Tagged: Steampunk

Our Bloody Pearl

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Sam reviews D.N. Bryn’s Our Bloody Pearl

About the Book

Our Bloody Pearl ; D.N Bryn
Adult; Fantasy Romance; 200 Pages

Avos Publishing (July 26, 2018)

The ocean is uncontrollable and dangerous. But to the sirens who swim the warm island waters, it’s a home more than worth protecting from the humans and their steam-propelled ships. Between their hypnotic voices and the strength of their powerful tails, sirens have little to fear.

That is, until the ruthless pirate captain, Kian, creates a device to cancel out their songs.

Perle was the first siren captured—but the only one Kian still keeps prisoner. Song muted and tail paralyzed, Perle’s hope for escape finally rekindles as another pirating vessel seizes Kian’s ship. This new captain seems different, with his brilliant smile and his promises that Kian will never again be Perle’s master. But he’s still a human, and a captor in his own way. The compassion he and his rag-tag human family show can’t be sincere… or can it?

Soon it becomes clear that Kian will hunt Perle relentlessly, taking down any siren in her path. As the tides turn, Perle must decide whether to run from Kian forever, or ride the forming wave into battle, hoping these newfound human companions will fight with them.

About the Author

D.N. Bryn began writing short stories in middle school and has yet to stop. They received their bachelors degree in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from UCSD, and enjoy a day job involving respiratory disease research. They bring their love for animals, science, and mythology into all their writing, and are passionate about creating inclusive worlds where a diverse array of characters can go on grand adventures without being hindered by social misconceptions based on their appearance, sexuality, or gender.

Sam’s Review

Introducing an incredible book about sirens and pirates by the name of Our Bloody Pearl. I loved this book, so without any further ado, I’ll explain why.

Perle has never had a name. In fact, no siren does. Sirens don’t have genders, either, so classifying them is a bit tricky. But they have been stuck on the pirate captain, Kian’s, ship for ages, with filthy and toxic water and a crippled tail. But when Captain Dejean takes Kian’s ship, Perle earns a name and a chance of peace between man and siren kind.

I loved how fun this book was. It was mostly about earning trust, despite the cliche bad-guy-is-offered-a-chance-to-be-good-and-dies part. I got vibes of saving a wild wolf meets The Little Mermaid. Incredible. And for the things I didn’t like, well, there’s nada in that department. If you love a good steampunk fantasy, then read Our Bloody Pearl by D. N. Bryn.

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Sam reviews D.N. Bryn’s Our Bloody Pearl

Buy the Book

This book is available in Kindle and Paperback editions here.

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Reaper’s Return – Review

About the Book

Reaper’s Return, Ren Cummins (Chronicles of

Aesirium, book 1)

Young Adult Fantasy/Steampunk 302 pages

Self-published through CreateSpace March 10, 2011

What if Death wore a pretty black dress?

Everyone in Oldtown had heard talk of the Reapers. Even though nobody had seen one in years, everyone whispered the tales: flying from rooftop to rooftop, stealing the souls of the unwary, letting their undead beasts hunt through the streets for any member of the community too reckless or fearless to heed the nightly curfew … mysterious and terrifying, most feared to even mention them by name, lest they appear and gather your spirit away.

For 11-year-old Romany, her greatest fears were less about the mythological Reapers and more about surviving a miserable life inside of Oldtown’s solitary orphanage. Her stark white hair made her an obvious target for the bullies, and the cruel nickname of “Ratgirl” had followed her for years. But if Rom thought her troubles were behind her, being struck dead by a bolt of lightning would only open the door to an entire life of new ones.

First on the list? Finding out that she herself…is a Reaper.

Reaper’s Return is book one of the Chronicles of Aesirium, a YA Steampunk fantasy adventure series.

About the Author

Sam, Ren Cummins, & YA Author Kiri Callaghan at Westport's Pirate Daze, 2018

(Sam, Ren Cummins, and Kiri Callaghan at this year’s Pirate Daze in Westport, WA. Ren was kind enough to gift a signed copy of this book to Sam when we met him.)

Ren Cummins found his talent with storytelling in high school and has been writing ever since; either music or fiction. With a focus on creating kick-ass female characters in superhero stories for his child, Ren launched into the world of fantasy and sci-fi, where his love of philosophy and the bleeding edge of science returned him to tall tales that seemed fantastic but with an air of familiarity. 

He has authored over eight fantasy novels, beginning with The Chronicles of Aesirium and continuing on with the Tales of the Dead Man.

Ren continues his writing journey in Seattle, where he resides with his wife, their child and their two dogs.

More of this traveler’s journey can be found at www.renwritings.com

Sam’s Review

Introducing, a fun, and amazing book by the name of Reaper’s Return, filled with magic, and some themes of steampunk, which I love. Plus, it had talking animals! Alright!

Rom has a gift for handling animals. And, she’s dead. Kind of. She dies once, and then revives it all over, with the knowledge of what was going to happen. Then she learns that she is the Reaper, a entity that helps creatures move on to death.

But she is being hunted for her ability. It’s a really good thing that Rom has good friends.

I loved this book from beginning to cliffhanger end. That’s right, folks, it had a cliffhanger, sort of. But I loved this book. Rom, Kari, Cousins (gotta read it to find out how that name came to be.), and Mully are an amazing team, and work great together.

In this edition of Sam's Teen Reads Corner, Sam reviews YA Fantasy REAPER'S RETURN by Ren Cummins.

Buy the Book

 This book is available in Kindle (Kindle Unlimited, as well), paperback and audiobook formats from Amazon here. [affiliate link]

Runners & Riders – Review

About the Book:

RUNNERS AND RIDERS, by Jordan Elizabeth 

Series: Return to Amston Book One

Genre: steampunk, adventure

Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press

Date of Release: August 22, 2016

Cover Artist: Eugene Teplitsky   

Juliet loved growing up at the seaside, although it meant lonely hours chasing after the other beach rats while her mother worked as a seamstress. Juliet never expected her seaman father to inherit a fortune and move the family to New Addison City. Suddenly her mother is a socialite and Juliet is best friends with a strong-willed girl who actually likes her. When Juliet’s new friend welcomes her to the Runners, a gang that has plagued the East Coast for years, Juliet sees it as the opportunity to fit in, learn tricks, and make eyes at one of the hottest members. What the gang does isn’t really wrong…right? She’s used to being a pawn for the Runners, but she starts to question what she sees as harmless fun when the gang uses her to attack a young officer.

Jonathan Montgomery vowed to end the Runners after they murdered his family. He joined the Riders, an elite police force dedicated to stopping the Runners’ crime spree. They have put him in New Addison City, but rookie mistakes follow Jonathan as he struggles to accomplish his goal, until a young woman feeds him inside information to bring down the Runners.

Between murders and secrets, Juliet will need to find her strength to help Jonathan, before the founder of the Runners crawls up from the sewers amongst her inventions to burn down the city.

About the Author:

Jordan Elizabeth

Jordan Elizabeth, formally Jordan Elizabeth Mierek, writes down her nightmares in order to live her dreams. With an eclectic job history of working as a college professor; historic costumed interpreter at Fort Stanwix, Victorian Leisure Fair, and Mayfaire on the Green; office specialist; sales clerk; election inspector; and trainer, she is now diving into the world of author.It happens to be her favorite one.

When she’s not creating art or searching for lost history in the woods, she’s updating her blog, Kissed by Literature. Jordan is the president of the Utica Writers Club and maintains JordanElizabethMierek.com.

She roams Central New York, but she loves to travel. A great deal of time has been spent in a rural town very similar to Arnn, the setting of her novel ESCAPE FROM WITCHWOOD HOLLOW.

Find the author Online:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Jenn’s Review:

My very first Steampunk novel… 

Admittedly, the first few chapters of this story were confusing as the author lays the groundwork and backstories for the major players in the plot (namely Juliet and Jonathan). Once past that point, however, the story unfolded and kept me turning pages late into the night, especially past the halfway point. I read the second half of this book in a few hours – it was that engrossing.

Ms. Elizabeth’s storytelling is superb, weaving clear descriptions that allow the reader a clear mental image of settings and characters, and the mysteries that flow just under the surface of the main plot unfold with surprising twists and turns.

That said, readers should be prepared for a few bumps in the road, especially if small inconsistent details throw you out of the “realm of belief”. I ran across a few scenes in the book where some small detail changed from paragraph to paragraph – minor editing misses that, for me anyway, were just enough that I had to work a little harder for a few pages to slip back into the realm of the story.

Overall, I loved this story, and will be reading the sequel, The Secrets of Bennett Hall, next.

Buy the Book:

 This book is available as a paperback or Kindle ebook from Amazon here. [affiliate link]

Find Online: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

The White Pavilion – Review

About this book:

Five hundred years ago, Old Earth was facing certain destruction. In the country we know as Spain, a Clockmaker was visited by an Oracle, who told her that a new world must be created.

La Relojero, the Clockmaker, thus fashioned Tierra Mejor, a world governed by clockwork. Along with Seven Companions, she left the dying Earth behind.

But now, an illness is spreading across their world. Machines are failing, crops are diseased, and the Green-bands, led by a man known only as la Rebelde, the Rebel, are spreading discord.

Every year, the Daughters of the Pavilion dance to honour the myth is being performed by the Daughters of the Pavilion. Imre has been chosen to play the part of la Grulla. It is her task is to honour the Pattern by placing a white feather into the hand of a statue of la Oracula, the Oracle. At the last moment, she stumbles.

The Pattern has been disrupted, and Imre’s future is now in jeopardy. The Prince Regent, Thaniel, insists that she is brought to the Citadel. The Prince is young, easily distracted, and determined to bury his insecurities under a screen of drugs. Senor Grath, the Prince’s Advisor, is the effective governor. He dislikes Imre immensely – she is everything he despises. Then there is La Boca, leader of the mysterious Brotherhood, whose sinister plans seem to involve disposing of the Prince – and Imre is in his way.

Thrown from her old life into a world of politics and intrigue, lust and greed, tradition and romance, Imre must confront the Brotherhood and save her people. She will have to fight to ensure the final part of la Relojero’s plan is completed – and that the children of the Seven Companions can return home to Old Earth.

About the author:

Ruth has been an avid reader her entire life and, inspired by the books that engrossed her as she was growing up, she aims to create stories that can draw readers in and enthral them for days or weeks. She writes every day and lives in Ballarat, Victoria, with her husband, her cat, and an ever-expanding library of books.

Ruth completed a Bachelor of Arts/Diploma of Arts in Professional Writing and Editing in 2006. She has worked as an editor as well as an illustrator. She often illustrates her own work and hopes to publish many more books in the future.

Visit her website for more information.

Jenn’s Review:

I think that this is possibly the most challenging review I’ve ever written. The White Pavillion made me reach, as a reader; think differently, as a writer; and persevere, as a reviewer.

Ms. Fox’s work in White Pavillion is very different from what I normally chose to read. However, as Sam was dying to get her hands on this particular title, and we weren’t entirely sure of the book’s rating, I chose to push on.

I would not consider this a fast paced read. In fact, it rambles rather slowly until the climax, at which point it speeds up considerably. The setting was also unusual – while I could easily picture the place, I struggled to wrap my head around the sense of time. While I can easily accept other forms of telling time in created, fictional worlds, this book left me stumped in a number of places – Had Imre been held for what would amount to days? Weeks? Months? 

In terms of the “steampunk” element of this story, Ms. Fox takes the prize for world-building. Her creativity in building the world her characters inhabit excels, and while some elements are strange to our mundane world, she has managed to create an element of realism that is hard to find.

I mentioned earlier that the story was slow. Honestly, I don’t normally feel that I am dragging myself through the pages of a read, but this one felt supremely slow. However, that said… Patience is the reward in this novel. Without giving away spoilers, the plot twists near the end of the story blindsided me, while many of the plot twists earlier in the story were expected. 

As a parent, pre-reading this book for a 12 year old who frequently reads YA Fiction, this is not a book for younger teens. Imre is, after all, the equivalent of a high-class prostitute in training (in context, this isn’t as odd as you might think), and she is, first and foremost, a sensual being, a Dancer, an escort. She finds lust and love along her journey in this story, in the arms of both men and women, and the scenes are not “behind the bedroom door”. They are described, elegantly, but not subtly.

In the final tally, The White Pavilion was a worthy read. Reviews are, of course, subjective, and what I have trouble with in one book, another reader might love (and vice versa). If you are a fan of science fiction, speculative fiction and steam punk, you might give this plot a whirl.

Buy the book:

This book is available through Amazon in Kindle format here. [Affiliate link]

Secrets of Bennett Hall – Review

About the book:

SECRETS OF BENNETT HALL, by Jordan Elizabeth

Series: Return to Amston Book Two

Genre: steampunk, adventure

Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press

Date of Release: January 30, 2018

Cover Artist: Eugene Teplitsky

Find Online: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

Description:

Darkness once twisted Adelaide Dinsmore’s mind, but she thought she had grown out of that. Her job as a teacher in Hedlund proved that – until she discovers one of her students dead and the town turns against her. As her mind starts to crumble, she is offered a new job, this time as a governess for Gentleman Bennett’s granddaughter back east.

Bennett Hall is a sprawling manor of winding tunnels and manicured lawns, and the fence is really just for show. The little girl, Theodora, is a delight, albeit quiet, and the Bennetts are kind enough, especially the dashing young Joseph. So what if one of the servants sends chills down her spine every time he looks at her? Surely that, and the noises in the night, are figments of her imagination. She won’t allow the past in Hedlund to tarnish her future at Bennett Hall.

Then, Theodora begins to speak of a Villain who haunts secret passages in the manor, and Adelaide stumbles upon a sealed off wing where ghosts whisper from the shadows. Twisted inventions fill the basement and the villagers are wary of the Bennett family.

The longer she stays at Bennett Hall, the less likely her chance for escape, but she cannot leave Theodora or Joseph. The darkness in her mind might be the only thing to save them.

About the Author:

Jordan Elizabeth

Jordan Elizabeth, formally Jordan Elizabeth Mierek, writes down her nightmares in order to live her dreams. With an eclectic job history of working as a college professor; historic costumed interpreter at Fort Stanwix, Victorian Leisure Fair, and Mayfaire on the Green; office specialist; sales clerk; election inspector; and trainer, she is now diving into the world of author.It happens to be her favorite one.

When she’s not creating art or searching for lost history in the woods, she’s updating her blog, Kissed by Literature. Jordan is the president of the Utica Writers Club and maintains JordanElizabethMierek.com.

She roams Central New York, but she loves to travel. A great deal of time has been spent in a rural town very similar to Arnn, the setting of her novel ESCAPE FROM WITCHWOOD HOLLOW.

Find the author Online:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Jenn’s Review:

 I just finished reading this book… And frankly, I’m a bit breathless.

I’m arguing with myself about how best to write a review for this new release, because each option I present, carries with it the chance for a spoiler, so I will keep this brief.

Bennett Hall is the second book in the Return to Amston series, though the only connection between the two seems to be a vaguely mentioned side character (from another series, I’m gathering), and a common “big city” and wider world. The plots appear to be, in no other way that I can find, otherwise unrelated.

I enjoyed Bennett Hall far more than Runners and Riders. The mystery was deep and complex, and the solution was… erm… unexpected. The budding romance between Adelaide and Joseph adds a romantic element, and sweet little Theodora is every nanny’s dream.

Jordan’s character and plot development has grown by leaps and bounds between this book and Runners, and Sam (hostess of Sam’s Teen Reads Corner) will be reading this sometime in the near future.

If you haven’t read Runners yet, while I recommend the book on its own merit of an engaging story line and relate-able characters, reading these books in their published order isn’t strictly necessary. 

In summary, I absolutely loved Bennett Hall, and look forward to further mystery-adventure-romances from Jordan Elizabeth.

Buy the book:

This book is now available from Amazon here. [affiliate link]