Steampunk Sundays: Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger

Series: Finishing School 3

Format: eGalley
Release Date: November 4, 2014
Publisher: Little Brown Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: YA Steampunk

Class is back in session…
Sophronia continues her second year at finishing school in style–with a steel-bladed fan secreted in the folds of her ball gown, of course. Such a fashionable choice of weapon comes in handy when Sophronia, her best friend Dimity, sweet sootie Soap, and the charming Lord Felix Mersey stowaway on a train to return their classmate Sidheag to her werewolf pack in Scotland. No one suspected what–or who–they would find aboard that suspiciously empty train. Sophronia uncovers a plot that threatens to throw all of London into chaos and she must decide where her loyalties lie, once and for all.

Gather your poison, steel tipped quill, and the rest of your school supplies and join Mademoiselle Geraldine’s proper young killing machines in the third rousing installment in the New York Times bestselling Finishing School Series by steampunk author, Gail Carriger.

And my favorite young Victorian lady assassin in training is back! Oh lord, Sophronia Timminick how I love seeing you grow into a very skilled intelligencer, Gin Blanco would be so proud! So WAISTCOATS & WEAPONRY is the latest installment of Gail Carriger’s YA Steampunk series, Finishing School, this time Sophronia and friends takes us out for a jolly good adventure involving werewolf politics, scheming vampires, and clever villains. They also hijacked a train, inducted a new werewolf, and managed to get a couple of them engaged. Whew! This Finishing School is shaping up to be quite the coming of age novel and with each volume that comes out, we get less of the silliness and more serious stuff. 
And that’s what I am loving about this series, the tone isn’t stagnant rather it grows with the characters. Similar to the Harry Potter books, we see the characters growing up, they take on each problem or conflict from a more mature standpoint and they slowly realize and acclimate to the demands of the real world. In WAISTCOATS & WEAPONRY, Sophronia’s silent contemplation reflects her growth as a character in all aspects of her life. She’s proving to be such a natural when it comes of spying from manipulating her target down to combat. 
Then there are social matters which is half of the story: connections, friendships, suitors, and candidates for a future husband. Sophronia was caught in this crush triangle between Lord Felix Mersey, a duke’s son, and, Soap, the “help”, opposites in every way and both appeal to Sophronia in varying degrees. I think this part has been resolved and what a jaw dropping resolution it was. Let me tell you, it wasn’t a simple “break-up” or anything of that sort, it was more dramatic in an action-packed kind of way, things didn’t go down that annoying love triangle path some authors like to take. 
I hope you get my gist, I love this series and I find WAISTCOATS & WEAPONRY an amazing addition to the series and a pivotal one at that. To reiterate Finishing School‘s strongest suit right now is it’s development in general, the characters are growing up as well as the tone and feel of the stories. When book 1 was released a couple of years ago, it felt more like MG/YA and it has slowly grown since then. The progression from all angles is natural as it should be and I can’t wait to see how the plot and players are going to rearrange themselves after this. 

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Steampunk Sundays: Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

Series: Finishing School 2

Format: ARC
Release Date: November 5, 2013 
Publisher: Little Brown Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: YA Steampunk

Sophronias first year at Mademoiselle Geraldines Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality has certainly been rousing. For one thing, finishing school is training her to be a spy. Now, as she sneaks around the dirigible school, eavesdropping on the teachers quarters and making clandestine climbs to the ships boiler room, she learns that there may be more to a school trip to London than is at first apparent. A conspiracy is afootone with dire implications for both supernaturals and humans. Sophronia must rely on her training to discover who is behind the dangerous plot and survive the London Season with a full dance card.

Visiting Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing School for Young Ladies of Quality always guarantees a crazy good time for me. Gail Carriger’s brand of Steampunk is just unique and her style is strictly her own and unparalleled IMO. The plot may be MG/YA but as it’s well written and felt very authentic, even with the Steampunk elements, in terms of the time period, language, costumes, and all, I can’t help but be swept away by Sophronia Temminick’s latest adventure. 
CURTSIES & CONSPIRACIES is another cool installment. I love the idea of a finishing school disguised as an espionage academy where catty girls are trained to use their feminine wiles to spy and even assassinate. Whew! High School’s got nothing on the girls Sophronia rolls with. Not only that but the actual school is a giant dirigible floating in Dartmoor with werewolves, automatons, and vampires for professors. It’s like a mash-up of Sky High and Hogwarts with corsets and petticoats galore!
This time around Sophronia cracks down a vampire conspiracy interspersed with friendship cool-offs and courtships. The adventure part is full of clever action while Sophronia’s personal life had me really invested and even giddy on some parts. The blush of first love and being courted by a handsome but arrogant blokes had my 16yo self in knots. GCarriger got flirting down to pat, the banter was sharp and witty while the sneaky seduction cute and affecting. 
I love CURTSIES & CONSPIRACIES and the series as a whole. The proper nouns are eccentric (who names their kid Sophronia with a last name like Temminnick?!) and dialogue alone is something else. I hope I can articulate it for you and stress why it’s one of this series’ greatest strength but I’m not that brilliant so just take my word for it. Let me just say that as Finishing School is a historical novel in essence, language is important and GCarriger aced that part perfectly. I found myself transported to the book’s time period, sitting more erect like I’m at a frickin’ tea party, and adapting a snotty British accent in my head as I read the novel. Suspended disbelief 100% in effect! 
So if you’re in the mood for something unique, whimsical, light, easy, and fantastical, I suggest you try Finishing School for a unique reading experience. 

WINNER: Timeless by Gail Carriger

Congratulations to
Sarah – @thebooklife
You’ve won a copy of Timeless (The Parasol Protectorate #5) by Gail Carriger 
and the steampunk necklace from Unexpected Expectancy
Check your email for instructions on how to claim your winnings!
Once again thanks so much to all who follow Talk Supe and for participating in the giveaway.

Timeless Giveaway

It’s giveaway time again Supies! This time around I will be giving away a copy of Timeless, the fifth novel in Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series due to hit a bookstore near you on March 2nd. I discovered this series late last year but only started it at the beginning of the new year. Gail Carriger had me hooked after the first three pages of Soulless. From the premise, steampunk elements, humor and delightful characters, this series has moved up to my favorite book series list. I mean really how can you not love a Victorian woman running around London fighting off Vampires and killer lady bugs with her parasol?

Synopsis for Timeless from IndieBound:
“Alexia Tarabotti, Lady Maccon, has settled into domestic bliss. Of course, being Alexia, such bliss involves integrating werewolves into London High society, living in a vampire’s second best closet, and coping with a precocious toddler who is prone to turning supernatural willy-nilly. Even Ivy Tunstell’s acting troupe’s latest play, disastrous to say the least, cannot put a damper on Alexia’s enjoyment of her new London lifestyle.

Until, that is, she receives a summons from Alexandria that cannot be ignored. With husband, child, and Tunstells in tow, Alexia boards a steamer to cross the Mediterranean. But Egypt may hold more mysteries than even the indomitable Lady Maccon can handle. What does the vampire Queen of the Alexandria Hive really want from her? Why is the God-Breaker Plague suddenly expanding? And how has Ivy Tunstell suddenly become the most popular actress in all the British Empire?”

But that’s not all folks!

The lucky winner will also get this lovely Steampunk necklace from Unexpected Expectancy. Each time you wear this necklace, you’ll be reminded of Alexia Tarabotti. I own a few pieces from Unexpected Expectancy (love them all!), so please check out her website as she offers a variety of rings and necklaces.

Product description: Brass. Pendant is 1 inch in diameter and features exposed watch gears. It is on a short brass chain measuring 16 inches long. Sits at the breastbone. Each watch is slightly different.

This is the actual necklace that the
winner will be receiving
Giveaway runs from February 16th – 23rd!


Contest is open INTERNATIONALLY 

International Entrants: Book to be shipped from Book Depository, 
please make sure they ship to your country for free.

Timeless hits bookshelves on March 1, 2012; so shipment will be delayed till the book is released. Book and necklace will be shipped separately.
Good luck to all and here’s how you can enter…..

(click READ MORE for the rafflecopter form)

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Heartless (The Parasol Protectorate #4)

Series: Parasol Protectorate #4
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: July 1, 2011
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Lady Alexia Maccon, soulless, is at it again, only this time the trouble is not her fault. When a mad ghost threatens the queen, Alexia is on the case, following a trail that leads her deep into her husband’s past. Top that off with a sister who has joined the suffragette movement (shocking!), Madame Lefoux’s latest mechanical invention, and a plague of zombie porcupines and Alexia barely has time to remember she happens to be eight months pregnant.

Will Alexia manage to determine who is trying to kill Queen Victoria before it is too late? Is it the vampires again or is there a traitor lurking about in wolf’s clothing? And what, exactly, has taken up residence in Lord Akeldama’s second best closet?

First and foremost I’d like to thank Gail Carriger for bringing the Maccon’s together again. Reunited and it feels so good! As I’ve said before, one of the highlights for me in this series is when Alexia and Conall are together. Their union just makes sense and I love seeing those two crazy cats together.

This has to be the best installment since the debut, Soulless, again due to the fact that Alexia and Conall are together. Alexia and Conall have a lot of page time together in Heartless and they did not disappoint. Conall was endearing as the husband who would fret over every thing his pregnant wife did then almost throw a hissy fit when Alexia would waddle off to fulfill her duties for the Shadow Council. 
Alexia is as lovable even with her expanding girth (words straight from her mouth). She doesn’t let being eight months pregnant hinder what she’s been tasked to do. Even if that means investigating a lead from a ghost that just pops up in the middle of her parlor room. In Blameless, Alexia didn’t act like how most women would when going through their first pregnancy. Let’s just say she wasn’t jumping up and down or displaying that pregnancy glow. In Heartless we do see a hint of the motherly love that Alexia is capable, especially when she speaks of werewolf pup, Biffy.

Now I usually love the side characters in this series but in Heartless I found myself not as enthused about one particular character, Lord Akeldama. Now I loved him from the moment he set foot in the series but in Heartless I found myself irritated with Alexia’s exuberant Vampire friend. Ridiculousness is always welcome in my corner but sometimes you just get to the point where it’s too much and I think Lord Akeldama reached it in this novel. And without giving away any spoilers, I really wasn’t all too pleased about the arrangement Alexia, Conall and Lord Akeldama had made. And I’m not talking about them being neighbors. 

Gail Carriger’s novels are always such a delightful read. The Parasol Protectorate novels are highly entertaining, smart, and witty. The steampunk elements are well balanced and Carriger doesn’t make you feel like you drown in with all the gadgets, gizmos and inventions. Alexia is pretty consistent character wise and she’s one of my favorite heroines. If I were to put together a super group of book heroines, she’d be one of the lucky ladies I’d pick just for the sheer fact that she’d be utterly entertaining and keep all those tough chicks in line. 
Now we only have a few more days till the 5th and final installment in the series is released, Timeless. Although I’m sad to see it end I’m sure that Carriger will not disappoint and we’ll have a two new series to look forward to, The Finishing School and The Parasol Protectorate Abroad  series.

Coming Soon: Timeless Giveaway

Make sure to check back with us on 
Thursday, February 16th for more info!

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REVIEW: Blameless by Gail Carriger

Series: Parasol Protectorate #3
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: September 1, 2010
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Quitting her husband’s house and moving back in with her horrible family, Lady Maccon becomes the scandal of the London season.

Queen Victoria dismisses her from the Shadow Council, and the only person who can explain anything, Lord Akeldama, unexpectedly leaves town. To top it all off, Alexia is attacked by homicidal mechanical ladybugs, indicating, as only ladybugs can, the fact that all of London’s vampires are now very much interested in seeing Alexia quite thoroughly dead.

While Lord Maccon elects to get progressively more inebriated and Professor Lyall desperately tries to hold the Woolsey werewolf pack together, Alexia flees England for Italy in search of the mysterious Templars. Only they know enough about the preternatural to explain her increasingly inconvenient condition, but they may be worse than the vampires — and they’re armed with pesto.

Gail Carriger continues to bring the funny in her third installment of the Parasol Protectorate series. Up to this point of the series, Carriger is still able to come up with exciting plot lines, crafty steampunk elements, interesting secondary characters and keeps the mystery going till the very end.

At the end of Changeless, Alexia finds out that she is pregnant and Lord Maccon is most certain that he could not be the father of the child since supernaturals were not able to procreate.  After berating her with the most horrible of names and charging her with canoodling with another man, Alexia hurriedly quits her husbands household. In Blameless, we pick up a few weeks after Alexia left Scotland and has settled back in to her parents house. Finding it completely insufferable living in her parents home, Alexia accepts Lord Akeldama’s invitation for her to live with him. But upon arrival she discovers that Lord Akeldama and his company of drones has disappeared.

Annoyed by all the scuttlebutt about her ‘infidelity’ and lady bugs trying to exterminate her, Alexia decides to journey through Europe to find answers about her ‘infant inconvenience’ . This wouldn’t be an Alexia Tarabotti novel without a few failed attempts in taking Alexia’s life. But with her inventor friend, Madame Lefoux and trusty butler, Floote, by her side; Alexia is more than able to run away from her assassins. That is until she runs right into the Templars, who turn out to be the most disagreeable hosts.

Meanwhile, Alexia’s husband, Lord Maccon, has turned into quite a boozer. Forgetting about all his Wolf Pack leader responsibilities, Lord Maccon has busied himself with visiting the local pubs and hitting some of Proffesor Lyall’s precious collection of sheep parts. Although I was disappointed at the way he handled the news of his wife’s pregnancy, I couldn’t help but even love the guy more even though he was a sloppy drunk. I mean walking around naked in the streets of London and singing at the top of his lungs in the bath tub was rib-tickling.

Only gripe I had with this novel was the lack of interaction between Alexia and Conall. Again. Like I’ve mentioned before, one of the highlights of this series is the interactions between Alexia and Conall. When they are together, they just light up the pages. But to make up for the lack of the Maccon’s together, other series characters stepped up and surprised me. Most notably, Professor Lyall and Floote. Professor Lyall proved in more than one occasion how he is more than able to handle pack business while keeping a cool head on his shoulders. And as for Floote, who knew the butler could be so kickass!
Once again, Gail Carriger did not disappoint. Just looking forward to the next novel where Alexia will be well into her pregnancy. I’ve read a few excerpts from Heartless and was ROFL’ing when Carriger describes Alexia as ‘waddling’ around eight months pregnant. Could you imagine all the hysterics with a ballooned Alexia waddling around with her werewolf husband following her? I can’t wait!

REVIEW: Changeless by Gail Carriger

Series: Parasol Protectorate #2
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: April 1, 2011
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Alexia Tarabotti, the Lady Woolsey, awakens in the wee hours of the mid-afternoon to find her husband, who should be decently asleep like any normal werewolf, yelling at the top of his lungs. Then he disappears – leaving her to deal with a regiment of supernatural soldiers encamped on her doorstep, a plethora of exorcised ghosts, and an angry Queen Victoria.

But Alexia is armed with her trusty parasol, the latest fashions, and an arsenal of biting civility. Even when her investigations take her to Scotland, the backwater of ugly waistcoats, she is prepared: upending werewolf pack dynamics as only the soulless can.

She might even find time to track down her wayward husband, if she feels like it.

My current favorite heroine, Alexia Maccon formerly Alexia Tarabotti, is back and living in wedded bliss as Lord Conall Maccon’s new bride. With her spinster days behind her, things are looking up for Alexia with her delicious werewolf husband by her side, a new job as Muhjah and appointed member of the Shadow Council (Queen Victoria’s council on all things supernatural) and becoming the female Alpha for Lord Maccon’s Woolsey pack.

But being who she is, Alexia’s new married life doesn’t necessarily mean living a settled life. After a few months after her wedding, Alexia once again is mixed up in mysterious happenings and has run-ins with a few colorful characters.

First, she wakes up to her werewolf husband yelling at the top of his lungs early in the morning (night) to a ghost. Then her said husband runs off to Scotland and Alexia is left to deal with a regiment of wolves who’ve made camp on the front lawn of her new home. On top of that, London supernatural residents have been experiencing a mysterious bout of “humanization” which causes them to start pointing their fingers at the only “curse breaker” in the vicinity. As inquisitive and intelligent as she is, Alexia sets off to figure out what’s been causing vampires and werewolves to lose their supernatural force and ghosts to be exorcised.

In the course of her inquiries, Alexia meets Madame Lefoux. The two women immediately befriend each other as Alexia is won over by Madame Lefoux’s intellectual level and her very bold choice of fashion. Meaning she’s your men attire wearing French hat maker who also happens to be a brilliant scientist and inventor. Lord Maccon even in trusted Madame Lefoux to design Alexia’s brand spanking new parasol with hidden pockets and protective gadgets.

I only had one major complaint with this book and that was the moderate amount of time Alexia and Conall spent together. One of the major factors that made me fall in love with this series was Alexia and Conall’s relationship. When she’s with Conall it’s like I’m watching a fantastic tennis match with the battle of witty, snappy and sarcastic remarks. The couple is highly entertaining to read and their chemistry is so cute, funny and totally romantic. I just also happened to miss Lord Maccon’s big, loud and gruff presence.   
Once again I found myself laughing, giggling and totally engrossed in Carriger’s peculiar fantasy world, up until the very end, at which I was brought back down a couple notches and left utterly shocked and speechless. Gail Carriger ends Changeless with such a great cliffhanger that made me so glad I’d decided to purchase the rest of the series the night before because there was no way I would stand a whole night before starting the third book of the series, Blameless.

Addendum: I just have to say that I was both sad and mad at the end of this book. Lord Maccon really disappointed me. I tried to take it from his point of view but what he does was really plain mean. I literally wanted to growl at him. If only I could reach into this fantasy world and grab him by his werewolf neck and shake some sense into him. Grrr!!!

REVIEW: Soulless by Gail Carriger

Series: Parasol Protectorate #1
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: October 1, 2009
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette. 
Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire — and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.
With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

I’ve been wanting to read the Parasol Protectorate series since about September 2011. This being my first steampunk series, I was both nervous and excited. The genre and premise were promising and I hoped that I would enjoy the book.

So what’s my verdict? Loved it! 

Soulless is an enjoyable mix of urban fantasy, romance, humor, mystery and a good helping of steampunk. The novel was a welcomed breath of fresh air from my normal reading habits. Ok, so it’s not that much off my regular urban fantasy/romance novels but with the addition of steampunk Victorian age, it almost felt like I was reading an almost different genre. I have to be honest and confess that it did take me a few moments to get adjusted to the proper English. It’s easy to tell that Carriger was heavily by the works of Jane Austen and writers from that era but I also found the heroine to posses characteristics similar to Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones. Once I was acclimated to the proper speech, I was more than ready for all the tea parties, balls and tomfoolery this novel had to offer.

I found this book to be cute, clever, and funny. Alexia Tarabotti is like the female Sherlock Holmes and I just couldn’t help but love her curious and sarcastic personality. She’s surrounded by entertaining secondary characters such as her over-the-top, fashion forward vampire friend Lord Akeldama (who I envisioned to look and act like Austen Scarlett from Project Runway); and her naive and vapid human best friend, Miss Ivy Hisselpenny, who has terrible taste is hats. The on-going bit of Alexia complaining about her friends terrible taste is headwear was hilarious.

Next we’ve got Alexia’s family. I have a love/hate relationship with the group family which includes her nosy, disparaging and overly social conscious mother, step-father and step-sisters. Although the interactions with her family was comical; I did grow tired of their constant diminishing remarks. I mean really, the continual berating about her olive complexion, roman nose and lack of a husband kinda got old. But I guess that’s what families are for right? Can’t live with them but you can’t live without them.
Last but not least we have Alexia’s love interest, the delicious Lord Conall Maccon, the Earl of Woolsey and Alpha leader of the local wolf pack. He’s also the lead investigator for all the supernatural activities in London.  In the beginning of the novel, he’s actually quite perturbed by Miss Tarabotti and views her as a busybody. They squabble incessantly and one would initially think they hated each other but as we all know it’s just a mask to cover up their hunger for each other. I thoroughly enjoyed the dynamics between Alexia and Lord Maccon and those two just get way too cute when they start to warm up to each other. Maybe it’s the masochistic side of me but I personally like men who are a little gruff and enjoy the company of someone who I can have acerbic conversations/arguments with. Lord Maccon would fall into the category of men that I would most certainly be attracted to.

Soulless was a fantastic book to start off my 2012 reading list and I’m positively excited to continue with the second book of the series, Changeless. So if you’re looking for a cute and funny paranormal romance with a dash of mystery and Victorian Era London then I would absolutely suggest you add Soulless to your reading list. Hey, maybe you can even enjoy it while drinking a hot cup of tea and devouring a plate of and scones mini sandwiches.