Posted in Science Fiction, Steampunk, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

YA Book Blitz: The Viper and The Urchin!

The Viper and the Urchin
by Celine Jeanjean
Release Date: July 27th 2015

Summary from Goodreads:

Being Damsport’s most elegant assassin is hard work. There’s tailoring to consider, devilish poisons to concoct, secret identities to maintain… But most importantly, Longinus has to keep his fear of blood hidden or his reputation will be ruined. So, when a scrawny urchin girl threatens to expose his phobia unless he teaches her swordsmanship, he has no choice but to comply.

It doesn’t take long for Rory to realise that her new trainer has more eccentricities than she has fleas. But she’ll put up with anything, no matter how frustrating, to become a swordswoman like her childhood hero.

What she’s not prepared for is a copycat assassin who seeks to replace Longinus, and who hires Rory’s old partner in crime to do away with her, as well. Rory and Longinus must set their differences aside and try to work together if they’re to stop the copycat. But darker forces than they realise are at play, and with time running out, the unlikely duo find themselves the last line of defence against a powerful enemy who seeks to bring Damsport to its knees.

Buy Links:

About the Author 

Celine Jeanjean is French, grew up in the UK and now lives in Hong Kong. That makes her a tad confused about where she is from. During her time in Asia she’s watched the sun rise over Angkor Wat, lost her shoes in Vietnam, and fallen off a bamboo raft in China. Celine writes stories that feature quirky characters and misfits, and her books are a mixture of steampunk, fantasy and humour.
Author Links:
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Posted in Animal Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Steampunk

Tailwands – Epic Animal Fantasy for your younger readers!

I don’t normally review standalone comic book issues here at MomReadIt – that’s the purview of my WhatchaReading writing, really – but I had to talk about Tailwands, which is putting out its second issue shortly. It’s great animal fiction, it’s an epic tale, and it’s perfect for young readers who are in the mood for fun, clean, epic fantasy storytelling.

tailwands_1       tailwands_2

I’ve written reviews for both issue 1 and issue 2 over at WhatchaReading. There is a subscriber exclusive, if your kids like the books, so you don’t have to chase them down. Hand these books to your younger readers, and tuck in with them – you’re in for a great adventure.

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Middle Grade, Science Fiction, Steampunk, Tween Reads, Uncategorized

Mysteries of Cove, Book 1: Fires of Invention – a new sci-fi/steampunk adventure for middle graders!

coveMysteries of Cove, Book 1: Fires of Invention, by J. Scott Savage (Sept. 2015, Shadow Mountain Publishing), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1629720920

Recommended for ages 10-14

Steampunk meets dragons in this new sci-fi series from author J. Scott Savage! Trenton is a young teen living in the city of Cove – a city created over a century before by a civilization fleeing environmental destruction. He’s got a knack for anything mechanical, but in the city of Cove, technology, creativity, and inventing are against the law. In fact, to call someone an inventor is akin to being cursed with the worst of slurs. Kallista Babbage is also a teen living in Cove. The daughter of a notorious inventor, Leo Babbage, who died in an explosion caused by his own creativity, has been scapegoated by Cove leadership as proof of the dangers of technology and forward thinking.

Trenton discovers strange pieces of tools hidden in Cove, which leads him to Kallista. Could these tools be part of a secret message to Kallista from her father? Working together, Trenton and Kallista follow the clues Babbage left behind; on the way, they uncover all of Cove’s secrets. But will the leaders of Cove allow them to share what they’ve learned, or imprison them for retraining?

The Cove series reminds me very much of the City of Ember series in that it involves a teen boy and girl, living in a hidden city because of an environmental cataclysm, and discovering the truth about the city’s history. The sci-fi twist that we get in the last third of the book is a pleasant surprise and will perk readers up as they head into the first book’s conclusion. There’s a lot of storytelling here, with in-depth character development, and plenty of action and adventure.

I’d include this book in a maker collection to spur imaginations and – GASP – creativity!

J. Scott Savage is the author of the hugely popular Case File 13 series. You can follow him on Twitter @jscottsavage, or visit his author site to check out his blog and learn more about author visits.

Salt Lake City readers, want a shot at being in the book trailer? Details are on the Shadow Mountain Facebook page! They’ll be shooting the Fires of Invention trailer on Thursday, July 2nd, in Salt Lake City, and you and a friend can enter to win spots as extras! Like and Share the Shadow Mountain Facebook post, and check out the rules. Open only to US residents. Not affiliated with Facebook or MomReadIt. The trailer will be shown at SLC Comic Con and will be a lot of fun to make!

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Steampunk, Teen

All Hail Gail Carriger! Waistcoats and Weaponry concludes the Finishing School saga!

cover47801-mediumWaistcoats & Weaponry, by Gail Carriger (2014, Little Brown Books for Young Readers), $18, ISBN: 9780316190275

Recommended for ages 13+

If there is one writer I fangirl for these days, it’s Gail Carriger. I discovered her Parasol Protectorate series a few years ago, and was immediately hooked. There’s paranormal adventure, steampunk fabulousness, including airships, mechanicals, and loaded parasols, and most importantly, fierce fashion. And tea. A lot of tea. What’s not to love?

When she announced she was writing a YA series that takes place in the Parasol Protectorate universe, I was jubilant.  The Finishing School series: Etiquette & Espionage, Curtsies & Conspiracies, and now, Waistcoats & Weaponry, take place at a finishing school for young ladies. But it’s not just any finishing school: the ladies are taught to be covert assassins as easily as they’re taught to properly bat their eyelashes and set a proper table. If you’ve been following the series, you know that Sophronia left off with a pretty major benefactor last book. He’s alluded to here in Waistcoats, but Sophronia is front and center in this book. She’s working out her feelings for both her friend, Soap, and Felix, a wealthy Duke’s son who’s been flirting outrageously with her. She’s still trying to figure out what Monique – and, by extension, a vampire hive – is up to. And when family drama strikes at her friend Sidheag, she has to be there for her. She’s got a full plate, and watching her juggle it is nothing short of brilliant.

Husband

I love Sophronia, and seeing her develop as a character throughout these three books has been a delight. She goes from being a headstrong young girl who likes to find out how things work, to a headstrong, determined young woman who exudes an air of polish when she needs to, but is never afraid to pull on a pair of trousers (gasp!) and get right into the thick of things to find out what she needs to know. She’ll take on a vampire or a werewolf if it means helping her friends, but she’ll always think things through and try to come to the best situation for everyone involved. It’s also tremendous fun to see the storylines developed in The Parasol Protectorate come full circle here; Finishing School takes place about 15-20 years before, and events discussed in the first series find their origins here, as do several key characters.

I’m sad to see Finishing School dismissed, but I can’t wait for Prudence, her new series, to hit stores next month. Pick up the Finishing School series. You’ll be so glad you did. And make sure to stop by the Finishing School website, where you can take some lessons of your own, and download an educator’s guide to the series. THERE’S AN EDUCATOR’S GUIDE TO THIS SERIES. Why wasn’t I taught this stuff in high school?!

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Posted in Adventure, Espionage, Fantasy, Fiction, Science Fiction, Steampunk

Book Review: Etiquette & Espionage, by Gail Carriger (Little, Brown, 2013)

etiquette and espionageRecommended for ages 13+

Gail Carriger, author of the Parasol Protectorate series, kicks off her YA Finishing School series, set in the same universe as the Parasol Protectorate series, with Etiquette & Espionage.

Fourteen year-old Sophronia is driving her society lady mother crazy. She climbs trees. She takes apart things to figure out how they work. She lines her books with rubber from a dumbwaiter in the house. Fed up with Sophronia’s antics, she sends her to finishing school – Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality, to be precise.

What neither Sophronia nor her mother bet on, though, was that this is no ordinary finishing school – when they say “finish”, they mean “finish” – the students learn how to curtsey and flutter their eyelashes, but they also learn about poisoning, espionage, and weapons placement. Sophronia is learning to be a spy and an assassin in addition to being a lady. But she also stumbles into a mystery involving one of the students as soon as she boards the coach to school – what is really going on at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s, and what does her newfound nemesis have to do with it?

While I am a big fan of the Parasol Protectorate series and went into this series with high hopes, I was a little let down here. I understand that this is the first book in a new series, with much to be established, but I felt there was an overall lack of plot to drive the story forward. It seemed more a collection of “look what Sophronia’s got herself into now” moments, with some vague subplot surfacing to give her an archenemy in future books.

The dry humor is there, though, and that kept me reading. I love the way Ms. Carriger writes, and I enjoy her stubborn heroines who can lock horns with a werewolf and then stress about their state of dress and look for a cup of tea. I enjoy the Parasol Protectorate universe, and there’s paranormal and steampunk aplenty here, with werewolves, dirigibles, and automatons for all. There are a few pleasant surprises for Parasol Protectorate fans, too.

If you’re a fan of Carriger’s, you’ll at least enjoy the universe and references. I look forward to the next book in the series.

Posted in Adventure, Fantasy, Graphic Novels, Humor, Steampunk, Tween Reads

Book Review: Calamity Jack, by Shannon and Dean Hale (illus. by Nathan Hale) (Bloomsbury, 2010)

Recommended for ages 9-12

Calamity Jack is the sequel to the graphic novel Rapunzel’s Revenge and gives readers the backstory on Rapunzel’s buddy, Jack. Like Rapunzel, this is a fun, new take on the Jack and the Beanstalk fairy tale geared to attract older readers.

When readers first meet Jack in Rapunzel’s Revenge, he’s a guy on the run. Calamity Jack tells the story of why he’s on the run and who he’s running from – a kid who can’t stay out of trouble, Jack ends up getting himself, and by extension, his mother, into trouble with the local giants that run his town. He steals a goose that he hears is due to lay a golden egg and goes on the run, hoping that any golden eggs will pay for the destruction of his mother’s bakery. After his early adventures with Rapunzel, she accompanies him back to his hometown where they hope to reunite Jack with his mother – and find the town under siege by giant ants, his mother a prisoner of the giants, and a sneaking suspicion that the giants are at the heart of all the town’s problems.

Anyone who enjoyed Rapunzel will enjoy Calamity Jack. Written in the same fun spirit, the authors give equal time to the main male and female characters with their own adventures. Graphic novels are a good way to reach male readers, and turning a fairy tale into an adventure tale is a smart way to draw in those readers who may feel they are “too old” for these books.
 
Newbery Award-winning author (for Princess Academy) Shannon Hale writes for ‘tweens, teens, and adults. Her husband, children’s author Dean Hale, wrote Rapunzel’s Revenge and Calamity Jack, with Ms. Hale. Ms. hale’s blog offers links to information about her books, events and games. She also offers a list of favorite books for both children and adults, including some recommendations by her husband.
Posted in Fantasy, Science Fiction, Steampunk, Tween Reads

Book Review: Larklight: A Rousing Tale of Dauntless Pluck in the Farthest Reaches of Space, by Philip Reeve (Bloomsbury, 2007)

Recommended for ages 9-12
Larklight is the first in a ‘tween steampunk trilogy by Philip Reeve, and I was really looking forward to sinking my teeth into this book. Steampunk? Pirates? Pass that book over!
I was not disappointed. A great read for both boys and girls interested in science fiction and fantasy, Larklight offers a little something for everyone. The main character, Arthur Mumby, is a boy of about 11 or 12 who lives with his 14-year old sister, Myrtle (who is a very big part of the storyline – no wallflower female characters in this book!) and their widowed father upon Larklight, a floating home in space. The story takes place during the Victorian era, and the British Empire has colonized space. Aetherships cruise the skies much as Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge hunted ships in the waters on earth.
Mr. Mumby, a xenobiologist, agrees to a meeting with a correspondent who refers to himself as “Mr. Webster” – when he arrives, we discover that Webster is an evil space spider with whose spidery army traps Larklight and Mr. Mumby in their webs. Art and Myrtle escape, ultimately ending up with a band of space pirates led by Jack Havoc, a teenager with his own troubled past, and his band of alien misfits. Running from the British Empire, Jack joins Art and Myrtle on their quest to save their father and learn what made them Webster’s target.
In addition to the nonstop action and wonderfully Victorian narrative, there is mech and steam aplenty for steampunk fans. Giant, mechanized spiders, steam-driven aetherships propelled by alchemic reactions, and an assault on Queen Victoria – what more could a kid possibly ask for?

I appreciated Reeve’s strong male and female characters. At first glance , Myrtle appears solely as Art’s antagonist for Art but emerges as a strong, clever character – it’s interesting to see her character evolve. Ssil, one of Jack Havoc’s alien crew, has no idea where her origins lie, providing a sense of mystery and pathos. She has only the family she creates around her, but longs to know who she is. While scientific men are assumed to be the only ones capable of performing the “chemical wedding” that propels aetherships into space, Ssil performs it with ease – indeed, she is the only member of Jack’s crew who can do it.

There are two sequels to Larklight, also by Reeve: Starcross and Mothstorm, that I expect I shall be picking up shortly. The film rights for Larklight have been bought and a film is due out in 2013.