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Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School Series #1)

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

I am a long time fan of Gail Carriger¿s Parasol Protectorate ser

I am a long time fan of Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series and was crushed when the series ended.  Etiquette & Espionage takes place in the same universe, but is set a generation earlier and I was delighted to meet some characters from the original series w...
I am a long time fan of Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series and was crushed when the series ended.  Etiquette & Espionage takes place in the same universe, but is set a generation earlier and I was delighted to meet some characters from the original series when they were much younger.




This new series, Finishing School, is written for the Young Adult market and I was concerned with how that would be handled.  A number of authors who normally write for adults have started writing for teens and it is not always a success.  Gail Carriger, however, managed it beautifully.




The characters fit well into the steampunk world developed in the original series and their personalities and style of speech are consistent with what I have learned to love and expect from Carriger.  




She shows that girls are girls, whether they live in our boring, mundane world or a world consisting of dirigibles, vampires and werewolves.  Some of them have strong, confident personalities whereas others are more concerned with their looks and prestige than they are with their character.




One of the things I liked about this book is that it is not a romance.  I am a high school librarian and most of the books written with female leads revolve around a romantic relationship.  Etiquette & Espionage focused on friendships, patriotism, and derring-do. Boys are discussed (these are teen girls after all), but there is not a focus on any one person.




Book two, Curtsies & Conspiracies is due out in November.  I wonder if Sophronia will finally learn to curtsy.  After all, in Victorian England that is just as important as sword fighting.

posted by ElaineReads on February 11, 2013

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Most Helpful Critical Review

13 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

I believe that Etiquette & Espionage has one of the pretties

I believe that Etiquette & Espionage has one of the prettiest covers of 2013 (so far). Also, a finishing school that actually equips you to become not only a "lady" (don't get me started on how anti-feminist that is) but also an assassin or informant? Sign...
I believe that Etiquette & Espionage has one of the prettiest covers of 2013 (so far). Also, a finishing school that actually equips you to become not only a "lady" (don't get me started on how anti-feminist that is) but also an assassin or informant? Sign me up please! (the assassin part). Also, the steampunk world of Etiquette & Espionage is set in the 19th century, on a floating school. yes floating school, that has werewolf and vampire teachers, and a brother school named "The School of Evil Geniuses".... I will give you a minute to process all of this before diving into the plot and characters. 
Ok, you guys ready to move on? 
The main protagonist, Sophronia (that is a mouthful!) is the youngest daughter of many sisters and brothers.. she is deemed as the troublesome child in the family and one that is too interested in technology (how horrifying) and forgets that she is a lady. Her mother and sisters got fed up with Sophronia's troublemaking streak and problematic antics she gets into that they jump at the chance when the headmistress of The Finishing Academy For Young Ladies Of Quality proposes she starts attending her school. In less than half an hour they pack Sophronia's necessities and ship her off with the headmistress. Little did they know that her education will be a bit more than classes on posture, tea drinking etiquette, and the right level of curtsy. 
I really really loved the premise of Etiquette & Espionage but I felt that I would have connected so much more with the main protagonist if she was older than 14. I felt this book was more middle grade thank young adult, especially with the innocent aura I got from all the characters. I mean a school that teaches you to become assassins should have been exciting and action packed but we get almost no attendance into any of the kick butt classes I was hoping to witness. I was thinking more along the lines of Tris's situations in Divergent but we mostly get to read about Sophronia's lack of a proper curtsy and a vampire that always annoyingly ends his sentences with the word "Whot!". 
I liked the plot, I really did, even with all the complicated steampunk terminology, I was still able to follow the plot, something that usually doesn't happen when I read steampunks. I have to say I loved the idea of mechanimals (yes! an animal that is constructed using metals) and how Sophronia cared for one as an actual pet. However, I struggled with all the names of the characters in this story, some were impossible to pronounce. The antagonist was interesting but I honestly saw no character development in this novel. Maybe it was neglected because the focus was mainly put on the school as well as searching for the prototype that the antagonist hid. 
To try and end this review at a reasonable length, where I could write for ages about this book because so much happens in it, I did enjoy Etiquette & Espionage and would have enjoyed it way more if I was maybe 5 to 7 years younger. It has a bit of a Gallagher Girl vibe but with steampunk and a younger protagonist. I recommend it to middle grade book readers as well as fans of steampunk who don't mind a protagonist that is younger than your average YA character. 

posted by majibookshelf on February 9, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2013

    So Much FUN!!

    This books was so much fun. You will enjoy this book even if you haven't read the Parasol Protectorate series. If you have read the Parasol Protectorate you will find all sorts of little character gems in her. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun light read. Carriger has started another great series!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2013

    Recommend

    Very quick and interesting read. I couldn't put the book down and am disappointed that I will have to wait so long until the next book comes out.
    Maybe I'll give the adult books a try.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 8, 2013

    This is the start of a prequel series to the Parasol Protectorat

    This is the start of a prequel series to the Parasol Protectorate. Really enjoyed meeting new friends and old. Carriger's typical wit and eccentricities shine through once more. Highly recommend it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2013

    Anonymous

    I picked up this book at the library expecting a historical fiction. It's steam punk. Though I don't usually (aka. never) like steam punk, after the initial shock when I realised that my historical fiction was not to be, I settled into the plot and began to enjoy it. In fact, I can safely say that I will be reading the rest of this series, which is a first for me, steam punk wise. I reccomend this series for any girl who likes a little adventure, mystery, and of course etiquette in their books, whether or nor they like steam punk.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 19, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    No, I haven't read the Parasol Protectorate series. I understand

    No, I haven't read the Parasol Protectorate series. I understand the comparisons made between this new prequel series and the PP books but dear reviewers, remember that the audience is quite different. I appreciate reading about a strong-willed protagonist whose main focus is not on hooking up with her brother's best friend or the bad boy at school because many of my middle school students aren't interested in that plot line. Yes, the book reads younger than many YA novels but is that a bad thing? I think not.
    Sophronia, 14, doesn't realize that the finishing school she has been sent to attend includes teachers who are vampires and werewolves. One of her classmates is clearly a liar and not a nice person who has a secret which she refuses to reveal. Sophronia enlists her friends, both classmates and "sooties," to find that which has been hidden and to save her school from the evil flywaymen. This fun romp will appeal to fans of the Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter and the Airborn series by Kenneth Oppel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 28, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I love this author. Since I adore her adult series, I knew w





    I love this author. Since I adore her adult series, I knew without a doubt that this book must be read!




    First off, her writing it about the same as her adult series expect for teens. Talk over tea, handsome gentlemen and of course a secret society under the guise of a school. I love it. Every plot twist and new exploration of the world the author created only lead me deeper into the story. It flowed nicely, never wavering or leaving the reader behind. I really enjoyed the main character Sophronia. Her spunky attitude and quick remarks always had me laughing or snickering.




    There's not really a love interest yet still, I'm anxious to see what will happen ext. Sophronia made both  friends and enemies quick. She is a fast learner who will have her work cut out for her.




    This is a great steampunk story. With amazing world-building and great adventure, I'm glad that I took this journey. A pleasant and sophisticated adventure, Etiquette & Espionage is quite the story!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 3, 2014

    This book was such a fun surprise! I expected to like it, but I

    This book was such a fun surprise! I expected to like it, but I didn't expect it to be so quirky and funny. It's a steampunk novel intended for younger YA readers, although older teens will like it too.

    The characters are hilarious and they all have distinct personality traits to make them memorable. I loved Sophronia, Monique, and Soap the most, but Vieve, Dimity, and Pillover were wonderful additions. I also loved the setting—an airship suspended over the moors of England served as a unique and unconventional school where young ladies learn to "finish" whatever or whomever needs finishing.

    If you are looking for a clean, fun book for your teen to read, you'll definitely want to investigate this series.

    Content: a (very) small bit of innuendo

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2014

    Classic Gail Carriger

    As with the Parasol Protectorate Series, this tale is hilarious, filled with unique and unforgettable characters, and entertained me from start to finish. The story takes place about 20 years or so prior to the Parasol Protectorate Series, and several of the characters of that series appear here as children.

    Fun read!

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  • Posted October 1, 2014

    ¿Etiquette and Espionage¿ is a wonderful and whimsical introduct

    “Etiquette and Espionage” is a wonderful and whimsical introduction into the world of historical steampunk fiction for the middle reader.

    Based around a floating finishing school that also trains young women to become spies in the Victorian era, the subject is rich before a single word was written.  The attention to detail in describing the machines and general steampunk ideas is amazing and inspires the imagination.

    Added into the plot is a great history lesson about the customs of the era mixed with a great deal of satire concerning the way a “proper lady” should dress and behave.  I found myself laughing at several points in the adventure at the sheer ridiculousness of it all.  To counter the customs of the day, the author presents a host of very strong female characters and how they are, in fact, equal to men.

    There is fantasy type violence, though none graphic, and questionable morality that is presented in a tongue-in-cheek-manner that no reader after fifth grade will see as an example of appropriate behavior, making it a great read for those making the leap from children’s books to young adult.  My only caveat is that the language is a bit difficult to get used to, so it is not a good choice for the more reluctant readers.

    But don’t let the children have all of the fun.  “Etiquette and Espionage” is a fun read for adults who are children at heart.

    This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2014

    Great series

    If you like her other serires you will love this spy series set in stempunk era.

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  • Posted January 23, 2014

    What a cute book. I think that this book is a great spy book for

    What a cute book. I think that this book is a great spy book for the younger of the YA genre, although it can be enjoyed by fans of all ages. This was my first book by Carriger, and I plan on ensconcing myself in the Parasol Protectorate Series as well as looking forward to future Finishing School books. To come up with what I really enjoyed about this book is really hard because I found that I enjoyed all of it. There were plenty of manners to be learned and espionage to uncover.

    This book started with Sophronia, a 14 year old girl who cannot leave inventions well enough alone. In her spare time she would tear inventions apart to find out how they worked. As if this were normal behavior. I thought she was funny and witty and I wished that she would keep on like that, which she did. I found the names in this book to be as exciting as the plot like, Bumbersnoot, Barnaclegoose, Dimity, all of them clever and strange all at once. Each time a new character was introduced I could only imagine what kind of wacky name they would get.

    The characters were just as great. There was Sidheag, who was a lady by birth, but not by etiquette. Then there was Pillover, the not so evil genius, and Monique, our antagonist. Each character was funny in their own way. I also really loved the plot and how it was this young woman who was supposed to be gaining an education and how she met all of these strange people along the way while she did her troublesome snooping. I think my favorite was that even in the tumultuous time, Sophronia managed to befriend someone who was considered to be beneath her social class, a “sootie” and they even had this sort of relationship that was brewing. (Clearly she is only 14, so dating is out of the question, but they were sweet on each other which was really adorable.)

    I really liked how the plot tied everything in together, including her education. This book was a clear example of mischief and the trouble that girls can get into when not allowed to live up to their potential. I can’t wait to see what the second book is going to bring for Sophronia and her friends and what other trouble she can worm her way into.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2013

    I loved this book! It gives an interesting twist to my favorite

    I loved this book! It gives an interesting twist to my favorite time! I want to go to this school. I love how they use thing at the finishing school that "proper ladies" should have (such as a handkerchief) as some thing very useful. This was a very hard book to put down. And unlike a lot of books I've read recently this story doesn't feel as though I have read it already. GREAT BOOK TO READ AND OWN!!

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  • Posted July 12, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    This review will be quick. I really adored this book. It would

    This review will be quick. I really adored this book. It would probably be classified as middle grade more than YA, but it was a fun read. I liked that there wasn’t really anything heavy in the book. It is a light fun read/listen.
    The narrator did a fantastic job switching between characters and staying consistent. I especially loved when she did an French accent to the extreme for one of the characters. It was pretty funny.
    Sophronia is a great character. She likes to tinker with things. Instead of just doing as she’s told she wants to know why and how things work. She questions everything. She tends to find herself in the middle of situations that will likely get her in trouble.
    I love the innocence of most of the characters. I also couldn’t stop laughing through parts of it. It’s funny, and will have you cheering for Sophronia and her friends the whole time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2013

    Great story

    I've read Gail Carriger before and really enjoyed her characters. I was curious to see how her writing translated to YA and I wasn't disappointed. The book was just as humorous as Soulless and I love the idea of having a school that taught more than ettiquette. If you enjoy fun characters, an interesting and humorous plotline then this book is for you!

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  • Posted June 21, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Not all finishing schools release their graduates merely to orna

    Not all finishing schools release their graduates merely to ornate London society. Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality (wow, what a mouthful!) also teaches them how to gather intelligence and assinate someone should they choose. Enter Sopronia's covert recruitment into the academy, and she is drawn into a world of deceit and finery where she must learn how to conduct operations while practicing good etiquette at the same time, and so begin her misadventures.
    The narrative style was rather youthful, younger than I expected given the cover and the age of the narrator. Given that Sophronia is fourteen years old and living in a historical world, I expected her to be more mature. In ways, she is. She uses large words and is very observant of the world. However, her way of talking and behavior reminds me of those of characters in middle-grade books that I've read. It was surprising, but I did grow to love Sophronia's youthful mannerisms as much as I love her as a person. Sophronia is a delight, and she's constantly getting into mishaps. She almost reminds of a young Anne of Green Gables, except that Sophronia often breaks the rules intentionally while Anne doesn't mean to do wrong.
    I like how the world building is done so in such a matter of fact manner. Vampires, werewolves, and flywaymen are brought up like you would in passing conversation. They're just there, a part of life. And while some may not be fond of them, they aren't the persecuted minority either. They're treated like real people. In fact, the finishing school has a vampire and a werewolf teaching.
    The humor also has to be mentioned. It's what pulls everything together. Combined with the youthful voice and matter of fact way of telling the story, it makes this book what it is. It also lets some of the characters get away with being the cliched, vapid people that they are. (Though there are the exceptions, like Soap and Vieve, two side characters that I really like and expect to see more of in book two.)
    On the whole, this is a a quick, enjoyable read that I recommend to those looking for a humorous summer read with some action and adventure.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2013

    good early teen read

    I enjoyed the original series this is based on. also enjoyed this even if it is aimed more for the younger crowd. those who have read the series can enjoy this too as it is set earlier then the series so gives a touch of early background on some of the characters in the series.

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  • Posted June 10, 2013

    I rarely read steampunk novels anymore. They interest me, but Ga

    I rarely read steampunk novels anymore. They interest me, but Gail Carriger seems to have ruined all others for me since I read her utterly brilliant Parasol Protectorate series--now no one else can compare. Etiquette & Espionage is no different. Carriger's writing is absolutely addictive. There's no other way to describe it. She has a way with words that has transcended from PP to this spin-off and hopefully beyond. She should never stop writing about this world because it's perfection.




    I was a bit worried when I started it. I wanted to love the book, but I wasn't sure where Carriger was going to take the story. I shouldn't have worried. I had so much fun reading this book. It's imaginative, fun and so hard to put down. The characters are charming in their own ways, and so sweet that you'll want to put them in your pocket. Plus the PP cameos made me so happy! The plot moved slowly, but steadily and it never missed its mark for me.




    I cannot wait for book two (and the rest of the series!) and I sincerely recommend this book to everyone. It's light-hearted and sure to entertain, even after you've finished.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2013

    I loved it. So many things I would like to say but I don't want

    I loved it. So many things I would like to say but I don't want to give any spoilers. If you have read the Parasol Protectorate books, than you will love this one. Don't think it is just a continuation. You will be pleasantly surprised. All of Gail's books are so much fun to read and this new one does not disappoint. Cannot wait to see what happens next!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2013

    This book was a lot of fun, and I very much look forward to read

    This book was a lot of fun, and I very much look forward to reading the sequel when it comes out in November. In the meantime, I plan to read Gail Carriger's 5-book series, The Parasol Protectorate. I hear that some of her fans like those books even better than this one. And since this one was really enjoyable, I hope their evaluation holds true.

    I loved the playfulness of her writing, using old, Victorian, steampunk jargon to make it feel authentic. Plus, I can tell that Carriger is my kind of girl: using a name like Sophronia, must mean that she has extensive knowledge of classic literature, because it's not everyday that you come across someone who would know about the character from Jeruselum Delivered. I love authors who make nods to their depths of knowledge, and Carriger does this well. It's like she has hidden a bunch of literary secrets throughout the pages of the book, and the reader must use a bit of his/her learning & some espionage to catch all of Carriger's little gems.

    I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes a fun, whimiscal read. It has adventure, mystery, boarding schools, and manners, all swirled together in a fanstastic steampunk stew. It's like Harry Potter meets Raven Boys meets Lizzie Bennet meets Charles Dickens meets Sherlock Holmes. I'm definitely looking forward to getting lost in Carriger's world again in the very near future :)

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  • Posted May 31, 2013

    I am a fan of Gail Carriger¿s Parasol Proctorate series, so I wa

    I am a fan of Gail Carriger’s Parasol Proctorate series, so I was excited to check out her first YA book.  A young girl, Sophronia, is sent to a finishing school, though she quickly learns the focus is less on manners and more on becoming an intelligence agent.  It’s set in the same Steampunk Universe as her other novels, though a few decades earlier.  I really like her approach to vampires and werewolves, which seems to have oversaturated the market in the last few years.  The Supernaturals in her writing feel fresh and not cheesy stereotypes.  I quite enjoyed the appearance of some familiar names from the Parasol Proctorate series, which is a nice nod for those who have read that series, but does not take away anything from readers who have only read E&E.  It was a fun read and I look forward to the sequel.   

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