Sunday, December 02, 2018

Melanie’s Month in Review - November 2018

Well hello again.  I can’t believe another month has passed me by and that there are only a few more weeks left in 2018! Does time really fly? Or at least it seems to. Well I won’t delay any further and let you know what I have been reading.

So I am going to start this post with a song...lucky for you that you will be reading it rather than listening to me sing! This was one of my favourite songs from Sesame Street. I am not sure they still sing it but here is the first verse and then by the end let’s see if you can figure out why I have been singing it in my head throughout November!

One of these things is not like the others
One of these things just doesn't belong
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?

The first book I am going to tell you about is Cogheart, the first in the Cogheart Adventures by Peter Bunzl. Set in a clockwork England, Lily’s life has been turned upside down when her father - the renowned inventor of automatons and other mechanical inventions - has gone missing. Lily finds herself on the run from the very men that caused her father’s disappearance. Luckily for Lily she is joined on her dangerous adventure by the son of the local clockmaker and her father’s mechanical fox Malkin. Together they take a hair raising trip across the country to find her father and save the day.

This is the perfect book for 8-12 year olds. It has adventure, humour, cool clockwork automatons and a mystery to solve. There is a murder of one of the secondary characters so if the reader is especially sensitive then maybe skip by this one scene. Otherwise, it has the correct pitch for a younger reader and pace. It is however a tad long, even for an alleged grown up reader such as myself! This would be a great gift for a girls as Lily is a strong and brave female lead.

Brandon Sanderson’s new series - Skyward (the first instalment is of the same name) is set in space on a near barren planet where the remainder of humanity have been trapped. They are under constant attack by an alien race called the Krell. The teenager Spensa has spent her young life in the shadow of her father’s life. He was a fighter pilot and a hero until during one battle he fled was killed by his squadron and branded a coward. Spensa and her family suffered with the stigma of father’s cowardice yet she wants nothing more than to follow him into the skies. As luck turns out Spensa is given the opportunity to learn how to be a fighter pilot and prove her father wasn't a coward. When she discovers an abandoned ship buried in a cave she knows that this ship, a sentient ship no less, is her escape and her way to see the stars.

Sanderson’s fantastic imagination is evident in his description of the debris laden planet Detritus. He does borrow from human folklore, history and literature as a frame of reference for the teenage Spensa - she wants to be a warrior like Boudicca or Genghis Khan. She acts in almost every way like typical teenager - impulsive, quick to temper, a bit self-centered. I did have to keep reminding myself that Spensa was a teenager every time she did something impetuous or immature....which was quite often. I found her a bit irritating towards the end. While Skyward is aimed for the younger reader the pace was a bit slow in parts and it was quite long. At a guess 80% of the story sets up the last few chapters and that is why I felt it dragged along. While I am unlikely to continue with this series because of the pace I would still recommend it for young adults.

Diamond Fire, by Ilona Andrews is a novella set in the Hidden Legacy world. Nevada Baylor and Connor Rogan are about to get married and her sisters Catalina and Arabella have taken responsibility for organising the wedding.  No mean feat especially when the extremely valuable diamond tiara, handed down by Connor’s mother, has gone missing and someone has poisoned the wedding cake. Catalina is tasked with not only ensuring the bride makes it down the aisle but also to figure out who has stolen the tiara, get it back and all without Nevada finding out.

I enjoyed this novella and enjoyed the development of Catalina as a character. I even bought the Audible version (preferred the narrator for this one). I don’t want to say too much other than if you enjoy the series then don’t miss out on Diamond Fire.

The final books I am going to tell you about are The Horn trilogy by J. Kathleen Cheney. I have only shown one of the book covers Oathbreaker (all covers below), but in fact I read all three including Original and Overseer. This series is set in the same world as Dreaming Death where families live in underground fortresses and the children grow up and marry into their own age groups. Oathbreaker focuses on Amal Horn who is the leader of the Horn fortress and what happens when her year group - the twenty-sevens -  come across a stranger who is searching for the long ago abandoned Salonen fortress. If the fortress falls into the wrong hands it might have to be destroyed. The stranger Daylan upsets the close knit Horn community not just by being there but what he represents. Book 2 - Original is told more from Daylan's perspective and the Horn's plan to find the Salonen fortress. By this novel Amal and Daylan are a couple and part of the plot centres on their relationship and what it means for the community. It's not until Overseer that the lost fortress even features as a mainstay of the plot. Daylan's 'relatives' turn up at the Horn fortress and it is clear how far the Cince (the enemy) are prepared to go to get their hands on the Salonen fortress.

I enjoyed these novels for the most part but the characters aren't as interesting as those in Cheney's other novels. They are a quick and easy reads and I had the whole series finished in just a few days. The abandoned fortress - according to the description  - doesn't really feature until the end of book 3 which I thought was a bit odd. The series is really more about the love story between Daylan and Amal. If you need something to read then give The Horn trilogy a go, but see my reviews of Cheney's other novels too.

Well that is it for me for November. Have you guess why I have been singing songs from Sesame Street? Can you tell which book is not like the others?  Leave me a comment with your guess. Until December Happy Reading!

Cogheart Trilogy 1
Jolly Fish Press, February 12, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 368
  8 - 12 Years
  (Published in the UK by Usborne, Sept. 1, 2016)

Thirteen-year-old Lily Harman always dreamed of adventure. A strong-willed girl, Lily felt trapped in a life of Victorian stuffiness at her prim boarding school. But after her father-a famous inventor-disappears on a routine zeppelin flight, Lily's life gets turned upside down.

Now cared for by her guardian, the heartless Madame Verdigris, Lily is quite certain that she's being watched. Mysterious, silver-eyed men are lurking in the shadows, just waiting for their chance to strike. But what could they possibly want from her?

There are rumors, Lily learns, that her father had invented the most valuable invention ever made-a perpetual motion machine. But if he made such a miraculous discovery, he certainly never told Lily. And all he left behind is a small box-with no key, no hinges.

With the help of a clockmaker's son, Robert, and her mechanimal fox, Malkin, Lily escapes London in search of the one person who might know something about her father's disappearance-and what he left behind.

Skyward 1
Delacorte Press, November 6, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 528 pages
  Young Adult (Ages 12 and Up, Grades 7 and Up)

From Brandon Sanderson, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Reckoners series, Words of Radiance, and the internationally bestselling Mistborn series, comes the first book in an epic new series about a girl who dreams of becoming a pilot in a dangerous world at war for humanity’s future.

Spensa’s world has been under attack for decades. Now pilots are the heroes of what’s left of the human race, and becoming one has always been Spensa’s dream. Since she was a little girl, she has imagined soaring skyward and proving her bravery. But her fate is intertwined with her father’s–a pilot himself who was killed years ago when he abruptly deserted his team, leaving Spensa’s chances of attending flight school at slim to none.

No one will let Spensa forget what her father did, yet fate works in mysterious ways. Flight school might be a long shot, but she is determined to fly. And an accidental discovery in a long-forgotten cavern might just provide her with a way to claim the stars.

Diamond Fire
A Hidden Legacy Novella
Avon Impulse, November 6, 2018
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 160 pages

Nevada Frida Baylor and Connor Ander Rogan cordially invite you to join their wedding celebration. Summoning, weather manipulation, and other magical activities strictly forbidden.

Catalina Baylor is looking forward to wearing her maid of honor dress and watching her older sister walk down the aisle.  Then the wedding planner gets escorted off the premises, the bride’s priceless tiara disappears, and Rogan's extensive family overruns his mother’s home. Someone is cheating, someone is lying, and someone is plotting murder.

To make this wedding happen, Catalina will have to do the thing she fears most: use her magic. But she’s a Baylor and there’s nothing she wouldn't do for her sister's happiness. Nevada will have her fairy tale wedding, even if Catalina has to tear the mansion apart brick by brick to get it done.

The Horn 1
EQP Books (December 12, 2016)
eBook, 326 pages
  Also available in Trade Paperback

The chief of the Oathbreakers, Amal Horn is one of only a handful of people aware of the true power the abandoned underground Fortress of Salonen holds. The Cince Empire wants its secrets, though, and will do anything to get someone inside. When the Horn find a stranger trespassing on the glacier below it, they realize the Cince have formulated a new plan of attack. Now the Horn Family must decide whether to wake the sleeping Fortress so it can defend itself against the Cince…or kill it forever.

Horn 2
EQP Books, April 27, 2017
eBook, 268
  Also available in Trade Paperback

Amal, Lady Horn, has always been called rash. She makes decisions far too quickly for the elders of the Horn Family. Bringing home a mysterious foreigner—one who has ties to her people’s ancient enemies, the Cince—is bad enough, but now she’s taken him as her lover. She might even want more from him.

Dalyan is an Original, a copy of a man long dead. The elders of the Horn Family thought they could use his singular knowledge to resurrect an ancient Fortress, a sentient underground city long abandoned by its people. But when Dalyan can’t access the memoires of the man from whom he’s copied, the elders begin to ask whether he’s an unfortunate liability instead. For Amal’s sake, Dalyan is determined to prove them wrong.

Together Amal and Dalyan work to build a coalition to raise the hidden Fortress, but they’ll need the help of Amal’s friends, of the Oathbreakers spread across the country, and—if possible—the king himself.

The Horn 3
EQP Books, October 19, 2017
eBook, 328 pages
  Also available in Trade Paperback

Those who hold the secrets of the Fortresses can remake the world...

A new player has arrived at Horn Keep, and it’s up to Amal to decide whether he’s the key to keeping her people safe, or the threat they’ve feared the most. Aulis is, like Dalyan, a version of the same long-dead engineer, a Founder of the Salonen Fortress. That alone should make him worth keeping alive.

But he’s served the Cince Empire for almost two decades, the very people who want to steal Salonen Fortress. Now Amal is faced with the task of deciding whether he’s even capable of telling the truth, whether he can lie to Dalyan. The question is…are they the same man or not?

And is buying Aulis’ loyalty worth the risk of giving him the one thing he wants more than life itself? It’s within Amal’s power, but she knows that doing so will forever change her people’s world…

1 comment:

  1. They all look good to me. I really want to catch up on my Ilona Andrews books.
    sherry @ fundinmental