An fast-paced steampunk adventure

warp book 1TITLE = WARP (Book 1): The Reluctant Assassin

AUTHOR = EOIN COLFER

GENRE = STEAMPUNK, ADVENTURE, TIME TRAVEL 

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7, 8  

16 yo Chevie Savano is not particularly happy when she is sent to babysit a strange machine in London. Having been trained as a junior FBI agent, Chevie was expecting a bright future as an agent but an unfortunate incident has meant she must be shipped offshore until the dust has settled.

Babysitting a strange-looking machine seems pretty tedious and boring, especially with her dour supervisor, Felix Smart, but Chevie is in for a surprise: suddenly the machine awakens and life will never be the same again. This odd contraption is actually a time machine, built by Felix Smart’s father who was biding his time in Victorian England … until two would-be assassin’s were sent to kill him. One of these (a young boy, Riley) comes hurtling through the machine screaming about being chased by his partner in crime (and brutal mentor) Albert Garrick.

Will anyone believe him? Can Chevie and Riley trust each other enough to survive the threat to their lives (and the lives of many others)? And if they have to go back to Victorian England … will they be able to return?

Moving swiftly between modern times and Victorian England, Riley and Chevie make credible (and talented) heroes. They stumble from one adventure to another and just as it looks like they may be making headway … another roadblock emerges. Steampunk fans are sure to enjoy the twisting turning plot and the depiction of Victoran times …especially the villainous Battering Rams.

Fast and furious … with clever (and smart-mouthed) heroes, this book is a must read (for steampunk fans in particular).

Highly Recommended ****

An exciting Steampunk sequel

TITLE = CHANGING YESTERDAY

AUTHOR = SEAN McMULLEN

GENRE = TIME TRAVEL, SCIENCE FICTION, STEAMPUNK

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7-9

This is an engaging sequel to “Before the Storm” with plenty of action and lots of plot twists. This time around, the story focuses more on Daniel, who is heartbroken when Muriel abandons him for Fox and heads off to Paris. After Daniel mopes at home for weeks, his family decides to ship him off to England to finish his schooling and prepare him for university; so most of the action takes place on board an array of ships. And what amazing action there is!

For central to this story is a race: a race against time and a race against “bad guys” – what complicates matters is that our sense of who the bad guys are, keeps changing! For Daniel’s street smart and greedy friend, Barry the Rat, sets in train a series of events that threatens his future, Daniel’s future and maybe even the future of the world.

BC, the warrior woman from the future must join forces with Madeleine, a spunky and intelligent waitress from Ballarat (!), to set right the innumerable wrongs that Barry’s actions have caused. But will Daniel help them in their cause? Or is he implicated in wrongdoing?

Daniel may start the novel as a lovesick young man … but he will learn a lot during the course of his travels … about himself, about women and about love. He may turn out to be more of a hero than he thought he could be??

Plenty of action, plenty of plot twists and turns and plenty of humour ensure that this rollicking novel will keep readers amused and engaged from beginning to end. An absolute treat!

Whilst the novel could be enjoyed as a stand alone book, readers will probably get most out of the fun if they read book 1 first –  Read a review here.

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

An exciting mix of gaslamp romance and steampunk adventure

TITLE = SONG OF THE SLUMS

AUTHOR = RICHARD HARLAND

GENRE = GASLIGHT ROMANCE, STEAMPUNK

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7-9

Astor Vance believes she is to marry Phillidas Swale, from the wealthy industrialist family of Swales. The marriage means she is to leave her mother and stepfather and move into the luxurious Swale residence but at least she has been able to bring along some of her favourite musical instruments. For Astor loves music, a love she shared with her beloved musician father, before he was killed by a bullet during street gang riots in London.

So imagine Astor’s surprise when she arrives at the Swale residence to find that her intended engagement is not entirely as expected. Alone in a new, enormous household, the only person she can turn to is the one servant her stepfather has left behind: the rather smug, Verrol, who she barely knows.

Astor is a strong young lady, determined to survive against whatever life throws at her, even if this means abandoning her beloved classical music for the newer style from the slums near her home: loud, brash and with an unmistakable beat, this music stirs the soul of all who hear it. Will Astor be won over to its rhythms and passion?? And will she find her feelings for Verrol go from friendship to something deeper…. despite his hidden past??

This is a thoroughly engaging story from Richard Harland; a gaslight romance that is full of action and adventure and set against a steampunk London in the mid 1850s. Readers will be eager to turn each page to follow Astor’s adventures as she battles the wealthy Swales, the streetgangs and her own heart!

Highly Recommended (dma) *****    

All the fun of the panto

TITLE = THE EXTINCTION GAMBIT 1: THE EXTRAORDINAIRES

AUTHOR = MICHAEL PRYOR

GENRE = FANTASY, STEAMPUNK, ADVENTURE

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7 AND UP

A brilliant, brilliant novel by Michael Pryor. Full of wit, adventure and edge of the seat thrills. True to its name, the novel is peopled with extraordinary characters; from our brave, wolfish hero Kingsley, to his strong and courageous albino companion, Evadne. The villains in this novel are equally engaging, be they the troll-like, Damona or the slippery, wheeler and dealer, Soames. Even author, Rudyard Kipling makes an appearance.

The novel opens in 1908 in a small theatre where Kingsley is to make his debut as a magician. But when his wolfish nature turns his magic show into bedlam, Evadne decides to rescue him as her “project” little knowing that danger is lurking around the corner, quite literally. Not only do the police think our beloved hero is guilty of a dastardly crime, but also there are dark people living in dark places who want Kingsley for themselves, or at least, they want his brain! And it seems they will stop at nothing to achieve their ends.

Can Kingsley escape their clutches and clear his name with the police? Will humankind as we know it be obliterated by dark forces if Kingsley is taken? And most importantly, will Kinglsey become more than just a project to the delightful and strongwilled, Evadne … can love blossom against the backdrop of doom and disaster??

Befitting a story that opens and closes in a theatre, this novel often reads like a wonderful melodrama with all the fun and adventure that one would expect on a panto stage. It is especially exciting to know that this isn’t just a stand alone adventure – but the first in a series. Readers will be eagerly anticipating the next book set in extraordinary times and about extraordinary heroes.

Selected as a Notable book for the CBCA Book of the Year 2012 (Older Readers)

 

 

Highly Recommended (dma)  *****

The steampunk adventure bounds along to a fitting end

TITLE = THE LEVIATHAN TRILOGY 3: GOLIATH

AUTHOR =SCOTT WESTERFELD

GENRE = STEAMPUNK

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7 – 9

The rollicking action continues in this brilliant final instalment of the steampunk Leviathan trilogy. The war between the Clankers and the Darwinists rolls on and once more, Alek and Deryn on board the Leviathan airship, seem to be in the thick of things. Alek is determined to stop the war at all costs, even if that means aligning himself with the eccentric and possibly mad, Nikola Tesla, against his own Clanker country. And Deryn is determined to help Alek, the young man she secretly adores. But when Deryn’s secret identity is revealed, will their friendship be destroyed? And is Tesla to be trusted?

With a cast of characters that includes newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, Mexican rebel leader Pancho Villa and Toyota magnate, Sakichi Toyoda, Scott Westerfeld has again marshalled together a delicious blend of the real and the alternative in this steampunk extravaganza. The action rockets along with a terrific sense of fun and is beautifully complemented by Keith Thompson’s glorious illustrations; once more this book is a complete package of exciting story, humour and imaginative design.  Perhaps Westerfeld’s finest creation in this delightful novel is the persipicacious lorus, Bovril, a beastie who always seems to have the last (and most ironic) word!

As the plot thickens and the cliff hangers abound, Westerfeld shows a masterful touch in bringing the different plot strands together and providing a satisfying conclusion to both this instalment and the series as a whole. The author’s notes at the end provide further illumination about the background to the story and Westerfeld’s alternative take on historic events. While the series may have ended, with the inventiveness he has shown in this series it is to be hoped that Westerfeld hasn’t finished with the steam punk world just yet.

Read more about the series here on Scott Westerfeld’s blog – includes more of Keith Thompson’s great art work, too.

Read reviews of an earlier books in the series here .

Selected as a Notable book for the CBCA Book of the Year 2012 (Older Readers)

Highly Recommended (dma) ******

Adventure, fun … and some time-travel to boot!

TITLE = BEFORE THE STORM

AUTHOR =SEAN McMULLEN

GENRE = FANTASY, STEAMPUNK, TIME TRAVEL

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 8 – 10

What a delightful foray into the steampunk world is provided here by Australian author, Sean McMullen. Time travel has sent 2 warriors from the future back to Melbourne in 1901, to prevent disaster from occurring on the opening of the first Parliament of this young nation. However, these young warriors have been thrust into a world very different from their own. They may have brilliant military training and amazing weaponry but to achieve their aim they will need to enlist the support of some locals. The bossy, studious Emily and her brow-beaten brother, Daniel, from the well-heeled gentry,  may not seem like the most obvious choice. However, Daniel’s street-wise buddy, Barry the Bag, may be a better proposition. The young teens must bring together the best from both their worlds, if they are to succeed in this fast-paced, and often quite humorous, adventure. There will be some lessons learned – about life and about love – and some secrets revealed along the way. The constraints on the role of young women at the turn of the twentieth century will also be explored in a light hearted but meaningful way. And the resolution of this wonderful adventure is sure to please both the characters and the readers.

A terrific read.

Find out more about Sean and his many books on his website.

Highly Recommended (dma)  *****  

Action right up to the last page

hour of need 2TITLE = HOUR OF NEED

AUTHOR = MICHAEL PRYOR

GENRE = STEAMPUNK, ADVENTURE, FANTASY, HUMOUR, ROMANCE

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 8+


The final instalment of “The Laws of Magic” series has finally arrived. Check out the book trailer below and you will want to check out the book too – it provides adventure, humour, fun and romance right up till the last page!!



Recommended (dma) ****

(Note: all images in the book trailer courtesy of the Animoto site, music also provided from Animoto – Artist: Parade Of Lights Song: Again. Text created by dma)




A magical Steampunk war – 2

behemothTITLE =BEHEMOTH (The Leviathan Trilogy Bk 2)

AUTHOR =SCOTT WESTERFELD

GENRE =STEAMPUNK, FANTASY

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7 AND UP

This is a rip-roaring adventure from the very first page. Even if you haven’t read Book 1 (The Leviathan) you will still enjoy the inventiveness and the action in this most entertaining steampunk story. The action is set in what appears to be a slightly different World War 1 from the version with which we are more familiar. In Westerfeld’s inventive hands, WW1 is not a battle between the Brits and the Germans, it is a struggle between the Darwinists (who breed animals to use as tools and weapons of war) and the Clankers (who instead use all sorts of mechanical devices). Our main heroes are the Clanker, Alex (heir to an empire) who is on the run from the forces who assassinated his father (and kick-started this war). Alek is aboard the Darwinist airship that rescued him and has become friendly with Deryn (who is actually masquerading as Dylan, a boy soldier on the Darwinist side). Together they are hoping to stop the war … and save Alek from imprisonment by the Darwinists …. or death. But who can they trust? And why won’t Deryn entrust her secret to Alek??

Whilst the action is neatly resolved by the end of this story, the war still rages and it appears that Alek and Deryn/Dylan have a new set of adventures in store for them, in the eagerly awaited final book in the trilogy, “Goliath”.

Not only is the action exciting and Westerfeld’s imaginative recreation of the period entrancing but also, the book is a delight from a design point of view. From the rich cover to the endpapers to the brilliant illustrations (by Keith Thompson) this book is a feast for readers on all levels.

A sure fire hit and Highly Recommended (dma) *****

Why not explore more about this world and learn more about the author by checking out his website.

You can also check out some of the artwork from the book here.

A magical Steampunk war – 1

Moment of Truth (Quark 7):Layout 1TITLE = MOMENT OF TRUTH (The Laws of Magic. Bk 5)

AUTHOR = MICHAEL PRYOR

GENRE = FANTASY, MAGIC, STEAMPUNK

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7 AND UP

There may be new covers, but the adventure of “The Laws of Magic” series continues unabated in this breathtaking new episode. When war is finally declared, Aubrey and George decide to enlist and find themselevs being trained as spies. Before long, the old trio is back in business when Caroline joins the team and they set off on their first mission. But as we have come to expect from Aubrey and his friends, what was meant to be a relatively straightforward mission soon becomes excitingly dangerous and wonderfully inventive. Old foes will be met and new battles will be fought. But what will Aubrey do if he is forced to choose between the girl of his dreams and treason against his beloved country?? Will any of them survive their latest adventures?? And what about affairs of the heart for both our intrepid hero and his stalwart friend, George??

This wonderful new episode lives up to past volumes in the series and will leave the reader impatiently awaiting the sixth and final volume. For Aubrey may be setting out on his most dangerous journey yet …. will he survive without the support of his two most loyal friends. And if he does, what reception will await him if he manages to make it home??

Another glorious steampunk adventure from Michael Pryor filled with cracking action, lots of magic and wry humour… not to be missed.

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

To learn abo0ut some of the earlier books in the series, why not check out earler posts on “Blaze of Glory” (Book 1) or  “Heart of Gold” (Book 2). Or read more about the birth of the series from Michael himself – all the new covers are on display here, too. (Took me a while to warm to the new cover but en masse they look great!)