Review – Timeless (The Parasol Protectorate #5)

Timeless is the fifth and final book in The Parasol Protectorate series following Soulless, Changeless, Blameless, and Heartless. Be warned, there might be spoilers.

Two years since Alexia and Connal have has the child — the infant inconvenience if you will — and two years into living in Lord Akeldama’s closet as he is the child’s adoptive father. The adoption was an agreement made with the vampire hives to keep them happy and keep them from killing Alexia and her daughter. Life is ticking along normally as can be imagined for the family. Married to the leader of the London werewolf pack, the mother of a child who can render the supernatural mortal again, and soulless herself, well, as normal as anyone with any knowledge of the family can envision as normal. When a summons arrives from the oldest known vampire in the world, Alexia packs up her small and sometimes troublesome family, her best friend Ivy, Ivy’s husband and their twins, an acting troupe, trucks full of Ivy’s numerous hats, and sets out on a trip to Egypt to answer the social call. In fact, it’s an invitation that can’t be ignored.

I adored Ivy and her ridiculous hats and outfits once again. She’s so much fun and really you have to give her credit, she’s much more observant and smart than she gets credit for. I love how she works into the ending as well. It’s unexpected but with a good twist. Alexia and Connal’s daughter, Prudence, is also a treat. A child with supernatural powers who can speak in complete sentences one moment and garbled baby talk the next, she not only tries her parent’s patience but teaches them much about patience as well.

And now my favorite character — Biffy. I couldn’t end my review of the series without talking about him. He’s found a place in the pack, has learned to control his wolf form, and he’s found love. Yes, love! Love for Biffy and…nope not telling. I was so happy to see where this one was going and to see how life was progressing for Biffy.

It is the end of the series, so while I’m not going to offer up any spoilers, I will say that most questions are answered and characters’ lives sorted. I would gladly welcome more books in this series but I can say that I’m not left with any questions about what’s going to happen. I can easily imagine the lives of the characters going on, which is how I like to end a series. I’ll miss reading these but I can see myself going back to this series to enjoy the fun.

Timeless (The Parasol Protectorate #5)

By Gail Carriger


ISBN: 9780316194006

4 stars

Review – Among Others

I’m not sure where to go with this review. On one hand, I loved this book and on the other, I felt somewhat lost. Maybe not lost but not part of the story but outside it.

Told through the diary entries of Mori, we come to find out she’s now living with a father she doesn’t know, is being shipped off to boarding school, is doing what she can to escape the magical wrath of her mother, and using books to ease the pain in her world that is both physical and mental. Having survived an accident that took the life of her twin sister, Mori lives every moment with a reminder of that day — a shattered leg that pains her. Not interested in anything her father, her aunts, or the boarding school can offer, she sets out to find herself a place in the world. She employs a little magic to make things happen and worries each day that what she’s done will attract the mother she’s running from.

There is one aspect to this book that I loved and that was the books. Mori is a voracious reader and I adored her love of science fiction and fantasy. I wanted to read everything she was reading. Really I’m going to now pull that Roger Zelazny book off the shelf and read it. I swear it. This was the part of the book I fell deeply in love with. Not knowing the details of Mori’s life and having to pick up small hints here and there made me feel as though I was on the outside — much like Mori herself. Maybe it was an effective way to tell the story after all looking back on it.

Fairies do feature in the story and I’ve never been a fan. I love fantasy and almost all elements that go with it but fairies are sort of so-so for me. I didn’t see the appeal but I gave Mori and her woodland friends a chance. I’m glad I did. After finishing, I felt a much stronger tie to this book and a great appreciation for Walton’s writing so much so that I picked up another of her books soon after. A quick skim through that book tells me I’m going to enjoy that one too.

Among Others

By Jo Walton

Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC

ISBN: 9781429991520

4.25 stars

Review – Heartless (The Parasol Protectorate #4)

Heartless is the fourth book in The Parasol Protectorate series following, Soulless, Changeless, and Blameless. Consider this your spoiler warning.

In book four of The Parasol Protectorate series, we meet up with Alexia, who at this point is very much pregnant and still very much living her life. Her husband, Lord Conall Maccon, is trying to integrate a new member into his pack, Biffy, who used to be a drone of Lord Akeldama’s, and get Alexia to sit still for a moment. Alexia, however, is less concerned with daily life and whether or not she should still be in public in her condition than with solving a problem with the local hives, surviving assignation attempts on her life (of which there seem to be many), and solving a pack problem. When things finally start to come together, another problem arises leaving Alexia once more the only person with answers.

It’s amazing that Alexia manages to survive her pregnancy at all. She doesn’t slow down at all; in fact, there are more attempts on her life in one week than maybe the three previous books combined. It’s highly entertaining. I also loved the addition of Biffy to the werewolf pack and all the adjustments that come with it. Biffy has always been a favorite of mine and to see him struggling with his new, unasked for life, was a nice addition to the story that’s mostly lighthearted and ridiculous in the most wonderful way possible. I also enjoyed the way Alexia, the most practical and analytical of people, thinks of the soon to come child — the infant inconvenience. She talks to it with commands — Alexia isn’t one for loving tones. When she yells in a much displeased tone, it’s her way of telling a person she loves them.

These books have been a guilty pleasure of mine these last few months and I’ve been dolling them out slowly knowing there are only five and the series will soon be coming to an end. What I love about them is the crazy lives of the characters, their habits, the totally unbelievable situations they get into and out of, and how everyone fits together in some way or another. These books will entertain you to the very last page. Crazy hats, Victorian manners, vampire hives, dapper drones, messy werewolves, pack politics, and ever messier pack leaders. Read them and be entertained.

Heartless (The Parasol Protectorate #4)

By Gail Carriger


ISBN: 9780316179959

4 stars

Review – Blameless (The Parasol Protectorate #3)

This is book three in The Parasol Protectorate series following Soulless and Changeless.

You know the drill. This is book three in a series, and I’ll try to stay away from specific spoilers but consider this your warning.

Alexia Tarabotti, Lady Maccon if you will, is pregnant. Conall, her werewolf husband, has tossed her out and she’s the scandal of the day for London society. She wants out of her parent’s house, not only are her sisters and mother incorrigible, but she can’t stand them or the gossip any longer. When she finds out they leaked her “condition” to the press, she packs up and heads to Lord Akeldama’s house, the rogue vampire she’s close friends with, only to find he’s flown town. So, with few other options open to her, she heads to Italy to hide and see if she can find out if anyone knows whether or not she’ll be able to carry her baby — the infant inconvenience — to term and whether or not she’ll be able to be in the same room with it once it’s born.

Alexia and her little band of friends can’t go anywhere without a problem following them, trying to bite them, or trying to eat them. You get the point. While I preferred the settings of London and Scotland to Italy, it was still entertaining. Alexia, and her love of food, finds pesto to be the most wonderful food and coffee to be the most abhorrent thing ever. While I missed Conall in the beginning, he being at home in Scotland drunk on formaldehyde (there are only so many things that can get a werewolf drunk you see), I did like seeing so much of Professor Lyall, his Beta, in this one. And Conall managed to prove he’s still Alpha — drunk and stupid as ever.

I think that’s enough for now. I don’t want to give everything away and you were warned of spoilers. I leave you with me pining for Heartless and Timeless which will be read sooner rather than later.

Blameless (The Parasol Protectorate #3)

By Gail Carriger

ISBN-13: 9780316082563

4 stars

Review – A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time is a book I wish I would’ve read as a child, although as an adult I was still pretty impressed with it. I just kept wonder what my small self would’ve thought of it.

Meg Murry has trouble in school. She’s a smart kid, especially when it comes to math, but she has a temper and lands her in trouble more often than not. She has a lot to worry about too — her father, a government scientist, has been missing for months and it’s taking a toll on the Murry family. During a late night thunderstorm, Meg sneaks down to the kitchen for a snack and finds her little brother, Charles Wallace, already there. Soon their mother joins them and then the eccentric new neighbor, Mrs. Whatsit, shows up unexpectedly. After an eventful night, Meg’s next day is shot and she can’t wait to get home from school. Later, Meg and Charles Wallace head off to visit Mrs. Whatsit when they run into her classmate, Calvin O’Keefe. After some questions, Charles Wallace decides Calvin can come with them and the three set off. They meet the neighbors, Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and a third Mrs. W who announces that they can help the kids get Mr. Murry back. The three children are then transported to another planet to help their father escape.

When I was reading, I got semi-wrapped up in the story and didn’t really think about the heavier aspects of it until I’d finished. One, the science fiction aspect is huge and I would have loved to have heard about wormholes before I discovered Star Trek. Another time… There is a strong religious element although, again, this one didn’t hit me until I realized that some of the quotes Mrs. Who was rattling off were bible passages. The Whatits are also, and maybe I’m remembering this wrong, at one point referred to as angel-like. Not being a religious person, these things usually pass over my head in most books.

Character wise, I loved Meg. She’s feisty, doesn’t like to hear she’s wrong, and happy to be a little different than most. She fights back when IT on the planet of Camazotz tells her he can make her happy just like everyone else. She tells him she doesn’t want to be like everyone else. Yep, an “Ahh,” moment for me. Meg has her quirks, but overall, she’s such a sweet character that I could see my small self really liking her. Although, Charles Wallace gave me the creeps. He’s a child of about five but he’s more like 30 and I found him to be a tad much at times. I wanted to like him, but his speaking like an adult one minute and being on the verge of a temper tantrum the next was weird.

The adult version of me was happy to see that L’Engle didn’t back off when it came to tough issues for what are essentially children — a missing father, school problems, family issues, etc. As child me, I probably never would have noticed that and simply thought this was just their life. Interesting how that happens. Oh, the years, they bring perspective.

Has anyone out there read the entire series? Is it worth it? I’m thinking of continuing but worried the rest might not live up to this one.

This was a BHA Book Club read and you can find more comments here. It was an April 2012 pick but I’m behind on reviews so this is a May review instead.

A Wrinkle in Time

By Madeleine L’Engle

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 1429915641

4 stars

Review – Changless (The Parasol Protectorate #2)

This is book two in The Parasol Protectorate series following Soulless.

Alexia Tarabotti is now Lady Maccon, having overcome her supposed hatred of Lord Conall Maccon long enough to understand her love (and shall we add lust) for the alpha werewolf of London. Shortly after her marriage, she ends up a counselor to Queen Victoria filling a long unmanned post only held by a preternatural like herself.

After a ghost comes to visit her husband, Alexia finds out a strange weapon has been deployed in London and is effectively de-supernaturaling the supernatural. She follows her husband to Scotland who has gone to the country to work out a nagging family (re: pack) problem. Not used to following orders, and especially not ones from her husband, Alexia takes to the dirigible — something she’s wanted to do for a while — and gets herself in trouble. She outs a possible spy, deals with a disagreeable sister who is staying with her, almost dies after being knocked off the observation deck of the aircraft, and tries to stop a growing love between her best friend and a man dedicated to her husband who may someday end up a werewolf. Needless to say, it’s not the trip she signed up for.  Once in Scotland, things get no easier.

Oh, Alexia, can you get in more trouble? After reading the second book in this series, the answer is yes. And it’s so entertaining. I know many are sick of the vampire, werewolf, ghost combinations out there but these are the fun ones. Alexia is stubborn, smart, and determined and pretty much unwilling to listen to anyone yet takes everyone into account. You really do want her to whack people over the head with her parasol too. Let’s face it most of the people (vampires, werewolves, ghosts) deserve it.

Her husband’s pack appears in book two and we get to see why Lord Maccon can sometimes be so annoyed all he wants to do is shift into werewolf form and run away, although it does make for some fun for Alexia.

Unwilling to give up too many spoilers, I will say this — want some fun reading, check out this series. I’m happy to know I’ve got a few more books ahead of me. Blameless, book three in the series, is not far off in my future.

Changless (The Parasol Protectorate #2)

By Gail Carriger

ISBN-13: 9780316088039

4.25 stars

Review – Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate #1)

I kept seeing this book around so I did what I do and added it to the long list hoping it wouldn’t get lost under everything else I keep meaning to read. One day, after yet another review of a book I’ve yet to read, I decided to download a sample and then quickly downloaded the full book because I was hooked. It’s fantasy, steampunk, vampires, and werewolves, and ghosts all rolled into one with a preternatural thrown in.

Alexia Tarabotti is the oldest daughter in a well off family in Victorian England. Her two younger sisters are much prettier than her and their mother has much higher hopes for them. At 26, Alexia is a spinster on the shelf and is content to be able to live the life she wants. Always told she wasn’t pretty due to her father’s Italian heritage which she’s inherited too much of, she doesn’t go about worrying about attracting a husband but also wouldn’t be opposed to the idea. This is clear when she’s in the vicinity of Lord Maccon, the Alpha werewolf of London who works for Queen Victoria. While attending an event without refreshments one evening, Alexia takes matters into her own hands and wanders off to the library to partake in some tea where she is promptly attacked by a vampire. When Lord Maccon shows up to investigate, things get rather out of hand and the two end up more involved than anyone thought they would be while they work together to find an answer to the vampire attack.

This one is such a comedy of manners that I did laugh out loud in a few places. While Alexia does try to be proper, it doesn’t always happen that way and she can never stop talking even when she knows that if she were to just shut up, many of her problems would either disappear or never appear in the first place. She’s good friends with a rogue vampire, one of the oldest in London, keeps trading verbal barbs with the Alpha werewolf of London, and manages to get herself invited to the vampire hive in London. For a woman with few precious prospects, she’s always up to something and most of the time it’s quite funny.

The odd thing about Alexia is that she’s preternatural, meaning, she has no soul and can render supernatural beings, such as werewolves and vampires, harmless. She makes them human simply by touching them. I like the little twist with her. While I do wish there would have been more explanation about Alexia and how preternaturals happen, I was content to roll with things because the book is really entertaining.

I thought I had enough of the vampire/werewolf thing but it seems all I need was a new approach. Somehow, this book doesn’t at all feel like it’s full of these two types of characters.

Soulless in the first book in The Parasol Protectorate series followed by Changeless, Blameless, Heartless, and Timeless. I have a feeling I just found my summer series reading. If you’re looking for something fun, pick Soulless up. It won’t disappoint. It’s a fun read for those days when you really want something new to get lost in.

Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate #1)

By Gail Carriger


I SBN-13: 9780316071659

4.25 stars

Review – American Gods

Shadow is doing his time in prison but the end is in sight. A few days before his release, he finds out his wife has died in a car accident, and due to her death, he’s being released early. In shock, he heads home to the funeral only to find out his wife died in a precarious situation involving another man. He feels little remorse and decides it’s time for change. He takes a job offer from a man named Mr. Wednesday who needs someone to drive him around and protect him every once in a while. Shadow is a man trying to find himself or just forget everything around him depending on how you want to see it. His employment with Wednesday sets him up to meet a lineup of interesting people challenging Shadow’s beliefs in who and what he is.

The idea that gods were brought to the US, essentially immigrated here with the people that worshiped them, is an interesting one. Once those beliefs, prayers, adoration, whatever you want to call it, are replaced by other things in society — think celebrity — the gods begin to diminish. This imagines what would happen to those gods if everyone stopped believing in them. And, yes, it comes to war, but not the kind of war you’re probably thinking.

Shadow is an interesting character. He’s quiet, thoughtful (at times), and even though he’s done things in his life to land him jail, he’s not a bad person and really does his best to do what he thinks is right. He’s slow on the uptake when it comes to understanding the gods but gets it when necessary. He sort of lumbers through the story but that’s what I liked about him. There was no pressure with him. Everything took place around him and he just accepted and moved on — think blind faith if you will. He never professes to any belief system but he’s able to take them all on individually when he has to. I can see how for some people he’s not a captivating character but that’s what I liked about him. He was the grounding force for all the gods around him.

Now the gods, and they weren’t the only ones to make appearances here, several folk heroes get a bit of honor as well. Gaiman’s portrayal of the gods is interesting and I liked that they had human qualities even if those qualities, and vices, wouldn’t hurt them in the end. I wasn’t able to place every god, some were obscure, but each added something to the story and I didn’t feel any were dropped in for entertainment purposes. That’s something I always appreciate about an author; not everything has to be wrapped up nice and tidy but I want characters to have a purpose.

I read American Gods while taking a writing class and it was the perfect time to read it for me. The elements of storytelling were on full display here and I felt each time I turned a page I learned something new, in addition to being fully entertained. It’s a great piece of storytelling.

American Gods

By Neil Gaiman

HarperCollins Publishers

ISBN: 9780062059888

4.5 stars