Steampunk fiction, reviews and interviews

Penny’s book reviews

Penny’s Reviews: The Hands We’re Given by O E Tearmann

Blurb:

Aidan Headly never wanted to be the man giving orders. That’s fine with the Democratic State Force base he’s been assigned to command: they don’t like to take orders. Nicknamed the Wildcards, they used to be the most effective base against the seven Corporations owning the former United States in a war that has lasted over half a century. Now the Wildcards are known for creative insubordination, chaos, and commanders begging to be reassigned.
Aidan is their last chance. If he can pull off his assignment as Commander and yank his ragtag crew of dreamers and fighters together, maybe they can get back to doing what they came to do: fighting for a country worth living in.

So, I’m usually more of a Steampunk / Gothic / Fantasy chic but when I DO go for Sci Fi, THIS is the kind I go for – the 1984 / Banksish / Kafka-esque Distopian kind where corporate and governmental control make the lives of those who don’t or won’t ‘fit the mould’ unbearable and misfits are pushed to an almost liminal existence.

Despite this grim backdrop, the story told here is pervaded by warmth, tenderness and passion thanks to the gorgeous characters, their backstories and relationships, emotions, hopes, fears and insecurities which make them each so unique and lovable I found myself swiftly invested in their future, not only the main character, Aidan, but also the secondary characters as well.

This is the tale of a lovable, awkward little band of rogues just perfect for anyone who likes serious Sci Fi with a credible MM love story at its heart. It’s also the start of this series so if , like me, you finish this book and are dying for more you won’t be disappointed.

 

 

 

 


Penny’s Book Reviews: The Recruit by Addison Albright

Blurb:

Albert Manlii has walked this earth for more than two thousand years, but survival on his own was never easy. Now he leads a faction of highly organized vampires who carefully guard the secret of their existence. Unlike the old days, potential recruits are carefully selected and presented with an offer.

Phillip Brewer has weeks to live — if he lets his disease run its course. He doesn’t want to die, but given a choice, will his desire to live outweigh his concerns about the vampires’ ethics?

When the new recruit’s missteps are cause for concern, can Albert control the fallout, or will Phillip’s life once again be torn apart?

 

I have to confess I actually came to this book having read snippets from the next book in the series via the Rainbow Snippets facebook group and so I had already fallen in love with the character of Albert and seen flashes and hints of how their story plays out in the future.

I’m a sucker for vampire stories but can’t stand the ‘Twilight flavour’ so many now seem to carry, so I delighted in the fresh feel of this series and loved the combination of appealing characters and engaging plot.

I fell more in love with Philip than I thought I would – he is a beautiful character without being at all delicate or whiny or precious which I think is over-done in vampire novels.

Overall, I loved the characters and their world, especially Albert, and I would recommend the series to anyone looking for a modern vampire series with lovable characters and a fresh, unique feel.


Penny’s Book Reviews: Shafter by Margaret McGaffey Fisk

Blurb:

Born in the abandoned subway shafts beneath First City, Trina measures life in the coin she steals from her wealthy father’s people living above. She gives little weight to her dying mother’s fairy tales about how her father will rescue Trina and her twin sister, taking them away from this planet. Yet the stars catch her attention every time she goes to the surface.

Trina is the protector, a role she created more from heroic tales in books her father gave them than anything in a shafter’s life. When she sees drunken aristocrats harassing laborers, she can’t turn away even though attacking them carries a death sentence. Her paternal grandfather discovers Trina before the enforcers can and offers everything she has ever desired—safety for her family and a way off Ceric.

Can she trust their family connection, or will the price of her dreams be more than Trina is willing to pay?

 

I fell in love with Margaret’s wonderful story weaving skills through her Steampunk series The Steamship Chronicles. This was my first encounter with her Sci-fi series and, as someone who tends to steer away from space-based Sci-fi and more towards Fantasy and Steampunk I was taken aback at how instantly I was drawn into this world.

Once I had pulled my head out again at the final page and re-orientated myself to reality, I realised that what had pulled me in and held me there so firmly was the characters – not just the focal two, but even those who only featured in one or two scenes were so intricately and lovingly portrayed I cared deeply about all of them at once.

I won’t mention the plot because it is marvellous and can’t be mentioned without spoiling the marvellousness but there is a lot to chew over in here – darkness and light, love and bitter hatred, intention and risk and an overall sense of ‘the human condition’ as being well intentioned but sadly often painfully fallible.

There is great love here in many forms – some of them dangerous – there is pain, yes, but at the end, thankfully, there is immense hope.


Penny’s Book Reviews: Hangover From Hell by Zakarrie Clarke

Blurb:

A Hangover From Hell is exactly what greets rock star Callum Carter on the final morning of an ‘On the Road’ trip along Route 66, taken with his partner, artist Daniel Flynn. Theirs is a story of fame, lust, laughter and all-consuming love. They met five years ago, when the infamous ‘enfant terrible’ was commissioned to paint Callum’s portrait and have been together ever since. The latter remains a closely kept secret…until the morning they wake up in Las Vegas. Married. Dan has no memory of this miracle taking place, only one thing seems certain; he has somehow managed to pull off his masterpiece of mischief, and inveigled Cal down the aisle.

Zakarrie Clarke has an ineffable knack for infusing her stories with the perfect balance of humour and heart – Even in the first chapter of this book her writing broke my soul with pain and had me almost on the floor with peels of wicked laughter.

That first glimpse at Dan and Cal’s relationship was but a siren’s song that swiftly pulled me so deep into their beautiful / painful / hilarious / fragile / exhilarating but ultimately feel-good world, I never wanted to surface again and so I was over the moon to find there was a sequel to dive into and more of the series planned as well for the future.

This is an utterly entertaining – raw at times – thoroughly heart-warming read, filled with passion and mischief and that kind of Bohemian love that risks all and rises, on broken wings, victorious (and perhaps with a wicked two-fingered salute to those who said it couldn’t survive)


May Review: The Department Of Curiosities by Karen J Carlisle

DOC Bk1 2019 Coming FB bANNER

It’s no secret at all that I’ve been a huge fan of Karen J Carlisle’s ineffable knack for storytelling and world building since I fist encountered her Viola Stewart series a few years ago. Her beautifully entertaining paranormal series Aunt Enid has captured my heart too, but I have to confess that I have been missing the mysterious steampunkish world Viola inhabits with its secret societies and artefacts of wonder … so imagine my glee when I was sent an ARC of the first book in her new series The Department Of Curiosities -For The Good Of The Empire, which is set in the same world as the Viola Stewart stories! I couldn’t wait to click ‘open’ and begin reading and I’m happy to say it was all I could have hoped for and more…

Karen J Carlisle is one of those rare gems who’s storytelling captivated me from the first page and carried me expertly through a marvellous world of mysterious occurrences, secret societies, wondrous devices and characters I both loved and loved to hate.

Miss Matilda Meriwether is a strong, independent and resourceful character with secrets to protect and unravel and an agenda that is utterly her own. Having said this she is also realistic for the world and time period in which she exists and she wrangles with all the social and emotional baggage that women in the late Victorian era had to contend with. These both combine to make her an utterly believable and lovable character and I found myself feeling her frustrations and quandaries even as I admired her bravado and ingenuity. She is certainly a character I now want to follow through the rest of the series.

As for the plot I don’t want to reveal to much because the beauty of this book is in the secrets and surprises… young Matilda is trying to unravel a family secret with the help of a very unexpected and comically petulant and cryptic ‘guide,’ when she becomes entangled with The Department Of Curiosities. Tillie hopes that working for the department will bring her closer to solving her own mystery but of course life has a lot more in store for her before she gets there… this is a fabulous ‘gateway’ book for anyone new to Steampunk and for old hands it is an expertly woven tale incorporating everything we love about the genre from mad scientists, secret societies, strong heroines, dastardly villains, marvellous mysteries and incredible devices ; yet another another absolute treat from Karen J Carlisle.

You can pre-order The Department Of Curiosities: For The Good Of The Empire here: 

cropped_small DOC_copyright2019 Karen J Carlisle

 

 

 

 

And find out more about the book, characters and world and read more reviews on Karen’s website here:

one off launch post

 

 

 

 

 


February Review: Of Rats And Cats

Greetings! Well our Lancastrian Frost Fair has come to an end, I really hope you enjoyed meeting all our lovely authors and discovered some fantastic new things to read 🙂

Here in Lancaster now the snow has melted, the sun is blazing, spring is in the air and so here is my February book review…

 

OF RATS AND CATS BY ADDISON ALBRIGHT

I met Addison Albright through the #RainbowSnippets facebook group and quickly fell in love with her Vampire series  which I’m reading at the moment and will be reviewing in a few months time. Extracts from Of Rats And Cats were posted as snippets on her website and I found them heart warming and hilarious so when she asked if anyone would like a PDF in exchange for an honest review I immediately volunteered 🙂

Raymond just wants to enjoy his healthy breakfast, green tea and morning paper but his morning calm is shattered when a ‘rat’ dashes into his apartment and, with Pandemonium the cat in hot pursuit,  takes refuge in his closet, amongst his lacy underwear!
Kevin is all set – his hearty breakfast casserole is in the oven, he’s just finished setting up the mouse-condominium in his new apartment and is ready to think about coffee and unpacking the rest of his things. But his mouse, Corky, has other plans and, when she decides to make a dash into his neighbor’s apartment, a hilarious and heart-warming cat and mouse game ensues!
This is a super-adorable quick-read e-book ; I was through it under and hour and I was smiling and chuckling all the way through. The characters (both human and non-human) are sweet, quirky and engaging and there was enough ‘meat’ in the background to make me wish I had longer to get to know them all.
If you’re a fan of sweet, MM romance and are looking for a quick read that’s tons of fun I think you’ll love this.
If you want to read more of Addison’s brilliant work you can find her here:
If you want to by Of Rats And Cats on amazon you can do so here:
If you’d like to explore more rainbow snippets of fabulous LGBTQIA+ fiction or join in the fun posting snippets yourself, you can do so here:
Through March I’ll be planning our new Aether Eggs feature for April, posting my March Review and working on my WIP Jack and Marjory which you can read snippets of every Saturday. If I can get other things done and posted I will but between house renovating and home schooling things are a little crazy this end!
Best wishes to you all for the madness that is March – blessings on your brew!
PENNY 🙂

January Book Review: Boston Metaphysical Society

Good morning! So, this is me taking over the review slots from Collin and Max … is it weird that I should feel inexplicably nervous about this? As though Collin is peering over my shoulder to make sure I get all my links in the right places and don’t get my tentacles in a twist over the spellchecker? (Perhaps not as he is in fact sitting in the armchair by the window contemplating the frost outside and hopefully not about to put his ice skates on again after the last fiasco.) If you are missing Max and Collin, they are still very much around and doing fun and you can catch up with them having that on Saturdays in our #rainbowsnippets posts. But for now you have me, hugging my mug of Lapsang in fingerless gloves to ward off the snow and bringing you our monthly book review…

 

 

Boston007 coverfinal2 [Recovered]

Boston Metaphysical Society is a  graphic novel series set in the late 1800’s in an alternate retro-futuristic America, where steam power has allowed rapid technological advancement along with rapid and, for some, alarming changes in the function of society. This socio-political upheaval and its affects on the collective consciousness have rent the fabric of time and space and a sinister creature has been able to pass through into this world.

Caitlin O’sullivan, Samuel Hunter and Granville Woods are The Boston Metaphysical Society and their individual expertise in science, detection and the spirit world must combine to destroy The Shifter once and for all.

This is a story which touched my heart in many ways. Firstly the illustrations (Emily Hu) are perfect; capturing the pace, emotion, mood and narrative perfectly in each scene and reminiscent of a combination of the weight and beauty of Sana Takeda and the vibrancy of Tim Yates in a style which enticed me before I had even read a word.

Secondly, the writing is exquisite and tight as tuned drumskin. The dialogue is an absolute joy to read at times, particularly the banter between Tesla, Houdini and the other members of the secret society B.E.T.H, and works in perfect harmony with the illustration to give a rich and  immersive experience for the reader.

And lastly I loved the characters – from the machinating big-names who I fell in and out of love with all over again (having had to wrench their souls laboriously from dry history books and dull documentaries over the course of many years, to see them here given life in alternate and vibrant form which both captured and questioned their lives, personalities, motives and aspirations was an exciting and exhilarating experience.) to the Boston Metaphysical Society characters with their rich, diverse and engaging personalities and their complex and intriguing back stories (more about which can be found by reading the prelude to this series) .

This is bold, unflinching storytelling at it’s best and sits at that raw, uncomfortable heart of the Steampunk genre where the lives of the privileged and the poor jarr together and their stories and histories vie for our attention. This is the curtain – as subtle and subliminal as it ought to be – which gives the backdrop for this graphic novel series. Madeleine Holly-Rosing has built a seductive world filled with the classic steampunk staples of alternate science, technology, history and magic and laced through with sharp wit and subtle warmth, but our storytellers come from every corner of late 1800’s society and this, for me, makes the series particularly enjoyable.

I am very much looking forward to reading the next books in the series ; The Scourge Of The Mechanical Man and A Storm Of Secrets and will be reviewing both over the next few months.

The complete series of Boston Metaphysical Society installments can be bought as one paperback with a ten page bonus story ‘Hunter-Killer ‘ here:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Boston-Metaphysical-Society-Madeleine-Holly-Rosing/dp/0996429220/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1548232812&sr=1-2

 

Or kindle users can purchase the episodes separately in special editions  here:

 

I hope you are all able to enjoy, or at the very least survive, the cold snap and I hope you’re enjoying our Frost Fair guest posts as well which will be going on throughout the rest of January and February, we’ve had some fabulous contributions and if you’d like to take part there’s still just about time to send me something so drop me an email for full details.

Blessings on your brew, Penny 🙂