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Melanie's Week in Review - August 26, 2018


Melanie's Week in Review - August 26, 2018


Hello. I was wondering if any of you have a better excuse than I have for not reading very much this week? I am ashamed to admit that I have developed a unexplained obsession with watching Project Runway on Netflix (seasons 10-11 which are at least 5 years old now). I am fast forwarding past all the Heidi Klum bits and any parts where one of the contestants starts to cry about how hard it is. It means I am really only watching about 20 minutes of the show. The hubinator keeps asking me why I am watching it and I have no answer. It is digging into my book reading time which is WRONG! I did manage to read two books so what did I read?


Melanie's Week in Review - August 26, 2018
I discovered that the 6th instalment of Suzanne Johnson's The Sentinels of New Orleans - Frenchman Street - had been released. I am not sure how I missed it as Amazon usually reminds me (more than once) when a new book in a series I am reading is about to or has been released. Not so this time but I didn't let that stop me from diving right in.

This instalment starts almost immediately after the events of Belle Chasse. The now ex-Sentinel DJ is still hiding out in the undead pirate Jean Lafitte's alternate New Orleans estate. When the evil Prince of Fairie intends to out the supernaturals at Mardi Gras and pitch the world into war DJ decides to make an uneasy alliance with her bondmate - Rand. DJ knows this is a fight they can't afford to lose and will do whatever it takes to help her friends survive.

The Sentinels of New Orleans has always been an 'OK' series for me. I like them but haven't loved them (apart from the covers, I have always LOVED the covers).  DJ is fairly likeable but rarely makes the truly tough choices and the big decisions seem to be left to other characters. It's almost as if she is a secondary character in her own story or that the whole series is missing a true lead character. It occurred to me when I was reading this book that Johnson seems to kill off characters who could interfere with DJ's current romance or a future potential love triangle. I didn't really realise, until DJ started counting, the number of characters that have been killed off throughout the series. She is a dangerous person to hang around. Despite this critique Frenchman Street wraps up the series quite nicely and there is a good balance between the characters and the action. I was glad to have all the various plot threads tied up and a HEA for DJ.


Melanie's Week in Review - August 26, 2018
Book 2 is non fiction (shocking I know!)  - This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay. Kay was a junior doctor in the NHS from 2004 - 2010, when a tragic experience caused him to reconsider his career. Kay wrote a diary about his experiences both in and out of the hospital and shares the highs and lows of the medical profession. The diary is interspersed with his views of the crisis hitting the NHS and, especially, junior doctors.

Dear reader - if you live in the UK then you MUST read this book. Especially if you have children and they were delivered in a NHS hospital. For those of you who aren't lucky enough to live in the UK, with it's wonderful nationalised healthcare (warts and all), there is still fantastic story for you to enjoy although you might not get some of the jokes. I laughed and cried throughout...but mostly laughed. In fact, I laughed soo hard at this one part that I was actually crying and the woman sitting across from me on the tube kept staring at me looking scandalised. It takes something especially funny for me to 'lol' on public transport. This is a real heart warmer and will make me appreciate the doctor a bit more the next time I have to go to the hospital.


That is it for me for this week. I hope you too have been able to find a book that has you 'lolling' on your commute! Until next week Happy Reading!





Frenchman Street
Sentinels of New Orleans 6
Suzanne Johnson, July 19, 2018
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook 374 pages
Review Copy:  Reviewer's Own

Melanie's Week in Review - August 26, 2018
The uneasy truce between the preternatural species of New Orleans has shattered, with wizards and elves, shifters and vampires—not to mention the historical undead—struggling for ultimate control of the city, including the humans who still think they’re atop the food chain.

They aren’t, however—and the Summer Prince of Faerie wants them to know it.

Stuck in the middle? One unemployed wizard sentinel. For DJ Jaco, war makes for strange bedfellows as she finally embraces her wizard-elven heritage and strikes a deal with the devil so she and her ragtag band of allies can return to defend her hometown. After all, when the undead French pirate Jean Lafitte is working in the mayor’s tourism department, things could go horribly wrong.

War is coming to New Orleans just in time for Mardi Gras, with the elves and wizards lined up on opposite sides, the shifters with a new leader, the vampires promising loyalty to the highest bidder, and the soul of the Crescent City resting on the outcome of the civil war going on in Faerie between the rival princes of summer and winter.

Mardi Gras Day is approaching fast, the faeries have infiltrated almost every parade, and the line between friends and enemies grows thin as DJ tries to stave off open warfare on the St. Charles Avenue parade route.

Laissez les bons temps rouler…but be careful, or the good times might roll too close for comfort.





This Is Going to Hurt
Pan Macmillan, November 1, 2018
Trade Paperback, 256 pages
Hardcover and eBook, September 2017
Review Copy:  Reviewer's Own 

Melanie's Week in Review - August 26, 2018
Welcome to 97-hour weeks. Welcome to life and death decisions. Welcome to a constant tsunami of bodily fluids. Welcome to earning less than the hospital parking meter. Wave goodbye to your friends and relationships. Welcome to the life of a junior doctor. Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, comedian and former junior doctor Adam Kay’s This Is Going to Hurt provides a no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line (with a foreword attempting to explain the National Health Service to a non-UK audience). Hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking by turns, this is everything you wanted to know—and more than a few things you didn't—about life on and off the hospital ward. And yes, it may leave a scar.

Melanie's Week in Review - January 8, 2017


Melanie's Week in Review - January 8, 2017


Happy January! I can't believe that is my first WIR of 2017 already. Hopefully, I will have lots of fantastic books to tell you about this year. I am going to give you the review 'sandwich' again. For those of you who aren't familiar with this it's the same concept as giving feedback - good news, bad news, good news. I have used this before on my WIR and here it is again. So what did I read?


Melanie's Week in Review - January 8, 2017
I will admit that I read Genevieve Cogman's The Burning Page back in October when I received it via NetGalley. However, I couldn't tell you about it as it won't be published until January 10th. I was really having to bite my tongue not to let anything slip out....or should I say bite my fingers? Anyway, I was really looking forward to the next instalment of the Invisible Library series and Cogman doesn't disappoint.

In this instalment The Library is in lockdown. Librarians are being killed, doors to the library are being rigged to explode...and worse and it's all down to Library's arch nemesis Alberich. Our favourite Librarian Irene is still on probation after the events of the previous book but that doesn't stop her and her side kick Kai from finding themselves in more danger than they can handle. Alberich is determined that the Library dies and Irene with it so she will need every trick up her sleeve and the help from her friends to keep both herself and her beloved Library from falling to Alberich's malevolent plot.

I love this series and The Burning Page is very good. I enjoy the growing friendship between Irene and Kai and we learn more about the inner workings of the Library in this instalment. It is very action packed with Irene pulling off one escape after another from the evil Alberich. However, I didn't love it as much as I have loved books 1 and 2. Where I felt the teeniest tiniest let down was Irene's dubious choice of romantic partner. It just didn't seem like something she would do or someone she would be attracted to and came out of the blue. I also thought it could have easily been the final instalment of the series so I am a bit concerned what future books will hold when the over arching plot seems to be wrapped up. I am really splitting hairs though as it was quite good.


Melanie's Week in Review - January 8, 2017
For the middle of this review sandwich was Monster Hunter Memoirs: Sinners by Larry Correia and John Ringo. I started this new spin off series focussing on the memoirs of the monster hunter Chad back in December and I found book 1 Grunge a bit disappointing. However, I almost gave up on book 2 partway through. What I liked about the original series was that Owen was very likeable and I liked him and the other supporting characters. In contrast Chad is egotistical, maniacal womaniser and quite frankly a bit of a jerk. The plot consisted of - kill monster, eat bourbon chicken or barbeque (he has moved to New Orleans now), pick up a lady, kill monster, repeat. It was just a tad dull. I don't think I will continue with this series.


Melanie's Week in Review - January 8, 2017
Book 3 of this WIR was a real book! The lovely Qwill sent me a care package and in it was Belle Chasse by Suzanne Johnson. I don't often read actual books anymore so this was a real treat..plus it was hardback so made it even more 'treatier'. This is book 5 of the Sentinels of New Orleans and the now unemployed wizard DJ has been shot, has a death sentence hanging over her and is in hiding in the Beyond. A war is about to break out between the wizards, the Fae and the Elves and guess who is caught in the middle? DJ is desperate to clear her name, keep her pregnant friend safe and get back in the arms of her hunky shapeshifter boyfriend.

I enjoyed Belle Chasse and I definitely loved the cover. I don't think I liked it quite a much as the other books. I felt this was a bit of a filler book and not a lot happens until the final few pages and even so this didn't really advance or resolve the over arching plot that much. I am not saying that nothing happened but I felt that Johnson could have been a bit bolder in drawing this series to a close. I am a bit worried it will continue and continue and continue with not much happening apart from DJ saying how much she misses New Orleans. Although, Johnson doesn't mess around and bad things still happen to good people in this instalment so definitely worth a read. Plus love the cover!


That is it for me for my first WIR of 2017. I have read a couple of crackers this week that I am looking forward to telling you all about next week. Until then Happy Reading!





The Burning Page
The Invisible Library Novel 3
Roc, January 10, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - January 8, 2017
Librarian spy Irene and her apprentice Kai return for another “tremendously fun, rip-roaring adventure,” (A Fantastical Librarian) third in the bibliophilic fantasy series from the author of The Masked City.

Never judge a book by its cover…

Due to her involvement in an unfortunate set of mishaps between the dragons and the Fae, Librarian spy Irene is stuck on probation, doing what should be simple fetch-and-retrieve projects for the mysterious Library. But trouble has a tendency of finding both Irene and her apprentice, Kai—a dragon prince—and, before they know it, they are entangled in more danger than they can handle…

Irene’s longtime nemesis, Alberich, has once again been making waves across multiple worlds, and, this time, his goals are much larger than obtaining a single book or wreaking vengeance upon a single Librarian. He aims to destroy the entire Library—and make sure Irene goes down with it.

With so much at stake, Irene will need every tool at her disposal to stay alive. But even as she draws her allies close around her, the greatest danger might be lurking from somewhere close—someone she never expected to betray her…





Monster Hunter Memoirs: Sinners
Monster Hunter Memoirs 2
Baen Books, December 6, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - January 8, 2017
A NEW NOVEL IN THE MONSTER HUNTER MEMOIRS SERIES. TWO AUTHORS, WHO COMBINED HAVE OVER FOUR MILLION BOOKS IN PRINT AND 10 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERS, TEAM UP TO EXPAND LARRY CORREIA'S MONSTER HUNTER UNIVERSE!

NIGHTMARE IN THE BIG EASY

With New Orleans out of control, Chad Oliver Gardenier, one of Monster Hunter International’s premier hunters, has been dispatched from Seattle to reinforce the beleaguered members of MHI'S Hoodoo Squad in their fight against the darkness.

Chad had once taken a werewolf while wearing only jogging gear. With half a dozen or more loup garou appearing every full moon, mysterious shadow demons, houdoun necromancers, fifty-foot bipedal crocodiles showing up every couple of months and more vampires than a Goth concert, New Orleans in the '80s gives a whole new perspective to the term “Hell on Earth.” In fact, more monsters are popping up than crawfish at a fais do do! Chad may be able to collect enormous bounties for the monsters he kills. But there’s one catch: he has to stay alive to do it!





Belle Chasse
A Novel of The Sentinels of New Orleans 5
Tor Books, November 8, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - January 8, 2017
Suzanne Johnson's "strong and intriguing" (Publishers Weekly) urban fantasy series continues with Belle Chasse. The Sentinels of New Orleans series has earned starred reviews from Library Journal ("a resourceful heroine who relies on her magical ingenuity") and PW ("vivid...a lively tale jam-packed with action, magic, and intriguing plot twists").

With the wizard-elven treaty on the verge of collapse, the preternatural world stands on the brink of war. Unless former wizard sentinel DJ Jaco manages to keep the elven leader, Quince Randolph, focused on peace and not personal matters.

With no one on the throne, Faerie is in chaos, with rival princes battling for power. The still-undead pirate, Jean Lafitte, is building his own army of misfits, and DJ—stripped of her job and hiding in the Beyond to avoid the death sentence handed down by the wizard Council of Elders—can’t get anywhere near her beloved New Orleans or her significant something-or-other, Alex.

It's time to choose sides. Friends will become enemies, enemies will become allies, and not everyone will survive. DJ and her friends will learn a hard lesson: sometimes, even the ultimate sacrifice isn’t enough.

Melanie's Week in Review - May 10, 2015


Melanie's Week in Review - May 10, 2015


Hello everyone! I hope you had a good week. This was a big decision week for me and not just decisions about what I would read. I made the big decision this week to change jobs and nail biting was big on the agenda this week. I did enjoy a couple of good books that I would like to share with you.

Melanie's Week in Review - May 10, 2015
If you read my WIR last week you will remember that I had received a copy of Pirate's Alley by Suzanne Johnson (Tor Books, April 21, 2015). It seems AGES since I read the last book Elysian Fields but its only been a year. This series has really grown on me and Pirate's Alley is another great instalment in the Sentinels of New Orleans series. This book starts not long after the events of book 3 where the hero of the tale and sentinel DJ gets blood bonded to an Elven big-wig, is left homeless after an undead axe murderer burns her house down, and is almost turned into a loup garou. It's a wonder that she can keep her disasters straight she has so many and in book 4 she is due for a few more.

In this instalment DJ is expected to guard the undead hunky pirate Jean Lafitte during a perilous time for the various supernatural factions. Lafitte is on the war path and out for revenge all while DJ is expected to stop him from doing just that. Her job becomes that much more difficult when her best friend Eugenie divulges a big secret that forges alliances and destroys relationships all over New Orleans. On top of this DJ's relationship with her shifter boyfriend, Alex, is strained by the brewing war between the supernatural races and the sense of duty they both feel towards their friends and loved ones. This instalment explores which will prevail.

I thoroughly enjoyed Pirate's Alley. I like DJ more with each new instalment. She is really torn between what she should do and what is better is better for her loved ones. This makes her seem all the more realistic and true to her character. I am glad that Johnson hasn't allowed DJ to become too self righteous or too much of a goody two-shoes. Pirate Alley is another great book in this series. Again, the book cover rocks....I LOVE this cover and appreciate that the model stays the same across all the books. This is one of the few models who looks exactly how I imagine the character to be.


Melanie's Week in Review - May 10, 2015
Book 2 of the week was Midnight's Kiss by Thea Harrison (Berkley, May 5, 2015) which is the eighth of The Elder Races series. This instalment features the vampire king Julian and one of the princesses of the Light Fae, Melisande. The former lovers had an acrimonious separation twenty years ago but when Melisande gets kidnapped by the evil Justine, Julian is in hot pursuit. Escaping a dungeon, feral vampires and a  political coup are all in a days work for Julian but can love prevail?

I thought this instalment was just OK. I think this series is getting a little stale and formulaic as I there doesn't seem to be a series arc and every instalment is just two opposites attracting. Also, Harrison broke my number 1 romance rules - any woman who gets kidnapped, locked in a dungeon, almost killed and almost raped does not want to have sex with her extremely hunky ex-lover - but yet, that is what Melisande does. There is quite a bit of 'cave' sex and it just didn't come across as romantic. I hope that Harrison ramps up the excitement in book 9.


Melanie's Week in Review - May 10, 2015
I was looking on my Amazon recommendations (again, I know very naughty) when I came across Dog with a Bone by Hailey Edwards. I was mostly attracted to the 99p price of this Kindle edition and thought that Thierry sounded like an interestingly conflicted character. I was however, quite disappointed. This is a fairly standard young adult urban fantasy. Thierry is a half human/half supernatural who becomes a peacekeeper just like her estranged father. She is joined on her first case by the incubus Shaw, also her trainer and love interest.

I think the preview didn't really represent the story and I wouldn't have bothered reading it had I known that the plot was going to be 90% teenage angst and 10% character development. Thierry and Shaw can barely focus on the murders mystery they are trying to solve during several bouts of heavy petting. Overall, I find it quite dull. Perhaps a younger a reader would find it more enjoyable.


My final read for the week was Day Shift by Charlaine Harris. This book was reviewed last week by Qwill so check out what she thought of it.


That is it for me for this week. I hope you have had a productive week and until next week Happy Reading.

Melanie's Week in Review - March 30, 2014


Melanie's Week in Review - March 30, 2014


Happy Mother's Day to any Mom (or should say Mum) from the UK who is reading this. For any Mom in the US or Canada you have to wait until May! I had a productive reading week and I am quite chuffed with myself. So what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - March 30, 2014
If you read my WIR last week you will know that I read River Road by Suzanne Johnson, which I quite enjoyed. I also had book 3  - Elysian Fields and DJ's face seemed to follow me around the room saying 'read me....read me'. I couldn't resist so I started it Sunday morning and finished Sunday evening. What a result! In this instalment a serial killer called The Axeman is loose in New Orleans and killing a path towards DJ. A powerful necromancer is in control of this undead maniac and is determined to take out DJ. If this wasn't enough her friend and potential love interest Jake, the loup garou, is having problems controlling his wolf and Quince Randolph, her best friend's boyfriend, is getting a little too close for comfort. DJ is not short of hunky heroes however, as she has both the undead pirate Jean Lafitte and the former sentinel Alex Warin who are more than willing to save her bacon...and boy does she need their help. This series really improves and I enjoy each book more than the previous. There are only a few weeks between the events in books 2 and 3 but DJ continues to mature as she realises the consequences of her actions. This plot has a number of threads including The Axeman, her romantic entanglements and her elven heritage. There is a lot happening in this book with DJ travelling both to Jean Lafitte's home in The Beyond and to the elven home world. More is also explained about the 'undead' such as Jean Lafitte which I appreciated. I couldn't figure out from the previous books what they were as the term 'undead' makes me think of zombies rather than the corporeal dead. The only problem with reading so many books of one series close together is that when you have finally read the last book to be released it seems AGES for the next one to come out.  Now I have to wait another year to find out what trouble DJ gets into next.

Melanie's Week in Review - March 30, 2014
Book two on my reading list was Dream London by Tony Ballantyne. I can say with certainty that Dream London is by far the most surreal book I have ever read. The only way I can describe it is if Alice took acid before she jumped down the rabbit hole.  It is strange with a capital 'S'. Dream London is changing and Captain James Wedderburn has been reluctantly recruited to find out why. During the night the geography of the city changes while at the same time the fortunes of its inhabitants change just as quickly. No one knows who is in control but Captain James is going to find out no matter what it takes. This book reminded me a little bit of the movie Dark City but it was much, much darker and much, much more odd. For starters, James owned a brothel and didn't feel too guilty about feeding his 'girls' candy flavoured drugs to make them feel what their clients felt. James' career wasn't an oddity though as sex and prostitution was the norm in Dream London. Its not until nearly the end of the book that we find out why and you almost wish you didn't know.  Hats off to Ballantyne as he has one prolific imagination. Not only can he convey the weird and wonderful, he can do it for over 600 pages. This book requires some significant investment in time, tolerance for the morally inept and lots and lots of swearing. This is an excellent book but you really have to be in the right frame of mind to read it. I am glad that I paced myself over a few weeks to read it rather than rushing through.

Melanie's Week in Review - March 30, 2014
The final book I finished (just a few hours before I wrote this) was Silver Mirrors by A.A. Aguirre. This was a special one of surprise from The Qwill and I am super lucky to get this ARC. I hate to disappoint but I can't say too much about this book as I will be writing a full review. Keep your eye on the blog for this to be posted to find out what I thought of the second book of the Apparatus Infernum series.

As I write this I am watching the Ender's Game movie which you may know is also a book by Orson Scott Card. I can't say I am enjoying it that much despite liking kids' movies and YA fiction. I watched Catching Fire, the movie version of the book by Suzanne Collins, when I was writing my last WIR and enjoyed it a lot more. I guess some books makes better movies ....or are better cast. Thoughts?

Well that is it for me this week. I hope you have a great week ahead and Happy Reading.


Melanie's Week in Review - March 23, 2014


Melanie's Week in Review - March 23, 2014


In my first week back at work for a while was a middling success on the reading front. I finished two books, I continued with one and started another. So what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - March 23, 2014
I will start with the books that I finished. I discovered that the third book in the Blackthorn series, Blood Torn had been released so I had to read it. I have had a bit of a love/not love so much feeling with this series. I really liked the underlying plot but didn't like how the female characters were bullied and virtually forced into a sexual relationship by the heroes of the story. I thought that book 3 has turned a corner and focused much more on the plot than the sex. While the book's plot focuses on the love story between the werewolf Jask and the new serrryn Sophie a few characters from the previous books, mainly Caitlan Parish from book 1 return to help advance the plot. We find out what happens to her following the trial that exposed her friends and family as the villains. But back to the book's main characters, Sophie has just inherited her serryn powers and struggles to reconcile her attraction to Jask and her mission to fight the third species. This plot point takes us nearly to the end of the book before it is resolved in its almost happily ever after. The more interesting plot however, takes place behind the scenes in the overall plot arch. I am really looking forward to see how it unfolds. I was slightly disappointed with the cover. I really loved the gothic style book covers from the first two books but Blood Torn looked much more commercial. I am really looking forward to book 4 as there was some nastiness at the end of this book and I want to see someone get their comeuppance!

Melanie's Week in Review - March 23, 2014
I also finished book 2 of Sentinels of New Orleans series, River Road by Suzanne Johnson. This was another book that I received in my Qwill book care package and one where I thought that the series has really improved. I liked book 1 - Royal Street but I thought that the lead character, DJ had some seriously growing up to do and grow up she did in the three years between books 1 and 2. In this instalment of the series DJ has been asked to investigate a conflict between two families of merman. Its starts as a simple case of 'who's poisoning the river' into a full blown murder investigation when two wizards are found murdered in a most disturbing fashion. DJ teams up with the undead pirate Jean Lafitte, her sentinel buddy Alex and his cousin and now loup garou Jake to solve the mystery. DJ has matured since book 1 and some of the dialogue (and inner dialogue) is quite amusing and I thought the plot was interesting. Johnson also creates an great teaser for the next book by bringing the elven connection of DJ's heritage more into the forefront of her life. The elven stick that DJ rescued from her father Gerry's house in book 1 is still with her and starts to become a silent character in her life. It is this magical tool that also brings DJ to the notice of the local elven kingpin who wants to get to know her. The elven stick reminded me a a similar plot device in the Mercy Thompson books by Patricia Briggs. Perhaps magical sticks are a big thing in elven folklore but I hope Johnson doesn't go too far with this. I love this book cover (and book 1's as well). I think the model is exactly how I pictured DJ and in combination with the swirling pattern of her hair and the elven stick make this an appealing cover.

Melanie's Week in Review - March 23, 2014
So what didn't I finish? I am still reading Dream London by Tony Ballantine. This is a long book and quite confusing so I want to take my time with it. Plus I am reading it on my iBooks app (which I love) and didn't take my iPad into work with me this week so I only had a few opportunities to make much progress. A few weeks ago I started reading David Daglish's A Dance of Cloaks which is the first of the Shadowdance series.  I dip into it once or twice a week but never seem to make much progress. This book is everything I usually like - fantasy, complicated plot with different characters brought together in a series of plot twists and strong female leads but I find it hard to read. I can't quite put my finger on it other than I just haven't found a character that I really like and therefore, I am not really interested in them. Anyone else find this? I would like to know if I should persevere. I LOVE the cover though, so dramatic.

I am hoping to finish some of my 'in progress' books this week and start one (or two) more. I hope you have a good week ahead and until then Happy Reading.

Review: Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson


Royal Street
Author:  Suzanne Johnson
Series:  Sentinels of New Orleans, 1
Publisher:  Tor Books, April  10, 2012
Format:  Trade Paperbook and eBook, 336 pages
List Price:  $14.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780765327796 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Review: Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson
As the junior wizard sentinel for New Orleans, Drusilla Jaco’s job involves a lot more potion-mixing and pixie-retrieval than sniffing out supernatural bad guys like rogue vampires and lethal were-creatures. DJ's boss and mentor, Gerald St. Simon, is the wizard tasked with protecting the city from anyone or anything that might slip over from the preternatural beyond.

Then Hurricane Katrina hammers New Orleans’ fragile levees, unleashing more than just dangerous flood waters.

While winds howled and Lake Pontchartrain surged, the borders between the modern city and the Otherworld crumbled. Now, the undead and the restless are roaming the Big Easy, and a serial killer with ties to voodoo is murdering the soldiers sent to help the city recover.

To make it worse, Gerry has gone missing, the wizards’ Elders have assigned a grenade-toting assassin as DJ’s new partner, and undead pirate Jean Lafitte wants to make her walk his plank. The search for Gerry and for the serial killer turns personal when DJ learns the hard way that loyalty requires sacrifice, allies come from the unlikeliest places, and duty mixed with love creates one bitter gumbo.



Melanie's Thoughts:

Royal Street is set in the historic city of New Orleans just before and during Hurricane Katrina. DJ is a 'sentinel' whose job it is to protect the city from ghosts and demons from 'the beyond'. DJ packs herself off to her grandmother's in Florida to wait out the storm when she gets a call from the wizard Elders to return to the city to hunt for her mentor and substitute father Gerald. Unable to contact Gerald by either technological or magical means has DJ extremely worried as he is a powerful wizard who should be able to protect himself. Returning to New Orleans following the hurricane makes the search for Gerald even more of a challenge with the wide spread devastation caused by the storm. The wizard Elders force DJ to team up with the enforcer Alex as the threat of more incursions of ghosts from the 'Otherworld' into New Orleans makes the city even more dangerous. Just to make her search even more difficult DJ has the centuries old pirate Jean Lafitte, straight from the Otherworld, hot on her tail and looking for revenge. Everything seems to be conspiring against DJ and her quest to find her lost mentor. Time is running out before Hurricane Katrina isn't the only thing that leaves New Orleans devastated.

I have wanted to read Royal Street for a long time and I wasn't disappointed. I thought it was a great start to the series. New Orleans makes for the perfect setting to deliver Johnson's plot with its colourful history in both witchcraft and voodoo. Hurricane Katrina is an excellent plot device to deliver her story as it creates its own challenges for DJ and the mechanism for weakening the barrier between New Orleans and the 'otherworld'. Johnson is spoiled for choice for baddies and she picks several excellent antagonists for this tale. However, DJ felt a little under developed as a character and there were a couple of times I felt like reaching inside the story and giving her a good slap. DJ always seemed to do the opposite of whatever she was told to do. I was almost surprised that she given so much responsibility when she acted with so little of it at times.  I am confident that this character will grow and mature as the series continues, or at least that I am hoping that is the case. I am looking forward to continuing with the Sentinels of New Orleans series to see what else is in store for DJ and how Johnson portrays the re-building of New Orleans.

Melanie's Week in Review - January 5, 2014



Melanie's Week in Review  - January 5, 2014


Happy New Year! I hope 2014 brings you the very best in books. I had a rather successful week in reading despite only having only 2 days of commuting into work. So what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review  - January 5, 2014Well I finished the two books I mentioned at the end of my WIR last week which were Broken Homes (Peter Grant / Rivers of London 4) by Ben Aaronovitch and Master of Crows by Grace Draven. I also started and finished Royal Street (Sentinels of New Orleans 1) by Suzanne Johnson. I will be doing full reviews of both Broken Homes and Royal Street so I can't give too much away here. What I can say is that I enjoyed both although Broken Homes more so. Royal Street had very much the 'first book' feel about it...which makes sense as it was the first book in the series and Johnson's first book. You know the type of first book where  the characters aren't fully developed and do the opposite of everything they are told?

I came to read Master of Crows by Grace Draven after the author Ilona Andrews recommended it on her blog. Master of Crows is self-published. I wasn't sure about romantic fantasy but Andrews assured her fan base that it was a great story and I whole heartedly agreed. I LOVED IT! It was high fantasy with characters that were well developed. It really flowed along and there wasn't so much romance that it got in the way of the story. The added bonus was the cover. Check it out! I have added a slightly larger image so that you can see the full affect. GORGEOUS! As you will know I am a bit obsessed by book covers so I spent a lot of time looking at it. In fact I think it is one of my all time favourite covers.

Melanie's Week in Review  - January 5, 2014Since I am on on the topic of book covers have a look at the one for Broken Homes. This is another great cover although doesn't have quite the instant impact as Master of Crows but is a excellent nonetheless. This cover is best looked at on zoom. The cover was created by the artist Stephen Walter who specialises in these funky, graphite maps.

Well I am sure you think I probably have OaBCD - Obsessed about (or a-boot since I am Canadian) Book Cover Disorder as this whole WIR was largely about the covers. I am truly not that shallow that I judge a book purely by the cover but when I see a really great one or a really bad one then I feel I should let you know.

I should get back to reading Silvered by Tanya Huff which I only just started and hope to tell you all about next week. So until then Happy Reading!


Interview with Suzanne Johnson and Giveaway - April 11, 2012

Please welcome Suzanne Johnson to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Royal Street, Suzanne's debut, was published yesterday, April 10th. You can read Suzanne's Guest Blog - Fantasy, Meet Reality - here.


TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Suzanne:  Hm…not sure how interesting it is, but I’ve developed a system that works for me. My first draft, which I call “draft zero” (and which NOBODY sees) is usually about only two-thirds the length of the finished book. Really bare bones, where I’m working out the plot with no descriptions or setting details. Then I go back and layer in the other stuff.

TQ:  Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

Suzanne:  Probably the biggest influence has been Stephen King. I grew up reading his stuff, and still do. Whether or not you like horror, which has a lot in common with urban fantasy, the man can tell a good story. In urban fantasy, I love Jim Butcher. In paranormal romance, I’m all about the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Outside the speculative fiction genre, I think the writing of my fellow Alabama author Rick Bragg is brilliant. If he published a phone book, I’d buy it and read it.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Suzanne:  A serious plotter. Royal Street was the first novel I’d ever attempted, and I didn’t yet realize the value of plotting. So it went through a lot of upheavals and scene cuts and bloody, brutal surgery. I recently finished the third book in the series and I think my outline was something like 12,000 words long!

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

Suzanne:  Finding time to write, definitely. I have a full-time job as associate editor for a quarterly university magazine, plus family obligations. I’ve had to give up a lot—sleep and any semblance of a social life, LOL.

TQ:  Describe Royal Street (Sentinels of New Orleans 1) in 140 characters or less.

Suzanne:  Katrina topples New Orleans’ supernatural levees, monsters invade, junior wizard learns to fight. Must love pirates, voodoo queens, magic.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Royal Street?

Suzanne:  I re-read all the Times-Picayune (New Orleans’ daily newspaper) coverage from Hurricane Katrina, making sure my plot followed the exact timeline of what happened when—when the lights came back on, when the water was drinkable, when Hurricane Rita came through, etc. Also read biographies of pirate Jean Lafitte and jazz great Louis Armstrong to make sure I portrayed them as accurately as I could. Quite a bit of research on voodoo. And I re-read my own blog that I maintained for a couple of years after Katrina, to remind myself of what I was bitching and moaning about at the time (which was a lot!).

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?

Suzanne:  The easiest has probably been the pirate Jean Lafitte, because after reading several biographies of him I now find him totally fascinating. In the original version of the book, I’d planned for him to be in one scene—the first one in the novel—and never see him again. But he just kept coming back and ended up really impacting the direction the whole series is going.

The hardest character to write has been Jake Warin, a veteran who was injured badly in Afghanistan and has gone through some rough years before Royal Street begins. He’s had issues with alcohol, and sometimes his head goes to really dark places. Yet on the outside, he’s charming and flirtatious. His story arc over the first three books takes a lot of dark turns.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Royal Street?

Suzanne:  One of my favorites is a scene that takes place at the Napoleon House, which is a bar and restaurant in the French Quarter that was built around 1800 as a residence. Napoleon Bonaparte had been invited to spend his exile there, but never made it. It’s one of my favorite places in New Orleans. But in the book, the Napoleon House is still closed for Katrina, and my heroine DJ ends up in a dramatic scene with a gaggle of pirates. I can’t say much more without spoilers.

I also like the scene early in the book when DJ’s new partner Alex shows up, guns ablaze. It was fun to write.

TQ:  What's next?

Suzanne:  Beginning in April, I’ll have “Easter Eggs” on my website for those who want some backstory on things like how character names were chosen, info on the places the characters go, what in real life inspired certain scenes, etc.

I’ll be talking about the book and signing copies in April and May in New Orleans, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Birmingham, Portland, and San Diego. Dates and times are on my website (www.suzanne-johnson.com). I’ll also be at Authors After Dark in August. The second book in the series, River Road, will be out November 13!

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Suzanne:  Thanks so much!


About Royal Street

Royal Street
Sentinels of New Orleans 1
Tor Books, April 10, 2012
Trade Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

Interview with Suzanne Johnson and Giveaway - April 11, 2012 
As the junior wizard sentinel for New Orleans, Drusilla Jaco’s job involves a lot more potion-mixing and pixie-retrieval than sniffing out supernatural bad guys like rogue vampires and lethal were-creatures. DJ’s boss and mentor, Gerald St. Simon, is the wizard tasked with protecting the city from anyone or anything that might slip over from the preternatural beyond.

Then Hurricane Katrina hammers New Orleans’ fragile levees, unleashing more than just dangerous flood waters.

While winds howled and Lake Pontchartrain surged, the borders between the modern city and the Beyond crumbled. Now, the undead and the restless are roaming the Big Easy, and a serial killer with ties to voodoo is murdering the soldiers sent to help the city recover.

To make it worse, Gerry has gone missing, the wizards’ Elders have assigned a grenade-toting assassin as DJ’s new partner, and undead pirate Jean Lafitte wants to make her walk his plank. The search for Gerry and for the serial killer turns personal when DJ learns the hard way that loyalty requires sacrifice, allies come from the unlikeliest places, and duty mixed with love creates one bitter roux.


About Suzanne

Interview with Suzanne Johnson and Giveaway - April 11, 2012
Urban fantasy author Suzanne Johnson grew up in rural Northwest Alabama, halfway between the Bear Bryant Museum and Elvis’ birthplace. That, plus living in New Orleans for fifteen years, has given her a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football and fried gator on a stick. Her debut novel, Royal Street, will be released on April 10, 2012, by Tor Books, and will begin an urban fantasy series set in New Orleans during and immediately after Hurricane Katrina. The second book in the series, River Road, will be released in November 2012. By day, Suzanne is an editor at Auburn University despite being a graduate of the University of Alabama, which she thinks makes her bilingual. She lives in Auburn with two dogs named after professional wrestlers—a story she is not inclined to share (unless you catch her at the Napoleon House during Authors After Dark 2012).



Suzanne's Links

Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
At Tor.Com


The Giveaway

THE RULES

What:  One commenter will win a copy of Royal Street (Sentinels of New Orleans 1) from The Qwillery.

How:  Leave a comment answering one of the following questions posed by Suzanne:

Who are some of your favorite wizards in books, movies, and/or tv?

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1)   Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2)   Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

3)   Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.

There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. You MUST leave a way to contact you.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Wednesday, April 18, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*

Guest Blog by Suzanne Johnson - Fantasy, Meet Reality - and Giveaway

Please welcome Suzanne Johnson to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. Royal Street (Sentinels of New Orleans 1), Suzanne's debut, will be published in April 2012.


Fantasy, Meet Reality

     On Sunday, August 28, 2005, I piled in a car with two dogs (one a ninety-pounder), an elderly parent, a friend, and her ailing cat, and left home for a two-day trip. It’s what I’d packed for, after all: one change of clothes, only the shoes I was wearing, a book to read (John Berry’s Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi River Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America), and a few cans of dog food. I was pretty much broke, it being two days before payday and, like most people, I lived paycheck to paycheck.

     But I didn’t go home on August 30 as planned. In fact, I didn’t go back for almost six weeks. We all lived in a hotel room for a week with our restless pets, and then disbursed to live on the goodwill of friends. When I finally did go home on October 10, I was afraid of what I’d find. (And I really, really grew to hate the irony of that John Berry book.)

     I was a New Orleanian, and when I left on August 28, it was a last-minute run from a little storm called Hurricane Katrina. You probably know what happened after that.

     For the next couple of years, I fought insurance companies and bureaucrats to get my house repaired. I watched elderly friends grow weak from the stress and die. I watched the city I loved so fiercely as it struggled back to its feet. I worked long hours trying to do my part in helping Tulane get reopened and repaired. I cried a lot.

     I don’t say all this as a “poor me,” because I had it SO much better than a lot of folks in New Orleans, including many of my friends and coworkers. But a catastrophe or natural disaster leaves its mark on everyone who goes through it. What do you do with all those unresolved feelings?

      For me (and at least two or three other New Orleanians I’ve since met), it became a new endeavor: fiction writing. I’d been a nonfiction writer and editor in higher education for years. But fiction? Moi? Uh-uh.

     I left New Orleans in late 2007 for family reasons, and between unresolved Katrina stress and homesickness, I began to write. In early 2009, I finished a book called Royal Street. I didn’t know if it had any commercial legs—after all it was about a national tragedy people are still dealing with…and it was urban fantasy.

     Urban fantasy is a genre I loved long before I ever heard the name. Anne Rice introduced me to vampires. Stephen King introduced me to all kinds of scary stuff that might be true (and might, without provocation, eat me). The joy of urban fantasy, for me, is the “what if” factor. What if, in our real world, we could turn the corner and run into a vampire? What if the guy behind the counter at the meat market is a werewolf (who cleans up the scraps between customers)? What if science hasn’t really killed off magic in our world?

     What if a wizard got caught in Hurricane Katrina? What if the levees that broke were not only physical but metaphysical? What if more than floodwater swept into New Orleans after the storm? “What if” is the heart of any story, but it’s especially strong at the crossroads of fantasy and reality that we call “urban fantasy” or “contemporary fantasy.”

     Royal Street, at its heart, is a love song to the hometown of my heart. It’s a story about what we do when the things we’ve learned to depend on are taken away from us, abruptly and unexpectedly. It’s about the power of human memory to keep alive those we love. It’s about how even in the worst of times, good things can happen if our hearts are open to them. The wizards of Royal Street aren’t real, but the post-Katrina world they live in is.


A contest! Royal Street, the first book in the Sentinels of New Orleans series, will be released by Tor Books on April 10 and is available for preorder at the usual places online. I’ll be giving away a signed copy of Royal Street to a commenter who answers one of these questions:

     Have you read a book set around a natural disaster, or what’s your favorite book set in New Orleans? (Note: the winner will receive the book in March, as soon as I have author copies available.)

Please see contest rules below.


To find out more about me or the Sentinels of New Orleans series, visit my Preternatura Blog at http://suzanne-johnson.blogspot.com, or my website at www.suzanne-johnson.com.


About Royal Street

Royal Street
Sentinels of New Orleana 1
Tor Books, April 10, 2012
Trade Paperback, 336 pages

Guest Blog by Suzanne Johnson -  Fantasy, Meet Reality - and Giveaway 
As the junior wizard sentinel for New Orleans, Drusilla Jaco’s job involves a lot more potion-mixing and pixie-retrieval than sniffing out supernatural bad guys like rogue vampires and lethal were-creatures. DJ’s boss and mentor, Gerald St. Simon, is the wizard tasked with protecting the city from anyone or anything that might slip over from the preternatural beyond. 

Then Hurricane Katrina hammers New Orleans’ fragile levees, unleashing more than just dangerous flood waters. 

While winds howled and Lake Pontchartrain surged, the borders between the modern city and the Beyond crumbled. Now, the undead and the restless are roaming the Big Easy, and a serial killer with ties to voodoo is murdering the soldiers sent to help the city recover. 

To make it worse, Gerry has gone missing, the wizards’ Elders have assigned a grenade-toting assassin as DJ’s new partner, and undead pirate Jean Lafitte wants to make her walk his plank. The search for Gerry and for the serial killer turns personal when DJ learns the hard way that loyalty requires sacrifice, allies come from the unlikeliest places, and duty mixed with love creates one bitter roux.
Pre-order



About Suzanne

Guest Blog by Suzanne Johnson -  Fantasy, Meet Reality - and Giveaway
Urban fantasy author Suzanne Johnson grew up in rural Northwest Alabama, halfway between the Bear Bryant Museum and Elvis’ birthplace. That, plus living in New Orleans for fifteen years, has given her a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football and fried gator on a stick. Her debut novel, Royal Street, will be released on April 10, 2012, by Tor Books, and will begin an urban fantasy series set in New Orleans during and immediately after Hurricane Katrina. The second book in the series, River Road, will be released in November 2012. By day, Suzanne is an editor at Auburn University despite being a graduate of the University of Alabama, which she thinks makes her bilingual. She lives in Auburn with two dogs named after professional wrestlers—a story she is not inclined to share (unless you catch her at the Napoleon House during Authors After Dark 2012).



Suzanne's Links

Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
At Tor.Com


The Giveaway

THE RULES

What:  One commenter will win a signed copy of Royal Street (Sentinels of New Orleans 1) from Suzanne. Note: the winner will receive the book in March, as soon as Suzanne has author copies available.

How:  Leave a comment answering one of the following questions posed by Suzanne:

Have you read a book set around a natural disaster, or 
what’s your favorite book set in New Orleans?

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1)   Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2)   Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

3)   Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.

There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. In addition please leave a way to contact you.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Wednesday, February 22, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*
Melanie's Week in Review - August 26, 2018Melanie's Week in Review - January 8, 2017Melanie's Week in Review - May 10, 2015Melanie's Week in Review - March 30, 2014Melanie's Week in Review - March 23, 2014Review: Royal Street by Suzanne JohnsonMelanie's Week in Review  - January 5, 2014Interview with Suzanne Johnson and Giveaway - April 11, 2012Guest Blog by Suzanne Johnson -  Fantasy, Meet Reality - and Giveaway

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