Tag «steampunk»

Spinoff Saturdays: Finishing School by Gail Carriger

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Etiquette & Espionage (from Goodreads):

It’s one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It’s quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners–and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine’s, young ladies learn to finish…everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage–in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year’s education.

breakdown

Series: Finishing School

This is a prequel spinoff of the Parasol Protectorate Series.

Author: Gail Carriger
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Steampunk, Paranormal
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: February 2013 – November 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I’ve opted not to pick up the second novel, Curtsies & Conspiracies. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a sucker for a Steampunk story and Gail Carriger is a staple author when it comes to the YA world of Steampunk. The espionage aspect also caught my attention. I’ve been searching for a Gallagher Girl-esque series ever since I finished it. Her Parasol Protectorate Series has caught my eye a few times but I ended up picking this one because my library had the audiobooks (and I wanted to try listening to an entire series via audiobook).

What I Liked:

–Steampunk & Espionage–

Obviously this would be a highlight for me. But I really liked the blend of paranormal and the classical steampunk features. The world is really rich and it keeps things exciting.

I also enjoyed the espionage plot as well. The idea that these girls are getting trained in everything from dance to swindling is just so much fun!

–Smart Writing–

I was truly impressed with the wit story. It’s so subtle that you almost miss the humour of everything. And I think listening to the audiobook helped me grasp that humour quicker than if I had read it thanks to its delivery.

What I Didn’t Like:

–I Felt Old Reading This!–

I’m a firm believer that just because a book is listed as “young adult” doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it as an adult. I’m in my mid-20s and I still read more YA novels than adult.

However, sometimes there are stories that you would enjoy more if you were the target demographic and I think this is one of them.

While there is an overarching plot in Etiquette and Espionage, it also suffers from what I call an aimless plotline. You know, when the “new to the school” lead explores the boarding school. The plot takes a back seat and teenaged shenanigans begins. Which is fine and all but I just didn’t care to listen to that at this point in my life. I need the book to stimulate my mind and this just wasn’t doing it for me. I found myself zoning out more often than not and when the main plot line resurfaced, I just didn’t get as involved as I would have liked.

Will I Finish It?

Unfortunately no. This is a classic case where if I had read these books years ago I would have loved every minute of them. It’s just that my interests aren’t here anymore for the type of plot this series uses.

Audiobook Experience:

I have to point out that my waning interest while listening to this audiobook had nothing to do with the audiobook narration. I have to say that this is one of the best audiobooks I’ve listened to when it comes to the narrator. Not only was the accent great but she did a fabulous job when delivering the dialogue of other people. Sometimes I struggle with female narrators doing male voices because they seem odd to me when they attempt to change their voice. But each character here had a distinct voice and that made listening to it super enjoyable.

Series Rating: DNF

Etiquette & Espionage 3/5 | Curtsies &
Conspiracies
  N/A  | Waistcoats & Weaponry  N/A | Manners & Mutiny  N/A

overall

This is perfect for fans of steampunk, espionage, girl power and fun historical stories. However, this book does feel like a younger YA read so be sure to keep that in mind before you pick this up.

Read if You Like: espionage, steampunk
Avoid if You: want a strong plot, want a more mature YA read

similarreads

  • I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter (Gallagher Girl Series#1)
  • Friday Society by Adrienne Kress
  • The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross (Steampunk Chronicles #1)

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Single Sundays: Cogling by Jordan Elizabeth Mierek

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Cogling (from Goodreads):
When fifteen-year-old Edna Mather tears an expensive and unfamiliar pocket watch off her little brother’s neck, he crumbles into a pile of cogs right before her eyes. Horrified, Edna flees for help, but encounters Ike, a thief who attempts to steal the watch before he realizes what it is: a device to power Coglings—clockwork changelings left in place of stolen children who have been forced to work in factories.

Desperate to rescue her brother, Edna sets off across the kingdom to the hags’ swamp, with Ike in tow. There, they learn Coglings are also replacing nobility so the hags can stage a rebellion and rule over humanity. Edna and Ike must stop the revolt, but the populace believes hags are helpful godmothers and healers. No one wants to believe a lowly servant and a thief, especially when Ike has secrets that label them both as traitors.

Together, Edna and Ike must make the kingdom trust them or stop the hags themselves, even if Ike is forced to embrace his dark heritage and Edna must surrender her family.

breakdown

Author: Jordan Elizabeth (Mierek)
Genre: Young Adult, Steampunk, Science Fiction, Magic, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: January 25, 2016
Source & Format: Author–eARC
disclaimer

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I read Jordan Elizabeth’s Escape from Witchwood Hollow earlier this year and enjoyed it for its unique story. I had never read a YA novel like that before–I tend to stick to the romances and that book definitely lacked one.

So I was curious to see what she would do in the world of Steampunk. I’m a sucker for a good steampunk novel. I pretty much read or TBR anything with the word steampunk in its description.

What drew me to this one was the premise. Automations impersonating people of power is something I’ve come across in steampunk before but I was curious to see what would happen with the addition of hags and other magic.

The Concept / The World:

First, the world was really cool. Like most Steampunk novels, this one has a unique spin to how the world operates. The use of “hags” (kinda like witches) was a neat approach and one that works well. But there are other creatures you get introduced to and Jordan Elizabeth does a good job of describing everything in a way that is easy to visualize.

The Plot:

I don’t really enjoy adventure novels too much; I find them very slow. And this novel was definitely more in that vein. Which is totally fine, I just found that it had its slower parts.

I also think the synopsis is a little misleading and a bit of a spoiler. The whole bit about them impersonating “nobility” doesn’t get touched on until later and I think it would have had more of an impact if I didn’t know. (Perhaps it did get mentioned earlier and I just missed it…that happens sometimes too.)

But where that mystery is lacking, there are plenty of other great twists along the way. There were definitely some things I never saw coming that kept me reading this story to see how it all played out.

The Characters:

Everyone is pretty straight forward here. Some of those twists I mentioned do have to deal with the characters which gives them a little depth; but otherwise they are all solid characters who help carry this story.

The Romance:

You really only get a dash here and there. It never distracts from the story at hand which is refreshing.

concSLOW

My Rating: 3/5

overall

This was on the slower side for me so my attention waned at times. But there was always a great twist that kept me going forward. I think this is a great Steampunk novel for teens who want to explore more of this world!

Read if You Like: adventures, little romance, steampunk
Avoid if You: want a faster story, want more romance

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Book Review: 27 Days to Midnight by Kristine Kruppa

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Synopsis for 27 Days to Midnight (from Goodreads):
Everyone in Dahlia’s world knows when they’re going to die. Except her.

Her father has never shown her the pocket watch counting down the days she has left to live. When he sacrifices himself to save her from her scheduled death, Dahlia abandons her comfortable home and sets off after his murderer to uncover the secrets her father died to protect…and the time research that could bring him back to life.

Then she meets Farren Reed. She should hate him. He’s an enemy soldier, a cowardly deserter, and the most insufferable man Dahlia’s ever met. Still, she needs all the help she can get, and Farren is the only chance she has to find the man who murdered her father. But Farren has only twenty-seven days left on his watch.

In that time, Dahlia must recover her father’s time research, foil a psychotic general’s plot, and learn to survive in a world that will never be the same. But the research holds secrets more dangerous than she had ever imagined. She will have to choose what is most important: revenge, Farren’s life, or her own. And time is running out.

breakdown

Author: Kristine Kruppa
Genre: Young Adult, Steampunk, Adventure, Action, Romance
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple (though mostly Alternating)
Publication Date: May 3rd, 2016
Source & Format: YA Bound Book Tours–eARC

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

If I see the word “steampunk” I almost always pick that book up or add it to my TBR. It’s one of my favourite genres because I love the fusion of historical fiction and science fiction. With it comes rebellious heroines and dashing heroes; action and adventure. It’s a combination of my favourite things and when I saw the blog tour opportunity for this standalone novel, I knew I had to try to be a part of it.

I was looking forward a fun and fast steampunk adventure with a little dash of romance. Plus, the whole idea of knowing when you die via a watch? That was pretty interesting!

The World:

What a love about steampunk novels is that there are staples in every book (like automatons and aircrafts), regardless of the author but there is always a really cool twist that makes each novel or series unique–and this is no exception.

The idea that everyone knows when they are going to die is super intriguing. It’s also really well done, giving this story its backbone and driving plotline. I thought everything was clearly explained or very easy to follow in that respect. It’s complex but not complicated and I loved that.

The Plot:

The plot definitely had its ups and downs but is pretty steady for the last 75 pages. I’m not the biggest adventure fan but this one kept me interested throughout. And this story was definitely more adventure than anything else. But along the way you get some great character and plot development that keeps everything moving. Plus, there is a lot of action–more so than I expected!

Where this story really succeeds is with its POVs from other characters that aren’t Dahlia and Farren. They don’t happen very often but when they do, they add a depth to the story and its plot. You get the fuller picture and you’re able to put things together before Dahlia or Farren would and so you begin to anticipate what will happen next. Those scenes really made me excited to keep reading.

The Characters:

I didn’t like Dahlia immediately but I quickly warmed up to her the more I read. Her character development was fantastic I think. She really grew from the young, spoiled girl we meet at the start to a stronger young woman who I really liked.

Farren charmed me right from the start. I think I have a soft spot for rakish young aviators but that is beside the point! He too had some great development and I think he was the perfect companion for Dahlia on this quest.

The Romance:

This was my only disappointed in the novel. I really wanted some more substance here. The romance really takes a backseat while I personally wanted it to be a bit more at the forefront. However, I really enjoyed the other plot aspects and there was enough action to keep me entertained but I wouldn’t have minded a few more romantic moments here and there 🙂

My Rating: 4/5

overall
If you are looking for a fun, action packed adventure novel set in a steampunk world, this is it! I will definitely be keeping an eye out for Kruppa’s future works.

Read if You Like: adventure stories, steampunk
Avoid if You: more focus on the romance

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kristinekruppaKristine Kruppa

Kristine Kruppa is a mechanical engineer, writer, and world traveler. Her days are spent designing cool new car parts, but her evenings are filled with writing and cats. She has traveled solo to seventeen countries on five continents. Her other hobbies include hunting for the perfect cup of coffee, exploring used book stores, and accidentally climbing mountains. To keep up with her adventures, follow Kristine on Twitter @kskruppa.

Author Links: TwitterGoodreads

 

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Series Review: The Falconer by Elizabeth May

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

The Falconer Trilogy

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Falconer (from Goodreads):
One girl’s nightmare is this girl’s faery tale

She’s a stunner.
Edinburgh, 1844. Eighteen-year-old Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, has everything a girl could dream of: brains, charm, wealth, a title—and drop-dead beauty.

She’s a liar.
But Aileana only looks the part of an aristocratic young lady. she’s leading a double life: She has a rare ability to sense the sìthíchean—the faery race obsessed with slaughtering humans—and, with the aid of a mysterious mentor, has spent the year since her mother died learning how to kill them.

She’s a murderer.
Now Aileana is dedicated to slaying the fae before they take innocent lives. With her knack for inventing ingenious tools and weapons—from flying machines to detonators to lightning pistols—ruthless Aileana has one goal: Destroy the faery who destroyed her mother.

She’s a Falconer.
The last in a line of female warriors born with a gift for hunting and killing the fae, Aileana is the sole hope of preventing a powerful faery population from massacring all of humanity. Suddenly, her quest is a lot more complicated. She still longs to avenge her mother’s murder—but she’ll have to save the world first.

The first volume of a trilogy from an exciting new voice in young adult fantasy, this electrifying thriller combines romance and action, steampunk technology and Scottish lore in a deliciously addictive read.

breakdown

Series: The Falconer Trilogy
Author: Elizabeth May
# of Books: 3 (The Falconer, The Vanishing Throne, The Falling Kingdom)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, The Fallen Kingdom, will be published in North America in June 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Steampunk, Faeries, Action, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: May 2014 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook, Hardcover

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to reflect my conclusion to DNF this series. It will not be further updated.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This book was everywhere early last year and the cover captured my attention. What made me super eager to pick it up was the fact that it was set in Scotland AND had faeries! I love faery stories and pretty much reading anything featuring them. This one promised to have a lot of action with a dash of romance and so I put it at the top of my TBR for 2016.

The Concept / The World:

I totally forgot this book was steampunk until I started to read it. It gives the world a really neat flavour to it and makes everything seem so much more badass. Steampunk is another favourite genre of mine and I really liked the world we get here–it has its own unique spin on everything.

I thought it was the perfect hybrid between the aristocratic world of Scotland and England during that era, and the supernatural elements like the faeries. It was an easy world to understand and has a lot of complex features to it so you pay attention to what is happening. I highly recommend reading the “bestiary” glossary at the back to keep everything straight though.

The Plot:

I thought there was a great balance between the social aspects of Aileana’s life–such as her duties as a daughter of the upper class–and her supernatural pass times. This book honestly had a great flow to it and kept you interested. I always felt like it was building to a grand moment and that kept me reading.

I also love the action! It has been a long time since I’ve read a book with such great action scenes that are easy to understand and visualize in my head. I had a lot of fun reading this book!

The Characters:

I liked Aileana a lot! I really liked the fact that she isn’t some heart of stone heroine who can kick serious ass but that she has emotions and isn’t too afraid to show them. Sure, she wants vengeance but I liked that her character had more depth than that to her. It was great watching her grow as a young woman and I find it easy to root for her.

Everyone else does their jobs perfectly and add to the story without taking too much away from Aileana.

The Romance:

This is probably why I dropped my rating to a 4.5/5 instead of a 5. I just didn’t like the way this one progressed exactly. The romance really plays a very small role in this story and so it takes a bit of a backseat. While I had a pretty good idea of what was going to happen romantically, I felt like its flow was a little off and perhaps a little sudden? I wasn’t in love with the romance as much as I thought I was going to be but I’m hoping that changes in the sequel.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m looking forward to learning more about the fey world and how Aileana is going to handle everything going forward. There were some great developments and I’m stoked to see how everything unfolds in the next one!

updates

–November 3, 2016– Book #2: The Vanishing Throne

This novel was super easy to get reoriented with. There was enough recap to quickly get you up to speed with everything that had happened but not so much that you were bored out of your skull waiting for some action.

When compared to The Falconer, I thought this one had less physical action. It’s more political and drama filled, meaning you get some fantastic reveals and character developments. So it’s a strong sequel in that sense because it starts to bring everything together.

However, I did find it lag a bit in the middle. In a series like this where action is at the pinnacle, it’s easy for you to see when things slow down. But that being said, I never got bored with this book and I am desperately in need of the finale!

Series Rating: 4.5/5

The Falconer 4.5/5 | The Vanishing Throne 4/5 | The Fallen Kingdom TBD

overall

If you want a historical fantasy that is lighter on the romance and heavy on the action, I think this is a great one for you to grab!

Read if You Like: action, steampunk, faeries
Avoid if You: want more romance

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Series Review: The Illumination Paradox by Jacqueline Garlick

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Lumière (from Goodreads):
One determined girl. One resourceful boy. One miracle machine that could destroy everything.

After an unexplained flash shatters her world, seventeen-year-old Eyelet Elsworth sets out to find the Illuminator, her father’s prized invention. With it, she hopes to cure herself of her debilitating seizures before Professor Smrt—her father’s arch nemesis—discovers her secret and locks her away in an asylum.

Pursued by Smrt, Eyelet locates the Illuminator only to see it whisked away. She follows the thief into the world of the unknown, compelled not only by her quest but by the allure of the stranger—Urlick Babbit—who harbors secrets of his own.

Together, they endure deadly Vapours and criminal-infested woods in pursuit of the same prize, only to discover the miracle machine they hoped would solve their problems may in fact be their biggest problem of all.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author
Series: The Illumination Paradox
Author: Jacqueline Garlick
# of Books: 3 (Lumière, Noir, Book 3)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, there is a third book to be published
Genre: Young Adult, Steampunk, Science Fiction, Romance, Historical Fiction
Heat Rating: cool (gets a little more suggestive in Noir)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: December 2013 – ongoing
Source & Format: NetGalley–eBook  Thank you Skyscape!

disclaimernetgalley

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love steampunk! Its one of my favourite genres because I find each series has its own little spin on the genre. So when I saw Lumière in the Read Now section of NetGalley, I couldn’t pass it up!

I was looking forward to a perhaps more dystopian steampunk world (the Vapours sounded like something from Under the Never Sky) with a take-charge heroine. I also was looking forward to this alluring stranger character and the fact that there seemed to be a true evil villain.

The World:

I really enjoyed the world of this series. It’s classic steampunk but with a more supernatural spin to it. I find a lot of steampunk stories focus on the mechanical aspects of the story (ie machines) but only a few have a paranormal/supernatural element. Sometimes it felt like there were too many elements to it all but once you get used to everything, it’s easier to keep everything straight.

I think at times this book is a little too descriptive. I would find myself drifting away from the long paragraphs. It definitely helps the reader get a clear picture of everything but at times it seemed to be a little too much.

The Plot:

At first, the plot of Lumière reminded me a bit of Vengeance Road as Eyelet suddenly finds herself on the run from an enemy. But it quickly morphed into more of a Beauty and the Beast premise, something I really wasn’t expecting. And then that quickly changed into its own unique story for the rest of the book.

I liked the premise for the plot, I just felt that it took WAY TOO LONG to get there. Lumière is nearly 400 eBook pages long, which is about 150 pages longer than your average eBook. And unfortunately, I really felt like nothing happened until the last 150 pages or so. The extra page length was great for establishing the complex world but I felt like I had a good grasp of everything about 100 pages in and would have liked the main plot line to have shifted into focus. I just wanted more because the last 100 or so pages were exciting, but my enthusiasm for them had significantly decreased by the time I got there.

The Characters:

I liked Eyelet and Urlick. They had their strengths and their flaws which I appreciate. However, I didn’t feel like there was a lot of character development for them in Lumière despite the length of the book. Who they are as characters is readily established and is well done, I just felt like there was something lacking for me when it comes to their characters–which might be a result of the romance clouding my impression of them (see below).

Otherwise, you have quite the interesting cast of characters. The supporting characters do their jobs perfectly and Smrt as a villain (though he has a smaller part than I expected) was entertaining.

The Romance:

In Lumière, the romance just didn’t work for me. It seemed like it bloomed out of nowhere. That really frustrated me because I could see why these two would work together but I failed to understand how they knew that. I really don’t think they had spoken all that much to each other before they were feeling these deeper things. I get the physical attraction part of it all, I just didn’t see the emotional connection and that resulted in a lacklustre romance for me.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I think now that the world has been established and all the major players have been introduced, we are going to get more from Noir. I’m looking forward to seeing how everything unfolds.

updates

–November 6, 2015– Book 2: Noir

This book moved well from beginning to end. I felt like it kept the pace at a constant and didn’t drag on like Lumière often did. Secrets are revealed, there are lots of interesting plot twists and the characters get a little more depth to them. Overall, Noir just felt complete. It was solid and built up as you read. I got hooked into the story and the pages just flew by. This book was a lot of fun to read and really made me happy that I stuck with this series.

I’m excited to see what will happen in the next one!

concSLOW

Formally: Time Will Tell

Series Rating: 3.5/5

Lumière 3/5 | Noir 4/5 | Book 3 TBP

overall

Lumière showed some great promise and build up an intriguing world, but I just wanted a little more wow from it. I’m hoping that will come in the sequel. Noir does a great job of building on what the first novel has created. It kept my attention from start to end and I can’t wait to see what will happen next.

Read if You Like: slower stories, steampunk with supernatural elements
Avoid if You: want a faster story, want more romance

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Single Sundays: Mechanica by Betsy Cornwall

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Mechanica (from Goodreads):
Nicolette’s awful stepsisters call her “Mechanica” to demean her, but the nickname fits: she learned to be an inventor at her mother’s knee. Her mom is gone now, though, and the Steps have turned her into a servant in her own home.

But on her sixteenth birthday, Nicolette discovers a secret workshop in the cellar and begins to dare to imagine a new life for herself. Could the mysterious books and tools hidden there—and the mechanical menagerie, led by a tiny metal horse named Jules—be the key to escaping her dreary existence? With a technological exposition and royal ball on the horizon, the timing might just be perfect for Nicolette to earn her freedom at last.

Gorgeous prose and themes of social justice and family shine in this richly imagined Cinderella retelling about an indomitable inventor who finds her prince . . . but realizes she doesn’t want a fairy tale happy ending after all.

breakdown

Author: Betsy Cornwall
Genre: Young Adult, Retelling, Steampunk, Romance, Magic, Faeries
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: August 25, 2015
Source & Format: Netgalley–eBook  Thank you very muchHoughton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group!

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I first got my Netgalley account, this book captured my attention for its title and cover. And then when I read the synopsis, I really wanted to requested it. I love fairy tale retellings and a steampunk retelling of Cinderella? That’s just a major bonus!

Needless to say, I was really excited when I requested, got approved and finally picked it up.

The Concept / The World:

The steampunk application to the traditional (ok, the Disney Animated version of Cinderella) was really well done. I liked how mechanical creatures replaced the mice and how the magic was replaced with the machines Nicolette had made. It gave the story a gritter feel than the medieval story Cinderella is usually told in.

I also thought it was explained very well. There are lots of pages dedicated to Nicolette describing her mother’s work–too much if you ask me, but it helped me to get a good idea of the world this story was taking place in. However, that kinda fell apart at the end but that might have just been me reading the book to fast to fully grasp what was happening.

The Plot:

This is where the book fell apart for me. Nothing really happens for 200 pages and that makes it hard to get into. Which is a shame, because I was definitely enamoured with the world we are presented in the first 50 pages. Those pages flew by as I learned more about the politics, the faeries and the mechanics (literally) of the world. But then, it just kept going and I felt like too much time was spent in the past recalling Nicolette’s tough childhood. It really isn’t until the last 100 pages (FYI, my PDF eBook was 306 pages in length) that we get an actual story happening but at that point my interest was waning (which is a shame because I loved the approach it took for the ending).

If things were paced better, and the focus was more on certain plot aspects and less on others, this book would have been great! Because all the right gears were there, they just weren’t aligned properly to keep this flow going (see what I did there? :P).

The Characters:

I really appreciated Nicolette’s determination to fix her own problems. She isn’t some damsel in distress waiting for someone else to save her. Traditionally, (again, Disney animated version) Cinderella is just too nice to do anything about her situation (ie she’s a bit of a doormat) and thus relies on others (aka her fairy godmother) to solve her problems. Nicolette really doesn’t rely on others in the same sense. When she sees an opportunity, she goes for it and I really admire that. So much time is spent recalling her past, you do feel for her and want to see her succeed.

As for the rest of cast, they were exactly what you would expect and get very little air time.

The Romance:

I have mixed feelings about this. I kinda liked that the romantic side of things wasn’t the main focus of the story. You know, for the longest time I even forgot that there was a romantic plot in this story because so much time is spent watching Nicolette grow as a character.

But at the same time, I was hoping the romantic story would save the otherwise dry plot and give me something to be interested in.

My Rating: 2.5/5

overall

This is a classic example of a book simply missing its mark and it is a real shame! There are so many great take-away messages in this book: that it is ok for girls to fight for their own destiny; that you don’t always need someone to save you and that it is OK to be interested in fields usually “reserved” for the opposite gender. All these messages are winners in my eyes and ones that girls SHOULD associate with a story like Cinderella.

Read if You Like: fairy tale retellings, steampunk, coming of age stories
Avoid if You: don’t like slow paced books, want a faster/exciting plot, want more romance

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Series Review: Steam Guardians by Mary Wine

Series: Steam Guardians
Author: Mary Wine
# of Books: 2 (A Lady can Never be too Curious, A Captain and a Corset)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes — But I’m not sure if there will be a third
Genre: Steampunk, Romance, Science Fiction
Heat Rating: warmer than most
Point of View: Third Person

Thoughts:

It’s no secret that I am a huge steampunk fan. I try to get my hands on as many books in the genre as possible so when my local library gets a new one in, it almost immediately gets on my to-read list.

A Lady Can Never be Too Curious (ALCNBTC) is admittedly a book I read mostly because of the cover. I don’t know why I like it so much, but I really do. The synopsis leaves something to be desired and I didn’t know what to expect from this book in any aspect. I actually think I decided to bypass this book when I first saw it but I eventually caved in.

In the end, I’m not sure how I feel about this book. While I didn’t find it a complete waste of my time, I feel like reading one of the 20 other books I seem to have out from the library (is it just me or does every book you put on hold ALWAYS come in at the same time?) might have been time better spent.

The book starts off slow but it does reach a climax–unfortunately its just a little too late for my personal tastes. I went in hoping it would be a more thrilling book but it wasn’t (when it easily could have been). Janette is nothing overly special and neither is Darius–they are your typical heroes who follow a typical historical romance plot (but in a steampunk setting). Though I will admit that I liked the sexual tension between them; but sexual tension isn’t enough to drive a book on its own and I wish the plot was stronger than it was.

I think why this book didn’t do much for me was that it reminded me of a tamed down version of Bec McMaster’s series, London Steampunk (which I use as the standard of all adult steampunk novels I read). It just doesn’t have that dark edge to it or the heat of romance I’ve come to expect from steampunk novels. As I was reading it I could tell I was reading a novel written by a historical romance writer and not someone who specializes in steampunk and I think that attributed to its lackluster reading for me.

But to be fair, the book does pick up and I like the direction it seems to be going in for the next book, A Captain and a Corset. I’m hoping that there will be a third book regarding a particular couple that is hinted in ALCNBTC because I would love to see what happens there but I’m not sure if that will happen or if it is talked about in book 2.

Conclusion:

While I do plan on reading the sequel, it’s not at the top of my “must-read” list. Those who want a more mild steampunk novel (that is more like your typical historical romance novel but with a twist) will enjoy this novel. Otherwise, I would recommend that steampunk fans stay away.

Rating: 3/5

Similar Reads: Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster (London Steampunk #1)

Synopsis for A Lady Can Never be too Curious (from Goodreads):
Beneath the Surface of Victorian Life Lies a Very Different World…

Hated and feared by the upper classes, the Illuminists guard their secrets with their lives. Janette Aston’s insatiable quest for answers brings her to their locked golden doors, where she encounters the most formidable man she’s ever met.

Darius Lawley’s job is to eliminate would–be infiltrators, but even he may be no match for Janette’s cunning and charm…

Series Review: London Steampunk by Bec McMaster

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite Steampunk Series
Series: London Steampunk
Author: Bec McMaster
# of Books: 5 (Kiss of Steel, Heart of Iron, My Lady Quicksilver, Forged by Desire, Of Silk and Steam)

There is a novella, Tarnished Knight, that is #1.5 of the series and #3.5 The Curious Case of the Clockwork Menace

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Of Silk and Steam will be published March 2015
Genre: Steampunk, Action, Romance, Suspense, Paranormal
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: Third Person, multiple

Thoughts:

I’m a sucker for a good Steampunk novel.  I think it’s the inner scientist in me who loves these mechanical contraptions that come to life in the Victorian era (which the romantic side of me also loves). It’s a great blend of my two favourite genres to read: I just find as a whole the genre does a great job of keeping the action going while having great romantic stories. But what sets this series apart from it other books in this genre is the paranormal aspect of it–vampires. Twilight aside, I do like vampire novels (Vampire Academy anyone?) and this series is not Twilight by any means!

What I love about this series is that it isn’t overly complicated despite the many layers. I know it must sound daunting that there is steampunk elements AND vampire elements but Ms. McMaster does a great job in each book with refreshing you on what the Blue Blood world is so you always know what is going on. I found in Kiss of Steel that I quickly got used to the new terms regarding vampires and how their “vampirism” worked (let’s get real, every vampire novel has its own twist on the vampire and this is no exception).

I won’t lie–I admit that I read this book because I was hoping for a steamier steampunk read (no pun is intended). When I picked up Kiss of Steel, I had been reading more young adult steampunk novels and while I absolutely loved them, I wanted that little dash of maturity and romance that comes with an “adult” steampunk/romance novel. If you are expecting a book where the characters get it on within the first 50 pages, you will be severely disappointed. These books are BRIMING with sexual tension–great sexual tension that makes the wait worth it! More on that later though…

Which brings me to the characters–there wasn’t a single lead that I didn’t like (ok, perhaps Lena for a bit at the start of Heart of Iron but she really grew on me by the halfway point). All the female leads are strong, independent woman who don’t suffer from clinginess or lose themselves to their male counterpart. They kick some serious ass–especially Rosalind in My Lady Quicksilver. The males are definitely alpha but not in an overly unhealthy way that would turn you off (unless you like that–I don’t so this series gets bonus marks from me).

Now back to the sexual tension. While the books follow a series of chronological events, they all focus on different characters. The great part is that characters that star in the sequel books are characters that we have been introduced to before and in some capacity have seen them together in some sexually tense scene prior to their starring novel. This gets you super pumped for the next book–so make sure you have the rest on hand when you are reading! Also, we still get the occasional visit from past characters which is always awesome. I am so upset that I have to wait for Forged by Desire because the little slice we get in My Lady Quicksilver has me dying to read it!

UPDATED (November 25/14): I finally got my hands on Forged by Desire and it was worth the wait! I absolutely loved it but I think the only reason why I liked it so much was because I read the novella that is listed between My Lady Quicksilver and Forged by Desire. Technically, The Curious Case of the Clockwork Menace takes place 3 years before Forged by Desire and the other novels so it is a prequel of sorts; however, you should read it after My Lady Quicksilver but before Forged by Desire. Because the romantic leads in Forged by Desire are two people who have known each other for years and not leads that meet within their starring novel, there is a lot of assumed knowledge about their relationship. By reading the novella first, I felt like I better understood the sexual tension in the novel and enjoyed it all that more. Otherwise, I think I would have been frustrated with how their relationship progresses in the novel and felt like I was missing something.

As for the actual plot of the story, I loved the detective fiction spin to it. It made it a lot of fun to read and gave the book a different vibe than the other three novels. While not my favourite of the series, I still think it is a solid novel and fans shouldn’t be disappointed in it.

Of Silk and Steam is probably the novel I have been anticipating the most. Not only will the overarching plot line reach its own crazy climax, but I’ve been dying to see more of the male lead since his introduction in the first novel. March can’t get here quick enough!

Conclusion:

If you asked me to pick a favourite from the series, I would be hard pressed! I’ve enjoyed all the books so far in the series and they always meet my expectations. If you love romance, action, strong characters, steampunk and don’t mind a dash of the paranormal, GRAB THESE BOOKS! You will not be disappointed!

Rating: 4.5/5

Similar Reads: Iron Duke by Meljean Brook (Iron Seas #1); The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross (Steampunk Chronicles #1) and Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare (The Infernal Devices Trilogy #1)

Synopsis for Kiss of Steel (from Goodreads):
When Nowhere Is Safe

Most people avoid the dreaded Whitechapel district. For Honoria Todd, it’s the last safe haven. But at what price?

Blade is known as the master of the rookeries—no one dares cross him. It’s been said he faced down the Echelon’s army single-handedly, that ever since being infected by the blood-craving he’s been quicker, stronger, and almost immortal.

When Honoria shows up at his door, his tenuous control comes close to snapping. She’s so…innocent. He doesn’t see her backbone of steel—or that she could be the very salvation he’s been seeking

Single Sundays: The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):
An action-packed tale of gowns, guys, guns –and the heroines who use them all

Set in turn of the century London, The Friday Society follows the stories of three very intelligent and talented young women, all of whom are assistants to powerful men: Cora, lab assistant; Michiko, Japanese fight assistant; and Nellie, magician’s assistant. The three young women’s lives become inexorably intertwined after a chance meeting at a ball that ends with the discovery of a murdered mystery man.

It’s up to these three, in their own charming but bold way, to solve the murder–and the crimes they believe may be connected to it–without calling too much attention to themselves.

Set in the past but with a modern irreverent flare, this Steampunk whodunit introduces three unforgettable and very ladylike–well, relatively ladylike–heroines poised for more dangerous adventures

Review:

I absolutely love Steampunk and I also love strong female characters so this book seemed like a no-brainer to me. After over a year, I finally got my hands on it!

I think it is fair to say that is book wasn’t what I was totally expecting–and that is OK. I still really liked it but not in the way I thought I would before I picked up it up.

I found this book to be really refreshing. The wit in it (all you really have to do is read some of the chapter titles and you will get what I am saying) is unlike any book I have read in recent memory. It was just a lot of fun and I did chuckle a few times at the characters and what they say/do. That being said, this type of humour and writing might not appeal to everyone so just be forewarned.

The characters were great. I think as a girl you can relate to some part of the three of the ladies in some way. I will say I was a little disappointed in Michiko’s character and I would have liked to have seen her character develop a bit more than what we get but I still liked her a lot. But overall, I really liked the strong ladies we get!

The book started a little slow and it didn’t help that I was thrown off by what I was actually reading. It isn’t very steampunk–and by that I mean that the steampunk element isn’t the driving force of the story like some other books. This book chooses to focus instead on how the girls live in a society that limits what girls in what they can do in polite society and the solving of a murder. But, the book really does pick up once you are a few chapters in and between the 3 girls, there is always something to grab your attention. The last 50 or so pages were really addicting.

Conclusion:

A very fun and witty read! I really hope that there is a sequel because I would love to see what else these girls get themselves into!

Rating: 3.5/5
Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Teen, Young Adult, Steampunk, Mystery, Action
Recommended for: 15+
Similar Reads: The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross (Steampunk Chronicles, #1)

Though it isn’t a book, I highly recommend that you watch the TV show, Avatar: Legend of Korra is you like this genre and type of story!

Spin-off Saturdays: The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

Spin-off Saturdays: On Saturdays, I will review a series that is a spin-off series. It is recommended that you read the original series first in order to get the most out of the spin-off series. Here is this week’s offering:

Infernal Devices Trilogy is a spin-off of the Mortal Instruments

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: #4
Series: Infernal Devices Trilogy
Author: Cassandra Clare
# of Books:3 (Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince, Clockwork Princess )

This is a PREQUEL to the Mortal Instruments Series. It takes place approx. 1 century before the events of the Mortal Instruments Series

Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Steampunk, Victorian, Action, Demon Hunters, Magic

Thoughts:

I recommend that you read this series after you have read the first 3 books of the Mortal Instrument Series (City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass) just so you can recognize last names easily which is what I did (it was also because this book was released AFTER the first 3 had been published of the Mortal Instruments). But by no means do you have to follow this! It would probably be better to read this trilogy first but I find there are things hinted to in the later (books 3+) Mortal Instruments series that connect to the Infernal Devices that might not make sense if you read this series first.

I am a huge steampunk fan. It is definitely one of my favourite genres so this book was a win-win for me: a prequel to one of my all-time favourite series and it takes place in a steampunk world! This is probably why I enjoy this series more than the Mortal Instruments.

One reason I like this series so much is because it is so different from The Mortal Instruments. It’s not just a carbon copy, following similar plots and characters. The whole world Clare creates is different from Mortal Instruments and as such we don’t just see the battles between otherworld creatures and the like. It focuses more on magic and automations instead. It is a unique series on its own but still maintains connections to the follow-up series that fans of the series will appreciate. That being said, you can definitely expect some twists and turns along the way!

Another reason I like this series more is the characters. Like I said in my Mortal Instruments review, the characters make this series for me. However, unlike the Mortal Instruments, I really like Tessa as the heroine. She isn’t annoying to me and while I hate love triangles, I totally get her dilemma between Jem (James) and Will. It should be noted that the love triangle really only begins to make prominence in book 2, The Clockwork Prince though it begins to build in book 1, The Clockwork Angel. I also like all the secondary characters like Charlotte and Sophie as well and I devour their POV sections whenever they appear in the books.

UPDATED: I just finished Clockwork Princess last night and WOW. What a read! It was so hard to put the book down during the last 200 or so pages–despite the fact that I was dead tired I pushed on to finish the series.

I always get worried with prequel series–especially when I have read the sequel series first–because I don’t like predictable books. I like being surprised and I am glad to say that was the case here. While I suspected some things to happen I really had no idea how this book was going to end–and that made it all that more fantastic. It was a beautiful, albeit heartbreaking way, to end the series. I can only really recalling sobbing (shedding a few tears is nothing–so I am talking actual pain-in-the-throat-can’t-catch-my-breath tears here) for one other book (Beautiful Chaos, Beautiful Creatures Series #3) and I definitely did that here. I literally felt every emotion reading this last book and while it is hard to pick a favourite book, I think this last one would be it.

One thing that I love about Clare’s writing is how she ends her series. While the main climax ends (ie whatever they are fighting for), there are always a few additional chapters to tie up the lose ends in her characters’ lives (ie. romances, the Institute, etc.) and as a reader who loves these characters (and has invested a good portion of the last few years to them), I really love this. She doesn’t just give us one chapter to tie up the plot and thrust us into an epilogue. She gives us a solid few chapters of character progression and then an epilogue. The ending to this series was so satisfactory that I feel using the word “satisfactory” is an insult. It was a fantastic ending and readers who fell in love with this series will not be disappointed!

Conclusion:

An awesome steampunk read that really shows how the world Jace and Clary find themselves in centuries later is created. Fans of the Mortal Instrument Series will like this prequel and for those new to the series, this is a great way to get a feel for the world in the Mortal Instruments! A Must Read!

Rating: 5/5 (If I could rate this higher, I totally would)

Similar Reads: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (Mortal Instruments Series) and The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross (Steampunk Chronicles, #1)

WARNING: IF YOU HAVE not FINISHED (original series) SERIES THE FOLLOWING SYNOPSIS may have SPOILERS!

Synopsis for Clockwork Angel (from Goodreads):
Magic is dangerous—but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London’s Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What’s more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa’s power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by—and torn between—two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm’s length . . . everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world. . . . and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.