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Competence

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From New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger comes the delightful sequel to Imprudence. Accidentally abandoned! All alone in Singapore, proper Miss Primrose Tunstell must steal helium to save her airship, the Spotted Custard, in a scheme involving a lovesick werecat and a fake fish tail. When she uncovers rumors of a new kind of vampire, Prim and the Custard crew emba From New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger comes the delightful sequel to Imprudence. Accidentally abandoned! All alone in Singapore, proper Miss Primrose Tunstell must steal helium to save her airship, the Spotted Custard, in a scheme involving a lovesick werecat and a fake fish tail. When she uncovers rumors of a new kind of vampire, Prim and the Custard crew embark on a mission to Peru. There, they encounter airship pirates and strange atmospheric phenomena, and are mistaken for representatives of the Spanish Inquisition. Forced into extreme subterfuge (and some rather ridiculous outfits) Prim must also answer three of life's most challenging questions: Can the perfect book club give a man back his soul? Will her brother ever stop wearing his idiotic velvet fez? And can the amount of lard in Christmas pudding save an entire species?


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From New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger comes the delightful sequel to Imprudence. Accidentally abandoned! All alone in Singapore, proper Miss Primrose Tunstell must steal helium to save her airship, the Spotted Custard, in a scheme involving a lovesick werecat and a fake fish tail. When she uncovers rumors of a new kind of vampire, Prim and the Custard crew emba From New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger comes the delightful sequel to Imprudence. Accidentally abandoned! All alone in Singapore, proper Miss Primrose Tunstell must steal helium to save her airship, the Spotted Custard, in a scheme involving a lovesick werecat and a fake fish tail. When she uncovers rumors of a new kind of vampire, Prim and the Custard crew embark on a mission to Peru. There, they encounter airship pirates and strange atmospheric phenomena, and are mistaken for representatives of the Spanish Inquisition. Forced into extreme subterfuge (and some rather ridiculous outfits) Prim must also answer three of life's most challenging questions: Can the perfect book club give a man back his soul? Will her brother ever stop wearing his idiotic velvet fez? And can the amount of lard in Christmas pudding save an entire species?

30 review for Competence

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ashley *Hufflepuff Kitten*

    Thanks to theatre this one took me ages to read, but it was an absolute joy every time I picked it up. I adore these characters and this world so much.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Siobhan

    Gail Carriger is my go-to author for steampunk reads. Her Parasol Protectorate series was insanely addictive, a total joy to read. Her Finishing School series was also a wonderful read, and whilst it wasn’t to the same level as the Parasol Protectorate series it was really enjoyable. In truth, The Custard Protocol series is my least favourite series from the author. For me, The Custard Protocol is lacking in the punch that made me enjoy the prior series so much. It’s enjoyable and has the usual Gail Carriger is my go-to author for steampunk reads. Her Parasol Protectorate series was insanely addictive, a total joy to read. Her Finishing School series was also a wonderful read, and whilst it wasn’t to the same level as the Parasol Protectorate series it was really enjoyable. In truth, The Custard Protocol series is my least favourite series from the author. For me, The Custard Protocol is lacking in the punch that made me enjoy the prior series so much. It’s enjoyable and has the usual Gail Carriger elements, but it is not what I’d hoped it would be. Despite how The Custard Protocol series is my least favourite, both Prudence and Imprudence were enjoyable enough for me to round my three-point-five-star ratings up to four-star ratings. With all that was opened up in the first two books in The Custard Protocol, I’d been hoping book three would be a solid four-star rating. Sadly, for me, Competence is my least favourite Gail Carriger read. Although fun, Competence has a very different feel to it than the other Gail Carriger books I have read. Usually, Gail Carriger offers up a variety of things in her stories – mystery, action, romance, drama, humour, and plenty of supernatural goodies – yet it felt as though Competence removed some of these elements to focus on just one. You see, Competence was a great read exploring sexuality and identity in the steampunk world. I cannot fault Gail Carriger for diversity and exploring aspects that are often overlooked in these kinds of books. However, I feel as though the focus on this meant other aspects of the story were not as well done as they usually are. In particular, I feel as though the adventure and supernatural worldbuilding was rather lacking. These things were there, but they were minimal, preventing me from loving the story in the way I had hoped to. As I said, Gail Carriger brought in the diversity and explored it really well, I cannot fault her for this. I simply feel as though the rest of the story was lacking the usual elements that leave me loving Gail Carriger’s books. Hence, Competence was not what I had hoped it would be and disappointed me to some degree. I’m curious to see what the fourth book in The Custard Protocol series brings, but I’m not as excited about the continuation of this series as I was about the Parasol Protectorate and Finishing School series.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    Competence, book the third in the Custard Protocol, very much lives up to the adventurous frivolity of the series. I enjoyed watching Primrose evolve and come in to her own. I can’t wait to see how the Spotted Custard crew handles the new challenge aboard the decks. I loved meeting the new creatures in the world and finally getting a plausible cause for California’s inane beauty standards. Brava, Miss Carriger, you’ve done it again!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    *Audio Version* As always, wonderfully ready by Moira Quirk but this time it just wasn't enough. I was bored. I feel like the author had a lot to say about love and relationships and social pressures, but also had a lot of adventure to write. Unfortunately, there was about 70% love and relationships (and endless conversations about them), 20% etiquette/ fashion and 10% story. There were so many interesting things presented and then dropped. Or presented and then wrapped up off stage. While I love *Audio Version* As always, wonderfully ready by Moira Quirk but this time it just wasn't enough. I was bored. I feel like the author had a lot to say about love and relationships and social pressures, but also had a lot of adventure to write. Unfortunately, there was about 70% love and relationships (and endless conversations about them), 20% etiquette/ fashion and 10% story. There were so many interesting things presented and then dropped. Or presented and then wrapped up off stage. While I love all the characters, it is likely because I fell in love in either the preceding series or in the first book in this series. If I had come in here, I'd have had no idea what type of person anyone was, why they were floating, or why they spent so much time yelling their intentions to each other when bag guys are within hearing range. If your preference is for romance over story, then you may well still enjoy this installment. I give much support to the author for presenting a varied mix of loves, preferences and feelings, but I came here for the adventure and was left wanting.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lizzy (Bent Bookworm)

    *squee* I can't waaaaait!!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Gianna

    I think I'm falling a bit out of love with this writer. I still love the world she created for these books, but I don't like the characters as much as with her other series, so it all becomes a bit... silly. If not frustrating. The plot of the book is almost forgotten, so the drive of the book is the romance and the two pov's, which I both didn't enjoy, an issue that this entire series has had for me. Such a shame, since I loved the first two series so much.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Wing Kee

    Charming world building, wonderful banter, a fun ride. I am going to say this here, I am biased, I love Carriger’s world so everything she does so far that I’ve read I’ve gushed over so this review will not be objective at all. World: The world building is fantastic, it’s a continuation on everything that Carriger has done since Soulless and with the Custard Protocol she has expanded the world even further. With this new book we see the crew of the Spotted Custard go to somewhere the series has no Charming world building, wonderful banter, a fun ride. I am going to say this here, I am biased, I love Carriger’s world so everything she does so far that I’ve read I’ve gushed over so this review will not be objective at all. World: The world building is fantastic, it’s a continuation on everything that Carriger has done since Soulless and with the Custard Protocol she has expanded the world even further. With this new book we see the crew of the Spotted Custard go to somewhere the series has not gone before Singapore and South America and it’s pretty wonderful what Carriger has created there with the new races and the people exploring this world is one of my favorite things. It’s well thought out, ridiculously charming and bonkers at the same time. The world building simply sets the tone wonderfully for readers. Story: I love that this story is not told in Prudence’s point of view, we’ve had two books with her and her story and characters were pretty fleshed out and with what happened with La Fou (I’m gonna butcher the spelling so sorry in advanced) I didn’t know where it would go. So when I started this book and found that it was told from the perspective of Primrose and Percy I was really happy. I love these to character when we saw them from Pru’s perspective but through the eyes of the twins the world is slightly different and also interestingly fresh. The story doesn’t really get into gear until about halfway through the book as is the way with Carriger. The main point of the books have always been discovery of the world and also the slice of life stuff that happens with this group of characters and if you liked what happened in the previous two book you will love what you have here. It’s banter, it’s ridicuolus situations, fun dialog and emotions and then an adventure to tie it all in. The new location is fun and also the Fish Tacos (I’m sorry but I’m calling them that) made me laugh out loud when I learned of them. As I said, the story is basic but the characters and the world it’s set it makes this a wonderful read and a great addition to the series. Characters: I really love the point of view change, Primrose and Percy are great and their different personalities to Pru made for an interesting read. Add to that I don’t recall in the Parasol and the Finish School and now the Custard Protocol there being a male point of view and I rather enjoyed that change. I also liked the relationships in this book as they are slow boils and the chemistry is real and earned which I have a big issue for a lot of other genre fiction. I can’t say too much cause the new pieces that Carriger has created here are just as charming and endearing and they need to be experienced. I love Carriger’s sense of humor, world building and writing and this is just more of the same awesome. Onward to the next book!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn F.

    Audiobook Quirky funny book, like all of the other books I've read by the author. Very enjoyable. New kind of supernatural introduced. Slow moving romance came to fruition. I recommend the book/series.

  9. 5 out of 5

    All Things Urban Fantasy

    Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy COMPETENCE, the third book in the Custard Protocol series continues the excellent adventures in frivolity, fun, and danger that the crew of the Spotted Custard find themselves on. I absolutely love the world this series is set in and the expert combination of steampunk and romance is key to that for me. There is always more world for the Spotted Custard crew to discover and and it was fun to see a different take on vampires and vampire lore in Peru whic Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy COMPETENCE, the third book in the Custard Protocol series continues the excellent adventures in frivolity, fun, and danger that the crew of the Spotted Custard find themselves on. I absolutely love the world this series is set in and the expert combination of steampunk and romance is key to that for me. There is always more world for the Spotted Custard crew to discover and and it was fun to see a different take on vampires and vampire lore in Peru which involved dangerous yet amusing cultural clashes and misidentifications as one has come to expect from this series. COMPETENCE shakes things up a bit and gives over the narrative to Primrose and Percy Tunstell which was a great idea as we get to see the characters we've grown to love from a different perspective and get to know the Tunstell siblings better. COMPETENCE is a turning point for Primrose as she comes to terms with her sexuality and the fact that keeping up appearances of propriety isn't all that important, especially with those she cares for. I liked seeing Primrose's journey of discovery and seeing her be the hero of a story in this series for once. Her brother, Percy Tunstell takes on the other half of the narrative and he is an absolute delight! While he has always come off as slightly awkward or oblivious to social cues he is surprisingly insightful-much to the consternation of his sister. I adored COMPETENCE and the story ends pretty neatly, or as neatly as this wonderfully quirky series can. Luckily this is not the end for the crew of the Spotted Custard since there are still some loose story threads that need to be tied up. I'm especially excited to see what is in store for Percy in RETICENCE.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Asia

    I don't know what it is with "Custard Protocol" series but I don't enjoy it as much as other Gail Carriger's books. I like them but some things bother me and sadly, it's just not on the level of "Parasol Protectorate" (which is one of my favorite series ever!).

  11. 4 out of 5

    K.

    Trigger warnings: violence, blood. I've been a little hit or miss with the books in this series to date. I haven't enjoyed them nearly as much as the books in the Parasol Protectorate series or the Finishing School series. But they're still a hell of a lot of fun. This one I enjoyed more than the previous two - it cuts back and forth between Percy and Primrose as narrators, so we get to see Rue from the perspective of her friends, which is certainly intriguing. There's a fantastic relationship t Trigger warnings: violence, blood. I've been a little hit or miss with the books in this series to date. I haven't enjoyed them nearly as much as the books in the Parasol Protectorate series or the Finishing School series. But they're still a hell of a lot of fun. This one I enjoyed more than the previous two - it cuts back and forth between Percy and Primrose as narrators, so we get to see Rue from the perspective of her friends, which is certainly intriguing. There's a fantastic relationship that crops up in the course of this book, and it's great fun getting to see more of this world, with the gang travelling from Singapore to Peru. Basically? I really enjoyed this. Like, a lot.

  12. 4 out of 5

    iam

    4.5 stars What a delightful addition to the Custard Protocol series! I knew from the very first book that I would love Primrose and Percy, so when I heard that books 3 and 4 would be from their perspective I was delighted. Competence focuses more on Prim, while book 4, Reticence, will have Percy at its center. The story is closed in itself and only losely guides the book's events. The crew of the Spottet Custard starts out in Singapore with a dangerous lack of helium in the dirigible's balloo 4.5 stars What a delightful addition to the Custard Protocol series! I knew from the very first book that I would love Primrose and Percy, so when I heard that books 3 and 4 would be from their perspective I was delighted. Competence focuses more on Prim, while book 4, Reticence, will have Percy at its center. The story is closed in itself and only losely guides the book's events. The crew of the Spottet Custard starts out in Singapore with a dangerous lack of helium in the dirigible's balloon, but eventually takes course towards South America, specifically Peru, where they are to find and save a local species of vampires from extinction. The plot is very much driven by the characters, mainly Prim, who is a delight, but who's ever present armor of proriety is in danger of cracking under werelioness Tasherit Sekhmet's not-so-proper attentions. She doesn't know what she wants, or maybe she does, but what she's sure of is that she DOES want something that she really shouldn't. All while organizing the current adventure. Percy is equally delightful and I adored the parts written from his POV. Other than his twin sister he doesn't care what others think about him at all. He knows he is intellectually superior to everyone on the ship, and it's not arrogance when it's the truth, right? He's always in pursuit of new scientific discoveries and can be overly direct bordering on rude, and he cares about little else besides that, while at the same time he is also incredibly perceptive about what is going on with the people around him - sometimes even knowing what they want better than they do. Then there's Tasherit, fierce werelioness who's absolutely smitten and determined to claim Prim as hers; Rue, captain of the ship and adventurous as ever, knowing she can rely on her best friend since childhood and there for her when she needs her; Anitra, a drifter born in the skies living her life the way she never dared to hope for; Rodrigo, technically not a member of the crew but their prisoner given that he tried to kill them, templar upbringing and all; and many more old and new faces (though mostly old ones, so I wouldn't recommend reading this as a standalone despite the story being rather self-contained.) I loved the interactions between all these different characters, the nuanced friendships between each set of them: new-found allies, deep bonds of affection and trust, rivals with a long history, long-suffering but loving siblings, and many more. I particularly enjoyed Rue and Prim's friendship, Prim and Percy's sibling relationship, and Percy's bond with his cat Footnote. The writing is excellent as always from this author, and the typical humor is there as well, with countless great quotes. I marked a lot of places in the book because they were funny, insightful or simply wanted to be able to revisit them. What I especially adored about Competence was the way it explores these young adults' sexualities (all protagonists are in their early twenties). The previous books already did a good job of that with Rue, but there it was more about a young woman who wants to discover the pleasures of sex, while in Competence it focuses more on the actual sexuality. Percy is very self-assured in his sexuality (he conducted thorough research and experiments in the past) but Prim is.... not. At the start of the book she has a lot of internalized homophobia, and it's heartbreaking at times. She knows what society expects of her and is very concerned with how she is perceived and what is considered 'proper' - and she's very well aware that her lack of interest in men is not considered proper at all. How her lack of DISinterest in women is considered... she doesn't even want to think about it. Which is hard with a beautiful and very distracting werelioness prancing around her, doing everything to get her attention... It was heartbreaking to see her struggle with self-acceptance, but I liked how it was handled in the (happy) end and overall the book is light-hearted. Something that I want to mention is the treatment of a trans character, specifically how they revealed they were trans. Detailed descriptions under the cut. (view spoiler)[ Over the course of the book, Anitra tells Prim that she is trans. The overall conversation when she tells her went okay, though I found some of the things Prim says to make herself understand phrased rather unluckily. More on that later. I am wary of how it was set up. Rodrigo, Anitra's love interest, calls her a "lovely aravani ". Nobody knows what aravani means, and Rodrigo doesn't know how to translate it. Later when Percy asks Anitra about it, she gets very ovbviously unsettled and uncomfortable, more so when Percy keeps digging, and only when she flees from the conversation does someone intervene and tell Percy he was being rude. Afterwards Rodrigo tells Anitra that he doesn't care that they can't have children together while Prim is in the room. Prim assumes that means that Anitra is barren, and later wants to talk to Anitra about that (she wants to know more about coming to terms with never having children due to her own struggles with her sexuality.) In their first conversation about this, Anitra says that it's not because she's barren that she'll never have children, which is the one and only hint the reader gets that she is trans. In their second conversation she tells Prim that she is trans (they also talk about sexuality and gender and how they are perceived and accepted in their respective cultures, Prim being British and Anitra being a Drifter, a nomadic tribe from northern Afrika and the Middle East). That's when it also turns out that aravani is actually a slur from another language - used presumably because the other languages they speak don't have a words for trans people, but I still found that a bit... meh. That said, there were still good things: For example, when asked how the drifters call women like Anitra, the reply is simply Women. What I found very weird was how, when talking about Rodrigo and Anitra's budding relationship, Anitra more or less directly says that Rodrigo likes her/is attracted to her BECAUSE she is trans. Combined with how other characters describe their sexuality as being "attracted to external/internal sexual organs" (which is questionable in itself), how Anitra repeatedly expresses disbelief that someone other than an old widower would ever be interested in her, and how Rodrigo is the only bisexual character in this book, it made me wary. (hide spoiler)] In these books, "modern" labels as we use today are not used. Characters don't say they are gay, lesbian, or trans for that matter, but express their identity through other phrases, means or words. I guess this is to blame on the historical setting. I don't know which or if any labels were used in the mid to late 1800s, but some of the describtions used instead are extremely questionable, and I found a few of them to be very trans exclusive and they might be considered harmful. Ultimately I enjoyed reading Competence a lot. I liked the big queer cast, the characters, plot and setting, but some of the queer aspects could have been handled a lot better. I'm very much looking forward to a lot of things in book 4: More of Percy, Prim and the (growing!!!!) crew, Percy's love interest, who of Sophoronia's schoolmates has a child that will join the Spotted Custard, and I hope Captain Lu makes a reappearance!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Roo Barb

    can't wait!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Linniegayl

    I listened to this in audio. As always, Moira Quirk was a delightful narrator. I wasn't convinced I would enjoy this entry in the Custard Protocol series, as I knew it was Prim's story (the daughter of Ivy Tunstell, Vampire Queen and best friend of Alexia from the Parasol Protectorate series). And I'll admit, the opening chapters in Singapore were a bit slow for me focusing almost completely on Prim and Tasherit. Tasherit is clearly still in love with Prim, and Prim -- while attracted -- is resi I listened to this in audio. As always, Moira Quirk was a delightful narrator. I wasn't convinced I would enjoy this entry in the Custard Protocol series, as I knew it was Prim's story (the daughter of Ivy Tunstell, Vampire Queen and best friend of Alexia from the Parasol Protectorate series). And I'll admit, the opening chapters in Singapore were a bit slow for me focusing almost completely on Prim and Tasherit. Tasherit is clearly still in love with Prim, and Prim -- while attracted -- is resisting her. However, I was quickly won over to the story, as we learn a lot more about Prim; I never guessed that she's as close in personality to Alexia as any of the other characters could get. We also get a number of sections told from Percy's point of view, which was fun. Once Prim and Tasherit get back on board the ship, they learn they're being sent to Peru to investigate -- and perhaps rescue -- a rare group of vampires under attack there. I enjoyed the character development, not just of Prim and Percy, but also of much of the rest of the crew. My only problem? The end of the book wraps things up so neatly for most of the major characters, that I'm afraid this may be the last in the series! Oh NO!!!! This is an A- for me, and I can't wait to read Ms. Carriger's next book, no matter who it features.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Bart

    Actual rating: 4.00

  16. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    “Competence” revolves around the adventures of the crew of “the Spotted Custard” as they face a crisis with a slow leak in their dirigible; Prim Turnstell schemes to replenish the lost helium; the ethical reform of Prudence Akeldama’s cousin Rodrigo Tarabotti; and the rescue of a new type of vampire in Peru. Revolving mainly around Prim Tunstell the plot tends to deal more with her romantic entanglement with the werecat Miss Sekhmet than the madcap adventures which seem to be secondary. Yet it’s “Competence” revolves around the adventures of the crew of “the Spotted Custard” as they face a crisis with a slow leak in their dirigible; Prim Turnstell schemes to replenish the lost helium; the ethical reform of Prudence Akeldama’s cousin Rodrigo Tarabotti; and the rescue of a new type of vampire in Peru. Revolving mainly around Prim Tunstell the plot tends to deal more with her romantic entanglement with the werecat Miss Sekhmet than the madcap adventures which seem to be secondary. Yet it’s intriguing and humorous, the action overflowing when chaos brews as a helium filled dropsy falls on the dirigible terrifying its passengers; the crew faces off with an enemy airship in the aetherosphere; and Prue, Rodrigo and the werecat confront an enraged dying vampiric race. Intensity and suspense escalate near the end when Prim, Prue and Professor Perceival Tunstell set their minds on working out a plan to approach and save the Pistachos after the violent clash that send the Spotted Custard hovering out of reach above the hacienda. Primrose Tunstell the airship's chief organizer and best friend of amiable, honest and shrewd Captain Prudence (Prue) Akeldama is self-effacing, fearless and insecure in her love life. Constantly she talks about wanting a husband, home and family to care for only to face a broken engagement and being romantically pursued by a lovesick werecat. Miss Tasherit Sekhmet an immortal is disciplined, fierce, loyal and stubborn in her pursuit of Prim whose twin brother Perceival Tunstell is a delight with his brilliance, arrogance and acerbic personality. While I wasn’t drawn into the quirky romantic aspect of the story which felt like nothing more than a strong statement about unconventional relationships, I did enjoy the family closeness of the crew and the complexity and depth of characters who added color and excitement to the adventure. “Competence” is not my favorite of Gail Carriger’s novel but it is well-written, witty and a fun adventure. I would rate it a 3.5 but have given it a 4.0 because of the scale.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

    Why does Miss Gail DO THIS TO ME

  18. 4 out of 5

    April Sarah

    3.5 Stars.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Chelsey

    it would be five stars—ladies! multirace multispecies romances! transfolks from other cultures! however the treatment of the humans living in Lima was all horribly colonialist. it is one thing for a character to hold a Wrong Thought. It is another to never prove that the locals are anything more than idiots who cannot tell the difference better vampires and pale people. Like the Spanish conquistadors or the onship Italians are THAT much darker? (particularly as they have a very distinct local va it would be five stars—ladies! multirace multispecies romances! transfolks from other cultures! however the treatment of the humans living in Lima was all horribly colonialist. it is one thing for a character to hold a Wrong Thought. It is another to never prove that the locals are anything more than idiots who cannot tell the difference better vampires and pale people. Like the Spanish conquistadors or the onship Italians are THAT much darker? (particularly as they have a very distinct local variety with specifics that ought to have made it into the legends of a city just below the mountains they inhabit.) this has happened in the series even when we encounter fairly unique and interesting cultures; individuals or a few groups who are equals to the British main characters, but there is a lot of generalized othering that is never contradicted, unlike the gender and sexuality issues where the characters combat their Wrong Opinions all on their own. tl;dr im not saying the racism isn’t historically accurate but when the book clearly has contemporary sensibilities, even if the characters don’t, that perspective can be shown without being validated

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lizard And Wombat Romance Reviews

    Lizard: 3⋆. Wombat: 4⋆. Overall: 3.5⋆.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Wolf

    Picture yourself floating through the air, with a ladybug-spotted balloon overhead, surrounded by your best friends and some adoring crew members. Picture yourself floating above India, Africa, even the Pacific Ocean. Picture yourself with fancy hats, stylish traveling dresses, and oversized parasols. Fun, right? Did all that imagining make you feel light and bubbly, maybe even a little giddy? Well, that's a bit what reading the Custard Protocol books feels like, start to finish. The books in this Picture yourself floating through the air, with a ladybug-spotted balloon overhead, surrounded by your best friends and some adoring crew members. Picture yourself floating above India, Africa, even the Pacific Ocean. Picture yourself with fancy hats, stylish traveling dresses, and oversized parasols. Fun, right? Did all that imagining make you feel light and bubbly, maybe even a little giddy? Well, that's a bit what reading the Custard Protocol books feels like, start to finish. The books in this delightful series are clearly fantasy, feel-good adventures, featuring exotic locales and extravagant fashion mixed with plenty of tea, camaraderie, and mid-air shenanigans. Competence features Primrose Tunstell as lead character (although she occasionally cedes the POV spotlight to her brother Percy.) Through their eyes, we set out for adventure on board the Spotted Custard dirigible, floating from Singapore all the way across the ocean to Peru. Prim is a very proper young woman, a steadfast friend, and one heck of a ship's purser, responsible for keeping the dirigible stocked, fueled, and ready to float off at a moment's notice. Despite being determined to achieve a society-approved good marriage, Prim finds herself increasingly drawn to Tasherit, the exotically beautiful werelioness who is now a full member of the crew. Prim can't quite bring herself to venture so far outside the bounds of approved English standards as to enter into a relationship with a woman, but there's no denying the spark between the two, and as Prim acknowledges, cats can be very persistent about getting what they want. Meanwhile, the Spotted Custard's adventures include the discovery of a strange and endangered breed of vampires, unusual weather patterns and weird pirate ships, and a spontaneous heist of helium from an unsuspecting tourist vehicle. Plus, the usual shipboard quibbles and romances, as well as philosophical discussion groups and scientific theorizing. Competence is just as much fun as the first two books in the series. In this book, the romances in focus do not fit the mold of Victorian social acceptability -- but the author's depiction makes it clear that the characters are open-minded and refuse to be bound by meaningless judgment. On the Spotted Custard, love is love, period... and that's a very good thing, for the characters as well as for the readers. Prim takes a very long time to make up her mind, but the banter and flirtation between her and Tasherit light up the page, so you know it's just a matter of time... I listenened to the audiobook version of Competence, and like the previous audiobooks in the series, it was amazing. Narrator Moira Quirk does an outstanding job with the characters, capturing their voices, their accents, and their personalities, and making each one distinct and instantly recognizable. She's also great with the action scenes, and really brings out the humor of Gail Carriger's fantastically quippy dialogue. The Custard Protocol series is truly delectable, and Competence is a wonderful addition. And now, we wait... Book #4, Reticence, is due out in 2019. For more, see my full review at Bookshelf Fantasies.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lee (Rally the Readers)

    Also posted on Rally the Readers. * An eARC was provided by the author for review. 4.5 Stars It’s been a while since we last checked in with the motley crew of the Spotted Custard, but the newest installment in Gail Carriger’s The Custard Protocol series was absolutely worth the wait! I didn’t realize how much I missed this group of adorably quirky characters until I started reading Competence. The title is very fitting here, as the novel focuses on Primrose Tunstell, probably the most reliable memb Also posted on Rally the Readers. * An eARC was provided by the author for review. 4.5 Stars It’s been a while since we last checked in with the motley crew of the Spotted Custard, but the newest installment in Gail Carriger’s The Custard Protocol series was absolutely worth the wait! I didn’t realize how much I missed this group of adorably quirky characters until I started reading Competence. The title is very fitting here, as the novel focuses on Primrose Tunstell, probably the most reliable member of Captain Prudence Akeldama’s crew. Prim is practical where Rue is whimsical, and so the two best friends balance each other out very well. Prim is also like a mother to practically everyone on the airship, and you truly get the sense that the crew is one big family. It wouldn’t be a family without some dysfunction, of course, but even with so many different personalities on board that are often at odds with one another, they’re at odds in an endearing way. Competence also puts Prim’s brother, Percy, in the spotlight. The Tunstell twins could not be any less identical, with Prim the epitome of etiquette and Percy happiest in the company of his books. I have to say, I found Percy’s pedantry and aversion to human interaction quite amusing. There were many laugh out loud moments involving just about everybody aboard the Spotted Custard, and the riotous humor is one of the reasons why I love Gail Carriger’s books so much. She has such a knack for writing witty phrases. The banter between the characters is especially scintillating. While there is a story line centered around a hive of endangered vampires in the Andes, the novel belongs to Prim as she tries to sort out where her heart seems to be leading her versus what society expects of her regarding marriage and family. Fortunately for Prim, she’s surrounded by a family that loves her for whoever she is and will always welcome her home on board the Spotted Custard. I can’t rave enough about how brilliantly the characters in this series have grown. They’re the backbone of the books, and Competence was another delightful escapade with this lovable bunch.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Martina Nix Govoni

    E fu così che Prim uscì dall'armadio e tutti gridarono "Finalmente!". Percy compreso. Che c'era arrivato prima di lei. Ero contentissima che questo romanzo fosse incentrato su Prim e Tash. Alla prova dei fatti è stato più corale e meno focalizzato su di loro di quello che speravo, ma va benissimo lo stesso. Va bene perché il risultato è molto equilibrato. Vedere Rue con gli occhi degli altri personaggi, entrare nella testa di Percy (e rimanerne destabilizzati... perché scoprire che dei due gemell E fu così che Prim uscì dall'armadio e tutti gridarono "Finalmente!". Percy compreso. Che c'era arrivato prima di lei. Ero contentissima che questo romanzo fosse incentrato su Prim e Tash. Alla prova dei fatti è stato più corale e meno focalizzato su di loro di quello che speravo, ma va benissimo lo stesso. Va bene perché il risultato è molto equilibrato. Vedere Rue con gli occhi degli altri personaggi, entrare nella testa di Percy (e rimanerne destabilizzati... perché scoprire che dei due gemelli Tunstell fosse lui il più aperto mentalmente è stato il massimo!), la rivelazione di Anitra (sigh! ancora non ce la faccio a leggere il nome senza mettermi a ridere), vedere sempre di più come l'equipaggio della Spotted Custard si leghi come un vero branco (pack di licantropi) è quello che ci voleva. Sono una grande famiglia, tutti soggetti che in altri contesti verrebbero discriminati e isolati, insieme diventano una forza. Sono amore. La fantasia non manca in questa storia, con il solito umorismo sottile e graffiante della Carriger. Solo lei poteva spedire i pishtacos in California! In un mondo perfetto questo sarebbe il romanzo perfetto. C'è talmente tanta rappresentazione, senza essere forzato, che ti piange il cuore. Non solo Prim e Tash, ma anche Anitra e Rodrigo (quindi, di LGBT abbiamo L, B e T, manca solo la G, che però non è mancata in altri romanzi.). Il dialogo fra Anitra e Prim, che apre gli occhi alla ragazza, è semplice e bellissimo. E dimostra che anche in una società aperta come quella dei Drifters, avrebbero combinato un casino per poca comprensione. Un piccolo appunto lo devo fare: delle poche parole in italiano fatte pronunciare a Rodrigo, almeno due andavano controllate meglio. Fungi e neofita hanno sinonimi di uso più comune. Adesso, beh, sono curiosa di vedere cosa combina con il matrimonio e cosa ci sarà nel futuro di Percy. L'uomo che ha sperimentato :D

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    It’s always, always a delight to read Gail Carriger, especially as her imagined universe has matured; her characters wholly inhabit this fabulous alternative Victorian space, and it’s clear that Carriger loves them all. To be honest, Competence, the 3rd book in the Custard Protocol series, started a bit slowly. I mean, there was some initial excitement, but the bulk of the action seemed a bit contrived, so I couldn’t quite get comfortable. But as I kept reading, I realized that this is sort of t It’s always, always a delight to read Gail Carriger, especially as her imagined universe has matured; her characters wholly inhabit this fabulous alternative Victorian space, and it’s clear that Carriger loves them all. To be honest, Competence, the 3rd book in the Custard Protocol series, started a bit slowly. I mean, there was some initial excitement, but the bulk of the action seemed a bit contrived, so I couldn’t quite get comfortable. But as I kept reading, I realized that this is sort of that magic book where most of the characters move from fun fiction characters to your friends’ list. Prim, Percy, Tasherit, and several others who have been hanging around not only finally share their own stories more fully but also become aware that they have interior lives in the first place. The results are poignant and funny and insightful. Although the premise is that adventures abound as the Spotted Custard crew floats off to the nearly uncharted territories of Peru in their next quest, the real adventures are ones of the heart, which are at least as difficult to define and explore as any mountain range in South America. Extra points for working LGBTQ themes into her work without missing a beat or calling attention to them in the least. The lesson is: Love - it’s normal and wonderful! What a fantastic moral to stories that already enchant me.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Karissa

    This is the 3rd book in the Custard Protocol series and was well done. This book focused more on the relationships between the characters than the actual adventure to find new vampires in new lands. However, the story does get to that point eventually. I enjoyed the humor, adventure, and characters. I do wish that the story and plot had made a bit more progress though. I listened to this on audiobook and the audiobook was well done. Moira Quick always does an excellent job narrating this series a This is the 3rd book in the Custard Protocol series and was well done. This book focused more on the relationships between the characters than the actual adventure to find new vampires in new lands. However, the story does get to that point eventually. I enjoyed the humor, adventure, and characters. I do wish that the story and plot had made a bit more progress though. I listened to this on audiobook and the audiobook was well done. Moira Quick always does an excellent job narrating this series and I would highly recommend listening to on audiobook if you enjoy audiobooks. The majority of this book is told from Primrose’s POV; although we do hear some from our werecat, Percy, and Rue. For the most part though this is Primrose’s story and we watch as she tries to resist falling in love with our resident werecat. I enjoyed the journey to foreign lands and the discovery of a new type of vampire; however the main adventure and storyline definitely takes a backseat to Primrose’s romance in this book. The story is generally well done but I couldn’t help but wish the story and romance had been better balanced. Overall a decent book in the Custard Protocol series. I always enjoy the witty banter, adventure, and clever humor in these books. This installment was very romance heavy and I wish the romance and adventure had been better balanced (could have used more plot and adventure). I plan on continuing the series because these books are just so much fun to read!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Denver Public Library

    Competence continues the fun steampunk romp known as the Custard Protocol series in this third book of the series. For the first time, Carriger switches the point-of-view to the twins, Primrose and Percy. Prim is dealing with the crumbling dreams she had always envisioned for herself: children, family, respectability, and running a home. Her enjoyment of her current itinerant life on the dirigible, however, has thrown those childhood dreams into disarray and she’s not sure what she wants. While Competence continues the fun steampunk romp known as the Custard Protocol series in this third book of the series. For the first time, Carriger switches the point-of-view to the twins, Primrose and Percy. Prim is dealing with the crumbling dreams she had always envisioned for herself: children, family, respectability, and running a home. Her enjoyment of her current itinerant life on the dirigible, however, has thrown those childhood dreams into disarray and she’s not sure what she wants. While the adventures (stealing helium, unexplored atmospheric pathways, South American vampires!) keep this an easy read, Carriger’s focus on character building, identity, and family of choice also slide in to provide food for thought. Carriger has said one book, featuring Percy this time, is left in the series and will likely be published in in early fall 2019. Fans eager to devour Carriger’s books have plenty to choose from her back catalogue.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

    http://wordnerdy.blogspot.com/2018/08... After my last couple of reads, I was in the mood for something on the fluffier side, which this decidedly is. It's part of the Custard Protocol series, but instead of focusing on the girl from the first two, it centers more on her best friend Primrose, who I found much much more interesting (and adorable). Or maybe I was just more invested in the romantic plot here, seeing as it involves a WERELIONESS!!! Get it, girl! (Which applies to both of them, really http://wordnerdy.blogspot.com/2018/08... After my last couple of reads, I was in the mood for something on the fluffier side, which this decidedly is. It's part of the Custard Protocol series, but instead of focusing on the girl from the first two, it centers more on her best friend Primrose, who I found much much more interesting (and adorable). Or maybe I was just more invested in the romantic plot here, seeing as it involves a WERELIONESS!!! Get it, girl! (Which applies to both of them, really.) Prim's twin brother gets more to do here and is more interesting as well, and I enjoyed the friendships between the three of them. This one was also funnier than its predecessors, particularly every scene that involves a fez. Anyway, I liked this a lot, it was very cute and fun, check it out if you like adventures on floating dirigibles and vampires and lady romances and found families. A/A-.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Marie

    ARC, part 3 in the Custard Protocol series. The glorious Spotted Custard, (the red and black dirigible owned and captained by Prudence Akeldama Maccon, Rue to her friends) is out and about making the world unsafe again. This book however is mainly from the point of view of the honurable Primrose Tunstell, as she is the focus of this lovley story. However Professor Percival Tunstell supplies additional insights occasionally, surprisingly insightful actually, him being Percy and all. The story begins ARC, part 3 in the Custard Protocol series. The glorious Spotted Custard, (the red and black dirigible owned and captained by Prudence Akeldama Maccon, Rue to her friends) is out and about making the world unsafe again. This book however is mainly from the point of view of the honurable Primrose Tunstell, as she is the focus of this lovley story. However Professor Percival Tunstell supplies additional insights occasionally, surprisingly insightful actually, him being Percy and all. The story begins a few months after Imprudence ends, with the ship and crew in Singapore, and takes place roughly parallell to Romancing the Werewolf (set in London). The ships main helium ballon springs a leak and strands the Honorable Primrose Tunstell, and at the last moment a rather affectionate werelion in a straw hat, at a wheystation in Singapore. And that is not even a spoiler. It is literally within the first couple of pages. After that the story really takes off (no pun intended). Be prepared for italians of questionable moral, endangered species, interesting food, and a subtle craving for fish-tacos, can't quite explain why though. The only disapointment about reading an advance copy is that the wait for the last part in the series becomes extra long. Oh well, life could be much much worse.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin

    Another fun steampunk romance, this one leaning a little more heavily on the romance, because it's condensing it all into one book instead of two or more. This book focuses on Prim, who, you might recall, seemed very level headed and practical about her interactions with society-approved partners. There is, it turns out, a reason for that. This book reminds you, that if you take stock of the characters, there's a great deal of diversity. Some as ostentatious as Lord Alkedama, but other far more q Another fun steampunk romance, this one leaning a little more heavily on the romance, because it's condensing it all into one book instead of two or more. This book focuses on Prim, who, you might recall, seemed very level headed and practical about her interactions with society-approved partners. There is, it turns out, a reason for that. This book reminds you, that if you take stock of the characters, there's a great deal of diversity. Some as ostentatious as Lord Alkedama, but other far more quiet. In a Carriger book, there's always someone who'll love the heroes, if that's what they want. Though the plot gets a little rushed under all the flirting and self-doubt, it has some entertaining moments. If you're more in it for the character development, you should enjoy this book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Imogene

    So, I finally figured our what bothered me so much about Prudence/ Imprudence. The protagonist has EVERYTHING. She is the most powerful, AND only one of her kind, with devoted loving wealthy parents willing to give her everything INCLUDING a romantic partner as part of her “gift” of a crew of “floaters”. Somehow them mc (aka one or both if the twins) not automatically having everything handed to them made this book a whole lot more interesting. Bring on Incompetence

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