Tag Archives: steampunk

The Unnaturalists- Tiffany Trent
Book Reviews
August 30, 2012 posted by Nichole

The Unnaturalists- Tiffany Trent

In an alternate London where magical creatures are preserved in a museum, two teens find themselves caught in a web of intrigue, deception, and danger.

Vespa Nyx wants nothing more than to spend the rest of her life cataloging Unnatural creatures in her father’s museum, but as she gets older, the requirement to become a lady and find a husband is looming large. Syrus Reed’s Tinker family has always served and revered the Unnaturals from afar, but when his family is captured to be refinery slaves, he finds that his fate may be bound up with Vespa’s—and with the Unnaturals.

As the danger grows, Vespa and Syrus find themselves in a tightening web of deception and intrigue. At stake may be the fate of New London—and the world.

The Unnaturalists is one of those books that starts out really strong, and you begin to think that it’s going to be the next big thing. As soon as I read page one, I was hooked. I had never read a steampunk book before, and I didn’t really know what to expect. All I knew was that steampunk was a wayyy different genre than I was used to.

I would say that The Unnaturalists stayed really good for about 3-4 chapters. After that, it started to sink downhill. I remember being really upset, because I expected so much out of this book. I wanted it to be brilliant. What I got was tolerable.

I never really connected with the main characters, Vespa and Syrus, which was a major problem. When I settle down to read a book, I need to connect and have a solid relationship with the main characters, if not all of the characters. This never happened at all. I had such a bad connection with the characters that, a month down the road, I barely even remember the book. I just know that The Unnaturalists and I did not get along.

Tiffany Trent had a brilliant concept when she came up with The Unnaturalists, but it didn’t quite work for me. This makes me nervous to read more books in the steampunk genre. Maybe that specific genre just is not for me? Or is it this specific book? That is a question that I am going to have to look into.

Overall, I would not recommend this book. I ended up finding it slightly boring and very forgettable.

Pages: 305

Publication Date: August 14, 2012

Publisher: Simon & Schuster BFYR

Rating: : ★½☆☆☆


Teaser Quote: “Syrus waited for only a moment, looking back toward the dark entrance. He shifted from foot to foot before he finally opened his mouth.

Bayne held up his hand. “Take my sleeve.”

Syrus grasped his magic-stained lace cuff.

And then everything–heart, breath, blood, thought–was ripped apart.

Book Reviews
May 20, 2012 posted by Kiona

The Girl in the Clockwork Collar — Kady Cross

In New York City, 1897, life has never been more thrilling – or dangerous.

Sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne and her “straynge band of mysfits” have journeyed from London to America to rescue their friend Jasper, hauled off by bounty hunters. But Jasper is in the clutches of a devious former friend demanding a trade-the dangerous device Jasper stole from him…for the life of the girl Jasper loves.

One false move from Jasper and the strange clockwork collar around Mei’s neck tightens. And tightens.

The thrilling sequel to The Girl in the Steel Corset picks up right where the last book left off. After Jasper is apprehended by bounty hunters, his friends journey to America in an effort to rescue him and clear his name. But his friends soon realize it’s not the authorities who have Jasper, been an even more threatening enemy, one who knows Jasper’s weaknesses and exploits them in exchange for a powerful device that might endanger all of them.

Though I thoroughly enjoyed The Girl in the Steel Corset, the second book in The Steampunk Chronicles blows the first away. I enjoyed every minute of it and found it physically impossible to put the book down. The action is fast-paced and utterly relentless. It’s been awhile since I’ve read such a cinematic action-packed novel and I’d forgotten how much I missed this style of writing. Each character is fierce in their own way, so they each get their own shining moments in Clockwork Collar. Plus, we get a handful of new, equally fierce characters that give our beloved characters a run for their money.

The action is easily my favorite part of this series. I’m addicted to well-rendered fight scenes and Kady Cross’s descriptions are top-notch. I love that she points out all the differences and nuances that separate the characters; Sam’s brute strength, Finley’s penchant for literal fist-fighting, Jasper’s love of pistols, and Mei’s thorough background in martial arts. These small details not only act as characterization, but also set Cross’s books apart from all others. But of course, Cross also accomplishes this with her inclusion of steampunk elements. When I first picked up this series, I was wary because it was steampunk. Some steampunk authors bite off more than they can chew and the result is remarkably dissatisfying. But Kady Cross proves that when steampunk is done well, it’s absolutely amazing. And enthralling. And andrenaline-spiking.

Of course, the character development is so, so impressive. Now that both halves of Finley’s personality have been united, you’d think she’d feel less conflicted. But she still suffers from an understandable internal turmoil. She has to accept that this darker part of her is her and she’s not sure just how much she should give into it — and what she’d have to sacrifice if she does. But she cannot deny that a part of her is drawn to darkness and danger (which is why part of her is attracted to Jack Dandy), and Griffin can’t deny that that part of Finley leaves him unbelievably worried and distrustful.

Speaking of Jack and Griffin, I’m a sucker for love triangles and it was one of my favorite aspects of the first book in The Steampunk Chronicles. Oddly enough, the lack of development of the love triangle is one of my favorite aspects of this book.  Finley, Griffin, Sam, and Emily travel to New York to rescue Jasper, which means that Finley leaves Jack Dandy at home in London. Therefore, her friendship with Griffin is what’s truly developed in this book and Cross certainly takes her time drawing out this relationship. I can’t even express how much I truly appreciate this. Finley and Griffin are such good friends and they both have valid reasons for being afraid of taking their relationship to a romantic level (Griffin more so than Finley). But the romantic tension is always there, especially when they argue, and their desire for each other practically sizzles off the page. Plus, Emily and Sam are completely adorable together and satisfy the “relationship quota” for the book.

There’s no one I wouldn’t recommend this series to. The inventions are extraordinary, the romantic tension is palpable, the plot is thrilling and unpredictable. The Girl in the Clockwork Collar is, quite simply, utterly engrossing. I love these characters and, once again, I can’t wait to fall back into their world. And for any science nerds, Nikola Tesla plays a pretty strong role throughout the book — a fact I was ecstatically surprised to discover. I am a huge Tesla fan and his inclusion as a character made me love the book that much more, if possible.

Pages: 416
Publication Date: May 2012
Publisher: Harlequin TEEN
Source: Provided by Publisher
Rating : ★★★★★

Teaser Quote: “Before, she could have blamed this sort of behavior on her darker half, but that was no longer the case. Griffin has helped her begin to unite her two sides, and now she was no longer one or the other, but both. Now it was up to her to decide what sort of person she wanted to be.

Book Reviews
May 18, 2012 posted by Kiona

The Peculiars — Maureen Doyle McQuerry

This dark and thrilling adventure, with an unforgettable heroine, will captivate fans of steampunk, fantasy, and romance. On her 18th birthday, Lena Mattacascar decides to search for her father, who disappeared into the northern wilderness of Scree when Lena was young. Scree is inhabited by Peculiars, people whose unusual characteristics make them unacceptable to modern society. Lena wonders if her father is the source of her own extraordinary characteristics and if she, too, is Peculiar. On the train she meets a young librarian, Jimson Quiggley, who is traveling to a town on the edge of Scree to work in the home and library of the inventor Mr. Beasley. The train is stopped by men being chased by the handsome young marshal Thomas Saltre. When Saltre learns who Lena’s father is, he convinces her to spy on Mr. Beasley and the strange folk who disappear into his home, Zephyr House. A daring escape in an aerocopter leads Lena into the wilds of Scree to confront her deepest fears.

Lena Mattacascar has always been different. She tells people she has a birth defect and hides the truth: she’s half-goblin. At least, that’s what her doctor, mother, and grandmother believe. They claim the source of the goblinism is her father, but he disappeared a long time ago. When Lena turns eighteen, she decides to seek her father out and demand answers. On her way to Scree — supposedly a haven for “Peculiars,” people who are different, like Lena — Lena meets Jimson Quiggley, a librarian traveling to Knob Knoster, the town right outside Scree. The two strike up a quick friendship and Lena eventually finds herself working alongside Jimson for the mysterious Mr. Beasley, a man claimed to conduct experiments on Peculiars. When Lena meets Thomas Saltre, a marshal who asks her to spy on Mr. Beasley for the sake of her country, Lena is unsure who to trust.

For some reason, I just couldn’t connect to The Peculiars. In the beginning, I was excited by the idea of ‘Peculiars’ and Lena’s adventure to Knob Knoster quickly grabbed my attention. She’s a strong, independent girl with a lot of questions about herself that promise to lead to exciting answers. The alternate 1800s setting of The Peculiars is equally as interesting as Lena and her unique features. But while all the elements of the story are interesting, the action isn’t. It develops so slowly that I had to force myself to finish each chapter. On the plus side, the chapters are short and easy to read through. The downside: there are a lot of them.

I think my main problem with The Peculiars is that I was expecting it to be someone else. The cover, though intriguing, is misleading. Lena does not have wings and winged individuals play a very small role in the book. In fact, the Peculiars themselves play an oddly insignificant role. The book centers more around Lena’s journey to a new place and her struggle to accept herself. But I wanted to know so much more about the Peculiars! I wanted to know why these people existed, how many of them existed, the different types of Peculiars, and what it was like to have these sorts of unique qualities. Lena’s own “deformities” — an extra joint on each finger and toe — are the least fascinating compared to the other Peculiars. Since the book doesn’t really seem to be about the Peculiars, I’d expect it to at least solve the mystery of Lena’s father’s disappearance. But even though Lena’s questions about her father seem to be the driving force of the book, we never actually receive the answers to these questions, leaving the ending absurdly anticlimactic.

Despite the problems I had with The Peculiars, it’s not a bad book. It’s well-written and very different from anything I’ve ever read. I was excited for the steampunk elements, but I expected them to be played up much more. The inventions are there, but their role is even more miniscule than those of the Peculiars. Still, McQuerry’s descriptions of some of Mr. Beasley’s inventions are gripping and thorough, which further establishes the uniqueness of the setting. Lena is an average character — I didn’t feel much for her, but I didn’t dislike her. The romantic tension is too underplayed for the ending to feel deserved, but it’s still kind of cute.

Overall, I had higher expectations for The Peculiars, but it’s still an interesting read. For those sick of the same-old, The Peculiars might interest you. As far as I know, there’s nothing like it in the YA genre. The steampunk elements add an interesting flair and for those sick of books revolving around a lovesick girl and her undeserving love interest, The Peculiars is sure to end the monotony. Though the book is marketed as a romance, it really isn’t. The ending feels rushed and kind of tacked on, but that may just be because I didn’t really connect with the characters.

Pages: 354
Publication Date: May 2012
Publisher: Amulet Books
Source: NetGalley
Rating : ★★★☆☆

Teaser Quote: “Maybe it was only goblin women who were restless and wanted to see the world. She didn’t know.

Book Reviews
October 5, 2011 posted by Kiona

The Girl in the Steel Corset (The Steampunk Chronicles) – Kady Cross

In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one…except the “thing” inside her. When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch…

Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she’s special, says she’s one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.

Griffin’s investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help – and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.

But The Machinist wants to tear Griff’s little company of strays apart, and it isn’t long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she’s on – even it if seems no one believes her.

The Girl in the Steel Corset was my first steampunk novel and it certainly didn’t disappoint. In fact, it blew me away. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to read it all in one sitting, but by the time I got to the middle of the book, I absolutely could not put it down.

I was captivated immediately by the character of Finley, Kady Cross’s new version of Jekyll and Hyde. Finley’s dual personalities are riveting and I like that everyone immediately understands that Finley is two different people in one body. The characters of Steel Corset aren’t blind and oblivious. They are incredibly smart, talented, stubborn, and unique. It’s impossible to really dislike any character due to the fact that they all have so many layers to their personalities – layers that Cross peels back and explores in full.

The ensemble cast is one of the biggest highlights of the first novel in The Steampunk Chronicles. Cross seamlessly weaves from one character’s viewpoint to another. Though the majority of the novel is told from Finley’s and Griff’s points of view, we also spend time in the minds of Sam, Emily, and even The Machinist. Telling a story from multiple points of view increases the suspense and allows us to connect to each character more fully, which is very important when dealing with such a large cast.

In addition to phenomenal character development, this book is packed with action. There are multiple plot lines and conflicts existing at once, thus there’s never a dull moment. But at no point does it seem like there’s too much going on or like Cross has bitten off more than she can chew. The entire plot seems well-thought out and leaves the reader feeling as if Steel Corset is only the beginning of what’s sure to be a thrilling ride.

If forced, I could only cite a few faults. The first would be that I really can’t decide who I like better: Griff or Jack Dandy? Sam or Jasper? Finley and Emily certainly have their hands full with those boys. I would also say that the mystery of The Machinist’s identity is a little predictable, but not in a bad way. Sometimes it feels good, as a reader, to solve mysteries on your own. Plus, all the events surrounding The Machinist, including the end of the book, are anything but predictable.

As an added bonus, the story’s set in 1897 England, which means awesome outfits as well as a fun mixture of futuristic inventions and long-forgotten customs (and, oh yeah, masquerade balls, anyone?). Basically, there’s nothing not to love about Steel Corset. Luckily, this is just the beginning.

Pages: 473
Publication Date: May 2011
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Challenge: N/A
Rating : ★★★★½

Teaser Quote: “He walked her into the moonlight as though escorting her into a ball. Even though she knew she could snap his neck in an instant, she felt slightly off center—somewhat as her other half had with Griffin. Dandy had power, and that gave him confidence.”

Leviathan – Scott Westerfeld
Book Reviews
September 13, 2010 posted by ashley

Leviathan – Scott Westerfeld

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.

If I got to write a letter to the author of Leviathan, I’d say, “Scott Westerfeld, don’t be that guy- that guy who has a great idea for a story and then ruins it by dumbing it down for his readers”. I read the first two books in his Uglies series, and it was a struggle just to make it that far. Westerfeld creates these amazing worlds which feel so familiar and yet very exciting. He has strong willed main characters with something to fight for. But then there’s the lingo that he insists on hitting you over the head with, which for me, really made me cringe during his steampunk alternate history, Leviathan.

The story takes place on the brink of World War I, and follows two very different characters: Aleksandar Ferdinand, the prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Deryn Sharp, a girl masquerading as a boy in the British Air Service. Austria-Hungary is on the side of the Axis (called Clankers in the book, for their machine warfare), while Britain is on the side of the Allies (called Darwinists for the use of their “fabricated” beasts). While the two are on opposite sides of the war, they are facing many of the same problems. Both have lost parents, have had to be on their own, and have egos that need serious humbling. The world of Leviathan is refreshingly unique and awe-inspiring. Whales as zeppelins, lizards as messengers, enormous machines like robots that you can sit inside and walk around in…I really wish this world were real.

Despite how cool the world is though, I can’t say that I loved this book. The lingo drives me absolutely bonkers. Every few pages, I was cringing over words like “clart” (excrement), “barking” (f***ing), “boffins” (well educated adults)… I get it. The point of the lingo is to make the story seem otherworldly, but mainly I was just annoyed. I got so wrapped up in decoding what everyone was saying that I wasn’t really paying attention to the story. I felt cheated with this story because I was expecting it to be so much more; I really thought Westerfeld would raise the bar and write something that was difficult and deep, but I got more of Uglies: a cool world with no substance.

I will say that the art of the book is fantastic. The illustrations throughout are beautifully done and really add to the story. The cover art drew me in from the beginning, covered in cogs and wheels like the inside of a mad clock. My favorite part was definitely the map of the Great War on the inside front and back covers, with each country represented by an animal or some machine. While I didn’t much care for the story of Leviathan, I loved the world of Darwinists and Clankers, and can’t wait to find out more about how each side builds their weaponry in Behemoth, the sequel due out this October.

Publication date: 2009
Pages: 464
Rating: : ★★★½☆

Teaser Quote: “Maybe this was how you stayed sane in wartime: a handful of noble deeds amid the chaos.