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Melanie's Month in Review - February 2019


Melanie's Month in Review - February 2019


Bye bye February! It was a blast....sort of maybe..OK maybe not. February was a really topsy-turvy kind of month for me. It all started with one of my beloved fur-babies getting diagnosed with diabetes. Wow....what a change to my schedule and to my non-existent social life that having to give her insulin injections every 12 hours has meant. I don't know which one of us was more stressed out by the injections either! (p.s. it was me!!!!) To make February a bit less exciting the hubinator and I did a gut re-boot diet which involved a lot of salad and no treats. Valentines Day was a chocolate free affair. Then to top it off the last week of February turned unseasonably warm with highs of 17C (62F). While you were shoveling snow I was putting away my winter coat. With all this happening I still managed to finish a few books. Let me tell you all about them.


Melanie's Month in Review - February 2019
Up first is 5th instalment of Bec McMaster's London Steampunk: Blue Blood Conspiracy series - Dukes are Forever. This one starts just a few months after the Company of Rogues rescue their leader Malloryn from Russia. Back in London Malloryn is trying to adjust to life after he was kidnapped and tortured at the hands of Balfour's dhampyrs. Malloryn sees his nemesis Balfour at every turn and starts to suspect his wife Adele of being a spy for him. Determined that she won't get the upper hand he decides to seduce her and discovers all her secrets before she learns his. Adele is determined that Malloryn will not get the upper hand or her heart. Its a battle of wills while the Company of Rogues battle to save the Queen and London. Who will win? Your turn to find out for yourself.

I was a bit surprised that McMaster released this instalment so quickly after book 4 - To Catch a Rogue - which was published in October 2018. Although, it became quite clear how it was possible to release the book so quickly....it was quite disappointing. Adele and Malloryn's romance was a little lackluster especially given that it has been building across multiple books. The whole thing felt quite rushed and there really wasn't enough 'meat' to the plot. It will be interesting to see if McMaster has said goodbye to Steampunk London or whether there will be additional stories set in that world.


Melanie's Month in Review - February 2019
I listened to, rather than read the next book I have to tell you about - The Outlaw and the Upstart King by Rod Duncan. This is the second book in Duncan's The Map of Unknown Things series which is the follow on series from his Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire series. This story starts from the POV of a new character, Elias. He is out for revenge, revenge for the people that cut off his thumbs and made him an outlaw. He has returned to his native Newfoundland in search of justice. However, he meets Elizabeth a mysterious barmaid who is much more than just a barmaid. It's not long before the story switches to Elizabeth, who along with her friends, crashed onto the unforgiving Newfoundland coast. They are desperate to leave and Elias might be the only way to escape.

I have to admit I had no clue what was going on for the first few chapters. It had been awhile since I read The Queen of All Crows (The Map of Unknown Things 1) and I had to jog my memory of what that book was about it. It didn't take long however before was completely gripped. I couldn't figure out how on earth that Elizabeth was going to avoid becoming a slave or worse at the hands of the main antagonist, Jago. Elias seemed incapable of helping himself let alone anyone else so I was flummoxed as to how she would escape. I would definitely describe this as a slow burn plot but it is well worth a read. Duncan creates such interesting characters and then places them in situations where you can't imagine how they are going to survive. I really like the narrator and thought she did an excellent job with both male and female characters. Well done Duncan. It is hard to follow the books from The Fall of the Gas-lit Empire with another terrific series.


Melanie's Month in Review - February 2019
My final book is is a short story. The Test by Sylvain Neuvel (one of my all time fave authors for his The Themis Files) is set in England with Idir about to take the British citizenship test. A simple multiple choice test has turned into a game of life or death and Idir gets to decide.

I had to take the British citizenship test so this story resonated with me and boy I am lucky my test wasn't this harrowing. This short story is a real page turner and rather tragic so be prepared. I don't want to say too much as I don't want to ruin the surprise. Don't miss out and get it on your TBR.



Well that is all for me folks. I hope you have had a less challenging February than I had. I am looking forward to smoother sailing in March and watching my daffodils come out. Until next month...Happy Reading!





Bec McMaster

Dukes Are Forever
London Steampunk: The Blue Blood Conspiracy 5
Lochaber Press, February 12, 2019
eBook

Melanie's Month in Review - February 2019
A compromising situation forced him into marriage. But has his wife been working for the enemy all along?

In a steam-fuelled world where vampires once ruled the aristocracy, a dangerous conspiracy threatens to topple the queen, and the Duke of Malloryn knows his nemesis has finally returned to enact his plans of revenge.

Malloryn can trust no one, and when incriminating photographs surface—of an enemy agent stealing a kiss from his wife—he is forced to question just why his wife, Adele, trapped him into marriage.

Is she an innocent pawn caught up in a madman's games, or is she a double agent working against him?

The only way to discover the truth is to seduce her himself...

Adele Hamilton may have agreed to a loveless marriage in order to protect herself, but that doesn't stop her heart from yearning for more.

Her husband promised her a cold marriage bed. He swore he'd never touch her. But suddenly he's engaged in a campaign of seduction—and the only way to keep her wits about her is to fight fire with fire.

The ruthless beauty has locked her heart away, but can she deny the passion that flares between them? And when the truth emerges, will she be the only thing that can save Malloryn's life?

Or the weapon his enemy will wield against him?

Join Bec McMaster in this ultimate showdown, as the Blue Blood Conspiracy reaches its final, thrilling conclusion. From glittering ballrooms to blood-soaked gaming hells, the Duke of Malloryn must battle his most dangerous opponent yet.... The woman who just might steal his heart.

Don’t miss any of the London Steampunk: The Blue Blood Conspiracy books!

Book 1: Mission: Improper
Book 2: The Mech Who Loved Me
Book 3: You Only Love Twice
Book 4: To Catch A Rogue
Book 5: Dukes Are Forever


Melanie's Month in Review - February 2019
Book 1
Melanie's Month in Review - February 2019
Book 2
Melanie's Month in Review - February 2019
Book 3
Melanie's Month in Review - February 2019
Book 4





Rod Duncan

The Outlaw and the Upstart King
The Map of Unknown Things 2
Angry Robot, January 8, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

Melanie's Month in Review - February 2019
Elizabeth Barnabus returns, to uncover the secrets and mysteries of the Gas-Lit Empire, in the startling sequel to The Queen of All Crows.

As it is inked, so shall your oaths and bindings be.

Tattoos are the only law on the Island of the Free, and there can never be a king. Every clan agrees on that. But a returning exile has smuggled something across the water that could send the old ways up in flames. Elias wants revenge on the men who severed his oaths and made him an outlaw. But, if his wealth and honour are to be restored, he’ll need help from the most unlikely quarter – a mysterious woman, landed unwontedly on Newfoundland’s rocky shore.

File Under: Fantasy [ Indelible Promise | The End Begins | Heart on Sleeve | Castaway ]


Melanie's Month in Review - February 2019
Book 1





Sylvain Neuvel

The Test
Tor.com, February 12, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 112 Pages

Melanie's Month in Review - February 2019
Award-winning author Sylvain Neuvel explores an immigration dystopia in The Test

Britain, the not-too-distant future.
Idir is sitting the British Citizenship Test.
He wants his family to belong.
Twenty-five questions to determine their fate. Twenty-five chances to impress.
When the test takes an unexpected and tragic turn, Idir is handed the power of life and death.
How do you value a life when all you have is multiple choice?

Melanie's Week in Review - February 25, 2018


Melanie's Week in Review - February 25, 2018


Fear not gentle reader, I am back with my Week in Review :)  I thought I would give you a short break from my WIR and share two of my SPFBO 2017 reviews. I hope you enjoyed them. Keep your eye on the blog for reviews from my fellow Qwillery reviewers on what they thought of the books they read for the competition.

I had a little pooch at NetGalley this week and was surprised by two books I had read last year but hadn't yet reviewed.  Lately books have been available months before their publish date and then I get all excited about reading them. This time I had convinced myself that I had actually posted a review here but after some checking it transpired I hadn't left you a review so check out what I read.


Melanie's Week in Review - February 25, 2018
First up is The Queen of All Crows by Rod Duncan which is the first instalment of The Map of Unknown Things, published by Angry Robot on January 2nd. This series is set in the same world as Duncan's The Fall of the Gas-lit Empire series with Elizabeth Barnabus back in her role of spy but this time with the dreaded Patent Office. When airships start to disappear, along with someone close to Elizabeth, she decides to take action and goes undercover, again as a man. As the science officer on a whaler far out to sea Elizabeth is desperate to find out what has happened and more importantly, who is responsible. Elizabeth finds herself in the middle of a mystery and in more danger than anything the Patent Office could do to her. It will take every ounce of her ingenuity and bravery to discover what has happened and survive long enough to report back.

I loved Duncan's The Fall of the Gas-lit Empire series and thought that Elizabeth was a complex, gutsy heroine. Normally, I am a bit nervous when an author creates a new series for one their characters as it usually means they don't want to let go and new books usually aren't as good. I prefer a shorter, excellent series than a long mediocre, drawn out one. However, Duncan doesn't disappoint and this is an excellent start to what I feel is going to be a compelling series. At the beginning of the story I had pretty much guessed what was going to happen, but midway through every thing changed and I couldn't really guess what was going to become of Elizabeth. This is a difficult book to review because I don't want to give anything away. I want you to discover what happens to Elizabeth on your own because it is such a tasty tale. I have read too many reviews that spell everything out and basically rewrite the book so I don't want to do that here. What I can say is that Duncan fleshes out Elizabeth even more and the new landscape in which this story is set is rich and bleak in equal measure. If I had to sum up this story I would describe it as a story of the power of friendship. Cruel, beautiful, warm, and chillingly lonely. It's all these things and a great mystery as well. If you haven't read the original series don't miss out and then join Elizabeth in The Queen of All Crows.


Melanie's Week in Review - February 25, 2018
The second book I would like to tell you about is The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden. This is the second in her Winternight Trilogy and follows not long after the events of book 1 - The Bear and the Nightingale. Vasya is on the run. She has been cast out of her village following the death of her father and she faces either being married off  - to become a girl in a tower - or joining a convent. Neither option appeals to her so when the opportunity presents itself she disguises herself as a boy and joins the Grand Prince of Moscow's retinue. When a mysterious and possibly magical force threatens the kingdom Vasya risks everything, including her freedom, to save the Prince, her family and her kingdom.

I can't believe that it is less than a year from the time that Arden released her debut The Bear and the Nightingale (check out my review here). Book 2 does not disappoint. In fact Arden has built upon the strengths of these characters and takes this from a mere fairy tale into some more like folklore. While this is fiction Arden has created characters who are credible, who make you believe they were actually alive, centuries ago. I have to admit I did spend a lot of the story thinking to myself  'poor Vasya' as things seem to go from bad to worse for our teenage heroine. She is forced to grow up quickly but at the same time stays innocent from how cruel the world can really be.

Again, this is another book that I could recount half the plot for you in this review but why would I ruin the journey that you need to take? Join Vasya on her journey of self discovery. Well done Arden, another great book. I can hardly wait for the final in this trilogy, The Winter of the Witch.


That is it for me this week. Apologies for not getting these reviews to you sooner. Better late than never! Until next time Happy Reading.





The Queen of All Crows
The Map of Unknown Things 1
Angry Robot Books, January 2, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - February 25, 2018
Only one woman can stop the world from descending into endless war, in the thrilling new series in the world of the Gas-Lit Empire
The year is 2012 but it might as well be the Victorian age. The nations of the world are overseen by the International Patent Office, and its ruthless stranglehold on technology.

When airships start disappearing in the middle of the Atlantic, the Patent Office is desperate to discover what has happened. Forbidden to operate beyond the territorial waters of member nations, they send spies to investigate in secret.

One of those spies is Elizabeth Barnabus. She must overcome her dislike of the machinations of her employers, disguise herself as a man, and take to the sea in search of the floating nation of pirates who threaten the world order.

File Under: Fantasy [ A Lost Airship | On the Sargasso | Stowaway Bay | The Crow Queen ]





The Girl in the Tower
Winternight Trilogy 2
Del Rey, December 5, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - February 25, 2018
A remarkable young woman blazes her own trail, from the backwoods of Russia to the court of Moscow, in the exhilarating sequel to Katherine Arden’s bestselling debut novel, The Bear and the Nightingale.

Katherine Arden’s enchanting first novel introduced readers to an irresistible heroine. Vasilisa has grown up at the edge of a Russian wilderness, where snowdrifts reach the eaves of her family’s wooden house and there is truth in the fairy tales told around the fire. Vasilisa’s gift for seeing what others do not won her the attention of Morozko—Frost, the winter demon from the stories—and together they saved her people from destruction. But Frost’s aid comes at a cost, and her people have condemned her as a witch.

Now Vasilisa faces an impossible choice. Driven from her home by frightened villagers, the only options left for her are marriage or the convent. She cannot bring herself to accept either fate and instead chooses adventure, dressing herself as a boy and setting off astride her magnificent stallion Solovey.

But after Vasilisa prevails in a skirmish with bandits, everything changes. The Grand Prince of Moscow anoints her a hero for her exploits, and she is reunited with her beloved sister and brother, who are now part of the Grand Prince’s inner circle. She dares not reveal to the court that she is a girl, for if her deception were discovered it would have terrible consequences for herself and her family. Before she can untangle herself from Moscow’s intrigues—and as Frost provides counsel that may or may not be trustworthy—she will also confront an even graver threat lying in wait for all of Moscow itself.

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.


Interview with Rod Duncan


Please welcome Rod Duncan to The Qwillery. Rod's most recent novel is The Custodian Marvels, the 3rd book in The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire series, from Angry Robot Books.



Interview with Rod Duncan




TQWelcome back to The Qwillery. What is the most challenging thing for you about writing? Are you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Rod:  The most challenging thing is keeping the outline of a whole series of novels in my head.

Yes, I create plans of each novel. Lots of them. And each of them turns out different. When it comes down to it, a plan of a novel is only good for helping me to write the next chapter. Once the chapter is written, I have usually made discoveries that will change my ideas about where the book going.



TQDescribe The Custodian of Marvels in 140 characters or less.

Rod:  A heist & a date with destiny. It’s where the small adventures of Elizabeth Barnabus meet the big story of the fall of the Gas-Lit Empire.



TQTell us something about The Custodian of Marvels that is not found in the book description.

It is a story of circus folk and high politics.

It is also a story of horrifying secrets and terrifying locks. One secret is hidden in the Bullet Catcher’s Handbook. Another is hidden in a vault below the International Patent Court. One lock is the hammer that fires a gun, another is the mechanism that holds a mighty door closed.

I could tell you more, but it’s a secret.



TQThe Custodian of Marvels is the third novel of The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire. What are your feelings on concluding the series?

Rod:  It is the end. But it’s not the end. Like so many things in the life of Elizabeth Barnabus, this is a paradox.

I can tell you that I have started to write the next book in this alternate history. But I don’t want to say more than that, because it might spoil things for readers of the series. When you get to the end of the Custodian of Marvels, I hope these vague comments will make more sense to you!



TQThe Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire series is Alternate History with a late Victorian setting. What appeals to you about writing Alternate History and AH set in the Victorian era?

Rod:  Alternate history has always appealed to me because it gives us the chance to ask “what if”? What if the Luddites had overthrown the government? What if technology had developed in a different way?

I own a small mechanical calculator. It is a marvellous piece of engineering and design, containing many hundreds of moving parts. It would have cost a huge amount of money when new. But this one was thrown away because it had been superseded by the newly invented four-function electronic calculator.

I doubt that anyone could make such a mechanical calculator today. It was the pinnacle of the technology. But what might have been developed in the world of mechanical calculation if the electronic calculator had not been invented quite so soon? Alternate history explores questions like that.

As for the Victorianesque setting – I’m not sure why I like it so much. I certainly wouldn’t like to be living in that era. But there is something about the aesthetic that appeals.



TQIn The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire series who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Rod:  I’m not sure which was the easiest character to write. But I will say that I particularly enjoyed writing Fabulo. I had a very clear understanding of who he was when I wrote the Bullet Catcher’s Daughter. But in that story he was always overshadowed by Harry Timpson. In the Custodian of Marvels he has a bigger part to play. Readers will get to understand him far better. It is a great pleasure to be able to share him in this way.

As for the hardest character to write – that was Elizabeth Barnabus. Of course, I know her best of all. I had no difficulty in knowing what she would feel or think or how she would behave. But for a couple of chapters in this story she is “not herself”. That is to say, she goes to a very dark place. My problem was working out how to convey that journey through her own voice.



TQWhy have you chosen to include social issues in The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire series?

Rod:  Drama comes from conflict. Conflict often comes from inequality. And inequality lies at the heart of most social issues. Or, to put it another way, comfortable people aren’t so interesting to write about.

Most of the characters in these books are marginalised in one way or another. Fabulo is a dwarf. Tinker is a runaway from an abusive father. Elizabeth was born in a travelling show. It is because of these differences, and others that I can’t reveal here, that they go on to do extraordinary things.



TQWhich question about The Custodian of Marvels or The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire series do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Rod:  I think you’re asking me to do your job for you!

Q: “Can we make it into a series of movies?”

A: “Perhaps.”



TQWhat's next?

Rod:  As I said, I’m writing the next book set in this alternate history. I don’t want to reveal too much of that, because it might count as a spoiler. But I will tell you that in the last month, I have been researching the Louisiana Purchase, the sound of wooden beams moving against each other and various effects of the Labrador Current. Make of that what you will.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Rod:  Thank you. I always enjoy Qwillery questions.





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)
Cover Art by Will Staehle

Interview with Rod Duncan
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 ]


See Melanie's Review here.





Previously

The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter
The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire 1
Angry Robot Books, August 26, 2014
    Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages
Angry Robot Books, September 4, 2014 (UK Print)
Cover Art by Will Staehle

Interview with Rod Duncan
Elizabeth Barnabus lives a double life – as herself and as her brother, the private detective. She is trying to solve the mystery of a disappearing aristocrat and a hoard of arcane machines. In her way stand the rogues, freaks and self-proclaimed alchemists of a travelling circus.

But when she comes up against an agent of the all-powerful Patent Office, her life and the course of history will begin to change. And not necessarily for the better…

File Under: Fantasy


See Melanie's Review here.




Unseemly Science
The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire 2
Angry Robot Books, May 5, 2015
    Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages
May 7, 2015 (UK Print)
Cover Art by Will Staehle

Interview with Rod Duncan
In the divided land of England, Elizabeth Barnabus has been living a double life – as both herself and as her brother, the private detective. Witnessing the brutal hanging of someone very close to her, Elizabeth resolves to throw the Bullet Catcher’s Handbook into the fire, and forget her past. If only it were that easy!

There is a new charitable organisation in town, run by some highly respectable women. But something doesn’t feel right to Elizabeth. Perhaps it is time for her fictional brother to come out of retirement for one last case? Her unstoppable curiosity leads her to a dark world of body-snatching, unseemly experimentation, politics and scandal. Never was it harder for a woman in a man’s world…

File Under: Fantasy


See Melanie's Review here.




About Rod

Interview with Rod Duncan
Rod Duncan is a published crime writer. His first novel Backlash was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Dagger, and he has since written three other novels (all Simon & Schuster UK), and had his first screenplay produced.

His background is in scientific research and computing, and he lives in Leicester.



You can find Rod online at www.rodduncan.co.uk and follow him @RodDuncan on Twitter.


Melanie's Week in Review - March 6, 2016


Melanie's Week in Review  - March 6, 2016


Welcome to March. Spring is just around the corner as the daffodils in my garden are out in full display. We haven't had that much of a winter in the UK this year but I am still glad to see the first sights of spring especially as I almost turned into a human popsicle last weekend. Weather report over. So what did I read?


Melanie's Week in Review  - March 6, 2016
I have saved the best for last with Rod Duncan's The Custodian of Marvels which is the final instalment of The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire. In my last two WIRs I reviewed books 1 and 2 (here and here). I thoroughly enjoyed this series and this final book was no different. Thank you to publisher for approving this request via NetGalley. I would never had discovered this fantastic series otherwise.

Again, Duncan mixes it up and teams Elizabeth with her one time enemy from the circus performers in book 1. They have teamed up to do the impossible - to break into the impenetrable Patent Court to steal a weapon. Elizabeth however, has an ulterior motive for agreeing to this heist. She wants to find evidence that the Duke has done the same thing to other families as he did to hers and she is certain it is hidden in the bowels of the Patent Office. While the plotting and planning of the heist was great to read it is what Elizabeth discovers while inside that is the real start of the plot. Duncan has a great imagination and ability to build tension as craftily as he develops his characters. This was a excellent conclusion to Elizabeth's story and has put Duncan right up there with one of my new favourite authors.


Melanie's Week in Review  - March 6, 2016
Despite being a big fan of the Kate Daniels series I only just bought and read Magic Shifts. I generally refuse to pay more than £6 for a Kindle book and when it was listed at £9.99 I decided to wait. Boy did I get that wrong. As the release of the paperback approached the price increased to £13.99. I was then stuck and ended up buying the paperback.. One of my fellow reviewers Doreen has already reviewed Magic Shifts so check it out. I thought it was OK. I wasn't wowed but didn't dislike it either. What I have a problem with...and this doesn't just relate to this series...is that I get bored when the heroine almost dies every book. I got very disillusioned with Patricia Brigg's Mercy Thompson series for the very same reason. I feel that the Kate Daniels series are falling too much into a formulae in recent books - Big Baddy fights with Kate, Kate moons over Curran, friends or family are in danger, gets beaten up, super battle, almost dies, survives surmountable odds, lives to thwart her father another day. I hope the next book mixes it up a bit.


That is it for me this week. I hope you find something enjoyable to read. Fingers crossed I have more to tell you about next week but until then Happy Reading.




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)

Melanie's Week in Review  - March 6, 2016
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 ]




Magic Shifts
Kate Daniels 8
Ace, February 23, 2016
Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Hardcover and eBook, August 4, 2015

Melanie's Week in Review  - March 6, 2016
The eighth Kate Daniels novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author who “defines urban fantasy” (Fresh Fiction).

Magic is coming and going in waves in post-Shift Atlanta—and each crest leaves danger in its wake…

After breaking from life with the Pack, mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate—former Beast Lord Curran Lennart—are adjusting to a very different pace. While they’re thrilled to escape all the infighting, Kate and Curran know that separating from the Pack completely is a process that will take time.

But when they learn that their friend Eduardo has gone missing, Kate and Curran shift their focus to investigate his disappearance. As they dig further into the merc’s business, they discover that the Mercenary Guild has gone to hell and that Eduardo’s recent assignments are connected in the most sinister way…

An ancient enemy has arisen, and Kate and Curran are the only ones who can stop it—before it takes their city apart piece by piece.

Melanie's Week in Review - February 28, 2016


Melanie's Week in Review - February 28, 2016


Happy almost Leap Day. Yes ladies, the one day of the year when you can propose to your fellas is almost upon you. I hope you have all had good weeks. I had another pretty good week on the reading front, at least. I did almost freeze my chubby little fingers off today by forgetting to wear a scarf, hat or gloves outside today.  I momentarily forgot that it was actually still winter despite seeing my magnolia in half bloom outside my front window.  This global warming is no fun. Anyway, I digress. What did I read this week?


Melanie's Week in Review - February 28, 2016
If you read my WIR last week you will remember that I had discovered Rod Duncan's The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire series and told you about book 1 - The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter. This week I am going to tell you what I thought of book 2 - Unseemly Science. In this instalment Elizabeth is still trying to survive in a male dominated world. In order to do so Elizabeth continues to impersonate her non-existent twin brother. As in book 1 she is well and truly leading a double life. When her 'brother' Edward is asked to investigate a missing person's case on behalf of a charity for orphans and other waifs and strays Elizabeth finds that she can't resist, especially as her own friend and confident Julia Swain has unwittingly become embroiled in the middle of what turns out to be a sinister body snatching plot.

I felt that Unseemly Science was quite different to The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter and not just in the choice of storyline. In book 1 the plot focused on a case that Elizabeth (or her pretend twin) had been contracted to solve whereas this time it was out of friendship that caused Elizabeth to put herself in harms way. Also this plot was much more political. There was a prominent theme of fascism and discrimination which starts with all refugees of the Kingdom (including Elizabeth) being required to register and identify themselves as such. An extradition treaty between the Kingdom and the Republic is about to be signed and its not long before Elizabeth is being rounded up, interned and awaits deportation like some of her undeserving countrymen. This puts her once again, in the path of the Patent's Office very own American John Farthing. The cards are stacking up and not in Elizabeth's favour. This was a tense read and very dramatic especially towards the end. At certain points I wasn't sure that Elizabeth was going to come through this unscathed. The biggest surprise for me was learning about the timeline. I had thought this book was set in the late 1800's but it was actually set in present day (or near present day). This raises many questions and just added to the allure of this steampunky, noir crime novel. Great novel and definitely worth a read.


Melanie's Week in Review - February 28, 2016
Book 2 for me this week was Steve Bein's Disciple of the Wind. I have enjoyed this series although I struggled a bit with book 2 of the Fated Blades series - Year of the Demon. Once again Bein tells the story of Mariko, who in 2010 tries to capture the Jo-Ko Daishi who is the leader of a cult who is single handedly bringing Tokyo to a standstill. Suspended from the job that she loves Mariko only has her ancient sword - Glorious Victory Unsought - to keep her company and help her find a way to defeat a foe that survives just about everything.

Bein also takes us back to 1588 CE and to the life of the exiled Diagoro. He is has given up almost everything - his home, his livelihood, his wife but not his honour in order to defeat the evil Shichio. Controlled by the evil mask Shichio wants nothing more in return than to defeat the 'Bear Cub' and obtain the famous Izuama blade - Glorious Victory Unsought. This part of the story is hair-raising indeed and as much of a history lesson of the samurai as it is of the period in history.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Bein starts with a bit of a lesson on Japanese pronunciation and spelling which really drew me into the story. It really helped me to understand what was written and made me really want to learn Japanese. I found this book was much more balanced between past and present and a much more enjoyable read. I love Mariko. She is tenacious, honourable and very, very kick-ass. My kind of heroine.


That is all for me for this week. I hope you all have something enjoyable to read and until next week happy reading.





Unseemly Science
The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire
Angry Robot Books, May 5, 2015 (North America Print and ebook)
  May 7, 2015 (UK Print)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages
Cover Art by Will Staehle

Melanie's Week in Review - February 28, 2016
In the divided land of England, Elizabeth Barnabus has been living a double life – as both herself and as her brother, the private detective. Witnessing the brutal hanging of someone very close to her, Elizabeth resolves to throw the Bullet Catcher’s Handbook into the fire, and forget her past. If only it were that easy!

There is a new charitable organisation in town, run by some highly respectable women. But something doesn’t feel right to Elizabeth. Perhaps it is time for her fictional brother to come out of retirement for one last case? Her unstoppable curiosity leads her to a dark world of body-snatching, unseemly experimentation, politics and scandal. Never was it harder for a woman in a man’s world…

File Under: Fantasy



Disciple of the Wind
Fated Blades 3
Roc, March 1, 2016
Mass Market Paperback, 528 Pages
Trade Paperback and eBook, April 7, 2015
Cover Art by Chris McGrath

Melanie's Week in Review - February 28, 2016
Tokyo’s only female detective fights to keep her city safe in the third novel in the fantasy series that “combines the best parts of police procedurals, buddy-cop films, historical fantasy, and intrigue-laden adventure.”*

After a deadly terrorist attack in Tokyo, Detective Sergeant Mariko Oshiro urges her commanding officers to arrest an insane zealot who was just released from police custody. When her pleas fall on deaf ears, she loses her temper and then her badge.

Armed with only her cunning and her famed Inazuma blade, Mariko must work outside the system to stop the terrorist. But going rogue draws the attention of the Wind—an underground syndicate that has controlled Japanese politics for centuries, using mystical relics to achieve their nefarious ends.

Now, Mariko is left with a perilous choice: join an illicit insurgency to thwart a deadly villain, or remain true to the law. Either way, she cannot escape her sword’s curse. As sure as the blade will bring her to victory, it also promises to destroy her…

Melanie's Week in Review - February 21, 2016


Melanie's Week in Review  - February 21, 2016


Sorry folks for missing last week especially as it was Valentine's Day and you missed finding out who my paperback valentine was.  Unfortunately, now you will have to wait until February 14th, 2021 to find out!


Melanie's Week in Review  - February 21, 2016
I was very surprised and thrilled to be contacted by Penner Publishing to ask if I wanted an e-Arc of Pawn of the Phoenix which is the second in Jamie McLachlan's The Memory Collector series. This came out of the blue and a nice January surprise. Yes, January! If you can believe it I gobbled this book up a few weeks ago and then had seemingly convinced myself I had written the review! It wasn't until the very helpful Qwill confirmed that I hadn't.

Book 2 starts immediately after the ending of book 1 - Mind of the Phoenix - and when I say starts it actually reads more like a continuation with both books seamlessly flowing into each other. If you want a recap of what I thought here is my review of book 1. In this is instalment there are more deaths at the hands of The Phoenix and Moira and Detective Keenan Edwards are no closer to finding out who the mysterious killer is. As they continue their investigation Moira's attraction to the reclusive detective continues to grow. However, when she uncovers a secret in the Detective's past she threatens to unravel, not only their relationship but the noble detective himself. This is just one thread however, in the Pawn of the Phoenix. Before Edwards' life starts to unravel he starts to suspect that Moira may have been The Phoenix's first victim and the reason why she killed her previous owner. Locked away in her mind could be the identity of the murderer they have been trying to find all this time. Uncovering the truth could destroy them all.

I enjoyed this second instalment but perhaps not quite as much as the first. Moira is an engaging character but I didn't feel that she acted with much common sense in certain parts of the book. It was also a lot more sexy which I didn't really feel added to the story. As a victim of so much abuse I thought it was odd that Moira would use such a flimsy excuse to throw herself into harms way and for no other reason than to make Keenan jealous. The story did have a good pace and Keenan's revelation was dramatic indeed. And the ending!!! What a shocker! Bring on book 3. I can hardly wait.


Melanie's Week in Review  - February 21, 2016
My journey to my next read was an interesting one. I received The Custodian of Marvels by Rod Duncan and after page 2 I discovered that it was the final book of a trilogy. I did what I don't normally do - I went back and started from the beginning with The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter. The story starts by introducing us to Elizabeth Barnabas who is eeking out a meagre existence in hiding from the Duke of Northampton who wants her for his plaything. Elizabeth is a private detective in this alternative England that despite being set in the 21st century could be taken for the late 1800's. Elizabeth's case is to find a missing aristocrat which leads her to join a travelling circus. Having grown up in the circus this was a life that Elizabeth was used to but when she comes under the watchful eye of the Patent Office then life starts to become all the more dangerous for the young PI.

Let me start by saying this is a FANTASTIC read. I really enjoyed Duncan's interesting and complex version of England with its bureaucracy and strict class structure. Each chapter starts with a quote from the Bullet Catcher's Handbook which were as interesting as some of the developments in the plot. Elizabeth is a great character who could think on her feet and stick up for herself. The Patent Office was the perfect sinister character, shrouded in mystery, and not just a law unto itself but the law of the land. Overall, great characters, superior world building and a solid plot. My favourite kind of book. Be sure to check out next week to see what I thought of book 2 - Unseemly Science.


Until then, Happy Reading!





Pawn of the Phoenix
The Memory Collector 2
Penner Publishing, February 9, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 234 pages

Melanie's Week in Review  - February 21, 2016
Braxton, 1903

The serial killer known only as the Phoenix continues to roam the streets and a new victim falls prey. For Moira and Detective Keenan Edwards, still on the hunt for the Phoenix, the rules have changed. The killer remains beyond their grasp.

Moira is willing to give into her fierce attraction to Keenan. However, the detective proves to be more reluctant despite a moment of heated passion. Then discovery of a secret Keenan never planned to share creates an unwelcome rift between the new lovers.

Keenan isn’t the only one hiding something. In this continuation of the Memory Collector series, Moira makes a startling disclosure about her past. This revelation will not only test the boundaries of love, but might also prove to be the clue that will finally unravel the mystery of the Phoenix.




The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter
The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire 1
Angry Robot Books, August 26, 2014 (North America Print and ebook)
  September 4, 2014 (UK Print)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages
Cover Art by Will Staehle

Melanie's Week in Review  - February 21, 2016
Elizabeth Barnabus lives a double life – as herself and as her brother, the private detective. She is trying to solve the mystery of a disappearing aristocrat and a hoard of arcane machines. In her way stand the rogues, freaks and self-proclaimed alchemists of a travelling circus.

But when she comes up against an agent of the all-powerful Patent Office, her life and the course of history will begin to change. And not necessarily for the better…

File Under: Fantasy

Interview with author Rod Duncan - August 19, 2014


Please welcome Rod Duncan to The Qwillery. The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter, the first novel in the Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire series, will be out in print in the US and Canada and in eBook format everywhere on August 26th and in the UK in print on September 4th.



Interview with author Rod Duncan - August 19, 2014




TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter is the first novel in your Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire series and is Fantasy. What attracted you to Fantasy and steampunk in particular?

Rod:  I was brought up on science fiction and fantasy. Long before I could read the books for myself, my father used to read them to me. He had stacks of Astounding Science Fiction magazines and Analog Science Fiction and Fact. I think some of them dated back to the early 1950s.

I was late starting to read for myself. But when I did, I went for Tolkien in a big way. Then a little later I found Mervyn Peak’s Gormenghast books. I’d also list the Sherlock Holmes stories as an early influence. With that alone, you might guess why I was attracted to steampunk.

But throw place into the mix and my choice to go for steampunk starts to look inevitable. The Bullet Catcher’s Daughter begins and ends in a fantasy version of Leicester, England. Much of the real city was built in Victorian times. Walking through its streets, you catch glimpses of the Victorian world in the architecture as well as under your feet – with cobblestones showing through where the road surface has worn away.

I guess I wanted to bring the sights, sounds and smells of the 19th Century city back to life.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or pantser?

Rod:  A bit of both. A place or a character might set me writing – with no clear idea of where I am going. I’m happy to let a sense of narrative drive guide me at first. But after twenty thousand words or so, I expect to have figured out what the most significant plot points are going to be. Enough to give me a mental map of where the book is going. There’s still plenty of room for discoveries along the way. I need to be able to surprise myself as I write, otherwise I would get bored.



TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Rod:  Plotting. I’m always thinking and talking about it. I even teach courses on it. But there is something about holding all those events in my head at once that I find challenging. The plot of a novel is more than a head-full. That’s my problem.



TQ:  Please tell us something about The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter that is not in the book description.

Rod:  My protagonist lives on a canal boat. She rationalises her strange choice by saying it gives her the freedom to live her double life - to the world a dutiful sister but in secret a private investigator. Really, I think she lives in a boat because she is curse-blessed with the spirit of a wanderer. She was born in a travelling show and can’t abide the thought of living in bricks and mortar.



TQ:  What kinds of research did you do for The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter?

Rod:  For the framework of ideas that underpin the books, I had to research the history of the early part of the Nineteenth Century. Revolutions and social disorder are important. The Luddites feature prominently.

But to get the feeling of the world right I had to research different kinds of things – the texture of fabrics, the smell of coal smoke, the sound of steam engines.



TQ:  In The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter who was the most difficult character to write and why? Which character surprised you the most?

Rod:  Elizabeth, the protagonist, was at once the hardest, the easiest and the most surprising character to write. I have written a first person narrative with a female protagonist before. (My crime novel, Backlash, took that form.) But Elizabeth was tricky. Gender identity is one of the themes of the story. Thus I could not fudge the issue. It had to be prominent and it had to be right. But once I could hear her voice, she was a joy to write. And she is constantly surprising me.



TQ:  Without giving anything away what can we look forward to in Unseemly Science, the second novel in the duology?

Rod:  Elizabeth is going to be forced to leave her boat and travel north to the cities of Derby and Nottingham, trying to stay one step ahead of the law and at the same time solve a mystery that concerns a large quantity of ice.



TQ:  What's next?

Rod:  I have not finished writing about Elizabeth. The series title The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire gives a hint of where the tides of history are pulling her. I’m looking forward to sharing the journey.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.


Rod:  It’s been my pleasure. Thanks for the interesting questions.





The Bullet- Catcher's Daughter
Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire 1
Angry Robot Books, August 26, 2014 (North America Print; ebook)
     September 4, 2014 (UK Print)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook,
Cover Art by Will Staehle

Interview with author Rod Duncan - August 19, 2014
Elizabeth Barnabus lives a double life – as herself and as her brother, the private detective. She is trying to solve the mystery of a disappearing aristocrat and a hoard of arcane machines. In her way stand the rogues, freaks and self-proclaimed alchemists of a travelling circus.

But when she comes up against an agent of the all-powerful Patent Office, her life and the course of history will begin to change. And not necessarily for the better…

File Under: Fantasy





About Rod
(from the Angry Robot website)

Interview with author Rod Duncan - August 19, 2014
Rod Duncan is a published crime writer. His first novel Backlash was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Dagger, and he has since written three other novels (all Simon & Schuster UK), and had his first screenplay produced.

His background is in scientific research and computing, and he lives in Leicester.






Website  ~  Twitter @RodDuncan


Melanie's Month in Review - February 2019Melanie's Week in Review - February 25, 2018Melanie's Year in Review - January 1, 2017Interview with Rod DuncanMelanie's Week in Review  - March 6, 2016Melanie's Week in Review - February 28, 2016Melanie's Week in Review  - February 21, 2016Interview with author Rod Duncan - August 19, 2014

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