Phoenix Rising by Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris

May 6th, 2014 Kimberly Review 62 Comments

6th May
Phoenix Rising by Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris
Phoenix Rising
by Pip Ballantine, Tee Morris
Series: Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences #1
Published by: HarperCollins
Narrator: James Langton
Length: 13 hrs and 45 mins
Genres: Steampunk
Source: Audible
Purchase: Amazon | Audible
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Evil is most assuredly afoot—and Britain’s fate rests in the hands of an alluring renegade . . . and a librarian. These are dark days indeed in Victoria’s England. Londoners are vanishing, then reappearing, washing up as corpses on the banks of the Thames, drained of blood and bone. Yet the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences—the Crown’s clandestine organization whose bailiwick 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!

Phoenix Rising the first book in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris. I found it to be brilliant on audio. From the narrator to the steampunk I was swept up in the action. Mini review: Fantastic characters, brilliant steampunk and a plot that kept me thoroughly entertained.

Have you ever met a duo and immediately felt their connection. Such was the case when I met Eliza D. Braun, a ballsy field agent from the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences; a secret organization for the Crown, who investigates mysterious activities, and their archivists, Wellington Brooks. Their banter, skills and interaction was absolutely engaging. The two seemed oddly paired until they began investigating an unsolved case that involved Eliza’s former partner.

Eliza has a thing for weapons, and she is deadly in the field. She is also impulsive which has a tendency to be frowned upon by the Ministry. She is from New Zealand and dreams of going home, but finds herself on desk duty. She is complex, witty and intelligent. Wellington while trained as field agents prefers the neat and orderly halls of the archives. He is stuffy, brilliant and dots every I. Eliza is both Wellington’s undoing and savior. The villains were dark, mysterious and unsavory. They consist of two secret societies; the Phoenix Society and the House of Asher. They brought some interesting characters and gadgets to the mix. Secondary characters from street urchins to management all added to the tale.

Phoenix Rising oozed with steampunk gooey goodness. From Eliza’s weapons to the archives we encountered  there were gadgets from the simple to complex. The authors did an excellent job of describing them, and I often felt like I was right in the room with the characters and impressive machinery. Ballantine and Morris delivered an engaging plot with an ebb and flow that provided intense action scenes and moments that allowed us to glean information and understand their characters. The overall story ARC is a small thread woven into the tale that has me curious and eager for more. While there is no romance, we do feel a connection developing between our main characters, one that has me itching for more. The case wrapped up nicely, and I look forward to The Janus Affair the next book in the series.

James Langton was absolutely amazing as the narrator. He brought both Eliza and Wellington to life. Through him, they came to life from their gestures to pitch as he conveyed the feelings. He seamlessly delivered punch lines and the snark that made this tale so entertaining for me.

Phoenix Rising was such a brilliant listen. I laughed, felt for the characters and became swept up in the chase. I am so glad I chose to listen to the audio version and plan to continue. Currently there are six books in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series as well as few Tales from the Archives novellas.

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About Kimberly

Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. She’s a self-professed Whovian, as well as a Supernatural, and Sherlock Holmes junkie, She enjoys sharing books, tips, recipes and hosting the Sunday Post. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat…Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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62 Responses to “Phoenix Rising by Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris”

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Ooo you are in for a treat! Thanks so much Christy!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Hmm, a little with the secret societies but unique in its own way. Thanks Jeann

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Oh I am delighted to hear you are enjoying this series too Finley! The audio rocked

  1. Livia

    I’m so jumping on this series!! Not audiobooks, for some reason I don’t like doing the format, but I’m so reading these!! I love steampunk and from your review I can just tell I’ll totally love it for sure.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Oh enjoy Livia, I loved it and hope you do too 🙂

  2. Jenea

    I haven’t seen this one, but I really like the sounds of it. I bet the audio version would be great. Wonderful review.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Thanks Jenea, audio adds a whole layer to the tale.

  3. Mary

    See, now this is the kind of steampunk that I really enjoy. Filled with awesome characters and gadgets that I want to get my hands on, this story sounds like it’s right up my alley!! I really want to meet Eliza, the ballsy New Zealander, and her anal partner. Love those kind of pairings.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      This was joy to listen to Mary and the characters were a hoot. I love all the gadgets too. Enjoy Mary!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Thanks Ali, and yes the cover is crazy 😉

  4. Jenny

    While I’m of course bummed about the lack of romance in this one, everything else sounds fantastic and it’s been a while since I’ve read a steampunk novel Kim! Seems like this might be a situation where the romance is a very slow burn and the buildup carries through multiple books before we get the payoff. Can’t wait!

    Jenny recently posted: Review: Sleep No More
    • kimbacaffeinate

      The connect that develops between these two makes up for the romance Jenny 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I hope they get it for you. I loved the narrator 🙂

  5. Nick

    That is such an unfortunate cover. I wouldn’t pick it up based on that.
    You make the characters sound like a really fun bunch, Kim. I want to meet them asap. Also, I’m a huge fan of steampunk, but I always find it hard to find well-written ones for some reason. I’m going to have to look more into this book.
    Lovely review!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      LOL Nick, I kinda like it. This was delightful from the story to the narrator.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Thanks Candace, and yes the audio really notched things up 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Ooo I love the gadgets, suspense and mystery in this genre Debbie 🙂 Thanks

  6. Lauren

    I love when you meet two characters and you can immediately sense a strong connection between them. I’m excited to meet Eliza and Wellington! I’m also really glad the steampunk elements worked for you, I hate when steampunk is done shoddily. I’ll have to give this a listen. Lovely review!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Ooo I do too, thanks Lauren I hope you love this one as much as I did 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Ooo bummer Linda, I really liked this one

    • kimbacaffeinate

      It really added to the tale Lauren, thanks!

  7. Heidi

    I have been eyeing this series since Maja reviewed it a couple of years ago. I am all about a book oozing with steampunk gooey goodness!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Oh I think you would enjoy this one Heidi

  8. Kristin

    I totally want to read this! I was wondering about this series and I’m so glad you reviewed it. AND we have it at work so bada-bing! … adding it to my TBR!! Great review, girl!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I really enjoyed this and I though Langton was brilly.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I loved this and the audio was so darn good..I burst out laughing and had to rewind!

  9. Tee Morris

    Thank you so much for reviewing our first novel in the Ministry universe. We always appreciates it when people take time for our series, and are thrilled when people enjoy the ride.

    And yes, we love James Langton. 🙂

    I wanted to point out something to you in your review of interest to your readers/listeners: “Currently there are six books in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series as well as few Tales from the Archives novellas.” Actually there are three novels (in all formats), six Tales from the Archives collections (in digital format), two seasons of Tales from the Archives (as a free podcast on iTunes with Season 3 currently underway), and finally an exclusive anthology (not available as a podcast) called MINISTRY PROTOCOL: Thrilling Tales of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences (available in print and digital formats, with an audiobook coming soon in June 2014).

    *whew* When I look at that, even I go “Wow!” ;^)

    Again, thank you so much for the review. I hope you join us for the next two novels, The Janus Affair and Dawn’s Early Light. Take care!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Thanks for sharing Tee. I actually bought all the audio versions of the full length novels and will slowly pick up the novellas and side books. I am secretly hoping they will combine some onto an audio 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Sweet, and Steampunk Sunday is a cool feature!

  10. Melliane

    It must be so great to have a narrator you drives you in the story as soon as you start the book! I heard great things about this one but I haven’t read it I confess, however I love steampunk books so I should try it! Thanks for the nice review!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      A good narrator can add a whole new layer to the tale Melliane 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      oh Eliza was kick-ass and so cool 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Awe it happens. I only like a few YA Contemporary titles, I hope you try one again and enjoy it.

  11. Melissa (My words and pages)

    Yeah! So glad to see you enjoyed it. 🙂 And here’s to the rest of the books. 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I loved it and the audio version is amazing. Of course i bought the rest of the books on audio!

  12. aurian

    I absolutely loved this book as well, and I am determined to read them all. I did not know there were six already! When I go on my Bookdepository buying binge at the end of the month, I know which books will be in there!

    aurian recently posted: Interview with Fiona Harper
    • kimbacaffeinate

      I bought all the audios Aurian. Sorry I haven’t been around. I am bedridden with pneumonia.

  13. Lark

    This sounds great, Kimba! I’ve seen the series on a few blogs, but no one’s review has quite compelled me to read it, until yours. Steampunk is hit or miss for me; sometimes I love it and sometimes not so much. But this really does intrigue me. I’d love to listen to the audio but my library has the paperback, so I’ll have to settle for that for now.

    Lark recently posted: Sunday Post - 5/11/14
    • kimbacaffeinate

      I really think the audio pushed this over the top in terms of enjoyment for me Lark 🙂