Thursday, January 22, 2015

Finishing School Series by Gail Carriger

For this post I'm reviewing the 3 books in the Finishing School series by Gail Carriger.

Book 1
Etiquette & Espionage 

Back Cover:
It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners--and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine's, young ladies learn to finish...everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but the also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage--in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year's education.

My Thoughts: 
 I really liked this book! I think the way Carriger portrays Sophronia (which I kinda love that name) is so unique and just heartwarming. I also love that the finishing academy is not what anyone thinks it is. I think if it was a real school, I would die to go there. I'm not one that likes steampunk style but this steampunk Victorian setting is by far the best and most intriguing to me.

Sophronia- A strong-minded young girl who is curious by nature and misunderstood by everyone but a few people. She is perfect for the life of espionage because she has the mind that works ahead of most people. When you're on step 2 she's already on step 6. She is truly a great character and a girl that girls nowadays need to read about. What makes her so wonderful also, is that she doesn't depend on her beauty, she depends on her smarts and common sense. 

Dimity- She's the opposite of Sophronia in all ways that matter. She's the one that helps Sophronia become better at being a lady; and Sophronia helps Dimity become better at espionage. They balance each other out which makes their friendship better.  

Pillover- Dimity's brother. I love him because he's so good at being moody and the younger brother. He brings a little humor to the story with his being a let down to his parents. Truly a good character to have.

Soap- It's obvious from the get go that something is going to happen between Soap ( a lowly sootie at the school) and Sophronia. There isn't a definite romance in the first book, but the set up is there. You also get to see even though he is a 'lowly sootie' from Africa and people look down on him for his color AND his job, he is a good person, hard worker , and true friend to Sophronia. Top 3 favorite characters (along with Sophronia and Dimity).

I really thought the plot was appropriate for the age of the characters and the setting they were in- an espionage school. It had a mix of adventure, humor, and suspense. All things you want in a book. 

4 out 5 stars!

Book 2
Curtsies & Conspiracies

Back Cover:

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

My Thoughts:
I think this second book was thrilling! It had a good fast pace, lots of wit, and was engaging. Sophronia is delightful once again in this story. I think this book has more umph because the girls are sharing classes now with boys from the evil genius school for boys. Sophronia attracts the attention of Felix- a good looking, wealthy young man. She doesn't quite understand why he likes her so much though. This story gets better when Dimity and Pillover are kidnapped by Vampires. And guess who decides it's up to her to save them? That's right, Sophronia. She's always in the middle of things, that girl. It gets better when the girls start discussing boy parts and what they look's so hysterically middle school that you can't help but laugh and be like, yep, that's exactly how girls are.
You can definitely see a love triangle, of sorts, developing between Soap, Sophronia, and Felix. The guys' distaste for each other is so obvious, and not for the obvious societal reasons. It's pretty hysterical even if Sophronia doesn't understand it.
I really like Sophronia's character more because she's growing up and becoming even better as a person, a lady, and as a spy. She uses her head and is learning to use her heart when it comes to friends and matters of the heart.  I think I admire her because of her boldness in taking on tasks that no normal 15 yr old would do...but then again, Sophronia isn't a typical 15 yr old. She knows her mind and she knows what she wants, and what she likes. And she sticks to it. She also is open to learning from others, such as Dimity who helps her with the finishing part of the school.

This series is definitely suitable for middle/high schoolers.

4 out of 5 stars!

 Book 3
Waistcoats & Weaponry

Back cover: Sophronia continues second year finishing school in style -- with a steel-bladed fan secreted in the folds of her ball gown. She, best friend Dimity, sweet sootie Soap, and charming Lord Felix Mersey stow away on train to return classmate Sidheag to her werewolf pack in Scotland. No one suspects what or who would be aboard the suspiciously empty train.

My Thoughts: 
 I find that this book was really more engaging and even more fast paced than the others. It was riveting! I loved it from beginning to end. You definitely start to see how Sophronia's brain works and how she is always ahead of not only her peers but her teachers as well. She's very intelligent and knows how to think on her feet.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Cress (Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer

Back Cover
In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who's only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

 My Thoughts

I really liked Cress a lot! I still prefer Scarlet best just because of the romance between her and Wolf but Cress is a great addition. I really love this series because in all the books the main character is about a brilliant, strong young woman. Cress is pure genius. She can hack computers as easily as she breathes or blinks. She's amazing! I really liked the character development that happened with Thorne in this book- Cress definitely brought out something good and worth-while in him. Cinder finally didn't get on my nerves as much as the last two books. I like her, I do. But she really needed to accept who she is and just kick some Lunar ass. 

So my main complaint about the characters this books is about Wolf. I was so in love with him in Scarlet. Cress just made him seem all forlorn and forgotten and rage lust. I get he's a wolf hybrid from the moon but come on! He's a force! He has to get himself out of this Saddy Sadsack place and go and kick some Lunar ass and get his woman back! I really hated how he was portrayed like the only way for him to go on is if Scarlet is with him. And yes, Scarlet is a great character and a strong young woman but no character needs to be so dependent on another that they are mindless. 
Cress- LOVE HER! I love her back story and how gentle she is. I also love how she sees the good in Thorne and never gives up on him.
Thorne finally becomes a character to me. His character development is tremendous and I actually like the dude. So yay! I really think he needed someone like Cress for him to mature and grow.
Cinder- finally accepts herself and takes matters into her own hands! Only took 3 books!

I highly recommend this entire series to anyone looking for something amazing to read. It's very fantastical but also has steampunk-esque elements. 

4 out of 5 stars!

Diary of a Teenage Fairy Godmother by Kathleen Baldwin

 Back Cover Summary:
A Fairy Godmother is not some pixie in a pink tutu. She’s a guardian and a warrior. Lilliana Skye is sent undercover to a Texas high school to save one of Cinderella’s troubled descendants, but everything goes wrong.

Jessica Harrison hates Lilliana. She doesn’t believe in fairytale magic or happily-ever-afters. Jess is tough, angry, and so intelligent it’s scary. If she ever did see a mythical fairy she would probably stomp it into oblivion with her army boots. Matters go from bad to worse when Jess’s older brother meets Lilliana and falls hard for the new girl. And Lilliana can’t keep her wayward heart in check. Jake is, well, just plain dangerous.

Falling in love with a human is forbidden, not to mention… deadly.

 My Thoughts:
I had been wanting to read this for a few months but decided to wait and see if I would get it for Christmas..and I did! I am happy I waited. It was an easy, quick read. I enjoyed it a lot but even for the $3, I'm glad it was a gift and I didn't purchase it. If the library had had a copy, I would've just borrowed it. That being said, it's a book that I could reread again. It's very appropriate for the YA group it's written for. It's a great modern take on a classic fairy tale.

The Characters:
I really didn't care for Jess, the descendant of Cinderella, one bit. I get that she had a lot of issues and was hurting from the loss of her older brother but she took the whole "I'm grieving" to a new level all on her own. She was a Bitch. I would have given up on her if I was her FG.
I thought Lilliana was brilliant. I thought she was funny but strong and clearly, beautiful. She's one of those girls that loves everyone because she doesn't know any better- talk about a bad case being sheltered. I did appreciate that she was obedient but then discovered that her guardian is bat shit crazy and she shouldn't be so obedient to her. I really felt her pain about not being with the one she love. 
Jake is a good guy- wears his emotions on his sleeve. I'm really glad that even thought he's hurting from the death of his brother he is able to let love into his life. I'm also glad that he stands up and tells Jess how it is. Geez, that girl...

I think the whole concept of the story is very unique. Taking a beloved fairy tale, like Cinderella, and weaving it into the modern day world is so awesome. I loved the fact that Lilliana had to help Jess become more open to love or she would become evil and destroy the world. I think the whole plot is very well thought out and believable in ways. I like to think that in some parts of the world, and for some people, magic truly does exist and help them. It's a nice and very cool thought!

I would recommend this to anyone but 6th grade and up or a higher reading 5th grader and up. I think adults can easily enjoy this fantastical tale just as much as young readers. Boy or girl. 

4 out of 5 stars!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year all you blog readers! I hope that 2015 brings love, happiness, and many more blessings to you and your family.

I usually make the same resolutions for the new more patient, be thankful, be kinder, just be more...and also, the ever famous- lose weight.

This year I've decided that I'm just going to do my best to be ME. The best version of me I can be.


Let's be great this year!