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Finishing School #2

Curtsies & Conspiracies

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Does one need four fully grown foxgloves for decorating a dinner table for six guests? Or is it six foxgloves to kill four fully grown guests?

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--won't Mumsy be surprised? Furthermore, Sophronia got mixed up in an intrigue over a stolen device and had a cheese pie thrown at her in a most horrid display of poor manners.

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

In this sequel to New York Times bestselling Etiquette & Espionage, class is back in session with more petticoats and poison, tea trays and treason. Gail's distinctive voice, signature humor, and lush steampunk setting are sure to be the height of fashion this season.

310 pages, Hardcover

First published November 5, 2013

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About the author

Gail Carriger

53 books14.8k followers
Gail Carriger writes comedies of manners mixed with paranormal romance (and the sexy San Andreas Shifter series as G L Carriger). Her books include the Parasol Protectorate and the Finishing School series. She is published in many languages and has over a dozen NYT bestsellers. She was once an archaeologist and is fond of shoes, octopuses, and tea. Join the Chirrup for sneak peaks of upcoming giggles: http://gailcarriger.com/chirrup

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,629 reviews
January 6, 2014
“What’s a man like down there?”
“Oh.” Sidheag wrinkled her nose. “Unimpressive. They have,” she gestured toward her own nether regions with one hand, “a sort of dangly sausage—lacks tailoring.”
Brilliant description, brilliant!

If ever there was an enjoyable book featuring a Mary Sue of a heroine, this is it. Despite my rating, I liked reading this book, because it was a funny, quick, fast, very light read. My main problem: that's just it. There is absolutely zero complexity in the book, it was funny, but there was absolutely nothing more to it. It is completely devoid of substance with an utterly convoluted plot. And really, was there a need to include a love triangle when the main character in the book is all of 15 years old. Was it necessary to make her so completely perfect, so utterly capable, so tremendously intelligent, so flawlessly absorbing, particularly to the male sex?
[Sophronia] had not yet received lessons in seduction, or she might have understood the appeal of sharp confidence, a topping figure, and green eyes. All Sophronia’s intellect was directed at something other than attracting male companionship. These things combined to make her particularly appealing to gentlemen.
Fifteen years old, ladies and gentlemen. Our main character is fifteen years old, with the unconscious seduction of a young Lolita. With the brilliant analytical skills of a young Holmes. With the philosophical brain of Archimedes.

I liked Sophronia, despite her blind perfection, but she could have been so much more. My enjoyment of the book is impeded partially by the lack of complexity and the absence of any sort of depth within this book's characters, be they main characters or part of the side cast.

I can't give you a summary for this book because I'm not quite sure what I just read. There will be no detailed plot/character analysis because the characters are so utterly tongue-in-cheek that it's impossible to provide a criticism of them without realizing "well, she's SUPPOSED to be so completely trite and superlatively annoying because she is meant to be a satire of an YA fiction trope." I'm sure there is a way to critically analyze literary satire. My brain's just not quite that far-reaching yet.

No summary. Why? Half an hour after reading it, I remember absolutely nothing about it, and I can't even tell you what the hell the main plot was. I don't know what the mystery is, neither do I know how the plot was resolved. I had a lot of fun reading it, it was tremendously humorous. But that's it. I don't know what I just read beyond the humor, beyond the whimsical characters and the funny little steampunk world in which our book is set.

I can't tell you what the book is about, what the big spy-related plot is, but I can tell you that Monique is a bitch. That Dimity is in love with Lord Dingleproops. That Vieve is a 10-year old girl who likes to dress as a boy. That there is a love triangle, in which the sootie Soap and the supercilious Lord Felix are both in love with our Queen of the Mary Sues (I like her, but there is absolutely no denying that she is a Mary Sue) Sophronia. I can tell you that Sophronia carries around a little dog-thing (Bumbersnoot) as a purse. Those minute details, I can tell you.

Those minute details, I remember. Just not the central plot itself. I'm dead fucking serious.

There are a lot of good things about this book. I said it was a quick read and a very amusing one, and it really was. The writing is awesome; it is funny, it is flippant, it doesn't take itself seriously at all. I laughed more than once.
Dimity was so pretty and chattery, she quite overpowered the average male. Many gentlemen were unable to cope with abundant chatter, which is why they so often married it.
It is absolutely amusing, the book is rampant with silliness. The characters are a parody of British high society, complete with utterly ludicrous names, like the previously mentioned Lord Dingleproops, Professor Shrimpdittle, or else absurdly apostrophed names, like Miss Plumleigh-Teignmott.

The steampunk setting can best be described as "twee." We have gidgets and gadgets aplenty. We have whoozits and whatzits galore. Odd little thingamabobs, a steam-powered toy puppy. An "electrosplit goopslimer port." A "Thrushbotham pip-monger swizzle sprocket." There are mechanical maids---clangermaids, mechanical footmen---or rather, footmechs. Airships and dirigibles. Steam-puffing mechanical objects. Oddgobs. It is all terrifyingly, delightfully cute.

The school setting itself was pretty awesome, and I wished there were more insights and lessons for me to learn within the incredibly interesting-sounding classes. Seriously, where were these classes when I was still in school. We have classes on "drawing room music and subversive petit fours," "Hive and pack dynamics as part of the modern aristocratic system," "rapid walking in full skirts," "tea and delusions," "portion allotment, puddings, and preemptive poisonings."

The discussions in classes were the best part of the book, for example, during a lesson in "distribution, use, and application of stealth spy rocks," the class had this amazing discussion on men's facial hair.
The discussion evolved to the interesting question of whether a gentleman could tattoo a secret message upon his chin, then grow out his beard, thus transporting said message into enemy territory with no one the wiser. Would a man want a message permanently upon his chin? That was the quandary. And could one legitimately ascribe nefarious intent to any many with a full beard as a result?
“I’ve always thought beards suspicious,” said Dimity with conviction.
Me too, Dimity. Me, too.
Profile Image for Galateea.
94 reviews84 followers
July 22, 2021
UPDATE REVIEW

OLD: I'll probably be ambushed and hanged for saying this, but... I kinda liked the "rake-in-training" from the other school. He was an intriguing character and I don't know why, it looked to me like Sophronia wasn't too oblivious to his charms (the descriptions from her point of view kinda imply that she thought he wasn't too bad (big underestimation here, girls)). In comparison with Soap it’s just... dunno… like they are just plain friends, with no romantic feelings involved between them.

Hopefully, we'll see in this book how it goes. And besides, I don't think anybody would be too happy if Sophronia ends up with Soap. Her family is obviously rich, the school she attends obviously has different marriage plans for its students - all who graduated apparently married rich or important people - and it would obviously be hard for them to be together (we are considering the era here) since (again) obviously the differences between classes is very important (as it usually is with epic steampunk books).

So um… I’m siding with the rake on this one. You have to admit he’s a keeper (>w<)

NEW, WARNING, SPOILERS AHEAD: Put my paws on it the moment my computer clocked said 5th of November and finished the book in two hours O.O verdict: loved it! oh boy, where to start. it was witty, fast-paced, awesome, soul engaging and every other adj you can think of. it's no secret that I adore steampunk, but this one rocked, especially for a young adult book. And we find out the rake-in-training's name! FINALLY!

He's name is Felix. *swoons* and he is a viscount *swoons again* but only because his father is the duke and we know how these things go. He can't have the duchy title until his old man is six feet under if you'll excuse my language. And he's a viscount *swoons once again then quickly gets up when she realizes that he is most certainly under-aged which would make yours truly a pedophile*.

Ahem, moving on. Did I say his name is Felix? Yes, yes I did. Gosh, I love the name. They finally spend some time together in this book, but not nearly as much as I would have liked. And since I would have liked them to spend every moment of this book together, you can just ignore me on this one. A new conspiracy pops up and of course, it's up to Sophronia to make everything work and save the day (and her friends, while she's at it), while of course being careful with her petticoats and not being found out by the teachers.

Vampires are involved, kidnapping too, a flash meeting with a charming blond vampire, more of the handsome werewolf teacher, and some flashy experiments. Long thing short, anything you would want from a steampunk novel. Plus a few lessons in espionage. So 5 stars from me since it was worth the wait. the one thing I did not like though, was that our charming Sophronia seemed to be stalling in the love department. Now, I do get it this is kind of young adult, but I wasn't expecting a full-on ten-page sex scene in a flying school.

Ahem.

Pardon my speech.

But Felix is more than interested in her; the poor boy - devilish rake with a charming smile - even asked to court her. He is obviously so into her he would need help to snap out of his fascination. Another slightly annoying thing was that towards the end of the book, Sophronia's feelings towards Soap had slightly switched from pure friendship to... something more, no matter what she tried to say to herself and deny. So, yes it's a love triangle or at least the beginning of one, but um, I don't think there's much competition, really. I mean, Sophronia isn't a nobody. Her family, although not titled, does have some means and a future duke, well, that is the highest a girl can get.

I loved everything about this book, except perhaps for Sophronia's hesitation regarding Felix and Soap. One moment she was trying to discourage Felix by invoking reasons even she didn't believe, the next she was flirting with him and liking it while at the same time scrounging up reasons why this was not good.

Mixed feelings, girl, I get it, but not this mixed. Cut the poor boy some slack.

And Soap? Soap is nice and reliable and funny, but I can't seem to imagine him anything more than a very good friend, despite his spontaneous bouts of jealousy concerning Felix and his attachment to Sophronia. Even she admitted Soap was nothing more than a friend despite some spontaneous thought about how nice he is... in a completely non-friendly way and more like love interest way. Well, fun ending with Monique. I know you all wanted to see that viper on the bottom of the Thames, I know you did, you rascals.

Well, she doesn't get that ending, but at least she might be out of the picture. Oh boy, I think that's enough spoiler material for now. My advice? Go get the book, fellow readers and steampunk fans especially if you read the first novel of the series:D it's well worth the money and the time.
Profile Image for Madison Warner Fairbanks.
2,120 reviews275 followers
August 18, 2020
Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

2nd book in the Finishing School series. Best read with knowledge of the series. Steampunk YA fantasy.

Lessons in boys, friendships and espionage. Just to name a few of the things to learn.

Fantastic fantasy and adventure. Throughly enjoyed. Can’t wait for the next year’s education. The heroine is delightfully curious and adventure driven. Loved the robotic dog and his waging tail.
Profile Image for Wanda Pedersen.
1,807 reviews348 followers
April 10, 2021
All the best geniuses are evil.

With lines like that, Gail Carriger creates an atmosphere of frothy fun. My library labels this as YA, but I see no reason why the rest of us shouldn't enjoy it too.

One of Carriger's talents is creating suitably ridiculous names for her characters. If you thought that Sophronia and Dimity were unusual names for young women, this book gives us Lord Dingleproops, among others. Of course, it is set in the young ladies' dirigible finishing school, where several young men from Bunsen's Academy, the evil genius school, are brought in during a special mission. The young people are encouraged to learn how to properly flirt and court, while being advised that it must not get serious, as their training for espionage and evil genius are incompatible. However, Felix, Lord Mersey, may not have properly absorbed that last concept.

Plenty of plotting, scheming, spying, flirting, and adventuring. Not to be taken too seriously. Great fun.

Cross posted at my blog:

https://wanda-thenextfifty.blogspot.c...
Profile Image for Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller.
710 reviews1,147 followers
January 12, 2023
Check out my Booktube channel at: The Obsessive Bookseller

[3.5/5 stars] This sequel was a lot stronger than the first book.

The plot made more sense, the characters had better dynamics, and the finishing school elements were more prominent. Overall I thought it improved things on all accounts save one: the world building.

Rather than feeling like a good blend of genres, the world creation here still feels like a random hodgepodge of components. Perhaps it’s introduced and explained better in the Parasol Protectorate (the parent series to this spinoff prequel), but within the context of this series alone, I’m not buying it yet. There are vampires and werewolves, but there’s no lore explaining how these supernatural beings came about, nor is there much explanation on how they’ve integrated into society.

Their inclusion also doesn’t fit the sophisticated, steampunk vibes of the story. Because not only are there supernatural beings, but there are also small mechanical creations and airships large enough to support thriving communities. And while I like this component, thus far it feels a bit underdeveloped. I’m told they’re on a airship, but I never get drop-in details or other atmosphere-building descriptions while reading. The characters are so focused on their dramas that there’s not much room left over for setting the physical scene.

I appreciated the intrigue in the book, and find myself latching on to some of the more interesting plot points – ones I hope to see expanded on in next books. The characters showed a bit more depth in this book and I particularly liked the interactions between them all. The MC has a lot of big ideas and strategies, and while they’re not always super believable, they do make for a decently absorbing plot.

Overall the series is definitely improving, even if the world-building hasn’t quite won me over yet. I’m looking forward to the next one.

Recommendations: pick up this series for a fun, mischief -laden YA. Particularly if you love reading about boarding schools and high-brow societies.

Thank you to my Patrons: Filipe, Dave, Frank, Sonja, Staci, Kat, Katrin, Melissa, and Derek! <3

Via The Obsessive Bookseller at www.NikiHawkes.com

Other books you might like (same as for the first book):
Heist Society (Heist Society, #1) by Ally Carter The Naturals (The Naturals, #1) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes The Fixer (The Fixer, #1) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes The Selection (The Selection, #1) by Kiera Cass Con Academy by Joe Schreiber
Profile Image for Ashley Marie .
1,197 reviews374 followers
April 28, 2015
This remains a bizarrely entertaining series. Sidheag has become my favorite character, besides Soap and Bumbersnoot. Quite a bit more action in this installment, and it's nice to know that . I got a bit lost near the end, when Sophronia and Sidheag went to retrieve Dimity and Pillover, but things got back on track without too much trouble. Who knew vampires + werewolves + technology could be so confusing? ME. Still a good story though. And Sophronia seems just as much a Mary-Sue in this book as she did in the last one. Why doesn't that bother me? Probably has something to do with the amusing writing and the steampunk-ness.
Profile Image for Cora Tea Party Princess.
1,323 reviews800 followers
December 16, 2015
5 Words: Science, fantasy, plotting, school, tea.

There's something about Gail Carriger's steampunk world that I can't get enough of. In fact, it's not just something. It's everything. I freaking love it all.

With each book I fall even more in love.

I loved finding out even more about the characters I love. And that was a fantastic introduction to Lord Akeldama, the only thing this serious had been missing was that crazy teapot.
Profile Image for Maja (The Nocturnal Library).
1,013 reviews1,867 followers
May 8, 2013
It would appear that Gail Carriger gets even more bold and hilarious with each new book she writes. Curtsies & Conspiracies is her most enjoyable work since Soulless, her debut, and it is by far the most outrageous and ridiculous thing I’ve read in a very long time.

By far the best thing about Carriger’s books is the language. As a non native speaker, I get to learn so many phrases and expressions, most of them outdated, but endlessly entertaining. In terms of language use in steampunk, Gail Carriger is, I dare say, the best.

It is impossible not to admire Sophronia for her ability to keep a tight rein on so many things at once. I wasn’t particularly fond of her the last time around, but this time she proved to be quite admirable. She was always a step ahead of everyone else, even when her peers resented her for it. If there’s one thing I appreciate above all, it’s an intelligent, self-assured heroine, and Gail Carriger’s always are.

A slight love triangle is forming around Sophronia. The unsuitable boy we all know and love is still very much a part of her everyday life, but another boy has entered the picture as well, one of much higher social standing. However, Sophronia is so focused on various conspiracies and blissfully unaware of it all that it’s impossible to blame her for putting herself in such a potentially painful situation. I, of course, am rooting for the underdog, but I don’t see how that could possibly work out.

Sophronia had no idea why Felix was so intent upon her. She had not yet received lessons in seduction, or she might have understood the appeal of sharp confidence, a topping figure, and green eyes. All Sophronia’s intellect was directed at something other than attracting male companionship. These things combined to make her particularly appealing to gentlemen. Soap could have told her that.

Carriger continues to ridicule high society, their endless rules and norms, things they find offensive and embarrassing. It is a constant source of humor with sharp and intelligent criticism underneath. In this too, she is unparalleled.

Revisiting Miss Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality in Curtsies & Conspiracies was such an enormous delight, I find myself impatient to meet with everyone again. The third book is titled Waistcoats and Weaponry and scheduled for release in 2014.


Profile Image for Constantine.
783 reviews118 followers
September 5, 2021
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Genre: Fantasy + Young Adult

The Finishing School series is a fantasy steampunk fiction where girls are enrolled in this school on an airship in order to become spies and assassins. Courtesies and Conspiracies is the second installment in the series. It is Sophronia’s second year in Finishing School and she has to face new challenges and tests. The main plot of this book is Sophronia protecting her friend Dimity and her brother Pillover from a kidnapping attempt.

Like the first book, I felt this one did not have a clear plot too. The story is not complex but the writing is ambiguous and making the story to be somehow vague. Many times I felt things were boring. Yes, sometimes there were little interesting moments but they were few and not that significant. This installment is a bit more young adult than the previous book which felt more like a middle-grade story. There is a hint of a love triangle developing in this installment! Probably it will become the main focus in the next book. I hope not! I still feel that supernatural beings like vampires and werewolves were not utilized properly here. Three stars would be the highest rating I’d give this one.
Profile Image for Cori.
789 reviews132 followers
April 18, 2022
Things have been tenuous at work lately. Bonkers. Busy. Brusque.

I seem to find that as work intensifies, my reading choices lessen in intensity. Makes sense. Such is the tale of Gail Carriger's Finishing School series. This should not work. It's YA- with a freaking love triangle for crying out loud. It's urban fantasy- something I historically do not get into. It's steampunk- something I've wanted to like in the past but not really been able to find in any degree of quality writing. The characters are an inch deep and a mile wide.

But that mile is a fun puddle to splash in.

I laughed out loud multiple times. The dialogue, banter, and inner monologue is just hilarious. Granted, do not pick up this book expecting it to be life changing, thought provoking, or philosophically challenging. But for what it strives to be, it succeeds. Light, witty, funny, and escapist. I zoomed through both these books so quickly. Couldn't tell you for the life of me what the plot is when I'm between books from the series. But I can tell you they are funny, lighthearted, and I'm going to keep reading them.

I love ridiculously posh British names and the author intentionally leans into them: Professor Algonquin Shrimpdittle, Lord Dingleproops, Professor Braithwope, Bumbersnoot the mechanimal...

The final big scene in the book had me snorting and laughing. It was masterfully written and timed so well with comedic humor.

And some dry wit just sneaks up and smacks you from behind. Literally, I would be reading and have to stop and go back a couple sentences, realizing I'd just glossed over something really funny.

Observe. And enjoy.

"Sophronia felt that Lord Dingleproops might be improved by a beard. After all, no one would know his chin appeared to have eloped with, quite probably, Monique's brain and Preshea's sense of humor."

"Some of the young ladies even ate the salmon without concern to vital humors-- when everyone knew colored fish flesh could bring on an attack of hysteria. Sophronia refused to be ruffled. She ate the same thing every morning: porridge. Pillover glanced up from his plate of sausage. 'What a revolting spectacle.' Sophronia privately agreed and contemplated breaking from her normal dietary routine and eating a sausage in order to cope."

"Many gentlemen were unable to cope with abundant chatter, which is why they so often married it."


I'd rate this a PG.
Profile Image for Faye*.
315 reviews94 followers
April 22, 2018
Another fun instalment of the Finishing School series by Gail Carriger! I’m enjoying these a lot and flying through them in no time. I actually think I should slow down a little, I have been a bit distracted during the last one and I’m sure I’ve missed several details 🙈😬
Again, I have to say, these books aren't perfect, the story and resolutions are far too convenient at times and I guess they are targeted at a far (far!) younger audience than myself. I don't care, though, they are just so fun to listen to (Moira Quirk does a wonderful job narrating these by the way), this is kind of a "feel good series" for me now, and I'm looking forward to part 3. :)
Profile Image for K..
3,540 reviews999 followers
June 4, 2019
Trigger warnings: blood, violence, blackmail.

4/6/2019
I stand by everything I said last time. Soap is too pure for this world and I want to wrap him in blankets and protect him forever.

13/8/2016
Gosh, this series is fun. It took me a while to get back into the world and the characters, but goodness I love them so much. Sophronia is adorably naive about her two love interests while also being incredibly savvy about everything else that's going on. Soap is a complete cinnamon roll and I ship the hell out of it. Add in a cameo from a certain foppish vampire and you've got yourself one hell of a good time.

22/11/2013
I think I probably should have reread Etiquette and Espionage before I read this, just to remind myself of some details about Sophronia, the school, and the girls' training to date. That aside, I really enjoyed this. The introduction of characters from Bunson was a lot of fun, and the discovery of which characters are serving as drones to the school's vampire professor was pretty fabulous. The ending seemed a little rushed, and the introduction of a maybe-love-triangle had me ever so slightly annoyed (at least Sophronia is somewhat oblivious about her feelings towards both of them??). But on the whole, it was pretty damned fabulous. Especially with the introduction of more characters that we know and love from the Parasol Protectorate series!
Profile Image for Maria V. Snyder.
Author 64 books16.8k followers
October 27, 2014
Book 2 of a new series by Gail Carriger. I've downloaded the audio book and listened to this on my road trip to North Carolina. I love Gail's books - they are funny and smart and quirky, and the characters are proactive and intelligent and willing to do what it takes to help their friends. I loved the inclusion of a few characters from her Parasol Protectorate series, who I miss! The actress who reads these books is perfect. I can't read one of Gail's books because I'm not as good as the reader and it seems flat! I've a number of series now that I'll only listen to :).
Profile Image for Nicky.
4,138 reviews1,003 followers
June 3, 2015
Like the first book, this YA book set in the world of the Parasol Protectorate is a fun romp with slightly less sex talk than the Parasol Protectorate books. It still has a bit of romance, but it’s mostly banter in keeping with the age of the girls, with a touch of teenage confusion and angst as regards having feelings for anyone. They’re not books with great depth: the perfect description is a ‘romp’, as many people have said before me.

It annoys me that people complain about Sophronia being a ‘Mary Sue’, when a boy doing excellently at school in the same way wouldn’t be questioned. This is what she’s good at, with the help of her friends, and without them and some helpful coincidences, she wouldn’t be so good at what she does. Nor is she gracefully immune to everything the other girls say or think — she can be hurt by them, and do them injustices.

So yes, it’s a little piece of fluffy wish fulfilment. And it’s fun, and positive about female characters who can stand up for themselves and take care of themselves.

Originally posted here.
Profile Image for Dark Faerie Tales.
2,274 reviews544 followers
October 29, 2013
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales.

Quick & Dirty: Carriger knows how to write paranormal, for all ages. A wonderful and riveting sequel.

Opening Sentence: “Miss Temminnick.”

The Review:

Gail Carriger has done it again with Curtsies & Conspiracies, the second book in the Finishing School series. From vampires, to aether technology, and a conspiracy well worth conspiring about, Carriger has hooked me again. This book has captivated me from the first few pages until the very end. Carriger has left me wanting more, enough so that I’ll have to reread this book again to satisfy my literary hunger. Let me explain why I’m gushing so much.

In Curtsies & Conspiracies, Sophronia is nearing the end of her first year at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. While one would originally think that it is a school for lessons in proper etiquette and manners, but alas they are training her to become a spy! During one of Sophronia’s late night jaunts around the school, she stumbled upon a conspiracy. From the looks of things, this conspiracy is of catastrophic proportions! A sudden field trip, a stolen device, and a traitor amongst the midst is the perfect recipe of a conspiracy! Of course, Sophronia must rely on everything she has learned to solve the mystery. But how much danger will she find herself in?

Sophronia is just as amazing as she was in Etiquette & Espionage. I feel that she has grown a little more mature, but still containing that wicked gleam in her eye. I feel that she’s more daring, calculating each step and step after that. I enjoyed reading her voice. For a main character that’s set in a paranormal world, her voice is relatable and realistic.

Carriger always has a great supporting cast, and in Curtsies & Conspiracies, the ones I loved came back just as fun, just as snarky, and definitely just as entertaining, if not more. Vieve, the sootie that Sophronia became close friends with, has a more defined role this time. She’s a lot of fun! She’s young, she’s smart, and definitely compliments Sophronia’s antics. Carriger’s other characters all play important parts, and I enjoyed revisiting with them all.

I love stories that are set in historical times, and to add a paranormal element is even better. Carriger has always described her settings in a way that plays like a movie in my mind. Her descriptions are very detailed and vibrant. But the part that impresses me the most is that most of this story takes place aboard the ship. It’s amazing how a ship transforms into this whole other world.

Curtsies & Conspiracies is a fantastic read filled with a daring adventure with engaging characters. I highly urge you to read this, and Etiquette & Espionage if you haven’t already.

Notable Scene:

Sophronia could feel her shoulders tensing and fought to keep them down. Were my choices correct? Do they want the expected route, or is it better if I did something out of the ordinary? Will they send me down? Sophronia was in ever greater fear that her sojourn at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s might come to a premature end. Only have half a year ago she had resisted finishing school with every fiber of her being, until she realized Mademoiselle Geraldine’s offered no ordinary education. Now she dreaded the possibility of returning home to her former life.

Lady Linette said, “Everyone’s results are given together. You will receive your final marks in front of your peers.”

Sophronia’s heart sank. This explained the pale faces of the other girls – anticipated trauma.

FTC Advisory: Little, Brown BFYR/Hachette Book Group provided me with a copy of Curtsies & Conspiracies. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
Profile Image for Jenny (Reading Envy).
3,876 reviews3,024 followers
June 13, 2016
This series is just a lot of fun, and even better in audio, performed by Moira Quirk. She handles the silly names and bizarre situations with the formality required for any proper lady. I was reminded of this series and the rest of Gail Carriger's series that I've started and not finished when I talked to Rose Davis on the Reading Envy Podcast - she had just listened to the first book of the newest series, Prudence, and when I knew I was going to spend half the day in the car driving to and from a workshop, I downloaded this immediately.

The Finishing School series (where eligible women are learning how to properly finish a person, as in end their life!) takes place almost entirely on a giant school shaped dirigible, and all the chapters are named after tests since Sophronia is going through her first major evaluation. There is a situation bringing the men's mad scientist school into their vicinity, and as you can imagine, fun hijinks ensue.

Because my current bedside read is a book in another Carriger series (Changeless), it was most interesting to realize that there are some characters that crossover, despite the fact that the finishing school books take place 15 years ahead of the Parasol Protectorate.
Profile Image for Melanie Schneider.
Author 8 books77 followers
March 14, 2019
Jede Geschichte wird großartig, wenn Lord Akeldama auftaucht!

Ich bin fasziniert von den ganzen losen Enden, die Gail Carriger hier aufzog, um sie dann wunderbar zu verweben! Einzig die Flirterei war mir manchmal zu viel, der Lord war schon arg aufdringlich.
Profile Image for Simon Brading.
Author 20 books81 followers
October 3, 2018
Very good fun, it's just unfortunate that we can always work out what's actually going on before the main character does; sometimes it makes her seem a bit thick ;-)
Profile Image for Kitty G Books.
1,544 reviews2,930 followers
August 20, 2016
This series is shaping up to be super fun and I definitely think it's growing on me much like the Parasol Protectorate series did. I really enjoy the adventures on board Miss Geraldine's dirigible and seeing our characters start to grow a little more with each adventure they embark on is great.

Sophronia is once more our main character and she's an amusing one to follow. Her constant inquisitive nature means that she's always involving herself in whatever is happening, but usually she's trying to help her friends Sidheag, Dimity and Vieve.

In this adventure we see the crew of the dirigible as they float to London on a mysterious trip to see new experiments in the aether. The Steampunk elements come through a bit more in this series I feel and I really like that.
We also have the inclusion of some of the boys from Bunson's school for evil geniuses on board and this brings a new dynamic to the plot and characters.

Overall I really enjoyed this and seeing some of the characters from Parasol Protectorate again was super exciting!! (a certain vampire rove) Can't wait to go onto book #3 soon!
Profile Image for Anne.
301 reviews41 followers
December 18, 2016
Very good 2nd book in the series.
Enjoyed it a lot!
Profile Image for R Z.
456 reviews21 followers
September 24, 2017
I mean, this series is just really cute, okay? And this book made me laugh out loud quite a few times. I had fun reading it, and that's what matters.
Profile Image for Narilka.
567 reviews38 followers
December 12, 2020
Gail Carriger has done it again. Curtsies & Conspiracies, the second book in the Finishing School series, is an absolute delight. I enjoyed this one even more than the first. The story opens with the girls returning to Madame Geraldine's just in time for the strangest mid-term exam ever, which Sophronia passes with flying colors. Making top marks isn't all it's cracked up to be as Sophronia's friends turn against her in apparent jealousy. Or is it? Is everything at this school a test? Before they know it, the School is heading to London for the season... and for a covert mission that has implications the supernatural and humans alike. With boys!

Hanging out with Sophronia and friends at Madame Geraldine's School is so much fun! Carriger's signature wit and clever dialogue are on full display, reminding me of my favorite parts of Parasol Protectorate though aimed at the YA crowd. With this trip to London Carriger is able to work in even more cameos by Parasol characters. does not disappoint.

Life is definitely difficult for Sophronia with everyone, even Dimity, turned against her. She has finally realized the full value of her friendships. That doesn't stop Sophronia in the slightest from being up to her usual tricks and intelligencer activities. While I wasn't crazy about the start of a possible love triangle, parts of it are relevant to both Sophronia's training and the plot so it doesn't detract from the story too much. I love that even Bumbersnoot has an important role to play. I wish I could have my own Bumbersnoot.

Speaking of plot, there is one! It leans towards the political side and it's great to gain insight into Vampire society and hierarchy. There is a lot for Sophronia to figure out, all of which leads up to one of the best endings I could have hoped for. It's a good thing Countess Nadasdy is already (un)dead or the extreme excitement in her Hive might have been fatal due to the bad manners of it all. And best of all, . Which does make me wonder who the new antagonist will be. I'm looking forward to seeing how Sophronia's education continues in the third book.
Profile Image for gio.
1,008 reviews387 followers
January 4, 2015
"Our biggest concern is what you get up to when we are not watching. Because, if nothing else, this test has told us you are probably spying on us, as well as everyone around you."

Ah Gail Carriger has done it again! I like this series even more that The Parasol protectorate; it's so funny and clever...and I must admit, quite refreshing. Also I have the cutest ship ever *cough* Soap *cough*

After her first tests at finishing school Sophronia, since her friends are acting weird, decides to take matter in her own hands and sneaks around the school, trying to discover useful information. That's how she comes across a useful and interesting piece of information: there may be a trip to London, that also might hide something much more interesting than a simple school trip.

I read The Parasol Protectorate series this summer and, while I was really pleased with the story and the witty banter, there were things that weren't, in my opinion, "complete". This series is much more polished. The world-building is well-done, the character are well-developed and the plot is always interesting. Also since this series is set years before The Parasol Protectorate some characters that I had come to know and love appear. I loved Madame Lefoux and here I loved Vieve; she's just as funny as a ten-year old girl as she was when met Alexia. (Uhm using the past tense is so strange, since, well, The Parasol Protectorate series is set after this series...)
But in my opinion the characters are the best thing Finishing School has. They are 14/16, which is quite refreshing because they don't behave like ya characters (----> no idiocy), and they are quite fun and witty. I love Sophronia and her friends and while I see the similarities with the "old" characters, these are much better. Alexia sometimes felt forced to me and with Sophronia that never happened. The romance is really subtle and cute, because so far there's very little of it, since our dear main protagonist has just realised that there might be someone who wants to attract her attention.

“So, did you hold back during that test?"
"Maybe a little," Sophronia admitted.
Soap grinned. "That's my girl."
Sophronia glared at him. He was getting familiar.
"You are, miss." He continued to grin.
"I'm my own girl, thank you very much.”


“No, what's a man like down there?"
"Oh." Sidheag wrinkled her nose. "Unimpressive. They have - "she gestured towards her own nether regions with one hand - "a sort of dangly sausage - lacks tailoring"


A refreshing and funny ya series, I can't wait to read Waistcoats & Weaponry.
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