Steampunk fiction, reviews and interviews

Posts tagged “book reviews

Lovely Library: Muliebral The Bald… oops, I mean Bold, sorry!

Good evening and welcome to my awe inspiring athenaeum of praiseworthy pamphlets – or as that ridiculous octopus calls it, my ‘lovely library.’ 


I am the ghost of Perilous Wight and here in the bowels of the city of Lancaster, in the disused tunnels of an underground train system that never was, I have made it my mission to collect, catalogue and review every book that our self-proclaimed ‘supreme ruler of the universe’ and his mincing minions have banned from the bookshelves of the new world.


But I have not always been a bad tempered ghost in charge of an underground library. Once upon a time I was a bad tempered gentleman who had devoted his life to the collection of evidence which might perhaps one day bring about the downfall of our oppressive overlord, Wiz.


Not to be put off by death, I have struggled to find a way to continue my work and I have indeed found a method by which I can sporadically leave this library, to which I am otherwise bound, and travel abroad.


This method is known as The Opprobrious Pith Helmet.


By securing the services of a less than reputable Wizard I have had my soul partially bound to an ancient piece of explorational headwear and am therefore able to possess the wearer for short periods of time, with their consent…hm? Did I have to drug them first? Well how very rude of you of course I did not have to drug them…I mean the very idea! 


So this evening, I most honoured to be occupying the form of  authour Jaq D Hawkins and I… yes her hair is supposed to look like that. I think. Well, alright there may have been a very minor altercation with a disgruntled Bar Keep who mistook my innocent enquiries about leather bound tomes for something else entirely, but I managed to set him straight in the end… no, no those are not bruises on her knuckles, I didn’t hit him that hard. 


Anyway I do not have time for an interrogation on the moral use of other people’s bodies, can you not see that I have just returned from a most important business trip? I have new books everywhere and I must review and catalogue them  and… what’s that? What are you wittering about? Help? You’d like to help me transcribe? You’ve brought along some cherry brandy to keep out the chills as we work?


Well, I suppose that puts a very different slant on things doesn’t it? Very well then, I will dictate a short extract of each story and a review, and you can pour…I mean type… a-hem… 


Nav Logan has an undeniable talent for comedy. I first came across this author when we were both invited to submit stories for the Dreamtime Dragons Anthology. I was well impressed that he was able to make getting eaten by a dragon funny!


Muliebral the Bald (or Bold) has compounded my opinion that Logan could give Terry Pratchett some serious competition in the area of human observation comedy, while setting the story within a believable historical fiction context. He can even do the accents while keeping them understandable, no small feat!


The story is about a king who has two daughters whom he feels he must marry off to generate heirs in the old Medieval patriarchal system. However, the girls are good fighters, being descendants of Boudicca and all, and Muliebral, more than her sister Chastity, sees no reason why they need a man to protect them or fill the role of heir to the kingdom.


Her basic attitude is summed up in a quote from her maternal grandmother, who clearly never approved of her daughter’s choice of husband, king or not:


Todhmhii’s (Tommy) one regret was that he had no sons to pass his kingdom on to. His wife, Hayleigh, had given him two daughters: Chastity and Muliebral, and they were as different as chalk and cheese. His mother-in-law, Lannau, regularly and publicly scorned him for his inability to produce any male heirs. 

“If I  told our Hayleigh once, I must have told her a hundred times,” the old hag would mutter to anyone who was daft enough to heed her, “You need to marry a strong virile Iceni man and you’ll be blessed with godlike children, not go gallivanting off with a worthless bog-trotting Briganti brigand who can’t tell the difference between a ewe in heat and a tavern wench! My grandmother, Queen Boudicca, would turn in her grave at the shame of it. Her last surviving kinswoman marrying a foul-mouthed, crotch-dribbling, goat fondler!”

How Mulibral goes about getting around her father’s insistence on following tradition not too subtly reflects a trope popular in Classical stories about strong women, but it is delivered with Logan’s characteristic ribald humour and is entertaining from start to finish. The quality of writing is superb and the characters come to life from the page with seemingly no effort.


This is definitely one of my own favourite stories from the collection!


And I think we had better leave it there for this evening don’t you? The bottle is dry and I must be getting this body back to its rightful owner… hm? What’s that you say? You don’t think I should give it back in this state? Well we’ve only had a few haven’t we? It is hardly my fault if Jaq is a light weight… hic… 







library image courtesy of by Johnathan Adrianzen

Morning Cuppa: My White Dahlia

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen! Welcome back to Max and Collin’s deliciously dark and delightfully delinquent parlour located within the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster.

True some have called it the dingy , disused cellar of an abandoned fish factory but we consider that such people have no imagination.

You find us this morning surprisingly glad of our relocation to this veritable fortress of subterranean artisan workmanship – having endured the screams of the poor unfortunate souls who were unable to find shelter from the flesh eating Liver Birds last night we are now counting our blessings! But, as ever, we are in need of a good cup of tea and something excellent to read whilst we sip it…



We are utterly besotted with the writing of CM Blackwood, but after being thrilled by the horror and suspense of ‘Who Murdered Dr Damien’, we were not sure what to expect from this first book in her new floral romances series. Slowly, slowly, page by page we were ensnared by this intensely dark and heart breaking novel. Nothing is two dimensional here, nothing can be taken at face value as the layers of character and plot depth built until we felt that same psychological intensity that is the hallmark of good horror writing… but this is a romance novel isn’t it? Yes, yes it is, but it is a romance novel for fans of deep, dark, psychologically thrilling fiction.

The power imbalance between Adette Salazar , desperate and vulnerable assistant, and her new employer, the infamous and alluring author Dahlia Frobisher , is stark but both women are strong, passionate and determined to succeed in the post-war London that is still a male dominated playing field.

Cautious friendship develops slowly and awkwardly into a strained but passionate romance between the two women as guards are lowered and raised in an enthralling emotional interplay between two desperately lonely women, whose horrific pasts sit like grim ravens upon their shoulders. Will Adette and Dahlia be able to leave their demons behind them and lose themselves in the loving relationship they both crave? Or are the ghosts of the past too powerful to be forgotten?

This novel left us exhausted, exhilarated and ravenous for more – we can’t wait for the next book in the floral romances series.

And now that is the kettle singing, won’t you join us in a refreshingly delicate brew of Jasmine White Tea from Rosieleatea? 

We wish you a most satisfying afternoon and hope you will join us again tomorrow for elevenses, when we will be showing you our first #inktober instalment,

So, until then, please be always

Utterly Yourself.



Morning Cuppa: Amster Damned #steampunkfiction

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen! Welcome back after a long and exhausting summer, to Max and Collin’s delightfully delinquent and salubriously seditious parlour located in the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster.

True, perhaps, some have called it a Smuggler’s Cove which is  haunted by scurvy-ridden sky dogs and liable to give you the plague, but we consider that such people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

You find us on this, bright but blustery autumn day, soaking our tentacles in cider vinegar (yes, sorry about the smell) and counting our earnings. Having sold excruciating amounts of lemonade, we should have easily enough to pay the rent for the next month or so and a good thing to because as the nights draw in, the Good Folk become far less tolerant of street peddlars and urchins.. and of course Lord Ashton’s flesh eating Liver Birds will be waking up from their long summer sleep to help enforce the curfew… so we are far better off curled up inside with a nice cup of tea and an excellent book. And, of course we have both!


Our tea this morning is… smugglers’ spice


And to accompany it we have….

amster damned.jpg


“Five and twenty sky-skiffs

Skirring through the dark

Brandy for the parson

Baccy for the clerk

Laces for a lady

Letters for a spy

crystals for a clocker

roundshot to make rozzers cry

Watch the floor, me darling

Whilst proud aeronauts skirr by

Atween the silver stars

in a black and moonless sky …”


This book is EVERYTHING we love about Steampunk. An exquisitely well crafted adventure with characters to die for, this is Falkner meets Hodder with the most elegant Ada Lovelace twist we have ever encountered.

Competent PI Alice Kittyhawk is sent to Amsterdam on a routine mission to discover the whereabouts of an old family acquaintance, Dr Braxton Beesworth, but under the imposing shadow of the formidable Waag, with its Gestapo -esq Time Police, and in the company of smugglers, seditious book dealers an exiled Admiral, a cat called Fiveways and the magnificent Furry George, Alice finds herself delving into the dark and complex and world of temporal travel where morality is blurred and the paths of duty and honour do not always lead in the same direction.

Oh, and if you have enjoyed Nils Visser’s short story The Oval Sky Room you will be over the moon to see some much-loved characters making an appearance too!

We were so distraught when the story ended and we had to put this one back on the shelf  that we emptied an entire caddy of Lapsang in one sitting, but we are very happy to hear that Nils will be paying our dear Mrs Baker a visit in her little soup kitchen on Wednesday, so there is something to look forward to!

In the meantime, we wish you a devastatingly delicious morning, filled sauce and spice in equal measure, and we invite you back to join us for elevenses tomorrow so, until then, please be always,

Utterly Yourself.

Morning Cuppa: Lightning Wolves and Lemonade

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome…pant…back…pant…to… oh I give up! This parched heat is not conducive to the comfort of us aquatic aboriginals, my tentacles are so dry they are beginning to crack and Max is being un-necessarily Machiavellian with the lemonade.

Still, at least we now have an enormous stash of bottles to sell and today and tomorrow we will therefore be sharing some amazing lemonade recipes for you to try yourselves, but first, let us find something splendid to read… like this…

Lightning Wolves Cover 333x500.jpg

Lightning Wolves is the second book in the Clockwork Legion series and you can read our review of the first book here. The second book follows the same key characters that we fell in love with from the first book , former sheriff Ramon and Persian healer / animal-empath Fatemeh, as they strive against the invading powers both of their own world, and others.

The Russians are still invading America and although some ground has been won with the help of the mechanical owls, parts of America are still under threat. Meanwhile, the influence of the mysterious alien entity Legion, continues to loom…

The plot is as gripping, complex and intense as the first book and we meet some new characters – mysterious samurai, wise old women and ex-bounty hunters – who carry on the welcome diversity and depth established in the first novel, this is a welcome refreshment from the ‘white-washing’ or stereotyped ‘tokenism’ of some novels in the genre.

Overall, this was another  fantastic steampunk read for serious fans of the genre, filled with all the re-worked history, science-fiction, magic and fast-paced adventure you could wish for, we heartily recommend Clockwork Legion and can’t wait to find out what is going to happen in the next book.

But until then, you were promised lemonade and here it is… (just click on each picture to take you to the recipe)










There now, hopefully that has quenched your thirst on this sweltering summer’s day… pity me that my tight ar…er… fisted gentleman friend will not allow this poor octopus so much as a drip to wet his whistle. Pff.

We wish you a very moist and refreshing morning filled with zest and without any pitch in sight, and we will be back tomorrow with some news, some forward planning and lashings more luscious lemonade so, until then, please be always

Utterly Yourself.

Morning Cuppa: Jennings and Jennings Paranormal Investigators

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s luxuriously libatious and rigorously refreshing parlour located within the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster.

True some have called it a refuge for Yellowists, where the company are all sour and full of bitterness and where the refreshments leave a nasty taste in One’s mouth, but we consider that such unadventurous individuals are not used to adding birds eye chillies to their morning Lady Grey … it is an acquired taste and one we discovered, quite by accident, in the depths of the Jentacular Jungle…

But I digress! Please, come in, step around the mountains of discarded lemon husks and… no, no don’t worry that is only sugar syrup, I’m afraid that making lemonade is an extremely messy business but you know these tentacles come in very handy and as you can see we have quite a mountain of bottles filled now and ready to sell.

But it is rather exhausting work so, I think it is time to kick our tentacles up on the table, pop on a brew of Lemon Meringue Tea from Post Tea  and open a marvellous book, like this one…

casebook one cover copy medium


“Jennings and Jennings, Paranormal Investigators, available for hire in the Home Counties. Are you plagued by supernatural goings on or troubled by fantastical events? We can help, using the most modern scientific advances, to rid you of even the most ancient of terrors. 3 pence an hour, double on Sunday.”

We have been gleefully following the adventures of Sir John and Marie Jennings via the online journal The Benthic Times  for quite some time now so when we heard they were publishing their first casebook we simply had to get our tentacles on it at once!

This collection of four Steampunk Paranormal Mysteries stands out as something particularly special. The mysteries are real, intense and engaging – from ghostly apparitions to machinating mesmerists and ghastly fiends to mysterious missing treasures, there is an enthralling mixture of Victorian folklore and imagination brought together in each carefully crafted adventure.

In beautiful balance to this serious backbone, the over-enthusiastic Sir John, brandishing his alarming home made detecting devices, is called in to solve each case. Thankfully, his compassionate and competent wife, Marie, is usually able to use her ‘intuition’ to keep them on the right track and the resolutions are always both satisfying and surprising.

Fans of Mark Hodder are bound to appreciate this delightful mix of paranormal mystery and comedic Steampunk, and we certainly can’t wait for the next casebook to be released.

We wish you all a very marvellous morning filled with sweetness and spice in equal measure, and until we see you again,

please, be always

Utterly Yourself

Elevenses: Flower magic and a Steampunk short story

Good Morning ladies and gentlemen! I realise you are all probably feeling a little eleven o clockish at this hour but I must beg your forgiveness and delay the cake for a moment because we have a very special guest in the parlour this morning!

Our lovely Shonchavani friend Mrs Belle Sykes has kindly left her Tea Smuggling Tramper-Van in the capable hands of her husband Gord and their 20 children (whose names I seem to remember are, Yan, Tan, Arthur, Martha, Pip, Seth, Heather, Hogarth, Dorothy, Richard, Yan-Richard, Tan-Richard, Arthur-Richard, Martha-Richard, Barmcake, Yan-Barmcake, Tan-Barmcake, Arthur-Barmcake, Martha-Barmcake and Diggory.) and braved the long trek down here to the docks in order to show us some ways of productively using the fruits of our deflowering labours.

The Shonchavani are a diaspora of the Jentacular Isle but, as the Jentacular Isle is believed by most to be purely mythical (I can personally vouch for the fact that it is not!) the queen has decreed that they must have come from Bohemia. They first arrived in Ire during the reign of Henry The Eighth and the mechanical wonders they brought with them caused them to be instantly branded as witches. It wasn’t until Elizabeth came to the throne that this persecution eased up a little and a deal was struck – if the Shonchavani would abandon their nomadic lifestyle (ie – hiding and running from the witch hunters) and share their technological knowledge with the queen’s wizards they would be allowed to live peacefully in squalid little hovels just like any other peasant. Some agreed and became known as Tinkers, others did not. When Ann became queen she struck another deal, this time with the travelling clans – if they would agree to transport the queen’s tea safely from her plantations to the elite county of Devon in their mechanised Tramper-Vans and prevent it falling into the hands of land pirates, all accusations of witchcraft would be dropped. The Shonchavani are an enterprising folk and some of their very best friends and relatives are pirates… needless to say they immediately agreed to this potentially lucrative arrangement.

Sadly the recent introduction of skyway travel has meant less and less work for the ‘Tea Trampers’ and they have had to find other ingenious ways of making ends meet and so Belle has kindly agreed to pimp her heritage to us and show us how  quick silver can be made by making and selling the ancient magical herbal thingies that her people have used for centuries to survive on the road… hm? …. sorry did you say something about ethics or did you cough? Oh you were just clearing your throat, sorry, do have some tea…

1. Ye Most Olde And Ancient And Bone Fide Magikal Cure For Coughs and Colds

Take as many flowers of violet, white horehound and mullein as you can fit into a large saucepan, cover with boiling water and simmer gently until the mix has reduced by about half. Strain off the flowers and add 500g of sugar. Bring back to the boil and simmer for a further 20 mins or until the mixture coats the back of a cold spoon (you want a syrup, not jam but if you accidentally boil too long you can still use the jam it will have the same medicinal properties!) Pour the syrup (which is a soothing expectorant) into dark glass bottles, seal and keep in a cool place. Take one tsp as needed for a dry or chesty cough up to four times a day.

2. Most Magikkal And Traditional Healing Balm For Skin Irritations

Take 1kg of lard (or coconut oil or petroleum jelly if you prefer) and add to a very large saucepan with as many buttercup flowers (not the green steams or leaves) as you can manage. Melt gently over a low heat for 10 – 20 mins until the mix is liquid and bright yellow (do not boil). Strain off the flowers and add 20 – 40 drops of rose or lavender oil if desired, this will add scent and boost the soothing properties of the balm but may be too much for the most sensitive skins so use with caution. Pour into dark glass jars quickly before it sets, seal and keep in a cool dark place. Use as a healing cream for dry skin, eczema, bruises, minor cuts and grazes.


3. A Certain Tonic For The Quarrelsome Wife, Promotes Marital Bliss Guaranteed 

Take as many flowers of the Pink that you can gather and simmer in a large pan for one hour. Strain off the flowers, return the water to the pan with 500g sugar. Simmer gently for about 20 mins to form a syrup. Pour into glass bottles and seal. Drink one tablespoon of this syrup dissolved in a glass of wine as required. Double the dose during the most trying time of the month. Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back.


Now then, while Max rolls up his shirt sleeves, fastens his goggles and sets about t help with the brewing of flowers and and boiling of fat, I really feel we ought to step out of the way… s let’s sit down over here and enjoy some calming primrose tea and open a good book shall we?



The Brides Of Saint Michael are not your average group of Holy Sisters, when an ancient enemy leaves his calling card Agnes Broadshield and her militia of Women In Waistcoats take to the streets to prevent the evil creature and his minions from exacting their revenge but even as we close the final pages of the book, it seems this is not so much an ending as a beginning…

This is a splendidly crafted short story, a well balanced mixture of steampunk / gaslamp and mythology which we found engaging from the outset. If you are looking for a quick steampunk fix with a strong plot, well developed characters and a good mixture of familiarity and uniqueness then this little gem is the book for you.

Hm? Sorry? No music today? Oh well there isn’t really much room here to set up the radio so… oh well alright then I suppose if you could hold the areal out of the window … yes that’s it …


Thankyou very much… is your arm still alright there? Oh dear, well could you stay there for just a little bit longer I’m hoping to catch the news….


Morning Cuppa: A World Of Temperance

Good morning ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to Max and Collin’s flamboyantly flowery and lavishly leaf-laden parlour located within the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster!

True, some have called it a hot house of scandal where faded blooms wilt amid the floral chintzes and vile things blossom like fungi but we consider that such people are merely inextricably stuck up their own tea spouts.

Well, as they say, there certainly is no place like home! Running from irate farmers after one has accidentally set fire to their barn used to be an easy thing apparently, a ‘merry childhood pursuit’ Max called it. Hmph. Not so in these days of weaponised automaton farm workers… we didn’t make it back to Lancaster until after the curfew and for a dreadful moment, as the flock of flesh eating Liver Birds descended, I really didn’t think Max was going to muster the strength to carry both me and our ill-gotten-gains the last few miles to safety. But luckily, he was wearing his spot-of-bother-boots which come equipped with tiny vials of super-strength lapsang for just such emergencies and with me wielding the ray gun in one tentacle and clinging to Max’s head for dear life with the other seven, we managed to escape relatively unscathed.

And so here we are, having deflowered the countryside and brought it all home to brighten up our dear little parlour, and now we are in desperate need of a splendid cup of something and some marvellous literature to accompany it… and of course we have both…

Our tea this morning is this beautiful summer flower tea from Chloe’s Helpful Herbs

And our book is one we have been eager to get our tentacles into for a while now…



Another splendid helping of steampunk insanity from mr ichabod temperance and miss Persephone plumtartt, this second adventure is even more action packed than the first with more parody, pastiche, punning and political pandemonium than you can shake your top hat at! (Max has decided to read the entire book again from the beginning and note down every hat-tip to L Frank Baum)

It took us a few pages to really get into this adventure as a lot of back story was fed into a short space but on the plus side if you have not read the first book that means you will swiftly pick up on the facts needed to enjoy this next episode.

And what an episode! The revelationary comet that sparked off episodes of genius in the human population during book one has now caused the same phenomenon in the animal kingdoms and they have decided they don,t much like being hunted into extinction and have begun to fight back, but will they decide to help or hinder our heroes in their battle to save humanity from its own evil inclinations? Another splendid steampunk romp that had us shedding tears of laughter throughout and we shall definitely be reading and reviewing the next book in the series soon.


Now then, our souls revived, our oracular pet is straining to be released so let us put him into his tea cup and see what his far seeing tentacles have plucked from the aether for us this morning…


Hm, now what is the little villain trying to insinuate? You know I really wish sometimes we had never picked it up off that beach, its sense of humour is suspicious and disturbing. Hm? What’s that? Oh… Max says it is probably trying to be helpful, well, we shall see Max, we shall see…

In the meantime we wish you all a blooming marvellous morning and hope you will join us tomorrow for elevenses when we will be finding useful things to do with all these flowers and reading a splendid steampunk short story from Amy Kuivalainen so until then please be always

utterly yourself.



Morning Cuppa: The Tea Machine

Good morning ladies and gentlemen and welcome to Max and Collin’s breathtakingly brew-tastic parlour located within the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster!

True some have called it a tasteless affair offered up by the dregs of society but we consider that such individuals are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

Well we hear that in your dimension you are celebrating something called Beltane? We hope that is going splendidly for you all! Celebrations abound here in Ire as well with our annual Decimation Of The Flowers ritual (or deflowering ceremony as some folks call it) and so we humbly ask that you forgive our absence yesterday as we were swept along with the tide of evil cultism… you know how it is…

Wiz has decreed that wild flowers can only possibly bloom from seeds pilfered from government plantations and are therefore illegal and must be destroyed on sight. Flowers, after all, contain nectar which bees might use to make honey and then wild honey might be illegally harvested by anyone, and then how would the Wizards regulate the national sugar intake? Anarchy would ensue.

So, in each of the seven counties this month you will find troupes of people using home made apparatus and ingenious devices to rid their locality of wild flowers in all their many forms and destroy any bees nests whilst avoiding being stung. It is all highly amusing and, best of all, it is quite possible in the confusion to finger-smith lots of Percy (that is, lots of sweet edible flowers and honey for one’s ‘personal use’) without The Good Folk noticing. (Of course a diligent gent can snag Wild flowers at any time of year, there is always something in bloom, but evidently Wiz hasn’t cottoned on to this fact yet)

But before we embark on our morning deflowering mission we must fuel up with enormous amounts of tea and  good literature and, naturally, we have both. Our tea this morning is the festive Blooming Tea from ZakkaCasa and our book is the tea machine by Gill McKnight…



Millicent is an intelligent woman of independent means whose life couldn’t be more perfect, that is until her scatterbrained genius of a brother,Hubert ,decides to decimate her best Parasol to use as the lever of his time machine… as Millicent tries to reclaim her beloved property she inadvertently triggers the machine and finds herself plunged headlong into the future of an alternate reality where the woman she loves is in mortal danger. As Millicent tries to save her beloved Sangfroid from what seems like an inevitable and violent death something, or someone, seems to be pulling the strings of time and space into a noose around their necks. Can Millicent, Sangfroid and their friends escape the machinations of evil tea cultists and giant space squid and discover the temporal anomaly that has lead to the rise of the tea goddess and her terrifying steam powered Empire?

This well paced steampunk adventure has everything you could wish for, the whimsy of Gail Carriger, the intrigue and intensity of Meredith Rose and a cast of characters we instantly fell in love with; we laughed, we cried, we basked in the classic Wells/ Verne flavouring and we almost forgot to breathe at the scary bits! We cannot wait for the next book in the series to be released next year.

Now then,our poor oracular pet is straining to be unleashed so let us pop him into his teacup and see what he has plucked from the aether for us this morning…


Well REALLY! What is the impudent creature trying to suggest? That we switch our beloved tea to coffee instead? Hm… I am beginning to suspect that little cur of insubordination and possible defection of our noble revolutionary efforts. Coffee indeed! Pff.

We wish you all a very pleasant morning, whatever cult you belong to, and we hope to see you back in the parlour again soon, hopefully with armfuls of pilfered posies, but until then, please be always

Utterly Yourself






Morning Cuppa: Secrets

Good morning ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s superiorly sub-aquatic parlour located within the desperately deluged city of Lancaster! True some have called it a wet weekend with only drips for company but we consider that such people are from less than hardy stock. And dashed rude to boot.

You find us this morning bailing out after three months worth of rain has fallen in the space of a single evening. Sack cloth roofing is not built to stand such an onslaught and so we have spent a desperate night, myself using a tea cup in each of my eight tentacles to catch the heavens as they fell and Max fending of the Liver Birds with his aether-colliding energy ray pistol.

We are both exhausted, the tea has gone for a Burton and we are in desperate need of some reviving  literature. Fortunately we have managed to salvage some from the flood…



This is the first book in the Steamship Chronicles but we highly recommend reading the prequel Safe Haven first so that you come to this having already fallen in love with the main characters (and we promise you will fall in love!)

In a world where’naturals’ (those who are able to hear the dreams of machines and use aether to make those dreams real) are feared, despised and locked away in asylums, Lily and her husband Henry think they have found the perfect safe haven for Lily’s ‘natural’ sister, Sam. But it soon becomes aparent that even Henry’s country estate is not going to provide Sam with the chance to truly live a life of freedom and safety. With Lily’s health in rapid decline, Sam bravely sets off for the continent where Henry has found a colony of ‘naturals’ living in peace and safety. But Sam soon discovers that her ‘gift’ can be a dangerous thing which she struggles to control away from Lily’s calming influence…

Nathaniel Bowden wants desperately too leave his upper class heritage behind and work his way up to become a Steamship Captain. Hardworking, capable and honourable almost to the point of self destruction, Nat has won the respect of the captain and crew but the gruff engineer remains prejudiced against him and when mysterious things begin to happen in the engine room he is quick to insist that Nat must be to blame. Desperate to defend both his honour and his life, Nat sets out to capture the real culprit…

This story had us in tears from the first page. A tense steampunk adventure full of high adrenaline moments with a warm heart running through it thanks to the truly lovable cast of characters. The story has a real ‘coming of age’ flavour to it as both Nat and Sam are forced slowly to control their impetuous natures as they realise the effect their actions have on those around them and they both move from egocentric naivete to the self sacrifice that is the bedrock of true friendship.

This book ended on such a cliff hanger that we had to plunge straight into the next one in the same sitting and will be reviewing it shortly!

Now then, as our cephalopterois is sulking under a tea cosy giving us a look which seems to say ‘I tried to warn you…’ there is nothing more to do but wish you all a very arid afternoon and invite you back to join us for elevenses tomorrow when we will hopefully be in a better position to receive visitors… and of course spin you the tale of our dreadful visitor last week… so, until then please be always,

Utterly Yourself

Morning Cuppa: An Oxford Holiday

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s formidably flamboyant and delinquently day-dreamy parlour located within the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster!

True, some have called it a barren affair; its charms a figment of fiendish imagination, but we consider that such people spend too much time indulging in unsavoury gossip.

You find us this morning reminiscing about the innocent delights of youth… at least I think that is what we are doing.. we are coming out of the end of an all night tiffin session with the lovely Miss Ottis, our local Milliner. I’m not sure Max has noticed that she gave her leave over an hour ago and he has just finished regaling her empty chair with a charming story about how the poet Christina Biscotti first introduced him to something called a sherbet rocket.

I confess I couldn’t follow most of it (sweet delights like that may be illegal in the land f Ire but below the sea they are simply unobtainable, as even the most intrepid cake smuggler does not think to put on a diving suit and peddle their wares along the sea bed.) but the whole thing seemed to take place on a punt in Oxford and ended in a near death collision with a steamer.

Anyway, Max has now moved on to rambling about Christina’s Mostly Awful Poetry and that can only end in tears so I think it is time we opened something splendid to read and put the kettle on  again for a nice grounding cup of Wildflower Serenity Tea from DaisyandMallow

An Oxford Holiday (An Ingenious Mechanical Devices Short Story Book 1) by [Jorgensen, Kara]

Our book this morning is An Oxford Holiday, another beautiful offering from the mistress of ingenious mechanical devices, Kara Jorgensen. An oxford holiday is a short companion story to the series and falls between books two and three.

Lovers Adam and Immanuel have been separated since their last adventure, Adam lives in London while Immanuel is finishing his studies in Oxford. Although the nightmare reality of Immanuel’s capture and torture by the gentleman devil is now over, the Oxford bully boys continue to make his life a misery and his experiences have left scars that are both physical and emotional. He is overjoyed at the prospect of Adam coming to stay for a weekend, even if they cant let their feelings show in public it will be good to have a friend as company, and then f course Adam will have his own hotel room… But things don’t go as planned as an emergency at the university means that Adam and Immanuel may not get the break they planned for after all.

If you haven’t already read the first two books it is possible to enjoy this as a sweet gay romance story on its own as Kara does a great job of filtering in the necessary facts without any annoying information dumping. What newcomers may not fully appreciate, and this is the reason devotees of the series will want to make sure they grab this little bonus book, is just how much Immanuel has suffered in the past, how much this precious time alone with Adam means to them both. Immanuel is an adorable character and we desperately want him to find happiness with Adam if their plans for the future work out, but the subtle threat to that at the very end of the book implies that even London may not be the sanctuary he is hoping for, we suspect that Immanuel and Adam have more trying times ahead and we can’t wait to read the next book

And now we must pop our oracular pet into its cup and see what its tentacles have plucked from the aether for us this morning…


That is truly ingenious! I wonder if he could make us one for the tea… we wish you all a very sweet and steamy afternoon, and hope you will join us for elevenses tomorrow so,until then, please be always

Utterly Yourself