5 Stars, Amber Kell, Dreamspinner Press, Reviewed by Angel, Steampunk

Review: Keys by Amber Kell

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Title: Keys (City of Keys: Book One)

Author: Amber Kell

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: Keys is an excellent steampunk/dystopian story, in the grand tradition of the Steampunk genre, but it is a world all of its own.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: My name is Octavius Septimus Stalk, but my friends call me Oss. I live in the City of Keys, a town of gears, keys, locks, and wonder. Our forefathers banished magic long ago, bolted the doors and locked everything up tight to keep people out and the town’s secrets in. Four Lock Lords control what information is left, and everyone else is left struggling to survive.

Despite what Thorne, my naïve lover, thinks, I was an orphan, but not a victim. When I walked the streets at the age of twelve, I learned fast where to steal the best food, how to use my daggers, and where to hide my would-be attackers’ bodies. No one suspected me of such violence. No one knew then or now that I have magic inside me.

Now, power hungry men intend to release the magic for their own benefit—at the expense of the rest of the city. We will stop them, even if Thorne must battle his own kin, even if I must reveal my hidden talents and the role I seem destined to play.

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Review: Keys is an excellent steampunk/dystopian story, in the grand tradition of the Steampunk genre, but it is a world all of its own. It isn’t classic or traditional Victorian era, more retro-futuristic, I suppose. Regardless of how it is classified, I couldn’t put it down.

Keys has several of the beloved tropes: steam-powered technology, magical/supernatural elements, and class systems, but it isn’t an alternate time-line to our reality like many of the genre. I loved Keys for its differences as well as its similarities to this genre.

Kell has created a fascinating world that is similar to our own with just a touch more. It grabs you with its metal arms, embracing you and taking you deep into the City of Keys where you get lost to the magic of this author’s brilliant creation. I am still suffering a bit of a book hangover because I didn’t want it to end. Never fear, though, as this is a complete story with promises for more adventures coming later. Thanks for that, Madame Author!

I loved the characters, all of them; human, magical and clockwork. They are full of life and passion, and that includes the bad guys as well. The city itself is a major character too, and I wanted to know more about the legends and prophesy that drove the story. Oss is a fantastic narrator and I loved him immediately. While I was a bit mistrustful of Thorne, he slowly won me over by the end of the book. Marbrey, the Duke Lear, and Affie round out a stunning cast. Amalia, too. She better make a reappearance, just saying.

I sped through the book because it was entirely engaging and a wonder to read. Longer than many of Kell’s previous stories, every word is economically used and valued. And with the promise of more to come, I eagerly await whatever treasures this author has coming from this verse.

Thank you for an awesome read, Amber Kell.

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5 Stars, Carole Cummings, DSP Publications, Literary Fiction, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Lisa, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Steampunk

Review: Blue on Black by Carole Cummings

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Title: Blue on Black

Author: Carole Cummings

Publisher: DSP Publications

Pages/Word Count: 380 Pages

At a Glance: Blue on Black is an alternate universe, twisted history, sci-fi/fantasy/steampunkish feast for the imagination and senses.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Kimolijah Adani—Class 2 gridTech, beloved brother, most promising student the Academy’s ever had the privilege of calling their own, genius mechanical gridstream engineer, brilliantly pioneering inventor… and dead man. But that’s what happens when a whiz kid messes with dynamic crystals and, apparently, comes to the attention of Baron Petra Stanslo. Killed for his revolutionary designs, Kimolijah Adani had been set to change the world with his impossible train that runs on nothing more than gridstream locked in a crystal. Technically it shouldn’t even be possible, but there is no doubt it works.

Bas is convinced the notoriously covetous and corrupt Stanslo had something to do with Kimolijah Adani’s tragic and suspicious end. A Directorate Tracker, Bas has finally managed to catch the scent of Kimolijah Adani’s killer, and it leads right into Stanslo’s little desert barony. For almost three years, Bas has tried to find a way into Stanslo’s Bridge, and when he finally makes it, shock is too small a word for what—or, rather, whom—he finds there.

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Review: If ever there was a book written that deserves to be an illustrated novel, it’s Carole Cummings’ Blue on Black, an alternate universe, twisted history, sci-fi/fantasy/steampunkish feast for the imagination and senses that sends readers on a synesthetic journey to an Old West-like place that, had it ever existed in reality, would have changed our own world dramatically.

Blue on Black is a story that’s not so much woven together from beginning to end as it is deconstructed and put back together again. What I mean by that is the plot and characters, and how they relate to each other, are constructed of a series of knots at the outset that must be untangled in order for us to see the “big picture” resolve itself in the end. Everything in this novel is layered—the colors, the characters, the setting, the Tech, the grandiose scheme which has brought the outlier Stanslo’s Bridge and its robber baron, Petra Stanslo, to the attention of the Directorate—with a subtlety that makes you look just that little bit deeper to make sure you don’t miss a thing. Who are enemies, who are allies, and who is simply looking out for number one? When does servitude represent freedom and freedom, servitude? It’s a web we’re snared in from the start, and we must decipher it right along with our intrepid hero.

Stanslo is both the Pandora’s Box and the Prometheus in the novel, dictator of a place where life often means death, where language is mind control, where double-think and its controlled insanity is delivered with a feral grin. Stanslo has opened up his twisted mind and spilled out an insane amount of narcissism upon his world, using people as leverage to oppress and fear to motivate them to carry out his plans, leaving the reader wondering where is their hope. He is predator and scavenger, exploiter and extortionist, both law and lawlessness, and he has stolen the spark (a spark he’s having trouble harnessing, by the way) necessary to unleash a technology upon humankind that humankind will not appreciate. Rather than a tool of progress, the technology in this novel is the agent of greed and lust and evil, and there seems to be no way to stop Stanslo before his delusions of grandeur give free reign to unchecked horror.

This is where Bartholomew Eisen becomes integral to the story. Bas is a Grade 3 Tracker with the Directorate of the Consolidated Territories, which is a fancy way of saying he can not only sense Tech but can taste its colors, and by taste, can tell what sort of Tech a man or woman possesses. He’s been assigned to track a missing weatherTech, a case which ends up intersecting with another, a murder case he’s been investigating involving one of the most promising minds in gridTech ever to be born, Kimolijah Adani, and Kimolijah’s father Ajamil. And this is how Bas ends up in Stanslo’s Bridge posing as a gunslinger called Jakob Barstow.

Narrated with no small amount of sarcasm and tongue-in-cheek humor, not to mention a flair that invokes comic book storytelling, Blue on Black is motion and movement in not only in its crafting but in the very magic of its Tech. Kimo’s power is all about the kinetic energy that flows through and from him, which draws all manner of attention to him, not to mention attracts the bad to him like a negative to a positive charge. “Everything that leaks from the Bruise goes after gridstream,” and poor Kimo is the target of the worst of it.

The Bruise itself is a place, a contusion in the skin of this world from which mutant beasts escape, a place where Nature has been made wild and toxic, a foe of the humans who, in all its karmic glory, are the ones guilty of corrupting it in the first place. It is the place that has offered Stanslo the means to control and the method to compel his madness and incite his avarice, jealousy, suspicion, and obsession with his most prized possession, playing god in his own little corner of hell. But, as with all oppressors, a day of reckoning awaits, and it’s one of the book’s greatest and most satisfying ironies when it happens.

There is action and suspense and danger between the covers of this novel, and while there is something building between Bas and Kimo amidst the destruction, Blue on Black is not a love story, though it is the story of two men who don’t know they’re falling into something that could be love, and doing it quite humorously, I might add. Really, how could they know, though, when one of them is in denial of his feelings, and the other is so full of anger and distrust that there isn’t much room for anything else? You’ve heard the idiom about someone having a burr under his saddle (or in other ::ahem:: delicate areas)? Well, the burrs in this book aren’t figurative, they are literal, and they play far too significant a role in Kimo’s life for him not to be more than a bit prickly. Plus, it’s hard to know love in the presence of fear, and it’s also rather difficult to recognize it when fear and love present some of the same physical symptoms—another lovely irony that.

Blue on Black is yet another outstanding novel by this author. I have had the pleasure of reading all her published work to date and can say without reservation that each of her books is an experience that may make you think a little harder, but the payoff in the end is always well worth the journey.

When you’re in the mood for an Alt U, Sci-Fi, Action/Adventure trip into an (un)reality of (un)imaginably fantastic proportions, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Blue on Black.

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10264965_252539888266926_3416999939270236877_nCarole lives with her husband and family in Pennsylvania, USA, where she spends her time trying to find time to write. Recipient of various amateur writing awards, several of her short stories have been translated into Spanish, German, Chinese and Polish.

Author of the Aisling and Wolf’s-own series, Carole is currently in the process of developing several other works, including more short stories than anyone will ever want to read, and novels that turn into series when she’s not looking.

Carole is an avid reader of just about anything that’s written well and has good characters. She is a lifelong writer of the ‘movies’ that run constantly in her head. Surprisingly, she does manage sleep in there somewhere, and though she is rumored to live on coffee and Pixy Stix™, no one has as yet suggested she might be more comfortable in a padded room.

…Well. Not to her face.

Carole is a Rainbow Con 2015 Attending Author

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3 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Kay Walker, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Jennifer, Steampunk

Review: Jack Wolf by Kay Walker

Title: Jack Wolf (A Daily Dose Story)

Author: Kay Walker

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 44 Pages

At a Glance: Steampunk and shifters collide in this fun daily dose story.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Henry Dalton is sent across the country by train to the western town of Woolridge in order to investigate the werewolf problem they’re having during the monthly moon cycle. The townsfolk are not forthcoming with information, making it difficult for Henry to solve the case.

Even more distracting is Jack, a handsome older lycanthrope. Known for his rebellious youth, Jack has settled down into life and routine in Woolridge, working as the local blacksmith. He assures Henry he’s no longer trying to stir up trouble, that those days are long gone. Henry must attempt to ignore the spark between them, the indication of their potential to become mates, which is rare because Henry is human. Henry remains professional and focuses on his job, but each meeting with Jack adds to the draw, and Henry isn’t sure how much longer he’ll be able to resist.

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Review: I’ve honestly never read a story before this with steampunk and shifters, so this was a treat. Granted, the steampunk is light, and I supposed some could argue that it’s not steampunk, but I’m going to call it that; there’s interesting, advanced inventions, steam-powered machines, and copper. So there.

In this America, shifters and humans live alongside each other relatively peacefully. That isn’t to say they haven’t had a past. There were problems with the government and lycanthropes before, but they have since settled differences and made new laws to protect everyone. Henry was previously mated to a werewolf who died in the fight with the government after he was shoved into a sort of werewolf mate ghetto. Jack is the older man who led the rebellion and also lost a mate in the fighting. When they meet, the sparks fly, just about literally, and they are attracted to each other. But it takes time for them to get together since Henry has a job to do that he cannot compromise.

I liked that they took their time getting together. The ending did feel a little rushed, and I would have liked a little more, but overall, it was a good pace for the characters and the story. There are a few things left out, such as what happened to the sheriff, but since it wasn’t integral to the relationship building, I suppose it can be overlooked.

I think this is one Daily Dose story worth a look, if you’re into steampunk or shifters.

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3 Stars, E.E. Ottoman, Less Than Three Press, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Steampunk

Review: Winter’s Bees by E.E. Ottoman

Title: Winter’s Bees (Mechanical Universe: Book Three)

Author: E.E. Ottoman

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Pages/Word Count: 105 Pages

At a Glance: A decent entry to a series set in an interesting world, but this story is filled with overused elements.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Lord Marcel de la Mont de Anges, the Marquis de Montespan is a brilliant mathematician, member of the mechanical animation movement and all around dandy. He’s been in love with shy, quiet entomologist and youngest member of the royal family, Prince Gilbert André XVI, since they were children. The Emperor’s plans to arrange a marriage between Marcel and Gilbert should have been the answer to all his secret fantasies.

But Gilbert is still reeling from a nasty breakup, and he cannot picture the man he regards as a brother becoming his lover. The order to marry has thrown their relationship into disorder, and if they cannot sort out the changes there may not even be a friendship left for them to save…

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Review: If you haven’t read the other books in this series, you don’t need to in order to understand this series. Each book has its own characters and storylines, though Winter’s Bees does mention characters that appear in the other stories. Maybe their mention will make you want to read the others if you haven’t already.

I enjoy E.E. Ottoman’s writing, and this book is no different, though I did find the characters to be tedious at times. Perhaps it was just that the elements of the story are common enough to be overused, and I wanted something more.

For example, Marcel is beautiful, and he is in love with his childhood friend, Gilbert. Gilbert, on the other hand, is not in love with Marcel, and he doesn’t want to marry him out of convenience, for his father’s sake. But, of course, what the Emperor wants, the Emperor gets. And, well, Marcel is happy with the situation. What follows is some angst and miscommunication between the two men. They don’t discuss things, which would clear things up really fast. But, then, I guess there wouldn’t be a story.

What is different about this book is the nature of the characters. They’re not your typical heroes, and that’s one of the reasons I love Ottoman’s stories. Gilbert is short, stocky, and not entirely attractive. And it’s not just him saying that about himself, but everyone says it. He’s also an entomologist. He studies BUGS. A prince that studies bugs? You have to admit that’s kind of cool. And then there’s Marcel. Marcel has a disability, but this doesn’t get in his way of life, and people still consider him beautiful, which is refreshing. And he’s not just a dandy who exists to look pretty, but a brilliant mathematician as well.

The world also embraces same-sex relationships, so this isn’t a problem. Gilbert’s father understands he’s attracted to men, so he plans his betrothal accordingly rather than going against his wishes. That’s fairly unique as well. Too often I’ve read stories where, yes, same-sex marriage is accepted, but if you’re a member of the royal family, “sorry, you need to suck it up for the sake of the bloodlines.”

Plus, there is the twisted steampunk elements. It’s not quite Victorian, but it seems close to it, and it’s not completely steampunk, but it’s there. Maybe as a bridge for those who want to test the genre out?

Overall, I would say this was an enjoyable story. While some of the elements are commonly used in other books, if you can look past this, you’ll read about a fascinating world and atypical heroes.

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4 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Reviewed by Lisa, Steampunk

Review: The Gilded Scarab by Anna Butler

Title: The Gilded Scarab

Author: Anna Butler

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 314 Pages

At a Glance: When this novel gets a good head of steam going, it’s an adventurous and entertaining jaunt through an alternate reality London.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: When Captain Rafe Lancaster is invalided out of the Britannic Imperium’s Aero Corps after crashing his aerofighter during the Second Boer War, his eyesight is damaged permanently, and his career as a fighter pilot is over. Returning to Londinium in late November 1899, he’s lost the skies he loved, has no place in a society ruled by an elite oligarchy of powerful Houses, and is hard up, homeless, and in desperate need of a new direction in life.

Everything changes when he buys a coffeehouse near the Britannic Imperium Museum in Bloomsbury, the haunt of Aegyptologists. For the first time in years, Rafe is free to be himself. In a city powered by luminiferous aether and phlogiston, and where powerful men use House assassins to target their rivals, Rafe must navigate dangerous politics, deal with a jealous and possessive ex-lover, learn to make the best coffee in Londinium, and fend off murder and kidnap attempts before he can find happiness with the man he loves.

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Review: With a good dose of creativity in its historical setting, Anna Butler’s The Gilded Scarab is a fun mix of danger, intrigue, and romance narrated by Captain Rafe Lancaster, late of her majesty’s royal aeroforce.

A complex structure of a House caste system, which lends its politics to the intrigue, coupled with the world building of Londinium, the author’s steampunk version of Victorian London, give this novel a bit of a slow start as we follow Rafe from the disastrous ending of his final flight as an aerofighter to his new career as barista and owner of a coffee shop. There’s much detail to lay out in order to ground readers in the setting, some of which I felt was filler that didn’t end up serving the greater plot, but once things hit their stride, the action and foul play builds to a brisk and exciting climax.

Rafe, as narrator of this novel, is an interesting mix of ego and charm, and leaves one wondering, at times, if he’s purposely obtuse or truly is as oblivious of himself and his emotions as it seems. Whichever it is, it adds a bit of cheek to his charm, and I found he’d grown on me in a rather stealthy way before I knew it. His relationship with his own House—or non-relationship, as the case may be—was an added strength to his character, allowing readers to appreciate his distancing himself from the politics of the system and living his life on his own terms. Although, the cutthroat worlds of coffee and Aegyptology did go a long way to complicate Rafe’s life on their own.

As for Rafe’s romantic entanglements, since the blurb is mostly vague on that count, I will be as well. As befits the setting of the novel, he frequents Londinium’s gentlemen’s clubs to find companionship, which he does—one encounter highlighting how unacquainted he is with his own feelings, another how unreceptive he is to the idea of falling in love. Both men end up complicating Rafe’s life in his own way, and for various reasons, but the end result is an added layer of intrigue to the storyline, and a sweet and satisfying ending for our hero.

As an added bonus, there are some wonderful side characters to root for in The Gilded Scarab, one of which is Sam Hawkins, loyal bodyguard; and Hugh Peters, faithful friend; along with various other friends and allies who help Rafe realize his happy ending. They band together as a league of heroes committed to never leaving a man behind, and the excitement builds at a great pace as they get closer to their target.

As steampunk romances go, when this novel gets a good head of its own steam going, it’s an adventurous and entertaining jaunt through an alternate reality London.






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3 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Raine O'Tierney, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sion O'Tierney, Steampunk

Review: Alchemy Ever After by Raine & Siôn O’Tierney

Title: Alchemy Ever After

Author: Raine & Siôn O’Tierney

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 56 Pages

At a Glance: Short story with a sweet, innocent apprentice, a grumpy alchemist, and a sculpture come to life.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: The city of New Alexandria is filled with powerful magicians-in-training and mechanical follies, the world’s largest library, and marvels beyond compare. The allure of this modern metropolis draws young people from all over the world, but Idrian has come instead for the opportunity to learn the new art of alchemy.

He’s been taken as an apprentice by Maketh, a scholar experimenting with new ways to combine technology and the ancient mystic arts. Together they’ve animated a living ice sculpture. Idrian cannot wait to unveil the sculpture alongside the other wonders at the annual Spring Festival.

After witnessing his master in a passionate embrace with another student, Idrian’s mind drifts to things beyond alchemy. And when a warm touch accidentally awakens the consciousness within the living sculpture, Idrian learns firsthand about physicality and the magic of passion.

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Review: New Alexandria makes me weep for the loss of the Library at Alexandria, even if this story isn’t actually about the library in New Alexandria. Even so, this is a pleasant short story with a lovely, sweet apprentice, and a sculpture come to life.

There is a bit of dubious consent in the beginning of the story. I should probably just categorize it as non-con, but things work out in the end? I will say that the first scene between Idrian and Rowe threw me off. It is sudden, though, and told from Idrian’s point of view, who has no real idea of what’s happening to him. It’s mercifully short.

Idrian’s innocence was charming at times, though I felt he was much younger than his actual age. He has a passion for alchemy and will do whatever it takes to learn and progress the art, even if it means forsaking the Academy where he would have to choose between magics and engineering.

Rowe is dashing, almost pirate like, and a bit conceited. Not sure how I really felt about him, especially at first, though in the end I did warm up to him a bit.

Maketh is like the absent-minded professor, and needs to be reminded to do everything from Idrian or his younger lover, Raj. Raj is also conceited, but I liked his straightforward attitude and self-assurance.

If the authors were to write a sequel with these characters, I might be interested in reading it, just to see how Idrian develops. For the story focusing on him, there wasn’t much in the way of development. Rowe certainly changed the most of the two.

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4 Stars, Loose Id, Lyn Gala, Reviewed by Lisa, Steampunk

Review: Clockwork Pirate by Lyn Gala

Title: Clockwork Pirate

Author: Lyn Gala

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 278 Pages

At a Glance: As alt-history steampunk adventures go, I’d say Clockwork Pirate is a fun one. As romances go, though, I’d say this one relied too much on telling rather than showing.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Alex hid his unnatural attraction to men for many years. That changes when the pirate Beche takes Alex after capturing his ship. At first Alex believes his fate is death and the only question a matter of how he might die. However, the longer he is on the ship, the more he realizes that Beche hates the world because it is unfair in ways Alex never understood. As Alex begins to respect this strong, independent man, Alex’s dormant desires begin to reassert themselves.

Beche hates the titled classes and their government enforcers. They might have outlawed slavery on paper, but they never came to the islands to free him or his family. Since his skin is black, society has little respect for him. Beche expects no more of this latest captive, but soon Beche begins to realize that Alex is a naïve and beautiful man who values family and struggles with his own place in society. That poses an even larger problem because Beche does not want to send Alex back to a world that will mistreat him, but he has no place for a lord on a ship full of pirates.

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Review: Lyn Gala’s Clockwork Pirate is a difficult novel to pinpoint exactly where my feelings about it landed when all was said and done. On the one hand, it’s a rollicking good, high seas adventure through an alternate history where airships rule the skies and sailing ships still run the seas. The story is not heavy on steampunk details, but offers just enough for readers to understand this is a world of invention and mechanical advancement that didn’t exist in its 1890s setting.

I love a good swashbuckling pirate story, and Beche and his motley crew of seamen give a good show of living up to the reputation of the anarchists of the aristocracy. They are hard men who have been wronged and beaten down by the nobility who once enslaved them. They live by their own set of rules and mete out justice as they see fit—and it usually doesn’t bode well for those they believe are due no mercy. In this, Lyn Gala’s writing was evocative and excelled at bringing to life the harsh climes and sometimes vicious existence these men lived in, and the danger they faced if caught and brought to justice by the society against which they rebelled.

Beche is an interesting character, a former slave who’s become captain of the Yemaja and of his own destiny now he’s freed himself from his owner. As a pirate, Beche is everything you might want—fearsome but also fair, as he proves when he overtakes the ship Meili and captures not only some of its valuables but Alexander, the Margrave of Mergau, as well. His brethren, those who share a history and are closest to him, are even more formidable at times than their captain, as Beche shows mercy to his prisoner on a number of occasions, where others simply want to see Alex die a slow and painful death. What this element served to do, and do well, was contrast these men and the gentle and confused soul that is Alex.

Also serving as a contrast to Alex were his sisters, whom I liked a lot, for as much as we get to know them. Brilliant and independent women stuck in a society that has no use for them, they both served as another reminder that Alex truly was out of his element as the head of his family. One of their purposes, as well, goes hand in hand with Beche’s somewhat interesting ideas of an urning—this novel’s label for gay men—and exactly what the gender roles entail for a man who loves men. Those ideas were…thought provoking, to say the least, and I empathized with Alex’s affront each time Beche reminded him he had a woman’s soul.

Where this novel wasn’t up to snuff, in my opinion, was in the building of the relationship between Beche and Alex. It happens slowly, as it should have, given how deeply Alex had been forced to bury his natural desires and how well he mentally flogged himself for them. He had first to overcome the disgust he felt for himself and the fact he was attracted to Beche; then, once that happened, he was free to tentatively explore those burgeoning feelings. The problem is the connection built between the two men happens somewhere off page. One moment Alex was denying, the next it seemed he was giving in to Beche, and that gap wasn’t spanned by developing the relationship out loud so we readers had the opportunity to become invested in it. In the end, it was a jump that left me feeling only lukewarm feelings toward Alex and Beche as a couple in spite of how well I enjoyed them as individuals.

One of the things you’d expect from a good pirate novel is a grand climax, and Clockwork Pirate delivers in a capture that requires the staging of a well planned and exciting rescue, one that, dare I say, runs like clockwork? I’d have to say this was my favorite part of the book, as it brings together Aster and Philla (Alex’s sisters) and Beche’s brothers-in-arms, working together with Alex to help Beche and his ship’s contriver, Fabrice, escape certain death.

As alt-history steampunk adventures go, I’d say Clockwork Pirate is a fun one. As romances go, though, I’d say this one relied too much on telling rather than showing, and lacked enough exposition to draw the reader in and make us feel invested in Alex and Beche’s happy ending.






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5 Stars, Anthology, Giveaways, Kirby Crow, Mythology, Reviewed by Lisa, Riptide Publishing, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Short Story, Steampunk, Tragic Romance

Spotlight, Review, and Giveaway: Hammer and Bone by Kirby Crow

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Title: Hammer and Bone

Author: Kirby Crow

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 236 Pages

At a Glance: Haunting and beautiful, Hammer and Bone is an impressive and inspired collection.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: The purest evil lives in the hearts of men

Carnival mystics. Zombie tribes. Bad magic in the Bayou. Mage-princes, alien cities, and soul-stealing priests. The grim monsters in the worlds of these dark, speculative tales are true horrors, but it’s the people you should fear the most.

People like Michel, a boy pining for his best friend, Ray. But a presence in the swamp calls Michel to avenge another lost love, and he must decide which summons to answer. Or Angelo, a prescient cop who denies his visions until they endanger the man he loves. Or Bellew, an overseer in a shantytown of criminals sheltering a revenant and feeding it from their ranks.

From ruined lands of steam and iron, to haunted Southern forests, to brutal city streets where hope and damnation flow from the same spring, only a few stubborn souls possess the heart to challenge evil on its own terms. Some wield magic, some turn to rage or even love, but the ones left standing will survive only if they find the courage to carve their own paths to freedom.

Even if it means carving through flesh.

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Review: Hammer and Bone is not the book I expected, but in the best way possible. It wasn’t until I’d got to the third chapter, wondering what plot sorcery the author was going to use to tie these divergent chapters together into a cohesive plot, that I finally realized I wasn’t reading a novel at all, but rather, a collection of short stories. Once I figured out I needed to read each piece as an independent story, it made it much easier to appreciate their brilliance and the author’s skill at weaving together rich and layered storylines, even if short.

If I were to attempt to sum up each story in just a few words, it would look a little something like this:

Crank is a bleak world yet offers a glimpse of a hopeful ending.
Hammer and Bone is a survival of the fittest story set in a desolate, dangerous, and dystopian landscape.
Hangfire is nothing less than heartbreaking, easily the most touching story in the collection.
No Gods and No Tomorrows is a fractured Faustian tale, the devil cloaked in righteousness, who attempts to strike a bargain with the wrong victim.
Shadow and Starlight is a self-fulfilled prophecy of horrors, with a great turn-of-the-tables ending.
Knights of the Risen God is a beautifully drawn David and Goliath story of gods and monsters and men.
Crowheart is a story of spiritual mysticism, prejudice, grief and retribution.
Sundog is a story of abuse, hatred and vengeance searching for a happy ending.

What Kirby Crow has done with this anthology is opened up her imagination and let it flow onto the page. The prose is at times sheer poetry, the imagery stark and striking, the settings foreign and familiar, the allegory and fantastical elements a backdrop for the best and worst of men and magic. These are not stories to be read in hopes of finding romance and happy endings. They are stories to be savored for the love of words and the skillful crafting of short stories that are complete in their telling.

Haunting and beautiful, Hammer and Bone is an impressive and inspired collection.






You can buy Hammer and Bone here:

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Author BioAbout the Author: Kirby Crow is an American writer born and raised in the Deep South. She is a winner of the EPIC Award and the Rainbow Award, and is the author of the bestselling “Scarlet and the White Wolf” series of fantasy novels. Kirby and her husband and their son share an old, lopsided house in the Blue Ridge with a cat. Always a cat.

Her published novels are:

Prisoner of the Raven (historical romance)
Scarlet and the White Wolf: The Pedlar and the Bandit King (New Adult fantasy, m/m, Torquere Press)
Scarlet and the White Wolf: Mariner’s Luck (New Adult fantasy, m/m, Torquere Press)
Scarlet and the White Wolf: The Land of Night (New Adult fantasy, m/m, Torquere Press)
Angels of the Deep (paranormal/horror)
Circuit Theory (novella, scifi, Riptide)

Coming Soon:

Malachite (speculative m/m, New Adult, 2015)
Poison Apples (collection, dark fantasy, m/m, 2015)
Scarlet and the White Wolf 4 (New Adult fantasy, m/m, 2015)

For upcoming news of her future novels, visit her Website

Links:

Amazon Link | Blog | Twitter | Goodreads

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Giveaways

THE GIVEAWAY: Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a $15 Riptide store credit. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on March 7. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.

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5 Stars, Alexis Hall, Reviewed by Rena, Riptide Publishing, Steampunk

Review: Liberty & Other Stories by Alexis Hall

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Title: Liberty & Other Stories

Author: Alexis Hall

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 308 Pages

At a Glance: A pastiche that’s done not just amazingly well but with unexpected touches of hilarity in deeply serious moments.

Reviewed By: Rena

Blurb: For the delight and edification of discerning readers, we present diverse stories concerning the lives, histories, and adventures of the crew of the aethership Shadowless.

Lament! as an upstanding clergyman falls into the villainous clutches of a notorious criminal mastermind.

Question your sanity! as a dissolute governess confronts blasphemies from beyond creation.

Wonder! at the journey of the dashing skycaptain Byron Kae across sapphire oceans, through smog-choked streets, and to the depths of the sky itself.

Gasp! at an entirely true and accurately rendered tale of pirates, cavalrymen, aethermancers, scientists, and a power to unmake the world.

Plus, hitherto unseen extracts from the meticulous and illuminating journals of Mrs. Miranda Lovelace, rogue scientist and first of the aethermancers.

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Review: As a big fan of Alexis Hall’s Prosperity, I was thrilled to learn about the upcoming stand-alone titles that serve as prequels and sequels to the novel (upcoming back then, anyway, when I first read Prosperity; I’ve been, alas, rather late to the party since). Liberty and Other Stories is a collection of novelettes and novellas focusing on Picaddilly, Byron Kae, Jane Grey, Milord, and Ruben Crowe – recounting, through wonderfully diverse narrative approaches, their stories leading up to the events in Prosperity as well as those following.

The collection begins with “Shackles”, which is a prequel that goes over Milord and Ruben Crowe’s relationship before they cross paths again in Prosperity. Now, I was really looking forward to this installment as I was hoping to warm up to Ruben Crowe after his rather dull presence in the novel. With only him and Milord taking center stage in this novelette, we get to enjoy the sizzling chemistry these two men have as they desperately and doggedly resist their attraction to each other. Unfortunately, I finished the story still not a fan of Ruben Crowe.

Firstly, of the four titles in this collection, “Shackles” seems to be the weakest. Against the zany steampunk adventures of everyone else in this collection, this story comes across as too standard and by-the-numbers in terms of the exploration of the two heroes, and I’m afraid it was rather easy for me to forget the plot once I started reading “Squamous With a Chance of Rain”, the second novelette in the anthology. And secondly, Ruben is – Ruben. Yes, he’s a preacher (or former preacher) who finds himself torn against his beliefs and his nature, but I still find his characterization rather more like wallpaper against which Milord distinguishes himself. Had the story been told from Milord’s POV, maybe my perceptions of Ruben would be altered in some way or another since Milord’s colorful personality and quirks would influence my views. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t, and I was glad to move on from it.

The rest of the anthology – “Squamous With a Chance of Rain”, Cloudy Climes and Starless Skies, and Liberty – more than make up for “Shackles”. And that’s because we’re once again blessed to see all kinds of adventures unfold through the eyes of the more electric members of the Prosperity cast. I also would like to emphasize the fact that in these three stories, Alexis Hall goes all out and approaches them through a variety of narrative styles and devices: the epistolary novel, the dialogue, journal entries, and even court records. Each is a pastiche that’s done not just amazingly well but with unexpected touches of hilarity in deeply serious moments, particularly in the last two books.

Jane Grey’s story is told in epistolary fiction style – a style I’ve always loved, having been introduced to it in my college English Lit classes. It’s a narrative approach that can provide the reader with a fantastic view of the letter writer’s personality, especially when the same character writes to different people (in this case, Jane writes exclusively to her friend). Tone changes, language shifts, details are either held back or expanded on, depending on the recipient and the writer’s relationship with him/her. And in Jane’s case, we get to enjoy a pretty hysterical account of her “origin story”, as it were, and how she got her bizarre abilities and her drug addiction. It’s also a pastiche on a number of levels, which was fun to pick at as I read through it. Jane Grey, i.e., Jane Eyre (gothic governess story by Charlotte Brontë) and Agnes Grey (Victorian governess story about the horribleness of teaching someone’s brats by Anne Brontë) – as I read both books before, I couldn’t help but pounce on those. Add to that a generous dose of The Sound of Music, and you’ve got Jane’s pre-Prosperity life in all its gothic, close-harmony singing and laudanum-spiced glory.

Cloudy Climes and Starless Skies is an account of Byron Kae’s history – really the saddest and most bittersweet installment in this collection. It’s told from Byron’s POV as a dialogue with Dil, and that dialogue takes place some time after the events in Prosperity. Dil here is now a young man, not a scrappy boy – wiser than ever, more adventurous than ever, and certainly proving himself Byron’s perfect partner in more ways than one. Throughout the story, Dil interrupts the narrative with questions, observations, and other things in typical Dil style – generously peppered with expletives, coarseness, and keen insight spelled out with the kind of openness and earnestness that’d make you laugh and break your heart at the same time. And it’s through Dil’s (most welcome) interruptions that Byron’s story doesn’t get weighed down too much with sadness. The closing paragraphs prior to the epilogue, especially, would’ve brought me to tears had I not been laughing at something Dil was saying leading up to that part. On the whole, this novella was perhaps the most beautifully written of the stories in the collection.

Liberty goes beyond the private worlds of the characters we love and raises issues regarding power and its abuse. It’s also the most complex of the stories in the anthology, told in a series of a few random journal entries and letters, but mostly court documents. Other characters are introduced, their purposes mostly nefarious save for one man who risks execution as a traitor to England by listening to his conscience at the very last minute. It’s a fun adventure in which different characters tell their stories (to the court, of course), their voices so wonderfully distinct from each other that you end up not wanting to have the chaotic incident in Liberty recounted in any other way. Expletives are, of course, redacted, to hysterical effect. And, as icing on the cake, we’re given pretty serious warnings or instructions from transcribers regarding recordings on wax cylinders and what one can hear when said cylinders are played back or played backwards.

This anthology really serves its purpose in further fleshing out the world created in Prosperity. My indifference toward “Shackles” didn’t really hurt my enjoyment of the rest of the stories, and I highly recommend the entire series to anyone who loves both steampunk and some really colorful pastiche.






You can buy Liberty & Other Stories here:

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Felicitas Ivey, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Steampunk

Review: The Mechanical Chrysanthemums by Felicitas Ivey

Title: The Mechanical Chrysanthemums 

Author: Felicitas Ivey

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 90 Pages

At a Glance: A mixture of genres that somehow work perfectly together

Blurb: Hachisuka Narihiro is a pilot in the Shogun’s elite unit of musha-ki, robotic armor automated by steam and magic for the defense of Nippon in a slowly modernizing 19th Century, when he’s requested to help with political negotiations. Compromises are difficult, with American Admiral Perry determined to open Japan to the West but only on his terms. Like most Western leaders, the admiral is unaware of the advances the Japanese have made with steam and thinks Nippon is an isolated and backward nation. Narihiro’s uncle, the twelfth Tokugawa Shogun, believes Narihiro is the best man for the duty. Despite his extensive training, plans might not go as well as expected.

With the American delegation comes closeted former Pennsylvania Dutch farmer, Maarten Zook, a shy translator who catches Narihiro’s interest. As negotiations stall, the Japanese are left with few options to convince America that Nippon is its equal. Japan is ready to open its borders, but a show of force may be needed, and that force may destroy the budding relationship between Narihiro and Maarten.

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Review: Based on the author’s bio, I think she might be my long-lost twin. This book made me so happy because it’s a ridiculous combination of genres that works so well together and is pretty much nerd heaven. Steampunk, alternate history, gay romance, Japan, fantasy, and Gundam-like mecha collide in The Mechanical Chrysanthemums to deliver a powerful punch and wonderful characters.

First of all, the cover is gorgeous. I absolutely love it. It matches the story perfectly and sets a nice tone before you even open the pages. But let’s talk about the story. Steampunk and alternate history work well together as a rule, but adding in fantasy as well as gay romance? It takes skill to make everything work. As soon as I started reading and the musha were described, my first thought was “Gundam!” Sure enough, that’s pretty much what the musha are. They’re a combination of steam energy and magic blended to form a deadly combination.

The characters are all great as well. Narihiro is torn between wanting Maarten and leaving him alone because of his cultural differences. Maarten is shy and, while drawn to Narihiro, hesitant because of American rules and religious law. Kiyoshi is fun as well, always needling Narihiro and acting “chaperone” for the two men. I’d love to read a story about him and his exploits and finally finding love for himself.

This is a novella, but despite that, the characters and the plot are well developed. The pacing is just right and never felt rushed. Normally I want a longer book, and while I do want to read more about the three men in this story, I didn’t feel like anything was missing or that extra pages were necessary in any way. In terms of sex, it is rather light, but it fits Hiro and Maarten due to Maarten’s hesitation and his upbringing.

Well done, Felicitas Ivey! Consider me a new fan!

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You can buy The Mechanical Chrysanthemums here:

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3 Stars, JMS Books LLC, Lynn Townsend, Reviewed by Rena, Steampunk

Review: London Steam by Lynn Townsend

Title: London Steam

Author: Lynn Townsend

Publisher: JMS Books

Pages/Word Count: 99 Pages

At a Glance: Two loosely related novellas and a surprise M/F ending in the second, make for an overall uneven read

Blurb: In a reimagined 1890’s London, where steam-driven airships rule the skies and monsters roam the streets, the Galileo Observatory’s Club for Gentlemen welcomes all — gwr, shape-changers, vampires, and lords. A high-stakes game leads more than a few men astray.

Poindexter Fitzhughes, renowned hero and scientist, learns just how much trouble a full-blooded gwr can be when he attempts to cure his lover, Lord Seth Maitland, of the disease. But when their backs are against the wall, the two must learn to trust in each other, and more importantly, in their true natures, to prevail.

Meanwhile, Duncan Farnsworth discovers being a vampire has not improved his social life, his chances of finding love, continuing the family line, or getting a bite to eat. Maneuvering his way around a sarcastic butler, his spinster sister, a run-in with an amorous werewolf, and a confrontation with a dead soldier and a French airship captain, Duncan finally finds exactly what he is thirsting for.

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Review: London Steam is actually two lightly connected, short novellas in one book. I say lightly because the main couple in the first novella make a cameo appearance in the second, but the plots diverge completely. Moreover, the first novella is clearly M/M, while the second is M/F/M with the M/F elements pretty much overriding everything else. More on that in a bit.

The first novella focuses on Dex and Seth, both of whom have fantastic – albeit tragic – histories that define their lives in pretty unpleasant ways. Dex was attacked by a gwr he was trying to save and consequently walks around with one blind eye and horrible scars on half of his face. Since this is steampunk London, he’s able to make himself a half-mask with its own artificial eye in order to function in society. Seth, on the other hand, is turned into a gwr in a moment that’s uncomfortably non-con. In brief, both men are forever reminded of their pasts, and when they meet, it’s a blessing for both since they can at least find comfort in each other, as well as use what influence they have together to help bring about social changes where non-humans are concerned.

The plot moves at a pretty brisk pace. The coming together of the two – emotionally, that is – happens off-screen following their initial coupling. But that’s not the point of the story, and I’m glad we’re not forced through romantic tangents at the expense of the main conflict. That said, the briskness of the pacing also applies to the conflict in some places that left me wishing for more. The climax scene is more evenly paced, and we get to see a pretty bloody battle from start to finish. The denouement, however, is largely summarized, with events whizzing past that, to me, somewhat diminishes Dex and Seth’s predicament and even the gwr community’s. Considering the long, angst-and-danger-filled buildup leading to the climax, the conclusion felt like a bit of a letdown.

The second novella was a little more problematic to me on a technical and personal level. On the personal side, I was somewhat blindsided by the M/F/M, and I confess to not being a fan of ménage – of any stripe. When I read the book blurb initially, I didn’t see any indications of ménages anywhere and so didn’t expect it to be a part of the story, let alone a significant one. It is a personal bias, however, and anyone who shares it might need to keep this in mind. For those who enjoy both M/M and M/F/M, you’ll find a nice diverse spectrum of relationships from cover to cover with this book.

The technical problem is a curious one. While it’s part of the same book, the second novella is less polished than the first in the sense that I found a number of typos throughout the story, while the first one didn’t have any. A couple would’ve been fine, but seeing more than that can be a distraction after a while.

While the entire book ended up being a pretty uneven read for me, I was glad I took it on, and I loved the setting. There are a number of original touches in the way steampunk London was fleshed out, which really added to the dynamic quality of the plot and character relationships.






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Alexis Hall, Riptide Publishing

Guest Post and Giveaway: There Will Be Phlogiston by Alexis Hall

Phlogiston_TourBannerHello, and welcome to the mini blog tour for There Will Be Phlogiston (released: 8th December), a free novella set in the Prosperityverse. Many thanks to Lisa at The Novel Approach for hosting me today!

To celebrate the release of Phlogiston, I’m also doing a little giveaway of any book from my backlist, which you can enter by entering the Rafflecopter below: Continue reading

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4 Stars, Holiday Romance, L.A. Witt, Reviewed by Lisa, Riptide Publishing, Steampunk

Review: Precious Metals (Metals: Book Two) by L.A. Witt

Title: Precious Metals (Metals: Book Two)

Author: L.A. Witt

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 150 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: For Constable Paul Benson of the North-West Mounted Police, monotony is a blessing. As a provision inspector below the Chilkoot Pass during the Klondike Gold Rush, he’s seen miserable conditions and gold fever turn civilized prospectors into madmen. Continue reading

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4 Stars, Cornelia Grey, Reviewed by Lisa, Riptide Publishing, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Steampunk

Review: The Circus of the Damned by Cornelia Grey

Title: The Circus of the Damned

Author: Cornelia Grey

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 274 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: Magician Gilbert Blake has spent his entire life conning drunkards in the seediest pubs in the darkest towns, careful to hide the true depths of his power. But when he spends a little too much time in Shadowsea and the infamous slumlord Count Reuben gets wind of his abilities, hiding within the Circus of the Damned may be Gilbert’s only chance at survival.
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Cornelia Grey, Riptide Publishing

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Circus of the Damned Blog Tour With Cornelia Grey

SteampunkWeek_150x300Gaslamp Fortnight: A Steampunk Book Tour – October 27th – November 7th

Authors L.A. Witt, Alexis Hall, and Cornelia Grey come together on a Steampunk book tour to celebrate the releases of Precious Metals, Prosperity, and The Circus of the Damned.

Join us on adventures through the lawless, untamed, kraken-infested skies! Trek the snowy wilds of the Klondike in the company of a Mountie! Visit a soul-stealing circus where entertainment is at your own risk! Riptide’s Gaslamp Fortnight will tempt you with the steampunk and gaslamp worlds of Cornelia Grey, Alexis Hall, and L.A. Witt.

And Gaslamp Fortnight is featuring a fabulous giveaway! Comment on the tour stops for a chance to win a $250 gift certificate to Harlots and Angels Steampunk Corsetry and get your own custom corset or personalized steampunk gear. Continue reading

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L.A. Witt, Riptide Publishing

Guest Post and Giveaway: Precious Metals Blog Tour With L.A. Witt

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Gaslamp Fortnight: A Steampunk Book Tour – October 27th – November 7th

Authors L.A. Witt, Alexis Hall, and Cornelia Grey come together on a Steampunk book tour to celebrate the releases of Precious Metals, Prosperity, and Circus of the Damned.

Join us on adventures through the lawless, untamed, kraken-infested skies! Trek the snowy wilds of the Klondike in the company of a Mountie! Visit a soul-stealing circus where entertainment is at your own risk! Riptide’s Gaslamp Fortnight will tempt you with the steampunk and gaslamp worlds of Cornelia Grey, Alexis Hall, and L.A. Witt.

And Gaslamp Fortnight is featuring a fabulous giveaway! Comment on the tour stops for a chance to win a $250 gift certificate to Harlots and Angels Steampunk Corsetry and get your own custom corset or personalized steampunk gear.

Continue reading

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Alexis Hall, Riptide Publishing

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Prosperity Blog Tour With Alexis Hall

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Cowboys and Dandies and Wizards, Oh My

Lisa asked me to talk a bit today about the inspirations for Prosperity, particularly in the light of the blurb, which is quite self-consciously pulpy.

Prosperity actually has quite a long history of how it got where it is, and so it has quite a lot of random influences feeding into it. I originally wrote it in response to an open call for frontier stories. I really want to something about the wild west, or at least that felt like the wild west, but I’m kind of squicked out by the, y’know, the genocide that was going on at the time. More broadly, the problem with frontier stories is that virtually every “frontier” explorers have ever encountered has been someone else’s home. You had all these Victorians running off excitedly to darkest Africa and talking about all the things they’d found that nobody had ever seen before. Things that by and large were built by people whose descendants still lived in the area. Continue reading

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5 Stars, Alexis Hall, Historical Romance, Reviewed by Rena, Riptide Publishing, Steampunk

Review: Prosperity by Alexis Hall

Title: Prosperity

Author: Alexis Hall

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 190 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: A breathtaking tale of passion and adventure in the untamed skies!

Prosperity, 1863: a lawless skytown where varlets, chancers, and ne’er-do-wells risk everything to chase a fortune in the clouds, and where a Gaslight guttersnipe named Piccadilly is about to cheat the wrong man. This mistake will endanger his life . . . and his heart. Continue reading

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Nikki Woolfolk

When The Townsfolk Add Character – A Guest Post And Giveaway By Nikki Woolfolk

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Growing up with a Southern father was an interesting experience. When I tell Northerners and East coasts folks about my dad-isms they chuckle and do not believe my description of my father until they meet him and see that he is, in fact, like Walter from my previous Sweet & Steamy novella THE WINTER TRIANGLE. Continue reading

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L.A. Witt, Riptide Publishing

Spotlight and Giveaway: “Noble Metals” by L.A. Witt

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Welcome to the Riptide Publishing/L. A. Witt blog tour for Noble Metals! Thank you to The Novel Approach for hosting me.

Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a choice of two eBooks off my backlist (excluding Noble Metals) and a $10 Riptide Publishing store credit. Entries close at midnight, Eastern Time, on July 19th, and winners will be announced on July 20th. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Continue reading

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Historical Romance, R. Cooper, Reviewed by Lisa, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Steampunk

R. Cooper Re-imagines The Civil War In “Wicklow’s Odyssey”

“We will protect that which we love, even when we don’t want to love it and we don’t feel it loves us. Perhaps it doesn’t. That is how love works. It exists, whether or not it is returned.” – R. Cooper


Title: Wicklow’s Odyssey

Author: R. Cooper

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 350 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Union soldier Wicklow Doyle is infiltrating enemy lines to set up new radio communications technology in Confederate-held Charleston when his location is betrayed. After sacrificing himself to get his team to safety, he’s on the lam, friendless in a hostile town. Determining who betrayed him without discovery by Confederate soldiers is dangerous, but Wicklow grew up in the slums of New York and knows how to handle himself. He isn’t expecting anyone on his team to return to help him, much less Alexander Rhoades. Continue reading

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4.5 Stars, Reviewed by Lisa, Riptide Publishing

L.A. Witt’s “Noble Metals” Is Better The Second Time Around


“How far will you go to protect that thing?” He held my gaze for a long moment.

“This is my life’s work, Robert. I didn’t come all this way to fail.” – L.A. Witt


Title: Noble Metals

Author: L.A. Witt

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 204 Pages

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Blurb: Ever since Robert Belton gambled away the money to stake his claim in the Klondike gold fields, he’s been stranded in Seattle working as a prostitute. When an attractive customer needs help hauling provisions to the frozen north, Robert eagerly volunteers.
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A.J. Corza, GotYouCovrd, Guest Contributor

A.J. Corza’s Got You Covered This Week With Some Gorgeous Steampunk Covers


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You know, when Lisa, the wonderful owner of The Novel Approach Reviews said, “Hey, cover reviews are cool. Go right ahead,” I got really lucky. Not only does she let me rattle on in my dubious wisdom, but she allows me freedom to write about things outside just the covers that I fall in love with; which, in turn, lets me write about covers that are outside the M/M genre we all know and love.
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4 Stars, Blind Eye Books, Langley Hyde, Reviewed by Lisa

Langley Hyde’s “Highfell Grimoires” Is Steampunk And Suspense In An Alt U World


“Many great things have been accomplished by the careful combination of keen minds and ardent spirits.” ― G.D. Falksen


Highfell Grimoires: Highfell Grimoires

Author: Langley Hyde

Publisher: Blind Eye Books

Pages/Word Count: 322 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: Born to privilege, gifted in languages and spells, Neil Franklin has planned his brilliant future—from academic accolades to a proper marriage—and is intent upon upholding his family name and honor. The sudden death of his parents shatters all of that, leaving Neil and his younger sister beggared and orphaned.
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