Tag Archives: steampunk

Historical Fantasies with Feisty Heroines by David D. Levine and R.S. Belcher

24 Jan

I’m always a fan of Gaslight Fantasies, Steampunk, and other forms of retro futurism.  Recently I enjoyed two very different takes on the female adventurer/pirate that I hope you want to check out too.  All are available from the Hoboken Public Library and other BCCLS libraries.

Arabella of Mars & Arabella and the Battle of Venus by David D. Levine

Arabella of Mars had been on my to-be-read list since it came out last summer so when the sequel Arabella and the Battle of Venus came out this past July, I decided it was time to read both.  Fans of steampunk and quirky, feisty heroines will enjoy this novel which begins in 1812 in a world where Napoleon is causing trouble for not only England and Europe, but other alien inhabited planets.  Arabella Ashby was raised on Mars where she is able to have more freedom and adventures than women typically had on earth, but all that changes when her mother decides to bring her back to England in order to make a lady of her.  However when a beloved family member left behind is threatened Arabella will do anything to get back and save the day.  In Arabella and the Battle of Venus, Arabella must come to the rescue of another loved one, this time being held hostage on Venus.  I found Levine’s writing style enjoyable and I loved the creative quirky retro-futurist details like the whales which swim amongst the stars.  The novels though found in the Adult Fiction section here at the Hoboken Library, would definitely be of interest to teens and tweens as well and won the 2017 Andre Norton Award for Young Adult SF & Fantasy.  Check them out and see why I can’t wait for the next in the series (tentatively titled Arabella and the Winds of Phobos or Arabella the Traitor of Mars according to Levine’s blog).

The Queen of Swords by R.S. Belcher

The Queen of Swords is the third in R.S. Belcher’s Golgotha series.  Although the series is mainly set in the Weird West, this novel takes place mainly in New England and Africa.  I enjoyed the first in the series The Six Gun Tarot which reminded me a bit of Stephen King’s The Gunslinger merged with HP Lovecraft elder gods, but I enjoyed The Queen of Swords even more because it focuses on my favorite character of the series, Maude Stapleton, a seemingly proper Victorian lady, who is secretly, one of the Daughters of Lilith, an ancient organization seeking to protect humanity.  In this novel it intersperses Maude’s efforts to get her kidnapped daughter back with the story of her ancestor, Anne Bonny, a pirate queen.  Unlike with Like in Levine’s stories both Maude and Anne must contend with being underestimated and oppressed by a society that views them as weak despite their wit and physical abilities.  This series has more violence and adult content than in Levine’s works so are more appropriate for an older audience and it is more a blend of horror/ historic fantasy.  Although there are spoilers for previous books, so you may want to read the first two books in the series first, this entry stands well on its own.

Like these books; then check out my previous posts about Gail Carriger’s Steampunk series, Catherynne M. Valente’s Radiance, and Leanna Renee Heieber’s The Eterna Files, and Liesel Schwarz’s The Chronicles of Light and Shadow for more strong female protagonists in speculative fiction.

Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

HPL Patrons Can Borrow These LGBTQ Fiction Ebooks Right Now!

22 Mar

At the end of February the miniseries When We Rise premiered, which chronicled the evolution and trials of the LGBT Civil Rights movement.  It is poignant to think back on all that has occurred in the last few decades.  I can remember when it was groundbreaking that Ellen came out back in the 90’s; fast forward to today when there are gay characters in many of shows I watch.  Recently I read three ebooks set during different time periods and I was struck by how the lives of different characters varied with the time of the books’ settings.  Two of these ebooks you can click over and borrow right now on Hoopla Digital if you are a HPL or other BCCLS library card holder and another is available on the tablets and ereaders for loan to Hoboken Resident Library Card Holders.

The Death of a Much-Travelled Woman and Other Adventures with Cassandra Reilly by Barbara Wilson

The Death of a Much-Travelled Woman is the third in Wilson’s Cassandra Reilly series, which were written and set in the 1990’s.  Cassandra is a translator of Spanish Fiction and her work brings her to many different locations around the world.  Unlike the other three books in the collection, which are novels, this is a collection of short stories.  Wilson often weaves issues of the day into her fiction and it frequently has a feminist perspective, which was refreshing since many of the cozy mysteries I read seem to exist in a reality outside of our contemporary issues.  Cassandra travels all over the world in the stories including Mexico, the English Moors, and Iceland.  My favorites of the stories are one that is set in Maui which revolves around artwork Georgia O’Keefe created while visiting the island, and the other is the last story in the collection which has a very meta twist.  The first Cassandra Reilly novel Gaudi Afternoon was adapted into a movie by the same name starring Judy Davis, Marcia Gay Harden, Lili Taylor, and Juliette Lewis; it can be borrowed from BCCLS libraries.  Barbara Wilson is the pen name of Barbara Sjoholm, who besides translating works in Norwegian and Danish has also written a memoir and several travel books.

Looking for Group by Alexis Hall

You may remember I previously wrote about Alexis Hall’s terrific Kate Kane mystery series which had been previously available on Hoopla.  Unlike that series which was in the paranormal mystery genre, Looking for Group would be best described as Contemporary New Adult Fiction.  In the story Drew, a college student in England, begins playing an online game (which Hall admits is an homage to World of Warcraft) with a new group of players and feels drawn to one of them who lives nearby.  When he learns that Kit is male and not female like he expected it causes him to do some soul searching about his attraction, but in a way which reflects the fluidity that sexuality is often accepted with today.  The novel also deals with the very modern issue of friends that you spend time with in person versus online friends and the validity of both.  One of my husband’s friends from high school met his girlfriend of 10 years playing World of Warcraft but people who don’t participate in online gaming or take part in online communities can often not understand the dynamics so I liked seeing Hall handled this situation in fiction.  Even being married to a gamer, I found some of the gaming jargon a little confusing at first, but there is a glossary at the back of the story you can jump to if you need help.

Romancing the Inventor: A Supernatural Society Novella by Gail Carriger


Image via Amazon

I am a huge fan of Carriger’s work and have written about some of her novels in previous posts.  Romancing the Inventor is part of a series of standalone LGBTQ romance novellas that she is self-publishing that are set in the same Steampunk universe as the Parasol Protectorate and Finishing School series.  The first of these, Romancing the Inventor features fan favorite cross dressing inventor Genevieve Lefoux.  However the protagonist in the novel is not Genevieve, but her love interest Imogene who leaves her home to become a maid for a household of vampires, the only place Imogene believes her lesbianism might be accepted.  Too often Steampunk takes the trappings of the Victorian era like corsets and airships but has the social milieu be that of our own era.  Part of what I enjoyed about this work was that despite the inclusion of vampires and werewolves it looked at some of the class issues that were experienced during that time in history in a way that seemed more compelling and authentic than other Steampunk fiction.  Hoboken resident library card holders can check out the story on one of our ereaders or tablets we have to lend at the reference desk.  If you have never experienced an ebook before this a great opportunity to check out some different styles of ereaders and to see if the device is something you’d be interested in investing in.

Read any great LGBTQ fiction recently?  Let us know in the comment section.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

%d bloggers like this: