Review: Chainbreaker by Tara Sim

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Chainbreaker is the sequel to LGBT+ friendly steampunk Timekeeper.
Timekeeper on Goodreads
Chainbreaker on Goodreads

“I’ll always fight for the promise of an easier tomorrow. Right or wrong, selfish or not, this is what we want. Whatever it takes.”

Clocktowers are mysteriously falling in India, though time is still running. The Mechanics send Danny and Daphne to investigate. (Danny quickly, willingly agrees, even if it does separate him from Colton.) Though young, they have experience – thanks to the traitor Mathias (who Danny really wishes everyone would stop calling a traitor) – with broken towers and stopped time.

First up, I gotta say that I loved the way the story was told. Last book, nearly everything was from Danny’s perspective and, while that was good, this story being told by Danny, Daphne and Colton helped both to flesh out the characters as well as the world.

And, boy, what a world it is. I’ve experienced some second books in series that feel like a setup, a stopgap for the third, and this one doesn’t suffer from that at all. (Well, okay, it does a little, merely because the ending is pretty much a cliffhanger, but it also feels like the ending of one chapter of the story and the beginning of the next. Don’t know how I’ll wait to find out what happens, though.)

Anyway, we get a lot more information on the world – instead of just based in England, a good portion takes place in India, opening up the world physically. (I don’t know much about Indian history, but I will say that Sim seems knowledgeable.) Besides that, there’s a lot more information on clock spirits which helps to flesh out the world that’s been created. I do love the way that both history and fiction blend in this story.

The characters also develop more over the course of the story, growing up a bit (mostly, Danny, though he was already a truly likable, sympathetic characters) as well as us readers getting to learn more about them. (Daphne and Colton, and their parts made me adore them even more.)

I liked the addition of some real racial diversity to this story – even if there was some before though it didn’t seem like it at the time. (A biracial character that easily passes as white.) Taking place in India, we have a lot of Indian characters that play important parts which, I think, was one of the biggest contributing factors to me liking this book just a bit more than the last one.

Well, that and the development to the world. (That I loved so, so much.)

5

 

Content Advisory: Rather clean all around. Brief animal death, some descriptions of violence. In fact, pretty heavy on the general, unexplicit violence. Brief (somewhat poetical) description of death.

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Double Review: Romancing the Inventor & Romancing the Werewolf by Gail Carriger

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These are the first (and, so far, only) two books in the Supernatural Society series of novella’s. Set in a steampunk alternative Victorian England where vampires, werewolves and ghosts are very much real, they feature LGBT+ romances. (Set in Carriger’s ‘Parasolverse’.)

Romancing the Inventor on Goodreads
Romancing the Werewolf on Goodreads

Romancing the Inventor

What one werewolf knew, the whole pack knew.
But they’d kept her secret, and now they were gone.
And vampires were perverted.
Or so she hoped.

Imogene is a little past her prime (long in the tooth, on the shelf, whatever you prefer) and her mother is starting to despair of every marrying her off. Imogene has had plenty of offers, plenty of men that want to marry her for she is uncommonly pretty. However, she is disinterested as she prefers women.

In an effort explore her preference, loose her innocence and figure out what’s wrong with her, she decides to join the vampires. (As, rumor has it, they are perverted.) What she doesn’t expect is to meet the lovely trouser wearing inventor indentured to the vampire hive, Genevieve Lefoux.

I’ll be honest, the major reason I’ve been so excited for this story is because I have adored Genevieve since her first introduction in the story. I adore her, and her romance was a little disappointing because this entire story is told from Imogene’s perspective. So, while we get plenty of moments of Genevieve appreciation, we also don’t get inside her head. (We do get to see her flustered though, and that has made me want to run away with her even more.)

Imogene is a real character. She is an innocent, but her thoughts definitely aren’t and, if she had her way, she wouldn’t be an innocent any more (because a lot of her thought’s are along the lines of ways to loose said innocence). She’s fairly practical and down to earth, but has a distressingly low opinion of herself. She also suffers from being too pretty.

Now, I know a lot of people will say that’s not a real flaw – and I agree that how it is usually done, it isn’t. But here, it is. Because, much like real life stories, bad things happen to Imogene because of her looks. She’s dismissed because someone pretty obviously cannot also be smart and, even worse, men want to take advantage of her because she is so pretty. Because of this, and her generally low station in society, some of the story is a little difficult.

4

Content Advisory: Scenes of physical abuse, mostly from a position of power, most of it sexual. Scenes that could easily be read as attempted rape. Threats of rape. (None of this between the main couple.) Consensual sex. (This is between the main couple. 😉

Romancing the Werewolf

It took a great deal of effort for a werewolf to have style. Getting naked once a month, ripping clothes constantly, and turning into a slavering beast was only the start of the afterlife’s many dandy challenges.

Twenty years ago, newly turned werewolf Alpha Biffy and Beta werewolf Professor Lyall spent a night of passion and comfort in each others arms. However, circumstances intruded and Lyall had to temporarily join another pack in reparation for a decision he made.

Now Lyall, recompense completed, has returned to London, to his pack, to his Alpha – but not everything is smooth sailing. Twenty years is a long time, even for immortals, and Biffy just took charge of the pack upon the previous Alpha’s retirement two months ago. Throw in a pack of werewolves adjusting to both a new Alpha and a new home, children being left on their doorstep and things are just complicated enough for both to wonder if friendship is all they’ll have.

Firstly, Lyall was always one of my favorite characters in this setting, so I was thrilled to see the first tentative get together between him and Biffy in Timeless and even more happy when I heard this book would finally give them some resolution. They are perfect for each other and I adore the way they work together and rely on each other.

Lyall is down-to-earth, calm, practical, a true Beta in ever sense of the word. Biffy is an atypical Alpha. He’s pretty, he likes fashion and was even planning on trying to be turned into a vampire before events transpired. They are very different, but so complementary – especially in that neither is the ‘usual’ rough-and-tumble sort of werewolf.

(Now, I honestly cannot read this book without comparing it to the previous one in the series because I read them back-to-back.)

Where this story wins out over the previous one for me, is three fold. This story has a plot beyond the couple getting together – a plot that we see resolution to and that affords ample opportunity for the typical Carriger insanity that she writes so well. (That was reasons one and two.) (And while Lyall is practical, he’s not as extremely normal as Imogene is, which was somewhat detrimental to Carriger’s writing style.)

The third reason is a case of major personal preference. I usually prefer a romance where we get to witness it through both characters. I like an alternating point of view. I like seeing what each person thinks of the other. (And, in truth, I prefer more than one perspective even if it’s not a romance.) Finally, while I’m not really a fan of the so-called ‘second chance’ romances, this one worked for me because they were never actually a couple before. (More like friends with benefits.)

5

Content Advisory: Briefly referenced past rape and physical abuse. Consensual sex.

While I find both these books (novella’s, but whatever) very nice additions to the ‘verse that Carriger has created, I’m not sure either work as an appropriate jumping on point. If you’re interested in the first published work, check out Soulless and if you’d prefer to read the series chronologically, try Etiquette & Espionage. (The former is more bodice ripper sexy while the latter is YA boarding (spy) school.)

Review: Venturess by Betsy Cornwell

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Venturess is the sequel to the awesome steampunk retelling of Cinderella, Mechanica. (This review will contain some spoilers for the romance outcome from Mechanica.)

Venturess on Goodreads
Mechanica on Goodreads

But I had worked hard since then to mend my heart and remake my understanding of love and family from the simple, binary ideas I’d had before. Fin and I weren’t the starry-eyed couple I’d dreamed of last winter, true; we were simply a unit, together with our Caro. We were three people who loved and needed one another, and it was as easy and as hard as that.

Nicolette got her happily ever after, even if it might not have been what anyone expected. Now she’s a well known, well respected inventor, happy with her family and Jules, her mechanical horse.

But war is brewing and when an attack is made on Prince Fin’s life, Nick, Fin and Caro get thrown right into the middle of it in an effort to save the land of Faerie.

Honestly, the easiest thing to say about this book was that I liked it, but didn’t love it. The biggest reason I was excited for it was the relationship between Nick, Caro and Fin. I don’t know how to describe it and, wonderfully enough, there’s never a name put to it.

It definitely was lovely though, and seeing them work together and love and trust each other was beautiful. Without a doubt it was my favorite thing in the story.

But this book was surprisingly different then the previous. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I was expecting more in the way of slow moving character development and was quite surprised at the amount of death in this book and how truly unpleasant things get.

Nick has continued to grow as a person and, honestly, shows a lot of development that I might not have credited her with. She’s brave and strong, but she also leans on her friends – who, in turn, lean on her. (Once again, love those three together.)

She’s faced with several trials through the story (several twists) that I think she handled wonderfully. Well, for the most part. I don’t think running away from your problems helps anything, but she dealt with them eventually and stayed true to herself.

The twists were…well, the first one was obvious. I wasn’t sure what the explanation would be, but I did see it coming from very early on it the book. I kind of think that it maybe wasn’t supposed to be a surprise because it was followed up with another twist almost immediately. (That one I didn’t see coming.)

Over all, a lot of questions were answered, it was nice to see Faerie, closure was had, and I still wanted to know more of what Nick, Caro and Fin were doing. (Also, I have to say, I adore the Faerie culture. They understand Nick’s relationship in a way that humans won’t and it was so lovely.)

4

Content Advisory: Nothing explicit. Some mentions of torture. Talk of death and animal death. Nightmares. Implied death. Really, all the even vaguely unpleasant things are mostly left up to your imagination – and I have a VERY active imagination so I imagine worse than it probably truly was.