Sunday, November 29, 2015

Melanie's Week in Review - November 29, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends and readers of this post. I hope you all had a wonderful day and lovely, delicious meals with friends and family. I need to get myself invited to someone's house for Thanksgiving as I miss pumpkin pie as it really isn't a British dessert. Feel free to send me one in the post. Anyway back to books.  What did I read?

You may remember a few weeks ago that I had started Raptor which is the 6th book in Lindsay Buroker's Dragon Blood series. In this instalment Lieutenant Caslin Ahn feels that she should be punished rather than praised for the events at the end of book 5. The last thing she wants to do  is pick up the soulblade that ended her friend's life. On the command of the King Ahn has no alternative but to pick up the evil sword to defend her friends and country. Will she survive....will they survive? well you will have to read it to find out.

I have been rather disappointed with the later books in this series as the dialogue between some of the characters has been too flippant and 'kooky' which hasn't been consistent with the plotline or the environment. Raptor slightly improves but not until much later in the story. I had been struggling to get back in the plot and found the story a bit slow moving at first. It was still slower than I would have liked but did pick up towards the end with a bit of a cliff hanger. Luckily the series finishes soon with the release of the final book in a few weeks.

In an attempt to tidy up my NetGalley shelves I realised that I hadn't yet finished Sorcerer to the Crown (Sorcerer Royal 1) by Zen Cho. This is one of books from September's Debut Author Challenge and I had been remiss in reading it in time for that. I really enjoyed this story and thought that Cho got the balance between story and characterisation just about right. Cho explores a few key themes throughout the story but it mainly centers on discrimination - discrimination based on race and discrimination based on sex. Zacharias Wythe is the rightful Sorcerer Royal but his fellow sorcerers don't believe he deserves the position as he is black and a former slave. The other main character, Prunella discovers she has magical powers but isn't allowed to reveal them as she is a woman. Set in the late 1800's women are far too delicate to be considered strong enough to wield any magic more powerful than what is required to make sure that dinner is cooked properly or the linens are well laundered.

I found this an enjoyable read even though the plot was a bit slow in parts. I think that Cho could have spent a little less time setting up Zacharias at the beginning of the story and more time developing his relationship with the other sorcerers towards the end of the story. Overall, this was as an excellent debut novel and I am looking forward to reading more of this series. (You may read an interview with Zen Cho here.)

Finally, a couple of short stories to finish off my week. I chose this book from my Amazon recommendations - Beneath a Waning Moon: a Duo of Gothic Romances. I am not the biggest fan of Elizabeth Hunter but I have enjoyed Grace Draven's novels. I was also inexplicably drawn to the cover. I loved the woman's long flowing gown and the way the folds ripple and cascade down the steps. I thought it was rather painterly.

There are two short stories - The Very Proper Monster by Elizabeth Hunter which tells the story of Josephine Shaw who is full of live and energy yet, dying of tuberculosis. Everything changes when she marries Tom Dargin, a vampire unbeknownst to her, to save her father's legacy. This a good old fashioned story of how love comes in the most unsuspecting forms and and the most unsuspecting times.

Story 2 - Gaslight Hades has hints of Jane Austen's Persuasion to it but this time the Captain Frederick Wentworth character is a monster - the soul of one man in the body of another. Nathaniel Gorden thought his life had been reduced to guarding Highgate cemetery until one day his lost love Lenore Kenward strolls back into his life. Once dead, now Nathanial is very much alive and so is his love of Lenore.

Short stories need only short reviews (in my humble opinion). Hunter's short story can only be described as 'twee'. Josephine was fairly one dimensional and I felt Tom was a bit of a whiner. I ended up skipping some pages at the end. Draven's story had much more depth to it and I liked both of the lead characters. Not an unpleasant end to the week but just a teeny tiny bit dull.

That is all for me this week. I hope you all have a great week ahead and Happy Reading.

Dragon Blood 6
Lindsay Buroker, October 27, 2015
eBook, 354 pages

Responsible for her friend’s death, Lieutenant Caslin Ahn wants nothing more than to be left alone. She no longer deserves the company of comrades or the fulfillment she felt as a Wolf Squadron fighter pilot. But a summons from the king leaves her with no choice but to rejoin her teammates. An ancient evil has been unleashed, bringing death and destruction to the nation, and they are the only ones with a chance of stopping it.

Dragon Blood 6 brings back Cas, Tolemek, Ridge, Sardelle, Kaika, and Tylie, as well as her dragon, for a new epic fantasy adventure.

Sorcerer to the Crown
Sorcerer Royal 1
Ace, September 1, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages

In this sparkling debut, magic and mayhem clash with the British elite…

The Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers, one of the most respected organizations throughout all of England, has long been tasked with maintaining magic within His Majesty’s lands. But lately, the once proper institute has fallen into disgrace, naming an altogether unsuitable gentleman—a freed slave who doesn’t even have a familiar—as their Sorcerer Royal, and allowing England’s once profuse stores of magic to slowly bleed dry. At least they haven’t stooped so low as to allow women to practice what is obviously a man’s profession…

At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers and eminently proficient magician, ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up. But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large…

Beneath a Waning Moon: A Duo of Gothic Romances
Hunter/Draven, September 29, 2015 (eBook)
CreateSpace, October 20, 2015 (Trade Paperback)

Two delightfully dark tales of Gothic romance from Elizabeth Hunter and Grace Draven.

In A VERY PROPER MONSTER, Josephine Shaw spends long nights filling the pages of her Gothic stories with the fantastic and the macabre, unaware that the suitor her father has arranged is one of the dark creatures she’s always dreamed. For Tom Dargin, courting an ailing spinster was only one duty in a long life of service to his sire. But after he meets the curious Miss Shaw, will Tom become the seducer or the seduced? Can a love fated to end in tragedy survive a looming grave?

In GASLIGHT HADES, Nathaniel Gordon walks two worlds—that of the living and the dead. Barely human, he's earned the reputation of a Bonekeeper, the scourge of grave robbers. He believes his old life over, until one dreary burial he meets the woman he once loved and almost married. Lenore Kenward stands at her father’s grave, begging the protection of the mysterious guardian, not knowing he is her lost love. Resolved to keep his distance, Nathaniel is forced to abandon his plan and accompany Lenore on a journey into the mouth of Hell where sea meets sky, and the abominations that exist beyond its barrier wait to destroy them.


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