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review 2018-01-01 18:21
The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman - My Thoughts
The Invisible Library - Genevieve Cogman

My first finish of 2018 and what can I say?  I really really enjoyed it! 

I think this book first came to my attention on one of the book blogs I follow when I read the blurb and found it had tons of things I enjoy.  Books, libraries, undercover agents, secret societies, magic and chaos. 

The main character is Irene, a journeyman Librarian, or as she's described in the afore-mentioned blurb - a professional spy for the mysterious Library.  I liked her.  She was competent in her job, yet not infallible.  She was likable and funny.  And while she was clever and able to get out of some bad situations, there were times when she made mistakes and bad assumptions and needed a hand.  There's a lot more of her to discover, I think, in further books, and I'm looking forward to doing that. 

I also loved the character of her assistant, Kai.  He's a tad mysterious and is definitely not coming clean on some stuff, but I never got the sense or feeling that he was one of the baddies.  There's also a lot more of him to discover in the books to come. 

The plot was complicated and interesting once we got into it.  Lots of twisty-turnies and surprises. It kept me turning the pages, that's for sure.  And the last couple of chapters had some intriguing questions set up that weren't answered and some outcomes and explanations that I wasn't quite expecting. 

So in the end, this Christmas gift from my son, Michael, was a winner.  I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the ongoing adventures of Irene and Kai and the others.  A good way to start of the reading year of 2018!

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review 2017-10-06 02:18
Gunpowder Alchemy by Jeannie Lin - My Thoughts
Gunpowder Alchemy (The Gunpowder Chronicles) - Jeannie Lin

This book had been unavailable for a good while (rights reverting to author etc...) but at last it's been republished by the author.  And it's good!  Worth the wait.  :)  I'm pretty sure I was guided to this by something one of my fave authors, KJ Charles said on Twitter, so thank you KJ!

What we have is ... I guess it's best termed as a steampunk adventure, set in the mid-1800's in the midst of The Opium War, with a lovely undercurrent of romance. 

Soling is the heroine and while she's young - 18 years old - she's not annoyingly young.  The daughter of a brilliant engineer executed by the emperor when she was but a child, she's had a hard and hardscrabble life over the past eight years.  She takes care of her opium-addicted mother and her younger brother and is a very smart cookie in her own right.  She heads from her small village into the city to sell the last keepsake she has of her beloved father to feed her family and the adventure begins. 

She meets a bunch of different people from her and her father's past. Men that worked with her father.  The man she was once betrothed to.  The Crown Prince too.  And not only are there the devil English foreigners, there's an army of rebels to contend with.  And through it all, she refuses to panic, refuses to give in to her fears, refuses to give up on getting back to her family and getting them to safety.  The girl has gumption, dammit! *LOL*   And she has flaws as well which makes her likable and not obnoxious.

And there is some romance.  There's a spark between Soling and one of her father's protegés as well as tons of chemistry between her and he one-time betrothed.  In fact, there's a scene between the two of them where he's measuring her foot for a mechanical boot type thing that is SO damned sexy while being so simple.  AMAZING!

I had one small problem while reading and that was that in my epub copy, Chapter 29 ended up as being Chapter 31.  So things that were referenced in the following two chapters I hadn't read yet!  Most annoying, but shit happens. 

Anyway... great book!  VERY enjoyable and I will be looking forward to the next part of Soling's adventure!

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review 2017-09-09 02:12
Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear - My Thoughts
Karen Memory - Elizabeth Bear

I really enjoyed this book!  I'm a fan of Elizabeth Bear's, even thought sometimes I think her writing is too smart for me to actually get.  *LOL*  I had been looking forward to reading Karen Memory since it was published and finally, it went on sale and I could afford the ebook.  All I knew about it was that Elizabeth wrote it, it was steampunk, the heroine was lesbian, and all the buzz was really good. 

But when I started it.... OMG, my stomach sank because there were two things that are generally a 'no way José' type of thing for me.  The character speaking in dialect, hell, the whole narrative in dialect when it comes to that because it's a 1st person POV and the heroine being young, like YA/NA young.  This did not bode well. 

But you know what?  I soon forgot that the heroine was of tender years, so to speak.  Yeah, she was young, but she wasn't that annoying young that so many of the YA/NA characters I have read are.  And the dialect?  Well, I can see how it might be problematic for some - the should haves and could haves and would haves were all should of, could of and would of, which would normally drive me absolutely apeshit, but oddly enough, it didn't bother me.  Shocking, I know.  (Had she thrown in a verse in place of versus, I may have felt differently.  *LOL*)  But the character of Karen had come alive very quickly and this is how she talked and it was okay.  :)

What we have here, is the tale of Karen Memery (that's the actual spelling of her name), and what happens when a badly injured girl comes begging sanctuary at the door to the bordello where Karen works, setting in motion adventures and mysteries.  The action is exciting and seldom lets up.  The characters are all terrific - the girls and staff of the bordello, the lawmen, the villains.  Even the animals!  *LOL* 

Karen Memory is one of those books where I wish I could write decent reviews to do it justice.  Suffice it to say that it's a rollicking adventure with a diverse and fascinating cast and a real sense of humour and fun

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review 2017-07-12 02:53
The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan - My Thoughts
The Waking Fire (The Draconis Memoria) - Anthony Ryan

The Draconis Memoria - Book 1

I loved this book!  Yes, it seemed to take a while for me to read, I have no idea why, but I absolutely loved it.  :)

The Waking Fire is a wonderful mix of dragon fantasy, steampunk, military and adventure and some magic thrown in for good measure.  Sounds like quite the jumble, but it works spectacularly well, IMO. 

The three main characters, whose POVs we follow throughout the book, are very different - a small-time street criminal, a lady spy and and upright, honourable Navy man - but they all have one thing in common that I'm not sure I can describe well enough.  But it's got to do with conscience, honour, selflessness (this is a maybe)... I don't know bit they all have this 'it' factor.  And they're all likable while having recognisable flaws, which I find very, very important. 

The world that Ryan has created is familiar yet different.  There is some incredible world-building here and it's fascinating - even though there were a few parts when I found the descriptive passages a tad tedious.  That's probably what kept this from a 5 star read for me. 

A word about the dragons.  They're different from most of the dragons we read about in fantasy and I feel like we've only scratched the surface in this book one of the series.  I don't know how many books it's projected to be, but let me tell you, I can't wait to get my hands on the second book when it gets down to a reasonable price!  Definitely one of my favourite reads of the year.  :)

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review 2016-08-22 16:48
The Mystery of Spring-Heeled Jack: From Victorian Legend to Steampunk Hero - John Matthews
Disclaimer: ARC courtesy of the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Spring –Heeled Jack is enjoying something of resurgence, in part thanks to the rise of Steampunk. And if anyone was made for Steampunk, it is Spring-Heeled Jack. If you don’t know, Jack was one of those mysteries that were never solved, but does get over-shadowed by Jack the Ripper. Jack made his first appearance in 1837; he had fire and could jump very high. He was busy in London, but eventually branched out.

John Matthews traces the history of Spring-Heeled Jack in this book. He doesn’t attempt really to solve the mystery, more to enlighten the reader about the origins of the story as well as its use in current fiction.

In discussing the origins of Jack, Matthews quotes at great length from firsthand accounts and newspaper reports. He also makes links to other famous stalkers, such as the London Monster and Jack the Ripper. The use of the firsthand accounts allows the reader to form an opinion or an idea before Matthews presents more information.

Matthews links the folk character to Robin Hood and the Green Man. While I am not sure I entirely agree, it does give one food for thought and a compelling argument is presented. There is also a connection to the Punch and Judy shows which is even stronger.

The weakest part of the book was the part dealing with the modern Steampunk era. Too much of this section is devoted to a very an overly detailed summery of a radio program that sounds interesting, but why should I listen to it know when I know what is going to happen. I also found it strange that Heart of Iron by Ekaterina Sedia was not mentioned.

Still, a very in depth look at a legend, and a much needed look at that.
 
 

 

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