Heartless (The Parasol Protectorate Series 4)

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

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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.

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Blameless (The Parasol Protectorate Series 3)

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

GermanBlameless

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
(http://gailcarriger.com)
Orbit Books 2010

A steampunk historical romance review

GermanChangeless

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.

Her Royal Spyness

Her Royal Spyness
By: Rhys Bowen
(http://rhysbowen.com/)
Berkley Prime Crime 2008
A Historical Mystery Comedy Review

Her Royal Spyness

Being thirty-fourth in line for the British throne proves utterly unhelpful to Lady Georgiana (Georgie) Rannoch. Nothing but royal expectations for Georgie’s future, but she is without the money, tolerable husband candidates, or conventional disposition to meet them. In this stifling situation, striking out on her own to London seems a great idea…except for the fact that she has no servants, cooking knowledge, or the ability to light a fire. Georgie’s quest to correct these oversights finds her mixing with new circles, learning scandalous secrets, and struggling with a murder investigation. Letting a dead Frenchman bring down her family name would never do, but can Georgie straighten it out while still managing to avoid deadly accidents and marriage machinations?

Lady Georgie proves a marvelous combination of Elizabeth Bennet’s good sense and sense of humor, and Anne of Green Gable’s penchant for new experiences and getting into trouble. The novel’s quick pace reflects Georgie’s quick wit and bright spirits. The supporting cast balance strong personalities with expected English types. The world of 1930s London appears with enough scope to draw everyone in, but never drags down the tone or pace. The mysteries bob and weave gracefully through the plot, buoying the reader’s enjoyment and fascination with Georgie’s world even more without proving overly suspenseful.

In short, this is a quick, delightful read with a heroine you’ll love to cheer on and a way of making one want high tea. Recommended for the society of travelers, beach-goers, and at-home readers, Her Royal Spyness introduces a world I’ll be glad to read more of.

“Soulless” (The Parasol Protectorate Series 1)

Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate Series 1)
By: Gail Carriger
(http://gailcarriger.com)
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.

Sir Frederick Ashton’s “Cinderella”

I saw this ballet version of Cinderella recently and I have some thoughts:

1. It’s good to know that the “British humour” advertized for this performance equates to cross-dressing stepsisters.
2. This fairy godmother calls on the fairies of the seasons to help her out, each of which appear with pages holding seasonal items. These pages are played by young boys and the autumn page holding a sheaf of wheat looked so numb and “whatever-I’m holding a sheaf of wheat, symbol of plenty, and yet I am hungry”-It was hilarious.
3. These seasonal fairies and the star fairies, also called upon to help Cinderella, all enter the ball with the heroine. Yet, everyone at court takes this as totally normal.
4. None of the other girls, not even the stepsisters, have any interest in the prince in this show. I found this very odd and have decided that these things mean that in this country the royal family has an ongoing arrangement with the fairy godmother to find the worthiest girl in all the land to wed each prince when he comes of age. Courtiers are absolutely off-limits as that would mess up the internal power dynamics of the country and pit the various aristocrats against one another and therefore, all the rich ladies at the ball already know the prince can’t marry them, he’s going to marry whatever girl shows up with fairies. As for the stepsisters, they were just distracted by…
5. THE FACT THAT NAPOLEON AND THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON ATTENDED THE BALL!
6. They must just like men in uniform.
7. I assume the country where this Cinderella takes place must be Andorra.
8. Both of these men are surprisingly good sports for that night.
9. That court jester, who wasn’t even the ordinary ballet dancer playing the jester on the night I saw it, was amazing! He jumped So High and had great chemistry with his jester head stick.
10. Whereas every other version of Cinderella I’ve seen has led me to believe that Cinderella’s slippers failed to disappear at midnight because the fairy godmother cared about her happiness, this rendition felt different. This time it seemed that the fairy allowed Cinderella to believe all would be lost, or remain as a memory in a slipper, primarily so that Cinderella would appreciate the prince more. After all, worthy or not, that doesn’t mean a girl will automatically fall in love with a guy, even if he’s a prince who everyone pushes you toward at the ball. The whole midnight/slipper ploy seems like this fairy’s way to cement the love connection on Cinderella’s side just as much as on the prince’s.
11. It was a lovely night!

Divorce Rate Cut in Half for Couples Who Discussed Relationship Movies

Divorce Rate Cut in Half for Couples Who Discussed Relationship Movies : Top Headlines : MD Connects.

Hah! This study which says that couples that simply took the time to discuss the relationships in movies a few times a month lowered their divorce rate just as far as couples that take anger management or couples therapy type workshops (which were much more time consuming) makes me very happy. It means that watching movies and discussing the couples in them as if they’re real people isn’t just hanging out or a distraction from what you’re supposed to be doing-it is highly important relationship work! We absolutely must take time out for couple movies! I like anything that makes movie-watching sound productive, but this makes them almost essential. Go forth and have movie nights.

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