Friday, January 04, 2019

Melanie's Month in Review - December 2018

I can't believe December has come and gone and we are now in 2019. I think time is flying at warp 9! Pretty soon it will be time to tell you what I read in January. I am a bit tardy with this post as too much merriment over the holidays meant that I didn't have time to write this when I thought I would.  I did however, manage to read a couple of good books so lets get to it!

First up is Genevieve Cogman's The Mortal Word which is the 5th instalment in her Invisible Library series. Irene is enjoying her new life - stealing books for the Library, helping her friend - the great detective Peregrine Vale and enjoying the company of her former apprentice/hunky dragon prince Kai. After almost dying at the hands of the evil Alberich things are looking up...well almost.

After centuries of fighting the Fae and the Dragons are going to make peace and the Library have been asked to mediate the summit where the historial peace treaty is due to be signed. When one of the Dragon delegation is found murdered Irene and the Great Detective are brought in to steal a book and solve the case. Sounds easy? It never is. Irene and friends are in a race against time to find the book, identify the murderer, get the treaty signed and not get killed in the process.

I do love this series, as who doesn't want to work for an invisible library that has portals to alternative worlds? Also, Irene is a great female lead and barely ever needs Kai or Vale to rescue her. However, I was a bit hesitant about reading book 5 as I didn't love book 4 - The Lost Plot. In my opinion, The Mortal Word is a stronger book than its predecessor as I felt the plot picked up elements of the 'Alberich' plot arc and used them effectively. Alberich has a small part to play in the nefarious happenings at the peace summit that both develop Irene as a character and highlight the changes in the Library since he tried to destroy it back in book 3 - The Burning Page. Through the plot we get to learn more about the background and society of the Fae and Dragon races and of the Librarians which makes Cogman's world (or worlds) much more rich and interesting. The ending does feel like it is the actual ending of the story but I believe Cogman will be publishing more books in this series so more opportunities for Irene to get into trouble. Overall, this book was very entertaining as it had just about everything you need for a satisfying read - great characters, a good murder mystery (I only guess quite near the end who 'dunnit'), the right amount of action, and some humour.

I discovered in my trawl through Kindle recommendations that the next instalment of Bec McMaster's London Steampunk: The Blueblood Conspiracy  - To Catch a Rogue had been released. With their leader captured by the ultimate baddy - Balfour the Company of Rogues find themselves in the Crimson Court all the way in Russia. Joining them on this dangerous mission is Lark who we meet in the original London Steampunk series. She has been brought onto the mission by the Rogues' youngest member Charlie who broke her teenage heart and who was responsible for the death of her beloved caretaker - TinMan. Lark also has a few secrets to hide herself and the Crimson Court is the last place that she wants to be. Can she keep her secrets and help to save the Duke before it's too late?

You can't beat one of McMaster's London Steampunk series if you need something quick to read that has a distinct formula so know what to expect. The Company are down to their nearly final member to get teamed up in a 'I used to hate you now I love you' romance. This time it was Charlie who needed to be paired up with some romantic entanglements and the only other teenager who fit the bill was Lark. While Lark's secret past had some depth to it the romance with Charlie was a bit lacking. Both characters are in their late teens so all the 'heaving and throbbing' was a out of place with these virginal teens. If I was the Duke I wouldn't have been too happy that my captivity at the hands of my arch enemy was lengthened because Charlie and Lark had some serious flirting to do.  One of my fave characters from the previous series plays a part but I won't let it slip who that is. This is a bit of a filler story and I wonder if this is down, in part, to how many books McMaster releases in a single year. The story felt bitty and rushed. I hope that she spends more time with book 5 and impassive Duke Malloryn.

The final book I have to tell  you about is Todd McAulty's The Robots of Gotham. This has been sitting on my TBR for some time and I thought I needed to give it some space between it and the last book I read about robots taking over the world - Sea of Rust. These two books are nothing alike, luckily!

In McAulty's world sentient robots have taken over much of the world forming governments in some countries and as dictators in others. The US has been torn apart by the war of the machines with Manhattan annexed into a robot monarchy and other parts are under foreign rule. Barry Simcoe is in occupied Chicago when a rogue machine almost kills him and many others. This attack set of a chain of events that will change Barry forever. During the drama that unfolds following the robot attack Barry befriends a Russian medic in the Venezuelan military and a damaged robot 19 Black Winter. Barry unwittingly discovers a robot conspiracy to kill off the rest of humanity by releasing a deadly plague. Barry and his two new friends need to work together to stop this from happening and to try to uncover who is behind it all. It's an epic race against time for not just Barry but the rest of the humanity as well.

I am still a bit tired out from reading The Robots of Gotham as there is so much action and intrigue that I couldn't put it down. The chapters are rather long and filled with action and plot developments so it isn't an easy book to read while commuting. I would often find myself reading while walking down the street so I could get to a natural break in the plot....not easy especially when you are walking down busy London streets!

I loved Barry as a character and he is supported by a great cast of both human and robot companions. 19 Black Winter was hardly your typical robot so prepare yourself for his caustic sense of humor and witty responses to some of Barry's questions. Apart from Barry, I thought it was the non-human characters in this story that are the most interesting. Even though you know who the ultimate baddy is McAulty keeps you guessing until the very last pages to find out if Barry will save the day. It's tense! You have been warned. This was a great book and bit of a surprise how much I liked it. Looking forward reading more about Barry and hopefully 19 Black Winter.

That is all for me for 2018. I hope you enjoyed this post and the new format to my mini-reviews. Until the end of January, Happy Reading!

The Mortal Word
An Invisible Library Novel 5
Ace, November 27, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

In the latest novel in Genevieve Cogman’s historical fantasy series, the fate of worlds lies in the balance. When a dragon is murdered at a peace conference, time-travelling Librarian spy Irene must solve the case to keep the balance between order, chaos…and the Library.

When Irene returns to London after a relatively straightforward book theft in Vienna, Bradamant informs her that there is a top secret dragon-Fae peace conference in progress that the Library is mediating, but that the second-in-command dragon has been stabbed to death. Tasked with solving the case, Vale and Irene immediately go to 1890s Paris.

Once they arrive, it seems that the murder victim had uncovered evidence suggesting that he may have found proof of treachery by one or more Librarians. But to ensure the peace of the conference, some Librarians are already hostages in the dragon and Fae courts. To save the captives, including her parents, Irene must get to the bottom of this murder – but was it dragon, Fae, or even a Librarian who committed the crime?”

To Catch a Rouge
London Steampunk: The Blue Blood Conspiracy 4
Lochaber Press, October 30, 2018
eBook, 409 pages

An impossible heist. A thief and a rogue. But will she steal his heart, instead?

The Company of Rogues finally knows the identity of the mastermind behind a plot against the queen—but their enemy is still one step ahead of them. When he kidnaps one of theirs, the Rogues plan a daring rescue mission that will lead them into the heart of the bloodthirsty Crimson Court.

It's a job for a master thief, and there's nothing Charlie Todd likes more than a challenge. To pull off the impossible, Charlie needs a crew, including the only thief who's ever been able to outfox him.

He broke her heart. But now she must risk it all to save his life...

Lark's spent years trying to forget her past, but the one thing she can't ignore is the way a single smile from Charlie still sets her heart on fire. When he proposes they work together again, it feels just like old times, but she has one rule: this is strictly business.

It's Charlie's last chance to prove he can be trusted with her heart. But Lark's keeping a deadly secret. And as passions are stirred and the stakes mount, it might be the kind of secret that could destroy them all...

The Robots of Gotham
John Joseph Adams/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, June 19, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 688 pages
Trade Paperback, June 4, 2019

A thrilling adventure in a world one step away from total subjugation by machines.

After long years of war, the United States has sued for peace, yielding to a brutal coalition of nations ruled by fascist machines. One quarter of the country is under foreign occupation. Manhattan has been annexed by a weird robot monarchy, and in Tennessee, a permanent peace is being delicately negotiated between the battered remnants of the U.S. government and an envoy of implacable machines.

Canadian businessman Barry Simcoe arrives in occupied Chicago days before his hotel is attacked by a rogue war machine. In the aftermath, he meets a dedicated Russian medic with the occupying army, and 19 Black Winter, a badly damaged robot. Together they stumble on a machine conspiracy to unleash a horrific plague—and learn that the fabled American resistance is not as extinct as everyone believes. Simcoe races against time to prevent the extermination of all life on the continent . . . and uncover a secret that America’s machine conquerors are desperate to keep hidden.


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