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gail carriger (2)

Gail Carriger made a book tour stop in Houston, Texas for her new release, PRUDENCE : The Custard Protocol: Book One. In this latest novel, Alexia’s girl, now all grown up, with all the spunk of her mother and then some ventures to the exotic land of India. Her high priority, top secret mission involves tea, vampires and weremonkeys. 

At Murder By the Book, Gail shared with her fans that she did a lot of research for this novel as it is set in India. The mythology used in the book including that of the Rakshasas, India vampires, and the Vanara, India weremonkeys is accurate. In her research she also uncovered the interesting historical tidbit that Bombay was originally several islands the English engineered into one by means of land reclamation projects.

Ms.Carriger also discussed how she comes up with such interesting names for her characters. She uses names for humor. Sometimes the name just comes to her as she’s writing like it did for her main character, Prudence. She also looks names up in Victorian registries and on tomb stones. Sometimes she likes a word so much she just adds a letter or letters at the beginning or end to make a name.  Another way she choses names is what she calls cookies, meaning it’s a treat for anyone willing to do the research. She’ll pull a name from a real historical character or the name will have a hidden meaning or she’ll spell a word backwards for a name. One such cookie is Lord Akeldama. If you don’t know where and what Akeldama is, google it. It’s interesting. I have to say my favorite new character name in Prudence is Spoo, she’s a lively member of the Spotted Custard’s crew.

At the book signing, Ms. Carriger was asked how she explains Steampunk to people who aren’t familiar with it? She says, “Imagine living in a time period where you can take a hot air balloon to the moon.” Speaking of fiction genres, she also divulged that she likes military sci-fi including Rachel Bach’s Paradox series and Valor’s Choice by Tanya Huff. And she likes some romance in her sci-fi reads. Ms. Carriger even has a book club on Goodreads where you can read along with her. A book she likes is chosen each month.  Also on My Book The Movie blog you can see who she would chose to cast for Prudence if it were a movie.

I read Prudence and I love the line,

Rue was moved to italics by the gesture. “Mine?”

As you can see from that sentence, PRUDENCE is as charming and humorous as all of Ms. Carriger’s books.

She could be a member of the Spotted Custard crew, perhaps Greaser Phinkerlington or even Spoo.

She could be a member of the Spotted Custard crew, perhaps Greaser Phinkerlington or even Spoo.

In PRUDENCE, the adventure begins when Dama gives Prudence an airship, which she paints to look like a lady bug and she names it the Spotted Custard. Of course her good friends Prim, Percy and Quesnel come along. Intrigue and espionage ensue, which Prudence thinks is all due to the special tea Dama has sent her for but it turns out it’s also about supernatural beings in India, the vampiric Rakshasas and the Vanara, weremonkeys.  I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say of course in the end Prudence manages to save the day.

The book is a funny, sweet, fresh delight. It’s ever so creatively original – after all it’s by Gail Carriger. I highly recommend PRUDENCE for anyone who likes good books and of course it’s a must read for all Gail Carriger fans.

Here is a video from Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego 03/17/15

Other Gail Carriger related post on Steamed:

Book Monday: Timeless by Gail Carriger

Maeve Alpin Reviews Gail Carriger’s Timeless
How To Make A Proper Pot Of Tea by Gail Carriger 
In Which We Get Cozy with Gail Carriger
In Which Author Gail Carriger visits

~      ~      ~

Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 26 books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, fantasy and happy endings. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

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As we all know Mary Shelley wrote sci-fi before H. G. Wells or Jules Verne and was one of the main pioneers of the genre. Everyone’s familiar with Frankenstein and probably everyone looking at this post has read it. It is the first mad-scientist sub genre book and many consider it  the first work which can logically be labeled sci-fi.  But I’m going to talk about a lesser known book of hers that is also significant to the sci-fi  genre, The Last Man. It is the first written work  of the sci-fi sub genre of a sole survivor of earth. A still popular plot, often used in books and movies two hundred years later.

A good place to start with Mary Shelley’s work is with Mary herself. Mary Wollenstoncraft, an author and the most important feminist of the day, died due to child birth complications nine days after giving birth to her daughter, Mary Wollenstoncraft Godwin. Mary’s father was the famed philosopher and author, William Godwin. Shortly after his wife’s death, William married Mary Jane Clairmont. Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin grew up in a household with her half sister, Fanny Imlay, from a liaison her mother had with an American, and her step mothers’ two children from a previous marriage, Charles and Claire Clairmont, and her half-brother William, the child of her father and his  new wife.

When she was 16 Mary fell in love with the poet, Percy Shelley and ran off with him, even though he was married. Mary gave birth seven months into her first pregnancy and the premature baby died shortly after. Her next pregnancy produced a healthy son, William. Soon after that, Percy’s wife, Harriet,  drowned herself and her unborn child. Then Mary’s half sister, Fanny, committed suicide.  After that, Mary gave birth to a daughter, Clara. That child died a year later and the next year her son William died. She became pregnant again and gave birth to her son, Percy,  the only child who survived. After that Mary suffered a dangerous miscarriage she barely survived. Then her husband drowned in a boating accident. By the time all this loss occurred, Mary was only 24 years old. In the few sentences above, these facts about her life, we can see the tragedies she experienced contributed to her creations of both Frankenstein and The Last Man and gave her the emotions she needed to pull from to write them.

I also wanted to mention that at the time they were first published both Frankenstein and The Last Man received terrible reviews but both sold well and were widely talked about by readers of the day. Shelley was a brave author who wrote what she wanted to write even if it went against political, religious or social beliefs of the time. We owe much to her for that. The sci-fi genre owes much to Mary Shelley for that.

“The last day passed thus: each moment contained eternity; although when hour after hour had gone by, I wondered at the quick flight of time. Yet even now I had not drunk the bitter potion to the dregs; I was not yet persuaded of my loss; I did not yet feel in every pulsation in every nerve , in every thought that I remained alone of my race, — that I was the LAST MAN.”

The Last Man is set in the 21st century and written in first person. The writing is elegant with marvelous description. Verney tells the story of his life. Through mistakes of his father, he and his sister, Perdita,  are cast out of a happy life into one of poor lonely orphans.  He forms a plan of vengeance against the people who brought this ruin. The main culprit was the king, who is dead. When the king’s son, Adrian, comes to Verney’s town he sets his plan in motion. However, Adrian turns out to be a great supporter of Verney’s  late father. Verney rises from his life of despair and longing with the help of Adrian, who becomes his lifelong best friend.  This circle of six friends: Verney, Perdita, Adrian a poet and intellectual , Raymond a hero nobleman (who marries Perdita) , Adrian’s sister, Idris  (who marries Verney) and Evadne, a Greek princess, have many ups and downs in their lives. Eventually, most end up married with children and quite happy and settled. But Perdita’s husband, Raymond, cheats on her with Evadne.  So Perdita leaves Raymond. A war between the Greeks and the Turks break out and Raymond fights in it as does Evadne. She dies on the battlefield and Verney finds her body and buries her. As Raymond is on his death bed from mortal war wounds, Perdita goes to him and forgives him. When he dies, she kills herself.

Soon after this an epidemic begins. It’s unknown what causes it or how it spreads. It goes from country to country. For a long time England is untouched by it. Due to the plague and several natural disasters in different parts of the world, England is filled with immigrants. Then the symptoms reach a patient in a hospital in London. In the year 2096 the few survivors of the plague in England decide to leave and find some untouched part of the world. Verney, Adrian, and their families are at the forefront of this group.

They sail from England, leaving it depopulated. The group decides to pass the hot months in the icy valley of Switzerland. As they journey there Idris, Verney’s wife. dies from the plague. By the time they arrive in Switzerland it, like every other place, is empty of people. After seven years the plague ends. Thinking danger has passed they leave the alps to go into Italy and pass the winter in Milan. Then they  spend the summer in a villa by a lake. There one of the children is struck with a sudden fever and dies. They burry the child and sail their skiff toward Athens. But a storm overtakes the ship . Everyone is drowned in the shipwreck except Verney.

Verney enters the town of Ravenna near where the wreck occurred. He sees oxen, dogs, horses, birds, and other animals but no men among them. After staying a while in Ravennna, he heads to Rome, the capital of the world, the crown of man’s achievement. He finds pens and paper and writes a book about his life, which is the book – The Last Man.  He leaves it in the ancient city of this world as a sole monument of Verney the LAST MAN. He then leaves Rome to sail around the shores of deserted Earth.

The Last Man is elegantly written with marvelous descriptions. It is written in first person with complicated characters. However, keep in mind it is written in the Regency era for Regency era readers. In that time period writing did not demand nor did the readers want fast pacing, hooks or a balance of dialogue and narrative. This book has far more narrative than dialogue. Therefore it may be slow reading for us modern readers. I had to push myself to get through it at times, but I am so glad I read it.

The next time you are writing, reading, or watching a movie or TV show with a mad scientist or sole survivor on earth plot, take a silent moment to thank Mary Shelley. And if you’re at a con or other event and someone says something like women are new to Sci-Fi, you might just want to remind them that women have been reading and wiring Sci-Fi for over two hundred years.

~       ~        ~

Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 19 books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, fantasy and happy endings. Her latest Steampunk/Romance is Conquistadors In Outer Space. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

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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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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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Okay, Jane Eyre isn’t a new release, nor is it steampunk, but it’s a classic and the new movie does feature lots of pretty dresses.  Also, I need to re-read it for a project.  Anyway, I have asked the super-fabulous Nicole from WORD For Teens to come and guest review it for me. So, how many times have you read it?

Nicole runs the successful YA book blog WORD For Teens. When not reading books or watching Doctor Who, she’s studying for her double major in journalism and English.

 

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Review by Nicole of Word for Teens

What can one say about Jane Eyre that hasn’t been said already?

I adore Jane Eyre. I adored it when I first listened to the musical version in ninth grade; I adored it when I watched the amazing four hour BBC version in tenth grade; I adored it when I finally picked it up and read it in eleventh grade.

And even now, it’s something I reread and get excited for. I’ve seen the BBC movie Jane-knows-how-many times; I’ve read the book again and again; I’m more than excited for the new movie version that just came out. (Seeing it soon, eek!)

There’s just something about it. Yeah, it’s not written like most modern lit – either young adult or adult – is. It’s a very slow set up until the part of the novel I like best. A good third of the book, I think, is dedicated to Jane’s childhood. You really get in her head and see the miserable sort of situation she was in and why she grew up to be the way she was.

Normally, I’d hate that. I love being launched straight into the action, into the romance, into the real story. (I think that was one of the reasons it took me so long to finally read Pride and Prejudice; who cared what the Bennett sisters were doing? I just wanted to go to the first ball with Darcy, damn it.) But it’s so eloquently written that I still love it.

And don’t even get me started on my love of the characters themselves. Jane? Best heroine ever. Okay, maybe not best, but damn, I do love her. She refuses to change who she is and sticks to her guts. And Rochester? You really shouldn’t fall in love with a man who [SPOILER ALERT!] keeps his wife locked up in the attic and who[/SPOILER ALERT] makes you believe that he’s in love with another woman for a good chunk of the book. And yet…

Honestly, this is one of these classics I think everybody needs to read and form their own opinion on. Strong woman? A hunk of a man? An interesting plot? I mean, it’s got everything. (Including a fantastic modern version – Jane by April Lindner. I highly recommend reading that, too, but only after you’ve read Jane Eyre, or some references will be lost on you.) In my opinion, it’s much better than her sister’s Wuthering Heights and on equal terms with some of Austen’s works.

Oh, and there’s this.

~Nicole
http://www.wordforteens.com/

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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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First off, I’d like to announce the winner of the copy of Anya Bast’s Raven’s Quest.

Drumroll please..

renee smith

Renee, please contact me at suzannelazear (@) hotmail to claim your prize.

Fantastic February continues with a review of  the next installment of an amazing Urban Fantasy series.

Pale Demon

The Hollows book 9

By Kim Harrison

Releases February 22, 2011

ARC provided by Harper Eos

I am a huge fan of the Hollows and the Rachel Morgan books.  I’m a regular “stalker” of her blog and once blogged for a year so I could attend a conference she was signing at.  So, when I was lucky enough to get an ARC Pale Demon, the latest Hollows book I was squeeing like a rabid fangirl.

Rachel Morgan has three days to get to the Witches Conference in San Francisco to get her shunning rescinded or she’s going to be stuck in the Ever After with Al.   Denied boarding her airplane, her only chance of getting there in time involves road-tripping it with the one and only Trent Kalamack, who also needs to get to the West Coast urgently, but won’t tell Rachel why.  Trent, Rachel, Ivy, and Jenks set off on a 2,300 mile trip and encounter assassins, coven members, and a daywalking demon that’s interested in Rachel.  Not only do they need to make it to the West Coast on time, but they need to make it there alive.

In some series there’s sometimes a “saggy” book or two.  But these books are consistently good and this one is no exception.  Pale Demon is a great romp through this alternate version of America where humans are the minority.  I really enjoyed the little details of the roadtrip, such as them being afraid of taking certainly highways.  It was nice to “see” what America is like beyond the Hollows and it was interesting hearing little details about how small towns had virtually disappeared and wide stretches of highway no one ventured down.

It would have been fun to encounter a ghost town or see exactly what lurked on someone of those highways, but their trip is far from boring.  Harrison’s attention to detail really adds so much depth and color to the story.  We’re using to what a pixy wearing the color red means in the Hallows, but we find that it means something else west of the Mississippi.  Vegas has interesting rules for Vampires.  Rachel dines at a crazy Demon restaurant that uses ex-coven members as wait staff.

Harrison has some great one-liners.  Some of my favorites are: “God save me from businessmen with too much money and not enough to do”  and “It didn’t matter if a charm was white, black, or polka dotted with silver sparkles.”

This is a fast-paced book with twists and turns at every corner.  Trent is still Trent, and true to his character makes some interesting choices.  Pierce, too, returns.  The day-walking demon adds interesting layers to the demon-elf war.  Just when you think the story could be over it takes a turn and gets even better.  Despite things looking bleak, Rachel comes through in the end—and so do her friends.  Though where we get the usual “happily-for-now-sort-of” ending that you usually get in a Hollows book, this one comes at a high price and a few things are bittersweet.

I really enjoyed this book and found it a gripping, but quick, read.  A lot of things are tied up, but other avenues are opened to new, but different paths for everyone’s favorite sassy witch bounty hunter.  I get the feeling that several eras have ended for Rachel and she’ll be moving away from some things and on to others, which is good and a little sad at the same time.

Still, I will be waiting impatiently for Book Ten to see what new direction Harrison takes the series and what trouble Rachel finds next.

But I wonder, will we ever find out what the blue butterflies mean?

 

 

 

 

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The Hunchback Assignments
Book One of the The Hunchback Assignments
by Arthur Slade
Book Provided by Random House

Modo the disfigured young hunchback has the unique ability to shift into any shape he wants–but only for a few hours. Trained from birth by the mysterious Mr. Socrates he’s enlisted at the age of fourteen as a secret agent. Someone is kidnapping orphans and turning you men into unwilling assassins. With the help another teen agent–the witty, feisty, and beautiful Octavia Milkweed–the two of them must stop the Clockwork Guild’s nefarious plot before it’s too late.

This fast-paced Steampunk book for young adults is packed full of action, suspense and mystery. The Steampunk elements are woven seamlessly into the story and even though the advanced technology isn’t precisely explained, you never question it’s presence, both from the ghastly experiments of Dr. Hyde the mad-scientist or the wondrous gadgets Mr. Socrates has. There’s everything from mechanical birds to steam powered limbs, to giant robots.

There’s not a lot of backstory, but there’s some great character development. It’s very easy to root for young, sheltered, and resilient Modo, horrifying looks aside. Octavia, the savvy former orphan and street sparrow, makes a great foil and the attraction between them crackles enough to intrigue girls but not enough to turn off boys. As they world together to stop the Clockwork guild it’s very clear that Modo is interested in Octavia, but is afraid of what she’ll think if she sees the real him. This thread is left unresolved, but they’ll most likely be reunited to fight evil another day.

This book is fast paced, sometimes almost too fast. But Slade’s alternate Victorian London is still rich and gritty, the story full of plot twists and turns. Filled with non-stop action, peril, gadgets, intrigue, and just a hint of innocent romance this book should be a hit with both boys and girls tween/younger teen set.

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We have more winners from the Halloween Author Invasion. Is it you?

Thanks again for helping to make the Author Invasion a success and thanks to all the fab authors that came on to blog about Halloween and give away treats. A couple of contests are still open.

Today is a busy Steampunk day for me. The online writing class I’m teaching starts today. ~waves at the readers taking the class~

I’m over at Candace’s book blog explaining Steampunk.

I’m also blogging on the elements of a Steampunk novel at Castles and Guns.

NaNoWriMo starts today. I think I’m going to sit this year out, but kudos to everyone doing it! (Who’s writing Steampunk?)

Now, back to Book Monday! Today, not only am I reviewing a great Steampunk anthology coming out, but one lucky commenter will win an ARC of “Steampunk Reloaded.”

Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded
Edited by Ann & Jeff Vandermeer
Released November 15 by Tachyon Press
ARC provided by Tachyon Press

The award-winning editorial team Ann & Jeff Vandermeer does it again with their sequel to their original Steampunk anthology. “Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded” brings together a triumvirate of Steampunk spectacularness — original fiction, reprinted short stories, and non-fiction.

The twenty-seven stories and articles represent a broad cross-section of Steampunk by some of the best in the genre. “Tanglefoot” by Cherie Priest is a Clockwork Century story inspired by a real location. There are also stories by G.D. Falksen (“The Strange Case of Mr. Salad Monday) and Tanith Lee (“The Persecution Machine”).

Besides the usual stories and “What is Steampunk” articles there’s a couple of unusual pieces that add depth and spark to an already good anthology. “Ada Lovelace: The Origins” by Sydney Padua is a delightful alternate history comic. “The Secret History of Steampunk” by The Mecha-Ostrich and Catherynne M. Valente’s “The Anachronist’s Cookbook” also make for interesting reading.

My favorite story isn’t actually a fiction piece, but Gail Carriger’s non-fiction article “Which is Mightier, the Pen or the Parasol?”

This is a well put together anthology suited for both lovers of Steampunk and those new to the genre. The cover is beautiful and the anthology as a whole is artful, from the incredible illustrations to the advertisements in the back. Even the designs around the page numbers and title fonts add to the ambiance and aesthetic, pulling the whole anthology together in a way that makes it more than a mere collection of stories.

~Suzanne

There’s a full list of stories and articles here . Tell me which one you really want to read and why. One lucky poster will win an ARC of “Steampunk Reloaded.” Contest ends Sunday, November 7th, 2010 at 11:59 PM PST.

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Does anyone watch Castle? Tonight is their encounter with a secret Steampunk society. I know I’m tuning in.

If anyone had trouble signing up for the Steampunk Writing Class everything should be fixed now.

Also, is anyone planning on writing Steampunk for National Novel Writing Month in November. No, seriously. Because if there’s enough of you, we’ll run something nifty here at Steamed. With prizes.

Now, on to today’s book review.

Blameless, book three of the Parasol Protectorate Series
by Gail Carriger

Parasols, dirigibles, and men in white nightdresses, oh my! The latest installment in Carriger’s charmingly witty Parasol Protectorate series. Alexia’s life is in a wee bit of upheaval after the last book’s events. Not one to waste an opportunity, when things get unbearable in London, Alexia heads off to Italy in the company of Madame Lefoux and Floot in order to find some answers and tangle with the Templars while Lord Maccon comes to his senses.

Like the rest of the series, these books are enjoyable, witty, and filled with tea, parasols, adventure, and bad hats. The Steampunkyness of Carriger’s world isn’t “in your face” but woven subtly into the very fabric of the world. As usually, memorable characters abound. It was fun to see more of Floot the Butler with little hits of what Alexia’s esteemed father may have been like. Lord Maccon was absent for much of the story, but Professor Lyall was prominent in a very entertaining Vampire subplot (with quite the plot twist) that kept bringing us back to what was happening in London while Alexia was in Italy. I wonder if the Werewolves will become more fashionable now. I did miss the ever-charming and fascinating Lord Akeldama’s presence as well, but it was fun to see Ivy starting to find her element.

In short, I ♥ it. I shall be waiting for the next book, Heartless with baited breath. (But must I wait until July?)

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