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Gunpowder Alchemy by Jeannie Lin
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Gunpowder Alchemy

by Jeannie Lin

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If you're looking for a G-rated YA romance set in 19th-century China - this is the book for you.
I see from the author's bio that she's known for her historical romances with a Chinese setting. If you liked those, I'm sure you'll like this one as well. However, I was persuaded to read this by the touted 'steampunk' angle - and in that, I was disappointed. All of the 'steampunk' elements in this book could easily have been inserted with half an hour's editing of a completed manuscript. None of them are any more than window dressing, and affect the plot not at all.

Our Heroine is the young woman Soling. Her family has fallen from Imperial favor, and she is living in poverty. Once, her father was the Emperor's chief engineer, but after a naval defeat at the hands of Western invaders, he was executed for his failure.
When Soling resorts to trying to sell one of the last items of her father's that she owns, she unintentionally attracts Imperial attention. Before she knows it, she's whisked from the streets and brought to the palace, where the Crown Prince, who disagreed with the Emperor's policies, hopes to acquire any secrets that may be in Soling's possession. While there, she happens to encounter the man to whom she once was betrothed... and, of course, finds herself attracted to him.

From there, Soling gets bundled off this way and that way, most of it against her will, while she tries to keep her head above water and get back to taking care of her young brother and her opium-addicted mother. She's mystifyingly reluctant to accept help or grab opportunities that present themselves.

That said, the book was fun, action-filled, and kept my interest throughout. A good beach read, if you're not looking for anything too heavy or involved.

A copy was provided to me by NetGalley - many thanks for the opportunity to read. As always, my opinions are my own.

( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
FALTA POCO!!

Jeannie Lin está en mi top five de autoras de romance favoritas. Cada vez que sale un libro suyo, me pongo en superfan...

LO.QUIERO.YA.YA.YA.
  LaMala | Jul 8, 2015 |
Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy

One of the best things about GUNPOWDER ALCHEMY is the fact that the worldbuilding takes place in China during the Qing Dinasty. I so rarely read books predominately set in Asia so it was refreshing to see steampunk mixed in with Chinese customs and history. I enjoyed seeing some of that culture play a role in the fast paced plot such as the Opium Wars, arranged marriages, and mentions of foot-binding.

Along with this being a historical fiction filled with some steampunky goodness this is a wonderful action adventure. There actually was a good balance of steampunk technology in that the story wasn't to bogged down in technical descriptions of fantastical contraptions. Jin is a strong, smart, heroine who I really felt for right from the start considering her family situation. Her determination to support her family brings her full throttle into the circle of war, politics, and some pretty cool ship battles. The romance is definitely a slow burn to the point that it didn't really feel like there was even a romance there. I see how Jin's relationship with Chang-wei is developing into something more than simple friendship but it barely exists in GUNPOWDER ALCHEMY. Perhaps there will be more romance in the next book between these two? All of the characters have wonderful back stories and are fully realized. I just hope there is more to the romance in later books.

GUNPOWDER ALCHEMY created a wonderful tapestry of epic battles, political intrigue, and a rich setting which made for a great story. I loved seeing Chinese culture and history with a steampunk bent and am looking forward to seeing what the next book brings in the Gunpowder Chronicles. ( )
  kryssi | Nov 28, 2014 |
4.5-4.75 Stars
A wonderful new YA novel with well-developed characters and plots. There's a subtle but simmering romance, some steampunk tech, and an opium scourge. This book incorporates some excellent world-building and a beautifully historical atmosphere. The story ends too soon. I will be looking forward to the next book in this series.
Great cover!

Net Galley Feedback ( )
  LibStaff2 | Nov 19, 2014 |
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