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.
The Others looked at humans and did not see conquerors. They saw a new kind of meat. (p. 6)
Vision in Silver is Bishop’s third installment in The OtherThe Others looked at humans and did not see conquerors. They saw a new kind of meat. (p. 6)
Vision in Silver is Bishop’s third installment in The Others series and it continues to impress. I’ve been hooked on this series since book one, Written in Red and Vision in Silver continues to delve into the complex world of the Lakeside Complex and shows how the new way of life that they have adopted has repercussions for both those within the complex and those observing it.
In the third book the focus is mainly on the development of larger story arc of the humans trying to create bad press for the terra indigene, which only serves to anger the very powerful beings. Due to the plot-heavy nature of this installment, I didn’t find the character development to be as strong as it was in the previous books. In particular, Meg and Simon seem to have stagnated a bit as characters. The development of the larger conflict is essential and the fact that the terra indigene have to make some decisions was compelling, but I can't help but miss my favourite characters just a bit.
Vision in Silver picks up directly after Murder of Crows. There has been a lot of change in the relations between the humans and the terra indigene and it’s clear that the humans in direct contact with the Courtyard are intent on smearing the image of the terra indigene. The attacks that are directed at the terra indigene throw the Courtyard into turmoil. Simon and the other leaders of the Courtyard really only trusted Meg; however, as the only human in the Courtyard, Meg has slowly brought in other humans - her own "pack". The interaction between the terra indigene and the select humans are having significant repercussions. The humans that consort with the terra indigene are being denied jobs and kicked out of their homes, and their loyalty is forcing Simon to make a decision. Should he and the Courtyard stand by their human employees? And if they do support the humans how does this impact the terra indigene's identity? It’s a question that really troubles Simon:
“If the terra indigene who work in the Courtyards become to human, do we become the enemy?” (p.262)
The internal conflict in the terra indigene is what I found most compelling in Vision in Silver. There are strong reasons for why the terra indigene should not stand by their humans and the terra indigene are certainly capable of wiping humans off the map. But what’s interesting is that Simon wants to find a different path that allows the humans and the terra indigene to co-exist. Readers are show the possibility of this lifestyle, but whether its sustainable will only unfold as the series progresses.
For me, the biggest disappointment was the lack of development in the relationship between Meg and Simon. I’ve always enjoyed their awkward and endearing interactions, but they were minimal in Vision in Silver and I was hoping for more from them. That said, I think the development of the human/terra indigene conflict was extremely important since it ultimately sets the stage for any kind of relationship between Simon and Meg. So while I want certain things to happen, I certainly don't want it to be at the expense of good storytelling, which is not the case in Vision in Silver.
While Vision in Silver is no doubt an important installment in The Others series, I cannot say that it was my favourite. I appreciate it for the fact that it propels the larger conflict in the series, but it was a plot heavy read and I was missing my characters. The suspense was ramped up by the end and I can’t wait for the next book, I only wish this didn't mean a year-long wait ahead.
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!
This latest installment in the Pink Carnation series reminded me of what I love about this series so much. It's intellectual, funny, and just plain en This latest installment in the Pink Carnation series reminded me of what I love about this series so much. It's intellectual, funny, and just plain entertaining. This one is zany and it tackles the absurd with wit and sly historical references. It may not show the true experience of spies during the Napoleonic Wars, but if it did, I doubt I would be reading it. I like history, but it needs to be captured in an engaging way for me to enjoy it, and that is certainly true of this book.
The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla is Sally Fitzhugh's story. Readers of the series will remember Sally from The Mischief of the Mistletoe, where her brother, Turnip, routed out some spies at a young ladies academy while falling in love with one of the teachers, Arabella. Sally made her debut a year ago, and now into her second season, she's, well, she's bored. Luckily, excitement ripples through the ton with the return of the Duke of Belliston, reputed vampire.
Naturally, Sally doesn't believe that nonsense about Lucien being a vampire, but she is certain that he needs some assistance in making his way in the ton:
What she needed was a project.
Such as a duke.
The duke was standing all by himself at the back of the room, doing his best to look brooding and mysterious, or as brooding and mysterious as one could in a well-lit ballroom with footmen pestering people by pushing champagne at them.
The man was in dire need of a little friendly advice - and who better than Sally to deliver it? Really, it would be a kindness, not to mention a shot in the eye to Delia Cathcart and Lucy Ponsonby and all the others whispering and gossiping and spreading their ridiculous rumors (p. 123).
Brooding and mysterious though he may appear, Lucien, in fact, does not require Sally's help, at least not with ingratiating himself with the ton. No, Lucien's mission on his return to society is to find the real person responsible for the death of both of his parents. And once he starts investigating the more it seems that....spies are involved. One fake betrothal and a gifting of a stoat later, Lucien and Sally are on the trail of potential spies and fighting their attraction to one another. Just how fake is this betrothal?
This was a seriously awesome set up and the witty banter between Sally and Lucien reminded me what I liked about this series in the first place: it's smart while still being entertaining. Sally and Lucien's interactions with one another are hilarious, Sally especially brings so much fun to this story with her bustling personality. Sally is determined to become involved in the mystery and will not take "no" for an answer.
"You see, I told you we had experience with this sort of thing. Really, it's quite fortunate that I wandered into your garden. I can't imagine what you would have done without me."
Lucien felt a reluctant smile tweak the corners of his lips. "I can't imagine either."
Ever since Miss Fitzhugh had traipsed into his life, he felt as though he'd been standing at the center of a whirlwind. What would he have done without her? (p. 262)
As to what I mean about the "smartness" of these books, you have to admire how the author slyly includes historical details, making something that at first glance appears fluffy, into something so much more richly layered. For example, Lucien's mother is suspected of spying for her home country of Martinique, which France had granted it's black slaves' freedom for a short period of time. Lucien's mother was fighting to keep this independence alive. Typically this kind of detail would have slipped past me, but having recently read The Black Count, the story of Alexandre Dumas' father, I actually knew about the Martinique situation. The level of detail that this author includes in this series about the surrounding events is fantastic and I think it's something that makes a book that so easily could be stereotyped as a "romance" so unique and appealing to such a wide range of readers.
Alongside the historical setting, readers also have the usual adventures of doctoral student, Eloise. Eloise, if you're unfamiliar with the series, frames all of these spy adventures as her thesis that revolves on this particular spy ring. In this book, Eloise is back in the States, missing her Englishman boyfriend, Colin. When Colin does visit, he's acting a little off, is a break-up in the works?
While I do enjoy the Eloise and Colin drama, I can't say that it's a big draw for me with this series. I will say I'm glad that their narrative is kept to a minimum, but as a result I don't really feel as interested in what's happening to them. Framing these books this way works and I think the author excels in not making the dual timeline distracting or disruptive to the main plot that is the historical content.
Ultimately, if you're looking for something light and entertaining, this is a great go to choice for many. While I think this series is one that will draw many historical romance fans, I love that it could serve as a bridge for many readers into different genres. I can see a historical romance fan picking this up and moving into more standard historical fiction.
A great read! And officially one of my favourites in the series to date.
I've never read a Kerrelyn Sparks novel before so this was my first foray into her Love at Stake series. I felt at the beginning that I was missing ouI've never read a Kerrelyn Sparks novel before so this was my first foray into her Love at Stake series. I felt at the beginning that I was missing out having not read the previous books in the series, but I think Sparks does a good job bring new readers of the series up to speed.
What I loved about this book was the humor. The mix of the old world and the new brought a lot of this humor out. Dougal is a vampire and he's been around for a long time, Leah's a mortal and has a completely different thought process going on; very different when you consider how smart she is. The clash in viewpoints added a lot of the humor to the story and I loved it. The snappy dialogue was also great and I can see why this series has such a great fan base.
Overall, this series is a lot of fun even if you're not a paranormal romance fan, which I am not. Despite this one being outside of my reading comfort zone, I had a lot fun reading it and I think I'll be checking out some more books of the series. I'm also looking forward to Sparks historical romance offering, since well, it's historical romance. It will be interesting to see what her writing in a new genre will be like....more
For me, Murder of Crows was a great read. I was thrilled to return to this urban fantasy, which is surprising because on the fantasy spectrum, an urbaFor me, Murder of Crows was a great read. I was thrilled to return to this urban fantasy, which is surprising because on the fantasy spectrum, an urban setting is generally something I avoid. However, I think it's the fact that Murder of Crows has so many elements that I like in other genres, as well as the fact that I get an old-world feel whenever I read this series. The "Brief History of the World" that opened the book had a fairy-tale vibe as does the mystery surrounding the Others. Like Stacey, I could use more background, but I certainly don't mind that it's going to come in nuggets throughout this series.
I also really liked Meg's growth in Murder of Crows. Unlike Stacey I don't have a problem with Meg being too exception because on one hand I can see how she is such an innocent after being "cared for" by the Controller for her entire life. I loved watching Meg as she comes to terms with her new life and how she learns to cope in the world. I would really like it if we get further exploration of whether the cassandra sangue can survive outside of a controlled setting. It's heart breaking what those prophets are subjected to in the homes they are kept prisoner in, and this abuse of women is another common theme in Bishop's work. And oddly enough, this leads me to the one thing I felt dissatisfied with.
Admittedly, it's been awhile since I read Written in Red so I may be forgetting details, but I would like more information about what Meg's gone through when she was in the Controller's care. I was surprised that I had this reaction as I'm a little afraid of what Meg's gone through considering what we learn about the places that purportedly protect the blood prophets. However, I feel like something is missing from Meg's character development without more information and I think what did or did not happen to Meg will have an impact as her relationship with Simon progresses towards a romantic relationship.
As for Simon, I have to admit I loved him in Murder of Crows. I loved the awkwardness that he had now that he recognizes that he has feelings for Meg and the fact that he questions the implications if he were to pursue that relationship. Frankly, I have questions about the possibility of a relationship between Simon and Meg, but I'm confident (in my little romantic heart) that Bishop will make it work.
All in all, I will be back for book three despite that fact that I'll probably be waiting forever! I have too many questions that I want answered for me not to read the next installment.
Review is also on my blog, with my blogging partner's alternative take. ...more
This was a quick read that picks up fairly soon after Club Monstrosity ended. The gang has started a war with the Van Helsing family and it starts toThis was a quick read that picks up fairly soon after Club Monstrosity ended. The gang has started a war with the Van Helsing family and it starts to heat up in The Monsters in Your Neighborhood with the Van Helsings starting a social media smear campaign against monsters. Natalie, as the new leader of group, has to step up to the plate and coordinate her monsters to fight back, a task made more difficult when everyone starts turning on each other.
I loved this installment in the Monstrosity series. We get a continuation of great humor, awesome, campy metafiction and a dash of mystery. I also loved the characters just as much as I did in the first one. The monsters are just like everyone else, struggling to overcome their individual daily challenges, all the while trying to keep their secret from the masses.
I would say that Natalie and Alec are the main characters in the series (and I love their weird dating relationship), but all the other monsters are explored. Count Dracula is a particular favourite of mine. I loved that he thought the Twilight vampires were really. This combination of pop culture and the supernatural is fantastic is the source of the hilarity in these books.
If you’re look for a quick and fun read and you have a fondness for the classic horror movies, you should check out the Monstrosity series. It’s a short read, but there is a lot of humor and fun in these little volumes. ...more
"Hello, my name is Natalie and I'm a...Frankenstein's Monster. It's been...um...sixty years or so since anyone last discovered my true identity."
Club"Hello, my name is Natalie and I'm a...Frankenstein's Monster. It's been...um...sixty years or so since anyone last discovered my true identity."
Club Monstrosity was a ton of fun and brought your favourite horror movie characters to the Big Apple. Every week Monstofelldosis Anonymous meets, one of the many group therapy sessions held in the smelly basement of a church. Like the other meetings of this sort, the group introduces themselves and they discuss their issue – they’re monsters trying to make it in a human world. Drake a.k.a. Dracula is especially funny considering that he thinks that Twilight type vampires exist - "those sparkling whippersnappers running around out in the open aren't helping. They whine and go out in the sun. Are they trying to get themselves killed? Don't they know they're attracting the wrong kind of attention by mooning all over the place, over some silly little girl" (p. 9).
Frankenstein’s monster, Dracula, the wolfman and so on, meet every week to deal will their trials in trying to make it in the human world that must never know they exist, else they will be hunted down once more. However, the group leader, Bob the Blob is missing, and the Invisible Man is found murdered. It looks like someone is killing off the monsters of the city, and the Monstofellodsis Anonymous is going to have to track down that killer before they’re all discovered.
What I loved about this one is the references to all the horror movies and classic horror texts. Petersen combines these references with tongue-in-check humor that made for a very enjoyable and light read. The humour and references to classic works of horror was what kept this one a strong, metafictional read; the mystery element was pretty light and resolved rather quickly. The light mystery element isn’t a bad thing; I just don’t think it would appeal to fans of mysteries. This one is most definitely for all the fan-girls/fan-guys out there!
There was also a little romance in this one between Natalie (Frankenstein’s monster) and Alec (the Wolfman). This was a nice addition to the novel and it didn’t overshadow the fun, interactions within the group. This self-help group was awesome and I loved hearing about their monster problems – needing lotion to keep from mummifying; stealing razors to manage the werewolf hair and on and on they go. ...more
This book was hysterical! I'm not usually a huge fan of paranormal romance or urban fantasy - but I really enjoyed this one. It was a funny, light reaThis book was hysterical! I'm not usually a huge fan of paranormal romance or urban fantasy - but I really enjoyed this one. It was a funny, light read that I was looking for.
Johnny, the drummer from the vampire band, The Impalers, has died. His sister, Stella, is grief stricken, and ends up sleeping with Wyatt, another band member, who's been in love with her for years. Stella's not sure what to do what that whole situation on top of her brother's death, but she goes ahead with Johnny's last request and organizes a big Irish wake to send him off. What she doesn't count on is anyone remembered what happened the night before. There's also a whole lot more problems that what Stella should do about Wyatt - she's stuck in bat form, there's a priest passed out in the bathroom, one of the vamps is missing a fang, and someone's turned a human, possibly against her will.
The Fangover is obviously a spoof of The Hangover but that didn't make this one anything other than enjoyable. The plot was totally absurd. But it was the characters that made it. The situations that they got themselves into the night before were fantastic and it was hilarious seeing them backtrack their steps. The romance thrown in was an added benefit.
I liked this one a lot more than I ever thought I would and I will be tuning in for the next one to see the aftermath of Saxon's wedding to a dominatrix.
As a side note - Saxon is the most hilarious character in this book. Whoever has heard of a vampire being obsessed with Chap Stick? ...more
I picked up this urban fantasy/paranormal romance for one reason and one reason only: LIBRARIAN DEMON HUNTER. Unfortunately, the fact that Maya FloresI 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....more
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. SiThis 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. ...more
The Damnation Affair is set in the same world as Saintcrow’s Bannon & Clare books. This book is not connected to the Bannon & Clare charactersThe 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. ...more
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, PatriceA 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. ...more
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 thWinterblaze 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. ...more
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 IrHeart 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. ...more
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 pecuSealed 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. ...more
Moonlight & Mechanicals is the fourth book in Cindy Spencer Pape’s Gaslight Chronicles series and focuses on the adoptive children of Merrick andMoonlight & 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. ...more