Tag Archives: #Steampunk

Barnett, David: Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl (2013)

“Darling Annie!” He took her in his arms and kissed her. Annie wanted to should it from the rooftops. She had a sweetheart, and he was a toff to boot.

Poor little Annie Crook became involved with the wrong man. In Victorian times, whether they be in alternate or our history, the rabble risked much if they caught the attention of the upper class. Yet, sometimes, the rabble manages to surprise. Young Annie is one of the voices David Barnett  introduces us to in Mechanical Girl.

At first, he thought the knocking was a gear slipping, or one of the spring wearing. He sat up in the chair, suddenly alert, and peered around. “Anybody else hear that?”

Arthur frowned. There it went again. He stood and walked to the port side. Probably a piece of driftwood or rubbish hauled over the side from one of the factory farms. He leaned over and looked at the black, oily water.

Lives of trawler-fishers are dangerous one. In the past, more so. Usually, lives are lost because of the ocean’s wiles, but for Arthur Smith the cause of death of was much more sinister. Left behind is 24-year-old Gideon Smith (our main protagonist). To him Sandsend seems like the end of the earth and he wants nothing more than to leave it behind and experience the adventures he reads about in World Marvels & Wonders.

To have his father’s death be the impetus for his investigation  was not how Gideon thought his adventure would begin. Investigate he must, for there is something distinctly off about the disappearance of the crew of the Cold Drake. Anger can be a marvelous tool when we suspect something needs fixing. Anger at our gods, the fickleness of nature, people dying and leaving us behind and even at our own fears are all angers that can prompt action and change. Gideon is an angry man, and rightly so. Life in Victorian times (both alternate world and our) was unfair. It still is. Being wealthy makes life easier to navigate while poverty keeps people in their place. Annie was certainly kept in her place. Now Gideon has to find a way to leave his and investigate and explore.

Which is why he goes seeking Captain Trigger, that wonderful hero of the penny dreadfuls. Such a hero must see that Gideon’s cause is worth pursuing (taking Gideon with him). Getting hold of Captain Trigger proves difficult and Gideon must seek help. Who should turn up but Bram Stoker. Yes, that one. David Barnett throws  conspiracies and magical names at us through the story. We just have to pay attention to where we are going.

Once Bram becomes involved, officials finally pay attention to Gideon’s worry about a smuggler’s cave. Stoker is just higher enough on the layers of society for him to be taken more seriously than Gideon. Let’s face it. That is the way the world works. I am taken more seriously than a homeless person. My husband is taken more seriously than I. Writing about inequality in a manner that is fun to read is something Barnett does well. Intended or unintended.

In the end, Gideon gets to meet Captain Trigger, a meeting that changes both men. Gideon also meets wonderful and strange Maria. As he and Maria get closer to an answer to both of their questions, stranger and stranger creatures turn up. Conspiracy indeed.

I had fun. Lots of fun reading Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl. Definitely recommended.


Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl available at Amazon.com

Lackey, Mercedes & Edghill, Rosemary: Dead Reckoning (2012)

Artist: Regina Hoff
Artist: Regina Roff

I have been looking for an updated website for Rosemary Edghill. This link is old (2013). I haven’t found one anywhere else, but she is still alive. She and Mercedes Lackey wrote Dead Reckoning together.

The setting of Dead Reckoning is the Wild West a couple of years after the Civil War. Two of our characters are from either side of the issue while the third is indirectly an American Indian. Jett’s story set me looking for how likely it was that a woman would cross-dress around the time of the Civil War. Well, it happened and not that seldom either. There really wasn’t much choice for any of them. Not for Jett either. If she/he wanted to go off and try to find her brother she would have trouble doing so as a woman. It simply was not accepted. But all of her female habits had to be set aside and Jett had to learn how to walk, talk and adapt the mannerisms of the men of her time to be left alone. She also had to shoot really well, because sometimes seeming like a post-adolescent boy brought many of the same challenges women had. Gunslingers were the shooters who were quick draws and fast shooters.

Honoria had the advantage of an unconventional childhood with an eccentric father. Perhaps eccentric isn’t the correct word. Her father was a genius whose ideas kept interrupting his life and drawing him into new mind-zones. With a daughter just as bright, that may have been a good thing. Honoria was given the freedom to study what she wanted and that enabled her to do what other unusual women of her time also did, invent. I found myself rather liking her insistence upon science over all. Sometimes I wanted to tell her to get over herself, but she was consistent with her character all the way through.

In fact, that can be said of all three characters. Jett remained the male she wanted to be taken for. The last of the three compatriots, White Fox, was consistent with the civilian scout and Algonquin adoptee he was supposed to be. White Fox was on a mission for the 10th Cavalry to find out what had happened to his Captain’s mother at Glory Rest. What he discovered was that the town was completely deserted. There had, in fact, been several incidents of people disappearing or groups of people being slaughtered by unknown parties. The disappearing people fit with the allegations Honoria was investigating.

Their encounters with zombies and cultists are fun and full of action.



Dead Reckoning available at

Ebook available for kindle US, kindle UK & nook

1993: Women in the Civil War
2000: Women Inventors By: Ping Chen W S 301
Way of Life – Algonquian Indians

Meskwaki-Sauk language
Meshkwahkihaki/Sauk history
10th Cavalry Regiment

Wells, Martha: The Wizard Hunters (The Fall of Ile-Rien I) (2003)

A female protagonist looking to die in what seems to be an accidental manner is a relief to meet. Wanting to die is something I experience on a regular basis so I find it nice to know that there are people in literature who feel the same way. Her death-wish is why Tremaine joins the clean-up crews after bombings and why she joins Gerard when he asks her to bring her uncle’s sphere along. Tremaine Valiarde is a woman with an unusual life up to now and it is about to enter the realm of the unexpected. She has two qualities that I really like. One is her ability to make difficult decisions quickly without needing to question her choices. The other is her ability to integrate others in her life as a matter of course. Actually, there are three qualities I really appreciate. The third is Tremaine’s ability to remain fairly clear-/ and level-headed in a crisis. When she, Florian and Gerard end up on an island in the middle of the ocean those qualities will become essential to survival.

Ilias and Giliead see it as their mission in life to hunt wizards. Their experience with wizards thus far in life has been that all wizards are  insane. In Sypria being a sorcerer, wizard or even the victim of one gets you either shunned or killed. Ilias and Giliead are about to get their views challenged.

Prejudice is an interesting quality. All of our fear-attitudes are. There must be people out there who do not struggle with prejudices, but I have not met any of them yet. We get to see different types of prejudices in the people from Ile-Rien and the people from Sypria, but at heart all of their prejudices are the same. This is where Tremaine’s ability to integrate others into her life becomes especially important.

Meetings between two fairly different cultures are bound to be troublesome. But the need to fight a common enemy enables people to overcome some of the fear and cooperate. Gardier provides the role of a common enemy through their invasions of both Ile-Rien and Sypria. When survival depends upon the parties cooperating logic states that they cooperate. But reality both here in the real world and in the world of The Wizard Hunters shows that people aren’t always logical.

The Wizard Hunters is my first meeting with Martha Wells. I have had a lot of first meetings with authors over the years and not all have been as successful as this one. Definitely recommended.

P.s.: Ander needs to have his testicles cut off.


The Wizard Hunters available at Barnes and Noble, Edge Books, Powell’s, Mysterious Galaxy, Books-a-Million, Amazon, Amazon UK, Tantor Audio, iTunes

French: Amazon.fr
German: Trade Paperback

Britain, Kristen: Mirror Sight (Green Rider V) (2014)

My son and I managed to finish Mirror Sight just in time. We are entering a new phase in our lives with him going off to college. Hopefully this will not be our last story to be read together. Hopefully this isn’t the last book of the Green Rider series either. It did have a sense of closure to it. Except maybe not.

Once again we have enjoyed ourselves immensely. Kristen Britain‘s writing lends itself to being read aloud, something I wish all writers could learn from. She did throw in a couple of tongue-twisters this time but I consider that a chance to laugh together and good practice in getting my mouth around new sounds. Anyways, excellent writing from the oral point of view.

On to content. Let’s take my son first. He loved this story about Karigan and her journey into the future. When Blackveil ended with Karigan trapped in the sarcophagus, my son wanted to write Kristen an extremely irate letter stating how cruel he thought she was toward him as a reader. Not so this time. He seemed to enjoy himself very much. There were a couple of spots that both he and I found funny. One was when the professor caught Cade and Karigan fighting. We also very much enjoyed the interactions between Miriam and Karigan and the meeting of the Riders underneath the glass ceiling. Another funny incident was the table Cade, Karigan and Silk were sitting at during Silk’s evening of entertainment. Neither of us enjoyed the way Stirling treated Cade nor the way he and others had treated Yolandhe. But we found Silk’s animal encounter in the museum satisfying and also Yolandhe’s way of getting back at both Silk Sr. and Stirling. Very satisfying. He was impressed with Ms. Britain’s background information at the end of the book about her time as a guide. We are both people who like details like that. When we were finished my son wanted me to find out if there was to be another book in the series.

In the past I used to ask myself a lot of “What if?” questions. Perhaps all of us do. Kristen Britain must have done so herself at times, as Mirror Sight is very much about what could be given certain choices or events. While we never discover what could have happened in real life, Karigan has the chance to see what might be if certain events take place. The future she lands in isn’t a pleasant one but in many ways it reminds me of the one many of us live in.

Sometimes I wonder if we humans see how destructive we are with our inventive abilities. While all species on this planet consume and procreate without a thought for balance, we seem to have taken things up several levels from the other races inhabiting earth. In that sense Karigan’s future is very similar to our own present.

Women’s place in society had been extremely curtailed in the time Karigan landed. Karigan’s real time seems somewhat like my own space in time and the opportunities women have here in Norway. The future she lands in is much more like the lives that women of Afghanistan, Iran, Yemen, Oman, Quatar and so on are living. In Mirror Sight their only role is to bear children (sons) and be property. Servants are somewhat freer (but way poorer) and slaves, well they are slaves and treated as such. I believe my reaction to suddenly having to live a life like that would be much like Karigan’s to having to adjust to her experience. But in addition to having to adjust to being a woman in such a place, Karigan has to figure out a way to get back to her own time. Britain hasn’t made life any simpler for Karigan by doing this to her main character.

Oppression is very much a part of the life Karigan lands in. Eastern Germany, the Soviet Union, Russia today, Egypt and increasingly the US are only some countries that come to mind when the propaganda of the government and the curtailing of people’s rights of Karigan’s future are shown.

As entertainment Mirror Sight is a wonder. From her first story about Karigan G’ladheon, I have been enchanted with Kristen Britain’s writing and was happy when my son shared my enjoyment. These are fun, interesting, informative stories that help me question my own version of truth.


Mirror Sight available at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, Penguin

Available in audio at: audible, iTunes

My reviews of:

  1. Green Rider
  2. First Rider’s Call
  3. The High King’s Tomb
  4. Blackveil

Anderson, E. David: Into the Valley (Triton) (2012)

Into the Valley
Cover art by Denis Dupanovic

Into the Valley is supposed to be E. David Anderson’s first installation in the Triton series. I believe Into the Valley is Anderson’s first published work. It does not show in its presentation and substance. Into the Valley is an engaging story including elements from Greek mythology and steam-punk (although it might be science fiction instead??).

Every once in a while we make choices that change our whole lives. Lieutenant Aurelian made three of them: Firstly, he escaped his home-island of Akkahellonia. Secondly, Aurelian chose to ignore the advice of the Lighthouse Keeper and his last choice was to dive into the river rather than going across the bridge.

By jumping into the river Aurelian postpones his first meeting with Lord Abraham. Lord Abraham has lovely machines that suck the life out of other people and transfer that life to him instead. Because of his jump into the river Aurelian understands what is going to happen to him before it actually happens.

Aurelian is the kind of young man who believes that one should never give in to whatever life throws at us. Sometimes I am like that myself. At others not at all. How people manage to keep going at all times is beyond me. I know people like Aurelian and I have often wondered how they find the gumption to keep on trying.

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 136 KB
  • Print Length: 33 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English

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

Ambrose, Nicholas J.: Ruby Celeste and the Ghost Armada (Ruby Celeste I) (2013)

Ruby Celeste
Cover art by Karri Klawiter

“You’ve met these two clowns, right? Reuben Evans, and Glim Peters. He pointed at each in turn, and the two men pulled cheesy grins. Peters even crossed his eyes. “What names, eh.”

“Says Mikhail,” Peters called. “Who names their kid Mikhail?”

“Ignore him,” Michail said to Francis. “He’s still sore his parents misspelled their feelings at having bore him as a child.”

“What’s that then?”


This word-play made me giggle. Ruby Celeste and the Ghost Armada has plenty of humour, plenty of action and a character who seems puffed up with his own importance, to say the least. Rhod Stein is always in the right and he can pretty much do what he wishes. Having had full control of his skyport – floating city – he seems to think that all he encounters will fall in with his plans. Not so.

Poor old Francis Paige is just not having a good day. Being kidnapped from down on earth, taken up into a floating city from which he might fall, ripped from his kidnapper and then chased and shot at is not something he is used to from home.

For having been through what he has, I think Francis pulled himself together quite well. I’m kind of like him. For a time I will bemoan whatever new thing it is that fate has thrown at me. Then I get sick of myself and get on with life as best I can. Francis’ experiences are a bit more extreme than any I have ever experienced. So I feel he deserves a few days to pull himself together.

In his need he finds support with Natasha Brady (the ship’s navigator and possibly the ship’s talk-to person). Natasha is the kind of person that listens and is able to see past angry and fearful expressions. Would that I could always do that. She is exactly what Francis needs to conquer his fears – quite understandable ones for a land-dweller.

We don’t get a whole lot of world-building, but there is some. The Ruby Celeste series is supposed to be a steam-punk universe. But it is not one with a great amount of technical explanations. There are a couple of unusual aspects to it. One of those is that the sky-vessel is powered by something called a Volum.

Like our “household” animals these Volums have been bred to serve the purpose humans want it for. At first I thought that the Volum must be in some sort of slave relationship to humans, but it seems the ones bred for the purpose are content as long as they are fed. I wonder if they have some effect on humans. Benjamin Thoroughgood seemed intensely interested in being with the creature, but whether that was “normal” for any person exposed to a Volum over time or if it was some character trait of Benjamin is impossible to say.

Ruby Celeste was the fourth character that was obvious in the novel. The Volum wasn’t. I just became interested in what it was. Ruby is what I would call a person who draws the attention of others. She isn’t physically intimidating, but that does not stop Ruby from being intimidating when she turns on her engines. Impulsive and stubborn are two words that fit her well. I am very stubborn myself but not exactly impulsive. I am, however, blessed with a son who is and that has brought a great many interesting experiences into my life – as any one who is associated with an impulsive person can attest to. Ruby has one quality that I treasure. She is able to admit when she is wrong and actually apologizes. Being the Captain does not stop her from “eating humble pie”. I both like her and am frustrated by her.

After reading book number one of the Ruby Celeste universe, I would have to say that I had fun reading it and loved the action and humour present.


Bridger, David: A Flight of Thieves (Sky Ships I) (2013)

A Flight of Thieves
Cover artist Georgia Woods
Love this cover

A Flight of Thieves was given to me as a reviewer’s copy.

While I do try to say something positive about all novels I review, some novels need less work from my side than others. David Bridger’s new series Sky Ships is such a series. Right off the bat A Flight of Thieves caught my reader and I had to work to put A Flight of Thieves down when real life called.

A Flight of Thieves is very definitely a young adult novel with intelligent language. It has that warm sense of humour that only the British manage to convey. After so many reviews I feel certain some of you have gotten an idea of how much I enjoy writers from all over the United Kingdom. David Bridger just added himself to that list.

We get a combination of political intrigue, action, steam-punk, robot/human interaction and humour blended into 170 pages worth of enjoyment.

King Henry happens to be one of three robot kings who have ruled the Earth after humans managed to ignore the threat of climate warming long enough for it to be too late. We saw that we had been idiots and Henry and his brothers were created to rule us and hopefully keep us from flooding the Earth once again. 1000 years later he has experienced two rebellions and is looking at a third. Only by chance did he and Princess Victoria discover what was going on. The King joined the Princess on a trip to the Lord of Ireland as her footman (travelling incognito as Henry called it) and discovers that all is not well in his kingdom.

Princess Victoria is our main character. It is through her point of view that we learn of this world 1000 years into the future. She is an adventurous sort of person ready to explore her world if only her parents will let her. There is a little rebellion in Victoria and her sister Anne, but these two are pretty good kids who want to do the best for their kingdom. We get to see how Victoria deals with success and failure, love and death – for not all of her allies will make it through the story. That is the way it is when rebellion enters a land. I liked her optimism and willingness to face reality – panic attacks and all.

Definitely had fun with this one.

Beck, Ian: Pastworld (2009)

Cover image by David Calub

Pastworld is a Young Adult dystopian, steam-punkish and semi-violent look at what could happen when the future is so bored with itself it seeks relief in pretending to travel to the past. Pastworld is the creation of such a future.

Not all participants know that it is all pretense. Eve is one such character. One of our main mysteries in Pastworld is the reason for Eve’s short memory. Why does she only remember events from the past two years? Why is she being kept hidden in Pastworld? Why does her protector/jailer/friend Jack get killed while keeping her from public attention? These are all questions that are answered.

Eve is 17 years old. I’m trying to remember what it was like to be 17 and decide if Eve is a proper representative of a Victorian 17-year-old young woman with an apparent memory loss. I have a couple of biographies to lean on (not the memory loss part). Girls of a certain class were pretty sheltered back in the day. They were not allowed to go anywhere without a chaperone. Accepted interests beyond home and family were nature. Education was so, so. They were taught how to read, some maths, etiquette, embroidery, housekeeping and painting. I guess with that as a guide, Eve was kind of representative for that group.

When Jack gets more and more eccentric after a mysterious person comes sniffing after Eve, Eve runs for her life. Quite stereotypically she decides that the circus must be the place to go. And she does – Jago’s Acclaimed Pandemonium Show.

In Buckland Corp. Comm. Center Sgt Charles Catchpole becomes aware that something is afoot in Pastworld. A murderer has returned (the Phantom), one who leaves his victims dismembered and sometimes headless. One can certainly see how this would keep his minions in line and whet the appetite of the Scotland Yard.

Much of what we see in Ian Beck’s novel seems probable. 2048 is in 35 years and quite a bit could happen in that time. We already have plenty of theme parks around the world. Making a city into one might not be the stretch I would like to think it is.


Buroker, Lindsay: Flash Gold (2011)

Cover art by Glendon Haddix – a cover I find quite appealing

Flash Gold is a steampunk novella set in the Yukon. As bad as I am at being able to place my litterature in categories, even I am able to discern when something is steampunk. It is the steam that gives it away. Other than that, there seems to be some kind of mystic element involved (supernatural, magic, paranormal and so on).

In Moose Hollow, a small town of Yukon, a young orphan woman named Kali McAlister lives. She has taken over her father’s workshop in an attempt to stay independent. The citizens of Moose Hollow suspect Kali is something more than she seems. Perhaps she is using frowned upon magic??????

A stranger called Cedar drops into her life at the same time as she has entered a contest to win enough money to keep her doing what she loves most – tinker and invent. He applies for an Assistant position as musher for the Barton Race. Kali has no money to pay Cedar with but he is willing to take a cut of the winnings.

Forty Mile Creek, Yukon, Alaska

What Cedar ends up being is part assistant and part body-guard. It seems there are several parties who are interested in how Kali manages to get her machines to work so well. The two of them end up in a race for their life as much as a race for the money.

Flash Gold is filled with plenty of humor – humor that I actually get – and action. I like action filled books that have a humorous twist. Lindsay Buroker presents her steampunk in a manner that makes me want to read more of her stuff.

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.

Saintcrow, Lilith: Bannon and Clare (2012)


All The Science Fiction and Fantasy Books You Can't Afford to Miss in AugustI’m trying to decide what I thought about The Iron Wyrm AffairIt took a while for it to get off its butt, but once it did it really got going. This is my first experience with Lilith Saintcrow. Looking at her website, I see that she writes to a different audience than myself. That might be why I didn’t get wowed by The Iron Wyrm Affair.

Saintcrow’s Bannon and Clare world is an alternative Victorian one. The queen is Victrix who is also a vessel for the spirit of Britannia. London is Londonium. All the names are changed in minor ways like this. The world shares a similar yet different history to our own.

For one thing, it is a world run on magic. Magic is everywhere and in general the world works on different rules to our own. Machines run on magic and not all machines are only machines. Sometimes there is a mixture of animal and machine or person and machine. I guess kind of like magical cyborgs.

In this world there are (among lots of others) sorceresses/rors and mentaths. Bannon is a sorceress (of the Black, no less) and Clare is a mentath. To reach the rank of sorceress one must have a high degree of affinity to magic. Mentaths are addicted to logic. If they do not get puzzles to solve, they usually end up going insane.

We meet both Bannon and Clare as Bannon is trying to save Clare from being killed. It seems unregistered mentaths are being killed for who knows what reason. Saving Clare from murder, just happens to save him from insanity as well. Being bored just does not suit a mentath. Now Clare gets to join in on solving who is killing off mentaths.

There is plenty of action and some humorous interplay between the various characters.

The Iron Wyrm Affair is probably going to be a good fit for Saintcrow’s target group.

Monk, Devon: Dead Iron (2011)

Dead Iron

The Age of Steam is the new series started by Devon Monk. This time she writes steam-punk (I wonder where they got the word steam-punk?). I don’t really understand why so many fantasy buffs don’t like steam-punk. It’s great fun along with most other fantasy. As Monk is the author, the quality of the book is guaranteed (thankfully). It’s light entertainment (a little heavier than the lightest) and doesn’t strive for moralistic or philosophical preaching. However, Monk does treat her characters as complex beings with dark and light sides. I abhor literature where the goodies are sugar-good and the baddies are black as tar bad. Way to go Monk.

Dead Iron is the first installation in the series about the bounty hunter Cedar Hunt. Cedar has a “slight” health problem that becomes uncontrollable about once a month. To protect others, he lives a bit outside town.

When a small boy goes missing, and the parents go to Cedar for help. After a lot of hesitation he takes on the case. During his search Cedar meets other strange people and a lot of prejudice and fear. In Dead Iron, Monk combines fantasy and technology in a wild-west world where the impact of iron and technology threatens to destroy the presence of magic.