April 5, 2015

Steampunk Sundays: Diamond Conspiracy by Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris + Ministry Updates & Giveaway

Series: Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences 4
Format: eGalley
Release Date: March 31, 2015
Publisher: ACE
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Steampunk

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.

Once again the incredible team-up of Pip Ballantine and Tee Morriss wrote another unbelievably exciting and action packed novel. Whoever these two's muses are, I thank them from the bottom of my clockwork heart! Just when I thought I've seen what Books & Braun can do, DIAMOND CONSPIRACY blows whatever expectations I have.

  1. Books & Braun: From the beginning, you know that Eliza Doolittle Braun and Wellington Thornhill Books are going to pair up soon. Behind the snarky banter and seemingly opposite qualities and interests, lies a strong attraction and admiration for the other. Seeing them now as partners in every way gave me the feels! No smut here, but the never ending flirtations and constant groping these two are doing while in each other's company is enough to give me a good read on how deep their passion is. I mean, going through the Kama Sutra? Whew! Eliza on several occasions mentioned how awesome Books is in bed, and there's nothing hotter IMO than a sexy geek.

  2. Phantom Protocol:  It's here, in DIAMOND CONSPIRACY, where the brouhaha over the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, the department has come to a head. Queen Victoria has ordered a hit on Doctor Basil Sound and his crew but the agents aren't going down easy. Sound's agents might've gone rogue, but even if the Empire has turned on them, they remain loyal to Queen Vic, still trying to keep their monarch safe even if it means protecting her from herself.

  3. The Archives: If you're following the series, you've probably wondered what's in The Archives? It's off limits to everyone, including Books and Braun, and Doctor Sound is always sneaking off to this forbidden room. Well, now you'll know just exactly what's inside The Archives and it's a jaw dropping surprise.

  4. Bruce Campbell: is an anti-hero in the beginning of the series. I didn't exactly hate him, I simply disliked him. However, Bruce turned me on my head here. Just when I thought he'd betray the Ministry once again, Bruce did the exact opposite and finally redeemed himself. Who can ever resist a good badboy redemption? I hope Pip and Tee does write that spin-off featuring Bruce.

  5. Icons: Aside from Queen Victoria, expect to cross paths with H.G. Wells and Dr. Henry Jekyll among others. Their roles in this series perfectly blended with the world.
If you're not reading the series, I know this review is cryptic. Know this though, it doesn't matter if you read Steampunk or not. The bottom line is if you like well-written adventures that features wonderfully fleshed out characters and carefully plotted arcs, conflicts, and resolutions, I urge you to try The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. The world building, though detailed, is wondrous and the dialogue snappy and funny. This series is very character driven so you won't be encumbered by long narratives and descriptions that tend to weigh a fantasy novel down.

Bloggy Friends' Reviews

Braine (B): Hi Pip & Tee! Welcome to Talk Supe and thanks for squeezing this Q&A in the middle of your New Zealand vacay! Much appreciated. Shelley's here to help me pick your brains, let's get this started!

Shelley (S): Welcome guys! So, what book(s) are you currently reading or what was the last book you read?

TEE: Reading has become something of a luxury for me as I’m working on two works-in-progress presently, three if you count the next title with Pip. Add to that The Diamond Conspiracy release (which included the shooting and producing of a book trailer), the development and writing of a social media guide for writers, my dance card is full. That doesn’t mean I’m not keeping an eye on books to read. I’ve yet to read Ready Player One, a book that comes highly recommended to me, especially with my rekindled interest in gaming.

PIP: The last time I had time to read, which was January, I finally got around to reading The Martian. I usually don't read much science fiction, preferring fantasy, but I picked this book up on the way to the airport. Soon enough I was invested in one man's struggle to survive on Mars. I don't think I have ever cared so much about potatoes in my life!

S: LOL What’s up next for you after The Diamond Conspiracy?

TEE: We also have a book called Social Media for Writers, coming in the fall from Writers Digest. This is where we put in writing all the strategies and tactics Pip and I have culminated over the years. For myself, I’m working on an urban fantasy I would best described as Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Hannibal, and a space opera inspired by the video game Destiny. There are other ideas I am kicking around but these are my current priorities.

B: You've pretty much covered a few bases with those, Tee! How many more books are you planning to write for the series and do you know how it's going to end?

TEE: Pip and I know that we have two more stories to tell with Wellington and Eliza. We’ve already started the fifth book in the series and it’s coming along swimmingly. We also know how Wellington and Eliza’s story will end. There are more surprises to come, rest assured.

PIP: We love writing in this world, and we have already talked about more books beyond Wellington and Eliza. So don't be surprised if there are books centering around Sophia del Morte, and the dynamic duo of Brandon Hill and Bruce Campbell.

B: That's great and exciting news. I fully support the Sophia book/series, I love her! And I never though I'd end up liking Bruce Campbell so I wouldn't mind reading more stuff featuring him. 

Co-writing a book has always been fascinating to me. Can you share a behind-the-scenes anecdote or factoid about The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences and/or its characters?

TEE: The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, or at least Books’ and Braun’s part of the universe was spawned from a work-in-progress that I never finished. Book and Braun were originally intended to be a prequel that would have led to the release of this solo novel of mine…and that never happened.

PIP: The whole series actually began as a podcast-for-pay idea of mine. I thought if I could get Tee to help me write it, then I wouldn't have to do all the work! The podcast-for-pay thing has also never arrived.

B: Ha! Don't take this the wrong way, but I'm glad it ended up the way it did. The world would be missing out on a LOT if Books & Braun weren't here with us. If you can meet a real person of the Realm during the Victorian era, who would it be and what's the first question you'll ask him/her?

TEE: While you might guess H.G. Wells for me, I would really like to sit down and talk with Charles Babbage. His ideas for the analytical engine were incredible for the time. My first question: “So you made the difference engine, but why did you stop? Why not try to make your analytical engine?”

PIP: I would love to meet Kate Sheppard, the preeminent suffragette from New Zealand. She was quite the character and quite formidable. I am not sure what she would make of me, but I'd take my chances.

B: Kate is a great choice, Pip. I wouldn't mind meeting her too. Your description of her is very, very curious.

S: Why Steampunk? Have you ever wanted to write dystopian, or contemporary, or another genre?

TEE: I have wanted to write a steampunk adventure ever since I saw the photography of J.R. Blackwell. She and her husband Jared Axelrod were my gateway into the genre. I’m attracted by the style, the feel, and the overall wonder of the genre. As mentioned earlier, I am exploring other genres (and I have been published in epic fantasy and mystery) but I do love steampunk.

PIP: I adore history, and steampunk gives me the freedom to play around with history and the people in it. It also allows me to look through lots of old photographs – my favorite activity while researching.

B: Steampunk, for me, is the greatest combo of history and fantasy. Where and how else can you turn Queen Vic into an automaton or something? 

Like I mentioned above, co-writing a novel is such a curious concept for me. For two people to come together with the same vision must be both blissful and challenging. What's the best and worst part of writing a book together?

TEE: The creative process is always the best part of writing together. Pip and I have a blast. The downside? Editing. Sometimes it feels like we butt heads hardest in this part. 

PIP: I love brainstorming with someone else. I feel like it takes the plot to new and amazing places. The worst is probably when we argue about plot or character...which had happened maybe four times while writing four books. I don't think that is too bad!!

S: If you weren't a writer, what job would you love to try out?

TEE: I would love to know a lot more about computer programming. In particular, game design. When you play some of the games out there, it’s amazing what worlds and experiences are created there.

PIP: I've always been involved in different aspects of working with books; librarian, bookseller, writer, so I'd like to try something else. Maybe book binder or travel writer...

Tee Morris began his writing career with his 2002 historical epic fantasy, MOREVI The Chronicles of Rafe & Askana. In 2005 Tee took MOREVI into the then-unknown podosphere, making his novel the first book podcast in its entirety. That experience led to the founding of and collaborating with Evo Terra and Chuck Tomasi on Podcasting for Dummies and its follow-up, Expert Podcasting Practices for Dummies. He won acclaim and accolades for his cross-genre fantasy-detective Billibub Baddings Mysteries, the podcast of The Case of the Singing Sword winning him the 2008 Parsec Award for Best Audio Drama. Along with those titles, Tee has written articles and short stories for BenBella Books’s Farscape Forever: Sex, Drugs, and Killer Muppets, the podcast anthology VOICES: New Media Fiction, BenBella Books’ So Say We All: Collected Thoughts and Opinions of Battlestar Galactica, and Dragon Moon Press’ Podthology: The Pod Complex.

In 2011, Tee returned to his first love—fiction—with the steampunk romp Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel, co-authored with Philippa Ballantine. This debut novel from Harper Voyager won the 2011 Airship Award for Best Steampunk Literature. Now the series includes The Janus Affair (Harper Voyager), Dawn's Early Light (Ace Books), and the Ministry Protocol anthology (Imagine That! Studios). Find out more at

When he is not writing, Tee enjoys life in Virginia alongside Philippa Ballantine, his daughter, and three cats.

Follow Tee
Website | @TeeMonster | Facebook | Goodreads

Pip Ballantine is a New Zealand born fantasy writer and podcaster Philippa (Pip) Ballantine is the author of the Books of the Order and the Shifted World series. She is also the co-author with her husband Tee Morris of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences novels. Her awards include an Airship, a Parsec, the Steampunk Chronicle Reader’s Choice, and a Sir Julius Vogel. She currently resides in Manassas, Virginia with her husband, daughter, and a furry clowder of cats.

Follow Pip
Website | @PhilippaJane | Facebook | Goodreads


  1. I recently purchased this book, but I'm missing the third book in this series. I so need this book.

    Grace @ Books of Love

  2. thanks for the awesome interview! I have the first book on my TBR pile and I'm definitely going to go find it now :) thanks for sharing!!!

    1. Start reading Phoenix Rising so in case you win this one, you're already caught up... or almost.

  3. Wow, this one sounds really hot with all the of chemistry and banter! Funny that Bruce Campbell is a character here (or someone who shares his name.) I do like good anti-hero characters. Great review Braine!

    1. It'ss the anti-heroes that are most realistic and very interesting because their moral code is a little skewed. Sometimes you don't know what road they're going to take.

  4. Nice interview :)

    And I so need to read the MArtian too

    1. Now I'm super curious about this Martian book!

  5. Tee, I still feel that knuckle nibble after a decade and a half. :D
    Pip, no need to be jealous; congrats to you both! :)

    1. Thanks for checking out their interview, Kim!

  6. With every new review of yours I want you KICK myself for not starting this series yet!!! But not to worry - once I will (and I WILL), I'll probably binge it. Yeah! Incredible interview - who would've thought an author would go for "computer programming" if given the choice? Beautiful review.

    1. Psh, welcome to our world. That's the downside of following book blogs, it makes you want to read every book featured.

  7. Everyone is loving this book so I'm glad to see it's the same for you. I really really need to try! Thanks for the fun interview as well!

    1. I know you read steampunk, I hope you find the time to try this out.

  8. lol - Your clockwork heart. That guy/thing on the cover makes me laugh. Gah, I know I need to read this series though.

    1. My heart is somewhat flexible like that. Depends on the book I'm reading. When it's steampunk it's a clockwork, if it's romance it's this super sensitive thing. lol

  9. Fab interview and review, Braine! :-) and happy news about future projects. Looking forward to them all coming to fruition.

  10. Yay!! Love it when a character can redeem themselves!! It is good to see authors working together to create something fantastic!!

    Naomi @ Nomi’s Paranormal Palace

  11. This sounds like a series that I could totally get into. I need to read this after reading this review. I have the first two book and the fourth book, just need to get the third one. Great review Braine.

  12. Still need to get around to this series and you really tempt me each time you review one. ;)


My reviews are subjective & does not reflect that of Talk Supe's followers.

Also I LOVE commenting back so if you're checking out a post, leave a line or two and I promise to visit your blog back. Let's feed each other's blogger soul!