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on 22 June 2015
Agents Books and Braun are both interesting characters with plenty of depth to develop them further - just as well as this is clearly set up to be a series. I enjoyed reading and as neither plot nor actions were quite predictable I remained entertained throughout. It sounds that there wasn't enough steam in the punk for some readers but since I like historical mysteries just as much that wasn't a problem for me. I could also happily live with the fact that the clunking steaming machines of the genre weren't explained in detail, it was fun how they performed, never mind the details (fast paced plot kept me going along nicely). I hope the promise of the first book will carry into the second one.

Conclusion: Great addition to any library, good enough of a romp to forgive some of the appalling editing.
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on 7 September 2017
I love the steampunk genre, but I also like my reading to be quite lighthearted, but with a sense of adventure; and this book fulfills all of this.

I adore the characters and that there are layers and secrets to them, I also enjoy the slow developing appreciation for each other, and how far the authors are going to let them go.

If you like brass goggles, explosions and good tea, then this is for you!
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on 21 May 2017
A good fun read.
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on 18 May 2014
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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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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on 10 September 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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on 18 December 2013
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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on 19 July 2016
I bought Phoenix Rising as one of those impulse purchases, think it was probably on offer and I didn't have much that I hadn't read on my kindle. Finally got round to reading it recently. Wow. Never really read a steampunk type novel - Toby Frost is probably the closest I've got previously. This was really entertaining though. Has a feel of the Laundry books by Charles Stross. Good fun and I've already bought the next one, as I really want to find out more about Welly's apparently rather impressive combat skills.
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on 4 December 2015
Nothing special and in some ways boringly predictable. That's not to say there are no good bits but not enough to make me want to read more.
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on 3 September 2011
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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