Tag Archives: Steampunk

Book Review: ‘Monsters I Have Known’ by Jess Hartley

Title: Monsters I Have Known: A Collection of Short Stories

Published: 26th June 2017

Publisher: Mad Muse Studio

Author: Jess Hartley

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/category/Book/Mad-Muse-Studio

 

Blurb:

Come take a walk in the shadows alongside award-winning writer/editor/novelist, Jess Hartley, as she leads you through 13 intriguing tales of monstrous beings – supernatural or otherwise. In this, Hartley’s first solo anthology, readers will find a broad offering of genres – horror, romance, steampunk, fantasy and more – including her never-before-published murder mystery novella – Love Never Dies. Monsters I Have Known collects both well-loved favorites from previously published anthologies and never-before-seen fiction, presenting them with insightful introductions to share with readers some of the circumstances surrounding each story’s creation. A must-have introduction for those new to Hartley’s work, and a convenient compilation for fans of her career in the roleplaying game industry.

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2019 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A paranormal book. Well some of the short stories had a paranormal element to them.

An interesting collection of short stories exploring different genres throughout, going from the mundane, to horrors and supernatural bizarre. Some I liked more than others as I felt they had a bit more depth to them with the characters and the story they were telling. Also I think it depended on the length of them as well.

Here are a few of my favourite ones and what I thought of them:

Love Never Dies – Elizabeth wakes up in the ocean on a stormy night trying to fight her way to land. When she wakes she doesn’t really know who she is – and later – what she has become. Her memories get triggered when she walks up steps to a house, shocking a man from inside a window. Billy panics to get her inside and so the troubles of what happened start to surface. Elizabeth doesn’t know what happened but has a feeling she shouldn’t trust him. He might want to continue with a plan to get what he wants but something mysterious with Elizabeth seems to make things take a different turn. Both futures are about to change.

Immaterial Witness – When you can see ghosts what better way to make a living than by giving ghost tours. Seems others aren’t as sure of her skill, to the point of her being mocked by a male host in an interview. He says that him and his crew want to join on haunted hotel tour later so she wonders if she can make believers of them. The host on the other hand has other ideas about what the night should entail taking the name of ghost hunter to a new level. Lets see what the ghosts think of that.

Of Rain and Roses – heartbreak leading you on a walk in the rain while your mind is in a haze. How long to wonder before stumbling upon someone at a memorial. Words of wisdom to always remember the past and its mistakes so you don’t repeat it. Remembering what happened can set your soul free or you may be doomed to repeat your journey over and over again.

Hunger’s Child – calling a child Una – meaning hunger – could be seen as an omen and set the child on a course for gluttony. Always wanting more and more, causing a stir if she doesn’t get it. She gets herself a doting husband but after months of demands while she was pregnant I’m not sure how much more he could take. Mother Gothel watches all from the outskirts of town, helping people with healing when asked. With Una’s never ending list of demands from her husband the less Mother Gothel is inclined to help. That is until the mother no longer wants the child and a path of wishes starts. One turns to two and then to many, sometimes causing more trouble than help. Mainly by taking the toll on the person wishing them. She may have done what she thought best to keep them safe but you can only stay hidden for so long. Especially when strangers stumble upon towers with secrets inside.

3.5 out of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from Mad Muse Studio for my honest review.

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Blog Tour: ‘One Flew Through the Dragon Heart’ by C.S. Johnson

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I’m pleased to share this new book with you all today! One Flew Through the Dragon Heart is the first book in a new steampunk series by C.S. Johnson. Today I have an exclusive excerpt for you to read, and a chance to win a paperback copy of the book!

FavanFlowBook1Cover03.jpgOne Flew Through the Dragon Heart

Publication Date:December 21st, 2018

Genre: Steampunk/ Fantasy

A Chinese Legend. A British Secret. Star-Crossed Lovers with Incompatible Magic.

Brixton Flew works as a professor of wielder instruction at Rembrandt Academy, hoping to erase the regrets of his youth along with the resulting debt. But when he comes face to face with his biggest regret—the woman who broke his heart, Adelaide Favan—Brixton soon realizes his troubles have only begun.

Unable to control her magic, Adelaide knew leaving Brixton was the only way to protect him when they were younger. Now she discovers he is the key to recovering the Dragon Eyes, a legendary treasure connected to her magic and her family’s disgraced legacy—and she knows the risk is great, to both his life and her heart.

With others seeking the power of the Dragon Eyes, Brixton and Adelaide must outwit their foes and face down their families to save London from an ancient legend that sleeps beneath the magic portal in their city.

But the renewed passion growing between them may prove to be the greater peril …

One Flew Through the Dragon Heart is the first book in a new steampunk series by C.S. Johnson, blending together history, romance, mecha-dragons and magic against the glittering backdrop of 1880’s Victorian London.

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Excerpt

FavanFlowBook1Cover03

“Brixton.”

His sixteen-year-old self was scurrying past the materials room when he heard his name spoken with a soft, foreign lilt. The sound broke through him like a magic spell, disrupting his intellectual musings and forcing him into an uncomfortable position.

He was in a hurry; his professor would be upset if he was late for class. As a star pupil, Brixton knew he had a certain reputation to live up to, and he had learned well not to call any negative attention to himself.

But at the sound of Adelaide Favan calling for him, he felt helpless—helplessly nervous and helplessly intrigued. It was almost as if some part of him had been waiting for her to call, and he had been more than ready to answer.

Out of guilt, if nothing else.

He nearly lost his grip on the stack of books he carried as he stumbled to a stop and glanced back at the doorway to the materials room. He could see a slim shadow at the back, where her dark skirts whipped around as she moved between stations, pulling out supplies and looking for spare coils, cogs, or anything else she decided she needed.

He did not have the faintest notion why she would be calling him. Adelaide never seemed to talk to anyone unless it was out of necessity.

“Are you coming in or not?” Adelaide straightened, looking up at him from behind a thick pair of black-rimmed goggles, the kind that magnified her eyes behind the protective glass.

Brixton felt a quick twinge of regret. She always wore them when she was working on something. He had a sinking feeling he was going to be late for class—but he stepped into the room regardless.

“I’m surprised,” she said as he tentatively approached her.

“Why? You were the one who called me.”

“Is that what I need to do to get your attention?” Adelaide put her hands on her hips as she stepped back from the table, where a box full of wires and screws and other various building materials winked up at him.

Brixton felt his face turn red. “If you’re talking about earlier, I—”

“I don’t want to talk about earlier,” Adelaide said. “You know who my father is. Do you think your friends are the first people to make fun of me because of my family?”

“They’re not my friends. Not exactly.” Brixton sighed. “They’re just people we go to school with. You don’t have to be friends with them. You just have to get along with them until we graduate.”

“Is that your plan?”

He shifted his feet as the clocks chimed loudly, the pleasant ringing turning sour in his ears. He was officially late for class. Brixton glanced back at the door.

Adelaide did not pay attention to the clock. She saw to her work, fiddling with one of the gearshifts. Brixton noticed she was also still wearing her workshop gloves. Along with her goggles, they were a semi-permanent part of her wardrobe. They were thick and black, going up past her elbows. The school issued them as part of the engineering department; Brixton hated wearing them, since the synthetic material of the gloves interfered with his ability to use magic. Adelaide was the only one who consistently wore them.

“It’s mostly my plan,” he said, finally answering her.

“Seems like a silly plan, especially for the next four years.”

“Earlier, when those girls were picking on you, I didn’t say anything—”

“I said I didn’t want to talk about earlier. People have made comments about me all my life. Getting accepted into Rembrandt two years earlier than everyone else is merely another unearned privilege in their eyes.”

Her voice was calm, but Brixton saw that her fingers, even buried in her large gloves, shook ever so slightly.

“I don’t presume—”

“But you do.” Adelaide pushed up her goggles onto her forehead again, brushing back her long black hair.

Brixton hated how he stared at her. Up close, her eyes were cloudy gray, speckled over with a silver lining. He noticed they were slanted, ever so slightly; along with her flattened nose and full lips, there were plenty of hints at her Chinese heritage. He had heard the whispers of her family, especially her father, the famous Captain Favan who led Her Royal Majesty’s Airship Force.

That was one of the main reasons he had tried to befriend her before. Brixton had approached her when she was first introduced to their class, eager to talk about her father’s legacy and how it was his dream to be in the Airship Force one day, too. Adelaide had ignored him then, brushing off his introduction.

Remembering that, he frowned. She has some nerve, admonishing me for poor manners.

He cleared his throat to give himself a moment to recover. “You should know you’re presuming that I’m presuming something. I don’t know you well enough to presume anything.”

For the first time, Adelaide softened her expression. Brixton briefly wondered if he had hurt her feelings, or if it was possible he had successfully pointed out her double standards.

She tugged the goggles down over her eyes a moment later, returning to the project before her. She said nothing as she picked up a suturing iron and began to burn a twisted bunch of wires together.

For a long moment, Brixton watched her. Despite her gloves, her movements were very precise—so precise that they almost seemed awkward.

Just like the rest of her, he thought with a small smile.

Adelaide was fourteen years old, two years younger than everyone else at Rembrandt. She had transferred into the school during the middle of their second semester, and ever since their failed first meeting, Brixton kept his distance from her, even if he continued to watch her out of the corner of his eye. He knew the others in his class teased her for her youth, her connections, and her ancestry.

He could sympathize with her some in that regard, given he received plenty of his own mockery. He was only at Rembrandt because of his scholarship. Most of the students were from the aristocracy, and the idea of rich merchants or lower-class workers—such as his parents—sending their children to Rembrandt was nothing short of scandalous.

He easily dismissed those who badgered him; he was here for an education, and nothing more.

But as Brixton gazed down at Adelaide, he suddenly wondered if she was able to do the same.

She was such a small thing. She was not only two years his junior, but she was also at least a foot shorter. The Rembrandt Academy uniform nearly swallowed up her body. He could see her vest was pinned in the back, and her long skirt was clearly hemmed. Brixton had a feeling she liked to wear the goggles on her forehead if for no other reason than they lent her another two inches in height.

“Why did you call me?” Brixton asked, daring himself to speak again.

Adelaide bit her lip, and Brixton found himself staring again.

Finally, she sighed. “I need you.”

His breath caught and his body went still. He was only able to move after she added, “I need your help.”

The words came out with a ripe bitterness in each syllable, and Brixton almost laughed at her discomfort. It was clear she never asked for help if she could avoid it.

He cleared this throat again, swallowing the last of his laughter, and nodded. “Tell me what it is.”

“I need help assembling this,” Adelaide said, pointing to the neat array of metal scraps and parts before her.

“What is it?”

“A dragon heart.”

“Beg pardon?” Brixton dropped his books, missing the table and causing them to clatter to the floor. He was certain he had misheard her as he bent to pick them up, but he was even more surprised when she laughed.

Her eyes were pushed back into slits behind her goggles, giving her a wizened, animated look as her smile widened. Brixton stared at her as he picked up his books and stacked them neatly beside hers.

“I’m only kidding,” Adelaide said, before she arched her brow. “Or maybe I’m not. Either way, I need your help with this part.”

She opened the top panel and pointed to a small knot of wires lined with alloy and copper. “This is an energy loop I’ve been working on. It’s a special type of power source. The Board wants to develop more efficient batteries, especially since the Edison Project has shown promise. Now they want to see what the wielders can do to improve it.”

“I talked with Professor Ohm about this,” Brixton said. “He wanted to find a way to generate perpetual energy. He thought electricity could possibly be infused with magic.”

“I know. I overheard your conversation after class a few days ago.”

“You did?” Brixton took the suturing iron out of her hand.

“He was dismissive of the idea as an alternative life source, but he was interested in seeing if you could figure out how to make his own theories work.”

He bit down on his cheek. He knew which conversation Adelaide was referring to, and it was one where Professor Ohm spent several minutes admonishing him for his eclectic reading tastes.

“What?” Adelaide asked.

“It’s rude to eavesdrop.”

She jutted her chin forward. “It’s also rude to ignore people who need help.”

“I don’t know if you’re saying that to make me feel bad about before, or if it’s just to make sure I stay here and help you,” Brixton muttered. “Do you care to tell me which?”

“I have an extra pair of gloves if you need them,” Adelaide offered.

He rolled his eyes as she sidestepped his question. “I don’t use them if I can help it.” He called up the power that resided inside of him. He could feel it flowing from his heart down to his fingertips, filling his palm. “I like working with my hands better. It’s easier to conjure up my talent. That’s my magic, as you might have known already. I can build things. Anything, really.”

“Well, no wonder you’re so good at this.” Adelaide pouted as Brixton undid her work. “You’re using magic.”

“And you don’t? Why are you in school to be an engineering wielder if you’re not using magic?”

“I like working with machinery,” Adelaide said. “I’m here because Rembrandt produces the best engineers in London. The fact that it’s a magical school does nothing for me.”

“Do you even have magic at all? I thought that was a requirement for coming here.”

“It is.” Adelaide went silent, and for the first time, Brixton saw her blush. With the small patch of red on her cheeks, he could just make out a light trail of freckles across her nose.

“Ouch.” He flinched as the suturing iron slipped across his fingers.

“Pay attention to what you’re doing. You don’t have to worry about my talent right now. All you need to know is that it’s not helping me fix this.” She crossed her arms and looked away.

“Right.” Brixton turned back to the item in front of him.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

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C. S. Johnson is the award-winning, genre-hopping author of several novels, including young adult sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more at http://www.csjohnson.me

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Mini Tour Schedule

Feb. 25th

Reads & Reels (Excerpt) http://readsandreels.com

Jessica Rachow (Review) http://jessicarachow.wordpress.com

Tranquil Dreams (Review) http://klling.wordpress.com

Love Books Group (Interview) https://lovebooksgroup.com/

Feb. 26th

The Bookworm Drinketh (Review) http://thebookwormdrinketh.wordpress.com/

Valerie’s Musings (Review) http://valeriesmusings76.wordpress.com

The Cozy Pages (Excerpt) http://thecozypages.wordpress.com/

Feb. 27th

Reading Nook (Excerpt) https://readingnook84.wordpress.com

Sammie Reads Books (Review) https://sammiereadsbook.wordpress.com

The Genre Minx Book Reviews (Review) http://www.thegenreminx.com/

Feb. 28th

Where Dragons Reside (Review) https://kernerangelina.live/

Feb. 29th

The Eclectic Review (Review) https://eclecticreview.com/

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Book Review: ‘The Ghost Machine’ by Kristen Brand

Title: The Ghost Machine: A Gothic Steampunk Novel

Published: 29th December 2016

Author: Kristen Brand

Twitter: @brandedkristen

 

Synopsis:

Ella Rosenfeld is a lunatic. Locked away in the remote Auttenberg Asylum, she undergoes torturous treatment to cure her hallucinations. Yet the longer she remains within Auttenberg’s austere halls, the more gruesome her visions become, until Ella is sure she’s seeing ghosts and Auttenberg’s doctor knows it. He doesn’t plan to cure her; he wants to study her ability by dissecting her.

Ella refuses to accept her fate. She assaults her captors, scales the asylum fence, and finds sanctuary in the castle of Baron Viktor Szarka. Young and arrogant, the baron offers her protection, but he’s rumored to have locked a woman in the asylum to hide his dark past. Unable to trust him, Ella must uncover the conspiracy surrounding the asylum, her visions, and the baron’s secret…or join the rest of Auttenberg’s ghosts.

If you’re a fan of steampunk or gothic romance, download a sample or buy now.

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2018 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A book you didn’t want to put down. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this gothic steampunk mystery but was gripped from the start and couldn’t put it down. Great story telling with twists, turns and misdirection’s seemingly coming at you to keep you guessing right to the end.

So Ella has come to Auttenberg Asylum in hopes of them helping her with what everyone thinks are hallucinations. Auttenberg is a place filled with history and death with battles long gone past. Not so good for Ella as the ‘hallucinations’ she sees are ghosts. She, along with her parents, thinks this is the best place to cure her but it doesn’t take Ella more than a couple of days to figure out something far worse. On her first session with Dr Grunewald, along with the help of Mrs Schuttmann (both of whom you get bad vibes from), puts her into a machine. One that seems to split her head in two, well it feels like it does anyway. Seems this machine has a purpose but right now Ella is just convinced it’s going to kill her. Fearing for her life, and after a chat with a ghost in her room, one that killed itself, she knows she has to escape. Easier said than done and luck most definitely has to be on her side because escaping the asylum is only her first hurdle. More are on the way and each more mysterious and dangerous than the last.

Now it seems Ella may have not paid too much attention to planning her escape. She found a moment to act and went with it. Thing is that the Auttenberg Asylum is in the Carpathian Mountains, a place currently with arctic weather and not one to be caught out in with only one shoe. Running for her life she fears death from the cold will get her first but its not long before wolves might play a part. Thank god for Baron Viktor Szarka as he comes to her rescue. But from the stories she’s been told can she really trust him. Could he just be luring her into another trap? He might take care of her recovery – frostbite is a bitch – but he doesn’t do much to put her at ease. He wants to hear her accounts of what really happened at Auttenberg, which she does minus the ghosts. Seems he knows what she omitted though as he has her journal. Invasion of privacy screaming from her but does he believe or think her mad? His home is a cold fortress but friendly faces do appear in the form of his younger brother Andras and his guardian/housekeeper Mrs Lupescu. All would seem well when parents arrive and with the Baron insisting they take Ella away as early as possible but with snow closing in and Dr Grunewald willing to do anything to get her back things don’t go to plan.

Adventure in the form of running for her life draws its head again and she knows its not just humans she should fear but iron soldiers too. She can see there is something different about them compared to the machines her father made. A clue to why she is so valuable to the wrong kind perhaps? Battles at the ready with flying ships, pirates, deaths and misdeeds forming but it seems she has a helper at hand with Andras throughout her journey and maybe even the Baron. Ghosts are what she feared but was she looking at things backwards. Was she meant to see them to help so they couldn’t be mistreated, even in death? She may be the asset Dr Grunewald and his team wants to claim back but she may also be their undoing. Well only if she figures everything out in time.

5 out of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author for my honest review.

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