The Qwillery | category: SM Reine


The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Melanie's Week in Review - January 10, 2016

Melanie's Week in Review - January 10, 2016

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you are enjoying the first week of the new year. Well, I am back for another year of my Week in Review. Some of you kind souls completed my very short survey and the overwhelming majority was for me to continue. So here we go!
What have I been reading?

Melanie's Week in Review - January 10, 2016
I had just started to read the penultimate instalment of SM Reine's War of the Alphas series  - Alpha when I posted last. Deidre is back from the dead and in the process has discovered that she is none other than a phoenix. The only problem is that she remains an Omega as she can't shift on demand. What makes it worse is that her only alternatives for bringing out her feathered alternative self is a hunky but evil dragon or getting killed; neither option appeals to Deidre. In this instalment Stark is very reluctantly running for election after the Alpha Rylie declares an election to democratically elect the next one. Stark however, is more driven by vengeance when he discovers his wife is the pretender to the Unseelie throne. All the responsibility is back on Deidre to save the day.

Alpha has a lot happening in it. There is the Deidre being re-born, learning what shifter she really is, the election, Stark's wife and children, and lots and lots of killing. I think if Deirdre looked up psychopath in dictionary Stark's picture would be beside it. I kept waiting for him to show his good side....and I can assure you it never happened. I think having Stark's wife appear on the scene just muddled the plot and turned the focus away from what it started to be with Deidre wanting a better life for all shifters.

Melanie's Week in Review - January 10, 2016
At the start of the final book Pas, Stark is missing and Deidre is left alone to help him win the election. She also tries to maintain the balance between the vampires and the other factions that joined to support Stark. Without him there they are starting to rebel against her which puts the electoral race at stake. When the election results come in and its clear they have been rigged, Deidre is on the case to find Stark and put things right. She is determined that the right alpha wins...whoever that turns out to be.

This final instalment can only be described as 'messy'. There were too many things happening at once for it to come together as a cohesive plot. There is Stark going missing, the election being rigged, the vampires killing innocents and rebelling against Deidre, Stark's wife being as much of a psycho as he is, Stark's bizarre children, the Seelie and Unseelie kings, Deidre finding Stark and consummating their relationship, Rylie, Deidre summoning her phoenix self ...and the list goes on.  I couldn't really figure out Stark's master plan. If he was going to be supreme ruler and all preternaturals/supernaturals got to do whatever they wanted then what happens to the mundane population? By book 4 Stark and the vampires seem to kill most of them. Deidre also seems to lose all sense of herself and doesn't have a moral code of her own. She just seems to let others get abused or die because its easier than the alternatives. As for Stark he was the most unsympathetic character I ever came across and how Deidre spent more than 5 minutes in his presence let alone has sex with him is beyond me. It made her much more the victim than heroine of the tale. While I appreciate that Reine didn't drag the series out I think she tried to tell too much in only 4 books. Less is definitely more!

Melanie's Week in Review - January 10, 2016
I decided to switch it up a bit with a bit of 'olde worldy London' with The Last Necromancer by C.J. Archer. Set in Victorian London the story starts with the young Charlotte Halloway who has been living as a boy on the mean streets for 5 years. When she ends up picking the wrong pocket and ends up in jail her life changes forever. After a rather dubious escape Charlie ends up being kidnapped by the mysterious Lincoln Fitzroy. Fitzroy is part of a secret organisation called the Ministry of Curiosities and has been searching for Charlotte before the evil Frankenstein finds her and uses her necromancing skills to raise an army of the undead. What he doesn't realise is that he is holding the very person he is looking for all the while. Take away the dirt and the boys clothes and the lovely Charlotte is revealed. Charlie isn't sure being Fitzroy's prisoner is any better than what Frankenstein has in store. It's all things that go bump in the night in this Victorian paranormal fantasy.

I enjoyed this story although I didn't find it that challenging of a read. Some of it was quite cliched especially the evil Frankenstein. Charlie also has an almost immediate attraction to the devilishly handsome Fitzroy and considering he kidnapped her and held her prisoner that is a tad unbelievable. There were also too many attempted rapes of the not so innocent Charlie. Had I been her I wouldn't have left home without some sort of weapon rather than walking around Victorian Whitechapel on my own. However, all being said, it was a quick and easy read and I can hardly wait to find out what Fitzroy's deep, dark secret is.

That is it for me this week. I hope you have started 2016 on a good reading note and ensure you make a resolution to read my Week in Review every week! Until next time happy reading.

War of the Alphas 3
Red Iris Books, June 4, 2015
eBook, 250 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - January 10, 2016
No longer an Omega, Deirdre Tombs has found her animal. She only had to die and rise from her own ashes to discover it.

And she’s returned with a purpose.

For the first time in history, the role of Alpha is up for election. If Everton Stark takes charge, he could disband the ruthless government organization that has made life miserable for shifters like Deirdre.

One problem: Stark doesn’t want to run. He only wants vengeance against his wife, Rhiannon, who killed many of his followers and stole the Ethereal Blade.

While Stark is focused on revenge, Rhiannon is focused on winning the election for Alpha. Victory means tearing the Winter Court apart with civil war. It means riots. It means unleashing a deadly unseelie assassin that devours souls. Anything to get her dragon shifter mate in power…with Rhiannon at his side.

War of the Alphas 4
Red Iris Books, July 27, 2015
eBook, 244 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - January 10, 2016
Deirdre Tombs is a Beta without her Alpha. Everton Stark is missing, just days in advance of the election to replace Rylie Gresham as leader of all North American shifters.

She can’t control his allies anymore. She can’t win the election without him.

Everything will be lost unless Deirdre can become a better monster than Stark.

The Last Necromancer
The Ministry Of Curiosities 1
Trade Paperback, July 17, 2015
eBook, August 11, 2015

Melanie's Week in Review - January 10, 2016
Victorian London: For five years, Charlotte (Charlie) Holloway has lived as a boy in the slums. But when one theft too many gets her arrested, her only means of escape lies with a dead man. Charlie hasn't raised a spirit since she first discovered she could do so five years ago. That time, her father banished her. This time, she brings even more trouble upon herself.

People are now hunting Charlie all over London, but only one man succeeds in capturing her.

Lincoln Fitzroy is the mysterious head of a secret organization on the trail of a madman who needs a necromancer to control his newly "made" creatures. There was only one known necromancer in the world - Charlotte - but now there appears to be two. Lincoln captures the willful Charlie in the hopes the boy will lead him to Charlotte. But what happens when he discovers the boy is in fact the young woman he's been searching for all along? And will she agree to work for the man who held her against her will, and for an organization she doesn't trust?

Because Lincoln and his ministry might be just as dangerous as the madman they're hunting.

Melanie's Week in Review - December 27, 2015

Melanie's Week in Review - December 27, 2015

If this post ends abruptly its probably because I have fallen into a mince pie/Ferrero Rocher coma. I have eaten soo much this holiday that I going to have to spend the next month in the gym. Along with all the delicious xmasy treats I have also managed to read a few books - one of them was as sugary as some of the sweeties I have been munching on. So what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - December 27, 2015
If you read my WIR you might remember that I managed to sign myself up for a trial of Kindle Unlimited. I want to make sure I make the most of it so have been trawling through the fantasy and science fiction Kindle books. In my searches came across Heart of Fire by Kristen Painter. This is the story of Jessalyne who hires the dark elf Ertemis to escort her across the Kingdom. She is on her way to fulfill her destiny to train as the King's sorceress. What she doesn't realise is that Ertemis is one of the most deadliest soldiers in the Kingdom and on the run from the Legion. Can she trust the tall, dark and dangerous elf? You are going to have to read it to find out.

I have read Painter's House of Comarré series and was expecting Heart of Fire to be a bit grittier than it was. This book was soo sugary sweet it almost gave me cavities. This book is described on Goodreads as 'magic, murder and mayhem' but I don't think this was an apt description. Jessalyne was so innocent and naive that she was very one dimensional. Ertemis was slightly more believable but for someone on the run from the Legion with a big bounty on his head he never seemed to worry too much about getting caught. I thought it read a bit like Snow White without the dwarves or Cinderella without the evil stepsisters. I have to admit that I did a bit of flicking towards the end as it got a bit too dull for me. What I will say for this book is that I LOVE the cover. I think it is gorgeous.

Melanie's Week in Review - December 27, 2015
My searching on Amazon also uncovered book 2 of the War of the Alphas series by SM Reine - Beta. I discovered this series back in March quite by accident and really enjoyed Omega (book 1). This instalment starts a few weeks after the dramatic, cliffhanger ending of Omega with Deirdre now the beta to the madman, would-be Alpha Everton Stark. Stark's new plan to become the alpha involves Deirdre stealing a deadly elven sword and Stark is more than prepared to kill anyone and everyone who gets in his way - even Deirdre or especially Deirdre once he learns she was sent in to infiltrate his organisation. Stark's rise to power does not come without a cost and it seems that Deirdre is the one to pay with her mind, body and soul.

Beta isn't an easy read. Deirdre is physically and mentally abused by Stark and you kind of wonder why she puts herself through it. The vengeance that Stark offers doesn't seem worth it. He continually physically abuses her to assert his dominance and has her addicted to lethe which is a drug which should help her discover her animal form - something that Deirdre is desperate to uncover. I keep hoping that Reine will give us even the tiniest hint that Stark isn't a complete psychopath but by the end of book 2 he is still acting the very same. I did enjoy the introduction of the elves but Reine seemed to drop in the middle worlds which I don't remember being mentioned in the previous book. Unlike the previous book I reviewed here there is lots of magic, murder and mayhem in Beta and Reine leaves us with another dramatic ending. I have already started book 3 Alpha so hope to tell you about that next time.

Melanie's Week in Review - December 27, 2015
The final book I read was Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire. I got this book from NetGalley. I was all ready to write my review when I decided to double check the publication date and realised it isn't out until April so I can't tell you what I thought for a few months yet. Sorry! Now you will have to wait in anticipation.

Well that is it for me for 2015. Can you believe it? Time flies when you are reading good books. For those that celebrate I hope you had a very merry Christmas and to all of you, best wishes for 2016.

Heart of Fire: A Fantasy Romance
Kristen Painter; Kindle Edition edition, April 20, 2010
eBook, 290 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - December 27, 2015
Sometimes love is the most dangerous magic of all...

Eager to find her place in the world and understand the frightening gifts she’s been born with, Jessalyne Brandborn leaves her sheltered life to become apprentice to the most powerful sorceress in Shaldar. She hires Ertemis, the deadliest man in the realm, to get there.

With the Legion’s bounty on his head, dark elf Ertemis is reluctant to escort Jessalyne but needs the money she offers – especially if he’s ever to find out who his father is. On the way, he discovers benefits to Jessalyne’s naiveté; she treats him like an equal, not an outlaw.

Swayed by Ertemis’ gruff charm, Jessalyne starts to trust him and her emotional walls begin to crumble.

Little do they know that within them lies the hope of the dying elven race, the renewal of Shaldar's beleaguered kingdom and an incredible chance at love. If they don't kill each other first.

War of the Alphas 2
Red Iris Books, April 22, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 243 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - December 27, 2015
Ten years ago, Deirdre Tombs died. When she was reborn the next day, Deirdre had become a shapeshifter who can’t shift shapes. Nobody knows what animal she’s supposed to be. She’s definitely not a werewolf. The Alpha, Rylie Gresham, can’t force her to transform like other members of her pack.

Now Deirdre is considered an omega, the weakest shapeshifter in the pack—a vulnerable position when Everton Stark demands tribute from Rylie. He wants to be the dominant Alpha. The only Alpha. And he plans to make her pack submit whether they want to or not. Stark can make every shapeshifter obey him by force of will alone.

Every shapeshifter except Deirdre.

The shifter who can’t shift is the only hope for Rylie to win the war against Stark. It will take everything Deirdre has to survive undercover in his den. But can an omega’s will be stronger than that of a charismatic, deadly Alpha like Everton Stark?

Every Heart a Doorway, April 6, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 176 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - December 27, 2015
Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Quests

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere... else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she's back. The things she's experienced... they change a person. The children under Miss West's care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy's arrival marks a change at the Home. There's a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it's up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of things.

No matter the cost.

Melanie's Week in Review - March 15, 2015

Melanie's Week in Review - March 15, 2015

I hope those of you who are reading this from the US have been enjoying an extra hour of daylight this week. I have high expectations that you have all been using that extra hour for reading. Even though I have to wait a few more weeks to put my clock forward I feel I have been quite successful in my pursuit of a good book. I have decided to mix it up a bit this week by only telling you about the 2 books I read that I really enjoyed. I will leave the ones I haven't yet or couldn't finish for next week. So what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - March 15, 2015
I finished The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman (Tor Books, January 2015) which is the first book of the series. Irene isn't just any ordinary librarian. She belongs to a mysterious breed of librarians who spend their days retrieving works of fiction from countless alternative realities. Irene is sent on what seemed like a fairly standard mission but this time with an apprentice in tow - the equally mysterious Kai. Irene and Kai find themselves in an alternative London and what should have been a straightforward snatch and grab. Luck is not not her side as Irene finds herself in the midst of a murder mystery and on the run from a psychopath in a reality steeped in chaos.

I have to say that this is one of the best books I have read this year. I realise it is only mid-March but I am pretty confident I will be saying the same thing in December as I am now. Cogman has created an enchanting world in which the supernatural, magical and the mundane all combine into a fantastic story. She is also a bit of a tease and really only gives us the barest hint of what life is like inside the Library, how it came into being and who is really in charge. I want to know more, more, more! I didn't have much time to fixate on the Library itself as I was equally engrossed in discovering how Irene and Kai would survive an attack of killer cyborg alligators, a near drowning in the Thames and the many other near death experiences in the alternate London. Irene is  joined by number of equally interesting characters including Vale who Irene believes this world's version of Sherlock Holmes, Bradamant a fellow, rival Librarian and finally, Kai who is Irene's apprentice and who seems to be keeping a few secrets of his own. It is almost hard to believe that this is Cogman's debut novel as she has a well balanced plot with great characters in a richly textured world (or in this case worlds). I could say more...a lot more but I will leave you with this of my favourite of Irene's quotes:
"She just wanted - had always wanted - a good book to read."
Irene only needs to read the The Invisible Library.

Melanie's Week in Review - March 15, 2015
The second book I am going to share with you this week is Omega by SM Reine. This is the first in the War of the Alphas urban fantasy series and will be released by Red Iris Books in April. This book is based in the same world as Reine's Sins of Eden (The Ascension 7) but according to the author this is a stand alone series. The War of Alphas series is set in a world where a cataclysmic event called Genesis has caused the death of hundreds of thousands of people but they didn't stay dead. Like Deirdre they woke the next day very much alive but very much changed either into shapeshifters, vampires or any number of supernatural creatures. Deirdre is an Omega, but unlike the powerful omegas in other series in Deirdre's world they are the lowest of the supernatural low. Deirdre is a shapeshifter and while unable to shift she also does not feel the power of the Alpha or the need to obey their every command.  This is lucky for Deirdre as she is about to go undercover into the pack of the one man - a mad man and killer - a man who wants everyone to obey him as the only alpha - Everton Stark.

I was pleasantly surprised by Omega as I haven't read any of Reine's other books. I thought that Reine's post-Genesis world was an interesting twist on the post-apocalyptic and also on the role of the omega in a shapeshifter pack. Deirdre was essentially damaged by her experiences growing up in a foster system within a world where she was considered a second class citizen. Agreeing to help the current Alpha Rylie by planting herself in Stark's camp was a significant leap in faith for Deirdre and not just because Stark is a brutal killer who doesn't feel any guilt at brutalising an already victimised Deirdre. Many of Stark's beliefs are similar to her own but she is committed to doing the right thing even though at times she isn't actually sure what that is. Deirdre is written in a convincing way and her indecision is palatable. I kept trying to convince myself that maybe Stark was misunderstood but thankfully Reine kept her characters true to themselves. The book ends with a HUGE cliffhanger and Reine is quite mean to leave me and Deirdre hanging like that. I am really looking forward to find out what happens next.

That is all for me the week. I am hoping to finish off a few books this week and look forward to telling you about these next week but until then Happy Reading.

Melanie's Week in Review - January 10, 2016Melanie's Week in Review - December 27, 2015Melanie's Week in Review - March 15, 2015

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