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review 2018-01-05 19:07
The Difference Engine / William Gibson & Bruce Sterling
The Difference Engine - William Gibson

1855: The Industrial Revolution is in full and inexorable swing, powered by steam-driven cybernetic Engines. Charles Babbage perfects his Analytical Engine and the computer age arrives a century ahead of its time. And three extraordinary characters race toward a rendezvous with history - and the future: Sybil Gerard - dishonored woman and daughter of a Luddite agitator; Edward "Leviathan" Mallory - explorer and paleontologist; Laurence Oliphant - diplomat and spy. Their adventure begins with the discovery of a box of punched Engine cards of unknown origin and purpose. Cards someone wants badly enough to kill for...

 

As many others have pointed out, this book is one of the first in what we now know as the Steampunk genre. It explores the question of what would happen if the Industrial Revolution and the development of the computer had coincided—what would Victorian society have looked like?

It’s a complex novel, with a lot of layers. I read most of it in airports and on planes and didn’t have the best circumstances to be able to concentrate on those details. On the other hand, if it had been really riveting, I wouldn’t have noticed my surroundings, so I apparently didn’t find it all that compelling.

I appreciated the re-structuring of British society, from being run by the blue-blooded to being administered by the scientific. It was nice to see paleontologists and poets being recognized for their skills and not just dismissed as soft science or whimsy. And there must always be a resistance movement, which was well realized and sported realistic details, in my opinion.

The story frequently got bogged down in the details, however, and then just eventually petered out, leaving me disappointed. After a strong start, the weakness of the ending was a let down.

Book number 269 in my Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading project.

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review 2018-01-01 13:33
Lady Mechanika, Vol. 3: The Lost Boys of West Abbey
Lady Mechanika TP Vol 03: The Lost Boys of West Abbey - Marcia Chen

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.]

Beautiful artwork like in the first two collected volumes. I didn’t notice the same ‘eye-candy’ level during action scenes as in the first volumes, which is good since it makes those scenes more believable. Exception made for the illustrations at the end, these are all fine since they’re meant to depict the character posing anyway. Also, they’re beautiful. The art and colours remain as enjoyable as ever.

While there’s no resolution as to Mechanika’s past here either, we do get a few glimpses into what she has been through, thanks to her nightmares and memories. I can only hope that at some point she’ll get to find out the information she’s seeking.

This volume dealt with body transfer into what appear like a mix of golems and automata, which means that of course I got sold on that idea pretty quick. There’s a mix of dark experiments with magic and technology, action, and conundrums about what defines life, that I tend to enjoy. There’s a tall, dark and somewhat mysterious detective (Singh) that for once I felt more connection with than I usually do with that character archetype. Oh, and creepy toys, in a sense, considering the golems are doll-like and can easily be mistaken for toys.

This third instalment felt darker to me than the second one, and more interesting even though there was no trip to mysterious temples or adventures in the jungle; I guess that’s my natural preference for urban settings speaking, along with the themes explored in this ‘Lost Boys of West Abbey’ story.

The one thing I really regret is how short this volume was compared to the others. The plot deserved more.

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review 2017-11-13 16:19
Excellent mashup! Legion of the Undead by Michael Whitehead
Legion of the Undead - Michael Whitehead

Legion of the Undead really hit the spot; I need a second helping! First, I love Roman Empire stories and I’ve come to love zombie fiction in the past few years. Now we have the perfect mash-up. Hungry zombie horde, meet the Roman legions! Cue evil laughter!

Often with ancient Roman historical fiction, I don’t see too many female characters and the few that are present are usually only there to act as someone’s love/lust interest. Not so with this book! Yay! The ladies are true to accepted Roman Empire gender roles but they also get plot-relevant stuff done. Even the minor but evil Sevillia did something that affected the plot. And I love Lucia, who is a 16 year old thrown into the midst of this zombie uprising. She’s not a cliched uber-tough zombie stomping heroine but she is practical, saves the day a time or two like the other heroes, and doesn’t fall to pieces when she needs to be rescued.

Of course Vitas Protus is my favorite. He’s an archer that is catapulted up into the ranks as the zombie issue becomes a real problem. He keeps his wits about him, takes advice from those around him, and gets stuff done. I loved how he watched out for Regulus, the 14 year old lad that was forced into the military. Then there’s big Antonius too. He’s also a practical sort, giving the soldiers orders to aim for the heads if they want to take out the zombies.

Starting out on the outskirts of Germania where the Roman legions were pushing back the German tribes, Vitas has to get his little band to safety. First, it’s to the their encampment and then on to the estate of Governor Clemmons. There Vitas gets his orders to head to Rome with a dire note and Lucia, who can speak to her merchant father’s home being overrun with these Risen (as the zombies are called in this book). Not everyone makes it out unscathed. In fact, a character I had gotten a little attached to takes one for the team before the end. There’s also a touch of intrigue and betrayal!

Anyway, it’s just a really good book and since we’re in November, I can safely say it’s one of my favorites of the year. Legion of the Undeadhas set a new bar for zombie Roman Empire historical fiction! 5/5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Terry Self really out did himself with the narration. Just a great performance all around. He has distinct voices for all the characters and his female character voices are feminine. There’s a few accents as well (Spain Spanish, Gaulish, and Chinese) which he pulls off quite well. In fact, Terry Self sounded like he was really into the story, it never being a dull moment. There were no technical issues with this audiobook. 5/5 stars.

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text 2017-10-06 12:47
Reading progress update: I've read 29%.
Wolf by Wolf: One girl’s mission to win a race and kill Hitler - Ryan Graudin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Audio for this is excellently done...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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review 2017-09-23 23:40
The Most Happy
The most happy: An alternate history of Anne Boleyn - Helen R. Davis

Imagine what England might have been like if Anne Boleyn had birthed a son for King Henry VIII.  This story imagines just that, instead of being cast aside after the birth of Elizabeth, Anne Boleyn gives birth to twins, Elizabeth and Edward VI, securing a legitimate male heir for the throne.  King Henry VIII still entertains his womanizing ways, but his jousting accident comes before he can push Anne aside and Henry names Anne the Regent until Edward comes of age.  It is now up to Anne to weather the tense political climate building between England, France and Spain and to secure the throne for her children until Edward comes of age.  

As an avid reader of all things Tudor, I was very excited to see what could be imagined for Anne Boleyn if her life was continued past her short reign as Queen. Some points in history were kept the same throughout this alternative historical fiction tale, but some were obviously changed.  It was interesting to see the new roles that Henry VIII's real life next wives took, many now served Queen Anne, some more faithfully than others.  I was also fascinated by the insight of Queen Anne as she aged.  She was very remorseful of her treatment to Katherine of Aragon and Mary, especially since she was almost placed in the same situation.  Queen Anne also explained many times that it was not she who pushed herself onto Henry, but she merely could not say no to the King.  I was also intrigued how, at the end everything seemed to turn out the way that history intended.  I did wish that the book went into more detail, this was a shorter story, so time moved quickly and many events simply happened and were not experienced through reading.  I would have loved to be engrossed in this alternate history for a little longer and have had the characters expanded upon a bit more.  Overall, an insightful look into what might have been for Henry VIII's 'Most Happy' Queen. 

​This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

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