Review of Beauty and the Beast: Steampunk Beauty and the Beast by Melanie Karsak

Beauty and Beastly: Steampunk Beauty and the Beast (Steampunk Fairy Tales Book 3) by [Melanie Karsak]

Synopsis:
In this tale as old as time, Isabelle Hawking must tinker a solution to a heartbreaking mystery.

When Isabelle Hawking and her papa set out from London on a sea voyage, Isabelle is thrilled. Visiting foreign courts, learning from master tinkerers, and studying mechanicals is her dream. And it doesn’t hurt that the trip also offers Isabelle an escape from her overbearing and unwanted suitor, Gerard LeBoeuf.

But Isabelle never arrives. Swept up in a tempest, her ship is lost.

Isabelle survives the storm only to be shipwrecked on a seemingly deserted island. The magical place, dotted with standing stones, faerie mounds, and a crumbling castle, hints of an ancient past. Isabelle may be an unwilling guest, but her arrival marks a new beginning for the beastly residents of this forgotten land.

See how New York Times bestselling author Melanie Karsak puts a steampunk spin on the classic Beauty and the Beast fairy tale set in gaslamp London.

Review:
Of all the steampunk style stories I have read this is one of my absolute favourites. It has everything amazing and right going for it: we have a spunky, intelligent heroine, we have the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, we have faeries, and we have incredibly well designed tech that doesn’t quite make sense, for good reason. I loved so much about this, the redemption of the characters and how they grew with time, even those that we really didn’t like or expect to see again. Everyone and everything had a purpose, and the story was quite endearing. I often ended up into the late hours of the night wanting to read more, but too tired to do so. If you like steampunk, you like fairy tales, and you love Beauty and the Beast– this will become a clear favourite.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Ice and Embers: Steampunk Snow Queen by Melanie Karsak

Ice and Embers: Steampunk Snow Queen (Steampunk Fairy Tales Book 2) by [Melanie Karsak]

Synopsis:
It takes more than passion and pixie dust to thaw a frozen heart.

With the 1814 London Frost Fair in full swing, actress Elyse McKenna’s performance in A Midwinter Night’s Dream thrills the crowd. But Elyse’s backstage has life is beginning to take on a distinctly Shakespearean flavor.

When she fell in love with Lord John Waldegrave, Elyse was prepared to keep their affair secret. But she wasn’t ready for her new love to rock her relationship with her dearest friend, Doctor Kai Murray. 

Everything Elyse thought she knew about her feelings for her old friend is flipped upside down when an enchanting ship captain turns her attention to Kai.

If Elyse hopes to escape the Thames with her heart intact, she must discover the truth about the captain, Kai, John, and her own feelings—before it’s too late.

Ice and Embers is a retelling of the classic Snow Queen fairy tale set in New York Times best-selling author Melanie Karsak’s steampunk universe. Journey to gaslamp London during the 19th century to see how Melanie puts a steampunk spin in this reimagined fairytale.

Review:
I put off reading this, in major part because Snow Queen isn’t one of the fairy tales I’m overly familiar with, but I was pleasantly surprised by how very well done this was. I quite enjoyed the behind the scenes looks at being in the theatre and being a doctor/doctor’s assistant, but it greatly annoyed me with how many times pirouetting across the stage was mentioned, since pirouettes do not travel but rotate in place. Other than the dancing descriptions being off, I thought the story was overall lovely.

I loved how Elyse was so innocent and naive, despite being in a position where she’d see these roles and situations on a regular basis. I truly loved how A Midsummer Night’s Dream (and Shakespeare in general) was entwined with the book. If you love steampunk, Shakespeare, fairytales, dance and romance, I’d recommend this book for sure.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Curiouser and Curiouser by Melanie Karsak

Curiouser and Curiouser: Steampunk Alice in Wonderland (Steampunk Fairy Tales Book 1) by [Melanie Karsak]

To save the Hatter, Alice must work with the one man she despises so much that she might still love him.

Alice thought she’d turned over a new leaf. No more working for Jabberwocky. No more making deals with the ruthless Queen of Hearts. No more hanging around The Mushroom with tinkers, tarts, scoundrels, and thieves in London’s criminal underbelly. But she’d been bonkers to dream.

Hatter’s reckless behavior leads Alice back to the one person she never wanted to see again, Caterpillar. Pulled into Caterpillar’s mad schemes, Alice must steal a very big diamond from a very royal lady. The heist is no problem for this Bandersnatch. But protecting her heart from the man she once loved? Impossible.

Sometimes love is mad.

Curiouser and Curiouser is a retelling of Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice in Wonderland fairy tale set in New York Times best-selling author Melanie Karsak’s steampunk universe. Journey to gaslamp London during the 19th century to see how Melanie puts a steampunk spin on this reimagined fairytale.

Review:
I will admit that Alice in Wonderland is probably one of the fairy tales/Disney movies I wasn’t that enamoured with, however I did quite love the Tim Burton movies. I did, however, find this as a completely interesting and unique take on the story and I quite loved it. The names might resemble those of the story, but nothing is quite like anything you’d expect from the other popular tales of Lewis Carroll and the reiterations thereof.

I definitely saw the connection with the Red Queen before it was revealed, but it was quite expertly tied together and I’m not sure the average reader would have had my same mindset going into it. There were still parts that I found chilling and disturbing, even though I had figured out major plot points long before they were revealed and was rather annoyed that Alice didn’t simply ask Caterpillar, or at least ASSUME what it might be that he botched.

As always, love Karsak’s book, and look forward to reading her next one!

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Lycans and Legends: A Steampunk Fairy Tale by Melanie Karsak

Lycans and Legends: A Steampunk Fairy Tale (Steampunk Red Riding Hood Book 6) by [Melanie Karsak]

Synopsis:
After stopping a mysterious preternatural assailant wielding an enchanted dagger, Clemeny is on the hunt. Why is someone after Victoria? To find answers, Clemeny Louvel must travel to the one place she’s been avoiding, the Summer Country. Among the mist and standing stones, secrets about her case—and herself—are hiding. An ancient grudge with roots deep in the heart of Britannia is about to unfold on the Victorian stage.

Unless Clemeny can stop it first.










Review:
Finally! We get to learn more of Clemeny, her heritage and lineage, and how that influences her life– or doesn’t. One of my absolute favourite tie ins of this series was that between Clemeny’s lineage and Sir Richard Spencer’s! I quite enjoyed seeing this series completed, though I didn’t quite enjoy how some people ended up paired together. I will say that while the ending alluded to great things, I would very much love another book (or two, or three!) to tie things together with a neat crisp bow.

I also found myself quite enamoured with Agent Rose, and hope that someday Karsak continues with the stories of the Red Cape society, or at least lets us know Agent Rose’s back story!

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Howls and Hallows: A Steampunk Fairy Tale by Melanie Karsak

Howls and Hallows: A Steampunk Fairy Tale (Steampunk Red Riding Hood Book 5) by [Melanie Karsak]

Synopsis:
You’re invited to the All Hallows Ball.
*Werewolves prohibited.

Busy tracking down thieving werewolves in London, Clemeny is surprised when Edwin asks her to lead a new case in the Fenlands of east England.

The Cabell family is haunted by a curse. Something in the misty moors surrounding Cabell Manor has come howling just days before the exclusive All Hallows Ball. How gauche. But London’s best agent is on the case.

Clemeny soon finds herself learning the ropes of polite society while hunting an apparition on the foggy fens. She’ll need to solve the case quickly if she hopes to be the belle—not the bruiser—of the ball.





Review:
Not for the first time we have to wonder if Clemeny and Edwin are the right match. So much tension and uncertainty. She’s great at her job, but what is right for her? She seems to keep a good head on her shoulders at all times, willing to talk and befriend before simply judging or casting aside people. I must say, relationship wise, I quite enjoyed this book and the showcase of how Clemeny felt among high society.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Bitches and Brawlers: A Steampunk Fairy Tale by Melanie Karsak

Bitches and Brawlers: A Steampunk Fairy Tale (Steampunk Red Riding Hood Book 4) by [Melanie Karsak]

Synopsis:
Just when things start going well for Agent Clemeny Louvel, a bitch has to make trouble.

Since Cyril’s death, an uneasy peace has existed between Alodie and Lionheart. Her brothel closed, her rank in the werewolf pecking order obliterated, and shunned by the Templars, Alodie has been living on the fringes of the dark district. Determined to get vengeance on Lionheart and Clemeny, Alodie hatches a monstrous plan. Just in time to ruin Clemeny and Edwin’s first outing as a couple.

Alodie will do anything to see a new alpha rise.

Unless Clemeny can stop her first.





Review:
Clemeny is stuck between her duty as one in the red cape society and her obvious need to keep her particular division taken care of. Unfortunately, when some attempts for leniency were made, it meant that there was the potential for an uprising. It was great to get to see Clemeny and Edwin fully in action together again, but at what cost?

As with the others in this series I zipped through it quickly, which is why now I’m stuck reviewing the last three books instead of delving into another series/author as I will be continuing to do once I’m finished here. In some regards it almost feels like the solutions are too quick and precise in these books, but that is partially why I love them. In the real world, that’s how many problems appear and are solved–so much time spent in introspection and consideration, just for the solution to be quite simple and instantaneous.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Alphas and Airships: A Steampunk Fairy Tale by Melanie Karsak

Alphas and Airships: A Steampunk Fairy Tale (Steampunk Red Riding Hood Book 2) by [Melanie Karsak]

Synopsis:
With Lionheart as the new alpha, the streets of London are quiet.

But above the realm, mischief is brewing.

While airship pirates are a common plague upon the kingdom, the Airship Fenrir proves particularly troublesome—especially on a full moon.

Clemeny must take to the skies before these shape-shifting Vikings kick off a new Ragnarok. Easier said than done now that she’s down one good eye, a partner, and not to mention the fact that she gets motion sick.

On top of that, the new scar across her face makes Clemeny feel like she’ll have better luck intimidating her foes than finding a beau. But Agent Edwin Hunter, recently assigned as head of Clemeny’s division, is proving to be an interesting prospect. Despite her apprehensions, it’s up to Agent Louvel to chase Fenrir across the heavens.


Review:
Clemeny is down a partner, but she still has work to do, so she has to deal with someone perhaps a bit green, but at least they do get along. I quite enjoy how Clemeny gets on with everyone, and how even those she doesn’t really know seem drawn to somewhat like her and help her. Many thanks to the wife of the Captain! I also quite enjoy how there are a few unsuspected saviours/helpers towards the end.

Like the first book, this story goes quickly. I’m not sure if it’s because these are short or just superbly written, but I find myself soaring through them.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Wolves and Daggers: A Steampunk Fairy Tale by Melanie Karsak

Wolves and Daggers: A Steampunk Fairy Tale (Steampunk Red Riding Hood Book 1) by [Melanie Karsak]

Synopsis:
Who’s afraid of the big, bad wolf?

When London’s brightest tinkers and alchemists come up missing, Red Cape Society Agent Clemeny Louvel is on the case. As an agent for London’s preternatural enforcers, Clemeny has seen it all. Even though they call her Little Red due to her diminutive size, Clemeny is feared by the werewolf packs. But this case is different. When Clemeny discovers goblins, werewolves, and vampires working together, she realizes a darker danger is looming.

To help Clemeny get the problem in hand, Queen Victoria assigns her a temporary partner–a werewolf with a knightly history and a tendency to be far too flirtatious for either of their good. Can she trust him to help her chase down the monsters they’re hunting?

Review:
This book is a treasure- easy to fall and lost in. It has everything you could want- steampunk, supernatural, and the interwoven fairy tales are just a bonus along the way. It is short, concise, and to the point- without a lot of overwriting that many do. The relationships are realistic and the characters have flaws. I love how red riding hood is seamlessly woven into the Victorian society of this book, and how everything interlocks perfectly. I was quite pleased to realize it was book 1 in a series.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

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 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.