Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Book Report: Steampunk and Lost Things

I'm back in the "office" after a weekend convention trip. There were panels, I read some stuff, I hung out with friends. It was good. Now I have about two weeks before I do it again on a bigger scale and farther away, and in those two weeks, I have a lot of stuff to get done. I have to go over some books we're preparing for release (the first four Enchanted, Inc. books in digital for outside North America -- now the Brits, Australians and other people who read English will be able to get legal digital versions). I've worked on cover suggestions for the steampunk book, and I'll have copyedits to review on that one, plus a marketing plan to look at and add ideas to. I have a book to revise. And then there's all the pre-travel stuff.  So I guess I'll be busy, and I may disregard this weekend's holiday. There was also a minor panic attack when I looked at my calendar and realized that after this weekend, I don't have a "free" weekend until August. I may stock up on supplies tomorrow and then barricade myself in my house.

I have been doing some reading, so I have a couple of books to report on.

The Havoc Machine by Steven Harper may be one of the better steampunk books I've read. I was a little worried when I read the intro because it mentioned something zombie-like, and I am soooo tired of zombies in steampunk (also, vampires and demons), but it turned out that this was more part of the set-up. It's really not a zombie book. The idea is that there's a virus going around. Some people who are infected turn into zombies if they survive. Others who survive the virus end up being enhanced -- better strength, reflexes, thinking, etc. -- except they also start losing their humanity and become utterly focused on their inventing, research, etc. They can do great things, but because of the loss of their humanity, they can also do terrible things, and their inventions are where the steampunk part comes in. This book is actually a later one in a series, but it stands alone as it spins off what was apparently a secondary character into his own adventures. In this book, Our Hero is a member of a traveling circus who has a sideline in killing these "clockmakers," since one killed his son as a part of one of his bizarre experiments. He gets hired to steal a device from a clockmaker, with the chance to kill him a bonus, and gets way more than he bargained for. I'm kind of a sucker for stories set in old circuses, and this definitely has the rollicking adventure feel that I've always wanted (and seldom got) from steampunk, so I'm going to look for the rest of the books in this series.

The Lost by Sarah Beth Durst. Sarah has been writing middle-grade and YA fantasy (and winning or being nominated for tons of awards in the process), and this is her first adult novel. Our Heroine gets lost while driving in the desert and finds herself in a strange little town that she can't manage to leave. Lost is where lost things end up, and no one can leave until they find what they lost. With some unlikely allies, she has to struggle to survive, and then make some decisions about what to do if she ever does find herself. I just about read this in one sitting and am now anxiously awaiting the sequel. It's rather creepy and eerie, and I would suggest reading it with a glass of water nearby because the desert setting made me feel really dry. I'm impressed that she managed to put a spin on the urban fantasy "tattooed bad boy who's ridiculously attractive" type that actually made me like him.

And now back to the epic to-do list.

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