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
Narrator: James Langton
Length: 13 hrs and 45 mins
Genres: Steampunk
Source: Audible
Purchase*: Amazon | Audible *affiliate
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star
Narration: 5 cups

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. Whovian, Ravenclaw, Howler and proud Nonna. She owns and manages Caffeinated PR. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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

  1. 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.

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  2. 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!

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  3. 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!

  4. Glass

    I am glad that you enjoyed listening tho this audio. I am not big fan of steampunk . I tried, but so far I haven’t found one that I liked.

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  5. Michelle

    This sounds like so much fun! This is my first time seeing this book, but your whole review has me excited! I love streampunk and I definitely love kick-ass females with a thing for weapons!

  6. Jessica

    “Eliza has a thing for weapons.” Oh?? Impulsive too, is she?? This sounds wonderful, and BONUS–already have it! Moving it up the list momentarily 😉

    • kimbacaffeinate

      oh Eliza was kick-ass and so cool 🙂

  7. 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 🙂

  8. Braine Talk Supe

    I gots this! LOL

    Found a copy at Goodwill and naturally grabbed it. With my Steampunk Sundays now in gear, I will schedule a read for this someday… someday!!! You know I love Steampunks!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Sweet, and Steampunk Sunday is a cool feature!

  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 🙂

  10. Lily B

    oh I love a good steampunk and this one sounds very exciting. The writing alone looks worth it!

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  11. lupdilup

    Awesome Kimba!! This is going right to my wish list 🙂 I don’t think I would have given this title a second look, I’m not that familiar with Steampunk, I haven’t listened to much of it, but this will have occupied for a while. I’m glad the narration is good 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I really enjoyed this and I though Langton was brilly.

  12. 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!

  13. 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

    • kimbacaffeinate

      It really added to the tale Lauren, thanks!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Ooo bummer Linda, I really liked this one

  14. 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 🙂

  15. Debbie Haupt

    Thanks Kimba, this one looks interesting even for me who’s not a huge Steampunk fan.
    Great Cover too.

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  16. Candace

    It’s been ages since I read this, but I really liked it. And I can imagine that it translates perfectly to audio! So glad you enjoyed it!

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  17. 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.

  18. Felicia the Geeky Blogger

    I actually requested that my library try to get this one on audio. I am too iffy on steampunk type reads but this one I have heard wonderful things about 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  19. 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!

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  20. kindlemom1

    I agree with Christy, this does have a great cover, so much is going on!

    I haven’t heard of this one yet so I am so glad you brought it to my attention, I really need more (good) steampunk in my life.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Thanks Ali, and yes the cover is crazy 😉

  21. 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!

  22. Ginny

    “steampunk gooey goodness” …ummm…yeah I’m in! This sounds amazing! I’m going to have to upgrade my audible membership thanks to you.

  23. 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.

  24. 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 🙂

  25. finley jayne

    I love this series!! I read the book, but now I want to listen to it on audio book-I’ll have to see if my library has this format 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  26. Jeann

    This book actually sounds like a lot of fun with the hilarious duo! For some reason I got a bit of Robert Langdon vibe from your review.

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

    • kimbacaffeinate

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