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Mechanical Heart by Sarah Pennington

It’s release day for Mechanical Heart and GUYS I’M SO, SO STOKED THAT THIS BOOK IS OUT IN THE WORLD! 😀

Read on for my review, or just, you know, go get the book RIGHT NOW because it’s Steampunk Rapunzel set in a clocktower, written by one of my favorite authors, and you just need it in your life!

First, a bit about the book, the author, and the Golden Braids blog tour!


Mechanical Heart

Can you save someone who doesn’t know if she’s alive?

Breen lives locked away, separated from the world by the walls of her clock tower and the machine of gems, gears, and magic that replaces her heart. That is, until an unexpected visitor appears in her tower, offering a dangerous gift: freedom. His promises awaken hope for a life unbound by the tower walls — but she knows that if he learns about her heart, it’s only a matter of time before he turns on her.

Josiah is powerless. Though he’s the crown prince of the mighty Chanian empire, he feels stifled by his inability to protect his people from the schemes of corrupt nobles. When he discovers a girl trapped in a locked clock tower, he thinks he’s finally found a problem he can solve . . . but more than just walls keep her captive.

From the royal palace to the streets of Rivenford to the tops of clock towers, secrets hide around every corner in this steampunk retelling of Rapunzel. Breen and Josiah hold the keys to each other’s struggles — if they can break down the barriers that divide them.


About the Author

Sarah Pennington has been writing stories since before she actually knew how to write, and she has no intention of stopping anytime soon. She is perpetually in the middle of writing at least one or two novels, most of which are in the fantasy and fairy tale retelling genres. Sarah’s first published work, Blood in the Snow, received a perfect score and Special Unicorn status in Rooglewood Press’s Five Poisoned Apples contest. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys knitting, photography, and trying to conquer her massive to-be-read list.

Find her online at: Website || Blog || Second Blog || Goodreads || Facebook || Amazon


Tour Info

The Golden Braids are five retellings of Rapunzel by five different authors, each unique in tone, setting, and moral. This collection has something in it for every reader.

Check out the full tour schedule and the (US) giveaway for three of the books in paperback, HERE!


(*dies because the cover is SO AMAZING*)

Title: Mechanical Heart

Author: Sarah Pennington

  • Date read: August 6, 2019
  • Rating: 5 stars!
  • Genre: Steampunk / Fairy tale retelling / Rapunzel / Fantasy
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2019
  • Pages: 398 (ebook)
  • Source: I received a free e-ARC of this book for the blog tour and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

THIS BOOK! I’ve been so excited for it and anxiously awaiting its release FOREVER and now it’s finally here and aaahhh! I. loved. it. The premise is the coolest ever: Steampunk Rapunzel in a clock tower. By one of my favorite authors. Um, yes please!

I was utterly hooked from the first chapter and I absolutely love this world, these characters, and the writing style!

The characters! I adored them. The story is really about friendships (instead of the expected romance—though to be honest, I will admit I was totally shipping people for some future time after the book. XD *cough*) which was pretty awesome! This little group of friends—I just love them! Especially the dynamics of the relationships, and how different they were.

Deaf characters and signing were an integral part of the story, which was fascinating! I loved how all of that played out—it was brilliant.

Also, the characters were so rational and actually thought things through instead of just dashing around being idiots, which was also different. XD (I mean, a few times I was all “I don’t care if that’s the rational choice—what about such-and-such a character and what if they diiiie? Noooo!” and I was on pins-and-needles wanting to know how it would turn out, but eheheh I never said I was a rational, just that they are. XD)

I . . . may have gotten super emotionally invested in these people and their story. 😛

I got so WORRIED and it was kind of intense! O_O Even though a lot of it wasn’t exciting all the time, it was still so GRIPPING and and just absolutely fascinating and I couldn’t stop reading.

It was brilliantly written and I have no idea how the author did it, especially with all the politics. It was all so cool and mysterious and the plot worked together and just—I don’t know! It was awesome! Like clockwork fitting together effortlessly, all the little gear-pieces turning and bringing you leaping across between each plot element and threading through the different storylines. I loved the writing, and the story kept being unexpected, and it was just SO GOOD.

Josiah and his notebook! Okay, so Prince Josiah’s awesome and I love how he keeps track of everything in his notebook. It’s the best! 😀 And I have no clue how he makes speeches and navigates politics and also runs around being awesome investigating stuff and still has time to be a stellar friend and brother. (I honestly got mad at Breen for pushing him away because he’s just trying to help and he’s the best, okay!) Love him.

Breen is a broken cinnamon roll of awesome and I was sooo invested in her story and just wanted her to have a happy ending! *flails around* She was so great and unique and well-written and relatable and yeah, I loved her. Also, her inventing skills are fabulous, which makes me happy. 😀

Grace is Josiah’s sister and you totally forget she’s a princess sometimes because she’s just so nice and outgoing and it’s awesome. 😀 She makes a fabulous friend and I also appreciated how, since she was deaf, that explained why Josiah is so good at signing and could therefore communicate with Breen. Because plot!

And there’s also Luis who fixes clocks and is the best-friend character and I LOVED him! He kept making me laugh but he wasn’t silly or anything, and his friendship with Josiah, and the girls, is the bessst. Everyone needs a Luis! And there were other characters (like Peter) who were also awesome.

THIS WORLD. I absolutely lived and breathed this world and felt so caught up in it! The steampunkery was awesome, and the dash of alchemy/magic/power-crystals that was a perfect blend of sciency/fantasy. And just the settings were so well-drawn, and the world and culture. The worldbuilding was absolutely fabulous and everything felt so incredibly well-thought-out and just WORKED. I totally want to come back to this world someday!

It’s so gorgeous but also has its shady, darker side, and the story doesn’t shy away from the tricky questions about life. The book is very full of secret plots and politics (sooo much debating and stuff, but it was fascinating) and moral dilemmas and all of that. Occasionally I had quibbles or just wanted everything to be okayyyy because my emotions did not sign up for this, but on the whole it was awesome. 😛

The Rapunzel elements were fabulous but also didn’t take over the story, which was cool—it’s very much its own book, just built around the trappings of the Rapunzel story. (Also, the villains. UGH. Madame Gottling and co. are so chilling!)

I haven’t read nearly enough steampunk, and I was so thrilled to get to read this one! It reminds me a little of some others in the genre (like by H.L. Burke, though a large percentage of my steampunk reads have been from that author so far. XD) but is entirely its own thing as well. I loved-loved-loved the clocktowers and the clocks and inventions and gears and just all of the steampunk-ness! (Also, check out the clock images in the chapter headers. It took me awhile to notice, but LOOK AT THEM. You’ll see what I mean. *grins*)

I can’t stop thinking about this book! I’ve hardly finished it and it already feels like I’ve known this book forever—it just feels so classic and awesome and has already settled in on my steampunky-favorites mental list!

I’m definitely going to want this one on my shelf—and you need it there too!

Mechanical Heart is a stellar steampunk Rapunzel tale, full of politics and friendships and clocks and the most epic worldbuilding. I can’t wait to go back and visit!


Favorite Quotes

There, he sat down in a most un-royal fashion. “We’ve found it, Luis!”

“Found what, Your Highness?” Luis raised an eyebrow. “Your common sense? I thought that was gone for good.”


You may also enjoy . . .

Beggar Magic Spellsmith and Carver: Magicians' Trial Illusionarium


Doesn’t it sound AMAZING?? And what’s the best steampunk you’ve read? I need more recommendations! Thanks for reading! 🙂

Heart of the Curiosity by H.L. Burke: Tour/Review!

H.L. Burke’s latest book — another steampunk one, hurrah! — is releasing today and I’m excited to be a part of the blog tour and share my review for Heart of the Curiosity!

Title: Heart of the Curiosity

Author: H. L. Burke

  • Date read: June 26, 2019
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Steampunk / Fantasy
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2019
  • Pages: 240
  • Fave character: Paxton and Reid
  • Source: The publisher

Heart of the Curiosity is a delightful new steampunk novel from H.L. Burke, full of mystery and . . . well . . . heart (no pun intended).

Reading this book, I stepped right into a gorgeous setting with a steampunk flair. I absolutely loved the “feel”—it was almost black and white and red and bronze, on the edge of winter, a slightly Victorian but different setting, with a pinch of a reminder of Paris or London, but unique. Steampunk gadgetry and inventions pepper the story in a fun way, and the entire setting—theater, hidden passages, cobblestone streets, pastry shop, etc.—was so vivid.

The dash of fantasy was absolutely fascinating! I loved how everyone in this world has a “knack,” some slight magical skill that is specific to them. Leo, our heroine, has a knack for manipulating people’s emotions, and it was very interesting how that came into play in the story and how she struggles with it. Others have inventing knacks, or levitation, or a knack for baking, etc. I loved discovering those, and some of them were really intriguing talents! 😀

The characters are the heart of the story, though, and I got really invested in their stories. ^_^ Leo is sturdy and loyal and surprisingly relatable, and her story felt unique. I loved her devotion to her little sister, Muse—who was a fun character in her own right. And then there’s Paxton, who is the NICEST CHARACTER OF EVER, more or less, the mechanic with a metal arm and a heart of gold. Paxton was basically the best, and he and Leo are so great together. I love the banter and the going-out-for-pastries (those pastries!), but also the deep friendships and being there for each other despite their secrets, and the spark of romance in a totally different way. Basically, I love them! And all of the side characters were vivid too; I especially liked Reid and he was in it far too little—he was fabulous. XD

The story had so many twists, and just when I thought I knew where it was going, there would be a new and delightful reveal. I loved it! Everything came together by the end. It’s a tale of secrets and a treasure hunt of sorts, with blackmail and hidden passages and puzzles and clues—all of which were so neat and fit together so well—and all on a quest to save the old theater, The Curiosity. It really is sort of like Sherlock Holmes meets National Treasure meets The Greatest Showman, like the blurb says.

I liked how although there are fascinating bits about the actual plays and dances (I particularly love how their fairy tales are close to ours but just a little tweaked—and aaahh, the lamppost story! I understood that reference. XD), the show business isn’t actually the main plot—it’s more about the mystery and about family and values and saving their home and way of life, and how art is important. I just loved that. And there’s the snail circus, of course. 😉 Peril and mystery and shady characters, and friendship and love and humor, all blend together—and quite a few feels by the end.

At first it took me a little while to get into it but as it went on it drew me more and more in, especially the later parts—wow! I don’t know, it just makes me happy. ^_^

Also, pastries. SO many pastries! I need them in my life. This book made me so hungry. XD And I loved the library and wished we could have seen more of it, but it was also unique, in a sense, that it actually wasn’t about the library and that Muse was the bookish one instead of Leo.

A couple of grittier parts/tougher subjects (though well handled) might make it a better read for more mature readers, and I had one or two not-sure moments with the plot, but overall I loved it and it’s a great YA novel!

Definitely pick this one up if you need some mystery, love, steampunk, treasure hunts, delightful characters, and pastries in your life! 😉

I received a complimentary e-ARC of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.


Favorite Quote

“Yes, people need food and shelter and goods and services, even buttons, but they need art as well. They need to smile and laugh and cry and see ideas expressed in ways that make them think and feel. They need The Curiosity, or at least what it stands for.”


About the Book

The secret lies with the Heart.

Born with a magical knack for manipulating emotions, Leodora’s only dream is to ensure her talented little sister dances on the biggest, brightest stage in the Republic: The Curiosity, a grand old theater of tradition and innovation. After escaping a cruel carnival, Leo secures her sister a place in the Curiosity’s chorus line, and herself a job as a professional audience member, swaying the crowd’s mood with her magic. The girls have a home for the first time in their lives.

Then a tragic accident darkens the theater. A greedy businessman begins blackmailing Leo, and financial woes threaten to close the show forever. The Curiosity’s sole hope lies in a mythical power source hidden beneath the maze-like passages and trapdoors of the theater—the Heart. And Leo’s only friend Paxton, nephew of the theater’s stagemistress, is the key to finding it.

While Leo and Paxton hunt for the Heart, the blackmailer’s threats loom larger. Mysterious figures, cryptic clues, and deadly traps hinder the search at every turn. If the friends cannot recover the Heart in time, Leo and her sister will be cast out of the only home they’ve ever known, and the final curtain will fall on The Curiosity.

Enter a world reminiscent of The Greatest Showman, with a puzzle worthy of Sherlock Holmes and National Treasure, in this new Steampunk Fantasy from H. L. Burke.

AmazonBarnes & NobleAppleKoboAutographed paperbackGoodreads


About the Author

Born in a small town in north central Oregon, H. L. Burke spent most of her childhood around trees and farm animals and was always accompanied by a book. Growing up with epic heroes from Middle Earth and Narnia keeping her company, she also became an incurable romantic. 

An addictive personality, she jumped from one fandom to another, being at times completely obsessed with various books, movies, or television series (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Star Trek all took their turns), but she has grown to be what she considers a well-rounded connoisseur of geek culture. 

Married to her high school crush who is now a US Marine, she has moved multiple times in her adult life but believes that home is wherever her husband, two daughters, and pets are.

Social Media Links

Facebook PageFacebook Reader GroupTwitterInstagramWebsite


Doesn’t it sound so neat? Let me know what you think, or share your favorite steampunk book in the comments! I could always use recommendations. 😉

The Electrical Menagerie Audiobook Review!

I finished this only this morning and it was INCREDIBLE! ❤

I just had the most delightful experience!

It’s somehow fitting that a story largely involved with theatrical performance should be brought to life in this way by a talented audio performer. It was wonderfully theatrical to listen to—the next best thing to seeing it on a screen. I LOVED it!

It’s a wild ride of adventure, imagination, flying trains and islands in the sky, electrical robots, a stardust-powered steampunk-feel, show-business and illusions, mystery and sabotage and insidious plots, an 1800s-feel, and one of my favorite things: a “buddy story.”

Mollie Reeder’s skillful tale is a story to touch the heart of any creative and anyone who’s ever dreamed of doing something MORE. It’s one of the most sheerly enjoyable books I’ve ever read, but it also has a depth to it that makes you re-examine life and learn new things about life and ourselves, through the adventures of these delightful characters who are wholly human—both making mistakes and committing feats of imagination and heroism. It inspires me to reach for the stars. And it makes me laugh, which is always important. 😉

I read The Electrical Menagerie when it first came out, and it joined the select ranks of one of my favorite books of all time. So to say I was excited for the chance to re-experience it, as an audiobook, is an understatement.

I started the audio version with caution, however. Would any rendition of this beloved book be able to do it justice?

But I needn’t have worried. While I still may prefer reading physical books, this audiobook was a sheer delight! I had SUCH a blast listening to it! It was like revisiting an old friend and it came alive anew. ^_^

Travis Baldree’s rendition of these larger-than-life characters was wonderful and I 100% enjoyed hearing them all come to life! The different accents were great fun (I particularly liked Miss Skyhawk’s voice) and Carthage and Huxley re-delighted me all over again! I was constantly smiling or laughing, even on this second reading. The other characters are incredible too, and the dramatic or exciting scenes soared.

I LOVE this book and Carthage and Huxley, who are both absolutely AWESOME characters in their totally different ways, and the sheer rich imagination of everything about The Electrical Menagerie.

This book gives me ALL THE FEELS. It made me laugh and it made me cry, in both its book and audiobook forms. (Now THAT is a feat.) I love the humor and the heart of it, how authentic and real it is—despite, or perhaps because of, the otherwordliness of it—touching the soul, but not in any artificial way, while making one smile.

I didn’t used to listen to many audiobooks but I’ve slowly been drawn into that world, and now I love them. It was fabulous to get to re-live this magnificent story while going about daily life.

I can only say that The Electrical Menagerie is an EXPERIENCE. “I’m Arbrook Huxley”—(er . . . Deborah O’Carroll)—“and you can quote me!” (All I need now is a sequel. ;))

I love that this book is now available in a new format to delight new readers—or should I say listeners? I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who needs a touch of stardust and wonder in their lives!

(Thanks to the author for the complimentary audiobook code. All opinions are 100% my own.)

Book Information & Links

Title: The Electrical Menagerie

Author: Mollie E. Reeder

Narrator: Travis Baldree

You may also enjoy my original review (including some favorite snarky quotes), 10 Reasons You Should Read The Electrical Menagerie by Mollie E. Reeder!

Audiobooks: yea or nay? And have you read this incredible book yet? I totally recommend it in ANY form! YOU NEED CARTHAGE AND HUXLEY IN YOUR LIFE.

Keep imagining! ❤

10 Reasons You Should Read The Electrical Menagerie by Mollie E. Reeder

Title: The Electrical Menagerie

Author: Mollie E. Reeder

  • Date read: May 30, 2018
  • Rating: 5 stars (ALL THE STARS!)
  • Genre: Steampunk
  • Age: Any
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Pages: 323 (ebook)
  • Series: The Celestial Isles, #1
  • Fave character: Huxley (I love Carthage too, though; and especially them as a pair.)
  • Source: Giveaway
  • Notes: I won an ARC ebook in a giveaway (thanks!) and wasn’t required to write a review. These opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website • Series Website

Ten Reasons You Should Read The Electrical Menagerie

1. What did I just read? *deep breath* I LOVED THIS BOOK. It was absolutely delightful and I have a book hangover—how will anything ever be this good again? AAHH. *collapses and wails and longs for a sequel* I don’t think I’ve ever read anything like this but it was INCREDIBLE and just so much fun! 😀

2. The humor! It’s an utterly hilarious book and I LOVE that so much! The humor/snark/dialog absolutely made my day and I keep wanting to quote it. XD

3. Arbrook Huxley and Sylvester Carthage, y’all. THESE TWO. ❤ You know how there are dynamic duos who are just the best, especially together? And you take their last names and squish ’em together into something iconic. Holmes and Watson. Spellsmith and Carver. Beaumont and Beasley. Well Carthage and Huxley are next on my list! I just love them and their friendship-not-friendship-whatever-it-is. Carthage is a slightly older man who’s a genius at making mechanical things and devising illusions to enchant a crowd, but he’s also got the heart of a child and is intensely introverted. I kind of related to that and he was so REAL. I love him. Then you have Huxley, who is… well… he’s Huxley! Young and dashing and energetic, he’s the smooth-talking and charismatic co-manager, and he’s so funny, especially when paired with Carthage. XD They’re my favorite thing about this book. ^_^ But both have a lot to learn, and are hiding secrets, and nothing’s going to work out until they learn to trust each other…

4. Welcome to the steampunk-ish, absolutely delightful, original world of the Celestial Isles, in which there are a string of “isles” floating above an ether sea with sky trains traveling between them. There are “electricals” (basically like robots) and I love the trains and the 1800s-esque feel. I feel like it’s such an enchanting world that it’s kind of like the best fantasy, but at the same time it’s more sci-fi/steampunk-ish, since there isn’t really anything “fantasy” or “magical” about it? Things are powered by electricity or stardust and just—everything’s so unique. I love it! It feels utterly magical without being real fantasy at all and… I can’t really describe it but I’m in love with the world. 😛

5. The Electrical Menagerie (their show) is taking part in what is essentially a circus-type competition to put on the best show. Which means there’s a lot of imaginative, gorgeous acts going on, and I loved seeing what would happen next. But there’s also a murder mystery and sabotage going on and WHO IS BEHIND IT ALL? :O Because all Carthage and Huxley need on top of the competition is secret plots and danger, right? 😉

6. There are plot twists, too, and the book took a totally unexpected turn and just—whoa! It’s very edge-of-your-seat. The adventure’s exciting, and you know it’s awesome when, on top of trying to win a competition, there’s also a deep plot and a princess in danger and lots of potential for betrayal, and ALL the excitement. I read the whole book in a day because I couldn’t stop reading. 😀

7. Aside from the wonderfulness that is Carthage and Huxley themselves, the other characters are fascinating too. I especially love Dominic the electrical butler! AAAHH. I love him so much. *feelz* His last speech in the book, though. It was… just… so touching and true. GAH.

8. This book made me laugh over and over—and, yes, it made me cry too. Like… I don’t know how it made me care that much but— *sniffles* THE FEELS. But I think I’m okay. Really. I don’t know why I cared so much but gaah. (It was still beautiful, though. :))

9. It taught me things about myself and life and deep things and—wow. Yes. I often find bits of unexpected truth in the most unlikely places, and I didn’t expect to find such soul-touching things in this super fun, swashbuckling, snarky story of two unlikely friends and their illusion show, but IT WAS THERE. It’s deep and touching even in the midst of the fun, and don’t you just love that? When a story is fun AND feelsy AND has depth AND it will just sweep you along in an utterly rollicking adventure? UGH, so good. *hugs book* It’s a clean read, too, and just so delightful.

10. Just—just—there is no way I can properly describe this book and how much I liked it, so I’m going to stop trying and simply direct you to the book itself. *points imperiously toward it* GO READ IT, PLEASE AND THANK YOU. AND YOU’RE WELCOME. (You can thank me later.) I need more adventures of Carthage and Huxley ASAP, and YOU, my friend, need to go read this one immediately. Ladies and gentlemen, that is all I have to say on this subject. Thank you, and good night. *bows*


Some Favorite Quotes

(I could quote the whole thing, and many of my favorites are spoilers, but here are some excellent non-spoiler-y ones.)

“Are you still alive?” Dominic asked him finally.
“Am I alive?” Huxley turned to him. “Yes, I’m alive. Why would you ask that?”
“You were uncharacteristically motionless and quiet. I thought you might be dead.”
Huxley blew air through his teeth. “Did I make a terrible mistake, Dominic?”
“The probability is high. But you’d have to be more specific.”
“Thanks a lot.”
“You’re welcome,” Dominic said without a trace of irony.

***

“You look like you’ve been run over by a train,” she said.
“Oh,” he said, and scrambled to rake his fingers through his hair and fix the tuck of his shirt.
“No, no…” She bit her lip. “The look on your face.”

***

He drank from a silver flask, which he held out to Carthage.
Carthage gave him a disapproving look. While at work?
“It’s coffee,” said Huxley. “Stars, you’re worse than the nuns at boarding academy.”
Relenting, Carthage took the flask. He drank a swig and nearly choked.
“What’s wrong?”
“It’s cold.”
“Well, it’s been in my coat since this morning.”
Carthage wanted to spit the lingering traces out of his mouth, but that would have been improper. He swallowed his own grimace. “Don’t offer me anything that’s been in your coat since morning ever again.”

***

“You’re very talented, and I especially admire how collected you are in a crisis. Except for that time you broke a teacup on the floor. That wasn’t very collected.”
“Huxley… what’s wrong with you?”
“I was spiked with a truth serum which seems to have drastically lowered my inhibitions.” Huxley raised a confident hand. “But it’s alright. I think it’s wearing off.”
“I’m quite certain it’s not,” said Carthage.

***

Secondly, the swarms of biting insects that came out in the early evening. Huxley called them mosquitoes and seemed unconcerned by them, even though they could bite you through your clothes and suck the blood out of your body, which seemed to Carthage like something to be concerned about.

***

Huxley’s hand darted out, finger aimed at a scallop of frosting. Carthage slapped the hand away.
“What are you doing?” he hissed.
“I’m so hungry,” Huxley said.
“You can’t steal food from the table of the Future Queen!”
“It’s not stealing!” Huxley hissed back. “My tax dollars paid for that cake!”

***

“If only my mother could see me now,” he said aloud.
“If my mother could see me now,” said Huxley, “I’d be legally disowned.”


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Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer / Deborah O’Carroll

The Magicians’ Reckoning (by H.L. Burke) – Spellsmith & Carver, #3

Title: Magicians’ Reckoning (Spellsmith & Carver, #3)

Author: H. L. Burke

  • Date read: October 12, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Steampunk / Fantasy / Gaslamp Fantasy
  • Age: Adult
  • Year pub: 2017
  • Pages: 200 (ebook)
  • Series: Spellsmith and Carver, #3
  • Fave character: Everbodyyyy! (Okay, Jericho…)
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I received a free e-ARC of this book from the author (thank you!); these opinions are entirely my own.
  • Links: Amazon • GoodreadsAuthor’s Website

Firstly, I LOVE THIS COVER TO BITS. ❤ (And I’m not going to lie: I’m super pleased how it fits with my blog’s colors. XD)

So much happens in this story… Death, birth, marriage, life, laughter, love, heartbreak, magic, snark, clockwork fox, friendship, and fun. It’s all in there, and well-written and emotional, and I’M ADDICTED TO THIS AUTHOR’S BOOKS, OKAY? Okay.

It came super close to losing a star due to some sad things, buuut I’m mostly just relieved that it turned out much better than it looked like it might. XD

This book had SO MANY FEELS involved. It made me cry a couple times too—tears streaming down my face near the end there. It packed a punch. 😉 Normally books making me cry isn’t a thing in their favor, but I guess it just depends on the one. I laughed, I cried, it moved me, Bob. But I’m not FURIOUS at it, like I would be if certain unforgivable things had happened, and it actually ended really well, considering, so I’m happy. ^_^ But I will say no more on that count, because spoilers. 😉 BUT I’M MOSTLY OKAY, HONEST, THANKS FOR ASKING.

It’s sort of like the three books in this trilogy are stepping stones, as far as audience goes, though. To ME at least, the first book feels like YA—more lighthearted, focused on the buddy (or really-not-buddy. XD) relationship between the two heroes, with a dash of romance between one of them and the other’s sister, and it’s a wild romp in Faerie. Basically my favorite thing. The second one felt more New Adult to me, with a newly-wed couple and more issues like law and some other issues, and more to the steampunk city, and not as much magic. It just felt… older, somehow? And then the third one feels more Adult (to me) since it’s dealing with a married couple and being new parents, and also some dark subjects, and more about being grown ups, and there’s just… a lot going on. So the first one is very much my favorite, and the other two books… I don’t connect with their lives as much since it’s outside of my experience? But of course, since I love the characters so much, I wanted to follow them and see what happened, so. 😉 Just so readers are aware that the content matures as the books progress, which kind of surprised me, but hey. And it’s just hard to top the brilliance that was book one. XD

I loved Lotta in this!! I don’t know why, but the parts from her perspective where she was comparing human emotions etc. to machines (because she’s an introverted, technical person and understands how to fix things, but other people are kind of a mystery for her) were just awesome. I LOVED how she used her unique outlook to manage to deal with people. 🙂 And she and Auric are really cute, sooo. 😉

Jaspyr! Jaspyr the clockwork fox was in this more and I LOVE HIM SO MUCH. There were THINGS going on and I won’t spoil them but alsdkfjkldj so much awesome. 😀 Oh, and Rill of course is always a good thing. 🙂 And certain side characters who I also love…

There were some characteristic banter moments between my precious, favorite lads, Auric and Jericho, because their buddy relationship is the BEST. 🙂 There’s not as much as in the first book, of course, but still some fun. And in a way there wasn’t much TIME for that, since it’s a somewhat more feelsy book and all the characters go through the wringer and just— *collects them all and wraps them in blankets and gives them tea because the poor precious characters*

There’s also more Faerie stuff going on again in this one than in the middle book (not as much as in the first, but some) and it was creepyyyy. O.o Meep. Though I did want to smack some of the characters’ heads together BECAUSE THEY SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER. Goodness. It was kind of stressful but engrossing, I suppose. XD And I still love this world, and magic system, and just all of it. ❤ So much great, vivid fantasy in this gaslamp, steampunk, fantasy world. 🙂

Anyway, it was a good conclusion to the Spellsmith and Carver trilogy, a tad more adult/dark/sad than I expected (but I lived. ;)), and there was still a lot of awesomeness and fun, and I just love Jericho and Auric and Rill and Lotta and Jaspyr and the rest SO MUCH. ❤ If you enjoyed the first two, you’ll probably like this one as well!

Now, allow me to direct you toward Magicians’ Rivalry, book 1, because I know I’ve said it before, but you need that book in your life if it isn’t yet. 😉

Favorite Quotes

Accepting his proposal … more like putting together a machine from scrap without any schematics to reference. How did one make a marriage? There really should be instruction manuals about that sort of thing.

***

Lotta tried to remember what friends having tea were supposed to talk about. She’d tried to read a book that involved a lot of talking over tea once, but had only got about halfway through before putting it aside in favor of a steam engine repair manual. Now she regretted that.

***

Auric managed an anxious laugh. “Well, if you do kill me, I’ll try not to take it personally.”

“It’s not funny.” Jericho scowled.

***

Lotta dug through her bag. Her uncle always told her it was a bad idea to travel with dynamite. Well, she was about to prove how wrong he was!

***

“Or blow up her beacon!” Lotta instinctively reached towards her satchel.

“I think we should try and scope things out before we rush in and demolish things.” Jericho’s tone could’ve scrubbed rust off old iron.

***

The door knob rattled.

“I said, go away!” Auric pulled the pillow over his head.

A whiff of burnt cedar and a slight crackling of magical energy, and the door popped open.

Auric tossed his pillow into Jericho’s face. “Did you just use an unlocking spell on my door?”

Jericho tucked his stylus into his pocket. “No.”

~ ~ ~

Click covers for other related reviews:

Beggar Magic Spellsmith and Carver: Magicians' Rivalry Spellsmith and Carver: Magicians' Trial Coiled

~ ~ ~

Have you tried Spellsmith and Carver? And do you enjoy steampunk, or have any recs for me? 😀

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

The Stroke of Eleven (by Kyle Robert Shultz) – Beaumont & Beasley, #3

(Pretty cover is pretty…)

Title: The Stroke of Eleven

Author: Kyle Robert Shultz

  • Date read: December 3, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fairytale retelling (Cinderella / Beauty and the Beast / Alice in Wonderland / etc.)
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2017
  • Pages: 255 (Kindle)
  • Series: Beaumont & Beasley, #3
  • Fave character: DON’T MAKE ME PICK. (*ignores fact that I’m the one who asks myself these questions*)
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I received a free e-copy of this book from the author (thanks!); these opinions are entirely my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website

I HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO REVIEW THIS, HALP.

So much of this story is mind-boggling twists, and it’s basically a walking spoiler, so HOW I am even going to BEGIN to talk about this is just…

*takes deep breath*

This will be a spoiler-free review, and I will attempt coherency, but basically: everyone needs to read this so that I can talk about it, because if the whole world has read it, then nothing will be a spoiler anymore, right? Right. Problem solved!

Anyway. Reviewing.

MEEP. <—[My entire reaction to the entire book.]

I HAVE FEELS, OKAY. I HAVE MANY FEELS.

NO I WILL NOT BE CALM.

*calms self*

I haven’t quite figured out how I feel about a few of the things. Because wow, things GO DOWN in this and nothing will be the same. O_o It was honestly exhausting to read. So, good news for all you people who love feelsy books: this one is for you. XD

I… ahem… do NOT always love feelsy books, so like I said, I’m kind of on the fence on some things… BUT once I got over it, I think I figured out that I’m mostly worried about what will happen in future books, and not AS much about what actually happened in this one (or did it?), so since that’s kind of a silly thing to worry about, I’ll just say: this was a good book. An excellently written one, in fact. And it’s brilliant/genius/mindboggling, and as long as I don’t worry about what future books will hold for my precious character friends, or about some of the sort-of things that kind of maybe happened (or not? Time travel is confusing, guys.), I can say: I LOVED IT! 😀

It’s a fairytale retelling/reworking/mashup/THING, featuring Cinderella, dashes of Alice in Wonderland, continuations of Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid (because of the first two books) and TIMEY-WIMEY STUFF. How cool is that? VERY cool.

And I can’t say much about the plot because SPOILERS. (So. many.) But I’ll do what I can.

Nick and Cordelia continue to be one of my favorite things—seriously, I love their relationship and banter SO MUCH. And just them as characters. THEY ARE THE BEST. ❤ Crispin kind of isn’t in it as much, since he and Molly are kind of… out of the way near the beginning, but I didn’t actually mind as much as I thought I might. Because the explosion of plot twists, and Nick and Cordelia being adorable, kind of distracted me. XD (ButIloveCrispinokayarewegoodyesCrispinCrispinCrispin.) The Mythfits are back, being quirky as ever. 😉 MALCOLM returns—I was kind of unsure about him in Tomb of the Sea Witch, but gaaahh, I love him now. So much. We also meet exciting NEW characters!

And I quite liked the Cinderella and prince characters. They were great! 🙂 The Cinderella story was fascinating in this! (Any story that is very involved with a clock/midnight is a prime candidate for a time-travel story. ;)) And yay for dashes of steampunk!

There are SO many new developments, and time-travel-y thiiings (some of which are frankly terrifying, but you know). And DID I MENTION TWISTS? There are twists, people. o.o TWIIISTS. O____O And I guessed a couple of them and they happened and I’m in shock but wow, and I don’t know how I feel, but ALL THE THINGS. Also the White Rabbit. Yes. Wow.

AND THERE WERE BEAUTY AND THE BEAST THINGS. I know it’s silly, because the Disney cartoon isn’t even an original thing, and I only saw it once, but I was ridiculously happy about a little moment or two in this that was B&B-ish. XD (And there was a thrown roll. Just sayin’.)

Anyway, Nick and Cordelia and Crispin are some of my favorite EVER characters. I’m immensely attached to them. Plus I adore the Afterverse, and fairytales in general, and time travel hurts my brain, and what I mean to say is this book was excellent. Exhausting and hard for me to decide if I’m okay with a thing or two, but excellent. XD

And did I mention it’s still hilarious? No? Because IT’S STILL HILARIOUS. I don’t know HOW Kyle Shultz does all of this—hilarious, fairytale, timey-wimey, plot twist, epic, fun adventure, with all the feels, and my favorite characters. I’M KIND OF EMOTIONALLY INVESTED. If you can’t tell. Ahem.

SO, I LIED. This wasn’t a coherent review. Oh well.

Now you know what I think (kind of… as much as I know… which isn’t very much…), so you can dash off and read the book yourself so that we can discuss spoilery things… And if you can’t yet, because you haven’t read The Beast of Talesend, well WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR, YOU POOR SOUL. *shoos you off to go read that one because you’re missing out*

If you need me, I’ll just be over here in the corner, emotionally worn out and confused and waiting for another Beaumont and Beasley adventure. Send help. Or, no, send tea and cakes and the next book, and a safe where I can keep the characters protected from all the MEEPery. (It’s a word, shush.)

(This is why I don’t write reviews at one a.m.)

Some Favorite Quotes

So… parachutes. Not fun. I’ve never liked heights. I like them even less when I’m falling from them.

***

“Look… we come in peace.”

“No, we don’t!” cried Cordelia. “We don’t come in peace! We go in abject terror!”

***

Getting eaten by evil pumpkins was very low on my list of preferred ways to die.

***

“My name is Gervase,” he informed us.

“My condolences.”

***

Malcolm stopped me with a gesture before I could speak to him. “Please, don’t say anything. Whatever it is, I’ve already heard it.” He started doing a very poor imitation of my voice and accent. “Malcolm! Crikey! You’re so young! What’s going on here? Who’s that girl? I’m so confused! Oi!”

“I do /not/ sound like that,” I growled.

Melody smacked him on the back of the head. “Don’t be rude, grumpy-scales.”

***

“The White Rabbit Society is now assembled.” Kanin’s tone was solemn and ceremonial. “May the clock strike twelve.”

“May the clock strike twelve,” echoed everyone, including Cordelia.

I looked from one to the other in bewilderment. “Right. That wasn’t weird at all.”

***

“…but a scheme this brazen could get us all killed. Repeatedly.”

***

Melody moved over to a table laden with refreshments. She picked up some sandwiches and began gleefully throwing them at random people.

“She reminds me of you,” I said to Cordelia.

“Oh, really? I can’t imagine why.”

***

“Shut up and be magical.”

***

That was cheating, of course. But I was perfectly willing to cheat time, death, and any other inexorable force of nature for Crispin’s sake… regardless of what the consequences might be.

***

“Cinderella and Prince Charming.”

They both gave me displeased looks.

“What?” I shrugged. “That’s who you are, isn’t it?”

Cinderella rubbed her eyes. “I do wish people didn’t remember me by that ridiculous nickname my stepsisters made up.”

“And I have an actual name,” said Matteo. “Why do they never remember the princes’ actual names? Plus the fact that they made me out to be a complete idiot. How insane would you have to be to try finding a girl based on her shoe size?”

***

“Chin up, Gareth!” said Malcolm, with a sort of crazed cheerfulness. “Why worry? We’re Beaumont and Beasley! We live for danger!”

“Technically, only Cordelia, Crispin, Molly, and I are Beaumont and Beasley,” I reminded him.

“At this point, I’d say we’re all honorary members by virtue of shared insanity.”

~ ~ ~

Click covers for other related reviews:

  

~ ~ ~

Talk to me, fellow page dreamers! Have you read The Stroke of Eleven, or either of the first two Beaumont and Beasley books?

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer / Deborah O’Carroll

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

Was using my shiny Sherlock bookmark while reading this; didn’t realize how appropriate it was until further in. XD

Title: The Invisible Library
Author: Genevieve Cogman

  • Date read: July 28, 2017
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Steampunk
  • Age: Adult
  • Year pub: 2016
  • Pages: 330 (paperback)
  • Series: Book 1 in the Invisible Library series (Series list on Goodreads)
  • Fave character: Vale and Kai
  • Source: Library (the appropriateness of this fact is not lost on me…)
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazon

This cover makes me happy.

Well. That was… interesting. O_O

I wasn’t planning on reviewing this, buuut I’ve had a few people ask for my opinion, so I’m doing a quicky review for it! 🙂 (Quicky here having the meaning of long, because hello, it’s me we’re talking about. *coughcough*)

THINGS I LOVED

So, it’s basically a mystery, set in an alternate London where it’s steampunk-y and also magical; there are Fae and other creatures; it’s about BOOKS; there’s this enormous Library outside of time and space; the heroine is a librarian questing for a certain book, with an awesome sidekick and an awesome detective; and pretty much WHAT IS NOT TO LOVE? (I mean, a couple things, but we’ll get to that later.)

Imagine a Holmes story with steampunk and magic and Fae and books. That’s pretty much this, and I loved that. 😀 IT WAS SO FUN AND INTRIGUING!

The bookishness was fun, the mystery element was engaging, it was SUPER exciting and action-y a lot of the time, and written in an occasionally witty style, with characters to love once you get to know them, and some great dialog. Overall, it was quite enjoyable. 🙂

And the characters were all well-written and intriguing!

Irene was an interesting heroine, and I liked how bookish she was (I mean, Librarian, yes?) and sometimes just wanted to go curl up and read, but was usually pretty capable even if she didn’t feel like she was. I also loved how she loved mystery stories. XD

Kai! Yes, Kai was pretty cool. XD I really liked him most of the time. 🙂 Can’t say much about him because SPOILERS but yes. 😀 I’m curious to learn more about him and his “family”… And the way he was able to adapt in certain situations was awesome. Anyways, he was great. 😀

Vale! Oh my goodness, Vale. XD So I actually didn’t like him at first? o.o But he quickly grew on me, and basically he’s a detective in this time period so naturally I had to think of him as slightly Holmes-ish (though different of course). But I mean, Holmes in a magical world. XD And I loved his sword cane and capability and he was just awesome. 🙂 (Also curious to find out more about him…)

I also liked the interactions between these three—love these characters! ❤ *hugs ’em*

Silver was… interesting. O.o Slightly creepy Fae characters like that are always intriguing to read about, even when they’re kind of creepy. 😛 I actually was surprised we didn’t see more of him in this one, so I suspect he’ll be in later books more? And when he was up on the table like “bring me my gun!” that was awesome. XD

I really really disliked Bradamant and Alberich. I think I was more or less supposed to, kinda, so we’ll call that a good thing. 😛

(While I’m thinking of characters… Was there a love triangle? I don’t know if there was a love triangle. I think the point of the book was not focused on romance; so much so that it didn’t give any clear ideas on it, just veiled ideas [no pun intended] that were super confusing. Maybe I’m being overly picky and it’s not an issue? I dunno. I just felt like it was maybe being love-triangle-y, though it could just be professional-awesome-friendship on one side and romance on the other. Totally possible. It just didn’t give me enough information so it left me wondering because I’m silly like that. XD Probably for a later book…)

THINGS I DIDN’T LOVE AS MUCH

There were a couple things I didn’t care for and it did take me awhile to get into it, but once I did I thoroughly enjoyed myself. XD

FYI, as far as “content” (which I don’t always include in my reviews but in this case since I was asked to review it, some readers may wish to know) there’s a little swearing, and a few implied references I could have done without, but considering I found it in the “Adult” section of the library it wasn’t too bad (I frequent the YA area, okay; it’s not a crime), and it’s also rather creepy/violent a few times. I don’t usually mind, though there was one part where a cyborg alligator tore off a bystander’s leg and I was like “too much information!” 😛 It just startled me because otherwise it mostly wasn’t too graphic. XD

It’s also totally random and petty, but I HATE characters like Bradamant, which always lowers a book’s quality in my opinion. The back-stabby, “perfect”ly beautiful ladies who are deadly and spiteful, up against the rival heroine who thinks of herself as plain etc. etc. It’s old, and tiresome, and a little too much “mean girls” cat-fight-y for my taste. 😛 It’s a “me-thing” which I’m sure nobody else cares about, but… personally it annoys me a lot. *cough*

And a couple of tiny unimportant things freaked me out, like Irene thinking it was cool that Kai gave her a nickname based on Milady de Winter. MILADY IS CREEPY AND EVIL OKAY. JUST. PLEASE. DO NOT BE FLATTERED BY THAT. -_-

And honestly sometimes the Library creeped me out. >.> I’M SORRY. Sometimes it was cool, but sometimes I didn’t like some things about it…

And just typical mainstream book quibbles. *shrug*

Still, I enjoyed myself and was impressed that turned it around when I wasn’t as caught up to begin with, and still made me love it in the end. 🙂 Though it did have an annoying tendency to leave out a TON of information and make you wonder about things and just not INFORM the reader enough, or was confusing about it—for me, anyway—so a lot of the time I was flailing blindly through, going “stop dancing around things and ‘showing’ things—just TELL me something for once or I will throw you across the room!” Ahem. It wasn’t THAT bad but I just felt like we didn’t get enough info up front and that was kind of frustrating for me? I don’t enjoy feeling unintelligent OR uninformed and this was trying to do both to me. 😛 But it got better once it finally slipped enough info in, so yay! 🙂

But enough of that! I don’t mean to bash it really—I ended up quite enjoying it! 🙂 If it intrigues you, I’d say try it out. 🙂 And I’m curious to see where the next books lead… I’ll probably try out the sequel at some point. Gotta get back to this fascinating world and follow these awesome characters more, dontcha know! ^_^

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer