Timeless by Gail Carriger

Title: Timeless
Author: Gail Carriger
Length: 386 pages
ISBN: 9780316127189
Published in: 2012
Genre: fiction (alternate history, vampires/werewolves)
Rating: 5/5
Challenges/Resolutions: Copyright 2012 Resolution

Summary (from Goodreads):

Alexia Tarabotti, Lady Maccon, has settled into domestic bliss. Of course, being Alexia, such bliss involves integrating werewolves into London High society, living in a vampire’s second best closet, and coping with a precocious toddler who is prone to turning supernatural willy-nilly. Even Ivy Tunstell’s acting troupe’s latest play, disastrous to say the least, cannot put a damper on Alexia’s enjoyment of her new London lifestyle.

Until, that is, she receives a summons from Alexandria that cannot be ignored. With husband, child, and Tunstells in tow, Alexia boards a steamer to cross the Mediterranean. But Egypt may hold more mysteries than even the indomitable Lady Maccon can handle. What does the vampire Queen of the Alexandria Hive really want from her? Why is the God-Breaker Plague suddenly expanding? And how has Ivy Tunstell suddenly become the most popular actress in all the British Empire?

My Thoughts: Going into this book, I admit I was a little sad. It’s the final installment of the Parasol Protectorate quintet I’ve been enjoying the last few years. This was by no means a level of sadness such as those brought on by Deathly Hallows or Mockingjay, but it’s always a little sad when a book series, however short, ends.

Timeless takes place a couple of years after the previous book, Heartless. Alexia and Conall’s daughter, Prudence, is now a tot and worries worldwide supernaturals. She is what Carriger calls a “metanatural”, meaning she can steal supernatural powers from a person, turning them mortal and herself supernatural through contact. (This is unlike Alexia, who can simply neutralize a supernatural, but only while she maintains contact, and she herself doesn’t become supernatural at all.) Prudence is summoned to Egypt of all places. I quite enjoyed the trek to Victorian-era Alexandria and Luxor. If nothing else, it was a nice change of pace from London. There was definitely an exotic feel to the story, like with the hot-air balloons.

I will say that I was a little unimpressed by some of Carriger’s choice of words in this book. One sentence in particular I found very…crass.

There was something about connubial relations that appealed, sticky as they might be. (p80)

I found that uncalled for and a bit disgusting. However true some statements might be, some are just better left unsaid.

But that won’t keep me from trying out Carriger’s spin-off series, Parasol Protectorate Abroad, featuring Prudence (presumably a bit mire grown-up haha) that is due out fall 2013. I hope it just doesn’t turn out to be one of those types of sequels that goes on when it should’ve just ended on a high note.

Heartless by Gail Carriger

Author: Gail Carriger
Genre: fantasy
ISBN: 9780316127196
Length: 374 pages
Published: June 28, 2011
Source: personal collection
Rating: 4/5
Resolutions/Challenges: Published in 2011 Resolution

Reason for Reading: It’s #4 of a quintet, the final installment to come out in March. And, since I like the previous books, I obviously continued on!

Summary (from Goodreads):

Lady Alexia Maccon, soulless, is at it again, only this time the trouble is not her fault. When a mad ghost threatens the queen, Alexia is on the case, following a trail that leads her deep into her husband’s past. Top that off with a sister who has joined the suffragette movement (shocking!), Madame Lefoux’s latest mechanical invention, and a plague of zombie porcupines and Alexia barely has time to remember she happens to be eight months pregnant.

Will Alexia manage to determine who is trying to kill Queen Victoria before it is too late? Is it the vampires again or is there a traitor lurking about in wolf’s clothing? And what, exactly, has taken up residence in Lord Akeldama’s second best closet?

My Thoughts: I enjoyed this one a lot more than I did the ending of Blameless. This one is very fast paced and the story pretty much takes place in a week. We learn a bit more about Professor Lyall, Beta in the Woolsey pack, and there’s a lot of involvement with Countess Nadasdy and her Westminster hive of vampires. Oh, and Felicity–Alexia’s annoying half-sister–gains a larger role. Although it sort of seems like Carriger wanted to get her into the story, then forgot about her, and then remembered and tried to add her back in.

It’s really hard to talk about the book without giving anything away from the previous three books. To put it simply, if you liked the first three books, this one will not disappoint! 🙂

Oh, I think I originally said I might have liked the modern English language in Victorian England. But I’m not so sure anymore. It wasn’t until Alexia asked someone if they were “making a funny” that I realized I might not really like it that much. Clearly that would not have been said in Victorian England.

Thoughts on the Cover: I like the first two covers of the series. But the third and fourth (that’s this one) I haven’t liked at all. It looks really cheap. It’s obvious the person is superimposed on another digitally moderated image of a castle. Not a fan 😦

Blameless by Gail Carriger (spoilers abound)

Title: Blameless
: Gail Carriger 
: fiction, fantasy/”horror” (alternative historical fiction?)
: 9780316074155
: 355
Published: 2010
personal collection
: 4/5
Reason for Reading: 2010 Resolution (read 5 books published in 2010)
continuing the Parasol Protectorate series (my review of PP #1, Soulless, found here and PP#2, Changeless, found here)

Book Description (back cover):

Quitting her husband’s house and moving back in with her horrible family, Lady Maccon is the scandal of the London season.

Queen Victoria dismisses her from the Shadow Council, and the only person who can explain anything, Lord Akeldama, unexpectedly leaves town. To top it all off, Alexia is attacked by homicidal mechanical ladybugs, indicating, as only ladybugs can, the fact that all of London’s vampires are now very much interested in seeing Alexia quite thoroughly dead.

While Lord Maccon elects to get progressively more inebriated and Professor Lyall desperately tries to hold the Woolsey werewolf pack together, Alexia flees England for Italy in search of the mysterious Templars. Only they know enough about the preternatural to explain her increasingly inconvenient condition, but they may be worse than the vampires–and they’re armed with pesto.

My Thoughts: Not quite as gripping as the second novel, Blameless falls more into the just under perfect category of 4/5 stars from me. I was expecting quite the story and adventure, what with the way Changeless ended. However, it was just sort of blah for me. Carriger didn’t write Lord Maccon to be quite deserving to win Alexia back. When all was said and done, he didn’t really arrive in the story as a “hero” until Alexia no longer needed rescuing–I can understand if perhaps this was to make Alexia a stronger heroine. However, the fact that Alexia yells at Lord Maccon for probably five minutes and then caves into his sexy doings without so much as a peep sort of has me feeling a little aghast. The fact that Carriger wrote Alexia this way just makes me sad–I mean, she’s supposed to be strong and logical. And while Alexia can also be emotional, I think it’d take a bit longer than five minutes for me to get over it if had ever Nick accused me of adultery and carrying another man’s child and it got out in public. Alexia’s caving in to Conall like this just makes me angry, as a woman, I guess. (And trust me, I never thought I’d say something offended me, “as a woman”.)

However, I love that because Alexia traveled to Italy, I now know more about the preternatural state and the history of them and their interactions with supernaturals (and yes, I understand this is all make believe). But this soul-stealer that the “infant inconvenience” will likely become has me greatly interested. Does a soul-stealer actually steal the soul away completely or just neutralize it like a soul-sucker? Here I thought maybe a preternatural and a supernatural would cancel out and the baby would just be normal. But I’m getting the feeling that the baby will be much more important than any other character.

Oh, and I’m also very curious to find out what happens between Lord Akeldama and Biffy. Technically Biffy could become a loner (meaning he would desert the Woolsey Pack) and spend his days with Lord Akeldama. I mean, that makes sense: a rove and a loner, both neither belonging to a hive/pack, loyal to no one but themselves. It would be weird, a vampire and a werewolf together (note how I don’t find anything odd about the fact that both are men 🙂 ). But, a preternatural and a werewolf is just as weird, I think.

My Thoughts on the Cover: Just like the previous two, the covers have no real hidden meaning and can be taken pretty literal. There is an ornithopter (aka a primitive helicopter) to represent the new mode of travel introduced in this story. And the backdrop is not England/London, but another city. I honestly don’t know what city this is supposed to be. It looks Parisian, but the majority of the story was in London or Florence. And I don’t see that ever-present landmark of Paris–the Eiffel Tower–but that could be because it wasn’t built by the time the story takes place. Anyone know what city it is?

A favorite quote of mine from the book:

“‘B-b-b-bastard,’ blubbered Alexia.
Madame Lefoux was clearly at a loss.
Alexia, taking pity on her, tried desperately to control herself and explain. ‘I was doing so well, being angry at him.’
‘So you are crying because you cannot be angry at him anymore?’
‘No. Yes!’ Alexia wailed.” (p237)

I like this quote because I often find myself in the same predicament. Not that Nick and I ever fight to the extreme as Alexia in Conall in this book, but I still find it hard sometimes to stay angry at Nick. That makes me even more upset, not being able to stay angry at him. I totally understand Alexia in this instance 😀

Booking Through Thursday: Current Read

What are you reading right now? What made you choose it? Are you enjoying it? Would you recommend it? (And, by all means, discuss everything, if you’re reading more than one thing!)

Right now I’m reading Blameless by Gail Carriger 🙂 It is the third in a continuing quintet called The Parasol Protectorate. I chose this book because I liked the first book and loved the second book, but I originally heard about the series from Dom’s blog. I would recommend it, especially to those who like: alternative history (mid-Victorian Era for this series), vampire/werewolves, and a little bit of romance and mystery. I am definitely enjoying this book 😀

Changeless by Gail Carriger

Title: Changeless
: Gail Carriger 
: fiction, fantasy/”horror” (alternative historical fiction?)
: 9780316074148
: 374
Published: 2010
personal collection
: 5/5
Reason for Reading: 2010 Resolution (read 5 books published in 2010)
continuing the Parasol Protectorate series (my review of PP #1, Soulless, found here)

Book Description (from back of book):

Alexia Maccon, the Lady Woolsey, awakens in the wee hours of the mid-afternoon to finder her husband, who should be decently asleep like any normal werewolf, yelling at the top of his lungs. Then he disappears–leaving her to deal with a regiment of supernatural soldiers encamped on her doorstep, a plethora of exorcised ghosts, and an angry Queen Victoria.

But Alexia is armed with her trusty parasol, the latest fashions, and an arsenal of biting civility. Even when her investigations take her to Scotland, the backwater of ugly waistcoats, she is prepared: upending werewolf pack dynamics as only the soulles can.

She might even find time to track down her wayward husband–if she feels like it.

My Thoughts: While I found the first book in the Parasol Protectorate series, Soulless, to be a bit predictable, this second installment wasn’t all that predictable. I am starting to get used to the idea of supernaturals running around and being part of all the normal society in England. I still think it might be horribly wrong to have this set in the time of Queen Victoria, who, I hear, was one of the stuffiest/prude-ish monarchs of the British Empire. Plus, the idea that the dewan, potentate, and muhjah would have council with the queen is preposterous–the queen has little political power; it is the prime minister who should be doing that. (But, I admit, it makes for a better fiction novel to interject the queen.) And I also think it is wrong of Carriger to be using the term “ton”, referring to the British high society as the term really only applied during the Regency era, about 50 years before the time of this novel. Although, I do enjoy that in this series, the people who want to become supernatural are the only ones that “can”. The vampires and werewolves metamorphose only those who have petitioned to have it done to them (at least in theory). This makes the supernatural seem not so dangerous as other authors might portray them.

Anyways, technicalities aside, I found this book quite the cliff-hanger! I don’t tend to read mystery and horror novels where I assume this cliff-hanging is more common, so this was different for me. I did read large chunks of it at a time, because of this. And there was more mystery in this installment–as mentioned earlier, I found the first book rather predictable. (If I hadn’t owned the second book already, I’m not sure I would have read it because of my disappointment in the first.) I often found myself trying to figure out what was plaguing the supernaturals–the vampires, werewolves, and ghosts are plagued by something causing them to lose their supernatural powers and be “humanized”. Needless to say, I was unsuccessful at guessing what was the cause up until right before Alexia also figured it out.

However, I was partially right in what I had been theorizing. Sort of. I had been thinking that maybe it was one of the Egyptian artifacts brought back (which it was), something like the Tablet of Akmenrah a la Night at the Museum 🙂 (which it wasn’t). I hadn’t really given much thought to the mummy being the cause, I thought it was more or less another artifact. But, learning that two preternaturals cannot occupy the same space makes sense. It was when Alexia was feeling funny near the mummy I started thinking it might be the cause.

And I DEFINITELY didn’t foresee the end of the novel. What a cliff-hanger!! Luckily for me, I was probably only half as surprised as I could’ve been, because I did foresee a small detail to the ending.

As soon as Alexia and her crew had boarded the dirigible, and Alexia felt “airsick” that one morning, I began to think that perhaps she was pregnant. This wasn’t just because it sounded like morning sickness, but because I remembered Felicity had mentioned numerous times that Alexia was, basically, gaining weight. The two together added up as pregnant in my mind. And, since I didn’t realize before the ending that werewolves were not capable of procreating living children, I didn’t think twice about my theory. I really cannot believe Lord Maccon. Maybe he thinks that, because Alexia is so willing to be ravished by himself, he also thinks she loves it so much and wants it from others as well. But, then again, I can see where his fears lie in logic. However, if he happens to produce (I just have to be blunt about this) supernatural sperm and she produces preternatural eggs, they would cancel out to make regular/natural children?

But the ending is so different from that of the first novel. This ending leaves me craving for more and that is why I’m glad the third book came out only a couple of weeks ago. I kid you not when I say I finished this book when I woke up this morning and then got dressed and drove to the nearest bookstore and bought the third book. That is how much I want to know what happens!!

My Thoughts on the Cover: Pretty average. Obviously it is Alexia on the front, still looking unlike I picture her in the story. But the dirigible (that’s airship/zeppelin) floating in the background isn’t really what I picture. Yes, I know that’s what they really look like. But the way Carriger describes the dirigible makes me imagine a boat suspended from a big floating balloon (like a zeppelin), a la Captain Shakespeare’s ship in the movie Stardust. (Sorry about the photo, it was the best I could find to show you what I mean.)

Soulless by Gail Carriger

Title: Soulless
Author: Gail Carriger (pen name of Tofa Borregaard)
Genre: fiction, fantasy/”horror” (alternative historical fiction?)
ISBN: 9780316056632
Pages: 357
Year Published: 2009
Source: personal collection
Rating: 4/5
Reason for Reading: Dom’s review enticed me 🙂

Book Description (back of book):

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire–and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia is responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

My Thoughts: I quite enjoyed this novel 🙂 However, I fear my love of another series of books has made this one fall subpar, to me personally. You may recall that I am a large fan of the Pink Carnation series by Lauren Willig. It has history (real history), romance, and espionage/mystery all rolled into one. This series is very similar to the series of which Soulless begins–The Parasol Protectorate series. However, comparatively speaking, Soulless fell below my expectations. I thought there might be a little more mystery to it, but was shocked and dismayed to find that the vampires and werewolves in question in the summary are well known to London society–I think if they had cloaked this little bit of information from the general public characters it would have made a world of difference to me, as a reader. And, it is also possible that I just like the time period of the Pink Carnation books (1810s) to the period of the Parasol Protectorate books (1860s, as American Civil War is mentioned as still going on). I think the two series were just similar enough that I went into Soulless thinking I would feel about it the same as the Pink Carnation series. I have a feeling the Parasol Protectorate books are just slightly hard to believe as true (for obvious reason–if vampires/werewolves existed, I don’t think they would flaunt it in public), and I always like a tad bit of possible truth to my books…Or nothing believable. This is sort of in-between, and I didn’t like the balance.

HOWEVER, not comparatively speaking, I still quite enjoyed the novel! There were a great many interesting things, especially Carriger’s portrayal of vampires and werewolves. Here are some of those things I found particularly interesting:

  • Vampires can do two things (to be socially acceptable): take blood from various willing drones (servants who typically wish to be turned someday) or to pay blood-whores–“One simply did not attack unannounced and uninvited!”
  • Werewolves have servants (not werewolves themselves) called clavigers to lock them away when the moon is full so they don’t hurt anyone–often these clavigers hope to be turned someday.
  • Vampires and werewolves have an excess of soul from being turned–that is what makes them supernatural. Therefore, the more soul a person has to begin with means they are stronger and more likely to be turned to a vampire and live.
  • Werewolves do not get bigger than their human form, for the most part. “The basic principles of conservation of mass still applied whether supernatural or not. Werewolves had to obey the laws of physics just like everyone else.” 🙂
  • Only women vampires can create more vampires. They are called queens if they have “offspring” (reminds me of bees haha)

Don’t be worried about the romantical aspect of this book. The sexual tension between two main characters is quite obvious from the get go, which, of course sort of ruins the end of the novel (especially because it is the beginning of a series). And, while the romantic parts of the novel are stated in more blunt terms (than in the Pink Carnation books, for instance), it really isn’t too bad. However, I think it sort of distracts from the rest of the novel–the sexual tension I mean. It would have been much more thrilling had that romance not been ever-present somehow.

Minnie Driver

My Thoughts on the Cover: I think it is fairly representative of the novel. The shady sort of London in the background, even if (I’m pretty sure) the photo is from a time after the 1860s. The woman portraying Alexia on the cover is not how I picture the character, given Carriger’s descriptions. I pictured someone like Minnie Driver to be Alexia–the woman on the cover looks to have no real curves where Minnie could be portrayed to have them 🙂 (I pictured Lord Maccon to sort of look like Gaston in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, however not cartoon 🙂 ) Anyways, I do like the parasol–it looks mechanical and slightly sinister, as it is a sort of weapon and plays a role in the novel.