Thursday, September 12, 2019

Melanie's Month in Review - August 2019

Apologies reader for my tardiness posting my August month in review. I had it all planned. I was going to have my post written so that it was ready to go up last weekend. Work however, interrupted my carefully laid plan and here we are partway into September and I haven't yet told you about all the great books I read in August.

I have to say that I ended the summer with a couple of excellent books. One has even made it onto my fave books of all time! Pssst....and it's a debut! So what did I read?

I will start with books I listened to. First up is Ben Aaranovitch's The October Man which is a novella in the Rivers of London series but not starring my favourite member of magic police Peter Grant. Instead, Aaronovitch stages the story in Germany with Tobias Winter investigating a recent grizzly murder by magic. Set in Trier, a former Roman city and famous for its wine, Tobias needs to find out why a man was found dead covered in a fungal rot. Not just any fungus but one used in the making of a special vintage of wine. Tobias is joined by a local cop,Vanessa Sommer, and together they need to find out who is killing these men and why. Little do they know that the city's bloody history forms the backdrop for the murders. Unlike a well-aged wine time is not on their side.

I thoroughly enjoyed The October Man and am really glad I chose to listen to the audio version rather than read it as my sister read the book a week before me and said that she struggled with all the German names. The narrator Sam Peter Jackson really brought Tobias Winter to life and it was much easier to listen to the story with a 'easy to listen to' German accent than trying to read the English translation of German words. I thought the plot was engaging and really drew you in from the very start. For a novella it seemed much longer and I think that was down to the well developed plot. If you like this series then definitely give The October Man a go.

My second audiobook was The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden. As this was the last book of the trilogy and because I loved it soo much I wrote a full review. Check it out here.

Another series I finished was Michael McClung's Amra Thetys series with The Thief Who Went to War. In this final instalment Amra and Holgren are determined to destroy the final blade of the Blades of the Eightfold Goddess. Amra was left with a not so little reminder after her last encounter with one of the blades and is now an avatar for a goddess. Determined to find a way to destroy the final knife Amra returns to Lucernis for a showdown to end all showdowns...and possibly her life!

I only discovered this series by participating as a judge in the SPFBO two years ago and book 1, The Thief that Pulled on Trouble's Braids, had been the winner the year before. It has been 4 years between the final and penultimate books in the series so fans who were there from the start had quite a long wait to see how McClung would finish the series. While I liked this instalment it wasn't the best of the series and I think I might have been a tiny bit disappointed if I had waited 4 years to find out whether Amra and Holgren would make it. Amra has one too many lucky escapes for my liking and it was action, action, action from very early on in the book until the end. There wasn't as much character development as there had been in previous books. However, it's still a good series.

The final book I have to tell you about is Half Way Home by Hugh Howey. Set in the future where ships are sent out to colonise new planets with 500 vat grown humans on board. On the way to their eventual new home they are educated and trained in a specialism as they sleep. Midway through their development cycle the AI controlling their ship decides to start the abort sequence and only 60 teenagers manage to escape. Alone, scared and without all the skills they need to survive they have to rely on each other and the AI that almost killed them to survive. It's not long before they realise it's not just the inhospitable planet that they have landed on that is the biggest threat to their survival.

I loved Howey's Wool series so, in my opinion, it was going to be hard to follow those books. I didn't realise that when I requested Half Way Home from the publisher on NetGalley that it was originally released in 2010. It's a good book but it's not a great book and I found it quite predictable in parts. It is, however, quite short so a quick read if you are looking for some half decent science fiction.

Well that is it for me for August. I do have one more August book to share with you but I am planning on writing a full review so keep your eyes peeled to find out what book has made it onto my top reads ever. Sorry for being a tease! Happy Reading!

The October Man
A Rivers of London Novella
Subterranean Press, May 31, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 169 pages

With this long new novella, bestselling author Ben Aaronovitch has crafted yet another wickedly funny and surprisingly affecting chapter in his beloved Rivers of London series.

If you thought magic was confined to one country—think again.

Trier: famous for wine, Romans and being Germany’s oldest city.

When a man is found dead with his body impossibly covered in a fungal rot, the local authorities know they are out of their depth. But fortunately this is Germany, where there are procedures for everything.

Enter Tobias Winter, an investigator for the Abteilung KDA, the branch of the German Federal Criminal Police which handles the supernatural. His aim is to get in, deal with the problem, and get out with the minimum of fuss, personal danger and paperwork.

Together with frighteningly enthusiastic local cop, Vanessa Sommer, he quickly links the first victim to a group of ordinary middle aged men whose novel approach to their mid-life crisis may have reawakened a bloody conflict from a previous century.

As the rot spreads, literally, and the suspect list extends to people born before Frederick the Great, Tobias and Vanessa will need to find allies in some unexpected places.

And to solve the case they’ll have to unearth the secret magical history of a city that goes back two thousand years.

Presuming that history doesn’t kill them first.

Winter of the Witch
Winternight Trilogy 3
Del Rey, October 1, 2019
Trade Paperback, 400 pages
Hardcover, Audiobook, and eBook, January 8, 2019

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Following their adventures in The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower, Vasya and Morozko return in this stunning conclusion to the bestselling Winternight Trilogy, battling enemies mortal and magical to save both Russias, the seen and the unseen.

“A tale both intimate and epic, featuring a heroine whose harrowing and wondrous journey culminates in an emotionally resonant finale.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Vasilisa Petrovna is an unforgettable heroine determined to forge her own path. Her gifts and her courage have drawn the attention of Morozko, the winter-king, but it is too soon to know if this connection will prove a blessing or a curse.

Now Moscow has been struck by disaster. Its people are searching for answers—and for someone to blame. Vasya finds herself alone, beset on all sides. The Grand Prince is in a rage, choosing allies that will lead him on a path to war and ruin. A wicked demon returns, determined to spread chaos. Caught at the center of the conflict is Vasya, who finds the fate of two worlds resting on her shoulders. Her destiny uncertain, Vasya will uncover surprising truths about herself as she desperately tries to save Russia, Morozko, and the magical world she treasures. But she may not be able to save them all.

The Thief Who Went to War
Amra Thetys 5
eBook, August 10, 2019
Trade Paperback, July 30, 2019

After barely surviving the attentions of the Knife That Parts the Night, Amra and Holgren are determined to end the threat posed by the remaining sentient, powerful Blades of the Eightfold Goddess. They are willing to risk everything to win their secret war, but can they succeed when their adversaries are cunning, powerful beyond measure, and utterly ruthless? And even if they can, what will it cost them?

Half Way Home
Mariner Books, October 1, 2019
Hardcover, Trade Paperback and eBook, 240 pages

From the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of Wool and the Molly Fyde saga comes a story of teenage colonists marooned on a distant planet


Five hundred colonists have been sent across the stars to settle an alien planet. Vat-grown in a dream-like state, they are educated through simulations by an artificial intelligence and should awaken at thirty years old, fully-trained, and ready to tame the new world.

But fifteen years in, an explosion on their vessel kills most of the homesteaders and destroys the majority of their supplies. Worse yet, the sixty that awaken and escape the flames are only half-taught and possess the skills least useful for survival.

Naked and terrified, the teens stumble from their fiery baptism ill-prepared for the unfamiliar and harsh alien world around them. Though they attempt to work with the colony A.I. to build a home, tension and misery are rampant, escalating into battles for dominance.

Soon they find that their worst enemy isn’t the hostile environment, the A.I., or the blast that nearly killed them. Their greatest danger is each other.


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