27. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Steam-punk, Tammy, Teen Books · Tags:

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles 1) by Marissa Meyer, read by Tammy, on 02/09/2014

This was an enjoyable steam-punk retelling of Cinderella. Cinder is a cyborg mechanic who can’t remember her life before the accident that claimed her parents and made it medically necessary to replace her leg and other parts with machinery. She was adopted but her new guardian dies before he is able to bring her home to his wife and daughters and tell them why he has adopted a cyborg child. She works to make money for her stepmother and keep their household afloat though they treat her like a servant.

A plague is running rampant throughout their country and attacking young and old, rich and poor alike. Her favorite sister becomes ill days before a ball is planned. She tries to encourage her sister by telling her how she met the prince when he brought an automaton to her shop for repair and how he invited her to the ball. She promises to get the prince to dance with her sister if she will just get better and be able to go to the ball.

The prince has troubles of his own. His father is gravely ill with the plague. The ruler of Mars is on her way with an entourage to discuss peace talks that all his advisers believe is a prelude to war. Of course, the prince could marry the queen of Mars and make her his Empress ensuring peace but would that really be the best thing for both planets?

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Short Stories, Steam-punk, Teen Books

Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories by Kelly Link , read by Courtney, on 01/10/2012

A wee bit hit or miss as far as the quality of the stories goes, but overall a fun collection. Particular favorites of mine are the tales by Libba Bray, Cory Doctorow and Kelly Link. Extremely varied, both thematically and in setting, the steampunk element is represented in its broadest definition.

08. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Fiction, Mystery, Steam-punk

Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff, read by Courtney, on 12/07/2013

12-year-old Mila has a knack for noticing the things that others do not. This particular talent will come in handy as a series of events play out. She and her father had been planning to visit her father’s old friend in the United States for quite some time, but recently this friend has gone missing and no one has any idea what has happened to him. Mila and her father decide to make the trip overseas anyway. If her father’s friend, Matthew, isn’t back by the time they show up, they can spend some of their vacation trying to track him down. As soon as Mila and her father arrive at the home owned by Matthew and his wife, Mila notices quickly that this is not a happy house. The wife, Suzanne, appears stressed out but not overly upset. Their baby, Gabriel, has no idea that anything is wrong and charms everyone who comes in contact with him. The family dog, Honey, appears adrift with her master missing. Mila has a lot of theories, but the pieces have yet to fall into place. It will take some time, but she’s fairly confident that she and her father can track down his best friend. When the search takes them further into upstate New York, Mila finds more than she bargained for.
This is a novel about families, friendship and love. But it’s not a sappy novel at all. There is pain; there is humor; there is hope. Mila is one of those characters who is a very different person by the time the book is over, and while she’s not initially the easiest character to understand, she becomes a person that most of us can identify with on some level. I’m consistently impressed with the variety of Meg Rosoff’s work and this is just one more excellent novel in an already illustrious YA career.

22. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Steam-punk, Teen Books

Soulless: The Manga, vol. 1 by Gail Carriger, illustrated by Rem, read by Courtney, on 11/06/2013

I can’t help but think that this manga is really more for established fans than those new to the Soulless series. I haven’t read any of the series, so I didn’t really know what to expect when I picked up the manga-style adaptations. I was not terribly impressed. In fact, I was kind of annoyed at the whole experience.
The story is lacking in detail and world-building, but that’s probably the result of it being an adaptation. The artwork is merely OK; it uses a lot of manga tropes, which, in an American comic, feels off somehow. I’m honestly getting very tired of popular series being turned into “manga”. Particularly annoying to me in this particular volume is the depiction of the female characters. The ridiculously large breasts and plunging necklines come across as entirely superfluous.
I wanted to like this series; I really did, but ultimately it just fell flat.

01. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Noelle, Steam-punk, Teen Books

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, read by Noelle, on 10/31/2013

Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She’s a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn’s paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.

31. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Mystery, Paranormal, Steam-punk, Tammy, Teen Books · Tags: ,

Soulless (Parasol Protectorate # 1) by Gail Carriger, read by Tammy, on 07/04/2013

Alexia is different from the rest of her family. She’s a spinsterPrint whose father is both Italian and dead. Her mother has remarried and her step-sisters and step-father all tolerate her but think she’s odd. But they have no idea that she has no soul and can render supernatural beings powerless with a touch.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently. At one of the biggest social events of the year, she is attacked by a vampire which breaks all standards of social etiquette but Alexia accidentally kills the vampire defending herself. Then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, Scottish, and leader of a werewolf clan) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing?

 

27. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Steam-punk, Teen Books

The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry, read by Leslie, on 06/17/2013

The Peculiars

Eighteen-year-old Lena Mattacascar sets out for Scree, a weird place inhabited by Peculiars, seeking the father who left when she was young, but on the way she meets young librarian Jimson Quiggley and handsome marshall Thomas Saltre, who complicate her plans.

If you like steampunk you’ll probably enjoy this story, it’s got those unusual characters we come to expect and it’s setting is historical but in another land not in our reality.  Lena journeys for Scree to find out whether or not she is really a Peculiar by finding her father.  It was enjoyable enough to read, but I’m not quite sure I enjoyed parts of the book that seemed to lurch through the telling.

26. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Steam-punk, Tammy, Teen Books

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger, read by Tammy, on 06/15/2013

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is horrified to learn that her mother has decided to send her to finishing school. She knows she is a great trial to her mother and older sisters but she’s just not interested in learning manners and behaving ladylike. She’d much rather climb a tree or dismantle a clock. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady and hopefully make great progress before her sister’s coming out party. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But Sophronia soon realizes this school is not your ordinary finishing school and not quite what her mother had in mind. etiquette and espionageAt Mademoiselle Geraldine’s, young ladies learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn defense, diversion, and espionage–in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her new friends are in for quite an education.

Crossovers-2 coverThe two volumes of “Crossovers” are a fascinating and highly enjoyable read for anyone interested in the interactions between various pulp, mystery, adventure, and science fiction characters with each other and real people throughout history.  The premise of the book was inspired by SF writer Philip José Farmer’s “Wold Newton” concept which he developed in the 1970s:  a “radioactive” meteorite crashed near Wold Newton, England, in 1795 and affected several carriages full of people who were passing by.  Their descendants became highly intelligent and powerful heroes (or villains) such as Sherlock Holmes, Professor Moriarty, Dr. Fu Manchu, Doc Savage, Lord Greystoke (Tarzan), and many more.  Farmer wrote popular and detailed biographies of Tarzan and Doc Savage in which he explored the family trees of many “Wold Newton Family” characters.  Over time, the concept has been expanded and continued by Win Scott Eckert and others to become the “Crossover Universe.”  Mr. Eckert has done a fantastic job of compiling references to literary heroes who have met each other (or “crossed over”) and had adventures together, and thus co-exist in the same fictional universe. Volume 1 covers the dawn of time up through 1939, and Volume 2 covers 1940 into the far future.  (Mr. Spock himself claimed Sherlock Holmes as an ancestor of his!)  There are 2000 entries in this chronology and 300 illustrations. Reading these two books is fun and will send you scurrying to find many of the stories and books that are referenced.

 

Crossovers-1 cover

The two volumes of this book are a fascinating and highly enjoyable read for anyone interested in the interactions between various pulp, mystery, adventure, and science fiction characters with real people throughout history.  The premise of this book is inspired by SF writer Philip José Farmer’s “Wold Newton” concept which he developed in the 1970s:  a “radioactive” meteorite crashed near Wold Newton, England in 1795 and affected several carriages full of people who were passing by.  Their descendants became highly intelligent and powerful heroes (or villains) such as Sherlock Holmes, Professor Moriarty, Dr. Fu Manchu, Doc Savage, Lord Greystoke (aka Tarzan), and many more.  Farmer wrote popular and detailed biographies of Tarzan and Doc Savage in which he detailed the family trees of many “Wold Newton Family” characters.  Over time, the concept has been expanded and continued by others into the Crossover Universe.  Win Scott Eckert has done a fantastic job of compiling references to literary heroes who have met each other (or “crossed over”) and had adventures together, and thus co-exist in the same fictional universe.  Volume 1 covers the dawn of time up through 1939, and Volume 2 covers 1940 into the far future.  Reading these two books is a fun and highly addictive experience!

 

22. October 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fantasy, Fiction, Steam-punk, Teen Books

The Unnaturalists by Tiffany Trent , read by Angie, on 10/16/2012

The Unnaturalists is an unusual book. It is a mix of fantasy, magic, history and steampunk. It is set in New London where 600 years ago the people where sucked through a portal into this new world. Along with the people, buildings from various periods of time were also sucked through. The world they landed in had many creatures who the people called unnaturals. They hunt the unnaturals and use them to fuel their world.

Vespa Nyx is the daughter of the head of the Museum in New London. She wants nothing more than to work in the Museum and become a Pedant but there are no female Pedants in New London. Syrus is a Tinker who lives with his clan in Tinkerville, a collection of old train cars. He has the gift of being able to understand the unnaturals when no one else can. Pedant Hal Lumin is a mysterious character who seems to always come to the aid of Vespa and Nix. We then learn that Vespa is a witch, probably the last witch and Hal and the Architects, a heretic group who practices magic, want her to help heal the world. Vespa, Hal and Syrus struggle to figure out what is going on with the captured unnaturals and tinkers in the refineries that power the city. What they discover shakes them to the core and makes them realize how evil their world really is. Of course there is one who wants to destroy everything and he needs Vespa to do it.

The concept of this book was awesome; I loved the idea of combining steampunk and fantasy and magic. I actually really liked the characters of Vespa and Syrus; they were well fleshed out and had a lot of dimension. However, the world building really suffered in this book. It was a fascinating world but it seemed like there were a lot of things unexplained or just plain improbable. I wish Trent had spent a little more time building a logical world in addition to all the time she spent on her story.

08. September 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Science Fiction, Steam-punk, Tracy

Phoenix Rising by Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris, read by Tracy, on 09/08/2012

Before there was British Intelligence there was The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. Apparently during the Victorian era in London there were a lot of peculiar things going on. This book is a sort of cross between Indiana Jones, Warehouse 13, Burn Notice and James Bond. Eliza D. Braun is a spy who carries a lot of weapons and wears a bullet proof corset. She rescues Wellington Books, the chief archivist at the Ministry, from the evil Sophia. Since Eliza is too fond of blowing things up and can handle a gun their boss Doctor Sound feels she needs some quiet down time helping Books in the archives. The authors of this book must’ve had a lot of fun writing this steam-punk adventure. So many gadgets and robots to develop and even coming up with the  agent named Bruce Campbell. I’m not sure if they named him after the famous Sci Fi actor Bruce Campbell but that’s who I thought of right away. Even though Eliza and Wellington are complete opposites they find that they work well together out in the field chasing the Phoenix society. Can’t wait to read the next book.