“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…)

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…)

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…)

The Adventure Continues for the Spy-in-Training: “Curtsies & Conspiracies”

15723286Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: November 5, 2013 (Young Adult; Steampunk)

My rating: Beach vacation vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3

Curtsies & Conspiracies is Carriger’s second book in her YA Finishing School series. Sophronia, our intrepid spy-in-training, has settled into life at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality; however, that’s not to say that school life has become routine. In fact, Sophronia’s closest friend, Dimity, faces kidnapping and it seems that the teachers are all bent on some sort of conspiracy. Never a dull day at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s.

Like the first book, Etiquette & Espionage, I also listened to this one on audiobook. Once again, I have to say that the narration was inspired. Moria Quirk really brings life to her narration immersing the listener right into Carriger’s paranormal world. Quirk’s narration just makes this a really fun read. (more…)

A New Kind of Finishing School in “Etiquette & Espionage”

10874177Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: February 5, 2013 (Young Adult; Steampunk)

My rating: Beach vacation vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3

Etiquette & Espionage is my latest foray into the world of audiobooks, and I gotta say, after finishing this one I feel that I should be speaking in a British accent.

Carriger’s YA novel was a lot of fun! I had read her adult mystery, Soulless, but never finished the series. The YA book caught my eye and brought back everything I enjoyed about Soulless.

Set in the same world as Soulless, Etiquette & Espionage focuses on Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing School for Young Ladies of Quality. However, when Miss Sophronia Temminnick is unexpectedly enrolled, she soon finds out there is a great deal more involved in “finishing” than the normal expectations for young ladies. It seems Mademoiselle Geraldine’s is a school training it’s young charges to become not only ladies, but intelligencers as well; not even the headmistress knows. (more…)

Lots of Women of the Otherworld in ‘Otherworld Nights’

otherworldnightsOtherworld Nights by Kelley Armstrong
Published by Orbit: October 7th, 2014 (Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance/Novellas)*

My (overall) rating: The view was nice, but the food was bad (meh) vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3

Otherworld Nights collects several (eight) stories in the Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong. The sum of all my knowledge about the series comes from the TV show, Bitten. While I enjoy the TV show, I’m not sure that I’ll read the books. For one, the love triangle in Bitten, which features Elena, Clay, and Elena’s human boyfriend (for the uninitiated, Elena is the only female werewolf in this world, Clay is her former lover/fiancé, who turned Elena into a werewolf without her knowledge or permission) is too much a love triangle for me, and even though the result is obvious, I liked both men in the love triangle enough – well, I almost liked her human boyfriend better. The other reason is that I can’t get on board with only one female werewolf. There are plenty of stories, the Mercy Thompson and Alpha & Omega series by Patricia Briggs among them, where women survive the change less often than men (because they’re inherently weaker, or less… survivalist – and let’s not even touch that one for the moment), but to just have one female werewolf makes no sense to me. If one was turned, surely there have been other women strong enough to survive. It feels like an obviously convenient plot device that only serves to make the heroine Special.

All that said. It’s probably no surprise that I didn’t enjoy the short stories about Elena and Clay.

Now, for my review.


Howl with Werewolves (Halloween Special Part 2)

In the second installment of our Halloween Special series (see the first, on Vampires), we look at my personal favorite supernatural: the Werewolf. Check out some good, better, and best werewolf stories in the list below. Word to the wise urban fantasy reader: Werewolves are sexy, so beware – many of these are romantic to varying degrees.

Just reviewed this week, a witty take on supernaturals living among us.


The Silver Wolf. The book that got me started on werewolves: a young, poor orphan, in the decaying Roman empire, sold by her family in marriage for well, the usual – money.


In Written in Red, Meg Corbyn, a blood prophet, finds sanctuary from the humans who tortured her in an enclave of the terra indigine, creatures like vampires and werewolves and other shapeshifters. Simon Wolfgard, leader of the enclave, doesn’t know why she doesn’t smell like food, or why he and the others find her so interesting. As Meg learns what it is to live in the wild, Simon discovers how much he wants to protect this strange human.


So, this one – not my favorite. But that doesn’t mean you won’t like it! It’s a humorous story about a witch just trying to get by, when werewolves nose their way into her orderly life.


The Mercy Thompson books are some of my absolute favorite stories, series, werewolves, EVER. Witty, sometimes dark, romantic, spooky, and upbeat, this is one of the best in the genre.


By the same excellent author, starring a different kind of heroine. Anna, victim of a vicious werewolf pack, is an Omega. Yup, that means she’s special. While not as stunningly amazing as the Mercy Thompson series, it’s still worth a read. You’ll want to start with the opening novella, Alpha and Omega. It may or may not be part of your copy of Cry Wolf.


Just started Silver, a serendipitous library find, and it has a different focus: Silver is a young wolf who has been tortured, poisoned, and is flirting (pretty sure I meant flitting there) between reality and visions. When Andrew Dare, enforcer for the East Coast packs, finds her, he’s driven to protect her and find out what happened.


Admittedly, I’ve only seen the TV series. But it’s a fun show! Might be a good book, too…


This is the second in a series about a former cop, who left the force to become a private eye because she developed a degenerative sight condition. In this one, her new sort-of-partner, Henry Fitzroy, bastard son of King Henry VIII and vampire, head out to the country to solve a mystery involving werewolves. Tanya Huff writes superbly drawn characters and complex settings and plots. A longer haul than most urban fantasy, this is totally worth it.


Sort of a tongue-in-cheek comedy of manners set in a steampunk Victorian England where the Queen has werewolf investigators and deals with vampires, Soulless begins a fun series about a soulless young woman, Alexia, and her encounters and involvement with the supernaturals in the community.


Crimefighting meets werewolves again in this one by Eileen Wilks. Lily Yu, a police detective, needs the help of Rule Turner to infiltrate the werewolf clans and find a killer.


I nearly forgot this one, though I don’t know how! The Psy-Changeling series is a truly enjoyable series that mixes humans, weres (mostly panthers and wolves) and a psychic race, in an alternate, sort of futuristic United States. Each book pairs a new hero and heroine, so if you’re into urban fantasy romance, you’ll probably enjoy these. Start with Slave to Sensation.

And if you want to get your werewolf fix in 5 minutes or less, here is the famous music video werewolf:

Prepare to be Charmed by Charming

charming Charming by Elliott James
Published by Orbit: September, 2013 (Urban Fantasy)

My Rating: Outstanding Adventure!

John Charming is half werewolf, half Knight Templar. During a supernaturally long lifespan, he has been a knight-in-training, an orphan, a despised werewolf, and a fugitive (from the same knights who raised  and trained him). He’s become apathetic about his life, tending bar in a small town in Appalachia, when a vampire and a blonde walk into his bar. That’s how it starts, and it doesn’t end until he’s been co-opted into a band of vampire hunters, nearly killed at least twice, stalked and ambushed, and visited by his fiancee’s ghost.

The action never stops, with tension, distrust, and attraction between the main characters; a sociopathic teenage vampire with delusions of world domination and a hatred of everyone; and jealousy among the vampire hunting cohort. Which doesn’t stop at turning green, but involves some ambushing and hand-to-hand combat, among other exciting things.