Manners & Mutiny by Gail Carriger

Manners and MutinyManners & MutinyManners & Mutiny (Finishing School #4) by Gail Carriger by Gail Carriger

My least favorite of what had been a delightfully entertaining series. Some of that is surely just because my hopes were so high, both because I have so enjoyed the previous books in the series, and because I’d just finished Winter (and LOVED IT), so I was all excited: YES! Series endings can be amazing!

And this one … wasn’t.

It wasn’t terrible by any means, and if you’ve read the earlier books I can’t imagine that you won’t want to read this as well. And perhaps if you’ve got tempered expectations you’ll be pleased enough with this.

As it was it was somewhat disappointing. I do still adore the beginning of the series, and I did like finding out certain things about some characters (being intentionally vague here), but the wrap-up at the end seemed to leave some others out. Perhaps they make appearances in the other series she wrote?

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Publisher’s Description:
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!

Book Details

Title: Manners & MutinyManners & Mutiny (Finishing School #4) by Gail Carriger
Author: Gail Carriger
Category: Fiction / Fanstasy (Steampunk)
My Rating: 3 Stars

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Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Two years ago: Biggest Disappointments of 2013
Three years ago: Book Review: Cheaper By the Dozen

Soulless

PrintSoulless (The Parasol Protectorate)Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate) by Gail Carriger by Gail Carriger

If you’ve read my reviews for the Finishing School series, author Gail Carriger‘s name may be familiar. This series was written first, but it takes place twenty years or so after the first. There are some connections between the two, but one book in I’d say it’s not essential that you read the other one first.

If I’d never read the other series, I’d likely be much more enthusiastic about this one. As it is though, I preferred that one as it’s aimed at young adults and is much lighter on the romance aspects. This one has more specifics than I sometimes appreciated (it’s not graphic, although there would have been too much for my grandmother. As if she’d have read a book with vampires, werewolves, and all the other fantasy elements of this one to let the romance aspect be the only issue.)

My preference is definitely to be skimpy on the romance details however – let’s keep the plot moving forward, and skip the lovely dovey stuff/other action. Your mileage may vary. 😉

I enjoy the imaginative world Carriger has created, and despite my quibbles, will be reading more in the series. I’d recommend it to any fantasy fans who think it sounds intriguing – it’s a quick and easy read, and won’t require much of a reading investment to find out if it’s a style you enjoy.

But start with Etiquette and Espionage. It’s so much fun, and it does come first chronologically. 🙂

[Read more…]

Waistcoats and Weaponry

Waistcoats and Weaponry (Finishing School #3) by Gail CarrigerWaistcoats & WeaponryWaistcoats & Weaponry (Finishing School #3) by Gail Carriger by Gail Carriger

Book three was maybe just a tiny bit of a disappointment to me, but saying why veers into spoilers, so I’ll just leave it at some concerns with the direction the plot is heading. And yet I’m still very excited by the series overall, and so perhaps I should leave it at a “reserving judgment” status until the final book releases this fall.

If the cover catches your attention, or you’re curious about a finishing school that doubles as espionage training in an alternative version of England, start with book number one – Curtsies & Conspiracies. It’s utterly ridiculous in a way that had me completely entertained. There are werewolves, vampires, a school in a floating dirigible. There’s a shady group known as “Picklemen.” The servants are mostly mechanized. There’s even a mechanical dog who is frequently disguised as a reticule.

The final book, Manners & MutinyManners & Mutiny (Finishing School #4) by Gail Carriger, is scheduled to publish this November and I am hoping there are no snags or delays with publication. I need to know how everything resolves!

Publisher’s Description:
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 hijack a suspiciously empty train to return their chum Sidheag to her werewolf pack in Scotland. But when Sophronia discovers they are being trailed by a dirigible of Picklemen and flywaymen, she unearths a plot that threatens to throw all of London into chaos. With her friends in mortal danger, Sophronia must sacrifice what she holds most dear–her freedom..

Book Details

Title: Waistcoats & WeaponryWaistcoats & Weaponry (Finishing School) by Gail Carriger
Author: Gail Carriger
Series: Finishing School, #3
Category: Fiction / Fantasy
My Rating: 3.5 Stars

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Curtsies & Conspiricies

Curtsies and ConspiraciesCurtsies & ConspiraciesCurtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School Book 2) by Gail Carriger by Gail Carriger

I feel like I’ve done nothing but gush about this series since discovering it, but it’s just been a lot of fun to read. If you’re not a fantasy fan, I don’t know that this will convert you, however if you are or are perhaps looking to try something new, this series is entertaining and easy to read.

This is obviously a sequel, and you’ll probably enjoy it more if you’ve read the first, Etiquette & Espionage, although it’s not completely essential. Sophronia is appealing, and I loved following along with her escapades. I also liked trying to predict what Carriger was going to come up with next – it can be a bit outlandish at times, but it feels appropriate to the overall story.

If steampunk, a school of espionage disguised as a Victorian finishing school housed in a floating dirigible, and supernatural creatures (werewolves and vampires specifically) don’t sound like they could combine into anything remotely appealing, well, I was surprised too. But they do, and I’m hooked on the series.

As I said in my review of Etiquette & Espionage, these books remind me a bit of the Lunar Chronicles series (Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress so far). No re-imagined fairy tales for this one, but a similar feel. One other big difference is that this series keeps the same main character focus for each book, instead of shifting perspectives. That’s not meant as a criticism of either series, just a comment.

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Publisher’s Description:
Does one need four fully grown foxgloves for decorating a dinner table for six guests? Or is it six foxgloves to kill four fully grown guests?

Sophronia’s first year at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality has certainly been rousing! For one thing, finishing school is training her to be a spy (won’t Mumsy be surprised?). Furthermore, Sophronia got mixed up in an intrigue over a stolen device and had a cheese pie thrown at her in a most horrid display of poor manners.

Now, as she sneaks around the dirigible school, eavesdropping on the teachers’ quarters and making clandestine climbs to the ship’s boiler room, she learns that there may be more to a field trip to London than is apparent at first. A conspiracy is afoot–one 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.

In this bestselling sequel to New York Times bestselling Etiquette & Espionage, class is back in session with more petticoats and poison, tea trays and treason. Gail’s distinctive voice, signature humor, and lush steampunk setting are sure to be the height of fashion this season.

Book Details

Title: Curtsies & ConspiraciesCurtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School Book 2) by Gail Carriger
Author: Gail Carriger
Category: Fiction / Fantasy
My Rating: 4 Stars

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Favorite Books of 2014

Favorite Books of 2014I had a really difficult time picking my favorite books this year, so I eventually settled on picking the books I most highly recommend to others, or the ones wish I could still experience for the first time. And because picking was so difficult, I added some runner-ups.

(Links go to my reviews if I’ve written one, Amazon if I haven’t yet)

Velma Still Cooks in LeewayVelma Still Cooks in Leeway by Vinita Hampton Wright

If I had to pick one single favorite book of the year, it would probably be this one. I think I need to reread this one next year, just so I can more fully appreciate the way she wove this story together.

A Tree Grows in BrooklynA Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

I was convinced this book would be boring. I was wrong.

Crossing to SafetyCrossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

Surprised myself by liking this one as much as I did, and describing it does not do it justice. Wonderful characters who stay with you long after you’ve finished reading the book.

Burnt Toast Makes You Sing GoodBurnt Toast Makes You Sing Good: A Memoir of Food and Love from an American Midwest Family by Kathleen Flinn

I’ve loved Flinn’s other books, and loved how this one brought to life her family’s stories, and led into the events in her first book. Did I like it more because I now live in the Midwest? Possibly, but I don’t think that was the only appeal.

Mastering the Art of French EatingMastering the Art of French Eating: Lessons in Food and Love from a Year in Paris by Ann Mah

Armchair traveling at its best. Mah allowed me to come along with her as she spent a year in Paris and traveled throughout France experiencing it’s most iconic food. Prepare to be hungry as you read it.

Buried in the SkyBuried in the Sky: The Extraordinary Story of the Sherpa Climbers on K2′s Deadliest Day by Peter Zuckerman and Amanda Padoan

The focus on the Sherpas is what makes this book so wonderfully fascinating. If you’ve liked other Everest accounts, don’t miss this one, with its unique perspective on the events of that deadly climbing season.

The Queen of AttoliaThe Queen of Attolia and The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner, from The Queen’s Thief series

I’ve been holding off on reading book #4, because then I won’t have another one to look forward to for the forseeable future. And that’s a very sad thing.

CressCress by Marissa Meyer, from the Lunar Chronicles series

Can’t wait to read the final two in this series!

Etiquette and EspionageEtiquette &Espionage, Curtsies & ConspiraciesCurtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School Book 2) by Gail Carriger, and Waistcoats & WeaponryWaistcoats & Weaponry (Finishing School #3) by Gail Carriger by Gail Carriger, from the Finishing School series

Super fun series, although book #3 took a more serious turn that I wasn’t completely expecting. The final book come out next year.

The Runner-Ups

Parnassus on WheelsParnassus On WheelsParnassus On Wheels by Christopher Morley by Christopher Morley

Another one where the descriptions don’t convey how enjoyable the book is. Sweet and gentle and very easy to read. I only just read it last week, which is why I hesitate to say that it would have the staying power to be a favorite for the year. I may regret not including it.

The Mislaid MagicianThe Mislaid Magician by Patricia C. Wrede & Caroline Stevermer, from the Cecelia and Kate series

Epistolary + fantasy + historical fiction = my kind of fun.

Women Heroes of World War IWomen Heroes of World War I: 16 Remarkable Resisters, Soldiers, Spies, and Medics and Women Heroes of WWII: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue both by Kathryn Atwood

If you like one you’ll like the other, and if you’re at all interested in brief biographical accounts of fascinating individuals, you should give these a try.

Eiffel's TowerEiffel’s Tower: The Thrilling Story Behind Paris’s Beloved Monument and the Extraordinary World’s Fair That Introduced It by Jill Jonnes

I’m already second-guessing myself for not including it above, but I think it just misses out on being a “must recommend to everyone I know” type book. It really was a great book though.

The Professor and the MadmanThe Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester

Like the Eiffel’s Tower book, this is another fascinating look at a small slice of history. I loved it.

The Night Circus
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Another one I may need to reread, to see what clues the author drops throughout the text as to what will be happening later.

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Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

Etiquette and EspionageEtiquette & EspionageEtiquette & Espionage (Finishing School #1) by Gail Carriger by Gail Carriger

Did you like Cinder? Then try this one.

Ok, you want more? I wasn’t expecting that much from Etiquette & Espionage – it could be fun, it could be ridiculous. Turns out it was delightful, in that same “I wasn’t expecting this” mode as Cinder. The tone reminded me of Cinder as well. I liked it so much I immediately wanted to read the next in the series, and was somewhat dismayed to realized I’d done it to myself again – fallen for a series where the final books won’t be published for ages.

If you hate fantasy, this will probably annoy you. It’s a mish-mash of fantasy and steampunk, and if I hadn’t been in the right mood I’m sure it would have seemed ridiculously silly. Instead it was lots of fun.

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Publisher’s Description:
Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is the bane of her mother’s existence. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper etiquette at tea–and god forbid anyone see her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. She enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But little do Sophronia or her mother know that this is a school where ingenious young girls learn to finish, all right–but it’s a different kind of finishing. Mademoiselle Geraldine’s certainly trains young ladies in the finer arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but also in the other kinds of finishing: the fine arts of death, diversion, deceit, espionage, and the modern weaponries. Sophronia and her friends are going to have a rousing first year at school.

Book Details

Title: Etiquette & Espionage Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School #1) by Gail Carriger
Author: Gail Carriger
Category: Fiction / Fantasy
My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for free from NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions are my own.This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!