Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Book Review + Giveaway: Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell


I am thrilled to be a stop on the book tour for Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell, hosted by Rockstar Book Tours! Today, I have a review for your reading pleasure, but be sure to check out the tour schedule below, or click the banner above, for more!
Don't forget to enter the giveaway!

Young Adult, Steampunk, Fairtale, Retalling
Publication.Date:August 25, 2015
Pages:304 (eARC)
Published By:  Clarion Books
Website:Betsy Cornwell 

Mechanica on Goodreads
My review copy:
Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Where to get:

Nicolette’s awful stepsisters call her “Mechanica” to demean her, but the nickname fits: she learned to be an inventor at her mother’s knee. Her mom is gone now, though, and the Steps have turned her into a servant in her own home.

But on her sixteenth birthday, Nicolette discovers a secret workshop in the cellar and begins to dare to imagine a new life for herself. Could the mysterious books and tools hidden there—and the mechanical menagerie, led by a tiny metal horse named Jules—be the key to escaping her dreary existence? With a technological exposition and royal ball on the horizon, the timing might just be perfect for Nicolette to earn her freedom at last.

Gorgeous prose and themes of social justice and family shine in this richly imagined Cinderella retelling about an indomitable inventor who finds her prince . . . but realizes she doesn't want a fairy tale happy ending after all.


Quotes taken from an ARC and are subject to change
After Mr. Candery left and Stepmother made it clear that I was to replace him, I fell easily into a new routing at Lampton - much more easily, perhaps, that I should have, barring that one screaming fit the first night I cleared the table. Rules fit in nicely with the haze I walked through; I didn't really have to think about anything. Not the deaths of my parents or losing Mr. Candery; not the way my new family had turned me into a servant.
I found that Fin's voice, asking me questions, laughing, shut out the more critical voices that used to fill my head: the Steps, great inventors who'd come before me, even Mother. I could tell my imagined Fin about my inventions, and he'd be impressed, proud, whereas once I'd only hear my mother's voice saying how much better she had already done.
The overskirt and bodice were mostly midnight blue silk, though I could see many shadow within it, the scraps of my dye experiments sewn together with such subtlety that no one else could have guessed the skirt was not made from a single blot of fabric. Bits of indigo and violet flashed through as well, at the underskirt and petticoats, the bodice, and the short, off-shoulder sleeves.

Okay, let's get this out of the way now (because I've seen it in many Goodreads reviews). THIS IS NOT CINDER. The only comparisons between the two is their both Cinderella retellings and both girls are mechanics. And there it ends.

Moving on . . .

Mechanica takes place in a world where Fey magic used to be prevalent, but was banned by the king years ago. Nicolette's mother refused to let her daughter become prissy and insisted on her being independent. She spent many afternoons teaching Nicolette how to repair her mechanical inventions, read from he blueprints, and play with gears and tools rather than having a governess to prepare her for finishing school: "I'll finish Nicolette myself, in my own way. I can teach her more than those simpering wimple-clad governesses ever could." Also in the household is their housekeeper Mr. Candery, who is half Fey, and upon the death of Nicolette's mother teaches her small magic and how to use her mother's many machines to help run the house. He is dismissed by her stepmother after her father's death and before he leaves instructs her to be careful and not let her stepmother wear her down. On her sixteenth birthday, Nicolette finds her mother's workshop, which she had long believed to be destroyed, and soon improves upon the minimal skills her mother had taught her years ago.

Upon creating a knitting machine and some small beads, Nicolette secretly travels to the market to sell her items in an effort to earn enough money that she can move out of her stepmother's and stepsisters' clutches, and eventually have enough money to buy back her childhood home. How fabulous is that? I love that she isn't content living as her life as a servant to the Steps, but is striving to better herself and become independent.

One of the things I love about Nicolette is she's not the nice and loving Cinderella. She does have a kind heart, but there is a scene where she slaps her one stepsister across the face (not that I blame her in the slightest) and I thought it was magical. Not that I condone violence, but so often there are Cinderella stories where they don't stand up for themselves and it frustrates me. Nicolette is a strong character and fiercely determined to live her own life on her own terms.

Mechanica is an easy read and I would like to see more depth to the secondary characters, and perhaps a bit more oompf to the plot, but overall it was rather enjoyable. I want to gush about the ending, because it was absolutely perfect. It fit the tone of Mechanica perfectly and was ultimately refreshing.

Mechanica is a different kind of story, perfect for a younger audience - maybe a tween (god I hate that phrase, but I can't think of another word). Betsy takes the story of Cinderella and warps it into a steampunk feminist retelling where Cinderella is an inventor, there's no fairy godmother (unless you count her mechanical horse, Jules, whom I adore), and instead of waiting for her prince to sweep her off her feet she saves herself.

Hi! I'm Betsy Cornwell, an American writer and teacher living in a stove-heated cottage in west Ireland, together with my horse trainer spouse, a small herd of dairy goats, and an increasing number of other animals. I write fiction and nonfiction and blog about Irish folklore, travel, wild food, goats (of course!), homesteading, and growing up.

1 winner will receive a finished copy of MECHANICA and a beautiful watch necklace from this Etsy shop! US Only.


 2 winners will receive a finished copy of MECHANICA. US Only.

Tour Schedule

8/17/2015- Fangirlish- Interview
8/18/2015- Uncreatively Zoey- Review
8/19/2015- Two Chicks on Books- Guest Post
8/20/2015- A Backwards Story- Review
8/21/2015- Dark Faerie Tales- Guest Post


8/24/2015- Fiktshun- Interview
8/25/2015- Bookish Lifestyle- Review
8/26/2015- Supernatural Snark- Interview
8/27/2015- Bookhounds ya- Review
8/28/2015- Me, My Shelf and I- Guest Post

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