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Steampunk

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Warby Parker offers the Colonel Monocle, a monocle that is actually designed for a prescription lens. I know there are a lot of monocles out there, but they seem to be all for ‘show.’ This one is designed to work! Cool….

Review: Tangle of Thornes by Lorel Clayton

27231426“People speak sometimes about the “bestial” cruelty of man, but that is terribly unjust and offensive to beasts, no animal could ever be so cruel as a man, so artfully, so artistically cruel.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“She had to learn that the day granted hope and happiness, but I stole it. She had to face that the night hid evil and darkness, but my soul was blacker.” ― Pepper Winters, Debt Inheritance

Eva Thorne was born to be a monster, in a country of monsters. The Solhans are a “whole different category of human. One that most other races tended to hate.” Well, you can’t really blame them. Solhans glory in cruelty, dark magic, and buckets and buckets of blood – as long as it isn’t their own. Then, well, the Solhans opened a bit of dark magic that brought back their Dead God. And as a group that worships cruelty and death, their Dead God shouldn’t have been a surprise when he started slaughtering the very Solhans who worshiped him – along with half the rest of the world.

So, they became refugees, fleeing to other countries to escape the very God they were so gleeful to have brought back. Eva’s own family, the rich and massively powerful Thornes, found themselves in the Avian/Elf/Gnome controlled city of Highcrowne, the most ‘civilized’ place in the known world. Well, except for the fact that humans, like Eva, are pushed into the Outskirts, the dark garbage heap at the foot of the fabled city on the hill. Oh, and don’t forget that humans are also the slave labor that keeps Highcrowne’s very SteamPunk society running. Magic and machines, machines and magic. I loved it.

Eva’s family brought its power and dark magic with them when they came. They now rule over the Outskirts, wallowing in power, their hands in every evil, and yes, profitable, industry ripe for the picking. But Eva is determined, from a very young age, not to become what her family is – what her identical twin so easily became. So, she walks away, working in a café and living in a tiny apartment. She may not be rich, she may not be powerful, but above all? Eva is determined to keep her soul as her own.

Then her brother, the one ‘good’ person in her life, is murdered, his heart ripped out and taken away. Soul magic. And unless Eva can find his killer, and hopefully find his heart, Viktor’s soul will forever be captured and used for unknown, but certainly purely evil, purposes. Surrounded by family, who want to turn her to their Solhan ways (well, except for her twin, who just wants her to suffer greatly before slaughtering her), and a variety of human, gnomish, and ‘other’ people hanging around her and offering to ‘help’ for reasons of their own, Eva’s story is harsh, brutal, and obsessively readable. Finding her brother’s killer is going to be hard enough. But keeping her soul intact? That may be impossible.

I picked Tangle of Thornes up for free on May first and sat down this afternoon after wearing myself out with gardening (it was warm today, Yea!!). It is midnight now and I just finished the book. I hadn’t read the description (see what a good cover can do? It caught my eye and I opened it on my eReader) but I also wanted something by an author I hadn’t read before that had a female lead, and I picked it up. The first paragraph caught my attention, then I was all in.

“I’ve read a few of those hard-boiled detective novels. You know, The Maltese Griffin, Murder on the Troll Road … the classics. But none of them ever mentioned the smell. Mr. Hylar, my last hope, smelled like old sweat mixed with fermented stomach contents, some of which stained his shirt collar. City elves were like their country cousins: filthy.”

OK, THIS I can get behind! No tall, willowy Elves with long, shiny locks blowing in a magical breeze? Something Different! Whoot!

The second book in the series is A Thorne for a Crown. 28280519I won’t read the description of this one either, I will just wade right in. I don’t watch the “what’s happening next” at the end of a show I am watching either – I would rather watch it than have it described to me, so I will do the same here. I had to slap my own hand to keep myself from punching the “Read For Free” button when it popped up at the end, but I will wait or I will be up the rest of the night and into the morning!

For The Steampunk Crowd: The Diabolical Miss Hyde: An Electric Empire Novel

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Kindle Price: $1.99

Book Description

February 10, 2015

Forensic science, magic, mystery, and romance mix in this edgy steampunk fantasy—a retelling of the horror classic, in which Dr. Eliza Jekyll, daughter of the infamous Dr. Henry Jekyll—pursues a dangerous murderer in an alternate Victorian London.

In an electrified Victorian London, Dr. Eliza Jekyll is a crime scene investigator, hunting killers with newfangled technological gadgets. She will need every advantage available to catch a terrifying new psychopath splattering London with blood. Hidden in the grimy shadows, the fiendish murderer preys on beautiful women, drugging them before slicing off their limbs. Finding the “Slicer” can make Eliza’s career . . . or unmask her darkest secret. Like her father, she has a hidden second self that emerges when she drinks his forbidden magical elixir. Just a few sips, and a seductive and impulsive Lizzie Hyde is unleashed.

The members of the Royal Society do not trust Eliza, and they send their enforcer, the mercurial Captain Lafayette, to prove she’s a dangerous sorceress. The careful doctor knows that one wrong step can make her prey to the clever Lafayette, a man who harbors an evil curse of his own. No matter how much she craves the elixir, she must resist.

But as the Slicer case draws her into London’s luminous magical underworld, Eliza will need the potion’s power to help her . . . even if it might attract the attentions of Lafayette. .

Even if it means setting the wild Lizzie free. . . .

Reviews

“A fearlessly imaginative world of magic, mystery and literary allusion that is delightfully immersive and dangerously seductive. …[Carr’s] heroine’s journey is full of sensual intrigue and heady danger that will leave readers breathless.” (RT Book Reviews (4.5 stars))

“Carr’s steampunk debut is electrifying, memorable, and razor sharp.” (Publishers Weekly)

“This debut steampunk, gender-swapped take on Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic story of the uncontrolled id … [has] energy and over-the-top adventure. Don’t think about it too hard, just enjoy the ride.” (Library Journal)

“…Ms. Carr takes us into an almost-familiar world, drawing us further into the dark just a bit at a time. If you thought steampunk was played out, here is an utterly convincing revivification.” (Wall Street Journal)

“This debut electropunk monster mashup gives you exactly what you never knew you wanted: The classic story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with a genderbent twist.” (barnesandnoble.com)

“I was utterly hooked and happily stayed that way for the next four-hundred-some pages. …It’s dark, intense, and sometimes disturbing, and man is it awesome.” (Beth Cato, author of The Clockwork Dagger)

The Diabolical Miss Hyde is a big, juicy steampunk/fantasy/romance/mystery package of fun, and I highly recommend it. Grade: A.” (Smart Bitches)

“There’s plenty of twists and turns, with a dash of magic and a wink at the classic literature.” (Parkersburg News & Sentinel)

From the Back Cover

Magic, mystery, and romance mix in this edgy retelling of the classic The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde–in which Dr. Eliza Jekyll is the daughter of the infamous Henry

In an electric-powered Victorian London, Dr. Eliza Jekyll is a crime scene investigator, hunting killers with inventive new technological gadgets. Now, a new killer is splattering London with blood, drugging beautiful women and slicing off their limbs. Catching “the Chopper” could make Eliza’s career—or get her burned. Because Eliza has a dark secret. A seductive second self, set free by her father’s forbidden magical elixir: wild, impulsive Lizzie Hyde.

When the Royal Society sends their enforcer, the mercurial Captain Lafayette, to prove she’s a sorceress, Eliza must resist the elixir with all her power. But as the Chopper case draws her into London’s luminous, magical underworld, Eliza will need all the help she can get. Even if it means getting close to Lafayette, who harbors an evil curse of his own.

Even if it means risking everything and setting vengeful Lizzie free . . .

Review: Chronicles of Steele By Pauline Creeden

Be as gentle as a dove but as cunning as a viper.
Preserve one’s self with intellect,
and know when it is time to be either the dove or the viper.

Hell is yourself and the only redemption is when a person puts himself aside to feel deeply for another person. – Tennessee Williams

I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities. – Dr. Seuss

ravenHere is an admission. As much as I have been interested and charmed by the concept of Steampunk, I have never read a book in the genre. Given the opportunity by the publisher to read Chronicles of Steele: Raven I can say that I am glad I waited. It is, in a word, delightful.

Raven Steele lives in a world of contradictions and extravagances of the surreal kind. Steam powered horses and mechanical humans live alongside flesh and blood beings. Dirigibles crowd the air while Victorian dress resides alongside leather and sword bearing private guards. Medical advances proceed alongside alchemy, and witchcraft is very real, in a sort of ‘physics meets alchemy meets herbology’ mashup. Sword and sorcery meets Victorian in an utterly enjoyable manner. The contradictions are charming and well written, a perfect introduction to a genre I was unfamiliar with.

Raven is a Reaper. Once the private (and very fatal) bodyguards and assassins to the Duke, they were disbanded when their leader, Raven’s father, refused to murder the Duke’s wife on his order. Hounded from the castle, his own men set upon him, her family flees, only to lose her mother to murder at the hands of the other Reapers. Trained by her father to be a Reaper in order to ascertain her safety from those who would murder her, Raven has travelled the lands, searching for redemption. A tenant of Reaper training, redemption is given through giving back a life for every life taken – and Raven’s balance sheet is nearly complete.

But freedom and real life are jerked from her grasp when she rescues the young Baron of New Hope, Darius. The child is handed over to Raven by his elder brother, Baron Solomon Goodhope, who entreats her to save the child from his murderous father. The evil Duke means the boy to die for supposedly being infested by a demon. But the story is much more, and much less, than the Duke believes. And when he sets his guards on Raven and Darius’s trail the consequences will be deeper than he could ever have expected.

Friends will become enemies and enemies possible friends as Raven begins a desperate cross-country race, by dirigible and train, horse and on foot, first to find the Witch she has been tasked to locate to cure the child, and then to save him once again from those who would murder him. Those who should by all rights keep him safe, but will kill in the name of the Duke, no matter how insane the order may be.

His conscience could not agree with what he was about to do. But orders were orders. And as captain of the guard, Jack always followed them to the letter.

Honor is found in the oddest places – but the boundless knee-jerk bone-headedness of mindless adherence to command structures and orders, even when deeply twisted and evil, is readily apparent. As well as a type of debilitating naivety on the part of people who should know better. But there is also a smile around every corner at the unexpected, the quaint, and the captivating. All of these things make the story appealing on so many different levels. Not only that, but there is an undercurrent here, another story line lying just below the surface which makes me eager for the next installment to the series!

While all these things are wonderful, there is one thing that bothered me. It may seem a small thing, but to me it is important to the presentation of the book. I was completely discombobulated by the cover. It presents as the cover for a Shamanistic Fantasy novel more than anything else. It is gorgeous, without a doubt, but it has absolutely no continuity with the story line. It is disconcerting to say the least. Without looking at the blurb I automatically expected the book to be on par with Patricia Briggs’s Mercy Thompson series, or possibly Ilona Andrews’s Kate Daniels series. Not for a true Steampunk novel. But again, it is a small thing that will possibly be of no interest to other readers.

I highly recommend this book for its strong heroine, well written story, and (yes, here is that word again) charming world building. Oh, and I was surprised to find that this is listed as “young adult” – but not in a bad way. It is a great story for young and young at heart. I will be watching anxiously for Darius’s story, the next in the Chronicles of Steele. And I will definitely be checking out others in the genre. I am hooked!

I received Chronicles of Steele: Raven from the publisher in return for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

If you like my reviews, it would be great if you could “Like” it on Amazon as well! Thanks all…

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