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A Dance Like Flame by Tammy Blackwell eARC {5 Stars}

A Dance Like Flame by Tammy Blackwell eARC {5 Stars}

A Dance Like Flame by Tammy Blackwell (Of Magic & Machine #1)
Published by Author on April 4th, 2017
Genres: Historical Fantasy, Romance, Steampunk
Page Length: 403 pages
How I got my copy: Author
Amazon - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

She’s the daughter of an earl with a secret no one can know. He’s a mage who has sacrificed everything to save those he loves. They were born worlds apart, but inside a city drenched in magic, anything is possible.

Unmarried at the age of six-and-twenty, Lady Elizabeth “Bits” Warner has become a burden to her family. Therefore, she isn’t surprised when they pack her on a train bound for Scotland and a fiancé she has never met. She’s not surprised, but she is terrified.

In Corrigan, a walled-off city that serves as refuge to those capable of using the aether to cast spells and concoct potions, Ezra Nash is devoted to healing the sick and injured. Between his work as a surgeon and caring for his sisters, he doesn’t have time for distractions.

When the train Bits is traveling on explodes, she finds herself inside the gates of Corrigan and under Ezra’s care. The two are drawn to one another, but it will take more than attraction to overcome the difference in their stations and the secrets they hide from the world.

5 Stars

Note: I received an advanced copy of A Dance Like Flame from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

Strengths:
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A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess ARC {5 Stars}

A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess is a blend of Victorian fantasy and Lovecraftian horror with all my favorite parts of each along with a moving discussion of sexism and fantastic pacing. I was excited about this book after reading the blurb but I had no idea how amazing of a ride I was in for! I cannot recommend this book enough to fans of alternative history fantasy and fantasy with something a bit different.

Note: I received an advanced copy of A Shadow Bright and Burning from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess ARC {5 Stars}

A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess (Kingdom on Fire #1)
Published by Random House Children's on Sept. 20th, 2016
Genres: Dark Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 416 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Barnes & Noble - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames.
Forced to reveal her power to save a friend, she's shocked when instead of being executed, she's invited to train as one of Her Majesty's royal sorcerers.

Thrust into the glamour of Victorian London, Henrietta is declared the chosen one, the girl who will defeat the Ancients, bloodthirsty demons terrorizing humanity. She also meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, handsome young men eager to test her power and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her.

But Henrietta Howel is not the chosen one.
As she plays a dangerous game of deception, she discovers that the sorcerers have their own secrets to protect. With battle looming, what does it mean to not be the one? And how much will she risk to save the city--and the one she loves?

Exhilarating and gripping, Jessica Cluess's spellbinding fantasy introduces Henrietta Howel, a powerful, unforgettable heroine, and an entertaining world filled with magic, monsters, and mayhem.

5 Stars

Strengths:
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Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho {4.5 Stars}

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho is a historical fantasy that beautifully combines humor, magic, and writing appropriate to the historical period. I didn’t expect to be as amused and enamored by this one as I quickly became, but trust me, as long as you don’t mind fairly advanced vocabulary and dense-writing, this is a fantastic story that will have you laughing out loud.

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho {4.5 Stars}

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho (Sorcerer Royal #1)
Published by Ace on Sept. 1st, 2015
Genres: Adult, Historical Fantasy
Page Length: 371 pages
How I got my copy: Borrowed
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Barnes & Noble - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

Magic and mayhem collide with the British elite in this whimsical and sparkling debut.

At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, freed slave, eminently proficient magician, and Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers—one of the most respected organizations throughout all of Britain—ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up.

But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large…

4.5 Stars

Strengths:
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5 Stars: The Wells Bequest by Polly Shulman ARC

Today my book-loving mom is here to discuss The Wells Bequest by Polly Shulman!

At a recent family event, our bookish clan traded books, and as a treat, my daughter allowed me to pick several advance reader copies to read and review.  I’ve always loved H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, so I naturally gravitated toward The Wells Bequest by Polly Shulman.  It looked light and easy, a perfect volume for a summer weekend, and I was very pleased to find it offered more than its cover promised. Also there are a couple small spoilers!

Note: I borrowed The Wells Bequest from daughter (who borrowed from a friend). I read an ARC and so some things might have changed in the final version.

Hidden in New York City is a lending library of endless wonder, containing gadgets that would make a Victorian era futurist proud … many of them are located in the appropriately-named Wells Bequest, a section of said fictional New York City Circulating Material Repository.  The Wells Bequest is a delightful young adult science fiction adventure that combines the best of Warehouse 13 and Doctor Who with Rick Riordan’s series while sliding in references to a number of classic adult (science) fiction books and a good deal of history. We are introduced to several historical figures and events. Polly Shulman weaves history and fiction together into a well-paced race to prevent a young man from making a very big mistake.

The protagonists are brilliant, nerdy teens who love books and gadgets but are also eager to get out and do something. Naturally, events conspire to give them a good adventure and save the world – completely anonymously as usual. What is unusual is that both protagonists, a boy and a girl, are equal. The young woman, Jaya, in fact runs off on her own a few times and does not need rescuing from her male companion, Leo … or anyone for that matter. If you are looking for a book for a girl (or a boy) who loves machinery, take a look at this one.

5 Stars: The Wells Bequest by Polly Shulman ARC

The Wells Bequest by Polly Shulman (The Grimm Legacy #2)
Published by Nancy Paulsen Books on June 13th, 2013
Genres: MG, Sci-fi, YA
Page Length: 272 pages
How I got my copy: Borrowed
Amazon - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

Leo never imagined that time travel might really be possible, or that the objects in H. G. Wells’ science fiction novels might actually exist. And when a miniature time machine appears in Leo’s bedroom, he has no idea who the tiny, beautiful girl is riding it. But in the few moments before it vanishes, returning to wherever—and whenever—it came from, he recognizes the other tiny rider: himself!

His search for the time machine, the girl, and his fate leads him to the New-York Circulating Material Repository, a magical library that lends out objects instead of books. Hidden away in the Repository basement is the Wells Bequest, a secret collection of powerful objects straight out of classic science fiction novels: robots, rockets, submarines, a shrink ray—and one very famous time machine. And when Leo’s adventure of a lifetime suddenly turns deadly, he must attempt a journey to 1895 to warn real-life scientist Nikola Tesla about a dangerous invention. A race for time is on!

5 Stars

Strengths:

  • I love young adult books that portray libraries, museums, and public repositories as engaging, magical places. There is a lot of wonder to be found in the Wells Bequest and in the wonder-filled city of New York, not far from Central Park. Shulman’s description of the place, the people, and the neighborhood made it seem so real that I miss it already.
  • In a book full of delightful nuggets, the author’s treatment of the adults is refreshing. Most young adult books that I’ve reviewed lately paint all adults as blind dullards who have no sense of adventure. In the Wells Bequest, the adult librarians and family members are allowed to be wise, creative, imaginative, and competent without detracting from the teens’ main role in developing the plot.
  • The characters show a strong ethical streak, and they save the villain from the accidental non-existence caused by his own mistaken tampering with history.  This is a definite plus in an era where so many victories involve the death of the antagonist.  In the Wells Bequest, the heroes win – and everyone gets to live.
  • Despite the increasingly fantastic plot, the characters and locations all seem to be very real and down to earth.  Shulman humanizes Samuel Clemens and Nicholas Tesla, showing how these two very creative minds might have been friends who simply liked to hang out and talk about every day happenings.
  • It is very possible to read this book without having read the first book in the “series”.  Although there are some characters in common, and the base premise is the same, the story stands on its own while enticing the reader to go take a look at the Grimm Legacy and find out what Jaya’s older sibling got up to.

Weaknesses:

  •  It would have been a good story if Jaya had been made the protagonist instead of Leo.  There are too few books in which the girl is the main character, and this would have been the perfect venue to let her shine with Leo as the companion.
  • At times, the dialog was a bit stilted and forced, especially before the plot really got going.

Summary:

I really enjoyed the book and am looking forward to finding a copy of the earlier book in the series.  The Wells Bequest is classic pre-1950s science fiction written for the teen crowd.  Exciting enough to keep the reader turning pages without being violent or too suspenseful, it is an excellent introduction to the genre for pre-teen girls and boys.  And for those of us who remain young at heart.

5 Stars
 – Barb

 

The Wells Bequest by Polly Shulman

4 Stars: Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare Audiobook

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare is the thrilling final book of the Infernal Devices trilogy, so spoilers abound for the first two! If you’ve made it this far in the trilogy, you already have made up your mind about which boy you like better I’m sure, and hopefully you don’t mind love triangles since this is probably the longest lasting one I’ve ever read about…. Clockwork Princess promised to be epic since Mortmain has to be faced eventually right? No more putting it off! Clockwork Princess definitely delivers on the epic battles and epic love scenes, don’t you worry ;-).

Note: I received Clockwork Princess from Simon and Schuster Audio for an honest review. Thank you!!

4 Stars: Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare Audiobook

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare (The Infernal Devices #3)
Published by Simon and Schuster Audio on March 19th, 2013
Genres: Steampunk, YA
Page Length: 568 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
Amazon - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

Tessa Gray should be happy - aren't all brides happy?
Yet as she prepares for her wedding, a net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute.
A new demon appears, one linked by blood and secrecy to Mortmain, the man who plans to use his army of pitiless automatons, the Infernal Devices, to destroy the Shadowhunters. Mortmain needs only one last item to complete his plan. He needs Tessa. And Jem and Will, the boys who lay equal claim to Tessa's heart, will do anything to save her.

4 Stars

Strengths:

  • While it’s a strange place to start, I honestly loved the epilogue of Clockwork Princess. If you’re getting close to the end and you’re unhappy, hold on (though it seems unlikely you would stop when you were that close, haha). Generally I find epilogues to be rather meh, but this one helped me deal with the end of this trilogy much better than I thought I was going to.
  • There have been some ups and downs in the narration of this trilogy for me, but I’m happy to say that I enjoyed the narrator for Clockwork Princess. Fortunately they went back to only one, and he was surprisingly good and British and American accents, as well as female voices. Quite an accomplishment in my opinion!
  • Oh my god, epic battle is epic. I can’t say more, but it is, so many feels.
  • In Clockwork Princess we finally get to find out a bit more about those other people in Shadowhunter society: the Silent Brothers >.>.

Weaknesses:

  •  New rule: no kissing when you should be escaping. It leads to you getting to your friends later than you could have and you never know if they’ll need you. This seriously drove me nuts. Who gets all oo-la-la when an enemy could pop up and stab you at any moment??? Bad plan!
  • While I overall loved the narration, apparently the combination of an American accent and a female character was a stretch for this British male narrator, since Tessa’s voice just didn’t quite do it for me.
  • Love triangles never end soon enough for me!
  • While we found out a little more about Shadowhunter society, I want more answers about The Silent City, these Iron Maidens that are briefly mentioned, and all the other cities. I want all the knowledge! (Yes, this means I have to read The Mortal Instruments next ;-). )

Summary:

I’ll be honest that Clockwork Princess mightily frustrated me in parts, but the epilogue completely saved it. I was so moved, but I couldn’t cry while driving, that’s a bad plan too ;-). The narration was vastly improved fortunately and we finally got to find out so much about Tessa, yey! If you don’t mind love triangles, finish the trilogy, you’ll love it. If you do mind love triangles, think it through a bit and then read Clockwork Princess because who can stand leaving a trilogy unfinished D: .

4 Stars
Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings – Anya

 

 Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

3 Stars: Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare Audiobook

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare is the second in the Infernal Devices trilogy. I have been listening to the whole trilogy on audiobook so that I finally can get to this fun trilogy! The Infernal Devices audiobooks unfortunately suffer from changing narrators and just as I had gotten used to and attached to the narrator for Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince pulled a switcheroo on me. This adjustment aside, Clockwork Prince has a fun story and continues to expand on the interesting world of Victorian Shadowhunters, but suffered a bit from second-book syndrome since it seems the trilogy is building up to an epic final battle in the last book. As always, there are likely to be spoilers for the first book, so check out my review of Clockwork Angel if you want to avoid them!

Note: I received Clockwork Prince from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Simon and Schuster Audio for the opportunity!

3 Stars: Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare Audiobook

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare (Infernal Devices #2)
Published by Simon and Schuster Audio on December 6th, 2011
Genres: Fantasy, Steampunk, YA
Page Length: 528 pages pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
Amazon - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street—and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa’s powers for his own dark ends.

With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister’s war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move—and that one of their own has betrayed them.

Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will—the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?

As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.

3 Stars

Strengths:

  • The new kitchen worker likes to sing :D. This was done quite well in the audiobook of Clockwork Prince and we got actual singing on a regular basis which was quite a lot of fun. I wished I knew the ballads so that I could sing along, haha.
  • There are some joyful character developments, especially right at the end (no spoilers though!) and Clockwork Prince was able to make me quite happy with these *dances about singing*
  • More of the world is revealed in Clockwork Prince, including more about the Silent Brothers and about Tessa’s past.
  • As I said, Clockwork Prince has definitely set us up for a truly epic conclusion in Clockwork Princess, so excited!

Weaknesses:

  •  There are two narrators for Clockwork Prince, one a guy and one a girl. I don’t like switching narrators as a general rule, especially since they seemed to switch completely randomly. This made adjusting to one voice completely impossible. I also was never able to get used to the male narrator’s portrayal of female voices, probably because I preferred the female narrator’s style for Tessa and Charlotte. I think it would have been much better for one of them to do the general narration and each voice the characters that corresponded to their gender. Otherwise I don’t really see the point of having two narrators of opposite gender….
  • As could be expected from the end of Clockwork Angel, there was more love triangle drama. I could ignore this except that it got to the point of melodrama at times *sigh* (still team Jem for the record!)
  • My big disappointment was that there were absolutely no surprises in the plot line. Even the parts that probably were supposed to be surprising just weren’t at all. I need my plot twists!

Summary:

Overall, I think it is probably best to read Clockwork Prince in traditional format instead of audiobook unless you are very tolerant of varying narration styles. I’m becoming more and more convinced that The Infernal Devices probably won’t become my favorite trilogy of all time, but it has been an enjoyable ride so far. I’m willing to forgive Clockwork Prince the love triangle melodrama since it has become quite the fashion, but be warned that there is no ignoring this aspect. I’m quite excited for what Clockwork Princess has in store, I just really hope that the plot takes a more center stage over the romance (don’t crush my dreams!).

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings – A

 

 Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare