Waiting on Wednesday–The Steam Mole by Dave Freer

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

I finished Cuttlefish by Dave Freer not long ago, and was thrilled to discover that there will be another book featuring Clara and Tim.  There is no plot synopsis yet.  The Steam Mole is high on my wish list anyway.  In stores December 2012.

 

 

Order it here:  The Steam Mole

What are you waiting on?

Cover Shot! The Lazarus Machine by Paul Crilley

Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café. I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share. More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents. There is an allure to a beautiful cover. Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

The cover for The Lazarus Machine by Paul Crilley is so cool.  I love the colors and the flashes of lightning, and the creepy masked guys in the background – they are really creepy!  The world-building seems interesting, what with the automatons powered by human souls.  Human souls. Really?  I’m am very intrigued by this book!

In stores November 2012.

  

An alternate 1895… a world where Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace perfected the Difference engine. Where steam and tesla-powered computers are everywhere. Where automatons powered by human souls venture out into the sprawling London streets. Where the Ministry, a secretive government agency, seeks to control everything in the name of the Queen.

It is in this claustrophobic, paranoid city that seventeen-year-old Sebastian Tweed and his conman father struggle to eke out a living.

But all is not well…

A murderous, masked gang has moved into London, spreading terror through the criminal ranks as they take over the underworld. as the gang carves up more and more of the city, a single name comes to be uttered in fearful whispers.

Professor Moriarty.

When Tweed’s father is kidnapped by Moriarty, he is forced to team up with information broker Octavia Nightingale to track him down. But he soon realizes that his father’s disappearance is just a tiny piece of a political conspiracy that could destroy the British Empire and plunge the world into a horrific war.

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Review: Cuttlefish by Dave Freer

 

Title:  Cuttlefish

Author: Dave Freer

Publisher:  Pyr

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

The smallest thing can change the path of history.

The year is 1976, and the British Empire still spans the globe. Coal drives the world, and the smog of it hangs thick over the canals of London.

Clara Calland is on the run. Hunted, along with her scientist mother, by Menshevik spies and Imperial soldiers, they flee Ireland for London. They must escape airships, treachery, and capture. Under flooded London’s canals, they join the rebels who live in the dank tunnels there.

Tim Barnabas is one of the underpeople, born to the secret town of drowned London, place of anti-imperialist republicans and Irish rebels, part of the Liberty—the people who would see a return to older values and free elections. Seeing no farther than his next meal, Tim has hired on as a submariner on the Cuttlefish, a coal-fired submarine that runs smuggled cargoes beneath the steamship patrols, to the fortress America and beyond.

When the Imperial soldiery comes ravening, Clara and her mother are forced to flee aboard the Cuttlefish. Hunted like beasts, the submarine and her crew must undertake a desperate voyage across the world, from the Faeroes to the Caribbean and finally across the Pacific to find safety. But only Clara and Tim Barnabas can steer them past treachery and disaster, to freedom in Westralia. Carried with them—a lost scientific secret that threatens the very heart of Imperial power.

Review:

Cuttlefish has been on my radar since I first saw the cover on Amazon.  When I received a review copy, I could hardly wait to start reading it.  Between the covers, I found a compelling adventure, one that was enhanced by the two extremely likable protagonists.  Tim and Clara made the book for me, and it was on the strength of their personalities that I eagerly journeyed to the end.  The pacing could be a little slow as the Cuttlefish journeyed across the ocean, and without these protagonists, who demand that you pay attention to them, I don’t know if I would have found the book as enjoyable.  Sometimes the journey holds your attention, and sometimes, it’s your companions who make the trip worth taking.

Clara is the daughter of a chemist, and when her mother arrives at her school, frantically demanding that Clara follow her with no questions asked, the girl is bewildered.  What is going on?  Why are these scary guys chasing after them?  Clara is a clever girl, and after overcoming her initial fear, she quickly starts to question everything that’s going on around her.  The Russians are determined to capture them, as are the British, all to gain possession of her mother’s research.  And here Clara thought her mother was dull and boring, and overly engrossed in her research!  In reality, she’s the object of a dangerous manhunt that will take them all over the world!

The two end up on the Cuttlefish, a submarine at smuggles goods from around the world back to London.  In the years after the Big Melt, life is difficult for all.  There isn’t enough food being harvested, nations are bickering over limited resources, and the super powers are battling for control of shipping lanes, overland trade routes, and mining facilities.  Once it’s suspected that Clara’s mother’s research could tip the balance of power, everyone is after them, with orders to capture them, or barring that, kill them so that the research doesn’t fall into another nation’s hands.   Yikes!  These guys aren’t playing around, but Clara’s resourcefulness and courage proves to be quite a match for all of the bad guys.

On board the sub, Clara meets Tim.  Tim was raised in the tunnels under drowned London, and there is no love lost between them at first.  Confused, Tim wonders why the women are on the sub.  He also suspects, at first, that Clara is over-privileged and over-indulged.  As they share one dangerous adventure after another, Tim slowly learns how wrong he is about his new friend.  Clara’s honest and open friendship makes him question how he perceives the world, and makes him re-evaluate his plans for the future.  I loved how their growing friendship brought out the best in both of them.  Where Clara is weak, Tim is strong, and visa versa.  While Tim is more laid-back and more of a thinker, Clara is impulsive, jumping into any situation without hesitation.  They manage to get each other into, and back out of, several hair-raising scrapes, by learning to trust and rely on each other.  I loved their relationship.

The pacing was a little sluggish near the end, but the last 50 pages were frantically urgent, keeping me on the edge of my seat.  I couldn’t put the book down, even though it was far past my bedtime.  I was so engaged in the survival of the Cuttlefish that I couldn’t set the book aside.  The thought of being chased across the Pacific, trapped in a crippled submarine, actually kept me up after I finished.  The tension was almost unbearable, and I marveled at the steadiness and calm efficiency of the captain and crew.  I quickly decided that I could never join the Navy, because I would have gone off my rocker if anything like that had ever happened to me!

The strength of Cuttlefish is the likability of the young protagonists, as well as the strong action sequences, especially the huge, heart-pounding near disaster at the end.  I loved the characters, and I can hardly wait to have another adventure with them.  The Steam Mole will be out in December; it’s already on my wish list.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

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Cover Shot! Her Sky Cowboy by Beth Ciotta

Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café. I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share. More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents. There is an allure to a beautiful cover. Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

I can tell that Amelia is a woman who likes to take risks.  Just look at her outfit.  From the goggles perched on her head to the  layered fringed skirt, everything about her screams, “Look at me!”  Then look at the cowboy standing next to her.  He’s kind of dull in comparison.  How I hope her wildness glams him up a bit, because he clearly has no imagination when it comes to his wardrobe!

In stores November 2012

Amelia Darcy has no interest in marrying well. Her heart belongs to the sky and the dirigibles of brass and steel that swoop over Victorian England. But when her father, an eccentric inventor, dies, the Darcy siblings are left with scrap metal—and not a penny to their names.

Their only hope to save the family reputation and fortune is to embark on a quest to discover an invention of historical importance in honor of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. Armed with only her father’s stories of a forgotten da Vinci workshop, a mechanically enhanced falcon, and an Italian cook, Amelia takes flight for Florence, Italy.

But her quest is altered when her kitecycle crashes into the airship of ex–Air Marshal—and scandalous dime novel hero—Tucker Gentry. Tuck agrees to escort Amelia to her destination, but the two are challenged by political unrest, a devious sky pirate, and their own sizzling attraction. Soon the pair is dragged into an international conspiracy that could change the course of history…again

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Cover Shot! A Lady Can Never Be Too Curious by Mary Wine

Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café. I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share. More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents. There is an allure to a beautiful cover. Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

Like the heroine of A Lady Can Never Be Too Curious, the cover for Mary Wine’s steampunk novel has my interest piqued.  I love the heroine’s expression, but the guy looks kind of dorky; I don’t know if it’s the goggles, his derby, or his goofy grin.  What do you think of this cover?

In stores August 2012.

On the outside, Janette Aston appears to be a proper young lady; however, the people of England have no idea that this poised young miss secretly studies the scientific discoveries of the mysterious Illuminist Society. Janette soon grows hungry for more secrets about this Society, and she finds herself impersonating an Illuminist to discover more information. As she is exposed to secrets and dangers she never could have imagined, she begins to wonder if she’s finally gone too far. But when she runs into gorgeous Illuminist Guardian Darius Lawley, she finds that, while her life is in danger, her sense of curiosity is most certainly piqued…

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Review: Dead Reckoning by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill

 

   Title: Dead Reckoning

   Author: Mercedes Lackey  & Rosemary Edghill

   Publisher: Bloomsbury

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Jett is a girl disguised as a boy, living as a gambler in the old West as she searches for her long-lost brother. Honoria Gibbons is a smart, self-sufficient young woman who also happens to be a fabulous inventor. Both young women travel the prairie alone – until they are brought together by a zombie invasion! As Jett and Honoria investigate, they soon learn that these zombies aren’t rising from the dead of their own accord … but who would want an undead army? And why? This gunslinging, hair-raising, zombie western mashup is perfect for fans of Cowboys vs. Aliens and Pride & Prejudice & Zombies.

Review:

I haven’t read anything by Mercedes Lackey in a long, long time, and I don’t think I have ever read Rosemary Edghill, and that’s something I would like to rectify, because I enjoyed Dead Reckoning. Though there are some pacing issues at the end, and few too many convenient coincidences, I found my time  with Jett, White Fox, and Gibbons well spent. These characters were easy to like.  I do wish White Fox had been given more depth and more page time.  I loved Gibbons, and thought that she could probably talk her way in to and back out of Fort Knox with a bucket full of gold bars.  She was never content to take anything at face value; she had this all-consuming need to understand the how and the why of everything.  I loved how this drove Jett nuts.  She was more than willing to accept what she saw with her own eyes, and didn’t need to overthink anything.  Gibbons had an annoying habit of getting on her last, frayed nerve, and there was nothing Jett could do once her new acquaintance got on a roll.

I feel that I am still a recent convert to zombie-dom.  I wouldn’t even consider reading a zombie book until after a few reviews of The Enemy and The Forest of Hands and Teeth prompted me to read outside of my comfort zone.  I’m so glad that I did, but I am still a bit squeamish when it comes to rotting corpses.  I can’t be too scared, or I start to feel anxious and worried and I am torn in agony over putting the book aside or mincing cautiously through the pages.  Dead Reckoning was downright creepy in a few parts, but the horror elements weren’t the focus of the story.  If you are looking for a gross out, zombie rampage, you won’t find it here.  Instead, you’ll find a western that’s more medical thriller than zombie apocalypse, with steampunk elements thrown in for good measure.

What made this book for me was the character interaction.  White Fox was the peacemaker between Gibbons and Jett, whose constant head-butting kept me turning the pages.  In the years just after the Civil War, Jett is desperately searching for her twin brother.  She doesn’t believe that he’s dead, and he’s the only family she has left after the devastating war.  Masquerading as a  boy, she pretends to be a gambler and gunslinger, thinking that she’ll encounter less trouble if everyone thinks she is a male.  Having witnessed the looting and destruction of her home by Northerners, she doesn’t have much trust for them.  Fleeing from certain death at the putrefying hands of a zombie army, Jett encounters White Fox and Gibbons – both Yankees and both to be viewed with suspicion.  When Gibbons, who is too clever by far, immediately sees through her disguise, Jett is even more wary of them.  Her continued safety depends on her ruse, and she doesn’t trust either of them to keep her secret.

Though they are very different, both Gibbons and Jett are strong, outspoken women.  Gibbons has gotten grief because of her “outlandish” ideas and demeanor, but she refuses to be something that she’s not.  She prizes science and thinks that if she only looks hard enough, she’ll find a rational reason for everything.  Even an apparent zombie horde.  She has no patience for simpering females, or their ridiculous clothing.  Jett, on the other hand, enjoyed wearing frilly gowns and attending parties.  She blames the war for changing her life so drastically, and she believes that after she locates her brother, she can go back to her idea of normal.  They couldn’t be more different, but they both share the courage and resourcefulness to try to stop the zombie army.  Neither of them has a personal stake in this fight, but they won’t ignore their moral obligation to save the countless lives that would be lost if they didn’t put a stop to it.  They made a great team, I would love to see them take on another fight in the future.  I feel that White Fox was seriously underutilized here, and would like another chance for him to prove his mettle.

Dead Reckoning is a fun read with zombies, a Western setting, and steampunk elements.  The pacing was a bit off near the end as the villain rambled on without end, gloating about his superior intellect and forthcoming victory. Despite that, this is a fast, popcorn read with a cast of diverse personalities that are thrown together and forced to stop a zombie army – even though one of their number doesn’t believe in zombies.    

Grade: B/B-

Available in Print and Digital

Review copy provided by publisher

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Cover Shot! Incarnation by Emma Cornwall

Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café.  I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share.  More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents.  There is an allure to a beautiful cover.  Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

This cover made me stop and say “Holy CRAP!! What a pretty cover!”  Then I saw that Incarnation by Emma Cornwall is steampunk, and I wanted to read it even more.  Isn’t the cover breathtaking?  I love the burst of color from the coat and the woman’s hair.  Just commands that you look at it again and again!

 

In the steampunk world of Victorian London, Lucy Weston, a character in Dracula, seeks out Bram Stoker to discover why he deliberately lied about her in his popular novel.

With Stoker’s reluctant help, she tracks the creature who transformed her from the sensual underworld where humans vie to become vampires to a hidden cell beneath a temple to madness and finally into the glittering Crystal Palace where death reigns supreme. Haunted by fragmentary memories of her lost life and love, Lucy battles her thirst for blood as she struggles to stop a catastrophic war that will doom vampires and humans alike. Ultimately, she makes a choice that illuminates for her–and for us–the true nature of what it means to be human.

In stores September 2012

 

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Interview with Delilah Dawson, Author of Wicked As They Come

Delilah Dawson is the author of Wicked As They Come, a dark magical steampunk romance.  Delilah very graciously agreed to drop by the virtual offices to chat up her book and her writing influences.

[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Delilah Dawson] Writer, geek, goof, artist, synesthete, progenitor, cake guru, boot junkie, steampunk/cephalopod/ninja/vampire/narwhal/silly hat enthusiast.

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about Wicked As They Come?

[Delilah Dawson] Wicked as They Come is about a woman named Tish fleeing a bad relationship who inadvertently steals a locket and is whisked away to a magical steampunk Victorian world called Sang. Not everyone there is human, and the spell that called her was cast by a rakish magician named Criminy Stain. He runs a traveling carnival and is a Bludman, which is a blood drinker without all the garlic/nocturnal/cross business. Adventures ensue, including corsets, ghosts, submarines, bloodthirsty rabbits, and a kraken. I basically just threw all my favorite things into one story. Except cake. I somehow completely forgot to include cake.

[Manga Maniac Café] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the book?

[Delilah Dawson] It was an enormously lucky coincidence, sort of like when the person holding the peanut butter ran into the person holding the chocolate. I found the band The Hush Sound on Pandora.com and purchased their album, Like Vines. After listening to it all day and watching several episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I had a dream that I woke up naked on a rock in the forest. I thought I was alone, but then I looked up and saw this gorgeous guy in a cravat who looked like a very naughty version of Mr. Darcy and talked a lot like Buffy’s Spike. He became Criminy Stain, and the rest of the story just happened. You can detect several hints from Like Vines in the story, such as Criminy comparing Tish to a sweet tangerine or the magnolia mentioned in one character’s garden.

[Manga Maniac Café] What was the most challenging aspect of writing the story?

[Delilah Dawson] Going through the edit process with my agent. The last book we worked on together was middle grade, and it was *very* different writing a romance. We had to have a phone conversation to work through the kinks, and I had to cut a scene that we both loved. In the end, I agreed with every change recommended by my agent and, later, my editor. The work is infinitely stronger thanks to their savvy direction. I also had to be forced into writing the sex scenes, which were originally all black-outs. My beta readers protested loudly!

[Manga Maniac Café] What are three things Criminy would never have in his jacket pockets?

[Delilah Dawson] Good gravy, that man’s pockets are similar to Mary Poppins’ carpet bag! I suppose he wouldn’t have cyanote or sea water in there, since they could actually harm him. And probably not a live bludrat, either. Anything else would be fair game.

[Manga Maniac Café] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Delilah Dawson] I’m a big geek, so I love well-crafted and original stories. This book was a little bit influenced by Buffy, and the book I’m working on now, a clockpunk Robin Hood, smacks a bit of Mal Reynolds and Firefly. Joss Whedon perfectly marries smart writing, humor, and unique storytelling, to me. I read constantly, with a different book in the car, at the kitchen table, on my bedside table. And every book I write has a playlist that I listen to obsessively while writing.

[Manga Maniac Café] Name three things do you need in order to write?

[Delilah Dawson] Coffee, music, and an environment free of children. Tiny voices make my mental train derail.

[Manga Maniac Café] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Delilah Dawson] One? Just one? Tough choice! The first "big kid" book I read straight through in one sitting was King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry. I still remember what it felt like, waking up after the last page and being extremely surprised that I wasn’t surrounded by desert sands and dishy-faced horses.

[Manga Maniac Café] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Delilah Dawson] Reading, watching movies, climbing trees, spending time with my family, playing on Twitter and Facebook, hanging out with friends, working on my steampunk outfits. My favorite thing on earth is horseback riding, but I haven’t gotten to do that much since moving to the suburbs and having kids. And I adore traveling. I get super excited every time I get on a plane.

[Manga Maniac Café] Thanks!


You can learn more about Delilah by visiting the following websites:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DelilahSDawson

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DelilahSDawson

Blog: http://www.delilahpaints.blogspot.com/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5135449.Delilah_S_Dawson

Simon & Schuster Author Portal: http://authors.simonandschuster.com/Delilah-S-Dawson/84881573/author_revealed

Wicked As They Come will be in stores March 27.  You can pre-order a copy by clicking the widgets below:

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