Author: Scott Westerfeld
Series: First of a trilogy (Leviathan, Behemoth, Goliath)

Age/Audience: YA – 7- 10th grade

Genre/Style: Alternate history

Read If You Like: WWI history, genetics, adventure/war stories, European history, women in science/engineering


In this alternate WWI Europe, the map is split between two groups. On one side is the Darwinist English who use modified animals as war machines, airships, and communication devices. On the other, the German Clankers whose iron machine based culture puts them at fundamental odds with the British: and both sides are itching for war. Caught in the middle is the young illegitimate Alek, son of Archduke Ferdinand. With his parents’ assassination Alek’s life is in danger, and with the help of trusted servants and a Stormwalker gun machine he hopes to survive the declaration of war by racing across Germany to neutral Switzerland.

Meanwhile Deryn can’t wait to join the battle. Disguising herself as a boy “Dylan” enlists in the British Airforce and joins the crew of Leviathan, a modified whale turned airship. Onboard Leviathan is Dr Nora Darwin Barlow, a scientist who promises British victory with her new secret weapon – but what is it?

As Europe is plunged into what would prove to be its bloodiest conflict what can be done to stop it? After Leviathan crash lands next to Alek’s Swiss safe-house, it seems the two cultures have more to learn from each other than they would ever admit, and it may be the key to saving not only their own lives, but all of Europe.


Bottom Line: Great read to create a bridge between fiction and non-fiction, really well paced, complex female characters (in the sciences and the military to boot!).

More Reviews:


Find It: https://www.worldcat.org/title/leviathan/oclc/290477162&referer=brief_results


Author: Gail Carriger
Series: Parasol Protectorate (Changeless, Blameless, Heartless, Timeless)

Age/Audience: Adult/Teen, 10th grade +

Genre/Style: supernatural, mystery

Read If You Like: Vampires, werewolves, mystery, Oscar Wilde/wit

Bottom Line: Written in a quasi-Victorian style the wit, emphasis on historically accurate costume, and magical-realism make this story feel equally antique and modern. The sassy attitudes and sexual details make it a late teen crowd pleaser.


Walking Your Octopus: A Guidebook to the Domesticated Cephalopod

Author: Brian Kesinger
Series: standalone

Age/Audience: Everyone

Genre/Style: Picture book/coffee table book

Read If You Like: Heavily stylized books with simple stories, octopus


Recently adopted your own cephalopod and don’t know what to do? Never fear, Brian Kesinger’s brightly illustrated “do and don’t” guide will help you through everything from exercise, to socializing, to keeping ink out of the gears in your boots. This book is filled with over 30 lusciously colored steampunk pictures showing the delightful (but sometimes difficult) day to day of living with a full-sized, eight-armed pet. Hardcover with thick pages this picture book is great for readers who will enjoy Otto’s antics and will surely be asking for their own come Christmas.


Bottom Line: Fun, colorful, and off the beaten path of “see Jane go” picture books this pick is a coffee-table staple – fun for adults, vocabulary growing for kids


Find It: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/walking-your-octopus-brian-kesinger/1114842286?ean=9781614040064


Author: Kenneth Oppel
Series: Book one of the “Matt Cruse” books, followed by Skybreaker and Starclimber

Age/Audience: Middle readers , 5th – 8th grade

Genre/Style: Adventure

Read If You Like: Treasure Planet (film), high-sea adventures, pirates, quick reads


This steampunk-light novel is a page-to-page adventure. The book opens with 14 year-old Matt Cruse, the cabin boy on the Aurora, an airship lifted by hydrium – a gas lighter than hydrogen and able to carry a cruise-sized airship smoothly through the skies. The ship’s course is slightly diverted, though, when a damaged air-balloon is seen drifting in the sky. The crew of the Aurora rescues the balloon’s pilot, but he soon dies in their infirmary. Matt thinks little of it until one year later, when they take on the balloonist’s grand-daughter, Kate de Vries, as a first class passenger from Lion Gate City to Sydney, Australia. Kate is not onboard for a pleasure cruise, though. She is determined to finish her grandfather’s mission: to find a creature called “cloud cats” and restore her grandfather’s good name. Kate’s mission could prove problematic for Matt, as she has attempted to enlist him in helping her. Matt doesn’t need any trouble. Having been passed over for a promotion from cabin boy to sail maker he can’t afford any black marks on his record. But when the Aurora is forced to crash land on a remote island after damage she received in a pirate attack, it becomes harder for Matt to refuse Kate’s insistence to accompany her in her search of the island for the elusive cloud cats. The island, though, is small and unlucky- the Aurora isn’t the only shipwreck on the shores.


Bottom Line: Good for reluctant or romance/adventure dependent readers, too simple for advanced readers

Read More:


Find It:



Author: Cherie Priest
Series: Stand alone, but part of the “Clockwork Century” expanded universe series

Age/Audience: Late YA/Adult – 10th grade +

Genre/Style: Alternate US Civil War, survivor story, post-apocalyptic

Read If You Like: Seattle, zombies, mystery, post-apocalyptic, strong women


As the US Civil War rages on the East Coast, the West is still looking for gold, and better ways to drill to find it. Enter Leviticus Blue and his Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine. But when the Boneshaker drills through the financial district in Seattle leaving a wake of death and destruction it’s Blue’s pregnant wife Briar who bears the brunt of the public rage – since Leviticus is nowhere to be found. Sixteen years later things have gone from bad to worse. The Boneshaker went to deep, releasing a poisonous gas from underground. The “blight” turns people into “rotters”, zombie-like creatures – assuming you survive in the toxic city of death long enough to become one. To keep the gas contained the people of Seattle build a wall, leaving anyone foolhearty enough to stay behind to fend for themselves.

Briar and her son, Zeke, live on the edge of the wall in the poorest part of the new Seattle. Shamed for her husband’s actions Briar is an outcast. Zeke, though, refuses to believe his father is innocent, and that he Boneshaker must have gone out of control. He refuses to believe his father intentionally drove the Boneshaker and he plans to prove it. Zeke climbs the wall into old Seattle determined to find the truth. The truth, he thinks, lies in his parent’s old home and a man called Minnericht; a drug-dealing, mechanical weapon building, underworld kingpin who many believe to be Leviticus Blue. When Briar realizes what her son has done she climbs over the wall after him, determined to save her son from his father’s legacy and her own secrets.


Bottom Line: Fantastic multiple-appeal style book with an incredible twist ending and no romance.

More Info:


Find It: https://www.worldcat.org/title/boneshaker/oclc/317929042&referer=brief_results