Curtsies & Conspiracies is Carriger's second book in her YA Finishing School series. Sophronia, our intrepid spy-in-training, has settled into lifCurtsies & Conspiracies is Carriger's second book in her YA Finishing School series. Sophronia, our intrepid spy-in-training, has settled into life at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality; however, that's not to say that school life has become routine. In fact, Sophronia's closest friend, Dimity, faces kidnapping and it seems that the teachers are all bent on some sort of conspiracy. Never a dull day at Mademoiselle Geraldine's.
Like the first book, Etiquette & Espionage, I also listened to this one on audiobook. Once again, I have to say that the narration was inspired. Moria Quirk really brings life to her narration immersing the listener right into Carriger's paranormal world. Quirk's narration just makes this a really fun read. The madcap nature of Curtsies & Conspiracies is what works to this series's advantage. The premise of a finishing school training it's young ladies to become spies/assassins is absolutely outrageous as are the techniques that the ladies are instructed upon. This deliberate foray into the absurd is what I like most about the series. It's quirky and fun and pure escapism.
Like the first book in the series, I didn't really find that there was that much depth to the characters. Sophronia continues to be the best girl in the school, although I think there are hints of her character maturing. I like the fact that Sophronia is starting to question the implications of her future as a spy and who exactly will be buying her services. I'd be interested in exploring this more fully throughout the series as I suspect being a spy will not be as fun as Sophronia thinks it will be.
What has also changed in book two is the hint of romance. Sophronia is torn between two young men, one suitable, and one most definitely not. This love triangle doesn't play a huge role in the novel, rather is Sophronia's adventures in discovering what's really motivating the school's excursion to London. But it is very clear that Sophronia is aware of her charms and not always above using them to her advantage.
I don't think the Finishing School series is for everyone; I think it's too tongue-in-cheek for some readers. But if you like the madcap, this remains a fun read. For myself, I find that I need a bit of a break from the series, so I wont be moving on to the third book just yet.
I really liked the idea behind The Eterna Files. Secret government organization in Victorian England? Yes, please! Unfortunately, this one missed theI really liked the idea behind The Eterna Files. Secret government organization in Victorian England? Yes, please! Unfortunately, this one missed the mark for me. Some of the characters were interesting, but I never felt that I spent enough time with them to truly get invested in their stories.
Harold Spire has been appointed by Queen Victoria to Special Branch Division Omega, and he’s not happy about it. Spire had been in the midst of a very difficult case and he doesn’t want to let it go unsolved to lead a secret branch of the government that’s bent on investigation the extraordinary. He does not believe in that sort of thing. Spire's first order of business is to investigate the supposed discovery of the Eterna Compound. Apparently it grants immortality, and if the Americans have it, the British definitely want to get their hands on it.
Assisting Spire is the highly capable Rose Everhart, who, like Spire, has a tragic past motivating her actions as a government employee.
Rounding out these perspectives is American, Clara Templeton, the person responsible for the Eterna Compound, or at least putting the idea into the head of the grieving Mrs. Abraham Lincoln after the assassination of her husband. After the deaths of the scientists who were working on the Eterna Compound, Clara is determined to find out what happened and keep the compound from the wrong hands.
The premise for The Eterna Files sounds really good, but what didn’t capture my attention was the narrative style. First off, the characters came across as rather bland. Tidbits of information about each character would be dropped but never fully explored. Second, I found the change in perspective of characters (and locales) to be rather distracting. When things were finally getting good, the novel would move to America or England. What’s more is that the American and English narratives didn’t come together by the end of the novel and I kind of assumed that they would. I can only presume that the author is setting this up to become a series.
I really wanted The Eterna Files to be amazing, but I really had a hard time getting through this one. I think it’s one of those books that’s going to appeal to readers who are more interested in details than characters or plot, and I am, quite simply, not one of those readers.
I love steampunk fiction, so when I came across Gunpowder Alchemy on NetGalley, I downloaded it immediately. Happily, this one did not disappoint. DesI love steampunk fiction, so when I came across Gunpowder Alchemy on NetGalley, I downloaded it immediately. Happily, this one did not disappoint. Despite the fact that this one did not have the highest level of steampunk elements that I’ve seen in the genre, I fell in love with the unique setting. There are a lot of steampunk books out there, but I don’t think I’ve ever come across one that not only features Asian characters, but an Asian setting as well.
I’m not Asian, so I can’t speak about the accuracy of Lin’s setting, and I am going to assume that the author knows what she’s talking out. What I will say is that when I started reading I was struck by the feeling that this was “other”. Immediately I was aware that this was not a Western world-set novel and it was a completely different perspective from most books that I read. For example, when Soling encounters a white man on her adventure, it is her description of this white man that really hit home that I was reading something different:
Standing over me was the strangest man I had ever seen. I had heard the Yangguizihad blue eyes and golden hair, but the few I’d caught a glimpse of so far had been darker in coloring. I had just dismissed the tales of ghosts as exaggeration, but this man was startling fair skinned. He was dressed in a waistcoat similar to what Yang had worn. The material was gray and somber, though his demeanor was anything but. His lips were parted in a grin that bared teeth and spoke of familiarity (p. 134).
Never have a I been more aware of how whitewashed my own reading is. I really think the author succeeded in bringing something different to the steampunk genre by setting this novel in China and had her characters being Chinese. For me, there was a sense of authenticity about the characters that made this a unique and memorable reading experience.
What also stood out strongly for me as non-Western was the representation of emotions and their external expression. The main character, Soling, is an eighteen-year-old and throughout the novel her feelings and thoughts are restrained. It’s not that she’s unemotional, it is that it’s not the norm to be expressive of emotions. Ultimately, it was the subdued internal life that really changed my reading experience of Gunpowder Alchemy. This restraint is not something that I have come across and I personally viewed it as a method for the author to demonstrate to readers that Soling and the other characters were of a certain cultural background, which stands out for me since it is not my own. I really liked this element to the novel. It was unexpected since this one falls more in the romance category, but I think it worked really well and will suit readers looking for something outside the norm.
As for the romance, while enjoyable, it was not definitively resolved by the end of the book. What readers should be aware of is that Gunpowder Alchemy is the first in a series, so this first novel serves as an introduction to the world and the character’s that are going to be existing within it. What I will say about the romance is that it is very understated. This is not your conventional historical romance or even steampunk romance. A romance is there, but it’s not taking centre stage. While I wasn’t expecting the romance to be so light, what was there was rather touching and seemed more meaningful because it wasn’t in the forefront. A lot was conveyed between Soling and Chang-wei in their actions towards one another, but the romance didn’t progress past a single kiss. Personally, I don’t think many romances can pass this off and still please readers, but I think Gunpowder Alchemy succeeds in making this less-explicit romance work and appear believable.
Lastly, I will also mention that the overarching political turmoil that I suspect will be what binds the books in this series together was also extremely well done. There was a lot going on in Soling’s world. She’s compelled to protect her family, but she’s also conflicted by her loyalty to the emperor, even if he did order the death of her father. The events that are happening in Gunpowder Alchemy are complex and not resolved by the end of the novel, in fact, you could argue that they are only getting started now that Soling has made a decision to abandon her passive attitude and become involved in the fight. Whether or not she had made the right choice, well, that’s what the next book is for.
Gunpowder Alchemy is a very interesting steampunk novel. I loved the setting and I loved the uniqueness of the characters. I know that I will be back for book two in the series and I wish I knew when to expect it!
The fourth book in The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences has arrived and the team is being thrown under the bus by outside forces. Forced to go to ground with the Phantom Protocol Eliza Braun and Wellington Books are on the run and ready to save the empire once again, trouble is, the leader of the empire, just might be the problem.
The Diamond Conspiracy takes place just days after the events in Dawn’s Early Light. Welly and Eliza are returning back to England and testing out their new found romantic relationship. However, the pleasure cruise home is brought to an abrupt halt when Eliza receives the signal from her street urchins, the Ministry Seven. Racing against the clock Eliza and Wellington band together with trusted colleagues and former enemies to save both the empire and their own skin.
The latest installment in the series is just as fun as the previous ones. The action starts right away and Eliza and Wellington are thrown into the thick of it, but this time their awesome dynamic had changed. No longer just partners, Eliza and Wellington have to cope with their new status as a couple. They’re not hiding their feelings for one another, but at the same time they can’t let it complicate their mission, the fate of the empire does rest in their hands after all.
What readers are also treated to in The Diamond Conspiracy is Wellington’s dark and tragic childhood. As readers of the series will be well aware, Wellington has secrets skills. He may be a mild-mannered archivist, but he knows his way around a rifle and is a crack shot, all thanks to his autocratic father's training. Here, readers find out more about that father and what Wellington’s childhood was a like. When the Ministry takes refuge in Wellington’s childhood home, he is forced to confront his upbringing and the mysterious purpose of it. And based on that ending, that upbringing is going to have some serious repercussions going forward in the series. Can we have book 5 now?
If you’re a fan of The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences this addition does not disappoint. It’s a fun, action packed adventure studded with great cameos (i.e. Queen Victoria, Dr. Jekyll) and new steampunk gadgets. If you haven't read the series, it's one that I highly recommend. The steampunk elements are fantastic and are actually important to the plot. The alternative London that the authors create is also a lot of fun, as is the secret service that protects it's shores. Start with book 1, Phoenix Rising.
*Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley....more
The Clockwork Dagger, what can I say about this one? There were elements that I did enjoy, but at the end of the day, I have to confess that it wasn'tThe Clockwork Dagger, what can I say about this one? There were elements that I did enjoy, but at the end of the day, I have to confess that it wasn't a notable read for me.
What I really liked in this one was the magic system. It was cool and I loved that it was at odds with those who believed in science and technology. This was a great theme: belief versus scientific fact, and I loved the contradiction of these two in Octavia’s position as a medician.
As a medician, Octavia has the ability to heal anyone from their hurts, to the point that she can almost bring them back from the dead. The catch is that this ability is granted from the Lady:
The Lady was a woman and mother and of great faith in God. In times of sorrow, like now, her husband and children succumbed to illness. However, she used the wisdom gleaned from their deaths to go forth and help others. She traveled beyond the Wastes, healing. Some stories say the Wastes were a land of plenty then, or just starting to die. It depends on the telling. She saw more pain and suffering than most people could withstand, yet she endured. At the end of her life, she begged God that she still be able to heal. She was planted in the ground and grew as a tree bound to the very soul of the earth (p. 53).
Octavia, like other medician’s, has a direct link to the Lady and when in communication with her, Octavia is able to save lives. I loved this concept and I liked the fact that Octavia is made to question the motivations of the Lady. The Lady might just be a little more selective than she first appears; she doesn’t offer her healing abilities without discrimination. I can see Octavia losing much of her idealism and naïveté as this series continues.
While I loved the concept behind the world and the theme of faith and blindly following it, I had a hard time being interested in the characters. Octavia and her romance with Alonzo fell flat for me. Octavia’s naïveté was interesting and initially I liked this about her, but I soon came to find that there wasn’t much else to Octavia. I found her to be a very one-dimensional character with little depth to her motivations. Octavia was just a little too perfect.
As for the romance, because you know this was why I was checking out this book, I was quite disappointed. There was so much potential for conflict between the leads. Octavia’s in danger and Alonzo is continually there to assist, a little too conveniently as Octavia learns. However, when Octavia discovers that Alonzo as ulterior motives for helping her, she’s rather quick to forgive. Now, I’m the first to be frustrated when characters don’t discuss obstacles in their path and refuse to understand why the other has done what they have. But in this case, I was surprised at how easily Octavia acquiesced. She came across as passionless rather than noble. And Alonzo – he has to be the only spy out there that’s shy and given to blushes. To me, his manner of behaviour didn’t fit the character that he was, a Clockwork Dagger, super-spy extraordinaire.
Ultimately, I wasn’t a fan of The Clockwork Dagger and I don’t think I will be back for a sequel. The world is interesting, but the characters are not developed enough for me to be engaged.
Dragons & Dirigibles is the seventh in Cindy Spencer Pape’s Gaslight Chronicles, a series that has hooked me from book one. I was hoping the booDragons & Dirigibles is the seventh in Cindy Spencer Pape’s Gaslight Chronicles, a series that has hooked me from book one. I was hoping the book seven would return to the family that started it all; however, this one focused on Melody McKay, sister to Connor of book five, Cards & Caravans.
Melody McKay crash-lands her airship on the Earl of Blackwell’s estate. A gothic and desolate place plagued by smugglers. Even more disturbing to Melody is the Earl himself, ex-Royal Navy Captain Victor Arrington; a man who has firm ideas of women and their exact place in society. It should come to no surprise that Melody is none to pleased with Victor’s attitude, especially when she finds herself rather attracted to this prudish man.
Like Melody, Victor finds himself reluctantly attracted to Melody. As the new Earl to the estate he’s now under the burden of a number of new duties; number one is the care of his niece, Emma. Victor is more than aware that it’s now his duty to marry, secure an heir and a proper mother for Emma. Of course, Victor is quite sure that Melody does not fit the requirements for his future Countess. Nonetheless, he finds himself joining forces with her and her contacts in the Order to get to the bottom of the smuggling operation happening on his estate. Naturally, this help means that Victor and Melody will pretend to be engaged; the only problem will be ending this false engagement when the mystery is solved.
Dragons & Dirigibles is a fun read and I think fans of the series will be pleased with another adventure. I was personally rather disappointed in the previous novella, so I was happy to return to more familiar faces. I liked the concept of this one with a more prudish hero falling for the unconventional heroine, but something about their relationship fell flat for me. For most of the books in the series, the tension between the hero and heroine has been palpable; however, in this one I just didn’t feel it. The attraction seemed sudden and a tad forced. I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly was missing, but I wasn’t completely satisfied.
I also grew frustrated with the added foreshadowing of what I assume will be book eight. Nell and Tom are both two of the children from book one, and it’s been clear from several previous books that they have an attraction to one another, but in this book a obstacle is put in their way. I found the inclusion of these scenes to be a little detrimental to Melody and Victor’s story. Dragons & Dirigibles is not Nell and Tom’s story and I think they got too much “screen time” that it took away from the main plot. These are short novels, and the format restricts, as a full-length novel does not. I think this one could have been stronger with less reference to a future book in the series.
Overall, I liked Dragons & Dirigibles. It has the same elements that I’ve liked in the series from book one, and as always, I enjoy the romance element. For me, this one wasn’t the strongest book in the series, and it mainly worked to whet my appetite for the next book rather than be invested in the book that I was actually reading. It wasn't bad, and I enjoyed reading it, but I'm not sure this one will stick out in my mind.
The Goblin Emperor was an outstanding read, and unlike anything that I’ve read in the last little while. My advance copy was slowly making its way toThe Goblin Emperor was an outstanding read, and unlike anything that I’ve read in the last little while. My advance copy was slowly making its way to "expired" on my Kobo and I decided I’d give it a shot during the Easter weekend. To my surprise, I was left wondering why I had waited so long. The wonderful reviews I had been reading about The Goblin Emperor are completely warranted and I cannot wait to get my hands on more from the author.
At it's heart, The Goblin Emperor is a character study. There’s not much in the way of action here, and although it’s marked as steampunk, there’s really not a whole lot of descriptions of gadgetry. The novel is really about Maia, the youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor. Maia has been in seclusion since the death of his mother when he was eight year’s old; the funeral being the one and only time he has met his father. When he is eighteen Maia unexpectedly ascends to the throne when he father and three brothers all die in an airship explosion. The Goblin Emperor is Maia story as he navigates this unasked for responsibility and deals with the intrigues of court life, a life he was in no way prepared for. The author had depicted such a wonderful imagining of this situation, I could not put this book down, and I simply had to learn more about court life and the decisions Maia would make on his road to becoming an emperor.
The one thing that I had a difficult time adjusting to was the number of names! They all blended together and started to sound the name. It took me awhile to actually figure out the naming conventions. But I persevered and it just demonstrated to me another level of creativity and excellence of this author’s craft that she was able to so convincingly create a fantasy court life. This book was simply well thought out and well written, which makes reading a joy.
The court politics were part of what kept this book moving along, and while they were interesting, I believe that the character of Maia is what truly carried the book. If you are looking for a character driven book, this would be an excellent pick. I also can see a good crossover opportunity for historical fiction fans. There is nothing overtly “fantasy” about this book. If it weren’t about elves and goblins, I think this could certainly be considered historical fiction. Essentially, The Goblin Emperor is a good pick if you’re a little leery about the fantasy element. In that respect, I found The Goblin Emperor to be a little like Game of Thrones in that it’s more historical fantasy rather than magic-infused fantasy.
I think what contributed to this historical feel was the treatment of women throughout the book: women are bargaining chips. Nothing more. Nothing less. It was horrible and distressing, but it put me immediately in mind of human history not the fantastical. However, with Maia, we can see the possibility for change for this elvish society. He does not want to consider woman in this way, and while he does have his hands tied in some ways with regards the conventions of his society, I think the fact that he is willing to change lends a feeling of hope for women in the novel. And that feeling of hopefulness with a new ruler is what really drew me in, but it comes at a personal price for Maia.
As a emperor, there is a sense of isolation surrounding Maia. He can't really have friends now that he is in a position of power, and that is something that he's wanted for most of his life. It was heartbreaking to see this young man who has been mistreated for the majority of his life finally break free only to realize that he will never have true freedom as an Emperor, and he will have to come to terms with that realization. Those closest to him can never truly be his friends and one of Maia's biggest challenges will be his coming to terms with his continued isolation.
This was a truly fantastic read and I will have no qualms about recommending it to readers. The strength of a character driven plot was the best that I’ve read in a long time and the world created was fascinating. I would love to see more books about Maia and this world, especially with regards to the female characters. I think Maia can make some changes for women during his rule and I would really like to see this happen. He’s already made great strides with his half-sister and fiancé; I would like to see a book that focuses more on this aspect of the world. Go out, and get your hands on a copy!
Great start and I can't wait to read the completed book. I can't say that I support the idea of a serial release schedule, so I'll be waiting until IGreat start and I can't wait to read the completed book. I can't say that I support the idea of a serial release schedule, so I'll be waiting until I can purchase a completed copy before getting too enthusiastic about this one.
I’ve been anxiously awaiting the next installment to Brook’s steampunk Iron Seas series. It is one of the best steampunk romance series out there, and I highly recommend that you start at the beginning; there's so much world building and explanations, you definitely need to. For this latest book in the series, the author is releasing it in an eight parts, and I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of part one. With this serial format, I’ve decided to do my review in two parts, first I’m going to address that actual book and then I want to take some time to comment on the serial format.
Part one started off with a bang and I expect nothing less of this adventurous series. Happily, this latest venture in the Iron Seas features Zenobia Fox, the sister of Archimedes Fox (from book 2) who writes and publishes all of her brother’s adventures. However, the time has come for Zenobia to have her own adventure, and it will hopefully not include kidnapping, since that has already happened four times! Oh, the trials of having a famous brother…
Zenobia sets forth under an alias with her old friend Helen, whom she has been lying to for years. Helen believes that Zenobia is actually Geraldine, and a widow at that. In actually, Zenobia hasn't even been kissed. While traveling on an airship, Zenobia soon finds herself with more adventure than she would like. The airship is attacked, but luckily, Zenobia finds herself rescued by a handsome and dashing man – Ariq, former smuggler and thief.
Part one, The Kraken King and the Scribbling Spinster, was a great introduction to this serial. Readers are treated a great premise, a promising romance, and are given just enough information to keep them guessing until the next installment. I loved the story and I personally cannot wait to read the entire collection. The chemistry between the leads was great, and I'm looking forward to learning more about the hero. I have no problems recommending the book. I love the writing and I love the story. What makes me hesitate is the format. The idea of a serial book doesn’t really sit right with me for a number of reasons.
The Kraken King is to be released in eight parts over eight weeks from April until June. As an avid reader I have to admit that this really irks me. I generally read at least one book a week, which means I’m transitioning between books a lot. Having The Kraken King spread out over an eight-week period is definitely going to throw me because I’m going to be reading a lot of other stuff and I know that I’ll end up forgetting the small details of previous installments when reading the current installment. As much as I loved this taste of The Kraken King I can guarantee that I wont be purchasing it in serial format and will be waiting for the entire compilation.
I know that serials were big in the day of Dickens, but I just don’t get the relevance of it today. When I sit down to read I want to read for a good chunk of time, not be left hanging, as you will be with this format. This is even truer for a series I love like I do The Iron Seas. When I’ve been waiting for a new book for months, like I have been The Kraken King, I like to set aside a good amount of time and power through the book, read it start to finish in the shortest amount of time possible. This serial format does not allow you to do that. The format has actually dampened my enthusiasm for this book quite a bit, at least until the entire eight parts are released as one. It simply doesn't fit with the way I read. In part, I know this is because I read a lot for work and as a book reviewer, which makes it hard to get excited for a book that I would have to read in fits in starts.
From a librarian point of view, I also question the availability of this format for library collections. Yes, I’m sure that you can purchase the installments for the library’s digital collection, but how is that fair for all of the readers out there who do not have access to digital devices? And believe me, there’s a lot of people who don’t. I don’t really think it makes sense for the library to individually purchase all eight installments and then have to purchase the entire thing when it’s once again released. However, this is my opinion on the format, and I would be curious what other readers think.
Ultimately, I’m not a fan of the serial format and I will be holding off recommending this one until I can actually recommend the completed product, and I will be holding off spending my money until I can get one finished book instead of eight short snippets.
Ashes & Alchemy is the sixth addition to The Gaslight Chronicles. This one is a novella, and I have to admit that I was a little disappointed thatAshes & Alchemy is the sixth addition to The Gaslight Chronicles. This one is a novella, and I have to admit that I was a little disappointed that we moved away from the central characters of the series for this one. I've really come to love those characters and the cameo appearance of some simply whetted my appetite for the next book rather than engross me in the current one I was reading.
So far, I have really enjoyed The Gaslight Chronicles. I love steampunk and I really like how magic has been incorporated into this world. For some reason I just wasn’t enthused with Ashes & Alchemy. We were back to the same world; we had a little bit of a mystery, and a budding romance. But in the end I was left feeling that there was something lacking in this novella.
The hero and heroine, investigator Sebastian Brown and Minerva Shaw seemed to be a little bit of a departure from the characters that I’ve come to love in the previous books. They were older than the leads in the previous books, and I think this may have had something to do with my disconnect with the short work. I went in expecting a straight romance with some intrigue; however, both Seb and Minerva have far more important responsibilities on their minds than dealing with their attraction and those responsibilities were the focus here. I liked the fact that this was realistically played out, but I can help but wish romance had played a bigger role in the plot.
Overall, I thought the novella was okay and I like the direction that the series is going. I will, however, be anticipating the next book in the series, and I do hope that it will return to the orphans that Merrick and Caroline adopted in book one. The hints that have been dropped throughout subsequent books about each of the “siblings” makes it clear that each is going to (hopefully) get their own unique story.
*Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley....more
I have been anxiously waiting for Kristen Callihan's newest Darkest London book ever since I finished Shadowdance. This series has gotten better witI have been anxiously waiting for Kristen Callihan's newest Darkest London book ever since I finished Shadowdance. This series has gotten better with each subsequent book. With Shadowdance the author took the series in a new direction and continues with it in Evernight and I couldn't be more pleased. The focus on the SOS (Society for the Suppression of Supernaturals) has opened up so many more avenues for this series, and brings new opportunities for readers to explore this alternative London.
Holly Evernight and Will Thorne were introduced in Shadowdance. Holly is a member of the SOS and Thorne a member of the opposing faction. Both were kidnapped in the previous book and Holly was forced to experiment on Thorne. At the beginning of Evernight Holly and Thorne are both recovering from their ordeal and not very well at that. Holly has secluded herself in her home and Thorne finds himself turning into something else altogether.
Holly and Thorne are thrown together once more when Thorne arrives on Holly's doorstep with revenge in mind. He barely remembers what happened to him when he was tortured, but he does remember Holly and the part that she played. However, Thorne soon learns that Holly might be the only one to cure him, or at the very least keep his encroaching "disease" at bay. This might pose a problem for Holly since someone other than Thorne is out to get her. Luckily, she now has a built in protector since Thorne literally cannot live without her. This forced partnership soon breeds more than animosity.
For the most part, I really enjoyed Evernight. There were a couple of things that I didn't personally like as a reader, but I didn't write the book so I can't complain about it. It's a matter of personal taste, so I wont go into it here.
As usual with Callihan, Evernight was action-packed and perfectly balanced with a wonderful, emotional romance. From the start, Darkest London has been characterized by it's intense and emotional romances. There's no reading between the lines here to determine how the hero and heroine feel about each other, it's explicit and what's more, it's believable. While Evernight also had that characteristic emotional quality, it was also a breath of fresh air. Despite the dark themes of torture and complicated characterizations of the hero and heroine, this one was actually quite lighthearted and funny. Holly is quite analytical, and as a result, many of her exchanges with Thorne are touched with humour. One such instance is when Holly frets about her duties as a hostess to Thorne and his certain vampiric needs...
"I ought to tell you know. I cannot provide you with blood."
Will's gaze flickered to the pulse beating at the tender hollow of her neck before meeting her eyes once more. Weariness and caution there. Disgust, too. He bristled. "I do not recall asking for blood."
"I was not referring to myself, of course," she went on plainly. "I meant that I cannot have blood brought in for you. I realize that makes me a bad hostess, but there it is. I cannot condone it."
A hostess? Is that what she fancied herself to be in this scenario? "And I suppose you do not eat all manner of beasts here? Rare roast beef with your pudding?"
"None that are bipedal, Mr. Thorne."
"You should know, he said, "that blood is not the only thing I take for nourishment."
He almost laughed at the way her expression grew closed off, that small nose of hers lifting in a haughty manner. Oh, he knew precisely what she was thinking now.
Not that she left it show in her neutral tone. "I thought that sanguis only imbue blood and - "
"Fuck anything we can get our hands on," he supplied helpfully.
She blinked. Then stared.
Will rolled his eyes skyward. "Aside from all that, I can drink most beverages. Except for lemonade."
"Why not lemonade?"
"Because I hate it." He laughed when her eyes narrowed. "Hot chocolate," he told her, "is my favorite." (p. 31-32)
Throughout Everknight Will continues to enjoy ruffling Holly's feathers and getting some sort of reaction from her. For her part, Holly equally enjoys shocking Will, only her approach is more matter-of-fact than deliberately funny. And while there are many funny exchanges between these two it is never at the expense of the development of their relationship, rather it adds another dimension to it.
Now I also mentioned that the author continues to move her series in a new direction with Evernight and in this book this alternate London and the creatures that inhabit it is significantly expanded. With the first three books the author focused on three sisters for the most part, but with Shadowdance and Evernight, readers are introduced to demons, sanguis, and the fae that also run amok in the city as well as new characters. While I've never been a fan of "the fae" as a creature feature in the books that I read, I like the way that the author it handling these changes. The fae are clearly going to play a large role in Soulbound and possibly subsequent books.
Readers of Evernight should also be aware that there is a substantial tease for Soulbound as the setup is established with Adam (creator of the GIM) and his heroine, Eliza May. I find the premise somewhat problematic considering Adam's "possession" of Eliza May in this book, but also curious as to how the author is going to bring these two to a happily ever after considering their rather inauspicious beginning.
Ultimately, I do not think fans of Darkest London will be disappointed with Holly and Throne's story. It was fun, action-packed and never became predictable. While it's possible to read this as a standalone novel, I really think it's better to read the books in order as to understand the world that the author is creating. While the romance is central to the plot, the rules of Darkest London have been set and expanded on in each subsequent book, so start with book one, Firelight.
Originally published at The Book Adventures. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I first learned of The Elders and Welders Chronicles books when I snagged a copy of book 1, Prince of Hearts, as a freebie from the Kindle Store. TI first learned of The Elders and Welders Chronicles books when I snagged a copy of book 1, Prince of Hearts, as a freebie from the Kindle Store. Those who give Kindle freebies a try know that its really difficult to find a good book there. But, since I love steampunk romance I had decided to give Prince of Hearts a chance and I absolutely loved it! It was simply a lot of fun, so I was really excited to hear that there was going to be a sequel and even more excited to get a review copy from the author. A Dark Heart was just as fun and the romance was just as lovely.
Lady Christiana Harker has been in love with Inspector Elijah Drexler for ages. And I do mean ages, since she met him as a young boy. This is not as weird as it sounds, since Christiana is immortal thanks to her guardian, Rowan, an Elder who has the ability to share his immortality. Of course, Elijah being a commoner and a bastard feels he is nowhere near appropriate for Christiana. He's also keeping a lot more of his past to himself than Christiana knows, and of which he has no intention of ever sharing with her. In his opinion, a lady such as she should not have to deal with the horrible things that happen in life, and some horrible things happened to Elijah. Christiana is more stubborn than Elijah gives her credit for, and when Elijah is almost killed by the Ripper, Christiana risks it all and inadvertently makes Elijah a vampire. But does Elijah want to be saved?
A Dark Heart picks up 9 years after Elijah's been made a vampire. At this point his reliant on opium to get him through the day and has no intention of ever taking Christiana's blood to save himself, even if that's what he craves most. He simply wants to get through the day, get his revenge on the man that abused him and die. Christiana is ready to give up on Elijah and move on with her life when she learns of Elijah's addiction and impending death from refusing her blood. She plans to try one last time to save the man that does not want to be saved.
If she'd know the truth, she wouldn't have saved him. He knew that with a bone-deep conviction. She certainly wouldn't look at him as she did now, with such a yearning(p. 63).
A Dark Heart was a great, fast-paced, romantic read and I completely loved it. I love all things steampunk so I was immediately on board with the world building in this Victorian London. I also really liked the vampire myth used here and the secret society surrounding those that can create them. I also liked the closer look that we got with the Elders in A Dark Heart and I'm hoping that each of the "good guys" get their own story.
While the story and intrigue plot was great fun, what really stole the show was the romance between Christiana and Elijah. Christiana's dealing with her immortality and the fact that there's a lot in life that she will never get to experience, things like becoming a mother. She's also completely broken by Elijah's rejection of her. She doesn't understand why he doesn't care for her and believes that she just isn't desirable to him. Who doesn't like these unrequited stories where the girl finally gets the guy? 'Cause get the guy she does!
The Girl with the Windup Heart is the final installment in the Steampunk Chronicles series, and it certainly ended with a bang.
In the previ3.5 Stars
The Girl with the Windup Heart is the final installment in the Steampunk Chronicles series, and it certainly ended with a bang.
In the previous book in the series, The Girl with the Iron Touch, readers were introduced to Mila, a kind of cyborg - steampunk style. After reading book three, I was really intrigued to learn more about Mila. The concept of an engineered person is something I find fascinating no matter the genre that it pops up in and I wasn't expecting it in a steampunk world. At any rate, Mila takes a greater role in the fourth book and has her own troubles outside of the original group introduced in book 1. Mila is presently living with the notorious Jack Dandy and learning what it means to be human. Of course things become complicated when she acts on her feelings for Jack. Assuming that he doesn’t want her because of her less-than-human status, Mila flees the only home she’s know and takes up with the circus, her special skills allowing her to fit right in. Jack is naturally rather alarmed by Mila’s departure and has come to care for his charge, much more than he ought. He is determined that Mila can do better than himself and has been working tirelessly to make that happen. Alas, his plans fall apart when Mila leaves.
While there is a great deal of focus on Jack and Mila, there is still drama happening with Griffin King’s original friends. The conflict with the Machinist has reached new heights when he attacks Griffin from the other side and keeps him prisoner. Naturally, Griffin’s loyal friends have no intention of allowing this imprisonment to become permanent and embark on a madcap Plan.
There is no shortage of action in the last book in the series and I really enjoyed catching up with all of the characters in the series. However, I think the number of characters in the book was a bit of a detriment. I almost felt that the book could have been split into two. One with the adventure of the usual crew: Griffin, Finely, Emily, Sam, and Jasper. The second plot, with the romance developing between Mila and Jack. I think combining these plot lines didn’t allow for as much depth to each story as there could have been. I personally feel like there was too much going on with the number of perspectives that readers jumped through, and I would have liked a more distinct separation of the plots, because at the end of the day I don’t really feel like the two plots were connected well.
Mila’s story and her problems regarding her humanness didn’t really have anything to do with the Machinist. The Machinist may have created her, but it didn't have any bearing on the current problem with the villain. I think this hurt the conflict that was happening with Griffin and company because it was jarring for the reader to follow another plot line that didn't have much impact on the overarching problem of the entire series. Likewise, I think the villainous plot also got in the way of the romance between Jack and Mila. It came in fits and starts between the scenes of what was happening elsewhere, and I think it could have been made more meaningful if readers were able to spend more time with Jack and Mila. Yes, it wasn't a surprise that they got their happily ever after, but I think it would have been lovely for readers to spend more time with these characters and see how they reached this point as it seemed a little rushed by the end of the book.
Ultimately, I think this book was a lot of fun and it did have all of the elements that drew me to the series in the first place. Yet, I do feel that the large cast of characters ended up preventing the book to be as cohesive as it could have been. There was a lot happening in The Girl with the Windup Heart and it didn’t flow as nicely as it could have. I do like the world that the author has created and I would be interested in where she chooses to go next. The author writes a good romance, so I would like to see where this goes next in the YA genre.
*Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
Cold Copper is the third book in Devon Monk’s steampunk series, Age of Steam. This is a series that I feel keeps getting better with each book as theCold Copper is the third book in Devon Monk’s steampunk series, Age of Steam. This is a series that I feel keeps getting better with each book as the readers learn more about this alternate American West and the fantastic characters that populate it. This is also a series that must be read in order or you’ll be lost, so fair warning, there may be spoilers ahead for the first two books in the series.
Cold Copper picks up pretty much where book 2, Dead Iron, left off. Cedar Hunt and his brother, Will, have teamed up (reluctantly) with the mysterious Madder brothers to help them hunt down the Holder. The Holder is a dangerous weapon that has been split into many pieces, and as luck would have it, Cedar and Will’s curse makes them the perfect candidates to track the pieces of the Holder. Accompanying the boys on this adventure is the witch and widow, Mae Linston – who is also Cedar’s lady love. Mae has been recently released from her coven and is enjoying her freedom. While the group is on their way to find the pieces of the Holder, they are drawn to the city, Des Moines, Iowa, because of a debt the Madders have to fulfill. Now the Madders and the Hunts have to discover why the children of the city have been disappearing and rescue them if they can, all the while a power hungry mayor tries to lock up the Madders and have them executed.
Alongside Cedar’s narrative, we also have Rose Small’s. Rose is a brilliant inventor who decided to stay behind with the witches’ coven to help repair Captain Hink’s airship. Rose can’t wait to see the world and hopes that being part of the crew of the airship will take her far and wide; it also helps that she’s in love with the captain. However, the captain’s been spending too much time in the local brothels and Rose is none to happy about that, so she decides to strike off on her own, only to find herself in heaps of trouble that looks to be leading her straight to her old friends in Des Moines.
This was another great addition to the Age of Steam series and I wish I could get my hands on the next book immediately. I felt like there was not enough answers to the questions raised in this one. Why can’t the author write faster??? Is that too much to ask?
As I wrote earlier, this is a series that gets better with each book. With each addition to the series I feel like I get a better understanding of not only the world, but the characters as well. Now, I’m a big fan of character driven type books, so I was initially not a lover of the first book; I felt it was too plot based and I wanted more character information. Luckily I decided to give the second book a shot and have not been disappointed with the direction of the series.
What I also find very interesting about Monk’s writing style is the alternative view points we get from characters. The only consistent person we hear from is Cedar. For the rest, we get characters from an alternate trajectory that eventually converges with Cedar’s narrative. At first I found this technique to be a bit strange and hard to follow, but I have come to appreciate this style and I like that the writing feels like a puzzle that will eventually fit together at the end.
Overall, I loved this newest addition, although I hope in the next book we get something from Will’s point of view. He’s an interesting character since his curse is the reverse of Cedars: he remains in wolf form and only returns as a human for short periods of time. I’m hoping that now Will’s in human form we’ll get more development from him since he seems like a cool and funny character (at least when he’s human). I’m also interested to see how the romantic relationships develop. Mae and Cedar seem like a solid and guaranteed thing (but who knows in the world of books), but I also find Rose and Hink’s relationship to be adorable. Looks like I’ll be waiting awhile for the next one!
We finally encounter the eldest Davenport brother in the conclusion to The League of Illusion trilogy. For the past five years Sebastian Davenport hasWe finally encounter the eldest Davenport brother in the conclusion to The League of Illusion trilogy. For the past five years Sebastian Davenport has been living an alternate reality atoning for a fatal mistake that killed one of his friends. In this alternate reality Sebastian encounters Drea Blairwood, a healer, from whom he feels he must keep his distance.
Drea has been drawn to Sebastian since he arrived in her little village but she has no idea that he is from an alternate reality or that he can wield magic. When the pair of them is thrown together Drea is drawn into adventure and romance that she has been craving.
While I enjoyed this one, I have to admit that it wasn’t my favourite in the trilogy. The romance aspect seemed a little rushed in favour of wrapping up the overarching conflict that started in book one, but I enjoyed the conclusion to the trilogy. So far, book two was my favourite, as Rhys and Corina were fantastic characters (the other brothers and their significant others just didn’t measure up for me). I still enjoyed this one, but I would have liked more interaction between Sebastian and her brothers.
All in all, a nice little steampunk trilogy with a good helping of romance. ...more
For the most part I have enjoyed The Ether Chronicles series. At times I haven't loved the pacing of the books and in a lot of the short books I've beFor the most part I have enjoyed The Ether Chronicles series. At times I haven't loved the pacing of the books and in a lot of the short books I've been left feeling like their was something missing. With Skies of Gold, I finally feel like I've figured out what's been missing - emotion. By far, I have found that this one has been the most emotional of all the books in the series, which I found created a much better romantic relationship between the hero and heroine.
Kalindi MacNeil comes to an isolated island to gain some solace after suffering a brutal injury during an attack in the war. Kali lost her leg and at the moment she needs to escape society and her island seems like the perfect place, at least until she learns that she has a neighbour.
Fletcher Adams, a Man O' War, crash landed on the island never expecting to survive, but survive he does, but has no desire to return to "world" and the continued violence of war.
Kali and Fletcher are not exactly happy that they have company in their isolation, but slowly the come to know one another. And this slow building relationship was very well done. Of course, trouble arrives to the island and they both have to make a choice for returning to the wider world.
Overall, I liked this one because I felt that the characters had a much better emotional attachment to one another. For the first time reading the series, I felt I got more of a romance rather than an action packed adventure. I liked the focus on the characters for this one, and I still think there is more than enough intrigue to keep happy those who are looking for the feats of daring. ...more
I've been a fan of McMaster's London Steampunk series since I read Kiss of Steel when it came out in 2012. Since then I've been hooked on the series.I've been a fan of McMaster's London Steampunk series since I read Kiss of Steel when it came out in 2012. Since then I've been hooked on the series. McMaster writes great romance but also offers an interesting alternative history. In this London, vampires (where are known as blue bloods) are real and pretty much rule the upper class. From book one, I've enjoyed how the author has explored this notion of class and all that it entails. In the fourth book, the author takes this a step further with a woman who has escaped from the privileged world and carved a life for herself as one of the sole women vampires.
As a Nighthawk, Perry has successfully hidden her past as a privileged daughter of the Echelon. She's content with her work; however, the past she ran from is never far from her thoughts. When she begins investigating a serial murder, it seems that Perry's past might not be as far away as she would like.
Joining Perry in her search is new Captain of the Nighthawk's Garrett Reed - who just so happens to be the man that Perry has been in love with since she joined the Nighthawks. While Garrett hasn't actually noticed Perry as more than a partner, he certainly has had a change in perspective thanks to an investigation in the previous book. Of course now that things are actually moving in a romantic direction, a serial killer has to run rampant, Garrett has to battle his own degrading nature, and Perry has to make the decision on whether or not to flee the city.
If you've read the previous books in the series, I can guarantee that you will also like this installment. If you haven't read them, well, perhaps you should add them to you're to-do list. This series has been a lot of fun and the latest is no exception. There's great action, a disturbing mystery and fascinating characters.
What really drew my attention in Forged with Desire was the status of women in the Echelon. Yes, this was explored in the previous books, but here there is much more discussion of women in the upper class, and it's not pretty. Perry, as a woman, is not supposed to be a blue blood.
Women were strictly forbidden the blood rites for fear their gentle natures would succumb to hysteria at the fierce hunger of the craving (p. 6).
As a result, women in this society have only one other option, to become a thrall for a blue blood. Meaning that the woman gives her blue blood access to her blood in exchange for protection, gifts and an honourable thrall contract. It's not quite marriage, but it the accepted norm in this society. Personally, I found this concept to be rather disturbing but not out of the realms of realism. Reading the descriptions of how this relationship works never felt like something out of a fantasy book; there are correlations in the "real world." With Perry, McMaster explores exactly what could go wrong in this system. Due to this focus, I did find Forged by Desire to be darker in tone than the previous books; this theme really got to me and has to potential to make some readers uncomfortable. That said, I do think this discussion of women in this society was necessary, since it answered many questions I had about women's place here, and I suspect that it's setting the stage for book 5, Of Silk and Steam, where the focus is turned to a woman that has taken her place in the Echelon as a blue blood rather than running as Perry was forced to.
While I genuinely enjoyed the world and I believe that there's more meat to this novel than the romance, it is the romance that made me pick up this book in the first place. Readers were teased with a potential relationship between Perry and Garrett in My Lady Quicksilver, and I think readers will be satisfied with how that plays out in Forged by Desire. There was a lot of tension between Perry and Garrett throughout the book and I was surprised at how slowly there relationship proceeded. This wasn't a bad thing, the relationship between the two had it's complications and I liked the fact that these were never brushed aside in favour of moving the romance along.
Forged by Desire is an excellent addition to McMaster's series. Questions are answered and groundwork is laid for the next book. This is a perfect read for romance fans, but there's a lot of other stuff going on here that I think will appeal to other readers. There's a mystery and the world building is just so cool - in fact, I can really see this one appealing to historical romance fans. While there is more of the fantastic in Forged by Desire the discussion of class will surely appeal to fans of a historical setting. Like I said, add it to you to-read list, but make sure you start with book 1 to get the full effect.