Monstress: Awakening

Monstress, Vol. 1: The Awakening by Marjorie Liu & Sana Takeda
Image Comics: July 19, 2016
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Free From Publisher

I’d go there again!

Monstress is the first volume in a a historical fantasy graphic novel series, and it’s amazing. Like, really amazing. The artwork is gorgeous and the storyline is compelling and mysterious. Fantasy fans out there will rejoice at the sheer level of complexity of the world that has been created in this graphic novel.

Maika is a teenage girl who’s out for revenge. She orchestrates her own capture in order to infiltrate those she believes to have the information that she needs. Something has happened to Maika and she finds herself changing, becoming more violent as she’s influenced by an unknown force. Maika struggles to control the monster that is living inside her, but it’s a constant struggle and at this point Maika doesn’t have much control over the mysterious creature the compels her to do things she wouldn’t otherwise. (more…)

“Revenge and the Wild”: Western Adventure Falls Flat

21843165Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto
Balzer + Bra: February 2, 2016
Genre: Western; Steampunk
Source: Free From Publisher

The view was nice, but the food was bad.

Revenge and the Wild had a really awesome premise: girl tracks down the cannibals that ate her family. And, it’s also a Western for teens. I’ve been seeing a few Western style YA books out there recently (i.e Vengeance Road, Wake of Vultures etc.), but Revenge and the Wild is the first that I’ve read. There were elements of Revenge and the Wild that I liked, but as a whole I found that there was something lacking.

Westie is seventeen years old and as a child she lost her arm when cannibals attacked her family. Westie was the only survivor. Now as a young woman, Westie continues to search for these cannibals only to discover that they have actually come to her. Her guardian, Nigel, has invented a machine that will amplify the magic in the area, protecting the Native population that live near as well as the magical creatures that share the town with the humans. When a wealthy family comes to town to invest in Nigel’s machine, Westie recognizes them as the cannibals that killed her family. Of course, Nigel (and everyone else) is reluctant to believe that the folks with money are the bad guys, after all, they need the investment. But, Westie refuses to back down on her suspicions and when a few folks wind up dead, it goes a long way to convincing the naysayers. (more…)

“The Devious Dr. Jekyll” Impresses

24805699The Devious Dr. Jekyll by Viola Carr
Harper Voyage: October 27, 2015 (Steampunk)*

I’d go there again!

The Devious Dr. Jekyll is the follow up to Carr’s The Diabolical Miss Hyde in which the daughter(s) of Mr. Hyde are introduced. Sharing the same body are Dr. Eliza Jekyll, forensic investigator and physician, and Miss Lizzie Hyde, a gin swilling, crass speaking, unapologetic young woman. Eliza and Lizzie continue to be at odds with one another, both reluctant to give the other more control. However, their mutual existence is compromised with a new killer on the loose, a marriage proposal, and a return of an old foe (at least in Lizzie’s eyes). (more…)

Frustrating Mysteries in The Deathsniffer’s Assistant

deathsniffer's assistant

The Deathshniffer’s Assistant by Kate McIntyre
Curiosity Quills Press: July 13th, 2015

The view at the beach was nice, but the food was bad (2.5/5)

Advance copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley

Christopher Buckley is a young man trying to keep his family together and protect his younger sister in the face of bankruptcy, tragedy, and unemployment. He grew up privileged – but all that has changed. His money is running out, and he can no longer support himself and his orphaned sister. Their parents died in a tragic and highly publicized accident, and he has been struggling to survive since.

As a categorized wordweaver – one who can write words as quickly as they are said, or even thought – he is qualified for secretarial positions only. In Tarland, where he lives, categorization is an implied sinister process whereby people are labeled according to their magical abilities, forcing them into certain careers and stations in life. Labels equal rankings as well, so if a person does not have much magical ability, they are relegated to the meanest, lowliest jobs and positions in society. Since he does not have the luxury of being choosy, he ends up interviewing for an assistant’s position with the local deathsniffer – a categorized truthsniffer who investigates murders.


A Reader’s Guide to Devon, Bath, and London

If you’re like me, you love reading about places you travel to. Or want to travel to.

I was much busier than I expected to be (or I was nodding off on the train, or watching the scenery pass by), or I would have read more of these.

On my recent vacation to England, I was forced by necessity (a wedding) to establish a vacation base for the majority of my stay in the Devon countryside. Since I was so near, I dropped into Bath for a few days, before spending my last night in London (because trains aren’t always reliable, and getting the train to the airport on the same day I needed to fly out just seemed too risky).

Despite the distractions of exploring the outdoors, meeting up with old friends, touring tangible history, and watching British TV in hotel bedrooms, I managed to get some reading done – and to put together a list of ideal books to read to set the tone of travels to these places.

Turn the page for my guide to reading for Devon, Bath, and London.


More Steampunk Adventures: “The Undying Legion”

23308133The Undying Legion by Clay Griffith & Susan Griffiths
Del Rey: June 30, 2015 (Steampunk)*

Beach Vacation

The Undying Legion is the second in Clay and Susan Griffith’s steampunk trilogy. I enjoyed the first book, and I went into the second book wanting more from the main characters. In the first book, for me at least, there was such a focus on action that it was at the expense of truly interesting characters and it was that element that I was hoping would develop more fully in this second installment. Unfortunately, The Undying Legion did not give me the characters that I was looking for and once again the plot was almost exclusively focused on the central mystery and detailed renditions of what the characters were doing rather than what they were experiencing.

In this second installment Simon, Kate and Malcolm are back in the game when they investigate the gruesome murders at several churches in the city. Complicating this investigation is the fact that the dead just don’t seem to want to stay dead. Simon and Kate immediately start researching, but Malcolm splits off from the group due to his discomfort in their treatment of Charlotte, a teenage werewolf. It’s not easy putting aside those werewolf hunting impulses even when confronted with a young girl that’s more interested in fashion and tea parties than, you know, eating people.While Simon and Kate don’t totally understand Malcolm’s hunter tendencies, they let him go, they do have a mystery to solve after all! (more…)

Not Quite Revolutionary: “The Shadow Revolution”

22926502The Shadow Revolution by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith
Del Rey: June 2, 2015 (Steampunk)*

Beach Vacation

The Shadow Revolution is the first in a steampunk trilogy featuring magic, mystery and non-stop action. Simon Archer is a scribe, perhaps one of the last of his kind. Simon’s abilities manifest through inscription, including using his own body as a medium to use magic.

“A carver. It’s a vulgar term for a scribe who practices inscription using his own body as the tablet.”

Simon’s talents are rare and he’s been taught to keep in the shadows (Simon’s a bit of a directionless fribble at start of the book). When his former paramour is murdered before his eyes, Simon finds himself neck deep in a much larger battle and he comes to the realization that by keeping to the shadows, he’s actually putting people’s lives in danger when he could actually do something about it.

Joining Simon’s quest to rid London of it’s werewolf pack is werewolf hunter, Malcolm, and Kate, who’s sister has been gone missing. Joining forces for their respective missions, Simon, Malcolm and Kate soon discover that their paths are much more interconnected than they would have imagined. The trio also comes to realize that their family’s pasts might also be playing a part in the larger conflict that is endangering the city. (more…)

The Ministry is Back: “The Diamond Conspiracy”

22460416The Diamond Conspiracy by Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris
Ace: March 31, 2015 (Steampunk)*

I’d go there again! vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3

The Ministry is back in action!

The fourth book in The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences has arrived and the team is being thrown under the bus by outside forces. Forced to go to ground with the Phantom Protocol Eliza Braun and Wellington Books are on the run and ready to save the empire once again, trouble is, the leader of the empire, just might be the problem.

The Diamond Conspiracy takes place just days after the events in Dawn’s Early Light. Welly and Eliza are returning back to England and testing out their new found romantic relationship. However, the pleasure cruise home is brought to an abrupt halt when Eliza receives the signal from her street urchins, the Ministry Seven. Racing against the clock Eliza and Wellington band together with trusted colleagues and former enemies to save both the empire and their own skin. (more…)

An Unusual Heroine in “The Diabolical Miss Hyde”

22308742The Diabolical Miss Hyde by Viola Carr
Harper Voyage: February 10, 2015 (Steampunk)*

Beach vacation vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3

The Diabolical Miss Hyde is the first in a steampunk series, and it’s a debut that I’m not at all certain about. I really liked the atmosphere and the extension of the Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde text, but there were a couple of things that I had issues with.

Dr. Eliza Jekyll is the daughter of the famous Doctor Jekyll. Her father has since died and Eliza has also set herself up as a doctor. At present she works with the police as it’s difficult for a woman to find and retain patients in Victorian England. However, Eliza has one very large secret. Like her father, Eliza also has an alter ego, her’s is Lizzie Hyde.

Lizzie Hyde is everything that Eliza is not. She’s not proper or worried about appearances. When she gets free of Eliza she makes the most of her freedom with a night on the town. However, when Eliza finds herself at risk during an investigation, it’s Lizzie that she just might have to rely on to help her. If only she didn’t have to worry about being under investigation herself. (more…)

Joint Review: “The Eterna Files” Falls Flat

22238164The Eterna Files by Leanna Renee Hieber
Tor: February 3, 2014 (Steampunk)*

The view was nice, but the food was bad vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3

Jaclyn’s Review

I really liked the idea behind The Eterna Files. Secret government organization in Victorian England? Yes, please! Unfortunately, this one missed the mark for me. Some of the characters were interesting, but I never felt that I spent enough time with them to truly get invested in their stories.

Harold Spire has been appointed by Queen Victoria to Special Branch Division Omega, and he’s not happy about it. Spire had been in the midst of a very difficult case and he doesn’t want to let it go unsolved to lead a secret branch of the government that’s bent on investigation the extraordinary. He does not believe in that sort of thing. Spire’s first order of business is to investigate the supposed discovery of the Eterna Compound. Apparently it grants immortality, and if the Americans have it, the British definitely want to get their hands on it. (more…)