The Slave City: Book 3 of The Viper and the Urchin series by Celine Jeanjean #NewRelease #SteamPunk #TuesdayBookBlog

 A complicated mission.
A team of misfits that just don’t get along.
What could possibly go wrong?

slave city

“Everything about Longinus was conspicuous, from the way he spoke to the way he dressed. He stuck out like a whore in a convent, with his teal silk shirt, burnt-orange trousers and hat with an elaborate teal-and-orange feather arrangement. He wore his hair almost down to his shoulders and it always looked as though he had just stepped out of the barber’s. With his thin moustache and elegant, jewel-encrusted sword at his hip, he looked as though he belonged in a bygone era.”

“She was so slight that she looked as though a breath of wind might knock her over. She had put some weight on since her days as a scrawny street urchin, but she didn’t seem to get any bigger. Her small frame looked all the smaller for the masses of hair that dwarfed her. It was matted and clumped in thick segments more like rope than hair, trailing down her back. But Rory’s eyes were blue. Damsians were a dark people- dark of skin, dark of eye and black of hair. She had the dark skin of a Damsian, and at a glance, she could pass for one. But her blue eyes marked her out as having foreign blood too.”

My Review

I was excited to hear of a new book in the story of former street urchin, Rory and her friend, Longinus the assassin. This time they leave Damsport to travel with Cruikshank, the Machinist, who has been sent on a covert mission to the city of Azyr. Believing they will help Raheeme, a Reformist, to bring slavery to an end and provide water for the poorest of the city, they set out on the smuggling ship of Adelma, a massive, powerful woman they will be glad to have on their side. But they soon discover they are pawns in a power struggle in a hot, dangerous city and Rory is glad to have brave Varanguard, Rafe, accompanying them, even though her feelings for him are still complicated.

The larger than life characters in the Viper and the Urchin series are vivid, extraordinary, yet so real. I cannot help feeling affection for Rory, and Longinus may be a peacock, but his heart is definitely in the right place. In contrast, The Slave City contains a worthy villain in the evil Seneschal who manipulates the obese Prelate, a mere figurehead. Rory and her companions must discover who is trustworthy and who will deceive them, while Cruikshank suffers greatly.

The City of Azyr with its magnificent palace atop a steep hill and dust-covered, ramshackle huts for the poor at the lowest level spells out the structure of society so different to the mishmash of ethnicity and wealth in Damsport. Like a story from the Arabian Nights the vision of Palanquins and mechanised elephants, with richly dressed people served by slaves, is beautifully described, as is the horrific scene in the bloodstained arena. This is a thrilling, frightening adventure.

You can find Slave City on  and

My Review of The Bloodless Assassin


Celine Jeanjean

Celine Jeanjean is French, grew up in the UK and now lives in Hong Kong. That makes her a tad confused about where she is from. During her time in Asia she’s watched the sun rise over Angkor Wat, lost her shoes in Vietnam, and fallen off a bamboo raft in China.

Celine writes stories that feature quirky characters and misfits, and her books are a mixture of steampunk, fantasy and humour.

You can get a free novella by signing up to her mailing list here:


The Bridge of Dead Things by Michael Gallagher #FridayReads #BookReview


This Young Adult book is the first story about 13 year-old Lizzie Blaylock, the involuntary Medium. Set in late Victorian London, Lizzie has been fortunate in receiving an education despite the poverty of her family. But this ceases, when a strange fit in the classroom causes teacher, Miss Smutts to expel her. Miss Smutts’ motives are suspect since she arranges employment for Lizzie as a maidservant in a rather odd household. Lizzie’s fit has revealed her special power to allow ghostly manifestations to return from the dead. Soon this gothic novel becomes darker as Lizzie is taken under the wing of Simeon de Florence, who purports to expose false mediums. There is relief from the weird experiences in the humorous characters we meet, such as Miss Otis, the kindly clairvoyant and the obsession with seances by many wealthy Victorians provides an exciting setting. I feel that Lizzie is more like a 20th century heroine in her speech and actions but the Victorian context is vividly described.

You can purchase The Bridge of Dead Things at Amazon UK


Michael Gallagher

Michael Gallagher is the author of two series of novels set in Victorian times. “Send for Octavius Guy” chronicles the attempts of fourteen-year-old Gooseberry—reformed master pickpocket—to become a detective, aided and abetted by his ragtag bunch of friends. “The Involuntary Medium” follows the fortunes of young Lizzie Blaylock, a girl who can materialize the spirits of the dead, as she strives to come to terms with her unique gift.

For twenty-five years Michael taught adults with learning disabilities at Bede, a London-based charity that works with the local community. He now writes full time.

The Final Virus by Carol Hedges


Final V

This dystopian Young adult novel is set in a bland, pleasant, boring town where a group of intelligent teenagers are “educated” at a school which aims to make them amenable to the World Presidential dictatorship.  Following a cybercrash, global warming, natural disasters and disease, continents had disappeared and the world’s population vastly depleted.


But we have a very likeable hero in 17-year-old Will; distraught by the sudden death of his father he still manages to give emotional support to his little sister.  Handsome and popular, he hasn’t taken much notice of oddball, Amber, who takes little interest in her hair or clothes and seems to be in a dream most of the day.  However, they are drawn together by their unease about the apparent “good life” they are leading.  Amber is the genetically engineered daughter of wealthy parents she hardly sees but she hears voices and constantly dreams of the four horses of the apocalypse.  Will is convinced that his father’s death is no accident.


It is easy to engage with the main characters, while the callous teacher Mr Neots, has a splendid Dahlesque quality.  There is great humour in the creation of Ned, the voice-responsive computer.  His ability to produce essays for Will’s homework, while also exhibiting a distinct attitude problem, lightens the feeling of impending disaster.


As Will and Amber realise that the government cannot be trusted and that Will is under observation, the plot moves rapidly and they find themselves in more danger as they approach the truth.


I particularly liked the concluding chapters though I couldn’t possibly reveal their content!


This fun feature is a mini workshop invented by Rosie Amber. We look at book covers just from their thumbnail pictures at online selling book sites and make quick fire buying decisions. We look from a READERS Point of View and this exercise is very EYE OPENING.

To join in with the #FridayFiveChallenge please read the rules at the bottom of the page.

Yesterday I received an email from Goodreads with a list of suggested YA titles.  I am often disappointed that so many of the books are about zombies or fantasy but one cover drew me in.


I will read anything about the sea, fiction or nonfiction, romance or tragedy.  Exploring the book on Goodreads and  Amazon I discovered that this is the third book by American author Ruta Sepetys and the second one to be about the effects of World War Two on the ordinary people of Europe.


Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.

Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.

As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.

Yet not all promises can be kept.

Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, bestselling and award-winning author Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) lifts the veil on a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II. An illuminating and life-affirming tale of heart and hope.

This seems an apt time to be reading about refugees taking hazardous journeys even though it promises to be a traumatic read.

Most readers seem to be very enthusiastic about the book:-

 I really enjoyed Ruta Sepetys’ new book SALT TO THE SEA. I liked the format of short chapters with alternating protagonists, and I liked that each character had a secret to reveal, but most of all, I enjoyed learning about an event of historic significance.

Others, take the opposite viewpoint:-

The story is told in very short chapters of 2-3 pages (sometimes just a few sentences) and the perspective jumps between four different people – Joana, Florian, Emilia and Alfred. Personally, this didn’t work for me. We spent so little time with each character before moving on that I constantly felt distanced from them, never making an emotional connection. In the beginning, the rapid movement between perspectives even made it difficult to follow the story.

But the majority were positive:-

There are very few books that I recommend to every single person, regardless of what genre they like to read or their taste in books. But Salt to the Sea is one of them. From the moment I read the first page, I knew that this book would stick with me for the rest of my life.
Salt to the Sea is incredible. The characters, the writing, the plot. Everything is unparalleled.
It’s shocking and honest. It’s eye opening and emotional.
This book is perfect in every way. I highly recommend it.


And then I looked at

What a disappointing cover.  I can see the point of the barbed wire, but I would never have chosen this book at first glance.

So shall I BUY or will I PASS?

At £4.99 for the kindle version it is a little expensive when I already have so many books in my TBR pile, so I will PASS today but I will keep the book on the back boiler and may BUY in the future.



What have others chosen this week?

Shelley has found a sweet little kitten

Cathy reveals an electrifying cover

Rosie is going on a road trip on the back of a motorbike!

So now it’s your turn.


Get yourself a cuppa and give yourself 5 minutes.


In today’s online shopping age, readers often base their buying decisions from small postage stamp size book covers (Thumb-nails), a quick glance at the book description and the review. How much time do they really spend making that buying decision?

AUTHORS – You often only have seconds to get a reader to buy your book, is your book cover and book bio up to it?

Rosie’s Friday Five Challenge is this….. IN ONLY FIVE MINUTES….

1) Go to any online book supplier.

2) Randomly choose a category.

3) Speed through the book covers, choose one which has instantly appeal.

4) Read the book Bio/ Description for this book, and any other details.

5) If there are reviews, check out a couple,

6) Make an instant decision, would you BUY or PASS?


Memories of my school library

For many years I had the joy of purchasing books for school libraries, mainly for the 7 to 13 age group.  I read most of the books aimed at the 10+ group and delighted in many of them.  Today I am looking back to a few gems.


Philip Reeve in his book Mortal Engines has created a glorious steampunk world which is utterly believable.  Set in a future after the 60 Minute War, cities like London are on wheels acting as predators, feeding on smaller towns.  Young engineering apprentice Tom and his unlikely companion Hester, an assassin, survive and mature as they travel from one dilemma to another.  I was captivated by their world and rewarded by the follow up books.


The Wind Singer by Hollywood playwright William Nicholson is a dystopian novel inevitably compared with The Hunger Games although The Wind Singer was written several years earlier.  Twins Kestrel and Bowman live in the well-ordered city of Aramanth which has lost its soul.  They and their parents are all examined regularly on their studies and ability and this decides their rank in society.  This is identified by the colour of their clothing and dictates their house and possessions. After Kestrel rebels, supported by her family, she and Bowman set out on a dangerous journey in search of the voice of the Wind Singer.  Eminently suitable for children who enjoy fat books it is equally enjoyable for an adult reader.


Celia Rees writes books which make you think.  Witch Child is a popular book told in the words of a young girl who emigrates to America in the 18th century after seeing her grandmother hanged for witchcraft but for me Celia’s best book is Truth or Dare.  Told alternately in the words of 13 year old Josh and his mother Joanna it concerns the mysterious death of Joanna’s brother Patrick when he was a boy.  Josh discovers that his uncle, Patrick, was considered strange by others, that he was obsessed by UFOs and that his mother feels tremendous guilt about his death.  There is a developing friendship between Josh and the older girl next door, sadness while his grandmother lies dying and an exciting twist in the tail.


Lian Hearn has written several books in her Tales of the Otori set in a fantasy, magical Japan. Across the Nightingale Floor introduces us to 16 year old Takeo, heir to the Otori Clan who learns the skills of martial arts in order to stay alive.  He meets Kaede, with whom he falls in love, but there can be no future for them together.  The book is full of adventure, thrill and emotion.


Jamila Gavin is most famous for her epic Coram Boy which tells the tale of one of the orphans in Thomas Coram’s Foundling Hospital in 18th century London.  It is a dark, sad story involving, murder of children, slavery and exploitation but there is also hope and happiness.  She has also written a trilogy of books about a brother and sister who left India in 1947.  The Wheel of Surya tells the story of Jaspal and his sister Marvinder who are caught up in the riots of Partition between India and Pakistan.    Homeless and penniless (rupeeless?), they set out to find their father who had gone as a student to England at the end of the Second World War.