The Aunt Paradox (Reeves & Worcester Steampunk Mysteries #3) ★★★★☆

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Title: The Aunt Paradox
Series: Reeves & Worcester Steampunk Mysteries #3
Author: Chris Dolley
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Steampunk Mystery
Pages: 91
Words: 28K



Synopsis:

From the Publisher

HG Wells has a problem. His Aunt Charlotte has borrowed his time machine and won’t give it back. Now she’s rewriting history!

Reggie Worcester, gentleman’s consulting detective, and his automaton valet, Reeves, are hired to retrieve the time machine and put the timeline back together. But things get complicated. Dead bodies start piling up behind Reggie’s sofa, as he finds himself embroiled in an ever-changing murder mystery. A murder mystery where facts can be rewritten, and the dead don’t always stay dead.

My Thoughts:

This was SO MUCH FUN!!!!! Being familiar with HG Wells’ story The Time Machine, while not an absolute necessity, definitely makes everything that much funnier. And the author plays around a LOT with Babbage and uses him as the kind of “every genius”, as in Babbage’s Cat, ie, is it dead or alive? I’m sure you all know it wasn’t Babbage’s Cat, but since Babbage is the one who helped the automatons to be created, he gets to be the resident world genius.

Dolley gets right into the horror of Aunts that is prevalent in Wodehouse and really amps things up. Wells’ Aunt takes 40+ copies of herself from history for her upcoming birthday and obviously chaos insues. In fact, HG Wells turns into a girl in one of the iterations. It was hilarious.

I also thought Dolley did a good job of wrapping things up so that the timeline established was the only timeline. Nice and neat and orderly. Speaking of neatly, all of this was done in under 100 pages. For feth’s sake Sanderson, Gwynne and some of you other frakking authors, take note. A good story can be told without drowning me in your pomposity and super-overabundance of words. Mr Dolley, I salute you for your brevity and wit. More authors should be like you.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reggiecide (Reeves & Worcester Steampunk Mysteries #2) ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Reggiecide
Series: Reeves & Worcester Steampunk Mysteries #2
Author: Chris Dolley
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Steampunk Mystery
Pages: 68
Words: 21.5K



Synopsis:

From the Publisher

Guy Fawkes is back and this time it’s a toss up who’s going to be blown up first – Parliament or Reginald Worcester, gentleman consulting detective.

But Guy might not be the only regicide to have been dug up and reanimated. He might be a mere pawn in a plan of diabolical twistiness.

Only a detective with a rare brain – and Reggie’s is amongst the rarest – could possibly solve this ‘five-cocktail problem.’ With the aid of Reeves, his automaton valet, Emmeline, his suffragette fiancée, and Farquharson, a reconstituted dog with an issue with Anglicans, Reggie sets out to save both Queen Victoria and the Empire.

My Thoughts:

I laughed almost the entire way through this book. Dolley has captured the spirit of PG Wodehouse and while I won’t say he’s improved it, he’s distilled it to its essence and captured it in under 100 pages. I hadn’t even realized how short it was until I went looking for the data. It didn’t feel like a long book but it still felt like a complete story. That takes some talent as far as I’m concerned.

I do like that Reggie is affianced and not a single guy bumbling around. So far there have been no marriage proposal shenanigans and I’m guessing Dolley is staying away from that particular aspect of the original Jeeves & Wooster. Emmeline makes for a great catalyst to “make things happen” as she’s a spitfire, dynamite and ball of wax all rolled into one.

A small part of me wants to complain that these novellas about Reeves & Worcester aren’t long enough, but if I am being honest, they are just the right length. Long enough to be funny but not so long that they wear out the humor and send the reader off in a bad mood.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

What Ho, Automaton! (Reeves & Worcester Steampunk Mysteries #1) ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: What Ho, Automaton!
Series: Reeves & Worcester Steampunk Mysteries #1
Author: Chris Dolley
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Steampunk Mystery
Pages: 143
Words: 52K



Synopsis:

From the Publisher

What Ho, Automaton! chronicles the adventures of Reggie Worcester, gentleman consulting detective, and his gentleman’s personal gentle-automaton, Reeves.

Reggie, an avid reader of detective fiction, knows two things about solving crime: One, the guilty party is always the person you least suspect. And, two, The Murders in the Rue Morgue would have been solved a lot sooner had the detective the foresight to ask the witnesses if they’d seen any orang-utans recently. Reeves needs all his steam-powered cunning and intellect to curb the young master’s excessive flights of fancy. And prevent him from getting engaged.

The book contains two stories set in an alternative 1903 where an augmented Queen Victoria is still on the throne and automata are a common sight below stairs.

What Ho, Automaton! – an 8,000 word novelette of how the two met.

Something Rummy This Way Comes – a 41,000 word novella chronicling their first case. When Reggie discovers that four debutantes have gone missing in the first month of The London Season and, for fear of scandal, none of the families have called the police, he feels compelled to investigate. With the help of Reeves’s giant brain and extra helpings of fish, he conducts an investigation that only a detective of rare talent could possibly envisage.

Mystery, Zeppelins, Aunts and Humour. A steam-powered Wodehouse pastiche.

My Thoughts:

Oh my! This hit my Wodehouse funny bone perfectly. This is a parody of PG Wodehouse’s Jeeves & Wooster series and I’m not sure it would really work if you’re not familiar with the original. However, I AM familiar with the original and this send up had me in stitches. If you’re not familiar with English English (as opposed to Real American English) Worcester is pronounced almost the same as Wooster, so even the names are a great parody.

This is not a timeless classic. But it is a boatload of fun and had me laughing out loud. It reminded me of my reaction to the first couple of Jeeves books. And since there are only four books in this Reeves and Worcester series, I don’t have to worry about going overboard and burning out on the humor (which is pretty much what happened to me with Jeeves, too much in a row).

The steampunk side of things was handled very lightly so it didn’t overwhelm the story but it had some big intrusions (the Queen is a cyborg and the Germans are trying to replace British royalty with robots) so if steampunk is your thing, this should fill that itch.

The only reason I’m not giving this 5stars is because there is one rather “swishy” character that really toed the line but didn’t cross it and a rather crude sentence near the end about body parts.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Break the Chains (Scorched Continent #2) ★☆☆☆☆ DNF@37%

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Break the Chains
Series: Scorched Continent #2
Author: Megan O’Keefe
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 316 / 117
Words: 106K / 39K



Synopsis:

DNF@37%

My Thoughts:

I was completely bored. And I shouldn’t have been. Some of the side characters had gotten thrown in a top level prison to find a genius tactician and the main characters, when I stopped, had just tried to rob an army vault. It should have been wicked exciting. Instead, I found myself wondering what the temperature outside was.

This is exactly what happened to me in the first book the first time around and I just figured it was me. Well, lesson learned. This is all on the author for boring me to death. Nothing bad, not even bad writing or anything I can say “No, I will not accept that”, just plain old boring boringness.

I sentence this writer to be cast out into the outer darkness where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth for the terrible sin of boring me. * bangs gavel * Case dismissed!

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Steal the Sky (Scorched Continent #1) ★★★✬☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Steal the Sky
Series: Scorched Continent #1
Author: Megan O’Keefe
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 340
Words: 117.5K



Synopsis:

From Kobo.com

Detan Honding, a wanted conman of noble birth and ignoble tongue, has found himself in the oasis city of Aransa. He and his trusted companion Tibs may have pulled off one too many cons against the city’s elite and need to make a quick escape. They set their sight’s on their biggest heist yet – the gorgeous airship of the exiled commodore Thratia.

But in the middle of his scheme, a face changer known as a doppel starts murdering key members of Aransa’s government. The sudden paranoia makes Detan’s plans of stealing Thratia’s ship that much harder. And with this sudden power vacuum, Thratia can solidify her power and wreak havoc against the Empire. But the doppel isn’t working for Thratia and has her own intentions. Did Detan accidentally walk into a revolution and a crusade? He has to be careful – there’s a reason most people think he’s dead. And if his dangerous secret gets revealed, he has a lot more to worry about than a stolen airship.

My Thoughts:

I read this back in 2016. I wasn’t that impressed then, as I had some real issues with the story structure. I’ve been seeing lots of positive reviews for O’Keefe’s Protectorate series though, so wanted to give this series another chance. It was a smidge bit better, enough to bump it up half a star and to get me onto the second book, unlike last time.

Reading my review from ’16, I can still see what I meant. It just didn’t bother me the same way, as I was already familiar with the characters. I’ve also realized that I enjoy the “Lord and Servant” trope. Detan & Tibbs. Wooster & Jeeves. Whimsey & Bunter. It simply works for me.

I did find Detan to be more of a useless ass this time around than last. I rather dislike using pejorative body parts as descriptions for someone, but really, it seems to be the most accurate, universal fit. Tibbs was less involved than I remember while all the women (the rest of the cast) played a much more decisive role.

Upon some investigating, it turns out that O’Keefe wrote a prequel novel after she finished this series. If she had written that first, even if not published it, it would go a LONG way towards explaining some of the “familiar” banter between Detan and Tibbs and would give some weight to their obvious history in this book. In that same investigating I have come across enough issues that I have decided to not delve into the Protectorate series. Now I just have to hope she doesn’t tip me off a cliff with this trilogy.

Honestly, I can’t say if I enjoyed this more than last time. I certainly had much less “dislike” than last time though. I’m pretty ambivalent and this review definitely reflects that.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Steal the Sky (The Scorched Continent #1)

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This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Booklikes & Librarything by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.

 

 

Title: Steal the Sky
Series: The Scorched Continent #1
Author: Megan O’Keefe
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 448
Format: Kindle digital edition

 

Synopsis:

A lighter than air substance, the basis of the power for most nations, can be found on the Scorched Continent. One city in particular is being brought into the Empire.

One law enforcement officer is trying to stop a military butcher from being elected governor. A former lord and his “servant” are running from the Empire because it uses those who have power of the substance and said lord has great power of it.

Throw in another power user who is out for revenge and things just get messy, very quickly.

 

My Thoughts: 

I would like to thank Irresponsible Reader for initially bringing this to my attention.

Unfortunately, I wanted to like this much more than I actually did. I think the most positive thing I can say is that it reminds me of a mediocre  Wax & Wayne story by Sanderson.

It had all of the elements that I could like. A roguish lord who is more powerful than he lets on. A sidekick who makes the quips and yet keeps the lord under control. A strong police woman who is trying to keep order. A blood thirsty military genius who is playing games and counter games. A driven mother who wants the death of those who killed her son.

There were times where the direction of the story or a revelation just came from sidewise and completely caught me off guard. It also didn’t help that while this is the first book in the story, there is a lot of previous history about the characters, that they mention in passing. Kind of like listening in on 2 old school chums who’ll say something like “boofer” and burst out laughing because of a shared experience. It isn’t very nice to be on the outside looking in. And it just dragged.

I’ve got the second book on my tbr list. However, while this wasn’t bad by any means, it wasn’t nearly good enough for me to continue. Maybe if it was a Forgotten Realms book or some such, I could continue but for a “serious” SFF book, I expect more if I’m going to continue.

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Boneshaker

Boneshaker
Clockwork Century #1
Cherie Priest
Steam Punk
2 Stars
DTB, 416 Pages

an inventor’s machine runs amok, releasing a gas from the ground which turns people into zombies and in the process dies. So Seattle is walled in. Now, the man’s son goes back into the city to clear his father’s name. His mother, who knows what her husband was really after, chases after him to rescue him.

Very much more of the mother’s story is told than the young man’s. Kill zombies, meet people, go through horrible experiences, bond and come out the other side all energized to live life to the fullest.

This wasn’t a horrible story, just dumb. As for the over-arching elements in it, ie, Steampunk overall, please visit the following blogpost to see what I really think of Steampunk.

UPDATE:
I now know I don’t like steampunk. But I didn’t when I read this. So I AM slightly biased against this. But it is still dumb.

Steampunk- An Indepth & Erudite Essay…

Basically, Steampunk is a sub-par genre, literary wise, and, in the broadest of terms, is for complete losers and pot heads.

Machinery should be sexy, quiet, deadly. Not clunky, dirty, loud, prone to break at a moments notice. Machinery should be like a mountain, it simply is. It should NOT be like the pile of steaming poo you just stepped in, thanks to your neighbor not taking care of their misbegotten wretch of a walking chinese meat dish.

Gasmasks, zombies, airships and burrowing machine monstrosities are all SEPARATE things, and should NOT be combined. Gasmasks belong in WWI or WWII history books. Zombies belong in either ultra-violent, ultra-poorly written slasher books or ultra-modern scientific fiction. Airships should stay in blurbs about the Hindenburg. And digging machines, well, they belong off planet, in the FUTURE!

So, Skynet, if you ever read this, forget John Connor. For the love of efficiency, come back and kill of the creators of Steampunk. Maybe we humans will then embrace you as an enlightened sentient being. I know I will!