Posts Tagged ‘steampunk’

Clockwork Princess Reaction Post!

Clockwork Princess has finally made its way into our hot, desperate, fangirling little hands. As such, and as always when a book like this comes out, today I want to hear what everyone thought about Clockwork Princess. Are we sad? Happy? So filled with angst that our stomachs are bundled into nervous knots of OMG? Did everything turn out like you wanted? Did you RAWR HULKSMASH? Did you cry? Did you pout?

Please. I’m begging people to come tell me what they thought so I can make comments somewhere, too.

Obviously BEWARE of potential SPOILERS in the comments. As in, people might spill about the ending so SPOILERS AHOY and no complaining if you were MASSIVELY SPOILED because you read the SPOILERY COMMENTS SECTION.

 

Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

Okay. I read this book in July and then…I don’t know…decided not to write the review right away, so you’re all going to have to bear with me here.

Sophronia Temminnick at 14 is a great trial more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners — and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Her poor mother, desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady, enrolls the lively tomboy in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But young ladies learn to finish…everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage — in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year’s education.

First off. You know right away from the main characters name that she is going to be awesome. I mean, if your mother named you Sophronia and your last name was Temminnick, you realize that you had no choice but to be spunky and different from people with normal names.

Sophronia does not disappoint. Before the plot even really gets started we see her climb up a dumb waiter shoot, dismantle said dumb waiter, and then go crashing down the dumb waiter shoot. With the parts she dismantled attached to her shoes.

Apparently this all means she is qualified for a very special flying finishing school.

I wish I had qualified for a flying school when I was fourteen. Finishing or not. Basically this is Gail Carriger’s world’s version of Hogwarts. At least in my mind. I mean, you have to ride a werewold in order to board the flying school.

Yes please.

Now, this shows where this book really shines. The gadgets and situations and the ridiculousness that all are beset with.

There is a plot, and I enjoyed the mystery and the clues and the characters and all that. But mostly I loved all the steampunk gadgets and the ridiculous things Sophronia would have to do or say in order to get into a room, or whatever, that was important to the plot.

Also, Bumbersnoot is just the best thing ever really. I want a steam powered pet! Though preferably a hedgehog. You should definitely check out all the Bumbersnoot fanart Gail as posted. He’s just so adorable.

As a fan of Gail’s adult series of steampunk novels, to which this is a prequel, I loved all the glimpses of characters that I know and love. Though one made me a little sad as…well, in the way of prequels, I already know how one of the characters dies. That kind of sucks.

I especially loved getting to know Vieve as a child. That was the most fun.

I cannot wait for book two, Curtsies and Conspiracies. Though I’m definitely going to have to re-read Ettiquette and Espionage first. I hope there’s an audio book!

Aren’t the covers GORGEOUS!?!?!?

 

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

Susan Dennard’s Something Strange and Deadly is a book that somehow manage to combine almost all of my favorite things: zombies, Victoriana, steampunk, spirits, and a plucky heroine and a smart boy. What made this book work for me was that it had a unique take on all of those things. Please, don’t let the dead-eyed heroine on the cover fool you. There is nothing dead about this book…except the bodies being set loose on the poopulation of Philadelphia. Zing! Sorry. Couldn’t help myself. Anyway, pay attention to the spooky, steampunk background as that is where this story lives.

The year is 1876, and there’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia…Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper— The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor…from her brother. Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including their maddeningly stubborn yet handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

This book was a really interesting take on zombies. Because, yes, they are technically zombies. But they are also not zombies because it isn’t a virus that has people rising from the dead but a necromancer. I thought that was fascinatingly spooky. It also helped when it came to fighting said zombies, because it wasn’t just an axe to the head to stop them. It was spiritual energy etc. That made the action sequences in this book more exciting. Yes, at some point our heroine is still instructed to take a bat to a corpse’s knees if need be, but there was a bigger goal in the fighting which I liked. This also meant that the world building needn’t be so complicated as a traditional zombie novel. We didn’t need fifty pages exploring what happened and how the zombies got to be zombies; we jumped right into the action which made the book a lot more fun to read.

The plotting of this novel in general was well done. The mystery, though kind of obvious, was nicely paced. Even though I wished the ball was hidden better a few times, I felt like we got the right clues at the right times. In fact, maybe how well placed those things was what made made the ultimate payoff more obvious. I also thought we got a good amount of action and I had the right number of Aha! moments without feeling like I didn’t have time to take them in.

What really made this book for me was Eleanor. She’s a spunky heroine who seems, quite frankly, tired of being so. She has to hide her thoughts and opinions (really, the fact that she has thoughts and opinions) from her mother. She has to handle their household finances and keep the family afloat in reduced circumstances. You can see how that wears on her. You can also see how glad she is to be able to actually do something for once – how happy it makes her to say, yes, here is this problem and this is what I can and will do to fix it. I thought that she was funny and determined, even if she wasn’t always as practical as she could have been. But her foibles helped her charater. Eleanor is a 16 year old young lady in the 19th century. She was, before her father’s death, sheltered from the world. It was nice to see te consequences of society’s sexism and nice to see Eleanor frustrated by it while still not being totally comfortable throwing off the bindings placed on her.

I also enjoyed the background characters. I liked the Spirit Hunters, and thought we were given enough to keep them from being plot devices while keeping enough back to leave room for later books and to also prevent this book from being a big info dump. The other society girls were also good caricatures. There was just enough to wonder what might be simmering underneath, but the book didn’t waste time on that because fundamentally they were so unimportant to both the plot and the Eleanor that Eleanor wanted to be. I appreciated that.

My one complaint is the love triangle this book seemed to tend toward. I feel like Susan Dennard wrote this book clearly intending Daniel to be Eleanor’s love interest. That makes sense. They have definite chemistry, he’s mentioned in the blurb, he has a complicating backstory, and he’s just the right amount of bad boy. The problem was Clarence. He, too, had a complicated backstory. He had chemistry with Eleanor. And he had an element of the bad boy mystque as well. I feel like Susan Dennard started writing him and didn’t realize how much she’d like him. Because I did. In fact, I hadn’t read the blurb in ages when I staretd reading, and I was super invested in he and Eleanor for a while. I met Daniel and thought, damnit noooo! To compensate, things with him start to go…awry, shall we say…and his ultimate ending blindsided me a bit. It fit with the story, but it was the one thing in this book that wasn’t foreshadowed as well as it ought to have been.

This, I think, sucked some of the passion out of the novel. As I said above, it was a fun, well paced read. It hit most notes I wanted it to hit and it hit them on pitch. I think, though, that while I liked this novel a lot, I didn’t love it because I missed that spark. I maybe wish that I’d had more time to see the complications in Susan’s life to sit with her. But, the brilliant thing is that this is the first book of the series, so I think the next installment will have that piece I was missing here and I can’t wait to read it.

My favorite thing about this book was the ending. It was a rough to read sort of conclusion to this chapter. Eleanor is broke, body and soul, and the complciations society has forced on her have caught up with her in a way that is both expected and unexpected. Susan Dennard didn’t gloss over the constraints placed on a girl like Eleanor by having her shrugging her shoulders and ignoring them. She has her living with them. Dealing with them. Struggling against them like most girls of the time probably did. It was a very real ending and satisfying in its own twisted sort of way.

Something Strange and Deadly was a well constructed, entertaining read. It was an excellent debut, and I can’t wait to watch Susan Dennard’s talent grow.

 

Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

If you’ve read Poe, then you should know the story of the Masque of the Red Death. It’s a short story that describes a sweeping illness across the land and how its ruler, Prince Prospero, tries to outrun it by hiding out with a few hundred of his closest friends. But he soon learns, you can’t outrun Death.

While you can see the story Poe created in the book Bethany Griffin wrote, she also makes it her own by giving the illness a name, giving the country its set in a backstory, and focusing not on Prince Prospero, but a young girl who feels she doesn’t deserve to live anymore named Araby Worth.

Everything is in ruins.

A devastating plague has decimated the population. And those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles to pieces around them.

So what does Araby Worth have to live for?

Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery make-up . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.

But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club. And Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither boy is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.

And Araby may find something not just to live for, but to fight for—no matter what it costs her.

At the beginning of the book, I felt like I was reading about a robot. Araby was essentially a blank slate who lived each moment only by blinking and breathing and refusing to feel a single thing. She’d cut herself off from the world and the tone of the book reflected that. Told in stilted sentences and jumps in times and places, Araby describes the devastated world around her in the wake of the Weeping Sickness.

A lot happens in this book; more than I thought would happen. Araby is kind of tossed around between two factions of the increasingly coming war between Prince Prospero and Reverend Malcontent, just because she’s the daughter of the scientist who created the air masks that can save lives and is also friends with the Prince’s niece. Slowly, she becomes more aware of herself and what’s happening around her, and toward the end of the book, actually starts to make a stand on where she wants to be in the upcoming fight.

The book tries to set up a love triangle, but honestly, there’s no contest. Simply because one of the guys is a jerk. And he never stops being a jerk. I have no idea why Araby puts up with him because he’s just a huge jerk who might be insane. If she starts liking him in the next book, I will throw it at the wall.

Overall, this was an interesting idea that became a fascinating world. The tone was a bit depressing, as was Araby, but it was still interesting enough to finish. And I want to read the next one just to see what happens next, which is always a good sign. If you like Poe, depressing main characters, and hints of steampunk dystopia, then I recommend reading this book.

 

Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

Five glorious months ago I won an ARC of Dearly, Departed from Goodreads. As soon as it arrived in the mail, I dropped everything to read it. Two days and 500 pages later, I found myself instantly craving the next book. Unfortunately, the joy of getting an ARC soon becomes depression when you realize you have even LONGER to wait for the next book then the oblivious people who have not read it yet.

But FINALLY the release date for Dearly, Departed has arrived and TOMORROW you can get your own copy. And so, without further ado, my reasons why you must immediately go buy this book tomorrow and read it in order to wait in agony for the second book with me. (I need the company! Plus, I have cookies…)

Love can never die.

Love conquers all, so they say. But can Cupid’s arrow pierce the hearts of the living and the dead—or rather, the undead? Can a proper young Victorian lady find true love in the arms of a dashing zombie?

The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria—a high-tech nation modeled on the manners, mores, and fashions of an antique era. A teenager in high society, Nora Dearly is far more interested in military history and her country’s political unrest than in tea parties and debutante balls. But after her beloved parents die, Nora is left at the mercy of her domineering aunt, a social-climbing spendthrift who has squandered the family fortune and now plans to marry her niece off for money. For Nora, no fate could be more horrible—until she’s nearly kidnapped by an army of walking corpses.

But fate is just getting started with Nora. Catapulted from her world of drawing-room civility, she’s suddenly gunning down ravenous zombies alongside mysterious black-clad commandos and confronting “The Laz,” a fatal virus that raises the dead—and hell along with them. Hardly ideal circumstances. Then Nora meets Bram Griswold, a young soldier who is brave, handsome, noble . . . and dead. But as is the case with the rest of his special undead unit, luck and modern science have enabled Bram to hold on to his mind, his manners, and his body parts. And when his bond of trust with Nora turns to tenderness, there’s no turning back. Eventually, they know, the disease will win, separating the star-crossed lovers forever. But until then, beating or not, their hearts will have what they desire.

As the summary tells you, this book is set in the future, but society has resorted to Victorian times, much like they did in Incarceron, but with a mix of old and new. They ride in carriages that are outfitted with flat screens (awesome), and wear Victorian dresses, but interact with holograms on a regular basis. You get the idea. So, you have the futuristic Victorian aspect, but wait! There are also ZOMBIES, which makes this book the greatest thing since the invention of the zip-up Trapper Keeper because it’s like reading a Steampunk Zombie book.

Steampunk & zombies! Tell me you don’t want to read this now and I will call you on your lie.

In addition to its overall awesomeness, we have Nora and Bram. Nora Dearly is a warrior at heart. Once things start happening to her, she’s gung-ho and ready to fight. While reading, I noticed a similarity to her and Scarlett O’Hara as, aside from the dresses, Nora has just as much stubbornness and haughtiness as the Gone with the Wind leading lady. I wouldn’t be surprised if the last book has her lifting a fist in the air and vowing to never go hungry again (that is, assuming they can’t find a vaccine and the zombies take over the world).

And Bram. Mmmm… Bram. I never thought I would fall for a zombie. I’m sure Nora didn’t either. The fact that I wish they could find a miracle to somehow restore Bram back to the full living since a vaccine will only kill him dead, but knowing it’s almost impossible makes me want to smack Lia for writing him to be so damn nice and good and perfect and… BRAM! *cries into pillow* I know it will only end in heartache and disaster, but I can’t help but hold out hope that everything will be alright. Naive, I know, but I think Nora’s stubbornness rubbed off on me.

I have to mention the secondary characters. Some of them get their own POV chapters and their varied pasts and charisma make them believable and filled-out in a way most secondary characters are not written, especially Pamela, Nora’s best friend. I like Pamela. She’s scrappy and loyal. I’m going to be very interested to see what happens between her and a certain boy. *eyebrow wiggle*

Also, the cover! You can see the pretty cover up there, right? I love it!

In short, Dearly, Beloved needs to be in my hands soon and y’all should all read Dearly, Departed. Steampunk! Zombies!

If you have read it, I’d love to know what you thought, even if they’re spoilery (Note: COMMENTS MIGHT BE SPOILERY). If you haven’t, you have your assignment.

 

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