Heartless (The Parasol Protectorate Series 4)

Heartless (The Parasol Protectorate Series 4)
By: Gail Carriger
Orbit Books 2011
A steampunk historical mystery review


Alexia Tarabotti faces continued assassination attempts on her person with hilarious resignation. Not so when a deranged ghost reports a plot against the queen. Alexia’s investigations lead her headlong into the Kingair plot of the past, the secrets of other women, and oh, yes-her final month of pregnancy.

Firmly back in London, and in control of husband, home, and helping, Alexia’s indomitable spunk and efficiency return this series to the light-hearted antics of Soulless. Heartless allows Alexia to upend supernatural society, even while it delves more deeply into her supporting cast. Biffy, Lyle, and Lord Maccon all hold together and even out the tone of this work so that the deep undertones begun in Blameless continue to support the world and characters of this creamier, more refreshing novel, like a tart on firm, chocolate crust. With plenty of fun and significant revelations, Heartless is an enjoyable rush to a climactic, parasol-dropping crescendo that will have you searching for the last book in Gail Carriger’s series.


Top Ten Books I Found Through Recs/Hype

This is a rendition of Top Ten Tuesday by the thebrokeandthebookish.wordpress.com. The prompt was books people keep telling you you must read, but I felt more comfortable listing works I’ve already read for that reason and liked rather than just passing on other recs or books you’ve probably heard the hype about already, anyhow. So, here goes:

Top Ten Books I Found Through Recs/Hype:

1. “Harry Potter” by J.K. Rowling
-My secret’s been that I actually put this down the first time I tried to read it and only picked them up again for the hype…only to get thoroughly into the fandom.

2. “The Other Boleyn Girl” by Philippa Gregory
-This was lent to me by my mother, who firmly believes that Anne did probably engage in incest with George in order to beget an heir.

3. “The Great, Good Thing” by Roderick Townley
-A friend gifted me this work and I loved its meta style.

4. “The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman
-I’m actually not a fan of most of Gaiman’s works, and the synopsis for this book is not something I normally go for, but somehow I really like this one.

5. “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams
-This one actually had to be recommended to me over years, simply because it’s so hard to explain and the title sounds boring to me, I think.

6. “Howl’s Moving Castle” by Diana Wynne Jones
-One of my happiest author discoveries, I think this was actually thrust upon me by my little sister.

7. “Wee Free Men” by Terry Pratchet
-This is another big author whose works I largely don’t connect with, so I need recommendations to find the ones that I do really enjoy.

8. “Soulless” by Gail Carriger
(Full review here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2014/06/17/soulless-the-parasol-protectorate-series-1/)
-This was another gift from a friend.

9. “Her Royal Spyness” by Rhys Bowen
(Full review here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2014/07/25/her-royal-spyness/)
-A friend literally put this into my hands in a bookstore and I couldn’t put it down.

10. Georgette Heyer books
-This regency romance author I found because a close friend began a reading aloud marathon of them with me, and luckily she wrote enough for me to still be working through them. Examples are:
“The Grand Sophy”: (https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/the-grand-sophy/)
“Black Sheep”: (https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/03/14/regency-romances-best-bickering/)
and for mysteries-
“Behold, Here’s Poison”: (https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/behold-heres-poison/)

Well, I guess that rather doubled as my reading secrets blog. So, what are your favorite books discovered through insistent recommendations?

Blameless (The Parasol Protectorate Series 3)

Blameless (The Parasol Protectorate Series 3)
By: Gail Carriger
Orbit Books 2010
A steampunk historical romance review


On her own, Alexia finds herself facing down epic scandal, betrayal, and assassins wielding homicidal ladybugs. Needless to say, she responds by gathering loyal companions and traveling across Europe to find answers, be it from scientists, murderous vampires, or even the Holy Templars.

An involving, quick read, Blameless amps up the action and world-building. The supernatural machinations behind this plot lead to more twists and consequences for the Maccons’ set. From devious schemes and werewolf drunkenness on the home front to the strange and sinister philosophies of Europe, Carriger puts her characters through the wringer. The expansion of French and Italian culture continues to expand this fascinating paranormal world with Alexia’s spirited tourism and unexpected transports to lead the way.

The middle book, Blameless proves the least light-hearted, but brings a passion and a flawed reality to these characters that enhances them through the rest of the series. Like tea, a sip of the unsweetened stuff will make the properly served version taste even better.

Changeless (The Parasol Protectorate Series 2)

Changeless (The Parasol Protectorate Series 2)
By: Gail Carriger
Orbit Books 2010

A steampunk historical romance review


Changeless sees the intrepid Alexia Tarabotti settled into a position of power, both as muhjah to the queen and Alpha of the Woolsey pack. So when immortals of all kinds suddenly begin to lose their powers on a wide scale, Conall Maccon runs off to tend to his old Scottish pack, and suspicious activity begins to follow Alexia around, she is naturally up to the task.

This sequel considerably broadens Carriger’s world in several directions, by introducing the rest of Conall’s werewolf pack, delving into the mysterious circumstances surrounding the Alpha’s move to London, taking readers to Scotland, and uncovering more details about this world’s intriguing rules and wherefores. The new characters are introduced and expanded without taking away from the original characters’ growth, the numerous mysteries facing Alexia keep the plot steaming along full-speed ahead, and this heroine performs her antics with such aplomb that I didn’t mind that some questions don’t get wrapped up until later books. Amazingly, the clothing details of bizarre hats and edgy attire attain even greater heights of distinction in this work.

In short, this is the vindicated and indomitable Alexia Maccon as everyone loves to see her, and the plot has enough going on to keep her busy and readers highly entertained. However, unlike Soulless, this book ends on an abrupt note that requires swift continuation into Blameless, so have it at the ready.

“Soulless” (The Parasol Protectorate Series 1)

Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate Series 1)
By: Gail Carriger
Orbit Books 2009

Alexia Tarabotti wields two great weapons: a custom parasol and the fact that she’s soulless. Up against mysterious incidents that frighten vampire queens and get under werewolves’ skin, will Alexia’s ability to cancel out any supernatural powers be enough? More importantly, will her spinster reputation survive her investigatory antics? And just how provoking can Queen Victoria’s werewolf agent, the Earl of Woolsey, become for this stubborn, intelligent lady when they must work together?

Gail Carriger’s novel works like an English scone smothered, or jammed, with humor. The light overall feel and humorous quirks tie the whole thing together and make Soulless good, quick travel reading. However, beneath all that fun lies a very solid and interesting world. The thoroughly thought-out details seem a bit dense at first, but the precocious characters and Carriger’s humorous jam balance it out well. The romance works well within the plot. The characters are engaging, and left with plenty of room to grow in the sequels. While not taking the most unpredictable route, the mystery unfolds with aplomb and drives a good pace. An excellent book to read over tea or when in need of a fun, supernatural escape, Soulless holds a world I would like to visit again.