Review of The Silver Skull by Anne Renwick

Synopsis (from Amazon):
An illegal border crossing. A fake marriage. A mad German count determined to create an army of unbreakable soldiers.

Lady Olivia is not all she seems. Trained for marriage to an assigned political target, her skills lie in programming household steambots to serve tea, dress her hair… and sound the alarm while she picks locks and listens at doors. Humiliated by a failed assignment, she decides to redeem herself by tailing a suspected double agent.

Lord Rathsburn must flirt with treason. Struggles to cure a horrible disease have met with unexpected complications. The cells he engineered can make a man’s bones unbreakable, but the side effects are fatal. He believed the research terminated… until his sister was kidnapped by a German count. Her ransom? A cure.

Piloting a stolen dirigible, he uncovers an unlikely stowaway, Lady Olivia. Arriving together at a crumbling castle, an impossible task is set before them: cure the count’s guardsmen. Amidst their fake marriage, a very real growing attraction, dying guardsmen and escalating hostilities, Lady Olivia and Lord Rathsburn are thrust deep into the world of international medical espionage from which there may be no return.

Review:
In the beginning I was quite sad because I expected that the Elemental Web Chronicles would continue on with Thornton and Amanda, and that they would continue solving crimes and working for the Queen. Once I got over that and gave Olivia a chance, I came to find the story quite amusing and enjoyed it.

Although I understand that Olivia’s abilities and intelligence were supposed to be suspect in The Golden Spider, I found it hard to believe the complete change in mentality that her mother was now shown/said to have. Although some characteristics of Olivia’s remained the same, the difference in her in this compared to how she was in The Golden Spider was at times hard to fathom. Treating this like a completely different novel, not necessarily one that should have flowed from one book to the next, made the changes easier to accept.

I quite liked Lord Rathsburn. He was gruff and not the greatest at dealing with people, much like the scientists I know. His familial loyalty was endearing, as was his sense of honour.

I did enjoy this novel quite a bit, though not as much as The Golden Spider.

Star Rating: 

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Review of The Golden Spider by Anne Renwick

Synopsis (from Amazon):
A stolen clockwork spider. A forbidden romance. A murderous spy on the streets of London who must be stopped before it’s too late.

Lady Amanda is tired of having both her intelligence and her work dismissed.
After blackmailing her way into medical school, she catches the eye of her anatomy professor from the moment she walks into his lecture hall. Is he interested in her? Or only her invention-a clockwork spider that can spin artificial nerves?

Lord Thornton, a prominent neurobiologist, has been betrayed.
Secret government technology has been stolen from his laboratory, and a foreign spy is attempting to perfect it via a grisly procedure… using gypsies as test subjects. The last thing he needs is the distraction of a beautiful-and brilliant-new student, even if her spider could heal a deteriorating personal injury.

Until her device is stolen and used in the latest murder.
Lord Thornton has no option but to bring her into his laboratory as well as the investigation where they must fight their growing, yet forbidden, attraction. Bodies accumulate and fragile bonds are tested as they race across London, trying to catch the spy before it’s too late.

Review:
Why did I wait so long to read this book? It was absolutely wonderful! There was everything one could want in a steampunk/gaslamp style novel: there was a plucky and intelligent protagonist who wasn’t willing to just take what society deemed acceptable as her future, a brooding intelligent gentleman, mystery, and forbidden romance!

Amanda was instantly connected to me (perhaps due to us having the same first name, Amy being a short form used for publishing). She is so intelligent but also a society lady, so her struggle to find someone who didn’t just see her as a baby maker was both realistic and frustrating, making her quite relatable. Thornton was equally relatable in his desire to get things done, done right, and even if it killed him to do it himself, he’d be sure it was finished.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone and everyone. I loved it, especially the ending!

Star Rating: 

Review of Vow of Deception by C. J. Archer

Vow of Deception
Ministry of Curiosities Book 9
By C. J. Archer

Star Rating: 
Genre: Historical Fantasy, Gaslamp Fantasy
Number of Pages: 308

Date Started: December 7, 2017
Date Finished: December 8, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
With the wedding only days away, the Ministry is thrown into turmoil when another murder is committed by a shape-shifter. But this time the newspapers make the connection to werewolves – and the Ministry. Suddenly the attention is focused on Lichfield Towers and its residents as the police investigate and parliament wants to shut the organization down. It could spell the end of everything Charlie has come to love. As the authorities close in and ministry secrets are exposed, past allies can no longer be trusted. Can Charlie save her home, her loved ones, and herself? Or will she lose Lincoln and her friends forever?

Review:
Oh. My. Goodness! So many enemies, so much intrigue, and far too perfect a conclusion that we’ve been waiting for so long to see. Alliances were tested, some broken, some strengthened. The near ending nastiness was not something I expected, but for karma–it was well deserved.

While I have been looking forward to this last installment, and getting to know if Lincoln and Charlie will ever get a happily ever after, I have to say I’m quite excited for a tenth book! I have many predictions of what might happen in Wonderland, but I am not sure if they’ll come true.

C. J. Archer is such a great, wonderful person on top of being a great author.  She has a fan group on Facebook, CJ Archer’s Ministry of Fans, where people who like her books can talk about them, and Ms. Archer interacts with her fans frequently (which makes her even more endearing).  If you are like me and adore her books, join the group and chat with like minded individuals.

cj
Author Biography: (From Amazon)
C.J. Archer has loved history and books for as long as she can remember and feels fortunate that she found a way to combine the two. She has at various times worked as a librarian, IT support person and technical writer but in her heart has always been a fiction writer. While she has written historical romance in the past, she now writes exclusively in the historical fantasy genre (with a large dose of romance). She has several series which occur in the same Victorian-era “world”, one after the other. Each series can be read alone, but it’s more fun to start at the beginning with THE EMILY CHAMBERS SPIRIT MEDIUM TRILOGY. Follow that up with all 9 FREAK HOUSE books, then the MINISTRY OF CURIOSITIES series. GLASS AND STEELE, her newest series, is set in an entirely different alternate Victorian London.

Subscribe to C.J.’s newsletter to be notified when she releases a new book, as well as get access to exclusive content and subscriber-only giveaways. Join via her website: http://www.cjarcher.com

She loves to hear from readers. You can contact her through email cj@cjarcher.com or follow her on social media to get the latest updates on her books:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CJArcherAuthorPage
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/cj_archer
Tumblr: http://freakhouseresidents.tumblr.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorcjarcher/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/cjarcher/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4615377.C_J_Archer

Review of The Apothecary’s Poison by C. J. Archer

The Apothecary’s Poison
Glass and Steele Book 3
By C. J. Archer

Star Rating: 
Genre: Historical Fantasy, Gaslamp Fantasy
Number of Pages: 306

Date Started: April 4, 2017
Date Finished: April 6, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
When a newspaper report of a medical miracle catches Matt’s eye, he and India go in search of Dr. Hale in the hope he is more magical doctor than miracle worker and can lead them to Chronos. But Hale turns out to be an apothecary magician keen to educate the public about magic.

Their disappointment at not finding Chronos is soon forgotten when Hale is murdered, and Matt becomes a suspect. With Matt’s nemesis Sheriff Payne influencing the investigating detective, India and Matt know they must find the real killer, or risk his freedom, and ultimately his life. Time is running out as they hunt for a killer capable of turning medicine into poison with a magic spell, as well as continue the search for Chronos. A search that must end in success before Matt’s malfunctioning watch stops altogether.

Review:
This book seamlessly showcases the two opposing sides of Matt and India’s lives as they try to live in polite society but also have to skirt around magic without revealing India’s abilities. As they further their connection to each other, India is caught between what she wants and what she feels would likely be best for Matt’s future– something that many will relate to within their lifetime.

Seeing India become a stronger and more self assured woman has become quite a pleasure, and while she isn’t the same level of outgoing as Willie, she’s clearly willing to stand up for herself and the people she cares about. Because she is well mannered and intelligent she is able to get answers from people that Matt’s brashness wouldn’t work with.

Embedded in this series is a great lesson about people who are sick or have some sort of illness/disability, that despite whatever setbacks the person might have from it, they can’t consider it something that should hold them back. Another message in this particular book is that medicines don’t always do what they claim to, and it’s not right for pharmacists to claim they will.

Cyclops has an interesting past that was great to learn about, and I look forward to seeing if any relationships develop (though preferably NOT with Charity). Through learning of his fears of returning to America, one must wonder if all of Matt’s friends have similar issues, and if the posse will be able to overcome their individual problems to be able to develop lasting relationships and futures with others.

C. J. Archer is such a great, wonderful person on top of being a great author.  She has a fan group on Facebook, CJ Archer’s Ministry of Fans, where people who like her books can talk about them, and Ms. Archer interacts with her fans frequently (which makes her even more endearing).  If you are like me and adore her books, join the group and chat with like minded individuals.

cj
Author Biography: (From Amazon)
C.J. Archer has loved history and books for as long as she can remember and feels fortunate that she found a way to combine the two. She has at various times worked as a librarian, IT support person and technical writer but in her heart has always been a fiction writer. While she has written historical romance in the past, she now writes exclusively in the historical fantasy genre (with a large dose of romance). She has several series which occur in the same Victorian-era “world”, one after the other. Each series can be read alone, but it’s more fun to start at the beginning with THE EMILY CHAMBERS SPIRIT MEDIUM TRILOGY. Follow that up with all 9 FREAK HOUSE books, then the MINISTRY OF CURIOSITIES series. GLASS AND STEELE, her newest series, is set in an entirely different alternate Victorian London.

Subscribe to C.J.’s newsletter to be notified when she releases a new book, as well as get access to exclusive content and subscriber-only giveaways. Join via her website: http://www.cjarcher.com

She loves to hear from readers. You can contact her through email cj@cjarcher.com or follow her on social media to get the latest updates on her books:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CJArcherAuthorPage
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/cj_archer
Tumblr: http://freakhouseresidents.tumblr.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorcjarcher/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/cjarcher/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4615377.C_J_Archer

Review of The Watchmaker’s Daughter by C. J. Archer

The Watchmaker’s Daughter
Glass and Steele Book 1
By C. J. Archer

Star Rating: 
Genre: Fantasy
Number of Pages: 300

Date Started: October 23, 2016
Date Finished: October 27, 2016

Synopsis: (From Amazon)thewatchmakersdaughter_ebook_final_small1
India Steele is desperate. Her father is dead, her fiancé took her inheritance, and no one will employ her, despite years working for her watchmaker father. Indeed, the other London watchmakers seem frightened of her. Alone, poor, and at the end of her tether, India takes employment with the only person who’ll accept her – an enigmatic and mysterious man from America. A man who possesses a strange watch that rejuvenates him when he’s ill. Matthew Glass must find a particular watchmaker, but he won’t tell India why any old one won’t do. Nor will he tell her what he does back home, and how he can afford to stay in a house in one of London’s best streets. So when she reads about an American outlaw known as the Dark Rider arriving in England, she suspects Mr. Glass is the fugitive. When danger comes to their door, she’s certain of it. But if she notifies the authorities, she’ll find herself unemployed and homeless again – and she will have betrayed the man who saved her life. With a cast of quirky characters, an intriguing mystery, and a dash of romance, THE WATCHMAKER’S DAUGHTER is the start of a thrilling new historical fantasy series from the author of the bestselling Ministry of Curiosities, Freak House, and Emily Chambers Spirit Medium books.

Review:
I honestly wasn’t sure what I thought this book was going to be like, but it was far better than I had anticipated.  I absolutely adore the depth that Ms. Archer puts into her characters, their backstories, their desires.  While it is often plot that drives a story, the deep characterization is what makes the reader truly feel for this heroine, who is far more outspoken and forward than most women (especially those looking for a husband) would be in that time period, which makes her all the more intriguing.  I love the relationships between characters, and the so obvious tension that no one is willing to push pass to address.

I absolutely love how important clocks are, and I had almost thought we were going to end up with a steampunk vibe, but although there is a bit of connection it is not enough to consider this novel that genre.  While there might be something supernatural going on, the events are expertly entwined with coincidences and knowledge that the heroine would have that it isn’t obvious.

Though Ministry of Curiosities is still my favourite of her series, this is my second so far.  India is a very strong female lead, someone that I found myself wanting to rally behind and see accomplish great things, and find happiness in life, even if she thinks she’s “spinster age”.  If you have the chance, I highly recommend this book.

cj
Author Biography: (From Amazon)
C.J. Archer has loved history and books for as long as she can remember and feels fortunate that she found a way to combine the two. She has at various times worked as a librarian, IT support person and technical writer but in her heart has always been a fiction writer. While she has written historical romance in the past, she now writes exclusively in the historical fantasy genre (with a large dose of romance). She has several series which occur in the same Victorian-era “world”, one after the other. Each series can be read alone, but it’s more fun to start at the beginning with THE EMILY CHAMBERS SPIRIT MEDIUM TRILOGY. Follow that up with all 9 FREAK HOUSE books, then the MINISTRY OF CURIOSITIES series. GLASS AND STEELE, her newest series, is set in an entirely different alternate Victorian London.

Subscribe to C.J.’s newsletter to be notified when she releases a new book, as well as get access to exclusive content and subscriber-only giveaways. Join via her website: http://www.cjarcher.com

She loves to hear from readers. You can contact her through email cj@cjarcher.com or follow her on social media to get the latest updates on her books:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CJArcherAuthorPage
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/cj_archer
Tumblr: http://freakhouseresidents.tumblr.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorcjarcher/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/cjarcher/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4615377.C_J_Archer