Book Review: Needles and Artifice, by The Ladies of Mischief

needlesartifice_coverNeedles and Artifice is a joyful romp through steampunk with a group of women who love to invent, adventure, and knit.  The story is mixed with knitting patterns.  While the story is not the best writing ever, it sure is fun, and the designs are lovely!

The plot concerns the problems of Ana Roisin O’Hare and her true love, Kristoff,  who find themselves under attack by Kristoff’s twin brother.  Ana calls on all her friends for help.  There’s Miss Joanna Obscura, who was terribly injured in a lab accident but makes inventions that help the Ladies communicate long distance. Caldonia is a botanist, Alyssa is a courtesan, Coraline is an airship captain, Mirian is a ranch owner who happens to be raising some surprisingly useful sheep (their wool is perfect for knitting), and Theodosia is an explorer.  Together these Ladies do some knitting, drink some tea, and kick lots and lots of ass.


The story has the odd feeling of starting in the middle and ending rather abruptly – possibly because the adventures began and continue on the blog The Ladies of Mischief.  This is a story written purely for fun, and it’s indeed a fun romp that had me running to the blog for more.  It’s not a very well-developed story, and the characters aren’t well-developed either although they are a kick.  If you aren’t into steampunk, it will probably leave you flat – but for me, it was an airy lark.


As far as knitting goes, I had to pull in some expert help because I can’t knit thus the patterns mean nothing to me.  What I did appreciate was the abundance of lovely photos.  I imagine they are very helpful when trying to make the project, and I just liked looking at them – they are fun designs and helpful to me in trying to think of cosplay ideas.

I consulted with my Mom and her Knitting Group, and they said that the patterns may be too hard for beginning knitters,  They liked the fact that the patterns include lots of helpful tips as they go along.

75100D needles and artifice-v1.0(1).pdf

If you are a knitter or into feminist steampunk adventure, you will have a blast with this fun, creative, and beautifully put together book – I love the photos and drawings.  As far as knitting goes, the ideas are fun, useful, and involve a great deal of variety, including several things that could be worn day to day as well as more esoteric offerings (I have my eye on the spats).  As far as story goes, I recommend this for when you are sick or tired or stressed, and just want something light and adventurous to lift your spirits!

Mini Review: Her Sky Cowboy, by Beth Ciotta

Cover of Her Sky CowboyHer Sky Cowboy is a fun steampunk romance that takes as many crazy elements as possible and throws them all together.  It’s hard to get emotionally invested in the book, because the characters, while they have many merits, are pretty much stock characters.  Still, it’s a fun ride.  If you are a steampunk fan, you’ll get a kick out of this book.  If you’re not a steampunk fan, you won’t find much in the way of depth or emotional content to hold your interest.  It’s the first in a trilogy.

Not sure if it’s for you?  Here’s a partial list of some of the elements in the book:

  • Airships
  • Time travelling hippies
  • Victorians
  • Janis Joplin singing “Piece of my Heart” on a zeppelin
  • A mechanical Pegasus
  • Pirates

A full-length review is available at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.

Mini Review: Cards and Caravans, by Cindy Spencer Pape

Cards and Caravans CoverCards and Caravans is the fifth book in the Gaslight Chronicles series by Cindy Spencer Pape.  This fun but uneven romance series combines Victorian steampunk with magic and the paranormal.  The books are published online by Carina Press.  I loved Pape’s book Kilts and Kraken, but found the follow-up, Moonlight and Mechanicals, to be disappointing.  Cards and Caravans falls somewhere in between, and the whole book feels like a placeholder in the series.  Having said that, it was a pleasant book to read, with engaging characters.  There’s a surprising lack of tension or suspense in the book so it might be just the light read you need during a stressful or fatiguing time.

I had no problem jumping into the series with Kilts and Kraken.  It was a strong stand-alone and I still recommend it.  However, I’m not sure how much you’d get out of Cards and Caravans without having read at least a couple of the other books, especially Moonlight and Mechanicals.  You can find my full-length review of Cards and Caravans at: Smart Bitches Trashy Books.  And for the book I truly enjoyed, my full-length review of Kilts and Kraken is at this link.  Enjoy!

Mini Review: Scarlet, by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet is Book Two of the Lunar Chronicles Series.  This series, while not strictly a romance series, is a high-quality romance-friendly crossover, and its inventive steampunk/science fiction twists on fairy tales make it a must-read for genre fans.  I enjoyed the world-building and the twists on fairy tales.  I do recommend that readers read the first book, Cinder, before reading Scarlet.  Cinder is the book that sets events in motion, and frankly, I think is a stronger book overall, although both books are compelling.  For a full length review of Scarlet, check me out at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.