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5.0 out of 5 stars A fabulous introduction to Steam Punk, 25 April 2013
The Jupiter Chronicles: The Secret of the Great Red Spot

The first book in the Jupiter Chronicles introduces the reader to the Callisto children: Callie 9, and Ian 12. They live in the late nineteenth century, and have had to suffer the mysterious loss of their father Peter. This has left the children fatherless and impoverished. While their mother struggles to provide for them, the children must face up to being the only children in school without a father. One night Callie, the curious one, accidentally triggers a secret device in the telescope that Peter gave to his son just before disappearing. The telescope is suddenly transformed into a steam-powered space-ship and whisks them away from their home and off across space to the planet Jupiter. The children find themselves in the beautiful steam punk Jovian Empire, they meet the sinister hissing Emperor Phobos and with the help of Stinky Frank, a robot, set out on a series of adventures to find their father who they discover is the First Petros of Jovian; their adventures herald the beginning of the Steam punk age.

I have to admit to being incredibly biased in this review - I LOVE steam punk and am not averse to occasionally dressing up a bit steam-punky and, of course, I do possess a very fine pair of steam punk goggles! For anyone not familiar with Steam punk, it is basically a branch of science fiction: alternative history/speculative fiction often with a Victorian/Edwardian aesthetic. Basically think Victorian Style with modern technology - brass computers powered by steam - that kind of thing. I LOVE IT. And the idea that someone had written with the intention of introducing the Steam punk aesthetic to children seemed like a fantastic idea!

This book is clearly aimed at the younger pre-teen, not being an expert on children, I would say 7-10 year olds would love this book. It is written in a clear style that children would easily understand, yet also presents them with some challenges. The characters of Callie and Ian are well drawn and their sibling banter is very authentic and very funny - I particularly loved Callie's pithy entries into her journal. Emperor Phobos was wonderfully sinister with his reptilian hisssssing speech.

There are hints of a more deadly version of Quidditch in the Drifterdash games and perhaps a nod to John Carter of Mars; the steam punk elements were all there, and beautifully described - especially the city of Jovian. I loved the emphasis on learning which was present throughout the book and I particularly loved the way that the novel was peppered through with facts and questions - to pique the interest and feed the imagination. The book also deals with more serious issues faced by children as it tackles the issue of growing up as a single-parent family, and coping with the loss of a parent.

All in all, this is a great book to introduce Steam punk to children, I think both girls and boys would enjoy it. Although it is an adventure story, it is also very educational as it encourages a sense of enquiry both into history and science, whilst also appealing to the imagination and creative side of children.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A good introduction to science fiction and Steampunk for children, 17 Jun 2014
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This review is from: The Secret of the Great Red Spot (The Jupiter Chronicles Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
I first learned of this book through my involvement with the British Steampunk community, and as my son (who is eight) is a prolific reader and keen on scifi and Steampunk I thought it would be worth a look.

Once the book arrived I read through it myself to make sure it was suitable which it most certainly is. When I showed it to him, he insisted on reading it immediately (he always gets excited over new books). Although he reads very well, like all children he enjoys having stories read to him, so we took it in turns; me reading a chapter and then him reading one to me. Usually we'll read two to four chapters in this fashion before bed, but in this instance he insisted on reading the whole thing straight through.

The plot is an interesting mix of old and new, with Victorian slums on Earth juxtaposed with steam powered rocket ships reminiscient of Flash Gordon. There is intrigue, a villain, space battles and everthing else a child could want, as well as a very down to Earth and believable relationship between the protagonists, siblings Ian and Callie, as they search for their missing father.

The book is relatively short, but this is not a bad thing as the pace of the tale maintains throughout and as it is the first of a series it's a good length for kids to be able to get through and keep a handle on what has gone before. The inclusion of both a boy and girl as main characters means this book should appeal to girls as much as boys, which is always a good thing.

I think the best way to sum up this review is by saying that my son, upon finishing the first book, immediately asked if there were any more in the series.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic YA Series!, 4 May 2014
This review is from: The Secret of the Great Red Spot (The Jupiter Chronicles Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author for an honest review.

This is the first book in a new steampunk series for children. I loved it!

Ian and Callie Castillo are fun characters. Ian is twelve and Callie is 9. Ian is an extremely serious young man. It's not been easy growing up without his father. I absolutely LOVE Callie! She is more relaxed and has a funny sense of humour.

This is a fun steampunk novel for children. The story is an amazing adventure that see's Ian and Callie travelling to Jupiter and getting into all sorts of trouble after their father had disappeared five years before. The author's imagination in mixing reality and fantasy has created an exciting adventure that had me turning the pages! Steampunk is a relatively new genre for me, and I was amazed at how the author brought the concept into the story without detracting from the storyline. However, my analytic mind was a little skeptical as to how the weapons and other instruments worked with steam, considering the lack of water containment. But, since I am a little older than the target market, I suppose that mixing the two concepts - old and modern - gave this story an otherworldly feel. I loved Callie's little journal entries, which had me giggling - I could just imagine her saying these things and, although I don't have a brother, only two sisters, they would have been something I would have said as a youngster about an older sibling.
There are some really scary bad guys that sent a shiver up my back! I certainly wouldn't want to meet these characters in the flesh! Emperor Phobos is a megalomaniac of the first order and is not very nice.
There is also some light entertainment that will appeal to youngsters in the form of a Doomslayer (a kind of robotic soldier) called Francisus Flatulus Ferdinand. As you can guess from his name, he has a slight bodily dis-function. The story is also peppered with some facts about Jupiter and her moons that will educate the readers and hopefully, engage them in learning about the solar system. The end of the story finishes on a slight twist, and I am now looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

Leonardo Ramirez has written a fantastic steampunk novel that was fast paced and exciting enough to keep even the most fidgety youngster enthralled. This is an author I will be keeping an eye on in the future.

I highly recommend this book to younger readers aged 5 to 7 as a bedtime story, 7 to 10 year old's as a read along (or read alone depending on reading ability), and 10 to 12 year old's. I also recommend this book to adults who love younger YA or steampunk genres. - Lynn Worton
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great book, 7 Dec 2013
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This review is from: The Secret of the Great Red Spot (The Jupiter Chronicles Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
This book is about a little girl and her older brother going of f into space to save their father from being kept as a prisoner on jupiter. I personally think that this book is very good and a great book for all kids whatsoever type of books they like.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful adventure story, 24 Aug 2013
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This review is from: The Secret of the Great Red Spot (The Jupiter Chronicles Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
"The Jupiter Chronicles: The Secret of the Great Red Spot" by Leonardo Ramirez is a book I have been meaning to read for a long time because of its great intriguing title.
Two siblings who are being taught about the solar system by their father, who then suddenly disappears over night. One night the two find more than they bargained for in their attic and end up on a spaceship headed for Jupiter. What follows is an action packed and well paced science fiction space adventure
I have always been fascinated by science fiction that is set in out milky way rather than a galaxy far away and I am pleased I got round to reading the book.
It is set in the late 19th century and stylistically it follows the new tradition of steampunk novels.
It is a lovely adventure with a great historic touch but is written entertaining and modern enough to make it a fun read for its young target audience.
I really enjoyed this book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Creative, 21 Feb 2013
I was given an e-copy in exchange for my honest review.

Callie and Ian's father disappeared 5 years ago. They have never really been told what happened, he just vanished. Callie decides she is going to use the telescope (Ian's last present from their father) that is collecting dust in the attic, mostly because Ian has forbidden her to do so. Ian comes in to stop her and the telescope transforms and sends them off on a journey to Jupiter. The kids set off on a dangerous mission and finds out what really happened to their father.

I thought the book was creative and left room for a child's imagination. It was fast paced and lacked a few details, but I found it to be an enjoyable read. I plan to pass the story to my 12 year old to read.

Originally posted on The Mystical World of Book Reviews.
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