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Book Review: Soulless by Gail Carriger (Series, #1) (Bottom of TBR Pile Challenge)

October 23, 2012 5 comments

Woman holding parasol in front of city skyline.Summary:
Alexia Tarabotti isn’t just suffering from being half-Italian in Victorian England, she also is soulless.  Unlike vampires, werewolves, and other supernaturals who successfully changed thanks to an excess of soul, or even having just enough soul like day dwellers, she simply has none. Plus as a preternatural she turns the supernaturals human when she touches them.  Obviously they aren’t a fan of that.  Except for one particularly persnickety werewolf, Lord Maccon, who is Scottish to boot.  And to top it all off a mysterious wax-faced man suddenly seems very interested in kidnapping her.  None of this seems particularly civilized.

Review:
The Parasol Protectorate series was all the rage when this book made it onto my tbr pile back in 2010.  That was kind of the beginning of the steampunk craze, before you could find gears on everything in the costume shop.  I can see why this series is popular, but it’s just not my cup of tea.

The world building is wonderful and is what kept me reading.  A good steampunk blends history, science, and fashion to make for a semi-familiar but deliciously unique world that’s delightful for history and science geeks alike to play around in.  Carriger pulls this off beautifully.  The fashion is Victorian with a steampunk edge.  The politics are recognizable but with the supernatural and steampowered sciences taking a role.  A great example of how well this world works is that in England the supernatural came out and became part of society, whereas America was the result of the Puritans condemning the acceptance of the supernatural who they believe sold their souls to the devil.  This is a great blend of reality and alternate history.

The plot wasn’t a huge mystery, which is kind of sad given the complexity of the world building.  What really bothered me though was the romantic plot, which suffered badly from a case of instalove.  Although we hear of delightful prior encounters between Alexia and Lord Maccon, we didn’t see them.  We mostly see him going from hating her to loving her and demanding her hand in marriage. It just felt lazy compared to the other elements of the book.  I get it that Carriger could be poking fun at Victorian era romances, but I think that would have worked better if it didn’t have such a Victorian ending.  Plus, I didn’t pick up this book to read a romance. I wanted a steampunk mystery with a strong female lead.  I didn’t like how quickly the romance took over the whole plot.

Potential readers should take a glance at the first chapter and see if Carriger’s humor works for them.  I can see how if I was laughing through the whole book I’d have enjoyed it more, but the…decidedly British humor just did not work for me.  It didn’t bother me; I just didn’t find it funny.  I mostly sat there going, “Oh, she thinks she’s being funny…..”  Humor is highly personal, so I’m not saying it’s bad. It just isn’t my style. It might be yours.

Overall this is a creatively complex steampunk world with an unfortunately average plot overtaken by instaromance and seeped in dry, British humor.  It is recommended to steampunk fans who find that style of humor amusing and don’t mind some instalove all up in their story.  That does not describe this reader, so I won’t be continuing on with the series.

3.5 out of 5 stars

Source: PaperBackSwap

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Friday Fun! (Welcome, Fall!)

October 5, 2012 2 comments

Hello my lovely readers!  It is finally fall in lovely New England. If I was forced to pick, I’d choose fall as my favorite season, although winter would come in a very close second.  I might not feel this way in other areas of the US where there is no leaf changing or crisp autumnal weather or orchard season.  But here all of these awesome things exist, so yayyyy!

Things I love about Fall, in no particular order:

  • Cooler weather, which means I don’t immediately look like I ran a 5k when I step out my door
  • Fall fashion, particularly knee high socks! And denim jackets! And getting to wear my hair down periodically!
  • Also my hair no longer looks like I stuck my finger in a light socket.
  • Pumpkins!
  • Pumpkin. Spice. Latte. (with soy)
  • Pie
  • Fall leaves
  • Kicking fall leaves
  • Hiking in the woods
  • Hot chocolate
  • Spiked hot chocolate
  • Giant pots of tea
  • The perfect weather for snorgling
  • Gourds
  • Pie
  • Did I mention pie?
  • Squash dishes
  • Slow cooker season!
  • Long hot baths
  • Halloween!
  • Related: horror everywhere. Oh how I love horror.
  • Cinnamon and nutmeg in everything
  • CIDER for the love of fsm, I almost forgot cider.

I had a long weekend this weekend, which was partially a reward to myself for making it through what I have been told are the toughest two months in medical academic libraries’ calendar year and also partially to spend some time with my bf who just got back from a two week trip abroad.  🙂  Many things on this list were covered, including pumpkin spice latte and pie.  We made an apple pie together with apples we got from the orchard ourselves, and it was amazingly delicious.  Special thanks to my daddy for sharing his pie crust secrets.

As for the blog, you may have noticed that my most recent read was actually four books in one, and you really should check it out particularly if you are a scifi or 1950s American culture fan.  That slowed the reviews down a bit, but I have this new rule where I won’t kick myself over my book numbers being lower because I read a long book (or two. or three!).  Big books shouldn’t be left on the sidelines purely for being big. 😉

Happy weekends and happy fall, all!