Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “gail carriger”

CommanderStrikeher’s #CBR4 Review #53: Soulless: The Parasol Protectorate – Book 1 by Gail Carriger

It took me a while to get into this book, but once I did, I couldn’t put it down.  This has been reviewed many times this year, and the premise sounded right up my alley.  Paranormal? Check.  Strong female heroine? Check.  Witty dialogue and snappy repartee? Check and check.  I described this book to a friend as “Pride and Prejudice” if Mr. Darcy was a sexy werewolf and Elizabeth Bennett could neutralize the supernatural.

Alexia Tarabotti is a 26-year-old spinster in Victorian London.  She is also opinionated, bossy, and *gasp* Italian.  She is also soulless.  Literally.  She has no soul.  This gives her the ability to neutralize vampires and werewolves with her touch.  This is a handy ability because London is simply crawling with unaffiliated vampires who seem to not care who they bite!  And in polite society!

This may not be an enduring classic, but I enjoyed the Hell out of it.  I am frantically reading through the series, and I recommend it to anyone who loves supernatural stories, strong-willed women, and Victorian Manners.

4/5 Stars

Katie’s #CBR4 Review #52: Soulless by Gail Carriger

Title: Soulless
Author: Gail Carriger
Source: library
Rating: ★★★★★
Review Summary: It was everything I hoped for – awesome integration of a steampunk society with supernatural elements plus hilarious characters.

“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.” Alexia is afflicted with these and a variety of other social stigmas which she bravely soldiers through, all while dealing with suspicion that she is responsible for recent vampire disappearances. She handles even the most uncouth behavior with remarkable poise, a sharp wit, and a bxcziting sense of humor. And somehow, in the midst of it all, she manages to begin a startlingly wonderful romance.

Read more on Doing Dewey.

faintingviolet’s #CBR4 review #38: Timeless by Gail Carriger

At long last I made it to book 5 of the Parasol Protectorate series. We find Lady Alexia Maccon, formerly Tarabotti, ensconced in married life to Lord Maccon, alpha of the now London Pack. At the conclusion of book four, Heartless, the pack had been forced to move into town to accommodate swarming vampires and Timeless finds the pack and their alphas two years later dealing with their daughter Prudence and her adoptive father Lord Akeldama. All of it is very complicated and perhaps the reason why book four was my least favorite of the series. But Timeless does not serve its purpose as the final chapter in the Parasol Protectorate series.

This go around Alexia receives a summons from Matakara, Queen of the Alexandria hive and the oldest living vampire. The Maccons, along with the Tunstells and their acting troupe, whom they take along as cover, set out for Egypt where, inevitably, they encounter adversity, mystery and adventure.  The entire first part of this book is a retread and filler, with the author re-visiting some of the more memorable places and characters from the previous books – the hat shop now run by Biffy, the Woolsey Hive (with notable appearances from Countess Nadasdy and Mabel Dair), the fleeting return of Felicity Loontwill in a flurry of spite, the sudden reappearance of Lady Kingair and a single appearance of Guatve Trouve, in order to deliver a replacement parasol after the two intervening years to name just a few.

After the lazy intro, the meat of the plot and the wrap up were rushed and left this reader feeling emotionally manipulated. But the most disappointing thing of all is that the main mysteries of the books – the Order of the Brass Octopus, the nature of the soulless/soulstealers – remain unanswered pretty much completely, unless you count the fact that Alexia’s abilities are discovered to be cancelled out when she is submerged in water. We also spend no time further investigating the BUR or the Shadow Council, or any other aspects of the supernatural world in Carriger’s universe.

Noting all that, there is one storyline in the book that kept me from giving up on it entirely.  The relationship between Biffy and Lyall. It was nice to have a homosexual relationship which was genuinely sweet and not reduced to stereotypes. I also appreciated the elegant solution introduced by Carriger to deal with Connall’s immortality and that our protagonist never voices any concern about becoming more aged than her love. But the thing I like most is Alexia’s personality remains very much her own, with her own separate interests, friends and responsibilities.  I am however ready to be done with Alexia and her world.

This post, like all the others, is cross-posted

Malin’s #CBR4 Reviews #70-74: Once Burned by Jeaniene Frost, Timeless by Gail Carriger, Grave Memory by Kalayna Price, The Thief and The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

More of my backlog being cleared, here are five more reviews:

Book 70: Once Burned by Jeaniene Frost. First book in new series of paranormal fantasy books, where a girl who channels electricity and can read the history of objects, and the vampireVlad Tepesh (who hates being called Dracula) fall in lust and get into hijinx. 4 stars.

Book 71: Timeless by Gail Carriger. Fifth and final novel in the Parasol Protectorate series. Fluffy fun. 3 stars.

Book 72: Grave Memory by Kalayna Price. Third book in a well-written paranormal series I discovered through Felicia Day. 3 1/2 stars.

Book 73: The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. I wasn’t very impressed with this book the first time I read it, and nearly stopped reading half the way through. Boy, am I glad I stuck with it. Essential young adult literature. 4 stars.

Book 74: The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner. I loved this one the first time I read it, and even more on a second reading, when I really knew how clever and wonderful it was. Everyone should read this book. 5 stars.

Rahael’s #CBR4 Review #16: Soulless by Gail Carriger

Soulless is the first of the five books in Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series, a mish mash of several genres including paranormal romance and steampunk.  The novel centers around Alexia Tarabotti, a 26 year old lady whose mother has decided that she is destined to be a spinster, and her attempts to navigate Victorian high society and find a niche for herself.  In Carriger’s England, vampires and werewolves live openly and participate as an integral part of society.  Although the premise is a little complicated, the book ends up working quite well on the strength and humor of Alexia’s character.  There’s a scene very early on featuring some upturned treacle tarts that serves as a good indicator of whether or not you’ll enjoy the book.

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Quorren’s #CBR4 Review #13 Timeless by Gail Carriger

I’m sure the sound I made when this came in the mail probably convinced my neighbors they lived next to a crazed banshee.  This was been one of my favorite series of ever.  I know it hasn’t gotten rave (or dismal) reviews on CBR, but something about this series just gets me.  The paranormal romance genre has become a bloated field as of late, but I think this series is a cut above the rest.  It’s leaps and bounds above the Twilight drivel and the author has a much better foundation of her mythos than Charlaine Harris.

In the fifth book of this series, Alexia and family are summoned to Egypt by the oldest vampire in the world.  Alexia’s daughter, Prudence, is a marvel of the supernatural world, coming from  soulless mother and a werewolf father.  There’s also the issue of the the god breaker plague spreading further through Egypt.

I really wish I could say more about the plot.  But the fact is, it was a mess from beginning to end.  It muddled through it until the last 1/3rd when everything happened much too quickly.  As the last book in the series, it’s a big let down.  I think part of the issue may have been promoting two secondary characters to main characters.  Don’t get me wrong, I love gay werewolf sex as much as anyone, but it would’ve been great if they could’ve gotten their own spin-off series or at least one book.

faintingviolet’s #CBR4 review #7 : Heartless by Gail Carriger

When I started the Cannonball Read last month I was so surprised to see how many people had trouble with the review; that reviews were the thing that kept people from making their goal, not the actual reading. I do now understand how that may happen. I finished reading Heartless almost a week ago and have been carrying it around in my purse as a reminder to write the review, the problem is I just don’t have much to say about the book.

Did I enjoy it? Absolutely. There were certain points in the story where I absolutely did not want to put it down and made excuses to keep reading. Was it earth shattering? Absolutely not. Nothing new happened here and no views about the world or writing were changed. Would I recommend it to a friend? Yep, and already have. Does it leave me wanting more? No, not really. That’s a bit of a copout. It did leave me wanting more, because Carriger has a habit of squashing the best action in the Parasol Protectorate books into the last 70 pages or so, but this could have been the end of the series given about 10 more pages dedicated to tying up loose ends.

Will I be reading Timeless when it comes out next month? Certainly. Will I be ravenously awaiting its arrival? No, I’ll be pleasantly surprised when the book gets passed down from my friend who’s reading them before me. I do look forward to more time with Professor Lyall (particularly after the revelations of his love life), Biffy, Ivy, and to a lesser extent Mme LeFoux and Channing. But I wonder after a rampaging octomaton, a political reshuffling, and the birth of the baby what could possibly be left to talk about?

Cross posted from my blog. Feel free to visit if you like.

 

faintingviolet’s #CBR4 review #05 : Blameless by Gail Carriger

cross posted from my blog

Everyone who I spoke to about the Parasol Protectorate series was absolutely right, book three of the series – Blameless – is better than book two.

But is that the best thing I can say about it? No, I can say better things.

The series is, quite rightly, set up around Lady Alexia Maccon the sometimes La Diva Tarrabotti. Alexia is a fun character to follow around, but by the third book (and over 900 pages together) she has begun to wear on this reader. So, it a turn of events which completely answers my previous whining on the subject, we get more of everyone else this go around. Carriger has finally fleshed out the characterization of her supporting cast of characters in this novel. We met wonderful caricatures of these characters in the first and second book, but it certainly took until the third for characters like Ivy, Professor Lyall, Madam Lefoux, and Floote to really come into their own.

Plot wise we have a new big bad, a new problem for Alexia to deal with (why does EVERYONE want this poor girl dead?), and new terrain to explore (hello Italy!), and a seeming impossibility to wrangle with.  I appreciate how much Carriger works to explain the world in which Alexia lives. In Soulless we learn that England is a highly integrated society both for the supernatural set and the scientific community, and that the United States does not work in the same way, being a highly conservative place.  In Blameless we also get a small glimpse into France (science seems to be all the fashion) and a larger look at Italy. Italy in the Parasol Protectorate universe in a highly religious, anti-supernatural place teeming with Templars on the hunt, and not necessarily the safest place for Alexia. But, with the disappearance of her would-be hero Lord Akeldama, she is a girl on a mission.

While I can find the descriptive language Carriger uses, at times, repetitive (how many times does Alexia really need to tell us that the Templars’ outfits look like nightgowns?) I do think this is a good book, particularly if you are looking for a quick fun read. And can make it past book two, which I suggest you do.

faintingviolet’s #CBR4 review #04 : Changeless by Gail Carriger

I would like to start out by saying that if you have not yet read this series and would like to without knowing the plot, please skip the rest of the review and know that I quite enjoyed the book: it was a nice easy read with plenty of plot and some great characterization. If you like crime/mystery solving, steampunk or think you might this is a good read and enjoy. Now off you go.

For the rest of us, who have read the first book Soulless, in the Parasol Protectorate series and fell as in love with certain characters, namely Lord Akeldama, Floote, and Prof. Lyall, as I did, you are going to be a little sad as they do not see much “on camera” time this book.  Where Soulless spent much of its time building the world of Alexia’s London and didn’t get to the meat and potatoes of the mystery part of the plot until about half way through we are hit with the mystery up front in Changeless. In the first lines of the book alerts us that something is not right in London and Conall is off to figure it out, leaving his wife, Lady Alexia Maccon, behind.

But not for long, as is the standard Alexia move. She is rapidly using her connections and new position as muhjah in QueenVictoria’s shadow government to piece together why werewolves and vampires are returned to their human state (in essence they are change-less) and why mass ghost exorcisisms occurred. One of the problems I had with this book is that there are too many issues going on all at the same time and none seemed fully realized. But that may just be a sign of a small sophomoric slump.

For example: a reintroduction to Ivy (and Ivy’s hats), find out she has a fiancé whom Alexia has never met and an increasing flirtations with the claviger Tunstell – who’s an actor (gasp!), Alexia’s sister Felicity is having trouble with dear old mama and is foisted off on her sister, the rest of the Woolsey pack has arrived back from the Indian subcontinent and brought with them their human counterparts for a post deployment camp out on the castle lawns, Major Channing the Gamma of the pack makes an ass out of himself immediately upon meeting Alexia but may become useful at some point and we meet the male clothes wearing Madam Lefoux who is working as a hat shopkeeper and an underground scientist and the creator of Alexia’s newest parasol as ordered by Conall, who’s gone off to Scotland to attend to his former pack’s lack of an alpha.

This is all in the first three chapters.  No lie.

The mystery is solved; there is a trip through the aether on a dirigible, our heroine escapes from certain death. But it just wasn’t as fun as the first.  This may be because I enjoyed to world building more than I enjoy the mystery solving, particularly as this book didn’t have a satisfying big bad like the Hypocras Club from Soulless.

Would I tell you to read this book? Yes. Because in all honesty it was a fun enjoyable read, and I am just a little cranky about the ending and the fact that it is raining outside as I write this. But, I am looking forward to the next book.

faintingviolet’s #CBR4 review #03 : Gail Carriger’s Soulless

This book sparked my interest when I saw a review of it over on io9.  I thought “hey that sounds like a fantasy/steampunk book I could get behind”. And that was great because we were working on Steampunk at work (I have a weird job) and I thought it would be a great place to jump in. Then I forgot all about it until several months later when a friend of a friend said she read it and enjoyed it. I subsequently begged to borrow said book and because she is a very nice person it was lent to me forthwith.

We meet Alexia Tarabotti right away, and I must say this character begins the story as she means to continue – with a healthy appetite and an ability to fight for herself, and I like that about her. The world Alexia inhabits is a re-imagined Victorian Era, if vampires and werewolves had been living openly in society for centuries. The author, Gail Carriger, does a great job of providing the ways in which this altered reality would affect the history of her new world.

Alexia is an odd creature even in this world. She introduces herself as an ugly spinster, on the shelf due to her ‘bad’ habits and Italian heritage. In fact, she harps on it so much you know the author is going to bring in someone who is of an opposing view (and she does). We also learn quite quickly that while vampires and werewolves are made from people with an excess of soul, Alexia is herself soulless.

This state makes her interactions with vampires and werewolves very different than regular humans. Skin to skin contact returns the supernatural to their human state. This also reasons to keep her identity a secret, since the soulless historically were supernatural hunters. But, needless to say, Alexia finds a way to be right in the middle of the supernatural set. And hi-jinks and mystery solving ensue.  I know I am leaving out the entire plot, and while the beginning of this novel is certainly an info dump, I wouldn’t want to spoil the story for anyone looking to read it, or its sequels for themselves (Soulless is the first in the Parasol Protectorate series, reviews for the rest of the books in the series will be following). There is a lot of great characterization here, characters who get stuck in your head and you wonder about, and I promise to talk about all of that more in my review of the next book, Changeless.

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