Vampire Empire is a Superb Series So Far…

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Princess Adele struggles with a life of marriage and obligation as her Equatorian Empire and their American Republic allies stand on the brink of war against the vampire clans of the north. However, the alliance’s horrific strategy for total victory drives Adele to abandon her duty and embark on a desperate quest to keep her nation from staining its hands with genocide. Reunited with her great love, the mysterious adventurer known to the world as the Greyfriar, Adele is pursued by her own people as well as her vengeful husband, senator Clark. With the human alliance in disarray, Prince Cesare, lord of the British vampire clan, seizes the initiative and strikes at the very heart of Equatoria. As Adele labors to bring order to her world, she learns more about the strange powers she exhibited in the north. Her teacher, Mamoru, leads a secret cabal of geomancers who believe Adele is the one who can touch the vast power of the Earth that surges through ley lines and wells up at the rifts where the lines meet. These energies are the key to defeating the enemy of mankind, and if Princess Adele could ever bring this power under her command, she could be death to vampires. But such a victory will also cost the life of Adele’s beloved Greyfriar. (From Goodreads)

 

***Spoilers ahead you’ve been warned!***

It is greatly recommended you read The Greyfriar before jumping into this novel. You’d be pretty much lost if you started reading out of order.

This one was just as good as the first one and better. I enjoyed reading Adele’s development throughout the book! I never thought of her as a whiny damsel in distress even though there were times when she wasn’t sure what to do but in this book she went from a strong character to someone even  stronger. She immediately knew what to do and there were times when she didn’t take no as an answer (and the empress in her came out! That was fun to watch!)

You now have a more developed plot and you also get to see who’s on who’s side and who has a private agenda (Yes Mamoru, we’re talking about you.) I used to like Mamoru so much until the last third of this book. Wow. I understand where the hatred is coming from but it goes to show how blinding it can be and the way it can twist someone around.

Also: Everybody needs a friend like Colonel Anhalt. You need a loyal friend like that in life. No kidding. He’s become one of my favorite characters in the series because of his loyalty, despite discovering who the Greyfriar really is. He adores and cherishes Adele so much I loved reading about him. She treats him just the same way and they both are the best match when it comes to a good loyal friendship, in fact it’s almost a father daughter relationship.

Speaking of fathers. The deaths of both Constantine and Dmitri just tore me up. It’s interesting how they died similarly. Both heartbreaking, and wanting you out there crying for revenge because of the way they died.

So who do I dislike more? Cesare? Or Senator Clark? I’d go with Cesare on this one. He’s cunning, ruthless but there’s something slimy about him that you just want to sink a stake into his heart and watch him disintegrate. Senator Clark on the other hand is just an uncouth baboon that’s funny when he’s upset. You can’t help but laugh at his antics even though he’s a jerk.

The plot in the book is evenly paced as for the majority of it you follow the Greyfriar and Adele through their journey (GARETH THE WEDDING CRASHER! I LOVED IT!) their romance is well written and it’s not sappy or too sweet. It’s just right. They have their funny moments, and their sad ones, and ones where it was a close call to ending them. I rather wish they had more moments on Cesare and his plotting but he’s sporadically featured here and there throughout the book. Not enough though (there’s just something about villains that you want to read more about anyway…)

I definitely can’t wait to read the third one! I want to see what’s going to happen now that Adele is using her skills as a Geomancer and she’s getting more training on it (although there’s a downside to that as well.) Can’t wait to see what’s in store for them next!

I give it an 8 out of 10.

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The Greyfriar by Susan and Clay Griffith

GreyfriarIn the year 1870, a horrible plague of vampires swept over the northern regions of the world. Millions of humans were killed outright. Millions more died of disease and famine due to the havoc that followed. Within two years, once-great cities were shrouded by the grey empire of the vampire clans. Human refugees fled south to the tropics because vampires could not tolerate the constant heat there. They brought technology and a feverish drive to re-establish their shattered societies of steam and iron amid the mosques of Alexandria, the torrid quietude of Panama, and the green temples of Malaya. It is now 2020 and a bloody reckoning is coming. Princess Adele is heir to the Empire of Equatoria, a remnant of the old tropical British Empire. She is quick-witted as well as with sword or gun. She is eager for an adventure before she settles into a life of duty and political marriage to a man she does not know. But her quest turns black when she becomes the target of a merciless vampire clan. Her only protector is the Greyfriar, a mysterious hero who fights the vampires from deep within their territory. Their dangerous relationship plays out against an approaching war to the death between humankind and the vampire clans. (From Amazon.ca)

I was very skeptical of this one. I wasn’t sure what to think of it. It’s got fantasy. With history and a bit of steampunk added. Which is a great combination, but it really all boils down to the story and its’ characters. It’s certainly got a nice blend of fantasy/history as well and I liked that. I was really expecting something cheesy with a romance in it that’ll make my stomach turn. Thankfully I was wrong!

I enjoyed this novel until the very last page. The action was well done, the world building was really good and well established, and the characters memorable. The blending of different genres also is nice you have a bit of steampunk, alternate history, fantasy, paranormal, and just a little bit of romance. It’s perfect.

Of course what adds to this awesome book is Gareth (one of the main characters) has a castle full of cats. No seriously. That is AWESOME. I reacted the same way I did when I saw Hellboy with his room full with cats. (I squeed and squeed until I couldn’t no more) so for me, that was a major added bonus. The chemistry between Adele and Gareth was good as well. Their characters seemed perfect for eachother I really enjoyed how they got along.

I haven’t gotten around to reading the second book yet, but I’m hoping it will be just as good as this one! I definitely recommend this book to fantasy lovers out there. It’s definitely worth a read through.

 

I give it 9/10

 

The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

Girl in the Steel CorsetIn 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. (From Amazon.ca)

This one kept me page turning at a very quick pace. I loved the writing, loved the characters, and loved the story. The really nice looking cover is also a bonus. I’d have to say it’s really Finley who was the most interesting and delightful read. She’s got quite a personality that is unforgettable, and added to that is other ‘dark’ side which not only is exciting and fun to read but the consequences can get rather drastic. (It’s fun when she loses her temper) (Or where she fights with Sam bwahaha). She’s certainly a tough one and that makes her one of the most likable heroines I have seen and read.

The story is told in different points of view so it keeps the plot going and more interesting. I liked Finley’s point of view the best, of course. Griffin’s is interesting as it dabbles into the paranormal side of things. I liked the balance of paranormal and technological aspects of the story. It’s an interesting mix, but it sure works well, especially with a Victorian London setting.

There’s quite a bit of descriptions in this book, but it helps visualize everything and it’s not over done. (Finlay’s dress for example. Wow, that was superb!). The action in this book was well done and the plot was easy to follow, and it flows through. The characters in the book are memorable enough and likable. Although Sam rather got on my nerves as he complained and whined too much, needed a good beating (which was entertaining), and eventually as he smartened up he wasn’t so bad. Jasper was a charmer and you couldn’t help but like him, and Jack Dandy had his charming moments as well although he can be rather slimy and swarmy (depending on how you see him).

Steampunk readers will enjoy this book. YA lovers who are new to the Steampunk genre will enjoy this one as it has all the YA characteristics and more. I fully enjoyed this book and am looking forward to its’ sequel!

I give it a 9/10

Innocent Darkness by Suzanne Lazear

Innocent Darkness>When spirited sixteen-year-old Noli Braddock and her best friend Steven V Darrow take a flying car out for a joyride, neither expects Noli to be sent to reform school to mend her hoyden ways. While at the dreadful school, an innocent wish sends Noli tumbling into the Otherworld where the handsome huntsman Kevighn wants her as the next blood sacrifice to help restore his dying world. V arrives in the Otherworld to help Noli, but before they can return to the mortal realm they navigate the dangerous intrigues of the Otherworld and convince the High Queen to send Noli home while dealing with their emerging feelings for one another. But if Noli lives, an entire civilization will die. (from Amazon.ca)

Ohhhh I really tried to like this book. How it first started out had promise. I really liked how Noli was portrayed. She seemed like a strong character, and typical when you read some of these steampunk novels. They’re strong willed, always going against the social mores, and always tinkering – which Noli does. She’s also in love with botany – that was pretty interesting and different too.

As the plot progresses, I thought it was off to a good start. The reform school part really got me into the story and I thought it was going to get better. Then the faeries come in. I’m not much for faeries, they’re my least favorite paranormal beings (so perhaps I’m biased when it comes to this). Then the book suddenly stops becoming steampunk and goes into the romance and fantasy phase. This is where my interest in the book started to drop. Noli’s character started to becoming something that I wasn’t expecting at all. She becomes all girly, needy, clingy, and all around irritating.

The romance aspect of the book was starting to irritate me as well and the plot just seemed to have taken a nosedive from there. V was interesting at first as well, but then when the romance starts to happen I was personally starting to get real sick of all three: Noli, Kevighn, and V. Then when James and Charlotte joined in the picture the story got unbearable and predictable.

This book just wasn’t the one for me. Perhaps others will enjoy this one. It just stops becoming steampunk and then evolves into fantasy and romance. I was really hoping for a good novel featuring engines, gears and goggles. Not much so in this book. Sad to say I was very disappointed in this one.

I give it a 3/10

Thanks to the publisher for providing me a copy of this book via Netgalley!

Review of The Hunchback Assignments

The Hunchback Assignments

The Hunchback Assignments

It’s steampunk time!  I haven’t read much steampunk since it started becoming big – partly because the library doesn’t carry much of it. However when this book came out I really wanted to read this. Badly. Why? well first the cover grabbed my attention. Plus it was a hardcover book without the jacket which is a bonus. Anyway! onto the review!

Modo has a special gift. His gift is the ability to change his appearance.  Mr Socrates notices this gift of his and takes him under his wing, and gives him special training to become a secret agent. Meanwhile Modo does learn the horrible truth; he’s horribly deformed and also a hunchback. On top of that discovery, Modo is also taken to London, and left in the middle of the street, with nothing but his clothes. However, Modo shows his resourcefulness and manages to survive on the London streets. He discovers a sinister plot run by Dr Hyde in the sewers. With the help of Octavia Milkweed and Mr Socrates, he will have to stop Dr Hyde and his plot to bring London to ruin.

This book was a real fun and enjoyable read. The beginning of the book started off as intriguing and interesting that you were immediately curious as to what was going to happen next. The description of the different inventions and machinery in the book were well written and could be easily pictured in one’s mind while reading. I really did like the plot, it was fast, lots of action on the pages, lots of intrigue (I love intrigue!) and mystery, and naturally it story leaves you with what’s next on Modo’s agenda. There is plenty of steampunk here for those that love the genre. I especially like the clockwork birds.

Modo is very easily liked and he’s your typical “although he’s deformed, he’s got a heart of gold” type of character. Mr Socrates is your typical “boss” character, stonefaced, hardly any emotion, and usually is just there to tell others what to do. All characters in the book are likable and fun in their own way(Octavia is very interesting).

I really did like the secret society concept used in the book. It gives the plot more mystery and especially if a member of royalty involved it enhances the mystery and intrigue even more. Yet even after being finished with the book there are still questions needed to be answered about this society and it’s obvious that we have not seen the last of them yet.

What bugged me about the book was the animal experimentation.Yet it wasn’t graphical and bloody, but the idea still bothered me though.  Another thing I didn’t like is sometimes the description – a particular description of a machine was very hard for me to picture. Then again that could be because I’m not so mechanically inclined – perhaps other readers may find it easier to figure it out.

Overall, a great book for children and adults alike, an even bigger treat for those that are into steampunk fiction. This is a great start to a very exciting series and I’m definitely looking forward to reading the second book (which in fact, I have taken out of the library recently).

I give it an 8 out of 10.