Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Clockwork Christmas by JK Coi et al

Synopsis from
We Wish You a Steampunk Christmas

Changed forever after tragedy, a woman must draw strength from her husband's love. A man learns that love isn't always what you expect. A thief steals the heart of a vengeful professor. And an American inventor finds love Down Under. Enjoy Victorian Christmas with a clockwork twist in these four steampunk novellas.

Anthology includes:

Crime Wave in a Corset by Stacy Gail
This Winter Heart by PG Forte
Wanted: One Scoundrel by Jenny Schwartz
Far From Broken by JK Coi

My Review
This was my first venture into the genre of steampunk and not really knowing what to expect, I can honestly say I wasn't overly impressed. In fact I was quite bored with these short stories and it took a lot for me to get through them all. I was constantly checking my percentage meter to see how much more I had to endure. And other than the odd reference to Christmas I didn't really feel these were Christmas stories at all.

There are 4 stories in this book, but the first one was the best of them all. Crime Wave In A Corset was a tale about Cornelia, a thief who stole a Fabergé egg from a university professor, who now wants her to steal it back, but instead she manages to steal his heart. 3 STARS

The Winter Heart was a love story gone wrong between Orphelia and Dario. She returns to him with their son after being made destitute following the death of her own father. However, Dario isn't at all pleased to see either her or his son, especially as her genetic make-up declared her as being barren. Will love conquer all? This one was ok, but I thought it was a bit far fetched. Maybe that's what steampunk is all about - technologies far too advanced for the time period. 1.5 STARS

Wanted: One Scoundrel was just plain boring. Esme, a strong suffragette, wants to hire a scoundrel to put forward her opinions in the men's clubs in the gold mining town of Fremantle in Australia. Not a great deal really happened in this one. As expected Esme falls for her scoundrel. He helps another man get his comeuppance after he tries to force Esme to marry him, claiming he had kidnapped her father. 1 STAR at a push.

Far From Broken was a nice love story, but again was too far fetched in my opinion. Callie was tortured, almost to the point of death and her husband Jasper agreed for the government's War Office doctor to put her back together again with a mechanical eye and limbs and biomechanical organisms which helped her to heal really quickly. Jasper had to fight for their love and she slowly broke through the shell she had created to push everyone out in return, but when someone unexpected comes back to kill Jasper, will love win? 1.5 STARS

If this is the kind of stories that steampunk authors produce then I don't think they are for me at all. I like lots of action, with a bit of blood and guts thrown in for good measure and a bit of sex and romance. These stories are more of the kind of books my mother would read and I'm not your kind of soppy romance fan that she is!

Thank you to the publishers for letting me receive this book through NetGalley and review it completely honestly.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Apocalypse Rising by Maria Zannini

Synopsis from
The only place left to hide was in the past.

Fire Elemental Leda and her plainfolk companion, Grey, are running from a demented time traveler, a man obsessed with creating a creature who can read thoughts. Convinced that Leda can produce this unnatural child, he has threatened to hunt her down to the ends of the earth—and he has kept his word. Their only escape is a one-way trip through the time portal.

With death on their heels, salvation appears in the form of two strangers. Seemingly ordinary people, Tom and Cassandra assure Leda and Grey that they are here to help. They claim they are repaying a debt—Leda and Grey helped them once, 1200 years ago.

The trip through the portal offers no escape, as Leda and Grey discover that evil transcends time. Can their presence in the past stop the eventual apocalypse that forms their future?

My review:

This book starts off right in the middle of the action - Leda and Grey, our two main characters are running for their lives from a fire lord Senosai. Not realising that this book was in the middle of a series meant that I was lost initially, but the story soon unfolds and it was easy enough to work out some of what had happened previously.

In order for Leda, a fire elemental, and Grey, a plainsfolk (i.e.a non magical person) to escape from being captured and killed they jump through a portal that sends them back in time 1200 years, to our current day. They find it rather strange and difficult to adapt initially as everything is done by machines, whereas in their future machines no longer exist. They meet a group of witches who help them and Cassandra, one of the witches, is the same Cassandra who helped them in the future. How you say? Read it and find out :P

The fire lord Senosai is also in this time, not as a fire lord but as a scientist performing experiments on a large group of children who have all been created to be elementals. Leda knows she has to save her ancestors from Senosai, but things don't strictly go according to plan. Once the children are freed, with the help of some priests and nuns, Leda begins to teach them how to control their talents and how to live together. Gaea, an Earth elemental with the power of foresight, is chosen as the one to lead them all and although she is only a teenager herself, Leda knows she will become the most powerful of all the elementals.

Leda also has dealings with a demon Beleth, who actually comes in quite helpful later on, even though what he does is not actually meant to be helpful. However, he inadvertently sets the ball rolling to start the apocalypse that will destroy the world as it now is. The elemental children are immune to what is happening due to the demon blood in them, but the plainsfolk are not, so they have to be transported through the portal back to Leda and Grey's time. And with a bit of help from Gaea, so are Leda and Grey, even though the portal is meant to be a one way trip only.

I really liked the characters of Leda and Grey. She definitely had the upper hand in the relationship but when she realised that she couldn't produce any heirs for Grey, she offered him to another woman who would be able to bear him children. This idea is not something I would do, but in the time they came from this was what was done. The whole idea of giving Grey away killed Leda and you could see how much turmoil she was in every time she thought about him and Cassandra. Luckily another man saved Grey from sleeping with Cassandra and having children with him.

I liked this book and enjoyed how the story unfolded. I would also like to go back and read the books before this one to find out the events leading up to this book.

I got this book to review from NetGalley and would like to thank the author and publishers for the opportunity.