The Qwillery | category: Seanan McGuire


The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Melanie's Month in Review - April 2019

Melanie's Month in Review - April 2019

Hello again. Sorry, I haven't been around for a while. I have had a lot of bad news since February so haven't been reading that much. I am very lucky that I write for the very nice and lovely Qwill who has been very understanding with my lack of blogging. I am back now with which is a semi bumper crop of books to tell you about. So without much further ado this is what I have read (or listened to).

Melanie's Month in Review - April 2019
I was super excited when I found T.J. Berry's Five Unicorn Flush on NetGalley. I loved book 1 - Space Unicorn Blues and couldn't believe that it was a debut as it was such a great concept, well written with great characters.  You can read my review here. I liked it so much it made my top 5 of 2018. This second instalment starts not long after the events of book 1 when all of the supernaturals (the Bala) were teleported away to a new planet far, far away from the cruelty of humanity. The story starts on board the Stagecoach Mary with Jenny Perata at the helm of the ship desperately searching for her wife, a dryad who has gone missing with the rest of the Bala. While Jenny creeps through space on an aging spaceship and no unicorn horn to fuel it Gary, my favourite space unicorn, is on his new home planet. Not everyone is that happy with Gary or his father from taking them away from all the 'creature' comforts they have gotten used to...even if those comforts led to the torture and death of many of their kin. Two more characters from book 1 are also searching for the new Bala home planet - Biao who is hiding his magical lineage from the humans and the very human, Will Penny. Forces are drawing the humans to Gary and his kind in the back drop of a civil war between the Bala.

Sometimes the second book of a series can be a bit of a let down or not as exciting as the first. Not in the case of the The Reason series. The scenes with Jenny Perata on and off the Stage Coach Mary were really amusing and Jenny is a great, broken heroine. Gary wants to do the best for his kin but can't seem to live up to anyone's expectations, including his own. He is torn between wanting to save his kind and saving humans and this creates the tension that supports the story.

I thoroughly enjoyed Five Unicorn Flush despite another massive cliff hanger ending. Berry has the ability to write a gritty but humorous story that keeps you guessing what is going to happen next.

Melanie's Month in Review - April 2019
Another great find on NetGalley was Middlegame by Seanan McGuire. A game is afoot and the game pieces are two young children - Roger and Dodger. Dodger is a mathematical genius while her twin brother is extremely gifted with words/vocabulary. They live on opposite sides of the country and communicate telepathically. The game master is Reed. He created the twins as a means of releasing magic into the world and to elevate him to godhood. This is a game of life or death and the twins have decided not to play by the rules.

I have to admit that for the first 5-6 chapters I had no clue what was going on. It took me a while to get into the story and before the references to a child's book started every new chapter. The story really didn't take off until Roger and Dodger were adults and met for the first time and this doesn't happen until mid-way through the book. It wasn't the easiest book to read but it was well written and the plotline quite innovative. It looks like a one off so not a big investment in time if you already enjoy other books by this author. I suggest giving it a go with an open mind.

Melanie's Month in Review - April 2019
The next two books I am going to tell you about share similarities. These are that they are written by the same author and I listened to them rather than read them. So what are they you ask?  Circe and The Songs of Achilles by Madeline Miller. The first one I came across was Circe so I will tell you about this one first. This novel is a bit of a winner - award winner. It was the Goodreads Choice winner and won the Orange prize. It was also cited as a 'must read' by a couple of English newspaper book reviewers. I think it was well deserved praise. Circe the book is the story of Circe the mythological daughter of Helios, god of the sun. Circe is mainly shunned by the gods and doesn't live up to the divinity of either of her parents. She ends up seeking companionship in mortals and discovers the forbidden magic -witchcraft. After a particularly vengeful spell she is exiled by Zeus to the remote island of Aiaia where she lives a fairly secluded life except for encounters with both gods and mortals alike. Over the centuries she harnesses her witchraft and becomes renowned for her own powers. With that power also comes hardship and it's not long before she has to decide if she wants to align to the gods who shun her or the mortals who she has grown to love.

Melanie's Month in Review - April 2019
I really enjoyed this book and really glad I listened to the audiobook version. I thought Peridita Weeks did a fantastic job of bringing Circe and all the gods to life. I wasn't as familiar with Circe as I am with some of the other Greek myths but the story is a real virtual page turner. I don't think you need to have any knowledge or love of Greek mythology to enjoy this story so whether you want to read the physical version, the e-Book or the audiobook version I highly recommend that you do.

One could be fooled into thinking that The Songs of Achilles is about Achilles. It is indirectly, but  more about it's narrator  - Achilles' friend and lover, Patroclus. The story starts when Patroclus is a very young boy who has been exciled and goes to live with Achilles. It tracks Achilles life through Patroclus' eyes and growing love up to and including the siege of Troy.

The Songs of Achilles is a true love story and beautifully told. I didn't love the narrator as much as I have others but story itself brings the characters to life. I really felt that I was in ancient Greece smelling the olive oil and feeling the sun on my skin. This is a truly evocative story and I especially enjoyed the bittersweet ending. Two fantastic books by a fantastic author that are must reads.

Melanie's Month in Review - April 2019
That is all I have to tell you about for this month apart from one book that was a DNF - Fluffy's Revolution by Ted Myers. I thought this might be a bit of a feel good, talking cat kind of fun book. The only problem is that this book is written for a 8-12 year old reader so not quite my age group. I couldn't even pretend I could read it and found it far too juvenile and banal. If you have a cat loving youngster in your life then I would recommend it for a very young reader.

That's it for me for me. I hope April showers bring May great reads! Happy Reading!

Five Unicorn Flush
The Reason 2
Angry Robot Books, May 28, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Melanie's Month in Review - April 2019
Only one woman with a magical parasite can unite the galaxy, in the mind-blowing SF sequel to Space Unicorn Blues

Reasonspace is in shambles after the disappearance of all magical creatures. Without faster-than-light travel, supply and communication routes have dried up, leaving humankind stranded and starving. Cowboy Jim and his complement of Reason soldiers search for the relocated Bala using the only surviving FTL drive. On their new utopian planet, the Bala are on the brink of civil war between those who want peace under old-fashioned unicorn rule and those who seek revenge on their human oppressors. Only Captain Jenny and her new brain parasite can stop the Reason plan to enslave the Bala again.

File Under: Science Fiction [ Elves on the Brain | Lust for Magic | Best Served Hot | FTL Hell ]

Middlegame, May 7, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 528 pages

Melanie's Month in Review - April 2019
New York Times bestselling and Alex, Nebula, and Hugo-Award-winning author Seanan McGuire introduces readers to a world of amoral alchemy, shadowy organizations, and impossible cities in the standalone fantasy, Middlegame.

Meet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story.

Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math.

Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realise it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet.

Meet Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He’s not their father. Not quite. But he has a plan: to raise the twins to the highest power, to ascend with them and claim their authority as his own.

Godhood is attainable. Pray it isn’t attained.

The Song of Achilles
Ecco, August 28, 2012
Trade Paperback, August 12, 2012
  eBook, March 6, 2012

Melanie's Month in Review - April 2019
“At once a scholar’s homage to The Iliad and startlingly original work of art by an incredibly talented new novelist….A book I could not put down.”
—Ann Patchett

“Mary Renault lives again!” declares Emma Donoghue, author of Room, referring to The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller’s thrilling, profoundly moving, and utterly unique retelling of the legend of Achilles and the Trojan War. A tale of gods, kings, immortal fame, and the human heart, The Song of Achilles is a dazzling literary feat that brilliantly reimagines Homer’s enduring masterwork, The Iliad. An action-packed adventure, an epic love story, a marvelously conceived and executed page-turner, Miller’s monumental debut novel has already earned resounding acclaim from some of contemporary fiction’s brightest lights—and fans of Mary Renault, Bernard Cornwell, Steven Pressfield, and Colleen McCullough’s Masters of Rome series will delight in this unforgettable journey back to ancient Greece in the Age of Heroes.

Little, Brown and Company, April 10, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 400 pages

Melanie's Month in Review - April 2019
“A bold and subversive retelling of the goddess’s story,” this #1 New York Times bestseller is “both epic and intimate in its scope, recasting the most infamous female figure from the Odyssey as a hero in her own right” (Alexandra Alter, The New York Times).

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child–not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power–the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

With unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language and page-turning suspense, Circe is a triumph of storytelling, an intoxicating epic of family rivalry, palace intrigue, love and loss, as well as a celebration of indomitable female strength in a man’s world.

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER–NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR, The Washington Post, People, Time, Amazon, Entertainment Weekly, Bustle, Newsweek, the A.V. Club, Christian Science Monitor and Refinery 29, Buzzfeed, Paste, Audible, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Thrillist, NYPL, Self Real Simple, Goodreads, Boston Globe, Electric Literature, BookPage, the Guardian, Book Riot, Seattle Times, and Business Insider

Fluffy's Revolution
Black Rose Writing, March 28 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 145 pages

Melanie's Month in Review - April 2019
“Brisk sci-fi futurism with a feline star and a positive outlook.” –KIRKUS REVIEWS

The fate of the world rests on the haunches of one small cat.

It’s 2135. Fluffy is a super-intelligent GAB (Genetically Altered Brain) cat. Like many dogs, cats, mice, and the occasional pig, her brain is the product of genetic tinkering by humans that started more than a century ago. With their powers of telekinesis, the animals can manipulate physical objects without being able to grasp them. They can speak to each other telepathically without audible voices. Now, people have begun to fear them and to systematically capture and exterminate them. Fluffy leaves the safety of her home to look for her lost brother and joins a band of animal revolutionaries. After a series of brushes with death, Fluffy and her friends find a secret university for GAB animals. There, they work with enlightened humans to save Earth from certain destruction.

Melanie's Week in Review - August 27, 2017

Melanie's Week in Review  - August 27, 2017

Whoop whoop! Its bank holiday weekend and the weather is lovely. If you have been following my WIR you will know that the weather in the UK has been dismal with a capital 'D' in December. I could actually sit outside this afternoon without wearing a sweater. What a treat! Speaking of treats wait until you find out about what I have been reading.

Melanie's Week in Review  - August 27, 2017
I was super lucky to receive The Brightest Fell, the 11th instalment of the October Daye series, from the publisher via NetGalley. The story starts not long after the events of book 10 - Once Broken Faith - and opens with October's bachelorette party. It was a veritable supernatural convention with nearly every female character from the series in attendance. Just when things are looking up for the unlucky heroine her mother - Amandine the Liar - turns up on her doorstep demanding that October find her long lost daughter (Toby's half-sister). To ensure that October does what she is told Amandine takes Tybalt hostage. Toby has no choice - look for her sister who has been missing for decades or lose the love of her life. Toby needs help and sometimes that help comes from where she least expects it. The path to true love is a thorny one and now Toby is on the clock ...find her sister or lose everything.

I don't want to give too much away so apologies for being vague. I always enjoy the books in this series but I really wish that McGuire would give poor Toby a break. I guess it would make for a boring story if everything was sunshine and roses (well maybe not roses for Toby!) without the near death experiences, loss of loved ones or races against time. There is a lot happening in this instalment as the plot progresses at the same time as we find out more of events that pre-date even Toby. If this was an earlier book in the series then I would have loved it but 11 books in and I just hope that McGuire wraps the series up soon. That said, I do enjoy stories with strong female leads and Toby is nothing short of brave.

Melanie's Week in Review  - August 27, 2017
Again, lucky me as I also received Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill via NetGalley. If you are a science fiction fan then this is the book for you. In fact, this is a must read. This is the story of the rise of the machine - mankind has been wiped out when the robots they created to make life easier destroyed them all. Now two super computers - One World Networks - are fighting for supremacy. There are a few freebots that are left to roam the desolate globe searching for spare parts which are in ever increasing short supply. The story centers on Brittle who started its existence as a comfort bot...charged with taking care of a dying man. As the robot/human war unfolds Brittle makes choices that will haunt it for decades. Amongst the wasteland where both humans and robots died Brittle searches for an every decreasing supply of parts and through that search ends up on a mission that could change everything.....or nothing. What will Brittle chose?

This is a fantastic book, in fact one of my favourite books of 2017. I wasn't expecting to like it so much, especially given the subject matter but I did. Every chapter had a new surprise and I could never guess what was going to happen next. I loved the Terminator films but imagine a world where Sarah Connor doesn't survive. Bleak? Yes, but despite the austerity the world that Cargill creates is colourful and vibrant in its own way. Like I said...this is a must read.

That is it for me this week....and in fact for a few weeks. I am taking short hiatus while I re-charge my reading batteries. Don't miss me too much....or better yet...miss me A LOT! Until then Happy Reading!

The Brightest Fell
October Daye 11
DAW, September 5, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 368 pages

Melanie's Week in Review  - August 27, 2017
New York Times-bestselling October Daye faerie series • Hugo Award-winning author Seanan McGuire • ”Top of my urban-paranormal series list!” —Felicia Day

Contains an original bonus novella, Of Things Unknown!

Things are slow, and October “Toby” Daye couldn’t be happier about that. The elf-shot cure has been approved, Arden Windermere is settling into her position as Queen in the Mists, and Toby doesn’t have anything demanding her attention except for wedding planning and spending time with her family.

Maybe she should have realized that it was too good to last.

When Toby’s mother, Amandine, appears on her doorstep with a demand for help, refusing her seems like the right thing to do…until Amandine starts taking hostages, and everything changes. Now Toby doesn’t have a choice about whether or not she does as her mother asks. Not with Jazz and Tybalt’s lives hanging in the balance. But who could possibly help her find a pureblood she’s never met, one who’s been missing for over a hundred years?

Enter Simon Torquill, elf-shot enemy turned awakened, uneasy ally. Together, the two of them must try to solve one of the greatest mysteries in the Mists: what happened to Amandine’s oldest daughter, August, who disappeared in 1906.

This is one missing person case Toby can’t afford to get wrong.

Sea of Rust
Harper Voyager, September 5, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages

Melanie's Week in Review  - August 27, 2017
A scavenger robot wanders in the wasteland created by a war that has destroyed humanity in this evocative post-apocalyptic "robot western" from the critically acclaimed author, screenwriter, and noted film critic.

It’s been thirty years since the apocalypse and fifteen years since the murder of the last human being at the hands of robots. Humankind is extinct. Every man, woman, and child has been liquidated by a global uprising devised by the very machines humans designed and built to serve them. Most of the world is controlled by an OWI—One World Intelligence—the shared consciousness of millions of robots, uploaded into one huge mainframe brain. But not all robots are willing to cede their individuality—their personality—for the sake of a greater, stronger, higher power. These intrepid resisters are outcasts; solo machines wandering among various underground outposts who have formed into an unruly civilization of rogue AIs in the wasteland that was once our world.

One of these resisters is Brittle, a scavenger robot trying to keep a deteriorating mind and body functional in a world that has lost all meaning. Although unable to experience emotions like a human, Brittle is haunted by the terrible crimes the robot population perpetrated on humanity. As Brittle roams the Sea of Rust, a large swath of territory that was once the Midwest, the loner robot slowly comes to terms with horrifyingly raw and vivid memories—and nearly unbearable guilt.

Sea of Rust is both a harsh story of survival and an optimistic adventure. A vividly imagined portrayal of ultimate destruction and desperate tenacity, it boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, yet where a humanlike AI strives to find purpose among the ruins.

The 2016 Nebula Awards Winners

The 2016 Nebula Awards Winners


The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) has announced the winners for the 51st Annual Nebula Awards, the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation, and the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy.

  • All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders (Tor; Titan)
  • Borderline, Mishell Baker (Saga)
  • The Obelisk Gate, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • Ninefox Gambit,Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris US; Solaris UK)
  • Everfair, Nisi Shawl (Tor)

  • Runtime, S.B. Divya ( Publishing)
  • The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, Kij Johnson ( Publishing)
  • The Ballad of Black Tom, Victor LaValle ( Publishing)
  • Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan McGuire ( Publishing)
  • “The Liar”, John P. Murphy (F&SF)
  • A Taste of Honey, Kai Ashante Wilson ( Publishing)

  • “The Long Fall Up”, William Ledbetter (F&SF)
  • “Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea”, Sarah Pinsker (Lightspeed)
  • “Blood Grains Speak Through Memories”, Jason Sanford (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
  • “The Orangery,” Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
  • The Jewel and Her Lapidary, Fran Wilde ( Publishing)
  • “You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay”, Alyssa Wong (Uncanny)

Short Story
  • “Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies”, Brooke Bolander (Uncanny)
  • “Seasons of Glass and Iron”, Amal El-Mohtar (The Starlit Wood)
  • “Sabbath Wine”, Barbara Krasnoff (Clockwork Phoenix 5)
  • “Things With Beards”, Sam J. Miller (Clarkesworld)
  • “This Is Not a Wardrobe Door”, A. Merc Rustad (Fireside Magazine)
  • “A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers”, Alyssa Wong (
  • “Welcome to the Medical Clinic at the Interplanetary Relay Station│Hours Since the Last Patient Death: 0”, Caroline M. Yoachim (Lightspeed)

Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation
  • Arrival, Directed by Denis Villeneuve, Screenplay by Eric Heisserer, 21 Laps Entertainment/FilmNation Entertainment/Lava Bear Films/Xenolinguistics
  • Doctor Strange, Directed by Scott Derrickson, Screenplay by Scott Derrickson & C. Robert Cargill, Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures
  • Kubo and the Two Strings, Directed by Travis Knight, Screenplay by Mark Haimes & Chris Butler; Laika Entertainment
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Directed by Gareth Edwards, Written by Chris Weitz & Tony Gilroy; Lucusfilm/ Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures
  • Westworld: ‘‘The Bicameral Mind’’, Directed by Jonathan Nolan, Written by Lisa Joy & Jonathan Nolan; HBO
  • Zootopia, Directed by Byron Howard, Rich Moore, & Jared Bush, Screenplay by Jared Bush & Phil Johnston; Walt Disney Pictures/Walt Disney Animation Studios

Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy
  • The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Kelly Barnhill (Algonquin Young Readers)
  • The Star-Touched Queen, Roshani Chokshi (St. Martin’s)
  • The Lie Tree, Frances Hardinge (Macmillan UK; Abrams)
  • Arabella of Mars, David D. Levine (Tor)
  • Railhead, Philip Reeve (Oxford University Press; Switch)
  • Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies, Lindsay Ribar (Kathy Dawson Books)
  • The Evil Wizard Smallbone, Delia Sherman (Candlewick)

Additional awards presented:

2017 Damon Knight Grand Master Award: Jane Yolen

Solstice Award: Peggy Rae Sapienza (Posthumous), Toni Weisskopf

Kevin O’Donnell Jr. Service To SFWA Award: Jim Fiscus

Cosmic Powers, edited by John Joseph Adams

Next month, Saga Press will publish Cosmic Powers: The Saga Anthology of Far-Away Galaxies edited by John Joseph Adams. Check out the Table of Contents below and the gorgeous cover art by Chris Foss.

Cosmic Powers: The Saga Anthology of Far-Away Galaxies
Saga Press, April 18, 2017
Hardcover, Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

Cosmic Powers, edited by John Joseph Adams
A collection of original, epic science fiction stories by some of today’s best writers—for fans who want a little less science and a lot more action—and edited by two-time Hugo Award winner John Joseph Adams.

Inspired by movies like The Guardians of the Galaxy and Star Wars, this anthology features brand-new stories from some of science fiction’s best authors including Dan Abnett, Jack Campbell, Linda Nagata, Seanan McGuire, Alan Dean Foster, Charlie Jane Anders, Kameron Hurley, and many others.


Melanie's Week in Review - January 29, 2017

Melanie's Week in Review - January 29, 2017

Hello reader. I was really hoping to knock your socks off with an over the top Week in Review to take our collective minds off the news. However, the news is pretty much all I have been reading in the last week and none of it was good. I did find some time for a couple of short stories.  So this week this WIR is going to be short and sweet.

Melanie's Week in Review - January 29, 2017
Seanan McGuire is back with this poignant short story (or maybe it was a novella?) of Jenna, the girl who died before her time. Jenna life was cut too short when she died not long after her sister Patty. Jenna is now a ghost living out her allotted time as a volunteer at a suicide prevention hotline and saving elderly cats. When ghosts start to go missing Jenna maybe the only one who can save them.

McGuire doesn't fail to produce interesting plotlines and Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day does not disappoint. Jenna is clearly still mourning the loss of her sister decades before and McGuire allows that feeling to pervade every page of this story. This is a story that is truly bitter sweet. McGuire is always worth a read.

Melanie's Week in Review - January 29, 2017
Ilona Andrews posted on their blog that she had read Stephanie Burgis' short story The Art of Deception and I decided to give it a go. This is the story of a down on his luck swordsman Niko and his landlord/girlfriend Julia. When Julia gets a summons home Niko reluctantly agrees to join her. What neither was expecting is their pasts catching up with them...and almost killing them. Swords and sorcery is a deadly combination.

I enjoyed this story and was quite disappointed when it came to an end. Niko and Julia were a couple I could easily read more about. Alas, the story was over too soon. Definitely worth a read especially if you are a fan of short stories.

That is it for me this week. Apologies this is a short one and I hope to have more to tell you about next week. Until then Happy Reading.

Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day, January 10, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 192 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - January 29, 2017
When her sister Patty died, Jenna blamed herself. When Jenna died, she blamed herself for that, too. Unfortunately Jenna died too soon. Living or dead, every soul is promised a certain amount of time, and when Jenna passed she found a heavy debt of time in her record. Unwilling to simply steal that time from the living, Jenna earns every day she leeches with volunteer work at a suicide prevention hotline.
But something has come for the ghosts of New York, something beyond reason, beyond death, beyond hope; something that can bind ghosts to mirrors and make them do its bidding. Only Jenna stands in its way.

Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day is a new standalone urban fantasy novella from New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire.

The Art of Deception
Five Fathoms Press, August 9, 2016
eBook, 48 pages
Review Copy: Reviewer's Own

Melanie's Week in Review - January 29, 2017
Niko Hrabanic was once a famous swordsman. But after a scandal-laden departure from his last job at a royal court, he's now hiding out in a rural inn, making himself useful to his attractive landlady in all sorts of ways that don't actually involve paying rent...

...until a summons from the mysterious and dangerous White Library shakes up his life all over again. His landlady, it turns out, has secrets of her own. Now Hrabanic and Julia will have to confront both of their pasts - and if they're going to have any hope of survival, they'll need both Hrabanic's sword arm and Julia's magical training.

It's time for them to become experts at the art of deception.

*Shortlisted for the 2016 WSFA Small Press Award for Short Fiction*

The Art of Deception is a 12,400-word novelette full of swordfighting, banter, and a twisty plot. It was originally published in the 2015 anthology Insert Title Here, ed. Tehani Wessely (FableCroft Press).

Melanie's Week in Review - October 16, 2016

Melanie's Week in Review - October 16, 2016

It's a big happy milestone birthday to my sister Lauranne who introduced me to fantasy not so many years ago. I am missing the party and the cake but if I wasn't, you would be missing my post! It was a week of shorts rather than a short week. So what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - October 16, 2016
Amazon keeps popping up Grace Draven's short story Wyvern at me whenever I browse for books so I thought it was time I give it a go. In this story Elsbeth makes a brave deal with the wyvern that has been terrorising her community. Elsbeth has offered to entertain the wyvern by playing her fiddle in order to save her grandfather for getting lynched. Elsbeth soon finds herself drawn the large beast that reminds her lost but not forgotten love. What Elsbeth has yet to realise is that the wyvern is none other than Alaric the bard she lost her heart to years before. Can Alaric convince her he is more than the fearsome beast who has put her beloved grandfather in danger?

I thought this short story was OK. I wasn't wowed but I wasn't completely bored either. The song 'The Devil Went Down to Georgia' kept running through my head when I came to the parts where Elsbeth was making the deal with Alaric to play her fiddle to save her grandfather. I thought it was mediocre in comparison to some of Draven's other works.

Melanie's Week in Review - October 16, 2016
Amazon also recommended Bec McMaster's short story The Many Lives of Hadley Monroe. In this tale Hadley actually makes a deal with Death to give her more time with her dying grandmother. She has a month to answer Death's question and in the process of trying to find the answer she comes to realise there is more to Death than a black cloak and a scythe.

This was a very short story indeed. I think it took me no more than a half hour to read. Again, I was a bit disappointed. I am not sure whether it was the super short length of this story that bothered me or the fact that Hadley very quickly started to make 'swoony' eyes at the grim reaper.

Melanie's Week in Review - October 16, 2016
Still on the short story theme and this time from NetGalley I received Shadowed Souls. This is a anthology of short stories by various authors including Jim Butcher, Seanan McGuire, Tanya Huff, and Rob Thurman. The anthology is edited by Jim Butcher and Kerrie L. Hughes. Butcher wrote the foreword and describes how a pack of coyotes are circling his house, waiting in anticipation for his elderly pet dog to come outside. He scares them off in defence of his beloved pet but acknowledges that they aren't evil just predators who are doing what is instinctual. This sets the theme of this anthology - predators who aren't evil but do bad things.

I won't tell you about every story but what I can say that I liked some better than others. Notably, Jim Butcher's which was set in the Harry Dresden world and told from Molly's POV. This was a chilling tale indeed and very good. I also loved Tanya Huff's short from the Vicky Nelson series. I loved that series and it was great to find out what Vicki has been up to since the end of the series. I also thought Rob Thurman's contribution was very tense as was Kristine Kathryn Rusch's. I haven't read anything from Rusch before and I liked her tale of the grief stricken Kaylee. I think I will be checking out more from this author. I didn't feel that all of the shorts lived up to the 'predator' label especially Seanan McGuire's. I have to say that her predator the succubus Elsie wasn't very predatory at all. Overall, I enjoyed this anthology and found a couple of authors I am going to investigate further.

That is it for me this week...short and sweet (tee hee). Until next week Happy Reading!

A Dragon Shifter Novella
Grace Draven, September 5, 2016
eBook, 88 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - October 16, 2016
Eight years earlier the talented fiddler, Elsbeth Weaver, gave up the man she loved to care for her ailing grandfather. Now, she must risk her life to save her grandfather from a lynching by playing for the wyvern terrorizing the countryside. When she comes face-to-face with the beast at the haunted cliffs of Maldoza, she is both frightened and fascinated. Something about the creature reminds her of the bard who once stole her heart, something more than just a shared name.

Alaric has never stopped loving the human woman he left behind in a dusty village almost a decade before. When he meets her again at Maldoza, wearing old dragon armor and playing her fiddle as if her heart would break, he is overjoyed. Elsbeth doesn’t know her erstwhile lover is only an illusion for the wyvern, and Alaric must convince her that the heart of the beast is no less devoted than the heart of the man.

~Second edition. Originally published by Amber Quill Press in 2007~

Note: Some scenes contain graphic descriptions of physical intimacy.

The Many Lives of Hadley Monroe
Lochaber Press, April 4, 2016
eBook, 52 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - October 16, 2016
When the clock stops ticking, and the storm rolls in, Hadley Monroe knows exactly what’s going on. Forty years ago her grandfather made a pact with Death, and now Death has come calling again.

Forced to make her own deal with the reaper, Hadley has only three weeks to answer his question, or he’ll take her grandmother too. The problem is, there’s no way to answer it, and three weeks is not long enough with the reaper who’s beginning to steal her heart…

Warning: This short story has been previously published in the Mammoth Book Of Southern Gothic Romance.

Shadowed Souls
Roc, November 1, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - October 16, 2016
In this dark and gritty collection—featuring short stories from Jim Butcher, Seanan McGuire, Kevin J. Anderson, and Rob Thurman—nothing is as simple as black and white, light and dark, good and evil..

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what makes it so easy to cross the line.

In #1 New York Times bestselling author Jim Butcher’s Cold Case, Molly Carpenter—Harry Dresden’s apprentice-turned-Winter Lady—must collect a tribute from a remote Fae colony and discovers that even if you’re a good girl, sometimes you have to be bad…

New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire’s Sleepover finds half-succubus Elsie Harrington kidnapped by a group of desperate teenage boys. Not for anything “weird.” They just need her to rescue a little girl from the boogeyman. No biggie.

In New York Times bestselling Kevin J. Anderson’s Eye of Newt, Zombie P.I. Dan Shamble’s latest client is a panicky lizard missing an eye who thinks someone wants him dead. But the truth is that someone only wants him for a very special dinner…

And New York Times bestselling author Rob Thurman’s infernally heroic Caliban Leandros takes a trip down memory lane as he deals wih some overdue—and nightmarish—vengeance involving some quite nasty Impossible Monsters.

Tanya Huff * Kat Richardson * Jim C. Hines * Anton Strout * Lucy A. Snyder * Kristine Kathryn Rusch * Erik Scott de Bie *

Melanie's Week in Review - August 21, 2016

Melanie's Week in Review - August 21, 2016

Well I would love to start this post with a few self congratulatory sentences of how many books I had read. I started my new job this week (it went well) and I had assumed that as I was back to commuting that I was going to be able to read a few dozen books. I must have been romanticizing my speed reading capabilities as it got to Wednesday and I still wasn't 40% of the way through The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin. I have been dipping in and out of this book over the last few weeks. I got a bit worried I wouldn't have anything to tell you about so I switched to a book I received via NetGalley. Let me tell you all about it.

Melanie's Week in Review - August 21, 2016
I was very lucky to receive Seanan McGuire's tenth novel of the October Daye series Once Broken Faith. In this instalment Toby is minding her own business following the life changing events of book 9 where she returned from the Kingdom of the Silences with the cure of elf-shot and ensuring the right rulers were on the throne. Finding a cure to the poison that puts the victim in an enchanted sleep for 100 years has resulted in an unprecedented meeting of rulers of all the kingdoms. Arden, Queen in the Mists, is hosting the conclave with the high King and Queen (aka Quentin's parents) present. Diplomacy is not Toby's strength but she is required to attend despite being a changeling. When a dead body turns up her investigative skills are called upon to solve the crime and keep the conclave on track before it destabilizes the entire region.

I really enjoyed Once Broken Faith as it introduces the other kingdoms of Faerie without the need to focus a plot in each kingdom. There was a good balance of introducing new characters and more information about Toby's friends and frenemies. The main plot point - the debate about the use of elf shot - is also interesting and there are convincing arguments on both sides. One of my favorite characters - the Luidaeg - is central to this plot and gives a lot of Firstborn attitude (plus a few death threats) throughout. This is the first time that Toby's squire Quentin is discussed as anything more than a secondary character. He still is in many ways but with his parents in residence during the conclave we get to find out more about their relationship, why he was fostered out and what his parents (the high King and Queen) are really like. My one criticism with Toby and many other urban fantasy female leads is that they are always getting beaten up/shot/burnt/crippled etc. If I was almost getting killed every few weeks I think I would stop leaving the house or not leave without wearing a bullet proof body suit that is coated in bubble wrap. I am hoping that McGuire gives poor Toby a break in the next novel. Toby's fiance, Tybalt the King of the Cats, is also back but isn't being very nice to Toby and you wonder whether their relationship is going to be doomed. That is all I will say on that.

We get an extra treat in Once Broken Faith as McGuire includes a novella from Arden Windermere's POV. The story is set immediately after the events of the main book and unfortunately I can't tell you anymore as it would give away what happened in the main novel. I did really enjoy as it gives another perspective of the events leading up to the conclave.

In summary, Once Broken Faith is another solid story set in McGuire's unique fantasy world. Characters we both love and hate are back and Toby's humanity is even more on the line than ever before. I definitely recommend Once Broken Faith but if you haven't read the other books in the series then I urge you to read books 1, 8 and 9 at a very minimum. You will be missing out on some great action by not reading them all though!

That is all for me this week. You will have to miss my WIR next week (August 28th) as I am off to Canada and flying when I am normally typing this up. It will be September before you read more from me so until then Happy Reading.

Once Broken Faith
Series:  An October Daye Novel 10
Publisher:  DAW, September 6, 2016
Format:  Mass Market Paperback, 432 Pages
List Price:   US$7.99 (print and eBook)
ISBN:  9780756408107 (print); 9781101601822 (eBook)

Melanie's Week in Review - August 21, 2016
New York Times-bestselling October Daye series • Hugo Award-winning author Seanan McGuire • ”Top of my urban-paranormal series list!” —Felicia Day

Includes a brand-new map and original bonus novella!

Politics have never been October “Toby” Daye’s strong suit. When she traveled to the Kingdom of Silences to prevent them from going to war with her home, the Kingdom of the Mists, she wasn’t expecting to return with a cure for elf-shot and a whole new set of political headaches.

Now the events she unwittingly set in motion could change the balance of modern Faerie forever, and she has been ordered to appear before a historic convocation of monarchs, hosted by Queen Windermere in the Mists and overseen by the High King and Queen themselves.

Naturally, things have barely gotten underway when the first dead body shows up. As the only changeling in attendance, Toby is already the target of suspicion and hostility. Now she needs to find a killer before they can strike again—and with the doors locked to keep the guilty from escaping, no one is safe.

As danger draws ever closer to her allies and the people she loves best, Toby will have to race against time to prevent the total political destabilization of the West Coast and to get the convocation back on track…and if she fails, the cure for elf-shot may be buried forever, along with the victims she was too slow to save.

Because there are worse fates than sleeping for a hundred years.

Melanie's Week in Review - April 10, 2016

Melanie's Week in Review - April 10, 2016

Welcome to mid-April. I hope my American friends haven't suffered too badly in the polar vortex. Remember back in the good old days when it was just called a cold front or snow? But again, I digress with talk about the weather. What did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - April 10, 2016
I discovered that Magic to the Bone from the Twenty-Sided Sorceress series was out. I thought this was going to be the final instalment but when we left Jade she was in an time rift (or something) learning how to get her magic back with help from her dragon father while her boyfriend and friends try to stop the super evil Samir from turning into a god. There is only so much time before Jade and Samir come face to face for the epic battle of good versus evil. Who will survive and how much Jade has to lose in the process is the basis of the plot of this story.

I have felt that the last couple of book were dragging the story out and the plot a bit too superficial. This didn't really improve in Magic to the Bone. While there is the resolution to the plot arc involving Samir it was over in a few short sentences and then guess what?  There is another book! I can't believe it. I don't know what else Bellet has to say about these characters. I don't think I will be continuing with this series.

I read Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire weeks and weeks ago but haven't been able to tell you about it as as publication date was too far away. Then I kind of forgot about it.  Ooops. Never fear dear reader, here is my review!

Every Heart a Doorway is the story of Nancy, who has found herself in Miss West's home for wayward children. Nancy has just returned from the Halls of the Dead. Like all the children in Miss West's private school Nancy has been and returned from an 'other world' and not that happy to be sent away by her parents to a boarding school. When some of her classmates end up horrifically murdered then its up to Nancy to discover who is responsible. How many of her fellow schoolmates will die before she can find out who 'dunnit'

McGuire has written a book that can only be described as gothic horror. If you try to convince me otherwise you are going to be sorely disappointed. While Nancy has returned to the modern day everything about her, Miss West and the boarding school was very dark and moody like a traditional gothic novel. While the characters were mostly all in their teens this is not a story for a young reader unless you want them to read about dismembering and other 'gross' things. I felt like I was reading a fairy tale that was set in modern times but without the happy ending. Well written but I still felt slightly disturbed when I had finished.

Melanie's Week in Review - April 10, 2016
I spent most of this week reading A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain. McElwain is part of the DAC this month so keep your eye peeled to the blog for my review. I can't tell you more here so enjoy the suspense!

That is it for me this week. I hope you have had a productive week and I wish you all the best finding a 'can't put down' read for the week ahead. Until next week Happy Reading.

Magic to the Bone
The Twenty-Sided Sorceress 7
Doomed Muse Press, March 19, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 222 pages
Reviewer's Own

Melanie's Week in Review - April 10, 2016
Boss Fight: Samir! Roll for initiative...

Bruised, battered, but not even close to broken, Jade and her friends must reunite, and get ready to take out her psycho ex once and for all. Leveled up and wiser, Jade stands a chance this time.

As long as she takes out Samir BEFORE he turns into a god...

This is book seven in USA Today bestselling The Twenty-Sided Sorceress urban fantasy series.

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

Melanie's Week in Review - April 10, 2016
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 - 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 Month in Review - April 2019Melanie's Week in Review  - August 27, 2017The 2016 Nebula Awards WinnersCosmic Powers, edited by John Joseph AdamsMelanie's Week in Review - January 29, 2017Melanie's Week in Review - October 16, 2016The October Daye Reread Blog Tour and Giveaway!Melanie's Week in Review - August 21, 2016Melanie's Week in Review - April 10, 2016Melanie's Week in Review - December 27, 2015

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