Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Joy of Steampunk

It should come as no surprise that some of the Stellar Four girls are big fans of steampunk books, especially romances. Meghan B and Kathy are some of the biggest fans of the genre and chat about it often. They share book recommendations and lament over the need for more hours in the day to read (seriously, only 24 hours in a day? That's bullshit!). Recently, they got together to try and figure out why they love steampunk books so much and wanted the Stellar Four readers to join in the conversation!

Kathy: So, when you have aisles of books to devour, what draws you to steampunk romance?

Meghan B: Steampunk is awesome and the romance works more than a regular romance novel. The characters are better written. The women aren't simpering virgins and the men aren't crazy alpha males. Is it weird to say steampunk romance is more realistic?

Kathy: Not for me. I can't stand most contemporary romances. Probably because the few I've read either sound like the couple needs MAJOR counseling, or their main problems could be solved by a two minute conversation. While in paranormal, action or steampunk romance there might be misunderstandings, usually the reason they can't discuss is that there is a killer/monster/flame-throwing clockwork army.

Meghan B: Which makes sense! "Hey, look, I like you but this sky pirate is trying to kill me". Okay, fair play to you, good sir.

Kathy: Yeah, you can't exactly hash out your abandonment issues while dodging bullets. Or at least I couldn't.

Meghan B: I give the couples more leeway in steampunk.

Kathy: Yep. I think for me I do because the books are just so much fun to read. I'm enjoying the scenery, so I'm more willing to suspend disbelief. I love steampunk rom for the worlds, the gadgets, the women (so many of my favs are tinkers, scientists or airship captains), and many of the mens have a certain roguish appeal.

Meghan B: I couldn't agree more! Roguish blokes and strong, smart women!

Kathy: They also are usually really quick reads for me - perfect for when I need a breather or just to read something that I know is going to end happily

Meghan B: Yeah, I can plow through one very quickly, but that isn't a bad thing. They're just fun

(Kathy: There are a lot of inexpensive ones on Kindle too...

Meghan B: You need to stop telling me that!)

Kathy: So, how do you characterize steampounk romance vs paranormal (as they do overlap)?

Meghan B: Steampunk seems to be less full of angst. Paranormal romance is a little darker. It's like "I'm a demon and the man I love is an angel and I have to solve crimes in Kansas City and pretend to be normal but I get tortured..." while steampunk is like "You wear useless goggles on your head? I do too! SHIT, sky pirates, RUN!"

Kathy: How do you categoize ones like Kiss of Steel or Wicked as They Come?

Meghan B: Steampunk. Completely.

Kathy: I put them both as steampunk with a strong paranormal bent. But I felt the world in each was more heavily influenced by steampunk, so they are in that category first.

Meghan B: Agreed. They were steampunk first. They were darker steampunk

Kathy: Yeah, some parts of Kiss of Steel - like oh, the whole final battle. WHEW! Such a freaking good book though. Have you read book 2? Is it out yet?

Meghan B: Not until MAY! (pouts) 

Kathy: Ack! Oh well. Means I haven't missed it. But I wants it...

Meghan B: I wants it bad.

Kathy: I need to thank you by the way, for telling me I had to read Kiss of Steel.

Meghan B: You are quite welcome. It took me by surprise by how deeply GOOD it was. Fabulous world! Well realized, detailed, plus great characters!

Kathy: I loved how it handled vampires. It didn't feel romanticized - they kept the monstrous nature by treating it as a disease. A disease with a time-limit and very bad consequences.

Meghan B: I loved that. It was such a fresh take on a very worn out trope. I love vampires and I was impressed with them in Kiss of Steel.

Kathy: Werewolves are next...

Meghan B: I am so excited! Is it May yet?

Kathy: I wish... Well, while we wait for the next volume, what are some other favorite reads? You had mentioned reading Her Sky Cowboy. Did you like that one?

Meghan B: It was good. It was fun. The plot was a little thin, but it was charming enough to make up for it

Kathy: I saw the cover for the second book - His Clockwork Canary. I need to start this series. Yes I'm being swayed by covers. I admit it.

Meghan B:  I admit that I am swayed by covers too. The art is getting way better lately. It isn't half-naked men holding swooning women anymore. Thank god

Kathy: Not a fan of the man boobage?

Meghan B: (makes a face) Egads, no.

Kathy: The what is your favorite steampunk romance cover?

Meghan B: I do like the Gail Carriger ones. They're lovely

Kathy: I like those too - and the Finishing School series has some killer covers. Gorgeous. The girlchild kept saying "so pretty". She wants the book on her shelf. She can't read it yet, but wants it. I recently saw the 3rd books cover in McMasters series. It loooks fierce. Although yes, the girl is doing a hip pop that would likely fit in with Jim C. Hines' poses.
Meghan B.: Bless Jim C. Hines. He has another Libriomancer book in August! 

Kathy: I KNOW! And Celebromancy comes out then too, right?

Meghan B: YES! This is a good year for books. I basically got Amazon Prime so I can order them all when they come out, instead of waiting for a bunch at a time for $25. Instant gratification for the win!
Kathy: Woohoo! Oh, have you heard of Club Monstrosity?
Meghan B: I have not?
Kathy: "Natalie’s one of Frankenstein’s creations and works in a New York City morgue. So of course she needs therapy. She and her friends—er, fellow monsters—have formed the world’s most exclusive, most dysfunctional support group. What could go wrong?"
Meghan B: GASP. DO WANT.
Kathy: I KNOW!
Meghan B: Who is the author of it? I am adding it to my want list right now
Kathy: Jesse Petersen. Here's the goodreads page!
Meghan B: Awesome! Thank you!
Kathy: No problem! Any steampunk romances you'd like to mention that might not be as well known?
Meghan B: It's not exactly romance, but Incarceron by Catherine Fisher is a very nifty sci-fi steampunk book that I enjoyed a lot. It's YA but it's really fascinating. Also The Hunter by Theresa Meyers. American steampunk, supernatural, the whole series is just zany fun. Oh, and The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray. It's by Chris Wooding and it's another YA novel, but it's also fascianting as hell, great premise, great characters!
Kathy: I've gotten into Cindy Spencer Pape's Gaslight Chronicles. They are REALLY quick reads, but I have so much fun with them. The world is pretty cool and the characters are interesting. They are also quite nexpensive. The second one (and the shortest I think) is free as an eBook. My fav, Kilts and Kraken, is about $2.50, and there is a new one Cards & Caravans out in April. They are fun and inexpensive, so WIN-WIN. Also, the book was called KILTS AND KRAKEN! Of course I had to read it.
Meghan B: I keep meaning to read those. Good to know they're Kathy Approved!
Kathy: There are also some really good YA ones. I liked The Iron Thorn a lot. I need to read the rest of the books in the trilogy. I like Zoe Archer. I've read Skies of Fire. I have the second book to read, it's by Archer's husband Nico Rosso. I do love the Iron Seas by Meljean Brook. I actually love the third one most. Non-alpha hero, a heroine who is a mechanic. YES! Ann Aguirre and her husband (is this a pattern?) have a new one coming out - The Bronze Gods. I wants it.
Meghan B: It's on my list. My list is so long.
Kathy: Tell me about it. I try not to look at mine too much. It might give me a complex.
Meghan B: Oh man, SO MANY BOOKS.
Kathy: We are so screwed.
Meghan B: My wallet is already sobbing bitterly
Kathy: But then we are talking about steampunk romance, so...
Meghan B: I will gladly hurl monies at steampunk romances
Kathy: If I was able to name one more author(s) it would be Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris. I love their Ministry series. Phoenix Rising was fun and reminded me of when I would watch the wild wild west and Avengers (Peele & Steed not Thor & Iron Man) with my dad on Sunday mornings.
Meghan B: I own those, I haven't gotten to them yet. I have a terrible backlog... I'm going to be killed by falling books, I swear. They're piled so high
Kathy: I have shelves of books I need to read. They are pretty shelves...pretty reminders of my need to read faster and stop accumulating books.( Are you laughing yet?) Like that would EVER happen
Meghan B: Right? A friend of mine told me I should donate/sell/get rid of a book for every NEW book I bring into the house. I basically laughed in her face.
Kathy: BWAHAHAHAHAHA! That would be like cutting off fingers. Not going to happen.
Meghan B: Right? You can pry my books out of my cold dead hands!

Kathy: Before we digress, again, maybe it's time to wrap things up. Lovely chatting with you as always.

Meghan b: Always a pleasure. Now to go read more steampunk!

Have some favorite steampunk romance (or just steampunk) reads? Tell us about it.
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  1. I'm surprised you didn't mention Devon Monk's Age of Steam series. It took me a bit to get into "Dean Iron" but I loved it by the end. I've finally got my hands on "Tin Swift" from the library. So. Excited.
    "Retribution Falls" also by Chris Wooding is one I read after Kathy added it to her Goodreads shelf. Very fun, no romance. I haven't read the rest of the series yet, so there *may* be some developments there.
    So many great books did make your list though. I completely agree that the latest Iron Seas is my favorite, and I can't wait to start Gail Carriger's new series. A few others were already on my TBR pile, while the rest will be added... ummm, now. :D

    1. Yes, I love Monks series too. So many great books to read, it's so hard to get them all in 1 post! :)

    2. OH MY GOD, CHRIS WOODING'S KETTY JAY BOOKS ARE MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITES!!! I didn't mention them here because they didn't really fit the theme, but OH MY GOD THEY ARE SO GOOD. I can't wait for the next one to come out!

  2. I think I got the husband into steampunk now. I convinced him to read the Parasol Protectorate series and he loved it!

  3. I was a huge fan of KISS OF STEEL. This was definitely one of my favorite books in the last year - the world was just incredible and the romance was pitch perfect. Oddly enough, until the battle scene at the end, the steampunk elements of the story weren't as strong to me. I wonder if they'll become larger parts of the world and the story in the next books. Regardless, I have major love for this book and this author. I need to check out the other titles on your list!

  4. Loved PP. Thanks for the new books to add to my list. Have you read Native Star yet?

    1. I loved Native Star. Another excellent read. I have Hidden Goddess waiting for me.