Nothing happens. NOTHING HAPPENS. For dozens and dozens and dozens of pages. I think the entire book could’ve been shortened into a novella. Maybe LacNothing happens. NOTHING HAPPENS. For dozens and dozens and dozens of pages. I think the entire book could’ve been shortened into a novella. Maybe Lackey should’ve saved the page space she spent describing everything and preaching about the evils of industrialism and used it to, y’know, develop characters. Everyone is so one-dimensional. I kind of have the feeling that Lackey loves to live in her worlds. Everything is described so lovingly, especially the daily domestic routine. It is charming in its own way, but not anything I want right now and since I don’t want to know about the minutiae of being a country Elemental Master than it simply couldn't hold my interest. ...more
When I read Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell I found the idea excellent and the story itself mostly enjoyable but not brilliant. I really loved the wWhen I read Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell I found the idea excellent and the story itself mostly enjoyable but not brilliant. I really loved the world that Clarke created and I was hoping that these short stories would make it even richer.
Unfortunately, I found it all incredibly dull. Even when Jonathan Strange showed up in one of the stories - and I was a huge fan of Strange - I felt like it was a yawn.
I had no expectations for this book, which is the first of a series of 10. I thought for sure it would be terrible, but decided to stick it out nonethI had no expectations for this book, which is the first of a series of 10. I thought for sure it would be terrible, but decided to stick it out nonetheless. Was I ever wrong! It’s amazing.
Novak did an incredible job of making a very realistic alterna-19th century. Class and etiquette play very important roles, and this was more than just 21st century characters in 19th century costumes. It felt very true to the times. Except for the dragons. Because in this universe, there be dragons.
Captain Will Laurence captures a French ship with a dragon’s egg on it, and when the dragon (Temeraire) hatches it bonds to him. This transfers him from the Navy to the aerial corps, which is not something he ever wanted. But his love for Temeraire becomes a deep bond and he quickly realizes there’s nowhere else he’d rather be.
I loved the portrayal of the dragons (which read like hyper-intelligent dogs - loyal but strong-willed). And the whole imaginative world that Novak created. Plus, the fact that this historical fantasy felt more historically accurate than most historical fiction. AND the fact that it made me cry twice, although more often it heartened me. ...more
This took me a little bit to get into. It's a middle grade adventure story, which I seem to (unintentionally) be reading a lot of recently.
It's veryThis took me a little bit to get into. It's a middle grade adventure story, which I seem to (unintentionally) be reading a lot of recently.
It's very cleverly and imaginatively set in an alterna-Earth, where things took a turn for the weird in the 19th century. Darwin didn't just publish a theory of evolution in this timeline - he also discovered DNA and learned how to splice creatures together. In "Darwinist" countries like England, machines have been largely replaced with intricate gene-spliced creatures. The giant airship the Leviathan, for instance, is a whale. It's a whale ship. A skywhale. A skywhaleship. Crazy, hunh? Other countries have gone the more traditional steampunk route, with awesome mech and airships and the like. These are the "Clanker" countries.
In this timeline, World War I still breaks out and it still seems to be fought between the same countries. There's a new divide this time: like the Catholic v. Protestant battles of yore, this one's a fight between the Darwinists (the Allies) and the Clankers (the Central Powers).
The book follows Prince Aleksander, possible heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, whose parents' assassination is the spark that ignited the war (making Aleksander's parents Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife in our timeline). That makes Alex a Clanker. The book also follows Deryn Sharp, a Scottish girl who disguises herself as a boy to join the British airservice. So, she's a Darwinist. Both ultimately end up on the British airwhaleship the Leviathan (but not until pretty late in the book).
I will say that I found Alex's storyline much more interesting than Deryn's, mostly because I don't give a whit about what it's like to be in the British airservice, not even when it's on a giant airwhaleship. Alex, on the other hand, was running away from the people who killed his parents as well as dealing with their loss and the sudden responsibility it thrusts upon him.
The book reminded me a lot of The Floating Islands, except I didn't like it as much. The Floating Islands hooked me from the beginning and packed a bigger emotional punch, while Leviathan took me a while to get into. By the end, though, I was enjoying it and am looking forward to the next one.
This book does have some really amazing illustrations going for it. I think they were kind of key - it's really hard to actually visualize the Darwinist and Clanker creations without the drawings. Plus, the map of Europe inside the front cover? Genius....more
This book was cute and fun and amusing and a nice romp through alterna-Victorian London, but it was all just a bit too twee. It was a little manic inThis book was cute and fun and amusing and a nice romp through alterna-Victorian London, but it was all just a bit too twee. It was a little manic in its commitment to silliness.
Ever since I got through all the good Gothic Fiction my favorite genre du jour has become alterna-Victorian. There are disappointingly few good books in this genre so I'm always on the lookout for more. This book mostly fits. It has a fun take on Victorian London If Supernaturals Were Real and Acknowledged. Alexia was a lively heroine, being proper and forward at the same time, a combination I love (though we get that she is buxom and Italian). Making vampires have a hive culture is a nice touch and new (at least to me...I haven’t read about any vampire hive-queens before). And I liked Professor Lyall (the werewolf Beta), but then again I do have a thing for intelligent, proper, efficient men who have that whole exasperated-with-their-less-refined-superiors-yet-unflinchingly-loyal thing going for them.
The place where this book really fell down was the romance. I was all prepared to like Lord Maccon and his relationship with Alexia, but it was just too formulaic. Lord Maccon’s character is that he is a werewolf, Scottish, gruff and has a tendency to give Alexia hickeys any time the two of them are left alone. No depth, no spark, no swoon-worthiness.
There is a general tendency for characters besides Alexia to be flat caricatures. Lord Akeldama, for examples, was way too over-the-top. Like, fabulously foppish. Dial it down a bit, Carriger! We know he’s a gay vampire! No need to make him a cartoon.
And the Soulless thing is a clever idea not played well. Because there is no evidence beyond her powers that Alexia actually lacks a soul. She can love. She knows when hats are ugly (read: appreciates aesthetics). She acts exactly how a normal person would act. Either the soul means something different in alterna-London, or the other theories about what actually scientifically goes on with werewolves/vampires/ preternaturals is true and that the whole too much/too little soul theory is wrong.
Overall, I liked this book and am glad I read it. It's a nice break from all the heavy books I seem to be reading this year and occasionally it's fun to read such a frivolous, cheery book. However, I get the sense that this is the type of series that doesn't keep well and I assume I will dislike the sequels, so I’m just going to treat this as a stand-alone. ...more
I had an actual review of this one and then my computer ate it and I didn't notice for several months.
So what I mostly remember of this book is thatI had an actual review of this one and then my computer ate it and I didn't notice for several months.
So what I mostly remember of this book is that it felt more like a paranormal romance novel than any other genre, which is too bad because I found the romance lacking.
Six children destined to protect Victorian London appear. Nineteen years later a young Miss Percy Parker shows up all weird-like. The “leader” of London's supernatural protectors is a professor who falls in love with Percy, his student. Most of the other protectors don’t accept that Percy is their prophesied seventh member. A lot of silliness and melodrama ensues....more
The idea for this is smashing: Victorian fictional characters joining together to fight Victorian fictional monsIs Alan Moore ever less than intense?
The idea for this is smashing: Victorian fictional characters joining together to fight Victorian fictional monsters/villains, set in a steampunk 1898.
The League is comprised of: Mina the no-nonsense leader of this band of misfits; Allan Quartermain, the aging adventurer; Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, the famous split personality; Captain Nemo, the scientific genius and Nautilus captain; and Griffin; the invisible psychopath. It is an...interesting...group. Much more antihero (/straight-up villain for Griffin) than hero group.
I loved all the references (and respect those I didn't catch, thanks Wikipedia!). And the idea of a world where all of Victorian fiction is real is just too fantastic for words.
The thing is, Moore is dark. And I've read Watchmen, so I knew that, but it feels like it's another thing when it's applied here. Griffin in particular disturbs me. He's introduced to the others when they investigate reports of the "Holy Spirit" impregnating girls at an English boarding school. So Griffin is raping young girls who don't even know what's happening to them because they can't see their rapist. It is beyond horrible and the rest of the League is like, "meh." Even Mina. I mean, WTF?!?!? Who wants a violent rapist on their team? Sure, invisibility is useful, but he's really not necessary and he should be in jail or executed, not hanging around with the League fighting for Britannia. So massive negative points for this....more
I can see this books flaws and you know what? I adored it anyway. It was basically Pride & Prejudice with illusionists. AND I LOVED IT SO.
Jane ElI can see this books flaws and you know what? I adored it anyway. It was basically Pride & Prejudice with illusionists. AND I LOVED IT SO.
Jane Ellsworth is a talented glamourist with a bratty, beautiful younger sister, a vain, flighty mother and a loving, calm father (basically, Lizzy with only Lydia as a sister). Then there is her love interest, Mr. Vincent. He is soooo Mr. Darcy – seemingly cold and arrogant at first, but with a rich interior life and sense of honour. Vincent/Jane = <3
I also really enjoyed the magical Regency world that Kowal created. I loved that there was magic but that it was pretty “small” magic – just illusions - no fireballs or explosions.
I thought that the end just spun out of control, though. Someone challenged someone else to a duel, someone went batshit and held Jane hostage and it was all a hot mess and felt less like Jane Austen-lite than As the World Turns: Regency Edition. This is Regency fiction! They could just talk things out wittily instead of drawing pistols.
The cute level of this book was chart-topping and as I said, plain but talented Jane and prickly and brusque but good-hearted Vincent are a winning couple. And I think Kowal did a pretty good job with the dry wit and polite repartee.
The comedy of manners/romance aspect is when this book is at its strongest. The action/adventure (duels! hostages! danger!) is the weakest bit. Hopefully the sequels lean towards the comedy/romance and away from the action....more
Okay, I need to just stop reading romance novels like this. Full stop. I can’t read them because I reject their central premise: that the love interesOkay, I need to just stop reading romance novels like this. Full stop. I can’t read them because I reject their central premise: that the love interest has to act like a rapey asshole. Seriously, why do women find this attractive? Yes, confidence is sexy. So is assertiveness. So I get the fantasy.
But there is a difference between interested and persistent and RAPEY AND CREEPY. And Trahaearn is far, far across the line into rapey and creepy. For one, he says things that even a hot guy can’t pull off – up to and especially trying to blackmail the heroine into sleeping with him in return for saving her brother; telling her he wants to be inside her; when they are in an abandoned building alone warning her that he wants to possess her and there is no one else there to stop him; performing oral sex against her explicit protests and then when she’s upset that he molested her apologizes but tells her he isn’t sorry he did it (this book is all rape: the sex you didn’t know you wanted!); etc. Trahaearn is Rapey Mcskeezy.
And it’s also hinted at that he’s gay but Mina “turns” him. That is weird in its own terrible way. It’s never stated that he’s gay, but he keeps saying he’s never wanted to “possess” a woman before (and that is a creepy thing in its own right – if a guy kept saying he wanted to possess me I’d be all WTF man). And he wanted one of his male sailors in his bed in the past. So it’s never explicitly said, but if the author did intend that Trahaearn is gay but is straight for Mina alone…there are so many terrible messages going on, Mina being hot enough to turn a gay man straight is the least of them.
Except for the romance angle, this book is not terrible. The steampunk setting was kinda cool and original in the beginning, although I still have huge problems with the alterna-history aspect. Why make the Mongols the Horde? Of all the Asian civilizations the Mongols are the LEAST LIKELY to be the most technologically advanced army on the planet. Seriously, they are horse people. Hunters and gatherers, not city folk. And when they took over civilizations they also absorbed their culture - they often "went native". And their empire in real life quickly broke into different parts. If you were going to have a civilization take over most of the known world with their technology that would be the Chinese Empire. Way more realistic.
Especially since apparently the Horde had been invading Europe since Da Vinci. And if the Horde were the Mongols, that means they had taken over China, yes? And India? Why is this never mentioned? The whole thing is sketchy. Especially Horde ruling techniques. Why outlaw marriage? That is frickin' stupid. Seriously. Both stupid and unnecessary AND why is that in the book??? So Mina can make a speech about divorce?? And what’s with the Frenzies? And outlawing all religions (this is the Mongols we’re talking about, who were pretty flexible with religion, not communists)? AND THE ZOMBIES?? What kind of dumbass ruling class intentionally overruns prime farming land with zombies? How can you collect taxes from zombies? OH THAT’S RIGHT YOU CAN’T.
Brook obviously created a steampunk world through Rule of Cool and not with any thought whatsoever, but okay. I could survive that if I wasn’t so upset/squicked out by the terrible, terrible romance that made me end up disliking both Mina and Trahaearn....more
Cool idea (steampunk, zombified-Seattle in the 1880s) but the execution was lacking.
Didn’t care about anyone and was REALLY REALLY annoyed by Zeke beCool idea (steampunk, zombified-Seattle in the 1880s) but the execution was lacking.
Didn’t care about anyone and was REALLY REALLY annoyed by Zeke being the stupidest boy around. This kid has no preservation instincts whatsoever. And I’m not talking about wandering into a zombie-filled wild west town on his own. I’m talking about the fact that he just kinds of goes along with whoever is speaking with him at the moment. First guy he encounters is slightly shifty, then an old woman tries to save Zeke from this guy. Zeke is all just, “eh, no thanks. Now tell me about the civil war, shifty guy!” When Zeke eventually ends up traveling with the old lady on the second encounter he still doesn’t seem to grasp the fact that the first guy was leading him into a trap. SERIOUSLY DUDE WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM. Zeke suffers from being like every teenage boy damsel in distress ever. It’s a mixture of bravado, arrogance and utter incompetence. Zeke should be long dead from his inability to evaluate people. And his continued head-long rush into danger without thinking. Boy is dumb, and he helped make this story frustrating/boring....more
Still think the fight scenes are super boring, but I do love Deryn & Alex’s friendship. And the clever maneuverings of the Lady Doctor and the CouStill think the fight scenes are super boring, but I do love Deryn & Alex’s friendship. And the clever maneuverings of the Lady Doctor and the Count were fascinating (these two need to pair up because they would just rule Europe).
I think the alterna-Istanbul was well done. Managed to make it exotic without giving into exoticism. And yay for the continuation of the Ottoman Empire!
What really made this book, though, was the perspicacious loris (a talking/kinda psychic weasel/rabbit/monkey creature - see picture below). It was like a fucking mad hatter. It would just mutter things to itself that only it understood and then laugh maniacally. I loved it. Even Deryn didn’t know the fuck it was talking about every time it said, “Mr. Sharpe” and then burst into giggles. C’MON DERYN THIS IS YOUR SECRET IT FINDS SO AMUSING!
<-- The perspicacious loris looks like this and came out of the Lady Boffin's egg and I want one for a pet so bad because we would just sit around and chill and talk nonsense and giggle and weird everyone out....more
This is actually a really good conclusion of a series that I thought started out as imaginative and yet still uninspiring. I liked the series more andThis is actually a really good conclusion of a series that I thought started out as imaginative and yet still uninspiring. I liked the series more and more as it went on (even though I think Book #2 is my favorite).
Deryn/Alex's friendship was superb and the characters individually grew and matured as time went on. No matter what happened in the book, I always got more of a buddy vibe from them then a romantic one, but together romantically or platonically, I think they bring out the best in each other.
BUT I still think Bovril may be my very favorite character. Perspicacious loris for the win!
Oh, and Westerfield's use of the Hapsburg motto at the end was damned clever. Nicely played, Westerfield!...more
Writing a good short story is hard, and most people don’t seem to have the knack. Even authors whose books I liked don’t seem to be able to do it consWriting a good short story is hard, and most people don’t seem to have the knack. Even authors whose books I liked don’t seem to be able to do it consistently (on the other hand, sometimes they write short stories better than novels).
I didn’t really love any of the stories in this collection except for Kiersten White’s “Tick, Tick, Boom.” It was also the only one I thought was actually kinda romantic. It was a total Scarlet Pimpernel situation – girl thinks that boy is boring and useless when really he is the mysterious rebel she is in love with. Nicely done, White! I would read a full book about this. The others I wasn't nearly as impressed with. ...more
The five different POVs are unnecessary and distracting and the there is no differentiating whatsoever between the differSooooo. Yeah. That happened.
The five different POVs are unnecessary and distracting and the there is no differentiating whatsoever between the different narrators' "voices." Nora (the main girl), Bram (her love interest), Pamela (her best friend), Victor (her father) & Wolf (the villain) all sounded the same. I couldn’t tell from reading the chapter who was who without other context clues. There is no way that a teenage girl and a bad guy should sound the same. Just keep it simple - Nora's POV is the only one that really needed to be used.
I’m also annoyed by Nora’s typical Arranged Marriage Is Terrible Wah Wah I’m a Tough Girl. You know who I respect more? A character like The Queen of Attolia who works within the bounds of society and KICKS ASS and doesn’t feel sorry for herself and STILL manages to marry for love without being a whiny little anachronism. Seriously, this is such a tired character type and I do not find it appealing at all. Why does hating an arranged marriage automatically translate into “strong” and “spunky” and “feisty”? Whatever, book.
I thought the romance was boring, the characters were boring, I didn’t care about anyone or anything and the potential excitement of society (Neo-Victorian!) was a letdown. It barely registered, anyway, because it went pretty quickly into Zombie Munch! I’m happy for Habel - who seems genuinely nice and ecstatic about her book deal - and wish her all the best, but I’m dropping this series like a rabid zombie. ...more