Vlad and Leila’s closest friends against them . . . and finally tearing the lovers apart forever.

Melanie's Week in Review - February 8, 2015

Melanie's Week in Review - February 8, 2015

Sorry folks, my book reading this week was a bit poor as I have had the WORST cold and even off work for a day. So now that I have your sympathy you might notice I only read 2 books (is it working?). So what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - February 8, 2015You might remember last week that I had a little trip down memory lane by re-reading the short story Alpha and Omega by Patricia Briggs. I decided to continue that trip by re-reading book 1 in the series Cry Wolf which is based in the world of Mercy Thompson. The story starts immediately after the events of the short story with Anna joining Charles in the Marrock's pack based in rural Montana. While in the very early stages of their mating and their romance Charles is sent to the wilds to track down a rogue wolf. Little does he know that its not just any rogue but a witch that could harm more than a few lost hikers. Charles is one of my favourite characters from the Mercy Thompson's world and I always enjoy reading what him and Anna are up to and I am looking forward to Dead Heat  which will be released in March.

Melanie's Week in Review - February 8, 2015
Next on my reading list was Bound by Flames by Jeaniene Frost. This is the third book in the Night Prince series. Vlad and his vampire bride Leila are searching for Vlad's arch enemy Szilagyi to exact revenge. Unfortunately, Leila falls into the enemy's hands and Vlad is determined to get her back. Their love is red hot and anyone and everyone is going to burn if they try to keep them apart.

I can't say that I really liked this book and thought it was weakest of the series. The torture scenes were incredibly brutal and rather unnecessary. I even felt a bit sick at one point but then a chapter or two later the torture was almost all forgotten and chapters of hot and steamy between Leila and Vlad ensued. I think if I had been brutalised and almost raped I wouldn't be jumping into my marital bed that quickly no matter how much I loved my vampire husband. I think what got me reading this series was the cover (the model, of course). The final book in the series will be out in 2016.

That's it for me for this week. Fingers crossed I read more and blow my nose less. Until next week. Happy Reading.

BEA 2014 / BookCon 2014

On Friday and Saturday of last week I attended Book Expo America (BEA) and BookCon at the Jacob Javitz Center in New York City. I mostly go to connect with publishers and publicists that I interact with because of The Qwillery. It's a wonderful professional resource for any one in or connected to the book industry including bloggers. I generally only see some of the publicists twice a year - BEA and New York Comic Con (NYCC). I was also able to meet some publicists that I had not yet met. I had a fascinating discussion about UK vs US covers with a wonderful publicist from Quercus, which has recently been acquired by Hachette. I also picked up a few signed books and met some authors I was interested in interviewing and/or including in the 2014 Debut Author Challenge.

The BEA floor is huge and I can not even guess how many miles I walked, but I did realize that I am a wee bit out of shape (read very out of shape) and I will be starting an exercise program of some sort so that I don't need 3 days to recover from NYCC in October.

Saturday was BookCon as well as BEA. I did not know what to expect since this was the first year for BookCon and 10,000 tickets were sold. Imagine approximately10,000 additional people being let into less than 1/3 of the space for the entire BEA. It was incredibly crowded, very chaotic, hard to walk around, loud, and somewhat fun. It seemed very much like New York Comic Con. I must note that one of the exhibitors who was in the BookCon section of BEA did not show up for BookCon. I can only guess at the reason but I suspect that they did not want to be part of what became the public part of the show. In addition the BEA section of the Exhibit Hall seemed much less crowded than the day before. It was actually nice to get away from BookCon and take a break in the much more quiet BEA. However, I do not know what that means for BEA attendance while BookCon is taking place. Fewer professionals coming that day because of BookCon? Everyone was at BookCon? Your guess is as good as mine. I believe that the idea of BookCon is good one but since this was the first year there is much to be worked out. I hope that the publishers have better ways of controlling lines for some of the signings and it's all better organized than this year.

BookCon will be held on Saturday and Sunday next year, which also extends BEA by one day. Again only part of the Exhibit Hall will be open to BookCon attendees as it was this year.

Enough about that stuff. You want to see some pictures. (I'll also do another post about the books I picked up. There are not many because I only take a few books and am not interested in a haul of books that I probably won't read.)

BEA 2014 / BookCon 2014
My teens and I watch Extra Virgin on the Cooking Channel. We love this show. I had no idea that Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar were going to be at BEA. I was thrilled to chat with Debi briefly and get a copy of their book, Extra Virgin. I will have to buy one that I can use though because there is no way I am going to get food on the signed copy.

BEA 2014 / BookCon 2014
Alethea Kontis, Ellen Datlow and Esther Friesner
at the SWFA Booth
(Probably my favorite picture of show!)

BEA 2014 / BookCon 2014
 Errick Nunnally and Jennifer Allis Provost signing at the Spencer Hill Booth

BEA 2014 / BookCon 2014
Errick Nunnally with a copy of his upcoming debut Blood for the Sun
(and yes, he will be featured in the 2014 Debut Author Challenge next month).

BEA 2014 / BookCon 2014
Jeaniene Frost

BEA 2014 / BookCon 2014
John L. Campbell, author of the Omega Days Series

BEA 2014 / BookCon 2014
Jonathan Maberry

BEA 2014 / BookCon 2014
Laura Anne Gilman (and my son hiding)

BEA 2014 / BookCon 2014
Michael R. Underwood showing off some of the posters at the Osprey Booth  (includes 
Angry Robot). Michael's Shield and Crocus is out on June 10th from 47North.

And last but not least:

BEA 2014 / BookCon 2014
My son (left) shaking hands with Cary Elwes (right) whose book, As You Wish
Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride, is out on October 7, 2014

Melanie's Week in Review - April 27, 2014

Melanie's Week in Review - April 27, 2014

I started the week on a reading roll but have rather limped in towards the end of the week. This is mainly due to the fact that I read such a great book at the start of the week and then nothing else could compare to it and I couldn't find anything to catch my interest afterwards. So what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - April 27, 2014
I was  really lucky when my request for an ARC of Magic Breaks was granted by the publisher (Ace). I was really trying to avoid reading it until June as I want to respect the publisher's request not post a review until about a month before the release date which is July 29th. I always prefer to write my review as soon as possible after finishing a book and I don't usually have the luxury of writing them months before they can be posted. I couldn't resist this time as it was like the book cover was taunting me every time I opened my Kindle. I really like this series and Kate is one of my all time favourite heroines. Unfortunately, for you dear reader I can't give too much away about Magic Breaks as I will be writing a full review and you will have to wait until late June/early July to read it. All I can say is that if you haven't had a chance to read any of the other books in the series then you have almost 2 months to catch up because its a cracker!

Melanie's Week in Review - April 27, 2014I bought The Digital Wolf by Jon Rosenberg a few months ago not realising it was the second book of The Academy series. I don't really like skipping books if I don't have to so went and bought book 1 - The Unicorn Crisis. This first book in the series starts with the Summoner David Ash chasing a mad unicorn around a field in Stratford-upon-Avon. Ash didn't think his day could get any worse until he learns that a fellow Summoner has been killed and with the King of Fairy enraged that someone effectively stole his favourite pet Ash is charged with finding the murderer and stopping anyone or anything else escaping from Fairy. Ash has not one but two side kicks to help him with this case including Llewellyn the Welsh elf with a fondness for bitter and soap operas and the fellow Summoner and American, Jenny who has come bearing a grudge. The unlikely trio uncover that there are plans afoot to bring down the Hidden Academy and its up to them to ensure that they don't succeed. Unicorns, flying monkeys and drunk university students, Ash has his work cut out for him!

I enjoyed this book and thought that Rosenberg has a gift for humour and a fantastic imagination. David Ash reminded me a tiny bit of Ben Aaronovitch's Peter Grant series. Both authors have the ability to mix humour with murder and/or mayhem without making their heroes sound like wise cracking jerks. Not an easy feat! I thought it was quite effective how Rosenberg teased out Ash's background and then wove this into the plot. Not everything was spelled out at the start which made it really easy to engage with the story as you wanted to find out meaning or importance of certain events from David's past that are regularly referred to throughout the novel. My only one very tiny criticism was that I thought it as a little bit too long. By about 3/4 of the way through I wanted Ash to have solved the case already. All in all a great start to the series and I am looking forward to The Digital Wolf.

Melanie's Week in Review - April 27, 2014After one super exciting book and one rather hefty book I needed something light and short to finish off my week. I was trawling through my Kindle recommendations and found Devil to Pay by Jeaniene Frost. I have mixed views of Frost's books. I wasn't fond of the Night Huntress series but sort of like the Night Prince series. This novella is part of the Night Huntress world and even for a novella it was pretty short. In retrospect I was glad that it was as it was pretty dull. For vampires and demons they were all  pretty much goody-two-shoes and not at all engaging. I should have read a few more reviews before I decided to buy a book from a series I quit reading after book 2.

That is all for me for this week. I am keeping my fingers crossed for getting through some good books this week. We have a 48 hour tube strike next week and I will need to work from home which means I have less concentrated reading time. Wish me luck!  Until next week Happy Reading.

Melanie's Week in Review - December 15, 2013

Melanie's Week in Review - December 15, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All in all I thought I did quite well considering at one point I was certain I would only get one book read. I am keeping my fingers crossed for a more productive week next week. Until then Happy Reading. 

Melanie's Week in Review - December 1, 2013

Melanie's Week in Review - December 1, 2013

I hope all my American friends have had a great Thanksgiving. I can't believe it is now December and only a few weeks away from 2014. It feels like time is melting away....even more so when I realised it was time to write this post and I hadn't read very much. I am blaming work for my lack of reading. Not only is it 'tis the season to be jolly' it is also 'tis the season to infect your colleagues with your lurgy' which I have to say doesn't make for such a joyous lyric. It was a positive germ factory in my office this week and needless to say I am now sick (please insert sympathy here).

Melanie's Week in Review - December 1, 2013
I wasn't very successful getting back on track reading new books but in an effort to make myself feel better I went back and re-read Once Burned and Twice Tempted from the Night Prince series by Jeaniene Frost. These were really quick reads, especially the second time around and I didn't tax myself too much with the plot (mainly because I had read it before). I prefer this series to the Night Huntress series and think I am the only person on the planet that doesn't get all excited about Cat and Bones. Leila and Vlad are way more interesting of a couple especially as Leila gets only a little mad at her vampire hubby for skewering his enemies in their dungeon. I also like the way that Frost ends each book. Rather than a big dramatic cliff hanger Frost has all the action earlier on (but still close to the end of the book) and then finishes practically mid-sentence. Each time I have read these books I always have to go back and check that there weren't any pages I had missed reading as they end so abruptly.

Melanie's Week in Review - December 1, 2013One book off my TBR that I did manage to read was Between Two Thorns which is the first in the Split Worlds series by Emma Newman. I got this book from NetGalley even though it was first published by Angry Robot back in February (2013). I wasn't immediately grabbed by the story which switches between Mundanis (where we, normal mundanes live) and Aquae Sulis which is in the Nether, an alternate world set more or less in 18th/19th century England and where the leading families are supported by a fae lord. Everyone is kept in line by the Arbiters who are effectively the police and who carry their souls around their neck in a pendant. There are several characters to keep you busy including Sam, a mundane who has witnessed a crime he has been charmed to forget, Max an Arbiter who is cut off from other Arbiters and whose soul now resides around the neck of a gargoyle and Cathy, who has escaped her overbearing parents to live in Mundanis. These characters all come together to try to solve the crime Sam has witnessed.

In the early chapters of the book the scenes would rapidly change between these three characters but it was Max and the Arbiters who I found the most difficult to come to grips with. I couldn't really understand the significance of why Arbiters had their souls implanted in a necklace and I am still not entirely sure other than perhaps being a plot device. None of the characters were particularly likeable but I did think Cathy was slightly more sympathetic. Cathy was trying to escape an arranged marriage and life of virtual servitude to a man she neither liked or respected as she tries to hide in Mundanis. Cathy also has all the best lines and my favourite was when she was wishing she was back at home (in Mundanis) playing Mass Effect rather than standing by the punchbowl in a crinoline heavy ball gown in Aquae Sulis.

Between Two Thorns was one of the reasons why I ended up reading the Night Prince series again. I couldn't really concentrate on the plot that kept rapidly switching between characters. It wasn't until mid way that I was actually engaged in the story. I did end up really enjoying this book and Newman leaves us with a great cliffhanger and I am off to find book 2 (and possibly 3 if I am super naughty).

Melanie's Week in Review - December 1, 2013
In the midst of feeling sorry for myself and my impending cold I decided I need something else to read that I could get through really quickly. I had a quick look at what Amazon thought I should be reading and came across Damon, the first in the Protectors series by Teresa Gabelman. This book had good reviews on both Goodreads and Amazon but I wasn't impressed other than with my ability to read it in only 2 hours. I thought it was too stereotypical of the genre (vampire based PNR) and had a few direct similarities to the Sookie Stackhouse series where humans used vamps for their blood. I predicted every plot point and thought the characters were a bit one dimensional. Other readers enjoyed this book more than I but I felt a tad let down as I didn't think it lived up to all the stars it seemed to get.

That was it for me on the reading front. I am hoping I am more successful next week getting back on track. I hope you have a great week and until my next WIR as always, Happy Reading.

This Side of the Grave by Jeaniene Frost - February 5, 2011

Jeaniene Frost posted a book trailer for This Side of the Grave at her blog yesterday. This Side of the Grave is the 5th book in the Night Huntress series and will be published on February 22, 2011. It's on my must by list.

Danger waits on both sides of the grave.

Half-vampire Cat Crawfield and her vampire husband Bones have fought for their lives, as well as for their relationship. But just when they've triumphed over the latest battle, Cat's new and unexpected abilities threaten to upset a long-standing balance . . .

With the mysterious disappearance of vampires, rumors abound that a species war is brewing. A zealot is inciting tensions between the vampires and ghouls, and if these two powerful groups clash, innocent mortals could become collateral damage. Now Cat and Bones are forced to seek help from a dangerous "ally"—the ghoul queen of New Orleans herself. But the price of her assistance may prove more treacherous than even the threat of a supernatural war . . . to say nothing of the repercussions Cat never imagined.

Prior books in the Night Huntress Series:

Halfway to the Grave, Book 1 (10/30/2007)

One Foot in the Grave, Book 2 (4/29/2008)

At Grave's End, Book 3 (12/30/2008)

Destined for an Early Grave, Book 4 (7/28/2009)

Night Huntress World series

First Drop of Crimson, Book 1 (2/9/2010)

Eternal Kiss of Darkness, Book 2 (7/27/2010)
Melanie's Week in Review - March 12, 2017Melanie's Week in Review - February 8, 2015BEA 2014 / BookCon 2014Melanie's Week in Review - April 27, 2014Melanie's Week in Review - December 15, 2013Melanie's Week in Review - December 1, 2013This Side of the Grave by Jeaniene Frost - February 5, 2011

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