Recollections: Reviews by a Book Lover

Review: Etiquette and Espionage

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger


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. 

Sophronia’s mom has sent her off to finishing school.  At first Sophronia is upset at this development. Is it really so wrong to enjoy climbing trees and taking apart dumbwaiters?  Much to Sophronia’s surprise, and ultimate delight, she discovers that Mademoiselle Geraldine’s is not your normal finishing school.  Yes she will learn all about proper etiquette, but she will also learn to espionage skills, such as throwing knives and passing secret messages.

This is the first book in the series, and the main plot point of this book is Sophronia trying to find out where a fellow student has hidden a much desired prototype before it gets in the wrong hands.

What I thought:  I loved the premise of Etiquette & Espionage when I first picked up a copy.  I love steampunk, and I also love Victorian Era women doing things which they would never have been able to do in that time period.  I also liked Sophronia.  She has spunk and determination.  There are other great characters in the book too; they are unique and interesting and you want to learn more about them.  While you learn bits and pieces there is still a lot to be learned (hopefully in the next book).

You also learn a lot about the finishing school and how Sophronia was recruited, but there are a lot of holes there too, which I’m hoping will be answered later in the series.  While I enjoyed the plot of the book, it didn’t really grab me.  I wanted to keep reading, but I wasn’t up late into the night unable to put it down.  I was expecting something a little more exciting.  However, I think the framework to a good series has been laid out, and with a lot of the important background information now taken care of the other books may have a faster pace.


Zombies, Oh My! Something Strange and Deadly

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

What’s it about: Eleanor Fitt goes to pick up her brother from the train depot in Philadelphia only to have one of the walking Dead deliver a note to her from her brother.  It seems whoever is raising and controlling the Dead have Eleanor’s brother.  Desperate to save her brother Eleanor seeks out the Spirit-Hunters who are protecting the city from the dead.


What I thought:  This book has a lot of the things I love: steampunk gadgets, Victorian time period, zombies, paranormal activity, a romance, and a female lead who doesn’t like to be told what to do.

Eleanor is desperate to find her brother and she will do whatever it takes.  However, this isn’t an easy task in 1876 Philadelphia for a female.  Her family is on the verge of losing everything, and her mother is looking to marry her off to a wealthy bachelor in order to keep their house.  So Eleanor must be careful to keep her reputation in tack, while searching for her brother.  I felt for Eleanor’s pull between what she must do for her family and what she wants for herself.   (I also enjoyed the unexpected romance which blooms between Eleanor and another character.)

The dead in this book aren’t your typical zombies.  These dead have been raised by a necromancer who is using voodoo.  The walking Dead the necromancer loses control over become the Hungry.  Unlike your normal rabid zombie these dead were raised by magic.  No virus was the cause of their rising, and while the dead can kill you, your body can only be reanimated by the necromancer.  Also this book is much lighter on the zombie gore than your typical zombie book.

The steampunk gadgets come in the form of Spirit-Hunter Daniel’s gadgets for battling the dead.  A shot to the head won’t kill these walking dead, rather the electricity which binds them to the necromancer must be cut, which is where the gadgets come in.

As for the other characters: Joseph is from New Orleans and was taught to use magic for good, and is the one with the power to stop the necromancer; Jie is a Chinese woman who dresses as a man in order to have the freedom Chinese woman are denied in the U.S. at that time.


Was this my favorite steampunk zombie book of the year?  No, but I will read the next book in the series because I did enjoy Something Strange and Deadly.   Dennard did a wonderful job keeping me caught up in the story.  At times I was unable to put the book down because I need to know what happened next.

Check out the official book trailer here.

Zombies Oh, My! Dearly, Departed Review


Edited with PicMonkey

Dearly, Departed

By Lia Habel


So we have seen humans have vampire romances, werewolf romances, even ghost romances…so why not a zombie romance?  Well the wait for a zombie/human romance is now over.  If Stephanie Meyer showed us vampires can sparkle and drink animal blood, then Habel showed us some of the living dead can retain their humanity.

What it’s about: 

“The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria—a high-tech nation modeled on the manners, mores, and fashions of an antique era. A teenager in high society, Nora Dearly is far more interested in military history and her country’s political unrest than in tea parties and debutante balls. But after her beloved parents die, Nora is left at the mercy of her domineering aunt. For Nora, no fate could be more horrible—until she’s nearly kidnapped by an army of walking corpses.

Catapulted from her world of drawing-room civility, she’s suddenly gunning down ravenous zombies alongside mysterious black-clad commandos and confronting “The Laz,” a fatal virus that raises the dead—and hell along with them.  Then Nora meets Bram Griswold, a young soldier who is brave, handsome, noble . . . and dead. But as is the case with the rest of his special undead unit, luck and modern science have enabled Bram to hold on to his mind, his manners, and his body parts. And when his bond of trust with Nora turns to tenderness, there’s no turning back.”   (Summary from

What I thought: 

I recently got hooked on zombie novels when I read Ashes (review here).  So when I saw Dearly, Departed was in at the library I couldn’t pass it up.  Steam punk, zombies, and a love story? Yes, please!

At first I was a little weary about this book.   I thought the premise sounded interesting, but when I first started reading I thought it was going to be a slow read.  However, it soon grabbed me and kept me hooked.  However it never did get as fast paced as some books, but it did keep me turning the pages long after bedtime.

One aspect I loved à  each chapter is from a different person’s point of view: sometimes Bram, sometimes Nora, sometimes her best friend Pam, and various other characters.  This technique really let the reader see the story from various angles so you knew what was going on in all the different places, which I appreciated.

I do wonder what Bram looks like.  The longer a zombie is dead before reanimation the less human they are, but that doesn’t mean the zombies’ bodies aren’t all decomposing.  Scientists have worked on ways to keep their bodies from decaying too fast, but based on some of the descriptions I wonder.   I suppose it takes the personality before looks aspect to a new level.  You’d also have to be careful your loved one doesn’t try to bite you!  Despite being more human, the zombies do have to fight off the urges the Laz causes in them.

According to there are going to be other books (Gone with the Respiration series). Book 2: Dearly, Beloved is expected to be published in September.  I personally look forward to it.

If you’re looking for a zombie book with a twist then I recommend picking up Habel’s Dearly, Departed!