Tag Archives: Shelley Adina

Adina, Shelley: Brilliant Devices (Magnificent Devices IV) (2013)

Brilliant Devices - Shelley Adina
Cover art by Claudia at Phat Puppy

I admit it. The whole Magnificent Devices serial sent me off on tangents of exploration causing me to spend about as much time exploring as I did reading the novels. I become overwhelmed by curiosity when I sit down to write some reviews and find that I “just have to” see what I can dig up about whatever it is that sets me off. Below are some more links.

Did you know that there was actually a Dunsmuir that was the richest man in Canada at the time Adina Shelley placed the Earl of Dunsmuir there? You didn’t? I’m shocked. Well now you do. That Dunsmuir (James) was machinist, entrepreneur, industrialist, politician, and lieutenant governor. I’m thinking someone must have looked into the area before she wrote her novel. Not mentioning any names or anything.

Not only the US was a place of “Wild West” during the European invasion. People had to be killed and one-sided treaties signed. I am reworking my review on Zane Grey, going into more detail, and man is it ever depressing. Canada’s Wild West mirrors the US Wild-West in many ways. Humans are the same wherever we invade.

In Brilliant Devices Queen Victoria and her spy Isobell Churchill work for the protection of the Equimoux. In our history, Queen Victoria did no such thing. She probably would have put you in Bedlam for even suggesting such a thing. That Davinia and John Dunsmuir are on their side is something Isobell Churchill does not know. I wonder why the Queen did not tell her.

I like the beginning of Brilliant Devices when Lady Claire Trevalyan, Mr. Andrew Malvern, Ms. Alice Chalmers, the Mopsies, Tigg and Jake pull off a miracle using the invention of Andrew, Claire, Tigg and Dr. Craig. It is fun the way Shelley Adina throws in little technical challenges along the way for the gang.

Claire and her little flock are as always ingenious and independent. The Mopsies are as obedient as always, spying for Claire whether she wants them to or not. I wonder at Claire’s reticence, considering how often the Mopsies have come in handy. I guess Claire struggles with her own prejudices and her own fears, constantly forgetting that her charges have been exposed to dangers long before Claire entered their lives. All four charges prove their abilities several times.

Alice Chalmers is another character I like. She turns up in Magnificent Devices saving Claire three times and Andrew once. Alice continues her life-saving in Brilliant Devices. Both the Dunsmuirs and Graf von Zeppelin are impressed by her inventiveness. Her role is not limited to one of invention and rescue but also functions as an addition to the personality of Brilliant Devices.

As with the other three novels in the Magnificent Devices serial Brilliant Devices is a fun and adventurous addition giving me a few hours of fun.


My review of:

  1. Lady of Devices
  2. Her Own Devices
  3. Magnificent Devices

Adina, Shelley: Magnificent Devices (Magnificent Devices III) (2013)

Magnificent Devices - Shelley Adina
$ Cover artist: Claudia at Phat Puppy Studio

Steampunk opens up to a lot of wondering about the practicality of the ideas put forward. Some of those ideas are possible to look into for a layperson like myself. The idea of a personal zeppelin like the one the Dunsmuirs take on their transatlantic trip is one such idea. I discovered there is quite a bit of information on zeppelins out there on the net (see some links below). My questions were answered.

Who should appear on the Lady Lucy but Rosie the hen. Yes, Rosie the hen. That must be one incredibly smart hen who has managed to gather to herself a network of conspirators willing to sneak her onboard as a blind-passenger. I never knew hens were good at networking. Now the only person the gang is missing is Snouts – left at home to make certain the less known gang-members stay loyal to the Lady of Devices.

Magnificent Devices brings us a step away from James Sewyn saving Claire from the dreaded prospect of marriage with the villain. Being a noble probably means that you have been involved in the grayer areas of life – or at least your ancestors have. In Lord Sewyn’s case, James is the crook / villain / rapscallion. Lady Claire is the black sheep of her family and as such not really able to protest James’ high-handed methods. But she does, feeling there is a difference between going for the rival gang or your fiancée and friends. Personally, I agree with her.

We find Lady Claire Trevalyan and her new family safe and sound on board the Lady Lucy at the beginning of Magnificent Devices. The Mopsies, Trig and Jake seem to have explored the airship and have already made a place for themselves in the hearts of the crew. Both boys have developed their talents further. We already know about Trig’s engineering skills and now find out about Jake’s navigational ones – until he is thrown out of the Lady Lucy by Ned Mose.

Ned Mose is a pirate of the piraty kind. I like him. There is nothing swashbuckling about him at all. Instead he rules his crew with an iron fist (literally). His arm is a work of art made by his step-daughter Alice Chalmers. When Ned Mose captures the Dunsmuirs and the flock, we are brought to the Wild West. In fact, we end up in a desert town ruled by Ned Mose and he is not a gentle ruler there either. I believe he might be defined as a “bad egg”. Whether Lady Claire is going to be able to defeat Mose is a good question.

We meet both men who want a piece of Claire in Magnificent Devices. Another one comes on the scene in the form of Captain Hollys. He seems to have fallen for all the qualities that Lord James Sewyn despises and that Mr. Andrew Malvern is not completely aware of. But we aren’t looking at any kind of love story in the Magnificent Devices serial. These are only small parts of the story that act as a spice to the whole. Claire is more than busy enough trying to get out of all the sticky situations she lands in while trying to remember her manners. It is funny how she holds on to them in the strangest situations. Somehow they seem to act as a buffer for Lady Claire’s ability to be courageous.

Magnificent Devices is a fun and lighthearted read with plenty of action and adventure.


My review of:

  1. Lady of Devices
  2. Her Own Devices

Adina, Shelley: Her Own Devices (Magnificent Devices II) (2013)

Her Own Devices - Shelley Adina
Cover art by Claudia

She was thankful that at least Snouts, Tigg, and the Mopsies followed her lead without coercion. Since she had lost her home in the Arabian Bubble riots and fallen in with this street gang that was no more than a rabble of desperate, hungry children, they had taught her how to survive – and she had taught them how to thrive.

Between lessons in reading and mathematics, they rehearsed new and confounding hands of Cowboy Poker, the current rage they had fabricated in the drawing rooms and gambling halls of London. Those with a bent for chemistry and mechanics assisted her in the assembly of her devices. Food appeared on the table with heartening regularity now, and they all had more than one suit of clothes each. Even Rosie, the hen she had rescued, who ruled the desolate garden behind the cottage with an iron claw, had begun to put on weight.

And to top it all, tomorrow she was to begin employment as assistant to Andrew Malvern, M.Sc., Royal Society of Engineers.

The fascinating thing about steam-punk is that a lot of it has nothing to do with the magic / supernatural / paranormal world. Instead our main characters tend to be engineers. Engineers, who would have thought it? But in reality it is the engineers who make our modern world go around. So too in the world of Lady Claire Trevelyan. Sure, it is an alternative world but I imagine it isn’t too far off in its descriptions of the London of Queen Victoria.

As we saw in Lady of Devices, the main goal of an upper-class woman was to marry and bear her husband an heir. Once you were married your life became your husband’s – a form of slavery where nothing was owned by you – not even your name. Lady Claire did not want marriage and due to her father’s unfortunate investments she did not have to worry about anything but keeping herself alive.

Claire is moving on from the loss of her father and her family’s wealth. She has proven that she is more than just a girl ready for robbing and is now running her own gang on the poorer side of town. Perhaps her gang does not consist of the most frightening people in the world but this gang of children is filled with smart people who make the best of what life they have. As such Claire has proven herself a great addition. Her interests were never really with the trappings of wealth but with the opportunities her wealth gave her to explore and invent. Now her inventive abilities are reaching greater heights as she has to make do with a whole lot less while keeping the other gangs away and keeping the “right people” from knowing what has become of her.

Being a 17-year old girl in this new world of hers is proving to be somewhat of an advantage. She is often underestimated and is able to get away with a great many things a young man her own age would not. Her gang is also often underestimated. Many of them are so young others think of them as inconsequential – to their own detriment. Lord James Sewyn is one such fool.

Lord James is very much set against her employment with his partner Andrew Malvern of the Royal Society of Engineers. He feels it is extremely improper for a young lady to work with such indelicate work as an assistant to an engineer would be. A woman of nobility might work as a governess if need arose. Therefore, Lady Claire’s supposed work as governess to five children is much more appropriate. On the whole Lord James Sewyn finds Claire too independent and brainy for his own taste. If he knew that Claire was in fact the infamous Lady of Devices Lord, James would throw a hissy-fit. As would the rest of the proper set of society (especially her mother).

No fun being a woman in Victorian England, even for the nobility. One middle-class woman we get to know something of and who happens to have immense importance to the discoveries of Claire Trevelyan and Andrew Malvern is Dr. Rosemary Craig. Dr. Craig’s own inventions had threatened the wealth of others to the point that they had her committed to Bedlam and burned what they could find of her papers and inventions. A woman actually risked being sent to Bedlam for the social transgression of being smarter than a man. Too bad for these wankers that Lady Claire happened to have what appeared to be the result of one of Dr. Craig’s inventions.

I like it when stories are told with dialects and voices that could be believable. There is also something about English without contractions that is incredibly appealing. I had fun with Her Own Devices and Shelly Adina’s writing. What we get is a delightfully light and easily read novel with cleverly hidden depths and commentary.


  • File Size: 2757 KB
  • Print Length: 222 pages
  • Publisher: Moonshell Books, Inc. (December 19, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006P962QG

My review of Lady of Devices

Adina, Shelley: Lady of Devices (2011)

lady_of_devices_shelleyadina_cover_500x800Cover art by Ann Bui Ngyuen

Lady of Devices is Shelley Adina’s first novel in the Magnificent Devices’ series. This steampunk novel is set in an alternate Victorian era. As usual with steampunk novels, steam runs the world. Steam is the hot thing, the Power alternative that will last forever.

We meet Lady Trevalyan, a 17-year old with decidedly unconventional interests. No embroidery for this girl.

I’ve always liked spunky female characters. Women who dare defy whatever society deems as feminine behavior. Claire is one such lady.

When her father shoots himself because of bad investments, the family is left with a lot less money than they had hoped. Claire has to choose between waiting for her mother to find her a husband or try to make a living. She decides to make a living and sets out to explore her possibilities.

Claire soon discovers that the “real world” can be dangerous, especially if you are a woman. This is where her spunkiness comes in handy. This girl has grit. She just screams a bit in her head and gets on with whatever she has to do to survive.

What can I say, I am a sucker for these kinds of portrayals. There is no denying I want my female characters to be strong. I also want my authors to write in a manner that engages my interest and keeps it. Shelley Adina manages to do just that. Her sentences tie together wonderfully and her images are hilarious.

“Claire Trevelyan closed her eyes as a gobbet of reddish-brown foam dripped off the ceiling and landed squarely on the crown of her head. It dribbled past her ears and onto the pristine sailor collar of her middy blouse, and thence, gravity having its inevitable effect, down the blue seersucker of her uniform’s skirt to the floor.” It’s practically so I can feel the goo running down my head.