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on 3 May 2013
No dumbing down for a Young Adult audience in this wonderful start to the Finishing School series. Instead, the author keeps things mature - as she should.

The voices of the characters are perfect for their age - and there are some familiar faces for those who have read the Parasol Protectorate novels. Different fashions to imagine, different technologies to wrap your head around - and new questions blossoming in your head!

As a separate series this is working well so far, but is still fascinating for those who have already been introduced to this wonderful world.

I can't wait for the next one. Oh, and can I have a mechanimal?
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on 2 April 2013
Good read, could not put it down, was such a story, must read more from this author. Keep them coming
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on 13 June 2013
This is my first venture into reading Gail Carriger. Whilst I did enjoy reading it, I felt like it had a very slow build and it didn't grip me as much as I'd hoped.

I'll start with the positives. I thought it was fun and completely silly. I didn't realise it was directed for a 12-13 year old audience and with that in mind I think it's fantastic for the target audience. I hadn't experienced steampunk before which was interesting. I also really liked the Victorian element of the story. The characters were good, but I think Sophronia was the best character. She's a strong, feisty protagonist which I like.

I did think that there was far too much going on for the size of the book. I began to find it quite confusing and personally think if some of the ideas had been condensed and expanded on then it would've gripped my attention more. Perhaps if I had read the series that preceded this, with the same world, I would've been more familiar/interested in it.

Overall, I would recommend this book because although I don't think I'll continue with the series, the writing is good and it's good, silly fun.
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on 29 June 2013
There are moments during this book where I laughed out load, Gail Carriger has a wicked turn of phrase which is engaging and draws you into the story.

I have read Gail's previous series The Parasol Protectorate and the world that this current series is the same, there are even some of the same characters written into the series.

For me whilst being an excellent read, it lacked something. Upon reflection it was set in a Young girls espionage finishing school, told from a young girls narrative. Although the story could not have been told in any other way I believe that for me there was no adult perspective which stopped the book from being a possible 5 stars.
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on 17 July 2013
As a 56-year-old male, I'm almost certainly not the intended audience for this book, but I must admit I found it very entertaining. The 'steampunk' elements are lightly sketched in - there is very little explanation of how this version of 1851 came to vary from ours, unlike some other books in this genre - leaving us free to concentrate on the plot. The contrast between the formality of speech and manners expected in polite society and the chaos of what is actually going on generates a lot of humour. Sophronia is an engaging main character. Having read the 'Parasol Protectorate' series, I now realise that there have been references to events in this book, set twenty years earlier, so it is evident that the author has carefully planned out the story arc.

If you've ever wanted to know how to curtsey and throw a knife at the same time, the correct technique for fainting in a crowded ballroom so that only the man whose attention you are trying to attract comes to your rescue, or how to repulse a werewolf attack using only an evening fan and a bottle of scent, then this is the book for you! I shall certainly read the next book in this series (if only to find out what the red lace doily and the lemon are for...)
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on 24 October 2013
I love Gail Carriger's 'Parasol Protectorate' series, so I was looking forward to this new 'Finishing School' series, which is set in the same world, 25 years earlier. Thankfully Ms Carriger did not disappoint: 'Etiquette & Espionage' is as much fun to read as her previous novels.

We first meet Sophronia as she is trying to hide in the dumbwaiter in her house to spy on the conversation her mother is having with a neighbour. Unfortunately it doesn't go as planned, and an incident with a trifle leads to having to meet a mother who seems more exasperated than angry - a state she seems to be in a lot around Sophronia. That same afternoon, Sophronia is whisked off to the finishing school, but right from the start, things don't go to plan. Before they even make it to the school, the carriage is attacked by 'flywaymen', who use contraptions like hot air balloons to attack passing carriages. As they get to the school and start to learn more, Sophronia and her new friend and roommate Dimity realise that it was no random attack, and start trying to piece together what the flywaymen were looking for, and why.

As readers have come to expect from Gail Carriger, the book is a lot of fun. She continues to paint this steampunk, alternate-history Britain in beautiful little details, while keeping up a plot that had me racing through the story. Fans of the series will be glad to see some familiar faces, albeit a little younger. One of my favourite things was seeing a young Madame Lefoux, who has always been one of my favourite characters. I also thought it was fun to meet a new vampire, one of the Professors, and another werewolf, both of whom seem like very interesting characters with much more to them than we get to see in this book. There is just enough to hint at the fascinating personal stories the two must have, and given Sophronia's constant curiosity, I'm sure there will be more revealed about them in the future books.

I've always enjoyed books set in boarding schools - Enid Blyton, Hogwarts, and many others, and reading something like that again was a flashback of being curled up on a cushion in the school library, reading about the adventures people could have living away from home. Sophronia and her friend get to try things like figuring out how to get past mechanical hall guards, how to sneak in and out of the ship's boiler room, and how to pass notes undetected while dancing.

With 'Etiquette and Espionage', Gail Carriger has produced just the sort of fun-filled story readers have come to expect from her, and the Finishing School series promises to put a new twist on the 'adventures at boarding school' theme.
Overall, I give Etiquette & Espionage 8 out of 10. [Book review originally posted by me on my book review blog, link in my profile.]
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on 4 May 2017
An excellent book, full of action, adventure, and school antics. With a finishing school on a giant floating airship, a vampire and werewolf teacher, and all sorts of steampunk trimmings (not to mention the spy & assassin training!), this book is a great twist on typical Victorian life at a finishing school, excellently written, brilliantly performed and a real laugh. Can't wait to listen to the rest of the series!
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on 4 February 2013
This is one truly magical novel, and a very unique one at that. I haven't read too many steampunk novels but this one has been catching my eye for a long while. I love the Victorian time period as well so that was a bonus. I was incredibly lucky to be one of the few atomics who received this book to read and review, and I cannot thank the people at Atom enough for giving me the opportunity to read this spectacular novel. Just look at the cover for the novel? Isn't it beautiful? I love the steampunk feel you get from it as there are cogs in the wallpaper. Gosh I loved this book, the whole premise sounded awesome. A finishing school that secretly teaches their pupils to be spies and assassins. How freaking awesome does that sound? It really doesn't disappoint. What I also loved about this novel is that it's aimed at the younger teen audience and it gives them one hell of a kick ass heroine who uses her intelligence to solve a mystery. I think there needs to be more female protagonists like this in novels aimed at the younger audience, after all us girls love action and adventure too!

The action starts from the very first page when Sophronia tries to listen to her Mothers conversation while manoeuvring a dumbwaiter, but it slips and drops to the ground floor and chucks her out, ripping her underskirts in the process. Her mother is once again disgraced at her youngest daughters actions and it's the final straw. The unknown guest her mother is talking to just happens to be the headmistress of the Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing School for Young Ladies of Quality. After a quick interview with the women Sophronia is sent off to pack and without a backwards glance her mother sends her off with the stranger. Things aren't exactly what they seem. Awaiting in the carriage are other pupils and on the journey they are attacked by flywaymen. The headmistress who is actually a student trying to finish, panics and doesn't do anything to save them. It's left to Sophronia's intelligence and years of being a rebel to save them before they are captured. They narrowly escape and finally make their way to the school. Sophronia is shocked to find it's a huge airship and to get on board they have to sit atop a werewolf which leaps upon a hanging platform that will then be cranked up into the ship. Sophie soon begins to realise that this is no ordinary finishing school.

Sophronia is a rebellious young lady who acts less ladylike than her mother wishes. The youngest of all the sisters she's used to being teased and taunted but she has learnt how to use this to her advantage. While her sisters were preparing themselves for upcoming seasons, she was expanding her knowledge and just generally wrecking the house sneaking around. There's no doubt that she is a perfect candidate for this particular finishing school. Sophronia wasn't afraid to get dirty while exploring, she had a very adventurous streak that meant at times you would find her climbing the outer walls of the airship to the decks below, where she would then socialise with those of a lower class. If her mother found out she would be appalled. Sophronia is the only student who didn't know about the darker side of the school before she arrived, she was shocked to see that young ladies were being taught these things. Yes, she has to learn all about her posture and etiquette amongst other normal things but when you learn how to poison your future husband and how to perform all sorts of manoeuvres in a dress, things aren't so bad. She finds that she really enjoys this finishing school and it isn't as bad as it sounds.

The world that the novel is set in is awesome! You have many steampunk elements like mechanimals, airships and even flywaymen, which were all superb by the way. You have paranormal elements with the werewolf Captain and the vampire teacher. You also have the Victorian traditions that are very important in historical novels. The airship that is the school is so vividly described with the many decks, mechanical maid tracks and my favourite, the complex record room. I love reading novels about boarding schools and this one is no different, but this was so much better as there is no others like it. I want to go to this school in all it's steampunk glory. Carriger seems to be a master at writing unique historical fiction and I can't wait to see what she comes up with in the next book.

Etiquette and Espionage is a spectacular novel set in a unique world with some really fun characters. There's plenty of action and adventure that will keep you hooked from the very first page. Just be prepared when you finished this novel, not only will you be craving the next book but you will be on the lookout for airships ready to take you to that particular finishing school.
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on 2 June 2013
Oh how I love this book. I laughed out loud at the antics, the intrigue, the adventures. Such a great read and linked to the Parasol series. Can't wait for the second book, roll on Nov! I'm over 40 and I loved this, so it's definitely a book for all ages.
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on 31 October 2013
I'd previously read Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series and thoroughly enjoyed it. So I was eager to start reading this book, the first in a new series. Obviously a teen book and not an adult one but Shidaeg, Genevieve and her aunt are main characters in the book so it ties in with the adult series, obviously set a fair few years before.

It centers on Sophronia, a teenage girl sent to a finishing school by her exasperated mother. However it's not just a normal finishing school, aside from the fact the school is actual a giant air ship, the school teaches a very specific set of skills, more suited to a spy shall we say.

Set in the same steam punk setting as her other series, and complete with the werewolves and vampires and the ways of them that we know about from the other one, it's very well written, with amazing imagery, and I love all the devices Gail imagines and details for us.

The "prototype" is needed for a certain machine anyone who's read the previous series will know about! Very fast paced, and hilarious!
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