Tag Archive | Sarah Pennington

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! 🙂

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Blood in the Snow by Sarah Pennington: Review/Blog Tour!

Hey, my pagelings!

I’m SO excited today to be taking part in the blog tour for the Seven Magic Mirrors co-release of seven Snow White novellas by six different authors, all releasing this week!

Specifically, I’m reviewing Blood in the Snow by Sarah Pennington, and guys, I’m just SO SO EXCITED. I’ve known Sarah for years and she’s a delightful friend, blogger, and — now I know for absolute sure — a stupendous author! I’ve been waiting for her to have a book out for me to read and review and (hopefully) fangirl over for years and IT IS THIS DAY. I’m absurdly pleased about this. 😀

Also, make sure you drop by here to see all the stops on the blog tour and to enter a fantabulous giveaway for five paperbacks from this collection!

Now, my review . . .


Title: Blood in the Snow

Author: Sarah Pennington

  • Date read: October 24, 2018
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Retelling / Snow White / The Goose Girl / Novella / Asian-Inspired Fantasy
  • Age: YA/any
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Pages: 137 (ebook)
  • Fave character: Gan! But also Nianzu, Xiang, Baili, and Chouko.
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I received a free e-ARC of this book as part of the blog tour. All opinions are my own.

BLOOD IN THE SNOW is a stunning debut from Sarah Pennington, an author I’ve long been watching. I was so excited to read it, and I’m absurdly pleased with the result. This first novella from her did not disappoint! The writing is lyrical yet unobtrusive, pulling one entirely into the story. Every facet of this tale is skillfully crafted together—the writing, the intricate plot, the characters, the themes, and the vibrant setting.

I loved this utterly enchanting retelling of Snow White and The Goose Girl! I never would have thought of the two fairytales together, but they work so incredibly well with each other in this book, I almost feel like this must be their natural state. I don’t want to share spoilers, but all the plot points were spot-on and yet felt organic and original, and a few of them surprising. The many complex threads were woven seamlessly together. Fairytale retellings are my favorite and this one was so well done, which made this reader very happy! ^_^

As much as I loved the retelling part, even the best retelling can fall flat if the characters don’t take off—but these absolutely came to life, and brought the story to life with them!

Baili was a good heroine and I enjoyed seeing her grow through the story and find herself. ^_^ I also really liked the prince character, Xiang! He was great, especially his willingness to help people. 🙂 I absolutely loved the scenes where they interacted. Other favorites were definitely two or three of the “seven dwarves” characters—who were not dwarves at all in this, but animal keepers. I loved meeting them and hearing about their different peoples and backgrounds, and the banter and dialog was so much fun. 😀

Gan was probably my absolute favorite character in the book! He was fantastic, and I also loved his exchanges with fiery goose girl Chouko, another of the seven. Their dynamic was the best. 😀 I wasn’t sure if I’d like Chouko at first, but I really grew to, which surprised me and was awesome! And the quieter, mysterious Nianzu. I’d almost love to read a whole other book about him and Gan and maybe Chouko—they’re that cool. 🙂 The characters were an absolute hit with me!

The worldbuilding was incredible—I could hardly believe so much was packed into this little novella! A whole broad-reaching world of many peoples, cultures, histories, and some surprising deeper themes. The magical bits were interesting too, with the bloodgift element and the Dragonglass, and I particularly loved the use of air and water; now THAT was neat. 🙂 But you’ll have to read it to see what I mean. 😉

I feel like this is a good moment for me to mention that I was reminded of Lloyd Alexander, one of my top three favorite authors, so that’s… well… that’s high praise. This tale just felt GOOD and made me feel at home and I want to hug it. ^_^

Sometimes it was a little difficult for me to keep track of the names (my own fault, I’m sure), and as with most novellas, I wished that it could have been longer (because I want MORE!), yet it made remarkable use of the space there was, so that it didn’t seem rushed, but felt like a complete story. And I always have a hard time reading Goose Girl retellings because ugh, people are so mean to the heroine! It makes me mad (at said characters… which is probably the correct feeling for the reader anyway. :P). But those are small personal things and as close to issues with the story as I can get—it was really fantastic and I loved it!

This novella was a Special Unicorn honorable mention in the final Rooglewood Press fairytale retelling contest, receiving a perfect score, and now that I’ve read it, I can see that there was absolutely a reason for that!

It left me spellbound and with a happy smile as I finished. The story is every bit as gorgeous inside as the breathtaking cover on the outside. I will eagerly await more tales from this author’s pen, and I highly recommend checking this one out!


About Blood in the Snow

Her destiny is decided — but betrayal breaks even the best-laid plans.

Baili, the princess of the Kingdom of Seven Rivers, has always known what her future holds. Declared the fairest of all by the fabled Dragonglass, she is destined to fulfill an ancient prophecy and unite her homeland with its long-time enemy, the Kingdom of Three Peaks. And in doing so, she may save her country from death and ruin.

In order to fulfill her destiny, Baili must travel to the Kingdom of Three Peaks and marry its prince, Liu Xiang. But all Baili’s plans and expectations are turned upside-down when her servants and soldiers, acting on her stepmother’s orders, turn against her on the road. Baili narrowly escapes with her life, but she’s left alone and adrift among strangers.

Fortunately, Baili finds refuge in the home of seven animal keepers: servants and slaves to the emperor of Three Peaks. Yet time is running out. Her servants’ rebellion was only a small part of a much larger plot. Within weeks, her stepmother plans to unite the two kingdoms, not by contract, but by conquest. Baili must reclaim her rightful place and unite not just two kingdoms but many peoples in order to stop the plan. And if she fails, two kingdoms will be plunged into ruin.

Sure to delight lovers of fantasy and fairy tales, this rich and magical Asian-inspired adventure combines Snow White and The Goose Girl in a way you’ve never seen before.


Links


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


Seven Magic Mirrors

What are the Magic Mirrors?

The Magic Mirrors are seven retellings of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by six different authors, each unique in tone, setting, and moral. From the light hearted and twisted to dark reimagining to futuristic mashups to non-magical historical fiction, this collection has something in it for every reader.

Again, be sure to drop by to see the whole blog tour, check out the other posts, and enter the giveaway!


Well, what do you think?

Sound like a tale you need in on? Because it is! And how about that INCREDIBLE cover by Anne Elisabeth Stengl? *collapses because it’s so gorgeous* I hope you’ll check out Sarah Pennington’s stunning debut, and that you’re looking forward to the other Magic Mirrors books as much as I am! 🙂 Thanks for reading!