A Cat’s Steampunk Alphabet

Author: G. D. Falksen and Evelyn Kriete
Series: –

Age/Audience: Mixed audience, children will enjoy the variety of cats and non-traditional alphabet rhymes, adults will enjoy the throw back to turn-of-the-century English culture.

Genre/Style: Alphabet book

Read If You Like: Louis Wain style cats, rhymes, Victorian British satire

 

Summary:

H is for hydraulic, I for iron, and J for jingo in this abecedary that has as much appeal for grown-ups as for young ones. Styled after Louis Wain’s illustrations the simple rhymes offer steampunk vocabulary (dirigible, gear, timepiece) paired with satire on Victorian culture (xenophobia, jingo, zenith). This short book offers a lot to all ages as a platform for discussion, an interpretation of illustration, and an introduction to all things steam.

 

Bottom Line: The perfect mix of cute and clever, a must read.

Read More:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13589913-a-cats-steampunk-alphabet

Nook Book: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-cats-steampunk-alphabet-gd-falksen/1110378155?ean=9781434448880

A Lady’s Experiences in the Wild West in 1883

Author: Rose Render (forward by A B Guthrie, Jr)
Series: –

Age/Audience: Teens with an interest in the wild west, adults

Genre/Style: Travel narrative

Read If You Like: Authentic, sassy, Victorian travel narratives, stories about the American West

Summary:

Mrs. Rose Render’s hyperbolic narrative of her travels through the 19th century is unlike a traditional nonfiction: the line is much more blurry. Though technically a nonfiction book this reads like a narrative thanks to the reflective nature of the writing and the added structural elements. Carrying with her a large collection of luggage, her husband, and her aristocratic English attitude Mrs. Render offers a unique perspective on the West. Her story describes all the details you would hope to find in historic nonfiction – descriptions of the New York style of train luggage porting, interactions between the social classes, and a colorful explanation of the cattle ranching process circa 1883. This little (130 pages) book offers a lot to different readers. You get to enjoy the insight of authentic Victorian travel stories, but you also get Mrs. Render’s hyperbolic, extravagant point of view.

 

Bottom Line:

Nonfiction for those that don’t like reading nonfiction. This is the kind of book to shake someone out of a reading rut: a mix of styles, a unique voice, and quick enough to read in a day or two.

Read More:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2363446.A_Lady_s_Experience_in_the_Wild_West_in_1883?from_search=true

Find It:

http://www.worldcat.org/title/ladys-experiences-in-the-wild-west-in-1883/oclc/3966017

Lady Mechanika

Author: Joe Benitez
Series: Comic series, 3 volumes to date

Age/Audience: Teens and Adults equally

Genre/Style: Comic serial, mystery, supernatural

Read If You Like: Mechanics mixed with demonology, strong females, dark edgy comic styles

 

Summary:

The tabloids call her Lady Mechanika, but she doesn’t know what to call herself. Part female serial killer survivor, part mechanical-body-parts experiment Mechanika roams the streets of Victorian London hoping that solving unusual cases might give her insight to her previous life. When a mechanic-demon is found roaming the streets, Mechanika hopes he can answer her questions. But when weapons manufacturer Blackpool gets involved in the hunt, things get much more complicated, and Mechanika will have to do what she does best: kick some ass.

Bottom Line: An action filled comic with creative, pure Steampunk art hosted online with a great in-browser reader.

 

Read More: http://www.joebenitez.com/mechanika.htm

Find It: https://www.comixology.com/Lady-Mechanika-Vol-1/comics-series/4721 (PS Vol. 0 is FREE, the rest only $1.99 each)

Steampunk (2008 Anthology)

Author: Ann & Jeff Vandermeer, Editors
Series: Followed by Steampunk II

Age/Audience: Adults

Genre/Style: Varies by story

Read If You Like: Short stories, a lot of variety, light-steampunk, or introductions to authors

 

Summary:

This collection of stories is, eclectic, to say the least. Styles range from Western Mysteries, excerpts from larger adventure stories, short sci-fi, and some non-fiction essays. However, it’s blessing is also it’s curse. While the stories range offers a lot to readers who are wholly unfamiliar with the genre, tried and true steampunk fans may be frustrated at the lack of flying machines, automatons, altered costuming, and general “can do” spirit steampunk is known for. With the exception of a few stories, most pieces in the collection are very steampunk light, meaning they have very few steam elements, or those elements aren’t spot lighted in the story over all.

Bottom Line: While the stories are interesting and well written, with the exception of Lansdale’s piece that reads as if it was written by a prepubescent boy, they aren’t focused enough for me to recommend this as a preferred steampunk collection.

 

Read More, including a full author list: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2246092.Steampunk

Find It:

http://www.worldcat.org/title/steampunk/oclc/182733030&referer=brief_results

Gris Grimly’s Frankenstein

Author: Mary Shelley & Gris Grimly
Series: –

Age/Audience: Teens and Adults, 15+

Genre/Style: Graphic novel, horror

Read If You Like: Frankenstein, Victorian Monsters, supernatural with a little bit of horror, graphic novels

 

Summary:

The story – Victor Frankenstein is an up and coming scientist from a Geneva aristocratic family. After the death of his mother from scarlet fever, he is inspired to finish his studies so he can return to Geneva and marry his childhood sweetheart Elizabeth and complete his family once again. While at school Victor becomes obsessed with natural philosophy, and the notion that he could do the unthinkable, give life back to the dead. After months of study and midnight experiments he finally manages to create his masterpiece. But genius isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and soon things are far beyond Frankenstein’s control. As the death toll grows, is there anything that can be done to stop The Monster?

Gris Grimly’s Adaptation – This is one of the purest adaptations I have ever seen. Instead of altering Mary Shelley’s original text, Grimly streamlines it. By pairing Shelley’s scenes with his own Steampunk/Gothic cross over style makes the text accessible to a whole new audience. Readers aren’t confronted with huge blocks of early Victorian language, instead they see bright red script letters, comic-style block image dialog, and a touching rendition of the Creature’s story – a piece of the novel often excluded in adaptations. Five stars, highly recommended for Frankenstein lovers, comic lovers, Steampunk fans, or anyone who will appreciate Shelley’s classic text with streamlined approachability.

 

Bottom Line: Five stars, a beautiful book filled with the original text that made Frankenstein a cultural staple.

Read More:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17331402-gris-grimly-s-frankenstein

Find It:

http://www.worldcat.org/title/gris-grimlys-frankenstein-or-the-modern-prometheus/oclc/697974171&referer=brief_results

Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in the 1800s

Author: Marc McCutcheon
Series: –

Age/Audience: Adults, teens interested in historic writing

Genre/Style: Guide/Reference

Read If You Like: Quick guides for 19th century vocabulary and concepts

 

Summary:

Less guide and more encyclopedia, this book is a desk staple. A strong feature is the way topics are covered via period quotes. For example, the entry on dental health discusses the general practice across the 1800s, but also includes quotes from 1784, 1798, 1838, and 1859 to show changes in perceptions. It also includes a chart on general medical fees from the period. The resource include quick definitions for slang terms and titles, but some entries are more robust, receiving almost a whole page (for example, bicycling). Terms are listed alphabetically within their theme-based chapter. The book wraps up with what may be the most helpful for some writers: chronologies. There is a chronology of well known books, magazines, innovations, and songs. This is particularly helpful for anyone worried about anachronistic technologies or quotes popping up in their writing.

 

Bottom Line:

Five-stars: an exceptionally useful desk reference. Not the best for long reading sessions but invaluable for editing sessions.

 

Read More:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55581.Everyday_Life_in_the_1800s

Find It:

http://www.worldcat.org/title/everyday-life-in-the-1800s-a-guide-for-writers-students-historians/oclc/45500097?referer=di&ht=edition

What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew

Author: Daniel Pool
Series: –

Age/Audience: 14+, mostly adults or teens with a noted interest

Genre/Style: Nonfiction essay style writing, quick progression through chapters covers various years, chapters based on theme

Read If You Like: Nonfiction designed for short-spurt reading sessions

 

Summary:

The world of 19th century England was both radically different from our own, and similar in ways we may not have considered before. Written for fellow writers and the everyday reader with a curiosity about the day to day of Dicken’s socializing, Pool’s book is part novel part encyclopedia. Aimed at a widespread audience, Pool aims his informative book at those with a vague notion of Victorianism looking to find what’s changed and what hasn’t since the 19th century. The book isn’t a narrative, but it suits short bursts of reading and functions like a series of essays on a topic all grouped together into this one volume. Particularly helpful to researchers and writers is Pool’s lengthy (though now a little outdated) bibliography at the end of the book. Additionally, the glossary makes Pool’s book a helpful side-table companion for readers and writers.

 

Bottom Line:

An interesting read full of fun tidbits, good for general interest readers who want more narrative-style writing or researchers looking for square one.

Read More: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1987.What_Jane_Austen_Ate_and_Charles_Dickens_Knew

Find It:

http://www.worldcat.org/title/what-jane-austen-ate-and-charles-dickens-knew-from-fox-hunting-to-whist-the-facts-of-daily-life-in-nineteenth-century-england/oclc/717178438

Raising the Dead: The Men Who Created Frankenstein

Author: Andy Dougan
Series: –

Age/Audience: Adult, or advanced/patient teens with a general interest in historical science

Genre/Style: History of Medicine

Read If You Like: Context driven nonfiction, novel-styled nonfiction, Frankenstein

 

Summary:

This detailed discussion of turn of the century anatomical science has a lot going for it and a lot against it. While the information included is presented in an approachable, readable format it tends to stray quite easily. While I agree it’s tactful to understand Matthew Clydesdale as a person before we read several pages about his execution and dissection, a whole chapter devoted to his arrest, trial, and time in jail is completely unnecessary. The book seems to be written for people who have a general curiosity but aren’t looking for a research tool or anything too technical.

For steam punk readers and writers the number of diagrams and quotes from period newspapers could prove useful. The time period is earlier than most steam punk stories, but it does give a good understanding of the world older characters would have grown up in, and gives an appreciation for how far medicine came in just a few decades.

 

Bottom Line: Interesting facts, approachable style, but too unfocused to really enjoy. Also not nearly enough connection back to Mary Shelley to justify the title.

 

Find It: https://www.worldcat.org/title/raising-the-dead-the-men-who-created-frankenstein/oclc/190967792&referer=brief_results

Soulless

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.

Summary:

Boneshaker

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

Summary:

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:

http://theclockworkcentury.com/

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