Tarnished by Karina Cooper – Steampunk

Tarnished (The St. Croix Chronicles, #1)Tarnished by Karina Cooper

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My name is Cherry St. Croix. Society would claim that I am a well-heeled miss with an unfortunate familial reputation. They’ve no idea of the truth of it. In my secret world, I hunt down vagrants, thieves . . . and now, a murderer. For a monster stalks London’s streets, leaving a trail of mystery and murder below the fog.

Eager for coin to fuel my infatuations, I must decide where my attentions will turn: to my daylight world, where my scientific mind sets me apart from respectable Society, or to the compelling domain of London below. Each has a man who has claimed my time as his–for good or for ill. Though as the corpses pile, and the treacherous waters of Society gossip churn, I am learning that each also has its dangers. One choice will see me cast from polite company . . . the other might just see me dead

Ever read a book and it just took you awhile to figure out what direction it was going? That’s a good description for the start of this book. Set in Victorian England, this steampunk novel introduces us to Cherry St. Croix, and an entirely different London. With horrible smog, the rich and important have been lifted high into he London sky, while the rift raft and other undesirables remain stuck in the dark misery of the below.

Cherry is a woman with a foot in both worlds. By day she is an unwanted member of the peerage, a madman’s unconventional daughter deemed to be trying to rise above her the below to collect bounties, usually set by those with power.

Cherry is not your typical romantic heroine and this is not a typical romance book. This is ultimately a murder mystery involving a young heroine coming into her sexuality. The romantic elements a both an after thought but also vital to the story. Cherry is a one minded woman, she wants to reach the age of 21 and gain control of her life and fortune. Her background is an interesting one and explains why she is the way she is, untrusting, secretive, both naive but knowing. She is confident in her abilities to the point of over estimating herself. Hence why she spends a good deal of the book having things fall down around her.

Part of this book is watching Cherry finish maturing. She is naive in thinking that she wants to stay alone forever and constantly pushes people away. Even the servants who have cared for her for years she never sees as hers. They are always the spies for her guardian. Likewise, she doesn’t understand and doesn’t want the feelings that go along with her interactions with Hawke (underworld ruler) and The Earl of Compton. Like her persona, she is torn between one world she feels she belongs in and one world where she is the outcast. In either place she must keep secrets and it is these secrets that are slowly tearing her apart.

Cherry is a deeply flawed character. She uses and abuses opium, not necessarily for the high, but rather as an easier way of not having to deal with any emotion, either current or in regards to her past. It is a crutch that allows her to hold herself away from people and the only way she can keep the extreme abuses she has witnessed and endured under her control. The author does an excellent job at expressing both Cherry’s desperation for the relief opium gives her without idolizing the use or making it seem acceptable.

As stated,in the first half of the book I really had difficulty
Figuring out where the author was going. There are lots of different and competing elements in the book and the only made sense once you got much further along. There is a lot of background information that needs to be exposed and this does slow the pace of the book down while
you push your way through it. But once into the meat of the story I was easily and quickly hooked.

The plot is slightly macabre with gothic overtones. Those paying attention will quickly pick up on the Jack the Ripper connection, which was very well done. By the end, the story goes through more twists and turns then a figure eight, many are completely out of the blue. And while a few questions were answered by the end of the book, many more were left. Who will Cherry end up with? Who is the other collector? Who tried to steal the new ship? Most readers will find themselves interested enough to look for the next book in the series.


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Happy Anniversary

to myself and my hubby.  13 years.  It seems both a very long time and a very short time.  We’ve been through quite a bit in those 13 years and somehow have managed not to kill each other *wink*


Here’s to 60 more yearsImage


This lovely picture is of my cousin Danielle.  She was 1 of 2 flower girls in our wedding.  Both girls are now out of high school and I feel really old.

Review: Death Comes to Pemberly

Death Comes to Pemberly
Death Comes to Pemberly by P.D. James
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

As a fan of Pride and Prejudice adaptations and spin off, I have read many of these types of novels. I was unimpressed with this novel, so much that I am not even going to do an in-depth review.  The book simply isn’t worth it.  . I felt the author did a disservice to Austin’s characters. They lacked personality and the entire book was one person after another worrying over something. The characters were bland, uninspired, and unremarkable.

The book also felt very fragmented to me and never allowed me to get into a smooth reading groove. I found the plot to be more like reading a newspaper report of an event rather than a novel. The author made an attempt to play off both pride (Wickham’s, Denny’s and the Colonel’s) and prejudice (everyone’s bias in regards to Wickham) but it just fails.

There are far better adaptations and spin offs than this one. Unless you feel the need to read all of them, take a pass on this one.

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Another new bird

Catbird by deerhart23
Catbird, a photo by deerhart23 on Flickr.

Picked up a few new bird sightings this week. Caught a Red Winged Blackbird at the house (been seeing them in CVNP since April but none near our house), caught some tree swallows at a park (again seen in April in CVNP), Great Blue Heron with geese and mallards Great Blue Heron in Canadian Geese Gaggle catbird (pictured above)out at CVNP today, and the youngest spotted a Northern Yellow-bellied Flicker this morning on the suet feeder.