The Opium Smuggler by Celine Jeanjean

If you’ve followed my book reading advice over the last years you have already read The Viper and the Urchin series. If you need another reminder of that recommendation the series starts here: The Bloodless Assassin.  Quick, go read those books.

On that?

Great, now that you are caught up The Opium Smuggler takes a step back from the series and gives the backstory for Adelma, everyone’s favorite heavy-drinking, ax-wielding smuggler.

If I were to be at all critical of this story it would be to say that it seems that the messages, and even a bit of a moral, is laid out with a heavy hand. And I did feel that way for a bit and then I realized that this book is about Adelma. The woman who does anything she pleases, as she pleases, with two axes to back up her decisions, all while drinking men under the table and running her own smuggling ship. Adelma knows no way of approaching a situation other than head on. There is no subtlety about her (unless she’s sneaking something through customs), no pretense.  So why should I be surprised when the same is true of her finding her way earlier in life? So, if this book approaches those life lessons with the heavy hands used to brawl and work, I forgive it. This is Adelma’s story and it wouldn’t ring true any other way. 

Would I recommend it? While this book could be read as a stand alone, I think it would be best to read it in conjunction with the rest of the series. However if you have read any of The Viper and The Urchin book and have met Adelma, you will absolutely want to know how she started her smuggling journey and her relationship with Radish!

The Doll Maker by Celine Jeanjean

Sometimes stepping back into a fictional world is like coming home or snuggling under a cozy blanket. Reentering the world of Damsport with Longinus and Rory is more like slipping on your favorite summer dress. But then, as you pull on the comfortable fabric, ready for a sunny day of adventure, you absently slide your hands down your side and discover that your favorite dress, the one you’ve worn again and again, has pockets that you had never even noticed before!

Would I recommend it? Yes! In case the pockets in dresses reference wasn’t for you, let me be plain. I have always enjoyed this series but as it goes on and the characters continue to grow, I fall more in love with the world, the characters and Jeanjean’s writing. Start with The Bloodless Assassin and enjoy the ride!

The Pickpocket by Celine Jeanjean

Perhaps you’ve read The Bloodless Assassin or The Black Orchid (I know I told you should!). If you have, you’ll already know the main character Rory. But if you haven’t, this truly is (and believe me I’m picky about such things) a stand alone novella about Rory’s life as a young street urchin.

If you’ve read the others in this series you’ll get treated to flashes of insight into what makes Rory tick and fun glimpses of supporting characters as they were years before we really “meet” them.

If you are a new reader you’ll be presented with a page turning story (I read it in one sitting) of a hungry street urchin turned pickpocket. Complete with loss, hard times, friendships and the character depth and growth I’m beginning to happily expect from Celine Jeanjean’s writing. And, you’ll be introduced to the city of Damsport. A city that comes with such depth and detail it gives all of the books an unbelievably firm sense of place and seems to be a character in it’s own right.

Would I recommend it? Was it not yet obvious? Yes! If you haven’t been sure The Viper and Urchin is the right series for you, try this one first! It’s short, it’s minimally steampunk-y (in case that scares you off) and it’s an all around great read. Just don’t yell at me when you are downloading the rest of the series onto your e-reader in the middle of the night!

September’s Book at the Door giveaway is still open! Don’t forget to put your name in the hat for the chance to win a paperback book and first line artwork! Book at the Door: September Giveaway

The Black Orchid By Celine Jeanjean

Reviewing a sequel is always a little bit challenging. I’ve begun to think of it as advice on if it’s worth it to start reading the first book of the series.

In this case the answer is yes.

You’ve got to start with The Bloodless Assassin (previously title The Viper and the Urchin) where you will meet the assassin that reminds me of Eyore and the street urchin who teams up with him.

And then, for sure, you’ve got to continue on to The Black Orchid.

Hands down my favorite part of these books is the characters. In the first book it was the witty dialogue between the two. In this sequel the focus shifted away from the dialogue (don’t worry it was all still fun and fantastic) and onto some major character development. I won’t spoil anything with details but let’s just say things have changed quite a bit and watching the two main characters adjust to their new position in life is to watch some great writing at work!

Would I recommend it? Yup. Yup. Yup! Just don’t forget you need to start with The Bloodless Assassin to make the story even more enjoyable! And then please keep reading because I think this one might be even better than the first!

Rosie's Book Review team 1

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I discovered this book because I’m a proud member of Rosie’s Book Review Team!

Cogling by Jordan Elizabeth

Steampunk is a literary genre that confused me, if I thought of it at all.

When it did cross my mind all I could envision was people dressed in outfits involving lots of leather, corsets, top hats, a few random gears thrown in and goggles. Always the goggles. But the why of it all escaped me. I turned to the internet and gave me a definition…

“A subgenre of science fiction and fantasy featuring advanced machines and other technology based on steam power of the 19th century and taking place in a recognizable historical period or a fantasy world.”

… clear as mud now right?

But what I’ve decided is, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what Steampunk is or isn’t because as the writing gets better, the genre matters less. Not to say that I wouldn’t have wanted the author to describe this alternate history full of magic and technology as well as she did. No, quite to the contrary. Because she described it so well and because her characters were so rich, there was no confusion. I didn’t read a “steampunk” book.

I read a book about a sister whose brother was kidnapped. I read about oppression and freedom. Class warfare and  outright warfare. I read about evil beings that weren’t and good citizens that weren’t either. I read about trust and I read about love.

Sure, there were some crazy gizmos in amongst all that but, at the end of the day, the gizmos weren’t what had me flipping pages long after I should have turned in for the night.

Would I recommend it? Don’t let a funny word like steampunk scare you off, give it a try, I think you’ll like it.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review


The Bloodless Assassin by Celine Jeanjean

“It was always a pleasure to kill…”

…begins the book as it launches into a long and ominous description of an assassin, The Viper, and the nefarious activity he is on his way to perform. And then he thinks to himself, “Is it really too much to ask that the common dockworker experience a faint malaise in my presence? Obviously.”  and I smiled because, suddenly, the Viper looked like someone I was really going to enjoy!29602693


It turns out that The Viper is a lovable, sarcastic, pompous jerk of a man. “How can that be?” I asked myself.  Those don’t go together and then (in the words of my three year old)…

Oh. My. Gossshhhh.

He’s Eeyore.

Not the sad, dopey, Disney donkey but the true A.A. Milne pompous ass right down to his sarcastic wit. Yes, it’s Eeyore as an assassin and he’s paired with a blackmailing, slip of a street girl. It might sound ridiculous but you need to trust me, the dialog between the two is not something you’re going to want to miss.

Would I recommend it? Yes. I ended the book laughing even as I was dismayed it was over.

Rosie's Book Review team 1

This honest review was given in return for a free copy of the book from its author.