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

Orbit

ISBN: 9780316194006

4 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

Orbit

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

Orbit
ISBN-13: 9780316082563

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

Orbit
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

Orbit

I SBN-13: 9780316071659

4.25 stars

Review – The Twelfth Enchantment

I kept seeing this book at my bookstore and finally gave in one day when I was feeling a slight reading slump coming on. I’m glad I picked it up that day because when the slump hit, this was a perfect little book to bring me out of it. The characters are sweet, lovingly hateful, and were Austen-esque enough to make me happy.

Lucy Derrick comes from a good family; just a family without money now. She lives with an uncle who would prefer her to disappear and his plan to make this happen is to have her marry a man she doesn’t care for one bit. Her only companion in the house, Mrs. Quince, teases her relentlessly mentally and physically. She begins to accept that her life is going to be full of misery until a man named Lord Byron shows up at her uncle’s home saying she must not marry Mr. Olson. He then vomits pins and passes out. With the help of a new neighbor, Ms. Crawford, who knows something of the magical arts, Lucy helps Lord Byron to recover. Ms. Crawford, seeing a magical spark in Lucy, begins teaching her what she knows and Lucy understands for the first time how her life does not have to be one of misery.

The beginning of this book feels very reminiscent of Mansfield Park. A young woman far from loved ones, harassed and unwanted in the home she lives in, knowing her only way out the house is into another full of the same misery. Mansfield Park is by far not one of my favorite Austen books but this book brought back some lovely memories of it. Mostly of the hateful characters but still good memories.

The magical element is interesting and Lucy’s understanding of it happens quickly. A little too quickly if you ask me and that’s a small quibble I had with this story. She excels; exponentially fast. I’m all for magical education compounding but she’s like the magical god-child. It didn’t ruin the story for me but made me wonder at several points how she became so proficient so quickly.

When I picked this book up I was hoping for a fun and easy read and I got that. It’s entertaining, the characters are fun, some even mean, and you love to see them all make fools of themselves. The setting, England on the cusp of an industrial revolution, is interesting. If you have a thing for Victorian England with a little magic thrown it, take a look at this one.

The Twelfth Enchantment

By David Liss

Random House

ISBN: 978-1-4000-6896-8

4 stars

Dracula in Love

Dracula in Love

By Karen Essex

Doubleday

ISBN: 978-0-385-52891-7

3 stars

I’ll be upfront, I read a few early reviews and wasn’t so sure this book was for me.  I decided that I still needed to give it a chance though.  After reading it, I decided that it wasn’t the book for me and I like vampire stories and have a very deep affection for Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  This book followed the same epistolary style but was told from Mina Murray’s point of view.  Mina is a character that I happen to like from the original and that was the reason for my deciding to give it a go.

Mina Murray is teaching and happily waiting to become Mrs. Jonathan Harker and begin her married life.  Wanting to be prepared for their future together, Jonathan takes a short sojourn working for a foreign count to help their finances and further his career.  While Jonathan is away, Mina visits her friend Lucy Westenra and becomes involved in her friend’s love affairs.  She also starts having odd dreams and feelings that she can’t share with anyone.  When she gets a letter telling her that Jonathan is gravely ill, she rushes to his side to nurse him back to health.  In the coming weeks, Mina’s strange dreams start to become her reality, her husband confesses an affair, her friend dies, and somehow she ends up in an insane asylum.  It is then that her dream lover comes to her rescue.

Several of the reviews I read noted the amount of sex; some found it too much, others didn’t seem to think anything of it.  The story takes place in Victorian England so sex, while deeply thought about, wasn’t much talked about, and yes, that is a big part of the story here as it was in the original as well.  The sex, amount of or lack of depending on how feel about these things, didn’t bother me but the silly references about it were annoying and slightly cumbersome in places.

While most of the same characters appear (Dr. Seward, Arthur Holmwood, Jonathan Harker, Dr.Van Helsing, Lucy Westenra) they have been changed slightly and some have become so maddening that I wanted to slap a few — Seward in particular who seemed to diagnose each and every woman he met with some sex related disease of the mind.  What I found annoying about this was that I felt I was once again being reminded about the Victorian sex mindset and I didn’t need that.

The last 100 pages of this book were much better than the 267 preceding pages.  And though I won’t mention it here, Mina’s character is given a new, life shall we say, that adds an interesting, if somewhat strange twist, to the story.  It didn’t work for me, but as long as you’re not a purist, it probably won’t provide the “really?” moment for you as it did for me.

If you’re looking for a vampire/Dracula story with a little different take, this one might be for you.  I found it a bit sluggish but a relatively fast read for a weekend.

This book was sent to me by the publisher for review.