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: 

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Review of Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard

Strange and Ever After
Something Strange and Deadly Book 3
By Susan Dennard

Star Rating:  
Genre: Young Adult Steampunk
Number of Pages: 400
Summer 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
It has been a tumultuous time for Eleanor Fitt since life as she knew it in Philadelphia came abruptly to an end. Although the Spirit-Hunters—Joseph, Jie, and Daniel—have helped her survive, Eleanor has lost just about everything.

And now, Jie is missing—taken by the evil necromancer Marcus. Eleanor is determined not only to get her back but to finally end this nightmare. To do so, she must navigate the hot desert streets of nineteenth-century Egypt amid the rising Dead, her unresolved feelings for Daniel, and her volatile relationships with Joseph and Oliver, her demon. And it won’t be easy. Because Allison, her friend from Philadelphia, has tagged along, becoming strangely entangled in Eleanor’s mission.

It will take all of Eleanor’s powers of black magic, and all of Daniel’s and Joseph’s trust, to succeed. But there will be a price.

Review:
How do you continue forward when you feel like you have nothing, and no one trusts you? Eleanor has no choice but to try doing just that. Relying on instincts is never a horrible idea, as she learns perhaps too late. In order to defeat Marcus, there are many twists and turns and the cost of success is astronomical.

This book was amazing, and I quite enjoyed the ending, even though I had somewhat suspected something similar might occur. Eleanor went on quite the journey, and she grew comfortable with herself, which is all any of us can hope for in life, really.

 

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Susan Dennard has come a long way from small-town Georgia. With a masters degree in marine biology, she got to travel the world—six out of seven continents, to be exact (she’ll get to Asia one of these days!)—before she settled down as a full-time novelist and writing instructor.

She is the author of the Something Strange and Deadly series (from HarperTeen) as well as the forthcoming Witchlands Series (Tor, 2015). When not writing, she can be found hiking with her dogs, exploring tidal pools, or earning bruises at the dojo.

Review of Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

Something Strange and Deadly
Something Strange and Deadly Book 1
By Susan Dennard

Star Rating:  
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Number of Pages: 416

Date Started: June 29, 2017
Date Finished: July 2, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
Sixteen-year-old Eleanor Fitt’s brother is missing. And when she discovers that the Dead are rising in Philadelphia and wreaking havoc throughout the city, she knows that her brother is involved.

So Eleanor enlists the help of the Spirit-Hunters. This motley crew, hired to protect the city from supernatural forces, is after the necromancer who has been reanimating corpses. Their skills can save her brother. But as Eleanor spends time with the Spirit-Hunters, and their handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. Now not only is her reputation at risk, but her very life may hang in the balance.

Review:
Steampunk meets necromancers and zombies = AMAZING. There are lots of layers in this novel, with multiple mysteries going on. Eleanor knows her brother is missing, and she needs to find her brother yet she’s stuck at home dealing with her mother and typical trivial society/family problems.

Sometimes one has to choose between the easy path and the difficult path, and what is easy is not always what is right, but it takes a lot of courage to break against the societal mold. Everyone faces this at some point, in how they dress, if they want to learn or work to become something their parents don’t approve of.

I loved the uniqueness of the characters. Each had their own personality, their own story, and we were allowed to get to know a bit of why they are the way they are. I absolutely love Jie, how different she is, and that she is willing to help Eleanor see that there are other paths to life.

There’s a great balance in this novel of home life versus trying to find her brother and having to deal with zombies.

Loved this book, and couldn’t wait to read the next, which I started as soon as this was finished.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Susan Dennard has come a long way from small-town Georgia. With a masters degree in marine biology, she got to travel the world—six out of seven continents, to be exact (she’ll get to Asia one of these days!)—before she settled down as a full-time novelist and writing instructor.

She is the author of the Something Strange and Deadly series (from HarperTeen) as well as the forthcoming Witchlands Series (Tor, 2015). When not writing, she can be found hiking with her dogs, exploring tidal pools, or earning bruises at the dojo.

Review of Steampunk Fairy Tales by various authors

Steampunk Fairy Tales
By Daniel Lind, Leslie & David T. Allen, Angela Castillo,
Ashley Capes, Chris Campe, Allison Latzco, Heather White

Star Rating: 
Genre: Fantasy, Steampunk, Steampunk, Fairy Tale Retelling
Number of Pages: 128

Date Started: April 14, 2017
Date Finished: April 16, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
A toyshop owner builds a set of magic clockwork dolls that delight a factory town. A three-inch tall samurai faces a giant iron ogre with only a sewing needle and a coin. A scientist seeks an antidote to his formula gone wrong, with the help of his partner’s beautiful daughter. All of these stories and more are included in Steampunk Fairy Tales. Written by authors from three different continents, every enchanting tale combines the futuristic Victorian concept of steam and fashion with memorable stories, from the recognizable “Jack and the Beanstalk”, to other popular and unfamiliar works from Germany, France, Italy and Japan. With steam driven gadgets such as mechanical goggles, hoverboards, and an orchestra of automatons. Steampunk Fairy Tales is a charming and unique collection of works for current lovers of the genre, and those just diving in.

Review:
Although these fairy tales were retellings, most were not necessarily obvious in what story they originated from. They were nice, light, but most were not particularly thrilling. It’s something good to read before bed.

In my opinion, the two most gripping stories that I quite enjoyed were The Clockwork People and Perfection. As they were all quite short, I cannot give you much description of either without giving perhaps too much away.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
If you’d like to learn more about any of the authors in this anthology, click here to go to the book’s amazon listing, and select the author in particular from there.

Review of Chains of Silver by Meredith Rose

Chains of Silver: a YA Theater Steampunk No
Alchemy Empire Book 1
By Meredith Rose

Star Rating: 
Genre: YA, YA Fantasy, YA Steampunk, Steampunk
Number of Pages: 410

Date Started: April 9, 2017
Date Finished: April 11, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)

If all the world’s a stage, then I am utterly screwn…

In the high-stakes world of the theater, stage fright can seriously crank your career, so apprentice Minx Mellor hides her phobia, studying as a technomancer to create fantastic, steam-powered devices.

But when the mysterious serial killer known as The Peacock targets one of their own, Minx can hide no longer. To save the life of the woman she loves like a mother, she teams up with her sworn enemy and a dashing young director whose powerful magic wakes the nightmares she’s kept secret for years.

When disaster strikes, Minx must face the horrors of her past and find the courage to do what she vowed she’d never do again.

Even if it means risking her life as bait to trap a murderer.

Review:
I wasn’t certain I would like this book. I’ve found most steampunk to be a bit lackluster, and I’ve been certain nothing could compare to one book I read, and what I imagine in my head, yet, this book surprised me. I worried that the past Minx experienced would keep me from resonating with her, from liking her, but that was all for naught. Minx is an amazing character that grows exponentially through the book.

The steampunk elements are perfectly done, the mixture between magic and engineering well explained. There are many times that imagination is brought to life in ways that would be completely impossible in the real world, yet perfectly fitting in the world Minx is in.

The relationships are what make this book stand out, because mixed with the amazing steampunk atmosphere and traces of magic, nothing could be steamier. While originally uncertain how I’d feel about Minx and about the world, by the time I was at the end I KNEW I was going to be buying the next book as soon as I was done because I had to know more.

While this book isn’t for everyone, especially with the abuse mentioned within, I certainly found it to be a great example of what a good steampunk novel should be.


Author Biography: (From Amazon)
MEREDITH ROSE has been a literary rebel since the age of nine when she began rewriting novel endings she didn’t like. Childhood peers mocked her for using words longer than two syllables, and adults told her that she would never be able to make it as a writer–because it’s, like, not a real career.

Thoroughly undaunted, (well, maybe a little daunted at times, to be honest) over the next two decades she secretly pursued writing novels and finally sold her first book at age twenty-nine (under a different name). She went on to publish another three novels, in which the experience of rewriting stuff actually came in useful.

CHAINS OF SILVER is her first young adult novel, and she wrote it for her two teenage daughters who are also talented rebels in their own ways. The sequel, CLAWS OF BRASS, is available October 1, 2016.

When she’s not writing, Meredith goes on bookstore dates with her husband, studies Welsh, dabbles in graphic design and altered art, and reads Tumblr way too much. Bucket list items include becoming a yarn bomber, Argentine tango dancer, and an opera singer.

Review of The Stowaway Debutante by Rebecca Diem

The Stowaway Debutante
Tales of the Captain Duke Book 1
By Rebecca Diem

Star Rating: 
Genre: Steampunk (Science Fiction/Fantasy)
Number of Pages: 103

Date Started: March 28, 2017
Date Finished: March 28, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
Airships, pirates, and hidden identities…

When Clara dreamed of running away to seek her own adventures, she never imagined that a chance encounter with the legendary Captain Duke might set her life on an entirely different course.

Armed with her wit and charm, Clara can usually talk her way out of any troubles. But first, she has to get back to solid ground…


Clara stole a quiet breath of relief when the loud man’s boots retreated toward the stairwell. She could hear the other two moving about the cargo hold, and hoped that her own thudding heartbeat would not betray her position.

She quickly thought through her options: Could she bribe them? Should she fight? Could she run? She made herself as small as possible and waited, every instinct on high alert. The lighter pair of footsteps was getting closer.

A shuffle. A step. He must be less than four feet from her, only the crate she huddled against blocking her from his view. When his voice called out, the blood froze in Clara’s veins.

“Hey, look over here!”

Review:
Lately I’ve been quite into steampunk and gaslamp fantasy. This did hit that niche, but, there was very little plot involved in this novella. There wasn’t a moment when one was truly worried for the characters. Though entertaining, Clara is very much a Mary Sue, naturally taking to every new task assigned to her. The relationships are quite unrealistic, with everyone taking to Clara, despite her reluctance to explain why she’s run away.

The Tales of Captain Duke could likely be condensed to “The Tale of Captain Duke”, with subsections of the three different stories in the trilogy. Given how short the novella is, and how bare the plot appears, it would have been much nicer, and more cost efficient to the reader, to have all three in one, especially for the print book price.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Rebecca Diem is the author of the steampunk adventure series Tales of the Captain Duke.

She grew up in a far-off land known as Chatsworth, ON. It was surrounded by hills and forests and streams and strange metal beasts that tore through the landscape leaving iron in their wake.

Then one day she started to write it all down…

Review of Noir by Jacqueline Garlick

Noir
The Illumination Paradox 2
By Jacqueline E. Garlick

Star Rating: 
Genre: Steampunk, Fantasy
Number of Pages: 380

Date Started: February 2, 2017
Date Finished: February 5, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)noir
Losing him would make her overcast world one shade darker…

Navigating her way through nightmarish lands devoid of sunlight, Eyelet Elsworth races to free her beloved Urlick Babbit, the first person to understand and accept her—differences and all. Framed for murder and sentenced to execution, Urlick is running out of time. And the Commonwealth’s tyrannical new ruler, Penelope Rapture, is strangely eager to speed up the clock.

Aided by a band of unusual yet loyal associates, Eyelet stumbles upon a startling rumor. And as she unravels a secret that could challenge Penelope’s claim to the throne, Penelope vows to divert Eyelet’s journey—straight to a dark and deadly end.

In Noir, the second thrilling addition to Jacqueline E. Garlick’s Illumination Paradox series, familiar friends struggle against new and old enemies, shocking secrets come to light, and the truth that could save this captivating steampunk world is revealed…if it doesn’t destroy everything first.

Review:
Ever had a book that you couldn’t put down? If you’ve read Lumiere, this will likely be like that. Not only is the reader introduced to other unfortunate people who are far more capable than they are given credit for, but more back story is learned about one of my favourite secondary characters, C. L. While adventuring we also meet a few more unforgettable characters, one named Livinea who I am certain will capture many hearts as she appears to be the embodiment between what people often feel and have to keep private.

I absolutely love the surprise about Urlick, and it wasn’t exactly as I had suspected, but I was quite pleased nonetheless. He seems to take direction well, and while his love for Eyelet is absolute, he does what is necessary for all first.

Now I have to say that the world crafting, the buildings in this particular novel, are genius. Is it magic or is it science? Or is it both? I absolutely love the creativity and medieval inspiration used for the jug and the tortures the characters were threatened with.

While I had an inkling that Eyelet may have contracted a particularly nasty disease because she keeps coughing up blood, I was still devastated by the abrupt uncertainty of the ending, and of course will start book 3 post haste.

jacquelineAuthor Biography: (From Amazon)
Jacqueline Garlick is the author of the immensely popular, young adult, steampunk/fantasy series THE ILLUMINATION PARADOX, as well the IF ONLY series, a contemporary, coming of age, romantic mystery. She is also the author of a variety of women’s classic romances including the highly anticipated, upcoming HEARTMENDER’S SOCIETY.

Jacqueline loves strong heroines, despises whiny sidekicks and adores a good story about a triumphant underdog. (But then again, doesn’t everyone?) She has an on-going love/hate relationship with chocolate, grammar, and technology. Jacqueline has been a teacher, professional speaker, and environmental activist, but much prefers her current role as mild manner novelist. To find out more about Jacqueline and to be the first to learn of her upcoming releases, book-related giveaways, and other cool contests and events, sign up for Jacqueline’s NEWSLETTER via jacquelinegarlick.com, to join Jacqueline’s elite Reader’s Group and receive an exclusive FREE READ.

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Contact Jacqueline”
email: garlickbooks@gmail.com