ARC review: Her Ladyship’s Curse by Lynn Viehl

The Particulars: Steampunk, Pocket Star, available as e-book
The Source: review copy from NetGalley
The Grade: C-
The blurb:
In a steampunk version of America that lost the Revolutionary War, Charmian (Kit) Kittredge makes her living investigating magic crimes and exposing the frauds behind them. While Kit tries to avoid the nobs of high society, as the proprietor of Disenchanted & Co. she follows mysteries wherever they lead.

Lady Diana Walsh calls on Kit to investigate and dispel the curse she believes responsible for carving hateful words into her own flesh as she sleeps. While Kit doesn’t believe in magic herself, she can’t refuse to help a woman subjected nightly to such vicious assaults. As Kit investigates the Walsh family, she becomes convinced that the attacks on Diana are part of a larger, more ominous plot—one that may involve the lady’s obnoxious husband.

Sleuthing in the city of Rumsen is difficult enough, but soon Kit must also skirt the unwanted attentions of nefarious deathmage Lucien Dredmore and the unwelcome scrutiny of police Chief Inspector Thomas Doyle. Unwilling to surrender to either man’s passion for her, Kit struggles to remain independent as she draws closer to the heart of the mystery. Yet as she learns the truth behind her ladyship’s curse, Kit also uncovers a massive conspiracy that promises to ruin her life—and turn Rumsen into a supernatural battleground from which no one will escape aliv

The Review:
I have wanted to read this book since I first heard about it, so when I saw the ARC on NetGalley, I requested it on the spot. And after reading it, I have mixed feelings.
I liked the world of Toriana. It is Alternative Earth, with magic and steampunk. The Torian culture felt researched. What I appreciated was how all the historical details, and the technological details was woven into the story without  slowing it down.
The plot was wellcrafted. I liked how the main mystery developed, and how the twists revealed secrets from Kit’s past. It was interesting to see how Kit navigated the streets of Rumsen, and how she used tricks to get into places she shouldn’t have. Never illegal, just… a bit inconvenient if she was found out. I also liked her sceptic attitude towards magic, and how she didn’t believe in it. Which was a contrast towards most other Torians.
That said, I had one big trouble with this book: I couldn’t connect to Kit. Which is a problem, since the book is told from her POV. A lot of things happened in the book to Kit, but I didn’t care. Most telling is perhaps that the love-hate relationship between her and Dredmore just felt bland to me. Another thing that bugged me was the ending. It was a bit… abrupt. Which made me a bit pissed off, although it say Part 1 on the cover. But I read that as part one of the series, not part 1 of the book.

ARC Review: Diana’s Hound by Moira Rogers

The Particulars: Steampunk romance, Samhain, available as e-book
The Source: ARC from the author
The Grade: C+
The blurb:
Nate Powell lived one full life as a world-class inventor before a disaster born of magic and science returned him to his prime—and turned him into a half-vampire, half-bloodhound abomination.
He’s finally stopped yearning for death, but he’s a long way from being excited about life—even if his newly virile body is very excited by the latest arrival to Iron Creek.
Diana is another creature that shouldn’t exist—a female bloodhound. While the males of Iron Creek accept her as a fellow warrior, Nate seems torn between a desire to study her and a need to protect her. Diana’s urges are a lot more carnal.
When they learn that a rogue hound is selling women across the border, Diana and Nate are chosen to infiltrate the vampires’ capital city. But before long their inner bloodhounds feel the mating pull—and a hound never outlives their mate for long. In a fight to keep each other alive, they could both end up worse than dead.
The Review:
I have been looking forward to reading Nate’s story ever since I read Wilder’s Mate. And I am glad I requested this ARC.
The world of the blood hounds are a harsh world, filled with dangers. This book gave another dimension to the vampires. It was intresting to see how polite the vampires in Eternity was, compared to how they normally were described.
Eternity might be home to vampires, but it was also a flaunting of power. In fact, I couldn’t help wondering how the life in both Deadlands and at the Border would have been if Eternity hadn’t existed.
I liked Diana and Nate. They are both oddities among the Bloodhounds. Diana because she is female, the only female hound, infact. Nate because he is part blood hound, part vampire. But.. they fit each other. Diana were a fighter, and Nate primarily a inventor.
Their search for the rogue hound that created Diana was fast paced, and filled with unexpected twists. The fact that they were headed to Eternity, a town filled with vampires added to the tension. As did the sexual tension between them. The sexual tension, combined with the protective urges added another layer to the story.
The plot wrapped up the story arc, but it had a whopper of a twist that made me itch to read the next book.
Despite all the things I loved with this book, it took a long time before it fully hooked me. Which is partially because I am tired of books with paranormal elements.

Book recommendation: Riveted by Meljean Brook

A century after a devastating volcanic eruption forced Iceland’s inhabitants to abandon its shores, the island has become enshrouded in legend. But the truth behind the legends is mechanical, not magical—and the mystery of the island a matter of life and death for a community of women who once spilled noble blood to secure their freedom.
Five years ago, Annika unwittingly endangered that secret, but her sister Källa took the blame and was exiled. Now Annika serves on an airship, searching for her sister and longing to return home. But that home is threatened when scientific expedition leader David Kentewess comes aboard, looking to expose Annika’s secrets. Then disaster strikes, leaving David and Annika stranded on a glacier and pursued by a madman, with their very survival depending on keeping the heat rising between them—and generating lots of steam…

I *love* the direction they have taken with this cover.  It reminds me of the upcoming UK editions of the Iron Sea Novels.  The blurb intrigues me, enough to make me want to pre-order it. 

Pre-order the book at:  Amazon, BN, Book depository

Steampunk Challenge: Heart of Steel by Meljean Brook

The Particulars: Steampunk, Berkley, available in print and as e-book
The Source: Purchased at Kobo
The Grade : A
The blurb:
Note: This blurb is the official one, but it  contain spoilers for Iron Duke.

As the mercenary captain of the Lady Corsair, Yasmeen has learned to keep her heart as cold as steel, her only loyalty bound to her ship and her crew. So when a man who once tried to seize her airship returns from the dead, Yasmeen will be damned if she gives him another opportunity to take control.
Treasure-hunter Archimedes Fox isn’t interested in the Lady Corsair — he wants her coldhearted captain and the valuable da Vinci sketch she stole from him. To reclaim it, Archimedes is determined to seduce the stubborn woman who once tossed him to a ravenous pack of zombies, but she’s no easy conquest.
When da Vinci’s sketch attracts a dangerous amount of attention, Yasmeen and Archimedes journey to Horde-occupied Morocco — and straight into their enemy’s hands. But as they fight to save themselves and a city on the brink of rebellion, the greatest peril Yasmeen faces is from the man who seeks to melt her icy heart…

The Review:
This is the second book in the Iron Seas series. I read The Iron Duke and enjoyed it. This one? Was better. Set in the same world, filled with zombies, bugs, and the Horde. I am not sure why I liked it better? Maybe it because it lacks the save the world mentality? The stakes is still high, for all of them but it is in’t on save the world level.
I enjoyed the fast paced adventure, the way it started with a bang and never slowed down. Or at least it felt like that. I am sure it was a slow paragraph here and there.
I loved the way everything felt connected, and that both Yasmeen and Archimedes had things at stakes.
But what I really loved with this book was the characters. The snarky banter between Archimedes and Yasmine. The sensual tension between them.
I also loved that there was so many different kinds of characters. From jackasses, to traitors, to rough brawlers, to smart women, and curious boys.
Most of all there goes a thread of loyalty through the book. In so many ways.
I loved this book in so many ways, and I regret that I waited so long with purchasing it. The only thing that bugged me were in the beginning Archimedes said intended to fall in love with her. I could have accepted seduce, since it would have fit better. On the other hand, after finishing the book, I can understand why he intended to do that, but it still bugged me. 

Review: What Ho, Automaton! by Chris Dolley

The Particulars: 
Steampunk, Bookview Cafe, available as e-book.
The Source: Purchased at Bookview Cafe
The Grade: B+
The Blurb:

Wodehouse Steampunk! Reggie Worcester and Reeves, his gentleman’s personal gentle-automaton, are consulting detectives in an alternative 1903 where an augmented Queen Victoria is still on the throne and automata are a common sight below stairs. Humour, Mystery, Aunts and Zeppelins!

The Review:
Two words sums up this collection: Wodehouse Steampunk.
The first one is about how Reggie and Reeves met, and the second they search for missing debutantes.
Both stories were fun to read. Reggie acts like an bored young noble man should act.  Reeves is the one with brains.   Emmeline is a debutante with a spine. They join up and search for the missing debutantes, and hilarity ensues.  Reggie had a lot of wild ideas,  Reeves managed to stop some of them. And oh my. I laughed a lot.  They fumbled around, while searching for the debutantes, but in the end they managed to find all of them.

When it comes to the setting, it felt very realistic, from the pressure to marry and behave properly, to the Victorians fascination with inventions.  The 1900’s were a time with a lot of experimenting, and this shows in the story.  It was nice that there were no zombies, or other paranormal aspects.  Instead the steampunk element came from the automatons, and the Promotheans.
The book was  well written, and I laughed a lot. But when I can to page 100 or so, I started to get a bit tired of the over the top humor.  Also, it didn’t feel like Reggie grew as a character. He was the same person at the end as he had been in the beginning.
Still, I’ll definitely read more by Chris Dolley.

Dark Faerie Tales Steampunk reading Challenge 2012

I wanted to join Dark Faerie tales UF challenge last year, but since I discovered it in september I decided to wait. So when I spotted the Steampunk Challenge, I decided to join it. I view it as a good way to get introduced to the genre. The challenge runs from Jan 2012 to Dec 2012. My plan is to post one review each month.

The tentiative reading list is:
1. Bone Shaker by Cherie Priest
2. New Blood by Gail Dayton.
3. Heart of Steel by Meljean Brook
4. Tin Swift by Devon Monk
5. Soulless by Gail Carriger
6. Leviathan by Scott Westerfield
7. Viridis by Claire Taylor
8. The Grey Friar by Clay and Susan Griffith
9. Clockwork angel by Cassandra Clare
10. Wicked as the come by Delilah Lawson
11. The Iron duke by Meljean Brook
12. The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow

Review: Wilder’s Mate by Moira Rogers

Wilder's Mate (Bloodhounds, #1)Wilder’s Mate by Moira Rogers

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Book: Wilder’s Mate by Moira Rogers

The Particulars: Steampunk, Samhain, e-book

Why was it in my TBR? I was in the mood for steampunk

The Review:

The blurb:

Wilder Harding is a bloodhound, created by the Guild to hunt down and kill vampires on America’s frontier. His enhanced abilities come with a high price: on the full moon, he becomes capable of savagery beyond telling, while the new moon brings a sexual hunger that borders on madness.

Rescuing a weapons inventor from undead kidnappers is just another assignment, though one with an added complication—keeping his hands off the man’s pretty young apprentice, who insists on tagging along.

My impressions:

I loved this. The world of a bloodhounds is grim, and gritty. The bloodhounds were a fresh take on Vampire hunters. I loved how Moira Rogers have added details from real dogs, and used them to create a sizzling tale about determination, survival and love. Wilder’s and Satira’s journey into the Deathlands felt realistic. The combination of a well-crafted plot, interesting characters, and a fascinating made this a satisfying tale.

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Steam and Sorcery by Cindy Spencer Pape

Steam & SorcerySteam & Sorcery by Cindy Spencer Pape

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Book: Steam and Sorcery by Cindy Spencer Pape

The Particulars: Steampunk, Carina Press, available as e-book

Why was it in my TBR? I got this one from Netgalley. The cover caught my attention

The Review:

The blurb:
Sir Merrick Hadrian hunts monsters, both human and supernatural. A Knight of the Order of the Round Table, his use of magick and the technologies of steam power have made him both respected and feared. But his considerable skills are useless in the face of his greatest challenge, guardianship of five unusual children. At a loss, Merrick enlists the aid of a governess. Miss Caroline Bristol is reluctant to work for a bachelor but she needs a position, and these former street children touch her heart. While she tends to break any mechanical device she touches, it never occurs to her that she might be something more than human. All she knows is that Merrick is the most dangerously attractive man she’s ever met—and out of reach for a mere governess. When conspiracy threatens to blur the distinction between humans and monsters, Caroline and Merrick must join forces, and the fate of humanity hinges upon their combined skills of steam and sorcery…

My impressions:
I must admit, I am weak for romance novels were a strong woman meets a man with orphaned children. Toss in steampunk and magic, and I has too read it. This was one of the first ARCs I requested from NetGalley. And I am glad I did. Cindy Spencer Pape have created a fascinating world, that houses magic, tech and monsters. I liked that the world was nuanced, and that she didn’t hesitate to show the uglier sides. The uglier sides have affected the characters, and that also affect the plot. The steampunk elements were light, but important to the plot.
I fell in love with the characters. All of them, even Edwin Berry. The children were depicted as children and not mini adults. I liked the way Caroline handled them. But I especially liked the growing romance between Merrick and Caroline. Both of them are aware of their attraction, but determined to fight it.
The plot was fast paced, and sucked me in. The combination of plot, world and characters was good enough to make me ignore some of the less than subtle hints. But, it is a well written story, in a fascinating world. I am looking forward to the next book in the Series.

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