Book Review: Flotsam by R J Theodore

 

Publisher: Parvus

Publishing Date: January 2018

ISBN: 9780997661361

Genre: Mixed but mostly Steampunk

Rating: 4.4/5

Publishers Description: Captain Talis just wants to keep her airship crew from starving, and maybe scrape up enough cash for some badly needed repairs. When an anonymous client offers a small fortune to root through a pile of atmospheric wreckage, it seems like an easy payday. The job yields an ancient ring, a forbidden secret, and a host of deadly enemies.

Review: A crazy blending of Steampunk, Fantasy and SciFi that takes you on a genre bending wild ride through the skies of Peridot.

The world building is incredibly epic for a newly minted author and hints at uncovering even more as this series evolves. The characters were not only well developed with the movement but continued to draw interest as their personal histories unfolded.  At one point I thought this novel was going to take a nose-dive into many buckles being swashed and overly elaborate descriptors on how they were dressed for battle (if hot looking sky pirates are your thing). Thankfully the instance was short lived and the novel gained in grittiness what it lost in glamour.

Although mixing genres has been done before, this author elegantly combines the visceral and fantastical into a salable whole. Well done noob.

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Review: Spectre of War by Kin S. Law

Publisher: City Owl Press

Publishing Date: October 2017

ISBN: 9781944728533

Genre: Fantasy/Steampunk

Rating: 4.4/5

Publishers Description: A third Victoria has ascended the throne of a steam-driven country where enormous clockwork giants walk the streets and airships carry news of the Ottoman threat in the East.
In the wake of a calamity that engulfed all of Europe, Inspector Vanessa Hargreaves of Scotland Yard is given the dubious task of policing steamcraft crime. Along with flamboyant detective Arturo C. Adler, she stumbles upon a conspiracy to use a horrific plague in an effort to prevent war.

Review: The second novel in the Lands Beyond series, delivers a thirst for more. Hargreaves wends her way from the Royal Palace to the sewers of New York City in search of a solution to the plague corpse. Arturo is along for the ride in all his Liberace like regalia along with Cezette, Hallow, Cid and the crew of the Huckleberry.

Once again the author paints a grand picture with incredible movement and characters built with elegant simplicity. You care for every single one of them and that says a lot about the writing talent. The story line has many interludes with separate tales that are a part of the bigger world building picture. No 5 stars here though, as the novel ends abruptly and the author likes cats.

Just a bit on cats and why they suck. They decimate all forms of endemic wildlife, in particular neo-tropical migrant bird species. They spread disease, most notable the feline leukemia virus affecting  the endangered Florida Panther. They carry toxoplasmosis (killing sea otters), ringworm, tularemia, hookworm and CSD to name a few.

Review: Time Weaver by Jacinta Maree

Publisher: Ragnarok

Publishing Date: February 2017

ISBN: 9781941987872

Genre: Steam

Rating: 3.5/5

Publishers Description:  have a clock for a heart…and the man who put it there tried to take it out. Time Collectors are modern day genies capable of exchanging wishes for time. Elizabeth Wicker lives within a steampunk world riddled with the supernatural. Among the stories of witches, Bacts, and other monsters, Time Collectors remain as the greatest hushed secret among the noble families. They are temptation’s greatest tools. A contract with a Time Collector is a guaranteed death sentence, and for some the price isn’t worth the prize. But when Elizabeth is struck down by a fatal heart attack, she finds herself trapped beneath a Time Collector’s blade. With no time left to offer, she makes a desperate sacrifice for a second chance at life. If there’s only one truth, it is a Time Collector will always come back to collect.

Review: How come the cover girls’ hair is not white?  Anyway, hottie-white-haired Beth Wicker is on the run from men who want to bang her, kill her, kidnap and rape her. She faints and cries a lot but has a tough mien and a heart of gold, um, errr…….iron? While the man she loves kills everyone that is important in her life, like family, she still pines for him.  Not only that, but the man that killed her mother has a chub for her. Wait, what? Yeah, I am confused as well. Why this has to be rendered vile with unsupported emotions is beyondo.

If you begin to deconstruct this novel you are going to have a bad time. Like how Beth was a lowly floor scrubber made to be sold to the elite and raped etc. etc. BUT, she is really a noble herself and is saved from a life of destitution by her famous Father of the House Wicker. Yawn. Or how every interesting and viable character is killed off without regard.

So what’s good about it. World building and scene construction are epic. Supporting characters, and I mean all of them, are developed seamlessly with the movement. The writing is exceptional and takes some interesting and creative turns. The story line never follows a patterned model, but instead decides to go in various directions that ultimately strengthens the novel. I had a really late night reading this as I could not put it down. In the end, Beth was made palatable only by the entirety of the novels brilliance. A good start to this story might have been Elizabeth’s early demise and the rise of Catherine. Oh well.

 

Review: The Future That Never Was by Kin S. Law

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Publisher: City Owl Press

Publishing Date: December 2016

ISBN: 9781944728090

Genre: Steampunk

Rating: 2.7/5

Publishers Description: Pillage and plunder is what air pirates do, but for Albion Clemens, that will have to wait. The Manchu Marauder needs to find his American stepfather, Captain Samuel, lost to the wayward winds of a Steam Age Europe. Unfortunately, Captain Samuel has stolen the Laputian Leviathan, a powerful pirate artifact that’s got agents of Queen and calamity sniffing at his coattails.

Review: Initially this was a whole lotta fun to read. A world of dirigibles set in the steampunk genre, air pirates and some mild sexual tension. Plying the air with good and ill intent and a grand mystery plus the search for a missing person whom may not be missing at all.

About 2/3 of the way through, the story line started to get jumbled and lacked cohesion in terms of the story line. It is hard to fill in the gaps when there is no informational content that can lead to an absent conclusion. Just a weird mishmash of high paced movement coupled with good scene descriptions and lacking in logical progression. You just kind of find yourself spit out, and damn it, you just have to accept it.

This really was a lot longer than it needed to be and gets a bit tiring with the hot pirate chick flashing her creamy boobs with jangles in her hair and beribboned corseted attire fitted with hidden recesses for knives. There is also a somewhat annoying shifting point of view, chapter to chapter and you sometimes have no idea who’s POV you currently reside in. Still, there is fun to be had. A mild three stars.

Review: Toru: Wayfarer Returns by Stephanie R. Sorensen

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Publisher: Palantir Press

Publishing Date: February 2016

ISBN: 9780996932325

Genre: Steampunk

Rating: 2.6/5

Publishers Description: While Sorensen’s heroes and their steampunk dirigibles are fictional, she builds her rollicking adventure and culturally rich tale against the backdrop of the “real” historical Japan of that period, weaving historical figures into her story, staying true to their motivations and agendas even while warping their actions, history and a few laws of physics. Underpinning the adventure plot is a young man’s yearning for his father’s approval and an honorable place in the world. A tender love story, a rowdy collection of allies and emerging steampunk technology complete the mix as Tōru fights to transform Japan’s conservative society at the end of the Tokugawa sakoku isolation period.

Review: Amazeballs cover art!

This garnered quite a few high reviews from the private sector as well as the paid kind (Kirkus etc.).  While billed as epic in scope I found this a bit contrived in terms of believability and read more like an alternative history novel rather than Steampunk. 

The main character, Toru, is just too good to be true and never really develops into a character that you can either loathe or root for. He just…is.  I liked the idea of the female character, Masuyo, as being strong coupled with intellectual prowess. Yet she read as one-dimensional and always carried around her mien like a paragon of virtue.  Of course they are drawn to each other but can never be as she is highborn (Princess) and he is a fisherman with a secret, which usually translates to him being a Prince or some shjt.

The idea that feudal Japan can become industrialized within the span of a year to meet the Western threat is just fooking ridiculous.  Dirigibles, submarines and trains are created with a herculean effort yet the details were lacking in this sudden creation of a new Japan.  While Masuyo and Toru grind on your nerves for their extra speshulness, you are forced to swallow an alternative history that derives its existence from implausible and impossible acts.

Review: Steal The Sky by Megan E. O’Keefe

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Publisher: Angry Robot

Publishing Date: January 2016

ISBN:9780857664914

Genre: SciFi Steampunk

Rating: 4.7/5

 Publishers Description: Detan Honding, a wanted conman of noble birth and ignoble tongue, has found himself in the oasis city of Aransa. He and his trusted companion Tibs may have pulled off one too many cons against the city’s elite and need to make a quick escape. They set their sight’s on their biggest heist yet – the gorgeous airship of the exiled commodore Thratia. 

 Review: Holy shjtballz this was good. The storyline and world building were impeccable as were the depth of the characters that inhabited it. I am really looking forward to more from this author.