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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....

Interview with Paul Cornell


Please welcome Paul Cornell to The Qwillery. Witches of Lychford was published on September 8th by Tor.com.



Interview with Paul Cornell




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. You've written many Doctor Who novels, novels in your own series (e.g. the London Falling series), comics, short fiction, and screenplays. How has your writing process changed from when your first novel was published until now and how does writing for other mediums affect your novel and novella writing?

Paul:  I'm now much more organised, having to divide time between work and family life. I think writing for comics and television is actually very good for one's prose. Every medium is about doing the biggest thing in the smallest space, and those media really ask one to focus. Now when I go off on a big subjective trip in prose I know it's for a good reason, and I try otherwise to be pow pow pow. Mind you, it's good to still have that ability to dig deep with description.



TQAre you a plotter, panster or a hybrid? What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Paul:  Errr, panster? I don't know what that means! I do like to write a very detailed plot first, and then I tend to wander off from it, and correct it as I go. Plotting is the hardest bit of anything, but oh, the joy if I've gotten the ending first! That's like swimming toward shore!



TQYour most recent work is a novella published by Tor.com, Witches of Lychford. Please describe Witches of Lychford in 140 characters or less.

Paul:  3 diverse Cotswolds women unite to fight supernatural evil in the form of a supermarket chain. Modern fantasy about friendship, magic.



TQWitches of Lychford is contemporary fantasy. What appeals to you about writing in this genre?

Paul:  I get to talk about the real world while flinging around dirty great metaphors. It lets my anger out. Also, I get to make the audience laugh.



TQPlease tell us something about Witches of Lychford that is not found in the novella description.

Paul:  It's all about friendship and how terrible losing a friend feels. There's comedy but actually real horror too.



TQIs Lychford based on a real village?

Paul:  It's rather like the town of Fairford, or several small places in the Cotswolds.



TQWho was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Paul:  One of my three 'witches' is Autumn, an atheist sceptic who gets a lot of funny lines, so she's easy to write. Another one, Judith is a pensioner, so that's me looking way ahead for myself in a rather uncomfortable way.



TQWhich question about Witches of Lychford do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Paul:  Is one of the 'witches' based on my wife? Yes, kind of, but my wife, thankfully, isn't suffering a bereavement.



TQWhat's next?

Paul:  The third book in my Shadow Police urban fantasy series comes out next June from Tor.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.





Witches of Lychford
Witches of Lychford 1
Tor.com Publishing, September 8, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 144 pages

Interview with Paul Cornell
Traveler, Cleric, Witch.

The villagers in the sleepy hamlet of Lychford are divided. A supermarket wants to build a major branch on their border. Some welcome the employment opportunities, while some object to the modernization of the local environment.

Judith Mawson (local crank) knows the truth -- that Lychford lies on the boundary between two worlds, and that the destruction of the border will open wide the gateways to malevolent beings beyond imagination.

But if she is to have her voice heard, she's going to need the assistance of some unlikely allies...





About Paul

Interview with Paul Cornell
Photo by Lou Abercrombie
Paul Cornell started out writing Doctor Who fan fiction, went on to write Doctor Who novels, audio plays and comics, and, having won a BBC contest to get a play on TV, and worked his way up through shows like Casualty and Holby City, became the fan who got to write for the show itself.

He went on to work on other TV series like Robin Hood and Primeval, to write two seasons of his own CITV show, Wavelength, and to break into comics, writing for Marvel, DC and 2000AD on such titles as Captain Britain and MI-13, Young Avengers, Wolverine, Knight and Squire, Batman and Robin, Action Comics, Demon Knights, XTNCT and Pan-African Judges. He created Saucer Country for Vertigo, and has new creator-owned projects in the pipeline.

In the meantime, he’d also achieved his ambition to become a novelist, first having two SF novels, Something More and British Summertime, published by Gollancz, then starting the Shadow Police series with London Falling and The Severed Streets at Tor.

His short fiction, often featuring the character of Jonathan Hamilton, an out-of-uniform soldier in a parallel world where the ‘great game’ of European espionage continues into space, has been published in Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, Interzone, The Daily Telegraph, The Times and at Tor.com. He’s also written twice for George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards short story anthologies.

He’s the creator of Bernice Summerfield, a Doctor Who companion from the novels who for twenty years now has had her own spinoff line of books and audio plays.

He lives in Gloucestershire with his wife, a priest in the Church of England, and their toddler son, Thomas. His interests include cricket, matters Fortean and Kate Bush.


Review: The Severed Streets by Paul Cornell


The Severed Streets
Author:  Paul Cornell
Series:  Shadow Police 2
Publisher:  Tor Books, May 20, 2014
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 416 pages
List Price:  $26.99 (print)
ISBN:   9780765330284 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher via NetGalley

Review: The Severed Streets by Paul Cornell
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 Thoughts

The second book in the Shadow Police series, The Severed Streets starts not long after the horrific events of book 1 - London Falling. Cornell starts the story with a nice gory murder. This time a politician is viciously murdered in the back of his limousine in the midst of a political demonstration. The police believe they have the killer in custody until the death count starts to rise. It's not long before Detective Inspector James Quill and his team of paranormally skilled police are called in to solve case. All clues seem to lead towards the famous killer, Jack the Ripper coming back from the dead and committing the murders. Things are never as they seem. With the help of their new abilities, The Rat King and a guest appearance by the author Neil Gaiman the team have very little time to to save themselves and perhaps all of London in the process.

For me, The Severed Streets is a much more accessible read. There isn't as much police terminology to get my head around as in book 1. The characters were a bit one dimensional in London Falling which made them very difficult to emphasize with.  By book 2 they are much more developed as they had their experiences from the previous book plus they are a much more cohesive team which made them fuller and richer characters to read about. I actually cared what happened to them (well most of them). Cornell also has a very effective method for re-introducing us to his lead characters.  Most authors just re-hash events from the previous books in order to remind the reader of their characters whereas Cornell has Quill remind us what happened to each character as they enter the office for work. Cornell uses Quill's inner dialogue to describe a bit about each character, what they went through in book 1 and what has happened since we left them. While I thought London Falling read a bit like a TV script, The Severed Streets reads more like a play. It is a very effective but subtle way to remind me about characters I haven't thought about for over a year. Cornell keeps the format of having POV chapters for each of the 4 main characters but Quill is definitely the dominant character this time which again made easier to digest the plot. He also uses the murders as a cunning way to advance the interpersonal relationships between Costain and Ross and Quill and Costain. However, I am not totally convinced about Neil Gaiman being a character in this story. I think the plot would have been just as good without him and don't really think that having Gaiman as a character gave it anymore cache than it would have on its on merits.

Cornell loves a good gruesome murder and there are quite a few in this instalment for those readers who are into that sort of thing. I guessed who the baddy was quite early on but nevertheless it was still a sound plot line as I didn't know how or when the other characters would figure out what I had. I love that Cornell uses the London riots of the summer 2011 as a backdrop for this story. I think it really worked to deliver mood and environment for where the murders could/would take place. I don't really understand how Jack the Ripper became the chief suspect. Cornell does explain it but it doesn't really make sense. I think that there could have been some other, more suitable historical figure to pin the murders on. In the end Cornell's choice of protagonists works well and fit well with his overall plot arc.

I hope that Cornell continues to build and improve on his version of supernatural London and continues to mould his characters into ones we want to read more about. I like this series and think it is improving. I wouldn't say it is for everyone but if you like police procedural murder mysteries then I would suggest you give this series a go. If you don't like gory murders or lots of blood splatter then steer clear.


Melanie's Week in Review - June 8, 2014


Melanie's Week in Review - June 8, 2014


Welcome to June. I can't believe that the year is almost half over already. How time flies. I have no excuses this week for not getting some books read. So what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - June 8, 2014
I found The Scribe by Elizabeth Hunter last week and finished it on Sunday. It was the first instalment of the Irin Chronicles which I found in my Amazon recommendations. The story centers on Ava who hears voices in her head but doesn't know what is being said. She lives a fairly solitary life and has been searching for the cause of the voices that have plagued her life. She goes to Istanbul, where the story is set, to find answers to her condition but instead it opens the door to more questions about who she is and where she came from. On her journey she meets Malachi, the enigmatic stranger who has the knowledge of who she really is and what she is capable of. Needless to say, the tall, dark and handsome Malachi also introduces Ava to romance and to all things 'hot and steamy'. I was quite interested in Ava's story until it was revealed that her race, the Irin (or Irina in her case) were descendants of angels. I am not terribly fond of angel stories and the whole plot turned a bit bland once that was revealed. Ava was, of course being pursued by 'the fallen' and out came the traditional good versus evil plot line. I was quite surprised by the ending as it wasn't your typical ending to a romance novel and this was enough to capture my interest to investigate book 2  - The Singer. I am hoping to start that over the next few weeks.

Melanie's Week in Review - June 8, 2014I also started and finished The Severed Streets by Paul Cornell which is the second book of the Shadow Police series. I enjoyed London Falling, which I reviewed last year. I will be writing a full review of this book so I don't want to give too much away here.

Melanie's Week in Review - June 8, 2014I finished the week with book 5 in one of my favourite series - Monster Hunter International. I got the eArc of Monster Hunter Nemesis from NetGalley and was so excited to receive it that I turned my back on all the other juicy books on my TBR. I really like this series and Correia keeps it fresh by focusing this instalment on Franks, the agent from the U.S. Monster Control Bureau. Franks has been a regular in the series and often comes into conflict with almost everyone including Owen Pitt who is has been the hero of the series so far. Franks isn't just any agent - he is a monster fighting other monsters but the difference is that he is one of the good guys. I have weirdly had a soft spot for the real monster of Frankenstein and now its even bigger...like a big blob of strawberry jam. Franks lives by the code - he protects mankind from evil and mankind promises never to create any more of him. The code is violated by Director Stricken when he creates a a team of super agents who are more technologically advanced and potentially stronger than Franks. Stricken hates Franks and frames him for more murders than I have fingers and Franks is on the run but out for revenge. Monsters, Monster Hunters and Franks....Monster Hunter Nemesis has it all.

I really liked this book and liked the fact that Correia gave us a new perspective by telling the story from Franks' perspective. Correia also gave us snippets from Franks' past at the start of every chapter so we had the opportunity to learn how he was created and his journey to becoming one of the most effective agents in the agency. We also get to see a different side to Franks and find out more than 1 secret about the truculent agent. Overall, this is another great book in the series and I am already looking forward to book 6.

That is it for me for this week and I am looking forward to some new books I have received in the last few weeks. Until next week Happy Reading.

Review: London Falling by Paul Cornell - April 27, 2013



London Falling
Author:  Paul Cornell
Publisher:  Tor Books, April 16, 2013
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 416 pages
Price:  $24.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780765330277 (print)
Review copy:  Purchased by Melanie

Review: London Falling by Paul Cornell - April 27, 2013
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.





Melanie's Thoughts:

London Falling starts out as a traditional police thriller with Detective James Quill leading the investigation and subsequent arrest of the notorious drug lord, Toshack. Just when he thinks he is going to wrap up the case of his career his world is turned upside down when Toshack mysteriously dies while in police custody (in a most gruesome fashion, I might add). It is at this point that the story takes a turn from traditional thriller to supernaturally, weird and crazy with a purely evil antagonist. Quill and his team uncovers something far more evil than Toshack and it’s a race against time to save London, his colleagues and himself from an evil power the likes he has never come across before.

Like the action in the story Cornell keeps a frenetic pace with the story swapping between the different characters. I felt it was written more like the script for TV rather than as a novel with subtext and inference playing heavily in the interaction between characters. I found it a bit difficult to get into the story at first due to the number of police acronyms that Cornell used but found a glossary at the back of the book after I had finished reading it! That is the problem with ebooks as useful things like glossaries hide at the back and I don’t find them until the end. I think that maybe I would have engaged a bit earlier had I found the glossary sooner. However, once I got to grips with the police ‘talk’ and as the plot progressed I soon became completely engrossed in the story and all its dysfunctional characters. Cornell doesn’t just make the dialogue authentic from a police perspective he also uses local colloquialisms. As a non-native Londoner I always enjoy books that are based here but I wonder how easily others pick up the local jargon and slang that Cornell litters throughout the story. I thought the plot was unique and much more grisly than I was expecting and Mora Losely was chilling and completely evil. The backdrop to how she came to be a witch was interesting and the fact that she was a serial killing West Ham fan was quite amusing in its own right.My husband is a West Ham fan and while I am a football widow from August to May I think even the most ardent fan would draw the line at the atrocities that Mora did to support her team.

Cornell develops his characters through POV chapters and uses this technique to create a substantive backstory for each one. However, I couldn’t really connect with any of them despite having a full and rich background for each. I think this was down to the pace of the story, the characterization and the fact there were four lead characters to keep track of.I thought it was a bit unusual, although not in a bad way, to have so many lead characters that each had equal time dedicated to their lives and their backstory. I found that I was spending as much time keeping their stories straight as I was following the main plot and this distracted me somewhat from what was happening in the overall. It is however, a testament to Cornell’s story telling ability in that he can intertwine the four broken and fractured lives of his main characters with a nail biting plot. Cornell devises a unique, interesting plot and sets the scene for future novels in the series.

While Cornell is an accomplished writer in other genres and mediums this is his first urban fantasy novel and demonstrates his imagination and creativity. While I really enjoyed London Falling (as much as you can enjoy reading about a serial killer) I didn’t love it. I think that now that I have come to understand the characters and their motivation through this novel that I will enjoy subsequent books more. If you are a fan of murder mysteries and like the supernatural element then I urge you to give London Falling a go.

Melanie's Week in Review - April 17, 2016Interview with Paul CornellReview: The Severed Streets by Paul CornellMelanie's Week in Review - June 8, 2014Review: London Falling by Paul Cornell - April 27, 2013

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