Book tour: The Electronic Menagerie

Today I’m participating in a blog hop for a fantastic new book called the Electric Menagerie by Mollie E. Reeder.

About the Book

The Electrical Menagerie, one-of-a-kind robotic roadshow, is bankrupt.

Sylvester Carthage, illusionist and engineer, has the eccentric imagination the Menagerie needs to succeed creatively — but none of the people skills. Fast-talking Arbrook Huxley, meanwhile, has all the savvy the Menagerie needs to succeed commercially — but none of the scruples.

To save their show, Carthage & Huxley risk everything in a royal talent competition, vying for the chance to perform for the Future Celestial Queen. In this stardust-and-spark-powered empire of floating islands and flying trains, a shot at fame and fortune means weathering the glamorous and cutthroat world of critics, high society, and rival magicians —but with real conspiracy lurking beneath tabloid controversy, there’s more at stake in this contest than the prize.

Behind the glittery haze of flash paper and mirrors, every competitor has something to hide… and it’s the lies Carthage & Huxley tell each other that may cost them everything.

Dazzles from start to finish. In Carthage & Huxley, Sherlock & Watson fans will find another dynamic duo whose ready wit and sizzling banter (and inevitable personality clashes) never fail to delight. You’ll be calling for an encore performance.” Gillian Bronte Adams, author of The Songkeeper Chronicles

“The stuff that fandoms are built on.” Kyle Robert Shultz, author of Beaumont & Beasley

Purchase on Amazon

About the Author

Mollie’s first job was with a major theme park, where she operated a roller coaster, fixed parade floats, and helped Scooby-Doo put on his head. Now, Mollie is a movie producer and the author of character-driven science fiction/fantasy novels for adults who never outgrew imagination. Her favorite things include Jesus, dinosaurs, and telling cinematic stories that blend glitter and grit.

Website — Twitter — Instagram


My review:

I’ve gotten to be kind of world-weary when it comes to reading fantasy. Between epic fantasy that wants to be Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones (or both), or urban fantasy that is one more Dresden send-up with wizard detectives … I’ve been kind of tired of the whole genre. So when the author mentioned the concept of this book, I perked up. Two guys with a train full of steampunky robots giving performances and trying to solve a mystery? Sign me up!
I got behind and haven’t finished the book as of this writing, but I’m hugely enjoying it. For one thing, if you didn’t know better, you’d think you picked up a Historical Fantasy. I adore historical fantasy. This one is set toward the end of the 1800s, I’d say. Top hats, ladies in fancy dresses and parasols, everybody travels by train.
But the worldbuilding is fascinating. In this world, it’s all islands floating in the sky above the ether sea. The trains travel between them on invisible sky rails. The Stars move and occasionally fall and create new islands. There’s some kind of warring political factions I haven’t gotten into yet.
Not to mention the conflicts between Huxley and Carthage, their opposing worldviews and motivations, and the way their backstories are creeping up to bite them. And all the other weird performers in this competition, all doing weird things. Oh yeah, and the Lipizzaner horses actually fly.
So yeah, I think by the time I’m done, this will be a five -star read. It’s different enough to feel fresh, yet it’s a conspiracy plot to murder the performers in this contests, which we’re comfortingly familiar with. Put them together, and you’ve got a smashing good read.

Giveaway Time!

Explore the world of The Electrical Menagerie by entering to win this Celestial Isles prize pack, which includes: “High Victorian” playing cards by luxury playing card company Theory11, handmade galaxy mug by DeVita Designs, Science & Engineering Themed Pocket Notebook Set by CognitiveSurplus, and a tin of Electrical Menagerie themed tea (over a $50 value)! (US only.)

>>>Entry-Form<<<

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, June 4th   

Tuesday, June 5th  

 Wednesday, June 6th 

Thursday, June 7th 

 Friday, June 8th 

 Saturday, June 9th

Monday, June 11th 

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Book review: Ferromancer

I’m in a historical fantasy group on Facebook, and they have recommended reading books each month. As I was browsing the list of books, Ferromancer caught my eye. I’ve seen the title here and there, but this time it appealed to me. Plus, it was only a buck. If I didn’t like it, I hadn’t been ripped off too badly. As it turned out, I enjoyed it so much, I immediately bought book 2.

Here’s the official summary:

Solutions aren’t always black and white—sometimes they come in shades of iron gray.

Captain Bridget “Briar” Rose wants for nothing. Each day is a new adventure, living the life she loves, running cargo on the Ohio & Erie Canal. That is, until her cousin decides to sell the family boat to finance a new business venture. He wants to build locomotives for the railroad—the very industry that could put the entire canal system out of business.

Not one to give up without a fight, Briar does a little snooping into her cousin’s new business partner. When she gets a sneak peek at the locomotive plans, she suspects that the man is either a genius, or a ferromancer—one of the dreaded metal mages of Europe’s industrial revolution.

Determined to reveal her suspicions, Briar takes the plans and heads for the newspaper office in Columbus, stealing the family boat in the process. Kidnapping her cousin’s handsome business partner wasn’t part of the plan, but when he shows up, demanding the return of his property, she can’t let him go. After all, if Briar can prove that the railroad is using ferromancy, she could save more than her boat. She could save her way of life.


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Cyborg by elGuaricho

I thought, hey, canal boats vs. railroads? I’ll give it a shot. I like reading about that period of history, anyway.

My review:

The historical setting of early 1800s America, coupled with the mythos of the magical ferromancers, is somehow massively pleasing. I enjoyed this stroll along the Erie Canal, seeing the conflict between the boatmen and the up and coming railroads. At the same time, the ferromancers are understated, intriguing, and often terrifying.

I’m not sure, even now, if I like Grayson or not. At least he’s not like some of the psycho, abusive heroes urban fantasy often features. I think it’s the potential of what he will become, down the line, that worries me. But then, saving him from himself is the aim of the story, isn’t it?

Briar is a spunky heroine without being the man-hating feminist stereotype that so many heroines fall into. She brawls with her fists, because that’s the culture of the boatmen, but she also abides by the rules. For instance, women only brawl with women, and men only brawl with men. Whenever she tries to take on a man, she’s hopelessly overpowered (especially when the men are ferromancers or their constructs, because you can’t beat someone who is made of iron).

The worldbuilding is explained so very briefly that I got to the end, still scratching my head about what had happened. But much is teased about the next book, namely, that Briar will find out more about the mysterious world of ferromancy. So I grabbed it. One way to really hook me is with good worldbuilding, and this book delivers … in tantalizing trickles.

Cover reveal for fantasy steampunk Flare!

Today I’m having Rabia Gale guest post on my blog. I’ve enjoyed her books, but I haven’t read this series yet. However, now that the last book is launching, that’s my cue to read them all. I mean, it’s steampunk fantasy. What’s not to like?

Now, without further ado, here’s Rabia!


Thank you for having me on your blog, Kessie!

I’m delighted to have the chance to introduce my series, The Sunless World. This epic fantasy with a steampunk flavor features a world on the brink of extinction. Centuries ago, the ancient mages saved their word from an imminent threat by plunging it into eternal night. But the mages are long gone and the world is slowing dying without its sun. Veins of luminous quartz provide light and heat, and desperate states vie to control this precious resource.

Enter Rafe Grenfeld, junior diplomat and spy. He’s just learned that a legendary quartz pillar, known as the Tower of Light, actually exists. Determined to claim it for his own country, he begins his search for it. That’s difficult enough, but then lost magic, dark demons, a hostile foe, and an unpredictable ally with her own agenda show up.

The Sunless World series contains many elements that are fascinating to me. I love writing worlds where magic exists alongside more advanced technology, like trains and industrial machinery. I enjoy putting characters, cultures, and whole worlds in tough situations (like losing their sun!) and seeing how human ingenuity copes. And I adored writing from Rafe’s viewpoint, a character who is energetic, competent, and prone to making wisecracks.

Without further ado, I’m happy to share the cover of Flare, Book Two of The Sunless World series, with you!

 

Flare COVER REVEAL

Rafe and Isabella are back

The mages of old saved their world, but left it in eternal darkness. Now it’s time to bring back the light.

After two years of training his magical gifts, Rafe returns home to a land wracked by war. Desperate states struggle to protect their resources of luminous quartz. Magic pulses and earthquakes devastate a world on the brink of extinction.

Rafe’s old enemy Karzov has gathered a band of prodigies obedient to his will. He seeks the power of the ancient mages for an audacious and sinister purpose. It’s up to Rafe and his ally, Isabella, to stop him—and undo the mistakes of the past to put their world right again.

Flare will be out in September 2016!

The Sunless World series

The Sunless World BLOG

Quartz: The Sunless World introduces a rich and credible backdrop to the adventures of her characters, with a deadly political mire underlying the bright colours of high society.” – By Rite of Word Reviews

This story is fast, fascinating and highly recommended.” – Amazon.com review

The Sunless World series begins with Quartz (Book One) and Flux (A Sunless World Novel).

About the Author

Rabia Gale Headshot I create weird worlds full of magic and machines, and write characters who are called on to be heroes. I’m fascinated by light and darkness, transformation, and things that fly. Giant squid and space dragons appear in my work—you have been warned!

A native of Pakistan, I now reside in Northern Virginia, where I read, write, doodle, avoid housework, and homeschool my children.

Find me online at:
Website: http://www.rabiagale.com
Newsletter: http://www.rabiagale.com/thank-you/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rabiagalewriter
Twitter: https://twitter.com/rabiagale

Book review: Nyssa Glass and the House of Mirrors

My long-overdue post on H. L. Burke’s first Nyssa Glass book! At last!

 

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Nyssa Glass and the House of Mirrors (Amazon link)

Official summary:

Nyssa Glass is a reformed cat burglar turned electrician’s apprentice, settled into a life repairing videophones and radio-sets. However, when her past comes calling, she finds herself framed for murder and forced into one last job. No one has entered Professor Dalhart’s secluded mansion in almost a decade, at least not that returned to tell the tale.

If Nyssa wants to ensure her freedom, she’ll brave the booby-trapped halls and mechanized maids. Nyssa has skills, but this house has more than its share of secrets. As she steps into the cobwebbed halls lined with dusty mirrors, she has to wonder. Is the House of Mirrors really abandoned?

My review: This is a quick read, about 150 pages. My biggest complaint is that it moves TOO fast–I wanted more background detail, more worldbuilding, that kind of thing. But if you’re in the mood for a speedy read, this book suits the bill.

It’s supposed to be steampunk, but there’s computers, and I just couldn’t buy steampunk computers. Maybe I just haven’t read enough of the genre or something, but it felt more 1960s than 1860s to me.

Those issues aside, I enjoyed the various traps and horrors that Nyssa meets as she prowls around this giant mechanized mansion. A bunch of other burglars had tried to break in before her, and she finds their remains in satisfyingly macabre ways. She befriends the security system (who I kept thinking of as Wheatley from Portal 2), who tries to help her around the traps … mostly.

There are a few unanswered questions left at the end, but this is going to be a series, so that’s to be expected. I’m curious to see where this series will go, especially as Nyssa gains a sidekick at the end. Their relationship will carry the series, I think.

Go give it a look! Or go back a few posts and read Cora and the Nurse Dragon!

Steampunk Carda, hee hee

I drew Carda as he might look in the steampunk era.

steampunk-carda

He’s got an old-timey flamethrower on one hand, and the other has a Jacob’s Ladder on a rubber glove attached to a massive battery. He’s like a walking bomb!

My brother said that instead of being the Strider of Chronos, Carda should be known as the Gentleman Chronosian. I think it fits. 🙂

Oddball gemstones and steampunk clothes

Ever heard of Fordite? In early auto manufacturing, layers of paint would build up on the machinery. Apparently it can be carved into funky-colored jewelry.

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In other news, my hubby got me this simple steampunk brooch.

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I know it’s not the greatest photo, but its such a neat little thing! We keep coming up with ideas for steampunk outfits. I’m afraid the steampunk culture has caught us at last.

My hubby has always loved vests, and lo and behold, vests were a THING in the Victorian era.

steampunk-vest

I just love the steampunk dresses, too. The trouble being, England is a cold, wet climate, and they wear so many LAYERS.

stwampunk-dress1

I live in a desert. Therefore the lighter, vest-based outfits appeal to me.

steampunk-vest-cravat

I mean, check this out! It has a cravat, even! The fabric is actually recycled upholstery, which is why it has such a funky design on it. Apparently Etsy has a massive steampunk community. You have to make it yourself. Steampunk isn’t a thing you can buy in a store.

That’s probably what makes it such fun. 🙂