The Guns Above by Robyn Bennis (Blog Tour Review & #Giveaway)

This is a perfect read if you're in the mood for a mix of Steampunk and lots of action...

The Guns Above
(Signal Airship #1)
by Robyn Bennis
Adult Steampunk, Fantasy
Hardcover & ebook, 336 Pages
May 2nd 2017 by Tor Books


The nation of Garnia has been at war for as long as Auxiliary Lieutenant Josette Dupris can remember – this time against neighboring Vinzhalia. Garnia’s Air Signal Corp stands out as the favored martial child of the King. But though it’s co-ed, women on-board are only allowed “auxiliary” crew positions and are banned from combat. In extenuating circumstances, Josette saves her airship in the heat of battle. She is rewarded with the Mistral, becoming Garnia’s first female captain.

She wants the job – just not the political flak attached. On top of patrolling the front lines, she must also contend with a crew who doubts her expertise, a new airship that is an untested deathtrap, and the foppish aristocrat Lord Bernat – a gambler and shameless flirt with the military know-how of a thimble. He’s also been assigned to her ship to catalog her every moment of weakness and indecision. When the Vins make an unprecedented military move that could turn the tide of the war, can Josette deal with Bernat, rally her crew, and survive long enough to prove herself to the top brass?

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Praise for the Book

“Steampunky navy-in-the-air military tale full of sass and terrific characters. Great storytelling. Loved it.” ―Patricia Briggs

“The Guns Above is a sharp, witty Ruritanian adventure full of flintlock rifles, plumed shakos, brass buttons... and airships! Taking place in an alternate mid-nineteenth-century Europe where dirigibles ply the smoky air over battlefields and women have been grudgingly admitted to the air corps,The Guns Above takes a clear-eyed, even cynical view of the 'glories' of war, complete with blood, shit, shattered limbs, and petty squabbles among the nobility. The aerial combat is gut-clenchingly realistic, the two viewpoint characters are well-drawn and as different as can be, and the action never stops. Hard women learn compassion, soft men learn bravery, and the fate of a nation depends on one rickety airship and its stalwart crew. A winner!”―David D. Levine, author of Arabella of Mars

“An engaging gunpowder adventure with a helping of witty Noel Coward dialogue and a touch of Joseph Heller.” ―Tina Connolly, Nebula Award-nominated author of Ironskin

“Wonderfully adventurous and laudably detailed. Bennis paints airship battles so clearly you'd swear they were from memory.” ―Becky Chambers, author of The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

“Buckle in. The crew of the Mistral will take readers on adventures they won’t soon forget.” ―Pip Ballantine, author of The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series

“Hold on to your goggles, Bennis' The Guns Above is a nonstop ride.” ―Suzanne Lazear, author of The Aether Chronicles Series

“A fast-paced military fantasy, full of colourful characters and quirky humour that had me laughing throughout. Every fan of airships should read this.” ―Marc Turner, author of Dragon Hunters

“Bennis writes a pleasing mix of banter and gritty battle scenes, combining both the adrenaline rush of combat and its horrifying results, and never indulging in too-sudden social victories that might cheapen the longstruggle against embedded prejudice.”― Publishers Weekly

My Review

THE GUNS ABOVE is a well-crafted, action-packed Steampunk story set in a fantasy land. One country is pitted against another in a long drawn-out war and Josette ends up right in the middle of it on her airship with an interesting crew. A well-developed page-turner that grows in intensity to the end.

I loved the wit, charm, and strong dose of sarcasm that was prevalent throughout the dialogue of this story! Captain Josette pitted against Lord Bernat was the perfect contrast. Then there are the other interesting crew members, some of which are very memorable. Add to that a puffed-up, staunch general who leads the army and wants to bury Josette, not see her rise to glory or captain an airship... And well, you have a great mix of characters with plenty of tension to keep things entertaining. I think I was intermittently wearing a smirk, laughing out loud, or holding on to my seat the entire time.

The author did a fabulous job of steadily building the tension throughout the story. There is quite a skirmish a the beginning of the book that the reader only gets the tale end of when we're introduced to Josette, but then things calm down as we get to know the characters better before the tension begins to build up again. You can feel the tension steadily increase until the climatic end when the battle becomes quite ferocious and complicated in parts. I never felt lost, but like I was right in the middle of it with these characters, following Josette's orders and charging with her crew.

My only criticisms would be swearing, somewhat lewd innuendo, and some gruesome details during the battle. I understood some of the practicality of this being a military plot, but as it's also a fantasy setting, I didn't feel the need for such strong swear words. I also understood the battle scenes were quite realistic, but maybe not necessary to be quite so gruesome. These were the only things that marred this story for me.

In the end, was it what I wished for? A well-told story that I thoroughly enjoyed!

Content: Consistent swearing, including quite a few s-words and a few f-words, innuendo, and some gruesome war violence.

Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher through Jean Book Nerd Tours, which did not require a review nor affect it in any way.

About the Author

Photo Content from Robyn Bennis.

Robyn Bennis is a scientist living in Mountain View, California, where she works in biotech but dreams of airships. She has done research and development involving human gene expression, neural connectomics, cancer diagnostics, rapid flu testing, gene synthesis, genome sequencing, being so preoccupied with whether she could that she never stopped to think if she should, and systems integration.

Her apartment is within sight of Hangar One at Moffett Airfield, which was once the West Coast home to one of America's largest airships, the USS Macon.

Her debut novel, The Guns Above, comes out in May 2017.

Tour-Wide Giveaway

- 10 Winners will receive a Copy of The Guns Above by Robyn Bennis
- Giveaway is open to International. | Must be 13+ to Enter

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