Tag Archives: spotlight on steampunk

Spotlight on Steampunk: Wrap-up Post


Spotlight on Steampunk was originally a readathon I decided to run just because I wanted to get some Steampunk books read. But, I decided to turn it into a bloggy event, to make it more exciting! I was lucky enough to read a lot of brilliant Steampunk fiction, as well as lucky enough to host two amazing fantasy authors on my blog for the event. I found it fun to run, and so I hope everybody enjoyed reading the posts!

I got some really nice feedback from lots of people, about the event, my reviews and that tiny little drawing I included on post one. A huge thank you to everybody who left such nice comments- you’re all super awesome! *virtual cake* (:

As of Monday, I’ll be catching up on some Advanced Reading Copy reviews that need to go up. So, here is a wrap-up post of all of the themed blog posts that have been published since the 1st of December!

Spotlight on Steampunk: Reviews

I got to read and review steampunk books over the themed fortnight. You can see what books I read here. Click on the book jackets to bring yourself to my review of that title.

Anatomy of Steampunk: The Fashion of Victorian FuturismLarklight (Larklight, #1)Soulless (Parasol Protectorate, #1)Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, #1)Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange StoriesThe Whatnot (The Peculiar, #2)Soulless: The Manga, Vol. 1 (The Parasol Protectorate Manga)

Of course, I still have a lot of Steampunk books to read. All of them, I’m really excited about! You can view my Steampunk TBR shelf, showcased in yesterday’s post, here.

Spotlight on Steampunk: Author Spotlights

So that the bloggy event wasn’t just reviews, I asked two authors if they’d be interested in an interview or a guest post. Both authors were really really lovely and said yes! You can click on their author profile pictures below to see their posts for Spotlight on Steampunk. Nigel McDowell (bottom) wrote Tall Tales From Pitch End, and he answered some  interview questions on his writing. Stefan Bachmann (top) wrote The Peculiar & The Whatnot, and did a guest post on steampunk-y inspirations on his books!

Stefan BachmannNigel McDowell, author of Tall Tales from Pitch End

So that’s Spotlight on steampunk over! ;D I enjoyed reading just one certain genre over two weeks, though now I have a lot of ARCs to catch up on! I’ve just finished reading A Boy Called Hope by Lara Williamson, a contemporary, but then I’m back to fantasy with some future Hot Key titles and a Strange Chem one! (: Again, huge thank yous and slices of virtual cake to anyone who commented on the blog posts!

Special thanks to: Nina from Death Books and Tea, who gave me the copy of Etiquette and Espionage and lent me the copy of the Soulless manga, Nigel McDowell for his brilliant interview answers, and Stefan Bachmann for his awesome guest post. Thank you!! 😀


Spotlight on Steampunk: On my TBR


I’ve decided to write a post about Steampunk books that are still on my TBR list, today! This fortnight ends tomorrow and I was planning on doing a wrap-up post then, and I’m nowhere near the end of a Steampunk book to review tonight. So, what Steampunk fiction have I still got to read?

What I wanted to read for Spotlight on Steampunk:

Over November and part of October I picked out the main steampunk books that I really, really wanted to read. I narrowed them down a bit to a slightly smaller list, so I had these:


Anatomy of Steampunk, Soulless, Soulless: The Manga, Steampunk!, Leviathan, The Shadow in the North, and Larklight.


Since the first of December, I’ve read all but two of these! That’s six, but then I also changed my mind and headed for The Whatnot by Stefan Bachmann, which was on my kindle. So, I’m really happy that I read seven Steampunk/fantasies over the fortnight! I did read the opening pages to Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, but I couldn’t really get into it. It was really great, but I’m guessing my brain was telling me to switch genres for a bit! So, as well as Leviathan to finish and The Shadow in the North to read, I also have a few other steampunk books I need to get around to soon…

On the steampunk TBR!

I’ve still got a few Steampunk titles that I really want to read, that are currently sitting in the TBR wardrobe! (THIS EXISTS NOW. SEE MY FANGIRLY TWEET) Here’s a look at them:

Starcross (Larklight, #2)Larklight by Philip Reeve – Goodreads Synopsis: Art, Myrtle and their mother accept the kind invitation of a holiday to an up-and-coming asteroid resort. But they set out with visions of rest and relaxation only to be sucked into a dastardly plot involving spies, time travel, and mind-altering clothing! Before their adventures are out, they’ll sail an aether-ship amid asteroid-strewn seas, dodge demonic puppets, and learn wisdom from an unlikely ally: the Moobs! With faster-than-light plot twists and enough tongue-in-cheek vim and vigor to keep a galaxy in laughter, this dynamic sequel to Larklight is a tour de force of the most intergalactic kind.

As you probably saw from my review, I LOVED Larklight, the first in this series! I bought it and the sequel together, so I still have this, Starcross, to read. I’m really excited for it!


AirmanAirman by Eoin Colfer – Goodreads Synopsis: Conor Broekhart was born to fly.
It is the 1890s, and Conor and his family live on the sovereign Saltee Islands, off the Irish coast. Conor spends his days studying the science of flight with his tutor and exploring the castle with the king’s daughter, Princess Isabella. But the boy’s idyllic life changes forever the day he discovers a deadly conspiracy against the king. When Conor intervenes, he is branded a traitor and thrown into jail on the prison island of Little Saltee. There, he has to fight for his life, as he and the other prisoners are forced to mine for diamonds in inhumane conditions.
There is only one way to escape Little Saltee, and that is to fly. So Conor passes the solitary months by scratching drawings of flying machines into the prison walls. The months turn into years, but eventually the day comes when Conor must find the courage to trust his revolutionary designs and take to the skies.

Airman looks awesome! I can remember reading Artemis Fowl when I was smaller and loving it, so I’m looking forward to reading a steampunk book by Eoin.

The Girl in the Steel Corset (Steampunk Chronicles, #1)

The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross – Goodreads Synopsis: In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one…except the “thing” inside her.When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no “normal” Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch….
Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she’s special, says she’s one of “them.” The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.
Griffin’s investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help–and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.
But The Machinist wants to tear Griff’s little company of strays apart, and it isn’t long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she’s on–even if it seems no one believes her.

This looks brilliant. I ordered it online absolutely ages ago but haven’t gotten around to it yet. The cover is gorgeous- it really drew me in! Hopefully the book will be as great as its cover (:

The Executioner's HeartNewbury and Hobbes: The Executioners Heart by George Mann – Goodreads Synopsis: A serial killer is loose on the streets of London, murdering apparently random members of the gentry with violent abandon. The corpses are each found with their chest cavities cracked open and their hearts removed. Charles Bainbridge, Chief Inspector of Scotland Yard, suspects an occult significance to the crimes and brings Newbury and Veronica in to investigate.

OOH. This sounds really awesome in a grim, macabre, twisted kind of way. My dad found this on his shelves and gave it to me a few days ago. I found out on Goodreads that it’s the fourth in the series- so I might have to hunt down the other three! (Shout out to anyone who’s read it: Is it possible to read without spoiling the first three?) Either way, it seems great: I love crime fiction and I love steampunk. This is a pretty cool combination for me!

The RithmatistThe Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson – Goodreads Synopsis: More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Chosen by the Master in a mysterious inception ceremony, Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings—merciless creatures that leave mangled corpses in their wake. Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebrask, the Wild Chalklings now threaten all of the American Isles.

As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students study the magical art that he would do anything to practice. Then students start disappearing – kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery—one that will change Rithmatics – and their world – forever.

This sounds amazing! It keeps catching my eye in bookshops, because of that gorgeous cover. I finally caved in a bought it. I’ve heard great things about it, so hopefully I’ll love it too! It seems like a really original, fun read.

Have you read any of the books above? What are they like? I’d love to know, because I want to re-arrange the TBR pile for the new year ;D Also, am I missing something? I know there’s a lot of great steampunk fiction out there, as the genre keeps growing and growing. Leave a comment tell me what I should check out- I’d love some recommendations! (:

Spotlight on Steampunk: Mini Reviews!


Today for Spotlight on Steampunk: Two mini reviews! Firstly, there’s the manga adaption of Soulless by Gail Carriger, which I reviewed yesterday. Also, I have a mini review of Anatomy of Steampunk: a great non-fiction steampunk collection that I won at the MCM Expo in October! (:

Soulless: The Manga

Story by Gail Carriger, manga by Rem.

Soulless: The Manga, Vol. 1 (The Parasol Protectorate Manga)Goodreads Synopsis: The life of a spinster in Victorian London isn’t an easy one on the best of days, but such a life becomes infinitely more complicated when said spinster is “soulless” – a preternatural bridging the gap between the natural and supernatural worlds. Miss Alexia Tarabotti has this unique distinction, and when she is assailed at a formal gathering by a rove vampire, an encounter that results in the death of the half-starved creature, her circumstances become exponentially more complicated indeed! Now caught up in an intrigue with life or death stakes, Alexia must rely on all her talents to outmatch the forces conspiring against her, but it may be the man who has caught her eye – Lord Conall Maccon – and their budding flirtation that truly drives her to her wit’s end!

My Review: If you’d like to read about the story and character, click HERE! In this review I’m going to be talking about the artwork.

The Soulless manga was really fun! I read it straight after the actual book, so the story was already fresh in my head. Maybe that wasn’t a great idea, because then I knew what was coming and couldn’t enjoy it as much… oh well! This was a really fun read, though. Everything was adapted, so well. I was expecting for a few parts to be left out, but everything seemed completely accurate, which was awesome. The drawings of the scenes were exactly the way I’d imagined them to be in my head, reading the novel!

The artwork is extremely pretty. Very often, I had to stop and read over a page, just because I wanted to drink in the illustrations all over again. Especially, the parts like the scene near the beginning with the airships in the park: so pretty! So steampunk-y! I loved it ;D Rem has done a brilliant job in conveying all of the details and the witty dialogue beautifully. It did seem to move a bit fast though, for me, but then again I’m probably reading at the wrong pace. I haven’t read manga in ages and I’m so used to non-illustrated stories that I went through this too quickly, I think. But, Rem has created a gorgeous manga, that I think I’m going to buy along with the next two (I borrowed this from a bloggy friend)!

My Rating:


I borrowed a copy of Soulless: The Manga Volume 1 from Nina at Death Books and Tea. Thank you so much for letting me read it, Nina! (:

Anatomy of Steampunk: The Fashion of Victorian Futurism

By Katherine Gleason, published by Race Point Publishing.

Anatomy of Steampunk: The Fashion of Victorian FuturismGoodreads Synopsis: From formal outfits to costumes crafted for the stage, from ensembles suited to adventure to casual street styles, steampunk fashion has come to encompass quite a few different looks. But what exactly is steampunk? Originally conceived as a literary genre, the term “steampunk” described stories set in a steam-powered, science fiction-infused, Victorian London. Today steampunk has grown to become an aesthetic that fuels many varied art forms. Steampunk has also widened its cultural scope. Many steampunk practitioners, rather than confining their vision to one European city, imagine steam-driven societies all over the world.

Illustrated throughout with color photographs of the dazzling creations of numerous steampunk fashion designers, Anatomy of Steampunk is an inspirational source-book. In addition to presenting the looks and stories of these creative fashion artists, the book also details ten steampunk projects for the reader to try at home. Allow steam to power your imagination!

My Review: What a brilliant book! I’m so glad I got to read this- I absolutely loved it. Over the past couple of week,s I’ve been dipping in and out of it: Reading a few parts every few days. It’s such a brilliant book, and, like the manga reviewed above, I kept going over the same pages, staring at the pretty pictures. I didn’t realise, when I received this, that it was entirely about Steampunk Fashion- I thought it was about a few other things too- though it was still really great.

It’s basically a non-fiction anthology of fashion designers and steampunk/gothic models. The passages of writing about them are really fun to read, but I think the most captivating part of the book were the pictures. There were some amazing photographs, of some absolutely beautiful steampunk fashion designs. (Also, DONNA RICCI! I LOVE DONNA RICCI’S STUFF. Excuse the capitals. You may recognise her name because she is the gothic steampunk model who features on ail Carriger’s books) Every few ‘chapters,’ there are step-by-step guides to designing different parts of Steampunk outfits: From steampunk goggles to trousers to top hats. They’re’re all really brilliant, and looking over them, I really want to make them! Overall, a great in-depth introduction to steampunk fashion. It’s an awesome source for costume ideas or art inspiration: I’m definitely going to be taking inspiration from in to use in my drawings!

My Rating:


I won a copy of Anatomy of Steampunk: The Fashion of Victorian futurism from Aurum Press at the London MCM Expo. 

Spotlight on Steampunk: Soulless


For Spotlight on Steampunk today, I have an awesome book that I’ve been waiting ages to get my hands on a copy of. I’m really glad to say that I enjoyed it- and the manga adaption! The manga will be part of a mini-reviews post tomorrow- so watch out for that soon (:

By Gail Carriger, published by Atom.

Soulless (Parasol Protectorate, #1)Goodreads Synopsis: First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire – and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

My Review: I’ve heard so much about this book, so I had a little squealy fangirly moment when I found it in a charity store while I was shopping ;D It was one of the main books that made me decide to do a steampunk read-a-thon. I started it yesterday and, like a lot of the steampunk books I’ve read so far, it had me completely absorbed into the story!

The world, was just… ‘awesome,’ seems to sum it up the best, to me. It’s the same world (but different location-ish) to Gail Carriger’s new YA Etiquette and Espionage series: Meaning the Victorian society, with a twist. Vampires and Werewolves are accepted in society. Airships roam the skies. A brilliant steampunk vision! Gail’s writing is amazing. It brings the story and the setting to life really vividly. I could imagine everything so well!

Gail is really talented at weaving humor into a pretty grim plot, too. She’s conveyed some hilarious witty dialogue into what is actually, come to think of it, a pretty terrifying plot. I have no idea how it was possible, but Carriger has blended a grim, creepy plot about evil-seeming scientific schemes, a romance story, and loads of scenes that will make you laugh out loud, into one book. Genius writing, from a genius author!

The plot was great. It took me a little while to get used to the writing, because it’s a different style to a lot of books that I normally read, but after that, I really got stuck in to the story. The plot has a bit of everything thrown in; romance, action, horror, humor- you name it, pretty much! Everything was structured well and the events played out brilliantly. At no point was I bored: which was great. I think the events in the epilogue seemed a little too hasty, though! I was expecting for something (Trying VERY hard not to drop any spoilers here! Don’t worry, I won’t say anything by accident ;)) to take a lot longer to develop. And it seemed a little rushed to me: I wanted more conflict between the two characters, so there were more complications… and hopefully for the events of the epilogue to happen in the second book, at least… Okay, enough crypticness! I’ll stop babbling on about this now! D:

I loved Alexia. In Victorian times, from what I’ve learned and what I’ve read, girls never got to do anything, and everything was sexist and Alexia is just the opposite of every Victorian female stereotype. It’s hard not to fall in love with her. Inside, she’s conflicted with her Italian background and her Soullessness. And secretly, she has a tendency to be pretty violent, as revealed in the first chapter, where she used her parasol to fight off a vampire. She’s such a powerful-and witty- heroine! The love interest… I have very mixed feelings about. He has a really well developed personality and background, as a Werewolf… but I couldn’t like him as much as I wanted to. Of course, he was an awesome love interest- especially in a particular action-packed scene near the end of the book- but I don’t know why I couldn’t really connect with him! He seemed quite cold at points.

Overall, Soulless was a really great book. It was definitely worth the wait for, as I enjoyed reading it so much. The main protagonist was such a kick-butt, awesome character, and the plot really well developed, too. I loved delving into Gail’s steampunk vision of the Victorian era again after loving the concepts in Etiquette and Espionage… I’m definitely going to carry on with this series! The epilogue I really didn’t like: too fast!! however, everything was written beautifully, and that made up for it. Keep writing such engrossing stories, Gail! (:

My Rating:


I purchased a copy of Soulless from a second hand bookstore.

Spotlight on Steampunk: A Guest Post from Stefan Bachmann!


YAY!!! 😀 I’m so excited to share Stefan Bachmann’s guest post with you today! Stefan is an awesome author, who wrote The Peculiar and The Whatnot. I reviewed The Whatnot yesterday on my blog– 5/5, obviously- I loved it! Stefan really kindly agreed to write a guest post for my Spotlight on Steampunk event- I asked him if he would like to, as his book’s themes fall into the Steampunk genre as well as fantasy. So… *attemptstoholdinfangirlingandfailsmiserably*  here’s Stefan Bachmann talking about three steampunk-y influences on his writing!! 😀 

So, Georgia was awesome and asked me to do a guest-post about steampunk, and I thought long and hard about it and realized I’m not any sort of expert on the subject. To which you say, “Um, Stefan, don’t write steampunk books then,” but you see, I felt like I *had* to. The Peculiar and The Whatnot take place in an alternate history that’s sort of a composite of old English faery tales and their creepy denizens and Dickensian England, and when I wrote the first one I felt like it needed to have steampunk in it. I didn’t know why. So for this post I decided to take a look back and try to figure it out, and I came up with three reasons:


Reason 1 – The Great Mouse Detective

Have you seen this movie? If you haven’t, you mussst. Disney has been awesome about including steampunk elements in its movies (Atlantis and Treasure Planet for instance) but this movie is the one that really set me off on steampunk, I think.

I was raised in Switzerland, and my Swiss grandparents had a VHS tape of the movie and they plopped me down to watch it when I was maybe four, and I did because four-year-olds aren’t particularly picky. I remember it being terribly sad and tragic, and I may have cried. BUT ANYWAY. It’s about a world of mice who live in a sort of parallel Mouse-London below the real London and have their own parallel mouse Queen Victoria, and an evil rat lord, and large dogs and tiny bits. It’s very atmospheric, very gloomy in a way, and it also has automatons and a sort of pedal-driven airship and creepy wind-up toys. I didn’t realize this for the longest time, but I’m pretty sure watching this movie was what made steampunk appealing to me as a kid and made me want to pick up steampunk books afterward, and probably informed the atmosphere and the Victorian elements of The Peculiar.

Reason 2 -Purplecat’s Sculptures

About a month before I started writing the first book I got three steampunk sculptures from my sister as a Christmas present. My sister is friends with many artsy people and one of them is Purplecat who makes all sorts of marvelous things. Here are the one’s I got:

This is the original clockwork bird on the cover, the way I imagined it while writing:

This snail has a brief cameo on the counter-top of Mr. Xerxes Yardley Zerubabbel, secretive mechanicalchemist of London:

This mouse was not used in either of the books, but it really should have been, because look at its derpy little hands.

Reason 3 – Steampunk is awesome, and the story needed it

The story takes place in an England that’s populated by both Victorians and faeries, and they don’t get along. At all. The English keep the faeries as second-class citizens, force the goblins to work in factories, put flame faeries in streetlampsand use elementals to power machinery; the whole steampunk works as a sort of antidote to the wild magic of the faeries, put in place by the English government wants to keep the faeries in check. I think atmosphere can be built really well through contrast, and I thought it would be interesting on so many levels to put these two polar opposites together and see what came from it.

That’s really what set off the idea for the book. I had a ton of fun building the world and playing the magic and the steampunk off each other, and finding ways to make them both integral to the plot. For instance, the bird on the cover looks cool (to me. I think) but it’s also vital to everything, as the villain uses it as a messenger bird to send slips of paper to his henchmen all over the country. Wen one of the two main characters intercepts it, it sets the entire plot in motion.

Annnd those are my three reasons! Even though on second thought, I don’t think anyone really needs a reason to include steampunk in things. I mean, steampunk + dragons. Awesome. Steampunk + unicorns. Awesome. Steampunk + cake. Awesome. Steampunk + faeries = whatever you decide, but I hope you like the books if you want to read them, and thanks, Georgia, for having me here! 🙂

Thank YOU, Stefan!! 😀 I’m so glad you could help out for my Steampunk event! I really loved the guest post so I’m pretty sure everyone else will. The inspirations are so cool! (Treasure Planet is SUCH a cool movie, but I haven’t watched the Great Mouse Detective, so I’m guessing I NEED to now…:D)

If you haven’t yet read Stefan’s books, I really recommend you do. They’re brilliant, and you can get a taste of his writing at the Cabinet of Curiosities website– where he and three other equally talented writers post fantastical and often creepy short stories (an anthology will be out soon, too! *fangirlyscream*)!

Spotlight on Steampunk: The Whatnot


Today’s Steampunk book isn’t entirely steampunk; it’s more of a fantasy novel, though I really wanted to include it in this fortnight, because look at that pretty steampunk-y cover! And, mechanical birds! (Easily one of the coolest bits of the series) The author, Stefan Bachmann, will be on the blog tomorrow, with a guest post, too- which I am so excited for! ;D This is the sequel to The Peculiar- so if you want to pick up this book, make sure to check out that one, first!

By Stefan Bachmann, published by Harper Collins.

The Whatnot (The Peculiar, #2)Goodreads Synopsis: “Oh, the Sly King, the Sly King, in his towers of ash and wind.”

Pikey Thomas doesn’t know how or why he can see the changeling girl. But there she is. Not in the cold, muddy London neighborhood where Pikey lives. Instead, she’s walking through the trees and snow of the enchanted Old Country or, later, racing through an opulent hall. She’s pale and small, and she has branches growing out of her head. Her name is Henrietta Kettle.
Pikey’s vision, it turns out, is worth something.
Worth something to Hettie’s brother—a brave adventurer named Bartholomew Kettle. Worth something to the nobleman who protects him. And Pikey is not above bartering—Pikey will do almost anything to escape his past; he’ll do almost anything for a life worth living.
The faeries—save for a mysterious sylph and a mischievous cobble faery or two— have been chased out of London. They’ve all gone north. The army is heading north, too. So Pikey and Bartholomew follow, collecting information, piecing together clues, searching for the doorway that will lead them to Hettie. 
The Whatnot is the enthralling, surprising, and unforgettable companion to Stefan Bachmann’s internationally bestselling debut novel The Peculiar.
My Review: I was so excited to start this! I was sent a copy of Stefan’s debut, The Peculiar, about this time last year by Harper Collins. The book completely blew me away; I was so absorbed in the fantastical vision of England, which was invaded by Faeries. I’ve been waiting since the start of the year to read the sequel, because I really wanted more of the world, and The Peculiar was left on such a cliffhanger- I needed to know what happened to Hettie… I haven’t been able to get around to the sequel since I was accepted for it on Netgalley in September ): But, I’m so glad I’ve finally read it now- it was definitely worth the wait- I read all of it in two sittings!
I was slightly confused, as the story began. There’s a new central character to the story- Pikey. He’s a pretty mysterious character- we don’t know everything about him, even by the end of the book, though he’s still really likeable. He’s similar to Barthy and Hettie, the Peculiar siblings (half human, half faerie!), because he’s hated by so many people. As I started, I wasn’t sure if I was reading right- where were the old main narrators, Barthy and Hettie? Then, the scenes began to switch between Pikey’s adventure, and Hettie’s. The two people are linked, because Hettie found his eye, and keeps it with her- and every now and then, he gets visions of her, from his lost eye. I loved that concept! It was really clever, and made the plot really interesting. When Barthy meets Pikey, they immediately go searching for Hettie- who’s been kidnapped, and now owned by a new character, who calls her The Whatnot. I really enjoyed reading about them. There were some great twists to the story, that kept me hooked and kept the characters  in constant danger.
Hettie is such a loveable character. I was already really attached to her in the Peculiar, and she was even more loveable in this installment! She seemed a lot braver and adventurous in this book, and her adventure definitely was the most fun to read about. Barthy (or Bartholomew)  seemed very… I’m not sure how to put it! I could connect with him really well in the Peculiar, but not so much in the Whatnot, at first. He seemed to me as a little distant and less likeable at first, though I grew to love him more again over his quest to find Hettie. The ending for both of these characters I can’t really talk about- I really don’t want to spoil it! But I’ll say that it will make tears spring to your eyes. Pikey also has a really great ending. I loved Pikey! There needs to be more of story to him- a spin-off novella, maybe, Stefan? Please? ;D
Stefan’s writing is absolutely beautiful. I fell in love with it in his debut- and it was especially brilliant, because The Peculiar was Stefan’s debut, that was published before he was nineteen. In the sequel, his writing was equally amazing. The descriptions were so vivid and realistic, I felt I was there- in this unique, original vision of a faerie infested England! Too often people say that an author’s second book, or sequel to a series, will be the hardest to write- I’m not sure about Stefan’s experience writing The Whatnot, but it was just as amazing as his first book, and it definitely didn’t let me down!
Overall, I was so captured by The Whatnot. The plot, as I hoped, was layered and unpredictable, and I found myself completely addicted to the story. The setting is so rich with imagination. I really love this world, but the way this book ended, I’m guessing that’s the end of it…. please no! More, Mr Bachmann! I need MORE of Hettie, Barthy and Pikey’s stories! ;D I definitely need to re-read the two books again sometime- and I’m sure I’ll be recommending these to anybody looking for an unforgettable fantasy, or a just a breath-taking read. Hettie, Barthy and Pikey are all completely unforgettable characters. I love them to bits! A highly recommended steampunk / dark fantasy adventure for anybody.
My Rating:
I received a copy of The Whatnot from the publisher via Netgalley, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Spotlight on Steampunk: an Interview with Nigel McDowell!


Yay! I’m super happy to have Nigel McDowell answering some questions today. It was so awesome of him to answer! Earlier this year, his debut novel, Tall Tales from Pitch End, was published with Hot Key Books. Tall Tales is a very dark, and compelling, fantasy for YAs, with a lot of Steampunk elements. You can read my old review HERE!
Nigel didn’t actually realise he’d written in a fantasy/Steampunk crossover genre- but Hot Key Books pitched it this way, and the cover’s very Steampunk with its machinery themes! *bookcoverfangirlyscream* The reason I read this book is because of how Hot Key’s employee Olivia told me about the dark fantasy and steampunk. (: Nigel really kindly agreed to answer a few questions on his book for my Steampunk event. Here they are- but first, a little bit about the author…

Hot_Key_Photo_AuthorNigel grew up in County Fermanagh, rural Northern Ireland, and as a child spent most of his time battling boredom, looking for adventure – crawling through ditches, climbing trees, devising games to play with his brother and sister, and reading. His favourite book as a child was The Witches by Roald Dahl. After graduating with a degree in English (and having no clue what to do with it!), he decided to go off on another adventure, spending almost two years living and working in Australia and New Zealand. With him he took a small notebook containing notes about a boy called “Bruno Atlas”, and a seaside town called “Pitch End”. When he returned to Ireland after his travels, one notebook had multiplied into many, and eventually his notes for Tall Tales from Pitch End filled a large cardboard box…

Nigel now lives in London. He has written articles on film and literature for a number of websites.He is always on the hunt for books about folklore and fairytale. He wishes he had more time to climb trees. Tall Tales from Pitch End is Nigel’s debut novel.

Follow Nigel on Twitter: @NMcDowellAuthor

website: http://www.nigelmcdowellauthor.com

Now for the questions!

1-firstly, can you tell us a little bit about Tall Tales?

Tall Tales from Pitch End is a dark fantasy adventure.  It is set in the seaside town of Pitch End, a place cut off from the rest of the world, surrounded by a high stone wall and a range of impassable mountains, and ruled by a group of (old but still Tall Tales From Pitch Endsuspiciously enduring) all-powerful Elders.  An odd place, about as rural and closed-minded as you could find; rife with paranoia, and where the townsfolk are spied on dawn and dusk by hundreds of clockwork cats.  It’s also a place where a person’s inherent magical power, known as “Talent”, is forbidden from use.  Our main character is a boy called Bruno Atlas, who discovers a book that belonged to his murdered father – the Tall Tales from Pitch End.  The book contains a collection of folktales which, Bruno suspects, may be the true record of what has happened in the history of Pitch End (or truer than the version being pedalled by the Elders!).  The discovery of the book starts a spark of rebellion in Bruno, and he sets of on an adventure to discover the truth about his father, to unpick the riddles and lies of the town, and to try and overthrow the Elders…

2- your debut novel is a dark, steampunk fantasy: did you always intend on writing a novel around those themes?

All writers say this, but it is true: it felt more as though Bruno’s story chose me, and I just had to go along with it and try to tell his tale as best I could!  Though I do love fantasy-adventure literature and film of this kind – His Dark Materials, the novels of Frances Hardinge, Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast trilogy, and films like Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, Return to Oz (I grew up in the eighties).  So I wanted to tell a story about an enclosed world with its own very particular history and folklore, that was filled with lots of strange ideas, and had plenty of action and adventure.

3- If you could ask Bruno three questions about anything not mentioned in the novel, what would they be?

That’s such a good question!  And very difficult to answer too…perhaps instead of ‘asking’ him three things, I could ‘tell’ him three things?  Is that alright?  So firstly, I’d tell him not to worry so much; I’d tell him too that life can be a constant and confusing course of learning when to speak out and when to be thoughtful, and finally and above all else – to trust in the power of his own imagination.

Railsea4- do you read any steampunk books?

Not many, to be honest.  (Steampunk as a genre wasn’t something I’d heard of until embarrassingly recently, so I was writing Tall Tales in complete ignorance of how it might fit into a certain genre!).  Though I do love Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines series, which I suppose I would’ve described as steampunk, until Philip Reeve himself recently remarked on Twitter that he dislikes that  genre!  But I did read Railsea by China Mieville a few months ago, and which I think qualifies as steampunk?  It was very interesting; a fascinating concept, great story, very intelligent, and beautifully written too.

(Eek! I reviewed a Philip Reeve title for my steampunk event…. ha! :D)

5-what do you love about the genre you’ve written in?

I think at its best, fantasy can achieve many things that great stories aspire to.  A good fantasy story can be utterly transporting, as well as exciting, moving, funny, inventive.  It can also manage to say something profound about who we are as people.  When it comes to the type of stories I write, I like to draw as much as possible on Irish history, folklore and fairy-tale, of which there is a great deal – and beautiful and odd it is too!  And it’s a great genre to write in because you can do absolutely anything your imagination can conceive of.  If you can dream it, then you can commit it to the page.  But the real challenge is making those things – the world you’ve presented – feel rich and complex, deep and detailed enough to be believed in.

6-finally, if you’re already writing another book: can you give us any hints?


That is a *lot* of research and drafting for Tall Tales!

At the moment I’m coming towards the end of editing my new novel.  It is another dark fantasy adventure that I’m calling The Black North.  It is set in a land called The Divided Isle.  A military force has invaded, taken the North and laid waste.  They’ve recruited all manner of dark creatures and magic for their cause, and installed a powerful King.  The story follows a young girl from the South, Oona, and her comrade – a contrary and commanding talking jackdaw, who often transforms into a contrary and commanding old woman – as they journey across the Divide and into the ‘Black North’ to try and rescue Oona’s brother, who has been captured by the Invaders.  After a story like Tall Tales, I wanted to write a novel where the characters were taken on an adventure across a great and treacherous distance, encountering various peoples and creatures, grappling with a lot of excitement and danger along the way!  It will be published by Hot Key Books in June 2014.

Thank you so much for the blog interview, Nigel! I am SO excited for your next book- it sounds amazing! *adds to the wishlist* I hope everyone enjoyed this interview- make sure to check out Nigel’s book. You can find it on Goodreads here.

Spotlight on Steampunk: Steampunk!


I don’t usually read anthologies, but this caught my eye in Foyles in London, months ago! I’m really glad I’ve gotten around to reading it, because it was a great mixture of Steampunk stories.

[anthology] by Cassandra Clare, Holly Black, Garth Nix, Elizabeth Knox, Christopher Rowe, Delia Sherman, Ysabeau Wilce, M. T. Anderson, Libba Bray, Shawn Cheng, Cory Doctorow, Dylan Horrocks, and Kathleen Jennings; edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant, published by Walker.

Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange StoriesGoodreads Synopsis: In the first major YA steampunk anthology, fourteen top storytellers push the genre’s mix of sci-fi, fantasy, history, and adventure in fascinating new directions.

Imagine an alternate universe where romance and technology reign. Where tinkerers and dreamers craft and re-craft a world of automatons, clockworks, calculating machines, and other marvels that never were. Here, fourteen masters of speculative fiction, including two graphic storytellers, embrace the steampunk genre’s established themes and refashion them in surprising ways and settings as diverse as Appalachia, Ancient Rome, future Australia, and alternate California. The result is an anthology that defies its genre even as it defines it.

My Review: This anthology was great! It took me a while to read it, as not only, like most books, am I dipping in and out of it between lessons- but also because there were a lot of stories in there that I kept thinking about as I was reading the next one: So I had to re-read lots! This has been sitting on my shelf for quite a few months now. I’m glad I’ve had the chance to read it, because I’ve found a collection of really beautiful stories that I’m sure I’ll delve into again and again.

A lot of people will do separate ratings for stories in an anthology, but here I’m just going to cover my favourites and my least favourites.I think otherwise it would take ages, writing paragraphs about all of them- and there were quite a few pieces, as you could probably tell by all the authors at the top of this review! Firstly, I’ll get the bad-ish stuff out of the way, because I want to get on with fangirling about the awesomest ones ;D

There were a couple of stories in here that I couldn’t really get into One of them was The Glory Girls by Libba Bray. I’ve heard so many raving reviews about her novels, so I was pretty excited to read a short story of her’s… but I just really didn’t enjoy it. There were about two or three others, that I semi-enjoyed reading- though after I finished them, I couldn’t even remember what had happened. I feel really bad about that! I just found that some were a LOT more memorable than others.

Okay, now for the stuff I loved- saving the best ’til last, of course! Holly Black’s story, I quite enjoyed, because it was full of automatons, and I love automatons. Another story that I really loved was Ysabeau S. Wilce’s. I didn’t realise she was in this, as her name wasn’t on the front cover; but she was one of my favourite authors when I was younger! She wrote Flora Segunda of Crackpot Hall, which I read way too many times. Luckily, she didn’t let me down here; her story was a brilliant, classic-feel detective story with Victorian London elements. It was so chilling! Cassandra Clare’s story opened the anthology- and that made a brilliant start to the collection. Her story seemed like one I would’ve probably put as pretty fun, until the last couple of pages; wherein time travel took center stage, and added in a really clever, and absolutely heart-breaking (to me!) twist. I absolutely adored it- and I read that last paragraph again and again.

There are two graphic novel artists contributing, and their works was brilliant! The first mini-graphic novel, was pretty funny but tragic at the same time. The second one was quite moving, I found! They were really fun twists in the anthology, which is quite big at four hundred pages- so the writing is broken up in the right places with the great illustrations.

It was hard to pick a favourite! I think the best story in here was Steam Girl. Already,the title appealed to me, and I’d never heard of the author before, so I was pretty interesting in finding out what he (Dylan Horrocks) wrote like. This story, just completely blew me away. The concept was so beautiful, and the story built up this beautiful back-story to the Steam Girl- who’s in fact a new girl at a high school, who acts strange and dresses differently, who the main character meets. The story is told, largely, in stories by Steam girl; because she’s always in her own world; always writing down these magical stories and drawing pictures of Steam Girl, on her adventures in a Steampunk-inspired Space adventure. The end result was so thrilling and really tugs at your heartstrings. Dylan’s piece, and Cassandra’s, have to be the ones that stand out here!

Overall, Steampunk! is a really imaginative anthology, of original and fun stories that will have a reader completely absorbed. There were about four that I didn’t really enjoy. I struggled to get into a few, and I think it might have been because there was so much, packed into small places, in multiple cases. However, the majority were absolutely brilliant! Some of the stories are under ten pages- some are about fifty- but all of them pack a real punch in a different way. There are so many unique worlds in all of the tales, and I found myself really wanting to read more set in each place, after finishing the pieces! I’ve discovered (and re-discovered) a lot of fantastic authors, who I’ll definitely be looking out for in bookshops now. I can’t wait to read more from these- this anthology is packed with talent!

My Rating:


I purchased a copy of Steampunk! From a bookstore.

Spotlight on Steampunk: Etiquette & Espionage

steampunkspotlightFINALBy Gail Carriger, published by Atom Books.

Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, #1)Goodreads Synopsis: It’s one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It’s quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners—and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine’s, young ladies learn to finish…everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage—in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year’s education.

My Review: This was such a fun book! I’ve never read anything by Gail Carriger before, though it’s been said that she’s one of the best steampunk writers out there at the moment. I’m really glad to say I loved her writing, so I’m really looking forward to reading Soulless, now!

Etiquette and Espionage is the first story in a new series featuring Sophronia, but set in the same world as Gail’s Soulless books. That means steampunk awesomeness, plus vampires and werewolves. Sophronia is a bit of a different girl; who’s always exploring and being generally unladylike – and one day, her mother decides that it’s time she’s sent off to a finishing school, in order to learn more etiquette and become a better lady. It’s a bit of a give away in the title; the finishing school isn’t entirely what Sophronia’s mother thinks it is! In fact, they learn to curtsy on top of learning espionage skills- and a couple of the teachers aren’t human, too.

I absolutely loved the idea behind this book. It has elements of Victorian society- you can see that through the etiquette school, obviously- and with a lot of steampunk fantasy thrown in. Early on in the book, I learned about the Flywaymen- highwaymen, but in airships- I loved that idea, and especially the part that played later on in the book! The school reminded me, a lot, of a Victorian version of Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls school series- where everyone on the outside of the building thinks it’s a normal girl’s school- but on the inside, it’s an espionage training school. Though it seems very similar, it definitely didn’t copy anything. Etiquette & Espionage had a very original plot, and I really loved reading it! At some points, though, I felt like some parts weren’t explained as well as they could have been. Reading this in school, maybe I didn’t take in everything… so was the mysterious Prototype explained in more depth? I’m not that sure! I didn’t feel it was, massively- so I hope more is revealed in book 2, should the same events carry on.

Sophronia is a great character, and led the story really well. I liked her, because whilst she was pretty girly at points, she had a tomboy element that I could really relate to! I loved her relationships with three of the supporting characters- Dimity, Vieve, and Soap. Dimity is a little irritating at points, but it’s hard not to like her. Vieve is a nine year old mechanical genius. Spin-off novels about her, please, Gail! (: Soap is a boy who works beneath the school, and he was so loveable. Thought not that much was revealed about him in this book, I could tell that he and Sophronia were definitely growing quite close. I really want them to be together in the sequel- he’s such a brilliant male character (and, having a finishing school student and a coal worker would cause some very amusing problems).

Overall, Etiquette and Espionage was an enjoyable read. Sophronia is a relatable character who I loved as a protagonist. At points, I really wanted Soap to take center stage more, because he was just… awesome! More of him and his inventing, slightly crazy companion Vieve, soon please! Gail’s writing is brilliant. She combines action and thrills, with humor and laughs. I just fell in love with her writing! It’s very addictive- as I found myself hooked on the book, and a big reason was because I loved Gail’s vivid steampunk descriptions, and witty dialogue, hugely. Another reason was the plot; which was really well written and fun. I think there’s a lot to be built upon in this book, so I’m hoping more things that I want to know are revealed in book two, which is Curtsies and Conspiracies!

My rating:



I received a copy of Etiquette and Espionage from Nina at Death, Books and Tea, as a part of a book swap (Thanks Nina!)

Spotlight on Steampunk: Larklight


First review of the fortnight! I devoured this book in a couple of sittings over the weekend, and it was brilliant. There can’t be a steampunk event without a Philip Reeve book, right? Here’s the first in his MG/Teen series- Larklight! (:

By Philip Reeve, published by Bloomsbury.

Larklight (Larklight, #1)

Goodreads Synopsis: Arthur (Art) Mumby and his irritating sister Myrtle live with their father in a huge and rambling house called Larklight…that just happens to be traveling through outer space. When a visitor called Mr. Webster arrives for a visit, it is far from an innocent social call. Before long Art and Myrtle are off on an adventure to the furthest reaches of space, where they will do battle with evil forces in order to save each other–and the universe.  A fantastically original Victorian tale set in an outer space world that might have come from the imaginations of Jules Verne or L Frank Baum, but has a unique gravitational pull all its own…

My Review: This was the best book to start the fortnight on, as it was so rich with imagination and craziness. I loved it! The story begins with a brother and a sister, who are living in a crazy, huge house-mansion-ship in space called Larklight, which was their mother’s home before she died. Already, I was sucked into the story, because the premise was so awesome. The time of the events in the book is the early 1800’s- but the Victorian era I’ve learned about here has a massive twist. Victoria’s empire has expanded not only over the globe, but over space and surrounding planets. I couldn’t help but squeal here. It was so original and a really fun setting!

This book doesn’t hang around, world-building before the action. The details all fall into place perfectly over the course of the book, and you’re thrown into the action almost immediately. Larklight gets a visitor ,which Art and Myrtle are immediately already suspicious of. Then, when this visitor turns out to be a giant spider with a giant army, things happen. Creepy things, and adventurous things, all of which I don’t want to detail on in fear I’ll drop spoilers- but I’ll just say that it was so fun following everything! This book would suit anybody- whether they love sci-fi, fast-paced adventures, or pirates, or space. Or pirates in space (This happens! How brilliant! It had a very Treasure Planet feel.)

The story moved quite fast for me. With a lot packed into the plot, I was expecting the pace to be a little bit slower. However, the book moved really, really quickly. I did have to read over a few paragraphs at multiple points, because there was a lot to take in. Larklight really is a wild adventure, and moved a bit too fast in places, but that was made up for with the writing style- a twelve year old’s perspective!

Art is such a great character. Philip Reeve has captured a twelve year old’s personality so well. Art is a really easy character to like, and the story is written by “him,” so in places he complains a lot about his older sister, and skips to the battle scenes. His actions, and perspective on everything, made me giggle a bit. I couldn’t stand his sister Myrtle- though. She just seemed the opposite of Art; stuck up and unfriendly. I think it was intended for a reader to dislike her at first- because later in the novel, we get her diary entries, and whilst she’s still a bit annoying in them, I did grow to like her a little more through those.

Overall, Larklight is an imaginative,  roller-coaster of a book! The world was simply amazing- I loved the historical aspects that Philip Reeve has used, and put his own twists on. All so original! I planned on not reading the sequel (Starcross) this month yet, but I might end up reading it, actually- I want more of the setting! More of the adventure! The plot in Larklight has a very strange mixture of everything, but it all works, thanks to Philip Reeve, and his brilliant writing and world-building skills. The two siblings whom the story is centered around are both very three-dimensional characters, though I still really couldn’t like Myrtle much. Hopefully she’ll become more likeable in the rest of the series. I can’t wait to read on!

My Rating:



I purchased a copy of Larklight from a local bookstore!