In Victorian England, Londoners Wash Up Dead On Thames, Drained Of Blood And Bone Clandestine Ministry Of Peculiar Occurrences Is Forbidden To Investigate But Eliza Braun, With Bulletproof Corset, Fondness For Dynamite, Remarkable Devices, Drags Along Timorous New Partner Wellington Books, Of Encyclopedic Brain, Against Phoenix Intent On Enslaving Britons WellI may need to add a new shelf This is a fantasy and fits depending on your personal definition of the term into the Urban Fantasy milieu as it takes place largely in Victorian London But it s not our Victorian London This is I believe the first Steampunk I ve ever really liked This could change things big time for meI was never a Steampunk fan.Okay, back to business Good book, maybe not great, maybe total brain candy, but fun We start with the requisite kick butt hottie Is that considered too non PC No offense intended only using he vernacular, so to speak who s known to the people upstairs for blowing things up She gets paired with the archivist librarian of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences He s supposed to mentor her..take her under his wing so to speak, and round out her methods.RightI ll leave you to guess who leads who into what.But it s a good book It s a fun book It has an interesting plot, some nice anachronisms, some great inside jokes like a couple named Barnabas and Angelique Collins.Again, I can recommend this one and have already got the secondI have it on my list at audible so I can get it whenever I want it. Don t look now, but Sarah just tried to read another steampunk novel.Seriously, though Why do I keep attempting this genre Is it the visual allure Possibly But the fact remains despite whatever drives me to pick up these books, I don t like steampunk. There s something about it that rubs me the wrong way Perhaps it s the gizmos Perhaps it s the muddled and or taken on faith world building In any case, steampunk inevitably leaves me feeling as if I ve been left out of an exclusive club can do nothing except hunch my shoulders ignore the condescending stares from every quarter There s an elitism to these books, an implied superiority that makes no attempt to coddle those of us who aren t already waltzing around in corsets goggles everything is a secret handshake, a wink wink nudge nudge, it s really freakin obnoxious.BOOK What ho, what ho I m a steampunk novel ME WTF does that even mean BOOK Cheerio, chum I shall explain everything to a most satisfactory conclusion ME No, seriously What are the fundamental functions of your universe BOOK Functions Functions My good woman, I wear Victorian lingerie Also, there s stuff powered by steam.ME But what are these glowing viewscreens That s got nothing to do with steam, does it And how do these automatons roll around BOOK Mechamen, you mean ME Whatever Just explain them in simple English.BOOK I m steampunk What ho, what ho What else do you need to know ME No, see, I ve been to Wikipedia I ve looked at pictures I ve read HG Wells But I still can t picture this stuff at all.BOOK Well, that s dashed inconvenient Shall I fetch an analytical engine to help you ME I think perhaps we re not on the same page.BOOK I beg to differ, old chum I have gizmos I have gears ME Yes, but BOOK DIFFERENCE ENGINE TESLA RECORDING DEVICE GOGGLES AETHER AETHER AETHER ME This relationship has reached an impasse.BOOK Toodle pip, what ho, what ho I m so bloody British I just made an in joke about Sherlock Holmes And Jules Verne And possibly Dr Who You do know what a flying machine is, I presume ME See, now I hate you.BOOK So sorry to hear it, my good woman How about a spot of tea I shall have my automaton put the kettle on And would you like a soothing massage in this steam powered bathing machine ME Piss off.BOOK I forgive your rudeness Even if you re American.ME Just shut it, huh BOOK AETHER AETHER AETHER ME Oh, dear god.Thankfully, my steampunk stockpile is nearly gone I d ditch them all unread except there s always a chance that something will strike a chord, right..Right Okay, maybe not On an unrelated note, this book is poorly written poorly paced, poorly explained, poorly characterized, littered with obnoxious uber British dialogue that is trying way too hard to sound British In summary, Phoenix Rising is an utterly unsatisfactory reading experience Take that, you smarmy piece of subgenre P Soo I am a fan of Philippa s other series, Geist, but I didn t actually see that she wrote THIS book until after, haha.I enjoyed this book a lot The main character s voice, like in Geist, was definitely one of the biggest strengths, and the other characters were well drawn This is a cool steampunk world that actually worked for me, I enjoyed the idea of a secret bureau, and the tech and description of the world and items in it was enjoyable.I guess the only things I could say negative were that there were some strange tone issues, like later in the book things get racy in a way that come a bit out of nowhere considering the nature of the book up until then And then the ending had a weird character turn that wasn t laid out up front, so it seemed to come out of nowhere, and it will be interesting how the subsequent books deal with the development But all in all, I m enjoying this latest wave of Steampunk lit, and this is a great addition to the fold Great main lady character Urban Fantasy people will enjoy. Poor writing too much tell, not enough show , poor editing, poor pacing, lazy characterizations, and a plot that managed, somehow, to be both absurd and boring The dialogue desperately tried to be witty but always fell short.Also, Books and Braun Come on, now.The actual steampunk bits the gadgets and the like were interesting, hence the 2 stars rating because I can t give it a 1.5.And I still can t forgive thisIt was believed that Ferdinand Magellan was one of its members Eliza blinked Hold on Magellan How does a Spaniarda Spaniard It s not often that I read a book with quite this dynamic The heroine is the daring, dynamic one in the investigating duo The hero is the adorably proper and nerdy Archivist who finds his combustible new partner a trial to him Eliza and Wellington have both become rather set in their roles When they find themselves partnered and forced to work together it s a learning experience for them both.All poor Wellington wants to do is work behind the scenes and rule his little domain in the Archives He has no interest in doing field work and is appalled to find himself stuck with someone who can t see herself doing anything else Unfortunately for him, their boss in the Ministry isn t pleased with what happened when Eliza rescued Wellington a scene that starts the book off with a bang and punishes them both by sticking them together in the Archives The first hundred or so pages are slower paced than the rest of the book This is necessary to set up the dynamic between the characters and I wouldn t have wanted that skipped but I can t deny that it dragged a bit I liked that their tentative steps toward becoming partners weren t rushed, but I wish there had been a way to tighten this up a bit so it flowed as well as the rest of the book I loved the fact that Eliza and Wellington didn t get along at all in the beginning They weren t quite at each other s throats, but I think they were both fast approaching the point where just the sound of each other breathing would have made them want to strangle each other These were two completely different people who had to learn to work together They both had a hard time learning how to value what the other person did Eliza couldn t see the draw of being stuck in the Archives with nothing to do but sort the adventures other people had, and Wellington couldn t see the point of being out there risking his life when there were plenty of other people who wanted to do it.Wellington and Eliza didn t just clash heads on their opinion of what they should be doing to serve the Ministry They were opposites in practically every way Eliza was bold and rather crass She delighted in shocking the opposite sex with her behavior and she would much rather blow something up than reason her way out of the situation Wellington was not a lady s man He was exceedingly proper and was rather horrified with himself for occasionally being unable to overlook Eliza s charms He was calm and thoughtful and refused to carry a gun They seemed completely unsuited to working together, and no one was surprised than them when they realized they were the perfect team Eliza and Wellington or Welly as Eliza insists on calling him are not the only well drawn characters The villains of the piece are surprisingly interesting as well Eliza and Wellington both find themselves with the uncomfortable realization that in another situation they might have found themselves good friends with some of the villains Eliza finds herself particularly drawn to an assassin They are both ruthless women with a similar draw to fighting and weapons Watching them battle at the opera was particularly funny they both took a moment to comment on each other s seamstress in the middle of the fight Although he enjoys the Archives, Wellington only ended up there after his application for the invention section was denied He has a particular love of mechanics and when he finds a kindred soul in one of the villains it s hard for him to ignore his fascination with his devices This is not a Romance, although there is a very, very light thread of romantic potential between the two leads Mostly, they just bicker and pick at each other as they investigate The dynamic between them reminds me strongly of the recent Sherlock Holmes movie Watson and Holmes had the same bickering camaraderie between them that Eliza and Wellington do The language is also another delight in the book There are lots of slang words popping up here and there especially from Eliza like dollymop and Fabian It added a nice flavor to the dialogue I felt that we got to know Wellington than Eliza He was open and vulnerable, letting us see his shyness with women, his insecurities, and his inner struggle with the way his father raised him Eliza was a much tougher nut to crack She s having a hard time getting over her old partner and Lord, was I tired of hearing the partner, Harry, brought up all the time and she misses New Zealand She dislikes the stereotypes about Colonials and she likes shocking men with her forward behavior That s about it for her We occasionally saw a hint of her turmoil over her past, but it was never fully addressed I m hoping we get insight into her in a future book All in all I thought this was a strong first book and that anyone who was a fan of the adventure in the Blades of the Rose series and the dynamic in Sherlock Holmes movie might want to check this series out I m very eager to see where this partnership takes Eliza and Welly in the future.Favorite QuoteThe time has come to divide and conquer, Welly Get back to the Archives You do what you are good at I will do what I am good atHe glanced at her, Blowing things upEliza gave a nod, shrugging lightly I stepped into that one No, I have other skills, you know, she returned It was fun to see him blush Interrogation You mean investigationShe was barely able to contain a little snort Life had sheltered dear Mr Wellington Books down in the Archives Unfortunately life had not been so kind to her Investigation Interrogation What you will As you ll be in your element, I ll go back to Charming Cross and see if I can find out a bit about the good Doctor SmithReview also posted on Fiction Vixen After the first pages of Pip Ballantine s and Tee Morris Phoenix Rising A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel I was under the impression of heading into a hilarious and almost slapsticky Steampunk adventure Eliza Brown and Wellington Books, the central protagonists, were simply too much of a missmatch and their initial conversations too comical I had several good laughs.Gradually, the lightheartedness leaves the novel, though Keeping pace with the developments, the comical nature of their relationship fades and into the background The pair gets to know each other better, and while still not fully understanding the other, they develop a grudging respect for their respective partner.The story itself very soon becomes fast paced and action packed There are quite a few instances, in particular the excellent, almost swashbuckling duel scene in the London Opera, when I felt like having to hold onto my armchair Still, humor never leaves the pages Within the very same duel there is one notable simultaneous question between the duelists Who is your seamstress That one had me chuckling for hours afterwards.But Phoenix Rising is not all good hud swashbuckling action Not by far The moment Books and Brown manage to infiltrate the Phoenix Society, the story gets noticeably, even drastically darker Although there are hints earlier in the novel, telling of most nefarious events involving the society, I was relatively unprepared for the abysses of human behaviour and decadence within the Phoenix Society Quite a twist.I have to congratulate the authors on their ability of putting a number of those twists into the story There are several very interesting turns over the course of the novel Some are entertaining and give surprising insights into some characters, their history and the world, others drastically alter the reader s perception of the main dramatis personae I dislike putting spoilers into my reviews, so I will say no.The cast of characters is also one of the strong points of the novel Every single one is believable, no matter how fleeting or detailed the description Although Eliza and Wellington have some rather stereotypical traits, both have hidden depth than one would suspect Their antagonists are similarly fascinating Sophia, Eliza s nemesis, is Eliza s spiritual twin, as Eliza herself notes, had they met in different circumstances, they would be the best of friends The heads of the Phoenix Society range from scientist who has gone over the edge to complete and utter filth Again I have to express my admiration for the creativity and writing style of Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris Filth does not even scratch the surface of what Lord Devane is Of all the villains I have thus far encountered, he is by far the worst, and his claim of superiority due to noble lineage makes him even disgusting A villain you love to hate Next to him, everyone other villain shines.And shining brings me to the one aspect I found rather annoying Eliza shines too much Wellington, although highly skilled and with talents than one might expect, has some issues For one, he is haunted by his upbringing, further, he is awkward around women and afraid of guns Eliza is bold, confident, brave, liberal, resourceful, rich and a benefactor to the poor, beautiful and through her we learn how much progressive New Zealand is compared to Britain She even had Maori tutors for her martial skills Her one negative trait is that she is quite a vamp But this is something easily forgiven since she uses her womanly powers only in service of the Empire and never crosses certain boundaries She is too good I got the impression she is the authors favourite brainchild and thus got only good things.But this is the only point of contention I have with Phoenix Rising Other than this one point, the novel leaves nothing to be desired Phoenix Rising is a real page turner The novel makes you laugh, gets your adrenalin pumping, makes you laugh again and fills you with the urge to drag the villains out from between the pages and give them a dose of their own medicine. Don t judge a book by its cover Yeah, but readers do it all the time It s sad, but we have too there so many books out there In some ways, the covers become the short cuts romantic covers look one way, fantasy covers another.But then you have books like this one I really wasn t sure if I should pick this up But I figured what the h ll, Borders is leaving.But just take a look at that cover Honestly, what woman, outside of Lady Gaga, would go out in Victorian London, even a steampunk version, dressed like that Plus it looks like she dislocated her hip or something The book is really nothing like the cover, thank god.Eliza Braun works for the Ministry of Peculiar Occurences, and finds herself assigned to work alongside Wellington Books They work for a Dr Sound, who is the love child of Dumbledore and M.It s true there are some very cliched plot devices here Books and Braun hardly being the most obivious, even the reversal of roles with the Bookish man and the Brawny woman has been done before Tragical pasts, lost love, abusive parents, rich but poor, it s here Yet despite the cliche plot devices, the book is, for the most part, entertaining While the authors fall into some cliches, they stay away from others, in particular the bad ones that almost novel with a non convential female lead seem to have Braun isn t the only strong woman, and there are wonderful instances of humor I also liked the fact that Braun was not virginal, nor slutish Just healthly She has both male and female friends, feels admiration for women who a strong but not strong in the way she is strong The world is well drawn and believable.To me, however, I have to say that the most jarring part of the book, in fact the only jarring part of the book aside from its cover, are the sexual teaser scenes between the lead characters This ties in with the cover, as if the authors or publisher or both want to highlight the romance aspect because after all, all of us who like fantasy novels really romance snort Please some one stop this I don t mind sex or sexual tension in books It s fine I don t like it when it is forced and it goes on and on Some fantasy novels, say the Kushiel series, do really well with romance plotlines But not everyone does, and some cases such romances are not needed The sexual tension scenes in this book felt very forced and didn t quite make sense to me They felt thrown as if, here good reader Could ve lived without them I get that Boots and Braun snipe like a married a couple, but I fail to see how that equates to sexual tension between tension which is stated but never shown, if you know what I mean Maybe it s me I too have someone I snipe at like a married couple, in fact some people think we are married.We re not He s gay I m female It s a great friendship, but it isn t a romance Boots and Braun feel like that or like brother sister when they snipe, and do not feel like they are suffering from yearnings In fact, the most emotional aspect of the novel was between Braun and someone besides Boots That part was touching, and filled with desire.But the authors didn t get graphic where a few other authors would ve, so I guess it evens out.In short, an entertaining read and I m keeping eyes out for 2.Why Because this book despite the cliches was a fun read In fact, it is, for the most part, what a good action movie should be if such a movie met Upstairs, Downstairs my money is on Mrs Bridges This would make a good Masterpiece movie or series True, there is a lull point, but all action movies have one More importantly, the action is actioned filled.And Sherlock Holmes inspired, I would guess The best writing occurs when either Braun, Books, or Sound speak A fun read.Plus, who can hate a book with Poe and Verne references among others Not me Steampunk is an odd mesh of history, fantasy and technology that frequently suffers from inconsistent blending Perhaps I will have to agree with Kerry s review and declare genre incompatibility Like the loud drunk guy at a party, it is at times mildly funny, then unintelligibly serious, but always focused on getting some action and, ultimately, annoying Undoubtedly, if you stand by him too long, there will be beer spilled on your shoes Phoenix made a pass and missed me First, there is the tongue in cheek naming an action oriented lead named Braun, a librarian excuse me Archivist named Books, an Australian named Bruce, a home for the insane called Bedlam Then there s the random Victorian idioms So because some gammy tart pulled a flam on you, you re thinking yourself the Ministry s glock If this seems incomprehensible in context of my review, it s only fair, as it lacked than cursory contextual explanation as I read Throw in the awkwardly worded sentence such as His grip was fleeting as the hand wrenched back to where the coach whip wrapped around his neck and then went taut The black rider s arms flail wildly as he plummeted from his saddle and you have writing that doesn t hold up to thoughtful reading.While I thought the beginning was fun, the plot started wandering three quarters through The mystery is rather spurious with a meeting leading to a locket leading to a clue and why would the villains pay for a table for a year in advance which leads to attempts on their lives Sprinkled throughout are hints and innuendos that will lead to later series developments, I m sure Two scenes in which a mysterious evil gentleman forces intelligence officer to act as inside double agent lacked congruity We interrupt this review to bring you a public service announcement Personal liberation from sexual stereotypes does not mean overuse of sexuality to accomplish goals by manipulative means It does not mean you have to display your assets among sexually repressed people to prove you are different or autonomous Hopefully, you will learn this sooner rather than later freedom is not simply opposition. We now return you to your regularly scheduled review The characters aren t anything unique and Braun annoyed me with her I m a feminist but I wear a corset so I can use my ta tas to distract men tone I don t know that I needed the titillation of a forced orgy scene to be convinced that the bad guys were bad It was roughly at this point that I started to lose interest in the book and start skimming It s the kind of thing that moves it from young adult level to adults only, especially since it strongly hints that our heroine chooses to partake Ooh, how rebellious She is control of her own sexuality when she chooses to have sex to fit in To each her own, after all, but I found the cumulative references to her liberation monotonous Rating three stars the first half, two stars once we hit the mansion scenes, for a wavering two and a half stars.Cross posted at Normally I wait to finish to review a novel but for this novel I want to write my feelings while reading For a long time I was planning to read Steam Punk novels, and last year I ve bought two steam punk themed novels The first one was Soulless, the first book of Parasol Protectorate But I could not find what I ve expected from a steam punk, because it is like a paranormal urban fantasy and it has few steam punk elements Then I started reading Phoenix Rising, the first book of Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences So far there is no paranormal urban fantasy elements in this novel and it is all about steam punk, OK I need to confess there is still not much steam punk elements, but it is enough.This novel reminds me the X Files, just like X Files there are some unsolved classified and achieved cases and our characters are trying to solve this unsolved cases I like both of the characters Eliza Braun is a femme fatale and a field agent who knows what to do for surviving and opposite of Eliza is Wellington Thornhill Books who knows everything, work has worked for years in the archives Probably there are lots of things still not uncovered about Books.Mystery elements are better than I expected in this novel I ll write a detailed review after finishing the novel.Pre Review date 18.03.2015Update 08.05.2015I ve finished this book in one week and really liked the world and characters Probably I ll continue reading the series If you are new to steam punk, this could be a great start.