Tagged book review

This Month’s Coop de Book ~ Local Custom by Lee & Miller

So for June’s Coop de Book I have chosen one of my favorite space operas, Local Custom by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller.

This a sweet star crossed lovers (literally) romance full of fraught cultural conflict and deep emotional trauma. Of course, I adore it.

If you are the type of reader who likes tucking into a vast world, you are in for a treat. The Liaden Universe is massive with well over 20 books, some stand alone, some series. Most of the paperbacks are OP but the authors are putting them all out in ebook (forgive the cover art… or lack thereof). Don’t worry there are forums and wikis to help you along. And you don’t need to have read anything else in this universe to enjoy this book. Be warned though, this is by far the sweetest of any Liaden books, so don’t look for any of the others to be quite this romantic.

A quick word on Radiance by Grace Draven. I do hope you all enjoyed it. I don’t have time for a full review at the moment but I did love this book. I heard from a reliable source that the second book, Eidolon is also very good AND nicely ties up the series, in other words it exists as a duology. So I picked it up to try while I am traveling next week.

{Gail’s monthly read along for June is Local Custom by Lee & Miller.}

PROJECT ROUND UP

  • Poison or Protect Audiobook.
    StatusOut now!
    Can one gentle Highland soldier woo Victorian London’s most scandalous lady assassin, or will they both be destroyed in the attempt?

COMING SOON

The Sumage Solution: San Andreas Shifters #1 by G. L. Carriger
Contemporary m/m paranormal romance featuring a snarky mage and a gruff werewolf. Hella raunchy. Super dirty. Very very fun. Spin off of Marine Biology.

Can a gentle werewolf heal the heart of a smart-mouthed mage?

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Allen & Ginter (American, Richmond, Virginia) Eyes Right, from the Parasol Drills series (N18) for Allen & Ginter Cigarettes Brands, 1888
American, Commercial color lithograph

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Steampunk Clock Art

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Put the Science in your Science Fiction

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

10 Writing Career Mistakes I Made So You Don’t Have To

Book News:

Quote of the Day:

“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”

~ Oscar Wilde

Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!
Share & Enjoy!


Coop de Book Review ~ Brother’s Ruin

Posted by Gail Carriger

 

I know this is a book review, Gentle Reader, but I hope you will forgive me if I do it with my author hat on.

Which is a very floofy hat, mind you.

One of the things I like most about Brother’s Ruin is the way Em layers in her tension points. As we open the book we see two characters standing still in a sea of humanity. Then we learn the first tension point: our heroine,Charlotte, is an artist trying to make it in a man’s world. Then we get the second: the magi stealing children. Then we learn her beloved brother is ill. And then after we return to the comparative safety of home, the punch of a father’s mounting debt.

Now we know Charlotte is weighed down by many burdens: disenfranchisement, secrecy, fear, grief, and financial hardship. These are all identifiable things to most readers, we have all suffered fear and sickness, financial insecurity and societal dismissal as a result of age, sex, gender, personal preferences, or race. (Well, most SF/F readers have.) This makes Charlotte very sympathetic as a character and us, as readers, very invested in seeing her climb her way out of this depressive cess-pit in which she finds herself.

All that in the first 20% of the novella!

As the final straw we see Charlotte’s attempt at her own salvation, an inappropriate but fiscally logical marriage. The modern eye sees this as a flawed choice from the get go, because we (as readers) are trained to prefer our heroine to solve her own problems through strength of ability, not marriage. So we hope this match fails.

At this juncture when the magi appear, Charlotte is then driven into her adventure (heeds the call, if you would).

I’m not going to review further because to do so would give things away, and this is, not really much of a review. Ah well, more me admiring a most excellent set up and highly skilled author. It happens, sometimes I’m more author than reader. I do hope that you, as readers, also enjoyed this book.

Want more?

Well, Em promises more in this series, which I do hope materializes in the meantime…

If you enjoyed this book and are interested in something similar in style, if not exactly the same, I suggest giving Jordan Hawk’s Hex series a try. You can begin with her $0.99 short story to see if you like the world, The 13th Hex. There are two books and another short that follow.

This Month’s Book Pick

Radiance by Grace Draven

~THE PRINCE OF NO VALUE~

Brishen Khaskem, prince of the Kai, has lived content as the nonessential spare heir to a throne secured many times over. A trade and political alliance between the human kingdom of Gaur and the Kai kingdom of Bast-Haradis requires that he marry a Gauri woman to seal the treaty. Always a dutiful son, Brishen agrees to the marriage and discovers his bride is as ugly as he expected and more beautiful than he could have imagined.

~THE NOBLEWOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE~

Ildiko, niece of the Gauri king, has always known her only worth to the royal family lay in a strategic marriage. Resigned to her fate, she is horrified to learn that her intended groom isn’t just a foreign aristocrat but the younger prince of a people neither familiar nor human. Bound to her new husband, Ildiko will leave behind all she’s known to embrace a man shrouded in darkness but with a soul forged by light.

Two people brought together by the trappings of duty and politics will discover they are destined for each other, even as the powers of a hostile kingdom scheme to tear them apart.

{Gail’s monthly read along for May is Radiance by Grace Draven.}

PROJECT ROUND UP

  • Secret Project SAS ~ Novel by G. L. Carriger
    Status: Formatting
    Contemporary m/m paranormal romance featuring a snarky mage and a gruff werewolf. Hella raunchy. Super dirty. Very very fun. Spin off of Marine Biology.

OUT NOW

Romancing the Inventor in Audiobook. A maid bent on seducing a brilliant cross-dressing scientist who’s too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

1900 via shewhoworshipscarlin tumblr Walking dress, 1900, Europe

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Octopus Shelf In Office

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Why the Octopus Lost Its Shell

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

10 Things You Don’t Know About Authors on Book Tour

Book News:

Running now!

Quote of the Day:

“Writers have no real area of expertise. They are merely generalists with a highly inflamed sense of punctuation.”

~ Lorrie Moore

Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!
Share & Enjoy!


Coop de Book Review: Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith

Posted by Gail Carriger

 

Hello Gentle Reader! Notice I have NAMED the book group? Henceforth we shall be known as “Coop de Book” kind of a play on Carriger Pigeons.

Anycoo…

(See what I did there, huh huh?

So this last month I chose Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith which is actually an omnibus of two shorter works. I, however, always read it is one book (albeit in two parts) so that’s how I’ll approach it.

I picked it up back in 2014 from a Goodreads Recommendation List “Books to Read if You Like Tamora Pierce” or something similar. It was a great recommendation. I really enjoyed this book and have reread it a half dozen times since then.

I hope you will forgive me if I review it by comparing it to a lot of other books I love. Because, well, that’s just kinda how it works in my head. The first part really does remind me of Tamora Pierce’s Alanna or Robin McKinley’s Blue Sword, perhaps with a little Ever After movie thrown in.

“Welcome among us. What is your name?” I said.
“Jerrol, as it pleases you, my lady.” And again the bow.
“Well, it’s your name if it pleases me or not.”

The second part, however, is more reminiscent of later political YA like The Selection or To Play the Lady. In which our brash bold outrageous hero, must learn the subtle art of court manipulations.

“She couldn’t read or write, wouldn’t even sit still indoors. All summer she would disappear for a week at a time, roaming in the hills. I think she knows more about the ways of the Hill Folk than she does about what actually happens at Court.”

In a way, this is the journey my YA reading took. From these simpler takes on the hero’s journey that were common in the 80s and 90s to the politically driven stuff that owes a lot, I think, to feedback loops between YA fantasy and adult epic fantasy and space opera.

I really like this journey told in one book, it’s not often one you see with the same character. All too often they style of a YA fantasy novel is either one or the other. It’s fun to watch a character archetype of the first kind, transition to the second.

You can even see it in the cover art, where the first image above shows an old-fashioned Pierce-like cover while the second shows a more current style icon cover (made popular by Twilight and then the Hunger Games books).

One of my favorite things about this book is the romance thread. I love the secret letter writing confessional (very Ella Enchanted) and I am a huge fan of the enemies to lovers romantic trope (AKA the Pride & Prejudice model).

Shevraeth said, “I’m very much afraid it’s my fault. We met under the worst of circumstances, and we seem to have misunderstood one another to a lethal degree.”

I like how Mel’s willful misunderstanding of Shevraeth is part of her generally stubborn and blundering country-girl personality. She is wild and willfully ignorant (huh, yet again with the Lizzy Bennett comparison) and that is why she can’t and won’t understand his careful political maneuverings, and also his own reserved interest. They are good match in the end, because they are so different.

Again like Lizzy and Darcy.

And like them she refuses to do anything but call him by his last name.

In the end a fun book and a  chronic re-read for me. A good offering to YA fans of wide tastes in the fantasy genre, both old fashioned and modern. I hope you all felt the same.

Join the discussion on Goodreads.

{Gail’s monthly read along for April is Brother’s Ruin by Emma Newman.}

PROJECT ROUND UP

  • Secret Project SAS ~ Novel by G. L. Carriger
    Status: With Copy Editor
    Contemporary m/m paranormal romance featuring a snarky mage and a gruff werewolf. Hella raunchy. Super dirty. Very very fun. Spin off of Marine Biology.

OUT NOW

Romancing the Inventor in Audiobook. A maid bent on seducing a brilliant cross-dressing scientist who’s too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Emile Bernard (French artist, 1858-1941) Breton Girls with Parasols 1892

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

The Gendered Mind (podcast)

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

5 Cases of a Missing Hyphen

Book News:

Quote of the Day:

Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!
Share & Enjoy!


Occasional FAQ: Blurb & Review Requests

Posted by Gail Carriger

 

May I tell you a little story, Gentle Reader?

Once upon a time (OK several years ago now) there was an author who also liked to read, but she was picky. Very picky. She liked specific things in her books, very specific things. However, quite apart from matters of taste, one consequence of editing is an eye for mistakes. (Not necessarily her own, and certainly not spelling, but other kinds of mistakes.) She has her little areas of expertise (food, fashion, Victorian London) and she has an ex-academic’s horror when she spots an error. (Yes, I know of the bad copy edit in Prudence. I promise: not my fault. Ask me about it in person over drinks someday…)

This author has an active social media base, some uber fans, and several loyal readers. She feels like she owes them a great deal for their support of her work. She doesn’t want to suggest that they read a book she doesn’t herself adore. That would be a betrayal of trust. She doesn’t want to “just find one nice thing to say” about a book she wouldn’t ordinarily recommend ~ because that would cheapen her honor and feel disingenuous.

She has author friends.

Most of these friends do not write the kind of books she likes to read. Most of them understand this. Most of them don’t really like her books all that much either (if they bother to read them). Reading is a matter of taste. Most authors get this. It’s how we coexist. It’s how we survive bad reviews.

One day one of these dear author friends hands over their latest book.

She hates it. Not just a little, but a lot. It not only isn’t to her taste, it’s insulting in its lack of research, and it’s pat in plot and character.

She struggles. She comes up with a few modest compliments but she declines to blurb on the basis of being unable to finish. (Assumption, she doesn’t have the time… actuality, she screamed and threw the manuscript across the room.) She doesn’t say anything negative.

The other author does not take this well. There were lashings out, recriminations, snarky remarks. There was even a bit of trolling. The friendship was no more. Tears were shed.

The End

You want to know why I don’t blurb books as a rule? That’s why. It burned me very very badly.

Insert the snarky comments:

“Oh, boohoo, poor little Gail.”
A comment like this makes me think you actually haven’t read my books. However, if you have read my books, I hope you know two things about me: loyalty and integrity are super important. Being asked to choose between the two: integrity to my readers or loyalty to my friends, puts me in the WORST possible position. Frankly, I don’t want to be put there ever again. And guess what? I get to make the decision to protect myself.

“I’m going to ask you anyway.”
That is your prerogative, of course, and I might read your book. But the most likely response you’ll get is: sorry, I didn’t have time. Sometimes, I don’t have time. (Like right now ~ ARGH.) Sometimes this is code for “I don’t want to hurt your feelings.” Often, when I do have time, I want to read something I WANT to read. I know, call me crazy. I don’t have much reading time, I’m going to spend it on books I love. Be a professional, accept “I don’t have time.”

“Well, so nice for you that your fellow authors didn’t feel like that at the beginning of your career.”
Yeah, it is. And I am so very grateful to people like Angie Fox who blurbed Soulless. I have struggled for a way to give back while keeping my integrity intact and my friendships safe.

Here’s what I will do: 

  • Run a book group, Coop de Book, and pick books I like and encourage others to read them with me. Partly to support my fellow authors, but also so that I have an ongoing answer to the perennial questions: “What is Gail reading?” and “What do you suggest I read while you are busy writing?” and “What are some of your favorite books?”
  • Review the books that I love and have discovered on my own. I try to pick debut novels. I try to pick lesser known authors. I try to find old favorites being given new life in the digital age. I post my reviews on Goodreads and here on the blog.
  • If they are easy to contact, I will reach out to the author to let them know I have reviewed them. They may choose to use a quote if they like.
  • Offer an author interviews here on the blog. Because I’m an author too, I ask them silly questions they don’t normally get. It’s fun for all.

Here’s what I won’t do:

  • Interface with publicists. They make me sign nasty agreements that display a complete lack of social media savvy. They don’t know anything about me except my sales figures. They send me canned queries. I deal with enough of that in my career already, thank you very much.
  • Say I like something when I don’t. Ever, for any reason.
  • Publicly slag a book I didn’t like. Yes, I like being warned off bad books myself, but I don’t feel that’s my role to fill.

Here’s Chuck: Why I Don’t Like To Negatively Review Other Authors’ Books

How Scalzi addressed this concern: On Book Reviews at Whatever

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Petit Courrier des Dames Date-  Tuesday, September 1, 1840 Item ID-  v. 23, plate 20

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
The City Of Dreams Pavilion On Governors Island In New York

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Speculative Fiction that Passes the Bechdel Test

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
A.M. Dellamonica asks who was your literary heroine?

PROJECT ROUND UP 

  • Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Releases Nov. 3, 2015. Available for pre-order! In production.
  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. Working rough draft, about 1/2 way.



The Books! 

 The Finishing School Series: 1 Etiquette & Espionage, 2 Curtsies & Conspiracies, 3
 The Custard Protocol Series: 1 Prudence (Coming March 17, 2015)
The Parasol Protectorate Series: 1 Soulless, 2 Changeless, 3 Blameless, 4 Heartless, 5 Timeless
Parasol Protectorate Series manga graphic novels

Book News:
Dez of Rock N Rococo says of Etiquette & Espionage: “It’s a fantastic YA Steampunk novel that I highly recommend. As always, Gail Carriger’s writing style is clever and charming, as are her characters. I hope you’ll take the time to read it if you get the chance!”

Quote of the Day:
“Locking myself in my childhood room, I pile my chestnut hair and pull them into a tight ponytail.”
Hair is an it, not a them.
“I’d barely gotten through many practices, only to let my shattered tears out in the shower right after.”
Shattered tears? Really? REALLY?
~ Author name redacted to protect the guilty.

… Bookbub has a lot to answer for.

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