Posted in Uncategorized

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Characters I Wish I Could Check in With

Tuesday is a Meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week, I’m looking at ten characters from fiction that I would like to check in with, see how they’re doing, how life’s treating them.

toptentuesday2

Alexia and Connal from Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series. I know I’ve got the adventures of their daughter, Prudence, waiting for me on my night table, and I hope I hear more about one of my favorite couples in fiction. These two are one of the sexiest steampunk paranormal couples in the history of ever. (And if I could find out how Ivy’s doing, I would be really, really happy, too.)

Professor McGonagall in the Harry Potter series. What happened to my favorite witch when all was said and done? Did she retire, and is happily feline, laying in a sunbeam? I need to know these things.

Richard Mayhew from Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. What’s he up to these days? And what’s Door doing?

Fern from Charlotte’s Web. I’d love to know what happened to Fern as she grew up. And come to think of it, how did the rest of Wilbur’s life go, with Charlotte keeping him off the dinner table?

Claudia and Jamie from e.l. konigburg’s From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Did these two get a complimentary membership to the Met? Did they stay in New York City when they grew up? Did they ever consider holing up in the Hayden Planetarium?

Oliver in I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President. This kid has got to be dictator of some small nation by now, right?

Ponyboy from The Outsiders. I think of Ponyboy like I do the narrator in Stand By Me, a writer, looking back on his youth. What happened to him after high school? Did Daryl make him stay in school? Did he go to college? What about Sodapop and Daryl? I hope they stayed close.

The girls from St. Etheldra’s, from Julie Berry’s Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place. I hope we get more books with these girls, because I loved this one. But if we don’t, what does a group of Victorian schoolgirls do, once they’ve hidden two bodies and tried to carry on as if nothing ever happened?

Holden Caulfield, from Catcher in the Rye. Come on, aren’t you the slightest bit curious?

Gale from The Hunger Games. Please tell me he met a nice girl that wasn’t interested in a government-sponsored relationship and settled down. PLEASE.

 

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Steampunk, Teen

All Hail Gail Carriger! Waistcoats and Weaponry concludes the Finishing School saga!

cover47801-mediumWaistcoats & Weaponry, by Gail Carriger (2014, Little Brown Books for Young Readers), $18, ISBN: 9780316190275

Recommended for ages 13+

If there is one writer I fangirl for these days, it’s Gail Carriger. I discovered her Parasol Protectorate series a few years ago, and was immediately hooked. There’s paranormal adventure, steampunk fabulousness, including airships, mechanicals, and loaded parasols, and most importantly, fierce fashion. And tea. A lot of tea. What’s not to love?

When she announced she was writing a YA series that takes place in the Parasol Protectorate universe, I was jubilant.  The Finishing School series: Etiquette & Espionage, Curtsies & Conspiracies, and now, Waistcoats & Weaponry, take place at a finishing school for young ladies. But it’s not just any finishing school: the ladies are taught to be covert assassins as easily as they’re taught to properly bat their eyelashes and set a proper table. If you’ve been following the series, you know that Sophronia left off with a pretty major benefactor last book. He’s alluded to here in Waistcoats, but Sophronia is front and center in this book. She’s working out her feelings for both her friend, Soap, and Felix, a wealthy Duke’s son who’s been flirting outrageously with her. She’s still trying to figure out what Monique – and, by extension, a vampire hive – is up to. And when family drama strikes at her friend Sidheag, she has to be there for her. She’s got a full plate, and watching her juggle it is nothing short of brilliant.

Husband

I love Sophronia, and seeing her develop as a character throughout these three books has been a delight. She goes from being a headstrong young girl who likes to find out how things work, to a headstrong, determined young woman who exudes an air of polish when she needs to, but is never afraid to pull on a pair of trousers (gasp!) and get right into the thick of things to find out what she needs to know. She’ll take on a vampire or a werewolf if it means helping her friends, but she’ll always think things through and try to come to the best situation for everyone involved. It’s also tremendous fun to see the storylines developed in The Parasol Protectorate come full circle here; Finishing School takes place about 15-20 years before, and events discussed in the first series find their origins here, as do several key characters.

I’m sad to see Finishing School dismissed, but I can’t wait for Prudence, her new series, to hit stores next month. Pick up the Finishing School series. You’ll be so glad you did. And make sure to stop by the Finishing School website, where you can take some lessons of your own, and download an educator’s guide to the series. THERE’S AN EDUCATOR’S GUIDE TO THIS SERIES. Why wasn’t I taught this stuff in high school?!

tumblr_mwwh11DhIQ1rmi9wfo1_500

Posted in Adventure, Espionage, Fantasy, Fiction, Science Fiction, Steampunk

Book Review: Etiquette & Espionage, by Gail Carriger (Little, Brown, 2013)

etiquette and espionageRecommended for ages 13+

Gail Carriger, author of the Parasol Protectorate series, kicks off her YA Finishing School series, set in the same universe as the Parasol Protectorate series, with Etiquette & Espionage.

Fourteen year-old Sophronia is driving her society lady mother crazy. She climbs trees. She takes apart things to figure out how they work. She lines her books with rubber from a dumbwaiter in the house. Fed up with Sophronia’s antics, she sends her to finishing school – Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality, to be precise.

What neither Sophronia nor her mother bet on, though, was that this is no ordinary finishing school – when they say “finish”, they mean “finish” – the students learn how to curtsey and flutter their eyelashes, but they also learn about poisoning, espionage, and weapons placement. Sophronia is learning to be a spy and an assassin in addition to being a lady. But she also stumbles into a mystery involving one of the students as soon as she boards the coach to school – what is really going on at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s, and what does her newfound nemesis have to do with it?

While I am a big fan of the Parasol Protectorate series and went into this series with high hopes, I was a little let down here. I understand that this is the first book in a new series, with much to be established, but I felt there was an overall lack of plot to drive the story forward. It seemed more a collection of “look what Sophronia’s got herself into now” moments, with some vague subplot surfacing to give her an archenemy in future books.

The dry humor is there, though, and that kept me reading. I love the way Ms. Carriger writes, and I enjoy her stubborn heroines who can lock horns with a werewolf and then stress about their state of dress and look for a cup of tea. I enjoy the Parasol Protectorate universe, and there’s paranormal and steampunk aplenty here, with werewolves, dirigibles, and automatons for all. There are a few pleasant surprises for Parasol Protectorate fans, too.

If you’re a fan of Carriger’s, you’ll at least enjoy the universe and references. I look forward to the next book in the series.