Hi all! Today I’m getting a little punky…steampunk-y, that is. As you may have learned from some of my reviews, I’m a total science geek. *shrugs* As, such, the steampunk genre lights up all my bells and whistles. Gail Carriager’s Middle Grade/Tween/YA steampunk novel, CURTSIES & CONSPIRACIES, features a 15 y/o girl with a big imagination and lots of spirit, Sophronia, who happens to be my kindred spirit.

Curtsies and ConspiraciesAbout the book:

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. Now, as she sneaks around the dirigible school, eavesdropping on the teachers quarters and making clandestine climbs to the ships boiler room, she learns that there may be more to a school trip to London than is at first apparent. 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.

My Review:
This second book of the Finishing School series picks up several months after the first, with (now 15 y/o) Sophronia Temminnick back at school following the thwarting of several groups’ attempts at obtaining the “prototype”. What we learn is this prototype is a guidance valve, for use in transmission across the aetherosphere. And, it had been created by the parents of Sophronia’s dearest friends, Dimity and Pillover.

This tale brings Mlle. Geraldine’s floating Finishing School into London–along with the company of ten male students from Bunsen’s School of Evil Geniuses, among them Pillover and Lord Felix Mersey who is quite taken with Sophronia.

Attempts to kidnap Dimity are dashed by Sophronia’s quick thinking and incomplete training, but Sophronia knows she must learn whom is behind the attempts, in order to keep her dear friend safe. Also, the cause of their mission–observation of a transchannel trip through the aetherosphere—seems to be far outside the realm of normal intelligencer behavior. It seems there is a covert test planned, one that may cause great harm to Sophronia’s favorite vampire professor.

In unraveling the conspiracy, Sophronia must keep her wits and seek alliances with old friends and new acquaintance–even dandy vampires riding about the London scene. Sophronia’s uncanny ability to spy, scheme and escape are put to the test when Dimity and Pillover are finally napped. But, can she apply her training to remover herself from the sticky business of finding herself caught between two suitors–especially those who do not suit? In the end, Sophronia discredits one teacher, nearly gets another murdered, and learns to accept that sometimes her schemes will force her to employ–gasp!–a dandy gentleman’s attire.

Oh, and it seems Sophronia’s being courted. By more than one powerful man. With all the mayhem and gore, this book’s heavy on the espionage and light on the romance, though the book seems decidedly more YA than the first one in the series (which I would suggest is Tween). The pace is blistering and the language is humorous and fascinating. I love the period speech, and the nuances of manners, how they are used to advantage by these intelligencing women. Lord Mersey will be a problem, no doubt, going forward, but so will Sophronia’s “friendship” with Soap, the black sootie. Looking forward to the next adventure.

Interested? You can find CURTSIES AND CONSPIRACIES on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and lots of other places, for sure. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

As this is the second book in the series, I’d recommend reading book one, ETIQUETTE AND ESPIONAGE, first. Not only because it’s a hoot of a story, but because the books are built to be a series, and so lots of the characters and their relationships have been fully described in ETIQUETTE. Click here for my review.

Etiquette and Espionage (Finishing School, #1)About the book:

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.

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.

CLAN is Phenomenal–Review and Giveaway

Clan-tour banner copy

Hi there and welcome to my stop on the CLAN blog tour sponsored by YA Bound Book Tours. For other stops on the tour click here. This dystopian YA novel by newcomer Realm Lovejoy blends sci-fi and adventure with a surprising hint of romance.

clan-1Summary from Goodreads:
Clans are Unity.
No variation. No deviation.
On Clades, to be a Clan is to be an exact copy. 

A perfect society cloning themselves to survive, even as the zombielike Frags threaten to overrun them on an unforgiving planet.
Clan 1672 (privately known as Twain) was never supposed to survive the Incubation Tank. 

But he did. Illegally. 

He is different from the other Clans.
A secret that could destroy him.

Kirkus Reviews:In this fast-paced novel, Lovejoy uses economical prose while developing the story’s characters and setting in detail. She also meets the challenge of creating memorable characters in a world of identical people…

My Review:

An entire civilization of human men cloned from one single being living on a distant planet? From the start I was hooked. These clones of Father Krume are designed to be identical. Same appearance, same ideas, identical desires. And, that’s just plain impossible folks. I don’t care if you were raised in a petri dish or a human uterus–every human WANTS. Something, anything…and that desire is what separates each of us–even if we happen to be an identical genetic match to another.

In CLAN, we get the viewpoint of three nearly eighteen year-old males. They have very different experiences, despite the call to Unity (conformity).

Clone 1672, also called Twain, tells most of the story. He was never meant to live. A genetic “experiment” by his sponsor Twigg–the second clone from Krume–Twain is raised in Twigg’s home completely separate from the other clan. Twain longs to join his brethren, but can’t. Because he’s different. More so than he even realizes from seeing his white eyes gaze back at him from the mirror. See all clan have brown eyes, and being differnt targets Twain for destruction.

Clone 1249, called Buster, is a rebel. In fact, 1249 isn’t even his real clone number. He’s on the outskirts of Clan society providing illegal comfort to other clan in order to have a private life raising a defective clan child he saved. He recognizes Twain’s plight and strives to teach Twain how to act within clan society–and how to escape it when the executioners come knocking.

Clone 1348, also called Chad, is sponsored by a second generation clone he despises. How can he not? Clan are about Unity, and perfection. And there is nothing perfect about witnessing your “father” commit an act of indecency. Chad will not ever succumb to the Narcissism lingering on the fringe of Clan society, yet his world is shifted by his interactions with Twain. If nothing else, being near this clan makes Chad realize there is more than Unity to respect.

When Father Krume dies and his successor is assassinated, the chaos of the Clan society forces these three unlikely compatriots into a journey none of them want to make–outside the safety of the city walls. There they develop the skill and knowledge to overcome their prejudices and their Frag enemies. Of course, alliances bring them home–but what awaits is a society in even more disarray.

And the secret reason the Clan clones was developed? It’s stone-cold.

I don’t care that they were ‘identical’ they were indomitable. The action is fast-paced and the characters leap off the page. Twain learning his genetic anomaly goes far beyond his different colored eyes? Wow. And Chad coming to terms with his fear of the unknown, fear of connection? I was so glad to see. it. But Buster goes the extra mile in every way. Just when you think he’s going to take the easy way out–he freaking saves the day. I highly recommend CLAN to all YA readers and anyone who likes dystopian fiction.

Interested? You can find CLAN at Goodreads and Amazon.

Right now the eBook is priced at $.99, but you can get it FREE!!! if you download it December 19-20!  Mark your calendars people!

Book Trailer link:

realm lovejoyAbout the Author
Realm Lovejoy is a writer and an artist. She was raised in Washington State and the alps of Nagano, Japan. Her father is a Japanese ex-monk and her mother an English teacher from Rhode Island. Her art is influenced by both the East and the West.

Realm aspires to tell stories through her writing and art.
She is agented by Jessica Regel. You can find Realm hanging on her website, Goodreads, twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr.

Click the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win:
1 Signed Paperback + CLAN Button + Signed Illustration from Paperback (US only)
1 of 6 Paperbacks (US only) or
1 of 10 eBooks (international shipping)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck, and as always, keep reading my friends!