OK, so to put in bluntly, I absolutely adored Soulless! It is a smart, funny, sometimes sexy little morsel of steampunk romance brain candy. Now, firs...moreOK, so to put in bluntly, I absolutely adored Soulless! It is a smart, funny, sometimes sexy little morsel of steampunk romance brain candy. Now, first off, when you see the word "romance" in the description, please don't jump to the conclusion that I would have: that the book is chockablock with hot, steamy naughtiness. Now, in all honesty, it does have it's share of hot, steamy naughtiness (it is part romance when all is said and done, although it really has only one outright sex scene in the entire book), but it doesn't read like every action our heroine is taking is trying to lead her to her next tryst; this is Victorian England, after all, and there are certain rules and regulations one must follow before such scandalous behavior can ensue! What we have here, really, is a smart and sexy heroine who can not only hold her own against vampires and werewolves (she kills a vampire with her parasol, after all), but who can still manage to uphold the highest of societies standards and etiquette, often at the same time.
Soulless is a clever book, and the notion of vampires, werewolves and ghosts being accepted parts of Victorian society is a unique approach to the urban fantasy. How our preternatural heroine, Alexia Tarabotti, falls into all this as someone without a soul who can negate the powers of the supernatural makes her all the more an extraordinary character. In fact, all of the characters are well polished gems and each stands out in their own distinct way.
Carriger's writing is laugh-out-loud funny in some instances and solid throughout. I found it a refreshing read and a highly promising good start for this debut author. I'm anxiously awaiting the second in the series, Changeless. (less)
**spoiler alert** Oh, Gail Carriger; I'm having a love/hate relationship with you right now. Well, maybe hate is too strong a word. I simply loved Sou...more**spoiler alert** Oh, Gail Carriger; I'm having a love/hate relationship with you right now. Well, maybe hate is too strong a word. I simply loved Soulless, but Changeless left me wanting. Wanting what, I'm not quite sure, but wanting something more. Don't get me wrong, Changeless had all the elements that made Soulless such a great read, but that's just it; it was all the same. I think the book suffered from what I call "Second Book Syndrome;" where the sophomore offering in a series still hasn't quite hit the stride of the rest of the series and is more or less riding on the coattails of the first book. I have all the faith in the world that Blameless (released in September) will make that hurdle and keep the story moving along.
We have all our favorite characters from Soulless with the introduction to a handful of new characters who may or may not have the best interests of Alexia Tarabotti at heart. Ivy Hisselpenny has a slightly larger, if not more empty-headed, role this time around (seriously, a good title for a book of her own would be Witless or Senseless). I did find that Alexia's immersion into the pack hierarchy was handled very well; I felt that her character has had some honest growth from the first book to this one in that respect.
The cliffhanger ending I didn't feel was entirely necessary, but since that seems to be the way of the literary world these days, it doesn't leave me entirely surprised. The entire element of the cliffhanger could have been left off for a couple of more books, and that's all I'm going to say on that subject.
All things considered, Changeless is still a fun read. It may not entirely hold up to Soulless as a whole, but it's a good companion and leads nicely, if not a little abruptly, into the next book. If you have already read Soulless and are wondering about Changeless, I might say to hold off until later in the year when Blameless is released, but don't let this review of Changeless dissuade you from reading Soulless. They are both clever, fun books that will leave you laughing out loud on several occasions.(less)
To be honest, I was not nearly as impressed with this volume of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen as I was with the first two volumes. This is onl...moreTo be honest, I was not nearly as impressed with this volume of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen as I was with the first two volumes. This is only the first part of a larger story, so hopefully it will improve as the story progresses.
I think part of the problem is that Alan Moore was a little too literarily vague. I mean, I don't mind researching a character to find out more about them and to understand their place in the story, but when well more than half of the cast of the story needs to be researched, that becomes too much of a chore for me. Maybe I'm just not as well-read as I think I am, but it rather struck me that Moore is trying to show us how much smarter he is than the rest of us by using such vague characters.
The current version of the League (Mina Murray, Quartermain 'Jr', Orlando, Raffles & Carnacki - if you don't know who they all are, look them up like I had to do) are trying to stop an apocalyptic premonition that Carnacki has. By the end of the volume, I'm still not sure if they know what the premonition is all about or not. Again, it all seems rather vague. Hopefully the story will improve, but if the next volume isn't any better, I can honestly say that I'm not sure that I will care to read the final volume.
Overall, a real 'meh' feeling with this one.(less)
Gail Carriger, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways: La Diva Tarabotti. Lord Akeldama. Pesto. Formaldehyde. Templars. Biffy. Floote. Lord Maccon....moreGail Carriger, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways: La Diva Tarabotti. Lord Akeldama. Pesto. Formaldehyde. Templars. Biffy. Floote. Lord Maccon. "Parassault." Killer ladybugs. Vampires. Werewolves. Seriously, I could just go on and on and on about how I love Gail Carriger. And what do all of these tidbits (and more!) add up to? The latest, delicious volume in the Parasol Protectorate series.
Blameless, the latest offering from Gail Carriger in her Parasol Protectorate series, finds our soulless heroine, Alexia Maccon (neé Tarabotti) is on the run. After the shocking revelations at the end of Changeless, she has been cast out by her brute of a werewolf husband, Lord Maccon, and has since discovered that for an as yet discovered reason, the vampires have set out to kill her, by any means possible (including killer mechanical ladybugs). Add to that the decision by the Queen to remove her status as muhjah of the Shadow Council, and Alexia is not having the best of times right now. Deciding that she needs some answers to her current condition, delicate as it is, Alexia travels abroad, in search of the Templars and some possible information regarding her, her father and her position as a preternatural.
Meanwhile back in London, there is intrigue and suspense galore as Lord Akeldama swarms from his home after a mysterious possession of his is stolen. How is this tied to the government? How do the werewolves play into all of this? And when will the formaldehyde run out?
And where exactly has Woolsey's Gamma run off to?
Gail Carriger has outdone herself with Blameless. I'll admit that I was a little concerned with the direction that Alexia and Co. were taking at the end of Changeless (I thought the situation seemed to come about a little too early), but I should never have doubted Ms. Carriger's ability, me the lowly reader that I am. She has taken a delicate state of affairs, and has made it into an integral, key plot point that helped move Blameless along with all the clever and witty pacing that I've come to love from her books. Having Alexia not attached to Lord Maccon was a refreshing treat. I think the characters are most interesting when they are apart, and Alexia is at odds with Connall. Of course, this situation won't always be that way, and of course they work well together, but I particularly loved the agitation felt throughout the book. The only other addition that I would have liked to see this time around? More Lord Akeldama. He has continually grown on me and may very well be my favorite character of the cast. He's just so over the top and divine.
The level of intrigue and the mystery behind the preternaturals was handled so well this time around. Ms. Carriger is developing a most engaging mythology and history for her characters, and I can't wait to find out more! There was just enough dangling plot lines left over to completely whet my appetite for more!
If you haven't had the pleasure of reading any of the Parasol Protectorate series, do yourself a favor, quit reading this humble blog and dash off to your nearest bookseller and acquire copies of all three books. Immediately. Posthaste. You won't be sorry. Gail Carriger may be one of the funniest authors that I've come across in awhile, and her books and characters are among the most charming and scintillating that I've read this year. My only regret now is that we've had the pleasure of three books released with the last year, that now we have to wait until the spring of next year to see what happens next!
Zeke wants to know the truth about his family. He's heard the stories, how his father, Leviticus Blue, built the Boneshaker, a machine that would mine...moreZeke wants to know the truth about his family. He's heard the stories, how his father, Leviticus Blue, built the Boneshaker, a machine that would mine through the ice of the Klondike to read gold for the Russians. He's heard the stories about how something went terribly wrong with the Boneshaker and how Blue lost control of it and it powered its way through the financial district of 1890s Seattle, smashing through several bank vaults before it reversed course and made its way back to the Blue mansion. He's heard the stories of how the Blight gas started to seep out, killing anyone who came into contact with it and turning them into zombies. He's heard all these stories, and doesn't want to believe them because his mother, Briar, who was there, won't tell him anything. And he's suspicious. And he plans on breaching the wall that has been built around Seattle to keep the Blight and rotters inside and finding out the truth and help rewrite his family's history. What he finds on the inside, however, may not be exactly what he is looking for.
Boneshaker is just as much a book about family and the ties that bind as it is a Steampunk extravaganza. Yes, it has the requisite dirigibles, goggles, mechanical goodness and other necessities that are obligatory in making a story Steampunk, but it is also the story of the love a mother has for her child and the lengths that she will go to to protect that child. Briar will stop at nothing to make sure that Zeke is safe, and this is what helps this book stand out in the Steampunk crowd. There's more to it than just Steampunk. And, just to make sure that her story stands out from other Steampunk stories, Cherie Priest also throws in a (un)healthy dose of zombies, just for good measure. It's also full of great characters who are each unique and engaging, and the world-building is topnotch.
Boneshaker is a great read. It's a great Steampunk novel. And it's a shame that it took me this long to finally getting around to reading it. Whether you're a fan of Steampunk or just enjoy a romping good book that is solidly written, Boneshaker is for you. Now, it's time for me to move on to Clementine and Dreadnought, the continuing stories of The Clockwork Century!(less)