Sunday, November 04, 2018

Melanie's Month in Review - October 2018

Well hello again. Lots has happened since my last post. First I had a super fantastic holiday in Nova Scotia visiting my sister. It is a beautiful part of Canada and if you ever get the chance to go try out October when the autumn colours are all out. Usually holidays aren't always a time when I read a lot but I was visiting my sister who reads more than I do so I got through some really good books. So let me tell you all about them.

So I have read quite a bit this month so hold on for a loooonnng post. First up is a nice short story - Dragon's Claw by Karen Chance. This is a Dorina Basarab story and set just after the events of Shadow's Bane. When a bunch of vampires end up dead Dorina reluctantly ends up investigating. She winds up with her faithful vamp follower - Ray - in an alternative/magical Hong Kong chasing a killer of killers through the mayhem of the magically enhanced streets. If she loses it means the end of all vampires and a shift in the war with the Dark Circle.

I enjoy the Dorina Basarab series, much more than the Cassie Palmer books and for this very reason - Dory has a job to do and she does it. She isn't busy swooning over Pritkin or Mircea...she just gets on with it. Chance hasn't written very many short stories in this world so it was a real treat that there was one and so soon after the release of a main instalment. It ends rather abruptly and more action packed than character based but for fans of the series, this is a nice diversion.

For my flights to and from Canada I needed a book that didn't require a lot of concentration or a complicated plot and so I turned to Clash of Storms by Bec McMaster. I read book 1 of this series - Legends of the Storm and really didn't think I would continue but took another chance.

This instalment centres on Malin - the half dreki who has led her life in the shadows - neither full dreki or full human. The dreki warrior Sirius Blackfrost isn't very happy to discover that a half dreki is his fated mate and he can't let on, especially to the Queen who will take advantage of this news. All Malin wants to do is help her princess escape a loveless marriage but with Blackfrost on her tail it might not go as planned. Fated to be parted but destined to be together.

Clash of Storms was pretty much your standard fantasy romance fare. Malin and Sirius were the opposites that attract - the weakling and the warrior all in a race against time with a uber baddie trying to keep them apart. I didn't miss much by not reading book 2 and was rather disappointed that there seems to be a book 4 coming up. If you really like this genre or need something mind numbing to read then give it a go. A bit weak for a McMaster romance in my view.

I discovered that the lovely Qwill had sent me the ebook of The Amiestrin Gambit by J. Kathleen Cheney and I had yet to read it. Lucky for me I discovered this while on holiday that encouraged reading. For those of you who don't/haven't read my posts I LOVED Cheney's Dreaming Death. While I waited for the next instalment I thought I would tuck into The King's Daughter series.

As the name suggests Ellis Dantreon is the king's daughter but not a beloved one. She has lived, on her own, sequestered on an estate far away from the palace....virtually abandoned by both her parents. No one is more surprised than Ellis when the king decrees that she trains as a soldier. Her home turns into a barracks for the next few years as she trains to become what her father wants her to be. New friends and more importantly enemies await Ellis as she starts her new life as a soldier.

The Amiestrin Gambit wasn't the only book of this series that I read in October. I also quickly plowed through books 2 and 3 - The Passing of Pawns and The Black Queen. I have to admit I wasn't sure about The Amiestrin Gambit. I had no clue what was going on for the first several chapters as names were very similar, the magical powers were unexplained and races/relationships were hidden away at the back of the book. However, books 2 and 3 were 'unputdownable'. I liked Ellis as a character. She was resilient and strong without being a warrior or hero. She is supported by an interesting cast of characters, some with magical powers and some without. My favourite character, apart from Ellis, was Grandfather who was actually a woman....sort of.....not going to say anymore so that you can find out for yourself. Each book builds an individual story that starts the weave of the plot for the next book. Book 1 focuses on Ellis in her first year of training to become a soldier. She isn't quite old enough to be a full soldier but trains with the men who have been stationed at her estate. Ellis and friends uncover a nefarious organisation of magically gifted people that hope to topple the power structure. They can take the shape of anyone at anytime, putting both Ellis and her friends at risk. The Passing of Pawns continues immediately after book 1 with Ellis's training and the plot by the separatists. As Ellis matures, a sort of love triangle has developed between Llelas (the soon to be Duke of Sandrine) and Captain Carmeyon Dantreon which adds another layer onto the plot arc. By book 3 - The Black Queen - this is more fully established and at this point Ellis is one of the King's guards. Her mother, who abandoned her when she was only 5, is back in town along with her brother who she had never met. The backstory of the Queen's abandonment of her only daughter is told alongside the continuation of the overarching plot. This is probably the best book of the series so far and I am looking forward to find out what happens next. Certain characters, who are quite prominent in one book do not feature in the next which worked well with the chronology of the overall plotline and made it more credible. If you enjoy fantasy or are a fan of Cheney's then these are a must read.

Cheney has a definite writing 'voice'. Her female leads tend to be young, experience great hardship and persevere, yet supported by very slightly older, more magical male characters. There is no expectation that the man comes into save the day but the male characters are definitely there for backup and Ellis sometimes needs it. Cheney has serialised book 4 - Knight & Nightrider - on her website (in draft form). I did vow to myself that I wasn't going to read another free serialised book as I have found recently that there can be too much angst tied into a weekly freebie. I have however, read the first 10 chapters that have been released. I think I am enjoying them because there is no expectation as to when a new chapter will be released which means I am not disappointed if one doesn't arrive 'on time'. Cheney also releases chapters of the Dreaming Palace series in a 'pay to read' type arrangement whereby you basically pay a subscription to read chapters early. I haven't signed up for this but thought it was an interesting alternative to waiting for the full book to be released.

That is all I am going to leave you with for this month. I hope you had a great month of super fantastic reads and I look forward to telling you what I read in a few weeks time. Until then Happy Reading.

Dragon's Claw
A Dorina Basarab Novella
Smashwords, Inc., September 2, 2018
eBook, 170 pages
  Also available in Paperback

A new novella in the New York Times bestselling Midnight's Daughter series!

Everyone knows that vampires are hard to kill. But when Dory Basarab is called to a crime scene in a smelly basement in Queens, she discovers that that may no longer be the case. Somebody has developed a new weapon, a vamp killer, and left her plenty of clues to follow. One of them leads her to the other side of the world, and to a city like no other, where the paranormal is normal and where death stalks the streets. Can she defeat a clever killer before he kills again, and on an unprecedented scale?

Clash of Storms
Legends of the Storms 3
Lochaber Press, September 11, 2018
eBook, 366 pages

The old eddas speak of dreki—fabled creatures who haunt the depths of Iceland's volcanoes and steal away fair maidens.

Malin wants none of such myths. As a half-blood dreki, she's beneath the notice of the arrogant warriors who rule the skies—except for Sirius Blackfrost, the most ruthless dreki within the court. This dark prince watches her every move, but he's more villain than hero, and in her favourite fairy tales the servant never earns the prince's heart. But is there something more to the look in the Blackfrost's eyes?

To love her would be to curse her to a fate worse than death...

The second he saw her, Sirius knew her for his fated mate. But Malin is a nobody in the dreki court and her very presence is a threat to the queen's ambitions for him. Forced to hide the truth and accept the match his queen has made for him—to mate with the princess Malin serves— he dares not reveal his heart.

But when the princess flees, he must find her—and his only clue is Malin, who aims to thwart him at every step. With danger surrounding them, they must forge a truce. But can Malin ever give this wicked prince her heart? Because, while Sirius's kiss burns through her like lightning, to love him would be to defy the stars themselves…

Join USA Today bestselling author, Bec McMaster, on a seductive journey through a mythic land, with a wicked prince who's never played the hero, a servant girl with a fate larger than she can believe, and an evil queen who threatens to tear them apart. Download this epic historical fantasy filled with magic and breathtaking romance today!

Don’t miss any of the Legends of the Storm books!

Book 1:
Heart of Fire
Book 2: Storm of Desire
Book 3: Clash of Storms
Book 4: Daughter of Storms (featuring Tormund)

The Amiestrin Gambit
The King's Daughter 1
Dream Palace Press, May 1, 2018
eBook, 384 pages
  Also available in Trade Paperback

Ellis Dantreon is barely fifteen when she learns that her father–the king of Jenear–has decreed that she’s to be trained as a soldier. Thrust in among the others at the newly reopened War College of Amiestrin, Ellis must earn the other cadets’ respect and trust. Not all of them are pleased at having a girl among them. Ellis has to choose which ones to trust, sometimes pushing back against her instructors’ urging as she does.

But most of all, she must deal with a world far wider than the one she’s known. That world will shape her future, for the Gifted whom her meager staff have always considered myths prove to be very real indeed. Those people want very much to influence the course of a future Jenear. When it comes time for her young brother to take the throne, the Seers among them believe that Ellis will decide whether her younger brother lives or dies, or if he’ll be replaced by another claimant to the throne altogether.

And hiding among the cadets and staff, some of those Gifted have arrived at Amiestrin…

The Passing of Pawns
The King's Daughter 2
Dream Palace Press, June 14, 2018
eBook, 265 pages
  Also available in Trade Paperback

Ellis Dantreon is sixteen now. For the last year she’s worked to make a place for herself among the first class of cadets at the War College of Amiestrin. It’s been a struggle, but she feels they’ve begun to accept her. But a plot that would have put Ellis’ very life in danger unravels, and it seems that the Separatists may have been behind it.

Ellis has to decide quickly where she’ll place her trust. Are the Separatists trying to remove her from the line of succession? Or trying to frighten her into joining their cause? In the end, will friendships prove stronger than family?

And will the Gifted be able to get to the truth of the plot?

The Black Queen
The King's Daughter 3
Dream Palace Press, July 31, 2018
eBook, 466 pages
  Also available in Trade Paperback

When Ellis Dantreon's father ordered her to become a soldier, she became the only female at the war college. Now she’s graduated and has taken her place guarding the king. But the country Seers are still predicting a terrible possibility—that she might end up marrying the Duke of Perisen, Anton Marisi.

And if she does, she probably won’t live long. Nor will her brother, Prince Kerris.

Ellis is baffled by the prediction. She’s never even spoken to the man. She certainly has no intention of allowing him to court her if she does meet him. But when another woman pretends to be her, Ellis realizes how easy it would be for that marriage to happen after all.

Now Ellis has to gather all the help she can to stave off that possibility. Unfortunately, she has an added challenge: her mother, the Queen of Jenear, has come to Verina.


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