Soulless by Gail Carriger: review

Soulless (Parasol Protectorate, #1)Soulless by Gail Carriger

PaperbackHardback

Series: Parasol Protectorate #1

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

Age Group: Adult

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Steampunk, Romance

Publisher: Orbit

Release Date: October 1st 2009

Synopsis: Alexia Tarabotti is labouring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire – and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

My thoughts: Soulless is an absolute delight to read. The book is terribly fun and made me squee a great number of times. It made me grin, laugh, and stay up ’till midnight. I should also mention that there is tea.

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Soulless was an amazing snowy-day read that features a charming and colorful group of characters. Alexia Tarabotti is a preternatural-a being that is able to remove all supernatural powers as long as she is touching the person. I can not express how much I adore Alexia. She is the very definition of a great main character. She is intelligent, well read, strong, and independent. As Alexia is a spinster, she has relinquished herself to staying in the background of social gatherings and thus her life has been quiet. This all changes when she is very, very rudely attacked by a vampire.

Quirky, loveable, charming, colorful, and unique. All these words describe the characters in Soulless perfectly. I found myself loving the rest of the characters as much as I love Alexia. They are all so very wonderful. I just wanted to invite them all to a tea-party. If I could host such a tea-part I would arrange the place cards so that Lord Akeldama must sit next to me. I found him to be absolutely ridiculous but in a strangely good way. It would be very fun to have a conversation with him. I would also have Ivy sit next to me. I absolutely loved her terrible hats!

What I loved most about Soulless is how Carriger masterfully weaves together the genres of romance, paranormal, and a bit of steampunk. The steampunk Victorian world she created had the charm that I always find in steampunk and still stayed true to Victorian views and rules. Carriger works in details about the role females had during the Victorian era and shows it subtly through Alexia’s narration and the events that unfold in the story. I felt very sorry for Alexia in some parts and it is all thanks to those little details that Carriger wrote. The romance and paranormal was balanced out so that one genre did not take over the other. The supernatural creatures were written in a good-humoured way. They are fun to read about but I was still able to take them seriously.

The writing is another big reason why I loved this book. Carriger’s writing flows well, and is filled with humour and wit. It was incredibly engaging. I just wanted the book to go on forever so I could read more of the writing.

Despite that I love this novel dearly there is one thing that I didn’t like in the book: the scenes where Lord Maccon and Alexia canoodle. I found it to be a bit awkward and got in the way of the story. This is my only qualm.

Written with fast pacing, brilliant characters, a mix of genres, and greatness Soulless is a great book to read. I find it to be a very girly book but it is girly in a smart way. I highly recommend it.

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Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff: review

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

Series: The Lotus War #1

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

Genre: YA Fiction, Fantasy, Steampunk

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books

Synopsis: Griffins are supposed to be extinct. So when Yukiko and her warrior father Masaru are sent to capture one for the Shogun, they fear that their lives are over. Everyone knows what happens to those who fail him, no matter how hopeless the task.
But the mission proves far less impossible, and far more deadly, than anyone expects – and soon Yukiko finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in her country’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled griffin for company. But trapped together in the forest, Yukiko and Buruu soon discover a friendship that neither of them expected.
Meanwhile, the country around them verges on the brink of collapse. A toxic fuel is slowly choking the land; the omnipotent, machine-powered Lotus Guild is publicly burning those they deem Impure; and the Shogun cares about nothing but his own dominion. Yukiko has always been uneasy in the shadow of power, when she learns the awful truth of what the Shogun has done, both to her country and to her own family she’s determined to do something about it.
Returning to the city, Yukiko and Buruu plan to make the Shogun pay for his crimes – but what can one girl and a flightless griffin do against the might of an empire?

My thoughts: This book was brilliant! It blew my mind to smithereens. Stormdancer has had a lot of hype and a lot of praise so I was very excited to read this. I read the book and I loved it! The idea of a steampunk Japan-inspired world was original and worked very well with the story. The book was exciting and memorable. There were telepathic thunder tigers, steampunk awesomeness, clockwork armor, and chainsaw Katanas.

Chainsaw Katana

I need one of these

The writing was beautiful. Filled with great prose and very detailed writing. It seemed like every word was carefully examined before being placed in a sentence. The way the world in the book was written was strong and filled with detail. I could clearly imagine and understand how horrible the polluted world that Yukiko lived in was. I loved this about the book but I found that in the beginning that all the descriptive writing made the already slow introduction to the world even slower. I believe that if the beginning was rewritten with less descriptions mixed with more telling about the world and history of Shima I would have enjoyed it far more.

Ounce the thunder tiger is introduced I became absorbed in the story immediately. Buruu is beautiful, fierce, and magnificent. I also thought he was quite hilarious. I loved the relationship between Buruu and Yukiko. Both became stronger and more knowing after becoming friends and eventually growing  a very strong bond. Yukiko was a great heroine and she felt very real. She struggled but she fought and never gave up. There are many other characters that I loved: Masaru, Akihito, Kin, Kasumi, Michii, and the Shogun  (because I thought he was a great villain). The characters in this story breathed in a lot of life into the book.

Stormdancer was filled with a lot of action-filled fight scenes and the detailed writing made battles very bloody. I also liked how the politics of the empire were written. I was always able to understand the politics of the world and I appreciate that. The dying land of Shima’s history and world all felt real even though it was fictional. The greed of the Shogun and the people fighting against him were very interesting to read about. The ending was amazing and sad.

Some might be bothered with the inaccuracy in the Japanese customs and culture. I was not bothered by this at all and I was able to enjoy the book immensely.

I believe that Stormdancer was a fantastic and unique story that many will love. This book is a great start to a series and I loved it.