Posts Tagged ‘steampunk’

A Librarian Reads Airman

Friday, April 8th, 2011

Airman by Eoin Colfer

It is the late 1800’s and Conor Broekhart dreams of flying. Fortunately he lives under King Nicholas of the Slatee Islands. Nicholas is fascinated by flying and new technology. He hopes that his nation can show the world how new sciences and the discovery of flight will make life better for all mankind. After Conor saves his friend and secret crush Isabella, who is also the King’s daughter, from a fire he is invited to study with King’s airman and friend, Victor Vigny. Victor becomes a teacher and mentor to young Conor; who learns not only science and aeronautics, but pugilism and sword fighting.

Years go by and Conor and Victor believe they have made a breakthrough in lighter than air craft. But before they get to test out their design, the King is assassinated and Victor is murdered. The dastardly perpetrator is Marshall Bonvilian, the King’s own protector and head of the military. Bonvilian frames Victor Vigny as the assassin. Yet Conor witnessed the whole event.

So, Bonvilian quickly kidnaps Conor and hides him in the underground prison on Little Saltee. There he lives his life as a miner of diamonds to support Bonvilian’s new regime. Even though he suffers years of imprisonment he never forgets what Victor has taught him and plans his escape. He must wait until Isabella turns 18 and ascends to the throne. During the celebration he plots to fly away on a hot air balloon used in the celebration for the new Queen. Once he is safe he plans to create a glider that will allow him to sneak back to the prison to gather diamonds he has hidden.

But if he escapes what does he do then? He would have money and freedom. But, he knows that Isabella is in danger because Bonvilian seeks the throne for himself. Then there is Conor’s family. How have the fared since his disappearance? But all Conor wants to do is move to America and discover the secret to manned flight. Will Conor turn his back on the girl he loves and his family? Or will he don his glider and become a hero?

Airman is an excellent steampunk adventure story. It is appropriate for all ages and highly recommended.

A Librarian Reads Boneshaker

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

It is 1880 and the American Civil War has been raging for 20 years. Zeke is a young boy who lives in the Outskirts, a ramshackle town outside of the 200 foot tall wall that encircles downtown Seattle. What Zeke wants most in his life is to know what happened to his father.

Sixteen years ago Zeke’s father, Dr. Levi Blue, invented a mining machine called the Boneshaker. While testing the machine, Levi lost control of it and drilled deep holes under most of Seattle. The whole financial district physically collapsed and mass hysteria ensued. But no one noticed the Blight until is was too late. The Blight is an underground gas that was released by the Boneshaker’s runaway drilling. Odorless and colorless (unless viewed through polarized glass) the Blight rots everything it touches and poisons any human who breathes it. Once dead from the Blight, the corpses rise again to devour human flesh. The only way to stop the zombies and the escaping gas was to build a barrier between Seattle and the rest of the world.

Everyone blames Levi Blue for the disaster and shuns Zeke and his mother, Briar. They live hand to mouth but Zeke wants more from his life. The only way to get away from all the blame is to find out what really happened with his father, and if possible prove his innocence. Unfortunately, his mother won’t speak about the past. Zeke makes up his mind and decides to brave the Blight and the zombies and go into the poisoned part of Seattle. What he doesn’t know is that people still thrive behind the wall, especially an evil scientist named Dr. Minnericht, who is known for his wonderful inventions; inventions that rival the Boneshaker. Most of all what he doesn’t know is that his mother will chase after him and risk her own life to make sure he is safe. A  mother and a son will have to brave their ways across the city in order to find one another and ultimately the truth of what happened sixteen years ago. But between the zombie horde and Minnericht’s henchmen they might not stand much of a chance at all.

Boneshaker is an excellent  book, and a wonderful story of family and adventure. It is a must read for steampunk fans. It is appropriate for all ages. and highly recommended.

A Librarian Reads Soulless

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Soulless by Gail Carriger

Alexia is a 26 year old spinster in Victorian London. She is unmarried because her social life suffers because she loves to read and that she has Italian heritage. Alexia doesn’t mind her spinster lifestyle. It gives her plenty of time to study further and talk to her vampire and werewolf friends who are an integral part of society in England.

However one evening, while chaperoning her eligible younger sisters at a party,  Alexia encounter a very hungry vampire who actually tries to feed off of her. It is just socially unacceptable and downright rude for a vampire to just try to feed on anybody. But to make matters worse the vampire doesn’t seem to know who Alexia is, or what she can do. She happens to be the only preternatural in all of Great Britain. She has the ability to nullify any supernatural traits by just a mere touch. So if a vampire tried to bite her, he would suddenly find himself without fangs and totally human.

Alexia must assume that the young vampire is ignorant of her standing amongst supernaturals. When he fails to stop his attempts of biting her she must must fight back. She winds up staking the vampire with her parasol and a wooden hair pin. Now she has a dead vampire on her hands and has unconsciously thrust herself in a supernatural mystery. It turns out that rove vampire are being created but not by any of the local vampire hives. She must help the Queen’s supernatural task force in uncovering the perpetrators.

Unfortunately this means she must work with Lord Maccon, a werewolf of the aristocracy, and someone she finds very attractive. The feeling is surprisingly mutual. How can she do her job and navigate the social rituals of courtship at the same time? She won’t have to worry for long because the villains have found a better test subject for experimentation then rove vampires, namely Alexia and her preternatural powers.

Soulless is a delightful, witty, and quick read. I recommend it for fans of urban fantasy and Jane Austen. It is appropriate for ages 16 and up due to one sex scene towards the end of the book.

A Librarian Reads Behemoth

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld

Deryn and Alek continue their adventure across World War I Europe. Their goal is to arrive in Istanbul, the heart of the Ottoman Empire. There they will try to make peace with the Sultan before the Ottoman Empire can join the war against Britain.

Count Volger has other plans for Alek. He decides they must escape from Leviathan and survive on their own. Unfortunately not all the Austrians make it. Alek is now in charge of only a few men in enemy territory. Does he stay hidden and safe like Volger would want? Or does he try to help revolutionaries overthrow the Sultan to ensure the Ottomans stay our of the war?

Deryn on the other hand is given a secret mission and men of her own. She needs to bring down the Sultans steal fishing nets that stop British krakens from accessing Istanbul’s ports. She succeeds in her mission but is trapped behind enemy lines. Alone and on foot she needs to find the Leviathan or else face capture or death.

But fate has a way of bringing Alek and Deryn together. Together they can overcome their problems, but they will risk life and limb before it’s over.

This is an excellent sequel that really progresses the story of Alek and Deryn. It is action packed and a delightful read. Highly recommended and appropriate for all ages.

A Librarian Reads Leviathan

Monday, January 18th, 2010

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

This is an incredible book, full of action, wonder, and adventure. Leviathan tells the story of the Great War (World War I), but with a twist.

In this novel history developed in a alternate path than ours. On one hand Darwin not only discovered evolution, but DNA as well. On the other hand eastern Europe has increasingly developed more efficient and powerful engines. Two cultures develop that represent these changes: The Darwinists and the Clankers.

Darwinists rely heavily on genetically modified animals for all levels of society, from getting around town, to giant floating whales that act like dirigibles.

Clankers on the other hand rely on motors, engines, and especially walking machines (armored vehicles like tanks that walk on mechanical legs instead of metal treads).

These two cultures will collide in 1914 when the Archduke of Austria is assassinated. His son, Aleksander, must flee his homeland because he threatens the Austrian Emperor as an heir to the throne. Austria and Germany chase him with their giant mechanical war machines.

On the other side of the war is Deryn, a young woman who masquerades as a boy in order to join the British Air Service.  She loves to fly but isn’t expecting the harsh realities of war.

Unbeknown to them, their stories will intertwine and they will need to rely on one another in order to stay alive and do their part for the war effort.

This is an awesome book, highly recommended and appropriate for all ages.