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Review – Incarnation October 16, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4 stars, Steampunk.
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Title: Incarnation

Author: Emma Cornwall

Publisher: Gallery Books

Publication Date: September 18, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-1439190357

Available at: Amazon Kindle Barnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

In the steampunk world of Victorian London, a beautiful vampire seeks out the author of Dracula–to set the record straight . . . If one is to believe Bram Stoker’s legendary vampire tale, Lucy Weston is Dracula’s most wanton creation, a sexual creature of the night who preys on innocent boys. But the real-life Lucy is nothing like her fictional counterpart—and she demands to know why the Victorian author deliberately lied. With Stoker’s reluctant help, she’s determined to track down the very fiend who transformed her—from the sensual underworld where humans vie to become vampires, to a hidden cell beneath a temple to madness, and finally into the glittering Crystal Palace where death reigns supreme.

Haunted by fragmentary memories of her lost life and love, Lucy must battle her thirst for blood as she struggles to stop a catastrophic war that will doom vampires and humans alike. Ultimately, she must make a choice that illuminates for her—and for us—what it means to be human.

Review:

Lucy Weston awakes in the earth with a stake in her chest. All she can remember is a strange man luring her from her window one night. From there she discovers Bram Stoker has written about her plight in a grossly exaggerated tale. She goes on a quest to not only find out why Stoker has written such lies, but also to find out what he knows about the truth.

Along the way she comes across Marco di Orsini, a Protector who is sworn to protect humans from vampires. They become allies as the hunt for the vampire who incarnated Lucy takes on new meaning. Lucy also stumbles across Lady Blanche and Felix, fellow vampires. One of whom becomes her ally, the other becomes her enemy.

I instantly took to Lucy. She regretted her departure from her human life, but she didn’t let that stop her from accomplishing her goals. She was resilient and she had strength of character. Seemingly overnight she finds herself a vampire thirsting for blood and she adapted well. She did what she needed to do to survive even though there was no one there to show her how to survive in her new life.

Marco was another strong character and the romantic interest in this book. He was not without a certain mystery. Who was he really? How did his interests as a Protector coincide with Lucy’s? All these things ran through my head as I read on.

Lady Blanche was a consummate vampire. She truly had the sense of a creature who had lived for centuries. She also had more of Machiavellian mind. Felix was much more sympathetic and human. You could instantly tell which one to trust and which one not to.

I could never quite get a handle on Mordred, the vampire who incarnated Lucy. He was a complete mystery to me. Was he sympathetic to the human plight or was he impervious to human feeling after centuries of having seen their petty struggles? I was very conflicted as to which Mordred to believe in.

In the beginning of the book I found the prose a little cumbersome but I soon fell into rhythm with it and began enjoying it. The pace of the book kept up throughout the book. There’s enough happening to keep you engaged yet it’s not so much that you find yourself overloaded.

The London Lucy lives in is filled with Watchers on Teslaways and floating dirigibles. There are monstrous foundries where men slave their lives away. There are even more inventions then that. More then I can name, all adding to the wonderful steam punk feel of the novel. I truly enjoyed that facet of the book.

On the whole I enjoyed this novel tremendously. It was a fun adventure with a great romance. I loved Lucy and I hope there will be more books with her in the future.

Review – Stormdancer October 5, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 5 stars, Fantasy, Steampunk, Young Adult.
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Title: Stormdancer

Author: Jay Kristoff

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books

Publish Date: September 18, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-1250001405

Available at: Amazon Kindle Barnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

A DYING LAND
The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, the land is choked with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed its wilds have departed forever.

AN IMPOSSIBLE QUEST
The hunters of Shima’s imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger—a legendary creature, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.

A SIXTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL
Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a talent that if discovered, would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.

But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.

Review:

This was a strong debut novel from Jay Kristoff and I loved it! I loved the Asian influence that reeked of Japan. I loved the complex world building. I loved the rich culture he infused throughout the book. I also loved the elaborate technological inventions he inserted in the book here and there.

What I really loved or rather, who I really loved was Buruu, the thunder tiger. He was magnificent! Buruu had a strong primal voice in the book as a main character. His bond with Yukiko was something I was particularly jealous of.

I did like Yukiko though. Yukiko was someone you felt for because her father became such a wastrel. She had to grow up before her time. Yet at the same time she cried out to be just a sixteen-year-old. She was capable and she could really fight well.

The shogun was the best villain. He was maniacal and evil. I truly felt hatred for him and his careless callous ways. The Lotus Guild was even worse. The way they were polluting the land and in turn, killing the people and the animals? Atrocious.

Even the finale of this book was strong. It left me feeling satisfied as far as knowing everything there was to know. The only problem I had was the the book had to end. I was left with a book hangover and with nothing more to read of Buruu and Yukiko’s adventures.

Review – The Unnaturalists August 31, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4 stars, Steampunk.
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Title: The Unnaturalists

Author: Tiffany Trent

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers

Publication date: August 14, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-1442422063

Available at: Amazon KindleBarnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

In an alternate London where magical creatures are preserved in a museum, two teens find themselves caught in a web of intrigue, deception, and danger.

Vespa Nyx wants nothing more than to spend the rest of her life cataloging Unnatural creatures in her father’s museum, but as she gets older, the requirement to become a lady and find a husband is looming large. Syrus Reed’s Tinker family has always served and revered the Unnaturals from afar, but when his family is captured to be refinery slaves, he finds that his fate may be bound up with Vespa’s—and with the Unnaturals.

As the danger grows, Vespa and Syrus find themselves in a tightening web of deception and intrigue. At stake may be the fate of New London—and the world.

Review:

The Unnaturalists is a steampunk novel contains so much more then magical creatures. With the Unnaturals there are wielders of magic, like a witch and Architects as they’re called. They added an extra dose of excitement to the story. There was also one particularly violent scene. It took me by surprise because I didn’t expect to find it it in a young adult book, but maybe I’m being over-sensitive.

I liked Vespa for the most part. She had an eagerness about her that was very refreshing. My problem with her was her unshaking confidence in people that became rather naive truth be told. For a scientific mind, you would think she’d look at the cold hard facts and discern what was in front of her rather then what was in her heart. Instead she was swayed by emotion rather then by logic.

Syrus was resourceful and resilient. He had a way about him that never ceased to give up in despite the odds. I really liked him. He’d fight and fight, no matter what. He was pretty good at it too!

I also really liked Pedant Lumin. He always managed to keep his cool and be in the right place at the right time. Lumin was all at once the dashing hero and the resourceful sidekick. The intriguing mix of roles kept me interested and I was entranced by his character the most.

One of the things I enjoyed most was their religion. Trent made science itself a religion. Scientists became patron saints. Darwin and Newton became patron saints. It was also a goddess based religion. I have to admit I’m pretty partial to goddess based religions.

Basically, the Unnaturals are being used for a hideous purpose and it’s up to the three to stop it. I was interested enough in the plot to keep reading. It was fresh enough for me to be intrigued even if it’s been recycled in one form or another. I feel like Vespa could have stood to become more fully developed to have let the story become fuller. Although the book fell on more of the supporting cast to pull it through as far as likability, it’s still a strong one. As far as likability goes, that could be a matter of preference.

Review – Asher’s Invention August 8, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3 stars, Romance, Steampunk.
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Title: Asher’s Invention

Author: Coleen Kwan

Publisher: Carina Press

Publication Date: June 25, 2012

ASIN: B007M8S2FS

Available at: AmazonBarnes and Noble

Summary:

Minerva Lambkin’s father has been kidnapped. Now she’s forced to return to Asher Quigley, the man who broke off their engagement five years ago. Without his help her father is as good as dead.

Asher agrees to help Minerva, but can they see beyond their conflict of their troubled past to solve the problems of the present?

Review:

Asher’s Invention is a steampunk romance with a lot of action, but the romance seemed a bit forced at times. I got tired of the way the two of them kept pulling apart and pushing forward in a heave of emotions.  The constant repetition on the theme made it tiresome.

Minerva was very independent and spunky. She surprised me in the end. In fact she surprised me more then once. Minerva was a very passionate and forthright woman. I really enjoyed reading about her.

Asher was equally passionate. Unfortunately he came off rather indecisive and tentative whenever he became confused by his emotions. He was still a brilliant man, I just couldn’t connect with him.

The villain was disappointing. He came off rather vaudeville, cardboard, and comical. I really wish there had been more to him. The whole scene of the big reveal was a bit anti-climatic.

This story still has a lot going for it. The action is swift, the romance is still tender at the end, and the heroine is admirable. Not bad for a 76 page read!

* A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley

Review – Asher's Invention August 8, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3 stars, Romance, Steampunk.
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Title: Asher’s Invention

Author: Coleen Kwan

Publisher: Carina Press

Publication Date: June 25, 2012

ASIN: B007M8S2FS

Available at: AmazonBarnes and Noble

Summary:

Minerva Lambkin’s father has been kidnapped. Now she’s forced to return to Asher Quigley, the man who broke off their engagement five years ago. Without his help her father is as good as dead.

Asher agrees to help Minerva, but can they see beyond their conflict of their troubled past to solve the problems of the present?

Review:

Asher’s Invention is a steampunk romance with a lot of action, but the romance seemed a bit forced at times. I got tired of the way the two of them kept pulling apart and pushing forward in a heave of emotions.  The constant repetition on the theme made it tiresome.

Minerva was very independent and spunky. She surprised me in the end. In fact she surprised me more then once. Minerva was a very passionate and forthright woman. I really enjoyed reading about her.

Asher was equally passionate. Unfortunately he came off rather indecisive and tentative whenever he became confused by his emotions. He was still a brilliant man, I just couldn’t connect with him.

The villain was disappointing. He came off rather vaudeville, cardboard, and comical. I really wish there had been more to him. The whole scene of the big reveal was a bit anti-climatic.

This story still has a lot going for it. The action is swift, the romance is still tender at the end, and the heroine is admirable. Not bad for a 76 page read!

* A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley

Review – Molly's Soap Parlor May 29, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3.5 stars, Steampunk.
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Title: Molly’s Soap Parlor

Author: Stacey James

Genre: Steampunk

Publisher: Stacey James

Publish Date: March 18, 2012

Available at: Amazon

From Amazon:

Steam and soap powder rule in 1895 Whiskey Falls!

Spunky twenty one year old tinkering laundress, Molly Watkins, can clean more than just sap and coal stains out of overalls; she can clean house with anyone that sets an unwelcomed foot on her new establishment- Molly’s Soap Parlor. That would include scoundrels, thugs, and pirates.

But Molly has no time for twittering- not even with a handsome wilderness scout named Arrow. His elusive ways annoy her, yet together they create a chemistry that Molly cannot account for.

Meanwhile, Molly’s latest contraptions land her in a world of hurt. Gadgets, torpedoes and a modified Henry rifle quickly become a feisty laundress’ best friend in Whiskey Falls in the winter time.

Having narrowly escaped the foothills of North Dakota without her dog sled team, Molly made her way east to Whiskey Falls in order to enter her new contraption, a cycle fly rod, in an annual ice fishing derby. The rod is only one of Molly’s latest inventions. But not everyone is rooting for the independent Molly Watkins…

It turns out there is more than just soap brewing in Molly’s peculiar steam-powered laundry contraption.

Review:

For an 83 page novella, this story packs a lot of punch.  A lot happens in a short amount of time. It’s fun and fast-paced. The characters are lively and colorful. The contraptions are intriguing and are an integral part of the story.

The romance is sweet and heart-warming if somewhat predictable. Arrow was also a bit predictable and formulaic. Molly’s responses were just as predictable. I still enjoyed them though.

I thought it was strange for Molly to respond to Arrow with a “no worries”. There were other spots of dialogue I had a hard time getting a feel for.

I thought it was rather corny that her soap powder was so sought after. If you put aside that fact, it was an entertaining read. While I’m not quite certain this quite fits in the Steampunk genre as it takes place in the Wild West and this certainly is no literary gem, I”ll still look for the next in the series.

Review – Molly’s Soap Parlor May 29, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3.5 stars, Steampunk.
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Title: Molly’s Soap Parlor

Author: Stacey James

Genre: Steampunk

Publisher: Stacey James

Publish Date: March 18, 2012

Available at: Amazon

From Amazon:

Steam and soap powder rule in 1895 Whiskey Falls!

Spunky twenty one year old tinkering laundress, Molly Watkins, can clean more than just sap and coal stains out of overalls; she can clean house with anyone that sets an unwelcomed foot on her new establishment- Molly’s Soap Parlor. That would include scoundrels, thugs, and pirates.

But Molly has no time for twittering- not even with a handsome wilderness scout named Arrow. His elusive ways annoy her, yet together they create a chemistry that Molly cannot account for.

Meanwhile, Molly’s latest contraptions land her in a world of hurt. Gadgets, torpedoes and a modified Henry rifle quickly become a feisty laundress’ best friend in Whiskey Falls in the winter time.

Having narrowly escaped the foothills of North Dakota without her dog sled team, Molly made her way east to Whiskey Falls in order to enter her new contraption, a cycle fly rod, in an annual ice fishing derby. The rod is only one of Molly’s latest inventions. But not everyone is rooting for the independent Molly Watkins…

It turns out there is more than just soap brewing in Molly’s peculiar steam-powered laundry contraption.

Review:

For an 83 page novella, this story packs a lot of punch.  A lot happens in a short amount of time. It’s fun and fast-paced. The characters are lively and colorful. The contraptions are intriguing and are an integral part of the story.

The romance is sweet and heart-warming if somewhat predictable. Arrow was also a bit predictable and formulaic. Molly’s responses were just as predictable. I still enjoyed them though.

I thought it was strange for Molly to respond to Arrow with a “no worries”. There were other spots of dialogue I had a hard time getting a feel for.

I thought it was rather corny that her soap powder was so sought after. If you put aside that fact, it was an entertaining read. While I’m not quite certain this quite fits in the Steampunk genre as it takes place in the Wild West and this certainly is no literary gem, I”ll still look for the next in the series.

Review – The Whitechapel Gambit May 27, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars, Steampunk.
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Title: The Whitechapel Gambit

Author: Marcin Wrona

Genre: Steampunk

Publisher: Marcin Wrona

Publish date: April 24, 2012

Available at: Amazon 

From Amazon:

When the Haversham sun grinds to a halt before dawn, Daniel (or David) Squeak expects that he and his fellow sunwell workers are in for an awful day. What he doesn’t expect is that a furious foreman will be the very least of his problems. One gear turns another, and Squeak finds himself injured, sacked from the only work he’s ever known, and afraid for his very life.

The mysterious Sir Nicholas offers Squeak a way out of his predicament, but this knight is no saint. As Sir Nicholas slides around the pawns and bishops of a decades-old plot, it’s Squeak who finds himself in motion: from sunwell to manor, from soot-stained Haversham to wealthy Rawlish, and even to the deadly jungles of the surface.

Workhouse lads are resourceful. Everybody knows that. But the bloody alleys of Haversham are not nearly as dangerous as the glittering avenues of King’s Court.

Review:

I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.

This Steampunk adventure was true to its genre. It didn’t just have token automatons inserted into the plot as background. They were an integral part of the story. That’s one of the things I found so delightful about this story.

Another thing I found so wonderful about this story was the alternating viewpoints of young Squeak to older Sir Daniel, who are one and the same. You can see his growth and progression from a workhouse lad to a young man of quality. Through it all he remains loyal to those he loves and to those he holds in esteem.

The whole cast of characters were colorful and full of life. From his childhood friend, Bing to Sir Nicholas, his mentor. They were all vividly portrayed. Even the Robins, who served as police in their society, were a blast of fresh air.

The action in the story was non-stop. It was one tumble down a winding path down another. That was a definite page-turner to say the least.

Another page-turner was the way the society and the world in which they lived in worked. I would say the world building wasn’t as polished as it could have been but you definitely got the feeling of a grimy, soot-stained underworld teeming with life.

I would have liked there to have been more attention paid to the upper surface tribes, but I still got  a sense of who they were and what they were about. I still got enough of an understanding so that I wasn’t totally left unsatisfied.

When I was done with the book, I was left a bit bereft at the thought that this might just be a stand-alone. I would have loved to continue on with the adventures of Squeak and his companions!

Review – The 19 Dragons May 11, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4 stars, Steampunk.
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Title: The 19 Dragons

Author: S.M. Reine

Genre: Steampunk

Publisher: S.M. Reine

Publish Date: July, 7 2011

Available at: Amazon

From Amazon:

DEAD GODS. WAR. AND THE END OF THE WORLD.

There are nineteen provinces in the Land held aloft by nineteen pillars. Above the earth there is sky, and nobody knows what goes below except the Nineteen Dragons.

That is all you need to know, but that is not all there is to be known.

The Device has been stolen and the godlike Dragons have been rendered mortal. Someone is murdering them one by one, and each death brings the world closer to its end. Unless the the Device is somehow restored to its deceased owner, the Dragons are doomed to destruction– and the human world will go with them.

Review:  (There are spoilers in this review.)

This is a strangely compelling story with its unusual formatting and odd cast of characters. There isn’t any one protagonist that truly seems to have stuck out until the end when Number Two saves the day along with her cousin dragon Number Five who is also  Number 19. Yes, that point is rather confusing.

Yet somehow it all works in favor of the novella. There are odd twists and turns at every corner of this story. It keeps the pace up and kept me engaged. There were dirigibles or air balloons and air gun ships. There were other automaton that weren’t well-described and I felt like they could have been to give the story more of a Steampunk flavor.

Otherwise I was very pleased with the way the story went. It flowed around the 19 dragons and their colorful tales. Each of them were unique and flavorful with their own unique characteristics. I don’t consider that an easy task when you consider there were 19 of them. Some of them passed more quickly then others. Some were given more attention then others. All were interesting in their own way.

I enjoyed the fantastical elements Reine included with her dragons. She kept them majestic and noble. Only deigning to don human vessels out of absolute necessity.

For such a short story I thought it was well done. The romance was more then a little rushed, but it was in keeping with the odd tenor of the whole tempo of the book. I have no real complaints about that.

All in all an enjoyable read.

Review – Timeless March 18, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 5 stars, Paranormal, Steampunk.
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Timeless 

by Gail Carriger

Alexia Tarabotti, Lady Maccon, has settled into domestic bliss. Of course, being Alexia, such bliss involves integrating werewolves into London High society, living in a vampire’s second best closet, and coping with a precocious toddler who is prone to turning supernatural willy-nilly. Even Ivy Tunstell’s acting troupe’s latest play, disastrous to say the least, cannot put a damper on Alexia’s enjoyment of her new London lifestyle.

Until, that is, she receives a summons from Alexandria that cannot be ignored. With husband, child, and Tunstells in tow, Alexia boards a steamer to cross the Mediterranean. But Egypt may hold more mysteries than even the indomitable Lady Maccon can handle. What does the vampire Queen of the Alexandria Hive really want from her? Why is the God-Breaker Plague suddenly expanding? And how has Ivy Tunstell suddenly become the most popular actress in all the British Empire?

I was sad to learn that this is the last book of the series, but if ever was there a series to go out with a bang then this one was it! There are surprises in store in the end! I won’t go into them for fear of spoiling the story, but I had a really fun time.

Prudence, Alexia’s child, was adorable and I’m not generally a fan of little people. She was precocious without being bratty. She also had intriguing powers and idiosyncrasies.  It was quite enjoyable just to read about her. I think that Carriger is doing a series about Prudence sometime in the future and that should be fun.

Alexia was her indubitable self, strutting out her irrefutable logic in the face of each crisis at every turn. Even if it was done before I didn’t get tired of reading about it.

Biffy was further developed in this story and how I loved that he was. He was always one of my favorite characters. I won’t go into those developments. I think it’s best I leave those surprises to those who will read the book unsaid.

This was a great read. It had me wondering what on earth was going on and where the story was going. It kept me reading until the late hours of the night, anxious to know what would happen next. It had me laughing. It had my heart in my throat. All in all, a really wonderful book.