The story is set in London, back in the Victorian age. But this is by no means your typicalThis review originally posted at Christa's Hooked on Books
The story is set in London, back in the Victorian age. But this is by no means your typical Victorian tale. This rather large novel is actually a compilation of three, intertwined stories. The thread that connects them? H.G. Wells. It is not long after the release of his insanely popular book, The Time Machine and the idea of time travel has become incredibly popular. Everyone's looking for it to become the answer to all of their problems. Three people in particular, however, think it already may be the answer and enlist H.G. Wells to help them on their respective quests. As a result Wells finds himself knee deep in a number of mysteries including, tracking down Jack the Ripper, nurturing a romance between a young girl and a warrior from the year 2030 and saving future literally classics like Dracula and Turn of the Screw. Not exactly what he had in mind when he wrote his fictional novel.
I found these stories to be incredibly well written and woven together in an almost seamless and magical fashion. The characters just amazed me. Andrew Harrington is the very first character you meet in the book and I think he is by far my favourite. His is just such a beautiful story. A young, well off gentlemen, he falls in love is a White Chapel prostitute. If that wasn't bad enough, there is the ever present threat of Jack the Ripper stealing her away from Andrew at any given moment. There's was such a heart-wrenchingly beautiful love story and it was made all the more unique by the presence of H.G. Wells and the use of time travel.
For the most part the beautiful writing and magical ideas put forth were consistent throughout the whole book. The only fault I really found was that the pacing was really slow. I don't just mean this in the sense the book is long I mean there were times where nothing was really happening and these moments seemed to drag on forever. I could have done without these sluggish parts but overall the book was still very enjoyable and the rest of the writing was superb.
All in all my favourite thing about this novel was that it is literature that draws on other literature. That meant it combined all the best elements of steampunk and fantasy and gave book worms (like I know many of you are) a little something extra to get excited about it. I remember there were a few times while I was reading that the pieces started coming together and I got really excited about the references to some of my favourite books. The Map of Time a beautifully constructed book, filled with amazing adventures and just that little bit extra for book lovers. Definitely one to cozy up with....more
Finley Jane has always know she was a bit different. She's pretty strong, heals quickly and has got an incredible temper that she can barely control. After causing trouble at yet another employer's house, she takes off into the night. She knows this time, trouble will mean more than a dismissal, it'll mean jail. As she sneaks off, she collides with Griffin King, a duke and associate of the Queen. Fortunately for her, Griffin is also a little bit different, and before she knows it she's a part of a rag tag team, using their unusual skills to track down England's newest criminal, the Machinist.
This edge of your seat read, had me from the first few pages. Finley Jane is an A+ heroine. She is brave, strong willed, loyal and doesn't need a man to protect her. Can you say Girl Power? I found her engaging and I loved reading about her and all the trouble she managed to find herself in again and again. Finley is joined by a whole cast of other very likeable characters. Griffin King is incredibly charming, Sam (the part-man, part-robot) is ruled by his emotions but is always there for his friends and Emily, an incredibly smart and sweet girl that always seems to have the answers (again I want to say yay to girl power!). There are also some less than angelic characters, like the underground criminal, Jack Dandy. Though not as charming and well off as Griffin I definitely prefer Jack. Love me some Victorian age bad boys :)
Unfortunately, this book was a little predictable. It was easy to figure out the mysterious idenity of the Machinist and there were a couple more moments that you saw coming pretty far in advance. I was also a little disappointed by one of the big action scenes. It seemed too easy and it was over way to quickly. After building up to it for so long, it would have been nice for it to present more of a challenge. Overall, however, the good outweighed the unfortunate.
This was my first steampunk novel, so I really didn't know what to expect. What I found in The Girl in the Steel Corset, was an exciting edge of your seat read which combined what I love about science fiction with what I love about historical fiction. It was like reading Sherlock Holmes meets Jean Gray from the X-Men. There's not as much suspense as I would have liked but it's a great story, with some even greater characters and I can't wait for the next one....more
Cassandra Clare has once again supplied us with an amazing fantasy read that pulled me in. had me obseOriginally reviewed at Christa's Hooked on Books
Cassandra Clare has once again supplied us with an amazing fantasy read that pulled me in. had me obsessed and made me forget about everything else around me.
Clockwork Prince picks up not long after Clockwork Angel leaves off. Tessa is still living with the Shadowhunters, Will is still swoon worthy and the Magister is running around causing havoc. The story blends seamlessly from one book to the next and I never felt like I was missing something. Cassandra Clare did an amazing job of ensuring every detail and fact was accounted for.
One of the reason this series has been so incredible is the all star cast of characters. Each one, even the secondary ones, are well developed and in Clockwork Prince some of them, particularly Will, are really given the opportunity to grow. Tessa, Jem and Will are all faced with difficult decisions at various points in the novel and their decisions really help us understand them as characters.
Now for the most amazing thing about this novel - I actually enjoy the love triangle!! It's not just crafted out of convenience (oh I have a female character and two male characters? Well then I better make a love triangle!) There were some very real emotions here and though I'm partial to Will I can see how Tessa would be torn between the two of them. Their situation (particularly the ending!!) broke my heart.
This was an incredibly fun and well written read. It's one of those instances were the sequel is as good as - if not better than - the first one. It is going to be absolute torture waiting for Clockwork Princess!...more
Dearly Departed was one of those books that completely blew me away and exceeded all my expeThis review originally posted at Christa's Hooked on Books
Dearly Departed was one of those books that completely blew me away and exceeded all my expectations. At first I read the plot synopsis and honest to god my first reaction was “oh...It's about zombies.” The cover was nice and I liked the New Victorian idea but zombies? I've never been that into zombies. But then a couple bloggers I know and whom I trust completely when they recommend me a book, started raving about this book. I figured I'd give it a shot, started to read and much to my surprise I found myself more and more in love with the plot, the setting, the characters. Everything.
First of all, the zombies in this book aren't your average stumble around, brain eating, moaning beasts. They're real people who have had a really horrible thing happen to them. They still talk and feel and believe etc. The lead male – Bram, is potentially one of the sweetest guys ever. Before long you find yourself not caring that he's dead or a zombie. He's just Bram. I love that this book doesn't just use zombies, it makes them real characters you can connect with.
Beyond the well written zombies (never thought I'd say that!) Lia Habel has written this book with an incredible amount of detail. She's thought of everything! I've always wondered when reading Neo-Victorian novels why exactly people in the future would revert back to the Victorian age. Lia Habel has an answer for that. What about the environment and global warming? Yup that gets accounted for too. And the zombies themselves, why aren't they falling apart and rotting (they are dead after all)? Lia Habel has thought of all that too. Things make sense in this book. It didn't require me to make any leaps of faith or leave me wondering about some serious loose ends.
Last but not least I have to talk about the romance. There was no love triangle! I do like the occasional love triangle, but lately it seems like every book has one. I loved that this one only involved Bram and Nora. They also had to work at their relationship. They come from different worlds. Trust needed to built, and then friendship. They needed that foundation if they were ever going to become a believable couple and thankfully that's just what happened. You got to see the evolution of their relationship and I loved that about them. Finally, the love story didn't overwhelm the plot. Yes, it was wonderful and sweet but the main storyline still shone through and kept you on the edge of you seat, waiting to see what happened next.
All in all this was a great book. If you're not a fan of zombies don't let that deter you from reading it. I wasn't really a zombie person either and I loved this book. It's so well written and a lot of fun to read. You're going to fall in love with Bram, zombie or not, he's just that great of a guy. I can't wait to see where Lia Habel takes this series next and what adventures are still in store for the star crossed lovers. ...more
I love zombie novels. I love them almost as much as I love fairy and dragon novels. But I would have never discoOriginally reviewed at Hooked on Books
I love zombie novels. I love them almost as much as I love fairy and dragon novels. But I would have never discovered how much I loved this genre if it wasn't for Lia Habel's Dearly Departed. Intrigued at the idea of a zombie love story in a steampunk setting, I reviewed the title last winter. I was instantly in love. And after that I began seeking out other zombie novels, and much to my delight I loved them too. So when I saw the follow up novel Dearly Beloved on NetGalley I knew I had to give it a read. And I'm happy to say it was just as enjoyable as the first!
Lia Habel once again juggles an incredible and gigantic cast of characters. Each central character is given a few chapters in their own point-of-view and Habel makes every individual come alive on the page. They each have such distinct personalities and even though you only get a little time with each one, you really get to know them. I particularly liked the newly introduced, Laura. She is an example of great character development. At the beginning of Dearly Beloved she is a scared little girl, who does what she's told and let's other people boss her around. But as the story goes on she becomes more independent and develops some of the characteristics of a great leader. I hope we get to see more of her in the next book.
One of the reasons this series is so unique is the love story. Nora and Bram are one of the most amazing YA couples out there. They care deeply for one another and there's no question they're in love. But they also respect each other and their independence. They don't have to be around each other every moment and they don't neglect the rest of the people in their life now that they're together. That being said I love reading about the two of them together because they're just so adorable! I was really happy that the romance didn't take over this story – since there was more important things going on – but I would have liked these two to have a little more time together.
My one complaint when it comes to Dearly Beloved is that I found the plot a little harder to follow. There was a lot more going on in this novel and you're receiving information from a lot of different angles and perspectives. At times it was difficult to keep straight how everyone/everything was connected. This wasn't a huge problem over all but it made for a few confusing moments while reading.
Dearly Departed was everything I could have wanted from a sequel. It captured all the imagination and action of the first book, brought back my favourite characters and introduced some new story lines that kept everything fresh. I can't wait to see where Lia Habel takes this series next!...more
Early on into Clockwork Princess you come across the following passage:
“Tessa craned her head back to look at Will. “You know that feeling,” she said, “when you are reading a book, and you know that it is going to be a tragedy; you can feel the cold and darkness coming, see the net drawing tight around the characters who live and breathe on the pages. But you are tied to the story as if being dragged behind a carriage and you cannot let go or turn the course aside.”
For me this quote set the tone for the entire novel. You are in a constant state of anxiety wondering what is going to happen to these poor characters you’ve grown to love so much.
Being the third (and final) book in an amazing series, there’s really not much I can say about Clockwork Princess without giving too much away. I will mention that I enjoyed the character development that goes on here – particularly that of more secondary characters, like Sophie, who really comes into her own and Cecily, who is just like a female Will. The complex relationship that is Tessa-Jem-Will is still going strong but like the first two books this is most definitely a love triangle done right. Unlike other books it’s actually a triangle and the line connecting Jem and Will is probably the most touching of them all. I’m happy that Clare gave their friendship as much weight as their romantic feelings for Tessa.
I also think that Cassandra Clare has done the best possible job of making sure everyone is happy. And by everyone I mean the readers. There is something for everyone here, no matter what outcome you are rooting for going in.
I read Clockwork Princess with my heart in my throat, unable to focus on anything else until I reached it’s conclusion. However it was also one of those books I found myself purposefully slowing down for. Not wanting it to end. It was the perfect mixture of urgency and excitement and it will forever remain one of my favourite series.
Recommendation: A fantastic and action filled end to a breath taking series. Clockwork Princess is the perfect farewell to a cast of unforgettable characters...more
I absolutely adored The Girl in the Steel Corset, it was fun, it was fiesty, it's a brilliant introduction into thOriginally posted at Hooked on Books
I absolutely adored The Girl in the Steel Corset, it was fun, it was fiesty, it's a brilliant introduction into the steampunk genre. It should then come as no surprise, that I loved The Girl in the Clockwork Collar for all those reasons - and more!
The main reason I love this series is Finley Jane. She's smart, capable, brave and oh so flawed. I love a complex main character, espeically a female main character. There's nothing cut and dry about her and she can't be reduced to a simple archetype. I like that she is indecisive and struggling with two sides of her personality. It makes her seem more real. I may not have an actual dark and light side trying to coexist inside me, but I'm sure many readers can relate to the difficult choice between what is easy and what is right.
But it's not just Finley that keeps me hooked on this series. It's the whole cast of characters. Griffin, Emily, Sam, Jasper. I'd be hard pressed to pick a favourite. They're all so unique, life like and extremely likable. Kady Cross even writes excellent bad guys! How the characters are written more often than not will make or break a novel for me, and The Girl in the Clockwork Collar suceeds in making every character fun to read about.
I found the action of this novel, a little more subdued than the original. There was a lot more planning and deceit than actual fighting. However, I can't really complain about this change. It allowed the story to go in some interesting directions that I don't think it could have otherwise. And there was still just enough action thrown in to keep me satisfied.
I am happy to report that The Girl in the Clockwork Collar, is just as amazing as The Girl in the Steel Corset. If you haven't pick up this series yet, what are you waiting for? Move it to the top of your TBR ASAP!
Final recommendation: A fabulous second book that fans of the first are sure to love and a great series for new and old steampunk lovers....more
Stefan Bachmann’s The Peculiar is the story of Bartholomew Kettle and his sister, Hettie. A pair of ChangelinOriginally posted at More Than Just Magic
Stefan Bachmann’s The Peculiar is the story of Bartholomew Kettle and his sister, Hettie. A pair of Changelings living in Bath, England. Their existence is difficult, despised by humans and fairies alike. But when other Changelings start disappearing, the game changes and Bartholomew has to venture out, in order to protect his sister and himself.
I really enjoyed Bartholomew’s dedication to his sister. As someone his is close with her own brother, I tend to love any story that has to do with sibling love and friendship. I don’t think it’s a relationship that’s explored enough in children’s literature. It was great to see a pair of siblings that care about one another’s well-being and are always there for one another. That more than anything was what really made The Peculiar shine for me.
In addition to the sibling love, Stefan Bachmann’s writing is absolutely gorgeous. It’s almost unbelievable that he’s only a teenager. Beautiful flowing phrases, perfect metaphors, and detailed and expertly woven story. The Peculiar was truly a joy to read. I found myself getting lost in the rich setting and beautiful imagery. If you’re someone who appreciates the technical side of writing, this is definitely a book for you.
Bartholomew and Hettie were not the only fabulous characters in this novel. Arthur Jelliby was by far my favourite. He was such an ordinary, regular person, but when push comes to shove, he goes to amazing lengths to investigate missing Changelings (that others seem indifferent to). He’s a bit silly, and clumsy and more than a little awkward, but I was drawn to him and his well-meaning ways. An engaging and well written character, he really helps pull The Peculiar together.
My one word of warning about this book however is that the pacing is quite slow. It’s a story that takes its time, revealing it’s complex layers at a much more deliberate and careful pace than I’m used to in Middle Grade novels. It didn’t make it any less beautiful or enjoyable, but it could make it difficult to get into. I was never truly absorbed in the story, and because of that it was a book I really liked, but I didn’t love.
Recommendation: The Peculiar is an example of truly excellent writing and skill. It had great characters, great themes and an incredible setting. Though technically a middle grade novel, this is definitely a book readers of all ages can appreciate....more
So begins the steampunk adventure, entitled The Friday Society. There’s somOriginally reviewed at More Than Just Magic
And then there was an explosion.
So begins the steampunk adventure, entitled The Friday Society. There’s something to be said for starting a story off with a bang. It grabs demands your attention and you will be only too happy to hand over the next few hours of your life to see what comes next.
It needs to be said. Canadian authors are freakin’ rockstars. This week I compiled a list of the best books I read in 2012 and it was no surprise how many Canadian titles made the cut. The Friday Society is no exception (it took home the award for best steampunk!). Adrienne Kress is a fabulous new voice in YA literature, and her flirty and unique style was a lot of fun to read and explore.
The story centres around three young girls – Cora, Nellie and Michiko. All three were apprentices to powerful men, but they were secondary in job title only. They were independent, free spirited, intelligent. I would be hard pressed to pick a favourite. I really enjoyed that they were given equal weight and importance throughout the story. (Although if I’m really forced to choose I’d have to go with Cora. I love all her inventions!). Their’s was a relationship built on mutual respect and friendship, and it was refreshing to see three female characters interacting in this way. They’re a great role model for what everyone’s friendships should be like (no matter what your age!)
Beyond the emphasis on female camaraderie, the other thing that makes The Friday Society really stand out is that there is no real love story. Sure, there are some potential love interests, but they’re nothing more than subplots – at best – and the true story belongs to Nellie, Cora and Michiko throughout. Not every book needs a love story, and I am glad to see Adrienne Kress agrees with that sentiment.
A lot of books recently seem to be marketed under the “steampunk” title lately, but quite often they’re simply Victorian or Gothic, with a few steampunk elements thrown in. The Friday Society is a true steampunk adventure with all the gadgets, and themes of makerism, idealisum and challenging societal norms, to prove it. It was nice to really get into the genre, and experience all the things that make it truly fascinating. I hope that this is a novel that will encourage to seek out more steampunk as well.
All these fantastic elements were built around a pretty surprising mystery. I wasn’t totally surprised by the outcome, but I enjoyed the ride just the same. If I had once criticism of The Friday Society it’s that at times it felt a bit modern. I would have preferred a more Victorian feel to the language and dialogue, but I have read other reviews that enjoyed this modern take. So it’s really a matter of personal preference.
Recommendation: A fun and feisty adventure story that I recommend to those who are curious about steampunk or who like stories about strong women and strong friendships, rather than relationships....more
This is one kick ass, action filled novel in a unique setting. At one point the novel says "thinking dThis review originally posted at Hooked on Books
This is one kick ass, action filled novel in a unique setting. At one point the novel says "thinking did nothing. Action was the only thing that would truly yield results" (p. 179). I think this is basically the mantra of this story and I loved it as a resuly. If there is one thing Kate Locke does really well is write action scenes. Every kick, duck, punch and jab. She captures it all. Scenes go by in a whirlwind, but a whirlwind you can picture perfectly in your mind.
In addition to the action I am in love with all of the main characters. They're witty, thoughtful and just plain interesting. I was particular attached to Xandra, our heroine of the story. Although heroine may not be the ideal word. She's by no means a perfect person, she's got a temper and is not afraid of letting it take over. It was refreshing to see a character that wasn't idealized. Flawed characters are just so much more fun. And I am extremely jealous that Xandra gets to eat all the food. I wish I could eat like she does!
So we've got an amazing main character and some thrilling action scenes. But my praise for this book doesn't stop there. To me the brilliance of the book is all the little details. To me these details make all the difference. They turn a fun story into a great book. Some things were silly (in a good way) - like the inclusion of Mr Jones, an alternate future Doctor Who, others I found more significant. Like the inclusion of a lesbian couple, Avery and Emma. And then there was the slang. Normally have a hard time with British slang (or just slang in general) but Locke slipped it in seamlessly, I never felt like I was in over my head.
God Save the Queen is a fabulous novel that hits all the right notes. It's funny, it's pulse pounding, it makes you want to keep reading late in the night. It even touches on some deep issues like responsibility, family, and class dynamics. There's a lot to this novel if you give it a chance. And you should give it a chance.
Final recommendation: A must read for any steampunk and urban fantasy fans. Also recommended for fans of Kate Locke's (Kady Cross) YA series The Steampunk Chronicles....more
At the end of Something Strange and Deadly, Eleanor is left in a pretty dismal state. Sure the waThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
At the end of Something Strange and Deadly, Eleanor is left in a pretty dismal state. Sure the walking dead they battled have been banished, but her brother is dead, her mother is slightly insane and the Spirit Hunters have left her behind. When A Darkness Strange and Lovely opens, we find things haven’t improved too much for her. She’s had to sell most of their belongings to pay for her mother’s medical care, she’s still very much alone and worst of all she thinks Marcus has returned. What’s a girl to do? Go to Paris and find Daniel The Spirit Hunters of course!
Can I start off by saying that I love that this book takes place in Paris. Not that there was anything wrong with Philadelphia by any means – but it’s PARIS. Who doesn’t love a novel set in Paris? Especially old-timey Paris with carriages and hot air balloons and people getting all dressed up for parties and dinners. Susan Dennard does such a fantastic job with the descriptions. I really felt like I was there. So much so, that when I was done the book I started casually looking at flights to Paris because I wanted to go “back” so badly.
I was also really happy to see that Eleanor hasn’t really changed. She has been through hell and back but she is just as tough, and brave and head strong as she was before. It’s going to sound weird but she kind of reminds me of Barbara Gordon (a.k.a Batgirl/Oracle). They both fight for what they believe is right, they both struggle with something darker and they both to cope with certain physical handicaps. Eleanor in this book is a lot more lonely and she’s a lot more tempted by necromancy but at her core she is still the same person and I appreciated that Dennard kept her so true to character. Also I loved all the food! Eleanor is a girl after my own heart. There’s a scene where the other woman at the table only has half a pastry, whereas Eleanor’s plate is full. Her thought process here is something that I have experienced exactly and I loved it.
When Eleanor departs for Paris, she makes the acquaintance of a new young man – Oliver, who claims to have known her brother. As soon as he appeared the love triangle alarm started blaring in my head, but I am happy to report that it was a false alarm. There is NO LOVE TRIANGLE!! And based on certain hints that were dropped, there won’t be in the next book either - at least not between Eleanor-Daniel-Oliver. And speaking of Daniel – *swoons* – he’s back and just as frustrating and gorgeous as ever. I loved that their relationship took a back burner to the main action, but the tension was always there. It kept you on edge and cheering for them, but didn’t get in the way of the story. (I would have liked a little more kissing though!)
Recommendation: Once again Susan Dennard has written a book that I absolutely loved reading a devoured in a single sitting. She writes great (and diverse) characters, beautiful settings and well woven plots. A Darkness Strange and Lovely is a sequel that delivers. The whole Something Strange and Deadly series is a must read to get your steampunk, zombie fix – and trust me you need that fix!...more
Sorcery! Mayhem! Dragons! Corsets! Logic! (Ok maybe that last one didn't need an exclamation point but you get tOriginally reviewed at Hooked on Books
Sorcery! Mayhem! Dragons! Corsets! Logic! (Ok maybe that last one didn't need an exclamation point but you get the idea)
Lilith Saintcrow's newest steampunk adventure, The Iron Wyrm Affair, has all the mixing for an incredible and magical adventure. Emma Bannon is a sorceress of the highest calibre, so when some suspicious deaths start occuring within the city's mentah population (which as far as I could tell is basically an investigative person who uses logic to get to the bottom of things) she is called in to figure out what is going on. She's an incredibly independent woman, with a brilliant mind, and some impressive attitude. At times I found her a bit over the top - particularly when it came to her obsession with dresses. Every single one was described in so much detail, I sometimes found myself skimming to get on with the story. But overall I was definitely drawn to her as a character and fascinated by what she would do next.
Lilith Saintcrow is an intelligent woman. That much comes across in her writing. She nailed the Victorian aesthetic dress, customs etc. There was never a doubt in my mind that this is what an alternative Britain would have looked like. And not only is her book well researched, it quite clever writing. It was difficult at first to get into it. I got bogged down by the detail and structure, but then I began to pick out the similarities to Victorian writing and I could appreciate in much more. It was still occasionally difficult to decipher exactly what was happening at some points but it was beautiful writing nonetheless.
My one complaint about The Iron Wyrm Affair is that I still have a lot of questions. Potentially too many questions. There were a lot of character motivations that I just didn't understand. There were a few things hinted at, that never came to anything. It was almost as if the book was trying to accomplish too much, too include too many things. If you could weed through the surplus information, there was a really great story underneath, but it all comes down to whether or not you want to put that much effort into it.
Final recommendation: An intelligent, well written, sometimes witty steampunk novel, that captures the Victorian age perfectly. Great for fans of the genre....more
I adore Steampunk – this tiny little sub genre has won my heart. If you’ve experienced it beforeThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
I adore Steampunk – this tiny little sub genre has won my heart. If you’ve experienced it before you probably know what I’m talking about – a little bit science fiction, a little bit fantasy, a little bit alternate history, held together by action and romance. If you haven’t tried out the genre yet what are you waiting for?
The Inventor’s Secret has all the elements of a fantastic steampunk adventure. Particularly the aesthetic. Andrea Cremer has created some very cool technology – from air ships, to magnetic exploding mice and even a floating city. I personally love the clothes. If I ever tackle a steampunk novel you can bet part of my motivation will come from designing all the outfits. Even though everything in this novel is completely bizarre and most of it doesn’t exist in real life it comes vividly to life in your head. It’s such a fun and beautiful world to dive into and get lost exploring.
At the centre of The Inventor’s Secret there is a rag tag group of refugees, hiding out and striking back against the British Empire. They’re all fabulous and Cremer could have chose any of them as the main character. They were all so much fun – Ash, Linnet, Pip, Birch, Scoff…I loved them all and would read a book about any of them, no question. But Cremer picked Charlotte which worked out pretty well too. I would definitely say I’m a fan of Charlotte. She was outspoken, stubborn and tough. She’s the kind of girl that isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty but still has a kind heart. With one hand she’s firing her favourite gun – Pocky – and with the other she’s rescuing a lost boy who has no memory of who he is and where he came from. She’s a character who is easy to root for. Her values and her cause are admirable but she recognizes shades of grey when she see’s them which leads to some pretty interesting character development – especially when she’s challenged to think beyond what she’s been taught.
One of the people who is constantly challenging her is Jack. They’ve known each other for a long time, and they’ve always been at each other’s throats. But now that they’re older things are changing between them. The romance wasn’t a huge factor in the central plot but it was a nice reprieve from the action from time to time. Jack reminded me a bit of Hans Solo mixed with Will from Pirates of the Caribbean. Handsome, charming, smug, and ready for battle.
I did find from time to time the world building was a little shaky. I’m not sure I understood how America got the way it did exactly and the villain of this story – the British – just seemed bad and heartless for the sake of being bad. I’m hoping we get a better look at that side in subsequent books. I also thought there were a few subplots that could have been dropped. Particularly Coe (Jack’s brother). The Inventor’s Secret didn’t need a love triangle to add more tension. There was plenty of tension already with them fighting for their lives!
But don’t let my nit picky concerns stop you from picking up this book. If you want a fun, action-packed read and love steampunk and fiesty characters the hypnotic pull of The Inventor’s Secret is sure to suck you in....more
When I started reading A Conspiracy of Alchemists my first thought was that I had opened up the sThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
When I started reading A Conspiracy of Alchemists my first thought was that I had opened up the steampunk version of The Transporter. Which would be awesome! And I was perfectly happy to settle in and read that story. But, like books often too, it became so much more than what I expected, and as a result was even more awesome than I hoped.
At its most basic A Conspiracy of Alchemists is the story of a girl, pushing against the constraints/expectations of her society and doing what needs to be done to rescue her father. Elle is a spunky, strong willed woman and when she sets her mind to something she is going to do it. Like getting her pilot’s license. Or flying an otherwise untested machine. I like reading about characters that have a strong head on their shoulders and know exactly what they want.
There is a big romantic element to this story but at the same time it doesn’t take away from the adventure of the central plot line. It’s easy to get annoyed if a protagonist is too focused on the romance when there are more important things going on. But Elle is like us. She knows there’s no time for distractions. There was a good balance between the main story and the romance. The swoon worthy moments were a nice break between the more intense scenes and they made me cheer for Elle and Hugh as a unit rather than just Elle on her own.
My one problem however with A Conspiracy of Alchemists was that sometimes I did get bogged down by unnecessary detail. At times it felt like a lot of extra elements were added in and you just wanted to get to the point. Other times I wanted those extra details expanded upon. Like the absinthe fairy. Hopefully some things get fleshed out/explored further in book 2.
Recommendation: Great for those who like a touch of romance with their action. Recommended for fans of Cassandare Clare’s Infernal Devices series and Kate Locke’s Immortal Empire series....more
First off -Huge thanks to Brenna (Esther’s Ever After) without whom I would have never heard of tThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
First off -Huge thanks to Brenna (Esther’s Ever After) without whom I would have never heard of this fabulous book.
To sum it up in one sentence it’s BBC-esque Sherlock meets steampunk with a dash of Doctor Who. I didn’t believe it until I read it but that is the most accurate description I can think off. So then knowing my love of all three of those things it should be no surprise that I adored The Lazarus Machine.
Since this is a steampunk novel, I think it is only right I talk about that element first. I really liked the way Paul Crilley used steampunk technology. He took real inventions with actual historical figures (like Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage) which is always fun to read about and shows me that you’ve done your homework. But then he took it to the next level with computers, security systems and sonic guns that all spawned from that original tech. So this is not just surface steampunk with a few clockwork powered machines and zeppelin thrown in. This is a richly imagined, beautifully detailed, alternate world that I think fans of the genre will really appreciate.
But it’s not just the atmosphere that makes The Lazarus Machine worth reading. It’s that it’s filled to the brim with awesome characters. Starting with our leads - Sebastian and Octavia (Tweed and Nightingale respectively). They’re both such strong, independent personalities but they worked really well together as a team. Yay teamwork! They’re partnership was one built out of respect for one another and they played off each other’s strengths to achieve what they thought was the best possible outcome. There were simmerings of romantic interest but the story didn’t go there – focusing instead on the more important matters at hand. I wish more male-female partnerships could be like this. Not just in YA novels. But all novels.
I love an author who doesn’t neglect their secondary characters. There’s nothing more disappointing when the rest of the cast feels flat and one dimensional. But Paul Crilley has crafted an extraordinary cast of secondary characters. I was just invested in what happened to them as I was Sebastian and Octavia. Carter and Jenny – the professional thieves, who love each other more than anything – and Barnaby - Sebastian’s con man father, with some secrets of his own – are a few that really stood out for me. They all felt well-developed and were fun to read about even if they didn’t get the same “page time” as Sebastian and Octavia.
My one criticism of The Lazarus Machine is that I would have liked a little more Sherlock Holmes and Moriarity stuff. Whether it was more detail into their presence, or more actual interaction with the characters because they are repeatedly referenced and make an important cameo. It seems a shame to introduce these two famous and brilliant characters and then not make full use of them.
Recommendation: Great for fans of Steampunk, Sherlock Holmes and the BBC. Also for those looking for a YA with a male-female pairing that doesn’t devolve into insta love or a love triangle....more
Loved the level of action in this book but I found it jumped all over the place and I had to re-read a few scenes to understand exactly what was goingLoved the level of action in this book but I found it jumped all over the place and I had to re-read a few scenes to understand exactly what was going on. But I'm really excited to see what happens next and I love Mustang!...more
Oh Steampunk how I love you. It’s like fantasy and science fiction had a love child and horror anThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
Oh Steampunk how I love you. It’s like fantasy and science fiction had a love child and horror and historical fiction had a love child and then those two love children came together to form this smart and sexy subgenre.
I’m standing by that definition. I dare you to tell me steampunk doesn’t fit that description. I. Dare. You.
Anyway we’re not here to talk about Steampunk as a whole (future post maybe?). We’re here to talk about The 7th of London by Beau Schemery. A fun and incredibly detailed steampunk adventure.
The 7th of London is the story of a boy named Seven. A boy who seems to find trouble where ever he goes. Or rather trouble seems to find him. The story opens with him investigating a mysterious stranger – Mr Kettlebent but the plot quickly unfolds to reveal a much deeper and darker conspiracy, involving the queen of England! Seven soon finds himself knee-deep in the fight to save his Queen and Country.
I loved the plot of this story. It had everything a good steampunk novel should. Action, adventure, mystery and lots and lots of cool gadgets. It even featured a young Tesla! I loved trying to figure out what twist the story was going to take next and how everyone was all connected to one another. I think this was a really well plotted book and that Beau Schemery really took the time to build in all the little details that make a story stand out.
I also found Seven himself an extremely like-able character. He’s faced his share of adversary. Forced to work in a factory when he was just a child, branded and tortured by his cruel boss, living on the streets, in love with a boy who doesn’t love him back. I don’t think anyone would blame Seven if he just curled up into a ball and gave up on the world. But he doesn’t. He keeps fighting. He keeps standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. If I had to describe him in a sentence, he’s a bit like Oliver Twist mixed with Robin Hood. What’s not to like about that?
However, as much as I liked The 7th of London it wasn’t perfect. The dialogue felt a bit too clunky and formal and as a result it took me a lot longer than I expected to really get into this book. I also thought the characters got over traumatic events really fast. Or any events really. Everyone (except the antagonists) was so incredibly emphatic and understanding. I would have liked it better if some characters had greater emotional ranges – or at least maintained their emotions for more than a scene. I also thought there were a few scenes near the end that were a little too violent/extreme - but that is totally a personal preference.
Recommendation: Overall The 7th of London is an interesting read. A mixture of Oliver Twist and Kady Cross’s Steampunk Chronicles....more