I really enjoyed the first half of this book. I thought it was fantastic, very atmospheric and I really liked the characters. Diana was a strong chara...moreI really enjoyed the first half of this book. I thought it was fantastic, very atmospheric and I really liked the characters. Diana was a strong character and I didn't find the vampire-witch romance all that mushy. This all changed in the second half of the book, where Diana become a less strong character and had to be rescued and taken care of by her vampire husband. For a second I thought I was reading Twilight. However, the actual conflict in the novel, centering around a mystery manuscript kept me interested, and I will be reading the next book in the series.
I received an advanced copy of Bec McMaster’s Kiss of Steel from NetGalley. This steampunk romance takes place in an alternate version of historical E...moreI received an advanced copy of Bec McMaster’s Kiss of Steel from NetGalley. This steampunk romance takes place in an alternate version of historical England. In this alternate London, the Echelon rule the country and the poor are relegated to Whitechapel where their ruler, Blade, takes care of justice.
The Echelon is where McMaster plays with the conventions of vampires, as these upper class citizens are what I’m going to refer to as “pre-vampires.” In this version of England, there is a disease that is purposely infected on upper class males on their fifteenth birthday. This disease gives the infected enhanced abilities such as speed, strength and healing. The catch – you gotta drink blood to reap the benefits. However, like all diseases, this one runs its course ultimately turning the infected into a crazed, animalistic vampire that doesn’t have a conscious. This disease separates the rich from the poor. However, there are accidental infections, such as Blade (king of Whitechapel).
This unrelenting disease is where the heroine comes in. Honoria Todd is hiding out in Whitechapel after the death of her father. Her father was a scientist working on a cure to the vampiric disease for Lord Vickers. Although this disease is what gives the upper classes their power, it also leads to their downfall into insanity, something that Lord Vickers wants to prevent by any means necessary. Hence, Vickers is after Honoria.
Cue the tragic hero that will protect Honoria. Blade decides that he will protect Honoria and her two siblings and find out exactly what Honoria is hiding. Blade also has his own hidden agenda as he has a score to settle with Vickers and wants to find out what information Honoria has that Vickers wants.
Overall, I quite enjoyed this novel. I liked how the conventions of vampires were played with in the novel and how vampires and werewolves were accepted in this alternate London. This world really reminded me of Gail Carriger’s Soulless because of the acceptance of supernatural elements. I did find Kiss of Steel to be heavier on the romance than Soulless, but it was a good mixture of romance and plot.
I also really liked the secondary characters in the novel and I hope that the author picks up on some of them in future books in this series. Specifically, I would like to see a book featuring Honoria’s sister, Leo and Blade’s werewolf friend, Will.
This was a fun, romantic read and I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.(less)
Moonlight & Mechanicals is the fourth book in Cindy Spencer Pape’s Gaslight Chronicles series and focuses on the adoptive children of Merrick and...moreMoonlight & Mechanicals is the fourth book in Cindy Spencer Pape’s Gaslight Chronicles series and focuses on the adoptive children of Merrick and Caroline that feature in the first book, Steam & Sorcery. While all the adoptive orphans are present this story focuses on Wink and her relationship with werewolf inspector, Liam. In book one Liam rescued Wink and ever since then Wink has been harboring an unrequited love for Liam. Unbeknownst to her, Liam actually does return her affections; however, he has sworn to stay away from Wink to avoid becoming like his abusive father. Liam goes so far as to encourages Wink to marry someone that she doesn’t love. However, when Wink solicits Liam’s help in finding her friend’s missing son, the pair end up working together, far closer than Liam would like.
Overall, I enjoyed the novel and I loved the fact that all the characters from the series were mentioned, and I would recommend each book of the series in order to understand many of the references made in book 4. Having read the first novel and the two other novellas I appreciated the fact that everyone got mentioned. However, the mentioning of each and every character was, at times, over the top to the point where it detracted away from the focus of Wink and Liam. I felt that Wink and Liam could have had more “scenes” together and I think that would have made the romance between them more believable. In the end, I was somewhat under whelmed with the romance aspect of the novel.
Despite what I felt was a lack luster romance, I still quite enjoyed the alternate Victorian reality that Pape created. I also really like the Hadrian family and I really hope that Pape writes a story for each of the adopted street urchins. I love that each of them has a special “skill” and I look forward to learning more about each Hadrian. And I hope I am not misreading a potential romance between Tom and Eleanor; I was a little surprised with the tension between them in the book, but if that’s the direction Pape is taking, I am more than happy to jump on board.
As for who this book would appeal to, I would recommend it to those who enjoyed Gail Carriger's Soulless and Bec McMaster's Kiss of Steel; both great steampunk/supernatural alternative London’s that each have a romance aspect.
*Thanks to NetGalley and Carnia Press for an advance copy of this novel. (less)
Sealed with a Curse is a paranormal romance/urban fantasy. The three Wird Sisters were cursed as children and because of this, each has their own pecu...moreSealed with a Curse is a paranormal romance/urban fantasy. The three Wird Sisters were cursed as children and because of this, each has their own peculiar power. None of these powers allow them to quite fit in to paranormal community; however, it doesn’t stop them from getting their attention after moving to Lake Tahoe.
When the novel opens the sister’s have been ordered to appear in vampire court for murdering a vampire. Celia, the leader of the quartet, catches the attention of their accuser, Misha, a master vampire. Fortunately, the girls are not held responsible for the murder because the vampire was suffering from bloodlust, which means the vampires would have had to kill him anyways. Unfortunately, this first attack is just the beginning of a rash of vampire attacks perpetrated by bloodlust-infected vampires.
On top of the stalker-ish vampire, Misha, Celia and her sisters also have to deal with a werewolf pack, lead by Aric Conner. The werewolves are tracking the infected vampires in order to protect the area and because of the Wird sister’s involvement, the girls also fall under their protection. Thankfully, these vampires are all nice and handsome, which is undoubtedly why the girls have no problem having them skulk about. ;)
Ultimately, this one was a pretty light read. The sisters were a lot of fun and the romance aspect wasn’t over the top, and it certainly wasn’t the focus of the book. I thought it was a pretty good start to a series, and it introduced a fun urban fantasy setting in the Lake Tahoe area. I loved that Celia referenced Twilight after dealing with a high school aged "Taylor Lautner poseur" (p. 74). Got to love those meta moments!
I only had two issues with the book. First, I found that it seemed a little long. After a big fight on a vampire island I thought I was getting close to the end, but it seemed to drag a little after that until the action picked up again. Second, I wasn’t loving how all the sisters immediately have a werewolf boyfriend, yes there were complications, but it seemed kind of insta-love for me. But, I think this could also be because the reader never gets the perspective of the other sisters, Taran, Shayna or Emme.
I thought Sealed with a Curse was a fun, light read, with a great main character in Celia Wird. I would have liked to get some narration from the other sisters, but it didn’t hamper the story. While I don’t read a lot of urban fantasy, I could see myself recommending this one to fans of the genre. (less)
Heart of Iron is the second in McMaster’s London Steampunk Series and it definitely lives up the standards set in book one, Kiss of Steel. Heart of Ir...moreHeart of Iron is the second in McMaster’s London Steampunk Series and it definitely lives up the standards set in book one, Kiss of Steel. Heart of Iron focuses on Lena Todd, the sister to Honoria Todd from book one, and Will Carver, one of Blade’s “henchmen”. I was so excited for this one and I was hoping that Lena and Will would get their own book after their rooftop kiss in book one. This was one occasion where my anticipation for a book did NOT lead to disappointment. McMaster continues with her depiction of a unique Victorian society and creates a fantastic balance between a mystery and romance.
Lena Todd has made her debut in polite society, meaning that she should be looking for a vampire to make a contract with – she’ll offer her blood for the vampire’s protection. However, Lena doesn’t feel completely satisfied with polite society after her time in Whitechapel with her sister and brother, and this dissatisfaction leads her to become a spy for a humanist faction that wants to rid London of the vampire Echelon. Unfortunately, Lena’s efforts lead her into trouble and Will Carver appoints himself her protector.
Will is basically your brooding, yearning hero who wants the girl that he can’t have, and oh yeah, he’s a werewolf. Will’s been attracted to Lena since he met her; however, he finds his loupe virus harder to control when he’s around Lena and feels that it’s safer that he keep his distance from her. Lena doesn’t know Will feels this way and thinks he’s pretty much indifferent to her; even when she acts on her attraction, she is bewildered that Will still rebuffs her. Luckily, Lena will have the opportunity to find out what’s going on in the werewolf brain when Will sticks to her side trying to figure out what the humanist faction are really planning for London.
I can’t rave enough about this series! I love the whole concept behind McMaster’s series; this London she creates is fantastic and is described in such an atmospheric way that doesn’t overpower all the action and romance that is going on in the novel. I love how McMaster is writing this series by basing each book on a different set of characters as this allows readers to explore a new facet in this steampunk London. It will be interesting for the next book, My Lady Quicksilver, when McMaster ventures to characters outside the Warren. I also love how McMaster writes the romance - seriously, her characters are great, even if they fight their attraction to their perfect match forever.
I would recommend this series to any fans of Kristen Callihan’s Darkest London or Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series. Both series have the mystery elements to them as well as the romance combined. Like Calihan’s series, Steampunk London is only getting better each book. I cannot wait for My Lady Quicksilver and I curious about the direction the series will take after that. (less)
Winterblaze is the third installment in Kristen Callihan’s Darkest London series. This one focuses on Poppy, the eldest of the trio of sisters that th...moreWinterblaze is the third installment in Kristen Callihan’s Darkest London series. This one focuses on Poppy, the eldest of the trio of sisters that the series revolves around so far. At the end of Moonglow Poppy’s secrets, including her power and her involvement with a secret organization, come to light, following an attack on her husband, Winston. Winterblaze opens three months after the attack with Poppy tracking down her husband because an old enemy has threatened her and those she cares about. Poppy and Winston have to deal with the secrets that they have been keeping from one another and determine whether their marriage is worth saving, all while tracking down the true motivation of the terrifying demon that threatens them.
I have read the previous books in Callihan’s series and this one follows suit from the previous books. As an aside, I would recommend reading the books in order because each book really builds from the previous one, especially considering that readers get teasers of the two main characters that will be featured in the fourth book in the series. Anyways, what I liked in Winterblaze was that readers learn more about the mysterious SOS organization and I can really see how the series can develop from there considering that the three sister’s stories have been exhausted (to a degree). The SOS organization reminded me of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series from Philippa Ballantine and Tee Morris. While the Ministry series has a different tone and a lot less emphasis on romance and mythical creatures like werewolves and shifters, Callihan’s series has also created a great alternative London. I can see fans of the Ministry series liking Callihan's series because of the mystery element that seems to get progressively stronger with each book.
While I did enjoy reading Winterblaze I found it to be different from the other books in the series, I think because Poppy and Winston were already married. It was a different reading experience for me reading about a married couple in the romance genre. It was interesting, but different. There was a lot of anger between Poppy and Winston, which is different from the general romance novels where characters simply come together. In Winterblaze, the characters have already had their romantic beginning; this is what's happened after that. It was an interesting look at the happily ever after. Both Poppy and Winston were strong characters; however, at times they were very frustrating because of their animosity towards one another. I think that author did a fantastic job of allowing these characters to grow and learn from the mistakes that they had made with one another. It was an interest take on the romance genre for me.
My favourite parts throughout the book were the chapters from Mary Chase’s and Jack Talent’s point of view. I loved the bickering relationship that both of them have with one another and I was continually wanting to get back to chapters where these two characters interacted with one another. By the end of the book I was very much hoping that the author would be writing another book in the series with these two as the main characters. Thankfully (or un-thankfully, considering the wait) readers are given a teaser for the next book in the series, Shadowdance, and it appears to feature Mary and Jack as the main characters. Suffice to say, I cannot wait to get my hands on the next book in the series, I only wish I didn’t have to wait so long.
The Darkest London is fast becoming my favourite gaslight series along with Cindy Spencer Pape’s Gaslight Chronicles and Bec McMaster’s London Steampunk series.
*review copy courtesy of the publisher via Netgalley. (less)
A Conspiracy of Alchemists is a steampunk novel. Elle Chance is a pilot and has come to Paris to transport some cargo via her regular contact, Patrice...moreA Conspiracy of Alchemists is a steampunk novel. Elle Chance is a pilot and has come to Paris to transport some cargo via her regular contact, Patrice. The cargo turns out to be a mysterious box and it comes with a passenger, the irritating Mr. Marsh. Before she leaves Paris, Elle is attacked and rescued by Mr. Marsh leading them to race to England to evade the forces that have targeted Elle.
The world building in this novel was pretty interesting with fairies and other mythical creatures being commonplace in this alternate version of 1903. This magical society is divided into the Light and the Shadow, with the alchemists of the Shadow being the villains of the novel. The leader of the alchemists, Abercrombie, wants to unleash the power from an in-between plane through an Oracle in order to break all those of Shadow’s bond with the Nightwalkers (ie. vampires).
Unfortunately for Elle, her mother was the Oracle, and Elle is discovered to be the next one. Both sides of the struggle want to have Elle in their court since she will provide them great power with the dwindling of magic in the world. Marsh believes that Elle should join forces with the Council of Warlocks, which he is part of, where she will live a life of luxury and isolation. Elle, a modern girl for the times, is understandably irritated by Marsh and his suggestions and fights his assertions of her power at every point. However, Elle ultimately has to face the fact that her mother’s blood runs in her veins and she will have to acknowledge her power.
Overall, I liked the plot of A Conspiracy of Alchemists; it was an interesting concept in an interesting alternate world. I liked the combination of the Oracle mythology and the steampunk genre and it really demonstrates the versatility of steampunk as a genre. At times I found the pacing a little slow, especially considering there were pretty intense things happening. For example, when Elle learns her father has been kidnapped, it takes her a few days to start her search for him. I felt the pacing was at odds with what was happening in the novel.
My other issue with the novel was the insta-romance between Elle and Mr. Marsh. I liked each character individually but I didn’t buy the romance between them. They went from blatant antagonism to love fairly quickly. There was more about Elle’s thought process and her progression of feelings towards Mr. Marsh, but when it came to Marsh, I didn’t really buy his feelings for Elle; it seemed very sudden.
Lastly, I was a little confused about the whole Oracle thing. Is becoming an Oracle a hereditary trait; the fact that Elle’s mother was an Oracle seems to suggest that it is something inherited by from a parent? If being an Oracle is hereditary, then I do not know why the Council of Warlocks would be isolating the Oracle from everyone, wouldn’t the Oracle’s need to go out, marry and have kids? I just felt that this was a hole in the story and I think it should have been addressed.
Ultimately, I did enjoy the novel, and I would probably read the next one in the series because of the cliffhanger ending and the reveal about the true conspiracy. I think A Conspiracy of Alchemists would be a good book that could be read by an adult or teen audience. I wouldn’t blatantly call it a teen book, the age of the characters seem to suggest that it is not a teen book, but I think it has versatile appeal.
*Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley. (less)
The Damnation Affair is set in the same world as Saintcrow’s Bannon & Clare books. This book is not connected to the Bannon & Clare characters...moreThe Damnation Affair is set in the same world as Saintcrow’s Bannon & Clare books. This book is not connected to the Bannon & Clare characters (as far as I can tell, not having read the first book, The Iron Wyrm Affair). The Damnation Affair is a western, set in a backwater town surrounded by wild magic.
Catharine Barrowe has accepted the position of the schoolteacher in town because it is the last place she heard from her missing brother. Cat is hoping that being in Damnation will lead her to her brother, the only remaining member of her family. The town sheriff, Jack Gabriel, is immediately attracted to the prim and proper Catherine and goes above and beyond the call of duty to make her comfortable in town. But Jack has his own secrets and a past that will affect the town and a potential relationship with Catherine.
To be honest, this one was just not my cup of tea. I liked the western steampunk vibe and the world does make me somewhat interested in reading The Iron Wyrm Affair, but I did not like the characters in this one, especially Cat. Catherine was rather stuck up through the entire book. The biggest disappointment for me was the relationship between Jack and Catherine. It was obvious how much Jack cared for Catherine, but I never got the sense that Catherine felt the same. The romance aspect was a big reason I picked up this one, so I was disappointed that it fell flat for me.
While this book was not for me, I would recommend it to steampunk/Western fans. The combination of magic and a Western setting was similar to The Native Star and I think it would appeal to fans of that book. (less)
This was another exciting tale in Bec McMaster’s Steampunk London series. In My Lady Quicksilver we pick up essentially close to where we left off. Si...moreThis was another exciting tale in Bec McMaster’s Steampunk London series. In My Lady Quicksilver we pick up essentially close to where we left off. Sir Jasper Lynch, leader of the Nighthawks (think the police force) is tasked with finding the woman charged with terrorism after the bombing and murder of one of the Echelon in book two. Sir Jasper’s your standard stoic and lonely type hero, but meets his match in the enigmatic Quicksilver and his new secretary, Rose. Unfortunately for Sir Jasper, he has no idea that the women are one in the same.
Rosalind Fairchild (aka accused terrorist and Sir Jasper’s quarry) decides to infiltrate the Nighthawks to throw them off her trail and find his missing, and presumed dead, brother. She does not anticipate her feelings towards the icy leader of the Nighthawks, but in the end, she knows where her allegiance lies, and will stop at nothing to find her younger brother.
Of course there are the standard machinations for the upper crust of the Echelon and Sir Jasper and Rosalind may just have to learn to work together to save both their skin.
Overall, I found this one to be a lot of fun. I have really enjoyed the previous books in the series and this one was no exception. Although I did find that My Lady Quicksilver struck a different tone, since both the hero and heroine seemed a lot older than those featured in the first two books in the series. I thought that the characterizations of both Rosalind and Jasper lent themselves well to the intrigue that propelled the story. The plot was fast paced and we got to learn more about the Echelon’s side of things – they’re not ALL the enemy.
I thoroughly enjoyed coming back to this steampunk London and I can’t wait for the next book in the series, although I have no idea what direction the author will go (also a good thing). I have a few characters that I would love to learn more about, but at the top of the list would be Garrett and Perry, two of Sir Jasper’s Nighthawks. They were great side characters and I would love to see a book (or novella, I’m not picky) featuring them and their (here’s me being hopeful) romance. (less)
I picked up this urban fantasy/paranormal romance for one reason and one reason only: LIBRARIAN DEMON HUNTER. Unfortunately, the fact that Maya Flores...moreI picked up this urban fantasy/paranormal romance for one reason and one reason only: LIBRARIAN DEMON HUNTER. Unfortunately, the fact that Maya Flores was a librarian was not a huge part of the book. Really, Maya was in the library for her first meeting with the half-demon Taeg and then that’s it. I think it would have been fun to see the author play around with the librarian stereotypes – not that I’m a librarian or anything…
I also did not know this one was a series when I picked it up. While I read it just fine without reading the previous book, I think it would have been better had I read the first book since the reason for Taeg’s mission to destroy a book is all because of what happened in book one. That said this one was a fairly enjoyable read. The characters were amusing and the world building reminded me a lot of the t.v. show, Lost Girl. Fans of this show would definitely like this one. Folks looking for a paranormal romance with a hot demon would for sure enjoy this one!
*Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.(less)