The Qwillery | category: Lilith Saintcrow


The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Melanie's Week in Review - April 17, 2016

Melanie's Week in Review - April 17, 2016

If April showers bring May flowers what do April torrential downpours bring? Answers on a postcard. It has been, as the English say, chucking it down. One of my friends posted that it had been snowing. SNOWING!!! This is England not Canada or the States. Yikes.

Dear reader, this has been a slow week for me. I have been very unproductive of late. I actually only read 1 book but I forgot to tell you last week about one of the books I had read so will be including it here. I hope you don't mind.  So what do I have to tell you about?

Melanie's Week in Review - April 17, 2016
Theodora is a very talented witch who loves her quirky shop with her quirky friends after a life on the run.  When the tall, dark and handsome Dante comes into her life with danger on his heels she isn't so sure he is trustworthy but despite this she can't seem to say no.  Theodora is everything Dante has ever wanted and who is sworn to protect. As a Watcher it is his duty to bring Theo to the Circle of Light but that might be easier than it sounds to bring his charge into the fold.

You might remember a couple of weeks ago I read Lilith Saintcrow's The Demon's Librarian and thought it was OK. Normally, I like Saintcrow's female characters as they are usually a bit forthright and stick up for themselves. I am deeply disappointed by Dark Watcher. I think this was a poor substitute for Chess (Francesca) from The Demon's Librarian. I also think the plots are far too similar especially since they aren't part of the same series or cross overs. I felt a bit ripped off and that Saintcrow just recycled her characters and, in fact, the whole underlying plot. While Chess from The Demon's Librarian was tough and could stick up for herself Theodora from Dark Watcher can only be described as a big wimp.  I ended up skipping a few pages in this book so unless you are desperate for something to read I would give it a miss.

Melanie's Week in Review - April 17, 2016
Book 2 this week was Paul Cornell's Who Killed Sherlock Holmes which is the third book in the Shadow Police series. In this novel the team are back. Quill, Ross, Costain, and Sefton are trying to find who killed Sherlock Holmes. It seems impossible but someone is killing Sherlock Holmes...not just the fictional character but anyone who has played him. Still struggling with the events from the previous novels that have left Ross without any joy in her life and Quill suffering the aftereffects of being in hell the team are more than impaired in their attempt to solve this case.

There is soo much going on in this novel it is difficult to describe it without giving away some major plot points. Ross is deeply affected after sacrificing her future happiness in order to save her father. Costain deeply regrets the circumstances that led to Ross's loss while Quill falls deeper and deeper into into despair over the fate of anyone who lives in London. The surprise for this story is Lofthouse who has been a minor character in the previous books. We get the opportunity to find out what happened to her and her lost memories. This is s great story and keeps you guessing all the way through. My only criticism is that I spent the first few chapters not knowing what on earth was going on and I thought it dragged in the middle. I had no idea 'who dunnit' and it was a super twist so I hope you are as surprised as I was. My one word of caution, dear reader, this book is quite depressing so don't start it if you are feeling a bit blue. It has a happyish ending but it takes a long time to get there. Otherwise, enjoy!

That is it for me this week. Until next week, Happy Reading!

Dark Watcher
The Watchers 1
ImaJinn Books, October 2004
Trade Paperback and eBook
Reviewer's Own

Melanie's Week in Review - April 17, 2016
The Lightbringer:

Theodora Morgan knows she's a little strange. Her talent for healing has marked her as different all through a life spent moving from town to town when someone notices her strangeness. Now she has a home, and she doesn't want to leave-but she's been found. The Crusade wants her dead because she's psychic, the Dark wants to feed on her talent, and then there's Dante. Tall and grim and armed with black-bladed knives, guns, and a sword, he says he's here to protect her. But what if he's what Theo needs protection from most?

The Watcher:

Dante is a Watcher, sworn by Circle Lightfall to protect the Lightbringers. His next assignment? Watch over Theo. She doesn't know she's a Lightbringer, she doesn't know she's surrounded by enemies, and she doesn't know she's been marked for death by a bunch of fanatics. He can't protect her if she doesn't trust him, but how can she possibly trust a man scarred by murder and warfare-a man who smells like the same Darkness Theo has been running from all her life?

Who Killed Sherlock Holmes?
A Shadow Police Novel 3
Pan Books, May 19, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 368 pages
US Publication Date - not available

Melanie's Week in Review - April 17, 2016
The ghost of Sherlock Holmes is dead, but who will solve his murder?

The Great Detective's ghost has walked London's streets for an age, given shape by people's memories. Now someone's put a ceremonial dagger through his chest. But what's the motive? And who - or what - could kill a ghost?

When policing London's supernatural underworld, eliminating the impossible is not an option. DI James Quill and his detectives have learnt this the hard way. Gifted with the Sight, they'll pursue a criminal genius - who'll lure them into a Sherlockian maze of clues and evidence. The team also have their own demons to fight. They've been to Hell and back (literally) but now the unit is falling apart . . .

Prior novels in the Shadow Police

London Falling
A Shadow Police Novel 1
Tor Fantasy, February 25, 2014
Mass Market Paperback, 432 pages
Previously: Hardcover and eBook, April 16, 2013

Melanie's Week in Review - April 17, 2016
Police officers Quill, Costain, Sefton, and Ross know the worst of London—or they think they do. While investigating a mobster's mysterious death, they come into contact with a strange artifact and accidentally develop the Sight. Suddenly they can see the true evil haunting London's streets.
Armed with police instincts and procedures, the four officers take on the otherworldly creatures secretly prowling London. Football lore and the tragic history of a Tudor queen become entwined in their pursuit of an age-old witch with a penchant for child sacrifice. But when London's monsters become aware of their meddling, the officers must decide what they are willing to sacrifice to clean up their city, in London Falling by Paul Cornell.

The Severed Streets
A Shadow Police Novel 2
Tor Books, May 20, 2014
Hardcover and eBook, 416 pages
Upcoming:  Mass Market Paperback, November 1, 2016

Melanie's Week in Review - April 17, 2016

Desperate to find a case to justify the team's existence, with budget cuts and a police strike on the horizon, Quill thinks he's struck gold when a cabinet minister is murdered by an assailant who wasn't seen getting in or out of his limo. A second murder, that of the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, presents a crime scene with a message...identical to that left by the original Jack the Ripper.

The new Ripper seems to have changed the MO of the old completely: he's only killing rich white men. The inquiry into just what this supernatural menace is takes Quill and his team into the corridors of power at Whitehall, to meetings with MI5, or 'the funny people' as the Met call them, and into the London occult underworld. They go undercover to a pub with a regular evening that caters to that clientele, and to an auction of objects of power at the Tate Modern.

Meanwhile, in Paul Cornell's The Severed Streets, the Ripper keeps on killing and finally the pattern of those killings gives Quill's team clues towards who's really doing this....

Melanie's Week in Review - April 3, 2016

Melanie's Week in Review - April 3, 2016

Welcome to April everyone! I hope you didn't get fooled on April Fools Day. For once I didn't get suckered because I usually fall for something on that day. I had a much more productive week reading than I did last week. So what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - April 3, 2016
UK Cover
I re-read one of the books that was featured earlier this week in a cover reveal. I have chosen to use the cover from the edition that I read last August when the book was first released in the UK. Check out the gorgeous cover that will be used when the book is released in May in the US. You can also read how Saulter was involved in the cover design. This is really interesting so check it out here.

Anyway, I read book the book last year so I had a quick re-read to refresh myself of the plot. It wasn't hard - either to re-read this great book or to remind myself what happened. Unlike in book 2 - Binary - all of my favourite characters from book 1 - Gemsigns - are back. Gaela and Bal have continued to raise Gabriel who is now 18 along with his young, but human sister Eve. This plot centres around the gillung (amphibian humanoids) who have built a thriving community along the the Thames and have developed a new energy source. This has changed the balance of power between the human population and the gems which has led to violence and the inevitable propaganda against the gems which Gabriel is trying to resolve. This plot is interwoven with the that of Zavcka Klist, who is released from prison. What is almost more chilling than her release are the followers that are more than happy to help her gain the life she used to have. Can Mikael, Sharon Varsi, Herron, and Aryel succeed in helping the gillung bring parity to their race while at the same time thwart whatever plot Klist has in the making? I will leave that with you to find out.

Regeneration is a fantastic final book of a fantastic series. I loved every minute of reading and re-reading this novel. As I mentioned my favourite characters from book 1 were back, some of my faves from book 2 and I discovered some new ones. Ayrel is still very much the star of this series but is back to sharing the limelight with the uber antagonist Klist. While I did guess quite a few of the story's big reveals I still enjoyed the build up to the ending and how Saulter developed the characters along the way. You could read this as a stand alone book but why miss out on two other excellent books. Enjoy readers!

Melanie's Week in Review - April 3, 2016
I have been a big fan of Lois McMaster Bujold for a long time. I have read and enjoyed a number of the Vorkosigan series but boy I was let down this time by Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen. This story starts three years after Aral Vorkosigan's death and Cordelia decides to take her life in a new direction by having the children they never had together. She decides to make the same offer to Aral's officer and companion Admiral Oliver Jole. Neither of their lives are ever going to be the same again.

My sister Lauranne and I had a big discussion about this book as she was an even bigger fan of the series than I was. We both felt let down by this book as it seemed incongruous with everything we were led to believe about Aral and Cordelia's loving marriage. Personally, I found the story too slow and didn't really think there was much of a plot. This was the only reason why I could read this book in a mere few hours whereas other books in the series took much longer. If you are a big fan of this series I would advise you to avoid it as you learn aspects of Aral and Cordelia's life that you would rather you didn't know and that didn't seem true to their characters.

Melanie's Week in Review - April 3, 2016
Book number 3 for me was The Demon's Librarian by Lilith Saintcrow. I apologise, dear reader, for exposing you to one of the worst book covers I have seen in some time. I know, I know...not the author's fault but this one is pretty poor. Qwill has found a different cover for the book. I digress.

Francesca Barnes is not your typical librarian. She kicks demon butt in her spare time. Orion is part demon but one of the good guys and when his partner goes missing he needs the help of a not so bookish librarian. With a dark force rising Francesca is key to stopping the evil but will she accept the help of a tall, hunky demon?

I thought this book was OK. Francesca wasn't a wimp which I appreciated although she seemed to swoon quite a bit. Orion or Ryan as he was called was your fairly standard, tall, dark and demon but otherwise, a good pairing for the not-so librarian. This is a quick, easy read for a slow day and overall, I didn't think it was a waste of time.

That is it for me for this week. I hope you have had a good week and until next Sunday, Happy Reading.

(R)evolution Book 3
Jo Fletcher Books, May 3, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - April 3, 2016
The gillungs are thriving. The water-breathing, genetically modified humans have colonized riverbanks and ports long abandoned to the rising seas and pioneered new high-efficiency quantum-battery technology.

But as demand grows, so do fears about their impact on both norm businesses and the natural environment. Then, a biohazard scare at Sinkat, their colony on the Thames, fuels the opposition and threatens to derail the gillungs’ progress. But is this an accident, or is it sabotage?

Detective Sharon Varsi has her suspicions, and Gabriel sees parallels in the propaganda war he’s fighting; politicians and corporations have stakes in this game too. And now there is a new threat: industry tycoon Zavcka Klist is about to be released from prison—and she’s out to regain everything they took from her.

Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen
Vorkosigan Saga 14
Baen, February 2, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - April 3, 2016
A NEW NOVEL IN THE AWARD WINNING SERIES FROM MULTIPLE NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLING AUTHOR LOIS MCMASTER BUJOLD!  Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan returns to the planet that changed her destiny.


Three years after her famous husband’s death, Cordelia Vorkosigan, widowed Vicereine of Sergyar, stands ready to spin her life in a new direction. Oliver Jole, Admiral, Sergyar Fleet, finds himself caught up in her web of plans in ways he’d never imagined, bringing him to an unexpected crossroads in his career.

Meanwhile, Miles Vorkosigan, one of Emperor Gregor’s key investigators, this time dispatches himself on a mission of inquiry, into a mystery he never anticipated – his own mother.

Plans, wills, and expectations collide in this sparkling science-fiction social comedy, as the impact of galactic technology on the range of the possible changes all the old rules, and Miles learns that not only is the future not what he expects, neither is the past.

The Demon's Librarian
ImaJinn Books, February 28, 2009
Trade Paperback and eBook, 206 pages
Review Copy: Reviewer's Own

Melanie's Week in Review - April 3, 2016
It's not just another day at the library...

When demons are preying on schoolchildren in her city, Francesca Barnes does what any red-blooded librarian would do she does some research and goes hunting. But the books she finds in a secret cache don't tell her the whole story. Chess has no idea what she's just stepped into or just how special she really is...

Orion (Ryan) is Drakul, part demon, and a loyal servant of the Order. He doesn't expect a motorcycle-riding librarian to be messing around with demonic forces, and he doesn't expect her to smell so damn good. But Ryan's got bigger problems. His partner has disappeared, and the forces of Darkness are rising. Now Chess is Ryan's only hope of finding his partner, and Ryan is Chess's only hope of survival, because the demons now know Chess exists and that she is the heir to a long-lost power that could push back their dark tide.

If Ryan can keep her alive long enough, she just might be the key to destroying the demons completely. But Ryan doesn't know he's been betrayed by the very Order he serves. And if Chess does, by some miracle, survive, he won't ever be able to touch her again...

Melanie's Week in Review - June 28, 2015

Melanie's Week in Review - June 28, 2015

Hello and welcome to summer London style. It was been gorgeous weather the last few days and going to be super sunny and hot, hot, hot next week. I can hardly wait as lucky me is off work for 6 whole weeks on gardening leave. Hip, hip, hooray. Well not to rub it in, of course. The downer is I will have less time to read. Well enough of the weather what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - June 28, 2015
I had pre-ordered Trailer Park Fae which is the first in Lilith Saintcrow's new series Gallow and Ragged a few months ago. Amazon UK delayed its release and I had almost forgotten about it when all of a sudden it was on my Kindle. I liked the sound of the down on his luck, former favourite of the Queen of Summer Jeremiah Gallow and what happens when he meets Robin Ragged who looks surprisingly like his dead wife. I was expecting this to be modern day urban fantasy considering it's title and the plot largely set in a trailer park. I was prepared to forgive maybe a bit of fantasy to be thrown in when Gallow and Ragged enters Summer's court. What I wasn't expecting  was writing so verbose that in parts it was almost intelligible on the first read through. I realise that Saintcrow was aiming for authenticity when dealing with the pureblood fae of fairy tales but I think this was at the expense of actually understanding what was going on. I found myself having to re-read parts more than once to ensure I captured what Saintcrow was really trying to say. In the end I found a bit tedious. Here is an example. 
They would not be half so pretty had they once were when a mayfly mortal's brief blossoming and enchanted the eye and hand.
 Of course, I know what this means but paragraph after paragraph of this type of verse was unexpected and in the end made the book a bit more effort to get through than I had hoped. Gallow and Ragged are interesting enough but both cornered the market on feeling sorry for themselves. Although I started to feel sorry for them by the end as they barely got to eat or change clothes for almost 300 pages. Saintcrow does leave us with quite a delightful twist at the end with a big juicy double cross but overall I only just liked Trailer Park Fae but didn't love it.

Melanie's Week in Review - June 28, 2015
Second book on my list to read was Scardown (Wetwired / Jenny Casey 2) by Elizabeth Bear. You might remember I read book 1 Hammered a few weeks ago. In this instalment Jenny spends most of her time on The Montreal  - an alien spaceship the Canadian army has found and trying to fly with the help of the nanites and the AI Richard. The story flows rather seamlessly between earth (mainly Toronto) and the spaceship and between the political machinations of the Canadian president Riel and the morally corrupt Alberta Holmes and Fred Valens. Jenny is still finding her way in the romance department with her life long friend and love interest Gabe who is also romancing the scientist Elspeth. I thought this was quite odd as Gabe seemed committed to Jenny and Jenny didn't seem like the type of share. I think, however, the near annihilation of the earth at the hands of the Chinese government that may have put romance into perspective for this love triangle. Razorface is also back and looking for Jenny in Toronto. He is almost half the man he used to be. No longer the crimelord in charge of the underbelly of a whole city. Razorface is looking for revenge and has his sights on Alberta Holmes - the woman that killed his wife and his friend at the end of book 1.

Scardown doesn't really get going until the latter quarter of the book and then, boy it gets really exciting. So exciting in fact that I was reading it on the train and watched my station sail past when I finally remembered to look up from a particularly good bit. Bear doesn't protect her lead characters, and I think that Jenny is the only one that doesn't face getting killed off. A very sad ending for several good characters in this series so far. I enjoyed this book more than the last but I still wish Bear would spend less time allowing her characters to meander around the plot. It should be really engaging for 75% of the plot not just 25% of it.

Well that is all for me this week. I shall endeavour to get out in the sunshine and finish some books I have been meaning to read for ages now. Until next week Happy Reading!

A new feature for the Week in Review - book information!

Trailer Park Fae
Gallow and Ragged 1
Orbit, June 23, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - June 28, 2015
New York Times bestselling author Lilith Saintcrow returns to dark fantasy with a new series where the faery world inhabits diners, dive bars and trailer parks.

Jeremiah Gallow is just another construction worker, and that's the way he likes it. He's left his past behind, but some things cannot be erased. Like the tattoos on his arms that transform into a weapon, or that he was once closer to the Queen of Summer than any half-human should be. Now the half-sidhe all in Summer once feared is dragged back into the world of enchantment, danger, and fickle fae - by a woman who looks uncannily like his dead wife. Her name is Robin, and her secrets are more than enough to get them both killed. A plague has come, the fullborn-fae are dying, and the dark answer to Summer's Court is breaking loose.

Be afraid, for Unwinter is riding...

Wetwired (Jenny Casey) 2
Gollancz, April 30, 2015
eBook, 402 pages
(UK eBook)

Melanie's Week in Review - June 28, 2015
The year is 2062, and after years on the run, Jenny Casey is back in the Canadian armed forces. Those who were once her enemies are now her allies, and at fifty, she's been handpicked for the most important mission of her life - a mission for which her artificially reconstructed body is perfectly suited. With the earth capable of sustaining life for just another century, Jenny - as pilot of the starship Montreal - must discover brave new worlds. And with time running out, she must succeed where others have failed.

Now Jenny is caught in a desperate battle where old resentments become bitter betrayals and justice takes the cruelest forms of vengeance. With the help of a brilliant AI, an ex-crime lord, and the man she loves, Jenny may just get her chance to save the world. If it doesn't come to an end first . . .

Jenny Casey 2
Spectra, June 28, 2005
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - June 28, 2015
The year is 2062, and after years on the run, Jenny Casey is back in the Canadian armed forces. Those who were once her enemies are now her allies, and at fifty, she’s been handpicked for the most important mission of her life–a mission for which her artificially reconstructed body is perfectly suited. With the earth capable of sustaining life for just another century, Jenny–as pilot of the starship Montreal–must discover brave new worlds. And with time running out, she must succeed where others have failed.

Now Jenny is caught in a desperate battle where old resentments become bitter betrayals and justice takes the cruelest forms of vengeance. With the help of a brilliant AI, an ex—crime lord, and the man she loves, Jenny may just get her chance to save the world. If it doesn’t come to an end first…

Melanie's Week in Review - May 3, 2015

Melanie's Week in Review - May 3, 2015

Whoop! Whoop! insert happy dance here, sound the trumpet, strike up the band! Reading mojo is well and truly back. I am quite proud of my reading accomplishments this week. So what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - May 3, 2015I was pretty determined to stay away from Amazon and clear off some books on my TBR so why then did I end up buying 3 books that popped up on my Amazon recommendations? Amazon 1 - Willpower 0. Rose and Thunder by Lilith Saintcrow was the first book I bought and the first I decided to read. I have enjoyed Saintcrow's books in the past and I was glad to discover something new from this author.

Isabella Harpe, a witch with bad taste in boyfriends finds herself out of money and without a car in the spooky town of Tremont. She answers an advert for a housekeeper and finds herself in the home of the Jeremy Tremont. Jeremy is scarred, quiet and very, very mysterious. Isabella knows something isn't quite right either with Tremont or the town itself as she is warned more than once not to be found outside at night. Isabella can't resist a challenge and Jeremy is exactly that....especially when she discovers that Jeremy is sitting on a place of ancient power and victim of a hereditary curse. Can she save Jeremy and avoid getting killed by the things that go bump in the night?

I enjoyed Rose and Thunder. Isabella is interesting and Jeremy is a mystery indeed. Saintcrow's writing is well balanced with enough description that you could picture the scarred Jeremy and his spooky mansion where invisible beings did all the cooking and cleaning. There isn't a lot of action but then there doesn't need to be as this story is more about developing the characters and their growing romance. This is another good HEA from this author.

Melanie's Week in Review - May 3, 2015This was a bit of my unofficial Saintcrow week as book number two  - Pack - is another of her stories...this time a short story. The story is set in a post apocalyptic world where humanity is on the brink of extinction by something that I can only describe as monsters. Lydia is one of the few remaining humans and she is trying to survive with her dog Oscar. Everything changes when she meets a young boy who as no voice and no name. When Saintcrow goes to write a short story she certainly ensures it is short. Pack is a mere 34 pages long and I had barely started when I hit the last page. It's hard for me to say too much about it due to its super shortness!

Melanie's Week in Review - May 3, 2015
Book 3 is Betamax Theory by Lee Kenny. The story starts with Martin Brownlow reminiscing about the time his father came home with a betamax player. This was the start of life long obsession with movies and one of the many fond memories Martin has of the father that died in a tragic accident when he was in his early teens. His whole life has been impacted by his father's early death and when he discovers a gateway in the local cemetery to the past he is determined to fix his future by going back and save his Dad.

Betamax Theory is OK. Martin is a chronic underachiever and he puts all the blame on his father's death far too often. The premise of the plot is as sad as Martin's life, especially the ending where nothing Martin did in the past managed to achieve what he wanted it to. This is quite a short read so if you are a time travelling fan then give it a go.

Melanie's Week in Review - May 3, 2015My final read of the week was Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris, which Qwill will be reviewing along with Day Shift. I grew to like it the more I read and I wish Mr. Snuggly (a cat) lived at my house!

The last thing I am going to leave you with is a little sneak peak of one of the next books I am going to read. Check me out with Pirate's Alley which came all the way from the US and was sent by the lovely Qwill. Excited! Until next week Happy Reading.

Melanie's Week in Review - December 14, 2014

Melanie's Week in Review - December 14, 2014

I was hoping to sucker punch you this week with a stupendous list of books I had read or even 'wow' you with some witty repartee in this post, however a few things got in the way. I have been on jury service for the last 2 weeks and I really thought I would race through a bunch of books. Unfortunately, I kept getting called to sit on cases so I had minimal time sitting around waiting and reading. My lack of witticisms in this post is down to fate who is a cruel mistress indeed. About a half hour ago my beautiful, glass ornament bedecked Christmas tree decided to fall over and 10 years of diligent collecting has ended up in tiny pieces of my living room floor. SOB! Anyway enough of my excuses. What did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - December 14, 2014
The Ripper Affair is the third (and possibly final?) book of the Bannon and Clare series. The story starts with a bang...literally as Clare's bodyguard and friend dies when the courtroom in which Clare is giving evidence is bombed. This leads Clare to discover the Emma did in book 2 to save his life. While Clare tries to come to terms with what Emma has done to him, women are being gruesomely murdered. Bannon has been asked by the Queen herself to solve the mystery and restore order.  The pair team up to find the killer and not to get killed themselves in the process.

Saintcrow's Bannon and Clare series hasn't been one of my favourites from this author and I largely kept reading them as I wanted to find out what Mikal's big secret was. Three books in and I still don't know. I have the feeling I should have figured it out by now but I am not entirely sure. I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand I like how strong Bannon is and how much she cares about her friends. Clare is also an interesting character but comes across a bit like a Vulcan. In general I can only describe this novel as feeling a bit forced. From the alternative spelling of London place names to all the references of Seeing and Feeling made it a bit tedious to read. I've read that this is the last Bannon and Clare story for a while. I feel it is a good place to end the series.

Melanie's Week in Review - December 14, 2014
My second read of the week was Hunting Season by Annie Bellett. This is the fourth books of the Twenty-Sided Sorceress series. This instalment starts a few weeks after the end of book 3 and Jade is paying the price for her sorceressy secret being found out as the local witches coven have been cursing her. Things go from crappy to very crappy when a unicorn is almost killed in an attack by demon dogs. Just when Jade thought it couldn't get any worse two of the uber evil Samir's cohorts are in town and want Jade's heart.

I have always found these books a quick read but this one is so short it is almost a short story. One minute I was at 2% and the next I was at 77%. It was over so quick I had to go back and check that I hadn't missed a few chapters. This instalment follows pretty much the same formula of the other books but there are a few more funny lines in this one even though the mood is quite dark. I am hoping that the semi cliff hanger at the end signals a change in the plot for future novels. If you are in the mood for a quick, easy on the brain read though this is the series for you.

That is all for me this week folks. I have my fingers crossed for some reading productivity as a got some quite interesting eARCs approved on NetGalley. Until next week Happy Reading!

Melanie's Week in Review - February 23, 2014

Melanie's Week in Review - February 23, 2014

As I am writing this post I can't help but think of one of my favourite Sesame Street songs - One of These Doesn't Belong Here. I am sure I have you singing along with me right now. It will make more sense why I reminded of this childhood tune so read on. I was feeling rather sorry for myself and really needed a little 'happily ever after' so I turned to a genre I have a love/don't love relationship with  - PNR.  I am mega fussy when it comes to PNR and whether I like it depends very much on how strong the heroine is or how early the romance/sex starts. If the hero and heroine are getting their clothes off too early then I am not interested. Likewise, if the leading lady is a bit of a wimp then I tend to lose interest quickly. I usually rely on Amazon recommendations to pick up cheap PNR novels and have come across a couple of good series this way. So enough waffle...what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - February 23, 2014I quite like Lilith Saintcrow novels and I spotted Taken on my Amazon Recommendations list. I read the book summary I thought it was going to be the book to just hit the spot. This is one of Saintcrow's stand alone novels and tells the story of Sophie who discovers that she isn't just another 'plain Jane' after witnessing the cruel murder of her best friend at the hands (or teeth) of a vampire. Unfortunately for Sophie, this discovery is revealed when she is kidnapped by Zach who is the reluctant head of what's left of his werewolf family. Zach wants to keep Sophie who he thinks will save his family but all she wants to do is go back to her ordinary life. Nothing is as straightforward as it seems as Sophie becomes the vampires' next target and it's up to Zach to prove he is a leader and win her affections. I liked this novel. Taken had just the right mix of action and romance. Saintcrow really likes to write damaged heroines and Sophie is another example of her portrayal of an abused female lead character. I think there is more of a story to tell for these characters but I don't believe this was part of a series. Luckily, Saintrcrow is a rather prolific writer so I have a lot of books to choose from.

Melanie's Week in Review - February 23, 2014
Next to catch my attention was Dannika Dark's Seven Years which was the first in the Seven series. I have tried Dark's other novels and haven't enjoyed them, but this one came with a disclaimer that said it wasn't 'shifter erotica' so I thought it was worth a chance. Seven Years is the story of Lexi who is stuck in the same rut she was in as a teenager -  having fun and working in a candy store. Her beloved brother died 7 years earlier and she realises that not much in her life has changed since her brother's death. Everything changes when she runs into her brother's best friend, Austin, who she hasn't seen since the funeral. She had always fancied Austin and now he was back in town looking more handsome than ever. When her Mom and little sister are kidnapped she turns to Austin to help her find them before it's too late. I also enjoyed Seven Years but I thought it was your fairly standard shifter story. I did think that Lexi was realistically written and she had a normal life, for a paranormal. She didn't have everything sorted and had been in a rut since her brother died. This was a refreshing change from the heroines who were either really successful or who had fled some terrible thing in their past. I also thought there was the right level of romance between Lexi and Austin and there was a definite evolution from childhood crush to hot, shifter love. This is great book for a cold and dreary day and when I need another PNR fix I may go for book 2.

Melanie's Week in Review - February 23, 2014
Another PNR novel I came across was Bloodsworn by Stacey Brutger. In this story Trina is a witch who has been forced to eek out a life in the human world with her powers stripped away from her. When her sister is kidnapped by vampires Trina she is prepared to do anything to save her....even prepared to be the concubine to the local shifter lion. Merrick is more than intrigued when he discovers Trina hiding on his land. When he discovers that her blood may have the power to save his pack from a debilitating disease he doesn't want to let her go. I had high hopes for Bloodsworn as it had some quite positive reviews and I thought it sounded like an interesting twist on the traditional paranormal tale of girl witch meets boy shifter. However, I found both Trina and Merrick quite dull. I kind of felt let down by the lack of chemistry between these two characters and Trina hardly did anything to be considered Merrick's concubine. Plus, Brutger broke one of my PNR rules - if you are in the midst of a life or death situation you aren't going to be getting all sexy with your shifter honey. I am sorry but nearly getting killed by blood thirsty vampires and rogue shifters is a real romance killer! You also need both feet on the floor to dodge the next attack. I should count myself lucky that I liked 2 out of the 3 PNR books I just came across.

Melanie's Week in Review - February 23, 2014The fourth and final book I would like to tell you about is Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson. This is my 'one of these things doesn't belong here' as this the only non-PNR book I read that week. I really enjoyed Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy and I was eager to read something else of his. It was a toss up whether I would read the Rithmatist or Steelheart but opted for the latter. This is the first in the Reckoners series and is set in a dystopian/alternate reality world where the 'Calamity' turned ordinary men and women into Epics - who each had weird and wonderful superpowers. Rather than using their powers for good the Epics oppressed everyone around them and treated anyone normal like slaves......well everyone but the Reckoners who were an group of renegades who wanted to take down the Epics. In the midst of this is David who witnessed the death of his father at the hands of the king of the Epics  - Steelheart. He is resourceful and dedicated to bringing down his father's murderer. Revenge is the name of the game and David wants to be the winner. I enjoyed Steelheart but unlike 'the Hubinator' I wasn't enthralled. Where the Mistborn series was also YA fantasy this felt like it was written for a much younger audience and, therefore, I guessed at what was going to happen and what secrets the characters were trying to hide. Sanderson excels at world building and Steelheart is no exception. Despite a few misgivings this is a good start to what I hope is going to be a great series.

Well I am sure you have started to nod off at the length of this post but I had sooo much to say. I hope I have given you a few ideas of what you can read next and that I haven't cursed you with singing Sesame Street songs for the rest of the day. Until next week Happy Reading.

Review: The Red Plague Affair by Lilith Saintcrow - May 11, 2013

The Red Plague Affair
Author:  Lilith Saintcrow
Series:  Bannon and Clare
Publisher:  Orbit, May 21, 2013
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages
Price:  $13.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780316183734 (print)
Review copy:  NetGalley

Review: The Red Plague Affair by Lilith Saintcrow - May 11, 2013
The service of Britannia is not for the faint of heart--or conscience...

Emma Bannon, Sorceress Prime in service to Queen Victrix, has a mission: to find the doctor who has created a powerful new weapon. Her friend, the mentath Archibald Clare, is only too happy to help. It will distract him from pursuing his nemesis, and besides, Clare is not as young as he used to be. A spot of Miss Bannon's excellent hospitality and her diverting company may be just what he needs.

Unfortunately, their quarry is a fanatic, and his poisonous discovery is just as dangerous to Britannia as to Her enemies. Now a single man has set Londinium ablaze, and Clare finds himself in the middle of distressing excitement, racing against time and theory to find a cure. Miss Bannon, of course, has troubles of her own, for the Queen's Consort Alberich is ill, and Her Majesty unhappy with Bannon's loyal service. And there is still no reliable way to find a hansom when one needs it most...

The game is afoot. And the Red Plague rises.

Melanie’s Thoughts

The Red Plague Affair is the second installment of the Bannon and Clare series and there is more adventure ahead for this unlikely pair. The story continues not long after the end of The Iron Wrym Affair (Bannon and Clare 1) with Clare and Bannon living their separate lives. Bannon has been summoned by Queen Victrix to find a renowned biologist while Clare is out searching for his arch nemesis, Dr. Vance. Things turn dire for Clare as in the midst of his pursuit of Dr. Vance and this puts our favourite odd couple back together. Bannon soon sets Clare to work with the task of helping her to find the elusive Dr. Morris. What they find however, is far worse than anything they could have imagined as Morris had developed a deadly plague and released it on the unsuspecting citizens of Londonium. It’s a race against time for Clare to find a cure and for Bannon to save the day. The odds are stacked against the oddest couple in this steampunk world.

I really liked The Iron Wrym Affair on my first read through but didn't think it held up on my second read of it. The things that bothered me in book 1 were cleared up in book 2, well almost! Clare and Bannon have a much closer relationship in The Red Plague Affair and there is more camaraderie between the two and evidence that their friendship has grown since they last worked together. I actually liked Bannon in this novel and thought that Saintcrow wrote her with more humanity than in the previous novel. Bannon was something other than just her curly hair, well trimmed outfits and sparkling jewels. There was also more revealed about Bannon’s past and how she ended up in the Collegia and as a Prime. Clare was his usual witty self and more of this novel was dedicated to the talented mentath. He was also used as the method of drawing out Bannon’s past which I thought was a good way of revealing her story. There were a few more tidbits about Mikal, Bannon’s Shield (aka bodyguard) but Saintcrow continues to tease me by not revealing who or what he is. For those that haven’t read The Iron Wrym Affair, much is made about Mikal’s mysterious past, about what he is and his motivation for working for Bannon. Even in this second installment she constantly questions the circumstances of how he came to work for her, where he came from and more importantly, whether she trusts him. There was a point in the novel that Mikal was about to confess to Bannon but she said she didn’t want to know. I was practically screaming at my Kindle ‘tell me, tell me, I want to know!’ There is the biggest tease at the end of the book about Mikal that makes me hope that Saintcrow doesn’t leave us hanging on much longer.

Saintcrow, really ramps up the tension in The Red Plague Affair as I was on the edge of my seat from the first chapter. There was a lot happening in this installment and even the scenes with just Clare on his own in Bannon’s house were full of intrigue. The discovery of the plague and quest to find a cure were subtle in their intensity, especially the scenes with Clare. There was a real feeling of the race against time to find the cure and it culminated into a truly exciting ending. I was a bit disappointed with The Iron Wrym but I thought that The Red Plague Affair more than made up for it. The plot was well constructed with the right mix of action, plot and intrigue. I think that Saintcrow needs to resolve the Mikal mystery soon as I think that the 'not knowing' could grow thin after a while. This is really nit picking as The Red Plague Affair is a dark and compelling read with a gorgeous cover!

Melanie's Week in Review - May 5, 2013

Melanie's Week in Review - May 5, 2013

Melanie's Week in Review - May 5, 2013Welcome to my first ever week in review! I am new to The Qwillery and looking forward to sharing what I have been reading during the week. I am quite a voracious reader. This is partly due to my daily 2 hour commute on the London Underground. I can get through quite a few books with a minimum of 10 hours of dedicated reading. The downside of this is my perpetual hunt for something good to read. I have had so many great recommendations from The Qwillery and now it’s my turn to share what I have been reading.

I tried to finish a book I started last week The Scrivener's Tale by Fiona McIntosh, which is a mix of fantasy and modern day Paris. It is really engaging but as I started the chapter which had a big explanation of a complicated plot line I hit train delays and other irritants. This distracted me too much. I decided that I will hold off on finishing what is turning out to be an excellent story until I can concentrate properly. I then turned to Gaie Sebold’s Dangerous Gifts, which continues the adventures of the prostitute/gun-for-hire, Babylon Steel. I will be reviewing this book soon so keep your eyes out for it.

Melanie's Week in Review - May 5, 2013
I also had a little trawl through NetGalley. I practically shrieked when I found Lilith Saintcrow's The Red Plague Affair which is the second novel in the Bannon and Clare series. I liked The Iron Wyrm but didn't love it so I was looking forward to seeing whether Saintcrow could keep me reading the series. Look for my review this week to find out what I thought of The Red Plague Affair.

I was looking for something to read that wasn't fantasy or steampunk. I tried Earth Girl by Janet Edwards. I quite like YF/YA so thought it sounded like it would be a good read. While I love watching science fiction I don't always like reading it (yes, that is weird) so I was keeping my fingers crossed I was going to like a book that was YA/SciFi. Hmmmmmm I think it is a bit too YA for me and not sure I am going to be able to continue it. The lead character Jarra, is a bit self-obsessed (like some teenagers) . There is prolific use of the made up scifi word 'nardle' that I am finding extremely irritating. I am going to give it another go later this week so will let you know how I get along.

Melanie's Week in Review - May 5, 2013Finally, I turned to Kindle recommendations to find something else to read. Recommendations based on buying patterns can be quite hit and miss. Goodreads are almost totally miss but I have found some little gems on my Kindle. I came across Bloodfire by Helen Harper and was delightfully surprised. It is set in rural Cornwall and is about Mackenzie the only human living amongst a pack of shapeshifters. Her life is turned upside down when her pseudo father and alpha of the pack is brutally murdered. It was quite compelling and I stayed up later and got up early to continue reading it. I ended up buying book 2 so will hopefully tell you all about it next week.

Until then, Happy Reading!
Melanie's Week in Review - April 17, 2016Melanie's Week in Review - April 3, 2016Melanie's Week in Review - June 28, 2015Melanie's Week in Review - May 3, 2015Melanie's Week in Review - December 14, 2014Melanie's Week in Review - February 23, 2014Review: The Red Plague Affair by Lilith Saintcrow - May 11, 2013Melanie's Week in Review - May 5, 2013

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