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Review – The Duchess of the Shallows December 14, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars, Fantasy.
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Title: The Duchess of the Shallows

Author: Neil McGarry & Daniel Ravipinto

Publisher: Peccable Productions

Publication Date: March 2, 2012

ASIN: B007HTUXWC

Available at: Kindle   Barnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

A game is played in the fog-shrouded city of Rodaas, and every citizen, from the nameless of the Shallows to the noblest of the Garden, is a player or a pawn. And no one is as he appears.

Not Minette, brothel-keeper and obsessive collector of secrets. Not Uncle Cornelius, fearsome chief of the gang of brutes and murderers known as the Red. Not the cults of Death, Wisdom, and Illumination, eternally scheming and plotting along the Godswalk.

And certainly not the orphaned bread girl known as Duchess.

Yet armed with nothing more than her wits, her good friend Lysander and a brass mark of dubious origin Duchess will dare to play that game for the most coveted of prizes: initiation into a secret society of thieves, spies and rumormongers who stand supreme in a city where corruption and lies are common coin.

The Grey.

Review: *I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Grey is a network of thieves and spies as well as secret traders. Duchess believes her entrance into their society will give her the answers she seeks about her family. Entrance into The Grey is hard to come by and her task is dangerous to say the least. She needs to rob a nobleman’s house while he’s having a party.  Not easy.

Duchess is very ambitious and she’s driven by a need to know what exactly happened to her family when she was a small child. She’s also extremely resourceful and smart. I grew to admire her as the book went on.  Not only that, she was handy with a  knife. Duchess had a good network of people in the Shallows to rely on. There was Minette, the brothel-keeper and there was Lysander.

Lysander was disarming with his sweet charm. I really enjoyed reading about him. He is a ganymede or a male prostitute. He’s made his living on his looks and his wits for more years then Duchess can count. They’ve been friends since they were young children. Best of friends. Lysander taught Duchess much about the way of the Shallows.

This book was fast paced and I was easily absorbed by the well developed plot and characters. The world building was exceptional. There are layers of social classes and religious sects, including criminal elements. I was disappointed when the story ended purely because I wanted to keep on reading about Duchess and Lysander. I look forward to the next book in the series!

4.5 Stars_Star Rating System

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Review – The Weird Girls December 12, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4 stars, Urban Fantasy.
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3 comments

the-weird-girls

Title: The Weird Girls

Author: Cecy Robson

Publisher: Signet

Publication Date: December 4, 2012

ASIN: B008EXNZZM

Available at: Kindle Barnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

Celia Wird and her three sisters are just like other 20-something girls—with one tiny exception: they’re products of a backfired curse that has given each of them unique powers that make them, well, a little weird…

The Wird sisters are different from every race on earth—human and supernatural. When human society is no longer an option for them, they move in among the resident vampires, werebeasts, and witches of the Lake Tahoe region. Could this be the true home they’ve longed for? Um, not quite. After the sisters accidentally strip a witch of her powers in a bar brawl, they soon realize the mistake will cost them. Because to take on a witch means to take on her coven. And losing the battle isn’t an option.

Review:

Celia and her sisters tangle with the local witch’s coven and it’s up to Celia to protect her sisters. She takes on the head of the coven in one on one match. Over the next few days she’ll have to face a series of challenges. Never knowing what will arise, Celia will have to stay on her toes to survive.

This novella starts off with a bang and keeps on going. It’s a thrill ride that has just enough energy in it to keep you going. The witch that Celia takes on is a royal you-know-what. Cecy portrays her so perfectly. I wanted to smack her myself.

I loved that this was about Latina heroines. It’s so rare that authors write about anyone other then those of Caucasian descent. I love what it adds to the story and I wish more authors would write about heroines like Celia and her sisters.

I really loved Celia. She was protective of her sisters without being motherly. She was fierce without being masculine. She was strong without losing her vulnerability. I loved her to pieces. I loved that she was a weretiger! Something other then a wolf! The difference was slight but it was just enough to make it noticeable.

If there were weaknesses in the story it was that I felt like the background on the curse could have been developed more. After all it made the Wird girls who they were. I felt like it was a vital piece of who they were and would have provided a lot of more to the sisters characters.

Other then that, this was a strong prequel to a series and I’m truly looking forward to the first book in the series. (Sealed with a Curse comes out on December 31st.)

4 Stars_Star Rating System

Review – The Portal December 11, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 5 stars, Sci-Fi.
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Title: The Portal

Author: Alan Zendell

Publisher: FeedBrewer, Inc.

Publication Date: March 21, 2011

ASIN: B004TBC4DW

Available at: Kindle Barnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

Harry Middleton is born in an America staggered by a century of decline, a time of medical and technological marvels beyond the reach of most people in a shattered economy. Pessimism and despair are more common than optimism and hope, and a desperate government bets the future on space.  The lunar and Martian colonies have not provided the hoped-for salvation, so despite an angry, disillusioned public, the first star mission will soon be launched.

Harry is a special child, smart, precocious, his only confidante an embittered grandfather.  When the old man dies, Harry is lost, until he meets Lorrie.  At thirteen, they bond, certain they’ll spend their lives together, but a year later, she disappears, and Harry is desolate.

With help from his friend Carlos, Harry begins a quest to find her, but he quickly learns how powerless he is.  Even the police lack the resources to help.  Harry and Carlos can only depend on themselves and each other.  An unlikely duo, Harry is an academic prodigy while Carlos is a stud athlete.  Realizing that school and baseball are their  tickets out of the morass they’re caught in, they inspire each other to greatness in both.

Trying to move on with his life, Harry has a college sweetheart, but as long as Lorrie haunts him, he knows the relationship is doomed.  He gains celebrity and wealth, but the thing Harry wants most, finding and saving Lorrie from whatever fate took her from him remains beyond his reach.  And always, in the background, are the deteriorating state of the country and the coming star missions.

And of course, there’s the Portal.

Review: *A free copy of this book was given in return for an honest review.

This book basically chronicles the life of Harry Middleton during the 22nd century. It centers around his high school sweetheart Lorrie Grissom who disappeared when he was just fifteen. He spends a lot of resources searching for her and she’s never really far from his mind.

I’m a huge baseball fan. Huge. Naturally when baseball came up in this book I was thrilled. Futuristic baseball! Harry’s baseball career starts young and is an integral part of his life. His boyhood friend Carlos is also a baseball player and together they become a team.

Carlos was a rough around the edges type of guy. He was incredibly street smart. Harry drove Carlos to do better at his studies while Carlos drove Harry to do better athletically. They complimented each other extremely well. After Lorrie went missing, Carlos and Harry became inseparable.

The decline of America that the book shows is staggering. It shows itself all through the book. It made me wonder if that’s where we’re really heading. At the same time, the book shows the resiliency of the American spirit. Despite the dismal conditions,  Americans still fought to keep their country great.

This book made me look at the future differently. I look at it with a bit of hope and with a bit of dread. Either way, I enjoyed this book tremendously and it’s something I hope to reread in the future.

5 Stars_Star Rating System

Review – Anumal Empire: Lazarball December 4, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4 stars, Fantasy.
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Title: Anumal Empire: Lazarball

Author: David Ayres and Darren Jacobs

Publisher: Lazarball LTD

Publication Date: April 12, 2012

ASIN: B007VIGNW8

Available at: Kindle

From Goodreads:

The race of man is extinct…
A new breed has risen…
Anumalkind shall inherit the Earth…

After merging human and animal DNA together, the Anumal race turned against their creators…and wiped them out.

Now, millennia later, an ancient pact between warring clans has been broken. Dark powers are surfacing, threatening the survival of this hybrid race…and the fate of the Anumal species lies in the paws of a single lion…Clinton Narfell.

Hailing from the desert village of Wooburn, Clinton’s meager life is catapulted out of control the day he steals food to feed his younger brother. As an extraordinary chain of events begins to unfold, Clinton is forced to use skill and cunning to keep himself alive…and is hurtled towards a destiny he did not realize he was born to fulfil…

Facing savage scavengers, vicious anumal clans, and worse, Clinton soon realizes that power does not come from books or spells, but from something far deeper within us all…

Review: *A free copy of this book was provided in exchange for an honest review

Clinton and his brother have been orphaned and turned out of their homes. The Narfell name is dirt. Clinton is doing all he can to feed the two of them. Yet still he dreams of not only restoring the family name by winning the Lazaraball tournament but winning the prize money.

I was surprised by this book. I thought it would be quite juvenile with animal figures in it and it was a little, but it was much better then I thought it would be. The writing is engaging and smooth. Clinton is easy to like and he’s very appealing. In fact all the “good guys” were very likable. This was a feel good book.

Dallas was a relatively complex antagonist giving the book more depth. The more I found out about him, the more I thought that he could have been saved there or there or there. But that’s not how the story goes. I got shivers reading about the Seeress. She was a very spooky entity.

The dynamics of Wooburn were intriguing. The different anumals all had their place. I especially liked the giraffe court. It was easy to immerse yourself into this world and go along with Clinton on his adventures.

The one flaw this book has was how it ended. There’s a terrible cliffhanger. On one hand, you know it had to end that way. On the other hand, you really wish it had more resolution, you really wish it left you feeling more satisfied. It’s still very much worth the read. I look forward to the next book in the series.

4 Stars_Star Rating System

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Review – Death Weeps October 30, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars, Paranormal, Young Adult.
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Title: Death Weeps

Author: Tamara Rose Blodgett

Publisher: Tamara Rose Blodgett

Publication Date: May 18, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-1475200867

Available at: Amazon Kindle

From Goodreads:

Caleb faces possible jail time for using Clyde as a undeadly weapon. When he’s exonerated with probation lasting a year, Caleb has to watch his every action. Tensions run high when after the death of Jade’s only relatives, she must live with an undesirable foster family who are anything but what they seem….

Life gets complicated for everyone when the scientists responsible for the paranormal manifestation threaten a parellel world to Caleb’s own. In a bid to stop the destruction of their world, while saving his own, Caleb must defend two peoples against the long arm of the Graysheets.

Time begins to run against him when he discovers through an unlikely source that his friends have been given a drug that causes progressive insanity. Can he find the antidote in time to save them? To save Jade?

Review:

I’m not sure where to begin this review or what to say. I loved this book so much! If you do read this book, you should read Blodgett’s Savage series because there is crossover. If you happened to read my review of Savage Vengeance or if you read the book, then you know a little bit of what happened. Read my review here. In Death Weeps, we get the story from Caleb’s point of view and more information about the crossover.

What I love about Blodgett’s writing is that in this book it becomes more polished while maintaining its original flavor. There were moments when the book got a little over the top but that’s what makes it great! It’s what I’ve come to expect of these books. It’s like a comic book with a big balloon word that says “pow!” You expect a little over the top punch.

Caleb and the gang have gotten older and their maturity has reflected such a change. It was a job well done. Their growth was seamlessly integrated into the story as there was a lot of action to absorb.

Clyde’s character was also more fully developed. If you haven’t read the novella, Death Inception then do. It gives you a more in depth look into his past and how he became a zombie. I kind of fell a little in love with Clyde when I read Death Inception.

The Graysheets, the evil government agents, are more heinous then ever. I grew to hate them even more. As the book wore on, Caleb’s purpose in life became even more clear and he may be meant for more then simply escaping the clutches of the Graysheets.

If you haven’t picked up this series, what are you waiting for? It’s exciting, it’s fun, it’s romantic. The final book is coming out soon. I’m both looking forward to it and dreading it as I don’t want this series to end.

Review – Don’t Be a Hero October 26, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4 stars, Fantasy.
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Title: Don’t Be a Hero

Author: Chris Strange

Available on: November 2nd, 2012

From Goodreads:

It’s a bad time to be a superhero.

When the world turned its back on metahumans, the golden age of superheroes came crashing down. But now a mysterious supercriminal is making one final bid for power, and with no one else left to protect the world, ex-hero Spook must risk everything to take him down. There will be no reprieve, no negotiation. War is coming.

Put on the mask. There’s work to be done.

Review:

Spook isn’t a classic hero. She’s not out to save the world. In fact she doesn’t like the world very much. What she wants is to go to the lunar colony that the metahumans have and the job she takes guarantees the money to get there. All she has to do is find a missing boy. Except it’s not so simple as that. It turns into something much more sinister.

Spook did have a classic sidekick in the hero named Carpenter. Carpenter has an affinity with wood as his superhero name would suggest. He can communicate with trees and manipulate wood to do what he wants. He’s also a prefect foil to Spook’s cynical outlook. He’s an idealist who believes that the world will always need superheros. Carpenter also believes it’s their duty to protect the normals from villains and criminals alike no matter how society views him.

Quantra is a complex supervillain. He is multi-layered and has many facets to his character. His motives were manifold and varies, too many to really penetrate and delve into in one review. It gave the story a lot of dimension and depth. I became very invested in finding out what made him tick and what his true objective was.

The world the story takes place in is a contradiction in itself. It has rocket ships yet it doesn’t have advanced computers. It has dirigibles and helicopters yet doesn’t have things like cell phones. I found it intriguing and different. It gave it a Sam Spade feel with a technological or “steampunk” edge.

Don’ t Be a Hero was a pleasant surprise. I wasn’t expecting it to be as great as it was. I thought it would be passingly entertaining. Instead it captured me and held me in its grips. I wasn’t completely sold on the concept of superheroes in a novel versus an action movie but I am now. I consider this book a win.

Review – Don't Be a Hero October 26, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4 stars, Fantasy.
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Title: Don’t Be a Hero

Author: Chris Strange

Available on: November 2nd, 2012

From Goodreads:

It’s a bad time to be a superhero.

When the world turned its back on metahumans, the golden age of superheroes came crashing down. But now a mysterious supercriminal is making one final bid for power, and with no one else left to protect the world, ex-hero Spook must risk everything to take him down. There will be no reprieve, no negotiation. War is coming.

Put on the mask. There’s work to be done.

Review:

Spook isn’t a classic hero. She’s not out to save the world. In fact she doesn’t like the world very much. What she wants is to go to the lunar colony that the metahumans have and the job she takes guarantees the money to get there. All she has to do is find a missing boy. Except it’s not so simple as that. It turns into something much more sinister.

Spook did have a classic sidekick in the hero named Carpenter. Carpenter has an affinity with wood as his superhero name would suggest. He can communicate with trees and manipulate wood to do what he wants. He’s also a prefect foil to Spook’s cynical outlook. He’s an idealist who believes that the world will always need superheros. Carpenter also believes it’s their duty to protect the normals from villains and criminals alike no matter how society views him.

Quantra is a complex supervillain. He is multi-layered and has many facets to his character. His motives were manifold and varies, too many to really penetrate and delve into in one review. It gave the story a lot of dimension and depth. I became very invested in finding out what made him tick and what his true objective was.

The world the story takes place in is a contradiction in itself. It has rocket ships yet it doesn’t have advanced computers. It has dirigibles and helicopters yet doesn’t have things like cell phones. I found it intriguing and different. It gave it a Sam Spade feel with a technological or “steampunk” edge.

Don’ t Be a Hero was a pleasant surprise. I wasn’t expecting it to be as great as it was. I thought it would be passingly entertaining. Instead it captured me and held me in its grips. I wasn’t completely sold on the concept of superheroes in a novel versus an action movie but I am now. I consider this book a win.

Review – Flicker October 23, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4 stars, Fantasy, Young Adult.
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2 comments

Title: Flicker

Author: Kaye Thornbrugh

Publisher: CreateSpace

Publication Date: May 26, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-1477479292

Available at: Amazon Kindle

From Goodreads:

When sixteen-year-old Lee Capren is spirited away to Faerie, she is forced to serve capricious faeries as a prized portrait artist… and live as their prisoner.

A chance encounter with the charming Nasser grants Lee a chance for freedom—but what felt like mere days in Faerie spanned years in the human world, and Lee no longer has a home to return to.

Nasser is a Seer—a human with magical powers—and Lee is quickly plunged into his world: a sprawling city teeming with magic and mystery, where supernatural creatures walk hidden among humans. With the help of a rag-tag group of teenage Seers, Lee must master her newfound magical talent and outwit a cunning faerie determined to destroy her.

Review:

After reading the premise for this book I had high hopes for this book, I was not to be disappointed. The writing was smooth and breezy. The characters were well developed and the plot was well paced.

Lee in particular reacted just like any other 16-year-old would react when confronted with the sudden knowledge that shape-shifting faeries existed. She reacted badly. One part of me wished she had shown more mettle, another part of me realized that she was only sixteen! She’s just a kid! Naturally she’s going to freak out a little.

The character I liked the best was Filo, which may come as a surprise. He was bristly and moody. Yet he was badly used by the fae so there was just cause for his behavior. He had to harden himself to the abuse he had suffered. He also felt he had been abandoned by everyone he had ever cared about. Bottom line was he was damaged.

Jason was a bit of a wild card. He was unruly and impetuous. He really was spontaneous, but I also wished he would grow up a little. I also wished he’d be more understanding of his brother, Nasser. Of course he acted just like any teenager would though. Once I had that understanding I was able to tolerate him a little better.

Nasser was like a rock. He was steadfast and comforting. I really responded to him. He had a gentle, caring nature. I liked how he’d show Lee how he felt in little ways. I really liked the romance between Lee and Nasser. It was sweet and very romantic. I thought it might have been a bit like insta-love? But the explanation that went into it made it seem acceptable.

All of the teenagers in the book had qualities that were endearing. I took to them well. It was fun reading about them and by the end of the book I had a lot invested in them. The antagonists were equally fleshed out. None of them were shallow, cardboard cut-outs. Byrony in particular was well-rounded and that gave the book a lot of depth.

The empathy with the characters was great. You could really feel the tension the characters felt when they were in danger. That added a lot of excitement. Except there was one point when the characters were bored. I felt the pace slow down considerably at that point. I did think that served a point though. When the action revved back up again, it was even more exciting then it was before.

This was a very strong debut novel. I was sorry to see the book end. I hope there are more adventures with the Seers from Flicker in the future!

* A free copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Review – The Raven Boys October 19, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars, Paranormal, Young Adult.
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Title: The Raven Boys

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Publication Date: September 18, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0545424929

Available at: Amazon Kindle Barnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

Review:

This story is pretty straightforward with the focus on the hunt for Gwendower, a lost king who has magical powers. It still had unexpected twists and turns. There was also a lot of emphasis on the relationship between the boys and then the boys and Blue. I thought that each point was well done. You could really feel Gansey’s obsession with his quest and that added tension to the book.

Blue had been warned away from Gansey and the rest of his friends but she persists in getting to know them. It’s Gansey’s quest for Gwendower and his sheer personality that holds the group together. Gansey took care of his friends as if they were his brothers. They were his family.

Blue is fiercely independent and refuses to take any handouts from the other boys even though they are so much better off then she is. I liked how comfortable she was with the boys being the only girl. Yet she managed to maintain her own femininity. I also liked how she managed to be both eccentric yet sensible.

All of the Aglionby boys had distinct personalities with their own stories to tell. I won’t recap them, I’d rather let you discover them for yourselves. I thought that Stiefvater did a masterful job of encompassing each boys’ story within the book and making it complete. Yet none of that detracted from the main objective of the book. It all meshed very nicely.

All the subplots of this book managed to meld together with the book’s plot in a seamless cohesion. Making this book a real pleasure to read. I did have a lot of unanswered questions in the end of the book. Hopefully they’ll be answered in the sequel. It wasn’t by any means a cliffhanger. It was simply a mystery left to be solved in subsequent books.

Review – Incarnation October 16, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4 stars, Steampunk.
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2 comments

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.