Monday, March 30, 2015

"Chasing the Star Garden" by Melanie Karsak ~Review

Title: Chasing the Star Garden
Author: Melanie Karsak
Series: The Airship Racing Chronicles (1)
Genre: Steampunk
Publisher: Clockpunk Press
Release Date: Audio Book Sept 2014
Edition/Format Available In: Audio/eBook/Print

An opium-addicted beauty.
An infamous poet living in self-imposed exile.
An ancient treasure about to fall into the wrong hands.
Melanie Karsak's Chasing the Star Garden takes readers on a thrilling adventure from the gritty opium dens of gaslamp London to the gem-colored waters of the ancient world. Lily Stargazer, a loveable but reckless airship racer with a famous lover and shattered past, reluctantly plunges into a centuries-old mystery in a romantic adventure best described as Dan Brown meets Mary Shelley.
It all begins on one of the worst days of Lily’s life. She just lost the London leg of the 1823 Airship Grand Prix. To top it off, a harlequin fleeing from constables shoved a kaleidoscope down her pants, told her to fly to Venice, then threw himself from her airship tower. What’s a girl to do? For Lily, the answer is easy: drink absinthe and smoke opium.
Lily’s lover, Lord Byron, encourages her to make the trip to Venice. Lily soon finds herself at the heart of an ancient mystery which has her running from her past and chasing true love and the stars along the way.

**Due to steamy scenes and depictions of drug use, this novel is intended for mature readers.**

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Author Information

Melanie Karsak is the author of the Amazon best-selling steampunk series The Airship Racing Chronicles, the award-winning horror/dark fantasy The Harvesting Series, and The Saga of Lady Macbeth. She grew up in rural northwestern Pennsylvania and earned a Master's degree in English from Gannon University. A steampunk connoisseur, Shakespeare nerd, and zombie whisperer, the author currently lives in Florida with her husband and two children. She is an Instructor of English at Eastern Florida State College.

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Blog Dispatches from Melanie


I was just about to head back to the gondolas when I realized I was being followed. Behind me, a man in a dark suit tried to look nonchalant as he perused a stall displaying carnival masks. The random nature of my searching made his presence obvious, but in true Lily fashion, I didn’t know I was in trouble until I was already in the middle of it.
I slipped my hand into my bag and grabbed my sidearm. I turned then and advanced on the man. Startled, he turned and began walking in the other direction. He passed between two tents; I followed him. When I made the turn, he grabbed me.
“What are you doing in Venice, Lily?” he asked, knocking my gun from my hand then twisting my arm behind my back as he tried to reach into my satchel.
With my free arm, I elbowed him hard in the side. He let go. I turned and kneed him in the crotch. When he fell to the ground, I grabbed my gun and fled.
Thankful I had forsaken Byron’s dainty heels for my boots, I hiked up my skirts and took off through the crowd. I turned back to see the man picking himself up off the ground. I ran. I rushed through the crowds, dodging between the tents, then under the arched walkways of the piazza to an alleyway behind the square. I ran into the belly of Venice, my assailant pursuing me. I dodged between buildings then paused, peering out of an alley to see the man talking to two other gentlemen also dressed in dark suits. While I could not make out their words, they were speaking English. All three men had sidearms drawn. Taking a deep breath, I slid down the alleyway. At its end, I found myself stuck between a four-foot wide trench and the alley leading back to the street and the men who pursued me. I pulled my dress up to my knees and taking a running jump, I leapt across the water.
“There she goes,” I heard one of the men yell. He spotted me just as I landed on the other side. I ran between the buildings, dodging children and workers on velocipedes. I turned and looked back to see one of the men emerging from the buildings behind me. I ran over a footbridge, down another street, then found myself cornered between three palazzi. There was no way out. I looked around for a means of escape. To my surprise, I noticed that above the door directly across from me was a fa├žade carving of a swan with an anemone flower in its beak.
“You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“Go that way,” I heard a man yell from the alley.
I ran to the door and knocked hard. A confused looking maid answered. “Please, let me in,” I told her.
She shook her head.
“Please,” I said, gesturing toward the swan, but the woman did not budge.
Just then a startlingly beautiful woman with raven black hair and round, gold colored eyes appeared behind the woman. “What’s the matter?” she asked.
The men’s rough voices floated toward the alley. “Please, let me in,” I said, trying to push my way inside.
The woman started to push the door closed. “I don’t invite trouble.”
Desperate, I grabbed her hand. “I have the kaleidoscope.”
Her big eyes grew even larger. She peered closely at me then pulled me inside. She clapped the door shut behind her.
“She’s not here,” one of the men called from the alley outside just moments later.
The woman peered out the window. The midmorning sun shone in on her causing flecks of blue to sparkle in her black hair. After a moment, she leveled her golden eyes on me.

“Hello, Lily,” she said in a rich voice that poured out of her like liquid velvet, “I didn’t recognize you dressed like that. Please, come with me,” she said, offering her hand. “I’m Celeste. Welcome to Palazzo del Cigno, the House of the Swan.”

                               My Review
*I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Adventure behind every cloud!
"Chasing the Star Garden" is one of the most engaging stories I have experienced in a while.  Lily is a high flying airship racer who enjoys living a life of drugs, sex and adrenaline.  When her life takes a turn at the hands of a thief, chaos begins to rule every move she makes.  Surrounded by a cast of unique characters including a rather famous poet, a handsome and creative Italian and a crew that are as dedicated as they are opinionated, Lily is about to begin an adventure that will change her future.
This is the first time I have listened to an audio book since I was a kid, and it will most certainly not be my last.  I love the narrator, the recording is clean and the quality is good.  I listened "Chasing the Star Garden" while cleaning and grocery shopping which made these mundane tasks enjoyable as time flew by.  I cannot wait to find out what happens to this rowdy cast of characters in the next installment!
Happy Reading!

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