Tag Archives: Hachette Audio

Etiquette and Espionage

Book Review of Etiquette & Espionage, by Gail Carriger

I borrowed an audio copy of Etiquette & Espionage, by Gail Carrier, from my local library.

Description from Goodreads:

It’s one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It’s quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners–and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine’s, young ladies learn to finish…everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage–in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year’s education.


Carriger just never fails to amuse me. This is a more MG/YA delivery than the Parasol Protectorate series, which is one of my favorites. But I still laughed out loud more than once and loved seeing early appearances of some later familiar characters. In the end, I passed it to my daughter, sure she’ll love it too.

Quirk does a marvelous job with the narrations.

Best Served Cold

Book Review of Best Served Cold, by Joe Abercrombie

I borrowed an audio copy of Joe Abercrombie‘s Best Served Cold from my local library.

Description from Goodreads:
Springtime in Styria. And that means war.

There have been nineteen years of blood. The ruthless Grand Duke Orso is locked in a vicious struggle with the squabbling League of Eight, and between them they have bled the land white. While armies march, heads roll and cities burn, behind the scenes bankers and priests and older, darker powers play a deadly game to choose who will be king.

War may be hell, but for Monza Murcatto, the Snake of Talins, the most feared and famous mercenary in Duke Orso’s employ, it’s a damn good way of making money too. Her victories have made her popular – a shade too popular for her employers’ taste. Betrayed, thrown down a mountain and left for dead, Murcatto’s reward is a broken body and a burning hunger for vengeance. Whatever the cost, seven men must die.

Her allies include Styria’s least reliable drunkard, Styria’s most treacherous poisoner, a mass-murderer obsessed with numbers and a Barbarian who just wants to do the right thing. Her enemies number the better half of the nation. And that’s all before the most dangerous man in the world is dispatched to hunt her down and finish the job Duke Orso started…

Springtime in Styria. And that means revenge.

I wasn’t thrilled with this, but I seriously suspect it’s just a style thing. The characters were pleasantly grey, some leaning more towards black even. The writing was good and the narrator (Michael Page) did a great job. I even liked how the author explored the pointlessness of revenge and randomness of death. Plus, that women had agency in the book. I see this far too rarely in fantasy. (I still think of this as fantasy, though there are almost no actual fantasy elements. That’s probably on me.)

However, I got bored with it. It’s a violent book (which I don’t have a problem with in general), but there were just so many descriptions of battles, fights, deaths, etc that it became a blur of sameness. Do I care that one person was drown and another stabbed? No, it’s all just another bloody death. And I’d say 2/3 of the book is just this.

Plus, I found the whole thing painfully predictable on the whole. You know from the very beginning no one is going to come to a good end. (And I don’t even consider that a spoiler, it’s so obvious). Yes, there was a character reveal or two I didn’t see coming. But in terms of plot, very easy to guess.

All in all, I finished this with a shrug and a “Meh.”

Review of Prudence (The Custard Protocol #1), by Gail Carriger

I borrowed an audio copy of Gail Carriger‘s Prudence through my local library. And if you want pressure to finish a book, try borrowing an audiobook through Overdrive, having and hour and ten minutes left of it and noticing the book will be auto-returned in one hour. Luckily, the automation doesn’t appear to be too exact. I managed to finish it.

Description from Goodreads:
When Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama (Rue to her friends) is given an unexpected dirigible, she does what any sensible female would under similar circumstances – names it the Spotted Crumpet and floats to India in pursuit of the perfect cup of tea. But India has more than just tea on offer. Rue stumbles upon a plot involving local dissidents, a kidnapped brigadier’s wife, and some awfully familiar Scottish werewolves. Faced with a dire crisis and an embarrassing lack of bloomers, what else is a young lady of good breeding to do but turn metanatural and find out everyone’s secrets, even thousand-year-old fuzzy ones?

Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate is one of my favorite series and I looked forward to visiting old friends in Custard Protocol. And I enjoyed that aspect of it a lot, along with Carriger’s signature humor and patent ridiculousness. However, without her mother’s gravitas, I found Rue’s similar eye to fashion and tea times frivolous and just this side of annoying. I liked her no where near as much as Alexia. But this is also much more of a YA title than Soulless (not that that’s overly adult), so this could account for some of my disappointment. All in all, light and amusing, but not a home run. Though Moira Quirk did a marvelous job of the narration.