Review: The Women of Nell Gwynne’s by Kage Baker

Steampunk Challenge Review # 1

Steampunk challenge

The Women of Nell Gwynne'sThe Women of Nell Gwynne’s by Kage Baker
Subterranean Press, 2009

This was a fun novella. A romp, if you will. Gothic estates, silly costumes, funny sex, cool Steampunk gadgets (that work within the plot), and a happy resolution. I purchased it from Amazon, and it sat on my shelf for over a year, because I tend to acquire books faster than I can read them. Like a hidden treasure, I pulled it from the shelf today and was entranced.

Lady Beatrice, suffered myriad atrocities and had the audacity not to die! Fighting her way home she found the only path open to her was that of a street-walker. Providence intervened and found her a ‘home’ at Nell Gwynne’s – a house (brothel) for ladies like her, to employ their talents in service of the crown. Supplied with the latest technological gadgets by their brother organization, The Gentleman’s Speculative Society, the ladies set off to locate a missing member of the GSS and to determine what a mysterious Lord is offering to auction off to the highest bidder.

It is a shame that I’ve discovered Kage Baker only after her death. I understand that her Company novels are very good and that the GSS, is supposed to be a precursor to them. This is a novella which craves a sequel and while I understand there will be a short something out at the end of this month, they’ve appended it to the paperback edition. I hate when they do that! There are some books I’m quite happy to buy over and over, and while I did enjoy this very much, it just isn’t a must have multiple copies type book.

This title was nominated for a Hugo and I believe that it won the 2009 Nebula.

Side note:

The word pinion, was used both in this book and in the Steampunk novella I read a few days ago. In both cases to mean, to restrain a person by binding their arms.  I haven’t seen the word much and then twice in two days!

Victorian Fact:

The Great Exhibition was Prince Albert’s idea, held in 1851, it was wildly successful. The building it was housed in, the Crystal Palace, was made in sections before hand and assembled on the scene which “anticipated many building methods later used throughout the 20th century,” according to The Victorians (Backgrounds to English Literature) by Aidan Cruttenden (page 12).

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The Steampunk Challenge is run by Rikki @ The Bookkeeper.

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? (Oct. 4th)

Read:

The Thin Place by Kathryn Davis –I finished this book Sunday afternoon… it took two weeks to get through this very odd novel. And, after all is said and done I can’t say that I enjoyed it. Will discuss further this week.

“Lord Kelvin’s Machine” by James P. Blaylock — This was originally published in 1980 at the beginning of the Steampunk movement. It has been republished in Steampunk edited by Ann & Jeff Vandermeer.

Reading:

Steampunk edited by Ann & Jeff Vandermeer — I am reading this as the first book for the Rikki the Bookkeeper’s Steampunk Challenge. I chose this title because it reprints story and excepts from  Steampunk pieces dating back to 1971, plus a couple of non-fiction selections. I thought if we are going to explore a genre, it might be night to get a little foundation.

Blogs:

I looks like other blogs are gearing up for a Steampunk month. The Mad Hatter’s Bookshelf & Book Review looks like it is going to have a lot going on, including interviews and giveaways.

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is organized by Sheila over at Book Journey. Be sure to stop by her site and read the great blogs of the other participates.

( On a personal note I continue to thank St. Jude, St. Rita, the Blessed Mother, and Heavenly Father for all the prayers they’ve answered and I continue to pray for their help and blessings.)

Steampunk Challenge

Steampunk challenge

I’ve read Steampunk for a while now, but with its recent explosion in popularity I suddenly have a back log of parts books in the genre. The Bookkeeper (only English word with three consecutive sets of double letters) aka Rikki is hosting a challenge to explore all things Steampunk.  Please visit the The Bookkeeper website and sign up if you are interested.

As I mentioned over on the Challenge website, I’ve been storing several books I should get to sooner rather than later.  But knowing me, I probably acquire a new shiny book and be off examining that before I realize it.

Steampunk by Ann VanderMeer and Jeff VanderMeer
The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack (Burton & Swinburne in) by Mark Hodder
The Affinity Bridge (Newbury & Hobbes Investigations) by George Mann
Steamed: A Steampunk Romance by Katie MacAlister
Blameless by Gail Carriger

October to October….. 1 year.

Changeless by Gail Carriger

Changeless (The Parasol Protectorate, #2) Changeless by Gail Carriger

I liked Changeless. Like its predecessor, Soulless, this book made me laugh out loud while sitting in occupied rooms forcing me to explain and therefore spread the hilarity to others. I have only to mention the words “squash blossom” to certain people to hear much merriment. I enjoyed the adventure that Ms. Carriger lead us on and the new characters she introduced such as the daring inventor and curmudgeonly lady alpha where among the highlights. I also enjoyed the way the steam punk elements were used to advance the plot instead of being relegated to window dressing. That wonderful parasol! It is enough to make you want one of your own. The only fault I could find with this delightful novel was that the last chapter, setting us up for the sequel, was so infuriating that I was tempted to throw the book clear across the room. If I hadn’t been at work, I might have done just that. September seems like an awfully long way off.

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Avalon Revisited

Avalon Revisited Avalon Revisited by O. M. Grey

Avalon Revisited is a delightful farce! The whole time I was reading it, I couldn’t help but share bits with whomever was with in earshot. The only fault I could find in this preposterous comedy was that of a zipper, and I’m not even sure you could call it a fault — I just didn’t think they came into common use until after 1920 (though there are whispers of it as far back as 1851). The best I can figure the book is set somewhere around 1852. Doesn’t matter really, I laughed my head off at during that particular scene with chartreuse dress. The whole time I was reading Avalon Revisited I couldn’t help but think of it as some paranormal spoof of a Oscar Wilde-esque play. The Steampunk element was a little light for me — the best use that seemed to serve the plot was a bloodletting device worn by the butler. (Which reminds me of another adorable cliche that I won’t speak about as it will give away part of the ending and this is a must read.) The other novelties mention seemed to be window dressing, but they are nice windows. This is definitely an adult novel as oppose to recent Steampunk fare, like Soulless by Gail Carriger, that would work well with teens.

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Soulless

Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate #1) Soulless by Gail Carriger
This book was really funny. You will be laughing in the first couple of pages. I loved it. It has been awhile since I’ve read a werewolf or vampire novel that I’ve like, because they all seemed to be running together. This one was refreshing. With a Victorian setting,  great banter, mad scientist in steampunk style, horrid hats,  and really neat characters. You have to met Alexia, oh, and her butler is priceless too.