Friday, November 30, 2012

Festive Steam

Some unexpected Steam at tonight's switching on of the Christmas lights in town :)


Beautiful!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

48,000

..just a quick note to say that I'm still alive, and will be posting reviews fervently very soon. It's the penultimate day of NanoWriMo and I've just hit the 48,000 word mark. My reading has been massively affected this month, but by God, I think I'm going to make it! It's my first time and I'm absolutely shattered, but chuffed to have made it this far. I'll be back here, reviewing like a madwoman once 1st Dec rolls around, hopefully with the full 50,000 under my belt :)

I'll be bringing some brand new site graphics with me, along with some lovely new titles for review...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Agatha H and the Airship City, Phil and Kaja Foglio

"The Industrial Revolution has escalated into all-out warfare. It has been sixteen years since the Heterodyne Boys, benevolent adventurers and inventors, disappeared under mysterious circumstances. 

Today, Europe is ruled by the Sparks, dynasties of mad scientists ruling over - and terrorizing - the hapless population with their bizarre inventions and unchecked power, while the downtrodden dream of the Hetrodynes' return. 

At Transylvania Polygnostic University, a pretty, young student named Agatha Clay seems to have nothing but bad luck. Incapable of building anything that actually works, but dedicated to her studies, Agatha seems destined for a lackluster career as a minor lab assistant. But when the University is overthrown by the ruthless tyrant Baron Klaus Wulfenbach, Agatha finds herself a prisoner aboard his massive airship Castle Wulfenbach - and it begins to look like she might carry a spark of Mad Science after all. 

From Phil and Kaja Foglio, creators of the Hugo, Eagle, and Eisner Award-nominated webcomic Girl Genius, comes Agatha H and the Airship City, a gaslamp fantasy filled to bursting with Adventure! Romance! and Mad Science!"

This was the perfect read for a day off work, it's fast paced, steam filled and completely bonkers, I couldn't put it down. Agatha is a hugely likeable heroine, and she's massively readable, I had no end of fun with her and can't wait for the sequel in January. I have to confess, when reading it I didn't realise it was a graphic novel adaptation, the novel covers the first 3 volumes of the comic series I believe, and they can be read online at www.girlgeniusonline.com, pardon me while I squeeeee!! Comics aren't usually my thing, but the idea of being able to 'see' all of the action I've just devoured is far too tempting to ignore.

Agatha's world is completely intriguing, the plot here may be filled with cliche but it works because of the original and beautifully vivid world-building. I defy anyone not to have fun with the Clanks and J√§germonsters, the constructs and the villains, the wasps and the Sparks. It's just, gorgeous. There's so much to lose yourself in, it was an absolutely beautiful read. Mad, but brilliant.
The only thing I can find as a negative is that once in a while the J√§germonsters' dialogue got a little too much to decipher, it slowed me down sometimes as I was trying to belt along behind Agatha. Other than that? Flawless! Can't wait for the next one.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Agatha H and the Airship City - Free!

I'm not sure how long this offer will be available, as I've only just spotted it, but Night Shade Books are giving away 3 eBooks on a Thanksgiving deal. One of which is the delicious looking Agatha H and the Airship City;

"The Industrial Revolution has escalated into all-out warfare. Sixteen years have passed since the Heterodyne Boys, benevolent adventurers and inventors, disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Today, Europe is ruled by the Sparks, dynasties of mad scientists ruling over—and terrorizing—the hapless population with their bizarre inventions and unchecked power, while the downtrodden dream of the Heterodynes’ return. 

At Transylvania Polygnostic University, a pretty, young student named Agatha Clay seems to have nothing but bad luck. Incapable of building anything that actually works, but dedicated to her studies, Agatha seems destined for a lackluster career as a minor lab assistant. But when the university is overthrown by the ruthless tyrant Baron Klaus Wulfenbach, Agatha finds herself a prisoner aboard his massive airship Castle Wulfenbach—and it begins to look like she might carry a spark of Mad Science after all. 

 From Phil and Kaja Foglio, creators of the Hugo, Eagle, and Eisner Award-nominated webcomic Girl Genius, comes Agatha H. and the Airship City, a gaslamp fantasy filled to bursting with Adventure! Romance! and Mad Science!"

All you have to do is fire off a blank email to happythanksgiving@nightshadebooks.com and they'll auto-respond with a download link and a username and password. Nice!


I selected this post to be featured on my blog’s page at Book Review Blogs.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Mortal Engines, Philip Reeve

"It was a dark, blustery afternoon in spring, and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dried-out bed of the old North Sea." The great traction city London has been skulking in the hills to avoid the bigger, faster, hungrier cities loose in the Great Hunting Ground. But now, the sinister plans of Lord Mayor Mangus Crome can finally unfold. Thaddeus Valentine, London's Head Historian and adored famous archaeologist, and his lovely daughter, Katherine, are down in The Gut when the young assassin with the black scarf strikes toward his heart, saved by the quick intervention of Tom, a lowly third-class apprentice. Racing after the fleeing girl, Tom suddenly glimpses her hideous face: scarred from forehead to jaw, nose a smashed stump, a single eye glaring back at him. "Look at what your Valentine did to me!" she screams. "Ask him! Ask him what he did to Hester Shaw!" And with that she jumps down the waste chute to her death. Minutes later Tom finds himself tumbling down the same chute and stranded in the Out-Country, a sea of mud scored by the huge caterpillar tracks of cities like the one now steaming off over the horizon. In a stunning literary debut, Philip Reeve has created a painful dangerous unforgettable adventure story of surprises, set in a dark and utterly original world fueled by Municipal Darwinism -- and betrayal."

Municipal Darwinisim...THIS is the one I've been waiting for! Proper Steampunk! Mortal Engines was a complete gem of a read. It's one I might have steered clear of, if not for the Twitterverse, because it's a YA read and I'm always wary of those. What with me being so old and all.  But I got a recommendation via Twitter and I'm so glad I cracked into it, what a hidden treasure.

If you're a fan of Pulman, or The Terminator, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, or A Series of Unfortunate Events you'll find something to enjoy in Mortal Engines, I promise you. It's one of those rarities that works equally well whether you're twelve or waiting on your bus pass. Ageless. I'd happily read this to my son, and lend it to my Mum. And there aren't many titles I can say that about.

It's the World-building that makes it, there's something for everyone, and so much to get your teeth into should you want to immerse yourself in Reeve's world. It's clever, and it's layered, and what a difference from the cardboard cut-outs I've been reading recently.

Mortal Engines is action packed and roars along at at a cracking pace. The plot is intriguing and the body count is high. Reeve's series opener is innovative, beautifully imagined, well written and perfectly paced. I can't fault it. I would love, love love love to see this as an animated film...oh my God...it'd be stunning.

The good news for me is that not only are there three more in the series, which I'll definitely be enjoying;


but there's also a prequel out now too, so I can immerse myself in blissful Reeveness for a good while to come;





Thursday, November 22, 2012

Unnatural History, Jonathan Green

"In the closing years of the 20th century the British Empire's rule is still going strong. Queen Victoria is about to celebrate her 160th birthday, kept alive by advanced steam technology. London is a fantastical sprawling metropolis where dirigibles roam the skies, robot bobbies enforce the law and dinosaurs are on display in London zoo. 

Welcome to Magna Britannia, a steam driven world full of fantastical creations and shady villains. Here dashing dandies and mustachioed villains battle for supremacy while below the city strange things stir in the flooded tunnels of the old London Underground. In two scant months the nation, and all her colonies, will celebrate 160 years of Queen Victoria's glorious reign. But all is not well at the heart of the empire of Magna Britannia. A chain of events is about to be set in motion that, if not stopped, could lead to a world-shattering conclusion. It begins with a break-in at the Natural History Museum. A night watchman is murdered. An eminent Professor of Evolutionary Biology goes missing. Then a catastrophic overground rail-crash unleashes the dinosaurs of London Zoo"

This is a hard one for me to call. As I was reading Unnatural History I had a lot of fun in some places, and in others I was tearing my hair out in frustration at all the caricatures and stereotypes I kept having to endure. The whole novel is riddled with cliches that you're going to either love or hate. In all honesty the point at which Green included the line "Rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated" I found myself crossing over the hate line.

Really I think the only thing I can say about this title is that it's fast-paced, action-packed fun, awash with every genre cliche imaginable. I can't write an in-depth review of it, because there's no depth to it. If you're looking for something to get your teeth into, and you're not a fan of one dimensional characters and general plot insanity, this one isn't for you. If you're ok with just enjoying the notion of dinosaurs rampaging through London, with cardboard cutout characters along for the ride, go for it.

I do 'get' what Unnatural History is doing, in fairness it doesn't pretend to be literary and it probably does work OK on a 'penny dreadful' level, but it really wasn't for me on the whole, and I won't be going any further with this series.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Shopping, and learning

It's inevitable that I'm going to make some mistakes in my reading choices as I slowly find my feet within the genre. The Iron Wyrm Affair was #1, and I'm genuinely in two minds as to whether or not Unnatural History was #2. I finished it tonight and it was a bit of a mixed bag to be honest. Review to follow tomorrow, evil work schedule permitting.

I'm pretty sure my newest book purchases are going to be an improvement. I've got Reeve's Mortal Engines, Hunt's The Court of The Air and Gibson's The Difference Engine. No Gas Light Romances there, Huzzah!



The back end of this month is a bit mad for me, as I'm fighting to complete the NanoWriMo challenge, but rest assured that come December I'll be putting my feet up and recovering by reading like a woman possessed. So while things will most likely be quiet for a couple of weeks, all hell will soon break loose on the review front :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Iron Wyrm Affair, Lilith Saintcrow


"Emma Bannon, forensic sorceress in the service of the Empire, has a mission: to protect Archibald Clare, a failed, unregistered mentath. His skills of deduction are legendary, and her own sorcery is not inconsiderable. It doesn't help much that they barely tolerate each other, or that Bannon's Shield, Mikal, might just be a traitor himself. Or that the conspiracy killing registered mentaths and sorcerers alike will just as likely kill them as seduce them into treachery toward their Queen. 

In an alternate London where illogical magic has turned the Industrial Revolution on its head, Bannon and Clare now face hostility, treason, cannon fire, black sorcery, and the problem of reliably finding hansom cabs."

As an over-enthusiastic newcomer to the genre I'm obviously going to make some mistakes along the way. I think The Iron Wyrm Affair was one of them! Is it *actually* Steampunk? It really didn't feel like it to me, but then to-date I've only read Boneshaker and Infernal Devices, both of which leave this one for dead.

To me Saintcrow's novel read like standard Fantasy/Alternate Reality, genre-wise. In terms of the book itself, it's such a massive rip-off of Sherlock that I couldn't really give it much love, try as I might. Couple this with some of the most...'unusual' grammar I've ever read, and it was a bit of an epic fail if I'm honest. I've never had to go back and re-read so many bizarre sentences in my life. As an ex-English teacher I was reaching for my red pen a few times. And if this wasn't enough to wind me up, the sheer volume of slightly altered names was making my left eye twitch at an alarming rate.

It was very much a slow starter, and I found it to be a jumbled mix of styles and themes which ultimately felt like a right royal muddle. It did get better as it went on though, in fairness, and I fought my way through to the end. There were some lovely touches here and there, but for me they were heavily outweighed by the annoyances, and this isn't a series I'd come back to.

Must Pay Closer Attention When Choosing Titles.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

My Next 5 Steampunk Reads

I'm terrible when it comes to my TBR pile, I add it to it madly at all times and rarely ever stick to any kind of reading order. With a shiny new blog to hand here, I feel like I've got the chance to set some realistic Steamery Punkery goals, and having had a rummage about online I've come up a list of a top five Steampunk novels which I'll work my way through before buying any more books. I absolutely promise. Probably.

And so, once I've finished The Iron Wyrm Affair, this is my plan;


#2
#3
#4

















#5























I think that should ease me in nicely, what do YOU think? Any suggestions for the next set? Any obvious swaps?

A New Obsession begins

Hello! and welcome to my new Site! Here you can join me on my journey through the Fantastic world of Steampunk Fiction. The reviews will be kicking in very soon. As a newcomer to the genre, especially one who's fallen instantly in love with it, I thought it would be cool to chronicle my reading journey right from the beginning.

Right now I'm reading Saintcrow's The Iron Wyrm Affair,



and I have a Kindle packed full of Steampunk awesomeness just waiting to be devoured.

If you're a long time Steamery and Punkery fan, or a newbie like myself, I'd love your company along the way!

"She suddenly longed for a glass of decent wine and an exceedingly sensational and frivolous novel, read in the comfort of her own bed."