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A blog about books and other things speculative

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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 16, 2014


Melanie's Week in Review - March 16, 2014


I started to worry when I hit Wednesday and I hadn't finished a single book and therefore would have nothing to say to you in this Week in Review. I didn't even have a excuse like I was studying for a test but then it all came together towards the end of the week and I got two books read. I am returning to work next week after 2 months away so hoping that with the commute time that I am able to get back in the reading saddle and get through some books.

Melanie's Week in Review - March 16, 2014
I started and finished the week with The Kingmakers by Susan and Clay Griffiths. This was the final book of the Vampire Empire trilogy and wrapped up the story for the Queen Adele and her vampire consort Greyfriar/Gareth. This was another treat in my book care package that I received a few weeks ago.  I read the first two books - The Greyfriar and The Riftwaker back in 2012 and had been searching for the final book since then. I could only find it here in the UK in the very expensive hardcover version and didn't feel like parting with £15+. I was very lucky to receive a review copy.

I enjoyed Griffiths' alternate world where vampires ruled Britain, Ireland and parts of France with Persia, Egypt and the rest of the middle East as the civilised world in the domain of humanity. I thought both lead characters Adele (a human Queen) and Gareth (a vampire prince) were well developed throughout all three novels and Griffiths' steampunk world was rich in detail. The start of this story found the pair in the midst of the war which was slaughtering most of the Empire's army and civilians as well.  Back in Britain, Gareth's brother Cesare was making plans to place himself as the king of the vampire race after a little patricide. This part of the story was really engaging and I was a little surprised I enjoyed it as much as I did as I don't often like stories with military themes. The story seemed to almost slow down once the main battle was done and felt like it was dragging. The rest of the action including the culmination of at least 3 different plot lines all happened in the last 15-20 pages. It felt very rushed after drawing out the middle chapters. Overall, this is a good series, set in an interesting world.

I also finished The Wicked We Have Done by Sarah Harian which is one of the debuts out next week and the first in the Chaos Theory series. I will be writing a full review of this book so be sure to check back on Tuesday to find out what I thought.

Melanie's Week in Review - March 16, 2014I only just started Dream London by Tony Ballantyne which has me really intrigued as I have no idea what  is going on! Sometimes, I like the feeling that a book is going to challenge me and get my brain working.  I hope to tell you more about this book next week when I will also hopefully figure out what it is all about.

I am keeping this WIR short and sweet as I have been taxing my typing skills and your reading skills over the last few weeks. Until next week Happy Reading.



Guest Blog by Tony Ballantyne, author of Dream London - October 22, 2013


Please welcome Tony Ballantyne to The Qwillery. Tony's most recent novel is Dream London, which is out in the US and Canada on October 29th. I asked him "Why London?"




Guest Blog by Tony Ballantyne, author of Dream London - October 22, 2013






‘Why London? Why not twist Paris, New York or some other well known city?’


Funnily enough the sequel, should it be written, will be set in Dream Paris...


Actually, as a resident of Greater Manchester, the obvious place for me to write about would have been Dream Manchester, but that would have been a completely different novel.


Dream London has a claustrophobic quality to it. Strangely, London is a smaller place than Manchester, the streets are narrower, the buildings more crowded together.


Land is cheaper in Manchester. Returning to the area fifteen years ago I rode a taxi north on the Oldham Road and I was struck by the sense of space. The wider streets, the empty lots where businesses had failed and no one had bothered to reclaim the land. Back then, it seemed that the principle industry was lots of weeds and rubble, fenced in and secured by padlocked gates.


All that has changed. The new trams run through the city centre, they glide past nineteenth century red brick buildings cleaned and polished for the 21st century. Manchester is a place that knows its foundations, it's a self starting, self made city that does things it own way. Beings trying to subvert Manchester couldn't buy their way into the roots of the city, they would simply be yet another faction trying to establish themselves.


In Dream London, the city changes a little every night and the people change a little every day. The city has been sold to someone, or something, and the populace are trapped amongst the narrow streets, preyed on by their fellows. The establishment is written right the way through London. London has more history than Manchester, the roots of privilege run deep in London, they take far longer to dig out.






Dream London

Dream London
Solaris, October 29, 2013 (US/Canada)
     October 10, 2013 (UK)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 416 pages

Guest Blog by Tony Ballantyne, author of Dream London - October 22, 2013
In Dream London the city changes a little every night and the people change a little every day. Captain Jim Wedderburn has looks, style and courage by the bucketful. He’s adored by women, respected by men and feared by his enemies. He’s the man to find out who has twisted London into this strange new world, and he knows it. But the towers are growing taller, the parks have hidden themselves away and the streets form themselves into strange new patterns. There are people sailing in from new lands down the river, new criminals emerging in the East End and a path spiralling down to another world. Everyone is changing, no one is who they seem to be, and Captain Jim Wedderburn is beginning to understand that he’s not the man he thought he was...


Cover and book design by by Joey Hi-Fi.






About Tony

Guest Blog by Tony Ballantyne, author of Dream London - October 22, 2013
Tony Ballantyne is the author of Twisted Metal, Blood and Iron and the Recursion series. He has also written many short stories. Tony grew up in County Durham in the North East of England. He studied Maths at Manchester University before moving to London where he taught Maths and IT. His first SF sale was The Sixth VNM which appeared in Interzone 138. Since then he has had short stories appear in magazines and anthologies worldwide.He has also written romantic fiction and satirical pieces for various magazines such as Private Eye. Recursion, his first novel, was published by Tor UK in 2004. He has been nominated for the BSFA and Philip K Dick awards. He now lives in oldham with his wife and two children. His hobbies are playing the piano, accordion and cornet. He also enjoys walking and cycling.




Website  ~  Twitter @TonyBallantyne


Cover Revealed - Dream London by Tony Ballantyne


I'm thrilled to share the cover of Dream London by Tony Ballantyne. The superb cover art (and book design) is by Joey Hi-Fi. The novel is out in the UK on October 10, 2013 and in the US and Canada on October 29th.



Dream London
Solaris, October 29, 2013 (US/Canada)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 416 pages

Cover Revealed - Dream London by Tony Ballantyne
In Dream London the city changes a little every night and the people change a little every day. Captain Jim Wedderburn has looks, style and courage by the bucketful. He’s adored by women, respected by men and feared by his enemies. He’s the man to find out who has twisted London into this strange new world, and he knows it. But the towers are growing taller, the parks have hidden themselves away and the streets form themselves into strange new patterns. There are people sailing in from new lands down the river, new criminals emerging in the East End and a path spiralling down to another world. Everyone is changing, no one is who they seem to be, and Captain Jim Wedderburn is beginning to understand that he’s not the man he thought he was...





About Tony

Tony Ballantyne is the author of Twisted Metal, Blood and Iron and the Recursion series. He has also written many short stories.

Tony grew up in County Durham in the North East of England. He studied Maths at Manchester University before moving to London where he taught Maths and IT.

His first SF sale was ‘The Sixth VNM’ which appeared in Interzone 138. Since then he has had short stories appear in magazines and anthologies worldwide. He has also written romantic fiction and satirical pieces for various magazines such as Private Eye.

Recursion, his first novel, was published by Tor UK in 2004. He has been nominated for the BSFA and Philip K Dick awards.

He now lives in Oldham with his wife and two children. His hobbies are playing the piano, accordion and cornet. He also enjoys walking and cycling.

Website  ~  Twitter @TonyBallantyne


Melanie's Week in Review - March 30, 2014Melanie's Week in Review - March 16, 2014Guest Blog by Tony Ballantyne, author of Dream London - October 22, 2013Cover Revealed - Dream London by Tony Ballantyne

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