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 listeners 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 steampunk 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.
©2013 Clockpunk Press (P)2014 Clockpunk Press
Chasing the Star Garden is in the top 10 percent of audiobooks I’ve read. The complex cast of characters, the fragile yet resourceful Lilly Stargazer, airship pilot, and the mysterious quest across Europe for an ancient mystical statue combine for a compelling story. The narrator did an outstanding job of bringing this story to life.
Chasing the Star Garden has many characters from different nations and stations: English, Scottish, French, Greek, Italian, working men and women, privileged and titled lords. If I had read the book, all of those characters would have had my voice. Libby Clearfield skillfully moved from one character and accent to another quickly without hesitation and with clarity of speech. The variety and accuracy of the accents was amazing and definitely enriched the experience. Humor, sadness, concern, frustration, love and excitement were expressed by her tone of voice for each character as appropriate. I particularly appreciated her ability to voice realistic male characters with different accents without making them sound like a woman trying to imitate a man’s voice.
I was initially concerned about reading this story, based upon warnings of abuse, sex and drug use in another review. While it is present, the abuse is presented in flashbacks, without excessive detail, but is necessary to the character and story development. The sex and drug use is in current time, but much less graphic than many historical romance novels and not an issue.
The unveiling of Lilly Stargazer’s background and emotional development, through flashbacks, gradually helps the reader understand her complex, driven nature and why she gets into trouble. Fortunately, her own skills and friends, like Lord Byron, help her evade disaster time and again. Lilly has not shared all of her secrets by the end of the novel and has more air races to win. I want her to succeed in her quests for love and success.
Melanie Karsak has created a believable steampunk universe with interesting characters, adventures and thrilling airship races. I look forward to the next novel in the series and hope that Libby Clearfield will return as Lilly Stargazer.
Disclosure: I was given a free copy of the audiobook in exchange for an honest review.
Professional Actress and Audiobook Narrator. Lifetime Story Teller.
Sometimes we have to fall hard on our faces before we are ready to get back up. Lilly Stargazer does just that in this epic steampunk fantasy and notable tale. This novel is not your typical hero must struggle against the evil of the world but undoubtedly will triumph in the end, it's a tale about the broken and unwanted seeking truth and finding it in the most unlikely of places.
Let's be honest, this novel depicts some of the raw, and unseemly parts of life: the protagonist, or rather anti-heroine, is a drug addict and sex is the only way she knows how to express and receive love, but her heart is searching for the right and the truth revealed in her journey is what makes it all with it in the end; isn't that why we share stories? To acknowledge the communal journey we all go through at some point in life, some people's struggle is just harder and Lily's struggle is one worth reading.
The narration by Libby Clearfield was truly enjoyable. The energy and life she brought to each of the characters was exquisite. Her tempo, timing, and numerous dialects was spot on.
I would recommend this novel.
This audiobook was given in exchange for an honest review.
Not having read the print version, I would still have to say yes. The narration of the book brought the characters and plot to life.
Not sure about this
I'd have to say Lily as she was the primary focus of the story. I believe the narrator captured her emotions and enhanced the story line.
Fantasy & UF reader/blogger/writer. Content Editor. Photographer. I prefer to live in my own version of the world,no matter how weird it is.
I loved the airship adventures. But I also love that the author didn't hold back on the darkness in Lily's life. The story moved at a quick pace with the adventure to keep us interested and going.
Lily was my favorite. She's a female that sticks out in a crowd. She does as she wishes and has no problem with language or drugs. She pushes on, and comes to realize things need to change. And she makes that happen.
Libby has intensified the character development through voice. Libby is perfect for the characters and world. Libby is talented in accents. She has a British accent that fits the characters and thickens when need be for other characters. She even does Italian, Irish, French and more accents. The way she speaks for each character is as she is the character. She differentiates many with tone, accent, and feeling in their voices. Outstanding job.
Oh yes. I wanted to know where Lily ended up with Sal and on the chase to find the Aphrodite statue.
I love listening to the flight of the airship. Lily and her small crew is talented and the descriptions are of the visuals not the technical of how it's done. But the use of the air and storms is wonderful.
Do be prepared for fowl language, opium dens, and steamy sensual moments with Lily Stargazer. Melanie has taken us into a dark side of the world where drugs numb the senses and where woman are viewed as things. Melanie brings Lily through a dark past to a present that she can live with. But it's a journey that Lily has to make to come to grips with her past and be who she is. She has her friends around her to help. There's her crew for a time but most of all it's Sal, the Italian tinker, that helps her. She also finds a new friend in Celeste who helps guide them to find the statue her family is tied to.
Lily's past comes back, front and center for her. A past that she's long forgotten when she was abandoned at the orphanage. Then, a past that she keeps locked away with opium surfaces and is what draws her to help find the Aphrodite statue that is so treasured by it's strong following.
Yes, Aphrodite. Which also connects Venus and the sensual feeling of the book as a whole. This is an interesting blend of clockworks and steampunk elements with the height of love and steam. This all intersects with Lily and her life.
This story feels like a love story at it's core. A love of ones self and finding that the past does not define who they are now. Then, when they accept themselves they find love with another. Beautiful story and meaning mixed with a surrounding I love, clockworks, airships, adventure and fighting.
This book covers a lot of territory that usually make me avoid a book: steampunk in a victorian era, famous people as characters, drug use, romance, and a love triangle. Somehow, Karsak handles these landmines magnificently. Lily, our protagonist is a female airship pilot/racer. Coming from mysterious and tragic circumstances, Lily is a self-made woman. She has intimacy issues and finds a match in the passionate and kinky arms of the poet Lord Byron, who is her no strings-attached lover and the financial patron of her airship, the Stargazer. Lily is flawed, an opium addict, and a talented adrenaline junkie. She avoids romantic attachments, but has a caderie of hale companions and good friends. She is plucky and practical, and can outdrink the boys. She doesn't waffle about her decisions, though she spends too much time avoiding her fear and anxiety with opium or alcohol. She is likeable, and the romance with Bryon, while not written with explicit sex scenes, is undeniably hot and a bit dark and twisted. There is another love interest vying for Lily's attention, but it does not devolve in the dreaded love triangle where the lady cannot choose. Lily makes her choice and sticks to it. I don't mind romance when it is not accompanied by a lot of agonizing and insecurity. The steampunk elements, especially the airships, are explained very matter-of-factly and don't come off as contrived or overly artificial. Karsak's writing is really smooth. Her dialogue feels real, her backstory exposition never feels like it bogs down the story, and the worldbuilding is the right mix of explanation and reliance on a reader's knowledge of the Victorian era. The book is very readable - exciting, fun, with good pacing and easy flow. Karsak has talent and good editor. I cannot wait to read the next book in the series!
The audiobook is well narrated by Libby Beth Clearfield. Clearfield doesn't always nail the myriad of European accents but she handles the packing very well.
NOTE: I received a free copy of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review.
I'm an avid fan of steampunk and I love a good adventure - these two preferences alone would have made Chasing the Star Garden an enjoyable read, however it was Lily who gave the story real heart. We don't get to choose how we start off in life, but some individuals, in this case, Lily are able to elbow past circumstances and show the world who they really are.
Addiction is rarely a simple thing, and I think Melanie wrote a very balanced and realistic description of the physical and mental issues that go with it. Lily's struggles weren't a vice that was tacked on to give "flavor," or a glamorized flaw in an attempt to disguise a Mary Sue. The impulse, reasoning and consequences of addiction is handled very organically and maturely.
I liked the pacing of the story, not all adventures have to be full-steam ahead (missed opportunity for an airship racing pun) but it's good to slow down for a bit to let the environment and setting sink in.
Libby did an excellent job of narrating this book. I loved her many accents and thought she was the perfect voice for Lily. She did an excellent job of giving the story a geographical placement.
The following comments could contain mild spoilers.
I am, by nature, fairly prudish. The non-judgmental kind of prude, though, I'm not out to censor anyone, I'm just easily embarrassed. I don't seek out steamy books and I quickly lose interest if stories are just one graphic scene after another. I went into this book with full knowledge that this book was for mature readers, but I really wanted to meet this Lily that everyone was writing about in the reviews. All that being said my take-away is that Lily is an adult woman, uninhibited by propriety, who is not afraid to express her sexual nature. Also, the nature of Lily and Byron's relationship - although very different from Lily and Sal - is essentially one of great trust, not manipulations or abuse. True abuse is depicted later in the story.
If you're a fan of Starbuck (the from the BSG remake), Chiana from Farscape, and lastly and especially Isabela from Dragon Age, I think you'll find a champion in Lily.
*--I received a copy of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review.--*
I like Fantasy & Science Fiction but not into Zombie. Due to Health issues, listen to Audiobooks/read ebooks where I can enlarge the print
The story is listed under fantasy and as Steampunk, but would be better listed under erotica.
The excessive descriptions/use of sex, "colourful" language, drug taking, deviant sexual behavior and alcoholic binges, could be somewhat excused by the early life of the "heroine" but such things need not become most of the book. they could have be described once and then eluded to instead of becoming most of the books bulk and story.
The narrator is the only real saving grace and in-spite of the material does an excellent job.
I wont go into plot spoilers but instead would like to use this review as a warning for those who are looking for a Steampunk Fantasy rather than an erotic one, because i don't think you will like this book, which is a shame as decent Steampunk fantasies are few and far between especially in Audiobook format.
If however erotica, with heaps of helpings of drug and other abuse is your thing . . .enjoy
I don't consider myself a prude but I require a reasonable cohesive plot with such stories before they interest me in anyway and such devices should be used as a means to grow the characters and the world they inhabit or at least used with skill not as a bludgeon and constant shock or page fillers because after a short time such stories and devices have no real value other than to fill space.
This review is solely my own interpretation and will obviously not agree with that of others, I just hope it helps some in evaluating this book under the category it is listed as
All of my reviews are on my blog audiobookreviewer dot com
What if you were the best at what you do and and not use to coming in second place. Ever. Well, it is 1823, and that is how Champion Starship Racer Lily Stargazer has had the worst day of her life. She has never lost a race, never. Now some crazy man comes to her out of no where and shoves an item down the front of her pants. Tells her to find the secret. What object? The he jumps to his death. Not saying anything, Lily continues through the group of well wishers, congratulating her on her second place win. Wish they will go away as they feel like they are driving knives into her.
Lily returning to a place of business to get her opium fix. As she sits there she reaches down into her trousers to retrieve the item. She takes it out and unwraps it. Looking at it she wonder why anyone would give her a kaleidoscope. Looking thru it seeing all the beautiful colors. But, why would that man tell her to search for the secret. In come Lord Byron, a good friend and non-romantic sex partner. She tells him about the morning she had and the item. This is where the adventure begins after Lord Byron convinces her to go to Italy as directed by this man and he will assist her with the financing of the trip.
Lord Byron along with many other very strong characters assist Lily thru this adventure that never stops. From the time she received the item until the very end of the book. Melanie Karsak has the most amazing eye to bringing to life the words of this adventure. I am partial to this growing trend of Steampunk Fantasies and this book is now on my list of this author to follow. Lily a young girl from the orphanage that finds her way into a home but, never fitting in until she meets her inventor friend Sal. Melanie has made her an exceptional pivoting character that can turn to any direction in the book to handle the situations as they arrive. I did a bit of a problem with the drug addiction problem that Lily has. Most readers may. However, the time period of 1823, this was a common stance of the day. Not legal but, all the same there.
I loved and enjoyed the characters that she added in to support Lily. Her crew on the airship. Lord Byron and Sal who were not only her friends but, her lovers. How she does not see till the end the one true love in one of them.
This book is not meant for young and for the ones offended by the drugs and sexual situations I don’t recommend this book. If you are not bother by this then dive in with both hands. This story is a page turner for sure. With Libby Clearfield narrating, she has brought this book to life with the gift of many voices in her astounding performance. You know who is speaking. She did equally well with both male and female voices. I look forward to listening to other books she has performed.
I love the cover of the book. it gives you a clear visualization of the ship, the steampunk era, the great and towering European town. This cover is certainly one to drawn you in as a reader and listener of this book. I look forward to the future books to this Airship Racing Chronicles series.
Audiobook provided for review by the author.
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I tended to forget it was steampunk at times, and then, suddenly, something would pop up again. I found the addition of historical figures like Lord Byron to be a little off putting at first, but I got used it after a while and really enjoyed the story, which is often dark. The narrator had the perfect accent for reading this story, which helped a lot. Looking forward to listening to the second book.
I am a wee bit over the half a century mark in years. I enjoy audiobooks,cats,rats and most days my family,not necessarily in that order!lo
Lily captains an airship in a Steampunk kinda world.On the worst day she's had,she's just lost a big race,a Harlequin shoves a kaleidescope down her trousers then jumps to his death.In a haze of opium,absinth and sex,Lily must figure out how she fits into this mystery.
Libby Clearfield narrates with great effect.
"I was provided this audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator in exchange for an unbiased review via AudiobookBlast dot com"
"Absolutely terrible accents!"
A better reader. She was trying to pull off an English accent and it was not working at all.
The woman reading is absolutely awful at doing accents. She has a terribly fake English accent and as a result made the whole book unbearable.
The story would have been good if only the reader wasn't so terrible . The pitches in her voice were all wrong and she made the main character seem intolerable
"warmed my clockwork heart"
excellent characters, romance, sex, adventure, mythology and narration. Well written enjoyed every steampunk second.
A beautiful world had me whisked away, and the romance and sex was passionate but something your grandmother could listen too. the mixture of Greek and roman mythology with a steampunk settings and machinery made this novel for me nothing overly complicated and with it being 6 hours a good easy listen.
I hope Melanie continues this series.
and libby's beautiful voice had me tingling with every sentence.
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