For this post I'm reviewing the 3 books in the Finishing School series by Gail Carriger.
Etiquette & Espionage
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.
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.
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.
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!
Curtsies & Conspiracies
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?
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
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
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 like..it'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!
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.
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.