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Qwill's Top 3 of 2018


There are 3 top novels for me from 2018. These are books that I have thought about long after I finished reading them. I'm listing them in order by author name not order of favorite because trying to put one first would be like trying to choose a favorite child. Each novel features a well crafted magic system. These novels stand out for their exceptional worldbuilding but, more important, for their wonderful characters and riveting stories.



I love Robert Jackson Bennett's writing. From The Company Man to Foundryside, his work is just fantastic. Vigilance (from Tor.com) is out later this month. I'll be letting you know what I think. Check out The Divine Cities Trilogy if you're looking for great fantasy read. Don't miss reading The Troupe either. Just read everything he's written. You can thank me later. My review of Foundryside is here.


Foundryside
The Founders Trilogy 1
Crown, August 21, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 512 pages
   Trade Paperback, May 21, 2019

Qwill's Top 3 of 2018
“The exciting beginning of a promising new epic fantasy series. Prepare for ancient mysteries, innovative magic, and heart-pounding heists.”—Brandon Sanderson

“Complex characters, magic that is tech and vice versa, a world bound by warring trade dynasties: Bennett will leave you in awe once you remember to breathe!”–Tamora Pierce

In a city that runs on industrialized magic, a secret war will be fought to overwrite reality itself–the first in a dazzling new series from City of Stairs author Robert Jackson Bennett.

Sancia Grado is a thief, and a damn good one. And her latest target, a heavily guarded warehouse on Tevanne’s docks, is nothing her unique abilities can’t handle.

But unbeknownst to her, Sancia’s been sent to steal an artifact of unimaginable power, an object that could revolutionize the magical technology known as scriving. The Merchant Houses who control this magic–the art of using coded commands to imbue everyday objects with sentience–have already used it to transform Tevanne into a vast, remorseless capitalist machine. But if they can unlock the artifact’s secrets, they will rewrite the world itself to suit their aims.

Now someone in those Houses wants Sancia dead, and the artifact for themselves. And in the city of Tevanne, there’s nobody with the power to stop them.

To have a chance at surviving—and at stopping the deadly transformation that’s under way—Sancia will have to marshal unlikely allies, learn to harness the artifact’s power for herself, and undergo her own transformation, one that will turn her into something she could never have imagined.





David Mack's The Midnight Front, the 1st novel in his Dark Arts series, is set during World War II. The titular Midnight Front fights the war on the magical level. The Nazis have magic wielders and so do the Allies. Mack's magical system is finely developed and like all well-written magical systems there is a price to pay for the magic users. While some passages in The Midnight Front will be perhaps just a disturbing historical footnote for some, to others (including me) there is a visceral gut-wrenching reaction. Mack pulls no punches in The Midnight Front. He doesn't sugar coat what happened during WWII as part of the Final Solution. He brought tears to my eyes more than once.

With or without magic Mack writes about some difficult events to which his characters bear witness. Yet the novel is not all doom and gloom. This novel is in equipoise - the horrific and evil balanced expertly by humor and good. Not everything is black and white though. The Midnight Front is as close to a perfect novel that I've had the pleasure to read in a long time. Mack leaves no cliffhangers and beautifully sets up the next novel in the series. I can't recommend The Midnight Front enough.

And I've just finished book 2 - The Iron Codex - which was published yesterday, and is set several years after the end of the first novel. It features some of the wonderful characters and not so wonderful characters from The Midnight Front. I can unequivocally recommend both novels.


The Midnight Front
A Dark Arts Novel 1
Tor Book, January 30, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 480 pages
   Also available in Hardcover

Qwill's Top 3 of 2018
From New York Times bestselling author David Mack comes a visionary World War II-era adventure. The Midnight Front is the epic first novel in the Dark Arts series.

On the eve of World War Two, Nazi sorcerers come gunning for Cade but kill his family instead. His one path of vengeance is to become an apprentice of The Midnight Front—the Allies’ top-secret magickal warfare program—and become a sorcerer himself.

Unsure who will kill him first—his allies, his enemies, or the demons he has to use to wield magick—Cade fights his way through occupied Europe and enemy lines. But he learns too late the true price of revenge will be more terrible than just the loss of his soul—and there’s no task harder than doing good with a power born of ultimate evil.





Aching God by Mike Shel is the first novel in his Iconoclasts series and The Qwillery's Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off (SPFBO) Finalist. It's going up against 10 other books to be the last book standing. Read more about SPFBO here at Mark Lawrence's site.

After going through a slush pile of 30 books, Shel's Aching God stood out. It's a terrifically fun read. I loved this novel from the moment I started reading it. The worldbuilding, history, and characters are outstanding. Read more of my thoughts here.


Aching God
Iconoclasts 1
Trade Paperback, eBook, Audible

Qwill's Top 3 of 2018
“Closer, mortal. You are here, finally, to feed the Aching God…”

The days of adventure are passed for Auric Manteo. Retired to the countryside and isolated with his scars and riches, he no longer delves into forbidden ruins seeking dark wisdom and treasure. But just as old nightmares begin plaguing his sleep, he receives an urgent summons back to that old life.

To save his only daughter, he must return to the place of his greatest trauma: the haunted Barrowlands. Along with a group of inexperienced companions and an old soldier, he must confront the dangers of the ancient and wicked Djao civilization. He has survived fell beasts, insidious traps, and deadly hazards before. But how can he contend with the malice of a bloodthirsty living god?

First volume in the planned epic fantasy trilogy Iconoclasts, Aching God is the debut novel by RPG adventure designer Mike Shel.

Also included is an advanced preview of Iconoclasts - Book II: Sin Eater.

Melanie’s Top 5 of 2018


It’s that time of year when I look back at all the books I read in previous year. At first I didn’t think that there were many stand-outs for me in 2018 but I had to whittle down a rather longer list down to these 5 faves. I will start in reverse order.


5.  Space Unicorn Blues by T.J Berry and The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson

Melanie’s Top 5 of 2018
Sorry, there is a tie for my 5th favourite book of 2018 as I couldn’t decide between these two fantastic debut novels.

April bought not only showers but Tyrell Johnson’s post apocalyptic The Wolves of Winter onto my Kindle. I was pleasantly surprised that this debut didn’t end up in the cliche it could have been when the tall, dark and handsome stranger stumbles into the young Lynn’s lonely life. Tyrell’s snowy landscape had a life of its own and almost became another character in the tale. If you enjoy character driven stories than this is definitely one you need to read. Check out my review.

Melanie’s Top 5 of 2018
I enjoyed Space Unicorn Blues in July, during the hottest summer we have had in the UK in years. As a little reminder here is my review. The plot line of this story is truly unique and Berry carefully balances action, characterisation and world building. She did an excellent job.

Gary, the half unicorn prince and hero of this tale is a great conflicted character and you can’t help but to cheer him on. This story is very action packed and has one of the best cliff hangers of the year. I am really looking forward to the next instalment



4.  Foundryside by Robert J. Bennett

Melanie’s Top 5 of 2018
Bennett very nearly had 2 books in my top 5 but Foundryside just pipped City of Mirrors to make it into my top 5. This is the first instalment of Bennett’s new series The Founders set in a world where magic has been industrialised and only the Founders have any power. It’s Sancia, a thief who inadvertently turns the world upside down when she ends up stealing an artefact of unbelievable power. Sancia is a great character and she is joined by an eclectic cast of characters. Bennett has such an amazing imagination and writes characters that are so interesting and complex. Foundryside is no different. This is an all round great book. See my review here.





3.  The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

Melanie’s Top 5 of 2018
The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is the best ‘who dunnit’ I have read in a long time. I actually
listened to this as an audiobook and I am so glad that I did as the narrator is excellent and really sets the mood. This book had me on tenterhooks as I couldn’t guess who the committed the murder or why Aiden Bishop kept jumping from body to body. The story is like reading a game of Cluedo (or Clue in the US/Canada) but where you get to play every character. Murder mystery lovers this is a must read.



2.  Magic Triumpths by Ilona Andrews

Melanie’s Top 5 of 2018
I would be remiss if I didn’t include the final instalment of the Kate Daniels series in my top 5 so here it is - Magic Trimphs. I almost can’t believe the series is over. I have been reading this series for almost 10 years (I was a late comer to the series and read the first 3 books together) so it feels a bit weird that it is over although I am glad that it is as I feel that Andrews has written all she could about these characters. I am glad they decided to finish it rather than keep churning out the books like other authors have done. Rather than re-hash my review check it out& here.





1.  Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews

Melanie’s Top 5 of 2018
What can I say I loved Hugh! If you follow my reviews you won’t be surprised to learn that Iron and Magic is my fave book of 2018. I read the e-ARC, I bought the book and I listened to the Audible version.....more than once. I was soo surprised I liked Hugh as much as I did. I have to admit I thought Andrews were bonkers when I first read that they were planning a book about the 2nd biggest baddy in the Kate Daniels series. I was on the verge of being upset that they were ‘wasting’ their time writing about this character when I was waiting for Kate or an Innkeeper book. Good thing I am not in charge of their publishing schedule as I love, love, loved this book. It wasn’t the complicated plot or originality that made me like it so much....it was all down to Hugh’s redemption and general ‘coolness’. If you want to find out more here is my review.



There you go...my top 5. If you are looking for a good book hopefully you will find one here. I would love to know what is on your top 5. Leave me a comment.




Space Unicorn Blues
The Reason 1
Angry Robot, July 3, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

Melanie’s Top 5 of 2018
A misfit crew race across the galaxy to prevent the genocide of magical creatures, in this unique science fiction debut.

Humanity joining the intergalactic community has been a disaster for Bala, the magical creatures of the galaxy: they’ve been exploited, enslaved and ground down for parts. Now the Century Summit is approaching, when humans will be judged by godlike aliens.

When Jenny Perata, disabled Maori shuttle captain, is contracted to take a shipment to the summit, she must enlist half-unicorn Gary Cobalt, whose horn powers faster-than-light travel. But he’s just been released from prison, for murdering the wife of Jenny’s co-pilot, Cowboy Jim… When the Reason regime suddenly enact laws making Bala property, Jenny’s ship becomes the last hope for magic.

File Under: Science Fiction [ Rocks in Space | Stand Up to Reason | The Human Experiment | Last Unicorn ]





The Wolves of Winter
Scribner, January 2, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages
   Trade Paperback, December 4, 2018

Melanie’s Top 5 of 2018
A captivating tale of humanity pushed beyond its breaking point, of family and bonds of love forged when everything is lost, and of a heroic young woman who crosses a frozen landscape to find her destiny. This debut novel is written in a post-apocalyptic tradition that spans The Hunger Games and Station Eleven but blazes its own distinctive path.

Forget the old days. Forget summer. Forget warmth. Forget anything that doesn’t help you survive in the endless white wilderness beyond the edges of a fallen world.

Lynn McBride has learned much since society collapsed in the face of nuclear war and the relentless spread of disease. As the memories of her old life continue to haunt, she’s forced to forge ahead in the snow-drifted Canadian Yukon, learning how to hunt and trap and slaughter.

Shadows of the world before have found her tiny community—most prominently in the enigmatic figure of Jax, who brings with him dark secrets of the past and sets in motion a chain of events that will call Lynn to a role she never imagined.

Simultaneously a heartbreakingly sympathetic portrait of a young woman searching for the answer to who she is meant to be and a frightening vision of a merciless new world in which desperation rules, The Wolves of Winter is enveloping, propulsive, and poignant.





Foundryside
The Founders Trilogy 1
Crown, August 21, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 512 pages
   Trade Paperback, May 21, 2019

Melanie’s Top 5 of 2018
“The exciting beginning of a promising new epic fantasy series. Prepare for ancient mysteries, innovative magic, and heart-pounding heists.”—Brandon Sanderson

“Complex characters, magic that is tech and vice versa, a world bound by warring trade dynasties: Bennett will leave you in awe once you remember to breathe!”–Tamora Pierce

In a city that runs on industrialized magic, a secret war will be fought to overwrite reality itself–the first in a dazzling new series from City of Stairs author Robert Jackson Bennett.

Sancia Grado is a thief, and a damn good one. And her latest target, a heavily guarded warehouse on Tevanne’s docks, is nothing her unique abilities can’t handle.

But unbeknownst to her, Sancia’s been sent to steal an artifact of unimaginable power, an object that could revolutionize the magical technology known as scriving. The Merchant Houses who control this magic–the art of using coded commands to imbue everyday objects with sentience–have already used it to transform Tevanne into a vast, remorseless capitalist machine. But if they can unlock the artifact’s secrets, they will rewrite the world itself to suit their aims.

Now someone in those Houses wants Sancia dead, and the artifact for themselves. And in the city of Tevanne, there’s nobody with the power to stop them.

To have a chance at surviving—and at stopping the deadly transformation that’s under way—Sancia will have to marshal unlikely allies, learn to harness the artifact’s power for herself, and undergo her own transformation, one that will turn her into something she could never have imagined.





The 7 1½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Sourcebooks Landmark, September 18, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 448 pages
    Trade Paperback, May 7, 2019

Melanie’s Top 5 of 2018
One of Stylist Magazine's 20 Must-Read Books of 2018
One of Harper's Bazaar's 10 Must-Read Books of 2018
One of Marie Claire, Australia's 10 Books You Absolutely Have to Read in 2018


The Rules of Blackheath
Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m.
 There are eight days, and eight witnesses for you to inhabit.
We will only let you escape once you tell us the name of the killer.
Understood? Then let’s begin...

***

Evelyn Hardcastle will die. Every day until Aiden Bishop can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others...

The most inventive debut of the year twists together a mystery of such unexpected creativity it will leave readers guessing until the very last page.





Magic Triumphs
Kate Daniels 10
Ace, August 28, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages
   Mass Market Paperback, May 7, 2019

Melanie’s Top 5 of 2018
Mercenary Kate Daniels must risk all to protect everything she holds dear in this epic, can’t-miss entry in the thrilling #1 New York Times bestselling urban fantasy series.

Kate has come a long way from her origins as a loner taking care of paranormal problems in post-Shift Atlanta. She’s made friends and enemies. She’s found love and started a family with Curran Lennart, the former Beast Lord. But her magic is too strong for the power players of the world to let her be.

Kate and her father, Roland, currently have an uneasy truce, but when he starts testing her defenses again, she knows that sooner or later, a confrontation is inevitable. The Witch Oracle has begun seeing visions of blood, fire, and human bones. And when a mysterious box is delivered to Kate’s doorstep, a threat of war from the ancient enemy who nearly destroyed her family, she knows their time is up.

Kate Daniels sees no other choice but to combine forces with the unlikeliest of allies. She knows betrayal is inevitable. She knows she may not survive the coming battle. But she has to try.

For her child.

For Atlanta.

For the world.





Iron and Magic
The Iron Covenant 1
NYLA, June 28, 2018
eBook, 322 pages

Melanie’s Top 5 of 2018
No day is ordinary in a world where Technology and Magic compete for supremacy…But no matter which force is winning, in the apocalypse, a sword will always work.

Hugh d’Ambray, Preceptor of the Iron Dogs, Warlord of the Builder of Towers, served only one man. Now his immortal, nearly omnipotent master has cast him aside. Hugh is a shadow of the warrior he was, but when he learns that the Iron Dogs, soldiers who would follow him anywhere, are being hunted down and murdered, he must make a choice: to fade away or to be the leader he was born to be. Hugh knows he must carve a new place for himself and his people, but they have no money, no shelter, and no food, and the necromancers are coming. Fast.

Elara Harper is a creature who should not exist. Her enemies call her Abomination; her people call her White Lady. Tasked with their protection, she's trapped between the magical heavyweights about to collide and plunge the state of Kentucky into a war that humans have no power to stop. Desperate to shield her people and their simple way of life, she would accept help from the devil himself—and Hugh d’Ambray might qualify.

Hugh needs a base, Elara needs soldiers. Both are infamous for betraying their allies, so how can they create a believable alliance to meet the challenge of their enemies?

As the prophet says: “It is better to marry than to burn.”

Hugh and Elara may do both.

Melanie's Month in Review - September 2018


Melanie's Month in Review - September 2018


Welcome to my very first Month in Review. If you have been following my Week in Review then hopefully you still also enjoy my brand new monthly post. If you are new then I hope you enjoy hearing about what I have been reading.

September has been a nightmare on my work/life balance and as a result I haven't had a lot spare time to read. I have however, read a couple of 'goodies' and maybe a not soo goody to tell you about. I also had the opportunity to treat you to not 1 but 2 full reviews. Yipee!

I am going to start this post with a review of the audio books that I have been listening to. I have really gotten into audio books after not really enjoying them for years. This may or may not have something to do with my love of all things Hugh D'Ambray and the perfectly cast narrator Steve West.


Melanie's Month in Review - September 2018 Melanie's Month in Review - September 2018

Despite the fact that I have read and re-read White Hot and Wildfire by Ilona Andrews I decided to try the audio versions, narrated by Andrew's favourite narrator Renee Raudman. So I have listened to quite a few of Andrews' audiobooks over the last few months and I wasn't convinced that Raudman would make as convincing a Nevada Baylor as she did Dina Demille. I quite enjoyed these two instalments of the Hidden Legacy Trilogy. I thought that Raudman's vocal range worked well for both male and female characters and she didn't have the southern twang that she sported in previous recordings. The pace of the recording worked well and built the drama and action of the story. If you haven't read the books in this series then give the audio books a go.


Melanie's Month in Review - September 2018
Another fantastic audio release is David Sedaris' Calypso. We get a hilarious glimpse of Sedaris' life as he hits middle age. This book takes you from 'lol'ling about one of Sedaris' observations to feeling quite mournful as he recounts the events following the suicide of his sister Tiffany. It is a book of highs and lows and really makes you respect Sedaris' keen powers of observation and self deprecating sense of humour.

America - you are soo lucky to have Sedaris as one of your own but we have him now! Safely picking up roadside garbage in Sussex. You can't have him back!


Melanie's Month in Review - September 2018
I discovered that book 5 of Dannika Dark's Crossbreed series had been released and decided to give it a read. Blackout follows almost immediately after the events of book 4. Raven has no memory of her relationship with the vamp Poe and Shepherd struggles with the knowledge he has a child. More crossbreed madness is on horizon for the Keystone gang when a blackout hits the city and breed leaders end up dead. Keystone have a mission to do and the clock is ticking.

As the series progresses Dark has made the decision to increase the number of POV chapters, randomly swapping between characters but still focusing on Raven's experiences. There are only two words I can use to describe Blackout and they are 'hot and mess'. The random swapping of POV chapters really disrupted the story and the story itself wasn't that coherent in the first place. There is very little to the 'whose behind all the bad stuff' mystery and I predicted every major plot point. I decided not to continue with this series as I just don't care what happens to Raven or the other ragtag Keystone crew.


Melanie's Month in Review - September 2018
The final book I have to tell you about is Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett. I actually started this book quite a while ago and finally decided to pay it some attention and finish it. Qwill reviewed this book back in August so check out what she thought.

Foundryside took me by surprise. Usually for me, Jackson's stories hit me with a big KAPOW from the first few pages and I am in there, loving the characters and loving the story. This time, it took me a little longer to warm up to Sancia and Gregor. I found it difficult, at first, to know what was going on and how the characters and civilization all fit together. Because I wasn't immediately engaged I got distracted by other books and left Foundryside for several weeks. In retrospect this actually worked in my favour. While it took me a little bit longer to get into the story once I did I was completely hooked. Sancia was a little bit different and her past experiences were horrific but shaped her into the hero she didn't think she could be. Bennett added some really good twists to make sure that we all paid attention and didn't feel the need the spoon feed us with lots of backstory. In the end I thoroughly enjoyed Foundryside and while it will take quite a bit for it to eclipse his Divine Cities series for me I am willing to it a go.


This isn't quite it for my September reads  - be sure to check out my full reviews of Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews and Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven. Well folks here endeth my first MMiR. I hope you enjoyed it. See you in October!





White Hot
A Hidden Legacy Novel
HarperAudio, May 30, 2017

Melanie's Month in Review - September 2018
The Hidden Legacy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews continues as Nevada and Rogan navigate a world where magic is the norm…and their relationship burns hot

Nevada Baylor has a unique and secret skill—she knows when people are lying—and she's used that magic (along with plain, hard work) to keep her colorful and close-knit family's detective agency afloat. But her new case pits her against the shadowy forces that almost destroyed the city of Houston once before, bringing Nevada back into contact with Connor "Mad" Rogan.

Rogan is a billionaire Prime—the highest rank of magic user—and as unreadable as ever, despite Nevada’s “talent.” But there’s no hiding the sparks between them. Now that the stakes are even higher, both professionally and personally, and their foes are unimaginably powerful, Rogan and Nevada will find that nothing burns like ice …





Wildfire
A Hidden Legacy Novel
HarperAudio, July 25, 2017

Melanie's Month in Review - September 2018
From Ilona Andrews, #1 New York Times bestselling author, the thrilling conclusion to her Hidden Legacy series, as Nevada and Rogan grapple with a power beyond even their imagination…

Nevada Baylor can’t decide which is more frustrating—harnessing her truthseeker abilities or dealing with Connor “Mad” Rogan and their evolving relationship. Yes, the billionaire Prime is helping her navigate the complex magical world in which she’s become a crucial player—and sometimes a pawn—but she also has to deal with his ex-fiancée, whose husband has disappeared, and whose damsel-in-distress act is wearing very, very thin.

Rogan faces his own challenges, too, as Nevada’s magical rank has made her a desirable match for other Primes. Controlling his immense powers is child’s play next to controlling his conflicting emotions. And now he and Nevada are confronted by a new threat within her own family. Can they face this together? Or is their world about to go up in smoke?





Calypso
Hachette Audio, May 29, 2018

Melanie's Month in Review - September 2018
David Sedaris returns with his most deeply personal and darkly hilarious book.

If you’ve ever laughed your way through David Sedaris’s cheerfully misanthropic stories, you might think you know what you’re getting with Calypso. You’d be wrong.

When he buys a beach house on the Carolina coast, Sedaris envisions long, relaxing vacations spent playing board games and lounging in the sun with those he loves most. And life at the Sea Section, as he names the vacation home, is exactly as idyllic as he imagined, except for one tiny, vexing realization: it’s impossible to take a vacation from yourself.

With Calypso, Sedaris sets his formidable powers of observation toward middle age and mortality. Make no mistake: these stories are very, very funny–it’s a book that can make you laugh ’til you snort, the way only family can. Sedaris’s powers of observation have never been sharper, and his ability to shock readers into laughter unparalleled. But much of the comedy here is born out of that vertiginous moment when your own body betrays you and you realize that the story of your life is made up of more past than future.

This is beach reading for people who detest beaches, required reading for those who loathe small talk and love a good tumor joke. Calypso is simultaneously Sedaris’s darkest and warmest book yet–and it just might be his very best.





Blackout
Crossbreed 5
Dannika Dark, August 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 341 pages

Melanie's Month in Review - September 2018
The fate of millions rests on Keystone when they embark on their most important assignment of all…

After what was supposed to be a simple job, Raven and Christian uncover a sinister plot against the higher authority, and the stakes are as high as the body count. The assassins are merciless, with anyone who stands in their way becoming collateral damage. Meanwhile, Raven is still struggling to make sense of her feelings for Christian following a memory wipe.

During a blackout, the city erupts into chaos. With Breed on the brink of war, Keystone has only twenty-four hours to complete a secret mission. Raven seeks help from the most unlikely of places, but at what cost?

It’s a race against time to save lives in this explosive installment of the Crossbreed series.





Foundryside
The Founders Trilogy 1
Crown, August 21, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 512 pages

Melanie's Month in Review - September 2018
“The exciting beginning of a promising new epic fantasy series. Prepare for ancient mysteries, innovative magic, and heart-pounding heists.”—Brandon Sanderson

“Complex characters, magic that is tech and vice versa, a world bound by warring trade dynasties: Bennett will leave you in awe once you remember to breathe!”–Tamora Pierce

In a city that runs on industrialized magic, a secret war will be fought to overwrite reality itself–the first in a dazzling new series from City of Stairs author Robert Jackson Bennett.

Sancia Grado is a thief, and a damn good one. And her latest target, a heavily guarded warehouse on Tevanne’s docks, is nothing her unique abilities can’t handle.

But unbeknownst to her, Sancia’s been sent to steal an artifact of unimaginable power, an object that could revolutionize the magical technology known as scriving. The Merchant Houses who control this magic–the art of using coded commands to imbue everyday objects with sentience–have already used it to transform Tevanne into a vast, remorseless capitalist machine. But if they can unlock the artifact’s secrets, they will rewrite the world itself to suit their aims.

Now someone in those Houses wants Sancia dead, and the artifact for themselves. And in the city of Tevanne, there’s nobody with the power to stop them.

To have a chance at surviving—and at stopping the deadly transformation that’s under way—Sancia will have to marshal unlikely allies, learn to harness the artifact’s power for herself, and undergo her own transformation, one that will turn her into something she could never have imagined.

Review: Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett


Foundryside
Author:  Robert Jackson Bennett
Series:  The Founders Trilogy 1
Publisher:  Crown, August 21, 2018
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 512 pages
List Price:  US$27.00 (Hardcover);  US$13.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9781524760366 (Hardcover);  9781524760373 (eBook)

Review: Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett
“The exciting beginning of a promising new epic fantasy series. Prepare for ancient mysteries, innovative magic, and heart-pounding heists.”—Brandon Sanderson

“Complex characters, magic that is tech and vice versa, a world bound by warring trade dynasties: Bennett will leave you in awe once you remember to breathe!”–Tamora Pierce

In a city that runs on industrialized magic, a secret war will be fought to overwrite reality itself–the first in a dazzling new series from City of Stairs author Robert Jackson Bennett.

Sancia Grado is a thief, and a damn good one. And her latest target, a heavily guarded warehouse on Tevanne’s docks, is nothing her unique abilities can’t handle.

But unbeknownst to her, Sancia’s been sent to steal an artifact of unimaginable power, an object that could revolutionize the magical technology known as scriving. The Merchant Houses who control this magic–the art of using coded commands to imbue everyday objects with sentience–have already used it to transform Tevanne into a vast, remorseless capitalist machine. But if they can unlock the artifact’s secrets, they will rewrite the world itself to suit their aims.

Now someone in those Houses wants Sancia dead, and the artifact for themselves. And in the city of Tevanne, there’s nobody with the power to stop them.

To have a chance at surviving—and at stopping the deadly transformation that’s under way—Sancia will have to marshal unlikely allies, learn to harness the artifact’s power for herself, and undergo her own transformation, one that will turn her into something she could never have imagined.



Qwill's Thoughts

I started Foundryside with a bit of trepidation. I've read every novel that Robert Jackson Bennett has written and fell in love with his Divine Cities Trilogy - the first trilogy he's written. Could Bennett once again create a striking world with wonderful characters that drive the story? Could the plot again be compelling, deeply engaging and as exciting? Could I care about the characters as deeply? The answer to all these questions is an unequivocal "yes".

Foundryside is set in city of Tevanne which is run by four Merchant Houses. The Merchant Houses have monetized magic technology and have become rich and greedy. The areas in Tevanne not controlled by the Merchant Houses are lawless, grimy and extremely dangerous. One of these areas is called Foundryside and this is where we find Sancia Grado, an extraordinary thief. She's taken on a job to steal an artifact and has no idea what she is getting herself into. Because of this particular heist more than one person wants Sancia dead. In order to survive, she will team up with an unlikely group of individuals from within and without the Merchant Houses.

Sancia is a wonderful character - strong, flawed, damaged, funny, brave. She comes from a horrific background. She is such a remarkable thief because of something that was done to her; something that Bennett reveals slowly and the horror of it for Sancia (and the reader) is palpable. However, this is an ensemble piece and the people that Sancia encounters and works with are wonderfully developed throughout the novel. In their own rights each of the characters is remarkable. There are also plenty of bad actors and villains to go around. This world is full of gray and everything is not as black and white as it may seem.

The magic system is intricate and Bennett delves deeply into how it works and its antecedents. There is a lot of history of this world and Bennett does not skimp with explaining much of it while not overwhelming the story. There is still a great deal we don't know about this magical technology and this world. Social issues are touched upon as well - how the technological marvels created only benefit some and not all; how some people are disposable and others are elevated; and more.

While Bennett resolves the main plot of Foundryside he leaves open several questions for the upcoming novels. Note for those who don't like cliffhangers - there isn't one. There is mystery, nail-biting action, magic, technology, fights, heists, some gore, and much to love about this new world and these new characters. Bennett has done it again. Foundryside is a marvelously entertaining, thrilling and riveting start of a new epic fantasy trilogy. 

Melanie's Week in Review - April 15, 2018


Melanie's Week in Review - April 15, 2018


Hello readers. Hope you have had a good week. I started to get over my uber bad cold so also able to read something challenging on my commute into work.I did however, only read one book but boy, it was a good one! So what did I read?


Melanie's Week in Review - April 15, 2018
I finally decided to buy City of Miracles which is the final book of Robert J. Bennett's The Divine Cities trilogy. This book has been out for some time and I highly recommend you read the Qwill's review. I absolutely loved this series but had to wait for the price to drop a bit on the Kindle version before I bought it.

Rather than recount the plot for you I am going to focus on a couple of themes I picked out. I felt the most prominent theme was the theme of loss. The loss of a mother's love, the loss of friendship and the loss of identity. Loss was on every page and every chapter. Sigrud acutely felt the loss of his daughter and his beloved friend and as the story progressed we discovered what else he lost through the choices he made. Grief was the other prominent theme and Bennett explores, through his characters, individual responses to grief.  In fact loss and grief were the prevalent themes throughout all three novels with the deaths of Vohannes in City of Stairs, Signe in City of Blades and then Shara's death in the final book. In my view, Bennett is a master of handling the very sensitive and personal topic of grief. Bennett's standalone novel The Troupe is another testament of his ability to deal with this topic. The counter balance to grief was the theme of love - parental love, romantic love, friendship. This theme was a bit more subtle in how it played out but it was definitely there.

Bennett is one of my favourite authors even though I haven't yet read everything he has written. For me his books are like a good quality, expensive chocolates. I don't want to eat them all the time or they won't be such a treat. The Divine Cities has superb character development, excellent world building and tight plot arc. This final book is very poignant and you should probably have some tissues handy. This series is a must read but be sure to start with book 1 - City of Stairs.


That is it for me this week. I won't be with you next week as I am away to Spain for a city break. I am super excited that it is going to be 28°C. After two weeks of non stop rain and grey skies I am really looking forward to my vitamin D not coming from a bottle. Until next time Happy Reading.





City of Miracles
The Divine Cities 3
Broadway Books, May 2, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 464 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - April 15, 2018
Revenge. It’s something Sigrud je Harkvaldsson is very, very good at. Maybe the only thing.

So when he learns that his oldest friend and ally, former Prime Minister Shara Komayd, has been assassinated, he knows exactly what to do—and that no mortal force can stop him from meting out the suffering Shara’s killers deserve.

Yet as Sigrud pursues his quarry with his customary terrifying efficiency, he begins to fear that this battle is an unwinnable one. Because discovering the truth behind Shara’s death will require him to take up arms in a secret, decades-long war, face down an angry young god, and unravel the last mysteries of Bulikov, the city of miracles itself. And—perhaps most daunting of all—finally face the truth about his own cursed existence.



Melanie's Week in Review - April 15, 2018
UK Cover - Published by Jo Fletcher Books





Previously

City of Stairs
The Divine Cities 1
Broadway Books, September 9, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 464 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - April 15, 2018
An atmospheric and intrigue-filled novel of dead gods, buried histories, and a mysterious, protean city--from one of America's most acclaimed young SF writers.

The city of Bulikov once wielded the powers of the gods to conquer the world, enslaving and brutalizing millions—until its divine protectors were killed. Now Bulikov has become just another colonial outpost of the world's new geopolitical power, but the surreal landscape of the city itself—first shaped, now shattered, by the thousands of miracles its guardians once worked upon it—stands as a constant, haunting reminder of its former supremacy.

Into this broken city steps Shara Thivani. Officially, the unassuming young woman is just another junior diplomat sent by Bulikov's oppressors. Unofficially, she is one of her country's most accomplished spies, dispatched to catch a murderer. But as Shara pursues the killer, she starts to suspect that the beings who ruled this terrible place may not be as dead as they seem—and that Bulikov's cruel reign may not yet be over.


See Qwill's review here.



Melanie's Week in Review - April 15, 2018
UK Cover - Published by Jo Fletcher Books




City of Blades
The Divine Cities 2
Broadway Books, January 26, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 496 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - April 15, 2018
A triumphant return to the world of City of Stairs.

A generation ago, the city of Voortyashtan was the stronghold of the god of war and death, the birthplace of fearsome supernatural sentinels who killed and subjugated millions.

Now, the city’s god is dead. The city itself lies in ruins. And to its new military occupiers, the once-powerful capital is a wasteland of sectarian violence and bloody uprisings.

So it makes perfect sense that General Turyin Mulaghesh— foul-mouthed hero of the battle of Bulikov, rumored war criminal, ally of an embattled Prime Minister—has been exiled there to count down the days until she can draw her pension and be forgotten.

At least, it makes the perfect cover story.

The truth is that the general has been pressed into service one last time, dispatched to investigate a discovery with the potential to change the world–or destroy it.

The trouble is that this old soldier isn’t sure she’s still got what it takes to be the hero.


See Qwill's review here.



Melanie's Week in Review - April 15, 2018
UK Cover - Published by Jo Fletcher Books

Review: City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett


City of Miracles
Author: Robert Jackson Bennett
Series:  The Divine Cities 3
Publisher:  Broadway Books, May 2, 2017
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 464 pages
List Price:  US$16.00 (print); US$11.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780553419733 (print); 9780553419740 (eBook)

Review: City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett
Revenge. It’s something Sigrud je Harkvaldsson is very, very good at. Maybe the only thing.

So when he learns that his oldest friend and ally, former Prime Minister Shara Komayd, has been assassinated, he knows exactly what to do—and that no mortal force can stop him from meting out the suffering Shara’s killers deserve.

Yet as Sigrud pursues his quarry with his customary terrifying efficiency, he begins to fear that this battle is an unwinnable one. Because discovering the truth behind Shara’s death will require him to take up arms in a secret, decades-long war, face down an angry young god, and unravel the last mysteries of Bulikov, the city of miracles itself. And—perhaps most daunting of all—finally face the truth about his own cursed existence.



Qwill's Thoughts

City of Miracles is the 3rd novel in the Divine Cities Trilogy by Robert Jackson Bennett and focuses on Sigrud je Harkvaldsson (one of my favorite characters from the series). Like in the previous 2 novels in the series, City of Stairs and City of Blades, there is a mystery to be solved and Sigrud is the man to do it.

After the events in City of Blades, Sigrud is a wanted man and has been hiding away from civilization for 13 years. He has been waiting for Shara Komayd to reach out to him to tell him that his name has been cleared and he may return. The news of Shara’s death, his closest friend, working partner and mentor, shakes him badly and brings him out of hiding.

Sigrud travels to Ahanashtan to avenge Shara’s death. This is no simple assassination. Why it was done and who is behind it drives the entire story. Shara, ever the planner and spy, has left clues for Sigrud at various places. Sigrud using spycraft he hasn’t used for years finds touches of the Divine around the hotel where Shara was killed. If the Divine is somehow involved Sigrud realizes that this is not just about Shara’s death but there is more likely a larger threat to the world. He knows that he must find Shara’s daughter, Tatyana, and protect her.

Bennett excels at delving into the emotional landscape of his characters. Sigrud feels deeply that he lets down those he cares about and more than anything City of Miracles is Sigrud’s emotional journey. The depth of his despair about how he has conducted his life, his feelings of self-loathing for his failure to protect those he loves and the things he has done are gut-wrenchingly palpable. Sigurd’s psyche is an uncomfortable place to be at times, but Sigrud is a decent man and a fierce protector despite what he thinks about himself. There are revelations about Sigrud that are remarkable.

As in the prior novels there is plenty of action and the fantastical and Divine. We learn more and more about this world and, if a certain Divine entity is to be believed, what historically has gone before the events of the Divine Cities Trilogy and what is likely to occur in the future. There are some wonderfully philosophical moments in City of Miracles. There are again issues regarding the tension between the Continent and Saypur but only insofar as how it drives various character's actions.

Bennett deftly weaves together threads from the prior novels to show us a world that is changing and, more important, how his characters have changed over the course of the Trilogy. Bennett finishes the series by creating something new in his world. Sigrud’s journey is breathtakingly emotional, surprising, and ultimately satisfying.

The Divine Cities Trilogy is fabulous and City of Miracles is nothing short of brilliant.


Note:  I strongly recommend you read City of Stairs and City of Blades before reading City of Miracles.





Previously

City of Stairs
The Divine Cities 1
Broadway Books, September 9, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 464 pages

Review: City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett
An atmospheric and intrigue-filled novel of dead gods, buried histories, and a mysterious, protean city--from one of America's most acclaimed young SF writers.

The city of Bulikov once wielded the powers of the gods to conquer the world, enslaving and brutalizing millions—until its divine protectors were killed. Now Bulikov has become just another colonial outpost of the world's new geopolitical power, but the surreal landscape of the city itself—first shaped, now shattered, by the thousands of miracles its guardians once worked upon it—stands as a constant, haunting reminder of its former supremacy.

Into this broken city steps Shara Thivani. Officially, the unassuming young woman is just another junior diplomat sent by Bulikov's oppressors. Unofficially, she is one of her country's most accomplished spies, dispatched to catch a murderer. But as Shara pursues the killer, she starts to suspect that the beings who ruled this terrible place may not be as dead as they seem—and that Bulikov's cruel reign may not yet be over.


See my review here.



City of Blades
The Divine Cities 2
Broadway Books, January 26, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 496 pages

Review: City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett
A triumphant return to the world of City of Stairs.

A generation ago, the city of Voortyashtan was the stronghold of the god of war and death, the birthplace of fearsome supernatural sentinels who killed and subjugated millions.

Now, the city’s god is dead. The city itself lies in ruins. And to its new military occupiers, the once-powerful capital is a wasteland of sectarian violence and bloody uprisings.

So it makes perfect sense that General Turyin Mulaghesh— foul-mouthed hero of the battle of Bulikov, rumored war criminal, ally of an embattled Prime Minister—has been exiled there to count down the days until she can draw her pension and be forgotten.

At least, it makes the perfect cover story.

The truth is that the general has been pressed into service one last time, dispatched to investigate a discovery with the potential to change the world–or destroy it.

The trouble is that this old soldier isn’t sure she’s still got what it takes to be the hero.


See my Review here.

Melanie's Year in Review - January 1, 2017


Melanie's Year in Review - January 1, 2017

Happy New Year! I hope you all had fabulous holidays and are not too busy making New Year's resolutions. My Week in Review fell conveniently on New Year's Day so I thought rather than just reviewing what I had read in the last week (which wasn't likely to be much) I would write a retrospective of my favourite books of 2016. This is no mean feat as a) I have a terrible memory for book names b) nothing jumped out as being especially memorable and c) I have a terrible memory for book names! Due to my commitment to jog my memory I trawled through all my WIRs and found a few reviews and voila I found 10 books/series. So in order of 'favouriteness' here are my fave reads of 2016:


Melanie's Year in Review - January 1, 2017
1.  One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews

One of the main reasons for this being my favourite book of 2016 was that I have been reading it over the course of the whole year as it was released a a weekly serial. Looking back at my WIRs I started reading the first chapter early last year (maybe in January) and I mentioned in a number of posts that I was enjoying it. I had the opportunity to review the e-Arc (which I jumped at) and it was even better in it's entirety and after edits/additions. This has been my go-to book when I have been feeling blue and needed a pick me up. Check out my full review here.





Melanie's Year in Review - January 1, 2017
2.  Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

I predicted back in April that Sleeping Giants was going to be one of my favourite books of the year and I wasn't wrong. This book is so well written, so innovative and has you gripped all the way through. Written in the form of transcripts I spent most of the novel wondering who the mystery interviewer was. The ending is an 100 volt shocker. This is fantastic sci-fi so get reading it. Read my review here.





Melanie's Year in Review - January 1, 2017
UK Edition
3.  City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett

If Bennett has a book out and I have read it, then it's  a guarantee that it will be on my 'best of' list. City of Blades is no exception. City of Stairs (book 1) in the Divine Cities series was one of my favourites so it makes sense that book 2 would be as well. Bennett combines unsympathetic characters that you still feel sympathy for, with a brilliantly executed plot, in an evocatively rich environment. You could read this as a standalone but why miss book 1? Check out what I thought here.





Melanie's Year in Review - January 1, 2017
UK Edition
4.  Stiletto by Daniel O'Malley

Four years after O'Malley's fantabulous debut The Rook he was back with Stiletto. Back with the Checquy but starring different characters we, the reader, get a front row seat to the merger of two sworn enemy organisations - The Checquy and the Grafters.  Hold on as it is a roller coaster ride of political maneuvers, deadly attacks and cocktail parties. Find out more by checking out my review.





Melanie's Year in Review - January 1, 2017
5.  Dreaming Death by J. Kathleen Cheney

Dreaming Death was a bit of a surprise for me. I thought the plot sounded ok but I was blown away with the characterisation and mostly with the description of the environment. This book was practically a scratch and sniff it was soo descriptive, all without over egging it. The murder mystery played second fiddle to the relationship between the two main characters, who don't even meet in person until much later story. Check out my full review.





6.  Dreaming Cities series by Guy Haley

I couldn't pick just one. Both of the novellas of this series are excellent in their individual way. This is story telling at its very best with the tale of the Knight Quinn told by a third party. Story 1 - The Emperor's Railroad is told in the first person in the form of a young boy's diary whereas book 2 The Ghoul King is more of a confession (or results of coercion). There is a HUGE reveal in book 2 and I can hardly wait for the next instalment. Great books, great covers, get reading!

The Emperor's Railroad review is here
The Ghoul King review is here

Melanie's Year in Review - January 1, 2017Melanie's Year in Review - January 1, 2017




7.  Amra Thetys by Michael McClung

I read over a dozen books in the first round of the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off and I nearly lost faith in self published books until I came across McClung's series. I had become disillusioned with the quality of some of the prose so decided to check out the winner from SPFBO 1 which was The Thief That Pulled on Trouble's Braids. It wasn't long before I was buying books 2 and 3. Amra is a great female lead and the mystery keeps you engrossed from page 1 through to the end. My first review is here.

Melanie's Year in Review - January 1, 2017Melanie's Year in Review - January 1, 2017
Melanie's Year in Review - January 1, 2017Melanie's Year in Review - January 1, 2017




Melanie's Year in Review - January 1, 2017
8.  The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire series by Rod Duncan

I came across the final book of this series - The Custodian of Marvels through NetGalley but it was the final in the series so I had to go back an read the previous two books. Duncan has written an engaging steam-punky/fantasy world in which the intrepid Elizabeth Barnabas tries to right a wrong committed long ago while trying to steer clear of the dreaded Patent Office. Read what I thought about the final instalment here.





Melanie's Year in Review - January 1, 2017
9.  Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews

It's been awhile since a Kate Daniel's book has hit my fave list. While I enjoy the series overall the last couple of books have been closer to OK than to WOWILOVEDIT. For me, Magic Binds had more to it than Kate getting trampled and left for dead which seemed to be a focal point of the last 2-3 books. There was a real sense that Andrews is ramping things up for the culmination of the over-arching plot which I am looking forward to. As I wrote in my review this book is non stop action which has a purpose other than to see how tough Kate is to kill. I won't be waiting around to buy book 10. Bring it Kate!





Melanie's Year in Review - January 1, 2017
10.  The Ghost Rebellion by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris

While Wellington Books holds a secret place in my heart and while this further adventure in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences hits my top 10 I would be wrong to place it any higher than tenth place. I know, I know....how can I be so cruel to dear Books especially when I donated to the Kickstarter campaign that brought this instalment into fruition? I still don't think I have forgiven the authors for what I can only describe as a time travelling transgression in book 4. The Ghost Rebellion is much closer to this series' former glory and I enjoyed the time I spent with characters past and present. Check out what I thought in a bit more detail here.




Apologies to all those books I had to leave out. There were some great ones but I didn't want to stretch it past 10 favourites. Now that I look at my list and my short list (which ran to 13) I was a bit more spoiled for choice than I originally thought.

To everyone that has cast a glance at this post and especially those who follow my Week in Review I wish you the very best for 2017. Let's hope the sad departures from the arts and sciences in 2016 doesn't continue into the new year and that we can find a silver lining in this politically volatile landscape. Until my next WIR Happy Reading.





Melanie's Year in Review - January 1, 2017
One Fell Sweep
Innkeeper Chronicles 3
NYLA, December 20, 2016
eBook, 257 pages

DeMille may run the nicest Bed and Breakfast in Red Deer, Texas, but she caters to very particular kind of guest… the kind that no one on Earth is supposed to know about. Guests like a former intergalactic tyrant with an impressive bounty on her head, the Lord Marshal of a powerful vampire clan, and a displaced-and-superhot werewolf; so don’t stand too close, or you may be collateral damage.

But what passes for Dina’s normal life is about to be thrown into chaos. First, she must rescue her long-distant older sister, Maud, who’s been exiled with her family to a planet that functions as the most lawless penal colony since Botany Bay. Then she agrees to help a guest whose last chance at saving his civilization could bring death and disaster to all Dina holds dear. Now Gertrude Hunt is under siege by a clan of assassins. To keep her guests safe and to find her missing parents, Dina will risk everything, even if she has and may have to pay the ultimate price. Though Sean may have something to say about that.




Melanie's Year in Review - January 1, 2017
Sleeping Giants
The Themis Files 1
Del Rey, January 24, 2017
Trade Paperback, 336 pages
Hardcover and eBook, April 26, 2016

A page-turning debut in the tradition of Michael Crichton, World War Z, and The Martian, Sleeping Giants is a thriller fueled by an earthshaking mystery—and a fight to control a gargantuan power.

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of the relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?




Melanie's Year in Review - January 1, 2017
City of Blades
The Divine Cities 2
Broadway Books, January 26, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 496 pages
(US Edition)

A triumphant return to the world of City of Stairs.

A generation ago, the city of Voortyashtan was the stronghold of the god of war and death, the birthplace of fearsome supernatural sentinels who killed and subjugated millions.

Now, the city’s god is dead. The city itself lies in ruins. And to its new military occupiers, the once-powerful capital is a wasteland of sectarian violence and bloody uprisings.

So it makes perfect sense that General Turyin Mulaghesh— foul-mouthed hero of the battle of Bulikov, rumored war criminal, ally of an embattled Prime Minister—has been exiled there to count down the days until she can draw her pension and be forgotten.

At least, it makes the perfect cover story.

The truth is that the general has been pressed into service one last time, dispatched to investigate a discovery with the potential to change the world–or destroy it.

The trouble is that this old soldier isn’t sure she’s still got what it takes to be the hero.



Melanie's Year in Review - January 1, 2017
Stiletto
The Rook Files 2
Little Brown and Company, June 14, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 592 pages

In this spirited sequel to the acclaimed The Rook, Myfanwy Thomas returns to clinch an alliance between deadly rivals and avert epic -- and slimy -- supernatural war.

When secret organizations are forced to merge after years of enmity and bloodshed, only one person has the fearsome powers---and the bureaucratic finesse---to get the job done. Facing her greatest challenge yet, Rook Myfanwy Thomas must broker a deal between two bitter adversaries:

The Checquy---the centuries-old covert British organization that protects society from supernatural threats, and...

The Grafters---a centuries-old supernatural threat.

But as bizarre attacks sweep London, threatening to sabotage negotiations, old hatreds flare. Surrounded by spies, only the Rook and two women who absolutely hate each other, can seek out the culprits before they trigger a devastating otherworldly war.

Stiletto is a novel of preternatural diplomacy, paranoia, and snide remarks, from an author who "adroitly straddles the thin line between fantasy, thriller, and spoof " (Booklist).




Melanie's Year in Review - January 1, 2017
Dreaming Death
Palace of Dreams 1
Roc, February 2, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 432 pages

In the Novels of the Golden City, J. Kathleen Cheney created a “mesmerizing” (Publishers Weekly) realm where magic, history, and intrigue combine. Now, she presents a new world ruled by psychic talents and fatal magic…

Shironne Anjir’s status as a sensitive is both a gift and a curse. Her augmented senses allow her to discover and feel things others can’t, but her talents come with a price: a constant assault of emotions and sensations has left her blind. Determined to use her abilities as best she can, Shironne works tirelessly as an investigator for the Larossan army.

A member of the royal family’s guard, Mikael Lee also possesses an overwhelming power—he dreams of the deaths of others, sometimes in vivid, shocking detail, and sometimes in cryptic fragments and half-remembered images.

But then a killer brings a reign of terror to the city, snuffing out his victims with an arcane and deadly blood magic. Only Shironne can sense and interpret Mikael’s dim, dark dreams of the murders. And what they find together will lead them into a nightmare…




Melanie's Year in Review - January 1, 2017
The Emperor's Railroad
A Tale of the Dreaming Cities 1
Tor.com, April 19, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 144 pages

Global war devastated the environment, a zombie-like plague wiped out much of humanity, and civilization as we once understood it came to a standstill. But that was a thousand years ago, and the world is now a very different place.

Conflict between city states is constant, superstition is rife, and machine relics, mutant creatures and resurrected prehistoric beasts trouble the land. Watching over all are the silent Dreaming Cities. Homes of the angels, bastion outposts of heaven on Earth. Or so the church claims. Very few go in, and nobody ever comes out.

Until now…



Melanie's Year in Review - January 1, 2017
The Ghoul King
A Tale of the Dreaming Cities 2
Tor.com, July 12, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 160 pages

Quinn returns in THE GHOUL KING, another story of the Dreaming Cities by Guy Haley.

The Knight, Quinn, is down on his luck, and he travels to the very edge of the civilized world – whatever that means, any more – to restock his small but essential inventory.

After fighting a series of gladiatorial bouts against the dead, he finds himself in the employ of a woman on a quest to find the secret to repairing her semi-functional robot.

But the technological secret it guards may be one truth too many…




Melanie's Year in Review - January 1, 2017
The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble's Braids
Amra Thetys 1
Ragnarok Publications, September 1, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 298 pages

"They butchered Corbin right out in the street. That’s how it really started. He was a rogue and a thief, of course. But then, so am I. So when he got himself hacked up in front of his house off Silk Street, I decided somebody had to be made to pay. They thought that they could just sweep him away like rubbish. They were wrong."

Amra Thetys is a thief with morals: she won't steal from anybody poorer than she is; of course, anybody that poor generally doesn't have much worth stealing.

When a fellow thief and good friend is killed in a deal gone wrong, Amra turns her back on burglary and goes after something far more precious: revenge. Revenge, however, might be hard to come by. A nightmare assortment of enemies, including an immortal assassin and a mad sorcerer, believe Amra is in possession of The Blade That Whispers Hate—the legendary, powerful artifact her friend was murdered for—and they'll do anything to take it from her.

Trouble is, Amra hasn't got the least clue where the Blade might be. She needs to find the Blade, and soon, or she'll be joining her unfortunate friend in a cold grave rather than avenging his death, and time is running short for the small, scarred thief.

The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble's Braids is the first volume in Michael McClung's Amra Thetys series.




Melanie's Year in Review - January 1, 2017
The Custodian of Marvels
The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire 3
Angry Robot Books, February 2, 2016
     Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 368 pages
Angry Robot Books, February 11, 2016 (UK Print)

You’d have to be mad to steal from the feared International Patent Office. But that’s what Elizabeth Barnabus is about to try. A one-time enemy from the circus has persuaded her to attempt a heist that will be the ultimate conjuring trick.

Hidden in the vaults of the Patent Court in London lie secrets that could shake the very pillars of the Gas-Lit Empire. All that stands in Elizabeth’s way are the agents of the Patent Office, a Duke’s private army and the mysterious Custodian of Marvels.

Rod Duncan returns with the climactic volume of The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire, the breathtaking alternate history series that began with the Philip K. Dick Award-nominated The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter.

File Under: Fantasy [ Time Runs Out | The Duke’s Enemy | Open the Vault | A Union ]




Melanie's Year in Review - January 1, 2017
Magic Binds
A Kate Daniels Novel
Ace, September 20, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

Mercenary Kate Daniels knows all too well that magic in post-Shift Atlanta is a dangerous business. But nothing she’s faced could have prepared her for this…

Kate and the former Beast Lord Curran Lennart are finally making their relationship official. But there are some steep obstacles standing in the way of their walk to the altar…

Kate’s father, Roland, has kidnapped the demigod Saiman and is slowly bleeding him dry in his never-ending bid for power. A Witch Oracle has predicted that if Kate marries the man she loves, Atlanta will burn and she will lose him forever. And the only person Kate can ask for help is long dead.

The odds are impossible. The future is grim.  But Kate Daniels has never been one to play by the rules…



Melanie's Year in Review - January 1, 2017
The Ghost Rebellion
The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences 5
ImagineThat! Studios, June 17, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, pages

From authors Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris, the award winning steampunk series continues...

The chase is on! After rescuing Queen Victoria from the clutches of the Maestro, Agents Eliza D Braun and Wellington Books are in hot pursuit of Dr Henry Jekyll. While he continues his experiments on the aristocracy of Europe, he leaves a trail of chaos and despair in his wake. However when Eliza and Wellington run him to ground in India, they are forced to come face to face with ghosts from the past, and the realities of empire.

Meanwhile Ministry agents Brandon Hill and Bruce Campbell travel deep into Russia hunting down a rare ingredient to save Queen Victoria's life. Amid the cold they uncover a threat from the revitalized House of Usher that comes directly from their new Chairman.

All in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences will find their allegiances in question, and their mettle tested as a new dastardly era of international intrigue dawns.


Melanie's Week in Review - April 24, 2016


Melanie's Week in Review - April 24, 2016


Hello readers. I hope you have had a good week. I apologise in advance if this WIR does not sound quite as polished as they normally do (or as I intend them to be). I literally just put down my iPad after finishing one of the books I want to tell you about.  I need to get this written before my bedtime :). So without further adieu.


Melanie's Week in Review - April 24, 2016
I was having a little trawl through NetGalley when I found the next book of Lindsay Pryor's Blackthorn series will be out soon. Blood Instinct focuses on the story of the serryn Phia and the Alpha Jask. It has only been a week but 2 books ago where Phia gets turned into the vampire killer serryn, gets herself captured and then falls into love with the broody wolf shifter Jask. A lot of has happened in that short amount of time and a lot more happens between start and finish of Blood Instinct. Unfortunately for this unlikely pair, Phia's serrynity brings out the worst in Jask and leads him down a very destructive path. All this in the back drop of the unrest within Blackthorn, the military lockdown and impending prophecy of the rise of the vampire Tryan.

Nearly all the characters we have met in the previous books play a part in this plot including Phia's sisters, Caitlen, Jessie, Eden, and of course, the vampires Caleb and Kane. This instalment is quite different from the other books as there is less romance than in the other books. While the sexy scenes start quite early in the story they are more 'ouch' than romantic. There isn't quite the same level of subjugation of the female leads as I felt there were in the other books and the sex scenes were a slightly more aggressive, in part due to the changes both Phia and Jask are experiencing. The plot arc of the prophecy involving the serryn, the Tryan and the fourth species doesn't advance until towards the end of the book but is discussed throughout.

The other main plotline involving Sirius and the Third Species Control Division ("TSCD") advances farther in comparison. Pryor has really created an excellent villain in the TSCD's head honcho. Thankfully, Pryor gives us a bit of a re-cap of the overall plot and the prophecy but does this in a very subtle way. I was grateful for this as there have been a number of twists and turns throughout the series. In fact, I have decided that if you stripped away the romance and the sex from this series you are left with a complex, intricate and well constructed plotline. I am still not sure who is going to come out the winner in the end. A great read and I am looking forward for the penultimate book. Hopefully Pryor won't make me wait too long.


Melanie's Week in Review - April 24, 2016
Book number 2 for me was City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett which is the second in The Divine Cities series. You may remember that Qwill already reviewed this book in January 2016. You can check out what she thought here along with a video interview with Robert Jackson Bennett. As this book has both been out for a while and reviewed I am not going to recount the plot for you and I am sure you will agree that Qwill is much more eloquent in her review. I loved book 1 - City of Stairs - and this instalment passed me by as I waited for the price of the ebook to drop a bit. I finally discovered it on Amazon this week and decided that it was time I continued the series. I will admit I was initially disappointed that story centered on Turyin Mulaghesh rather than Shara Thivani who I thought was an excellent character (from book 1). My disappointment didn't last very long however, and I was soon completely engrossed in the story of Mulaghesh and the City of Blades. I really enjoyed this story and I didn't think it was possible for Bennett to get any better at world building than he already was but he really stepped it up with the landscape, the culture, the history and the mythology the story is based on. City of Blades is a fantastic book and the series is definitely worth starting at book 1 - City of Stairs.


Melanie's Week in Review - April 24, 2016
The final book I can tell you a little bit about is The Men Who Killed God by J. Alex McCarthy. I found this book on NetGalley and while not my typical choice of subject matter I thought I would give it a go...plus I loved the cover. I was really disappointed and I regret to say that I stopped reading before I got to the 4th chapter. From the book description August sounded like the hero that saves the world from the tyranny of God but comes across as a truculent, lazy killer who murders his own father in chapter 1. It seems like it was almost a non-event and while his father was evil August shows no remorse and barely acknowledges the event in any 'real' way. I felt that the characters lacked and depth and the writing style wasn't sophisticated enough to keep my interest despite this. Sorry, folks one of my very few DNFs. (great cover though)


That is all for me this week. You are going to have at least 1 week off next week as I will be flying to Canada rather than writing my WIR so until May (*gasp* May already?) Happy Reading.





Blood Instinct
Blackthorn 6
Bookouture, May 5, 2016
eBook, 356 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - April 24, 2016
‘I think what is inside of you triggers the worst of me’

Sophia McKay has always had a reckless streak, but falling for lycan leader Jask Tao gave her something to live for. Now, cursed with a serryn bloodline, a darkness inside Phia is awakening. A darkness she knows could prove deadly to those she loves most.

Approaching a blue moon, Jask Tao and his pack are living close to the edge due to a delay getting the herbs required to stop their morphing. Worse still, the growing strength of Phia’s serryn powers are dangerously provoking the lycan in Jask.

At a time when Jask and Phia need each other more than ever, their very passion has become a poison that puts both their lives at risk.

With Sirius Throme, leader of the Global Council, on the verge of invading Blackthorn – working together is the only chance of survival. But Jask is holding on to a secret that could just blow everything apart.

And so is Phia.

Will the truth destroy them all?





City of Blades
The Divine Cities 2
Jo Fletcher Books, January 7, 2016
Paperback and eBook, 448 pages
(UK Edition)
Reviewer's Own

Melanie's Week in Review - April 24, 2016
Do the dead sleep soundly in the land of death, or do they have plans of their own?

A generation ago, the city of Voortyashtan was the stronghold of the god of war and death, the birthplace of fearsome supernatural sentinels who killed and subjugated millions. Now the city's god is dead and the city itself lies in ruins. And to its new military occupiers, the once-powerful capital is just a wasteland of sectarian violence and bloody uprisings.

So it makes perfect sense that General Turyin Mulaghesh - foul-mouthed hero of the battle of Bulikov, rumoured war criminal, ally of an embattled Prime Minister - has been exiled there to count down the days until she can draw her pension and be forgotten. At least, it makes the perfect cover story.

The truth is that the general has been pressed into service one last time, dispatched to investigate a discovery with the potential to change the world - or destroy it.



City of Blades
The Divine Cities 2
Broadway Books, January 26, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 496 pages
(US Edition)

Melanie's Week in Review - April 24, 2016
A triumphant return to the world of City of Stairs.

A generation ago, the city of Voortyashtan was the stronghold of the god of war and death, the birthplace of fearsome supernatural sentinels who killed and subjugated millions.

Now, the city’s god is dead. The city itself lies in ruins. And to its new military occupiers, the once-powerful capital is a wasteland of sectarian violence and bloody uprisings.

So it makes perfect sense that General Turyin Mulaghesh— foul-mouthed hero of the battle of Bulikov, rumored war criminal, ally of an embattled Prime Minister—has been exiled there to count down the days until she can draw her pension and be forgotten.

At least, it makes the perfect cover story.

The truth is that the general has been pressed into service one last time, dispatched to investigate a discovery with the potential to change the world–or destroy it.

The trouble is that this old soldier isn’t sure she’s still got what it takes to be the hero.





The Men Who Killed God
Sinner of the Infinite 1
April 5, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 392 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - April 24, 2016
They have finally done it.

They have finally killed a god.

In August’s world, everything was created by a single, secular god. HE—the creator of everything. However, HE left the world to be ruled with a subtle, iron fist by less powerful gods.

It had been two years since August stepped foot into his hometown, Sotira. It had also been that long since he’d last visited his father, seen his crooked smile, and felt those familial ties.

He wished he didn’t have to return. However, at the request of his girlfriend and his family, he was heading back home. To a place where the foundations themselves were built with false truths, hidden behind the ‘utopia’ the gods supposedly created. He knew fear lay under all that outward, deceitful happiness—a terror that Sotira would be next to come under the wrath of the gods.

When August arrived home, he wasn’t prepared for what he found. His best friend had been hung and turned into a monument in the middle of town by the order of his father and the gods. The world he thought he knew had been turned upside down. To turn it right again, August would do anything… even start down the path that would allow him to gain the power to kill God.

Review: City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett and Video Interview


City of Blades
Author: Robert Jackson Bennett
Series:  The Divine Cities 2
Publisher:  Broadway Books, January 26, 2016
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 496 pages
List Price:  $15.00 (print); $9.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780553419719 (print); 9780553419726 (eBook)

A triumphant return to the world of City of Stairs.

A generation ago, the city of Voortyashtan was the stronghold of the god of war and death, the birthplace of fearsome supernatural sentinels who killed and subjugated millions.

Now, the city’s god is dead. The city itself lies in ruins. And to its new military occupiers, the once-powerful capital is a wasteland of sectarian violence and bloody uprisings.

So it makes perfect sense that General Turyin Mulaghesh— foul-mouthed hero of the battle of Bulikov, rumored war criminal, ally of an embattled Prime Minister—has been exiled there to count down the days until she can draw her pension and be forgotten.

At least, it makes the perfect cover story.

The truth is that the general has been pressed into service one last time, dispatched to investigate a discovery with the potential to change the world–or destroy it.

The trouble is that this old soldier isn’t sure she’s still got what it takes to be the hero.


Qwill's Thoughts

City of Blades is the second novel in The Divine Cities series by Robert Jackson Bennett following City of Stairs, which was my favorite novel of 2014.

General Turyin Mulaghesh is forced out of retirement and sent to Voortyashtan. If you've read City of Stairs (and you really really should) you've already met Mulaghesh. Mulaghesh is tasked with finding out what happened to a Saypuri operative who is missing though Mulaghesh's cover story has more to do with pensions than missing persons. Once there Mulaghesh finds that everything is much worse than expected. She encounters her old commander, General Lalith Biswal who is in command of Voortyashtan, and Signe Harkvaldsson, a Dreyling who is overseeing the clearing of the harbor so it can be used again and is the daughter of Sigrud (who played a pivotal role in City of Stairs). A strange substance with potential useful properties has been discovered - thinadeskite - and Mulaghesh wonders about it and whether it is divine.

Mulaghesh is fabulous and difficult. In City of Blades Bennett shares much more of her story and what she has been through that makes her who she is now. She is complex. I really love that Mulaghesh is an older woman who has literal and figurative battle scars, has the skills needed to figure out is going on and will get the job done no matter the cost to herself.

I did not have quite the same degree of wonder as first time I was introduced to the divine, the Blink, and more, but City of Blades does not disappoint in the slightest. The wealth of worldbuilding continues and the mythology of the divine Voortya is fabulous and frightening. The mystery that Mulaghesh has to solve takes many unexpected twists and turns. There is so much going on for Mulaghesh to sort through, but Bennett brings all the pieces together beautifully.

As in book 1 issues are raised about cultural and religious suppression and more, but City of Blades deals with a different divine entity - a war and death goddess and the afterlife that she had promised her followers. This is utterly fascinating.

Bennett's has created characters who are unique yet deeply relatable. There is so much emotion in City of Blades, along with action, outstanding and thoughtful worldbuilding and a great story. City of Blades is superb.





I had the pleasure of interviewing Robert at New York Comic Con 2015:






Previously

City of Stairs
The Divine Cities 1
Broadway Books, September 9, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 464 pages

An atmospheric and intrigue-filled novel of dead gods, buried histories, and a mysterious, protean city--from one of America's most acclaimed young SF writers.

The city of Bulikov once wielded the powers of the gods to conquer the world, enslaving and brutalizing millions—until its divine protectors were killed. Now Bulikov has become just another colonial outpost of the world's new geopolitical power, but the surreal landscape of the city itself—first shaped, now shattered, by the thousands of miracles its guardians once worked upon it—stands as a constant, haunting reminder of its former supremacy.

Into this broken city steps Shara Thivani. Officially, the unassuming young woman is just another junior diplomat sent by Bulikov's oppressors. Unofficially, she is one of her country's most accomplished spies, dispatched to catch a murderer. But as Shara pursues the killer, she starts to suspect that the beings who ruled this terrible place may not be as dead as they seem—and that Bulikov's cruel reign may not yet be over.


Review here.
Qwill's Top 3 of 2018Melanie’s Top 5 of 2018Melanie's Month in Review - September 2018Review: Foundryside by Robert Jackson BennettMelanie's Week in Review - April 15, 2018Review: City of Miracles by Robert Jackson BennettMelanie's Year in Review - January 1, 2017Melanie's Week in Review - April 24, 2016Review: City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett and Video InterviewGiveaway:  City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett

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