08 November, 2012

Steampunk Spectrum(1)

Evil is most assuredly afoot—and Britain’s fate rests in the hands of an alluring renegade . . . and a librarian.

These are dark days indeed in Victoria’s England. Londoners are vanishing, then reappearing, washing up as corpses on the banks of the Thames, drained of blood and bone. Yet the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences—the Crown’s clandestine organization whose bailiwick is the strange and unsettling—will not allow its agents to investigate. Fearless and exceedingly lovely Eliza D. Braun, however, with her bulletproof corset and a disturbing fondness for dynamite, refuses to let the matter rest . . . and she’s prepared to drag her timorous new partner, Wellington Books, along with her into the perilous fray.

For a malevolent brotherhood is operating in the deepening London shadows, intent upon the enslavement of all Britons. And Books and Braun—he with his encyclopedic brain and she with her remarkable devices—must get to the twisted roots of a most nefarious plot . . . or see England fall to the Phoenix!

I really, really enjoyed reading PHOENIX RISING. First, it was actually an audiobook read for me. Sometimes, it can be hit or miss with audiobooks. Though the vast majority that I've listened to have been good, sometimes the narrator just won't be the voice that I want to hear. Or even seem to reflect the tone of the book or characters correctly. No worries on that front here. The narrator's intonation is spot on for Ministry boss, Dr. Sound, and the slight changes he makes to mirror Eliza's New Zealand accent works well. Even Books sounds just like I would imagine.

As for the story, PHOENIX RISING is a mix of mystery, steampunk and action. It's cheeky and well-paced, with Eliza and Books' relationship and interaction being important to the way the characters get things done, but still not overshadowing the inherent adventurousness of the novel.

Read if you liked:
The Iron Seas (series) by Meljean Brook
Katherine "Kitty" Katt (series) by Gini Koch

Book Rating:
4 stars

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The undead matriarch of a Britain where the Aristocracy is made up of werewolves and vampires, where goblins live underground and mothers know better than to let their children out after dark. A world where being nobility means being infected with the Plague (side-effects include undeath), Hysteria is the popular affliction of the day, and leeches are considered a delicacy. And a world where technology lives side by side with magic. The year is 2012 and Pax Britannia still reigns.

Xandra Vardan is a member of the elite Royal Guard, and it is her duty to protect the Aristocracy. But when her sister goes missing, Xandra will set out on a path that undermines everything she believed in and uncover a conspiracy that threatens to topple the empire. And she is the key-the prize in a very dangerous struggle.

GOD SAVE THE QUEEN is more of an urban fantasy steampunk. The world is one that has been changed by the fact that the British Empire still reigns because the queen is undead. This book explores class system under the guise of vampires, half-breeds and other creatures that bump in the night. Xandra's father is a member of the ruling class that she is sworn to protect, but never quite belong in. She lives in a dark, gritty world where secrets are being kept, and Xandra will have to be the one to uncover them.

Like in PHOENIX RISING, GOD SAVE THE QUEEN has a bit of the cheekiness that I have come to associate with British steampunk. It's a little darker, and I think a little more exclusively for urban fantasy readers who are open to steampunk. For me, GOD SAVE THE QUEEN was a fairly quick read, but the world itself was built well through Kate Locke's exposition and the characters dialog.

Read if you liked:
Rhiannon's Law (series) by J.A. Saare
Firelight by Kristen Callihan

Book Rating:
4.5 stars


Former ballerina Callie Carlisle is determined to rebuild her life with her new mechanical limbs. She's just learned to accept the enhancements that saved her from certain death when she experiences uncontrollable twinges and flashes of light that obscure her vision. Terrified of literally falling apart, she resists telling her husband. Jasper's already vowed to keep her out of harm, and she doesn't want to worry him further.

When the War Office's General Black arrives with an urgent mission—rescue the doctor who created Callie's enhancements—she has no choice but to accept. A rogue agent and former patient of the scientist believes the biomechanical modifications he received are killing him, and he's out for revenge.

Callie must reach the doctor before it's too late. But with an overprotective Jasper at her side, and her alarming symptoms getting more frequent, will she be able to hold herself together long enough to save the doctor... and herself?

BROKEN PROMISES is the continuation of Callie and Jasper's story that started in FAR FROM BROKEN, which can be found as an individual novella, or in the anthology A CLOCKWORK CHRISTMAS. The first part of their story must be read, in order to understand what goes on here. Callie has had to give up her dreams of being a ballerina and learn to live with the new mechanical limbs she possesses.

What drew me to J.K. Coi's writing in the first place is her ability to evoke strong emotion with Callie and Jasper. Both are damaged characters, not just in mind and spirit. BROKEN PROMISES is at heart, a romance, but the steampunk aspect is seamlessly integrated. The world is steampunk and the story is romance.

Read if you liked:
Unbound (series) by Rachel Vincent

Book Rating:
3.5 stars

NookBook | Carina Press | Kindle

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