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A blog about books and other things speculative

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Melanie's Week in Review - March 6, 2016


Melanie's Week in Review  - March 6, 2016


Welcome to March. Spring is just around the corner as the daffodils in my garden are out in full display. We haven't had that much of a winter in the UK this year but I am still glad to see the first sights of spring especially as I almost turned into a human popsicle last weekend. Weather report over. So what did I read?


Melanie's Week in Review  - March 6, 2016
I have saved the best for last with Rod Duncan's The Custodian of Marvels which is the final instalment of The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire. In my last two WIRs I reviewed books 1 and 2 (here and here). I thoroughly enjoyed this series and this final book was no different. Thank you to publisher for approving this request via NetGalley. I would never had discovered this fantastic series otherwise.

Again, Duncan mixes it up and teams Elizabeth with her one time enemy from the circus performers in book 1. They have teamed up to do the impossible - to break into the impenetrable Patent Court to steal a weapon. Elizabeth however, has an ulterior motive for agreeing to this heist. She wants to find evidence that the Duke has done the same thing to other families as he did to hers and she is certain it is hidden in the bowels of the Patent Office. While the plotting and planning of the heist was great to read it is what Elizabeth discovers while inside that is the real start of the plot. Duncan has a great imagination and ability to build tension as craftily as he develops his characters. This was a excellent conclusion to Elizabeth's story and has put Duncan right up there with one of my new favourite authors.


Melanie's Week in Review  - March 6, 2016
Despite being a big fan of the Kate Daniels series I only just bought and read Magic Shifts. I generally refuse to pay more than £6 for a Kindle book and when it was listed at £9.99 I decided to wait. Boy did I get that wrong. As the release of the paperback approached the price increased to £13.99. I was then stuck and ended up buying the paperback.. One of my fellow reviewers Doreen has already reviewed Magic Shifts so check it out. I thought it was OK. I wasn't wowed but didn't dislike it either. What I have a problem with...and this doesn't just relate to this series...is that I get bored when the heroine almost dies every book. I got very disillusioned with Patricia Brigg's Mercy Thompson series for the very same reason. I feel that the Kate Daniels series are falling too much into a formulae in recent books - Big Baddy fights with Kate, Kate moons over Curran, friends or family are in danger, gets beaten up, super battle, almost dies, survives surmountable odds, lives to thwart her father another day. I hope the next book mixes it up a bit.


That is it for me this week. I hope you find something enjoyable to read. Fingers crossed I have more to tell you about next week but until then Happy Reading.




The Custodian of Marvels
The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire 3
Angry Robot Books, February 2, 2016
     Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 368 pages
Angry Robot Books, February 11, 2016 (UK Print)

Melanie's Week in Review  - March 6, 2016
You’d have to be mad to steal from the feared International Patent Office. But that’s what Elizabeth Barnabus is about to try. A one-time enemy from the circus has persuaded her to attempt a heist that will be the ultimate conjuring trick.

Hidden in the vaults of the Patent Court in London lie secrets that could shake the very pillars of the Gas-Lit Empire. All that stands in Elizabeth’s way are the agents of the Patent Office, a Duke’s private army and the mysterious Custodian of Marvels.

Rod Duncan returns with the climactic volume of The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire, the breathtaking alternate history series that began with the Philip K. Dick Award-nominated The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter.

File Under: Fantasy [ Time Runs Out | The Duke’s Enemy | Open the Vault | A Union ]




Magic Shifts
Kate Daniels 8
Ace, February 23, 2016
Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Hardcover and eBook, August 4, 2015

Melanie's Week in Review  - March 6, 2016
The eighth Kate Daniels novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author who “defines urban fantasy” (Fresh Fiction).

Magic is coming and going in waves in post-Shift Atlanta—and each crest leaves danger in its wake…

After breaking from life with the Pack, mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate—former Beast Lord Curran Lennart—are adjusting to a very different pace. While they’re thrilled to escape all the infighting, Kate and Curran know that separating from the Pack completely is a process that will take time.

But when they learn that their friend Eduardo has gone missing, Kate and Curran shift their focus to investigate his disappearance. As they dig further into the merc’s business, they discover that the Mercenary Guild has gone to hell and that Eduardo’s recent assignments are connected in the most sinister way…

An ancient enemy has arisen, and Kate and Curran are the only ones who can stop it—before it takes their city apart piece by piece.

Melanie's Week in Review - February 28, 2016


Melanie's Week in Review - February 28, 2016


Happy almost Leap Day. Yes ladies, the one day of the year when you can propose to your fellas is almost upon you. I hope you have all had good weeks. I had another pretty good week on the reading front, at least. I did almost freeze my chubby little fingers off today by forgetting to wear a scarf, hat or gloves outside today.  I momentarily forgot that it was actually still winter despite seeing my magnolia in half bloom outside my front window.  This global warming is no fun. Anyway, I digress. What did I read this week?


Melanie's Week in Review - February 28, 2016
If you read my WIR last week you will remember that I had discovered Rod Duncan's The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire series and told you about book 1 - The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter. This week I am going to tell you what I thought of book 2 - Unseemly Science. In this instalment Elizabeth is still trying to survive in a male dominated world. In order to do so Elizabeth continues to impersonate her non-existent twin brother. As in book 1 she is well and truly leading a double life. When her 'brother' Edward is asked to investigate a missing person's case on behalf of a charity for orphans and other waifs and strays Elizabeth finds that she can't resist, especially as her own friend and confident Julia Swain has unwittingly become embroiled in the middle of what turns out to be a sinister body snatching plot.

I felt that Unseemly Science was quite different to The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter and not just in the choice of storyline. In book 1 the plot focused on a case that Elizabeth (or her pretend twin) had been contracted to solve whereas this time it was out of friendship that caused Elizabeth to put herself in harms way. Also this plot was much more political. There was a prominent theme of fascism and discrimination which starts with all refugees of the Kingdom (including Elizabeth) being required to register and identify themselves as such. An extradition treaty between the Kingdom and the Republic is about to be signed and its not long before Elizabeth is being rounded up, interned and awaits deportation like some of her undeserving countrymen. This puts her once again, in the path of the Patent's Office very own American John Farthing. The cards are stacking up and not in Elizabeth's favour. This was a tense read and very dramatic especially towards the end. At certain points I wasn't sure that Elizabeth was going to come through this unscathed. The biggest surprise for me was learning about the timeline. I had thought this book was set in the late 1800's but it was actually set in present day (or near present day). This raises many questions and just added to the allure of this steampunky, noir crime novel. Great novel and definitely worth a read.


Melanie's Week in Review - February 28, 2016
Book 2 for me this week was Steve Bein's Disciple of the Wind. I have enjoyed this series although I struggled a bit with book 2 of the Fated Blades series - Year of the Demon. Once again Bein tells the story of Mariko, who in 2010 tries to capture the Jo-Ko Daishi who is the leader of a cult who is single handedly bringing Tokyo to a standstill. Suspended from the job that she loves Mariko only has her ancient sword - Glorious Victory Unsought - to keep her company and help her find a way to defeat a foe that survives just about everything.

Bein also takes us back to 1588 CE and to the life of the exiled Diagoro. He is has given up almost everything - his home, his livelihood, his wife but not his honour in order to defeat the evil Shichio. Controlled by the evil mask Shichio wants nothing more in return than to defeat the 'Bear Cub' and obtain the famous Izuama blade - Glorious Victory Unsought. This part of the story is hair-raising indeed and as much of a history lesson of the samurai as it is of the period in history.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Bein starts with a bit of a lesson on Japanese pronunciation and spelling which really drew me into the story. It really helped me to understand what was written and made me really want to learn Japanese. I found this book was much more balanced between past and present and a much more enjoyable read. I love Mariko. She is tenacious, honourable and very, very kick-ass. My kind of heroine.


That is all for me for this week. I hope you all have something enjoyable to read and until next week happy reading.





Unseemly Science
The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire
Angry Robot Books, May 5, 2015 (North America Print and ebook)
  May 7, 2015 (UK Print)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages
Cover Art by Will Staehle

Melanie's Week in Review - February 28, 2016
In the divided land of England, Elizabeth Barnabus has been living a double life – as both herself and as her brother, the private detective. Witnessing the brutal hanging of someone very close to her, Elizabeth resolves to throw the Bullet Catcher’s Handbook into the fire, and forget her past. If only it were that easy!

There is a new charitable organisation in town, run by some highly respectable women. But something doesn’t feel right to Elizabeth. Perhaps it is time for her fictional brother to come out of retirement for one last case? Her unstoppable curiosity leads her to a dark world of body-snatching, unseemly experimentation, politics and scandal. Never was it harder for a woman in a man’s world…

File Under: Fantasy



Disciple of the Wind
Fated Blades 3
Roc, March 1, 2016
Mass Market Paperback, 528 Pages
Trade Paperback and eBook, April 7, 2015
Cover Art by Chris McGrath

Melanie's Week in Review - February 28, 2016
Tokyo’s only female detective fights to keep her city safe in the third novel in the fantasy series that “combines the best parts of police procedurals, buddy-cop films, historical fantasy, and intrigue-laden adventure.”*

After a deadly terrorist attack in Tokyo, Detective Sergeant Mariko Oshiro urges her commanding officers to arrest an insane zealot who was just released from police custody. When her pleas fall on deaf ears, she loses her temper and then her badge.

Armed with only her cunning and her famed Inazuma blade, Mariko must work outside the system to stop the terrorist. But going rogue draws the attention of the Wind—an underground syndicate that has controlled Japanese politics for centuries, using mystical relics to achieve their nefarious ends.

Now, Mariko is left with a perilous choice: join an illicit insurgency to thwart a deadly villain, or remain true to the law. Either way, she cannot escape her sword’s curse. As sure as the blade will bring her to victory, it also promises to destroy her…

Melanie's Week in Review - February 21, 2016


Melanie's Week in Review  - February 21, 2016


Sorry folks for missing last week especially as it was Valentine's Day and you missed finding out who my paperback valentine was.  Unfortunately, now you will have to wait until February 14th, 2021 to find out!


Melanie's Week in Review  - February 21, 2016
I was very surprised and thrilled to be contacted by Penner Publishing to ask if I wanted an e-Arc of Pawn of the Phoenix which is the second in Jamie McLachlan's The Memory Collector series. This came out of the blue and a nice January surprise. Yes, January! If you can believe it I gobbled this book up a few weeks ago and then had seemingly convinced myself I had written the review! It wasn't until the very helpful Qwill confirmed that I hadn't.

Book 2 starts immediately after the ending of book 1 - Mind of the Phoenix - and when I say starts it actually reads more like a continuation with both books seamlessly flowing into each other. If you want a recap of what I thought here is my review of book 1. In this is instalment there are more deaths at the hands of The Phoenix and Moira and Detective Keenan Edwards are no closer to finding out who the mysterious killer is. As they continue their investigation Moira's attraction to the reclusive detective continues to grow. However, when she uncovers a secret in the Detective's past she threatens to unravel, not only their relationship but the noble detective himself. This is just one thread however, in the Pawn of the Phoenix. Before Edwards' life starts to unravel he starts to suspect that Moira may have been The Phoenix's first victim and the reason why she killed her previous owner. Locked away in her mind could be the identity of the murderer they have been trying to find all this time. Uncovering the truth could destroy them all.

I enjoyed this second instalment but perhaps not quite as much as the first. Moira is an engaging character but I didn't feel that she acted with much common sense in certain parts of the book. It was also a lot more sexy which I didn't really feel added to the story. As a victim of so much abuse I thought it was odd that Moira would use such a flimsy excuse to throw herself into harms way and for no other reason than to make Keenan jealous. The story did have a good pace and Keenan's revelation was dramatic indeed. And the ending!!! What a shocker! Bring on book 3. I can hardly wait.


Melanie's Week in Review  - February 21, 2016
My journey to my next read was an interesting one. I received The Custodian of Marvels by Rod Duncan and after page 2 I discovered that it was the final book of a trilogy. I did what I don't normally do - I went back and started from the beginning with The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter. The story starts by introducing us to Elizabeth Barnabas who is eeking out a meagre existence in hiding from the Duke of Northampton who wants her for his plaything. Elizabeth is a private detective in this alternative England that despite being set in the 21st century could be taken for the late 1800's. Elizabeth's case is to find a missing aristocrat which leads her to join a travelling circus. Having grown up in the circus this was a life that Elizabeth was used to but when she comes under the watchful eye of the Patent Office then life starts to become all the more dangerous for the young PI.

Let me start by saying this is a FANTASTIC read. I really enjoyed Duncan's interesting and complex version of England with its bureaucracy and strict class structure. Each chapter starts with a quote from the Bullet Catcher's Handbook which were as interesting as some of the developments in the plot. Elizabeth is a great character who could think on her feet and stick up for herself. The Patent Office was the perfect sinister character, shrouded in mystery, and not just a law unto itself but the law of the land. Overall, great characters, superior world building and a solid plot. My favourite kind of book. Be sure to check out next week to see what I thought of book 2 - Unseemly Science.


Until then, Happy Reading!





Pawn of the Phoenix
The Memory Collector 2
Penner Publishing, February 9, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 234 pages

Melanie's Week in Review  - February 21, 2016
Braxton, 1903

The serial killer known only as the Phoenix continues to roam the streets and a new victim falls prey. For Moira and Detective Keenan Edwards, still on the hunt for the Phoenix, the rules have changed. The killer remains beyond their grasp.

Moira is willing to give into her fierce attraction to Keenan. However, the detective proves to be more reluctant despite a moment of heated passion. Then discovery of a secret Keenan never planned to share creates an unwelcome rift between the new lovers.

Keenan isn’t the only one hiding something. In this continuation of the Memory Collector series, Moira makes a startling disclosure about her past. This revelation will not only test the boundaries of love, but might also prove to be the clue that will finally unravel the mystery of the Phoenix.




The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter
The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire 1
Angry Robot Books, August 26, 2014 (North America Print and ebook)
  September 4, 2014 (UK Print)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages
Cover Art by Will Staehle

Melanie's Week in Review  - February 21, 2016
Elizabeth Barnabus lives a double life – as herself and as her brother, the private detective. She is trying to solve the mystery of a disappearing aristocrat and a hoard of arcane machines. In her way stand the rogues, freaks and self-proclaimed alchemists of a travelling circus.

But when she comes up against an agent of the all-powerful Patent Office, her life and the course of history will begin to change. And not necessarily for the better…

File Under: Fantasy

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