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Alright, I know we’ve already featured Clay and Susan Griffith’s third book in the Vampire Empire series, THE KINGMAKERS.

We already know this series is made of awesome.

However, PYR sent me a lovely finished copy–and I want to give it to one of you. Want to win it? Tell me in the comment box below why you need this book. Feel free to be creative.

One entry per person. Open internationally. Closes October 14, 2012 at 11:59 PM PST.

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First off, the winner of the book CUTTLEFISH is:

Widdershins

If you enjoy reading steampunk, you’ve probably read Mark Hodder (Burton and Swinburne series).

His new book A Red Sun Also Rises which releases in December 2012 from PYR is independent of the Burton and Swinburne books, but is just as fascinating and creative.

This is a tale exploring good and evil and how nothing (or anyone) is as it seems.  Aiden Fleischer is a bookish priest and Clarissa an outcast hunchback who are transported to an alien world. There they encounter the Yatsil, a supposedly peaceful race of mimics. Then the red sun rises, bringing with it the forces of destruction.

Hodder’s twisted take on an alien version of Victorian London is vivid and imaginative, while the psychological twists and turns push the genre with amazing results.

But don’t take my word for it. PYR will graciously give away three ARCS of A Red Sun Also Rises to give away (North American only) and I’ll give away my own ARC to an international winner. Contest closes October 7th at 11:59 PM PST.

If you lived on an alien world that could shape itself to any place  in any time, which would you chose and why?

 

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It’s Book Monday. One lucky commenter will win a copy!

CUTTLEFISH

by Dave Freer

Copy provided by PYR

The smallest thing can change the path of history.

The year is 1976, and the British Empire still spans the globe. Coal drives the world, and the smog of it hangs thick over the canals of London.

Clara Calland is on the run. Hunted, along with her scientist mother, by Menshevik spies and Imperial soldiers, they flee Ireland for London. They must escape airships, treachery, and capture. Under flooded London’s canals, they join the rebels who live in the dank tunnels there.

Tim Barnabas is one of the underpeople, born to the secret town of drowned London, place of anti-imperialist republicans and Irish rebels, part of the Liberty—the people who would see a return to older values and free elections. Seeing no farther than his next meal, Tim has hired on as a submariner on the Cuttlefish, a coal-fired submarine that runs smuggled cargoes beneath the steamship patrols, to the fortress America and beyond.

When the Imperial soldiery comes ravening, Clara and her mother are forced to flee aboard the Cuttlefish. Hunted like beasts, the submarine and her crew must undertake a desperate voyage across the world, from the Faeroes to the Caribbean and finally across the Pacific to find safety. But only Clara and Tim Barnabas can steer them past treachery and disaster, to freedom in Westralia. Carried with them—a lost scientific secret that threatens the very heart of Imperial power.

(summary from the Barnes and Noble website)

I love how you can take one small thing (like synthetic ammonia not being invented) and use it as the catalyst to create an entire new world. This fast-paced YA tale is filled with submarines, smugglers, death-defying adventure, and a dash of romance. Freer’s nautical aesthetic and use of submarine pirates provide a fresh and imaginative take on steampunk. This was a fun, satisfying read.

One lucky commenter will win my hardcover copy of CUTTLEFISH. Open internationally, contest closes Sunday, September 30th at 11:59 PM PST.

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Today I welcome back Visiting Lolita Vivien to guest review THE RIFT WALKER, book 2 of the Vampire Empire series.

 

THE RIFT WALKER

Book 2, The Vampire Empire

Clay and Susan Griffith

PYR Books

Review by Vivien

After really enjoying the first book in this trilogy, The Greyfriar, I was very eager to sink my teeth into The Rift Walker. It immediately picks up exactly where The Greyfriar left off. So, if you don’t remember everything, I’d recommend a refresher.

While The Greyfriar was filled with technological advancements and a bloody war, The Rift Walker is more about political intrigue. The schemes and machinations of everyone involved is just utterly fascinating. It held my attention throughout. I can’t divulge any more without completely spoiling it all!

Getting a few different point of views this time around, The Rift Walker takes a slower pace than it’s predecessor. Having linear plot lines that all need to be told can seem tedious at times, but it really fills out the story. You need every bit of information that you’re given.

While the relationship between Adele and The Greyfriar wasn’t in the foreground in The Rift Walker, it still blossoms right before our eyes. Gone is the abrasive tension and replacing it is a more comfortable companionship. Towards the end I really felt their struggle as a whole with the world they live in.

A fascinating sequel to The Greyfriar. While some may not find The Rift Walker as engaging, I think it really adds to the depth of this trilogy. The Griffiths really built on the characters in this sequel. I am on edge for The Kingmakers, the last in the trilogy. I can’t wait to see how all the pieces that they have created, fit together to create one cohesive world.

~Vivien

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It’s book Monday!  Today I’m gushing about God Save the Queen.  One lucky commenter will win my ARC and I got it *signed* by Kate Locke over the weekend for you.  Open internationally, closes July 1, at 11:59 PM PST. 

God Save the Queen by Kate Locke
Book 1, The Immortal Empire
Orbit, July 3rd, 2012
ARC provided by Orbit

When Orbit asked me if I wanted to read this new steampunk urban fantasy series, I was like, um, heck yeah.  The basic premise of God Save the Queen had me intrigued immediately.  It’s 2012 and Queen Victoria is still in power–and is a Vampire.  Told from the point of view of 22 year-old Xandra Vardan we’re taken on a wild romp through an alternate history where the British Aristocracy are paranormal and technology has evolved in a very steampunkian sort of way.  They have many of the same types of devices we have (cars, cell phones, etc), but they run on different technologies.  Xandra Vardan is a “halvie” — her father is a Vampire, her mother human.  The halvies often act as protectors to the paranormal aristocracy and Xandra is an elite guard.  When her sister goes missing, she’s plunged into a darker side of society, and once she starts digging for the truth, nothing will ever be the same. 

I love Xandra, because she’s a badass.  She’ll also go to great lengths for her family, especially her missing sister.  She’s resourceful, intelligent, and can kick ass in a ball gown.  What’s not to love?  In addition to the action and intrigue, there’s also romance.  Oh, Vex.  Yes, Vex is a sexy werewolf, and an alpha, but he’s also very supportive, which was a great twist from the usual grabby alpha male.

Her world is incredible, weaving in technology, alternate history, and myth and legend. It’s gritty and dark, despite the balls and parties of the aristocracy, which Xandra often attends due to her position in the guard.  In addition to Vampires and Werewolves, we also meet the Goblins, which add a great twist to the many-layered culture Kate has created.  Like any good “punk” there’s plenty of rebellion, especially among the humans, who feel oppressed by, and are a bit afraid of, the paranormal aristocracy.  I have a feeling that war may break out in future books…

God Save the Queen is a great romp through alternate London, a fun and exciting read that’s hard to put down.  I actually had to stop myself from reading it and wait until I had an opportunity to read uninterrupted, because once I got about 5 chapters in I didn’t want to stop, and literally stayed planted on the bed reading while my child watched cartoons and ate cookies for the rest of the afternoon.  The ending left me wanting for more and I love how she has explanations and a glossary in the back.

Seriously, I loved this book and had a hard time formulating a review that was more than “crazy good shit” and “this books kicks ass.”  If you’re a fan of the Parasol Protectorate books, I’d recommend checking this out.  I can’t wait for book 2 to see what happens to Xandra next.  Can’t I have it now?

—-

Suzanne Lazear writes about steampunk faeries.  Her debut novel, INNOCENT DARKNESS, book one of The Aether Chronicles, releases August 2012 from Flux. Visit her personal blog for more adventures.

 

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Yeah, so I know Maeve already reviewed Timeless but I love these books so much, I’m going to gush about it anyway.  I also haven’t done “Book Monday” in awhile (where I gush about books I love, for those of you who don’t know).  So…here’s today’s book:

Timeless –Book #5, Parasol Protectorate
by Gail Carriger

(copy provided by Orbit)

All good things must come to an end, and Timeless is the last book Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series.  Sure, she has two new series coming out, but alas, Lord Maccon and Alexia’s story has come to an end. 

I love these books – their charm, wit, humor, and ability to make me laugh out loud in undignified ways while on airplanes.  Book #5 was no exception.

In this book Alexia and company travel to Egypt in an adventure that doesn’t disappoint.  Prudence cracks me up, and Carriger accurate portrayal of life with a toddler (especially bathtime) had me rolling. 

Though I was a tiny disappointed not to get the full Alexia origins story, this story did not disappoint overall.  There was plenty of Ivy and her hats, Akeldam’s wit, Madame Lefoux’s intrigue, and the amazing love and respect shared by Lord Maccon and Alexia (which always makes me swoon).

And Biffy!  I was pleasantly surprised by darling Biffy.  I hope we haven’t seen the last of him.

I know we haven’t seen the last of Prudence and I look forward to reading about her in her series, Parasol Protectorate Abroad.

Have you read it?  What did you think?

 

Suzanne Lazear writes steampunk tales for teens.  Her debut novel, INNOCENT DARKNESS, book one of The Aether Chronicles, releases August 2012 from Flux. Visit her personal blog for more adventures.

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First off, we have some winners to announce.

The winner of  The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer is:

Teawench

The winner of War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells is:

Rebecca RyalsRussell


Congratulations! Email me at suzannelazear (@) hotmail to claim your prize.

Now, on to Book Monday.


The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton

(ARC Provided by Tor)

I have a huge soft spot for young adult faerie books, since I write about faeries.  I have an even larger soft spot for Victorian faerie stories.

This book didn’t disappoint me one bit.

Hamilton skillfully combines faerie lore with Victorian London weaving together an enchanting tale of magic, mystery, and mayhem.

Tiki is a teen-pickpocket living with her “family” of orphan thieves, including little Clara, who’s often sick.    When Tiki steals a ring from the palace she thinks first of Clara and how the ring could buy the medicine they need for the littlest and frailest member of their band.  Only the ring Tiki stole binds the treaty between the royal family and the fey.  Away from the safety of the palace, the ring–and Tiki–become a target.  If the ring is destroyed then the treaty is broken and the fey can do as they will, probably at the cost of mortal London.  In order to save the treaty–and humanity, she must figure out who to trust, which includes the handsome rascal Riecker and the young Prince Leopold.

This fast-paced action-packed story is full of twists and turns that had me glued to my chair.  I fell in love with Tiki from the very beginning.   She’s plucky, and resilient, and even though life hasn’t dealt her the best hand, she’s not bitter, rather, she rolls with the punches and does what she needs to do to survive–and protect her family.  I love how loyal she and the other orphans in their little band really take care of each other — even little Clara.

Hamilton’s version of Victorian London comes alive–complete with the grit, despair, and poverty all-too-common in that era.  However, thanks to Tiki and her resistance, even when the story gets dark, there’s always a glimmer of hope.  It’s also quite fun to journey through London with Tiki–from the streets of London to the palace and thanks to the brilliant descriptions you feel like you’re *right there*.

And Riecker.

Oh yes, there’s Riecker.

Again, I loved the way Hamilton seamlessly melded faerie lore–and even Gaelic–into her Victorian world.  Like in faerie lore, these faeries aren’t always nice, especially those of the dark court.  There’s something for everyone in this story–a little historical fiction, a little romance, a really good story, faeries, action, and mystery.  I highly recommend this to anyone who’s a fan of either faeries or Victorian stories.

Since I love this story so much and am going to buy a final copy, I’m going to give away my ARC.  All you have to do is leave me a comment and tell me what sort of faerie (dark or bright) is your favorite.  Contest open internationally, ends October 9th, 2011, at 11:59 PM PST.

Suzanne Lazear writes steampunk tales for teens.  Her debut novel, Innocent Darkness, book one of The Aether Chronicles, releases August 2012 from Flux. Visit her personal blog for more adventures.

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Today is the last giveaway in Christmas in August.  We have a few things open.  Thank you so much for entering.  We have some winners here

Enclave (Razorland #1)

By Ann Aguirre

Okay, so Ann Aguirre’s YA debut isn’t Steampunk, but there’s a lot for steampunkers to love in this book–even if you don’t usually like zombies, dystopian, or even YA.

In some distant (or not so distant) future Deuce’s world is an underground labyrinth of tunnels and a series of strict rules in a society where the death rate is so high children aren’t even named until they are fifteen.  Deuce is a huntress, her job it to brave the tunnels outside the enclave and avoid the monsters known as “Freaks” to bring back meat for the group.  She’s assigned a partner, Fade, who’s different from the other members in the enclave and entertains notions considered “dangerous” by Deuce–such as perhaps those in charge of the enclave are lying.  When the previously-thought-to-be-mindless Freaks develop intelligence, the elders ignore Fade and Deuce’s warning.  When the two of them are exiled, the only place left for them to go is topside. 

I love Deuce, because she’s a very smart, level-headed, practical heroine (and she’s badass, but out of necessity, because as a huntress, that’s her job).  Even though this book is YA, because of Deuce’s maturity and all the action, I think this book might appeal to those who might not usually pick up a YA, even if you’re not a dystopian/post-apocalyptic fan.

The world building is fantastic and well thought out.  I loved reading about the culture and customs developed by Deuce’s tunnel-dwelling society.  Unlike many stories in this genre, ENCLAVE isn’t depressing, but hopeful.  However, it is gritty — survival is life in Deuce’s world and they fight for it daily.  There’s a ton of action including some great (though gruesome) fight scenes against the Freaks (zombies, but they’re not described in the usual way, so if you usually avoid zombie books, you might give this one a try anyway.)  When she and Fade go topside I love how they react to what’s left of our world and I thought their reactions and thoughts to things we take for granted but they may have never seen or even heard about was fantastic. 

Overall, this was a face paced, well written book with great characters and some terrific dialogue.  I read this in two sittings and was completely sucked into the world Aguirre created (and usually I avoid books with Zombies.)

So, what’s your favorite dystopian/post-apocalyptic book?

I have a previously read ARC to give away to one lucky commenter.  It’s been read by more than me, but it is an ARC, with the CD in the back AND it’s SIGNED.  All you have to do is comment below.  Open internationally.  Contest closes September 10th, 2011 at 11:59 PST. 

Suzanne Lazear writes steampunk tales for teens.  Her debut novel, Innocent Darkness, book one of The Aether Chronicles, releases August 2012 from Flux. 

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I just want to let you know that I read each and every one of your guest requests and I do try very hard to bring on the guests you want to see, though sometimes they’re just not available.   I’ve gotten tons of requests for both for Cherie Priest as a guest blogger and to profile Boneshaker on Book Monday, and where, we haven’t yet worked out a time for her to come and guest blog, she did send me two lovely signed books to give away to you all (which was very sweet).

So, without further ado, Christmas in August continues…

Boneshaker

The Clockwork Century #1

by Cherie Priest

Tor Books

Boneshaker is often considered one of the must read books in the Steampunk genre.

Besides the goggles, airships, and zombies, it’s a tale of many things.  It’s the tale of an alternate version of late 19th century Seattle where a test for a new invention, the Boneshaker, goes  awry and unleashes a subterranean vein of gas that turns people into zombies.

It’s the tale of Ezekiel, who sixteen years later sets off into the walled-off part of Seattle hoping to find some way to clear his father’s name.  A city teeming with danger–and the living dead.

It’s the tale of Briar, Ezekiel’s mother, and the widow of the man who invented the Boneshaker, who follows her son into the toxic city with the hopes of bringing  him back alive.

As a mom, I really could appreciate everything Briar did to protect her son.  She’s not perfect (but no mom is) and most importantly, when her efforts backfired, she continued to do whatever she could to protect him-even if it mean litterally going over a wall into a city teeming with danger and toxic gas.

This was a well thought out, well built, and well researched story that is easily enjoyable–and accessible to both Steampunk lovers and those new to the genre.  There is plenty of adventure, twists, turns, and goggles, driven by some stand-out characters.

Have you read Boneshaker yet?  Why or why not?

One lucky commenter will win a signed copy of Boneshaker, another lucky commenter will win a signed copy of Those Who Went Remain There Still.   Both are open internationally.  Winners will be chosen at random.  Contest closes September 4, 2011, 11:59 PM PST. 

 

Suzanne Lazear writes steampunk tales for teens.  Her debut novel, Innocent Darkness, book one of The Aether Chronicles, releases August 2012 from Flux. 

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Christmas in August continues with a new giveaway.  Today we’re featuring Caitlin Kittredge’s The Iron Thorn and one lucky commenter will win a copy!

But first, the winner of the Yoda ornament…

Melina from Reading Vacation

Congrats, Melina!

Now, onto today’s feature.

The Iron Thorn

Book 1, Iron Codex

By Caitlin Kittredge

(Copy provided by Delacorte)

From Goodreads: 

In the city of Lovecraft, the Proctors rule and a great Engine turns below the streets, grinding any resistance to their order to dust. The necrovirus is blamed for Lovecraft’s epidemic of madness, for the strange and eldritch creatures that roam the streets after dark, and for everything that the city leaders deem Heretical—born of the belief in magic and witchcraft. And for Aoife Grayson, her time is growing shorter by the day.

Aoife Grayson’s family is unique, in the worst way—every one of them, including her mother and her elder brother Conrad, has gone mad on their 16th birthday. And now, a ward of the state, and one of the only female students at the School of Engines, she is trying to pretend that her fate can be different.

I was very excited to read this book, because a) it’s steampunk, b) the MC’s name is Aoife, c) enter the Fae.

Yep.

The Iron Thorn is set in Lovecraft, MA.  But her world is a completely re-imagined version of the US, a dim and grim world that’s been ravaged by a virus purported to cause madness and mutation.  The citizens live in fear of the virus, strange creatures, and of the government.  Any thought deemed illogical is heretical, including fairy stories, magic, and witchcraft.  Heretics are burned–or worse.  The city of Lovecraft is so gritty, the fear the citizens live in so intense,  it leaves me wanting to take a shower then cower under the blankets.

Because this world is so very different from ours, Kittredge has to do an incredible amount of worldbuilding to set the stage.  She does an amazing job of weaving her world–from the explanations of the machines to the social structure of her world–without being intrusive.

As much as I’m intrigued by Aiofe’s life–her being a student at the school of engines, her relationship with her mother who’s been deemed insane, and the orderly fear-driven life she leads in Lovecraft, for me the story really picks up when she and her best friend Cal flee Lovecraft to aid her brother.

From the moment she and Cal go to find a guide to smuggle them out of the city, she starts to realize how different the world is from what their leaders want them to believe.  The further she, Cal, and their guide Dean get from the city the more she’s pulled into the “heretical” world of magic and witchcraft her city’s government is so against.

This book is full of  surprising twists and turns.  Aiofe is a great MC-strong, smart, and open-minded yet unwavering in her core beliefs.  Cal, her best friend, is very much the opposite for much of the book–a hard-core rule follower and believer in what the city’s leader’s tell her.  But Cal does go with her on her dangerous adventure outside the city and comes through when she needs him most.  Dean, their guide, is a great foil for Cal.  Dean is a bit shady and operates outside the rules.

Kittredge does a great job of seamlessly interweaving magic and the Fae with the stark grimness of her Steampunk world.

I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the next.

Want to win my copy?  Leave a comment below.  Open internationally.  Contest closes August 28th at 11:59 PM. 

Suzanne Lazear writes steampunk tales for teens.  Her debut novel, Innocent Darkness, book one of The Aether Chronicles, releases August 2012 from Flux. 

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Heartless by Gail Carriger

Book 4 of the Parasol Protectorate Series

Releases July 1, 2011

Galley Provided by Orbit

You all know how much I love these books.  Gail Carriger is one of my favorite authors.  When this surprise landed in my mailbox I didn’t read it, I devoured it in two sitting, while the hubby looked on in worry asking me why I was laughing so hard.

A ghost is on the loose and threatening Queen Victoria, Felicity has (gasp) joined the suffragette movement, there’s an infestation of zombie porcupines, and Madame Lefoux is inventing strange things.  Alexia must deal with these while in her most delicate condition.

Carriger has done it again, taking us on a hilariously adventurous romp through supernatural society, complete with giant octopi, porcupines, and, of course, treacle tart.

I love that these very proper books don’t take themselves seriously and that they’re funny.   Now, I do love dark books, but sometimes you need a book that makes you snort in an unladylike fashion and laugh so hard you nearly upset your tea.

I for one, love these covers, but then I also know the cover model.

Overall this was a wonderful, quick read.  There is plenty of humor in Heartless.  There’s all our favorite characters including plenty of the ever fabulous Lord Akeldama and sweet Biffy.   There’s Alexia’s baby…and, well, we can’t forget the porcupines!

My only problem with this book, is, as usual, that I have to wait a year for the next.

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It’s book Monday!  For those new to Steamed, Book Monday is an occasional feature where I talk about a (usually) Steampunk book I really enjoy and think you will, too. 

The Vespertine

by Saundra Mitchell

Review copy provided by Harcourt Children’s Books

The Vespertine isn’t Steampunk, it’s a Victorian historical.  I was attracted to it because it’s about Amelia, who goes to Baltimore for ball season in Baltimore in 1889 in order to make a good match.  I *adore* balls and fluffy Victorian dresses.  But this isn’t some light, fluffy story.  No, the balls and dresses simply set the stage for a  lush historical tale of longing, social games, forbidden love, and just a hint of magic. 

Magic?

Yes, I just used the “m” word.

I wasn’t expecting a paranormal element, but for me it added so much depth to the story.  Amelia starts getting dreamlike, and sometimes disturbing, visions at sunset.  At first, these visions skyrocket her popularity, as she only has months to meet the right people to make the right match.  But soon her visions start coming true, and when the darkest things she sees happen, there’s no turning back and could ruin everything she’s come to Baltimore to achieve.

The Victorians did love their visions and esoteric mysteries so this paranormal element meshes very well, making it really (to me) a historical with paranormal elements rather than a full-on Victorian fantasy or even Gaslamp…though the mysterious Nathaniel bring it awfully close to Gaslamp territory (and I do love me a good Gaslamp). 

Ah, Nathaniel.

Who doesn’t love a good story about forbidden love? 

Amelia meets Nathaniel at a party.  But Nathaniel isn’t there to make a good match, like she is.  He is an artist who hires himself out at a “fourteenth”, so there’s never an unlucky thirteen  guests.  Nathaniel and Amelia are instantly attracted, and of course, a poor artists isn’t the type of guy she was sent to find to marry in Baltimore.  But this isn’t as typical of a story-line as you might think.  There relationship is complicated, and even though the attraction is there from the start, they have to work  to develop it, making the relationship portions of the story very fresh and intriguing. 

Amelia is a great character, not an insipid Victorian socialite, but a rather plucky, independent girl who’s sent alone to her cousin’s to experience the wonders of the big city and the decadence of ball season, wonders she’s never seen before, which lends to some great moments.  Imagine what it might be like to see a big city for the first time, or go to your very first ball wearing a ridiculously beautiful, extravagant gown by the lkes you’d only seen before in magazines? 

Then imagine discovering you have abilities that could, if exploited right, help your social standing, brining you into contact with all the “right” girls?

And what about falling in love? 

Or the fear that one wrong step, like even being in the same room alone with a man, could lead to your ruin?

Or that the man you love is not one you could marry?

The whole tale is richly woven, textured, and decadent, like a really good chocolate truffle.  The tale very lyrical  and I devoured most of it in one sitting. 

There are no automatons or rayguns, and fans of action packed stories may find it oddly quite (but not boring, her attention to detail and compelling story see to that).  Overall, this is a very compelling read. 

And the end.

Oh yes. 

The end will take your breath away.

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This was originally scheduled for Fantastic February, then I got sick and never posted it.  Enjoy. 

Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales

 by Tamora Pierce

Book provided by Random House

Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales is a collection of short stories from fantasy author Tamora Pierce.

I am a *huge* Tamora Pierce fangirl and I devoured the Lioness books before I ever figured out they were YA (and then continued to read many of her other series all set in the land of Tortall). 

Most of these stories take place in the land of Tortall, but some take place in the “real world.”  Some are long, and some are short. 

We see old friends like Nawat and Aly from the Trickster books, meet new ones, and get to know more about characters referenced in other books, like Kylaia who was referenced in the Lioness books.  But don’t have to have all (or any) of the other series to enjoy this vivid, vibrant, and extremely diverse collection of tales which will appeal to adults and teens alike. 

Like all of Pierce’s stories (which is why I love them) the tales in this book are filled with the trials of coming of age, pushing the boundaries, discovering yourself and where you fit regardless of what others tell you, and  (of course) magic.

One of the most vibrant for me was “The Dragon’s Tale” which features Kitten the dragon from the Immortals books who has an adventure of her own. 

We also get a sneak peek of the new Becca Cooper story.   Can’t wait!

 Do you love Tortall?  What’s your favorite series or character?  If not, is there a series you want to read?  One lucky commenter will win a hardcover copy of this book (open internationally, contest closes May 22, 11:59 PM PST)

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It’s Book Monday. For those of you new to the blog, Book Monday is an occasional feature where I talk about books I really love that I think you’d enjoy as well.

The Girl in The Steel Corset
by Kady Cross
Releases May 24th 2011 from Harlequin Teen  (ARC provided by Harlequin Teen)

The Girl in the Steel Corset is steampunk YA by debut YA author Kady Cross (who’s written historical romance for adults under the name Kate Smith)

I love this book.  I love this book so much it’s hard to come up with something beyond hot damn, this book kicks ass.

Which it does. 

Why do I love this book so much?

Let’s start with the cover.  Can I tell you how much I love this new cover trend with the girls in amazing dresses.  I want that dress.

One of my favorite things about this book is how there’s a collage of cogs and gears on every chapter page.  It’s such a neat detail that adds to the ambiance
of the book.

The gadgets and tech are seamlessly woven into the worldbuilding (as it should be).  The story is fun, fast-paced, and original, yet pulls from classics.  I love that we have the “Jekyll and Hyde” mythos with a female protag.  Findlay Jane is a badass, and I do love me a strong, unusual heroine.

But this is far, far more than a classic retelling.  That’s just one thread that makes up the rich tapestry that is this story. 

Findlay Jane is only one of the teen characters in this story and most of them have unusual abilities, like X-Men, only set in an alternate version of Victorian London with automatons and my personal favorite, the aethernet.  There’s Griffin, the handsome leader, and patron of the bunch.  Sam, his best friend, and Emily, the inventor of the bunch who makes much of the gadgets–including Findlay’s steel corset. Together the four of them must work to catch the Machinist, who’s seeks to use automatons to further his dastardly scheme–with a little help from an American Cowboy named Jasper, and Jack Dandy, lord of the underground.

Aside from the mystery and adventure, there’s a bit of romance as Findlay is torn between Griff and Jack.   You want to root for Griff, because he is this kind and loyal lord who tries to control his own abilities, protect his friends, and do due diligence to his father’s legacy.  But at the same time Jack is so tempting, because who doesn’t love a rogue with a sensitive side?

All and all, this was a great read full of twists and turns.  Kady Cross has her Steampunk worldbuilding spot on.  Though this is YA, I think adults will enjoy this just as much and it will appeal both to Steampunk fans and those new to the genre.

So, when do I get to read the next one?

I have an ARC of The Girl in the Steel Corset to give to one lucky reader.  Just comment in the box below.  Contest ends Sunday, May 8th at 11:59 PM PST.  Open internationally. 

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The Iron King

by Julie Kagawa

Book 1, The Iron Fey Series

I will warn you, this isn’t really a review, but more of an analysis of whether or not I feel this book is Steampunk, Elfpunk, or just a really good story.  This is also just my opinion. 

I’ve been hearing a lot about this book.  Mostly, it’s because I keep being asked the same question — “Is The Iron King Steampunk or Elfpunk?”  To which I always shrug and reply, “I don’t know, I haven’t read it.”  I went as far as tweeting Julie Kagawa, the author, and asking her (she probably though I was loopy).  She patiently replied that she didn’t think it was either. 

Finally, I got the time to read it to decide for myself. 

So…is it Steampunk or Elfpunk?

Honestly, I don’t think it’s either. 

Yes, there are definitely elements of both Steampunk and Elfpunk in the book, yet, in my personal opinion, they’re not strong enough to really define the book. 

This is not to say, it’s no a fabulous book — because it is a fabulous book–it’s just that according to me I wouldn’t define it by either label. 

There are some neat steampunky-elements among the iron fey.  Ironhorse just sounds plain old awesome.  However, if you’d remove these elements and just made them bad fey, the story would still stand.  I’m going out on a limb here and staying I wouldn’t even define it as having “steampunk elements” because there just isn’t enough steampunkyness, in my humble opinion.   

So, then, why isn’t it Elfpunk?  After all, there are fey roaming around the human realm, and there are rebellion themes?

This was much harder for me–and feel free to disagree.  If this story took place almost entirely in the human realm, I would say yes, but it seemed to lack that integration Elfpunk stories have, even when the characters go back and forth between the human and faerie realms.  That is not a bad thing, this story didn’t need more integration, everything she does for this story works well, it’s just that to me, this puts it out of the Elfpunk realm. 

There is a ton to love about this book.  It took me about a hundred pages to get into it, but I think it was because this was the first time I ever read an e-book (and I read it on my computer) than having to do with the actual story.  What floored me was the world building.  As you know, I am a big fat faerie lore nerd.   I love how she incorporated classic faerie lore and characters like Oberon, Puck, and Queen Mab into her story while giving everything her own twist.  There is action, romance, and a faerie world filled with creatures, which true-to-form, aren’t always nice.

Also, I’m a sucker for stories about bad bargains.  Oh yes I am. 

So, it you’re looking for a specifically Steampunk or Elfpunk story, this may not be the book for you.

But if you’re looking for a really good read, with lots of faeries and good folklore roots, then read away.

It’s number one in a series with three books out so far.  She’s even giving away a novella free until April.

Happy Reading.

~Lolita Suzanne

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