Category Archives: Steampunk

Blog Tour: The Clockwork Crown ~ Guest Post + Review

 

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The Clockwork Crown

The Clockwork Crown (Clockwork Dagger Duology #2)           by Beth Cato

Rich in atmosphere, imagination, and fun, the action-packed, magic-filled sequel to The Clockwork Dagger is an enchanting steampunk fantasy, evocative of the works of Trudi Canavan and Gail Carriger.

Narrowly surviving assassination and capture, Octavia Leander, a powerful magical healer, is on the run with handsome Alonzo Garrett, the Clockwork Dagger who forfeited his career with the Queen’s secret society of spies and killers—and possibly his life—to save her. Now, they are on a dangerous quest to find safety and answers: Why is Octavia so powerful? Why does she seem to be undergoing a transformation unlike any witnessed for hundreds of years?

The truth may rest with the source of her mysterious healing power—the Lady’s Tree. But the tree lies somewhere in a rough, inhospitable territory known as the Waste. Eons ago, this land was made barren and uninhabitable by an evil spell, until a few hardy souls dared to return over the last century. For years, the Waste has waged a bloody battle against the royal court to win its independence—and they need Octavia’s powers to succeed.

Joined by unlikely allies, including a menagerie of gremlin companions, she must evade killers and Clockwork Daggers on a dangerous journey through a world on the brink of deadly civil war.

Guest Post

Five Things to Know About The Clockwork Crown:

  1. The Clockwork Crown is the sequel to The Clockwork Dagger. The series is steampunk fantasy. It blends Victorian and Edwardian clothes, morals, and technology, but adds a strong magical twist. Plus, it takes place in a fresh setting off Earth.
  2. My heroine is Octavia Leander. She’s gifted with profound healing powers. When she is near people, she can hear their injuries and illnesses in the form of song. This enables her to use rare herbs to cure them, but also makes it difficult to go anywhere in public. She’s utterly overwhelmed by the songs and needs of everyone around her. She can’t save everyone, but she wants to.
  3. My hero is Alonzo Garret, a dark-skinned young man who lost part of his leg during his time as a soldier. When he first meets Octavia in The Clockwork Dagger, he’s an airship steward. As Octavia soon discovers, there’s much more to him than that.
  4. As The Clockwork Crown begins, Octavia and Alonzo are fleeing for their lives through snowy wilderness. Octavia’s healing powers have attracted the wrong sort of attention. Some people want her dead, some alive, and some for other sordid, selfish purposes. She and Alonzo are not only fighting to stay alive, but they want to understand why Octavia is so powerful… and why her abilities are becoming stronger so quickly.
  5. The stakes are high and the action fast, but the novels aren’t dark. In the first book, Octavia saves a little gremlin and names him Leaf. Leaf has a knack for taking over the whole story, and in The Clockwork Crown, more gremlins join the cast. These creatures are like furless green cats with bat wings. They can’t speak words, but they meow, purr, and make their feelings quite known. Many people around Octavia regard gremlins as pests, like flying rats that like to steal silver, but Octavia befriends and defends gremlins. She sees something of herself in gremlins: beings that aren’t understood or accepted by society, and just want to be loved.

My blurb

The Clockwork Crown was a fast easy read; with an interesting world setting, some quirky characters / creatures and a touch of magic, it falls right in the middle zone of my comfort reads.  I found the mystery behind the magic to be most captivating factor in this duology.

Octavia and Alonzo as main protagonists are likeable enough though I don’t understand Octavia’s choice at the end.  Oh, I know the reasons of why she made her choice but I just don’t get it (or maybe I just wanted it to go a different way.  Really wanted it to!).  I guess, the ending was pretty predictable so I wanted something shocking or even tragic (I’m really not a sadist… well, maybe, sometimes…).

There was plenty of actions with some interesting twists.  However, there was one where I’d just had to roll my eyes at; I just couldn’t believe how naïve Octavia was!  The romance was kind of sweet though there really wasn’t much of it.  It’s a very clean romance with some kisses (only) and even those, are very tame.

Overall, whilst I enjoyed a very relaxed reading of The Clockwork Crown; it wasn’t quite memorable.  It was missing a certain spark… there was a lack of feels (it wasn’t really dark nor funny nor sweet) so it was just an average read for me (3 stars).

Thanks to Harper Voyager for copy of book in exchange of honest review

 

 

 

Review: Sky Pirates

sky piratesSky Pirates by Liesel Schwarz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of publisher

Please note this is a review of the third book of The Chronicles of Light and Shadow and there may be spoilers in respect to earlier books (you can check my review on book1, here, & book 2, here)

I was taken by surprised with the darker tone in book 2 and was left heartbroken at the end of it so I needed to know where this story will go next. And again, I was taken totally by surprised in the change of direction as Sky Pirates was actually a really fun read –not dark at all. In fact, it was rather more like a romance novel involving pirates but of steampunk variety.

Elle Chance was still her spunky self despite her sorrow. Actually, due to her misery, she’s thrown herself into work and a number of treacherous situations. I recalled being annoyed by Elle in book 2 but not at all in Sky Pirates -not even a little bit; all her decisions and actions did not irritate me in any way. In fact, I really like her in this book and I hope this direction of her character development will continue in the next instalment.

Whilst I was a little disappointed by the lack of presence of Hugh Marsh though this was made up by the unexpected appearance of Logan Dashwood whom we have met in earlier instalments. He’s given a much bigger role in this book and I must say, quite dashing as well. I am intrigued by the ending of this book and very excited about book #4!

Thank you, Del Rey, for copy of eARC via Netgalley

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Review: A Clockwork Heart

clockwork heartA Clockwork Heart by Liesel Schwarz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of Del Ray via NetGalley

Please note this is a review of second book of The Chronicles of Light and Shadow and there may be spoilers in respect to book 1: A Conspiracy of Alchemist (you can check my review on book1, here)

I mentioned in my review for book 1, A Conspiracy of Alchemist, that I think the ending was somewhat dissatisfactory due to some ‘decision’ which I thought was quite silly in consideration of the situation. It took me some time to decide that I would like to know which direction the author is taking with this series and it was truly surprising. A Clockwork Heart turns out to be a darker read that I never would have suspected.

It was a rocky beginning. I just thought Elle was being such a brat and utterly selfish that it was all I could do from strangling her myself. The saving factor was a minor character, Ducky, who basically said what I wanted to say to Elle (*kowtow* thank you, Ducky!). From then on, I could see that maybe this book is worth the read, after all. Even then, there were still a couple of Elle’s decisions that I couldn’t live it. It wasn’t until towards the end where Elle’s picked up (and I’ll have to wait and see in the next instalment!) where I might actually start liking her again.

I have to believe that Elle’s rash and somewhat asinine decisions are what make this book. A little unfortunate that without these, the plot will not go in the direction it has. You will find A Clockwork Heart to be supernatural-steampunk world where Light and Shadow have collided; with the existence of an evil villainess who wanted to rule the world, clockwork-zombies, the tricksy Shadow’s world & characters –all who wanted a piece of the Light. It is a darker sort of paranormal-fantasy filled with actions but not so much romance.

If you are hoping for more of romance (i.e. Elle and Hugh) from book 1, then you will be sorely disappointed. However, if you are open enough to appreciate the direction of the story, then there is a chance you would like it. For myself, due to the frustration I experienced with Elle, the story (along with Ducky), I only just managed to finish the read with an average sort of feeling.

Thank you, Del Ray, for copy of eARC via Netgalley

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Review: Kinslayer

kinslayerKinslayer by Jay Kristoff
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

IZANAGI’S BALLS!

This is, hands down, one of the best books I’ve ever read! For about a week after, I adopted Shima-speak in my head which almost burst out a few times. Just imagine how I’d try to explain that to my friends!

I loved Stormdancer so Kinslayer (though I wasn’t quite enamored with the title, sorry, Jay!) was a highly anticipated release. It was so much better than I ever expected it to be. There was so much happening that I didn’t know which way to turn. There wasn’t any break, Bam Bam Bam, the pace was absolutely off the chart. Unlike Stormdancer, there were quite an additional number of perspectives in Kinslayer and I believe, this in part, contributed to the killing pace. The story moves from character to character at each snap of my fingers.

At first, Yukiko annoys me here although she has very good reason to feel what she felt; I just have problems with angry characters. I’m glad though that she didn’t stay that way throughout the book; that she was forced to adapt to situations and chose to fight to live. That’s the bad-ass Yukiko I remember!

The first time I read Stormdancer, I wasn’t particularly keen on Kin. The second time, I started to like him… but as I read Kinslayer, I swayed from one to the other until I just really don’t know anymore!!! And the fact that I’m loving this uncertainty is totally astonishing! I lay the fault at Jay Kristoff’s evil genius!

Of the minor characters, I am thoroughly in awe of Michi. She’s a machine! I mean that in the most admirable way. She’s one tough cookie and ain’t nobody gonna get in her way. I hope to see her a lot more in the next installment (please, Jay, please?!)

This part was a truly hair-rising moment for me;

“You are death,” she whispered. “Cold as winter dawn. Merciless as Lady Sun. Play the role. Play it so well you could fool yourself. But never forget who you are. What you are.”
She pointed at the glass, and her whisper was sharp as knives.
“You are Kagé Michi.”

I am all amazement in the plot development. There was so many twists and turns that I was caught by surprise a lot of the time and there may or may not be out loud gasps on the train (yup, that was me *waves*). I can’t say this enough, I can’t wait for Book 3!

My apologies for the late review – moving house & job took a lot out of me and I’m still trying to get a new routine going!

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Review: Moonlight & Mechanicals

Moonlight & Mechanicals
Moonlight & Mechanicals by Cindy Spencer Pape
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: eGalley courtesy of Carina Press via NetGalley

I’ve definitely come to the party late! Didn’t realise that it was the fourth book of series either however it’s a series of the “world” as main characters are different in each book. I’ve not read the first 3 books but I don’t think that was a detriment at all. If you’ve read the other books, you may have a different opinion.

Nevertheless, it was a really fun read. I love this steampunk London where it’s not just foggy anymore; it’s so very smoggy that you’d need a mask with filters if you’d want to keep your health. Of course, if you’re a supernatural (for example, a werewolf), that’s not totally necessary. There is a definite demarcation line between the poor and the wealthy with no better future in view. Survival is not only threatened by health or poverty but there many of the poor are disappearing with rumours of ‘mechanical’ men as abductors.

I loved Wink –she is brainy, spunky, and all-round-capable. She’s a fun MC to follow. She’s really smart (she makes these pet toys which all carry hidden weapons) and also kicks some serious ass (not always literally). She has loved Liam (love this name too!) since she was 14 and hoped that he’d wait for her to grow up. Liam, on the other hand, had committed himself to a life of bachelorhood. Wink wants marriage and children, lots of children – will she be able to knock down Liam’s protective walls?

“Damn it, Winifred, that was a mistake.” He stepped closer, his voice more raw than she’d ever heard it. Liam was the only one who ever used the long version of her name, and she decided that from him, she rather liked it.
However, she didn’t care for his attitude. She sat up straighter, crossing her arms over her chest. “I find I take exception to being considered a mistake.”
“That’s not what I meant.” He paced restlessly in front of her. “You’re too good for me.”
“Not only is that the most clichéd line ever, it presupposes that I don’t know my own mind. It appears I don’t get any say in the matter of my so-called best interests.” She was making a fool of herself.

A terrific set of world with lovable characters make for enjoyable read. The mystery itself was also set up really well with a typical crazy evil bad guy. However, I found the romance slightly lacking; not enough struggles / sufferings and it was resolved pretty quickly & too easily. Noting that it’s a short-ish sort of book though, this would have to be it. There is also a love triangle (ugh!) but this time, I actually find it ticklish funny. The whole setup was destined to fail but not without hope and not that painful.

Thanks to Carina Press and NetGalley for the privilege to read & review eGalley

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Review: Stormdancer

Stormdancer
Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Usually, I would avoid the book everyone is raving about like the plague! But I just cannot resist this one. Stormdancer would be a book I’d pick up without hesitation if I first saw it at the bookstore. It has all the signs of being a keeper:

Gorgeous cover

Fantasy (I’ve only recently made a foray into steampunk and I like!)

Japanese spin

Female MC

What I did do though was to avoid reading too many reviews and get too hyped up about it. I think I did it quite successfully. From whatever I have not managed to avoid reading (that’s including the author’s most fascinating most hilarious blog), Stormdancer wasn’t quite what I expected; it was more than what I expected. What an amazing read it was!

Firstly, the description of this world reminded me a little of China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station – it was stark, hopeless, and just, overall, dark. What I’ve learnt to appreciate most in Stormdancer is Kristoff’s use of descriptive language in drawing up this world in my head. I can’t even begin to describe how lyrical it was – this was something I did not expect! And he carried that through to the end, bravo!

It was a little hard to get into due to the jargons especially if you don’t know much of the Japanese culture. I’ve read and watched my share of manga and anime when I was a teen but I think I didn’t read the right sort of manga but 2 of my favourite animes were Rurouni Kenshin and Inuyasha. From Kenshin, I understand a little bit about weapons (limited as it is) and from Inuyasha, on Japanese superstitions / mythology (monsters / yokai and such). And yet, it still took me sometime to get into the rhythm of the story. I didn’t check the back but there was a glossary (I found it after I finished reading) so if you need it, it’s there 😉

One scene in the book reminded me of that famous scene on the Titanic (movie). The context is similar, ie. joys of life & living, but there was no romantic overtones at all in the book. It’s a famous scene and I won’t mention which but whilst I laugh at myself (saying that this movie is not a favourite of mine is an understatement), I’m caught wondering if there was some sort of hidden intent here?

Even though the main character is a teenage girl, this is a book I will not hesitate to recommend to a guy friend. Unfortunately, I won’t be recommending it to Twilight lovers but if you love Eon / Eona (Alison Goodman), then you’d love this book. To all mature readers of fantasy, this one’s definitely a Keeper!

This is a favourite passage of mine – the tension and the silence screams out of the page and placed me in that no man’s land where nothing living could touch me…

But now, as dusk fell, she reached out and felt no sparks, no clusters of warm, furry bodies or sleek feathered heartbeats. Silence had descended: a sweaty hush that fell heavy as a mouldy blanket.
Something’s wrong.
Creeping through the undergrowth, she crouched low, her footfalls barely a whisper. Eyes darting about the gloom, pulse quickening at every snapping twig or shifting shadow. Steam rose up from the rain-soaked earth, cloaking the forest in mist. She could sense the faint glow of the setting sun through the canopy above, the chill of night creeping with slow, measured tread through the wild wood. No bird calls. No wind. Just the heavy patter of fat raindrops and the faint scrape of her heels on dead leaves.
Predator?
Touching the fox tattoo on her arm for luck, she reached out again, searching for the arashitora, or perhaps some hungry carnivore stalking her through the green curtain.
Nothing. A vast emptiness, creaking with the echo of old wood, the breath of the slumbering earth. Even when the wolf came, even after the snake strike, she had never felt more frightened or alone in all her life.

Thanks NetGalley & St Martin’s Press for the opportunity & privilege to read & review galley

Pre-Order your copy at The Book Depository

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YA of Omnific Week: Destiny’s Fire by Trisha Wolfe – a Review

Welcome to my stop of The YA of Omnific Week Blog Tour hosted by A Tale of Many Reviews.

For the month of August, all Omnific’s Young Adult etitles are on sale this month for $2.99.

Destiny’s Fire (Kythan Guardians #1) by Trisha Wolfe

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Book Blurb

It’s the year 2040, and sixteen-year-old Dez Harkly is one of the last of her kind—part of a nearly extinct race of shape-shifters descended from guardians to the Egyptian pharaohs. Her home and her secret are threatened when the Council lowers the barrier, allowing the enemy race to enter the Shythe haven.

As the Narcolym airships approach, Dez and her friends rebel against their Council and secretly train for battle. Not only is Dez wary of war and her growing affection for her best friend Jace, but she fears the change her birthday will bring. When Dez’s newfound power rockets out of control, it’s a Narcolym who could change her fate… if she can trust him.

Dez’s guarded world crumbles when she discovers why the Narcos have really come to Haven Falls, and she’s forced to choose between the race who raised her and the enemy she’s feared her whole life.

My Blurb

Like a badass heroine?  Dez Harkly is the one for you!  I don’t mean badass as in drug / alcohol indulgent but as in she seriously kicks ass (literally!).  Dez is strong beautiful and caring.  She has to be strong because she’s really not who she seems to be.  She’s got a lot to hide but will it stay hidden?  Her secret will rule her life and someone out there is determined to use it.

Dez is about to face the biggest change in her life when her world is turned upside down.  The Council made a Peace Treaty with their enemy and her world is now invaded with those whom she has been brought up to hate.  But are they really whom they were portrayed to be?  Her best friend, Jace, is determined to hate them and to uncover their evil plot -to rule the world of course 😉.

It was action-packed culminated in a battle (yes!) with some flyaway sparks (literally) of romance which was totally engrossing to read.  I was most appreciative of the twists and thrilling suspense in uncovering Dez and the evil plot.  Nearing the end, I really thought it was going to be a cliff-hanger ending and to my relief, it wasn’t.  Nevertheless, I was highly strung til pretty much the end :p

I’ve not read that many steampunk novels (in fact, I could probably count them on one hand!) however I have a certain notion that it has to be in a Victorian era.  Destiny’s Fire contains many corsets but it hasn’t the Victorian feel for me.  It does still fall within the steampunk genre but rather more dystopian in setting. What really drew me to this book was, of course, the cover (I’m so superficial!) and the Pharaoh’s reference (my love for Ancient Egypt is probably rooted in Stargate).  Unfortunately, there wasn’t much about the Pharaohs or Ancient Egypt, however I have my hope that maybe in the next installment…?

I think I may be over love triangles!  The love triangle was just on too high a level on my pain threshold that I was really getting uncomfortable (about halfway through the book), I was contemplating whether I could go on!  Thankfully, the dial was turned down a bit or I really would have cracked it.  But… it wasn’t off, and I really didn’t know where I was and who to cheer for…  I’m really grateful that I wasn’t left hanging at the end.

A little note at the end, I just wasn’t sure about how to read / spell “Shythe”, I keep reading / spelling it wrong in my head and it makes it sound pretty bad (my bad! :p)

Giveaways

Omnific is generously hosting a giveaway for one lucky person to win the Entire Omnific Young Adult Catalog! That’s a whooping 7 ebooks to gorge yourself on!!  Go to Omnific Publishing to enter.

In addition, you can also win an ebook copy of Destiny’s Fire (only), by leaving a comment letting me know your thoughts on ‘steampunk’ or ‘love triangles’ and a winner will be chosen by the ‘randomizer’.  Please do not include your email address in the comment section.  Only leave your email address on the comment form (as I will be able to access that but it will not be visible to the public).  Ends Saturday, 11th August 2012.

Don’t forget to visit all other stops!!

Badlands by Seleste deLaney

Badlands

4 stars

Ever of the Badlands is Commander of the Queen’s Border Guard.  When the Queen was murdered during the attack on Badlands, Ever must abandon her fight to escape and bring back the heir to the throne.  She succeeded in flagging the Dark Hawk and was brought on board.

Captain Spencer Pierce needed to complete this run to the Badlands to enable him to pay off the Dark Hawk but this is now that he can’t land in Badlands to make his delivery, this is an unlikely event.  On top of that, Ever has requested his assistance in her mission albeit with a promised payment to enable him to pay off his debt but other things at play than just a rescue mission…

I didn’t have much expectation when I started reading – all I had was the publisher’s blurb which basically described the story.  However, once I started reading, I got right into it.  The world was a different place; it was tough and rough but also full of hope and promises.  It was a fast and easy read for me because I really enjoyed it.  I love the tension and the suspense; just electrifying.

I have to confess I have never been inclined to try sci-fi romance and whilst Badlands is more steampunk romance, it is my first and it has been a wonderful ride.  My only complaint?  It was too short!  “Please sir, I want some more.”  I truly hope there will be a next instalment or two… or three (!!) on this wonderfully created world.