Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger

I’ve had such a slow start to the year, in part because it’s taken me forever to read this despite being super excited to get it. It’s #3 in the Finishing School series.  Somehow I found it a bit slow? Less compelling? Sometimes it’s hard to get invested in a story where so much is made up and strange. Specifically, the aetherosphere that the Picklemen and vampires seem to fighting and plotting over. I can’t get that caught up in it because it’s all strange and makes no sense. Nonetheless, I still enjoyed all the details of things like Sophronia’s skill with the bladed fan and how all the Intelligencer girls act.  This one barely took place at all up in the air, as most of the story was land bound. Also, specifically, moving train bound! Everyone loves a story on a moving train.  The romantic triangle between Felix, Soap, and Sophronia continues (I’m rooting for Soap.) And there’s also a fair amount of backstory on werewolves which sort of went over my head.

However, I did enjoy this latest installment and hugely admire Sophronia for all her skills.

Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

curtsiesHow delighted was I to just happen upon this on the new bookshelf so soon after reading Finishing School #1? So delighted! This installment has all the same good stuff as the first–intelligencers, mechanimals, automated servants, dirigibles, werewolves, and vampires.  Sophronia continues to be an uncannily apt intelligencer and finds herself involved in uncovering more of the vague battle her school appears to be involved in over some gadget. I felt in this one that it wasn’t too important to understand or follow all of that and good thing because it was kind of confusing. After all, what on earth is the aetherosphere? Is it the stratosphere? There seemed to be a bit more of a dip into the Parasol Protectorate world here-vampire hives and dandies in London. I really enjoy this world she has created, including Sophronia’s classmates and instructors, and look forward to the next installment!

Soulless by Gail Carriger

Doesn’t this book have a great cover? The whole time I was reading it Tabby kept picking it up and calling it “the story where it is not raining and she has an umbrella.”  Indeed, Miss Alexia Tarabotti does rely upon her brass tipped parasol not so much for rain protection, but for dealing firmly with unwanted advances and the like.  That isn’t to say that men are courting her left and right-she is basically a spinster and is “cursed” with an Italian heritage and dark complexion.  No, no one is expecting her to marry. That is destined for her silly blond younger half sisters. Besides, Miss Tarabotti has another strike against her, though this one is much less known-she is a preternatural.  That is, she was born without a soul.  As such she can touch those supernatural beings (werewolves and vampires), rendering them back to their human state as long as she is in physical contact with them. Yes, in this Victorian world vampires and werewolves are an established part of society and they do not prey upon humans.  It is all exceptionally civilized and everyone follows the strict rules of society.   When the story opens Miss Tarabotti has just been beset upon by a vampire, which is so highly unusual that immediately the Alpha werewolf who works for BUR (the govement agency regulating all this supernatural stuff) is on the scene.  Alexia and the guy, whose name escapes me, begin investigating a series of similar bizarre incidents and find themselves caught up in quite a dangerous situation, but all the while romantic and sexual tensions build between them.
This very much reminded me of Buffy-funny and sexy and supernatural.  And, as it was combined with prissy Victorian society things it was especially appealing to me.  It definitely did not seem like a first book as there were many references to prior events, but apparently it is.  Not only that, but there are three more books following this one, which I will definitely be reading!