Tag Archives: steampunk

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: 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.
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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