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Hands Down! Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

Hi!

I’m pretty sure that Gail Carriger is in on a conspiracy to make me want all of her books. My favorite new series of 2013 was her Finishing School series, hands down! You can read my review of book one, Etiquette & Espionage here. I may have done more gushing that I should have but if you’ve read it then you’ll understand!

Because of this love for the first book, I was incredibly excited when the awesome people at Hachette Audio offered Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carrigerthe audiobook of Carriger’s second book, Curtsies & Conspiracies for review I had to take them up on their offer! (Thank you!)

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 school 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.

Guys. Seriously. THAT COVER!

I’ve said it before. It’s like Carriger has a secret window into my little book lovers’ heart and knows exactly what I want to read about. Her opulent steampunk world is exactly where I want to spend my afternoons and evenings. This setting is just so well-imagined and there is so much depth yet to be explored that it reminds me a lot of the wizarding world that J.K. Rowling creates in the Harry Potter series. It’s richness promises more books, which makes me incredibly giddy just thinking about it!

Curtsies and Conspiracies picks up at the start of Sophronia’s second semester at Madame Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality with the girls’ sixth month review underway. While the first book is full of nothing but fun, this second book starts to bring a little more seriousness with it. For example, Sophronia’s group of friends are all fighting and a spectacular weekend in London is dulled by threat of a dangerous evil plot. Even the lessons the lessons the students’ are learning begin to take a turn for the dark. This step towards the serious actually reminds me a lot of Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls series (which I ALSO LOVE!) because Sophronia’s world is beginning to open up and the stakes are getting higher. Don’t think that Carriger’s signature wit and humor are missing in all this newly found seriousness, however, because they are still there!

We have the beginnings of a serious love triangle here, ladies! I don’t mind a bit of a triangle so it makes me happy to see Sophronia struggle with her growing feelings toward two boys; one of which would be socially uplifting and the other which may be frowned upon for numerous reasons. I do think both boys are not exactly as they seem however…there are hints of things to come hidden in their actions and words!

Not only are these potential love interests well written and interesting, but Carriger’s cast of supporting characters are just as captivating as they were in book one. My favorites are Sophronia’s friends, of course.  Dimity, Sidheag and Agatha are so warm, loving, and fun that I want them to be real so I could hang out with them! I love how each one of them brings something different to the table and the way in which they all challenge one another to step out of comfort zones. They’re exactly the type of friends I’d want if I were a boarding student in a flying dirigible spy school for young ladies.

All in all, Curtsies and Conspiracies was on my favorites of 2013 list for a reason. If you haven’t already given the Finishing School series a chance, then make sure you do! You won’t be disappointed I promise! I also highly recommend this series on audio; it is hands down a fabulous listen!

Also…have you seen this book trailer?! I don’t know how I missed it until now, but I think it is absolutely brilliant!

Author: Gail Carriger

Publisher: Hachette Audio (Little, Brown) (November 5, 2013)

Format: Audiobook

Length: 9 hours and 30 minutes

Narrator(s): Moira Quirk

Series: Second in the Finishing School series

YA/MG: MG/YA

Buy the Book: Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School)

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The Continuing Story: City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare

Well hello there!

I’ve been reading and enjoying summer so much, that I can’t believe it’s already August! Although I still have a few weeks, so I’m trying hard not to think about the upcoming school year.

City of Lost Souls by Cassandra ClareRecently I finished reading Cassandra Clare’s City of Lost Souls, the fifth book in The Mortal Instruments series.

The demon Lilith has been destroyed and Jace freed from captivity. But when the Shadowhunters arrive, they find only blood and broken glass. Not only is the boy Clary loves missing, so is the boy she hates: her brother Sebastian, who is determined to bring the Shadowhunters to their knees.

The Clave’s magic cannot locate either boy, but Jace can’t stay away from Clary. When they meet again Clary discovers the horror Lilith’s magic has wrought – Jace and Sebastian are now bound to each other, and Jace has become a servant of evil. The Clave is determined to destroy Sebastian, but there is no way to harm one boy without destroying the other.  Only a few people believe that Jace can still be saved. Together, Alec, Magnus, Simon, and Isabelle bargain with the sinister Seelie Queen, contemplate deals with demons, and turn at last to the merciless, weapon-making Iron Sisters, who might be able to forge a weapon that can sever the bond between Sebastian and Jace. If the Iron Sisters can’t help, their only hope is to challenge Heaven and Hell – a risk that could claim their lives.

And they must do it without Clary. For Clary is playing a dangerous game utterly alone. The price of losing not just her own life, but Jace’s soul. She’s willing to do anything for Jace, but can she still trust him? Or is he truly lost? What price is too high to pay, even for love?

One thing I hate about reading unfinished series is that I have to wait so long for the other books to be released! But I just adore Clare’s books.  It’s always about a year between each new release and I forget how much I love the characters until I’m reading the newest book! I seriously love these characters so much.

I don’t think this was my favorite of the series because the pacing for the first half of the book was pretty slow, and Clary is so frustrating at times, but I still really enjoyed continuing to see what happens next with these characters.  I’ve increasingly enjoyed watching Simon and Isabelle come into their own as more than just side characters.

I was actually a big fan of the Jace-Sebastian plot line in this installment. The whole thing was a tricky twist that kept me wondering how Clare could possibly resolve it!

Also, let me say that as much as I love The Mortal Instruments books, I am a bigger fan of Clare’s  Infernal Devices series. There is SO MUCH in City of Lost Souls that points to The Infernal Devices books! So many clues and connections that leave me excited for answers in Clockwork Princess (which doesn’t come out until 2013!). 

The audiobook is, like the others in the series, narrated by Molly Quinn (from Castle!) and although she’s not the best narrator I’ve listened to, she does a pretty good job and is consistent with her voices.

So, all in all, if you’re a high schooler or above who has already read the other Mortal Instruments books, then you’ll most likely enjoy City of Lost Souls as well.

Author: Cassandra Clare

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Audio (May 8, 2012)

Format: Audiobook

Length: 16 hours, 59 minutes

Narrator(s): Molly C. Quinn

Series: Fifth in The Mortal Instruments series

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book:  City of Lost Souls (Mortal Instruments)

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In My Mailbox (4)

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This week the books I’m showcasing did not come in my mailbox. I bought them from
an awesome new and used bookstore in Jacksonville, called Chamblins. Anyway, these titles, which it seems everyone but me had read were half off the cover price, so I yoinked them!
On the left we have Bluebloods by Melissa De La Cruz.
On the right we have Gone by Michael
Grant. Both are first books in series, so that’s exciting too!

As always, you’ll know when I read them!

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Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction: The Vampire Stalker by Allison van Diepen

Imagine your favorite fictional hero has left their fictional world and walked straight into yours?

Teenager Amy has a major book crush on a fictional guy; Alexander Banks, the gorgeous vampire hunter in the wildly popular Otherworld trilogy. Her love is so deep that she even writes fan-fiction about Alexander.  Even her screen name,  “MrsAlexanderBanks8021″ is an homage to her obsession!  Amy pretty much spends much of her time wishing and dreaming that Alexander Banks was a real person. (le sigh)

Then late one night, as Amy is walking home alone she is saved from a violent attack by a boy who looks strangely like Alexander Banks.  Amy soon realizes that he is in fact the real Alexander Banks; her love from the books and he needs her help!  The evil and unstoppable vampire Vigo has mysteriously entered Amy’s world and Alexander is determined to stop him from destroying Chicago like he has done to Otherworld.  Together, Amy and Alexander must track Vigo and figure out how and why Alexander crossed over into her world and time.  After chemistry seems to spark between her and Alexander, Amy questions whether or not she even wants him to return to the world of fiction.

I first noticed The Vampire Stalker in our school’s fall book fair, when all of my girls wanted it; it was the best seller of the week.  Once I took the time to read the summary on the back cover, I was hooked immediately while visions of my favorite fictional crush (Mr. Darcy- how ardently I admire and love you!) danced through my mind; I could totally relate to Amy and the premise behind the novel.  What female reader wouldn’t be drawn in by this?  Amy is a teen version of myself and I couldn’t help but love her for it.
So, I totally enjoyed the story and thought it was really fun and creative.  There were some flaws, however.  I wasn’t crazy impressed with the character development.  I felt like there were pieces missing.  As much as I like Amy I felt like her anger towards her father and her frustration with her little sister ran a little flat.  I would have liked Van Diepen to flesh Amy out a bit more.  Additionally, things just seemed to move to fast and I wasn’t scared of Vigo like Amy and Alexander suggested I should be; I wasn’t worried about the safety of the characters while Vigo was on the loose.  I guess the length of the book didn’t allow for more of what I was hoping for.
Plus, literary physics?  Is this a real theory?  If not, totally creative and unique.  Even if it is a preexisting theory, it’s a great idea.  I’ve decided I want it to happen to me. Now.
Despite the flaws mentioned above, I am  incredibly intrigued by Otherworld, the fictional world Alexander Banks hails from.  I really hope that Van Diepen will write a sequel or companion novel to share more of Otherworld with us.  All in all, The Vampire Stalker was a fun and entertaining read for middle grades readers and up, although it’ll probably appeal most to younger teens (and anyone who has been crushing on fictional guys for years).
PS…sorry for the strange formatting issues. WordPress has a mind of its own tonight I see.
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Just Finished: The Vampire Stalker

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The dedication in Allison Van Diepen’s “The Vampire Stalker” reads : ” For those of you who have ever fallen in love with a character in a book”. Fun read; review to come soon!
On another note I’m only like one page into “The Maze Runner” and I can’t wait to give it more attention. What titles are you munching on?

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Book Trailer of the Week: The Slayer Chronicles

Heather Brewer wrote one of my favorite series, The Chronicles of Valdimir Tod.  This new spin off series centers around Vampire Slayer Joss, Vladimir’s friend/enemy; hence the title The Slayer Chronicles. I’m definitely planning on reading this one although I’ll admit I’m a bit skeptical of spin off books.

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Yes, Its a Book About Vampires: Eighth Grade Bites by Heather Brewer

Yes, its a book about vampires. Teenage vampires.

Eighth Grade Bites is the first book in the Chronicles of Vladimir Tod series written by Heather Brewer. The book centers around Vlad’s eighth grade year; his last at Bathory Junior High.  Vlad, along with his aunt and best friend, has grown up knowing he is a vampire, but for the most part he lives a relatively normal teenage life.  He has a loyal best friend, a cute girl he crushes on, school to worry about, and bullies who harass him.  Vlad is also still mourning his parents who died in a house fire a few years earlier.

The mysterious death of a favorite teacher however, brings a strange substitute, Mr. Otis, to Bathory Junior High.  While trying to find the truth surrounding his teacher’s death, Vlad soon realizes that Mr. Otis has been paying a little too much attention to him and Vlad starts to wonder if Mr. Otis knows his secret.  His fears are confirmed when Mr. Otis returns an essay to Vlad with “I know your secret” scrawled across the paper.  At the same time, it is also becoming clear that there is a killer vampire on the loose and he is hunting Vlad.

I excitedly picked up this book over the summer because I liked the cover art.  Yes, sometimes its okay to judge a book by its cover! It really is an eye-catching cover; the simple black and white with the pop of color on Vlad’s sweater just screams “I’m hip! Read me!”  About halfway through Eighth Grade Bites I realized that the story was just as fun as the cover.  What I enjoy about this story is that it takes itself lightly.  Thank God, because teenage vampires who take themselves too seriously has been done already.  Eighth Grade Bites is pretty tongue-in-cheek, and Vlad himself likes to play off that wit by wearing shirts with slogans like “Vampires Suck”.

The cover and humor help make this book a good pick for reluctant readers, and it apparently was named an ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers.  Being a school librarian, I will say that I’ve had kids who usually aren’t interested in reading pick up this book, check it out, read it and enjoy it!  (Yay!) Although I have five copies of Eighth Grade Bites in our school library, there is always a waiting list and all the books in this series fly off our book fair racks!

If you’re tired of teen vampires, this may not be the book for you.  However, if you’re looking for an entertaining read you can’t go wrong with Vlad!