MandaBerry's Books

One person's thoughts on a whole lot of books

Tag Archives: steampunk

Review: The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia

The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia

from the back of the book

Mattie, an intelligent automaton skilled in the use of alchemy, finds herself caught in the middle of a conflict between the gargoyles, the Mechanics, and the Alchemists.  With the old order quickly giving way to the new, Mattie discovers powerful and dangerous secrets – secrets that can completely alter the balance of power in the city of Ayona.  This doesn’t sit well with Loharri, the Mechanic who created Mattie and still has the key to her heart – literally.

My Rating: 4 out of 5

Bookshelf: Yes

How I Got It: Bought

I enjoyed this. Well, not that it made me happy, but I’m happy that I read it. It’s heartbreakingly sad, but that’s a good thing. It can’t all be sunshine and roses, can it? The author created characters that you care about and root for during all the trials they go through. The writing style is very different from what I’m used to reading. I tend to normally gravitate toward action and military sci-fi, but this is most definitely nothing like that. I’m not familiar with the lit terms, but I’ll try to do my best to describe it. It’s more lyrical. The descriptions produce vivid images in the mind’s eye, and evoke a sense of beauty, even when describing something unpleasant. It felt…dreamy. Ugh, I should have taken at least one lit class. The pace of the book was slower, but that’s understandable because the emphasis isn’t solely on action. I really enjoyed this, and I look forward to reading other books by this author.


Review: Iron Angel by Alan Campbell (Deepgate Codex #2)

Iron Angel by Alan Campbell   (Deepgate Codex #2)

From the back of the book

After a destructive battle, the ancient city of Deepgate has been overtaken.  Most of the chains that suspend it have given way, and the temple now dangles upside down above the once-uncharted abyss.  The victorious Spine have initiated martial law and are ruthlessly tempering all survivors.  But amid the turmoil, two captives are returned: the young angel Dill, now toughened by war, and traitor assassin Rachel Hael.  Incarcerated in the crumbling temple, the prisoners await their fate – while ghosts rise through the abyss from the open gates of Hell.  But as the city teeters on the brink, plans for vengeance are set in motion.  And in the coming battle between gods, it is the world of men that is at stake.

My Rating: 4 out of 5

Bookshelf: Yes

How I Got It: Bought

Don’t Click Here If You Haven’t Read Scar Night!!!

Review: Scar Night by Alan Campbell (Deepgate Codex #1)

Scar Night by Alan  Campbell   (Deepgate Codex #1)

From the back of the book

In the city of Deepgate, suspended by chains over a seemingly bottomless abyss, there are two angels: one, an untested boy, the last of his line; the other, a psychotic murderer mad for revenge – or redemption.  When one of the city’s own turns against its people, bringing enemies to its doorstep, both seek a powerful magic at the bottom of the chasm – and learn that what lies below is far more sinister than they’ve been taught to expect…

My Rating: 4 out of 5

Bookshelf: Yes

How I Got It: Bought

I’ll admit I was really confused at first.  The opening scene takes place years before the rest of the story, and I always find that confusing, especially since I’m not yet familiar with that world.  I stuck with it, and I’m glad I did.  I enjoyed the action, and suspense.  One of the characters is pegged as “a psychotic murderer” and rest assured some grisly scenes are included.  I liked most of the characters, but Dill is my favorite.  There were some interesting characteristics of the angels that were new (at least to me), and they added a lot to the story.  I’m not quite familiar with the mythology of angels, so I fear that some of the bigger story or references may have gone over my head.  That being said, I still went out and bought the next book as soon as I was finished with this one.  This could be considered Steampunk, but only just barely.  There’s the whole “city on chains” setting, and there are a few interesting machines, but not enough to be definitively classified as Steampunk.

Review: Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve (Hungry City Chronicles #1)

Mortal Engines (The Hungry City Chronicles) Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve (Hungry City Chronicles #1)

from the back of the book

London is hunting!

The great Traction City lumbers after a small town, eager to strip its prey of all assets and move on.  In the not-so-distant future, mobile cities consume one another to survive, a practice known as Municipal Darwinism. Tom, an apprentice in the Guild of Historians, saves his hero from a murder attempt by the mysterious Hester Shaw – only to find himself thrown from the city and stranded with Hester in the Out Country.  As they struggle to follow the city, the sinister plans of London’s leaders begin to unfold…

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Bookshelf: Yes, definitely

How I got it: Bought

Fantastic! I heard such great feedback from people who have given me the best recommendations, so I had to try this. When I asked what it was about, however, they started sputtering about Municipal Darwinism and at that point I started tuning them out. I hope I can explain it better. This takes place far in the future, but there’s an Industrial Revolution/Victorian feel about the time period. The cities have become mobile. They roll around in search of smaller towns they can “eat” for parts, supplies, labor, and trade. There’s an evil plot put in motion by certain Londoners and it’s a race to see if anyone can stop them.

There’s definitely a Steampunk feel to this book, but it’s not for the sake of being Steampunk. Did that make sense? There are certain books that have been written to appeal specifically to the Steampunk crowd, and you can tell. This, however, feels like Steampunk but without being blatantly targeted for it. I appreciate that.

I liked that action and excitement throughout the book.  While Tom and Hester are our main characters, there are quite a few subplots going on throughout the book and they definitely added to the emotional impact of the story.  The world building is also really well thought out and intriguing. The descriptions of the Traction Cities and the Stationary Cities were great, and there were some really neat descriptions of the mechanics of the Traction cities.  I also enjoyed the various throwbacks to the ancient past, which is actually now.  While there was much to enjoy about this book, there were also many sad and depressing parts. I only mention this because sometimes this is promoted as a kid’s book, but really I think this is more of a YA (mid to upper teen) novel.  Not necessarily for the subject matter itself, but for the way it’s discussed between the characters in the book.

This has become one of my favorite series, and not just for a YA series. This is one of those “Jeez, I wish they had this when I was growing up” books.

Review: Empire in Black and Gold by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Shadows of the Apt #1)

Empire in Black and Gold (Shadows of the Apt 1) by Adrian Tchaikovsky 
From the back of the book

The city states of the Lowlands have lived in peace for decades, bastions of civilization, prosperity and sophistication, protected by treaties, trade and a belief in the reasonable nature of their neighbors.

But meanwhile, in far-off corners, the Wasp Empire has been devouring city after city with its highly trained armies, its machines, it killing Art . . . And now its hunger for conquest and war has become insatiable.

Only the aging Stenwold Maker, spymaster, artificer and statesman, can see that the long days of peace are over. It falls upon his shoulders to open the eyes of his people, before a black-and-gold tide sweeps down over the Lowlands and burns away everything in its path.

But first he must stop himself from becoming the Empire’s latest victim.

My rating:   5 out of 5

Bookshelf: Yes

How I got it: Bought

 My natural aversion to bugs kept me from picking this up for quite a while.  I finally picked the book up when I was in a “facing my fears” mode, and I’m so glad I did.  First, in order to clarify a little, the book is not about bugs. The characters in this book are defined by the Ancestors from which they “evolved”.  These races, for lack of a better term, have each developed special gifts or abilities that are characteristic of their namesakes.  The Beetle Kinden, for example, are often hard-working, full of stamina, and unfortunately end up on the broad side of physical appearances.  I loved how the author uses the characteristics of certain bugs to develop the people of this world. Loved it.

This action/adventure fantasy novel started off a little awkwardly for me personally because I didn’t know what to expect, but everything cleared up after the first 50 pages or so.  Once that confusion was cleared up I got wrapped up in the story of adventure, espionage,war, action, romance, and betrayal that I finished this rather quickly and immediately had to get the second one. I’m timing my completion of the third installment with the release of the fourth. Such torture!  I enjoyed the characters and wanted to find out what they did next. There’s a medievalesque atmosphere, but there’s also some technology thrown in, not hi-tech, but more steampunkish. Although, this really isn’t a “steampunk” novel.  I’m not sure exactly how to describe what that would make it. Who needs a label anyway, right?

And how about that cover? It’s beautiful. I tend to get hooked by the cover art, which doesn’t always work out so well. I’ve been very impressed with the quality of the covers that PYR have put out and most, if not all, have had the story to back it up.

Empire in Black in Gold is the first in the Shadows of the Apt series.  It is immediately followed by Dragonfly Falling (#2) and Shadow of the Mantis (#3), and there are more in the series after that. 

Review: Larklight by Philip Reeve (Larklight #1)

Larklight: A Rousing Tale of Dauntless Pluck in the Farthest Reaches of Space Larklight: A Rousing Tale of Dauntless Pluck in the Farthest Reaches of Space by Philip Reeve (Larklight #1)

From the back of the book

It was just another normal morning in space when disaster struck.  My sister Myrtle (who is quite irritating, as girls generally are) and I faced the most awful peril, and we hadn’t even had breakfast…This is the story of what happened next, and our Dreadful and Terrifying adventure to save each other and the known Universe.

My rating: 5 out of 5

Bookshelf: yes

How I got it: Bought


Do you like space? What about pirates? Now, how about space pirates?  Yes?  You may want to check this out.

The story of Art and Mrytle Mumby takes place in an alternate universe Victorian England, and the British have taken to Space during Queen Victoria’s reign.  Art and Mrytle must escape from the clutches of their enemies, and team up to try and stop them.

The book is told mainly from Art’s point of view, so there’s some sister bashing that’s quite funny. I found Myrtle to be a little annoying, but then to Art, she would be.  It’s a very nicely done action/adventure story set in space. It was quite entertaining and the humor wasn’t as immature as one would think, especially coming from a young boy’s point of view.  I loved this book and it was very fun.  I think both kids (11+) and adults would enjoy this.

Larklight is the first book in the Mumby trilogy. It’s followed by Starcross and Mothstorm.

Philip Reeve has become one of my favorite authors. He’s also written the Hungry City Chronicles, which begins with Mortal Engines.