Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School Series #2)

Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School Series #2)

4.4 34
by Gail Carriger
     
 

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Does one need four fully grown foxgloves for decorating a dinner table for six guests? Or is it six foxgloves to kill four fully grown guests?

Sophronia's first year at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality has certainly been rousing! For one thing, finishing school is training her to be a spy--won't Mumsy be surprised?

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Overview


Does one need four fully grown foxgloves for decorating a dinner table for six guests? Or is it six foxgloves to kill four fully grown guests?

Sophronia's first year at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality has certainly been rousing! For one thing, finishing school is training her to be a spy--won't Mumsy be surprised? Furthermore, Sophronia got mixed up in an intrigue over a stolen device and had a cheese pie thrown at her in a most horrid display of poor manners.

Now, as she sneaks around the dirigible school, eavesdropping on the teachers' quarters and making clandestine climbs to the ship's boiler room, she learns that there may be more to a field trip to London than is apparent at first. A conspiracy is afoot--one with dire implications for both supernaturals and humans. Sophronia must rely on her training to discover who is behind the dangerous plot-and survive the London Season with a full dance card.

In this sequel to New York Times bestselling Etiquette & Espionage, class is back in session with more petticoats and poison, tea trays and treason. Gail's distinctive voice, signature humor, and lush steampunk setting are sure to be the height of fashion this season.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 10/14/2013
Sophronia Temminnick is back for more daring yet ladylike exploits in this effervescent second installment in Carriger’s Finishing School series, which follows Etiquette & Espionage. This time, the dirigible that is Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality is embarking on an exciting and mysterious trip to London—with boys on board, students from Bunson & Lacroix’s Polytechnique. Sophronia is excelling at the school (“Your mind seems designed for espionage,” a professor tells her), garnering the jealousy of her fellow spies-in-training, including best friend Dimity. Sophronia tries to get to the bottom of why they’re heading to London, while remaining on the lookout for the well-being of all as danger lurks, Dimity is threatened, and two young men vie for Sophronia’s romantic attention. Teenage and adult fans alike will rejoice that Carriger retains her flair for musical prose, over-the-top names (e.g. Algonquin Shrimpdittle), clever wit, and strange yet helpful mechanical devices of all kinds. Carriger’s blend of comically exaggerated characters and madcap action will easily win over readers once again. Ages 12–up. Agent: Kristin Nelson, Nelson Literary Agency. (Nov.)
Library Media Connection
"The strength, wit, charisma, and sheer likeability of Sophronia is a refreshing and welcome change from the typical protagonist of today's young adult novels...Teenage girls will laugh, cheer, and empathize as the girls at the academy experience all of the same emotions they do, but in a Victorian steampunk fashion."
Horn Book

"Blending intrigue and elements of the school story, Carriger introduces teen readers to a supernatural-meets-steampunk world full of action and wit."
Booklist (starred review)
Praise for the New York Times bestselling Etiquette & Espionage:

* "Carriger's YA debut brings her mix of Victorian paranormal steampunk and winning heroines to a whole new audience...with cleverly Victorian methods of espionage, witty banter, lighthearted silliness, and a ship full of intriguingly quirky people."

ShelfAwareness

"If spunky Lady Sybil from Downton Abbey happened onto a steampunk set, she might look a lot like Sophronia Angelina Temminnick."
VOYA, February 2014 (Vol. 36, No. 6) - Valerie Burleigh
Fans of Carriger’s first book in this series will not be disappointed by this second. Once again, the setting is a dirigible that is a finishing school by day with a hidden agenda. Sophronia has been in training for six months now and is trying to pass a variety of tests proving her worth as a spy. Instead of becoming closer to the other girls at school as she expected, she becomes ostracized for performing well on test after test despite not following standard rules. Her insatiable curiosity gets her into situations that are truly amusing, and she inadvertently stumbles onto a mystery trying to protect a friend. If that is not enough, add surprise visitors who turn out to be a male teacher, his ten male students; an unexpected trip to London which will require—gasp—dancing; and a kidnapping attempt. Carriger’s choice of vocabulary is just as rich and diverse as before and it is easy to return to the world of manners, steampunk, and the supernatural. She again manages to blend the rules of etiquette with inventions and creatures effortlessly, creating a diverse world of wonder. Many of the secondary characters are quite entertaining as well, adding much to the story. A reader favorite, Bumbersnoot, returns to Sophronia’s side for more surprising antics as her canine mechanimal sidekick. This book will appeal to readers of the first Finishing School novel in this series, as well as to readers who like science fiction within a historical setting. Reviewer: Valerie Burleigh; Ages 11 to 18.
Children's Literature - Danielle Williams
Most finishing schools focus on teaching young ladies of quality the proper way to take tea and the correct address for different members of society. The girls at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality also learn how to sneak about in hoop skirts and send coded messages using embroidery. Sophronia’s second year at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s proves to be just as exciting as her first. Sophronia sees conspiracies everywhere and her concern for her friend, Dimity, and Dimity’s family put Sophronia in one precarious situation after another. Carriger has created an intriguing steampunk world filled with interesting gadgets, and the addition of supernatural creatures only increases the intrigue. While Carriger’s Finishing School series is an interesting idea, there is an overwhelming number of characters to keep track of and the nonsensical names for the steampunk gadgets and characters make it difficult for the reader to fully engage in the world. There are also an overwhelming number of mysteries and conspiracies which make it difficult to follow the plot from one logical step to another. The steampunk and supernatural world will make this series interesting to patient teens, but it is recommended that book one of the “Finishing School” series be read first. Reviewer: Danielle Williams; Ages 13 up.
School Library Journal
11/01/2013
Gr 7–10—Fans of Etiquette & Espionage (Little, Brown, 2013) know that Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality is not your typical boarding school. Sophronia is now in her second year of training as a spy and has established herself as one of the top recruits, at least in terms of espionage, and her suspicious nature continues to drive her as she uses her skills and training to uncover the true reason behind the school trip to London. Carriger does not reintroduce characters or give any backstory; instead she jumps right into the thick of the action, developing a fast-paced plot that is sure to keep readers' attention as Sophronia discovers a conspiracy involving a technology that will affect vampires, werewolves, and humans alike. New characters and the introduction of boys onto a floating airship full of teenage girls gives this adventure/mystery an interesting steampunk twist. As in the first novel, the true-to-the-period language may slow down some readers, but this is a must-have purchase for libraries in which the first book is popular.—Betsy Davidson, Cortland Free Library, NY
Kirkus Reviews
2013-10-01
Sophronia Temminnick learns that being top of her spy-school class isn't a great way to make friends. Social dramas and interspecies politics beset the inhabitants of the massive airship known as Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy. Sophronia's teachers seem to be intentionally turning her friends against her; is everything at this dratted school a test? Even Dimity Plumleigh-Teignmott isn't on speaking terms with Sophronia. Without her friends, how will Sophronia ever unknot the massive tangle she's caught up in, which involves vampires, a crystalline valve frequensor and flight through the aetherosphere? This sequel to Etiquette & Espionage (2013) is less charming than the series opener, with the whimsy replaced by an uninspiring love triangle that does not show Miss Temminnick in a flattering light. Perhaps an ability to see dark-skinned, working-class Soap as "a real boy" would be historically inaccurate, but then so are dirigible schools, werewolves in the British peerage and mechanimal sausage dogs, so allowances could be made. In any case, the language is every bit as delightful as in Sophronia's first adventure ("Thrushbotham pip-monger swizzle sprocket"), even in this weightier tale. Fans of Book 1 will want to read this one, though they will hope that the fizz returns in Book 3. (Steampunk. 11-14)
From the Publisher
Praise for New York Times bestselling Curtsies & Conspiracies:

* "Teenage and adult fans alike will rejoice that Carriger retains her flair for musical prose, over-the-top names, clever wit, and strange yet helpful mechanical devices of all kinds. Carriger's blend of comically exaggerated characters and madcap action will easily win over readers once again."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

* "Carriger's second steampunk adventure exceeds the first... the fun, again, is in watching ever-practical Sophronia sneak and scheme her way into sometimes dangerous, sometimes riotously funny, situations.... We repeat: This witty, light-hearted series is not to be missed."

Booklist (starred review)

* "[A] world of manners, steampunk, and the supernatural. [Carriger] again manages to blend the rules of etiquette with inventions and creatures effortlessly, creating a diverse world of wonder."—VOYA (starred review)"

The language is every bit as delightful as in Sophronia's first adventure... even in this weightier tale."—Kirkus Reviews"

[Carriger] jumps right into the thick of the action, developing a fast-paced plot that is sure to keep readers' attention...this is a must-have purchase."—School Library Journal"

The strength, wit, charisma, and sheer likeability of Sophronia is a refreshing and welcome change from the typical protagonist of today's young adult novels...Teenage girls will laugh, cheer, and empathize as the girls at the academy experience all of the same emotions they do, but in a Victorian steampunk fashion."—Library Media Connection

Praise for the New York Times bestselling Etiquette & Espionage:

An ALSC Notable Book for Children
A YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Pick
A Horn Book Summer Reading List Selection



* "Carriger's YA debut brings... cleverly Victorian methods of espionage, witty banter, lighthearted silliness, and a ship full of intriguingly quirky people."—Booklist (starred review)

* "Carriger deploys laugh-out-loud bon mots on nearly every page...Amid all the fun, the author works in commentary on race and class in a sparkling start to the Finishing School series."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

* "[A] delightfully madcap espionage adventure..."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

* "Carriger's leading lady is a strong, independent role model for female readers... Ladies and gentlemen of propriety are combined with dirigibles, robots, werewolves, and vampires, making this story a steampunk mystery and an adventure mash-up that is sure to intrigue readers..." —School Library Journal (starred review)"

If spunky Lady Sybil from Downton Abbey happened onto a steampunk set, she might look a lot like Sophronia Angelina Temminnick."—ShelfAwareness

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316190114
Publisher:
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
11/05/2013
Series:
Gail Carriger's Finishing School Series, #2
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
127,406
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)
Lexile:
HL760L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Curtsies & Conspiracies


By Gail Carriger

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Copyright © 2013 Gail Carriger
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-316-19011-4


CHAPTER 1

THE 1ST TEST

Dangerous Puddings


Miss Temminnick. Miss Plumleigh-Teignmott. With me, please, ladies."

Sophronia glanced up from her household sums. She was glad of the distraction. She was convinced she was miscalculating the purchase of the three most deadly flower arrangements. Does one need four fully grown foxgloves for decorating a dinner table for six guests? Or is it six foxgloves to kill four fully grown guests?

Unfortunately, what Sophronia saw when she looked up did not fill her with confidence. Lady Linette stood at the front of the class wearing an austere expression that clashed with her copious yellow curls and a bonnet covered with drooping silk lilacs. She was wearing a good deal of face paint and a purple- and-jade plaid dress of immense proportions. It was neither her expression nor her location at the front of the class that made Sophronia nervous. It was the fact that she was present in this class, for this was Sister Mathilde Herschel-Teape's lesson on domestic accounting. Sophronia and her age-group were to go to Lady Linette after tea, for drawing room music and subversive petits fours.

"This decade, Miss Temminnick!"

Dimity was already standing next to Lady Linette. Sophronia's friend gestured her forward with a hand hidden to one side of her skirt. Ordinarily, it was Dimity daydreaming and Sophronia having to chivy her along.

Sophronia leapt to her feet. "Apologies, Lady Linette. I was so very absorbed. Foxglove quantities can be most illuminating."

"Very good, Miss Temminnick. An excuse couched in terms of academic interest. Nevertheless, we must be away."

For most of Sophronia's six-month sojourn at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality, lessons had never been interrupted. Not even when flywaymen attacked. Young ladies of quality stayed in class in times of strife. Certainly no student had been removed from one teacher's purview by another teacher. That was quite rude!

Then over the last month, starting with the dratted Monique, every one of Sophronia's fellows had systematically been taken away by Lady Linette in just such a manner. They returned traumatized and silent. All Sophronia's skills, many of them learned at Mademoiselle Geraldine's, had been put to figuring this out. To no avail. Even her particular friends, Sidheag and Agatha, wouldn't explain what had happened when Lady Linette absconded with them.

Sister Mattie was unperturbed by the interruption, sitting placidly in her mock- religious attire behind a wide desk surrounded by potted plants and bottles of deadly poison (or tea concentrate, one never knew which). Sister Mattie was a bit of a mystery; her preference for a simulated nun's habit—wide-skirted and to the current fashion, with a wimple partly configured like a bonnet—remained unexplained. The girls saw her as a nice sort of mystery and one of the more benign teachers, so they mostly respected her eccentric choice of dress.

Sophronia's fellow students were looking on with wide eyes. Sidheag and Agatha tensed sympathetically. Monique and Preshea sat with arms crossed and ill- contained delight on their faces.

Sophronia wended her way through the plush chairs and rolltop writing desks to the front, where she curtsied before Lady Linette. It was a perfectly executed curtsy, not too deep, with a slight tilt to her head but not enough to seem obsequious.

Sister Mattie said kindly, "I shouldn't worry, Miss Temminnick. I'm certain you'll do very well."

"Follow me, please, ladies," snapped Lady Linette.

"Good luck!" Agatha said quietly. Agatha rarely spoke, so it had to be something serious.

Sophronia sidled up next to Dimity. The hallway was hardly big enough to accommodate two ladies in full day gowns side by side. Their multiple skirts smushed together. Neither minded the wrinkles as they linked arms for comfort. Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy was housed in a massive airship that looked like three dirigibles crammed together. Its corridors twisted and turned in a noodlelike manner. Sometimes the passageways led up stairs or out onto balconies. Most of the time, they simply got darker, lit by gas lamps that looked like upside-down parasols. Whatever attire the corridors had been designed to accommodate, proper lady's dress was not one of them.

Lady Linette led them toward the upper squeak decks. These open-air decks sat under the massive balloons that kept the academy afloat and adrift over Dartmoor. It was an odd place to be headed at this time of day. Dimity's hand on Sophronia's arm tightened.

The two girls swung to flatten themselves against the wall, like a hinged gate, so a maid mechanical could roll past. Its face was a mosaic of gears instead of the metal masks worn by most menials. It had a white pinafore over its conical body and gave the impression of busy superciliousness.

If the students had been alone, the maid would have whistled the alarm upon encountering them, but Dimity and Sophronia were in the company of Lady Linette. All the models, from buttlinger to footmech to clangermaid, had protocols that instructed them to ignore students in the company of teachers. Most of the hallways were laid down with a single track upon which the school's many servants trundled, performing the myriad of menial tasks needed to keep a ladies' seminary running smoothly. Sophronia had once seen a footmech model carrying a whole stack of doilies, some of them quite deadly, from Sister Mattie to Professor Lefoux. In her parents' country estate, such an important task would never have been entrusted to a mechanical, but here steam-powered staff far outnumbered human.

Sophronia had thought, after six months, that she had most of the school mapped. But as they walked from the midship student section, which housed classrooms and sleeping quarters, to the rear recreation area, they entered a place she'd never seen before. While the massive dining hall and exercise facilities above the warehouse and propeller engine areas were familiar to her, Sophronia and Dimity were being taken farther up.

"I didn't know there were rooms above the dining hall," said Sophronia to Lady Linette.

Lady Linette was not going to give in to Sophronia's hunt for information. She ignored the comment and quickened her pace.

Sophronia and Dimity bounced in order to keep up—they had not yet had lessons on rapid walking in full skirts, though both of them were admirable gliders at a more leisurely pace.

This section of the ship smelled of old candle wax, chalk powder, and pickled onions. The mechanical track was not oiled properly and there was dust in the corner grippers. The walls were hung with paintings of disapproving elderly females and framed feats of crochet.

Finally, Lady Linette stopped in front of a door. The sign read ASSESSMENT CHAMBER ONE: ENTER AT RISK. It reminded Sophronia a little of the record room. She didn't say anything about that, though. The record room infiltrators of several months ago had never been caught. Sophronia wanted to keep it that way.

Underneath the sign someone had scrawled in white paint NO MUFFINS FOR YOU! Underneath that, it said NOR GALOSHES, NEITHER, in what Sophronia knew was not proper grammar.

"Miss Temminnick." Lady Linette gestured. "If you would?"

Sophronia stepped into the room alone. Lady Linette closed the door behind her.

Sophronia's attention was entirely taken by the huge mechanical thingamabob in front of her. It looked very like the difference engine she had seen last summer when her family visited the Crystal Palace. This one, however, was not being used for sums. It was rigged and draped with objects—fabric hung at the back, paintings dangled, and a few pots and pans drooped uncertainly to one side.

Sophronia frowned. Didn't Vieve once describe something like this to me? What did she call it? Oh, yes, an oddgob machine.

Next to the oddgob, positioned to operate a crank, was a mechanical designed to accompany the apparatus.

Sophronia faced both, hands crossed lightly at her waist, a position that Lady Linette encouraged her girls to assume whenever at a loss for action. "The crossed hands denote modesty and religious devotion. The placement draws attention to the narrowness of one's waist. Bow your head slightly and you can still observe through the lashes, which is becoming. This exposes the back of the neck, an indication of vulnerability." Sophronia's shoulders tended to hunch, a habit Mademoiselle Geraldine was trying desperately to break. "We can't have you tensing up like an orangutan!" she chided. "Do orangutans tense?" Dimity had whispered. Dimity, of course, crossed her hands divinely.

Sophronia worked to relax her shoulders.

Neither the machine nor the mechanical seemed to care, for nothing happened even when her posture was perfect.

Sophronia said, "Good afternoon. I believe you are waiting for me?"

With a puff of steam, the mechanical whirred to life. "Six-month. Review. Debut upmark," it said, clicking as a metal tape fed through its voice box.

Not knowing what else to do, Sophronia said, "Yes?"

"Begin," ordered the mechanical, and with that, it reached out one clawlike appendage and began to crank the oddgob.

An oil painting flipped over from the top of the engine and dropped down, dangling from conveyer chains. It depicted a girl in a blue dinner dress, decades out of style, that embarrassing nightgown look. The subject was pretty, with cornflowers in her hair, enjoying an evening gathering.

The mechanical continued cranking, and the painting was jerked away. A hatch opened, and a full tea service on a silver tray rolled forth.

"Serve," ordered the mechanical.

Sophronia stepped forward, feeling silly. The service was for four. The tea in the pot was cold. She hesitated. Ordinarily, she would have dumped the contents into the receptacle and sent it back with sharp words to the cook. Do I act as I would in real life? Or am I to pretend to serve the tea regardless?

The mechanical was still whirring, indicating that she had only a set amount of time to decide.

Sophronia served. She did as etiquette demanded, pouring her own cup first and then the others. With no one to ask if they wanted sugar or if they would prefer lemon, she only checked to ascertain both were provided. The sugar pot was half full. There were four slices of dry lemon. Like the tea, they had been sitting for some time. She opened the top of the pot and checked the leaf. Top quality. As was the tea set—Wedgwood blue, or a very good imitation. She sniffed the pot, the milk, and the cups. They all smelled as they should, although one of the cups might have boasted a slight lavender odor. There was a plate of three petits fours dusted with sugar. Sophronia poked each gently on the side with a glove-covered fingertip. She was unsurprised to find that one of them was fake, no doubt from Mademoiselle Geraldine's personal collection. The headmistress had a mad passion for fake pastries. The other two appeared to be real. They both smelled of bitter almond. Sophronia raised up her Depraved Lens of Crispy Magnification, a present on her fifteenth birthday from Dimity's brother, Pillover. It was essentially a high-powered monocle on a stick, but useful enough to keep at all times hanging from a chatelaine at her waist. The sugar on the top of one of the cakes looked odd.

The tray was whisked away.

Next, a string of dangling hair ribbons paraded before her, pinned like wet hose to a stretch of twine. Sophronia's dress today was a pale-yellow-and-blue ruffled monstrosity her mother insisted would do, even though it had been worn three seasons already, by three older sisters. Sophronia's absence from the Temminnick household was combined with an absence from Temminnick expenses. She hadn't had a new gown in ages. One of the ribbons was cream and blue in a similar shade to her outfit, so Sophronia unclipped it. Because her hair was covered—as it should be—by a respectable bonnet, she tied the ribbon about her neck in the complex knot of a Bunson's boy. Bunson and Lacroix's Boys' Polytechnique was an evil genius training academy, sort of a sibling school to Mademoiselle Geraldine's. If one thought of those siblings as hostile and estranged.

The ribbons were taken away, and the oddgob machine presented Sophronia with a new selection: a letter opener, a pair of ornate lady's sewing scissors, a large fan, a crumpet, two handkerchiefs, and some white kid gloves. Sophronia felt she was on firmer ground at last. These were tools of great and fateful weight when applied properly. She chose the scissors and one of the handkerchiefs. The other options were removed.

Next came a slate upon which had been written the phrase SEND HELP IMMEDIATELY. In front of it, on a wooden board, lay a piece of parchment with ink and quill, an embroidery hoop with needle and thread, and a bag of raspberry fizzy sweets. Sophronia chose the sweets, cracked one open with the aid of her scissors, and dumped out the fizz. She used the needle from the embroidery to prick her finger, smeared the blood on the inside of the broken sweet, and popped it back inside the little sack. Then she cut off a bit of the ribbon tied about her neck and used that to secure the bag.

The remaining items disappeared into the oddgob, and the mechanical stopped cranking.

Sophronia stepped back and let out a sigh.

Her stomach rumbled, informing her that a good deal of time had passed. She had been given longer to contemplate each test than she realized. A bang sounded at the door. When she opened it, a maid mechanical sat there, bearing a tray of food. Sophronia took it gratefully, and the maid trundled off without ceremony. Sophronia closed the door with her foot and, in the absence of chairs, balanced the tray precariously on one section of the oddgob.

She assessed the food. Nothing smelled of almonds. Nevertheless, she avoided the leg of mutton in glistening currant jelly sauce and the Bakewell pudding and ate only the plain boiled potatoes and broccoli. Better to assume everything was still a test until Lady Linette returned to tell her otherwise. Sad, because she loved Bakewell. When nothing else happened, Sophronia put the tray down and examined the oddgob while it was not waggling things autocratically in front of her.

It was a fascinating apparatus. She wondered if Vieve knew of its existence at the school. Genevieve Lefoux was a dear friend, a mercurial ten-year-old with a propensity for dressing like a boy and a habit of inventing gadgetry. If Vieve didn't know of the oddgob, she would want to, and she was certain to ask all sorts of questions. Sophronia took mental notes in anticipation of conversations to come. When tired of that, she used the scissors to extract a small part from the machine. It was a crystalline valve, faceted, and awfully familiar in shape and style. It looked like a smaller version of the prototype Monique had tried to steal last year. This valve appeared to have been only propped in, so Sophronia was certain that removing it would make no difference to the function of the oddgob. When they'd first discovered the prototype valve last year, Vieve had prattled on about point-to-point transmissions. A revelatory breakthrough indeed, since the telegraph machine had recently proved a dismal failure. If this was a new version of that same prototype, Vieve would want to see it.

The door behind Sophronia creaked open, and she hastily stashed the mini- prototype up her sleeve, where the pagoda style allowed for secret pockets.

"Miss Temminnick, have you finished?" Lady Linette asked.

"Isn't everyone finished at the same time? The oddgob cycle seems to be prescribed," replied Sophronia.

"Now, now, manners."

Sophronia curtsied apologetically, although she did feel as if she had been abandoned for longer than necessary.

"I had to assess Miss Plumleigh-Teignmott first. Technically, she was admitted ahead of you. If you'll recall, you went for tea with Mademoiselle Geraldine before you were formally allowed into the school."
(Continues...)


Excerpted from Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger. Copyright © 2013 Gail Carriger. Excerpted by permission of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger writes to cope with being raised in obscurity by an expatriate Brit and an incurable curmudgeon. She escaped small town life and inadvertently acquired several degrees in Higher Learning. Ms. Carriger then traveled the historic cities of Europe, subsisting entirely on biscuits secreted in her handbag. She resides in the Colonies, surrounded by fantastic shoes, where she insists on tea imported from London.

The Parasol Protectorate books are: Soulless, Changeless, Blameless, Heartless, and Timeless. Soulless won the ALA's Alex Award. A manga adaptation released in Spring 2012 and a young adult series set in the same universe -- the Finishing School series -- launched in Spring 2013. Gail is soon to begin writing a new adult series, The Parasol Protectorate Abroad (2015).

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Curtsies & Conspiracies 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
SRei.Watson More than 1 year ago
Another Great Read from Gail Carriger - #2 in the Finishing School Series. OVERALL - 5 STARS! Story/Plot: 5 - This is the second novel in the "Finishing School" series by Gail Carriger , based in the same steampunk/paranormal world as her Parasol Protectorate series. Basically, all I can say here, is if you haven't read "Etiquette & Espionage" (Finishing School, #1) (the first in the Finishing School series) or any of the books in the "Soulless" (Parasol Protectorate, #1) series, you really should! And I am not just saying that because Gail Carriger is one of my favorite authors. These series are highly entertaining and fall into a myriad number of categories - Steampunk, Paranormal, Mystery, Young Adult, Comedy, Urban Fantasy, and so many more - just check out all the shelves I placed it on. Re-read Value: 4 - I really should place this as a 5 because I re-read ALL of Gail Carriger's series, but until I actually re-read it, I will leave this number at 4. Trust me, this time next year, I am sure I will have re-read it or be planning on re-reading it. Continue Series: 5! - Of course! I already have the next book in THIS series listed as TO READ, as well as the first book in the Protectorate Abroad series, when Ms. Carriger finishes it. I won't lie. I usually preorder her books or anyone who has me on their gift list knows they cannot go wrong in getting me a book by Ms. Carriger. Characters: 5 - All of the characters involved in the Finishing School & Parasol Protectorate series are amazing and you can never get enough of them. Beware a brief SPOILER here fellow fans - this book crosses paths with a few important characters from the Parasol Protectorate series even though it happens I believe 30 or so years previously. Cover: 5 - Those of ya'll who might have read my reviews or notes in the past might wonder why I rated this cover so highly when it doesn't scream "Steampunk" right off the bat - although, if you look at the patterns, you can see my beloved airships! Even though at first glance you might not say "Steampunk," but it does put you in mind of Victorian Fashion, the knife will make you think about mysteries and espionage and lastly, can you honestly admit if you saw this beautiful amazing cover in the store you wouldn't run over and check it out?! Please tell me it isn't just me. Genre Fulfillment: 5 - Steampunk - check. Mystery - check. Geared towards Young Adults (and those of us who read it who are NOT young adults) - check. Personal Involvement: 5 Let's be honest, if you survived reading my comments so far, you KNOW I am personally involved in this series. I LOVE IT! The world. The characters. The History and Future of the overall series - because SPOILERS!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
3.5 stars Sephronia is back for another round of misadventure and intrigue. This time, her friend is in danger, hardly anyone is speaking to her, and there are gentlemen on board the ladies' flying finishing school. What should be a simple visit to London, for the floating school, is actually a cover for something more mysterious. Not only must Sephronia protect a friend who isn't talking to her, she must uncover the true mission before someone gets hurt. Curtsies and Conspiracies is better than book one. The action picks up right away, and never really stops. Sephronia and Co, are always up to something, whether it is spying, tricking the bossy Monique, or hanging out in unladylike places. A boiler room with a bunch of fun sooties seems like a cool place to hang out in, for a reader anyways. I'd probably collapse onto the ground in a very real, unladylike faint in real life. Speaking of sooties, I liked Soap more in the first book than I did in this one. He doesn't change much, but he's more open to the fact that he likes Sephronia in this one. I don't hate him as a possible romantic interest, so much as I don't think Sephronia is in a mental place where any romantic relationship would work out. So, I'm not too sure how I feel about this budding triangle. Felix is interesting. He appears to be everything that Soap is not, but there are hints there that he is more than what we see surface deep. And yet, I'm not a fan of him as a love interest either. Maybe it's the boys, maybe it's like I said that I see them through Sephronia's eyes and she is not in a place where she is considering them. She's starting to, but not quite there yet. We will see. But the absolute best part of this book is a cameo from my favorite character from the Parasol Protectorate series, Lord Akeldama. I won't say much more because his appearance happens later in the book, but I will repeat that I love him. No one in this series captures the sarcastic humor of these book better than him. Story wise, this book crosses more into the world established in the Parasol Protectorate series. But the author still keeps it fresh enough for someone who hasn't read that series, could read this YA one and still enjoy the complexity of the world the author created. Gail Carriger has created some of the most complex and creative rules governing the function of the otherworldly creatures I've read in a series. It's interesting, yet unique enough to belong only to this steampunkish world. If you like Steampunk or proper Victorian women doubling as spies, than you may enjoy this series. But I warn you, you must like silly, sarcastic humor to really enjoy this book.
arbjamesAJ More than 1 year ago
Sophronia Temminnick and her fellow students at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality are at it again.  When Sophronia gets the highest marks ever awarded on her 6 month assessment, Sophronia faces the challenge of being ostracized by her fellow students in the midst of an exciting trip to view a dirigible test.  As usual, there is more than meets the eye, and Sophronia discovers that various factions are vying to control the airways.  Can Sophronia stop the various plots afoot?   I love Gail Carriger's work.  I only wish there was more of it!  You can't help but laugh as Sophronia brandishes her Depraved Lens of Crispy Magnification (I so want one!) or tries to cast aspersions upon Professor Shrimpdittle.  I will say, though, that this second installment in the series wasn't as funny, or perhaps more accurately, as lighthearted, as the first one.  I think that was purposeful, to show that Sophronia has grown and matured a bit.  She has to deal with increasingly complicated issues and comes to understand that there are quite serious consequences to her actions.  For fans of her adult Parasol Protectorate series, Lord Akeldama makes a delightful appearance here with some hints that Sophronia hasn't seen the last of him.  I look forward to Book the Third! 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
reececo331 More than 1 year ago
Curtsies & Conspiracies  by Gail Carriger  Sophronia Temminnick has finished her first term at finishing school, learning to use her lessons in Espionage and Etiquette. Her adventures have given her the highest marks in at the end of the term. The school has more in store for her, causing havoc in her life and friendships. Her greatest rival is up to something new, and Sophronia must start her mission without the benefit of her friends. Sophronia learns that the value of friends is more important than she originally thought, and that she missed her friends. The Conspiracy that she uncovers has rippling affect throughout the modern world. The conspiracy is facing Picklemen against the supernatural in a spectacular fashion creating a dynamic and intuitive conflict.  This book is a great intro into the Steampunk genre for the young reader. By its formation shows that the genre has a new and enthusiastic audience. 
Kristen_Noel More than 1 year ago
  The adventures of Sophronia and Co. continue, and I'm so glad that I got to tag along! The amount of action and information packed into Curtsies & Conspiracies was a delight! Gail Carriger delivered the perfect sequel to the first book in the series with this one. Her unrelenting wit shines through and adds another enjoyable element! There were a few twists and turns in this book. I was wholly intrigued and sitting on the edge of my seat as Sophronia navigated the newest mysteries thrown her way. As always, Sophronia continued to develop into the one of the best heroines I've read about in years without losing an ounce of her wit, determination, and curiosity.   For the reader who loves to be taken on an adventure packed with so many elements flawlessly woven together for an immensely immersive and fun experience, look no farther than the Finishing School series. Hook, line, and sinker, I'm sold. I adore these books and I'm forever thankful that they introduced me to all things steampunk! **I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review with no compensation.
book4children More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It was so much fun, it kept me up to all hours of the night because I didn't want to put it down. Class is back in session and Sophronia is back to spying. The teachers and Monique are acting suspicious, and a certain long lashed boy keeps flirting with Sophronia. It isn't long before she is solving puzzles and rescuing her friends once again. I liked this book even better than the first. It was explosive and full of intrigue. It was wildly funny, but it had a dark undercurrent of danger to it. It was a little more "mature" than the first book, meaning it had a couple crude jokes, a bit of innuendo, and some disturbing/scary moments. It was still very clean for the age group and the genre. I would highly recommend this series to anyone looking for an outrageous romp through a steam punk world with a fearless, brilliant heroine as their guide. Appropriate for ages 12 and up. Content: A couple of crude jokes, mild innuendo, and a couple short, (possibly) disturbing scenes.
WishEnd More than 1 year ago
I loved the first book in this series, Etiquette & Espionage, and didn't realize how much more I could love these characters until finishing Curtsies & Conspiracies. The characters have begun to grow up a little more and it felt like coming back to old friends as I became reacquainted with them. The author continued to amaze me with her plotting, slang, distinct character voices, and overall brilliant story. There were so many great parts, lines, dialogue, names, espionage... There were also some serious parts. I appreciated how the author let Sophronia realize that not everything is a game, that people can get hurt by actions and choices. This hit Sophronia rather hard at one point and it showed how she is maturing as the series continues. Another part of her growing up was the introduction of a little more romance. Sophronia wasn't quite sure what to make of someone showing interest in her at first. She's a quick learner though. I'm sure we'll see more of that and of her coming into her own as it goes and I'm rather looking forward to it.  There were also some superfluous parts consistent with this series, parts that were exceedingly humorous, but also inventive and amazing at the same time. There was a situation towards the end of the book when it was complete mayhem, but actually well choreographed for a specific purpose and all came together in the end. I was literally about to die from worrying what would happen and laughing hysterically at the same time. I continue to love these characters. Sophronia is just an amazing character! She is detached emotionally sometimes, but is becoming less so as she realizes how important those around her are, as her intellect is continuously challenged, and as she weighs her choices and who she can trust. Her friends were all fabulous again (except for one part that I have forgiven them for and will not bring up). Soap was another character that continues to grow on me and Felix was a fabulous addition. I'm looking forward to seeing more of both of these boys in Sophronia's life. It was also interesting to meet an influential dandified vampire that I'm sure we'll be seeing more of. One of my favorite parts from the book:      “You’re a wonderful dancer, Ria.”      “Mademoiselle Geraldine’s takes such things seriously.”      “Ah. And how many ways do you know to kill me, while we dance?”      “Only two, but give me time.”      “You have lovely eyes. Has anyone ever told you that?”      “What rot. They are a muddy green. What are you about, Lord Mersey?”      Felix sighed, looking genuinely perturbed. His air of ennui was shaken. “I am trying to court you. Truth be told, Miss Temminnick, you make it ruddy difficult!”      “Language, Lord Mersey.” Sophronia felt her heart flutter strangely. Am I ready to be courted?      “See!”      - p. 261-262 If you enjoy reading YA, steampunk, stories with quirky, while also endearing and intelligent characters, fabulous writing, and superb plotting, then I would definitely recommend this series! I can't wait to read the next book in the series, Waistcoats & Weaponry! Content: Clean Source: Library
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
esosweet More than 1 year ago
These books are some of the most fun reads I have had all year. They are beautiful, steampunk, young adult fiction that will keep you guessing how they are going to end. I love that these books are such a dramatic departure from my typical reading. They are filled with new words, some real, some not (I used my dictionary feature more with these books that most I read). Curtsies and Conspiracies picks up the story of Sophronia Temminick after she has returned to Madame Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Girls of Quality. Her debut class undergoes their first big testing and the results are interesting. Sophronia soon has to figure out who her friends really are and who will be on her side when things take a turn for the different.  Another interesting part of the book was the interest shown to Sophronia from a young man who has joined the school (along with his professor and several other students). Can Sophronia figure out his intentions? Does he really have any or is he just practicing his skills in flirtation? Of course, Sophronia also gets herself into a heap of trouble along the way because of her insatiable curiosity, her unlikely friendships and her inability to stay out of other people's business. This was a great book. I can't wait for book three to come out on November 5! A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
MorrisMorgan More than 1 year ago
As with its predecessor, “Curtsies and Conspiracies” is about the life of Sophronia in a unique finishing school for espionage in Victorian England.  It continues the Finishing School series in a way that leaves the reader looking for more. “Curtsies and Conspiracies” is a wonderfully written adventure full of imagination and all of the wonderful imagery found in the best of steampunk novels.  The characters are well-developed and relatable in spite of being set in an entirely different period of history.  The one drawback is that while there is mystery, it is definitely setting the plot and character for advancement in the next book in the series.  That provides a little less spark of the first one, but is necessary to further the character development. The attention to the details of fashion and speech from Victorian England are so vivid that the novel also serves as a history lesson of sorts.  The tongue-in-cheek humor about how things were done is delightful and shows how much society has changed over time.  The strong female protagonist sets a good example, and this series remains an excellent introduction to steampunk that can be enjoyed by middle readers, as well as those far beyond the age of a finishing school student. I highly recommend “Curtsies and Conspiracies”, with a word of caution that the language of the period may be a turn off for more reluctant readers. This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
InkBonesBooks More than 1 year ago
I ended up giving this a 4 out of 5 stars. I loved it more than the first and feel like this series is only going to get better and better with each book! Plot: The plot is what keeps you going for this book. Something is always happening and the conspiracies and espionage are really enjoyable to try to figure out and ponder your way through. The entire book is like a mystery! The one thing which bugs me slightly about the plot is that I felt that the stakes were not necessarily high enough and that everything happened for Sophronia too easily. That being said, this was action packed and just marvelous! Characters: I feel like there isn't enough development with the characters. That is where this book series is slightly lacking to me. I love the characters themselves and how funny and clever they are and how they interact with one another and how quirky they are. I also love seeing characters from the Parasol Protectorate series pop up in this series, but the characters are just not so richly imagined as in Carriger's adult series. I think as the series progresses we will get to know and love them better and see them develop more. Writing Style and World Building: Witty dialogue is where Carriger shines and this book is no exception. I love the wit and dry humor all the characters possess and the ease at which Carriger is able to conjure such a vivid image of this world. The writing style is entirely to my taste, but may not be for everyone. It is very distinct to Carriger in my opinion! Naturally the world building is also spot on!
b-m More than 1 year ago
I was very much in anticipation for this book to come out!! I loved the first one and that loved just extended to the second one. When Sophroina realizes that their jaunt into the city is much much more then a chance to let the girls see city life you knew that you were in for an awesome ride. You find thing out about some of the other ladies that are positively awesome. Also to see Sophroina squirm a bit when she gets the attention of a young man. The best. I just have to repeat this was such a great read and I am counting the days until November 4th. I can not wait to see what Sophroina and her eclectic grow of friends get into next, 
BookishThings More than 1 year ago
I adore this series. It’s fun, and full of intelligent young women. Sophronia is one of my favorite characters ever. She’s smart, and refuses to accept what she’s been told when events are going amiss. She’s constantly looking for the source of the problems that seem to occur at the finishing school. She also shows that she’s capable of overcoming anything that’s thrown at her. The mystery of this book was intriguing. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. And we get a peek at some of the characters from Carriger’s adult Parasol Protectorate series. We also get the stirrings of a possible love triangle. I also love that friendship is a big theme in this series. Sophronia can accomplish anything with her friends by her side.
dibbylodd More than 1 year ago
This is a marvelous continuation of the story from Etiquette & Espionage. The familiar characters are here and the students are progressing in their learning. The political intrigue and satire is wonderfully done. I find Ms. Carriger's dry humor much to my liking. I think the only "complaint" I have is that I devour the books too quickly and then have to wait much too long for the next one!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The second installment in Carriger's YA steampunk espionage series is filled with delightful characters, narrow escapes, and more than a little hilarity. It is great to see younger versions of so many characters from The Parasol Protectorate series, as well as new characters. Plus, I totally want my own Bumbersnoot. Looking forward to the next installment. -- lyradora
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
chapterxchapter More than 1 year ago
When I first read Etiquette & Espionage I remember having a fun, laugh out loud time reading about a steampunk school for lady spies taught by spies, inventors and a vampire with a crazy moustache. It was a fun read and while it was a very lighthearted and far from overly-serious read—I was still eager to get reading the sequel Curtsies & Conspiracies. Curtsies & Conspiracies was everything I expected it to be: Just like the novel that came before it but better. Way better.                In Curtsies & Conspiracies, Sophronia continues her studies at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. What Sophronia doesn’t expect from the school is to discover that her grades are the highest ever for a first year student and for her friends and the people closest to her to shun her entirely for it. Dealing with being ostracized by her peers, Sophronia finds herself growing closer to the Sooties and Vieve.                However when the students learn that they’ll be having a trip to London, boys board Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies to accompany the girls. Lord Mersey—or Felix—makes a reappearance into Sophronia’s life (a.k.a. the guy who danced with her that one time and never even gave her his name). He’s cocky, infuriating and circumstance brings him and Sophronia closer and closer together.                With all the excitement going around the school the absolute last thing anybody expects is for a sudden rise in conspiracies. Somebody is trying to kidnap Dimity, supernaturals and humans alike are both going to suffer the consequences.  It’s up to Sophronia to use what she’s learned at the school to find out who is behind the evil plot before things go from bad to worse.                Curtsies and Conspiracies was exciting at the start. Sophronia was dealing with her friends ignoring her, leaving her to have to deal with that challenge. Soon she’s dealing with boys, poisons, tests and learning how to run from assailants. The way that the plot plays out within the first half of the novel is both fun and serious, just like in Etiquette & Espionage. However I did find that as the novel progressed the plot would thicken but my attention would begin to waver as things would begin to grow boring and flat at times.                I did like the character development in Curtsies & Conspiracies, a lot of the characters begin to change and there are still many more that get introduced into the cast. I was actually very pleased with the consistency between characters and how I wasn’t overwhelmed with the large amount of them being put into the novel. Readers who want a novel that can even out its use of characters per chapter and still keep them relevant and likeable are going to love this series.                The new twist in Curtsies & Conspiracies is that there is something going on in the school. Something involving Monique, supernaturals and humans. Something that seriously comes as a total surprise once it comes to light. Conspiracies are in this novel and Sophronia really gets to show off her set of skills and training from the academy. Still, I do wish that there was some more time spent to get to learn a little bit more about the conspiracy at hand and maybe more foreshadowing.                My only real problem with Curtsies & Conspiracies was that it became one of those novels where the conclusion felt very far away. I would be at fifty pages left waiting for everything to come together, reach like page twenty-five and still be freaking out because there were still loose ends that weren’t tied up. All that I was left with to tie things up as an epilogue when I do think that there could have been a bit more to read and experience in the novel.                I would recommend the Finishing School series by Gail Carriger to readers who are big fans of steampunk, want a light-hearted read and to anybody who has a soft spot for spy-fiction or comedy.
Maili_Jane More than 1 year ago
Easy to get into, human characters with human problems, this is a story for someone who loves adventure and mystery. Something that I liked a lot was when something happens that Sophronia used to not care about she curses finishing school for making her care about it. I would read other books by the is author, in fact I have! I've read her Parasol protectorate series, it's a little harder to get into but totally worth it. I love Dimity's loyalty, because even though in the beginning she seems fickle, her loyalty wins out before too long.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Katelyn Hensel for Readers' Favorite I have to admit that I am a LONG time Gail Carriger fan. I have three copies of her Parasol Protectorate series, and was thrilled to get a chance to review the latest in her young adult series, Curtsies and Conspiracies. We re-join Sophronia on her floating school (yes, it IS on an airship, thank you for asking....) She and her pack of assassins and debutantes have really evolved since the last time we were with them. They've delved deep into their studies and are now as adept at murdering with thousands of different poisons as they are at pouring tea without spilling a drop. Sophronia's got mysteries to solve and boys to dispute about, all while working on her latest gadget. Curtsies and Conspiracies is a funny, fleeting look into an alternate Victorian England and it's one you won't want to miss.  Gail Carriger is an absolutely brilliant author. She writes with such a skill for the comedy of errors that exist in Victorian England that you can't help but crack up the entire time that you are reading any of her works. The plot in this one was as twisty as they come, with lots of red herrings. Curtsies and Conspiracies is supposed to be Young Adult, but it reads as an older Young Adult. There is no dumbing down the plot, and lots of action, adventure, and romance involved really make this a transitional piece between a teenage book and an adult book while still maintaining a silly and fun atmosphere.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago