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Steampunk Shenanigans & a Giveaway

April 29, 2012

So, this post is a little later than usual and probably much more anticipated.  I’ve been at an art show all weekend selling my jewelry.  Oh, by the way, I make jewelry.  Here’s Peach necklacean example: 

We’ll start off with the thing that most of you are probably interested in.  I have one signed advance copy of Shadow of Nightby Deborah Harkness.  My Penguin rep, Betty, is super awesome and got me a few copies to giveaway.  I’ve got one for this blog and two that we’re giving away over on the Little Professor Facebook page.  To get a chance to win leave a comment on this post.  Winners will be chosen on May 13. 

Now that that’s out of the way, on with the reviews.

Image#19.  The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook

So, this is a book I’d had for several months, but just never gotten around to.  I think I bought it because someone said “steampunk romance” to me and I was sold.  So I ordered it from the store and then it came.  And the cover looked like that.  Which, is… what it is.  I’m not sure why he’s wearing a leather jacket with pleated sleeves and no shirt, but he is.  And then there are some gears and an airship so it’s totally steampunk!  Or something.

I put it on my ‘to read eventually’ pile and forgot about it.  Then, I joined a book club.  A book club for grown up (mostly) ladies.  In point of fact, the Vaginal Fantasy Book Club.  Which specializes in sci-fi/fantasy romance novels.  It was started a few months ago by Felicia Day, Bonnie Burton, Veronica Belmont, and Kiala Kazabee.  This was the book club read for April.  And it was way better than the cover made it look.

To be honest, I didn’t absolutely love the romance parts.  They were ok, but nothing super special.  But the world building… The world building!  So, as far as I can figure out (because unlike Tolkien, Meljean Brook does not give you the entire history of every bridge the protagonists cross) at some point far in the past the Mongol empire started to figure out technology.  They swept across Europe and took over some cities and harvested the rest.  They developed nanobots that they infected their subjects with.  One type reacted to signal towers and suppressed emotion, sped healing, and increased strength.  The other type of bots created zombies.  The Hoard, as the Mongols are known as, released the zombie bugs into regions that were not worth settling.  The zombies clean out resistance and the Hoard’s harvesting machines can come in unmolested. 

England had remained immune to the ravages of the Hoard.  The zombies cannot cross water on their own and the Hoard itself had no navy to speak of.  Then they got clever.  They infected sugar and tea imports with the nanobots and once the English population was sufficiently infected the Hoard turned on a signal tower and took over.

The events in the book are set approximately 200 years after the invasion.  England is once more free of Hoard control.  Rhys Trahearn, once a pirate, sailed up the Thames and destroyed the tower, freeing the English from Hoard rule.  For that service he was made a duke.  Several years later, someone drops a dead body on his doorstep.

Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth is called in to investigate.  She is competent, efficient, and intelligent.  She is also half Hoard.  Her mixed blood create an almost intolerable environment as she faces hatred and resentment for her mixed parentage.  The romance proceeds about as you’d expect.  She’s resistant because she has to keep to significantly stricter standards than the average citizen, even than the average aristocrat.  He is insistent and slightly unscrupulous.  There are a few twists and turns along the way.  Predominantly toward the end of the book where you least expect the romantic element to change.  So full marks for that. 

There’s nothing wrong with the romance, it just wasn’t the most compelling part of the story for me.  The actual murder investigation is fairly awesome.  Partly because there’s a female pirate captain.  And I love lady pirate captains.  I even have a shirt with one.  The side characters are all fairly interesting as well.  The pirate captain has her own book,Heart of Steel, which I have also read and will review in the next blog post. 



#20 & # 21  The Lady of Devices and Her Own Devices by Shelley Adina

I debated making these two books one entry, but in the end, I decided that they were written separately so that’s how I would count them.  Really, they’re serial novellas.  They’re both fairly short, I don’t have an exact page count since I read them on an e-reader.  Which is another whole topic.

I have an iPad.  I love it.  I don’t read much on it.  I picked up the first book, Lady of Devices, on a whim because it was $0.99.  I decided that even if it was horrible it cost less than a soda.  And it wasn’t horrible.  But it was brief.  And the sequel is quite a bit more expensive.  We’ll leave aside my moral stance on e-books and Amazon for right now.  (I have one and it’s lengthy.)

So, I was somewhere with lots of time to kill.  So I read this book.  I think it was actually on my phone rather than my iPad come to think of it.  The basic story is that Lady Claire Trevelyan, an atypical debutante, is about to make her debut.  However, before she can her father loses most of their assets in an ill advised investment in the internal combustion engine.  Unable to bear the shame, he departs this mortal coil leaving his wife, almost grown daughter, and infant son behind to deal with the fallout.  The dowager countess takes the new Lord St. Ives to their country estate leaving Claire to close up the town residence and see to its sale. 

Circumstances, and angry investors, intervene and Clair soon finds herself out of a home and unwilling to return to her mother.  She instead, ends up taking a job as the assistant to a scientist named Andrew Malvern.   She also, through no fault of her own, ends up living with a gang of pickpockets, taking over a rival gang, and setting herself Imageup as a power in London’s underground. 

Book 2, Her Own Devices, continues Clair’s balancing act between her day job as an inventor’s assistant and working aristocrat, and her night job as the mysterious Lady of Devices, underworld power.  In order to stay in town and out of her mother’s reach, Claire agrees to an engagement with Lord James, the financial backer behind Andrew’s project.  She soon feels unsatisfied with the arrangement.  James is not at all happy that Claire has a mind of her own, despite that being his stated reason for wanting to marry her.  Shenanigans are afoot in steam-powered Victorian London. 

The two books are fairly well written.  There are some places where the writing feels a little clunky, but nothing major.  My biggest problem is that book 1 especially seems to stop rather abruptly.  It felt very much like reading an installment of a serial rather than a finished product.  Now, there’s nothing wrong with a serial.  It’s just odd to expect one thing and get another.  Book 3 is supposed to be out sometime this year.  I’ll definitely pick it up.


Remember, to enter the Shadow of Night giveaway all you have to do is leave a comment on this post.  You’ve got two weeks. 

57 Comments leave one →
  1. Jeffrey Downing permalink
    April 30, 2012 7:33 am

    I would love the chance to win a copy of Shadow of Night. I loved DOW and cannot wait for SoN!

  2. Liz permalink
    April 30, 2012 7:36 am

    Oh let me win The Shadow of the Night! I discovered Deborah Harkness when I went away for a weekend in Oxford, where Discovery of Witches is set – I loved it and have been desperate to read the next bit ever since. Ooo lovely necklace BTW!

  3. Christie Stacey permalink
    April 30, 2012 7:56 am

    Cool necklace! Always looking for new boom recommendations, and a chance to win Shadow of Night is definitely a plus!

  4. J Liedl permalink
    April 30, 2012 7:58 am

    Oh, I’d love to win the copy of “Shadow of Night” – I’m so pumped about the series. I think I’ve reread the first four times since it came out last year!.

    I picked up “The Iron Duke” last year and agree entirely on the wince-worthiness of the cover. That was off-putting as a reader but the world-building more than made up for that.

  5. Fiona Mottershaw permalink
    April 30, 2012 8:03 am

    Enjoyed reading your reviews despite largely being lured here for the Shadow of Night giveaway!

  6. April 30, 2012 8:43 am

    Your jewelry looks lovely and your choice of books to review is excellent.

  7. kelly bateman permalink
    April 30, 2012 11:21 am

    pleeeeeeeeeeeassssssssseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee share this lovely treat with me 🙂

  8. Lisa permalink
    April 30, 2012 11:21 am

    Just saying, but that necklace is beautiful. Also I would LOVE to win a copy of Shadow 🙂

  9. April 30, 2012 11:22 am

    loved A Discovery of Witches, can’t wait for Shadow of Night!

  10. April 30, 2012 11:26 am

    Wow this is such an amazing giveaway!
    I’ve been wanting a copy of Shadow of Night (with a bit of desperation I might add haha) ever since I’ve heard of it’s making- thanks so very much for sharing!!
    Am a HUGE fan of the All Souls Trilogy.

    Take care!

  11. Mary Ross permalink
    April 30, 2012 11:33 am

    Who needs two weeks? Please add me into the pot o’names: Mary Ross: Thanks!

  12. Rosebud7 permalink
    April 30, 2012 11:34 am

    That’s so great you have signed copies of Shadow of Night to give away! A Discovery of Witches was great and I devoured it and have been anxiously awaiting the release of the second book. Fingers-crossed I’m chosen to win one. 🙂

  13. Erin Maloney permalink
    April 30, 2012 11:40 am

    I love love love Deb Harkness’ work!

  14. April 30, 2012 11:40 am

    I would LOVE to win a copy of Shadow of Night! A Tweet from Harkness led me here. She really hit a nerve with A Discovery of Witches. I know women who would normally never pick up a book about witches, vampires, and demons who loved it. Myself included, but then I do read books about vampires…. Thanks for hosting the giveaway!

  15. April 30, 2012 11:49 am

    ‘The Iron Duke’ sounds like an interesting read, but honestly you had me at ‘steampunk’ I’ll definitely pick it up ob my next book run 🙂 I also can’t wait until ‘Shadow of Night’ comes out, I’ve been dying to get an ARC ><

  16. Ana San Roman permalink
    April 30, 2012 11:58 am

    Lovely necklace! Would love to get a copy of Shadows!!! I’m excited!

  17. Cheri Brown permalink
    April 30, 2012 12:17 pm

    I love Deb Harkness and can’t wait for Shadow of Night (SON). But in the meanwhile, perhaps I will check out some of these other books. 🙂

  18. Hilda Irani permalink
    April 30, 2012 1:01 pm

    What a great contest!! I’m not sure I can wait until the July release for Shadow of N

  19. April 30, 2012 1:01 pm

    I stumbled on Discovery of Witches by chance and absolutely loved it. Must of re-read it about 4 or 5 times. I’m eagerly waiting for Shadow of the Night. Whoever wins a copy will be very lucky. May they enjoy it. =)

  20. April 30, 2012 1:13 pm

    Haven’t found anything else satisfying to read since I finished reading A Discovery of Witches. Would love of copy of Shadows ASAP!

  21. April 30, 2012 1:15 pm

    Haven’t found anything satisfying to read since I finished A Discovery of Witches. Would love to get my hands on a copy of Shadows ASAP!

  22. April 30, 2012 1:29 pm

    I am impatiently waiting for the release of Shadow of Night and would love a chance to win. P.S. Love the name for the book club.

  23. April 30, 2012 1:30 pm

    I am so impatiently waiting for the release of Shadow and would love a chance to win a copy.
    P.S. Love the name of the book club.

  24. A'lice Ladnier permalink
    April 30, 2012 1:33 pm

    Pick me! Pick me!

  25. Erin Thompson permalink
    April 30, 2012 1:58 pm

    Please, PLEASE. pLEasE!!! Im having serious anxiety over wating for this book 🙂

  26. Jennifer Jensen permalink
    April 30, 2012 2:08 pm

    Would LOVE to win the copy of SoN!!

  27. estefena permalink
    April 30, 2012 2:09 pm

    Dying to get my hands on Shadow of Night ARC, I’m following any post Deborah Harkness notes on Twitter. But I’ll definitely check out the other novels you posted about. Gotta say any book that has a bare chest wrapped in leather has grabbed my attention!

  28. estefena permalink
    April 30, 2012 2:12 pm

    Can’t wait to get my hands on a Shadow of Night ARC, I’m going to whatever website Deborah Harkness tweets about.

    But I will definitely check out the other books you wrote about. Any book that has a nice naked chest wrapped in leather on its cover is definitely a book worth looking at.

  29. Kelly w permalink
    April 30, 2012 2:18 pm

    LOve the jewelry! And I would love an advance copy if Shadow of Night!

  30. hollie walker permalink
    April 30, 2012 3:23 pm

    Reading A Discovery of Witches for the second time. I love it so much. I can’t wait to read the next book.

    Lovely necklace xxx

  31. Caitlyn Watson permalink
    April 30, 2012 3:42 pm

    i would absolutely love to have an advanced copy!! i cant wait for the next book!

  32. mcsmartness permalink
    April 30, 2012 4:13 pm

    When I finished A Discovery of Witches last year I was so disappointed that I had to wait until 2012 for Shadow of Night. I would love to win it!

  33. amy permalink
    April 30, 2012 6:32 pm

    I have read ADOW at least 5 times since January. I would absolutely LOVE an opportunity to get my hands on Shadow on Night!

  34. Catherine Thomas permalink
    April 30, 2012 9:33 pm

    Steampunk romance with a mystery as a genre – that could work for me. I have also liked time travel science fiction. Any I adore any special jewelry associated with favorite characters in books. I like books with sequels. Hence my interest in the second book in Deborah Harkness’ series. Please include me in the drawing for the advance readers copy! Thanks.

  35. Catherine Thomas permalink
    April 30, 2012 10:17 pm

    After my first comment, I read more of your blog. I am glad I discovered it! My “to read” stack has just grown immensely!
    Another comment to add about Discovery of Witches – it was wonderfully narrated on audiobook. An audiobook is a terrific way to savor the detail Harkness includes in her book. Looking forward to the second book & am already concerned about the wait for the Third.

  36. Helen Babineauux permalink
    May 1, 2012 8:45 am

    Please enter me in the contest,,, thanks 🙂

  37. Kerryn Howie permalink
    May 1, 2012 5:30 pm

    Steampunk is something that seems to be in the Zeitgeist at the moment, think I need to investigate! Reviews well executed, honest and enticing. Thanks.

  38. Lena permalink
    May 2, 2012 7:27 pm

    Would love the chance for an early read of Shadow of the Night!

  39. May 3, 2012 9:09 am

    I would love a copy of Shadow of Night so I can finally make sense of the author’s playlist for the book on Spotify: Pretty please? Thank you!

  40. Susan permalink
    May 3, 2012 11:15 am

    Need this!!

  41. doakes permalink
    May 3, 2012 12:41 pm

    Dying to get my hands on a copy of Shadow of Night! I’ve been going through major withdrawal since I finished A Discovery of Witches!

  42. Cole permalink
    May 3, 2012 3:36 pm

    Thanks for the review of The Iron Duke, I couldn’t get past the cover but now I’ll have to give it a try! I really enjoyed Lady of Devices, but the ending WAS abrupt and turned me off of reading the second. Guess maybe I’ll get around to it eventually too.

  43. amanda permalink
    May 12, 2012 7:42 am

    Would love a chance to win Shadow of the Night. Probably my most anticipated read this year. Also enjoyed the rest of your blog. Always nice to find a new book blog 🙂

  44. anovelreview1 permalink
    May 12, 2012 7:54 am

    I would love to read this!!! Thank you thank you for the chance!!!!

  45. anovelreview1 permalink
    May 12, 2012 7:56 am

    I would love love love to win!!!

    Laura Kay

  46. Amy Smith permalink
    May 12, 2012 8:03 am

    I would love to win that copy of Shadow of Night!!!

  47. Maggie permalink
    May 12, 2012 8:54 am

    I love steam punk romance. I will check out your recommendations.

  48. Ken Lipp permalink
    May 12, 2012 8:54 am

    Enjoyed your review of the iron duke. Appears to be something I would enjoy reading. I would love to read your moral view on ebooks and amazon sometime.

    • May 12, 2012 1:53 pm

      I absolutely have an opinion on the amazon/ebook situation. I keep almost writing it up and then deleting it. I’ll probably take my swing at it soon though.

  49. May 12, 2012 10:04 am

    I too would love a chance to Win SoN. Discovery of Witches was my fav of 2011 and have been counting down the days till book 2 is released!

  50. May 12, 2012 10:33 am

    Thank you for all the great reviews! My reading list seems to keep on getting longer and longer. Thank you for the chance to win Shadow of Night! (^_^)

  51. Michele Cotterman permalink
    May 12, 2012 11:11 am

    Please enter me in the Shadow of Night contest! Thanks! 🙂

  52. Emily Williams permalink
    May 12, 2012 11:20 am

    I can not wait for Shadow of Night! I completely fell in love with a Discovery of Witches!!! The book release can not come soon enough!!!!

  53. Christine permalink
    May 12, 2012 8:26 pm

    I loved Discovery of Witches and can’t wait for Shadow of Night!

  54. Christine permalink
    May 13, 2012 10:27 am

    Hope I’m not too late. I could’ve sworn I entered this last night but I don’t see my comment.

  55. Valda Robertson permalink
    May 13, 2012 7:19 pm

    ADOW reading it again. Need second book!


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