The Perilous In-Between

The Chuzzlewit Chronicles #1

by Cortney Pearson

I have to admit: for all my love of science and invention, my addiction to Jules Verne and my need to take apart watches and play with the gears, I don’t read all that much Steampunk. So when I saw the blurb for The Perilous In-Between, I thought this might be a great chance to try a new genre. As a result? I had a great time, loved the book, and found a novel that will thrill both people new to the genre and long-time fans.

Summary

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Even the sky has secrets.

Victoria Digby’s life in Chuzzlewit is picturesque. Ideal. Born to a good family, she’s also the star pilot in the Aviatory’s Protection Program, one of five young ladies assigned to protect their town from the Kreak – a deadly mechanical creature residing in the nearby ocean.

Enter Graham Birkley, a peculiar boy claiming to be from a strange place Victoria has never heard of either. The more she gets to know Graham, the more she loses not only her heart, but also all senses of security about the life she thought she loved.

Graham knows secrets about people, things he couldn’t possibly know, including a secret about Victoria that she has yet to uncover. Mostly, Graham knows what the sky is hiding. And when he tells her the truth, getting rid of the Kreak is no longer Victoria’s biggest problem.

Getting out of her town is.

Fans of The Paper Magician and The Infernal Devices won’t want to miss this dazzling romp in a steampunk, fantastical Victorian world.

Musings

Victoria Digby has a problem: she’s having flashbacks to a life that isn’t hers. And at the worst possible time, no less: when she’s flying a plane, with a flamethrower, trying to defend her town from a deadly mechanical monster that rages on her small town every evening.

The premise itself was enough to get me hooked. The small town of Chuzzlewit has been suffering the attacks of the massive ‘Kreak’ for what seems to be forever, and there’s no end in sight. It’s all that they can do to keep it held back with flamethrowers and planes, but it still manages to kill innocent civilians from time to time – a heavy loss for the small town. From the first chapter, the reader is brought right into the heart of the action, wondering how and why this monster keeps attacking (and why people don’t just move a little more inland?)

The plot was fun and had quite a lot of surprises in store. The big twist early on is when a mysterious young man appears in town, and the revelation of where he’s from completely changes the direction you thought this book was going on. It’s fantastic, as at first I was having trouble getting into the author’s style, but a shift of perspective bring on a shift of vocabulary, and I was impressed how unique she made each character’s voice.

The characters are what drive this novel, even if the premise is fantastic in its own right. We don’t have a cheesy romance, we get multiple friendships that grow and twist and evolve in very natural ways (even in an unnatural world). I really enjoyed how every character interacted with the others, which made each of them more relatable and more human.

The worldbuilding, too, was rather brilliant. I loved the world of Chuzzlewit, the design of the Kreak, the fantastic planes and hovercars. It was a trip for my imagination, being in this semi-victorian setting, experiencing aviary battles and a great mystery.

The author kept bringing the twists, leaving you guessing and surprised. The climax was fantastic, a great adventure, that had my heart pounding through my chest.

All in all, a fun read. Really enjoyable, and I’m curious to see how the author continues the series!

Read it now!

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Steampunk!

614hsqws58l-_sy344_bo1204203200_An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories

by Kelly Link and Gavin Grant
Review by KM

Wow, it’s been awhile since I’ve reviewed. Sorry about that, guys. Life has a way of spinning out of control and I tend to cower in bed until the ride stops. The best thing to do while waiting is to read, though.

And while life kept sending me interruptions like holidays, two jobs, and an overgrown child — I mean, husband — to entertain, I was finding it really hard to get past page fifty in any book.

There are only two things that I’ve found can combat this:

1.) Killing all distractions in brutally horrifying ways. (Not recommended — the jail time isn’t worth it.)
2.) Anthologies. The short stories are like petit fours, easily consumed in one sitting before someone realize you’re actually sitting for the first time in eight hours and demands you do some new task.

So, yeah, this is an anthology and a pretty frickin’ awesome one at that. It has a bunch of my favorite authors. Like, if someone could arrange a meet up of all these authors at the same convention or panel, I’d love to attend. I’ll bring the alcohol; it’ll be a blast.

Enough with my rambling, let’s move onto the book.

Summary

Imagine an alternate universe where romance and technology reign. Where tinkerers and dreamers craft and re-craft a world of automatons, clockworks, calculating machines, and other marvels that never were. Where scientists and schoolgirls, fair folk and Romans, intergalactic bandits, utopian revolutionaries, and intrepid orphans solve crimes, escape from monstrous predicaments, consult oracles, and hover over volcanoes in steam-powered airships. Here, fourteen masters of speculative fiction, including two graphic storytellers, embrace the genre’s established themes and refashion them in surprising ways and settings as diverse as Appalachia, ancient Rome, future Australia, and alternate California. Visionaries Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant have invited all-new explorations and expansions, taking a genre already rich, strange, and inventive in the extreme and challenging contributors to remake it from the ground up. The result is an anthology that defies its genre even as it defines it.*

Musings

Oh my gosh, I found this hard to put this down. It starts with an awesome story by Cassandra Clare, which was probably my second favorite story in the entire book. It’s hard to write much about the plot without giving away the story, but automaton dolls and a flowers-in-the-attic-esque idea of romance definitely make this story amazing.

The anthology includes a few graphic-novel type stories, which were awesome breaks between the texts, to be honest. I think they made the book 500x better, since it’s a little bit hard to jump from story to story, without any pause. It was like a fresh taste of wine in between courses, so none of the flavors got muddled together.

My favorite, favorite, favorite story in this that had me talking about it for days was Libba Bray’s. It involved poor, mutilated orphans who used to be skilled workers and their awful caretaker. It was just so well put together; It’s probably my second favorite short story of all time. I feel like I got a book-hangover after reading just this. If I was teaching a short story class, this would be on the curriculum. I know I’m lavishing praise without giving any details, but I’m trying so hard not to ruin it for anyone.

Please, go out and get this book. Even if Steampunk isn’t your cup of tea, you’re bound to find something that excites you in here.

Treasure, Darkly



by Jordan Elizabeth

Review by KM

It’s not often that I see a Steampunk novel, especially one that interests me. The first line of the summary won me over in a second. I’m excited to see more from this story, but I will admit that the ending does have me pouting over the wait.

Summary

Seventeen-year-old Clark Treasure assumes the drink he stole off the captain is absinthe… until the chemicals in the liquid give him the ability to awaken the dead.

A great invention for creating perfect soldiers, yes, but Clark wants to live as a miner, not a slave to the army—or the deceased. On the run, Clark turns to his estranged, mining tycoon father for help. The Treasures welcome Clark with open arms, so he jumps at the chance to help them protect their ranch against Senator Horan, a man who hates anyone more powerful than he.

Sixteen-year-old Amethyst Treasure loathes the idea of spending the summer away from her bustling city life to rot on her father’s ranch, but when a handsome young man shows up claiming to be her secret half-brother, her curiosity is piqued. He’s clever, street smart, and has no qualms jumping into the brawl between the Treasures and Horans. Caught in the middle, Horan kidnaps Amethyst, and all she gets is this lousy bullet through her heart.

When Clark brings her back to life, however, the real action starts, and Amethyst joins him in his fight against the Horan clan—whatever the cost. Defeating the Horans may seem easy at first, but going up against men with the same fighting vengeance as Clark, and a Senator with power he’s obtained by brainwashing the masses?

Well, Amethyst’s boring summer at home has turned into an adventure on the run, chock full of intrigue, danger, love, and a mysterious boy named Clark.

Musings

I’m nearly certain that this summary wasn’t the one given to me when I received this book, but I love the changes that I see in it. Amethyst’s role is just as important as Clark’s and it’s nice to see a summary that gives her a bigger role.

I loved Clark from the moment we were introduced. He was a survivor — someone with a bit of bent ethics, but willing to defend those he cared about and painfully conscious of the burden / gift he’d gotten by drinking the potion.

Amethyst’s role in the beginning really irked me. She was that typical celebrity girl role that gets painted in the tabloids — selfish, immature, and pampered. While I’d love to say there was tremendous character growth, I still think she’s still pampered and selfish. I really want to see her character be confronted with more dangerous situations to see how she morphs into the woman I want her character to be.

Overall, I enjoyed the pacing, but I found the ending rushed. Most of my favorite series leave off the novels in a place where there are most strings tied together, with the potential for continuation. This didn’t. I felt like I was smack middle, like I was waiting for a serial fiction to update. However, that’s a good way to guarantee sales for the second book, so I can’t wait until that releases.