New Beginnings With THE SUMAGE SOLUTION–Review and Exclusive Excerpt!

Hi there! I’m so excited to share a review for a new paranormal M/M romance releasing tomorrow from Gail “G. L.” Carriger. THE SUMAGE SOLUTION, the first in a new San Andreas Shifters series, is a contemporary story which is very different from the previous books of hers that I’ve read, and I loved what she brought to the this genre. I got hooked on Gail’s YA steampunk books (Manners and Mutiny, WAISTCOATS AND WEAPONRY) and her Victorian adult romances (ROMANCING THE INVENTOR) among many others, but a M/M romance with mages and shifters and an analogue of the California DMV? I was thrilled!

Catch my exclusive excerpt and a short interview below, too.
About the book:
Can a gentle werewolf heal the heart of a smart-mouthed mage?
NYT bestseller Gail Carriger, writing as G. L. Carriger, presents an offbeat gay romance in which a sexy werewolf with a white knight complex meets a bad boy mage with an attitude problem. Sparks (and other things) fly.

Max fails everything – magic, relationships, life. So he works for DURPS (the DMV for supernatural creatures) as a sumage, cleaning up other mages’ messes. The job sucks and he’s in no mood to cope with redneck biker werewolves. Unfortunately, there’s something oddly appealing about the huge, muscled Beta visiting his office for processing.

Bryan AKA Biff (yeah, he knows) is gay but he’s not out. There’s a good chance Max might be reason enough to leave the closet, if he can only get the man to go on a date. Everyone knows werewolves hate mages, but Bryan is determined to prove everyone wrong, even the mage in question.

A delicious taste!

Set up: Our werewolf main character, Biff, is stuck in the DURPS waiting room (kind of like the supernatural version of the DMV) when trouble brews between two other shifters…

Biff didn’t think a bear shifter could change during daylight, not without his pelt, but they were anger-triggered. And this was an aggravating environment. He wondered if the guy was an Alpha.

So, Biff sat and waited patiently, tried not to sneeze, and kept his eye on the twitchy Norse god in front of him.

It got physical way faster than Biff thought it would. Frankly, he didn’t think DURPS was as prepared as it should have been either. For quintessence attack, yes, but not for a physical confrontation.

The berserker must have taken offense to something the barghest said or did, because the dog shifter suddenly had a fist in his face. Since both were confined to human skin by the sun, it quickly became a two-man punch-and-grapple match…in the waiting line of a government department. The Plugs at the doors had no idea what to do. They were trained for mage casts and shifting forms, not macho idiots.

Biff stood up. Stretched languidly and extended his Beta power outward. Calm down. No contest here. No one’s after your territory, No one’s after your mate. Relax.

He wasn’t sure it would work. After all, he was a wolf, wrong species.

He moved in closer.

Biff was big, but nowhere near as big as the berserker. The bear shifter clocked in low for a bear, four hundred pounds and six foot seven or so. The barghest was about half that but way quicker. The two men were clinched together, almost wrestling, which would give the bear the advantage. It was a weirdly erotic, horribly violent embrace.

Biff reached up and grabbed each man by the scruff of his neck. It worked great on the pups in his old pack. Then he shook them gently, grip firm and slightly on the edge of pain.

“Be still,” he barked, and pushed at them with his Beta power. Settle.

Touch was good, touch helped. It usually did. Biff centered himself, grounded himself, shooting out calmness like a weapon. Blanketing them with it, as those little flowers had blanketed the parking lot when he arrived.

Some thoughts from Gail Carriger:

What brought you into this world/story?
This is one of those books that woke me first thing one morning and just HAD to be written. I was supposed to be taking a break between contracts, but Max’s voice in my head was so strong and demanding. Max is Biff’s love interest in The Sumage Solution, and he is kinda *like* that – demanding. I shouldn’t have been surprised.

If you could have any paranormal ability, what would it be?
Ooooo. Well I always wanted gills, so I’m going with mermaid. Plus the way I have merfolk set up in the San Andreas Shift universe the species is female dominated, lives in pods, mostly deals in subverting organized crime (off shore accounts, you see), and assists the coast guard. I’m down with all those kinds of shenanigans.

Stranded on a desert island–three books you’d need to maintain your sanity until rescue…
My first and forever answer is THE FORGOTTEN BEAST OF ELD by Patricia McKillip. My second choice (if I’m allowed to take a series) is the DAUGHTER OF THE EMPIRE trilogy by Raymond Feist & Janny Wurts. Finally, right now, I’m picking a new comfort read. I’ve really been into m/m romance (obviously, since I just wrote one) and I love sci-fi and culture clashes so I’d take CLAIMINGS, TAILS, AND OTHER ALIEN ARTIFACTS by Lyn Gala because it has all three of these things plus a little dose of BDSM if one bends in the kink direction. I feel like this is a good spread across all my different tastes and preferences as a reader, and would keep me occupied until rescue.

My Review:
Bryan, called Biff by his packmates, is a wolf shifter whose small pack of gay-spectrum wolves has relocated from the east coast to the San Fran Bay area. Biff is a beta wolf, and in this world it means he’s the patient one, the one who assists the alpha in negotiations and keeps the peace. His younger brother is his alpha and they pretty much fled the homophobia and heartache of their previous pack once his brother came out and took a merman as his mate. So, Biff knows his pack would accept him if he came out as gay–but he’s still a private kind of guy, and he doesn’t want to have the pack watching/gossiping about his every step.

Biff meets Max when he goes to the local DURPS office–imagine an agency like the DMV, only serving paranormals and ten times pettier–to register their pack and help get them permanent housing. Right now, there are seven werewolves and a merman taking refuge in the two bedroom apartment of the traveling drag queen friend of their beloved house ghost. (So, you can see there’s lots of shenanigans happening…) Max is a sumage, kind of the opposite of a mage in that he absorbs the magical resonance of actual magic wielders instead of turning his own tricks (ba-da-bum). It was the final disappointment to Max’s powerful and power-hungry mage father, long dead and little missed in the ensuing ten years. Max works at DURPS as another slam on his dear-old-dad, and makes no effort to tamp-down his gayness, either.

Max and Biff have an immediate attraction, and it is this which tips Max into accepting Brian’s number, calls, and request for a date. It seems like everything is going fine, even if Bryan is confused why Max won’t reveal his body to him–at first, and sets off the first bit of conflict. What I loved about the book is Bryan’s steadfastness. Max is used to abuse and scorn, and he can’t believe that Bryan could possibly find him attractive–sumages have distinct body issues and Bryan’s careful love helps Max regain his absent self-confidence. Also, there are some unique and different challenges that present themselves as Bryan and Max begin to build a life together–not least of which is Bryan’s protective Alpha brother. There are mages out for artifacts in Max’s father’s home, and protecting those potential weapons brings forth Max’s true power–shocking everyone.

I don’t want to reveal too much of the plot, because it’s fantastic and so very different, but I want to mention that it’s got the same fast-paced, witty movement as all the other books I’ve read by the author. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. Bryan and Max have some emotional set-backs that they need to work through, but they do that very well, and the book ends with an HEA. There’s some yummy sexytimes, too!

Interested? You can find THE SUMAGE SOLUTION on Goodreads and pre-order it in advance of the 7/18 release on Amazon.

About the Author:
Gail Carriger writes comedies of manners mixed with paranormal romance (and the sexy San Andreas Shifter series as G.L. Carriger). Her steampunk books include the Parasol Protectorate, Custard Protocol, Supernatural Society, and Delightfully Deadly series for adults, and the Finishing School series for young adults. She is published in many languages and has over a dozen NYT bestsellers. She was once an archaeologist and is fond of shoes, octopuses, and tea.

You can find Gail online on her website, Facebook and twitter. Gail has a fun newsletter: the Monthly Chirrup, sign up here.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

So Many Great Books!!! 2016 Bests

Hi there! Well, it’s been a YEAR! Ugh! I’m not going to bemoan it too much, because this blog is a way for me to escape the everyday drama. So, let’s do that, shall we!

First, it’s been a book-filled year! 279 books, and 58,968 pages logged through Goodreads, though I’ve forgotten some and ran out of time to add others. So, you’ll see those reviews in the coming year.

I usually make a whole long list, and this year is no exception. It isn’t a Top Ten countdown, or anything. I’d recommend any of these books equally. Hit the links for a full review.

FLIP-THE-BIRD-2Awesome YA books:
Flip the Bird by Kym Brunner. A high school freshman and training falconer falls for a girl whose parents are animal rights fanatics. Big trouble, great messages.

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan. Slice of life book about questioning young gay persons. Really got my heart engaged. Also fell into the Most Challenged (Banned) category that I was interested in exploring.

Girl Against The Universe by Paula Stokes. A girl struggles to get past her guilt, and rebuild her life after tragedies take away half her family.

Simon V. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli: Coming out shouldn’t be this way. Simon’s awesome, and lovely.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz. I felt transported to 1987 Texas. It’s not a place I’d want to be–but I’d go there just to be with Ari and Dante. Thick book devoured in a day.

Great anybody reads:
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany, James Thorne, and JK Rowling.  Harry’s all grown up, and saving the world, yet again. This time his son is the biggest problem.

illusory-prophetCrossing the Horizon by Laurie Notaro. Brave and bawdy ladies of the air try to be the first to cross the Atlantic.

Illusory Prophet by Susan Kaye Quinn.  A futuristic saga with an enhanced human trying to save the rest of humanity. This is the third book in a series. Get them all.

Goldfish by Nat Luurtsema. Lou is a champion swimmer whose been cast out of the pool. It’s pants-wettingly funny.

Great Gay romance:
My goodness. I read SOOO many of these. (more than 100! in 2016) Here’s a few hightlights:
Fave Hurt/Comfort: WHAT REMAINS by Garrett Leigh. Man. This one broke my heart into a million pieces by the end. A man struggles to support his lover after a traumatic brain injury destroys his partner’s memories of their love affair.

A Bear Walks Into A BarFave Dirty Pleasure read: A BEAR WALKS INTO A BAR is a straight up gay erotica from Eden Winters. There’s no man the big bad bear won’t have. Once, or twice. Multi-partner, orgy and various shifters dead ahead.

Fave Paranormal: WOLFSONG by TJ Klune. Pick this one up to curl up with over a cold weekend. It’s really long, yet the unconventional prose had me riveted. It’s a fated mates, shifter story that blew me away.

Fave Virgin Lover: PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT by Jay Northcote. This is so fun, with a nerdy college student trading love lessons for stats tutoring with his sporty neighbor. I enjoyed every moment of them crossing sexytimes off the list.

Fave Steampunk/Alt History:
CLOCKWORK HEART by Heidi Cullinan. A French tinker saves a dying Hungarian with the long-sought clockwork heart technology his master has been hiding for years. Let the pursuit begin.

walk-like-a-manFave Shifter romance: HOW TO WALK LIKE A MAN by Eli Easton. This is the second book in a series, and I think readers will enjoy all of them, but this one is my favorite, so far. The story revolves around a man who used to be a dog, and how he copes with being human, and finding love with a fellow police officer.

Fave Ugly Cry: SELFIE by Amy Lane. Features a Hollywood star living through the death of his closeted partner—and his complete and utter heartbreak. Suicide ideation, depression, coping, and new love. It was a rollercoaster of feels—all of them intense.

Fave Series: CAPTIVE PRINCE by C.S. Pacat. I read all three of these books in a week back in March, because I lost my mind with the first book and dove headlong into the series. Sleepless for at least one night so I could get to the end. Amazing if you like fantasy/political intrigue. PRINCE’S GAMBIT KINGS RISING, are the other two books. Must read.

Fave Sequel: FIGHT THE TIDE by Keira Andrews. This is the sequel to KICK AT THE DARKNESS and it kicked ass. Surviving in a post-apocalyptic world is rough, but it’s easier when your boyfriend is a werewolf. So many zombies…

TOO HOT TO HANDLE - coverFave Het Romances:
TOO HOT TO HANDLE by Tessa Bailey. A chef burns sown her mother’s former restaurant, and cobbles her busted family to go on a vision quest trip from San Diego to NYC. Sweet and raunchy by turns.

JACKSON’S TRUST by Violet Duke. Love for two sports reporters/analysts with an unhealthy dose of crappy family drama.

COCKY BASTARD by Penelope Ward and Vi Keeland. Very fun story about a lawyer running from her disastrous past, and the sexy soccer player who scoops her up in the middle of nowhere.

bright-blazeFave ending to a series:
BRIGHT BLAZE OF MAGIC by Jennifer Estep. This is the third book in an urban fantasy YA series that rocks. I recommend all the books highly, but this finale did NOT disappoint. Magic, magical creatures, fighting for your family until the death, a wee bit of love and romance? Bam! It’s all there.

MANNERS AND MUTINY by Gail Carriger. I’ve completely fallen for this steampunk world of intrigue and assassins.

Fave transgender YA read:
THE ART OF BEING NORMAL by Lisa Williamson. Heartbreakingly freaking awesome. Some part of me will always remember this one. For kids/parents who are questioning gender dysphoria, I highly recommend.

Okay, so lots of different stuff to pick from because I have eclectic tastes. Hopefully something piques your interest, too. Share your fave reads in the comments so I can find something new, or just commiserate.

Going forward into 2017, I have a plan to pick up TBR reads on Thursdays, because, wow, to I have a lot of books in my queue. And, I probably won’t be posting quite as many reviews…because I’m back to teaching in February, that shaping young minds takes up a LOT of reading time, yo.

As always, thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Challenging Authority ROMANCING THE INVENTOR–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new steampunk-style lesbian romance from Gail Carriager. ROMANCING THE INVENTOR features the lovestory of a woman I’d read about in her Finishing School books: Genevieve LeFoux. Genevieve’s all grown up, and the object of a parlourmaid’s curious eye.

romancing-the-inventorAbout the book:

Imogene Hale is a lowly parlourmaid with a soul-crushing secret. Seeking solace, she takes work at a local hive, only to fall desperately in love with the amazing lady inventor the vampires are keeping in the potting shed. Genevieve Lefoux is heartsick, lonely, and French. With culture, class, and the lady herself set against the match, can Imogene and her duster overcome all odds and win Genevieve’s heart, or will the vampires suck both of them dry?

This is a stand-alone LBGTQ sweet romance set in Gail Carriger’s Parasolverse, full of class prejudice, elusive equations, and paranormal creatures taking tea.

Delicate Sensibilities? This story contains women pleasing women and ladies who know what they want and pursue it, sometimes in exquisite detail.

Supernatural Society novellas can be read in any order.

My Review:

This is a book set in the 1870s London in a fictional past that includes vampires and werewolves. Much of this world has been described in previous middle-grade/YA book series (Parasol Protectorate or Finishing School) though this is an adult book featuring adult characters–who’d been youths/younger in the previous books. I kinda think you’d enjoy this book better if you’ve read some of those, because the world is already built, and the paranormal elements not as thoroughly explained in this book, as a result.

Imogene Hale is a 28 year old beautiful woman in a village. She’s had many a suitor, but never accepted any man…because she’s attracted to women. When a vampire hive takes up residence at Woolsey Castle, Imogene seeks a job. She’s heard vampires are perverted, and she may be able to find satisfaction with the Countess, if she’s very lucky and doesn’t get drained first.

Unfortunately, the vampires are selective. They sense she’s an innocent, and want to “save” her for a special occasion. In the meantime, Imogene is a parlourmaid and begins to attend the needs of the Inventor, Madame LeFoux–otherwise known as Vieve, or Genevieve, from earlier books. Genevieve is a cross-dressing “tom,” a woman who likes women…and she very much likes Imogene. But Genevieve is still grieving her wife, and that’s damping Imogene’s prospects with the inventor.

There’s a lot of posturing, and scheming on the part of the vampire countess and the werewolves, who are close friends with Genevieve. It looks as if Imogene will become just another snack for the hive, but Genevieve is able to halt this pettiness, and make some small claim to regaining her heart and finding love.

This is a sweet, slow-burning romance. Imogene makes a good partner to Genevieve, having an affinity for mathematics that complements Genevieve’s ingenuity. There are many obstacles to overcome, but Imogene is a steadfast companion, and finally wins Genevieve to her side. There’s not a lot of steam, but the language is fun, and the situations engaging. The real focus here is on Imogene, and how this country lass makes a good life with Genevieve. There are many characters here that are part of the larger fictional world, and fans will be excited to see Genevieve get her happy ever after.

Interested? You can find ROMANCING THE INVENTOR on Goodreads and Amazon.

About the Author:

Gail Carriger writes comedic steampunk mixed with urbane fantasy. Her books include the Parasol Protectorate and Custard Protocol series for adults, and the Finishing School series for young adults. She is published in 18 different languages and has 13 NYT bestsellers via 7 different lists (including #1 in Manga). She was once an archaeologist and is overly fond of shoes, octopuses, and tea.

You can find Gail online on her website, Facebook and twitter. Gail has a fun newsletter: the Monthly Chirrup, sign up here.

Cephalopod Coffeehouse June 2016: Tough Choices, POISON OR PROTECT?

Hi there! Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the tomes they enjoyed most over the previous month. Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.

Hi there! I’m so excited to share a review for a new adult steampunk romance out from Gail Carriager. While I loved all the books in her YA Finishing School series, (Etiquette & Espionage, Curtsies & Conspiracy, Waistcoats & Weaponry, Manners & Mutiny, ) I was totally excited to check out an adult read, see if the transition to an older audience would happen, or if it would feel too young… Reading POISON OR PROTECT, I was not disappointed!

Poison or Protect (Delightfully Deadly, #1)About the book:
Can one gentle Highland soldier woo Victorian London’s most scandalous lady assassin, or will they both be destroyed in the attempt?
Lady Preshea Villentia, the Mourning Star, has four dead husbands and a nasty reputation. Fortunately, she looks fabulous in black. What society doesn’t know is that all her husbands were marked for death by Preshea’s employer. And Preshea has one final assignment.

It was supposed to be easy, a house party with minimal bloodshed. Preshea hadn’t anticipated Captain Gavin Ruthven – massive, Scottish, quietly irresistible, and… working for the enemy. In a battle of wits, Preshea may risk her own heart – a terrifying prospect, as she never knew she had one.

Warning: Contains men pleasing women, and ladies who know what they want and ask for it, sometimes in detail. May also contain plaid, appearances from favorite characters, and the strategic application of leather gloves.

My Review:
This is the first book in a series, and features an accessory character from the Finishing School Young Adult book series who is all grown up now. It’s an adult romance, set in a 1870s England Steampunk world, rife with political intrigue, assassins, vampires, werewolves, and mechanicals.

Preshea Buss is a four-time widow, mostly by choice. Trained as an assassin in her Finishing School she accepted the favor of a high-ranking vampire, Lord Akeldama, who proceeded to get her ingratiated to men who needed dispatch. Well, not the last one. He was just old, and not very troublesome. Dubbed the “Mourning Star” by the tabloids, she’s never met a man who’d claim her heart. She’s been contracted to destroy the budding romance of a plain, but well-fortuned woman, Lady Violet, and her erstwhile, penniless suitor, Mr. Jackson, by Lady Violet’s father, the Duke of Snodgrove. It’s not really Preshea’s cup of Darjeeling, but the reward will enable her to ruin the one man who decimated her heart: her dastardly father. Plus, there are concerns the Duke is in grave danger of assassination. Preshea can protect the Duke while she manages Mr. Jackson…

Captain Gavin Ruthven is a recent retiree from Her Majesty’s service. The tall, broad Scotsman would normally never be interested in a wee lass like the Mourning Star, but they are thrown together for three weeks while he attends his longtime friend, Jack (Mr. Jackson) on his quest for Lady Violet’s hand. It’s a good cover for the captain’s other mission: ensure the Duke isn’t killed. Is the noted widow there for pleasure, or will she seal the duke’s death?

I was drawn to this author because of her quirky and fun YA steampunk books. While we are still in that world per se, this novella is fully adult, with zinging banter, scandalous repartee,  and steamy interludes. It’s not a kids book, by any means, and I really enjoyed this slow-burning romance. Preshea has never been touched with love. Abused as a child, and a married woman, she has no need for another man in her life. She’s well-settled due to her many inheritances, and Captain Ruthven–while attractive–initially appears the epitome of a lumbering brute. Yet, the more time they spend the more she is captivated and intrigued by his quiet nature and compassionate conversation. Gavin has little interest in the staid ladies of the ton, even if he were a catch. He’s done well financially, making a decent fortune in investments, but he needs a woman who would take him well-in-hand. In short, he’s a submissive, and he lives to pleasure women with his compliance, as well as his body.

Expect mischief and mayhem, and the employment of dirigibles to both assassination and seduction. As with previous books, the story is rollicking with a pace that sweeps the reader into falling for unlikely heroes. Gavin is perfectly edible, and Preshea is a lonely woman who never understood all that she’d missed growing up so isolated. Not only does she gain a lover, she makes dear friends. Poor Mr. Jackson, is, however, broken-hearted….for a time.

Interested? You can find POISON OR PROTECT on Goodreads and Amazon.

Thanks for popping in, and be sure to visit my fellow Coffeehouse reviewer, to see if they have a book you might fancy.

Fatal Consequences Between MANNERS AND MUTINY–A Review

Hi there! I’m so excited to get back to one of my fave YA series…and I’m also a little melancholy that it’s over. Gail Carriger’s Finishing School steampunk intelligencer romances have been a real treat, and I’m wistfully bidding adieu to Sophronia and Dimity and even Professor Braithwope–Whot Whot! MANNERS & MUTINY is the fourth book in the series, so you’ll need to read Etiquette & Espionage, Curtsies & Conspiracies, and Waistcoats & Weaponry before you tackle Manners.

Manners & Mutiny (Finishing School, #4)About the book:

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!

My Review:

This is the fourth (and final!) installment of the fantastic Finishing School series, and WOW! To recap: this is a steampunk YA romance set in 1850’s England and both vampires and werewolves exist. Some mild spoilers may be present.

Sophronia has been at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s for four years now, and she’s sad that her bestie, and ardent admirer Soap–a black “sootie” (steamworks worker keeping the airship school afloat)–is no longer aboard the ship. He was gravely injured in the previous book, and Sophronia brokered his healing by pledging herself to serve the werewolf dewan–advisor to the queen.

Sophronia’s still on the look out for the nefarious Picklemen who seek to discredit all supernaturals, and also control all the steampowered devices in the land. She catches these rascals on board the school, but they escape after completing some unknown purpose in the pilot’s port. This later ties in to the Picklemen causing serious havoc with the school.

I do not want to give the plot away…at all, but Sophronia has her work cut out saving her friends and teachers aboard the airship. She’ll be tested mentally, physically and emotionally and forced to cooperate with one of her former adversaries. The love story between Sophronia and Soap seems to be doomed–it is unsuitable by society’s standards–but Soap’s new status leaves him outside of society altogether. Is this is path for them? Will Sophronia survive the Picklemen’s plot? It’s a rather hair-raising ride across England and in the path of constant danger of not only marauders but an untethered vampire.

I simply adored this series. It’s witty and fun, and frisky! There are some not-so-subtle hints toward burgeoning sexuality, male nudity, interracial romance, even…well, allusions toward outre lifestyles for some of the boys. It tickled me from the first page, and wrapped up the four-book plotline beautifully. I highly recommend reading the series.

Interested? You can find MANNERS & MUTINY on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. Also, try your local library.

About the Author:

Gail Carriger writes comedic steampunk mixed with urbane fantasy. Her books include the Parasol Protectorate and Custard Protocol series for adults, and the Finishing School series for young adults. She is published in 18 different languages and has 13 NYT bestsellers via 7 different lists (including #1 in Manga). She was once an archaeologist and is overly fond of shoes, octopuses, and tea.

You can find Gail online on her website, Facebook and twitter. Gail has a fun newsletter: the Monthly Chirrup, sign up here.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!


The Spy Life Is All WAISTCOATS & WEAPONRY-A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for Gail Carriger’s third Finishing School novel, WAISTCOATS & WEAPONRY. I just adore this steampunk world! I have read and enjoyed both Etiquette & Espionage and Curtsies & Conspiracies, which tended to be more “tween” in tone. With this third installment the storyline has taken a decidedly YA turn. Yay!

Waistcoats & Weaponry (Finishing School, #3)About the book:
Sophronia continues second year finishing school in style — with a steel-bladed fan secreted in the folds of her ball gown. She, best friend Dimity, sweet sootie Soap, and charming Lord Felix Mersey stow away on train to return classmate Sidheag to her werewolf pack in Scotland. No one suspects what or who would be aboard the suspiciously empty train.

My Review:
This is the third book in the YA steampunk Finishing School series. It is best to read these books in order.

World note: the story takes place in a steampunk setting, in 1850’s England, where vampire and werewolves are a part of society.

Sophronia is a 16 y/o student at Mlle. Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies–which is in truth a training school for female spies. This year, Sophronia’s education includes lessons in seduction…

“Seduction in its purest form is a never-ending acquisition of knowledge about another individual. Every male is a new challenge, every occasion warrants a different approach Take the greatest of care when applying these techniques, for they can be more dangerous than actual weaponry.”

The girls all straightened. Lady Linette’s lessons were always interesting, but seduction was supposed to be the best. What young lady didn’t want to know how to manipulate a man? This was what finishing school was all about!

Sophronia has a BF, Dimity who is more interested in a normal life after school, but Sophronia knows she has several options in front of her. She has an unknown (but she suspects royal) patron who pays her schooling. Plus, she receives regular gifts from a rogue vampire Lord Akeldama high in London society. She has a bosom friend in Lady Kingair “Sidheag” whose family is a pack of werewolves in Scotland.

It is when Sidheag receives notice that her beloved pack is in disarray and her great-great-grandfather has challenged for Alpha of a London pack, that life goes wonky. Sidheag flees to London to intercept Lord Kingair accompanied by the werewolf arms training teacher, Captain Niall–which will absolutely ruin Sidheag.

Meanwhile, Sophronia and Dimity are released from school to attend the engagement ball of Sophronia’s brother. Who also has garnered invitations? Dimity’s brother Pillover, and Felix– Lord Mersey–both of whom attend the companion school, Bunson’s School for Evil Geniuses. Pillover isn’t much of a fan of Felix, and neither is Sophronia’s (inappropriately close) acquaintance Soap. Soap is a black boy who works as a sootie at Mlle Geraldine’s, tending the boilers and boys who also work below decks.

It seems that Soap and Felix have a bit of a tendresse for Sophronia, thought Sophronia’s of mixed opinion on them. She knows Soap is an unsuitable mate; he has no family, and even worse prospects. But Felix, despite being son of an Earl, is also allied with the Picklemen–a secret society which despises the supernaturals in society and wishes to control communication across the nation. As a friend to Sidheag, and receiving aid from a vampire, Sophronia is not opposed to the supernatural, and the Picklem tried to kill her and Dimity in previous books, so she’s decidedly against Picklemen.

Felix, on the other hand…

And then he was bending down, looking as if he might actually kiss her–in the back of an open cart!

Turns out that this love triangle intensifies as Soap stows away to keep Sophronia from falling into Felix’s affection. Pillover settles this rather succinctly:

He addressed Soap, “Although I respect the courage of a man who wears satin breeches THAT tight, but in the end you’ll have to cede to Lord Mersey. He’s too much of a peer, you understand? And a bit of a prick, as well.”

Interruption of the engagement ball by Sidheag and two werewolves is almost a welcome distraction. Especially when all the mechanicals of the house go absolutely bonkers. Sophronia, Dimity, Sidheag, Felix and Soap depart to bring Sidheag to Scotland, so she can help her uncles in the pack who are likely to be slaughtered now that they have no Alpha and are accused of treason. The ladies dress as boys (scandalous!) to ease travel, and stowaway aboard a train. The trip is entirely eventful.

There are two gunshot victims, two vampire drones tossed over, and three females trained for espionage who pretty much save the day. Felix is “rescued” by his father, the Duke and upstanding Picklemen, but not before declaring himself…

“Ouch, darling, must you be so rough?”
“Just stoppering up your silly mouth.”
“I know a better way.” He pursed his lips at her.

Soap isn’t quite as lucky. Though he does live to see another day.

This series is a hoot, for real. I love the wit, and the banter. It’s truly fun, and the new advent of more teen-speak is welcome. Sophronia’s world is one of strict social mores, but what does one do when confronted by a naked aristocratic werewolf in all his hairy…dangly, glory?

How on earth was Dimity going to react to dangly bits? Will she faint? She’ll probably faint.

Spoiler alert: She didn’t faint.

Still, the book ends with the love triangle slightly bent, Sophronia with a direct patron, and a lot of ‘splainin’ for Felix, Lord Mersey. Can’t wait to find out more…

Interested? You can find WAISTCOATS & WEAPONRY on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and your library shelves.

Gail Carriger
About the Author:
Ms. Carriger writes steampunk urbane fantasy comedies of manners to cope with being raised in obscurity by an expatriate Brit and an incurable curmudgeon. She escaped small town life and inadvertently acquired several degrees in Higher Learning. She then traveled the historic cities of Europe, subsisting entirely on biscuits secreted in her handbag. She now resides in the Colonies, surrounded by a harem of shoes, where she insists on tea imported directly from London and cats that pee into toilets. Her books are all New York Times Bestsellers.

You can find her on her website, Goodreads and twitter. Gail has a fun newsletter the Monthly Chirrup, and you can sign up here.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!