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A blog about books and other things speculative

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Melanie's Month in Review - October 2018


Melanie's Month in Review - October 2018


Well hello again. Lots has happened since my last post. First I had a super fantastic holiday in Nova Scotia visiting my sister. It is a beautiful part of Canada and if you ever get the chance to go try out October when the autumn colours are all out. Usually holidays aren't always a time when I read a lot but I was visiting my sister who reads more than I do so I got through some really good books. So let me tell you all about them.


Melanie's Month in Review - October 2018
So I have read quite a bit this month so hold on for a loooonnng post. First up is a nice short story - Dragon's Claw by Karen Chance. This is a Dorina Basarab story and set just after the events of Shadow's Bane. When a bunch of vampires end up dead Dorina reluctantly ends up investigating. She winds up with her faithful vamp follower - Ray - in an alternative/magical Hong Kong chasing a killer of killers through the mayhem of the magically enhanced streets. If she loses it means the end of all vampires and a shift in the war with the Dark Circle.

I enjoy the Dorina Basarab series, much more than the Cassie Palmer books and for this very reason - Dory has a job to do and she does it. She isn't busy swooning over Pritkin or Mircea...she just gets on with it. Chance hasn't written very many short stories in this world so it was a real treat that there was one and so soon after the release of a main instalment. It ends rather abruptly and more action packed than character based but for fans of the series, this is a nice diversion.


Melanie's Month in Review - October 2018
For my flights to and from Canada I needed a book that didn't require a lot of concentration or a complicated plot and so I turned to Clash of Storms by Bec McMaster. I read book 1 of this series - Legends of the Storm and really didn't think I would continue but took another chance.

This instalment centres on Malin - the half dreki who has led her life in the shadows - neither full dreki or full human. The dreki warrior Sirius Blackfrost isn't very happy to discover that a half dreki is his fated mate and he can't let on, especially to the Queen who will take advantage of this news. All Malin wants to do is help her princess escape a loveless marriage but with Blackfrost on her tail it might not go as planned. Fated to be parted but destined to be together.

Clash of Storms was pretty much your standard fantasy romance fare. Malin and Sirius were the opposites that attract - the weakling and the warrior all in a race against time with a uber baddie trying to keep them apart. I didn't miss much by not reading book 2 and was rather disappointed that there seems to be a book 4 coming up. If you really like this genre or need something mind numbing to read then give it a go. A bit weak for a McMaster romance in my view.


Melanie's Month in Review - October 2018
I discovered that the lovely Qwill had sent me the ebook of The Amiestrin Gambit by J. Kathleen Cheney and I had yet to read it. Lucky for me I discovered this while on holiday that encouraged reading. For those of you who don't/haven't read my posts I LOVED Cheney's Dreaming Death. While I waited for the next instalment I thought I would tuck into The King's Daughter series.

As the name suggests Ellis Dantreon is the king's daughter but not a beloved one. She has lived, on her own, sequestered on an estate far away from the palace....virtually abandoned by both her parents. No one is more surprised than Ellis when the king decrees that she trains as a soldier. Her home turns into a barracks for the next few years as she trains to become what her father wants her to be. New friends and more importantly enemies await Ellis as she starts her new life as a soldier.

Melanie's Month in Review - October 2018
The Amiestrin Gambit wasn't the only book of this series that I read in October. I also quickly plowed through books 2 and 3 - The Passing of Pawns and The Black Queen. I have to admit I wasn't sure about The Amiestrin Gambit. I had no clue what was going on for the first several chapters as names were very similar, the magical powers were unexplained and races/relationships were hidden away at the back of the book. However, books 2 and 3 were 'unputdownable'. I liked Ellis as a character. She was resilient and strong without being a warrior or hero. She is supported by an interesting cast of characters, some with magical powers and some without. My favourite character, apart from Ellis, was Grandfather who was actually a woman....sort of.....not going to say anymore so that you can find out for yourself. Each book builds an individual story that starts the weave of the plot for the next book. Book 1 focuses on Ellis in her first year of training to become a soldier. She isn't quite old enough to be a full soldier but trains with the men who have been stationed at her estate. Ellis and friends uncover a nefarious organisation of magically gifted people that hope to topple the power structure. They can take the shape of anyone at anytime, putting both Ellis and her friends at risk. The Passing of Pawns continues immediately after book 1 with Ellis's training and the plot by the separatists. As Ellis matures, a sort of love triangle has developed between Llelas (the soon to be Duke of Sandrine) and Captain Carmeyon Dantreon which adds another layer onto the plot arc. By book 3 - The Black Queen - this is more fully established and at this point Ellis is one of the King's guards. Her mother, who abandoned her when she was only 5, is back in town along with her brother who she had never met. The backstory of the Queen's abandonment of her only daughter is told alongside the continuation of the overarching plot. This is probably the best book of the series so far and I am looking forward to find out what happens next. Certain characters, who are quite prominent in one book do not feature in the next which worked well with the chronology of the overall plotline and made it more credible. If you enjoy fantasy or are a fan of Cheney's then these are a must read.

Melanie's Month in Review - October 2018
Cheney has a definite writing 'voice'. Her female leads tend to be young, experience great hardship and persevere, yet supported by very slightly older, more magical male characters. There is no expectation that the man comes into save the day but the male characters are definitely there for backup and Ellis sometimes needs it. Cheney has serialised book 4 - Knight & Nightrider - on her website (in draft form). I did vow to myself that I wasn't going to read another free serialised book as I have found recently that there can be too much angst tied into a weekly freebie. I have however, read the first 10 chapters that have been released. I think I am enjoying them because there is no expectation as to when a new chapter will be released which means I am not disappointed if one doesn't arrive 'on time'. Cheney also releases chapters of the Dreaming Palace series in a 'pay to read' type arrangement whereby you basically pay a subscription to read chapters early. I haven't signed up for this but thought it was an interesting alternative to waiting for the full book to be released.


That is all I am going to leave you with for this month. I hope you had a great month of super fantastic reads and I look forward to telling you what I read in a few weeks time. Until then Happy Reading.





Dragon's Claw
A Dorina Basarab Novella
Smashwords, Inc., September 2, 2018
eBook, 170 pages
  Also available in Paperback

Melanie's Month in Review - October 2018
A new novella in the New York Times bestselling Midnight's Daughter series!

Everyone knows that vampires are hard to kill. But when Dory Basarab is called to a crime scene in a smelly basement in Queens, she discovers that that may no longer be the case. Somebody has developed a new weapon, a vamp killer, and left her plenty of clues to follow. One of them leads her to the other side of the world, and to a city like no other, where the paranormal is normal and where death stalks the streets. Can she defeat a clever killer before he kills again, and on an unprecedented scale?





Clash of Storms
Legends of the Storms 3
Lochaber Press, September 11, 2018
eBook, 366 pages

Melanie's Month in Review - October 2018
The old eddas speak of dreki—fabled creatures who haunt the depths of Iceland's volcanoes and steal away fair maidens.

Malin wants none of such myths. As a half-blood dreki, she's beneath the notice of the arrogant warriors who rule the skies—except for Sirius Blackfrost, the most ruthless dreki within the court. This dark prince watches her every move, but he's more villain than hero, and in her favourite fairy tales the servant never earns the prince's heart. But is there something more to the look in the Blackfrost's eyes?

To love her would be to curse her to a fate worse than death...

The second he saw her, Sirius knew her for his fated mate. But Malin is a nobody in the dreki court and her very presence is a threat to the queen's ambitions for him. Forced to hide the truth and accept the match his queen has made for him—to mate with the princess Malin serves— he dares not reveal his heart.

But when the princess flees, he must find her—and his only clue is Malin, who aims to thwart him at every step. With danger surrounding them, they must forge a truce. But can Malin ever give this wicked prince her heart? Because, while Sirius's kiss burns through her like lightning, to love him would be to defy the stars themselves…

Join USA Today bestselling author, Bec McMaster, on a seductive journey through a mythic land, with a wicked prince who's never played the hero, a servant girl with a fate larger than she can believe, and an evil queen who threatens to tear them apart. Download this epic historical fantasy filled with magic and breathtaking romance today!

Don’t miss any of the Legends of the Storm books!

Book 1:
Heart of Fire
Book 2: Storm of Desire
Book 3: Clash of Storms
Book 4: Daughter of Storms (featuring Tormund)





The Amiestrin Gambit
The King's Daughter 1
Dream Palace Press, May 1, 2018
eBook, 384 pages
  Also available in Trade Paperback

Melanie's Month in Review - October 2018
Ellis Dantreon is barely fifteen when she learns that her father–the king of Jenear–has decreed that she’s to be trained as a soldier. Thrust in among the others at the newly reopened War College of Amiestrin, Ellis must earn the other cadets’ respect and trust. Not all of them are pleased at having a girl among them. Ellis has to choose which ones to trust, sometimes pushing back against her instructors’ urging as she does.

But most of all, she must deal with a world far wider than the one she’s known. That world will shape her future, for the Gifted whom her meager staff have always considered myths prove to be very real indeed. Those people want very much to influence the course of a future Jenear. When it comes time for her young brother to take the throne, the Seers among them believe that Ellis will decide whether her younger brother lives or dies, or if he’ll be replaced by another claimant to the throne altogether.

And hiding among the cadets and staff, some of those Gifted have arrived at Amiestrin…



The Passing of Pawns
The King's Daughter 2
Dream Palace Press, June 14, 2018
eBook, 265 pages
  Also available in Trade Paperback

Melanie's Month in Review - October 2018
Ellis Dantreon is sixteen now. For the last year she’s worked to make a place for herself among the first class of cadets at the War College of Amiestrin. It’s been a struggle, but she feels they’ve begun to accept her. But a plot that would have put Ellis’ very life in danger unravels, and it seems that the Separatists may have been behind it.

Ellis has to decide quickly where she’ll place her trust. Are the Separatists trying to remove her from the line of succession? Or trying to frighten her into joining their cause? In the end, will friendships prove stronger than family?

And will the Gifted be able to get to the truth of the plot?



The Black Queen
The King's Daughter 3
Dream Palace Press, July 31, 2018
eBook, 466 pages
  Also available in Trade Paperback

Melanie's Month in Review - October 2018
When Ellis Dantreon's father ordered her to become a soldier, she became the only female at the war college. Now she’s graduated and has taken her place guarding the king. But the country Seers are still predicting a terrible possibility—that she might end up marrying the Duke of Perisen, Anton Marisi.

And if she does, she probably won’t live long. Nor will her brother, Prince Kerris.

Ellis is baffled by the prediction. She’s never even spoken to the man. She certainly has no intention of allowing him to court her if she does meet him. But when another woman pretends to be her, Ellis realizes how easy it would be for that marriage to happen after all.

Now Ellis has to gather all the help she can to stave off that possibility. Unfortunately, she has an added challenge: her mother, the Queen of Jenear, has come to Verina.

Melanie's Week In Review - January 7, 2018


Melanie's Week In Review - January 7, 2018


Welcome to 2018! I hope that everyone had a great time on New Year's Eve and that 2018 will bring health, happiness and some really great books. I am also sending warm wishes to all my North American chums who are experiencing the weather bomb (get it..warm wishes?& tee hee). I hope that the power stays on and stay tucked up at home under a duvet with a good read.

I would love to be able to tell you about a book that was published in 2018 that I have read in 2018 but alas, I am not that organised. Instead I have books that were published last year that I either read last year or just finished. I have also been busy reading the SPFBO 2017 finalists from other blogs so bear with me!


Melanie's Week In Review - January 7, 2018
I am a big fan of the Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman. I have reviewed each of the previous three books and have loved the very notion of an invisible library where the librarians like Irene work as covert operatives obtaining rare books. The first three books built up the plot arch of the evil Alberich who wanted to bring down Irene and the Library however, that plot was resolved at the end of book 3. In this instalment Irene and Kai are caught in the middle of two dragons who are competing to obtain a rare book and a prominent place in the dragon hierarchy. Irene is determined to keep the Library neutral and maintain the balance of power between the dragons and the fae, if it kills her....and it just might.

The setting of this instalment, The Lost Plot, is an alternative 1930's style Chicago with a heady mix of the mob and prohibition thrown in for a dash of authenticity. Irene and Kai's race against time to stop the Library becoming embroiled in dragon politics is well developed and executed. The allies, enemies and frenemies that help and hinder their progress are delightfully stereotypical and I couldn't decide which enemy I liked more. Irene and Kai's relationship takes a new turn and one that kind of surprised me given the events of a slightly romantic nature during book 3. While I thoroughly enjoyed this instalment it felt like it was out of sequence with the other books as the plot arch was resolved in the last book. It felt like Cogman had more of Irene's story to tell but hadn't done that planning upfront. It was just a bit jarring with all the build up to the resolution to the Alberich plot and then he barely features in this one. While you can't/shouldn't read books 1-3 out of sequence The Lost Plot could really be read at any point or as a stand alone novel. I really liked this book but can't say that I loved it. If Cogman had taken elements of The Burning Page and merged it with The Lost Plot then it would have been the perfect book.


Melanie's Week In Review - January 7, 2018
The second book I would like to tell you about is Bec McMaster's Heart of Fire which is the first instalment in her new Legends of the Storm series. I read quite a few of McMaster's books and I like some more than others. I have to admit that I wasn't really that drawn to this book based purely on the book description. I was on a city break to Oslo and doing a lot of travelling and really needed something that didn't need 100% of my concentration. Heart of Fire fit that bill.

In this instalment we are introduced to Freyja is her town's social outcast who spends her time taking care of her invalid father. When the local dreki (aka dragon) steals her last ram Freyja decides to take action and puts herself on a dangerous path. Freyja doesn't realise that the very dreki that steals her last ram is the very same hotty (Rurik) that she meets in a local village. It's not long before Rurik ingratiates himself into the beautiful Freyja's life, while keeping his real identity secret places her in great danger. Will love survive? Will they survive? I will leave it to you to find out.

Heart of Fire is one of those books that you don't need to invest a lot of time or effort into as the plot is quite straight forward and the characters rather one dimensional. The 'goodies' are very good and the baddies are very bad but it is a very quick, easy read and sometimes your brain just needs something that is nice and easy to digest.


There you go, my first WIR of 2018. I hope to be back next week to tell you about what else I have read so until then Happy Reading.





The Lost Plot
An Invisible Library Novel 4
Ace, January 9, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

Melanie's Week In Review - January 7, 2018
After being commissioned to find a rare book, Librarian Irene and her assistant, Kai, head to Prohibition-era New York and are thrust into the middle of a political fight with dragons, mobsters, and Fae.

In a 1920s-esque New York, Prohibition is in force; fedoras, flapper dresses, and tommy guns are in fashion: and intrigue is afoot. Intrepid Librarians Irene and Kai find themselves caught in the middle of a dragon political contest. It seems a young Librarian has become tangled in this conflict, and if they can’t extricate him, there could be serious repercussions for the mysterious Library. And, as the balance of power across mighty factions hangs in the balance, this could even trigger war.

Irene and Kai are locked in a race against time (and dragons) to procure a rare book. They’ll face gangsters, blackmail, and the Library’s own Internal Affairs department. And if it doesn’t end well, it could have dire consequences on Irene’s job. And, incidentally, on her life…


Melanie's Week In Review - January 7, 2018
Book 1
Melanie's Week In Review - January 7, 2018
Book 2
Melanie's Week In Review - January 7, 2018
Book 3





Heart of Fire
Legends of the Storm 1
Lochaber Press Pty. Ltd., December 14, 2017
eBook, 260 pages

Melanie's Week In Review - January 7, 2018
The old eddas speak of dreki—fabled creatures who haunt the depths of Iceland's volcanoes and steal away fair maidens.

Freyja wants none of such myths. Dreki seducing young ladies? Ha. They probably eat such foolish girls. But when the local dreki steals her last ram—costing her any chance of feeding her ill father through the winter—Freyja intends to confront the fearsome myth.

Sentenced to a life of exile from his clan, Rurik is fascinated by the furious woman who comes to claim her ram. She reeks of mysterious magic and challenges him at every step. He intends to claim the passionate firebrand, but to do so he must take mortal form. It's the only time the dreki are vulnerable, and with a dragon-hunter arriving on the shores of Iceland, he can barely afford the risk—but lonely Freyja, with her elf-cursed eyes and pragmatic soul, tempts him in ways he's never felt before. Is she the key to reclaiming his heritage? Or will she be his downfall?

Don't miss any of the Legends of the Storm books!
1. Heart of fire
2. Storm of Desire (coming 2018)
3. Clash of Storms (coming 2018)

Melanie's Month in Review - October 2018Melanie's Week In Review - January 7, 2018

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