The Diamond Conspiracy
For years, the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences has enjoyed the favor of Her Majesty the Queen. But even the oldest loyalties can turn in a moment…
Having narrowly escaped the electrifying machinations of Thomas Edison, Books and Braun are looking forward to a relaxing and possibly romantic voyage home. But when Braun’s emergency signal goes off, all thoughts of recreation vanish. Braun’s street-wise team of child informants, the Ministry Seven, is in grave peril, and Books and Braun must return to England immediately.
But when the intrepid agents finally arrive in London, the situation is even more dire than they imagined. The Ministry has been disavowed, and the Department of Imperial Inconveniences has been called in to decommission its agents in a most deadly fashion. The plan reeks of the Maestro’s dastardly scheming. Only, this time, he has a dangerous new ally—a duplicitous doctor whose pernicious poisons have infected the highest levels of society, reaching even the Queen herself…
Audiobook CD available on Audible and Amazon
Dawn’s Early Light
RT Book Reviews Reviewers Choice Award
2014 for best Steampunk.
Working for the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, one sees innumerable technological wonders. But even veteran agents Braun and Books are unprepared for what the electrifying future holds…After being ignominiously shipped out of England following their participation in the Janus affair, Braun and Books are ready to prove their worth as agents. But what starts as a simple mission in the States—intended to keep them out of trouble—suddenly turns into a scandalous and convoluted case that has connections reaching as far as Her Majesty the Queen.Even with the help of two American agents from the Office of the Supernatural and the Metaphysical, Braun and Books have their work cut out for them as their chief suspect in a rash of nautical and aerial disasters is none other than Thomas Edison. Between the fantastic electric machines of Edison, the eccentricities of MoPO consultant Nikola Tesla, and the mysterious machinations of a new threat known only as the Maestro, they may find themselves in far worse danger than they ever have been in before…
Audiobook CD available on Amazon
The Janus Affair
#7 Best Science Fiction of 2012 on Goodreads.com
Winner of the 2012 Steampunk Chronicle’s Readers Choice Award for Best Fiction
Evildoers beware! Retribution is at hand, thanks to Britain’s Best-kept secret agents!
Certainly no strangers to peculiar occurrences, agents Wellington Books and Eliza Braun are nonetheless stunned to observe a fellow passenger aboard Britain’s latest hyper steam train suddenly vanish in a dazzling bolt of lightning. They soon discover this is not the only such disappearance…with each case going inexplicably unexamined by the Crown.
The fate of England is once again in the hands of an ingenious archivist paired with a beautiful, fearless lady of adventure. And though their foe be fiendishly clever, so then is Mr. Books…and Miss Braun still has a number of useful and unusual devices hidden beneath her petticoats.
Министерство особых происшествий in Russia and Das Zeichen des Phönix in Germany
#8 Best Science Fiction of 2011 on Goodreads.com
Winner of the 2011 Airship Award for best written steampunk
These are dark days indeed in Victoria’s England. Londoners are vanishing, then reappearing, washing up as corpses on the banks of the river Thames, drained of blood and bone. Yet the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences- the Crown’s clandestine organisation whose baliwick is the strange and unsettling- will not allow its agents to investigate. Fearless and exceedingly lovely Eliza D Braun, however, with her bulletproof corset and a disturbing fondness for dynamite, refuses to let the matter rest..and she’s prepared to drag her timorous new partner, Wellington Books along with her into the perilous fray.
For a malevolent brotherhood is operating in the deepening London shadows, intent upon the enslavement of all Britons. And Books and Braun- he with his encyclopedic brain and she with her remarkable devices- must get to the twisted roots of a most nefarious plot… or see England fall to the Phoenix.
Reviews for Dawn’s Early Light
I have read a number of books by Ballantine and one other by Morris which I loved. However, when you put these two together we get a fantastic writing partnership that has given us this cracking book and series. If you are a steampunk fan then this is a must read and even if you aren’t get this series in your TBR.
Told in multi points of view, the novel gives insight to each character’s motivations and thoughts as the dynamic action unfolds. If you’re a fan of action-packed, funny, flirty steampunk, then Dawn’s Early Light and the entire Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series is definitely the read for you.
The breakneck pace of these travels will keep you up late reading “just one more page.” I had decided at the beginning that I would read one chapter per night — that didn’t last long at all, and I finished the book just a few days after I started.
—The Pew Reviews
Reviews for the Janus Affair
Night Owl Reviews Top Pick
The Janus Affair provides action, mystery, undercurrents of a personal nature and a pace that is sure to keep a reader’s interest. The blend of story, characters, action, mystery, and humor worked really well. The combination of Eliza Braun’s tough, opinionated exterior and her soft interior with Wellington Books’ bookish, somewhat fumbling exterior and his hidden depths is a wonderful dynamic. What I liked (aside from the gadgets) is how well the two seeming opposites work well together in solving the case, that a few things here and there are shown about Wellington’s and Eliza’s pasts and how it affects them and how they interact with each other. Very nice read and I look forward to seeing what will come next.
—Night Owl Reviews
It was an amazing read, filled with wonderful characters, detailed world building, and an intriguing plot. This is my favorite steam punk series and I cannot wait for the next installment…I can’t recommend this book more highly for fans of steam punk. Everything about it was wonderful and left me eagerly anticipating the third novel!
I LOVED this book. The only reason why I haven’t given it a 5* is that I am fully expecting the next novel to be a 5 and I don’t want to wear the 5’s out. Morris and Ballantine just get better and better with Eliza and Welly, and I have difficulty thinking of anything I didn’t like about the characters or the world in which these authors set the story. I have read THE JANUS AFFAIR several times now and I am delighted every time. Describing a novel as delightful might sound trite but there isn’t a better word to describe a book that keeps your interest and makes you laugh each time you read it.
The madcap schemes and intricate plots are on par with classic whodunit mysteries. The story has amazing humor, non-stop adventure and action, and yes… romance!
But what I found to be the most dynamic aspect of the novel (aside from a few literal laugh out loud moments…”humor” should include a detailed tintype of the writers’ faces in the dictionary), is the effortless manner in which these two writers wove together such a seamless story. There are little, if any, differentiations between their two individual voices and I felt The Janus Affair was tailored expertly and tightly woven, not unlike an elegant leather corset with a strong foundation and bright bits and bobs of clockwork brilliance that leaves the reader wrapped securely and held delighted beneath each thread. Highly, highly recommended.
We see more of the Ministry 7 in action, we see Eliza’s housekeeper in action, we see Wellington kiss a girl (two, actually, and I’m not telling who they are!). There are airship battles, perilous chase scenes, life and death struggles — and there is RUGBY. So what more could you possible want out of a book?
The Janus Affair isn’t pretentious or overwrought. It seeks nothing but to entertain readers in the smartest and best way possible and to show the love that Ballantine and Morris have for steampunk, for larger-than-life adventurers and big stories. It’s engaging, it’s a page turner and above all, it’s a really fun story to get lost in for a while.
If you’re a fan of good writing, you need to go ahead and pre-order The Janus Affair now. (Feel free to click the image on the carousel to the right.) If you’ve never read steampunk before, this would be a great introduction. If you’ve felt steampunk wasn’t for you, The Janus Affair will change your mind. If you’re tired of books that take themselves too seriously and forget to let the reader enjoy the story and characters, Ms. Ballantine and Mr. Morris had you in mind. I truly believe with The Janus Affair: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel, this series will become a fan favorite and readers will demand to find out what happens when next Eliza and Welly suit up for their next adventure.
Cracking prose, top notch dialogue and the stiff upper lip and all in it’s a title that really generated an adventure that Quartermaine himself would be envious of.
Reviews for Phoenix Rising
Seriously? One of the most amazing steampunk books I’ve ever read. So funny, sharp and brilliant.
—Nocturnal Book Reviews
This is steampunk done right, down to every last detail. Set in Victorian London, Phoenix Rising has all the requisite clockwork, brass, and steam contraptions. The integration of the steampunk elements into the world and the narrative is extremely well done.
—Bad Ass Book Reviews
High stakes action and intrigue, with two great characters from whom the chemistry is radiant. In parts, a light action romp, akin to a summer blockbuster; in other parts, however, this book is as serious as a heart-attack. Agents Books and Braun are worthy heirs of Jon Steed and Emma Peel, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, and Peter Bishop and Olivia Dunham.
Using a beautifully detailed language, coupled with a Sherlock Holmes-like plot, Phoenix Rising proves to be an invigorating read about two mysterious characters you’ll come to know and love. If you’re a sucker for historical fiction and can’t say no to fabulously rendered technological advancements (think guns, contraptions and thing-a-ma-jigs), then you’ll be in good company with these two creations.
Mr. Morris and Ms. Ballantine have cowritten a story here that is unlike anything I’ve ever heard or read by either of them. It is seamless in a way that few cowritten stories I’ve ever read are able to achieve. The story simply flows and you’re never aware that two cooks have been playing in the sauce. Simply stated, Phoenix Rising really should be on your “must read” list. It is a bargain at the relatively inexpensive cover price and can also be purchased through your favorite ebook store. If you haven’t read this amazingly fun book yet, go get a copy. You’ll thank me for it, and Mr. Morris and Ms. Ballantine will have gained another fan.
PHOENIX RISING, whatever it’s genre designation, is a rather thrilling and labyrinth detective romp laced with humor, feminine moxie and mayhem. The prose is Dickens on steroids, yet it somehow grips the reader; the novel is long and dense, but skimming is virtually impossible. Every word builds character development or contributes to the intricate plot details. The language is creative and fun, a modern version of Modernism that has the reader believing in the existence of pre-microchip robotics and laser guns; the possibilities are endless. A dark and twisted roller-coaster of a read for those fond of elegant vernacular and bizarre weaponry.
So very many fun scenes… the dialogue is snappy and really brings out the characters and their attitudes. Delightful… and delicious! Wellington Books, the agent that ‘lives’ in the archives reminded me of Detective Latimer Finch from USA Network’s Peacemakers. It was so much fun hearing his voice in my head as Books. It really gave the story an added layer for me. The setting is truly another character in this book. It lives and breathes right along with the ‘human’ characters and received just as much attention from the authors… you’ll be lost in this world and enjoy every minute of it. I’m happy to say that I highly recommend both this book but also both authors!
Phoenix Rising is many things, but first and foremost it’s a lot of fun. Eliza and Wellington play their parts wonderfully well as the sexy, deadly secret agent, alongside the stiff-necked Brit with a little more going on under his perturbed surface than first appears. The real strength of the duo is the deft banter that fills the pages as each tries to work out the other while holding their own cards close to their, in Eliza’s case ample, chests. Comparisons can be drawn between the Avengers, Castle, and Warehouse 13 for the partnership of brains and battle but Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine have worked hard to give their creations a life of their own with enough depth and charm to warrant the further titles that are planned in the series. Add to this a believable Victorian London setting (complete with the obligatory street-urchins of unquestionable loyalty and dubious hygiene), a fine selection of secondary characters, and enough action sequences to keep even Michael Bay happy, the result is an exciting, funny, and highly enjoyable novel that will last long in the memory. A romp with some pomp, we Brits love that.
Phoenix Rising is a sensational steampunk inaugural offering from the team of Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris about the dashing duo Agents Braun and Books. This book is fast paced, well written and extremely thought provoking while remaining a lot of fun. Agents Books and Braun are vivid characters that really come to life behind your eyes...Phoenix Rising has chemistry, clandestine British secret society’s, Victorian fashions and societal commentary beautifully combined with fantastical steam powered technology the likes of which never made it to light. This book will involve you and have you thinking about where things fit in with the actual histories of the Victorian era and eagerly anticipating the next volume – which I’m sure will be coming. There are many adventures still to be had by the intrepid investigators Books and Braun.
Who doesn’t love an adrenaline pumped, pistol twirling woman wearing a fur coat “flowing around her like a cape”. This is your first introduction to Eliza Braun, agent at the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. Not only is she a crack shot and incredibly endowed with other talents, but she also likes to blow things up. The perfect woman…If you like secret agents, mystery, cleavage, explosions and perpetual action….you will love Phoenix Rising!
Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris fill the pages with explosions, witty banter, clever fashion, chase scenes, derring-do, and more explosions. The writing style intentionally evokes Victorian writing mannerisms and plays them for laughs. You’ll find plenty of steampunk gizmos, too, ranging from the handy (such as Braun’s armored corset and certain incendiary devices) to the just plain fun (Books’ “difference engine” is set up to have a function similar to that of an mp3 player)…The action/adventure atmosphere does return, however, and the ending promises more Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences cases to come. With the dry humor and crackling chemistry displayed in Phoenix Rising, I’m sure they’ll be fun.
This is a fun, well paced book that does Steampunk right. I have read other titles from both of the authors and the combination of Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris is truly a recipe for greatness…This book combines aspects of the “The Odd Couple”, the first three Indiana Jones movies, any good detective novel and the TV show, Cold Case…People love Steampunk and I think in Ballantine and Morris we have authors that can carry the torch. If you haven’t purchased this book or downloaded it you are missing out. Buy it, open the cover and enjoy the hissing sound as you escape into a well developed, exciting romp thru an alternate reality. I think my goggles just fogged up.
I enjoyed this book more than I think I can express in a single review. The moment I finished it I wanted the next one in the series. The steampunk world is incredible, all the way from awesome weaponry to colorful clothing. Eliza’s sassy attitude kept me upbeat throughout the entire book, even when I was scared for the characters’ lives. At one point I actually stopped reading and wondered, “How are the authors going to get them out of this?” I must also say, nothing pleases me quite as much as a bad-ass heroine. Furthermore, the hero is equally as bad-ass, but in his own, unique flavor. So, if you are a sci-fi/fantasy lover, or even if you’ve toyed with the idea of trying out the genre, I shall advise you on what I think you should do after you read this review: Drive to your local bookstore, and purchase Phoenix Rising. If you are looking for a quick-paced, passionate adventure with characters you’ll want to follow through many, many books, I am sure that Phoenix Rising is a superb choice. As I write this, I am still yearning for the next in the series.
What is the best part? It is very hard to say. Certainly, a major highlight — not to mention enduring delight — lies in the creation of our main protagonists, staid and sardonic archivist Wellington Books and feisty New Zealand renegade Eliza Braun. The two meet under trying circumstances (in Antarctica!) and strike sparks off each other immediately; “Welly” — as Eliza soon dubs her new acquaintance, much to his prissy distaste — is all logical problem-solving aristocratic Lord Peter Wimsey, whereas as she is all where-does-she-get-those-wonderful-toys Batman. Their chemistry? It positively leaps from the page; they are equal parts Mulder and Scully, Steed and Peel and Stargate SG-1’s Daniel and Sam, with more than a little Jane and Lisbon from The Mentalist thrown in….what Phoenix Rising does beautifully, uniquely and with tremendous skill is blend the at-times dour tone of its medium — think Charles Stross’s The Laundry — with a Regency-esque sensibility; if Jane Austen had written Fantasy (and been just a little less ladylike; the Victorians may be considered prudish by today’s morality, but they had nothing on the early nineteenth century), this could well be what she’d have produced: a book brimming with elegant prose, crackling dialogue, a disdainful, but honorable, hero and a singularly ass-kicking heroine to cheer for.
This was a great start to a great series. Steampunk-when written right-can be a grand adventure into the past that tells a whole new story of the ingenuity of the human mind. The banter between Eliza and Wellington, or “Welly” as she calls him, had me chuckling in more than one spot. The two are polar opposites, but somehow manage to work together without killing each other. Eliza wears trousers and a steel corset, while Wellington abhors violence but can hold his own in a fight. There’s more to Wellington than meets the eye. I hope there’s a book 2 in this series on the horizon, because I’d love to read more about this unlikely duo. I’d recommend this book to anyone who’s read Gail Carriger, or has an interest in a good steampunk story.
If James Bond wore a corset and drank Earl Grey it might be something like the adventures in Phoenix Rising….The book is heavy with its steampunk theme, but it’s also pretty light reading. The bodycount is ridiculously high and there are plenty of very cinematic passages that get the blood pumping. I don’t think I can describe it correctly as high octane (maybe high coal?), but there’s always a lot of action…The two agents make light-hearted banter whilst chasing down evil villains and mad scientists and getting in and out of scrapes in immaculate period style. It’s anachronistic and absurd, but Phoenix Rising has a sweet ending and getting to it is gleeful fun.
—Warp Core Sci Fi
A one word review — wow. Another word — exquisite. I simply am thankful at this point that the wise people at HarperCollins have bought this as a series, because after one book all I can think of is “When is the next one coming out??!”…Steampunk is a fascinating genre, and Ballantine and Morris have captured it perfectly. I think this series could serve as a great introduction to the genre, in fact, since you really don’t have to have much of an understanding of steampunk to enjoy the book. There also seems to be an element or two of the pulp genre, though much of that is actually turned on it’s head.