Jack Foster is your typical ‘dissatisfied with life’ ten-year-old boy who is constantly left to fend for himself, in terms of entertainment, byJack Foster is your typical ‘dissatisfied with life’ ten-year-old boy who is constantly left to fend for himself, in terms of entertainment, by his mostly absent parents. When he follows a man by the name of Lorcan Havelock through a magical doorway set in a clock tower in London, he finds himself in a strange and mysterious ‘other’ version of London. This land is known as Londinium.
‘A land of brass and steel and clockwork, of steam and airships, cogs that turned and wheels that spin. He half wondered if he was dreaming, so perfect was this place, and would wake in his bed to the sound of Mrs. Pond clattering the breakfast things in the kitchen below.’
Jack is mesmerized by this new world he’s found himself in and has no desire to try to find his way back to where he came from, figuring that his parents won’t likely miss him anyways. The air quality is poor and causes his lungs to ache but all the wonderful things made out of metal far outweigh any bad aspects in his mind. After stumbling upon a cage containing a clockwork girl named Beth, she takes him to Dr. Snailwater who tells him the truth behind the man named Lorcan.
’Portraits lined the walls [...] All were of boys who could pass for Jack’s brothers, had he any, the oils faded and cracked, some more than others. Dozens of them.’
Lorcan Havelock was sent to London by the ruler of Londinium, a woman only known by the name of ‘Lady’, to procure for her a perfect human boy that she can play with and love. Lorcan was her previous (and not only) son but he has grown old, while the Lady has not, and she requires a new child. Lorcan was a surprisingly terrible and unforgivable type of villain that did truly awful things. I felt the acts of violence were extreme for a Middle Grade book (including daily hangings that go on for far too long) but Lorcan was still a small child at heart that only wished to be loved again by the Lady. Nonetheless, his actions were shocking.
’Most of all, the open door beside the stairs, the maddeningly incomplete glimpses of the engine in the room beyond. He ran to it, through it, engulfed by the sound. It was like nothing Jack had ever seen. The enormity of it, the clouds of steam thick enough to blanket the whole sky, sucked from the room by a shaft that led upward. Every metal part, tiny and huge, playing its well-oiled part. Spinning, hissing, churning.’
The single most lovely thing about this book was the imaginative descriptions of this parallel world. Her descriptions of clockwork dragons and magic made it easy to understand what made Jack so spellbound. The descriptions alone will keep the reader invested but upon closer examination one would have questions abound regarding what exactly makes this world tick. It lacks a clarity and feels akin to a hazy dream, but then again this is a magical world so maybe that’s to be expected. The characters were also written in a hazy, imprecise manner and added detail into who they were (most especially the Lady) would have been well-received. While I loved the world Travayne created, I didn’t feel it fulfilled it’s potential especially with the lackluster ending.
Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times will appeal to fans of steampunk (or readers looking to try out the genre) and middle-grade readers will likely be mesmerized just as Jack was....more
I'm a huge fan of world building. To me, it's vital that you set the scene with a proper introduction in order to hook the reader from the ve2.5 stars
I'm a huge fan of world building. To me, it's vital that you set the scene with a proper introduction in order to hook the reader from the very first page. Unfortunately, you don't get a lot of that with 'Something Strange and Deadly' initially so it took me a while to get into it. The opening scene dives right into the action where Eleanor is picking up her brother from the train station not realizing that the walking dead is everywhere. The zombies are explained a bit further later in the book but using this as the opening scene didn't work in my opinion, especially since it continued to be fast paced and ceased to slow down any time soon.
The 'zombies' really played a small part in the story, much less of a part than I had expected. Plus they weren't truly zombies, they were dead bodies which were being controlled by a necromancer which is completely different. The magic and the steampunk and the explanation was explained fairly well; however, I found it to be too over the top.
This book was chalk full of characters that appeared to be quite shallow and essentially difficult to like. I had difficulty liking Eleanor at first (I kind of came around to liking her by the end though) and I immediately disliked Clarence because, really... Clarence? Besides his name, he was quite pompous and clearly thought he was better than anyone and everyone. Hard type of person to like, even if you want to feel bad for him because his name is Clarence. And then there was the immediate familiarity between Eleanor and Clarence. At the seance that her mother was hosting at the very beginning of the story, Clarence and Eleanor had never met yet after a single conversation not only is Clarence bossing her around but Eleanor is as well, expecting him to explain himself.
"I would greatly appreciate it if you would keep our conversation in the hall to yourself." "Of course," I said primly. "Thought I want some explanation of your behavior." "How about a bouquet or roses instead? Or a new hat?"
The book lacked a whole lot in the explanation area too. It did more of the 'simple state' rather than talk about something and show with supporting evidence. Considering this is a steampunk story and explanation can be difficult I'd give it a pass; however, I've read some well written steampunk stories so I do know that it's possible to pull off. Here are just a few circumstances that I had issues with:
"Can you stop a spirit like that?" "Yes, in the same way I stop the walking Dead. I magnify an electric spark and break apart the soul." Is that supposed to be a sufficient explanation?
"Your letter was covered in spiritual energy." How exactly is that possible? It's KIND OF explained later that these particular goggles that can see said spiritual energy operate on magnetic energy, fluid with magnetic powder, and are calibrated with grave dirt... I don't know. You lost me completely. Steampunk and I do not get along.
Bottom line I can see the appeal but I don't think this was the book for me. ...more
Thank you to Orbit for providing me with a review copy in exchange for my honest opinion. Expected publication: July 3rd 2012 by Orbit
This is one of thThank you to Orbit for providing me with a review copy in exchange for my honest opinion. Expected publication: July 3rd 2012 by Orbit
This is one of those hodgepodge of genres that is usually a catastrophic mess in my opinion. This wasn't exactly catastrophic but it wasn't anything excellent. In 'God Save the Queen' we've got vampires, werewolves, goblins, 'halvies', with steampunk and Victorian elements (think Gail Carriger's 'Parasol Protectorate series'...also worth note is a group of individuals contracted as guards for the aristocrats entitled the Peerage Protectorate. Hmm.)
I've grown to dread starting a brand new series because of the probability of huge info-dumps that occur when explaining a brand new world. When not done well it can really hurt the overall story. The massive info-dumps occurred in the beginning but were clumsily mixed with the actual storyline of main character Xandra so while you're trying to figure out who she is, where she's going, and why... you're also trying to sort through the strange world and the society and the Prometheus protein aka 'the plague' and... it could have been done better in my opinion.
The writing in general left something to be desired; with the story set in Britain it was inconsistently 'British' with only the occasional British word thrown in for good measure, it wasn't a true Steampunk in my opinion as there were just simply references to some gadgets and nothing more, and it had the feel of a YA novel except for a few dirty scenes. I wasn't surprised to find out that the author 'Kate Locke' is also YA author 'Kady Cross'.
The class system was a bit distasteful how the aristocrats were the supreme beings, then next were the halvies which basically were born to be protectors, and then the humans. It reminded me a bit of Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy series how the dhampirs were born to protect the Moroi's but I don't remember straight disliking the class system; I don't think that it was made as blatant that they were beneath the Moroi's. The halvies treated the aristos with a sense of awe that was a bit awkward.
The inevitable relationship with the two main characters was done all sorts of wrong. Sure, you ended up loving the two together but the whole introductory period was completely missing. If you're going to have a character in a book have a one-night stand then treat it as such. It's completely unrealistic and downright ridiculous that after sleeping together that you end up a couple without even having a discussion about it and he's making you breakfast and meeting your family and... I had whiplash. And a headache from all the eye-rolling.
The one saving grace for me was that I felt a semblance of originality finally bloom before the book ended. I was left intrigued and I will say that it was an overall enjoyable story, but didn't bring enough of anything 'new' to garner a higher rating. I will be interested to see how this series continues to develop in the second installment The Queen Is Dead....more
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars Much thanks to Orbit for providing me a copy of this for review.
Timeless, the fifth and last installment in the Parasol ProteMy rating: 4.5 of 5 stars Much thanks to Orbit for providing me a copy of this for review.
Timeless, the fifth and last installment in the Parasol Protectorate. And the final adieu to Alexia, Conall, Ivy, and all the other colorful characters we’ve grown to know and love. This was actually my favorite installment out of the entire series surprisingly enough. Usually I don’t care for when a series that I’m quite fond of ends; however, it was done so well and was so much fun that I was sold. If you haven’t picked up this series yet and are looking for something incredibly original this is it.
Timeless opens several years after Heartless with Alexia and Conall’s daughter Prudence having been adopted by Lord Akeldama in order to guarantee the safety of the entire family. Prudence had me laughing out loud on several occasions as she was such a handful but such a wonderful addition to the story. The entire family travels to Egypt when the God breaker Plague becomes an issue once again as it has started expanding at an alarming rate.
With Alexia and the family in Egypt, Lyall and Biffy are left behind in London so there are POV shifts between the two locations. I can understand the need for this in retrospect but at the time I couldn’t help feeling it took something away from the story, especially with the focus on the budding relationship between Lyall and Biffy. All in all though? Extremely well done and truly enjoyable. Hands down my favorite steampunk book/series I’ve ever read.
Luckily, we may not have heard the last of The Parasol Protectorate as there is a planned series called The Parasol Protectorate Abroad with the first story entitled ‘Prudence’. Sounds like Lady Alexia will be passing her Parasol along to her daughter – I can’t wait!...more
Storyline Dearly, Departed was quite enjoyable for me … at first. I found myself overwhelmed by the storyline because it had entirely way too much going on. I picked this up solely because it was a zombie novel (gotta love zombies) but then I was thrown into this odd dystopian society and THEN it transformed into this weird steampunk society where everything is set in ‘Victorian’ times. That was all just a bit too much for me and made it quite unbelievable and entirely too hard to follow. Suffice it to say I’m going to skip my typical summarizing of the story because it’s simply entirely way too much to summarize.
The Characters I found each and every one of them to be an enjoyable addition to the story, but the multiple change in point of view added to the ‘entirely-too-hard-to-follow-ness’ that was going on for me. I thought it was an interesting touch when one of the POV’s was even the ‘villain’, but it didn’t work for me overall. Bram was my favorite… he was charming, interesting, and quite funny. You could almost forget that he was a zombie.
’I gave her as long as she needed, all the while mentally designing my tombstone. R.I.P., Captain Abraham R. Griswold. He was completely useless and made girls cry.’
I think that was a part of the problem though… I didn’t want to forget he was a zombie! Zombies aren’t supposed to be mistaken for humans! I think I was missing the overall zombie-ness about him.
The Zombies The zombie’s in ‘Dearly, Departed’ were an odd bunch. They were all infected with what is known as the Lazarus syndrome which caused people to come alive a few short hours after being pronounced dead… but they didn’t all come back the same. We had the Gray’s who are your typically moaning, limb dragging zombie-types. Then there’s a zombie army that fights the Gray’s. The members of the zombie army are zombies but they stayed fairly human, as far as personalities go… they still looked just as gruesome as normal zombies.
’I desperately wanted to roll my eyes, but we were discouraged from doing so. The muscles around the eyes are always some of the first to go.’
Overall Thoughts Well shucks. I was so hoping to like this more but unfortunately this really didn’t work for me. ...more
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars A copy of Clockwork Princess was provided to me by Simon Audio for review purposes.
'Life was an uncertain thing, and there weMy rating: 4.5 of 5 stars A copy of Clockwork Princess was provided to me by Simon Audio for review purposes.
'Life was an uncertain thing, and there were some moments one wished to remember, to imprint upon one's mind that the memory might be taken out later, like a flower pressed between the pages of a book, and admired and recollected anew.'
This was one of the most fantastic audiobooks I've listened to. Audiobooks are naturally so reliant on the perfect narrator that it could make a fantastic book a complete disaster. English actor Daniel Sharman was perfection with his various voice inflections for different characters. It certainly made the almost 16.5 hours of listening zoom by in a flash. Unfortunately. :)
It's always difficult reading a series ender, there are always such high expectations. I can only imagine the strain on the author to come up with a satisfying ending, especially when there are 'teams' involved. For me, it could have gone either way because I was a fan of both boys. :) On top of that you have to wrap up all the questions that were introduced throughout the previous books and give them their needed endings. Out of all the series I have finished though this is quite possibly one of the best wrap-ups I've read to date.
'It was a near incomprehensible tangle, the three of them, but there was one certainty, and that there was no lack of love between them.'
I straight up despise love triangles, however, the reason behind that usually lies in the fact that the 'love' doesn't make sense, seems unnecessarily dramatic and isn't realistic in the least bit. This is one love triangle that is nothing like what I hate about them. Not unnecessarily dramatic, incredibly realistic, made me completely commiserate with Tessa instead of questioning how its possible that she love BOTH boys, and was a complete and utter heartbreak for everyone involved (including the reader). This managed to be so incredibly well-done throughout the story and was even given, as impossible as it may seem, a satisfying and understandable ending.
When I finally got to this epilogue that everyone kept talking about I was more anxious than anything. I can say that it was well done, that I almost cried and it was an ending I didn't exactly see coming. I'm not sure if it was really vital to the story as a whole and if it would have been best to leave it out entirely but I can definitely see why it was included. This is likely where I'd go on a crazed spoilery rant, so anyone interested in hearing what I have to say, I'm up for a chat. :)
Various other things I loved about this story and series... I loved the beautiful literary quotes strewn throughout and even the characters obvious love for literature was wonderful to see. I also loved the lack of perfection and 'happily ever afters'. Each character went through their own hard times and it made the characters really come to life. I believe the previous installments had equally beautiful writing with various quotes that left me breathless but it was so very evident to me in Clockwork Princess. I could have done Goodreads updates with beautiful lines every few pages. This was a truly beautifully written novel and a fantastic conclusion to an exceptional series. ...more
This is my first exploration into 'steampunk' and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.
'The Strange Case of Finley Jayne' is the prequel to 'The
This is my first exploration into 'steampunk' and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.
'The Strange Case of Finley Jayne' is the prequel to 'The Girl in the Steel Corset'. The prequel introduces Finley Jayne, a girl who is far from normal. She has just lost her job and is surprised that she's offered another the very next day. Her new job is to be a companion to Phoebe Morton who has recently been engaged to Lord Vincent. Phoebe's mother feels there is something off about Lord Vincent and hires Finley in hopes that she can protect her if necessary.
The story was so interesting and different that I'm extremely excited to get my hands on 'The Girl in the Steel Corset'.