Read Breath of Earth by Beth Cato Online


After the Earth’s power is suddenly left unprotected, a young geomancer must rely on her unique magical powers to survive in in this fresh fantasy series from the author of acclaimed The Clockwork Dagger.In an alternate 1906, the United States and Japan have forged a powerful confederation—the Unified Pacific—in an attempt to dominate the world. Their first target is a vulAfter the Earth’s power is suddenly left unprotected, a young geomancer must rely on her unique magical powers to survive in in this fresh fantasy series from the author of acclaimed The Clockwork Dagger.In an alternate 1906, the United States and Japan have forged a powerful confederation—the Unified Pacific—in an attempt to dominate the world. Their first target is a vulnerable China. In San Francisco, headstrong Ingrid Carmichael is assisting a group of powerful geomancer Wardens who have no idea of the depth of her power—or that she is the only woman to possess such skills. When assassins kill the Wardens, Ingrid and her mentor are protected by her incredible magic. But the pair is far from safe. Without its full force of guardian geomancers, the city is on the brink of a cataclysmic earthquake that will expose Earth’s powers to masterminds determined to control the energy for their own dark ends. The danger escalates when Chinese refugees, preparing to fight the encroaching American and Japanese, fracture the uneasy alliance between the Pacific allies, transforming the city into a veritable powder keg. And the slightest tremor will set it off. . . . Forced on the run, Ingrid makes some shocking discoveries about herself. Her powerful magic has grown even more fearsome . . . and she may be the fulcrum on which the balance of world power rests....

Title : Breath of Earth
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780062422064
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 387 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Breath of Earth Reviews

  • Orient
    2019-06-08 03:04

    "Breath of Earth" is a magical Steampunk-Avatar story. History, magic, action and steampunk started the engine for this book. Let’s start from history. There were some important historical persons mentioned, some even played minor roles in the story. I liked the way B. Cato subjugated them and used them for her purposes. Also I adored how she created the old San Francisco using accurate descriptions of some old things, means of transport, historical facts and background. Political intrigues and powerful magicians play a great role in this book too (Clockwork series also had it). There were some words, specific to the Asian cultures and it was great to search their meaning and images in the Net. Caro, I know that you like Japanese and similar cultures, so it’s for you and of course for others too ;) to have a small sneak peak into Breath of Earth. da-drat, kitsune, Reiki, kanji, namazu, lingqi and more. I enjoyed reading about all the powerful mythological creatures on/in the earth or underwater. Of different shapes and sizes each had a certain significance to their home place. One of the underground inhabitants was The Hidden One. So secretive, magical and powerful. I liked it’s show at the grand finale.Also the magical sisters of the seals Can’t wait to read how everything will evolve!Something magical? Yes, for sure! This book is dedicated to the art of geomancy. And it clearly showed that geomancy can have vital effects on human civilization. Wanna know what? You’ll have to read “Breath of Earth”!Now the steampunk side. Almost every steampunk story has an airship or some other interesting means of air travel. This book has some too. May I present you the Palmetto BugThough I wanted more use of the airships, I hope the next book will provide it. The sad part. The aspects of racial and sexual discrimination are essential in this book. Most women in “Breath of Earth” face both. Some nations face the doom of genocide and racism there. It was painful and hard to read. Let’s mix it with destructive wars and this story becomes not simple and bright. Touch of realism, the show of the nasty side of humanity and steampunk combined with history spices make this book into interesting read.Fantastics aren’t monsters. Men. Men are better monsters.Main character - one of the most interesting parts in the book for me.Ingrid, the main heroine. I liked Ingrid as a breathtaking magician and a woman, fighting for her rights. Ingrid’s dark skin and gender doom her to be silent and invisible. Ingrid’s society didn’t want to accept that women can be talented, can study. That’s why I loved her struggle to find her place in life. Oh, and I just adored her way to travel underwater. Why do you need a simple submarine if you can travel underwater in a (view spoiler)[bubble (hide spoiler)] ! Cool. But I can’t avoid comparing Ingrid and Octavia (Clockwork series). Octavia was built way more skillfully, with more depth and character development. Also it annoyed me a little bit that Ingrid was prepared to melt at the sight and especially at the touch of the only suitable man she met (Yep, the only one she liked from the start till the finish. It almost went like that: I see, I love, I melt). The romance side of the story was definitely narrow and not multilayered. The Mr. Charming had quite an interesting background (with family secrets and dangerous past) and some good fighting and being a gentleman skills. But I ended up liking his comrade and BBF (Best Buddy Forever) more, because of the more colorful personality and way of life. Hat off to you, Mr. Fenris. I won’t write about this person more, because I think the more secretive this person is the better. But I guess there will be more to that in the next books. The other character, I liked, is Lee, the secretive-teenager- (view spoiler)[magical-servant-spy-prince-to-be (hide spoiler)] . His wit entertained me a lot.A gunshot, very close, caused Cy to pivot his body around as he shielded Ingrid.“Damn it!” a man screamed.“Oh, come on, now. You didn’t need that finger, anyway,” said Lee. “It was naughty. It wanted to pull a trigger.”And the second my favorite type of characters – the villains. Well. The great revelation about the big bad villain(s) was not so unexpected to me, so the mystery fog was thin a little bit. (view spoiler)[One good and powerful man is missing, there are some strange and suspicious news about him and it all ended so simply, quite quickly and without any great and notorious fight. Just a quick strike. Huh? Moreover the other villains (the ambassador, the photographer) with great potential were left to other books to wait for their great stand or just disposed quickly and in a non affectionate way. Also I wanted more of Ingrid’s real father ‘cause it started so cool with a mega mad maniac, used as a great weapon. At least it ended quite unexpectedly to him but also no gore, horror or smth. Just a simple sentence. (hide spoiler)] That’s why the ending felt a little bit rushed and simple for me and my fangirlism was tackled. Forever? No, definitely not. I have high hopes in the second book in the series, because Beth Cato showed that she can be awesome (Clockwork series). Anyway if you like the blend of steampunk, myths, oriental cultures and magic, I think you should give “Breath of Earth” a try. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Lata
    2019-06-08 00:00

    Ugh. I was looking forward to reading this. Then I did read this book, and all I can think is I want those hours back.I loved the cover of the book, and concept sounded interesting and the main character is a mixed race young woman, her mentor is Japanese, her friend is Chinese, there's a transgender man, there's an open-minded young man who helps the main character, there's an interesting earth-based magic, there are magical creatures--all terrific elements--but after about 120 pages I just got fed up with this book. The main character is 25 but comes off as about 14-17, with her too-frequent eye-rolling and way too modern speech and interactions with others. The mentor is too wonderful and caring and supportive to be believable. The Chinese friend is one of the few characters I liked, the transgender man doesn't do very much but is an amazing mechanic, and the young man is too open-minded to be believable for someone in 1906, which is when the story takes place. And though I mentioned that the main character's speech was too modern, that's a problem with all the characters. The setting is 1906; the characters all speak in a too casual, too colloquial and modern way that doesn't ring true, even if this story is an alternate history and there are different political alliances and technologies, etc. in place.I'm going with a 1-1.5 stars.

  • Shelley
    2019-06-07 20:59

    *Source* Publisher*Genre* Steampunk, Alternative History*Rating* 3.5-4*My Thoughts*Breath of Earth is the first installment in author Beth Cato's new series called Breath of Earth. Cato is also the author of the steampunk driven duology known as Clockwork Dagger, as well as several novella's in the same universe. Breath of Earth is a story that takes place between April 15 and April 18, 1906. The last date should be familiar to anyone who has heard about the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake that destroyed the city. *Full Review @ Gizmos Reviews*Published* August 23rd 2016 by Harper Voyager

  • The Shayne-Train
    2019-05-24 23:36

    This was a very fun read.I guess it's Steampunk. I guess it's Urban Fantasy. Really, though, I'd call it an alt-history-fantasy. Yeah, let's go with that.The world-building and magic rules are all very well-done, and well-written. The characters are deep, multi-faceted. The setting (1800's San Francisco of the future-y past) is lovingly painted out. And this thing definitely passes both the Bechdel test and the Russo test.And it says its a #1, which means there are plans for a #2! HUZZAH!

  • Craig
    2019-06-11 02:51

    That cover is breathtaking! I'm really looking forward to this one. There seems to be a great new trend underway. Breath of Earth is a historical fantasy novel about a Japanese geomancer in 1906 San Francisco. Molly Tanzer's Vermilion is a historical fantasy novel about a half-Chinese Taoist psychopomp in 1870 San Francisco. M.H. Boroson's The Girl with Ghost Eyes is a historical fantasy novel about a Chinese Daoist priestess in 1898 San Francisco. See a pattern? Ghost Eyes is amazing, Vermilion is good so far, I'm excited about Breath of Earth, and I hope to see a lot more along these lines.

  • Danya
    2019-05-30 02:00

    Beth Cato introduces a gritty, steampunk-inspired version of 20th century San Francisco in BREATH OF EARTH, the first book in a new series. While I appreciated the diverse cast of characters and creative world building, I thought the primary characters fell flat and felt that the story overall was too unfocused.Earthquakes and other natural disasters plague 1906 San Francisco, kept at bay only by the efforts of the Geomancer’s Auxiliary. Geomancers use their connection to the earth to channel magical energy, siphoning it out of the earth to prevent natural disasters and fuel their own abilities. But with the wars of the United Pacific – the alliance between Japan and the U.S. – raging on, some are concerned that geomancy may be turned to a much darker purpose.For Ingrid, geomancy is the chance to rise above her “shortcomings,” including her working-class status, her mixed-race heritage, and her sex (of course). But women aren’t supposed to possess geomantic abilities, let alone abilities that are more powerful than her older male counterparts. Ingrid is forced to study geomancy in secret under the tutelage of Mr. Sakaguchi, her employer and surrogate father…but when the Auxiliary comes under attack, Ingrid may need to use her abilities and expose herself for what she really is to save San Francisco.The United Pacific’s influence on San Francisco (and the rest of the world) is palpable in BREATH OF THE EARTH, as their xenophobic dogma and cultural supremacy has completely changed the status quo of the West and Asia alike. Japanese culture is ascendant, and white American citizens do all that they can to emulate the culture in order to curry favour – and stay alive. Unsurprisingly, those who are not white or Japanese are discriminated against…and those with Chinese heritage are herded together in slums and systematically slaughtered. As upsetting as it was to read about this, I really appreciated how Beth Cato incorporated the very real xenophobia towards those with Chinese heritage that existed in the West during the early 20th century. That’s a very ugly part of North American history that is often scrubbed from SFF, but it’s important to acknowledge.Although I loved the diversity of the characters (mixed-race, Hawaiian, Chinese, and Japanese characters as well as a trans character), I felt very little connection to them. Ingrid in particular was a struggle for me, as she’s very concerned with propriety and comes uncomfortably close to blindly accepting the beliefs of the United Pacific regime. While she does eventually grow, her naivety and preachy nature made Ingrid an unsatisfactory protagonist for me. I feel bad saying it, but her love interest was also one of the most boring potential suitors I’ve read about in recent memory. He wasn’t bad or anything, he just…was. He had very little personality to speak of besides being gentlemanly and handsome.BREATH OF EARTH is hardly what I’d call plot-driven, as it takes almost 300 pages for the events of the story to come together into a coherent storyline. But if you’re not someone who reads for plot, you may enjoy this creative, diverse, steampunk-inspired fantasy novel more than I did.

  • Michael
    2019-06-05 02:47

    Beth Cato gives steampunk a magical, global twist in an action-packed adventure that keeps the pages turning in anticipation. And if you don't fall in love with Ingrid Carmichael after reading this, you have no soul. A truly fun ride with a compelling story and characters to root for. Can't wait to see what future installments may hold.

  • Milliebot
    2019-05-28 01:45

    Alternate history isn’t a genre I read often, but it’s one I do enjoy. In this version of 1906, the United States has adopted many Japanese customs thanks to their alliance. They are currently waging war against China, as the Japanese hope to use the country to ease their own overcrowded land. There are some Chinese immigrants on U.S. land but they’re treated as second-class citizens and the tension between the three groups is reaching a breaking point.There are also steampunk elements to this story, as the magic collected by the geomancers can be used to power many machines, such as blimps, cars, tanks and even common household objects like phones. There are also weapons like Tesla rods, which basically seem like Taser-sticks that can be telescoped out more easily zap the shit out of someone.In addition to the technology, there are different magical elements. First off, I enjoyed the idea of Geomancy. Those with the power can siphon energy from the earth during earthquakes and in some cases even the smallest tremors. They then put that energy into crystals which are used to power various devices. In Ingrid’s case, she can also store the power in her body and use it to give herself increased strength and even barrier-like protection bubbles. There are other schools of magic as well, though Reiki, healing magic, is the only one heavily discussed. But even Reiki is complex, as there are Light and Dark forms – those who practice light Reiki harvest life energy from plants in order to heal people, whereas those who use dark Reiki take their energy from animals and even people, thus healing more powerfully.Mythical creatures also exist in this world and while I enjoyed that idea, I don’t think it played out well in the book. I sadly forget the term Cato’s characters use for magical creatures – something like mythics – but they’re mentioned briefly in the beginning of the book, like Ingrid enjoying seeing unicorns, even if they’re used to pull carriages. Then towards the end we’re introduced to selkies and even a giant, two-headed snake, but they didn’t seem to fit properly in the world and felt crammed into an already busy plot.The plot moved along at a nice pace and there was a fair bit of action, but unfortunately I didn’t care for any of the characters; most fell flat and Ingrid was downright annoying. I don’t want this to turn into a rant about her, so I’ll try to keep it brief.First off, I understand that having your character describe themselves to the reader in a way that seems natural is difficult. However, Ingrid is constantly talking about her hair, skin and robust curves. Every time she stopped to talk about her ample hips or breasts, I was pulled out of the story. This happens in many stories, but Ingrid’s self-descriptions felt excessive. She also develops the hots for the male protagonist and often thought about how handsome he was or how he made her lady bits warm and tingly in the middle of life-threatening action! I get it, he’s hot and you want to have sex with him, but I don’t believe you’d be thinking about this when you’re both about to die and you’re concentrating on using your magic to save your lives! Ugh.Ingrid is also mixed race and adding that to the fact that she’s a woman, her life is considerably more difficult than those of the men around her, starting with the fact that she must keep her magic a secret and cannot train as a male student would. I understood that Ingrid felt marginalized and that men around her treated her with blatant disrespect simply because of her sex and skin color. Yet I don’t feel this point was accomplished with any grace or subtlety and it was another point that constantly pulled me from the story. Ingrid was always telling the reader how she was disrespected due to her looks and gender and social status, rather than letting the characters around her and the story elements show that. She simply didn’t evoke any empathy and I think her narration hindered more than it helped.This review turned out to be a lot longer than I expected. Overall, this book was alright. There were some elements I enjoyed but the lack of a connection with the character will keep me from reading the next book, despite the cliffhanger ending.

  • Effie
    2019-05-29 03:57

    I first read Beth Cato's "Clockwork Dagger", which was a fun light steampunk thriller. "Breath of Earth" is different. No lightness here, just the gritty side of steampunk, xenophobia, violence, and earthquake magic. And it was great. The worldbuilding was far more complex than I've seen from her before, and a much richer multicultural texture woven throughout. It went into every detail, from the epithets to the clothing. I liked the earthquake magic, both conceptually and visually, and the romance was weirdly hot, despite how PG-rated it is. My one complaint: STOP DESTROYING MY CITY, BETH CATO. I get that it's an alt-history San Francisco, and that you have earthquake magic, and chances are those two things are going to combine in ruin. But still! I love San Francisco! Stop tearing it up!

  • Lisa
    2019-06-10 21:40

    I really loved this book and I'm looking forward to the next one. I love the fusion of magic and tech in utilizing the crystals as a power source. I think the alt-history aspect was done well. The characters were delightful and really had me rooting for their little rag-tag group. Can't wait to see their further adventures.

  • Monique V
    2019-06-03 02:41


  • Online Eccentric Librarian
    2019-06-10 01:40

    More reviews (and no fluff) on the blog's the thing about Beth Cato's books: there is insta luv romance, they are well written, the 'magic' portions are interesting, historical aspects well researched, there is plenty of action, and the plot is creative. And yet, I've found that for me personally, I never like any of the preachy and uptight characters. They almost veer into the author's idea of a Mary Sue. Certainly, I appreciate that authors put their own soul into a work but at the same time, perhaps I just don't find that I like her view of a good romance or character. So I am starting this review with that caveat; most will love Cato's books and deservedly so.Story: Ingrid has very strong and very rare geomancy skills. In the San Francisco of 1906, she is not allowed to use those skills since she is a female. But in this 'Victorian' setting, Japan and the "US" are working to completely eradicate China, Britain is subjugating India, and San Francisco's Chinatown inhabitants are in a dangerous position, caught between two worlds. Politics, magic, and cultures collide in a world where geomancers can destroy whole cities and the world is a warground. Ingrid, with the help of a skilled engineer, will become embroiled in a plot that may involve her mysterious missing father - and endanger the lives of the entire city of San Francisco.Those with a bit of history under their belt will likely recognize the importance of the April 1906 setting. Cato does an excellent job of weaving the facts into a plausible and intricate alternate universe world. More importantly, she also deftly incorporates Japanese, Chinese, American, and even British cultures into a melange that is appropriate and makes sense. It's in the characters and their interactions that it all falls apart for me. From a repressed Victorian girl immediately thinking about kissing her insta luv in a brash way to her own rather contrary nature. What others will find nuanced I find rather 'holier than though'. Again, that is likely just me but I didn't like Ingrid and I found her love interest to be bland, underdeveloped, and overidealized. As well, both Ingrid and her love interest are speshul snowflakes who save the world through that specialness and deus ex machina plot devices (ah, the trite and overused 'overheard nefarious confession due to our heroine being in the perfect place at the perfect time). With all the work gone into the worldbuilding, the plot itself was underwhelming.The writing is brisk and there is plenty of adventure to keep readers intrigued. Yes, twists and turns are fairly well telegraphed or guessable but the fast pace of the plot makes up for the predictability. In all, it is a good read and likely I'm one of the few who just can't get invested in Cato's characters. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

  • Margaret
    2019-06-11 21:38

    Review originally published at Vampire Book Club and based on a copy provided by the publisherIngrid Carmichael is a geomancer, able to channel energy from the Earth’s seismic activity. She might even be the most powerful geomancer in the world, except that the world believes only men can inherit the ability. So Ingrid works as a secretary for the Council of Wardens, learning their skills while hiding her power. Wardens harness the energy from earthquakes, absorbing it before it can damage the city, and store the energy in a stone called kermanite. Those stones are then used as batteries to power anything from flashlights to dirigibles.An attack on Council Headquarters leaves Ingrid and her mentor as San Francisco’s only defense against a devastating earthquake. Surviving also makes them the prime suspects. Ingrid knows their enemies would only eliminate the Wardens if they were planning a larger attack. With her allies, a Chinese boy and a pair of mechanics, Ingrid must avoid the authorities long enough to uncover the plot.Fans of Cato’s Clockwork Dagger series will find some familiar elements here: a unique magic system with elaborate mythology, international political machinations, and environmental terrorists. What makes Breath of Earth different is also what fascinated me most: the alternate history. The story takes place in the days leading up to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, but Cato mentions details as far back as the fall of the Roman Empire.In addition to its highly detailed history, the world also includes some fabulous creatures. From selkies and unicorns to the Hidden Ones, mythical creatures that live beneath the Earth, I loved the way the magical creatures were incorporated.Ingrid is not only a woman in a man’s world, she’s also a mixed race woman in a racially charged world. As she learns to use her power, she also challenges notions of race and gender, both her own and society’s. She learns from her diverse supporting cast, which includes some great villains (and one I had pegged right from the start.)If I have a complaint it’s with Ingrid’s love interest Cy. He’s Tony Stark’s backstory with Steve Rogers’ personality. He’s loyal and heroic—he jumps out of an airship to rescue Ingrid—and she certainly finds him attractive. He’s got all the action hero elements down, he just feels a little flat. I’m hoping he’ll start to show more emotion as their relationship develops.And I’m just thrilled that it will get to develop. I had heard that Breath of Earth would be a standalone, but it’s actually the first in a series. That series started off with non-stop action and some really cool magic so I can’t wait to see where it goes next.

  • ♥ Ashleigh ♥contrary to popular belief i'm not actually mad!
    2019-06-16 02:46

    The premise and outline for the story was fascinating, I always wanted to know what happened next which is sadly the only reason I manged to finish this book. Unfortunately for me the characters felt flat, especially the main character. A big problem for me was that I was repeatedly told how incredibly intelligent she was (especially for a female -_-) and yet based on everything I read in this book I have zero proof that she is anything above dumb, which is truly sad. I don't mind dumb characters except when I'm constantly told that they're not (Drives me bonkers!) and in circumstances like these (where men look down on women as the weaker sex) I would much prefer the character to be more than just a special snow flake. 2.5 stars. I won't be reading any more of this series.

  • Tanya
    2019-06-04 21:59

    The book hasn't been released yet, but when it comes out - you should read it! It's an amazing book, with the setting rooted in historical events, spiced up with some... extra. I'm so excited it will be a series.

  • Anya
    2019-05-29 20:56

    Cool world but all the info dumping and I worry about this story being written by a white woman.

  • Jacqie
    2019-06-05 21:49

    This book just didn't have what it took to keep me reading. The few pages of the book felt awkward. Ingrid, the main character, is upset because she has to wear shoes, which interfere with her geomancer abilities (except that she's so powerful that even with shoes she's still more sensitive than the powerful male wardens who control the earth's magic on the western seaboard of the United States). If she's that powerful, you'd think that typical men from the time of 1906 would either lock her up and use her, or figure out how to use her power while taking the credit, not just have Ingrid getting them coffee in their meetings. And then after pages about being mad about wearing shoes, it turns out that Ingrid has been wearing Japanese-style house shoes, which are barely more than the socks that the wardens were wearing. It just didn't make much sense.Ingrid also used the phrase "heaven forbid!" to herself at least 3 times within 2 pages. Maybe the author really wants us to know that Ingrid is fond of that expression, but it felt more like a lack of imagination.This is an alternate version of the early 20th century, with Japan more powerful, China and India enemies of the US, and I'm not sure exactly what else. I really like alternate history done well, but the intro of this book was more confusing than illuminating. I'm good at extrapolating from limited information from the author, but here I felt like I was at sea. Possibly because the characters didn't act in what I consider to be a realistic fashion. Admittedly, I didn't get to far into the book, but between Ingrid being rather annoying and perhaps more saucy than she needed to be ( a female with that much power would need to be smarter about it) and stuff about shoes and magic that just didn't make sense to me, I didn't feel like messing about with it further. Which is too bad, because I was really interested in the book concept.

  • Sylvia McIvers
    2019-05-24 02:43

    Can a book be YA when the hero is 25? She reads like an older teen. Ingrid is a special snowflake, the only female who can feel the magic of earth's tremors. She isn't going to storm the castle, um, the academy, to make it a place where women can take part. No, she has super mysterious parentage: Mom is blond, hence the name 'ingrid', and Dad was Polynesian who won't tell who his parents were. (I sense a sequel here, lol) Because of her circumstances, Ingrid has to be a servant, not a scholar, and everyone expects her to be dumb. And barely literate. Why, it's amazing that she can speak English at all. Japan had the magic to help make America's civil war over very quickly, but there is still plenty of racism under the Pan Pacific dominion. Britannia is also a world power, but China is everyone's stomping ground, and the Chinese in America are terribly abused. (Author's afterward: many of these incidents came from contemporary California newspapers, not author imagination.)Ingrid has never been in love, but this fellow is really hot. And he treats her nicely. And then the academy blows up, and who can she trust? The handsome, the ugly, the upper class accent, the lower class accent, the right or wrong skin color - none of these are reliable indicators.Nice plot twists. Are earthquakes caused by restless dragons? They are in Japan.... but in Ireland there's a earth-horse. So what is there in California?

  • Dana Alma
    2019-06-14 00:35

    Breath of Earth is unexpected. Cato has gone about creating a frightening world with Ingrid at the helm of all we perceive. Breath of Earth has so many undertones. It's truly a journey into the unknown. I found myself lost many times and had to find my way back through the story, but with that being said, it was fascinating. Cato created this world rich in culture and magic surrounded by governmental oppression and dangerous fractions. Our perception of Ingrid is unveiled during the entire story. There were times I felt Ingrid was a bit immature yet this could be what the author intended. The power she has and the allies she has made create an interesting story of purpose and discovery. I can't wait to delve into the next book into the series.

  • David
    2019-05-26 04:59

    Ingrid Carmichael is a geomancer living in 1906 San Francisco. Because she's a woman, she's relegated to working as the secretary for her mentor, a warden who is one of the geomancers who protects the city from earthquakes. An assassin kills all the wardens save Ingrid and her mentor. Because of their power, they become targets. As Ingrid learns more about her personal past, she learns how the United States is using certain geomancers as part of its bid for world domination.Nicely done gritty, alternate history steampunk novel that pulls from the unfortunate history of how Chinese immigrants were treated at the turn of the century. The romantic plot gives a nice balance to the more grim events happening in the rest of the novel.

  • Em (2AM Reads)
    2019-05-30 02:03

    3.5 stars. Amazing world building, annoyingly (fast) pacing on the romance. #TheresAWarOnPeople

  • Rea
    2019-05-27 03:04

    The cover caught my eye first. And man, what a pretty cover!Then I read some good reviews, and I thought to myself that I quite fancied an alternate history / fantasy read. So I went for it.This story has all the necessary ingredients to produce a plot that I’ll be head-over-heels for. There’s an interesting and well-developed alternate history, enough information is given that at times I had to try to sift through what was fictional and what was based in reality. The magic system was interesting, if flawed (it just didn’t seem fully fleshed out to me, like there was something missing that would provide the final piece to the puzzle and it would all make more sense). I really liked the concept of the Hidden Ones, mythical beings with powers that haven’t yet been fully explored. There’s still plenty to come there, and they certainly piqued my interest.It goes out of its way to tick a lot of other boxes too: a mixed-race heroine, Japanese and Chinese characters, a transgender man. The story tackles racism and sexism, though it seems to forget that those were the norms back in 1906.However, the heroine is most definitely not at all a product of her time, which made her stick out like a sore thumb. The same can be said of her romantic interest. They were both so forward-thinking as to affect my reading. They just didn’t come across as people who could really have been walking the streets of San Francisco a century ago.The insta-romance between the two characters didn’t allow me the time to become invested in their relationship, and that affected my interest in it. I much prefer when an author takes the time to develop a romance, rather than just tell the reader it’s there and expect them to just accept it.Some of the characters were very interesting. I especially liked Lee and Fenris, both of whom could end up playing more important roles in the next books.It took me a long time to read this book. I think it just didn’t succeed in keeping my interest very well a lot of the time, and I think that was more to do with the characters than the setting. For me, it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great. However, I can quite imagine that it will really appeal to some readers who are looking for different things in a story than I am.

  • Fraser Sherman
    2019-06-07 01:34

    In an alt.1906 where the US and Japan are alliea, a black woman whose secretly an earth-mage (women having magic is a big no-no) finds herself caught up in a conspiracy that wipes out San Francisco's other earthmages, leaving the city helpless against the next big quake. The worldbuilding is good, but everything else was just "meh" for me--nothing really sparked my interest, but I think that's more taste than any flaw I can point to.

  • Jared Adams
    2019-05-20 23:59

    I received an advanced reader copy of this book for the purpose of smugly reading it before everyone else. Which I did, heavy on the smugness. It is SUCH a good book. At its most basic level, "Breath of Earth" is a rollicking adventure. There are mysteries to solve and schemes to uncover and bad guys to escape. It's fast paced and hard to put down. Then there is the world that Cato has created, a hopelessly cool blend of steampunk airships, fantastic magic, and fairytale creatures. There is a character whose weapon is a collapsible tesla rod. Rich folks get unicorns to pull their carriages. Magicians keep earthquakes from happening by sucking up their energy and storing it in gems. On top of all this, the book is also alternate history. The author deftly plucks out some really juicy but obscure historical facts and weaves them into her narrative in a way that gives the book a depth beyond the coolness and the adventure. The place she depicts is San Francisco in 1906, a teeming port city steeped in racism to the point that Chinese immigrants must carry papers with them like Jews in the Third Reich. I was surprised in the author's notes section at the end of the book that she didn't make that part up. She does make up an alliance between the US and Japan, but even there, her research is plain to see. San Francisco has become very Japanese, and the blending of cultures there shows up in everything from the clothes to the restaurants to customs of propriety. How the author managed to juggle all these disparate elements, I don't know, but she did it marvelously. The fantasy tinges the history in a way that causes you to see true events from the past with the same wide-eyed wonder as the massive steampunk battle tanks or the fairytale creatures come to life. The themes of the book center powerfully around identity. Ingrid, the main character, has to use her earth magic in secret because she is a woman. Instead of practicing her magic openly, she must pose as a secretary with the local magic guild. What is she, then? A secretary? Or something more?While her identity is in a state of flux, she is also discovering that the people around her are multifaceted individuals too, from the Chinese servant who grew up with her, to the mechanic she meets from the deep South, to her adopted father, who is Japanese. As she grapples with who she is, her eyes are opened to the depth of others, the humanity of them, and how her own bias has caused her to misunderstand them in crucial ways. It's a refreshingly unselfish take on the coming of age story. In short I could hardly recommend this book more. My only disappointment was that we didn't get to meet the alternate-universe Theodore Roosevelt who was repeatedly mentioned. I really want to see what he is like in this world. I suppose, though, that I will have to wait for book 2 . . . . . . which I will smugly read before you if given the chance.

  • Karissa
    2019-06-01 04:04

    I really loved Cato’s Clockwork Dagger duology and was very excited to see a new book by her. I absolutely loved this book and was amazed at the depth and creativity in the world created here. This is very much a steampunk alternate history and it was just incredibly engaging and well written. Cato came and commented on my blog and ends up this is the first book in a series, not a standalone. The second book will be titled Call of Fire and is scheduled to be released next summer (2017).I loved the alternate history here, it was very creative and incredibly well put together. Cato wrote the book in such a way that you really get a sense of the broader world and the issues the world is dealing with.The characters were amazing. Ingrid is a female geomancer (unheard of until now) and she tries to make her way through life without causing too much upset to those around her; although this frustrates her at times. She is a wonderfully strong female but strong more in spirit and intelligence than action-hero-like strong. I really enjoyed her a lot and loved some of the revelations about her geomancy powers.The plot is somewhat investigative and somewhat political with many delightful steampunk devices and of course geomancy throughout, there is a lot of action and even some romance as well. I really enjoyed the blend of genres in here. The way geomancy was described and explored was fascinating.There is a very nice Afterward that explains the real history of this era and how Cato blended that into this new world. I enjoyed reading this and am glad it was included.Overall I adored this book. This is a beautifully written story that is exciting, creative, and engaging. I loved the characters, the world, and the plot. I would highly recommend to both fantasy and steampunk fans out there. I also really enjoyed Cato’s Clockwork Dagger Duology; however this book was a step up from that in complexity and creativity. I am incredibly excited to see what the second book, Call of Fire, holds for us!

  • Gwendolyn Clare
    2019-06-06 02:39

    If you're looking for rich, inventive worldbuilding, look no further. Cato's earthquake-based magic system, called geomancy, made my inner geologist squee with delight. The author seamlessly blends geomancy with steampunk technology and multiculturalism in turn-of-the-century San Francisco.Unlike much of the adventure fiction set in historical settings, this book doesn't ignore issues racism and sexism, but instead addresses them directly. Cato imagines a completely new global political climate for 1906, with the conflicts and alliances heavily affected by the existence of geomancy, but she doesn't sugar-coat it--her alternate history feels like an entirely plausible extension of our real history. It's a well researched and thoroughly considered fictional world.At the same time, Breath of Earth offers a rollicking good adventure with characters that are easy to fall in love with. The fiery, headstrong Ingrid and her pacifist, mechanically-talented love interest are by turns assisted and thwarted by a host of interesting secondary characters, all with their own complex motivations. (Fenris is my favorite. If you have any heart at all, he'll be yours, too.)At times I did feel like certain plot elements were too convenient, and as a reader I didn't always draw the same logical conclusions as the characters. At one point, for example, they go to the opera in hopes of encountering someone who might have the information they need--except I still don't know why that person was even in San Francisco in the first place. But if you're willing to go along for the ride, it is a very fun ride, and the climax is such a reward when you reach it.Breath of Earth provides a satisfying ending for those who don't want to commit to a series, but if you're like me, you'll be eagerly anticipating the next installment of Ingrid's adventures.*Disclaimer: I received a free ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

  • Ruth
    2019-06-11 23:49

    I quite liked this book. It's an interesting setting - an alternate history where the United States and Japan have formed a united force against China, and Britain is fighting India - right before the big San Francisco earthquake that leveled the city at the turn of the twentieth century. Earthquakes are caused by Hidden Ones - giant fantastical beings that live in fault lines - when they move. Luckily, there are also geomancers who can siphon off the energy released during an earthquake and prevent much, if not all, of the damage.I would have given this four stars, but a few things bothered me. One was the insta-love between Ingrid and Cy. Insta-lust is believable, but insta-love is a problem for me. Second, the world-building seemed a little off to me. Earth magic but no fire magic? No water magic? Why are there aeromancers sucking off the power from a hurricane? I wanted to see a more robust magic system. I did like that she combined magic and technology in her story. It's not an either/or thing, as it is in many books. And finally, (view spoiler)[ how many special powers can one character have? More and more keep appearing out of nowhere. Powers that no one else has, or has even heard of. I don't want to drop the dread M word, but seriously, I was rolling my eyes a bit by the end. (hide spoiler)]I was impressed with the degree to which the racism of the era was addressed. One of the main characters is Chinese, so you see the historical aspects of Chinese settlement in California dealt with, but also the heroine is biracial. She's half African-American, so that gets addressed as well. (view spoiler)[There is also a trans character. (hide spoiler)] Other characters are Japanese, and the interracial tensions between the different nationalities is one of the driving forces of the story.So, all in all, I liked it, and I'll be looking for the next book when it hits my library shelves.

  • SmartBitches
    2019-05-30 03:38

    Full review at Smart Bitches, Trashy BooksSometimes a book has all my catnip but it doesn’t gel into a cohesive, engaging story. Breath of Earth is one of those books. The language is descriptive, the setting intriguing, and the characters are diverse. Even the cover art is lovely. But I never got a feel for what was happening or why I should care.The biggest strength of this book is the diversity of the characters, which resonates with both the alternate history of the book and the actual history of San Francisco, a city that has always been diverse in a variety of ways. The main character knows that her mother was White, but all she knows about her father is that he must have had dark skin and curly black hair, like her. Her appearance means that she has to deal with racism as well as sexism. Other main characters are Chinese, Japanese, and Hawaiian. There’s also a transgender character.Unfortunately, none of these characters come fully to life with the exception of the transgender character. They basically careen around from disaster to disaster, with little chance to show their personalities. I didn’t care what happened to them. I had the same problem with the book’s alternate history idea – it’s a neat idea that allows for steampunk elements and a ton of intrigue, but I never got a good feel for the world, or the politics, or why I should care about either. The story elements seem thrown together at random.If you read this book under less stress than I was under, and you liked it, please tell us! I wanted to like it. It had all my catnip – inclusive characters, steampunk elements, 1906 San Francisco, science nerds, magic, and a heroine of color – but it never came together for me as a coherent story with a solid sense of character and place.- Carrie S.

  • Chris
    2019-06-15 22:52

    I really wanted to love this book, but I didn't. If you like Cato's writing then you will probably enjoy this a ton. Personally, I found that her prose and her heroine made it a two-star reading experience for me. The story and alternate history are good, so it earned back an "average" rating by the end, but I don't think I can bring myself to ready any sequels.I was super excited when I heard about this book. Alternate history with earth magic and an Asian influence? Exactly my sort of thing. And that cover is beautiful! While waiting for it to be released I tried one of Cato's earlier works, to see what I was getting into, and found myself unimpressed. Still, I jumped into this one hoping to be surprised. The dialogue in Breath of Earth is not as stilted as in The Clockwork Dagger but it is even more gag-inducing. Our heroine has three basic emotional states, which is fine. She hops between them sentence by sentence without transition, which is not. She will be alternately overwhelmed by her (admittedly tragic) circumstances, utterly infatuated with the love interest, and (most frequent of all) indignant at the chauvinism she must endure.Cato went to a lot of work to incorporate real history into her magical airship version of 1916, and addresses some of the racism of our past that isn't often remembered. For that she deserves a lot of credit. The story and setting are interesting as well, even if the main characters are frustratingly clueless at times. All in all, I wish I could give it a better review, but for me it just wasn't fun to read.

  • Julia
    2019-05-25 21:04

    It started out so well but Ingrid was so horny in inapporpriate situations and also a Speshul Snowflake with ALL the abilities. And the white man had to rescue her all the time.