“Stolen” from Brad Francis, who doesn’t do reviews … The ‘Pprentices, the Puppets, the Pirates and the Potboiler

This post originally came from Christ, Fiction, and Video Games, the blog and online home of Brad Francis. Sorry, I didn’t manage to preserve all the links, but you can find them in his post linked below. Thank, you, Brad!


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Ask me what sort of books I like to read.

Go ahead, ask. I’m giving you permission. We don’t have to do some big interview thing. I know you’re curious and I want to share, so go ahead and ask.
Of course, if it’s a really good book, I may not even
feel worth of holding it with my hands.
You: Hi, Brad! What sort of books do you like to read?
Me: Hi, Reader! Thanks for asking! The answer is good books. That’s what I like to read. Seriously, if a book is bad, I probably won’t enjoy it. But if it’s good? I honestly don’t care about the plot or the genre; I enjoy reading good books!
It’s possible that this is a bit on the subjective side. I don’t read all genres equally. I don’t read erotica, for instance, and I rarely read Norwegian graphic novels, what with not speaking Norwegian and all. I usually don’t tend toward full-blown romances, although I enjoy romance in books if it’s well done. I would even argue that Nick Hornby, one of my all-time favorite authors, tends to write romance for guys. At least, his books often have a lot of romance in them, but all from a male perspective—and not those lumberjack type that women go for either, but real guys like me. Oh, and I would probably classify Frank Peretti’s most recent novel, Illusion, a romance as much as it is anything else, and I greatly enjoyed that book (as I tend to do with Peretti).
My point is that I honestly can’t tell if I’m going to like a book simply based on the genre. I like to branch out and, as a writer, I think that it’s beneficial for me to read a wide range of authors and genres. I think it’s beneficial for all of us to branch out at least a bit, I think. It makes us more well-rounded and maybe even  a bit better to deal with the myriad of different types of people we encounter in life.
Still, if you were to corner me at a Schlotzsky’s and demand to know whether I enjoyed reading steampunk literary tribute novels, I probably wouldn’t start jumping on a coach and start yelling about my love for the books to Oprah.
This should clear up any confusion.
But I need to be true to my philosophy, you recall, and I just literally said two paragraphs ago that I can’t tell if I’m going to like a book based on the genre. Based on the cover? Absolutely. But not the genre.
And, honestly, steampunk literary tribute novel is a pretty weird niche little genre, isn’t it? I don’t even think it gets its own bookcase at Barnes and Noble. If I asked you whether you read steampunk literary tribute novels, you’d probably say no, adding perhaps that you haven’t even heard of steampunk literary tribute novels and possibly looking about for a police officer in case the strange bearded author started to get violent.
But here’s the thing: I only get violent with authors I interview. And, even then, it’s only the threat of violence.
Oh, and here’s the other thing: I understand if you’ve never heard of a steampunk literary tribute novel before. But if you let that little fact stop you from reading the book I just finished, your world will be a little less rich than it could have been.
Longtime visitors to this blog have heard of this obscure little book category before, as one of my favorite interviews ever featured the author of such a story, Sophronia Belle Lyon. We spoke at that time about the first steampunk literary tribute novel I had ever heard of, much less read. It was called A Dodge, a Twist and a Tobacconist and I genuinely enjoyed it. The story brought together a slew of characters from authors as varied as Jane AustenCharles DickensRudyard Kipling and others to fight crime and shut down a human trafficking ring run by a mysterious figure somewhere in the shadows. Even though I’ll sheepishly admit that I hadn’t read all the classic novels that inspired the book, the great writing, exciting plot and well-developed characters drew me in and kept me hooked. I had a few minor quibbles that tempered my enjoyment of the book a bit, but I was eagerly awaiting the sequel, and Ms. Lyon knew it.
This is…not the cover to The ‘Pprentices,
the Puppets and the Pirate. 
This is
just an original working title that
the author was once considering and
I really loved it and this is my
blog so it’s here again!
Well, the sequel is here. It’s called The ‘Pprentices, the Puppets, and the Pirates and it proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Sophronia Belle Lyon is a master storyteller who excels at her craft. I don’t care whether you think a steampunk literary tribute novel would be your cup of tea or not; you should read this book because it is a great story, well told and full of adventure, romance and intrigue.
I read a lot. I read a lot because I love reading, but also because I’m a writer and it’s very important for writers to read and because I’m a blogger who likes to interview authors and talk about books here. I have never, in my professional career, officially endorsed another book before. I’m endorsing this one. Let’s throw the Christ, Fiction and Video Games Book Club stamp on this baby and throw it back into the pond and see how quickly it tops the New York Times bestseller list. This is one of those times in my life where it would be convenient to be Oprah.
My favorite character from the first book in the series, Oliver Twist, is front and center for this one (I might also point out that I really love Dickens and so I felt a certain affinity toward Twist from his original story as well). Everybody’s favorite orphan (with all apologies to Annie) has grown to be a master inventor, and there are indications that his old mentor may be involved in the trafficking from the first book—and worse. This is a story about rebirth, redemption and the fact that no one is beyond the love of God.
For me, reading The ‘Pprentices, the Puppets, and the Pirates was a bit like taking a creative writing course. It was a delight to see how all the different pieces of the story fit together, and I took great joy in joining Twist and his teammates through their well-crafted story in the same way you might love listening to an album where the songs build on and enhance each other or seeing how a masterful television show tells its story on many different levels throughout the seasons.
Of course, it goes without saying that
Oprah endorses all of my books AND
Sophronia’s books. It goes without saying
because it’s not true…but that’s just a detail.
Another of my favorite authors is JK Rowling, in part because I love how many different story elements she brought full-circle throughout the series, how a minor detail in the first Harry Potter book could recur in a brilliant, unexpected way in the sixth or seventh. Sorry if I’ve lost some of you. There was so much of this going on in theHarry Potter books that it didn’t all work, but when it did? I love that stuff, and it’s why Jo Rowling is one of my all-time favorite storytellers. Plotwise, Sophronia Belle Lyon’sAlexander Legacy series has absolutely nothing to do with Rowling’s fantasy novels. But you strip away all the detail, all the twists and risks and successes, and what you have in both cases are natural born storytellers, weaving tales full of memorable characters. Lyon could release a novella about Oliver Twist and Phoebe Moore-Campbell making a BLT sandwich and I’d write it because I know it would be a fine example of storycraft, just as millions would rush out and buy Harry Potter and the Trip to Costco were it to be released.
You can buy Death Eaters in bulk here!
Like I said, I love great stories. In The ‘Pprentices, the Puppets, and the Pirates, Sophronia Belle Lyon gives us a great story. I heartily recommend it. I realize I may be setting the bar of expectations unreasonably high, and that’s not my intention, but if you sit down with this book, sit back and let it entertain and tell its tale, I can’t imagine you being disappointed.
I don’t care if you join the legions of steampunk literary tribute novel fans or not. But I do think you should become a fan of Ms. Lyon. I don’t think she’ll let you down.
Posted by at 10:05 PM

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