Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Brass Giant by Brooke Johnson blog tour with excerpt and #giveaway #steampunk @brookenomicon @HarperVoyagerUS

We are excited to bring everyone a steampunk blog tour today! We are today's stop on The Brass Giant blog tour and this one sounds so good! Read the blurb, there's a wonderful excerpt and a giveaway. As we always say, enjoy!

Title: The Brass Giant
Author: Brooke Johnson
Publisher: Harper Voyage Impulse
Genre: Steampunk
Format: Kindle

Sometimes, even the most unlikely person can change the world

Seventeen-year-old Petra Wade, self-taught clockwork engineer, wants nothing more than to become a certified member of the Guild, an impossible dream for a lowly shop girl. Still, she refuses to give up, tinkering with any machine she can get her hands on, in between working and babysitting her foster siblings.

When Emmerich Goss–handsome, privileged, and newly recruited into the Guild–needs help designing a new clockwork system for a top-secret automaton, it seems Petra has finally found the opportunity she’s been waiting for. But if her involvement on the project is discovered, Emmerich will be marked for treason, and a far more dire fate would await Petra.

Working together in secret, they build the clockwork giant, but as the deadline for its completion nears, Petra discovers a sinister conspiracy from within the Guild council … and their automaton is just the beginning.

To Purchase The Brass Giant


Petra entered the overstuffed pawn shop, finding it empty except for the wares. The shelves groaned beneath the weight of trinkets and gadgets that had accumulated over the years—junk to most people. But Petra knew of several treasures hidden in the shelves, buried behind stacks of books and antique silver: old mantel clocks, jewelry boxes with spinning dancers concealed within, handheld calculating machines, and miniature wind-up steamers.
She smiled to herself as she breathed in the familiar scents of brassy metal and aromatic polish, and then, grabbing her broom, she began sweeping the dusty footprints clustered around the door and counter. Tolly was, thankfully, nowhere in sight.
Mr. Stricket appeared behind the counter as she swept, wedging himself between the stacks of broken tickers piled around the door to the back room. He carried a box in his bony arms.
Petra always thought he looked like a grandfather should, though he had no children or grandchildren of his own. His hair was thick and white, combed back from his pale green eyes, and he had a spindly look about him, with bony limbs and knobby joints, like the hands of a clock. He always moved so slowly, like the minute hand, taking a deliberate amount of time to do anything.
He set the box on the counter and peered over his glasses at her.
“Petra, my dear, can you put this portable phonograph in the display? Mark it repaired at four quid.”
“Of course, Mr. Stricket.”
She leaned the broom against the bit of blank wall behind the front door and met Mr. Stricket at the back desk. He opened the velvet-lined box, worth at least a half-sovereign on its own, and revealed the repaired phonograph, the brass horn polished to a glossy shine.
Petra craved to see it work, but it had no cylinder to play.
Mr. Stricket smiled. “Go on. Give it a crank.”
She curled her fingers around the handle and wound the phonograph. Smooth, rhythmic ticking vibrated within the mechanism, and she knew somewhere within, gears drove the arbor, tightening the mainspring. She released the crank, and the gears that would drive the sound cylinder rotated in perfect synchronization. Not a single gear was out of line. The faint hum of gear harmony buzzed within the ticker, and to Petra, it produced a sound so beautiful, no concerto could hope to compare.
“It’s brilliant,” she said.
“I knew you would appreciate it,” he said, patting her arm. “You have such an ear for machinery. I’d like to see a mechanical engineer at that school sharper than you.”
Petra suppressed the heat of embarrassment that welled up inside her and replied with an uneasy smile. Turning her back to Mr. Stricket, she carried the phonograph to the display window and perched it on the shelf, carefully arranging the box to showcase the polished horn.
“Are we still on for tonight?” asked Mr. Stricket.
“Of course. Will we be working on the music box again?”
Mr. Stricket nodded. “I think just one more night of work, and you’ll be finished with it. Perhaps we will be lucky enough to hear it play tonight, hmm?” Smiling, he turned his attention to a stack of receipts next to the register and adjusted his glasses on his nose.
Petra turned back to the window and penciled the price of the phonograph on a sale tag. As she placed the card in front of the box, a group of University students turned down the street, headed toward the nearby pub. Petra shrank behind the edge of the shelf. They had probably been among the boys who had laughed at her that morning. Such prats, with their fancy degrees from prestigious institutions. What made them better than her?
She peered through the door window. The one in the front looked worst of the lot. He had a relaxed, arrogant posture, a natural aloofness that resonated with confidence, as if he owned the whole world. His hair was dark, perfectly tousled and casually swept away from his eyes. He laughed at something one of the other boys said, and his proud, carefree features filled her gut with fire, the echo of her earlier humiliation burning in her stomach. If she could just prove herself, they wouldn’t laugh. They’d see she was a brilliant engineer.
As they passed directly in front of the pawn shop, the dark-haired boy stopped suddenly and looked around. Petra froze, pressing herself into the shadows. Did he see her? The door muffled their voices; she couldn’t hear what they were saying. With her head ducked beneath the window, she wedged the door open a smidge.
“Did it break down?” asked one of the boys. “Good thing you signed the contract already, or else the Guild would want their money back.” The quip was met with laughter from the other boys.
“Shove off, Wolfe.”
The dark-haired boy marched back up the street. A strange brass object lay in the road, wobbling and hissing steam as it writhed upon the cobblestone. The boy knelt down and lifted the contraption.
“It tripped,” he hollered. He stood the machine up, and it took a few jerky steps forward. Petra’s eyes widened. It was a ticker—a walking ticker.
“Mr. Stricket, I’ll be out cleaning the front steps.”
She didn’t wait for a reply. She snatched the broom and eased her way onto the landing, careful to let the door close quietly behind her. She didn’t want to draw attention to her presence; the boys might recognize her.
The dark-haired boy and his automaton came slowly down the street. The ticker stood no higher than the boy’s waist, stepping forward with long, rocking strides. Now that Petra saw the thing up close, it was nothing impressive. It was a prototype at best, a rough experiment thrown together in a week’s time. It might walk, but it didn’t have the efficiency a properly built ticker demanded. Its most obvious fault was the unsightly hydraulic pumps its designer had adopted to drive the legs, leading to an erratic, uneven distribution of power. The entire thing wobbled as it came down the street, the plating that covered its mechanical insides rattling with each jerky step.
Petra could have built it solely out of clockwork, making it run quieter, more efficiently, and without the jolting. It was a matter of linking the right mechanisms.
The weight of the screwdriver in her pocket multiplied. She itched to open the thing up and see exactly how the inept engineer had put it together.
“How much was it they offered you?” asked another boy. His voice carried down the street.
The few pedestrians along the street gathered around the huddle of students, staring at the automaton. A handful of them were probably Luddites, ready to spring on the abomination like rabid apes. Petra absentmindedly swept the landing, listening to the boys.
“A thousand quid, wasn’t it?” said one of the other students.
The number was met with a few audible gasps from the assembled onlookers. A thousand quid was more money than the entire street might make in a year, more than the whole shop of Stricket & Monfore was even worth.
Petra gaped. “A thousand quid for that?” The words were out of Petra’s mouth before she realized. “I could have built that lousy piece of junk in an afternoon.”
The boys swiveled toward her, quickly dismissing her with belittling remarks and laughter as they took in the sight of her. The people along the street whispered behind their hands; most of them knew Petra, or knew of her weird fascination with machines. She gave them no notice—the thoughtless lemmings. Instead, her gaze moved to the engineer. He stared back at her with a bemused smile, but he did not sneer or titter like the others. Petra wanted him to challenge her. She’d show them what she knew of machines.
One of the students piped up, a prudish boy, tall and thin with tawny hair. “You? You think you could build this?” He looked her up and down and glanced at the pawn shop sign above her head with a smirk. “What would a shop girl know about machines?” He pointed to the rickety ticker and laughed. “This is the latest advancement in modern science, you stupid girl. You can’t even fathom the complexities of this machinery.”
Petra’s cheeks burned at the insult, and the humiliation of the morning rushed back to the forefront of her mind. Setting the broom aside, she lifted her skirts and tromped down the steps. The boys towered over her, but she did not back down, raising her chin to stare into her challenger’s face. “It’s a mediocre ticker at best, a clumsy amalgamation of mechanics and hydraulics. I’d be ashamed to call that thing mine.”
“Is that so?”
The voice came from her left, and she whirled on the speaker. “Yes, it—” She stood face-to-face with the automaton’s engineer, that stupid grin still on his lips. She scowled up at him.
“If you have criticism of my machine, I would like to hear it,” he said, crossing his arms. His copper eyes gleamed curiously. “Tell me, miss—what would you do differently?”
Petra stepped away from the group of boys and glared at the University engineer. He thought she’d make a fool of herself. Well, she’d show him. She approached the ticker and knelt at its side, ignoring the other boys’ laughter. The machine stood quietly, the faint hum of moving gears keeping it steady.
She ran her fingers down the grooves that linked the outer plates and felt around its joints. The exoskeleton was flawless—a true work of art—but the driving mechanisms were subpar. Thick, rubber hydraulic lines ran up its legs, the liquid heated by pilot lights at its feet. Petra knew little about hydraulics and steam power, but she didn’t see why the automaton needed the clumsy, inefficient system when clockwork would do. If she could construct two linked mainsprings, she could drive the automaton from a central power source without a battery or hydraulics. The science was sound, but it was still only a theory of hers. She hadn’t been able to test it yet. But from the theoretical clockwork core, joining gearboxes to the proper linkages, she could easily create a stable walking pattern, and the machine would operate without the wobbling or the need for sporadic steam vents.
Petra laid her hand on the machine’s chest. The whir of gears vibrated beneath the brass plating. At least the automaton’s heart was in the right place, though there was a slight catch at every fifth and eighth rotation. One of the gears was unbalanced, throwing the weight of the driveshaft off-center. What she couldn’t figure out was how the engineer controlled the automaton, how it changed actions seemingly of its own accord. She found no operating controls on its exterior, no levers, pulls, or buttons that might be switched on and off. She wanted to take it apart, piece by piece. If she could reach her screwdriver without the boy noticing, she would have the automaton disassembled before he could blink.
The engineer cleared his throat. “Well, what do you think of it?”
The group of boys snickered, and she could feel their scornful gazes and the eyes of the others on the street, just as they had stared at her in the University foyer, judging her, mocking her. She gritted her teeth, hating all of them, but hating herself more for putting herself in the same situation a second time in the same day.
She stood and glared at the engineer, and there was a flicker of something in his expression as their eyes met. It wasn’t disrespect or contempt or even indifference, all the things she was used to seeing when someone challenged her knowledge or skill. Instead, he looked at her with focused calculation, as if trying to discern what made her tick. She knew the look well; it was the way she looked at machines.
Petra tried holding the gaze, filling her eyes with defiance and loathing, but his copper stare was too intense, too penetrating. She turned away and swallowed the lecture of gear trains, linkages, and mainsprings. “What do I know? I’m just a shop girl.”
“Don’t waste your time, Goss,” said Wolfe. “She doesn’t know anything. Let’s get on to the pub.”
The engineer acknowledged his statement with a dismissive wave, but his eyes never left Petra’s face. “What’s your name?” he asked quietly.
Petra blinked, entranced by those copper eyes.
“Goss! Come on, mate!”
He frowned and glanced toward the others. “On my way!” He turned back to Petra and offered a polite smile. “I’m sorry about them,” he said softly. “They’ve never met a girl quite like you.”
“And you have?”
The engineer merely smiled. “Well I have now, at the very least.”
Petra eyed him curiously.

“Until next time,” he said, withdrawing with a slight tilt of his head.

About the author 

Brooke is a stay-at-home mom, amateur seamstress, RPG enthusiast, and art hobbyist, in addition to all that book writing. As the jack-of-all-trades bard of the family, she adventures through life with her fiercely-bearded paladin of a husband, their daughter the sticky-fingered rogue, and their cowardly wizard of a dog, with only a sleep spell in his spellbook.
They currently reside in Northwest Arkansas, but once they earn enough loot and experience, they’ll build a proper castle somewhere and defend against all manner of dragons and goblins, and whatever else dares take them on.

For More Information
Visit Brooke at her website

Visit her at the following locations:

Brooke and Harper Voyage Impulse are  giving away a $25 Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins April 27 and ends on May 15.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on May 17.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
April 27
Book excerpt at What is That Book About
Guest blogging at Gothic Moms
Book excerpt at Mikky’s World of Books
April 28
Guest blogging at I Smell Sheep
Book featured at First Page to the Last
April 29
Book reviewed at Taking it One Book at a Time
April 30
Book review and Guest blogging at Reading Reality
Book reviewed at Martha’s Bookshelf
May 1
Guest blogging at Lisa Loves Books
May 4
Book featured at Sapphyria’s Book Reviews
Book featured at Chosen By You Book Club
May 5
Book reviewed at Queen of All She Reads
May 6
Guest blogging and Q&A at Coffee and a Keyboard
May 7
Book featured at Reader Girls
May 8
Book excerpt at The Literary Nook
May 11
Guest blogging at The Dark Phantom
May 12
Book excerpt at Review From Here
May 13
Book reviewed at Blooming with Books
May 14
Book excerpt at Literal Exposure
May 15
Book reviewed at I’m Shelf-ish

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