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A blog about books and other things speculative

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Melanie's Week in Review - May 14, 2017


Melanie's Week in Review - May 14, 2017


Melanie's Week in Review - May 14, 2017
I'm back!! Sorry I haven't been around recently. I have been busy reading this book which would be really hard to review. There isn't much of a plot but some really delicious recipes. I highly recommend it if you are making a cake for either a wedding or other type of celebration. After lots of reading and lots of practicing (I am certain I gained about 10lbs from eating my practice runs)

In between reading this book and making the actual wedding cake I managed to read a couple of good books. The first one I would like to tell you I didn't actually read....I listened to it instead. If you remember from previous posts I am not the biggest fans of audio books as I get easily disappointed when the narrator doesn't sound what I have imagined the character to sound like. I have however, found a fantastic narrator and the perfect fit for an equally fantastic book. So what did I listen to?


Melanie's Week in Review - May 14, 2017
None other than Star Trek's very own Wil Wheaton narrates Ernest Cline's sci fi thriller Ready Player One. Set in 2044 the world has gone to pot. The lack of fossil fuels has crippled the world, unemployment is sky high and poverty is the norm. The teenager and star of this story Wade Watts escapes the desperation that is his life in the OASIS, a virtual world where you can live out any fantasy your imagination can dream up. James Halliday, the creator of the OASIS, left the world the biggest puzzle when he died. He left his entire fortune and virtual keys to the OASIS to the individual who solves a set of riddles to find the hidden crystal easter egg within this massive video game. Wade, like millions of other gamers, spend years trying to find even the first clue while studying every aspect of Halliday's life. Wade's life is about to change when he solves the first quest of Halliday's epic game. It's tough at the top and it's not long before Wade realises that trying to win this game may mean he loses everything, including his life. Game on!

Ready Player One is an epic in every sense of the word with over fifteen hours of audio as Wheaton gives life to Wade. I loved Wade and thought that Wheaton did a fantastic job of making this character believable and a joy to spend time with. I was on the edge of my seat through most of the story and that was down to Cline's expertise at creating tension and a compelling adventure. I think one of the reasons I enjoyed this audio book so much (Wheaton aside) was that it was told in the first person. Even if you aren't a big gamer there is something for everyone in Cline's story but if you happen to be one then this is a must read.


Melanie's Week in Review - May 14, 2017
Book 2 was another excellent read - the final instalment of Carrie Patel's Recoletta series. The Song of the Dead starts immediately after the end of book 2, The Buried Life. There are new rulers in Recoletta who are no different than those who came before. Arnault is on the run with Jane in an attempt to destroy the Library...the very thing that brought about the Catastrophe. With Malone in pursuit Arnault and Jane make a daring and dangerous race across the ocean to try to save the world and to find the answers for what happened to theirs.

Patel does it again. This is another great story that takes us from the buried city of Recoletta, to the farming communes, onto a flotilla of ships across the ocean and the Continent where Arnault's big secret is revealed. I found the resolution of the plot arc very satisfying and Patel did a great job of tying up all the individual plot threads into one satisfying conclusion. It is hard to say much more without risking giving too much away. Suffice to say you will need to find out for yourself.


That is it for me but I hope to be back again next week with some equally good books to tell you about. Until then Happy Reading!





Ready Player One
Read by Wil Wheaton
Random House Audio, August 16, 2011
Audio CD and Audiobook Download

Melanie's Week in Review - May 14, 2017
At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, READY PLAYER ONE is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.  

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?
– Bloomberg, Best Books of 2016



Ready Player One
Broadway Books, June 5, 2012
Trade Paperback, 400 pages
Hardcover and eBook, August 16, 2011
Mass Market Paperback, February 6, 2018

Melanie's Week in Review - May 14, 2017
In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.

But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.





The Song of the Dead
Recoletta 3
Angry Robot, May 2, 2017
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - May 14, 2017
Finally, the lost histories of the Catastrophe will be revealed and with them the ultimate fate of the buried city of Recoletta in the dramatic conclusion to Carrie Patel’s trilogy.

With Ruthers dead and the Library Accord signed by Recoletta, its neighbours, and its farming communes, Inspector Malone and her partner Laundress Jane Lin are in limbo as the city leaders around them vie for power.

A desperate attempt to save Arnault from execution leads to Malone’s arrest and Jane’s escape. They must pursue each other across the sea to discover a civilization that has held together over the centuries. There they will finally learn the truths about the Catastrophe that drove their own civilization underground.

File Under: Fantasy [ Day of Execution | Sky High | We are the Dead | Nature of the Catastrophe ]

Cover Revealed - The Song of the Dead by Carrie Patel


Angry Robot has revealed the cover for The Song of the Dead by Carrie Patel, the 3rd novel in the Recoletta series. John Coulthart created the cover.


The Song of the Dead
Recoletta 3
Angry Robot, May 2, 2017
Mass Market Paperback and eBook

Cover Revealed - The Song of the Dead by Carrie Patel
Finally, the lost histories of the Catastrophe will be revealed and with them the ultimate fate of the buried city of Recoletta in the dramatic conclusion to Carrie Patel’s trilogy.

With Ruthers dead and the Library Accord signed by Recoletta, its neighbours, and its farming communes, Inspector Malone and her partner Laundress Jane Lin are in limbo as the city leaders around them vie for power.

A desperate attempt to save Arnault from execution leads to Malone’s arrest and Jane’s escape. They must pursue each other across the sea to discover a civilization that has held together over the centuries. There they will finally learn the truths about the Catastrophe that drove their own civilization underground.

File Under: Fantasy





Previously

The Buried Life
Angry Robot Books, March 3, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

Cover Revealed - The Song of the Dead by Carrie Patel
The gaslight and shadows of the underground city of Recoletta hide secrets and lies. When Inspector Liesl Malone investigates the murder of a renowned historian, she finds herself stonewalled by the all-powerful Directorate of Preservation – Recoletta’s top-secret historical research facility.

When a second high-profile murder threatens the very fabric of city society, Malone and her rookie partner Rafe Sundar must tread carefully, lest they fall victim to not only the criminals they seek, but the government which purports to protect them. Knowledge is power, and power must be preserved at all costs…

File Under: Science Fantasy [ Thriller | Society in Ruins | Fully Booked | New and Weird ]



Cities and Thrones
Recoletta 2
Angry Robot, July 7, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

Cover Revealed - The Song of the Dead by Carrie Patel
In the fantastical, gaslit underground city of Recoletta, oligarchs from foreign states and revolutionaries from the farming communes vie for power in the wake of the city’s coup. The dark, forbidden knowledge of how the city came to be founded has been released into the world for all to read, and now someone must pay.

Inspector Liesl Malone is on her toes, trying to keep the peace, and Arnault’s spy ring is more active than ever. Has the city’s increased access to knowledge put the citizens in even more danger? Allegiances change, long-held beliefs are adjusted, and things are about to get messy.

File Under: Fantasy [ Buried Cities / Secrets & Lies / Revolutionary / Total War ]

Review: Cities and Thrones by Carrie Patel


Cities and Thrones
Author:  Carrie Patel
Series:  Recoletta 2
Publisher:  Angry Robot, July 7, 2015
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 448 pages
List Price:  $7.99 (print); $6.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780857665539 (print); 9780857665546 (eBook)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Review: Cities and Thrones by Carrie Patel
In the fantastical, gaslit underground city of Recoletta, oligarchs from foreign states and revolutionaries from the farming communes vie for power in the wake of the city’s coup. The dark, forbidden knowledge of how the city came to be founded has been released into the world for all to read, and now someone must pay.

Inspector Liesl Malone is on her toes, trying to keep the peace, and Arnault’s spy ring is more active than ever. Has the city’s increased access to knowledge put the citizens in even more danger? Allegiances change, long-held beliefs are adjusted, and things are about to get messy.

File Under: Fantasy [ Buried Cities / Secrets & Lies / Revolutionary / Total War ]



Melanie's Thoughts

Cities and Thrones starts not long after the dramatic events of book 1  - The Buried Life which finds Jane and Freddie above ground and far away from everything they know in their former home of Recoletta. Back in Recoletta the city has not fully recovered from the overthrow of the government. Liesl finds herself still chasing thieves and conspiracies through the now broken streets of the city wondering if Sato overthrowing Ruther's corrupt government has really made life any better for the city's inhabitants. Jane and Freddie end up in Madina along with a number of other refugees from Recoletta. Unexpectedly Jane lands herself a job in the Majlis which I took to believe was something similar to a civil court. Her role is to act as a liaison with between the city and the refugees from Recoletta which by its very nature brings her in contact with leaders of the city. She tries to keep her head down and do her job but fate draws her back into the world of watching, listening and uncovering secrets. Liesl however, wants nothing to do with secrets but when Sato sends her to the surface and to the farming communities who supply Recoletta with food it becomes apparent that she can't easily avoid being drawn into more secrets and lies. Conspiracies and mysteries abound in Cities and Thrones.  Still very central to the overall plot is the Library which holds the secrets of their past and which Ruthers didn't want anyone to know and Sato overthrew a government to find out. The various plot threads all come together in an action packed and exciting end at the Library that leaves the reader on a knife edge all the way through.

Patel continues to develop an interesting and rich environment for her characters to live. From the broken tunnels of Recoletta, to the rustic farmlands, to the opulence of Madina Patel paints a landscape that colourful and austere in equal measure. Patel describes Jane's new life in Madina so well that you can easily imagine her walking through the gilded labyrinth of the Maglis, taste the hot sweet tea she pretends to enjoy and feel the brush of her head scarf across her cheek. It does however, feel that Patel spent more time writing the chapters involving Jane and Madina than she did with Liesl, either in Recoletta or in the farming communities. These chapters weren't as descriptive or as engaging as those involving Jane.

I enjoyed this book, as much as I did book 1. However, I still don't believe that Patel has developed her characters as well as she has the setting or the plotline. I commented in my review of The Buried Life that the story was weak on characterisation and I feel this is still the case with book 2. We do get to learn a bit more about Jane's parents and how she came to be a laundress in Recoletta but this almost seemed a bit of a teaser rather than making Jane a fully rounded character. I still don't feel like I know much more about Liesl than I did during the first book which I find disappointing as there could be so much more to say about her.  If I had to do a comparison of the characterisation in this novel I would describe Patel's characters like a sketch where the artist hasn't finished colouring them in yet. Almost there but not quite.

Patel does excel at creating an engaging plot. I really had to keep on my toes to keep up with the various twists and turns and political machinations that are involved in the latter chapters of the book. It was clear that Jane and Liesl are just pawns in the very long game to get access to the Library. I was on the edge of my proverbial seat during the last few chapters.  Even with the lack of well rounded characters Cities and Thrones is a great book and I am really looking forward to finding out what is inside the Library and what part Liesl and Jane play in this discovery

Melanie's Week in Review - May 14, 2017Cover Revealed - The Song of the Dead by Carrie PatelReview: Cities and Thrones by Carrie Patel

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