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Search tags: steampunk
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review 2017-03-16 00:38
I didn't get this PhD for nuthin
The Silver Skull (The Elemental Web Chro... The Silver Skull (The Elemental Web Chronicles Book 2) - Anne Renwick
The Golden Spider (The Elemental Web Series) (Volume 1) - Anne Renwick

The Golden Spider and The Silver Skull are both fairly paint-by-numbers steampunk: it's vaguely Victorian-ish, with the ton & the peerage and all that, but there are Babbage cards and steam mechanicals and such too. 

 

The Golden Spider is probably the better novel, following a girl scientist trying to stop a killer and cure her brother and also there are spies.The Silver Skull relies on one of those "we have to pretend to be married so we might as well bang" scenarios, which I find tedious, and I didn't buy the reasons for the lovers to be apart anyway. But bonus points for pteranodons that the evil lady saddles up so she can have sky battles with airships. That was fresh. 

 

What I really wanted to say about this series, the thing I found utterly charming, was the epically nerdy science behind both of these plots. A science that was lovingly detailed with so much legit scientific terminology that I would just start skimming at points as the principals breathlessly talked chemistry at each other. The author's bio states that Renwick has a PhD in chemistry, and it shows: she loves this shit; she's not going to dumb it down; and she's going to work out the science plausibly, even if it's fictional. 

 

Hard science is very rarely my thing. I simply do not care about verisimilitude, unless you wrap it up with some actual characters, which doesn't happen as often as I'd prefer. And generally I'm not reading steampunk for the articles, but because I like the dash-punk pulp aspects: I want to see me a fucking kraken, or an airship battle that crashes, burning, into the sea, or some automata struggling with sentience. But here, in books where the steampunkery was wan and drab, I lived for the nerdy stuff, in a weird reversal. It just goes to show that the enthusiasm of the writer towards the subject, be it chemistry or krakens, goes a long way toward my enjoyment of a novel. 

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review 2017-03-16 00:38
Brother’s Ruin by Emma Newman
Brother's Ruin - Emma Newman

Series: Industrial Magic #1

 

Brother’s Ruin is Emma Newman’s brand new fantasy novella set in a Victorian world where mages form a kind of guild, the Royal Society of Esoteric Arts. They owe service to the Crown and can’t have a life outside of the Society. Charlotte (or Charlie) is a young woman with magical and artistic talents who chafes at the confines of her life but is desperate to remain free of the Royal Society. Unfortunately, plot happens and Royal Society mages get invited into her home by her father.

 

It’s an interesting world, and I liked Charlotte (her brother Ben is harder to like), but I think this is Emma Newman’s weakest work that I’ve read so far. The suspense gets lost in a lot of convenient happenings where too many things just seem to work. I also felt that a lot of the happenings were a little too well telegraphed. That said, I still enjoyed the book, and I’d definitely pick up a sequel to see more of this world and Charlie. I can see the sequels getting much better as the world gets better established and the plot thickens. Although the immediate story is resolved, this really is just a lead into a larger story.

 

Here’s hoping for more!

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text 2017-03-14 23:45
Reading progress update: I've read 48%.
Brother's Ruin - Emma Newman

I'm not sure I understand the logic behind not being able to pay the debt.

 

Charlie's father was relying on a commission to pay back the debt, which he lost to Charlie, who used it to pay for her brother's schooling, so we were still keeping the funds within the family and her brother would have needed more money anyway, so I don't see how things were supposed to come out ok. I know there was another commission or two in there, but still.

(spoiler show)
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review 2017-03-14 20:48
Book Review: Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin
Masque of the Red Death - Bethany Griffin

This was a huge hype book when it came out, so I was excited to (finally) pick up a copy and read it. I enjoy Edgar Allan Poe’s short story that this is loosely based upon and was interested to see what sort of world Griffin would create around that idea — especially one that would hold up for an entire novel and its sequel.

 

Masque of the Red Death is basically a post-apocalyptic dystopia rather loosely set in Victorian times, with some steampunk elements to it; for example, Araby and her friend April ride in steam-powered carriages, created because horses died from the plague that killed off most of the population in the city. While Poe’s short story focused on the Prince Prospero’s parties and how he locked everyone up to escape the plague, this story mostly focuses on outside Prince Prospero’s castle and what’s happening while he hides from the city’s problems. We get to briefly meet him and hear about him because April is his niece and Araby is the daughter of the scientist who invented a mask filtration system that allows the rich to go outside and survive.

 

Overall, I found this a quick, fun read. I was worried we were going to get into mushy romance territory at the beginning, but Araby’s romantic inclinations are actually well handled and further the tension and plot of the novel, which I very much appreciated. The characters are great — we get the superficial stuff at the beginning, but then things are revealed throughout the story to slowly reveal complex, interesting characters. Though this is kind of true for the main character, this is mostly true for the side characters and reflects Araby’s knowledge/impressions of them; for example, she thinks her mom is vapid and too nervous, but then we find out that there might be a good reason for that.

 

While this was a fast read for me, a lot of it didn’t feel particularly interesting. I think a bit too much time was set up on fleshing out just how depressing life and the city is post-plague, and while it’s important, I’m not sure that we needed to so much of the fluff and could have gone into more interesting developments. Although, I do understand that we learn along with Araby because she’s been fairly sheltered up to where we meet her in the book, I just felt like there wasn’t quite enough substance to hang onto, and what substance I was given was super interesting, so I wish there were more.

 

Again, I found this book fairly entertaining, but didn’t see much in it to be able to rave about it. It’s a solid story with fairly interesting characters, even if the main character is a bit too naive for my liking. It falls into the same basic tropes most young adult novels of this time did: love triangle, corrupt government, and rebelling factions. I’m still interested to see how the sequel brings some of the bits and pieces together, but this isn’t something I’m going to go out of my way to recommend to people. It’s fine if you like this sort of thing, and certainly enjoyable, but not a must-read.

Source: www.purplereaders.com/?p=3535
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review 2017-03-11 11:41
The Aeronaut's Windlass: The Cinder Spires, Book 1 - Jim Butcher,-Penguin Audio-,Euan Morton

This is truly an excellent book. Awesome story, clean story-telling, little to no swearing which was surprising but very pleasant. I listened to the audiobook and it did seem a little long but I wonder if reading it would have felt different... I will read the next one in the series when it comes out.

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