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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny and very lively!
Seriously? One of the most amazing steampunk books I've ever read. So funny, sharp and brilliant.

The partnership between Wellington and Eliza works to a tee. She is like a female version of Robert Downey Jr. - cocky, slightly reckless, crazily entertaining and very wordly.

Welly on the other hand is a bit of an enigma. Bookish, prudish and very...
Published on 10 Sept. 2012 by kara-karina (Nocturnal Book Re...

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor
A lot going on but...
Period feel - zilch
Atmosphere and location - no chance
Device wonder - didn't happen for me as never explained - they just are.
Big disappointment
Published 9 months ago by Catie Cary


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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny and very lively!, 10 Sept. 2012
Seriously? One of the most amazing steampunk books I've ever read. So funny, sharp and brilliant.

The partnership between Wellington and Eliza works to a tee. She is like a female version of Robert Downey Jr. - cocky, slightly reckless, crazily entertaining and very wordly.

Welly on the other hand is a bit of an enigma. Bookish, prudish and very boring when you just meet him, and yet our gentleman is full of surprises which we uncover only slightly in his acting at the end of the book.

So, what happens?

Eliza is a gal from New Zealand and a field agent with an unhealthy fondness of weaponry and explosives. When her latest mission goes awry as in the whole building blows up and vanishes in the middle of Antarctica, her director decides that Miss Brown needs to be taught a lesson, learn to slow down just a notch and partners her with the archivist Wellington Books to catalog the Archives.

The pairing seems disastrous until Books and Brown stumble into one of the unsolved cases buried in the Archives and decide to look into it out of boredom...

Pandora box is opened, mayhem ensues, villainous plan of a secret society discovered, and all at the weekend, mind you, so our couple works overtime and in secret to bring down a huge conspiracy against The Crown.

Hilarious book, full of action, gadgetry and brazen, dangerous females bent on destruction. Very much recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Name is Braun, Eliza Braun, 8 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Series) (Mass Market Paperback)
These books, (of which this is the first), are fun. And not only are they fun, they can be more fun than the better known books and series, (James Bond, The Avengers), to which they are often compared.

The setting is old-fashioned, (Edwardian), steampunk, but this is one of those books in which the characters and the character interaction trump the steampunk elements. Steam provides some spice, informs the action, and allows for a number of funny or gripping, (or both), scenes, but it is not the reason for or the primary appeal of the book. For that we turn to shoot-first-and-shoot-often loose cannon Eliza Braun and careful, tidy archivist Wellington Books. (Really, Books and Braun? A tongue in cheek jest that just zips by, but gives you a sense that you're in for a clever romp.)

Here, we have conspiracies, an evil Combination, chases, escapes, derring-do, dynamite, puzzles, stiff upper lips, analytical calculating machines, gears, more dynamite and lairs. And that's in, like, the first fifty pages.

The agents meet cute, during a rescue. In classic fashion they are assigned to be uneasy mismatched partners. They rub each other the wrong way, unintentionally and intentionally, but they always rise to the occasion when the chips are down. Is the book padded out a bit and sometimes draggy? Sure. Do you mind? Nope.

So, if you want banter and action with a steampunk background and a clever, good humored gloss, this is a great place to start.

Please note that I found this book while browsing Amazon Kindle freebies. I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Review from The Word Fiend, 3 Sept. 2011
By 
Shelagh (South Africa) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Series) (Mass Market Paperback)
Phoenix Rising is a cracking good read with adventure, humour and all of the gadgets and airships your Steampunk loving heart could desire!

As many of you know I love book covers and Phoenix Rising's is as entertaining as the story itself. The grimy and gloomy streets of Victorian London lend a sense of mystery and a sinister air to the scene. The two models are absolutely perfect! Braun with her pistols secreted about her person and mechanised gauntlet still manages to be lovely and retains a sassy femininity. Content to remain in the background in his unruffled suit with his cup of tea, Books watches with keen eyes.

Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris have collaborated to create a vivid and entertaining Steampunk tale. Victorian England springs to life in the pages as we follow the daring team of Books and Braun on their adventures. And there are adventures aplenty in Phoenix Rising - from high-speed carriage chases to a sword fight in the middle of the opera and the nefarious plottings of a secret organisation - you will be holding on for dear life as you plunge through the pages.

For entertainment and writing I give this book 8/10, but unfortunately I ended up having to give it a 7/10 because of the really poor proofreading and editing. I realise that no-one is perfect and I can ignore the occasional typo or error, but Phoenix Rising is littered with them and they kept jolting me out of the story, lessening my overall enjoyment of the book.

Wellington Thornhill Books, Esquire, and Eliza D. Braun are two fabulous characters. They are in many ways polar opposites of each other - Braun is impetuous while Books is more circumspect, Braun acts first while Books prefers to assess the situation. You get the general idea. But it's this polarity that makes them such a great team and it also leads to many amusing arguments between them. While they may seem like quite simple/one-dimensional characters on the surface, Ballantine and Morris have given them both well-rounded personalities that motivate their actions and decisions.

Phoenix Rising is a really enjoyable Steampunk adventure that is well worth a read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor, 18 May 2014
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A lot going on but...
Period feel - zilch
Atmosphere and location - no chance
Device wonder - didn't happen for me as never explained - they just are.
Big disappointment
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22 of 29 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Owes too much to too many other people's work, 3 Jun. 2011
This review is from: Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Series) (Mass Market Paperback)
There are people who stand on the shoulders of giants, looking further ahead, and there are people who sit on the shoulders of their boyfriends, just blocking your view of the band.

These days the post-Post Modern view of genre fiction accepts that there's nothing new under the sun. It's fashionable to talk about the recycling of story ideas as building block or "tropes". Tropes and allusions, like the Christopher Reeve fanfare when they use it in Smallville, are powerful tools that the savvy genre writer employs carefully and sparingly to show real affection for the original material and fans alike. Phoenix Rising, on the other hand, treats the history of fantasy TV like the Pizza Hut salad bar. It's the budget-conscious diner walking slowly back to their table with Mount Everest piled up on their CD-diameter plate.

Picking through the potato salad and grated carrot, what do we find? Straight out of the gate there's "sexy", "feisty", "independent" heroine Eliza Braun. Like half of the writing team she's from New Zealand, so say hello Mary-Sue. Eliza is almost a wholesale copy of Lara Croft, dressed according to the paperback cover by the same wardrobe stylist as the cast of Sucker Punch. There's also something of agent Scully, if only by default from the overall debt to the X-files. Also, what is it about writers who think the key to crossover gender appeal in a female science fiction character is an obsession with explosives? In a pick-a-number, get-in-line, mile-wide field it was still hands-down the most irritating thing about Doctor Who companion Ace. They did it so no-one else ever had to again. Ever. Seriously.

The other lead character, agent Books, is a stereotypically emotionally closed Englishman with a military background, who's not quite Bond but is nearly "Q". He's a government man who prefers to work in isolated in the archive, with some kind of dark secret in his past, so any similarity to Fox Mulder is clearly only as coincidental as the debt to the X-Files as a whole. He is, in fact, not just an archivist but an information archaeologist and a mechanical genius. We'll come back to Warehouse 13 a little later.

From the bowler hat and goggles background detail in the cover to the clunky would-be series banner "Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences", you might guess that Phoenix Rising is steampunk. For the uninitiated this means it's an alternative world historical fantasy, set-dressed as Victorian England but with a plot that usually demands many of the conveniences of modern life. The rules of society and the laws of physics are different and inconsistent. The supernatural is ... well ... just natural. Everything runs on something called steam power, which in this universe has all the non-specific narrative flexibility in size and power of Star Trek's warp engines. And all the characters are weighed down with ornate brass-and-crystal gadgets, goggles and guns. (Oh my!)

Someone - possibly even the creators themselves - referred to Phoenix Rising as a steampunk Warehouse 13, quick to align with something relatively popular and culty and cheerfully missing the point that Warehouse 13 is already the camp steampunk X-Files. There is, sadly, nothing in Phoenix Rising with the charm of W13's tinny pencil-case communicators, or that guy from the Equaliser and ST:TNG's "The Most Toys".

The obvious key character, story and "feel" debts to 1960s TV series The Avengers and the Wild Wild West have been acknowledged away from the page, so why didn't they work a clearer nod or two into the writing? Obvious nods owed to TV series include X-Files, Warehouse 13, Doctor Who, the Men and Girl from UNCLE, and movies missed from the credits include Indiana Jones, the Bond franchise, the 1960s Wells and Verne movie adaptations like "The First Men in the Moon" and "20,0000 Leagues Under the Sea", and for reasons almost too grim to mention Mary Poppins.

I will mention Mary Poppins, though, because as co-written by an American and New Zealander this book definitely has Dick van Dyke's ear for an English accent. Or a "British" accent, as I think they call it. You don't even have to take my word for it, because there are a whole host of audio podcasts with the two writers performing "in character". Some of it's even improvised. That's not necessarily a recommendation, by the way.

If "Phoenix Rising" was even a little bit less unashamed in its wholesale trading on other people's ideas, or if it rose to the challenge of proper homage, I'd like it more. At least the "Woo-woo!" corsets-and-garters cover picture is pretty shameless, and true to form it seems to be waving after the missed boat carrying the lucrative, chafed-nerd Sucker Punch crowd.

The book's not badly written if you can forgive that horrible van Dyke "British" voice. I'm just not convinced the writers haven't just identified steampunk as a plough-able and profitable furrow, and are cashing-in on this oddly popular sub-genre without having any real interest in or sympathy for it. It is all surface, no depth, but perversely seems to travel well - it's already been sold to a range of foreign (to the UK) markets. I can even see that in a Russian translation, which would probably deaden a lot of the van Dyke, it might not seem quite so off-target.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Missed the mark for me, 18 Dec. 2013
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This book was more Victoriana than Steampunk, with a few exceptions. The plot was quite gentle with some intrigue, then very brutal and shocking - not an easy combo for the reader. The characters were likeable, but I didn't find the occasional moments of attraction very beleiveable. The orgy scene was a missed opportunity - skirted around, then a get-out-of-jail-free for the heroine. Clearly set up for a series, but I won't rush to read the next one.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Big Fun, 9 Aug. 2013
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Slightly pedestrian at times, but great fun with steady character development. Wonderful sequence at the opera is good enough reason in itself to read the book!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Slow start and not great characters, 8 July 2011
This review is from: Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Series) (Mass Market Paperback)
OK, it took me a while to get into this book. It's not that it starts off slow, the 1st scene has explosions and deaths and people getting saved ...... so why did it take me so long to get into? I really don't know. I just didn't find it all that exciting.

I finished the book and all, but I wasn't hooked into it in the slightest. I liked Eliza but I wasn't a huge fan of Wellington. I think the setting may have put me off as well, it feels like I've been reading too many books set in the oldey-days and it's just not a seller to me anymore.

The storyline itself was well written, but the characters seem like they could have been thickened out a bit. There was numerous hints to backgrounds, in several characters, that we never find out about and it seemed too much for me. Yes, hint at backgrounds but don't keep us guessing on every character. I know if a series is planned the author would want to keep storylines open, that's what all good series books have going for them, but there was too many. That's just my opinion, however.

Not too sure if I'd read the next book in the series. I might pick it up just to see if any of my unanswered questions finally get answered.
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4.0 out of 5 stars She is also quite particular about that sort of thing and she has told me the book was a very good read. Then again it was a gif, 24 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Series) (Mass Market Paperback)
I haven't personally read this book. It was a gift for my daughter, whom is a steam punk fanatic. She is also quite particular about that sort of thing and she has told me the book was a very good read. Then again it was a gift, so she may just have been being polite, Hope that helps.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 10 Dec. 2014
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This review is from: Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Series) (Mass Market Paperback)
Excellent
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Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Series)
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