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Currently Browsing: steampunk
Jun
8

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Golden Spider by Anne Renwick

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Golden Spider by Anne Renwick Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Elemental Web Chronicles Book: The Golden Spider Author: Anne Renwick Narrator: Henrietta Meire Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Elemental Web Chronicles #1 Genre: Steampunk Romance Source: Tantor Audio The Golden Spider Set in a time when England and Germany have heightened tensions, spy networks are vast, and the ton continues with its balls and social obligations unaware of the secrets around them, Lady Amanda wars with her father, the Duke, over her ability to attend medical school. Amanda is driven by her keen intelligence and a guilt over her brother’s injured leg, to produce a clockwork device to repair nerve damage. Under pressure to find a husband within the year, Amanda courts a classmate, but finds no sparks. However, when her work captures the attention of Lord Thornton, noted physician and neurologist, Lady Amanda finally knows what it is like to have her mind appreciated. Lord Thornton lives with the guilt over the betrayal of his best friend in his damaged leg that will never heal. As a spy for the Queen herself, he finds Amanda’s work to be the break he needs in a rash of Gypsy murders. However much he is attracted to both her brain and her body, Thornton must keep the relationship professional, especially since he’s not on the market for a wife. The Golden Spider is a delicious treat for fans of gadgets, science, and steampunk romance! Right from the start, I was drawn into this exciting mystery, trying to discover who is behind the Gypsy murders. Watching Amanda’s mind work to piece the puzzle together is fascinating, and made all the much better as she and Thornton grow closer. I love the science of the story – the author does not brush over Amanda and Thornton’s work, but rather gives listeners the details of both test subjects and gadgets. While the engineering, science, action, and adventure is completely fascinating, it is the romance between Lord Thornton and Lady Amanda that gives The Golden Spider heart and makes it such a wonderful story. The pair are meant for one another; not only do they share a passion for science and ingenuity, but they are able to openly be themselves with each other. Thornton doesn’t trust easily, but he finds a confidant in Amanda. Working side by side, their passion grows until they finally give into their burning desires. The story is read by British-born actress Henrietta Meire,...
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Dec
7

Review: The Memory Thief by Sarina Dorie

Review: The Memory Thief by Sarina Dorie The Memory Thief Author: Sarina Dorie Reviewer: Una Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: The Memory Thief is a different type of steampunk series.  This Victorian era science-fiction novel is an interesting world.  Suffice to say, I enjoyed it and look forward to the next one. First, let me say that this was more mystery/adventure romance than science-fiction. Though it is science-fiction, the science and steampunk qualities are in the background. The plight of Felicity in recovering her memories is gripping. The planet and history of the Jomon people is rich and fascinating. I really loved the world I found myself in. The memory moss, the intriguing creatures, and the evolution that has obviously taken place are all quite intriguing.  I truly found myself lost in the world. The novel is told from Felicity’s viewpoint and utilizes flashbacks. Some of the flashbacks are consciously done when she is partaking in a memory swap. However, some chapters are started with a moment from the past. Though they are interesting and give background to the novel, I felt that they stunted the flow of the story a little, but not enough to inhibit my enjoyment. I enjoyed the courtship between Felicity and Nipa (the ruler of the Jomon tribe). Though some of the novel is fairly easy to figure out, I was still surprised by some of the past. Felicity’s strength of character is equal to her kindness to the indigenous people. I enjoyed her intelligence, especially when up against Nipa’s cunning. Nipa’s character was equally charming and ruthless.  I enjoyed trying to figure him out. Felicity’s intended, Merriweather, seems to be a filler character.  It is not surprising when the Jomon use him as a patsy.  However, he grew on me.  He seems very out of place in the world, and in the novel, especially in Felicity’s eyes.  He is very naïve and innocent.  More innocent than I would think an aristocratic male would be in Victorian England.  However, I think there is more to him and I hope to learn it in the next novel. I am reluctant to give anything away, but the emotions of the novel caught me off guard.  This book is about remembering and recovering from the past. The past is more than just events, but emotions as well. Once I finished the novel, I could see how the novel dances slowly to the truth. I really enjoyed the flow and the overall crafting of...
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Oct
10

Review: Mission: Improper by Bec McMaster

Review: Mission: Improper by Bec McMaster Mission: Improper Author: Bec McMaster Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: In the three years since the rebellion, the queen has instituted reforms that give more power to the humans, Mechs, and non-blue bloods, while diminishing the control of the Echelon. This isn’t sitting well with some, and there have been a series of unsolvable crimes aiming to lessen the queen’s effectiveness as ruler. The Duke of Malloryn has taken it upon himself to solve the mystery and put an end to the terror. He’s assembled a team of elite to find out what group has been causing riots and problems. Caleb Brynes, a highly respected blue blood Nighthawk, and Ingrid Miller, a verwulfen spy have both accepted the challenge of being part of Malloryn’s team. Mission: Improper is the first book in the new London Steampunk spin-off, taking place three years into the future after the final book in the original series. I love that the author has found a way to continue this exciting series – keeping the same formula of action-packed mystery coupled with sexually-charged romance. The mix of paranormal, alternate history, historic setting, and steampunk mech is unique and engrossing. Mission: Improper expands the established mythology, but not so greatly as to become eye-rolling. The author has added enough new, mixed with a lot of the old, to create a whole new set of concerns for our heroes. Caleb and Ingrid make for a perfect pair. I admire that the author didn’t toss unnecessary drama in their way, but let the story and characters dictate the speed and direction of the romance. They don’t have an easy path, and I like that both are uncertain about giving of themselves fully (emotionally, not physically). Each has a jaded history that puts wariness into their decision making, yet they also want to make sure not to hurt the other. It’s honest and raw emotion like this, that won me over: “I am going to pursue you, Ingrid Miller, with the intention of never letting you go. So fair warning…”  “It’s no longer about winning your body, Ingrid. When I finish these challenges, I intend to win your heart.” Ms. McMaster creates some of the best romances out there: always steamy and sexy while simultaneously emotionally gripping. However, it’s not just the love story that keeps me coming back again and again. Every story centers on some sort of mystery and huge investigation. I become...
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Jun
13

Review: The Ghost Rebellion by Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris

Review: The Ghost Rebellion by Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris The Ghost Rebellion Author: Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: The Ghost Rebellion is the latest exciting installment in the ultra-creative and madly crazy Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences steampunk series. Co-authors Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris take readers on a fantastical journey though an alternate history, filled with familiar names and places. This time around, our favorite Ministry agents are chasing down leads on the evil Dr. Jekyll, which takes them to India. Meeting up with an old friend, the pair gets involved in helping eliminate a dangerous rebel uprising known as the Ghost Rebellion. Once again, the authors have created a high-action adventure filled with twists and turns. However, while The Ghost Rebellion is richly detailed and full of surprises, it is not as intricately complex as its predecessors. And this is a GOOD THING, because in the past couple of books, I’ve found myself confused and lost. This time around, I felt that the story was much more straightforward, with pieces of the puzzle falling into place seamlessly (even with the twists). I was able to see some twists well in advance of the reveals, yet at times, the authors still caught me off guard. While the Ghost Rebellion mystery plays out by the end of the book, there is a generous mix of the continuing storylines involving The House of Usher, Dr. Jekyll, and Sophia del Morte. Additionally, the authors continue to toss in the entertaining “Interludes,” focusing on a side-assignment run by Agent Bruce Campbell. There are still plenty of open avenues for additional heart-stopping adventures. While the MoPO series is a steampunk adventure series, romance continues to blossom and deepen between Eliza Braun and Wellington Books, and l adore that they are finally out in the open about it. After watching the pair come together as partners and then friends, witnessing the continuing development in their relationship is emotionally rewarding. The alternating POVs between each gives the additional details that help create a well-balance, loving relationship, and a well-oiled pair of working agents. I think this line from Eliza sums up quite a bit of their relationship: “It was strange how much she had come to love Wellington Books, and yet still enjoyed working his levers.” Overall, I enjoyed my return to The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, and look forward to more adventures with Books and Braun. I get caught up in each exciting adventure, which...
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Dec
16

Review: Clockwork Samurai by Jeannie Lin

Review: Clockwork Samurai by Jeannie Lin Clockwork Samurai Author: Jeannie Lin Reviewer: Una Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: I have waited for the sequel to Gunpowder Alchemy, the novel ended with so many questions.  Suffice to say, Clockwork Samurai does not disappoint, though I will say the plot thickens. At the conclusion of the previous novel I was left with a few questions.  What will happen between Chang-wei and Jin?  Will they be able to quell the rebels?  Will they be able to stop the British invasion?  Though none of these issues are resolved, each plot thread does progress.  The plight of Jin’s country is gripping – made more so by the issue of a source of opium that is deadly upon first use.  However it seems to not be of a concern of the powers that be – especially as Jin discovers that the Emperor is indulging in it. Jin has been promoted to a palace physician.  Though it seems like a noble post, one that allows her to give her mother and brother a better life, it is not without disadvantages. Though she is the physician in charge of the Emperor’s concubines, there still seems to be political minefields in this position.  Not to mention working in the palace means she could catch the Emperor’s eye, something Jin does not desire.  Due to fears that the Emperor is intrigued by Jin, she asks for a reassignment.  However, be careful what you ask for, her reassignment puts her back in a new adventure with Chang-wei – one that they may not return from.  The journey to Japan in hopes to make an alliance was a nail-biting journey.  The depiction of the county, the culture, and the introduction of new characters was enchanting.  Though it doesn’t go smoothly, it was a fascinating journey. I enjoyed the continuing romance of Chang-wei and Jin.  Though it is obvious they desire each other, something holds Chang-wei back.  Though it is not entirely clear to Jin, she can tell that they have a strong connection and desire for each other.  Yet, because of their positions and the turmoil, they seem unable to explore it.  This romance is well woven into the rest of the story and the balance continues to be well done.  I hope that they will find a way to be with each other.  It seems that they are well suited. The journey to Japan was utterly fascinating.  Though nothing seems to go as planned (or...
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Oct
14

Author Guest Post: Alexis Radcliff

Author Guest Post: Alexis Radcliff Today we have author Alexis Radcliff here celebrating her newest title, A Vanishing Glow (Mystech Arcanum series #1) and sharing a bit about writing steampunk. Please welcome Alexis to That’s What I’m Talking About! On Writing Steampunk: Brass, Glass, and Victorian Sass Steampunk is exploding right now: From conventions to toys to graphic novels,  and even to major bestselling authors like Jim Butcher and Brandon Sanderson dabbling their toes in it, the world of shiny brass and steam-powered mechanics seems to be everywhere these days. What is it that’s so appealing about the steampunk genre? Is it the Victorian aesthetic? The glass and leather fashion style that pairs shiny metal with black corsets? Or is it the retro-futuristic mish-mash of gaslight occult fantasy and Jules Vernian industrial-tech that shows up in works like Lady Mechanika and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen? Whatever it is, people love it, and it’s a total blast to write! Today I’m going to talk about some of the inspirations behind my own unique flavor of steampunk in my novel A Vanishing Glow, and maybe even inspire you to incorporate some steampunk elements in your own writing. Mechanisms, Inspiration, and Ideas One of the cool things about steampunk is that you can do all kinds of neat things with it that walk the line between science fiction and fantasy. Because steampunk works often blend 19th-century technology with occult elements, you can bend the tech to do just about anything you like and still have your story fit into your choice of science fiction, alternate history, or fantasy. If you’re looking for inspiration for some really fun mechanisms, you need look no further than the popular steampunk fiction already authored. Lighter than air ships that cruise through the sky and wrench-wielding engineers with goggles on their foreheads are good. Steam-powered mechanical limbs are a perennial favorite. But the key is that steampunk is (and has always been) a hybrid genre. Use the elements you find fascinating and ditch what you don’t like — personally, I feel the stylistic and architectural aesthetics of burnished brass, Victorian-era clothes, and cool and inventive technology are the most important hallmarks of the genre. Another great place to look for ideas is the plethora of recent videogames that draw on steampunk elements in their design — both the Bioshock and the Dishonored series come to mind. In both cases you can enter the world and take an up-close, three-dimensional look at an environment steeped...
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Jul
6

Review: Stolen Petals by Katherine McIntyre

Review: Stolen Petals by Katherine McIntyre Stolen Petals Author: Katherine McIntyre Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Viola Embrees runs a respectable bar, but makes her fortune as the Brass Violet, a clever bounty hunter. Unfortunately, Edward Van Clef, aka the Fox, has stolen her bounty out from under her a few times. So when the infamous Fox approaches Viola with an offer to share a bounty, she knows she’ll have to stay a few steps ahead of him to keep him from double crossing her. What she doesn’t expect is to fall for Edward’s charms along the way. Stolen Petals is a charming, short novella, set in an alternate time. Although the author labels the story as steampunk, it’s not overly techno-driven, and the story lacks much of the steam-powered gadgets I look for in a steampunk title. The story read more like alternate timeline of some older period, mixed with some modern language and tech. It’s not bad, but if you are looking for a gadget-heavy world, you won’t find it here. I like Viola and really wanted to learn more about her past and how she came to be a bounty hunter and bar owner. The author does a good job of sharing enough hints about her past to give Viola an intriguing persona, and we understand that she’s had a rough time of life. This is enough to round out her character and pique my interest. Edward is even more of a mystery since the story is never shared from his POV. We only have Viola’s impressions of Edward and his reputation as the Fox. And since her perception of men, and Fox specifically, is a bit tarnished, it’s tough for me to trust his character. Their romantic journey is short; the book is only 65+/- pages, which doesn’t leave much time. I felt Viola gave her trust to Edward way too easily, but there isn’t space to do otherwise and still reach the HEA by the end of the story. It is sweet and hopeful, but not enough to completely win me over. Overall, Stolen Petals is an enjoyable, albeit short, read. The story and romance are both entertaining, yet suffer a little under the brevity of the book. If you are looking for a quick escape for an afternoon, Stolen Petals may be the perfect journey away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. My Rating:  B- Liked It, but I had a few small...
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May
14

Joint Review: Into the Aether by PJ Schnyder

Joint Review: Into the Aether by PJ Schnyder Into the Aether Author: PJ Schnyder Reviewer: Una + Jen Twimom Rating: A and B+ What We’re Talking About: Today Una and Jen are here to talk about a new steampunk anthology from one of our favorite authors, PJ Schnyder. Which was your favorite story in the anthology and why? Una: Tough question since I enjoyed all three stories. I think I would have to pick Keeping Cadence (though it is a close race between it and Swan in Siam) since it was the most complete story, and I loved the happy romantic ending. Plus, I really enjoyed Cadence and was surprised by the twists in the story. Though it was a “love at first sight” story, it was really well done and not over the top. Jen: I agree, my favorite is also Keeping Cadence for many of the same reasons. I found Cadence to be one of those favorite flawed, but super strong heroines that I could read about over and over. I also appreciate that it is a complete package with a strong storyline and sweet ending. What was your favorite steampunk mech in the book? Jen: I LOVED Evie’s mech “pet,” Toby, from Evie’s Gift. While it’s probably the most far-fetched piece of machinery, I loved how it worked with Evie’s unique gift and helped in all sorts of situations (like pinning up her hair or torn dress). Una: I loved the “music box” in Swan in Siam.  The melody and the movements of it was enchanting, not to mention the mechanical quirk of it. This question is for Una: Having never read any of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences books, what were your thoughts about A Swan in Siam? Did it pique your interest to read the series by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris? I loved it, I found it enchanting. The mixture of legends and steampunk was beautiful, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. And yes it has piqued my interest; it left me wanting to read more in that world. And for Jen: Since you are a fan of MoPO, how well do you feel PJ’s story fit into the frame work? Oh, this short story was really well done and fit perfectly into the Ministry world. But learning some unique mythology – something not from the UK – was exceptionally interesting and intriguing. I could totally imagine Books and Braun going to Siam some day and meeting Phailin. Did you have any...
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Apr
27

Book Spotlight: Into the Aether by PJ Schnyder

Book Spotlight: Into the Aether by PJ Schnyder From the Author: This collection of short stories is the beginning of an adventure for me in many ways. For one thing, I love writing steampunk adventures for feisty, strong heroines and I plan to continue doing so. I’m delighted to be able to include Evie, Phailin, and Cadence in this first anthology. For another, I’ve been considering self-publishing–or indie–for quite some time and have launched the self-pub aspect of my hybrid career with this collection. It is important to me to maintain quality in all aspects of the production of this book from authoring and editing to cover design and layout. I hope readers of either the ebook format or the print format will appreciate the attention to detail I strove to adhere to with my editor(s), cover artist, and layout team. This is the beginning, and I hope you will all enjoy the adventure! I’ve got an Amazon giveaway running to celebrate the official release of Into the Aether. I hope you’ll enter and give my steampunk collection a try! https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/abb6874f3894e673 About the Book: Journey Into the Aether with award-winning author PJ Schnyder in a collection of daring and sometimes explosive adventures: In Evie’s Gift, Evie travels to England with her brother to find a sponsor for her first season in London. She’s finding much more than intended, including an enemy submarine bent on destroying the airship carrying them across the ocean and a conspirator responsible for sabotaging her host’s mechanicals. In A Swan in Siam, Agent John M. Alvey of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences searches for the source of a swan feather of peculiar properties in the court of the King of Siam and encounters both an assassin and a living legend. Plus in the new, never before published Keeping Cadence, fiery Cadence is assigned as both gun expert and bodyguard when the senior crew of the Airship Vulpes is hired to transport precious cargo. Things never go as planned, but the two things Cadence can rely on like clockwork are her captain’s explosive temper and the opportunity for a good fight. Purchase Link: http://www.amazon.com/Into-Aether-collection-steampunk-Schnyder-ebook/dp/B00V5CN900 Play find the PJ around the Internetz: Website: http://pjschnyder.com Twitter: @pjschnyder Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorPJSchnyder YouTube:...
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Apr
23

Review: The Diamond Conspiracy by Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris

Review: The Diamond Conspiracy by Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris The Diamond Conspiracy Author: Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Note: this review mentions events from previous books, therefore may be spoilerish if you haven’t read the earlier titles. Having just barely escaped their adventures in America, Eliza Braun and Wellington Books are heading back home to the British Empire, taking their time to consummate their newly formed romantic relationship. However, back home, Eliza’s foster children, known as the Ministry Seven, uncover a monstrous plot against the Queen, putting themselves and housekeeper Alice in parlous danger. Books and Braun cut their trip short, racing back to meet up with Alice and the children, only to find out that the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences is being hunted down by the Department of Imperial Inconveniences on orders of the Queen. Now its up to Books and Braun to save themselves, their family, and the Empire itself! The Diamond Conspiracy is another exciting adventure from the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. Building upon the solid foundation laid in the previous three titles, Books and Braun are finally partners in all its meaning – growing into the dynamic duo I knew they could be. Their relationship is well played within the setting of the story, enhancing their working partnership while not creating unnecessary drama. It humanizes both Books and Braun, making them more relatable. That part of the story was absolutely perfect. The unfolding plot against the Queen and country is terribly engrossing and filled with twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. The not-so-mysterious-any-longer Maestro remains as the central bad guy, while his sanity continues to decline in its downward spiral, allowing an additional key figure to take charge. I adore the inclusion of several historical and literary figures as key players in the plot, one of which truly caught me off guard. However, the authors rely on the reader’s existing knowledge of these characters, so if you are unfamiliar, you may miss out on some of the implied understanding. I feel this also lead to a lack of physical descriptions of some of the tech and war machines, making it difficult for me to picture some of the events in my mind. While Books and Braun work to save the Empire, we have the opportunity to finally learn more about Wellington’s upbringing, specifically his father, who has always haunted Books. And with how things were left by the end of the book, it...
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