YA Steampunk

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Book Launch: Grigory's Gadget
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“Protect it and it will protect you.” Zoya never understood what her grandmother meant, speaking of a strange gadget of compacted wires and gears. When she and her friends are kidnapped by pirates, Zoya learns that there’s more to the gadget than meets the eye…

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Amanda K Thompson: REVIEW: Fires of Invention by J. Scott Savage (Mysteries of Cove #1)
Steampunk society. Mechanical dragon. 4/5 stars 'Nuff said.

First off, this is a book from Shadow Mountain Publishing, and when I say I’ve never read a bad book from Shadow Mountain, I absolutely mean it. They are the only publisher to date that I trust implicitly.

This story, featuring an underground steampunk society, a mechanical dragon, a fierce and fabulous heroine and a hero who reminded me just enough of Heroes of Olympus’ Leo, is no exception.

Check out the book trailer, than click the link to read my review!

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Ro and Rey would be excellent friends for so many reasons. They are both cute brunette loners with a lot of repressed emotions who just want to be loved. Not to mention they have both been deprived of green their whole lives…

This dark and thrilling adventure, with an unforgettable heroine, will captivate fans of steampunk, fantasy, and romance.
On her 18th birthday, Lena Mattacascar decides to search for her father, who disappeared into the northern wilderness of Scree when Lena was young. Scree is inhabited by Peculiars, people whose unusual characteristics make them unacceptable to modern society. Lena wonders if her father is the source of her own extraordinary characteristics and if she, too, is Peculiar. On the train she meets a young librarian, Jimson Quiggley, who is traveling to a town on the edge of Scree to work in the home and library of the inventor Mr. Beasley. The train is stopped by men being chased by the handsome young marshal Thomas Saltre. When Saltre learns who Lena’s father is, he convinces her to spy on Mr. Beasley and the strange folk who disappear into his home, Zephyr House. A daring escape in an aerocopter leads Lena into the wilds of Scree to confront her deepest fears.

I enjoyed this book way more than I’d expected to. The description on GoodReads sounds like a good book - but in my opinion it’s not this one. There are steampunk elements and inventions, but it is not the focus and could really be removed without impacting the world building. If you’re looking for the “thrilling adventure” you won’t find it here for the majority of the book. 

Instead, you’ll spend time with Lena, a girl with extraordinary fingers and toes - she has an extra joint in each - as she takes control of her life and destiny. There is definitely a “daring escape” but there’s also quite a bit of taking tea with various other characters; investigations with a charming young man; and a ride on a carousel. Really. I’m making it sound dull, but it somehow is more than the sum of its parts. I think it’s the big ideas behind it: the question of whether Peculiars are just humans with genetic deformations or instead a different kind of being altogether and Lena’s struggles with her personal identity and whether her headstrong ways are due to innate goblin-ness. Yes, we have goblins. Maybe that’s why I enjoyed it - I was so just happy to have a change from zombies and mermaids and vampires and werewolves!

Oh, and one final thing - this cover is attractive and all, but it’s garbage for this story. The wings (and attached character) are not a major part of the text!! I would’ve much rather seen Lena’s spidery fingers featured.

Click here to place your hold on The Peculiars at TBPL.

  • Noir, Book Two of the Illumination Paradox,  Jacqueline Garlick

Garlick’s second instalment of her wonderfully creative Illumination Paradox, Noir, matches the fun, adventure and creativity of the first instalment perfectly. While the story and tone of the story is very different to the previous instalment, I thoroughly enjoyed Noir and all it brought to Garlick’s world. A great new host of characters join our heroes and each section of the story now has a new voice added to the narration. Their world continues to grow and expand and you can feel all the small plot points weaving together for the climax yet to come.

Overall, Noir makes a great addition to Eyelet and Urlick’s continued adventures and I continue to look forward to whatever may come next.

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Earlier this week I read The Clockwork Scarab, book one in the Stoker & Holmes series by Colleen Gleason. I was very strongly reminded of The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress - both are steampunk stories wherein girls with different but complementary skills team up (whether reluctantly or by choice) to solve mysteries. However, of the two I’d recommend The Friday Society. I’ve praised this one before - it’s a lot of fun, and a great depiction of strong female friendships. They have slumber parties for heaven’s sake. It’s fabulous. Anyway, Stoker & Holmes don’t even like each other very much, and frankly neither did I. Sadly there is no sequel to the Friday Society, so I would still recommend Clockwork Scarab if you are looking for something more in the same vein. Maybe in book two, when the girls’ obviously projected friendship does develop, things will take a turn for the more enjoyable.

The Clockwork Scarab: Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes never meant to get into the family business. But when you’re the sister of Bram and the niece of Sherlock, vampire hunting and mystery solving are in your blood. And when two society girls go missing, there’s no one more qualified to investigate.
Now fierce Evaline and logical Mina must resolve their rivalry, navigate the advances of not just one but three mysterious gentlemen, and solve murder with only one clue: a strange Egyptian scarab. The stakes are high. If Stoker and Holmes don’t unravel why the belles of London society are in such danger, they’ll become the next victims.

The Friday Society: An action-packed tale of gowns, guys, guns –and the heroines who use them all. Set in turn of the century London, The Friday Society follows the stories of three very intelligent and talented young women, all of whom are assistants to powerful men: Cora, lab assistant; Michiko, Japanese fight assistant; and Nellie, magician’s assistant. The three young women’s lives become inexorably intertwined after a chance meeting at a ball that ends with the discovery of a murdered mystery man. It’s up to these three, in their own charming but bold way, to solve the murder–and the crimes they believe may be connected to it–without calling too much attention to themselves. Set in the past but with a modern irreverent flare, this Steampunk whodunit introduces three unforgettable and very ladylike–well, relatively ladylike–heroines poised for more dangerous adventures.

For more steampunk girls solving mysteries, try Etiquette & Espionage (boarding school tale!) or Something Strange and Deadly (zombies!). All descriptions via GoodReads.com

If one was to die unceremoniously on the dark streets of London, then at least it should be done at high speed. That was what Verity Fitzroy comforted herself with as the buildings of the East End whizzed past her, the icy wind of the city grabbing at her face and the exposed fingertips sticking out from her mittens. Her grip on the spare tyre of the motorcar was becoming increasingly tenuous, especially considering that she was so contorted down around it.
She dare not let the driver or his passenger become aware that they had picked up a London street urchin along the way—though she was perhaps a little old for that term to be precisely true. Still if she had been younger than sixteen, she would have had a far easier time of it in such an awkward position, huddled against the back of the motorcar.
Sure as eggs, if she let any part of her body show she would be caught. The passenger in the vehicle would undoubtedly turn around at just that moment and save her the bother of falling to her death by just shooting her in the head. The thin black leather of the motorcar’s roof would not deflect bullets. Instead she tried to pull more of her body up against the rear of the vehicle as it went careening around the streets and finally burst onto the main thoroughfare of Cheapside.
—  Verity Fitzroy and the Silver Pharaoh 

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld Review

It is the cusp of World War I. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ genetically fabricated animals as their weaponry. TheirLeviathan is a whale airship, and the most masterful beast in the British fleet.

Aleksandar Ferdinand, a Clanker, and Deryn Sharp, a Darwinist, are on opposite sides of the war. But their paths cross in the most unexpected way, taking them both aboard the Leviathan on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure….One that will change both their lives forever.

The great thing about Leviathan is that it doesn’t over complicate itself. Steampunk is something I’m wary of, as the plots often seem a little ridiculous but Leviathan keeps it simple, drawing on World War One, something we all know of. Characters are pulled from this era too, making the story feel familiar. Another way Westerfeld kept it simple was the Beasties and the Clankers - the British having created these amazing fabricated beasts to do any job required and the Austro-Hungarians/Germans choosing to go with pure machines to wage their wars. I never felt confused at any point during the story.

Alek and Deryn are equal main characters. Often in stories I quickly grow bored with one character and focus on the other but this never happened in Leviathan. Alek grew up Royal, but not stupid and reading about him escaping from various enemies that see him as a threat to the throne was just as interesting as Deryn, a girl who decided that she wanted to join the British Air Service and the male only restriction wasn’t going to stop her. They are both equally strong characters, very stubborn and very clever, making this book good enough to make me buy both sequels immediately.

5/5

YA Lit Meme: The Finishing School [3/10 Book Series]

After every unladylike action, there must be an equal and opposite reaction. Consider the necessary, analyze the consequences, clean up the mess.

The two-bit town of Rogue City is a lawless place, full of dark magic and saloon brawls, monsters and six-shooters. But it’s perfect for seventeen-year-old Westie, the notorious adopted daughter of local inventor Nigel Butler.

Westie was only a child when she lost her arm and her family to cannibals on the wagon trail. Nine years later, Westie may seem fearsome with her foul-mouthed tough exterior and the powerful mechanical arm built for her by Nigel, but the memory of her past still haunts her. She’s determined to make the killers pay for their crimes—and there’s nothing to stop her except her own reckless ways.

But Westie’s search ceases when a wealthy family comes to town looking to invest in Nigel’s latest invention, a machine that can harvest magic from gold—which Rogue City desperately needs as the magic wards that surround the city start to fail. There’s only one problem: the investors look exactly like the family who murdered Westie’s kin. With the help of Nigel’s handsome but scarred young assistant, Alistair, Westie sets out to prove their guilt. But if she’s not careful, her desire for revenge could cost her the family she has now.

This thrilling novel is a remarkable tale of danger and discovery, from debut author Michelle Modesto.

Rating: 4/5

A Western-type fantasy with steampunk elements, you say? Somehow, this genre-mashing book works – and while it had some flaws, it was decidedly odd and wonderful.

Westie is as impulsive as all-hell, which consistently leads to her making rash decisions and diving head-first into situations – a recipe for disaster, naturally. But who can blame her when she’s forced to come face-to-face with her family’s murderers, and make nice with them so that her adoptive father obtains the money he needs for his town-saving invention to materialise? She’s also a recovering alcoholic, a rather crappy friend, incredibly single-minded, traumatised and  stubborn. In short, a hot mess.

Although there are three potential love interests here, it never turns into a love saga – it’s made very clear where Westie’s interests lie, but that she’s not just going to sit around and wait for him to pull his head out of his ass. And fair enough.

The book takes is set largely in Rogue City, where humans and creatures (werewolves, vampires, elves and the like) live in an uneasy peace under a magical blue dome, which keeps everyone protected from the outside elements (mostly zombies), as well as each other. There is also a Native American clan, known as the Wintu, who are magic users and responsible for the protection of the city. All in all, an interesting setting that doesn’t try to cram too much into it, since this is a standalone.

The author’s writing style is easy to read, and it was fun to watch the game of cat-and-mouse that takes place between Westie and her enemies, wondering how it will all come to a head. (Quite literally, in fact, since cannibalism features prominently in the novel. Yeah, you heard me.)

ARC received from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.