The Qwillery | category: Philippa Ballantine


The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Melanie's Week in Review - January 25, 2014

Melanie's Week in Review - January 25, 2014

Hello everyone! I hope you have all had good weeks. Mine was OK. It was the hubinator's birthday on Thursday and I am super worn out by having to agree with everything he said and did all day! That birthday rule is fairly tiring to follow. It is much more fun when it's my birthday and he has to think everything I do and say is wonderful :) I had a mildly successful week in reading but the big exciting news is that the lovely Qwill sent me an ARC of the newest Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences - The Diamond Conspiracy by Tee Morris and Philippa Ballantine. I am beyond SUPER DOUPER excited!!!!! Wellington Books here I come!

Melanie's Week in Review - January 25, 2014
 I discovered that the latest in the Dragon Blood series by Lindsay Buroker had been released. This instalment starts immediately after Blood Charged where our band of misfits almost got blown up trying to defeat the Cofah scientists. Each of the novels has centred on one of the two couples - Ridge and Sardelle or Cas and Tolemek. This time it was ex-pirate/mad scientist Tolemek and teeny tiny gun toting soldier Cas. They are continuing the search for Tolemek's sister which they think will also lead them to the source of the dragon blood the Cofah were using to fuel weapons. Their search leads them on a trek through the jungle, attacks by a number of different baddies, a life threatening disease and of course, a dragon. I thought this instalment was just OK. It was a bit dull in parts but overall quite easy to read with characters that are neither that challenging or offensive.

Melanie's Week in Review - January 25, 2014I did it! I finished Ministry Protocol which is an anthology based in the world of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. I considered this as part of my training for The Diamond Conspiracy. Of course, I liked the stories that featured my fictional beau - Wellington Books. I think my favourite was The Trouble with Phoenixes by Jared Axelrod. In this short story Books mis-directs his frenemy from R&D - Agent Axelrod - when he asks for advice about where to take Agent Braun on a date. Very naughty of Books but very fun to read. I also really enjoyed Delilah Dawson's Our Lady of Monsters which takes us to Paris to a bakery owned by the agent in waiting  - Annie Marie. The agent-cum croissant crafter is excited to discover that the Agency has finally brought her into active service....but have they? Well I won't tell. I think the biggest surprise, mainly because it was quite sad was The Clockwork Samurai. This story involved the antipodean agent Bruce Campbell on the case to save a young boy from the House of Usher but the story is really told from the samurai Kuro's perspective. This story involves a number of elements from the samurai code of honour to a duel to the death. It was enjoyable but as I said quite a sad ending.

I am currently reading Year of the Dragon by Steve Bein. I am only about 30% of the way through this book so far it is just as enjoyable as Daughter of the Sword. I will have more to tell you about this book next week so until then Happy Reading.

Melanie's Week in Review - January 11, 2015

Melanie's Week in Review - January 11, 2015

First week back to work and back to big long commutes. While all memory of my nice long break is over I did manage to read a couple of excellent books. So what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - January 11, 2015
I started the week with a present from my friend Richard - The Masked Empire by Patrick Weekes. This is one of a series of books based on the Dragon Age series (video game). This particular book is set in the Kingdom of Orlais in the court of Empress Celene. Orlais is a country of wealth where the nobles wear masks and play deadly political games. Celene has ruled the kingdom since she was a young girl and her constant companion (and lover) is the elf Briala. When an elven uprising threatens the peace  in Orlais Celene rides in with her guards to administer swift justice. What she doesn't realise is that the Grand Duke Gaspard has set a very careful trap for Celene so that he can gain the throne himself. The game is afoot!

While this story is set within the world of the Dragon Age series this book is self contained and would be suitable even for those who aren't familiar with either the characters or the environment. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and thought the plot was well crafted and didn't rely on previous knowledge of Orlais or its history/politics.

Melanie's Week in Review - January 11, 2015My second book this week was one I received from the lovely people at Solaris via NetGalley - Cannonbridge by Jonathan Barnes. Dr. Toby Judd's life is about the change whether he wants it to or not. Judd decides to make a stand and declare that the prodigious author Matthew Cannonbridge is a fake. This declaration, so close to the bicentenary celebration of Cannonbridge's most famous works sets off a deadly chain of events. The story moves quickly between Toby in present day and Cannonbridge's life as he meets almost every famous literary character from Byron and Shelley, to Charles Dickens and Oscar Wilde. Cannonbridge is a mystery indeed as the saviour to some and the downfall of others, he never changes and never grows old. Can Toby discover the truth before its too late?

Cannonbridge is an excellent book. I have to warn you though that housework or homework won't get done the minute you start this book. It definitely falls into the 'can't put down' category. I was never quite sure what was going to happen and couldn't help but cheer Toby on even though he was rather pathetic. Cannonbridge was a complete mystery and darkness personified. This book will be released by Solaris on the February 10th and I can't urge you enough to pre-order it now.

Melanie's Week in Review - January 11, 2015
I discovered via Facebook that there was a new of Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences anthology - Ministry Protocol.  Needless to say I quickly downloaded it.. I have only read a few short stories so far as you can only have so much fun at once! I particularly enjoyed the contribution by Karina Cooper. More to come over the next few weeks.

Melanie's Week in Review - January 11, 2015
Continuing on the short story/novella theme I downloaded the The Curious Case of the Clockwork Menace by Bec McMaster. This is a mini mystery from the London Steampunk series. The Nighthawks Gareth and Perry are involved in the case of the missing actress. This story is set immediately before these two characters full length novel Forged by Desire and is a bit of a teaser for the romance to come. I thought the story was OK but McMaster made a big point about one of the plot items and then seemed to forget about it towards the end. I also thought the cover, including the model, was too similar to the latest books in Karina Cooper's Cherry St. Croix series but that is just me being a book cover snob.

That is it for me for this week. I have been buying books recently so I hope to have a few more updates to tell about next week. Until then Happy Reading.

Release Day Review: Dawn's Early Light by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris

Dawn's Early Light
Author:  Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris
Series:  The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences 3
Publisher:  Ace, March 25, 2014
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages
List Price:  $7.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780425267318 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Release Day Review: Dawn's Early Light by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris
Working for the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, one sees innumerable technological wonders. But even veteran agents Braun and Books are unprepared for what the electrifying future holds…

After being ignominiously shipped out of England following their participation in the Janus affair, Braun and Books are ready to prove their worth as agents. But what starts as a simple mission in the States—intended to keep them out of trouble—suddenly turns into a scandalous and convoluted case that has connections reaching as far as Her Majesty the Queen.

Even with the help of two American agents from the Office of the Supernatural and the Metaphysical, Braun and Books have their work cut out for them as their chief suspect in a rash of nautical and aerial disasters is none other than Thomas Edison. Between the fantastic electric machines of Edison, the eccentricities of MoPO consultant Nikola Tesla, and the mysterious machinations of a new threat known only as the Maestro, they may find themselves in far worse danger than they ever have been in before…

Melanie's Thoughts

Dawn's Early Light is the third book in the Ministry of Peculiar Concurrences series by the husband and wife writing duo of Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris. Our favourite archivist and colonial pepperpot are in the thick of it once more, this time on a Ministry sanctioned mission to 'The Americas'. When we last left Books and Braun they have just finished sharing a little confession and (if not more importantly) a steamy smooch right before Dr Sound informs them they were being sent off to join their counterparts in the The Office of Supernatural and Metaphysical in the States. Book 3 starts midway through their Atlantic voyage and the action starts early as the opening scenes take place as Books and Braun chase a burglar through the underbelly of their airship. Upon landing in North Carolina they meet their American counterparts - the lovely Felicity Lovelace, a gentrified librarian who is hoping to get her hands on our favourite archivist, Wellington Books and Wild Bill Wheatley, the cowboy agent who enjoys gun-slinging as much as the fiery, Eliza Braun. The foursome discover that none other than the pre-eminent inventor,Thomas Edison is about to unleash the most devastating of weapons on the unsuspecting populace on behalf of the nefarious House of Usher. Books and Braun, along with the American agents chase Edison across the country to put a stop to his scheme. Can Books' analytical mind and superior shooting skills or Braun's love of pyrotechnics save the day or will they be shown up by the American agents? You will have to read it to find out.

Ballantine and Morris keep this series fresh not by just changing the setting of the story from England to the States but they also change how the story plays out. For the first time this series Books and Braun have actually assigned a mission in the field by Dr Sound rather than skulking around behind his back, as in previous books. The change of scenery really keeps the series from becoming too 'samey' and introduces us to a whole new country of potential characters. Don't get me wrong I love the London setting and think it lends itself more to steampunk than the mid-west but it really works for the plot and the new characters.

While we are introduced to new characters in Lovelace and Wheatley, there are a number of famous people who take part in this story including Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Nikola Tesla who has been brought in by Dr Sound to help out on the mission. Even though there are new enemies for Books and Braun to outsmart some of my favourite baddies are back including the Maestro and Sophia de la Morte. There is a big reveal about The Maestro which I was not expecting. It was very exciting. In fact the whole plot was terribly exciting with lots of action and surprises galore. I don't want to get into the side plot involving Her Majesty as I don't want to give too much away. Suffice today, it's pretty exciting.

Ballantine and Morris are out to tease the reader with the romance between Books and Braun. There is no immediate follow up to the kiss in book 2. No, we have to wait as the authors leave the characters to stew in misunderstanding and mis-direction with no romantic follow up until late in the book. Eliza Braun is more than a bit put out when the lovely Miss Lovelace fixes to make Books her man while Books inadequacies in the romance department almost force Eliza into the arms of the dashing agent Wheatley. The scenes between Lovelace and Braun are especially amusing. All good fun and all in the midst of a dastardly plot by the mechanical Maestro.

If you read my Week in Reviews you will have already read me wax lyrical about the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series and here I go again. This is a great series as Ballantine and Morris delivered another great plot with the sinister Thomas Edison while at the same time continued to develop the overall plot arch with the House of Usher. I have read a number of books by Ballantine and one other by Morris which I loved.  However, when you put these two together we get a fantastic writing partnership that has given us this cracking book and series. If you are a steampunk fan then this is a must read and even if you aren't get this series in your TBR.

Melanie's Week in Review - March 9, 2014

Melanie's Week in Review - March 9, 2014

This was a good news, bad news kind of week on the reading front. I read one mega, fantastic book, 1 extremely dull book (it will be clear soon), and had 2 DNFs. So what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - March 9, 2014
The mega fantastic read I started with was the third book of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences - Dawn's Early Light by Philippa Ballantine and Tee Morris. I LOVE this series (you may have guessed from my gushing about it in last week's WIR) and I think after book 3 I love it even more. I will be writing a full review so I can't say anything else.
Melanie's Week in Review - March 9, 2014
You may remember my WIR a few weeks ago when I had a 'love in' with the 'love in' genre - PNR?  Well I didn't have such good luck this week in fact I had 2 DNFs. I tried to read Wild Fever by Donna Grant which was the first in the Chaisson series. This book broke one of my PNR rules with the hero and heroine jumping in bed within the first 2-3 chapters and in the middle of a life or death situation. For me, that just takes the 'R' out of PNR. The second one was Born in Blood by Alexandra Ivy. Again the romance was missing in this novel. If only Ivy had kept the tension building between her two lead characters for a few more chapters then it could have hit 'the spot'.

Melanie's Week in Review - March 9, 2014
However, what I spent the most of the week reading was the Life in the United Kingdom' test book. Bet you didn't see that coming? Despite the fact I have lived in the UK for almost 20 years I have never bothered to get a British passport. As I was studying for the exam I kept wishing I could be reading almost anything else (apart from the above mentioned DNFs!). If you need to know any interesting facts like what happened in 1066, what was Charlie Chaplin most famous for playing or the words to God Save the Queen, just let me know! If anyone wants to know I passed the test (hurrah) and now its just another 9-12 months and £1000 and I might just end up with a British passport.

With that test under my belt I can now go back to reading books I want to read. Until next week Happy Reading.

Melanie's Week in Review - March 2, 2014

Melanie's Week in Review - March 2, 2014

Melanie's Week in Review - March 2, 2014This was a really productive week for me on the reading front but more importantly on the book receiving front. I was mega lucky to get a whole delicious box of books from Qwill. Check it out! I was super douper excited as in the box was the ARC of Dawn's Early Light by Philippa Ballantine and Tee Morris.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this series and can hardly wait to dig into it. I was very noble and decided to let the hubinator read it first. How nice am I? I was also really lucky to receive King Maker which is the final book of the Vampire Empire series. I have been trying for about 2 years (poss 3) to find this book in the UK, well find it for a reasonable price and so I jumped at the chance when Qwill said she had it. I also have one of the Eddie Lacrosse books, the next two books in the Suzanne Johnson's Sentinels of New Orleans series and you can just barely see Fallout by James K Decker. Keep your eye out for what I think of these books in either full reviews on here in my Week in Review.
Melanie's Week in Review - March 2, 2014
I did also read a book or two! I finished both Vn and iD which are the first two books of the The First Machine Dynasty series by Madeleine Ashby. I will be doing a full review of both of these books so I don't want to give to much away here. What I can say is that I love the covers. They are both eye catching and almost set the mood for the books themselves. I am only going to share the one cover with you so that I don't spoil you for the full review!

Melanie's Week in Review - March 2, 2014I did the happy dance when The Undead Pool by Kim Harrison popped onto my Kindle. I was really looking forward to this installment from The Hollows series as it seemed like quite a while since the last book was out. I like this series but was a tiny bit disappointed by this book. I thought it read like the final book of the series but when I looked on Harrison's website she said she is contracted for one more. I am not sure what plot they are going to squeeze out of Rachel and her quirky group of friends as almost everything seemed to get wrapped up. My favourite character, the fairy Jenks was much more in the background. There were relatively few exclamations like 'Tink's titties' for my liking. Both Jenks and Ivy appeared in every chapter but they shared much less of the 'limelight' than they did in other novels in this series. Nearly every secondary character was involved in some way in the plot which also lent itself to the 'final' book feeling. I am always a tad disappointed when an author continues a series when they have hit on a great exit novel. This aside I did like it and look forward to the actual final book.

Melanie's Week in Review - March 2, 2014The last book I want to tell you about is Last Blood by Kristen Painter which is the actual final book of the House of Comarre series. I really enjoyed this series at first. I thought that Chrysabelle was quite kick ass for a vampire blood donor and the cursed vampire Malkom reminded me of Angel (from Buffy the Vampire Slayer). As the series progressed I lost interest in the characters and almost gave up at book 4. I was doing a little trawl of Amazon and discovered this final instalment on sale so thought I might as well get closure. All I can say is I wish this book had stayed locked in the forgotten part of my memory. I was quite bored and flicking pages towards the end. This series suffered from too many characters who all seemed to fight to be the reader's favourite and none of them least not with me. As a consequence they were rather one dimensional. If they were good they practically had a halo and if they were bad they cackled like a witch. All this did was make me lose interest as the characters were way to predictable which gives me a big case of the snores.

Well that is it for me. I am hoping to read a few of my 'Qwill goodies' next week so please check in and find out what I read and what I thought. Until then Happy Reading.

Melanie's Week in Review - December 29, 2013

Melanie's Week in Review - December 29, 2013

Wow! I can't believe this is my last Week in Review (WIR) of 2013. I also look like a reading hero as I get to tell you about ALL the books I read in the last two weeks. My last WIR was high in rhyming abilities and low in telling you what I read and I have plowed through quite a few books over the last fortnight. At least you have a lot of pretty book covers to look at this time! So what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - December 29, 2013
Going back to almost two weeks ago I finished Sins of the Lost by Linda Poitevin (Intermix, October 15, 2013) which is the third in the Grigori Legacy. I got this instalment from the good people at NetGalley and it has taken me much longer than it should have to actually read it. You may know if you have read any of my other posts that I haven't been the biggest fan of angel series. I did however, warm to this series during book 2, Sins of the Son. I liked the fact that Poitevin did the unpredictable with her characters and didn't have the fated end up together. I  am not too sure about this instalment however, as I think that Sins of the Lost is a tad too dark. Odd  to say I know, especially given that this is a story about heaven vs hell but between Lucifer, Seth - who has given up his powers, The One who is dying, and the abused Alex there isn't much a reprieve. It is one major crisis after another. I had also forgotten quite a bit about what had happened in the previous books and was always going 'he/she did what?'. I like a book to be balanced, otherwise I end up wondering how it is possible for the lead character(s) to go on. Hopefully, something remotely nice can happen in the next book....fingers crossed.

Melanie's Week in Review - December 29, 2013I was trawling through Goodreads when I noticed that the fourth and final book of the Book of the Order series by Philippa Ballantine  - Harbinger  - had been released since July and I had never noticed. I could NOT believe that I had missed the release of the final book of a series that I have loved. This final book did not disappoint and I think it is the perfect ending to a fantastic series. Sorcha Farris is my favourite kind of heroine - strong, brave, conflicted and willing to risk everything to save those she loves. In fact, I loved all of the characters, even the baddies. You will know from my recent review of Kindred and Wings that I am a big fan of Ballantine's. So far there isn't a book of hers that I haven't really liked. That isn't an easy feat as I am quite fussy! She also has the most amazing book covers. Check out the cover of is gorgeous. If you like fantasy then I urge you to start at book 1. Geist.

Melanie's Week in Review - December 29, 2013
I then had a bit of a panic attack when I had a look at the results of the Goodreads  - 2013 Reading Challenge. Gulp! I was 4 books behind schedule and just over a week to go before the new year. How embarrassing! I almost ran to my iPad and brought up my Amazon recommendations to find something I could read quickly. I was soooo lucky as I came across Firelight by Kristen Callihan. This is the first novel in Darkest London series which is billed as PNR but is quite dark and has some quite gruesome parts. This is story of the star crossed lovers  - Miranda who is a very beautiful and talented fire elemental but is very, very poor. No one is no more surprised than Miranda when the extremely wealthy Lord Archer proposes. Archer wears a mask and it takes almost the whole book to find out what deformity is hiding behind it. This is just one of the many surprises in Firelight. Lucky for me the first four books have been released and it didn't take
Melanie's Week in Review - December 29, 2013long to get through Moonglow, Winterblaze and finally, Shadowdance. Apart from Shadowdance the other books of the series are the stories of Miranda's sisters, each of which have their own special, magical talents. There is a lot of suspense, intrigues and gory murders galore. Not your typical PNR. I'm not saying there aren't any heaving bosoms or throbbing  manliness but it didn't take precedence over the murder(s) mystery. Overall, I enjoyed this series but had a big problem with book 2 - Moonglow. I thought that the GIM (part clockwork, ghost fueled people) were overtly complicated and they didn't really make sense. I also thought it was illogical to have a immortal being brought low by a very mortal disease. In my mind, this plot device didn't work for me. Having said that I continued on and read books 3 and 4 and am really looking forward to the 5th book in the series, Evernight.

With only days left to go to reach my reading challenge goal I am reading not 1 but 2 books - Broken Homes (Peter Grant/ Rivers of London 4) by Ben Aaronovitch and Master of Crow by Grace Draven. Both books are excellent...very different but great in their own way. I am looking forward to finishing them and not just to make my reading challenge!

Well that is all for me for this week. The next time you hear from me it will be 2014 so until then Happy Reading.

Review: Kindred and Wings (Shifted World 2) by Philippa Ballantine

Kindred and Wings
Author:  Philippa Ballantine
Series:  Shifted World 2
Publisher:  Pyr, August 6, 2013
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 263 pages
List Price:  $18.00 (print)
ISBN:  978-1-61614-779-2 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Review: Kindred and Wings (Shifted World 2) by Philippa Ballantine
On the back of the dragon Wahirangi, Finn the Fox flees the world he has known. As he sets out to find the brother he never knew of, he still holds in his heart the memory of the Hunter. He has denied his love for her, but he cannot deny it forever.

In the halls of the Last Believers, Talyn begins to uncover her own mysteries, but her lust for the death of the Caisah is still strong and clouds her vision. She must choose her path, as the Seer of her people or as the assassin of the overlord.

Meanwhile, Byre, Talyn's brother, must venture into the fiery world of the Kindred, to
rebuild the pact that his ancestors made. He will risk everything he is as he forms a new pact that will change his people forever.

Dragons and myths will be reborn, as the Hunter and her Fox face each other once more.

Melanie's Thoughts:

Kindred and Wings is the second installment in the fantastical, fantasy series Shifted World by Philippa Ballantine. Book 2 starts almost immediately after Hunter and Fox and all our favourite characters are back. Finn the Fox is searching for his lost brother on the back of the glorious dragon Wahirangi, the former Kindred that he named. Talyn, Finn's lost love has left the evil Caisah and is in search for a cure to the Harrowing while her brother Byre and the blood-witch Pelanor find themselves witnessing a past that answers a few questions, creates a few more but more importantly, shows them a past Byre rather he didn't know. We are also given an insight into the past of the Caisah both through Byre's adventures and through his concubine Kelanim. We get to see a different side of the Caisah although Ballantine does not make him anymore likeable which I liked as this would have diminished him as a character and influence in the overall plot. Equo and his brother along with Nyree are also prominent players in this novel and key in the final chapters. I am never quite clear why Equo isn't mentioned in the summary of either of the books as he is integral in the dialogue with other lead characters and him and his brothers are 'enablers' that propel the story forward.

Ballantine keeps a frenetic pace in this book. However, I found it more accessible than in the first novel in the series as I already knew the characters and the strange setting of Conhaero and the Chaos. Ballantine creates such a rich and multi-faceted world for her characters which combined with the sheer number of characters can make it challenging to keep everyone straight. In this installment Ballantine pairs her characters off for most of the story  - Finn and Wahirangi, Byrne and Pelanor, Equo and Nyree, and Talyn and her sykur (horse-type beastie who is treated more or less like a silent character) and then brings them all together at the end of the story. This seems to simplify and streamline the plot, without compromising the overall plot arc. I loved the two 'big reveals' towards the end of the story that slowly started to unravel throughout the book. Its done so subtly and with a smooth build up that it feels like the secrets are exposed to both the reader and the character the same time. I couldn't guess what was going to happen and this is unusual for me as authors tend to pepper the story with so many clues its a wonder the characters don't guess much earlier than they do.

I am a big fan of Ballantine. I love her writing style and story telling abilities however, this series is probably more challenging than her other books. Her environment is richly textured, the characters complex and the plot seems to float along while at the same time it is very tense. Before I started Kindred and Wings I thought that it had a way to go before I liked it as much as her other fantasy series - Books of the Order - but Ballantine does it again and pulls a solid, fantasy novel out of her writing 'bag'. This series however, isn't for everyone. Firstly, you have to like high fantasy and even if you do you have to like a plot that is subtle and a lot of characters that don't always do what you think/want them to.  Kindred and Wings is another great book from Ballantine with another gorgeous cover. I dare you not to spend as much time looking at the cover as you do reading the book.

Melanie's Week in Review - November 17, 2013

Melanie's Week in Review - November 17, 2013

Hello! This was my first week back home after my holiday in Canada. I got over my jetlag but am trying to adjust to the more autumnal weather. As winter approaches I want to read more 'snuggly' types of books. Did I manage it???  Well this is what I read.

Melanie's Week in Review - November 17, 2013
I finished Kindred and Wings (Shifted World 2) by Philippa Ballantine. I will be reviewing this book so I don't want to give to much away but what I can say is that Ballantine is extremely talented. She has the ability to write light-hearted, funny and intriguing steampunk to thoughtful, imaginative fantasy. I don't think I have ever read so many books by one author that I have loved as much. This is a great series, as is her Book of the Order series. I have a special soft sport for the Ministry series and I can HARDLY wait until the next Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences book is out next year. Ballantine writes this series with her hubby Tee Morris and I LOVE IT.

Melanie's Week in Review - November 17, 2013I turned back to Amazon Recommendations for my next book which was 100% naughty as I had loads of other books to read. I decided on Fire and Thorns which was the first in the series by the same name written by Rae Carson. The story sounded sounded quite intriguing  - chubby princess sold off in a political marriage, country at war and a mission to help the helpless. It all sounded like a great, quick, enjoyable read. It was definitely quick and I quite liked it at the start but I soon got bored. It all seemed to be a bit too cliche with the plump princess who turns svelte and gazelle like while at the same time saving all those around her. I thought this was pretty good young fantasy but perhaps a bit too young for an adult reader.

I am really struggling with King of Thorns (Broken Empire 2) by Mark Lawrence. I really enjoyed the first book of this series, the premise and his writing style, but this second installment is just soo morose. I can barely stand to continue on as everything is soo dark and unforgiving. I will continue with it though I may not finish it as soon as I thought I would.

Melanie's Week in Review - November 17, 2013
I bought Pantomine (Pantomime 1) by Laura Lam a few weeks ago and then forgot about it. I decided it was high time I get to this book and now I am totally gripped. What a great hero/heroine. How ingenious Lam was to have a hermaphrodite as the main protagonist and combining this with the circus just adds another dimension. I am hoping to have this finished to tell you all about it next week.

That's it for me for this week. I hope I have more to tell you about next week so until next week Happy Reading.

Melanie's Week in Review - November 10, 2013

Melanie's Week in Review - November 10, 2013

I am back in the UK after 10 days in Canada and suffering from jetlag. Its quite a coincidence then that my WIR has a flying theme. I didn't plan it but nearly every book I finished this week involved creatures that could fly. So what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - November 10, 2013
I finished the second in the Guild Hunter series by Nalini Singh, Archangel's Kiss. I quite liked it but perhaps not as much as book 1. I think that the world where vampires serve angels is an interesting concept. I don't think anyone has done that before but I am not sure as I  haven't read that many angel series. I would have liked a bit more history as to why that was the case and I wasn't entirely sure whether angels needed blood to survive. The angels also didn't appear to serve anyone, apart from themselves and seems on the whole to be quite power hungry but that is one of the reasons why I like the series so far. Book 2 teased out Elena's tragic past which I thought was almost better than the Lijuan plot. Not to be undone I then decided to read book 3, Archangel's Consort which further developed Elena's and Raphael love story. I wasn't terribly fond of this book however, as I thought that the 'sexy' bits took over the main plot about the awakening of Raphael's mother. The world seemed to be falling apart around them with 'mother' induced hurricanes and volcanoes but that didn't stop the lovebirds from staring longingly into each others eyes throughout the novel. There was a bit more about Elena's past but this was much less dominant in the plot. I have decided against reading anything further in this series as the books that follow focus on secondary characters and I am not convinced I will like them.

Melanie's Week in Review - November 10, 2013Two books magically downloaded onto my Kindle (well my iPad really) while I was away. The first one I A Tale of Two Dragons by G.A. Aiken which is a novella within the Dragon Kin series. For some reason I find this series to be quite amusing but not so much the case with this story. This was the story of Braith and Addolgar and is set before the main books of the series. I thought it was OK but have enjoyed some of the other stories more so. The second book that appeared was Kinked by Thea Harrison which is book 6 in the Elder Races series. I actually read this book on the plane on the way back and got me wishing I was a harpy. Ayral got all the good lines and most of the action. This book is quite 'saucy' so if you like the love interests to prefer candlelight dinners to whips then perhaps choose another book.

Melanie's Week in Review - November 10, 2013
The only book I read that didn't have an avian theme was Blood Roses by Lindsay. J Pryor. This was the second in the Blackthorn series. I discussed my unease with the love scenes in my WIR last week between the two main characters and I was even more uncomfortable with the ones in Blood Roses. This book centered around Leila who is a serryn which is a vampire killer (not quite Buffy) and Caleb who is a not so coincidentally, a vampire. Leila rushes into Blackthorn to rescue her sister who has become entangled with Caleb's brother and ends up locked up by the moody and handsome vamp. I was not happy however, that once again the heroine is locked up, handcuffed and generally belittled by her soon-to-be love interest. Whereas Caitlin from book 1 uses sex to get information Leila didn't seem to have much choice in the matter and Caleb was constantly threatening her. It was overtly male dominant and I couldn't actually see what Leila could find to love in Caleb as he was never very nice to her....even at the end. These books are odd as the beginning and endings are really intriguing but are let down by the middle when the two love interests come together. There is too much aggression from the men which I don't really like that much. I am undecided if I want to finish the series based on book 2 but the overall plot is really good and I don't want to miss out on what  happens next. I am not sure when book 3 is out so I may have some time yet to make up my mind. I love the cover though and think it is gorgeous.

I got a few more books finished this week to last but was very naughty and didn't read either of the books I took to with me on holiday specifically to finish.  I am currently reading Kindred and Wings by Philippa Ballantine (back to the flying!) and hope to have it ready to review soon. That is all from me as its time for this jetlagged lady to get back to her book. Until next week Happy Reading.

Melanie's Week in Review - October 27, 2013

Melanie's Week in Review - October 27, 2013

I think I was a tad too smug last week with the number of books I read as this week it was much more dismal.  I only read 1 measly book!! ONE BOOK!!!  Well I should qualify that and say I only finished 1 book but started a few more.

Melanie's Week in Review - October 27, 2013
I managed to read Hidden Among Us by Katy Moran. It is the story about a baby, named Lissy who is stolen from her parents by the fae. She is returned but only after her mother agrees to return her in 14 years. The story fast forwards 14 years and we find Lissy, a truculent teenager returning to rural Wales and almost directly into the hands of her childhood captors. The story is largely told from Lissy's POV so  I guess it is YUF (tee hee)  - young urban fantasy. The chapters alternate between Lissy's brother Rafe, their mother Miriam and another boy named Joe. The fae are largely infertile and have been stealing babies for centuries in the hope of using them for breeding stock when they mature. Lissy is different and it isn't long before we find out why.  I normally quite enjoy UF/YA but in this case I thought Hidden Among Us was a bit boring. While there was quite a bit of action towards the end there is little character development so I just didn't care what happened to the protagonists. Perhaps this improves over the series but I don't think I will find out.

Melanie's Week in Review - October 27, 2013
I also read Dragos Takes a Holiday by Thea Harrison which is an e-novella in the Elder Races series. I got it from the good people at NetGalley. It is Harrison's first self-published work and will be out on November 25th. The clue to the plot is in the title with this one but it took a slightly different format with POV chapters from Pia, Dragos and even from little baby Liam. He sounded adorable and portrayed exactly how you imagine a baby to be thinking/doing. With all the stress of looking for new sentinels, having a baby, killing some baddies Pia decides its high time they go on a holiday so the family find themselves in sunny Bermuda looking for lost treasure. This story is all about sun, sand and sex with a little twist. I quite enjoyed this mini installment and it was like taking my own short holiday reading it as it seemed to fly by.  I am looking forward to Kinked (Berkley, November 5, 2013), the 6th Elder Races novel.

Melanie's Week in Review - October 27, 2013I have to admit I haven't made much progress with King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence as I picked up and started two other books. One is Kindred and Wings by Philippa Ballantine (Shifted World 2) and the other is Blood Shadows by Lindsay J. Pryor.

Melanie's Week in Review - October 27, 2013I always love Ballantine's writing and really enjoyed the first book of the Shifted World series. An added bonus is the cover. It is lovely although the cover of Shifted Worlds 1, Hunter and Fox, was a stunner.  I was always staring at it.  I will be reviewing Kindred and Wings so don't want to say too much plus I am not that far into either book to make any real judgements.

That is all I managed to accomplish this week and I am heading off to Canada for a holiday and to see my family. I will be in the same time zone as some of you so maybe you will leave me a comment or two! Until next week Happy Reading.
Melanie's Week in Review - January 25, 2014Melanie's Week in Review - January 11, 2015Release Day Review: Dawn's Early Light by Pip Ballantine and Tee MorrisMelanie's Week in Review - March 9, 2014Melanie's Week in Review - March 2, 2014Melanie's Week in Review - December 29, 2013Review: Kindred and Wings (Shifted World 2) by Philippa BallantineMelanie's Week in Review - November 17, 2013Melanie's Week in Review - November 10, 2013Melanie's Week in Review - October 27, 2013

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