Random Musings by Frodosco

Posts tagged “Steampunk

The Mirrored Shard by Caitlin Kittredge: Frodo’s Review

The Mirrored Shard

Summary From Goodreads

Aoife Grayson must face death to win back Dean—the love who was ripped from the Iron Lands of the living when he was shot in the arctic north. But getting to the Deadlands is something that Aoife can’t do on her own. And if she can find a way there, Tremaine would surely never allow it. He has sworn to keep her in the Thorn Lands, the fairie home of her mother, Nerissa. But Aoife is determined to find her way out. And she has no trouble if that means she has to kill Tremain and his queen to do it.

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I received an ARC of The Mirrored Shard from the awesome people over at ARCycling in exchange for an honest review.

The Mirrored Shard is a book that drove me crazy. I like the worlds that Kittredge created, each with beings that, while they had different goals, were all twisted in some way. The different beings are reflections of people today, divided, but all of us equally flawed, no one exempt. The dimensional travel was something I really enjoyed and it was what got me to read this book to begin with. The worlds are depicted in such detail and are so vivid that I felt what it would be like to experience each one and that was amazing. The Iron Lands are reminiscent of the Iron Age with their world consumed by the mechanical, but with a futuristic twist to it, a nod to science fiction books set in futuristic settings. The Thorn Lands are pure magic, but because of that there is just as much twisted as there is good in it, it is greed and raw desire of humans transformed into and embodied by the fae. The Deadlands are our worse fears, an industrial version of the biblical Hell, and more twisted evil all rolled into one place. These worlds were a lot of fun to explore.

Now here is the but you were waiting for. I enjoyed exploring those worlds and everything between, but the whole time I wished I could be taking that journey with anyone BUT Aofie. Seriously, any side character will do, can we get a swap? No? I thought as much. She’s whiny, she keeps saying, or we are at least constantly told, that she is strong, that she refuses to show weakness. Despite that supposed version of the main character what I kept seeing was Dean. I miss Dean. I love Dean. I’ll die if I can’t save Dean. You know what it reminded me of? New Moon where Bella is running in the forest after Edward leaves her calling out his name repeatedly like a lunatic. It is one of the most irritating scenes I can remember in a film and Aofie did the same thing with Dean. Too much of the book was hearing her cry, whine, scream, and lose her shit over this guy. Ugh.

I do love the baddies in this book though, and there were plenty of them. Tremaine in the Thorn Lands reminds me of a stuck up rich kid type character, thinking they run the place and that people should do whatever they want, and mostly just acting like a jerk. I won’t spoil it, but the Deadlands has another big bad guy that makes Tremaine seem cute and cuddly by comparison, and he’s off his rocker which is awesome. The Iron Lands bad guys, the Brotherhood, are pretty tame because compared to a bunch of magical beings it is hard to see a mafia-style set of guys as all that scary. Oh and the Old Ones make a few appearances and those magical and mystical ancient beings certainly are not in a good mood. Overall just a great job by Kittredge on giving the reader a bunch of evil people to detest. I think I enjoyed them more than I should have because I didn’t mind Aofie having to go through some crap, at least give her reasons to whine as much as she does.

The writing is pretty solid in the book, with the only complaint that some of the terminology is pretty simplistic and cliche. Outside of that minor issue I think Kittredge has a good style and if her goal was to make us dislike the MC, though I don’t think it was, a congratulations are in order. My last note is on the ending. The Mirrored Shard is the final book in the trilogy and in the end you are faced with a bunch of awesomeness about to go down, a cool climactic battle approaching, the fate of potentially all the worlds at stake and…the book ends. That’s it. There seems to be another book worth of stuff that could go down, but it is not to be. So that kind of sucks. Overall this is a good, but not great book for me. If you can get past the MC being a whiner the worlds, writing, and plot are well worth it. Thanks as always for reading!

Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #151/200

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Steel Lily by Megan Curd: Frodo’s Review

Steel Lily

Summary From Goodreads: steel lily

AVERY PIKE is a commodity. No, more than a commodity. Her existence is guarded at all costs.

She’s a water Elementalist, the strongest of her dwindling kind. She creates steam to provide energy to fuel Dome Four: the only thing standing between humanity and an earth ravaged by World War III. No steam, no Dome. No Dome, no life.

Or so she thinks.

That is, until a mysterious man offers her a way out of having to donate steam. A way to escape the corrupt government of Dome Four. While the offer seems too good to be true, Avery is intrigued. But when she arrives to her new home, she realizes the grass isn’t any less dead on this side of the fence. Instead, the lies are just hidden better.

…Which means digging deeper.

When Avery enlists the help of her friends to uncover the truth, she learns that while some secrets are better left concealed, humankind was never meant to live in a cage. And when you can control the most sought after resource, you can learn to control anything…including the fate of your world.

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I received an eBook Advanced Reader’s Copy in exchange for an honest review.

You know what really sucks? Having to cancel being on a blog tour because you don’t like a book. That, in case it wasn’t painfully obvious, is the case here. My review was supposed to go up today and be linked up and all that jazz to tout this piece. Well poop. I figured I’d post my review the same day anyway because why the heck not? Oh, did I mention it is a DNF? This is going so well…

I pushed myself through 50% of the book (according to my Kindle app anyway) until I was fed up enough and closed the darn thing. Why did I give up on Steel Lily and what are the problems with it? The characters are not cookie cutter, they are THE cookie cutter which cuts out all of the others, they are the metallic shells of characters and are hollow on the inside.

Avery, the MC, is incredibly frustrating. She flip flops like crazy, her emotions all over the place and without any semblance of purpose for them half the time. She’s constantly on the verge of tears despite having this “tough girl” persona she’s trying (and failing miserably) to pull off. She gets upset when people try to protect her, refuses to acknowledge it a lot of the time or plays up her actions over theirs in an attempt to appear in control and strong, yet she always acts helpless when the danger strikes. Ugh. Oh and the whining my goodness, get over yourself! She constantly insults other characters, can’t make up her mind for beans, and goodness gracious just GET A GRIP GIRL. I want to throttle her.

Jaxon is your stereotypical hot guy that KNOWS how hot he is, sarcastic, full of himself, you get the point. But he has that inner core that must be so soft and squishy and he can be changed really he can! He just needs help to show his real feelings! *gouges my eyes out* His jokes are bland, he isn’t interesting whatsoever and I just plain didn’t like his character. The best friend, Alice, is no better. She’s reserved one minute and a fireball the next, and her character is never fleshed out in any way. She’s just there, supportive and more often than not a liability, even if no one will admit it.

The romance in the book felt forced. Avery kept saying how attractive she found Jaxon but then would argue with herself about liking him when he’s such an asshat. Just admit he is good looking and that you like him already! You have bad taste in guys but it is your incessant bickering in your head that is bugging me not that you like his muscles, (which apparently are RIPPED on his whole freaking body) ugh. Jaxon, at least, made it clear how he felt early on which was the only thing I appreciated from his character. There was a half-assed love triangle too, but it’s barely worth mentioning.

The plot was as scattered as Avery’s emotions. You constantly jump from one idea to the next as if the author had a bunch of bullet points on a piece of paper and was playing connect the dots. Only this time I don’t know what the heck the shape is supposed to be, it’s just a jumbled mess of lines. There were potential arcs everywhere: political discussion, dystopia, energy discussion, conservation, true freedom vs false realities, the list just keeps going. The problem is Curd couldn’t decide which thing to focus on so she said tiny bits about each instead which meant the reader really gains nothing from it.

Oh and this is supposed to be a steampunk book. While I noticed those elements it really was borderline with going into regular fantasy. The MC just focuses her mind (and power) on things and BOOM. Yes she is “changing elements” so I get the connection, but as I was reading I kept thinking this is more like a superhero unable to control their power or learning how to, I didn’t think that was what steampunk was designed to do. Maybe I’m off base there. Regardless, while there were some descriptions of machinery and what not the steampunk “feel” was never there for me.

I could keep going, about the world building and the domes, the hologram nonsense, the repetitious dialogue (SO MUCH), and a variety of other details about the piece but you get how I feel by now. I didn’t like it. I didn’t finish it. I don’t recommend it. That simple. If you follow the blog you know I hardly ever DNF books but this one deserved it. I’m done. Thanks as always for reading.

Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #126/200

DNF


Waiting on Wednesday #10

Waiting On Wednesday hosted by Breaking The Spine

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by the fantastic people over at Breaking The Spine that highlights upcoming releases that we are excited about.

For this week my pre-publication selection that I can’t wait for is:

The Falconer (The Falconer #1) by Elizabeth May

Set For Release On: September 19, 2013

Summary From Goodreads

18-year-old Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, was destined to a life carefully planned around Edinburgh’s social events – right up until a faery kills her mother.

Now it’s the 1844 winter season. Between a seeming endless number of parties, Aileana slaughters faeries in secret. Armed with modified percussion pistols and explosives, every night she sheds her aristocratic facade and goes hunting. She’s determined to track down the faery who murdered her mother, and to destroy any who prey on humans in the city’s many dark alleyways.

But she never even considered that she might become attracted to one. To the magnetic Kiaran MacKay, the faery who trained her to kill his own kind. Nor is she at all prepared for the revelation he’s going to bring. Because Midwinter is approaching, and with it an eclipse that has the ability to unlock a Fae prison and begin the Wild Hunt.

A battle looms, and Aileana is going to have to decide how much she’s willing to lose – and just how far she’ll go to avenge her mother’s murder.

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How freaking awesome does this sound?! I’m slowly immersing myself in the steampunk genre, as much as I can get my hands on, and this would be a fantastic continued foray into that kind of world. Add the fantastical with faerys and you have quite the story! I do worry about the romance, but my hope is that there is no insta-love and it develops naturally, well…as naturally as a human/faery romance can. Also, how about that cover? Freaking awesome, especially when you pay attention to that gun she is holding, got to love steampunk weapons!

Does The Falconer appeal to you? What book are you “Waiting On”? Let me know in the comments and/or leave a link to your own WoW post and I will make sure to stop by! Thanks for checking out my Waiting On Wednesday! ^.^


Day 70: Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger

Day 70

Summary From Goodreads

It’s one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It’s quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners—and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine’s, young ladies learn to finish…everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage—in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year’s education.

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There are many words that can be used to describe Etiquette & Espionage. Fabulous. Odd. Hilarious. I don’t know that any combination will adequately describe the book, but I’ll give it a go since reviews are apparently my thing now.

The main reason Etiquette & Espionage is so hard to accurately describe is because it encompasses so many genres. There is the fantastic elements such as werewolves and vampires, both of which are readily accepted by a large portion of society, go figure. Then there are the steampunk elements which go from mechanimals (exactly what they sound like) to floating schools seemingly made out of three dirigibles melded together, to descriptions of machines themselves. There is the urban setting, it is a school after all, even a floating one counts. Oh and the matter of it being in the 1800’s and thus having grand balls, horse-drawn carriages and of course the way of speaking that seems to fit the time. Add that all together and you can see why it is a bit hard to summarize all that Etiquette & Espionage holds in simple terms.

What’s so amazing, or at least in part, about the book is that it combines all of the aforementioned genres seamlessly. The vampires and werewolves? They fit right in with the school setting. The descriptions of different mechanical workings? Doesn’t clash with lessons on a proper curtsy or what size of handkerchief is possible to hide in a given…well, bosom. Even the manner of speech manages to fit in seamlessly with all of the fantastical goings on.

My personal favorite incorporation was the humor. Carriger not only uses standard forms of humor, but with the etiquette involved some specific situations that most books would be unable to take advantage of are used masterfully. Also names, just hilarious and no doubt for the author’s benefit as much as it was for the reader. My favorites were Lord Dingleproops, Mrs. Barnaclegoose and Bumbersnoot. I’m sorry but if you didn’t at least emit a giggle reading those you need to work on your sense of humor!

The characters were excellent too. The main character, Sophronia, is brilliant, funny, and though the school does make her more feminine as it is designed to do, she retains much of her tomboyish qualities as well as her adventurous & reckless tendencies which is always nice to see with a female MC every now and then. She’s pretty but it doesn’t make her act superior, loyal to those she cares about (unless faced with an incoming werewolf) and I can’t wait to see how her character develops. The supporting cast of friends, teachers and even enemies are all done very well. I honestly can’t think of a character I thought was poorly done which is pretty amazing.

Etiquette & Espionage is the first book in a four part series, and I’m definitely looking forward to book two, Curtsies & Conspiracies, which is expected to be released in November of this year. There wasn’t a cliffhanger ending (thank you Gail!) but that hasn’t made my longing any less. There is plenty more “education” left to be had, rules to be broken and hilarity to ensue. I’d recommend this book to anyone, especially since there seems to be a bit about it to appease a fan of any genre type. Thanks as always for reading and come back tomorrow for Day 71!

Genre Variety Reading Challenge #25/30 – Category – Steampunk; Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #70/365

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