Custard and a spot of tea

Reticence

For those of you who have read Gail Carriger’s Custard Protocol series before, this is the final book in the series, Reticence. We rejoin the crew of the Spotted Custard just as Quesnel and Rue are getting hitched. Rue is, at this point, very pregnant. About ready to pop, in fact, and Primrose will not allow the Spotted Custard to lift off from London without an actual doctor on board.

The problem is, every doctor they’ve interviewed so far has come over very old fashioned, and the crew of the Spotted Custard are very much…not. Then comes the unlikely named Dr. Arsenic Ruthven. Keen followers of Ms. Carriger’s delightful steampunk series and their various novellas might at this point recognize that last name. Arsenic is the daughter of Preshea (from the Finishing School series) and the lovely Scottish investigator Mr. Ruthven. Naturally, a poisoner named her daughter after a poison. 🙂 That tickled my fancy.

Arsenic isn’t much like, nor does she much like, her mother. Classic case of mothers and daughters not getting along. Arsenic, in her case, went as far from her mother as possible and became a doctor (a very rare thing in Victorian times). And it just so happened that she not only impressed Prim and Rue, but managed to fluster Percy as well. Win-win as far as Rue is concerned.

So Dr. Ruthven joins the crew and they head off to Egypt to see Rue’s mother and father, who had retired there a few books ago when Lord Maccon started losing his marbles, as happens with very old alpha werewolves. After a spot of tea with the parents, they’re off to Japan. There is, apparently, a new species of supernatural afoot there that several parties are interested in. Not to mention a missing intelligencer.

Along the way, Percy finds himself sharing not only his cat (Footnote) with Dr. Ruthven, but his library of all things. Imagine! Upon arriving in Japan, they discovered to their delight, the floating city of Edo (Tokyo) – here called the Paper City. This was the only place, in this universe, that non-Japanese people were allowed.

By this time, Percy was quite set on wooing Dr. Ruthven, but was at a loss as to how. The floating city, however, had to take precedence, as did the sickness of the consort of the man who ran the city, Lord Ryuunosuke. The officials of the Paper City were particularly keen to have Dr. Ruthven consult because she was, after all, a she. Lord Ryuunosuke wouldn’t allow male doctors to see to his consort. Indeed, the officials seemed not to want to allow any man off the ship.

Seeing as how the Spotted Custard couldn’t afford to lose the dear doctor only a few scant months after her hiring, they had Percy pretend to be her husband and insist on accompanying her. Propriety being what it was, they agreed, which was just as well because Percy was one of two people on board who could actually speak Japanese. Even still, he’s not actually allowed in the same room as Lady Sakura.

Some fast talking from Dr.Ruthven manages to get Lady Sakura out of the silver infused room she’s in and over to the swoon room (such a great name) in the Spotted Custard. Unfortunately, things go awry shortly thereafter, as things are wont to do with Rue’s crew (Heh, Rue’s crew) and Percy and Dr. Ruthven fall out of the Custard and the Paper City straight down to Tokyo.

After a staggeringly messy and dangerous adventure on the ground, Percy and Dr. Ruthven are reunited with the Custard and are well on their way to wooing. Things in Tokyo will never be the same.

I love the inter-connectivity between Gail Carriger’s novels, and yet you could still read any one of them and get the feel of her universe. She’s one of my favorite authors and I can’t wait to get whatever novel, novella or short story she has out next. I highly recommend that you give her a read. And a follow! She’s on Twitter and she’ll often times post a lot of Victorian couture and food.

Rating: A+. Percy is one of my favorite characters, probably because I identify with his social awkwardness and bookishness.

Been a while

I realized, recently that it’s been a long, long time since I posted a review to my blog. I haven’t stopped reading, but life has kind of gotten in the way, as it tends to do. During the current climate, I’ve been working from home more often than not and I’ve decided that I’m going to get back into my reviews. I, for one, could use the distraction. Full review post to follow, but I thought I’d start with one of my favorite authors: Gail Carriger. If you’re still around after the inadvertent year long break…I thank you and hope you’re staying safe and healthy.

 

Manners & Mutiny

Courtesy of gailcarriger.comI love Gail Carriger’s steampunk novels. Have I mentioned this? In particular, I like her Parasol Protectorate books and her Finishing School series. In her latest (and last) of the Finishing School novels, Manners & Mutiny, we follow protagonist Sephronia Temminnick as she tries to finish her final year at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s.

This book was released on Wednesday November 4, so I’m not going to go into too much detail. Just because I finished this book over the course of about three lunch hours doesn’t mean everyone did. But just in case I do spill something plotty, below be SPOILERS. You have been warned.

Sephronia and her friends, Dimity and Agatha, are given some increasingly complex tests as a part of their final year. And not just in classes. They have a ball with the all boys school Bunson’s on Swiffle-on-Exe, where Dimity’s brother Pillover and their friend Vieve (a girl masquerading as a boy) attend. And let’s not forget about Felix de Mersey, Sephronia’s other suitor (the first being sootie Soap).

Felix and Sephronia are at loggerheads due to his involvement of Soap dying and becoming a werewolf in the previous novel. Things do not get better here. Felix is the son of the Grand Gherkin of the Picklemen (aren’t these titles just fantastic?! They’re so silly. I love them), who shot soap and is generally a bad guy and the Picklemen are clearly up to something.

They break into Mademoiselle Geraldine’s after the ball but leave with nothing, vexing Sophronia who got into trouble with the teachers. She chased the Picklemen and got caught. They’re not upset about the former but they are upset about the latter. Sophronia gets saddled with all sorts of busy work that leave her no time to figure out what the Picklemen are up to.

To make matters a little worse, Soap keeps showing up attempting to court her. Sophronia, despite what her heart wants, is still a member of high society and a lady like her can’t be with the only black werewolf in England. It just isn’t done. And don’t blame me or Ms. Carriger for those words. That was the times in mid-1800s England.

Will Soap ever talk Sophronia around? What are the Picklemen up to? Why is Felix trying so hard to make up with Sophronia? And what is going on with Lord Akeldama (and really, we all wonder that)? Read to find out!

I enjoyed the hell out of this book. It makes me sad that it was the last in the series but obviously you can’t continue finishing school once you’ve properly finished and debuted. I’m hoping that we’ll continue to see more from this lovely world and lovely writer. I highly recommend this series and this book. Rating: A+

Prudence

Courtesy of goodreads.comI just finished Gail Carriger’s latest, Prudence. This is book one of the Custard Protocol series, which I assume will be a 4-5 book series like the Parasol Protectorate books and the Finishing School series. Because this is a very new novel, I won’t go into much detail here. All three series are interlinked, so it’s really fun to see where things come from or go.

This book follows Lady Prudence Akeldama, the adopted daughter of Lord Akeldama, rove vampire extraordinaire and biological daughter of Lord and Lady Maccon. She’s out in society, so probably about 18-19. Her best friend Primrose is the daughter of her mother’s best friend, Ivy Tunstall and she clearly has some sort of feeling for Madame LeFoux’s  son Quesnel.

This book follows the adventures of Prudence (called Rue) and her friends to India via the improbably ladybug colored dirigible, The Spotted Custard. This is a present from Lord Akeldama to Rue with the express intent of getting her out of London due to an unfortunate werewolf in bloomers incident at a society party and to get her to do some covert tea buying.

This is clearly the introductory story of her next story arc. There’s a lot of character building but I can’t quite decide of I’m supposed to like any of these character, particularly Rue. I feel she’s a bit spoiled and I can’t help but feel that I really, really want her taken down a serious peg or two.

There’s clearly supposed to be some sort of romantic build up between Rue and Quesnel, but…I just can’t seem to care. I think that’s far too tidy, considering Quesenl’s mother was in love with Rue’s mother. I don’t particularly like that Lady Alexia Maccon seems to have turned into every disapproving mother ever. She didn’t seem like that when Rue was little in the last Parasol Protectorate book.

I enjoyed reading the book. It had Gail Carriger’s distinctive style…but I think you could read the second book in this series (whenever it comes out) and still not really miss anything. It makes me want to read Soulless again. Rating: C+/B-

And we’re back!

I’m sorry for the long delay folks. Its been a rough few months for me. But I’ve decided to actually do a New Years resolution for 2015 (normally I don’t bother). I’m going to try and publish one review a week, likely on the weekends (yay laundry time!). First some news!

courtesy of goodreads.comFor those of you who are fans of Jim Butcher and his Dresden Files (<3), the man himself is doing a steampunk series! Holy crap, I am so excited about this! He’s calling this the Cinder Spires and according to his twitter (@longshotauthor), its off to the editors! Of course, it’ll be a long while going through polishing before it gets released, but its written!

Second, for the Simon R. Green lovers among you (me included), we have found out that there are three more Secret Histories novels on the books, the last of which will be a war between the Droods and the Nightside! Go Nightside. 😀 The titles are: Dr. DOA, Moonbreaker and Night Fall, in accordance with his James Bond themed books. Apparently we are getting just three more Secret Histories because Mr. Green has diabetes and is worried that he would leave us all hanging, should complications arise. After that he’ll be writing single novels or trilogies. I hope he continues writing for a very long time.

Gail Carriger has recently released Wasitcoats & Weaponry, the third installment of her Finishing School series. The next generation of the Parasol Protectorate will kick off in March. Featuring Prudence, the daughter of Lord and Lady Maccon. Apparently this series will be christened the Custard Protocol, the name of which made my husband decide it was the best series ever without having read any of Ms. Carriger’s awesome books. 🙂

Curtsies & Conspiracies

Curtsies and Conspiracies*SPOILERS* As you may have gathered from some previous posts, I do like me some steampunk. In particular, I love Gail Carriger. And her latest release in the finishing school series, Curtsies & Conspiracies, is another home run. This series focuses on the young girls of Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Girls of Quality and protaganist Sophronia Temmennick.

Sophronia has now been at the school for about six months. Its at this time that all new comers such as herself get tested on what they’ve learned. In pairs, her fellows are taken off and come back looking pale. Sophronia and best friend Dimity Plumleigh-Teignmott go last and Sophronia, naturally, passes with flying colors. When the scores are announced, Professor LeFoux (Genvieve’s aunt) makes a point of letting them all know that Sophronia got the highest scores ever. This causes friction and ostracization between her and the rest of the girls in her class. At least for a while.

As much as it pains Sophronia that her friends (and even enemies Monique and Preshea) are ignoring her, there are things afoot at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s. Dimity nearly gets herself kidnapped, graduates that are active intelligencers are boarding in the middle of the night and a bunch of boys from Bunson’s (the men’s evil genius academy) are aboard. Why? Because they’re all going to London to see the arrival of a brand new dirigible that can cross the English Channel in less than an hour using aetheric currents high up in the atmosphere.

Of course, lessons are still occurring while all this is going on and Sophronia eventually gets her friends back talking with her. She also makes a deal with young Genvieve. Help get Genvieve into Bunson’s and get rid of Bunson’s Professor Shrimpdittle and Genvieve will leave Sophronia all of her tech gadgets, including the one that freezes all the mechanicals for short periods. You see, Shrimpdittle is an old friend of Professor LeFoux and knows that Genvieve (or Vieve as she’s commonly known) is a girl.

Sophronia’s attempts at character assassination are successful. Too successful. There are unintended consequences to a member of the school’s staff, Professor Braithwope, who is a vampire. And in the midst of all of this, Dimity and brother Pillover (aboard from Bunson’s) are still under threat. From whom? Read to find out! 🙂

The Finishing School books fall in the same universe as Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate (aka-Alexia Tarabotti) books, just 25 years earlier. You’ll recognize a few familiar characters in this and learn a bit of their back story. You don’t have to read any of the other books really, but I highly recommend you do. They’re entertaining as hell! Rating: A+.

Looking for Steampunk

Okay, so I’ve read a few steampunk books and color me intrigued. I am, however, at a loss for some good books to read. I know a lot of you out there will probably say Boneshaker by Cherie Priest and to that I say…something else please. I’ve tried a couple of times to read that book and I just can’t do it. I’m not sure if it’s the writing style of the author or the completely BORING first chapters. I’d like to believe it gets better but I just can’t spend 10 bucks on a book that I find I have to slog through. So I’m hoping for some suggestions based on the following:

-I read The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook not too long ago and I rather enjoyed it. It was well written even if it did have entire chapters about sex that didn’t push the plot along. But the idea of zombies being creatures controlled by little nanite-type things is awesomely original. Or at least original to me.

-I love, love, LOVE Sherlock Holmes. While this isn’t technically steampunk, it is set in Victorian times (obviously). So Victorian era plus a good mystery plus a bit of snark equals win.

-A couple weeks ago I read a book called Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurances novel by Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine. Originally I wasn’t too sure about it but it turned out to be a surprisingly good read. I’m looking forward to a sequel or three. I will post a review eventually I’m sure. 🙂

-The Parasol Protectorate books. Of course. I love Alexia Terrabotti. I also love how Gail Carriger has mixed steampunk with vamps, werewolves and other supernaturals. Mixing steampunk, Victorian times and urban fantasy equals big win.

So if anyone has any suggestions, I’d love to hear them. And as always, I am ever searching for more urban fantasy suggestions.

The Parasol Protectorate

I just zoomed through the latest two Parasol Protectorate novels, Blameless and Heartless. They were fantastic! I love the character of Alexia Tarabotti. A lot of the lead women in urban fantasy novels are hard as nails, fist-fighting, heavy drinking, one-of-the-boys types. I like that and understand that. But Alexia is a no-nonsense feminine leading lady. She’s a proper Victorian lady…for the most part. It isn’t her fault that her best friend is a vampire.  Warning: here follows spoilers.

At any rate, in Blameless Alexia gets kicked out of her family home once it becomes clear that she’s with child. Normally it isn’t a big deal for a married woman to be pregnant but with her it is. Her husband is a werewolf which means that he is, like a vampire, technically dead. So technically, no little swimmers. Her husband, her parents and even the honorable Queen Victoria thinks she’s cheated on Lord Maccon.

This bugged the shit out of me (pardon the language). Alexia is, as covered in the previous books, a preternatural. In this series, it means that when she touches a vampire or a werewolf skin to skin, she restores them to their original mortal state. Original mortal state. Meaning they should be more than capable of having little kiddies. I guess I can forgive the situation a bit by the fact that the author explains that female preternaturals are a rarity. I guess I can suspend disbelief to them being so rare that there hasn’t been one in the whole of written history. If I must.

At any rate, Alexia and her footman Floote and her new friend Madame Lefoux leave England in a hurry after the news broke all over polite society. Oh yeah, and the London hive vampires are after her. Seems that they feel the infant-inconvenience, as Alexia calls it, is an abomination. They’re chased all the way across France and into Italy, where because of the Vatican and the Knights Templar (yes, apparently they were never slaughtered and disbanded in this timeline) kill all vampires, werewolves and their respective human hangers on on sight. But they aren’t fond of Alexia either.

Seems that preternaturals, being soulless, are beyond salvation of the church and are therefore demons. That also kind of bugs me, but I’m not a religious person by nature so it could just be a personal thing. 🙂 Meanwhile, the drunken Lord Maccon is finally talked around by the lovely Professor Lyall, his beta, after the Maccon stops drinking formaldehyde and sobers up. Once he realizes what a complete and utter prat he’s been, he issues a public apology and races after her…just in time to “rescue” from the clutches of the evil (not really an exaggeration) Templars. And by rescue I mean pick up the pieces of Alexia rescuing herself, Floote and Lefoux. As usual.

In Heartless, whose title I still don’t quite understand, Alexia is VERY pregnant and has to foil a plot to kill the queen. As a newly reinstated member of Queen Victoria’s Shadow Council, she is contact by a ghost messenger with a vague plot about the queen being in danger. So she puts the dewan (leading lone werewolf) and the potentate (the always loveable Lord Akeldama) on alert, not the mention her husband and the BUR.

Meanwhile, she has to deal with the infant-inconvenience and the newly made werewolf/former vampire drone Biffy. Biffy was made a werewolf at the end of the last book because it was either that or he would be very much dead and gone. Biffy was Lord Akeldama’s favored drone and the pair were (shockingly in the Victorian era) quite in love. Biffy is not taking his change from potential vampire to werewolf well at all. He can’t control his changes as well as the others and it causes all sorts of grief for the pack, Biffy and Alexia, as she has to turn him human again to calm him down. Not an easy thing to do when eight months along.

Not to mention poor Madame Lefoux is acting very strange and withdrawn from Alexia. Lefoux’s dead aunt, Beatrix “formerly” Lefoux, is losing her hold on the world and becoming a very vague ghost. This is an upsetting time for Madame Lefoux but there’s something else going on…

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Normally I can see an ending coming after a little while but I was honestly surprised to find out that the plot against the queen wasn’t referring to Queen Victoria but the the vampire queen, Countess Nadasdy. This leads to a very interesting shake up of the social dynamic in London between the vampires and the werewolves. Not to mention Alexia ends up giving birth inside a giant, steam driven octomaton built by Madame Lefoux.

I highly recommend both books. A

First Intro to Steampunk

Courtesy of gailcarriger.comSome time ago I stumbled upon information about steampunk. I’m not entirely certain now what it was that first brought that to my attention, but as a historian, I was intrigued.  The Victorian Era is also referred to the Industrial Age and the Golden Age, depending on who you talk to and what exactly you’re talking about.  Depending on your social status, the era could have been awesome in terms of the new technology and the ability to freely travel or it could royally suck with terrible work and health conditions. And forget about being a woman in that day and age.

At any rate, I was intrigued, but it took me a while to try out anything.  Because I’m sort of new to the steampunk genre, I’m not entirely sure if these books qualify as steampunk or just as historical fantasies.

First up: Soulless by Gail Carriger.  I was drawn to this because the main female character doesn’t quite fit into the typical urban fantasy female lead mold.  Sure she’s tough, self-sufficient and speaks her mind (much to her mother’s horror), but she’s described as dark, swarthy, large-nosed and plump.  She’s not lithe, fit, svelte, atheletic etc that most of the female leads I read about are described as.  It’s a nice change.

Soulless mixes steampunk, romance and fantasy by talking the soulless character of Alexia Tarabotti (an English lady of Italian descent) and crossing her path with the alpha werewolf of Lord Conall Maccon (and his pack) and vampire Lord Akeldama (a lovely unconventional vampire).  Alexia and Maccon have to solve the mystery of why some vampires are mysteriously disappearing before things get out of hand (terrible summary, I know but I read this one a while ago. Sue me).  Alexia is, as many of my favorite characters are, a wise ass. And she’s not afraid to use it. Or her silver and wood reinforced black parasol, her favorite accessory.

The follow up to Soulless is Changeless. Alexia and Maccon, (SPOILER ALERT) married after the end of the first novel, have to solve the mystery of why members of the London pack (Lord Maccon’s pack) have suddenly stopped being able to change into werewolves.  It leads them all the way to Scotland, to Lord Maccon’s original pack, who also cannot change.  Things don’t end too well for the married couple, sorry to say. Not that anyone important dies, but still, Gail Carriger leaves us hanging on that. I haven’t gotten the third book Blameless yet, but Christmas is coming in a couple months, so we’ll see.  I highly recommend both the fist two books, A.

Next post: The Iron Duke by Meljean Brooke