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The Theory of the Leisure Class (Modern Library Classics)
Thorstein Veblen, Alan Wolfe
Brilliant Devices (Magnificent Devices #4) - Shelley Adina When the series began, Lady Claire was a naive girl just leaving finishing school. Her biggest concerns were getting her sole real friend invited to her graduation party and convincing her parents to let her go to university. But then her father was ruined. Claire was left with just her stubborn will, her wits, and the rudiments of chemistry and engineering she managed to pick up from home economics class and her father's mechanic, respectively. From these she created the beginnings of a criminal empire. Since then, Claire has parlayed her ill-gotten wealth into a comfortable home for her band of criminal urchins, an assistantship in an engineering lab, and even an airship voyage!

But Claire's life never lacks excitement. Her trip to the Dunsmairs' diamond mines is interrupted by sabotage, and Claire and her allies (inventor Andrew Malvern, the mischievous Mopsies, Tigg, Jake, and her new friend Alice) are the only ones who suspect that all is not what it seems.

This is another lively adventure, jam packed with engineering problems, political intrigue, cool alternate universe world building, unexpected coshes to the head, and even a few fancy balls. I had a great deal of fun reading it, and I really do recommend this series. (And it's never been easier to get--the first book, [b:Lady of Devices|11500552|Lady of Devices (Magnificent Devices #1)|Shelley Adina|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1328021058s/11500552.jpg|16436114] is currently on sale for only $0.99.) That said, I think this is one of the weaker books in the series. The excitement and plotting reaches a crescendo, but then ends abruptly, with little follow-up. Isobel's schemes, the difficulties with the Esquimaux, the plans to start wars and expand economic interests--all of these are sort of dropped in favor of a quick epistolary wrap-up. Disappointing! The other problem I had with this was the characters, even though they're usually a great point in the books' favor. Alice and Gloria seem out of character: Alice was a rough, taciturn girl who'd socialized little, and only with thugs at least as hard-bitten as she, while Gloria was a Society Queen Bee type. Yet here both come across as quite similar to Claire, with Alice waltzing and knowing Society manners without difficulty and Gloria being helpful without thought of her own advancement. I really appreciated that Claire isn't the only sensible, intelligent lady in the books, but a little more differentiation between them would have been nice. That said, the plot *does* reach a satisfyingly bloody and bomb-filled climax, and my favorite characters (Claire and the Mopsies) get to be so awesome that I pumped my fist in the air at two different points.

I'm a big fan of Claire, and I'm interested in the current plots and schemes swirling around the various colonial powers interested in the Americas, so I'm disappointed that the series is skipping five years into the future and focusing on the Mopsies. But let's be real, Lizzie and Maggie are hilarious, and aging Claire up to 23 will make her abilities and analytical pov a little more realistic. The time skip will probably be all to the good; I look forward to reading the next book and discovering if I'm right!