Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Steampunk The Procurement Of Souls by Benjamin Hope

Today’s team review is from E.L. Lindley, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

E.L. has been reading The Procurement Of Souls by Benjamin Hope


The Procurement of Souls by Benjamin Hope is a steampunk novel set in Victorian England. It is essentially a battle between the positive and negative forces of science.

I have to confess this is a genre that I haven’t read before and consequently it took me a while to get into the rhythm of the story. Basically it suspends any notion of reality as an evil scientist is able to remove the souls of humans and then control them like puppets. There is no grey area in this story and the villains really are villains.

The said mad scientist is a bitter and twisted individual named Thomas Weimer. Perhaps of more interest to me is his assistant, Marina, a tough, powerful, cigarillo smoking woman, who can physically get the better of most men. The dynamic between her and Weimer has the potential to create lots of tension as she is treated like a lackey by him and clearly resents his power. However, I felt that Hope missed an opportunity to create a really interesting character in Marina and in the end she remains a mystery with no real insight into who she is.

Weimer and Marina are offset by the renowned scientist, Magnus Drinkwater and his seventeen year old daughter, Clementine. It is Clementine who first involves herself in the disappearance of vulnerable young women, eventually forcing her reluctant father to help investigate the situation. Magnus has invented a machine called the viroscope that can potentially stop time but he is reluctant to use it due to the mysterious death of his wife whilst experimenting with the machine. The death of his wife in fact casts a shadow over the whole novel and plays a role in bringing the plot together.

The plot is very busy and there are lots of characters as Weimer takes up residence in a monastery and the army is called upon to try and thwart him. I love character driven novels and so personally felt a little bit cheated that we never really have time to get to know the characters. Perhaps the most rounded one is Novice Goode, a member of the monastery who is struggling with his calling but again because the novel is so plot driven and didn’t feel that I fully knew him.

I really liked how Hope uses his novel to pit science against religion. Weimer is clearly playing God by removing people’s souls and using them for his own ends and this is referred to several times. By setting the bulk of the novel in a monastery, Hope highlights the dichotomy between blind faith and reason. Novice Goode and Clementine plainly represent the heart of the novel and both of them are young and idealistic with compassion for others. The fact that the two of them survive maybe suggests that Hope wants to show the triumph of humanity.

Hope is a good writer and despite the fanciful nature of the story, it makes complete sense within the realms of the plot. The description of Victorian London and the crime-ridden docks is very effective and creates a good backdrop to the story. My own personal disappointment is that characterisation is lost in favour of the plot but maybe this is the nature of steampunk fiction.

If you are a fan of steampunk then I have no doubt that this will be one for you to enjoy. It’s exciting and well written and keeps you guessing until the very end.

Book description

Magnus Drinkwater is close. Close to harnessing enough power to fuel his modified pocket-watch and stop time. But the answer continues to lie out of reach and when his daughter discovers a young woman no longer in possession of her soul, it quickly becomes clear that his own frustrations are the least of his worries. Someone with altogether darker machinations is busy working to their own design.
Dr Weimer is manoeuvring in the shadows, harvesting the souls from small-time criminals and turning their empty bodies into his mind-dead minions. But he too needs more power. Greater soul potency to reach his vision. And he’ll do whatever it takes. No matter the cost.
As the body count rises and Magnus follows a bloody and violent path through decaying city slums and dockyards; city ministerial buildings; and St Villicus’ monastery with its subterranean catacombs, he unearths more questions than answers. What is the link to the violent death of his wife two years before? What secrets are his colleagues hiding? Is there anyone he can truly trust? He must forge alliances he never thought possible and ultimately decide: just how far is he willing to push his own principles of science to power his device and keep the city safe?
Two scientists. Two ambitions. One bloody adventure…

AmazonUk | AmazonUS

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT THE DIRIGIBLE KING’S DAUGHTER by @AlysWestYork #steampunk

Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs here

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Cathy has been reading The Dirigible King’s Daughter by Alys West


It’s clear Harriet Hardy, a supporter of the Suffragette movement, is not a woman to trifle with nor underestimate. We meet her as she loads the pistol she keeps in her reticule, before meeting a client. She owns and runs the property letting business left to her by her Uncle Humphrey. Harriet and her mother were left destitute after her father’s disgrace and subsequent death years before and if not for Uncle Humphrey, Harriet dare not think what might have happened to them.

Her experience the previous day when, showing Alderman Fitch round one of her houses, made Harriet very thankful for, and glad she carries, her pistol. A woman alone can never be too careful. The Alderman made improper advances and refused to take no for an answer. When Harriet took her pistol from her bag as a deterrent, the Alderman was amused, not believing she could, or would, use it. Harriet was obliged to discharge her pistol harmlessly to prove him wrong.

As she shows Viscount Ripley round the same house the next day, the Alderman along with two police officers, arrive at the front door accusing Harriet of attempted murder. She makes her escape with the aid of Viscount Ripley, who offers a solution to save her reputation. Harriet is astonished to realise who he is… and that he is a dirigible pilot, as her father was.

This is completely different to Alys West’s first book, Beltane, which I loved, but is none the less enjoyable. I must admit I hadn’t come across the word dirigible before and no idea it was another name for an airship.

The subtle steampunk elements are woven into the story well and the dirigible flight scenes make great reading. Harriet is a worthy heroine, courageous and likeable, and I was rooting for her all the way. She’s had a lot to overcome but is very determined and independent. The manner and circumstances of her father’s death left her and her mother in dire straits and changed their lifestyle completely. They were forced to moved house, and chose to settle in Whitby, just as Bram Stokers’ Dracula became all the rage, which helped with Harriet’s business. But just when things begin looking up and there’s hope in Harriet’s future, life throws her a curve ball. A very well written and enjoyable romance.

Find a copy here from or available free from Kindle Unlimited

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT THE DIRIGIBLE KING’S DAUGHTER by @AlysWestYork #SundayBlogShare

Today’s team review is from Barb, she blogs at


Barb has been reading The Dirigible King’s Daughter by Alys West


My Review: 4  stars out of 5

Harriet Hardy never set out to become a kickass pistol-packing Victorian feminist. Raised to expect a proper middle class life of servants, parties, fancy dresses, and the welcome romantic attentions of a dashing soldier, she is instead forced to leave all that behind when her father’s death reveals his business failures. She moves to Whitby, working for and then inheriting her uncle’s property management business when he dies. By the time eight years have passed she is—by Victorian standards—a spinster whose profession, disgraced family, and age make marriage an impossibility. And that’s all before she’s arrested for the attempted murder of a local politician when he attempts “something very improper”.

So far, all this is fairly standard romance novel stuff. And indeed, the steampunk bits sneak in subtly at the edges… a mention of a steam carriage here, an airship there, perhaps a cogwork-enhanced fortune teller or a mysterious “rod system” that carries data through a giant pipe running alongside the road. This is a kinder, gentler steampunk world in which Victorian manners and dress take precedence over any explanations of the internal combustion engine’s failure to launch or the dirigibles’ failure to explode regularly a la Hindenburg. The focus of the story remains firmly on Harriet’s conflicts with her father’s death, her upcoming trial, the return of Charlie—former dance partner now even further socially removed by his family’s ascendence into the peerage—and a possibly/probably fake engagement.

Within those boundaries, The Dirigible King’s Daughter is a lovely story. The pace steadily picks up as it moves to the courtroom dramatics, the romance is sweet rather than hot or steamy, the dialog charming. I enjoyed Harriet’s confusion as she attempts to reconcile her heart with the strong pragmatic woman her head tells her to be. With the exception of Harriet herself, there is very little character development, but since the supporting characters are stock tropes, little more is needed. Homage is paid to romance tropes, with some updated nods to feminist leanings. There is a bit of steampunk worldbuilding, but like the whisps of steam lingering between the buildings when Harriet visits London, the science behind the steam isn’t even mentioned.

The Dirigible King’s Daughter is a quick entertaining read for those who enjoy romance, steampunk, or just a charmingly-written and beautifully edited little book that makes few demands and delivers exactly what it promises.


I reviewed The Dirigible King’s Daughter for Rosie’s Book Review Team.

Find a copy here from or

Rosie’s #Bookreview team #RBRT THE DIRIGIBLE KING’S DAUGHTER by @AlysWestYork #Steampunk

Today’s team review is from Chris, she blogs at

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Chris has been reading The Dirigible King’s Daughter by Alys West


Action, adventure, sexism, and class issues all come together in this steampunk romance novel.
When Harriet, businesswoman and daughter of the disgraced ‘Dirigible King’, is accused of attempted murder, she reluctantly turns to an old friend, and current Viscount, for help. But old scandals, new obstacles, and a lover that won’t give up all add to her already tough existence. Will she be able to cope?
Despite it’s light tone and fun story, there is an undertone to this novel around the subject of prejudice in its many forms that was well-woven and thought-provoking. The story itself unfolded gently, and balanced action and romance in a believably steampunk setting. An enjoyable read.
Find a copy here from or

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT THE DIRIGIBLE KING’S DAUGHTER BY @AlysWestYork #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs at

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Liz has been reading The Dirigible King’s Daughter by Alys West


The Dirigible King’s Daughter by Alys West

Harriet Hardy is an independent woman who is not to be trifled with, but she lives in a steampunk, Edwardian environment where ladies are expected to be proper and to know their place. She has found herself to be the breadwinner and espousing the principles of the Suffragists has not won her many friends. Living in Whitby she has cut herself off from her happy youth in York but now her past is catching up with her, just when she finds herself in greater trouble than ever.


Charlie Davenport is a dashing Dirigible pilot with charm and influence but Harriet has no intention of allowing him to take over her life. She will continue to solve her problems as she always has, with a pistol in her reticule, a brave heart and intelligent wit.


This novel is a tale of romance and peril against the background of the thrilling flights of the dirigibles and escapades on steam-powered omnibuses. It is an easy read and you cannot help wishing Harriet success and happiness against all odds.

Find a copy here from or



Rosie’s Review Team #RBRT THE BLACK ORCHID by @CelineJeanjean #steampunk #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Chris, she blogs at

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Chris has been reading The Black Orchid by Celine Jeanjean


Second in The Viper and The Urchin series, though can easily be read as a standalone, this was steampunk at its best. There was intrigue, adventure, mystery, alchemy, and a dash of romance.

Rory and Longinus are bored living an honest life. But when an old friend of Rory’s from her urchin days turns up exsanguinated, Rory and Longinus set off to investigate, through the poverty and illegality of the Rookery, to the opulence of The Mansion and its inhabitants and visiting diplomats, to the brothels of Bayog. And everything keeps leading back to The Black Orchid…

Wow. The plot had me turning (OK, swiping) the pages as quickly as my reading would allow (I think I forgot to eat dinner at one point. What day of the week is it?). The characterisation, too, was so wonderfully written, with the characters interacting and growing as the book progressed. There was pace and immersive setting and… Just read it – it’s brilliant.

*I received a free copy from the author, via Rosie’s Book Review Team, in exchange for my honest review.

Find a copy here from or

THE SUNKEN – Gauge Wars Book #1 by S.C Green #Steampunk #Bookreview #Amreading @steffmetal

The SunkenThe Sunken by S.C. Green
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Sunken is Book #1 in The Gauge Wars series of SteamPunk books. The setting is Industrial London in the 1800’s, but set in an alternative reality. King George III is on the throne, but dubbed a mad man and “The Vampire King”. There is great steam invention rivalry between Robert Stephenson and Isambard Brunel.

Christian Religion has been replaced by engineering sects, with followers of as many different leaders as world religion has today. The highest position held by the Messiah of the Church of the Great Conductor and people are encouraged to attend worship in the style of engineering lectures.

A Royal Society exists to police the engineers and hand out punishment where needed. A work force of “Stokers” fuel the city, treated as “dirty folk” they were lured away from their swamp lands by the need for engine stokers.

School friends, Isambard, James Holman and Nicholas Thorne, meet once more and become embroiled in the King’s new scheme to protect London from the marauding Swamp Dragons, however they soon learn of a more sinister reason behind the King’s urgency to build such a structure.

This is a big book at over 500 pages long, but it is split into three very readable parts. Part two cleverly gives all the background to the current situation and part three builds the tension to a compelling read and leads the way to book 2# in the series. I would recommend this to fans of Steampunk, and those who like the industrial era of England who are open minded to an alternative fantasy underlined story arc.

Find a copy here from Amazon US or Amazon UK

View all my reviews on Goodreads

#FridayBookShare THE SUNKEN by S.C Green @steffmetal @ShelleyWilson72 #Steampunk #amreading

I’m joining in with the NEW #FridayBookShare meme created by Shelley Wilson

07 _ 10 _ 2014 (2)



With the weekend approaching it’s the perfect time to seek out new books to read, Shelley has created a Friday Book Share game to help search for that ideal read.

Anyone can have a go – all you need to do is answer the following questions based on the book you are currently reading/finished reading this week and use the hashtag #FridayBookShare

First line of the book.

Recruit fans by adding the book blurb.

Introduce the main character using only three words.

Delightful design (add the cover image of the book).

Audience appeal (who would enjoy reading this book?)

Your favourite line/scene.

I’m currently half way through THE SUNKEN book 1 of the Gauge Wars – Engine Ward by S.C Green

First Line; 1820 “This beam engine pumps water from the Thames directly into those reservoirs and the water tower.”

Recruit Fans with the Blurb:

In the heart of London lies the Engine Ward, a district forged in coal and steam, where the great Engineering Sects vie for ultimate control of the country. For many, the Ward is a forbidding, desolate place, but for Nicholas Thorne, the Ward is a refuge. He has returned to London under a cloud of shadow to work for his childhood friend, the engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Deep in the Ward’s bowels, Nicholas can finally escape his strange affliction – the thoughts of animals that crowd his head. But seeing Brunel interact with his mechanical creations, Nicholas is increasingly concerned that his friend may be succumbing to the allure of his growing power. That power isn’t easily cast aside, and the people of London need Brunel to protect the streets from the prehistoric monsters that roam the city. King George III has approved Brunel’s ambitious plan to erect a Wall that would shut out the swamp dragons and protect the city. But in secret, the King cultivates an army of Sunken: men twisted into flesh-eating monsters by a thirst for blood and lead. Only Nicholas and Brunel suspect that something is wrong, that the Wall might play into a more sinister purpose–to keep the people of London trapped inside.

Introduce the Main Character in only 3 words; Nicholas Thorne =  Mysterious, lonely, curious.

Book Cover: 23224207

Amazon US or Amazon UK

Audience Appeal: For those who enjoy #Steampunk, Dark Mysteries and Georgian/ Victorian #HistFic with a fantasy twist.

Favourite line or scene: A park scene, where families have gone to see caged animals kept cruelly on display for the public, a young boy who can hear the thoughts of the animals, helps them escape to freedom.

If you want to join in, then answer the F.R.I.D.A.Y questions and use the Friday Book Share meme. Tag Shelley (@ShelleyWilson72) and myself (@rosieamber1) in so we can read what you have added too.

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT THE BLACK ORCHID by @CelineJeanjean #Steampunk #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs at

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Liz has been reading The Black Orchid by Celine Jeanjean


The second adventure of the Viper and the Urchin finds these two disparate characters relocated to the warehouse of Cruikshank, engineer to the Marchioness, no longer an assassin and a pickpocket, but officially employed by the Old Girl, as the Marchioness is affectionately called.  But their services have not been required and they are feeling aimless and redundant when at last they are summoned to investigate a mysterious death by exsanguination in the insalubrious Bayog district of the city of Damsport.


Rory’s knowledge of the criminal underworld of the Rookery make her indispensable but Longinus occupies his time investigating the unexplained shortage of the black silk he needs urgently for his new elegant suit.  A link between these two events is discovered in The Black Orchid, a newly popular brothel.  Rory and Longinus find themselves in great danger again, not just from their enemy but also from threats to their relationship.  As they become estranged, the future looks grim.


Like the first book, The Black Orchid engages readers by the strong, vibrant women who never give up against all odds.  An old relationship between the Marchioness and stunningly beautiful Mizria may be reawakened, Rory seems to becoming closer to Varanguard, Rafe and Longinus continues to send anonymous poems to Lady Martha, daughter of the Old Girl.


Celine Jeanjean has written another thrilling adventure which is hard to put down.  The grubby streets of the city come alive in the fast moving plot and each character has substance and complication.  Alchemy and steam driven vehicles play their part but heroism shines.  In conclusion the scene is set for further adventure involving characters who have come to mean a great deal to their readers.

Find a copy here from or

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT THE BLACK ORCHID by @CelineJeanjean #Steampunk #WeekendBlogShare

Today’s Team Review is from Barb, she blogs at

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Barb has been reading The Black Orchid by Celine Jeanjean



gold starMy Review: 5 stars out of 5

As I read The Black Orchid, Book 2 of Celine Jeanjean’s The Viper and the Urchin Series, I was thinking again about those three sliding variants of character development—competence, proactivity, and sympathy. In my review of her first book, The Bloodless Assassin (formerly titled The Viper and the Urchin), I talked about how those markers moved over the course of the book.

It was fascinating to see how they move again in the sequel. The motivating premise of the first book was, as its new title correctly proclaims, the anomaly of a master assassin who is reduced to physical incapacity by the sight of blood. But in this new book, would that be enough to continue moving the action forward? Not a problem! Working brilliantly within a mix of my favorite genres (steampunk/sword & sorcery fantasy), author Celine Jeanjean continues to move those sliders as both urchin Rory and assassin Longinus develop their relationship with each other and with others.

As The Black Orchid opens—to their mutual shock and not a little embarrassment— both Rory and Longinus find themselves in the position of being honestly employed in the service of Damsport’s ruler, the Old Girl. It’s devastating to both.


Longinus—”Damsport’s most elegant assassin”, clotheshorse, and bad poet—is used to stalking his contracted victims to the accompaniment of an internal monologue extolling his brilliant (and brilliantly accessorized) successes. But with legal employment, he’s reduced to stalking incoming shipments to discover the reasons for the shortage of luxury goods such as his trademark black silk (so essential to the Viper’s image you know…). And the elegant lines he formerly composed in praise of his prowess as an assassin are now replaced with love poems sent (anonymously, of course) to the Lady Martha, daughter of the Old Girl. While our sympathy for this new Longinus might be high, his rapidly diminishing competence and proactivity make him seem like an over-age and slightly whiny Harry Potter.

Well-dressed and no longer a scrawny, smelly urchin, gainful employment and regular meals have hit Rory hard as well. For the first time, her life plan of becoming a master swordswoman is tainted by the realization that “the Scarred Woman” she wanted to emulate for years is actively determined to destroy both Longinus personally and her city of Damsport. But Rory slowly realizes that if she’s no longer an urchin—the one thing she was supremely competent at—then she has no idea who or what she is. Like Longinus, the Rory we meet at the beginning of  The Black Orchid is hitting the trifecta of low sympathy, competence, and proactivity.

And the relationship between Rory and Longinus—the one area that could move those sliders up as they reinforce each other’s strengths and compensate for their weaknesses—is crumbling under the weight of respectability.

Luckily for Rory and Longinus, the one person whose sliders are at 100% for competency and proactivity, and near-zero for sympathy—Longinus lifelong enemy and sister Myran—is subtly orchestrating a series of events designed to destroy them. With their enemies a step ahead at every turn, Rory and Longinus both have to step out of their comfortably respectable new life, become proactive, and resurrect the competencies of their old lives to survive.

One of the things I love about Celine Jeanjean’s writing is all the stuff she does NOT say. In keeping faith with Rory and Longinus as narrators, she keeps explanations to a minimum and pays readers the compliment of assuming we’ll get relationships and motivations from actions, instead of from paragraphs of exposition. Instead of congratulating Damsport on having people of color—and especially women—be strong, clever, and brave, the author lets the unfolding story speak for itself. The love of a woman’s life? It can be another woman, one of a different race at that, and that relationship can be publicly acknowledged. The strongest person in town? Again, that can be a woman. The villain? Ditto.

In a particular level of genius, Celine Jeanjean lets us into Rory and Longinus heads, uses their point of view to narrate actions, and lets readers put together the clues that the bemused characters still haven’t understood. In addition, The Black Orchid meets all my remaining criteria for a successful mid-series book:

  1. Both the Black Moment when all goes to crap AND the turning point for the series overall. I don’t want to risk spoilers, but there is a moment when all truly seems lost, and when Rory and Longinus’ relationship is severed. Coming off that moment is, I believe, the real turning point for the series as a whole.
  2. Both its own self-contained story arc AND the setup for the final confrontation. Yes, the story arc is nicely wrapped up within this book, and the villains dealt with. But Rory and Longinus’ nemesis, the Scarred Woman/Myran, is still out there plotting. The young noble Rafe is still interested Rory, as he told her in Book 1. “I could be your sidekick, you know. Or your love interest. There’s always a sidekick and a love interest in stories.
  3. Characters who grow and develop within this book AND also have arcs that span all the books. Rory and Longinus meet this requirement individually, but even more in the form of their evolving and developing relationship.
  4. Villain/conflicts who suffer interim defeats in this book AND are still out there building to that climactic final book’s conclusion. And that brings us back to where we came in, with Longinus’ lifelong enemy/sister Myran pulling the strings that set the plot arcs dancing

Five stars? When a book has everything I like—diverse, well-developed and evolving characters, a steampunk setting, and entertaining dialog, what’s not to love?

Find a copy here from or