In Which I finally develop a fondness for Steampunk Whimsy


I do not laugh at sitcoms or giggle over YouTube videos, much to the consternation of the masses. My sense of humor is rather dark, so imagine my surprise when I found myself enjoying this little series of Steampunk books. I have not gotten around to reading the first book, but I rather enjoyed the second and third in the series. I grew to adore the protagonist for her loyalty to her friends and her intense satisfaction over besting the mean girls. If I were enrolled in Mrs. Geraldine’s Finishing Academy, I would definitely be her darker, eye rolling friend.

Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School, #2)Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Sophronia must save her best friend and unravel a conspiracy to steal new technology that could change her world. The backdrop for this takes place in a finishing/espionage school floating above Victorian England in a steampunk alternate history. This is the second in the series, and though I have not read the first book, I caught on pretty quickly. While I enjoyed the book, I recognize that enjoying something is linked with having the right expectations and mindset. There is little plot, the characters have silly names, and there is a lot of middle school fixation on what the popular and snotty girls are doing/wearing/saying. It is undeniably funny, but if you can’t handle a book that is intended to be enjoyed for pleasure’s sake, skip this one. I know that the cover makes you think this will be a sharp, intense read. It just isn’t. This book is really more for a 13 or 14 year old crowd or for those of us who still feel like thirteen or fourteen year old girls when confronted by a mean girl set. The clever protagonist doesn’t have the nicest dresses or the most important parents, but she does have a circle of good friends and she still manages to attract the notice of the hot boy and the other hot boy, too. If you enjoyed the Kate and Cecelia books (The Enchanted Chocolate Pot & The Grand Tour) or if you just get a kick out of the quirky steampunk genre, this is the book for you. Language and sensuality are appropriate for the seventh grade and up.

Waistcoats & Weaponry (Finishing School, #3)Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received this ARC from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for a fair review.

In this third of the series, life altering events take place for Sophronia and her friends that fans won’t want to miss. Again, the protagonist becomes embroiled in stopping an evil plot that threatens to tip the balance in her world, but the majority of the action takes place outside of the school (a nice change of pace). There is still more action than plot, but if you enjoyed the other book(s), this one won’t disappoint. While the second in the series felt more middle school, this one appeals to an older crowd as the tone has developed to accommodate growth of the characters. Never fear, though, there is still plenty of the lighthearted whimsy characteristic of the series. I read the second book a few days ago, and it was the first time reading a book by this author. I am not a fan of steampunk or books that are whimsical for the sake of whimsy, but I found myself delighted with this little world. The importance of a tightly bound circle of friends and the responsibility inherent in taking charge are themes that make this more than just a silly little read. I look forward to the next in the series. Language and situation are appropriate for grade seven and up.

View all my reviews


About queenbook

When the final bell rings, I stash those messy piles of essays and analysis assignments in a desk drawer and I head home to a pile of good books. My kids and dog eat too many chicken nuggets and the house could be neater, but as long as I get my daily read, I guess we are doing all right. When I was twelve and fifteen and eighteen and twenty, I believed I needed to get out there and do those things I had just been reading about, which ended in disaster, tears, a tattoo that scares me every time I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror, and the realization that some of us are meant for action, and some of us are meant to critique the pace of action in a book. I read primarily YA fiction as I have a rather hulking classroom library and a hundred high school readers to engage daily. Nothing makes me happier than coming to school and finding an impatient teenager waiting by my door to turn in a book and get another one just like it. I adore a good zombie, a medieval princess, or girl assassin (I would like them all in one book if you are a writer looking for some inspiration). I add historical mystery to my wish list a year in advance, and you should get out of my way when the next Outlander book comes out. I have an embarrassing fondness for rock star books, but only if they don’t get too trashy and embarrass me. My favorite book of all time is The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. My book boyfriends include Gilbert Blythe, Alonzo Wilder, and Jamie Fraser. They are mine and you can’t have them.

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