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    2011 Reading Challenge

    Fiendishly Bookish has read 3 books toward her goal of 250 books.



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    Fiendish Review: "The Map of Time" by Felix J. Palma

    Book:                  The Map of Time

    Author:               Felix J. Palma

    Publisher:           Atria

    ISBN/ASIN:         9781439167397

    RATING:               4 Stars

    RELEASE DATE:  June 28, 2011

    H.G. Wells is the touchstone of Palma’s piece, the spinning centre of The Map of Time from which Palma’s novellas orbit…intricately connected by strings of happenstance to Wells: from Andrew Harrington, the tortured second son hopelessly in love with a harlot whose devastating end comes at the hands of the most brutal serial killer ever known-to the charlatan Gilliam Murray who dupes all of London with his fantastical vision of the future. Even the unassuming Claire Haggerty, whose lust for another time and a passion out of her reach will lead her into the arms of a grifter.

    Regardless of class, station or economics, Time is depicted as the great regulator and is the essential ingredient in all things for everyone: those who would exploit it to the masses as cheap entertainment, and others who would write about it inspiring a public for generations to come. And some who desperately yearn for it to rectify an error of fate.

    Hauntingly beautiful, adventurous and imaginative with each and every story that Palma weaves, the labyrinth always seems to lead to H.G. Wells. In that, Palma has captured one of the most creative minds of his time and staged him around other luminaries that will excite and spark readers through every enviable scene. There are hidden universes in Felix Palma’s The Map of Time…one need only dive beneath the pages to find them.

    Palma’s omnipotence as narrator can be a bit unsettling at times, as is the flexing of his literary hubris. In this, others have referred to “bloated”. Let’s withhold judgment for a moment. The Map of Time’s characters have a story to tell that is necessary and connected to its centre of Wells.

    The most touching by far is that of Well’s introduction to Joseph Merrick and the story of the basket. It’s a haunting melancholy piece full of meaning and that one story is permanently cemented as my favorite. It still loops through my mind because Palma’s scene setting was remarkable-Merrick’s honest acceptance of life and indomitable will influences not only its characters but its readers.

    Andrew Harrington’s story is equally heart-wrenching as he desperately tries to find a way to reverse the events of November 7, 1888, and the grip that Jack the Ripper had on the country that fateful year. His devotion to a woman so entirely out of his sphere sparks hope and equanimity in a society so segregated by class that it ends up being a breath of fresh air.

    I was moved, contemplative, thrilled, and pushed beyond my comfort level by this astonishing collection of stories.

    A Fiendishly Bookish Review (and one grumpy cat)


    Next Up: The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma

    Book:                  The Map of Time

    Author:                Felix J. Palma

    Publisher:            Atria

    ISBN/ASIN:         9781439167397

    RATING:               4 Stars REVIEW PENDING

    RELEASE DATE:  June 28, 2011

    Engrossing and imaginative from the cobblestoned dank streets of Victorian London to the stygian mysteries of the Fourth Dimension, Palma's book reignited my wonder and awe-and held me spell bound...


    Oozing Style all Over the Pages...The Girl in the Steel Corset is YA Steampunk Chic...

    Book:                   The Girl in the Steel Corset

    Author:               Kady Cross

    Publisher:           Harlequin

    ISBN/ASIN:         978-0373210336

    RATING:               5 Stars, Fiendishly Bookish Top Eleven of 2011

    RELEASE DATE:  Out Now!!!

    Kady Cross creates a deliciously believable Jules-Verne-worthy-“lite”-Victorian world that’s injected with imaginative steampunk elements, a riveting plot, and cast of characters that can’t help themselves but be endlessly hip. The Girl in the Steel Corset is a stunningly visual and innovative debut festooned with devices of all manner: velocycles, mandroids, steam phaetons, electro-disturbance pistols, automatons, and a mysterious girl who possesses a dangerous duality.

    When Finley Jayne finds herself crossing paths with Griffin King, the young Duke of Greythorne on the midnight fog-enshrouded streets of Mayfair, it almost seems as if it’s too coincidental to be true. When Griffin brings her into his circle, he discovers an intriguing intersection between her origins and his own. And as Griffin digs deeper, his suspicions are realized; Finley Jayne is extraordinarily different, and could be an asset to his team.

    For the troupe of Greythorne House, Griffin, Sam, Jasper and Emily have been hot on the trail of a mastermind who has the ability to control automatons…programming them to kill…and even enabling them to think on their own. After a deadly attack by an out-of-control metal maniac, and Sam’s near-death experience, Griffin and the team realize exactly how dangerous their nemesis is and what lengths he will go to thwart them. They’ll need more muscle…they’ll have to not underestimate him again…go into battle prepared…and…they’ll need Finley.

    As Queen Victoria’s Jubilee approaches, the team suspects that The Machinist is bent disrupting the event, but as they follow the complicated trail of bread crumbs and suss out his master plan, they realize the very fate of the monarchy is in jeopardy. Queen Victoria’s very life is in danger.

    The Girl in the Steel Corset was a non-stop adventure that positively drips with hipster chic and bleeds style all over the pages. It’s endlessly cool-veritable steampunk candy that has to be gobbled up. It’s great character relationships reminds me of Clary, Jace, Simon, Alec and Isabelle in Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series-each with their own internal conflicts, romantic ties, and a strong connection to each other through thick and thin.

    Cross’s characters have that same sort of camaraderie and readers will find them hard to forget-and best of all…Cross has woven a delicious love triangle between Griffin, Finley and Jack Dandy, the sinister criminal from the wrong side of the tracks (Whitechapel) that will have some girls swooning.

    Jack Dandy is an enigma in himself. Who is he really when he lapses from his common street brogue…or when he looks at Finley with both lust and careful calculation? Personally I am very, very, interested in Jack Dandy as a character and how Cross will approach this unresolved issue for Finley. Who will she end up choosing?

    Everything that Kady Cross has devised for The Girl in the Steel Corset is endlessly cool, full of espionage-very au courant. I am completely hooked and I am DYING to read the sequel. Cross has opened the door to a new adventure at the end…when the team gets ready to take off to America to rescue Jasper Renn. I can totally envision what they will encounter either on the wild streets of New York, or in the wicked badlands of the West. I am already licking my chops in anticipation!

    I highly recommend starting with The Strange Case of Finley Jayne, Cross’s prequel to the series and then moving onto The Girl in the Steel Corset.  Fans of Cassandra Clare, Scott Westerfeld, Cherie Priest, and Chris Wooding will love this new debut series!

    A Fiendishly Bookish Review (and one grumpy cat)

    Fiendishly Bookish Top Eleven of 2011


    Next Up: The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

    Book:                   The Girl in the Steel Corset

    Author:                Kady Cross

    Publisher:           Harlequin

    ISBN/ASIN:         978-0373210336

    RATING:               5 Stars, Fiendishly Bookish Top Eleven of 2011

    RELEASE DATE:  Out Now!!!

    She thought there was something wrong with her. She was right.
    Finley Jayne has known for quite some time that she isn’t ‘normal,’ but when she beats up the son of her employer and is forced to flee, she stumbles into a world where there are bigger freaks than her. They take her in, treat her like family and demand her trust. How can Finley trust them when she can’t trust herself? And why is she drawn to the powerful Griffin as well as the dangerous Jack? She has to get herself under control before she gets into trouble she can’t get out of.

    Griffin King is one of the most powerful men in Britain but he couldn’t save his best friend from almost dying. He is determined to save Finley and help her become the person he knows she can be, but there’s evil afoot in London. Machines have attacked humans under the orders of a nefarious criminal called The Machinist. He has sworn to protect his country against such a threat, but he’s never faced any foe like this. However, when he discovers The Machinist’s connection to his past, Griffin vows to end the villain once and for all — but he’ll need the help of all his friends, including the beautiful Finley Jayne – the girl in the steel corset. (from


    Naughty, Naughty, Elizabeth Bennet & Darcy: Reading Pride & Prejudice Hidden Lusts

    Book:                  Pride & Prejudice: Hidden Lusts

    Author:               Mitzi Szereto

    Publisher:           Cleis Press

    ISBN/ASIN:         9781573446631

    RATING:       3.75 Stars

    RELEASE DATE:  July 1, 2011

    Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts is a refreshingly erotic taste of the classics that will raise eyebrows, hemlines and strain breeches.  Mitzi Szereto patterns her prose in a lively pas de deux that both amuses and titillates as she lays out an R-rated Pride of Prejudice…one we have not seen the like of before.

    Szereto’s honest effort to channel a sensual Jane Austen amid the pleasantries and frivolity of polite English society is anything but tepid-every character in this very familiar piece has a secret…a hidden lust that they engage in secretly and with whole-hearted abandon.

    Whether it be the predilections of a homoerotic nature between Bingley and Darcy (!), the birch wielding dominatrix bent of Caroline Bingley and Lady Catherine de Bourgh, the illicit drawings that Mr. Bennett squirrels away his money for, or the lusty brazenness of Lydia given full reign (and nigh an entire regiment) all of these succinctly tarty scenes will have the reader thoroughly amused. Szereto amuses with her depiction of bumbling Mr. Collins…that toady cousin to the Bennet’s…who I dare say…is very, very naughty. Ahem!

    Polite manners and civilized society are juxtaposed with the seething sexual undercurrents of Szereto’s devising. Some ardent Jane Austen fans might scream “Sacrilege!”, but indeed others might raise their eyebrows in interest at this innovative take on a classic as I do and say “Why not?”

    Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts should be taken in the same vein as Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer or the equally off-kilter ITV offering Lost in Austen which as Amanda Price said so succinctly: “That's Jane Austen spinning in her grave like a cat in a tumble-dryer.” Quite possibly. But just keep that in mind when reading Szereto’s piece that it is a literal parody, and quite a scandalous one to boot.

    You’ll never look at Darcy and Elizabeth quite the same again.

    A Fiendishly Bookish Review (and one grumpy cat)