missbookiverse's review against another edition
+ Ivy's initiation into the "Parasol Protectorate" was marvelous. The ritual Alexia made up for her on the spot and how seriously Ivy took everything.
+ Zombie porcupines
+ Prof. Lyall got a back story. And it broke my heart. Spin-of prequel please!
+ Biffy and Lord Akeldama. This subplot has been going on for several books which I think is very well done. I love how Biffy is so conflicted about being a werewolf. But seriously, like Alexia said: if you cannot dance the same dance, then you should change the music!!
- The only thing I didn't really care for was like, the actual plot? The ghost, the assassination etc. It dragged.
+ Epic showdown. That Octomaton combined with Alexia giving birth, wow.
+ Prudence and her skin walker ability. How she turns into a pup when her father picks her up, is the absolute cutest. Can't wait to find out more about her in the last book and her own series.
I really appreciated the fact that Alexia is pregnant for the entirety of this book. I've read very few books with a pregnant heroine so for me this was refreshing. She didn't let her pregnancy keep her from doing her investigations, even with everyone telling her to take it easy.
I love her relationship with Lord Akeldama. I found myself wishing they had more interactions. I was a little surprised the way the story worked itself out I will admit it. There are events that occur that make me very interested to see how Gail Carriger will wind up the whol storyline in [b:Timeless|11324166|Timeless (Parasol Protectorate, #5)|Gail Carriger|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1327890901s/11324166.jpg|13210557] the last book in the series. This book did tie up a lot of loose ends, but I'm sure there's something that still needs attention. Until Then!
If you have been meandering the bookstore, milking the reviews of this 4th installment on Goodreads, trying to figure out if you want to read it or not, please, take this review to heart. You want to read it.
To be honest, I am writing this review because I know that I was almost discouraged to read this book at all because of several negative reviews floating around out here that I was reading. Now, I am a firm believer in everything that Gail Carriger will be putting out there in the future. EVERYTHING.
And here's why.
It seems to me that she's finally hit her stride as a writer in this fourth installment, because she ups the antics of everything she's put out there before. Ridiculous names, buoyant descriptions, awkward situations, mass detail on the latest fashions. She instills each of her characters in this volume with a depth that I didn't realize I was missing until now, even after reading the third installment of Blameless twice over before picking up this jewel from the bookstore. If you were a little put off by the lack of conflict and romance in the third book, missing not only Conall and Lady Maccon but also of the tensions between vampires and werewolves, then you will not be disappointed with this book at all. Throw in a little (heh, understatment) Alexia into the mix, and you've got yourself a hell of a ride.
The thing that upset me the most about the third installment was the aggravating way Floote would avoid talking about Mr. Tarabotti to his daughter in any circumstance. I mean, in ANY circumstance. Not even when they were in the same place that her father was occupying 25 years prior. Not even when any helpful information regarding his life would probably put her in more favorable circumstances more than once. Well, if that peeved you as much as it did me, then you are in for a delectable treat. You will finally understand not only WHAT Floote was hiding, but WHY, since the capable butler was probably not only protecting the interests of his late master's, but those of the people around him as well.
In any case, I get that, but I still would've like to hear more revelation on the details of Alessandro Tarabotti's life, you know, maybe a book or two back. But, like I said above, no complaints with this book thus far.
I say thus far because I am currently reading this book, haven't finished it yet.
Why I am I writing a review about it, then, when I haven't even completed it? Because it's simply THAT GOOD. This makes for impulsive reading, I've recommended it to several of my friends, sent them quotes while reading (that gave no spoilers away, calm down) to give them added reason to read this bloodydamn good series.
Prime, Gail Carriger. Prime.
To make up for the shortest installment of this series since the second book, Carriger sought to win back the hearts of her audiences with her continuing adventures of our favorite spunky heroine. In this 4th book, she is emotional yet still persistent, but NOT in the annoying way as you might think. Really, people are complaining about her being pregnant getting in the way through any logical plot coming through in the entire book, but really, when hasn't something ridiculous and cumbersome like that NOT happened in one of Carriger's books? In the second book, Ivy and Tunstell's and Felicity's love triangle; in the third book, Floote deftly maneuvering away from any mention about Alexia's father; in this one, Alexia's pregnancy. But you mustn't take this too seriously. This series IS built on mainly humor and levity in the mid-to-late 1800's.
But really, you must think it a feat in itself for Alexia to be such a headstrong character even growing up in the household that she did. Sure, she had the added pragmatism of being Soulless, but even then, she was a determined young cookie, not to be deterred in her expositions, whether it be in proving her and her child's innocence, or in getting to the bottom of the recent rumor of the assassination of Queen Victoria. Really, she is quite the inspiring heroine in general; stubborn, able to take control of her life (and the lives of others, may it be said), realistic (surprisingly so, I think, even with being Soulless), amazingly considerate of her friends and allies, and laudably self taught (especially for a woman of that time, for even though she had a tutor just like her sisters did, look at how educated they came out to be in the end. No, Alexia MUST have continued her education on her own, even mastering the French language and is in the process of learning a few more). And with a character such as Alexia in this, there is no WAY she's going to let some infant-inconvenience get in the way of getting done what needs to be done!
Going back to my point from before, I think that's WHY I enjoy Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series so much; the unadulterated fun of it. When reading, it becomes known to the reader that the plot or its structure isn't to be taken *too* seriously. But by adding wild descriptions about manners and fashions, and giving the reader reason enough to CARE about the fun, highly interesting characters she's drawn up, Carriger has made this as fun to read as it no doubt was as fun to write. And for that, I must say I am truly, truly grateful.
Some highlights for me: Conall's faithful and loving administrations to his wife; Lyall's Beta-ness; Biffy's considerate and fragile nature, who wins the hearts of all. THE HEARTS OF ALL (because if you are not completely taken in by his first months becoming a werewolf, his screaming in the transformation and his pain and awkwardness at losing--almost--everything that he had grown used to in his previous life, then you are cold, ice cold).
If anything, if the promise of backstory between characters that you didn't even realize had backstory won't draw you in, or the inclusion of a greater plot than has ever revealed itself in one of the Parasol Protectorate books so far, or the humor, or the little moments between Conall and Lady Maccon that give the book just a *little* more heart than was already to be expected, then let this be your reason for continuing on in reading this next book: the revelation of Biffy's real name. It's better than Lord Akeldama's Emmet Wilberforce Bootbottle-Fipps, if such a thing is possible. And it's so surprisingly and wonderfully fabulous. "Spectacularly Spanish, wouldn't you say?" as Lord Akeldama would put it. Yes, I would say exactly that.
Which reminds me, some fantastic quotes that won't give anything away and won't detract from the added luxury of buying/renting this book for yourself.
"She tried not to look, of course she did, but Biffy did have a rather nice physique. Not nearly so splendid as her husband's but not everyone could be built like a steam engine, and the young dandy had kept himself well in hand before metamorphosis, for all his frivolous pursuits.
'Biffy, were you secretly a Corinthian?' Alexia wondered out loud before she could stop herself.
Biffy blushed. 'No, my lady, although I did enjoy fencing rather more than some of my compatriots might consider healthy.'
Lady Maccon nodded sagely."
"'Well I say!' Lord Maccon stuffed another cutlet into his mouth. 'I can't imagine you actually defending the vampires. They've been trying to kill you for months.'
'Oh, Conall, do swallow first.Then speak. What kind of example is that for our child?'
The earl looked around as though trying to see if that little being had somehow been born with an eye toward modeling its behavior upon his."
"Alexia thought for the first time that Professor Lyall and Lord Akeldama shared some mannerisms. They were both good at hiding their emotions. To a certain extent, this was to be expected in vampires, but in werewolves . . . Lyall's reserve was practically flawless. Then she wondered if his very quiet stillness were not like that of a child climbing into hot water, afraid that every little movement would only make things hotter and more painful."
Quotes which highlight some of my favorite parts about Carriger's work; Alexia's practicality and bluntness, Professor Lyall's personality, and her overall deft hand at manipulating crafty yet humorous dialogue and prose.
In other words: very, very well done.
Really, why did it have to end when I was enjoying it again?! I want to read the last book!
It didn't have so much action as the previous one, or at least Alexia didn't have her life threatened throughout the whole book, and the mystery was way to predictable. Really! What was supposed to be som sort of a twist was so predictable it made me roll my eyes and say "really? You arrived to that conclusion only now?" But I did enjoyed, and think it was the best part of this book, Alexia's investigation on the Woolsey pack previous attempts (that was really a shocking revelation and also a "awww" moment, but I'm strange) and we have some answers about her father! \o/
and might i add DAMN YOU SURPRISE ENDINGS! :)
I've always loved the covers for this series, the first three being taken from the Clockwork Couture website (an awesome site for all you steampunk dress up fans) and despite an obvious change in model for this installment, they've still managed to completely embody the genre with the simplest of concepts. Apparently (according to The Steampunk Bible) this genre is specifically called Mannerspunk, clearly a name not thought up by a British person seeing as spunk has a whole different (and stickier) meaning over here. I much preferred Miss Carriger's turn of phrase, this book here is a Comedy of Manners.
Cucumber or Fish Paste?
Lady Alexia Maccon, preternatural, wife to a werewolf Alpha and muhjah to the Queen, is much too busy fighting off vampire assassins and consoling eccentrically dressed french scientists to give much thought to the fact she's heavily pregnant with a child that should never have existed. So when an absent minded ghost warns her the Queen is in danger Alexia waddles on, armed with her trusty parasol, to face off zombie porcupines, lovesick werewolves and her overly demanding sister in order to uncover the dastardly conspirators.
High Noon or High Tea?
Oh yes! Yes, yes, yes!! If you can't tell I am so pleased with this book it's leaking out of my fingers as I type. I had been a little disappointed with Blameless, the last installment (though really the standard was so high to begin with it was still excellent) but thankfully Miss Carriger has pulled it back for the fourth book in this hugely enjoyable series.
As always Lady Alexia Maccon is a joy to follow around as she sticks her pronounced nose into the bad guys' business and always makes sure to do so in the most proper fashion. Throughout all the books I've loved her stout practicality in the face of all things she takes on (and she has survived a lot, not least of all being married to a man who thinks nothing of yelling out orders in the nude and is still completely incapable of tying a proper cravat.) I also adore the fact Alexia completely lacks that silly girl romanticism a lot of Victorian heroines tend to waft about like a lace hankie. Despite the larger then life cast of secondary characters the stories are all about her, she solves the mysteries, she fights off the nasties and she figures her way out the traps usually saving everybody else along the way. She is the unholy love child of Sherlock Holmes, Indiana Jones and Mrs Beeton (I'm not sure how this would come about but I'm betting some perv has posted their fanfic somewhere on the internet).
And even more amazing, she spends the entire story on the verge of giving birth! Now I've read books with pregnant characters, watched TV shows and movies with them and they've run the gambit from depressed teenage mistakes to smug glowing earth mothers. But never has a character made being pregnant in life threatening situations look so much fun.
""Oh I can't think." She rubbed at her belly, annoyed at the fuzziness her own brain, the persistent product of lack of sleep, physical discomfort, and hunger. She seemed to spend all her time either eating or dozing - sometimes dozing while eating and, once or twice, eating while dozing. Pregnancy had given her a new window into the human capacity for consumption.
"Oh, blast it, I'm positively starving."
Instantly all three men proffered up comestibles extracted from inner waistcoat pockets. Professor Lyall's offering was a ham sandwich wrapped in brown paper, Lord Maccon's a weather beaten apple, and Lord Akeldama's a small box of turkish delight.
Months of training had seen the entire werewolf household running attendance on an increasingly grumpy Alexia and learning, to a man, that if food was not provided promptly, fur might fly, or worse, Lady Maccon would start to weep. As a result, several of the pack now crinkled as they moved, having desperately stashed snacks about their personage."
In addition to a stellar leading lady the Parasol Protectorate features one of the greatest supporting cast of characters in any series I have read. They grow with each book, revealing hidden pasts and secrets and Heartless was no exception. There are some shocking revelations in this book regarding Alexia's father and a certain member of the ensemble that had me forgetting all about the mornay sauce I was supposed to be whisking (I had to start again!). And as always the scenes between Lord and Lady Maccon are still wonderful to read, this is in fact one of only two series I can think of that hasn't lost it's spark despite the two main characters getting married (the other being, of course, the awesome Lady Julia Grey series by Deanna Raybourne) clearly a great feat for any author.
If you have not yet picked up one of Miss Carriger's books, do it now! And do it in this order:
Timeless (out March 2012)
You can thank me later.
kelliekozak's review against another edition
- Plot- or character-driven? A mix
- Strong character development? Yes
- Loveable characters? Yes
- Diverse cast of characters? Yes
- Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes