Manners & Mutiny (Finish School #4) -Gail Carriger

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Summary:

If one must flirt…flirt with danger.

Lessons in the art of espionage aboard Mademoiselle Geraldine’s floating dirigible have become tedious without Sophronia’s sweet sootie Soap nearby. She would much rather be using her skills to thwart the dastardly Picklemen, yet her concerns about their wicked intentions are ignored, and now she’s not sure whom to trust. What does the brusque werewolf dewan know? On whose side is the ever-stylish vampire Lord Akeldama? Only one thing is certain: a large-scale plot is under way, and when it comes to fruition, Sophronia must be ready to save her friends, her school, and all of London from disaster—in decidedly dramatic fashion, of course.

What will become of our proper young heroine when she puts her years of training to the test? Find out in this highly anticipated and thrilling conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Finishing School series!

Review:

Finishing this series is bittersweet. Without a question, I enjoyed one last romp with Sophronia. Without a question, I was ready for this to be the last romp and I’m not necessarily sad to see the series end.

Sophronia went full on Bond in this book and while fun, it cause me to side-eye the book a book: I enjoyed the social scenes much more, but I suppose it makes sense that this book was so action heavy: it was the last one and the dastardly plan of the Pickleman had to come to fruition.  Thankfully, the action wasn’t the sole focus. There were nice scenes between our heroine and Soap and I admire Carriger sticking to her guns about keeping them together, even while admitting that it was going to be an uphill battle.

Finally, all of Carriger’s stylistic hallmarks are here. I didn’t find them as annoying as I did in Prudence, which I attribute to having a greater emotional investment in the characters. That said, it doesn’t really make me want to give it another shot because there is an inherent level of absurdity in some of the narration and it’s just beyond what I’m willing to accept.

Ultimately, I’m still done with Carriger, but I am glad that I read – and finished – this series because I had fun, and if someone was going to give her a go for the first time, this would be where I’d suggest starting.

Verdict: Buy It – a fun end to a fun series.

Available Now.

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Stacking the Shelves #13

Now that I’ve done my Best Of list, it seems to make sense to do a final Stacking the Shelves for the year. I have to say, there seems to be something about the month of December where I get book crazy. It’s been a little less than a month since my last post, and yet I’ve managed to acquire some twenty books in that time frame! And that doesn’t count one that will arrive in January and that I think I still have 3-4 ARCs out for request on NetGalley and Edelweiss that I’m hoping to get my hands on. Yikes. Maybe I should be sliiiightly more choosy for a while? My TBR pile would thank me 🙂

For the last time in 2015, let’s do this.

ARC

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My first unsolicited ARC. I feel all grown up :* It’s pure sci-fi, which I’m looking forward to. I played in the YA end of the pool in 2015, so looking to dip my toes more in the adult end in 2016.

DRC

There’s definitely a broad assortment of books in this group. In the YA camp we have The Prophecy of Shadows (Greek mythology-inspired), Daughter of Blood (epic fantasy), Seven Black Diamonds (faery) Burning Glass (romance/fantasy), Beyond the Red (sci-fi) and Flawed (dystopian).  On the adult side we have Submissive Seductions (erotica) A Girl’s Guide to Landing a Greek God (Greek mythology based) and Masks and Shadows (historical).  It’s a fun mix. The books here are posted in order of publication date; though it’ll take me a while to get to Daughter of Blood. It’s the the third in a trilogy and I managed to pick up the first two for $1.99 each on Kindle and will be reviewing those first. The others are all stand-alones/first in series, so there is that :*

physical books traded for by me

I picked these up in a blog sale. These are all young adult except for The Forbidden Library which is more middle grade, but Django Wexler was an enticing thought. Becoming Jinn got a lot of love when it came out and others sounded like fun (angels! steampunk!). Given the size of my TBR pile though, these are definitely going to be lower on the totem pole for when I’m looking for something different to mix it up.

eBooks bought by me

Another hodgepodge of adult and young adult. The Strange Maid is the sequel to the just-reviewed The Lost Sun. Hidden is the next Alex Verus novel. The Heir of Night/The Gathering of the Lost are the first two in the Wall of Night books. These Broken Stars is a sci-fi/romance The Rook is a fantastical thriller and Tooth and Claw is a novel of manners…with dragons.

Twenty-one books. Twenty-one. I think I need to slow down just a wee bit. LOL. So. Have you gone as crazy as I have? What have you added to your shelves?

Stacking the Shelves #7

Hey everyone! I don’t normally do these so close together, but I missed some on the last post and had some book mail and there was enough for another round, so here we are. By the by, if you’re a fan of historical romance, go check out my review of Mistress of Pleasure over on Good Reads. Anyway without further ado…

eARC from the publisher

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AU where Paris has been destroyed, there’s magic, there are families fighting for power. All right up my alley.

Physical Books

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Reawakened – I got this through #booksfortrade, and I admit I kind of got it for unintentional laughs. Although I enjoyed Tiger’s Curse it’s premise was absolutely absurd and the author has taken heat for her handling of people of couple and not undeservedly so – the first few chapters of that book had an Italian stereotype that would make Mario wince. All that said I did have fun reading it and am hoping to get some fun out of this one too.

Clockwork Crown – The publisher sent me a copy of this in the mail. I enjoyed the first enough to read the short-shorty prequeal. I wasn’t going to go out of my way to read it, but since I do have it, I’ll totally give it a go.

Summoning the Night – The other book I’m getting through #booksfortrade. I rather enjoyed the first book in this series, so am hoping the second stays as good.

eBooks

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I’ve hit up the under-$5 ebook sales and picked myself up some more urban fantasy. Hopefully they work out!

Anything new on your shelves?

Supervillains Anonymous (Superheroes Anonymous #2) – Lexi Dunn

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Summary:

New superhero Gail Godwin, the one and only Hostage Girl, is in big trouble: her nemesis Chelsea is loose, someone close to her is dead, and everybody thinks Gail did it. To make matters worse, Davenport Industries has thrown her into a prison that just happens to be full of the very same supervillains who used to kidnap her on an almost daily basis.

Outside, things aren’t going all that great either. There’s a conspiracy that runs all the way to the bedrock of the superhero community, and it’s affecting everybody Gail loves. With her friends in the crosshairs, it’s up to her to escape and get to the bottom of things. Subterfuge, crime-fighting, and running away from everybody you know should be a cinch, right?

Wrong. Gail faces off against hero and villain alike just to stay alive, and you know what they say about supervillains. If you can’t beat them…join them.

Review:

Supervillains Anonymous is an improvement on Superheroes Anonymous in almost every way: the pacing is better, there is good action, and some of the best updates on the genre can be found here. If this were a sequel, I’d be singing its praises like whoa because sequels rarely improve on the first book. But this isn’t a sequel.

It’s a continuation.

If these two books were a roller coaster, Superheroes Anonymous did all the heavy lifting, tugging the car up to the top of the hill. Supervillains Anonymous gets to take advantage of gravity and zip right along. Of course it is going to be better than the first book: the first book did the hard part.

I suspected at the end of the first book that this had been one book cut into twain. You can’t convince me otherwise now. Don’t be fooled by the summary. She doesn’t join the supervillains. She never even considers it. As close as she gets is hiring one for help, and she’s not even that much a villain. It’s a heck of a lot of fun, but if you were actually expecting her to even consider going rogue, you’ll be disappointed.

I’m frustrated.

If these books had been pushed as one complete title, I’d recommend it without any question because together they are a full satisfying story. As it stands, it’s harder to. The first book suffers for having been split as it does and the second book is fun but doesn’t live up to the premise of its summary. I’ll also never like the thought of anyone paying twice for a single product.

Overall, I do think the books are worth a read, but read them back-to-back and maybe try to pick one of them on sale. It’s a good book, singular, and should be priced as such.

Verdict: Buy It

Available: June 30

Prudence (The Custard Protocol #1) – Gail Carriger

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Summary:

When Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama (Rue to her friends) is given an unexpected dirigible, she does what any sensible female would under similar circumstances – names it the Spotted Crumpet and floats to India in pursuit of the perfect cup of tea.

But India has more than just tea on offer. Rue stumbles upon a plot involving local dissidents, a kidnapped brigadier’s wife, and some awfully familiar Scottish werewolves. Faced with a dire crisis and an embarrassing lack of bloomers, what else is a young lady of good breeding to do but turn metanatural and find out everyone’s secrets, even thousand-year-old fuzzy ones?

Review:

So this came in the other day and once I finished The Philosopher Kings I thought that it would make for a light break before picking Knight’s Shadow back up again as generally speaking, Carriger’s books make for a light read.

Before I go any further, I want to make one thing clear: this may be a new series, but it isn’t really newbie friendly. At this point, Carriger’s world has become fully interconnected. This book references events from the Parasol Protectorate and characters from both that series and her young adult Etiquette and Espionage series. They are all one big series and while you certainly can pick this up as a newbie, you will be confused. As before, Carriger doesn’t take the time to truly explain the world that the books are set in. They feel more reminders for old readers than help for new. Case and point: it reminds you that Lord Akeldama is a Rove vampire and that Rue’s friend Prim’s mother is a Hive-bound queen. But it doesn’t explain the difference between the two or why the Queen can’t leave the building. It’s not vital, but you will feel perpetually lost. Really, if you’re planning on reading this, at least read Soulless so you can at least understand the world.

That said.

The story of Prudence is a perfectly pleasant romp of vampires, shifters and the importance of team. Prudence herself is much like Alexia and Sophronia – high spirits, intelligent and one of a mind to break Society rules when there is a need. If you’ve liked her other heroines, you’ll like her.

The problem I’m having is the style.

Carriger has one of the most unique voices that I can think of in fantasy at any age. And because it’s so unique – rather droll and so focused on manners at the height of the absurd situations, I’m finding it starting to wear thin. It’s like a joke that is super hilarious the first time you hear it, and then you hear it again and again and again and it gets a little less amusing, a little less fresh each time you hear it until you’re just like “oh.” You can only read so many absurd statements or see characters worried about being improperly dressed when their life appears to be on the line so many times before the novelty wears off.  And I think I’ve just about reached my saturation point. Finishing School is wrapping up with its last book in November. I’m invested enough in that series to see it through the end, but will I pick up Imprudence?

Eh. Maybe?

I don’t want to be too hard on this book, because from a quality standpoint, it’s more or less on the same level as her other books. It’s just what worked before for me is now not working for me and it seems a bit unfair to blame the book for that.

Although I feel like I’m starting to be a bit of a broken record, my recommendations from previous Carriger reviews stand: fans who love her books will love this. Fans already over her won’t change their minds and newbies are still best off starting with Soulless and deciding what to read from there.

Verdict: A weak Borrow It. The novelty has worn thin, but it’s still a solid book.

Available: Now

Stacking the Shelves #5

Man, in the last few days of vacation, I started getting on a roll. I was so pleased with myself that I managed to schedule like two weeks worth of posts. So what did I do? Proceed to completely squander that build up. I hit a wall hard. I was going to start The Choosing only the very first page of the eARC revealed the book’s primary genre was Christian fiction, something I just do not read for personal reasons (and I would have never requested had it been so listed on Edelweiss). So then I started Uprooted by Naomi Novik. While I amused by the fact that the Dragon was a man this time around, something about it just wasn’t grabbing me and I set that aside. So then I decided to give Snow Like Ashes – a very well liked Young Adult title a look and sigh. The premise is very much suspension of disbelief to start, falls apart completely if you think about it at all, and when I skipped to the last page of the book discovered that yep, it’s main plot twist was a huge YA trope that I am utterly sick and tired of. I may well go back it at some point because I did get approved for Ice Like Fire (I requested it before starting Snow Like Ashes). I am working on two books right now that I think I’ll actually finish, but it’s probably going to take a few more days so why not a new round of Stacking the Shelves?

I have to say, I’m rather excited for the next month or two ahead!

 

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eARCs with a 6/2 Publishing Date

Knight’s Shadow – Sequel to The Traitor’s Blade, a book that just barely didn’t make the cut of my Top 10 books of 2014. One of two books I’m reading right now, this promises more of what I liked about the first book: good characters, good action and good intrigue.

The Witch Hunter – Paranormal Young Adult. As far as Young Adult fantasy goes, I feel like the genre isn’t nearly as diverse in terms of kinds of stories told as it is on the adult side of the fence, so I’m always up for a look at something a little out of the norm.

The Singular & Extraordinary Tale of Mirror & Goliath – Steampunk paranormal fantasy mixes are a bit on the unusual side, a lot of people consider steampunk to be a form of science fiction, and generally speaking the technology does fill in for the magic of a world. It’s a mix that catches my eye and both the title and the cover are eye catching.

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Additional eARCs

Ink and Bone (7/7) – This book had me at “The Great Library” to be honest. I love books where books play a key role – Libriomancer, Sabriel and so forth. I burned up almost all of my remaining points at Penguin’s First to Read program to grab this one. Also a YA fantasy that isn’t necessary a romance? Winning.

The Philosopher Kings (6/30) – I picked this up thinking it was an excerpt, but when I discovered it was instead the full copy and that has totally made my day. A trippy mix of science fiction and mythology, this is a sequel that at some point I’m going to make a point of picking up the first book and I have to say that even less than 20% in, I suspect this may make my Top 10 list of this year. This is the other book I’m currently reading.

I am the Traitor (6/9) – Young Adult thriller with a male lead. Totally not my normal thing, totally a series that I’ve loved. Looking forward to reading it!

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Last eARC (for now)

Ice Like Fire (10/13) – Like I said, I only got about a hundred pages in to the first book. It’s not that the first book was bad, it’s just fits so squarely into the kind of YA fantasy that I’m not terribly fond of. I am optimistic that this would be the better of the two, because at least we get the more tropey aspects out of the way.

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ARCs won in a blogger giveaway. All books are out now 🙂

The Orphan Queen – YA fantasy that doesn’t pretend to not be a romance. I’m hit and miss on Jodi, so I’m curious to see how I’ll feel about it.

Shadow Scale – I had issues with Seraphina, namely the way that the character seemed to engage in self-loathing that seemed way too neatly resolved within paragraphs at the end of the first book. The original premise was unique however, and I’m looking forward to giving it another chance.

Prudence – Carriger’s new adult series. Carriger is one of those authors that you hate or you love. I will say I’m a touch more fond of her Etiquette and Espionage series that’s YA right now, but I still think it’s going to be a fun read, even if only for more Lord Akeldama!

Phew! Lotta stuff to look forward to. What about you? 🙂

The Brass Giant (Chroniker City #1) – Brooke Johnson

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Summary:

Seventeen-year-old Petra Wade, self-taught clockwork engineer, wants nothing more than to become a certified member of the Guild, an impossible dream for a lowly shop girl. Still, she refuses to give up, tinkering with any machine she can get her hands on, in between working and babysitting her foster siblings.

When Emmerich Goss—handsome, privileged, and newly recruited into the Guild—needs help designing a new clockwork system for a top-secret automaton, it seems Petra has finally found the opportunity she’s been waiting for. But if her involvement on the project is discovered, Emmerich will be marked for treason, and a far more dire fate would await Petra.

Working together in secret, they build the clockwork giant, but as the deadline for its completion nears, Petra discovers a sinister conspiracy from within the Guild council … and their automaton is just the beginning.

Review:

The Brass Giant, first published in 2011 under the title The Clockwork Giant, is a short and sweet novel about a girl named Petra who wants to be an engineer, a desire thwarted by the fact that she was born female. Trying to sneak into university, she catches the eye of Emmerich Goss who realizes her inborn talent and comes to her for help with his secret project. There’s a lot to like in this book: unlike other books where the protagonist happens to deus-ex-machina her way into a learning institution she otherwise couldn’t get into, she can’t. At the end of the book, when she does get her wish fulfilled, it’s decidedly a bittersweet victory and the circumstances surrounding are hardly what would you call ideal. The budding romance builds up at a pace that makes sense and I enjoy the fact that it’s a match of minds as much of anything else. I could have done with the jealous non-boyfriend, and I wish there was more to the Luddites hatred of the Guild. While we can personally see why the Guild is bad, there’s nothing in what we see in the day-to-day life that would indicate the kind of corruption they suggest. While more rounded it out than most novels of this length (sub-200 pages) this is one area in which it was lacking.

Reviewing the author’s Goodreads page, there is a novella due to be republished in June and a third book (length unknown) due in September. I do hope the third book is of a longer length so this world can truly be fleshed out. This was a good read, and I’d like to see what the author could do given the space to do so.

Verdict: Buy It

Available: May 5