Tag Archives: Steampunk

Kiss of Steel, by Bec McMaster

23 Jul

KissOfSteelIt’s TBR Challenge time again, and I’m late (like, three months and change late, but who’s counting, right?). July’s theme is “Award Winner or Nominee,” but after last year’s Nazi ‘hero’ dêbacle, I just couldn’t look for a Rita book this year.

On top of which, I’m still struggling to read new stuff.

However, I had read “Tarnished Knight,” the novella that follows this story,  sometime ago, and liked it quite a bit; and Steampunk hits all my “I wanna read it right NOW!” buttons.

So when I saw that I had this in the digital TBR of doom, bought sometime ago (probably during one of those 99¢ deals), of course I had to try it.

Kiss of Steel, by Bec McMaster

Let me begin by saying that I like how Ms McMaster introduces the reader to her world–I love it when authors credit readers with enough smarts to deduce things, instead of explaining everything at the first opportunity. Here, the author lets the characters show us her world, bit by bit, in a very organic way.

Our heroine, Honoria, is a gently reared lady whose circumstances have been drastically, and irrevocably, changed. Six months before the novel starts, her father was murdered, leaving her in charge of her younger sister, Lena, and her much younger brother, Charlie. He also entrusted a number of diaries, containing important information that must be both preserved and hidden, to her keeping. Hiding from the authorities, and other, more sinister interests, the small, nigh destitute family struggles to survive–and hide–in the rookeries of London.

Where Blade rules with an iron and merciless hand. For fifty years, he has kept the aristocracy at bay, biding his time to exact revenge on the creature who made him. And Honoria just may give him the means to do so.

Here, have a blurb:
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“Entwined” by Kristen Callihan

15 Mar

EntwinedThe theme for this month’s TBR Challenge is ‘a recommended read.’ Nothing could be easier: about three quarters of the unread books in my possession are there because someone recommended them to me, at some point or another. Then, something else shiny (or horrid, like the reading slump from hell), gets in the way, and the books languish there unread–while I keep on acquiring more words that too often, go unread for long, long periods of time.

And sometimes, when I finally get around to reading them, I could kick myself. Hard.

That was the case here.

It is no secret that I’m a fan of Meljean Brook’s Iron Seas world, and that I mourn the fact that there are so very few stories in that series, as well as knowing that there will probably be only one more full length book (the Blacksmith’s). Perhaps we will be lucky to have another short story released at some point (Scarsdale’s, pretty pretty please?)

So there I was, feeling bereft, when someone (don’t remember who), somewhere (no clue where), said something really glowingly positive about Kristen Callihan’s Darkest London series. I checked amazon, where this one is listed as Book 1 of the series, and priced at only 99¢. (Turns out, this is not the first story set in Darkest London, but the fifth.)¹ Of course I one-clicked it!

And then, it languished in the TBR until Saturday, when I read it in one delicious gulp.

(I really, really liked it.)

“Entwined” by Kristen Callihan

The story starts with two young men, barely out of childhood, a drunken brawl, a promise and a secret. It continues with a lovely exchange of letters between two people who, despite all good intentions, soon reveal to the other who they truly are.

(Aside: this is one of the things I love about well written epistolary novels. People do tend to be more who they truly are through the written word, particularly when they don’t know each other face to face. A lot of prejudice and preconception, particularly those we are not aware of, is absent, and therefore, it doesn’t influence how we see the other person, when all we have is words between us.)

Here, have a blurb:

Eamon Evernight has always lived in his older brother’s shadow.  While his brother is fair of hair and lithe in body, Eamon sparks fear with his fiery locks and massive frame—and rumors of a mysterious power. But when his brother has the good fortune to be betrothed to a beautiful stranger, it’s Eamon’s help—and quick wit and romantic heart–that he needs. Eamon agrees to write the noble lady…a generous offer that will forever leave him a changed man.

Lady Luella Jane Moran has no interest in an arranged marriage and tries valiantly to dissuade her betrothed from afar. Though her own letters plainly state her case, the words her husband-to-be writes her leave her aching for his touch. Will Lu give in to the desire the missives have kindled within her? Or will desire turn cold when she discovers their true author?

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“Wrecked” by Meljean Brook

25 Feb

wreckedI have said before, all over these intrawebs, that I am a fan of Meljean Brook’s Iron Seas stories.

First, there’s the top-notch world-building: steampunk, alternative history that involves actual political and economic forces behind the different players’ actions, and internal consistency. Then, there are the wonderfully realized characters. What’s not to like?

Well, there’s one teenie teensie tiny snag: how few of these stories there are, and the likelihood that no more are forthcoming. :sigh:

Ah, well, fans of the series can always re-read the published stories–which is what I’ve been doing lately.

Behold, a review!

“Wrecked” by Meljean Brook¹

While this story is set in the Iron Seas universe, and was published after the first three length novels, it is not connected to any of those characters or stories, so I believe it can be read on its own. Keep in mind that that is hard to judge, though, because I read the stories in order, and I cannot un-know what I already know about the world Ms Brook has created.

Here’s a blurb:

Elizabeth has spent the past five years running from her father; her father’s huntsman, Caius, has spent the past five years pursuing her. But when he finally catches up to her on an airship flying above Europe’s zombie-infested cities, Elizabeth discovers that Caius isn’t the only danger she has to fear—and now that he’s found her, Caius doesn’t intend to let her go…

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The Kraken King, by Meljean Brook

23 Feb

The Kraken KingI have said before that I am quite the fan of Ms Brook’s Iron Seas steampunk romance series. I have all the novels in print, on my shelf, where it makes me happy to look at them. I also have all the short stories released by themselves in my phone, so I can get a quick Iron Seas fix every so often.

And yet, to date I have only reviewed one of the stories set in this world.

I know, I suck.

I probably  should start with the novel that started it all, The Iron Duke, but I have found myself utterly captivated by the latest full length novel published, and so here we are.

The Kraken King, by Meljean Brook

This novel was originally published as a digital serial starting in April 2014, with the print book coming out in early November. At 568 pages, this is by far the longest of the four novels so far released in the series. Let me tell you that not one of those pages is filler–between action, characterization, and setting, every word matters.

As I said, this is the fourth full length novel, but it is actually the tenth story set in the Iron Seas world. I believe that new readers could read this story without getting lost, though obviously fans will get a lot more out of it, particularly when it comes to some secondary characters. Still, one of the things Ms Brook does best is that she manages to provide enough information about the world within just a few pages so that even a reader utterly unfamiliar with the world can quickly grasp the gist, filling in the blanks as the story progresses.

The blurb from the author’s site:
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Skies of Gold, by Zoë Archer

7 Jan

Skies of GoldSkies of Gold by Zoë Archer

I am usually very much a stickler when it comes to reading series in order, which means that by the time I got my greedy mitts on Skies of Gold, I should have read at least two, or more likely four, other books.

See, this is actually the fifth book in the Ether Chronicles, a steampunk historical series written by Zoë Archer and her husband, Nicco Rosso. That is, they do not write the books together, they write alternating books in the series.

The thing is, though, that I probably wouldn’t have even known about the series, let alone this novel, were it not for an interview podcast with the authors at SmartBitches.

Still, and even though I’ve liked what I’ve read of Ms Archer’s other work, I don’t think I would have looked Skies of Gold up, except that it went on sale right after I read this very enthusiastic review–also at the SmartBiches.

What’s a reading addict to do then?

Obviously, get the book and inhale it.

Which I did.

Now all you lovelies get to see what I think about it 😀

But first, the blurb (directly from Ms Archer’s site):
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Burning Up (Angela Knight, Nalini Singh, Virginia Kantra, Meljean Brook)

30 Dec

Burning UpAs much as I talk about Meljean Brook’s amazing Iron Seas series, it came as a surprise that I had never reviewed the story that forever hooked me on it. I hereby hasten to correct that egregious oversight.

It will be brief, but it will be done!

Burning Up by Angela Knight, Nalini Singh, Virginia Kantra and Meljean Brook

Not too long ago, in one of the Smart Bitches podcasts, there was a conversation on how effective are novellas as a way to introduce new series to readers.

My knee-jerk reaction is to say that they don’t work for me, but the truth is that they don’t when:

  1. the world building doesn’t hold up in the novella,
  2. events that are essential to the longer stories happen in the novellas (I like the shorts as extras, not compulsory reading, myself), and
  3. when the novella is actually the first few chapters of a novel (yes, this has happened–ask Nora Roberts about Laurell K Hamilton and the Out Of This World anthology)

Three out of the four stories in Burning Up are part, or the starting point, of series of different lengths and success. I will review them as they appear in my print copy. Please do be aware the there’s explicit sex, and in some quite a bit of it, in all four stories.

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Warrior, by Zoë Archer

18 Apr

Apparently I’ve managed to keep up with SLWendy’s TBR Challenge for the third month in a row! (given how crazy my work schedule is, and how little reviewing mojo I seem to have these days, I am honestly amazed by this). This month’s theme, a new to me author. Drumroll and welcome to…

Warrior, by Zoë Archer

Despite having read many positive reviews of Ms Archer’s Blades of the Rose, to the point where the lot of them exist physically in the humongous, ever growing, mountain range of a TBR pile, I had been resistant to, you know, actually read them. What if I didn’t like them?

Well, I should have trusted the instinct that made me grab them in the first place, for I enjoyed Warrior very much indeed.

From the back cover: Continue reading