The Peculiar is a MG aged story; but one in the Harry Potter tradition. Even though the characters might be harder to relate to for an older audience,...moreThe Peculiar is a MG aged story; but one in the Harry Potter tradition. Even though the characters might be harder to relate to for an older audience, the plot and world is interesting enough to keep the non-middle graders perfectly engaged.
The Peculiar is set in a Victorian-like age where the faeries have run rampant in a historical happening called the Smiling War, after all the grinning skulls. Bartholomew is a changeling, half faery child, half human. When one day a lady in a plum-coloured dress takes away his friend, he is launched into an adventure he never asked for.
I very much enjoyed The Peculiar and the wonderful writing. It could be quite stiff at times, but also had its moments of brilliance that are a pleasure to read. It helps that the story is very imaginative and colourful, and quite unique in execution. Bachmann has a great take on faeries, even though I sometimes had a hard time picturing some of his more interesting creatures.
For the thrill-addicted reader this might not be the right book, but in my experience steampunk or any historically inspirated novel rarely is suitable for that reader. It takes a little while for the tension to build in The Peculiar, but I quite enjoyed the little introduction into the world before the story really takes off. It might seem as a wild goose chase from time to time, but in the end everything ties up together quite nicely.
For me The Peculiar was a breath of fresh air in quite a clouded and musty genre. It’s not perfect as the author sometimes gets carried away with his wild fantasies, but a very promising debut novel. I’m looking forward to the next instalment of Barthelomew’s adventures!(less)
After reading all of the negative reviews on The Peculiars I wasn't expecting that much. I was happily surprised that although the book is rather slow...moreAfter reading all of the negative reviews on The Peculiars I wasn't expecting that much. I was happily surprised that although the book is rather slow-paced, the setting was definitely worth it.
Lena's dad was a goblin, a Peculiar. Now the government has decided that all Peculiars have to be sent to work in mines in Scree, a inhospitable and wild land. She has the strange triple-jointed hands and large feet that point to goblinism, and she is scared she has also inherited her father's wickedness. When she turns eighteen and receives a letter of her father, she decides to go to Scree to find him.
I think the blurb of The Peculiars is very misleading. It boasts a thrilling adventure, but to be honest the adventure part of this book is very little. It's mostly about Lena's insecurity about her identity and how to live with the stigma of being different. Big parts of the story are spent in libraries, in coaches and in tearooms. It reminds me of the slow but dark gait of Victorian fiction.
The steampunk aspect of the book is rather light - I think you could better classify The Peculiars as alternate history. There are some nifty inventions, but since Lena herself doesn't really have an interest in them, they are only in the background.
I was very interested in the mythology behind the Peculiars, but this book didn't answer all of my questions. I hope we learn more about them in the next book. Or isn't there going to be one? I can't find information on this being a series or not, but if it's a standalone I'm going to be very disappointed.
Even though the main character Lena is rather whiny, I very much enjoyed the story because of an interesting cast of secondary characters and the overall mood. Ms McQuerry does dark and foreboding very well, and that was mostly what kept me reading. I would like to read more about this world and find out which kind of Peculiars there are and how they came to be.(less)
Heart of Perdition is another steampunk novella published by Carina Press, but this one had a different feel to it than for example Photographs &...moreHeart of Perdition is another steampunk novella published by Carina Press, but this one had a different feel to it than for example Photographs & Phantoms or Like Clockwork. It's a bit darker, more Gothic novel than mystery. There are ancient curses and spooky settings. Although it is a romance, it did felt a little bit lighter on romance than the average Carina Press novel.
I loved the idea of this book. I was kind of amazed by how complex of a story Ms March was building. There was a lot of intrigue and tension, and I started wondering how she would tie all the ends up in such a short story. This is where the low rating comes in - she doesn't tie all the ends up. She doesn't tie a single one of them. There is no redemption, no solution, no confrontation. Just when I think something interesting is about to happen, I see the last sentence. "...To be continued".
Which was terribly lame. It just felt like the author couldn't come op with a handy solution to figure everything out, so she just stamped on a "to be continued" so no one could get angry about it. I've contacted the nice people at Carina Press and they told me that the second part in the series is being currently written, and it will probably release in 2013.
I would still be interested to read the sequel to Heart of Perdition, because I did like the feel of the story. But as a story itself, this was a bit disappointing. (less)
70 % done.. And I'm through with Viridis. This book is just not working for me.
The thing is, this isn't even a bad book. I'm still giving this three s...more70 % done.. And I'm through with Viridis. This book is just not working for me.
The thing is, this isn't even a bad book. I'm still giving this three stars because it shows so much promise, and it had the potential to be totally awesome. And it was. Until the romance started dominating the story.
I really liked the first part. We get introduced to a steampunkish Victorian London with lots of cool machines they call "tinkerings". Phoebe is the owner of the exclusive club Viridis and the inventor of the drink Viridis that "heightens the senses" (read: make you very horny). There is an investigation, a whodunit, etc. I liked it. There's also a little background storyline of the Cause that fights for the poor, which was pretty interesting.
Then, enter my big annoyance, the love interest Seth. We got of on the right foot actually, which is unusual for me. There was a history between him and Phoebe, which made it easier for me to believe their love. He seemed like a fine guy, nothing really special. I was fine with him and Phoebe hoovering a bit around each other, the little should-I-shouldn't-I game. It was quite amusing.
Phoebe is the standard strong heroine. She is very stubborn and doesn't trust anyone to be there for her. She doesn't trust that Seth will stay this time. And now, my dear readers, here comes the shocking part. Mr Seth has a brilliant idea. While they are in Phoebe's bedroom, they get in a fight. Phoebe is screaming at Seth, doing the strong heroine routine. Seth takes his belt, binds her hands to the headboard, and has sex with her. Even though Phoebe is still cursing him and screaming to let her go. Afterwards, when they're cuddling, their conversation goes like this.
Seth: "Can you forgive me for this?" Phoebe: "I respect you for what you did. It was necessary to make me trust you."
Pardon my language. WHAT. THE. HELL. IS. THIS. SHIT.
I can't even...
No. Dear Ms Taylor. This is called rape. This is called sexual abuse. This is not romantic. This was not consensual. And a truly strong heroine would not "respect" this. She would kick that Seth in the balls the second he let her go.
But I read on, hoping it would get better. It didn't. If the mystery had been the main focus of the book, I would have gotten through. But it wasn't. There was added a completely unexpected (and unnecessary?) love triangle, and Phoebe was abused some more. She gets locked inside a room for a day, for instance. Only thing she does is slap the guy once and have a breakdown. If she really was that strong, she would NOT have accepted this. I'm a wussy, but no one ever can lock me inside a room for a whole day against my will without me giving them hell.
So I'm giving up. I would love to read a non-romance title from this author. Her world is nice, and the mystery is nice. The romance just wasn't for me.(less)
When I was still a little girl, I took the book Poison from the library, by some guy named Chris Wooding. Its metaphysical awareness completely blew m...moreWhen I was still a little girl, I took the book Poison from the library, by some guy named Chris Wooding. Its metaphysical awareness completely blew my childish mind. Poison immediately became one of my favourite books of all time, and I rented the library book over and over.
Fast-forward ten years, and I find a Chris Wooding book in a London Waterstone's. Will Retribution Falls be just as good as Poison was?
It's safe to say that Retribution Falls didn't blow my mind or completely changed the way I look at the world, as Poison did. Retribution Falls is the story of an airship full of society cast-offs that get into a whole bunch of trouble and go through many adventures.
For me the book had a slightly steampunkish feel, with all the grimy airships and old-school appliances. It's set in a fantasy reality where there is "aerium", something that makes all of the airships float. The world is barely habitable, and by air is the only way to reach many cities.
Maybe it's because I associate Chris Wooding with children's books, but when I first started reading Retribution Falls I had to keep reminding myself that I was reading an adult book. It's clearly meant for adults - there is some swearing and graphic situations, but maybe because of the theme (airship pirates) I felt like I was reading something much younger. It doesn't help that the captain, Fray, has major commitment issues and generally doesn't feel like an actual grown up person.
The crew of the Ketty Jay is a collection of war veterans, someone as smart as a spoon, and multiple people trying to outrun their past, the law, or both. I quite liked some of the main characters, especially Jez, a woman that's not quite as human as she'd like to be, and Crake, a daemonist. They're also the two least stereotyped characters, apart from Fray - the rest of the crew consists mostly of one-trick ponies, that act the same throughout the book and don't have any development. The secondary characters mostly acted as comic relief, which was pretty well done, but I was hoping to have just that little bit more meat to the characters.
Retribution Falls cuts right to the chase, not bothering with any intermittent-dialogue or "after two weeks of flying we were at this and this town...". In almost sixteenth-century fashion, the trying to string chapters together is completely absent. Everything in the book is story, nothing more and nothing less. On one hand this means that you don't feel like you're reading a hundred pages of nothing - on the other hand shit gets confusing. Some times I'd have liked an indication where we are now and what's happening, because I had to stop to think about this which takes away from the reading flow.
Although not as innovative and life-changing as Poison was for me, Retribution Falls is a very enjoyable fantasy read. If you like the sound of "airship pirates", this is the book for you.(less)
A sweet little novella set in 19th century Brighton, England.
Photographs & Phantoms is pretty much your standard romance short story. There is th...moreA sweet little novella set in 19th century Brighton, England.
Photographs & Phantoms is pretty much your standard romance short story. There is the girl with the problem, in this case a ghost that seems to target clients she takes photographs of, and there is the awesome-wizard-guy that comes to save her. And while he's playing Superinvestigator, they fall in love.
The mystery was actually pretty good, I liked how everything came together in the end. Although I think the ending was quite abrupt, I would have liked to see a few more pages about the how's and why's.
While being advertised as a steampunk romance, this book was a little bit too light on the steampunk references for my taste. This book could just as well been set in the "ordinary" 19th century, it wouldn't have changed a thing. Luckily, I like normal historical novels too, so this was an entertainingly quick afternoon's read. (less)
Steampunk seems to be becoming the flavour of the year. Last year we had a big explosion of dystopian books, the second even more desperate than its p...moreSteampunk seems to be becoming the flavour of the year. Last year we had a big explosion of dystopian books, the second even more desperate than its predecessor. This year, steampunk is trendy, and a LOT of authors jump on the trendy-train and cook up some steampunk. For some authors, it just doesn't work. As I pointed out in my review of Photographs & Phantoms, some books just have some elements, but don't really immerge themselves into the genre.
The Stange Case of Finley Jayne however, was a pleasant surprise for me. Ms Cross managed to put a lot of detail into this short novella, making the steampunk setting believable. She describes several wonders of the steampunk age, including steam-driven mechanical horses and other inventions. Will it satisfy the hard-core fan? Probably not. It was better than I expected of a short story though.
What I liked about Finley is that she thinks like a real person. When she is being judgemental, she thinks "Maybe I'm just being judgemental, but...". I liked such insight in a main character, especially after reading so much stupid heroines that I just wanted to smack very hard.
She is like ultra-super-strong, so she is automatically kick-ass. She can jump out of buildings without twisting an ankle and punch your teeth out of your mouth without second thought. I haven't seen this kind of super power in a long time, and I'm looking forward to see why she is this way.
One of the things that particularly bothered me is how Ms Cross uses Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein in this story. While apparently, she hasn't read it herself. Maybe watched the movie or something. Frankenstein doesn't conduct his experiments in a castle. He really, really doesn't. I don't like it when classics are abused like this.
And now I know I'm being terribly corny, but the tiny history-freak was crying out loud when Finley put on a short skirt. A SHORT skirt in Victorian times?! You'd be hanged, thrown of a ship and maybe burned! Even prostitutes in that time wore long skirts. Finley tells us its "modern" and "fashionable". Well, I need a lot more persuasion to believe that.
To conclude a review that is almost longer than the story itself, The Strange Case of Finley Jayne is a very enjoyable steampunk young-adult short-story. It's a prequel to the first book in a series, The Girl in the Steel Corset. I'd like to read more about Finley's adventures, and that cover is very pretty, so I'll probably give it a try!
I believe you can still get this novella for free. Correct me if I'm wrong.(less)
This is the first book I have read on my shiny new Kindle! Yay!
Okay, on topic now. I picked this novella up because it was available for free for a wh...moreThis is the first book I have read on my shiny new Kindle! Yay!
Okay, on topic now. I picked this novella up because it was available for free for a while, and I quite liked the cover. I'm still new to the steampunk genre, but so far the steampunk books I read were pretty awesome, so I started this book full of good hope.
In Like Clockwork, the automatons are taking over the jobs of the lower classes, resulting in massive unemployment. Victoria, the inventor of the synthetic skin that makes the automatons look so human, finds herself kidnapped by an organisation called The Brotherhood, a group that is determined to give all jobs back to humans. What her kidnapper didn't know is that Victoria regrets her own invention too...
I wasn't disappointed. This was a fun quick read, and as it's not a full length novel, I wasn't expecting a full length plot either. In a novel there could have been more attention to the background of the story, and the surroundings in which our main characters live, but with the glimpse we get of this world, I was quite satisfied. There are basically three plot lines, that all three tie up nicely by the end of the book.
What I didn't really get was the whole kidnapped falling in love with the kidnapper. It was explained properly throughout the book, but still I would be pretty upset with someone that drugged me and than carried me into an underground chamber. Doesn't seem romantic to me.
I really liked the characters, especially Victoria. I guess that could be my feminist side cheering for the female scientist in a male dominated field. But I also thought her to be very brave to not be stopped by the difference in social standing between her and her true love. Particularly in a time like the Victorian era, where appearance is more important than anything else.
This book has gotten so many bad reviews, but I couldn't find any obvious flaws in its story. I would love to see this author write a full length novel in this same world; I'd definitely read that.(less)
Clockwork Angel is my first venture into the unknown steampunk-territory. In this alternate world, you have the whole supernatural bunch (vampires, we...moreClockwork Angel is my first venture into the unknown steampunk-territory. In this alternate world, you have the whole supernatural bunch (vampires, werewolves, warlocks, some nephelim thrown in for good measure) living together with the normals in a Victorian-like age. In a time where skirts that show the ankles are considered extremely inappropriate, Tessa travels from New-York to London to go live with her brother. But instead of finding her brother at the pier she is abducted by two lady-warlocks.
After this the book follows Tessa trying to find and rescue her brother that has gotten himself in a whole lot of trouble. In order to do so, she has the help of the Shadowhunters, the warriors that protect the humans and keep the Downworlders from braking the Law.
I really enjoyed this, mostly because of the setting. I love the ambiance of Victorian London and I think Ms. Clare did extremely well portraying this. You can see she has taken the time to research her book and she implements characteristic parts of society effortless. The saying of one's Christian name is a big deal and I especially loved the shock of our properly bred Tessa when she hears a servant talking freely to one of the Shadowhunters.
As for Tessa as a heroine, I'm not so sure what to say of her. She's not really a weak damsel-in-distress kind of girl but you can't call her kick-ass with a straight face either. She's loyal to her brother and slightly protective, but not so much of a sensitive girl that looks after everyone. As main character she's (I'm almost afraid to use this word) a bit dull. I didn't feel that compassionate towards her. The only parts I enjoyed her character where those wherein she interacts with the young Shadowhunter Will. Enter the mysterious love-interest of the book.
Will is the typical mysterious guy almost every young-adult novel has. The sarcastic bad boy shell with a troubled sweet soul somewhere hidden deep inside him, that only the heroine can reach. We've seen it before countless times, in one form or the other. Yet I still like this one. It seems that a lot of people found Will's behaviour offensive or rude but I don't really see why anyone would take offence in his conduct. He cares for his friend-like-a-brother Jem and he does nothing that shocked me with rudeness. Maybe just because I thought his remarks were rather funny. Don't tell anyone though.
The plot was engaging, yet not that surprising. The major oh-my-gosh moment was hinted at so many times that when it finally came it was a bit disappointing. It was fast-paced though and I read the book in about two sittings. There were enough sidelines that keep you interested throughout the story, even though a lot of questions are left unanswered at the end of the book.
I liked this book. I will definitely check out Clockwork Prince, the second part of this series, due summer this year.(less)