Tagged bookreading

Coop de Book Review: Black Dog Blues by Rhys Ford

Posted by Gail Carriger

Let’s be clear about one thing, Gentle Reader: if you like Black Dog Blues, it’s because you like the main character, Kai. Me, I love Kai. Kai is my favorite type of character – the tough, scrappy, outcast, snark-monger extraordinaire. He is swimming in snark, splashing about happily and not caring if he drowns everyone else with his vicious wit.

What do you give a man like that for love, balance, and story conflict? What could match all that snark? Aristocratic arrogance, of course. Which is why I also love Ryder. Oh he’s a prat, but an adorably clueless one. And he really likes Kai. Which, let’s be clear, I sympathize with. So I can’t really get too mad at him. Although Kai sure does, pretty much right off the bat.

“I wanted to crawl into his mouth, down his body, and possibly under his skin. If I hadn’t already decided I hated him on sight, it would have made me start.”

Black Dog Blues is much more fighting and more violent than I usually read. But I kind of guessed that going in, from the cover and blurb, so I was too perturbed. It has other elements that I enjoy. For example I like it when immortals act like immortals, which is to say slightly confused by and utterly un-connected to the pettiness and emotional resonance of mortality. I appreciate a Pinocchio character (Data was always my favorite on ST:TNG).

“My reflection in the bathroom mirror surprised me, as it always did. I forgot I wasn’t human.”

I loved the world building of this series. It’s based on a clear and simple concept, as much of the best world building is. That the fae realm and ours collided, destroying much of each and leaving behind the weird-post apocalyptic California with vast empty areas filled with vicious wild dragons, and lost cities, and new elf ones merged on top of or inside our own. This leaves behind humans who are only just surviving, and elves who are slowly fading away. Of course, this world is a metaphor for Kai himself ~ a merged creation, annihilated and mutilated in the act of birth, but possibly greater than the sum of his parts.

The second book in this series is Mad Lizard Mambo which I have also read and enjoyed. Rhys is working on the third*, Dim Sum Asylum (best title EVER). I’m sure I will crow about it once it lands, because, I’m gonna read it.

*Update: See comments, this isn’t the third in this series.

I’m switching things up for next month’s read, we are going YA fantasy adventure and court intrigue with Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith.

PROJECT ROUND UP  

OUT NOW

Romancing the Inventor

Romancing the Inventor: A Supernatural Society Novella

A steampunk lesbian romance featuring 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 . . .

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Why Flight Attendants Ask You To Raise Your Window Shade During Take-Off and Landing

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

“I think myself I ought to be shot for writing such nonsense… But it’s unquestionably good escapist literature, and I think I should rather like it if I were sitting in an air-raid shelter or recovering from flu.”

~ Georgette Heyer

Book News:

Soulless made this list of 4 Fantasy Must-Reads for Austen Fans:

“My favourite thing about Gail Carriger is her sense of humor. If you love Austen’s dry wit, you will definitely enjoy the Parasol Protectorate series, starting with Soulless.”

(Funnily enough my AP English Essay was on Austen’s use of humor for social commentary.)

Quote of the Day:

“We are the zanies of sorrow. We are clowns whose hearts are broken.”

~ Oscar Wilde

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


Gail Carriger On Plot Versus Pace ~ Or Figuring Out Why That Book Sucks

Posted by Gail Carriger

Pace is an interesting concept for readers to grasp but it’s something authors talk about all the time. It’s not the physical movement of characters through space and time within the story, nor is it the over-arching journey those characters are on (be it emotional or physical or both). That’s plot.

1. So what do you mean by pace, Miss Gail?

Pace is literally how fast readers turn the page. Pace has to do with everything from the size of the paragraphs, to sentence structure, to word choice, to when and where dialogue interrupts description. Pace involves the tone of voice in narration, introduction of new characters, encounters between characters, comedic or suspenseful moments, and revelations about feelings.

If you feel like a book is boring, or drags you down, or is work to read then either the author has a pacing issue, or you don’t like how they are handling pace. I sometimes describe such books as too chewy.

Different genres of books, and even different sub genres, tackle pace differently. Suspense has a much faster pace then a cozy mystery, for example. Contemporary romance is faster paced than historical, YA fantasy is faster than epic fantasy, and so forth. I tend to avoid epic fantasy for example because I find the pace mind numbingly slow.

A good developmental editor helps her author, first and foremost, with pacing. Usually, it’s her job to identify flaws in pacing, when reader attention drifts. A good DE may even try to determine why it’s happening. A bad one will attribute all flaws to plot.

2. Plot is still pretty darn important.

In romance, for example, the plot of the relationship is vital, from when the first kiss happens, to when each character admits to their feelings about the other (or others). And that’s because there are, indeed, elements of pacing in plotting.

You’ll hear authors sometimes refer to these key plot moments as “pulse points.” When and where a writer drops these elements, and how frequently they are deployed, dictates reader involvement and focus.

3. But still not as important as pace.

Here’s an interesting note to end on.

Did you know that when two professional authors get together to talk, they rarely tell each other is the plot of their respective novels? In fact, describing plot is a clear indication of an amateur author, or a non-writer. In some circles, it’s considered quite rude.

Why? Because plot is a whole lot less important than pace, and pace cannot be described. (That’s why this blog post is so rambly.) This is why authors tend to rely on an elevator pitch, even after decades in the game, and sitting across the table from an author friend.

{Gail’s monthly read along for January is A Brother’s Price by Wen Spencer.}

PROJECT ROUND UP  

  • Secret Project SAS ~ Novel
    Status: Developmental edit (third draft).
    Contemporary m/m paranormal romance between a snarky mage and a gruff werewolf. Hella raunchy. Super dirty. Very very fun. Spin off of Marine Biology.
  • Romancing the Werewolf ~ A Supernatural Society Novella
    Status: Rough Draft Complete. On Lay Away.
    LBGTQ reunion romance featuring your favorite reluctant werewolf dandy, the return of a certain quietly efficient Beta, and some very unexpected gifts.
  • Competence (working title) ~ Custard Protocol Book 3
    Status: Outline
    Third in the Custard Protocol series featuring Primrose, Rue, and all their crazy friends.

OUT NOW

Romancing the Inventor

Romancing the Inventor: A Supernatural Society Novella

A steampunk lesbian romance featuring 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 . . .

Axel Ender (Norwegian artist, 1853-1920) In Expectation

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

A world-famous photographer captured candid pictures of people reading

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Poem: How to choose a wife, Victorian Style “If you’ve seen her drink three cups of tea”

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

4 Things Real Authors Have that Amateurs Don’t

Book News:

Fan Art Alexia Soulless By Sarah Lynne Christianson

Quote of the Day:

“I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself.”
~ Oscar Wilde

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


What Was Your Favorite Gail’s Book Group Pick of 2016?

Posted by Gail Carriger

It’s that time, Gentle Reader!

You know I want to make sure I always pick books that you like (as well as me) so I’m running a poll for the book group. You can vote for as many as five books (if you really can’t make up your mind). Feel free to vote, even if you didn’t get a chance to read all 10. (I left my own books off the list, not fair.)

Your favorite Book Group read of 2016?
  • March: Sorcery & Cecelia by Wrede & Severmer 29%, 55 votes
    55 votes 29%
    55 votes - 29% of all votes
  • Aug: Alanna by Tamora Pirece 23%, 43 votes
    43 votes 23%
    43 votes - 23% of all votes
  • Feb: Terrier by Tamora Pierce 17%, 32 votes
    32 votes 17%
    32 votes - 17% of all votes
  • Oct: The Black Swan by Mercedes Lackey 9%, 17 votes
    17 votes 9%
    17 votes - 9% of all votes
  • Jan: The Raven's Ring by Patricia Wrede 7%, 14 votes
    14 votes 7%
    14 votes - 7% of all votes
  • Dec: Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins 5%, 10 votes
    10 votes 5%
    10 votes - 5% of all votes
  • June: Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan 4%, 8 votes
    8 votes 4%
    8 votes - 4% of all votes
  • May: Powers That Be by McCaffrey & Scarborough 3%, 5 votes
    5 votes 3%
    5 votes - 3% of all votes
  • Sept: Finders Keepers by Linnea Sinclair 1%, 2 votes
    2 votes 1%
    2 votes - 1% of all votes
  • April: To Play the Lady by Naomi Lane 1%, 1 vote
    1 vote 1%
    1 vote - 1% of all votes
Total Votes: 187
Voters: 119
January 1, 2017 - January 31, 2017
Voting is closed

Thanks for voting!

Last year’s winner was Uprooted by Naomi Novik.

Did you read something you really loved in 2016? I’d love to hear about it, please feel free to leave a comment.

Gail’s New Years Celebration

My Stats

Gail’s 2016 Reading Stats: 

  • Stories read in 2016: 353 (mostly shorts & novellas, m/m romance) – Look we all cope with sickness, depression, and tragedy in our own ways, I gorge speed-read at a rate of 2-4 books a day, don’t judge.
  • Rejected in 2016: 169 (57 full read, the rest samples) – This means I go so annoyed 57 times that I deleted the book.
  • Non-fiction: 10 (travel, historical research, or business related)
  • Reread: 12 or so, didn’t keep track.

Gail’s 2017 Ambitions:

  • Actively Reading: 30
  • On deck for possible book club: 18 (2 definite)
  • Purchased to read: 86
  • To reread: 24

I’m really trying to follow and commit to more authors that I like, so that I know to buy their new releases ASAP in a better effort at support. Do unto others, and all that.

As an Author?

  • Published: 1 trad novel, 2 indie novellas
  • Republished: 4 shorts
  • Wrote: 2 novellas, 1 novel (I’d like to keep this pace but I don’t know if I can and not burn out, particularly when also dealing with trad)
  • Travelled to: 17 cities, 1 international (Singapore)
  • Total number of 2016 events: 23 (including local events and multiples in same city)
  • Number of calling cards: 404 (thanks for your thoughts!)
  • Time lost to illness: c. 2 months (it was a rough year on my body, turns out)

{Gail’s monthly read along for January is A Brother’s Price by Wen Spencer.}

PROJECT ROUND UP  

  • Secret Project SAS ~ Novel
    Status: Developmental edit (third draft).
    Contemporary m/m paranormal romance between a snarky mage and a gruff werewolf. Hella raunchy. Super dirty. Very very fun. Spin off of Marine Biology.
  • Romancing the Werewolf ~ A Supernatural Society Novella
    Status: Rough Draft Complete. On Lay Away.
    LBGTQ reunion romance featuring your favorite reluctant werewolf dandy, the return of a certain quietly efficient Beta, and some very unexpected gifts.
  • Competence (working title) ~ Custard Protocol Book 3
    Status: Outline
    Third in the Custard Protocol series featuring Primrose, Rue, and all their crazy friends.

OUT NOW

Romancing the Inventor

Romancing the Inventor: A Supernatural Society Novella

A steampunk lesbian romance featuring 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 . . .

1920s Oᒪᗪ ᑭᕼOTOᔕ & ᙖᗩᙅOᑎ @photosandbacon Lila Lee at the Beach

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Alice White 1920s fashion via fawnvelveteen tumblr

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

“After the first glass you see things as you wish they were. After the second glass you see things as they are not. Finally, you see things as they really are, and that is the most horrible thing in the world.”

~ Oscar Wilde

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

Dumbbells & Dragons interview

Book News:

Quote of the Day:

“We have really everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language.”

~ Oscar Wilde

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


Recommended Books to Escape Reality

Posted by Gail Carriger

Gentle Reader, here’s a list of the best books for escaping reality. 2016 has been a rough year so I figure right now we all probably need it, for some reason or another.

Want your….

50 Shades of Escape?

For Real Alexis Hall

For Real by Alexis Hall
Get your kink with a side of heart warming and some of the most well written prose in commercial genre fiction.

Mr Darcy in a wet shirt only funny?

Ridiculous by D.L. Carter

Ridiculous by D.L. Carter
Hilarious cross-dressing regency romance. Fall in love with Mr North, I did.

John Snow getting seduced by Aragon?

Bitterwood by Rowan Speedwall

Bitterwood by Rowan Speedwell
Winter IS coming. (Oh yes, I went there.)

Princess picking the dragon over the prince?

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia Wrede

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia Wrede
And she learns to cook cherries jubilee. Twist that fairy tale, twist and shout!

Star crossed lovers, trade secrets, and clashing cultures?

Local Custom by Lee & Miller

Local Custom by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller
Star sweeping romance of space operatic proportions in one nice stand-alone story.

Political drama where the good girl wins?

Daughter of the Empire by Fiest & Wurts

Daughter of the Empire by Raymond E. Feist & Janny Wurts
First of three books about a brilliant lady playing the political game to win. When she can’t win? She makes up her own rules. This sweeping epic set in an alternate Japanese culture is full of honor, nobility, and fraught love affairs. But yes, the good girl wins it all in the end. (Unfortunately, not available in digital format but it is so worth picking up the mass market.)

{Gail’s monthly read along for December is Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins.}

PROJECT ROUND UP  

  • Romancing the Werewolf ~ A Supernatural Society Novella
    Status: Rough Draft.
    LBGTQ reunion romance featuring your favorite reluctant werewolf dandy, the return of a certain quietly efficient Beta, and a very unexpected gift.
  • Secret Project SAS ~ Novel
    Status: First draft done. Resting before second draft.
    Contemporary m/m paranormal romance between a snarky mage and a gruff werewolf. Hella raunchy. Super dirty. Very very fun. Spin off of Marine Biology.

OUT NOW

Romancing the Inventor

Romancing the Inventor: A Supernatural Society Novella

A steampunk lesbian romance featuring 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 . . .

c.1923 United States Philadelphia Museum of Art

c.1923 United States Philadelphia Museum of Art

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Octopus Pot Corinthian British Museum

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

“A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal.”
~ Oscar Wilde

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

“Writing is the flip side of sex – it’s good only when it’s over.”
~ Hunter S. Thompson

Book News:

The Nocturnal Library says of Imprudence:

“Traveling to Egypt on The Spotted Custard would be fun under any circumstances, but with Rue’s companions and some very dear characters from The Parasol Protectorate, it’s a true delight.”

Quote of the Day:

“Bread and water can so easily be toast and tea.”
~ Author Unknown

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


10 of the Best SF/F Romances That Romance Readers Don’t Know About

I’ve been hanging out a lot recently with my local chapter of RWA, and two very special ladies there-in. Once of them, Lea Kirk, has written the lovely Prophecy. This is very much a romance with sci-fi elements. As I started to prattle on about all the sci-fi romances I loved with them, my recommendations were met with blank stairs.

For so long, the various commercial genres have been kept artificially separate (with the possible exception of SF/F, but even there people argue about the worthiness of soft fantasy compared to hard sci-fi and such rot). Look, it’s a marketing thing, we all know that. People like categories. And labels. But it occurs to me that much as labeling people or authors causes heartache so labeling books can cause problems. Such as readers who might adore a book not even knowing it exists!

There are a number of wonderful SF/F books with HEAs and glorious romance threads that romance readers don’t know about because they were given cover art and shelf space in the wrong part of the bookstore.

I aim to rectify this!

Some romance readers have already bravely crossed from paranormal romance into urban fantasy. Well, ladies and gentlemen, there is a whole new world after that, and I am giving you a glimpse into the possibilities…

So here is my wholly biased and preferential list of wonderful, satisfying, romances that just happen to be set in a SF or F world. There may be is a bit more world-building and fewer sex scenes than you are accustomed to, but I think they will totally satisfy the romance reader. And frankly, you can always read them and tell me how wrong I was.

Sci-Fi

1. The Paradox Series by Rachel Bach ~ Devi, a badass mercenary with a core set of moral values, meets Rupert, the starship cook (or is he an alien, or is he an assassin, or both?) with no moral values what-so-ever. You’ll need to read all three to get your HEA. But you can watch this amazing author build a universe destroying problem in which everyone is trying to do the right thing for the wrong reasons and every bad guy may actually be a good guy in the end. Bach is the story-crafting mistress of us all!

2. Local Custom by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller ~ This deeply romantic, fraught tale of a galactic trader bound by duty and the academic who loves him yet understands him all too well. Epic culture clashing, deep soul bonding, and a matriarch who would keep them apart. Spine tingling stuff. Read my full review on Goodreads.

3. Restoree by Anne McCaffrey ~ Perhaps this book is a gimme. The original cover certainly makes it look romance, if old fashioned romance, but I always found it filed in SF/F. Our heroine wakes up on an alien world with an alien face as the nurse to a man with no name. When she begins to remember she takes steps to free them both, sparking worldwide political intrigue and falling in love with the man she was supposed to destroy. Read my review on Goodreads.

4. Cordelia’s Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold ~ You don’t have to jump into the never ending Vorkosigan saga, you can just read this book (an omnibus of the two Cordelia books: Shards of Honor and Barrayar). Watch bold as brass and intensely honorable Cordelia fall in love with a most inappropriate alien with universe-wide consequences. Yes you even get an HEA, although it is very hard won. Full review on Goodreads.

Fantasy

5. Warprize  by Elizabeth Vaughan ~ This is book one of a trilogy, but I prefer to read it as a stand alone with an HEA. Our heroine is a healer from a medieval style culture taken captive by invading barbarians. But who really is the captive, and who really is the barbarian?

6. By The Sword by Mercedes Lackey ~ Mercenary and ultimate tough chick, Kero, accidentally rescues a herald and accidentally falls in love in the process. Yes the romance takes a back seat, but it’s still an emotional roller-coaster as the two jockey for power across countries in the midst of war. Read it for the amazing battle sequences and killer side characters, but yes, that oh so impactful HEA.

7. Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede, Caroline Stevermer ~ Two romances for the price of one! Regency London with magic and fun, always keeping a light touch, this epistolary book is the story of two girls unraveling a magic mystery, and falling in love along the way. Read my full review on Goodreads.

8. Lord of the Two Lands by Judith Tarr ~ Like your romance steeped in history? This is the story of an ambassador priestess of ancient Egypt and her complex relationship with Alexander the Great. It is also the story of the contentious love she shares with the man assigned to be her guard. Tarr has a unique writing style that I love. Oh and there is a sacred cat. Full review on Goodreads.

9. Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith ~ Do you like your fantasy set in a high court, full of politics and princesses and game playing? Is Pride and Prejudice your favorite Austen? Then this omnibus is for you. Mel is raised in the countryside to be a warrior countess, set out to defeat the evil king, and ends up getting a great deal more than she bargained for in the form of one reserved nobleman. Review on Goodreads.

10. The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley ~ A YA fantasy (that really isn’t YA) in which a girl is kidnapped by a desert king to train to be his kingdom’s last female warrior and only hope. Strong personalities and serious conflict drive their relationship (don’t worry – no Stockholm syndrome) and ancient evils will be defeated. Magic swords, hunting cats, and delightful horses abound.

Hard to find but worth hunting down…

Blade Dancer by S.L.Viehl ~ If you like your lovers star-crossed (literally) and soul bound, with both parties trying to defy the connection then this is for you. Tough warrior Jory pulls together seven rejected half-alien children in order to fight for justice, but she doesn’t know what to do when one of them is the love of her life. Read my review on Goodreads.

Soulstring by Midori Snyder ~ Playing with various fairy tale tropes and Greek myths this story follows the courageous journey of a powerful female protagonist with sweet hidden love story and an utterly charming conclusion. Review on Goodreads.

Fire Sword by Adrienne Martine-Barnes ~ Darn near impossible to get hold of, this wonderful book is the start of a larger series, but each one is designed to stand alone. The books tackle fate, mythology, time travel, and the meddling of iron age Celtic gods. One of whom becomes one of the most sympathetic alpha heroes I’ve ever read. This HEA involves resurrections, prophecies, and world snakes. Read my full review on Goodreads.

Taming the Forest King by Claudia J. Edwards ~ Military leader and soldier Tevra is sent in to pacify a branch of the empire mire in secrets and magic. There she is forced to choose between two men without realizing it. One of my favorite tropes, the man who has pined for years but never dared speak up. This is both a killer love triangle, utterly believable, and the HEA to end all HEAs. Read my review on Goodreads.

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip ~ If you like your fantasy very high indeed, steeped in riddles and legends and ancient exotic animals than this book is for you. The story of the most powerful sorceress on earth and the seventh son of a seventh son, so steeped in his family’s petty wars that he drags her into them. Or is she using him to her own ends? You’ll get your HEA, it’s bittersweet but there. Everything about this book is magic, including the prose itself. This is my desert island book. Read my full review on Goodreads. 

{Gail’s monthly read along for May is Powers That Be by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough.}

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

1940 Ziegfeld Girl  (Source- doctormacro.com)

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Read Some Victorian Gossip: 1871 Newspapers to Read Online

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

PROJECT ROUND UP 

  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. In production. Releases July 19, 2016 in print & eBook to US.
  • Poison or Protect ~ A Delightfully Deadly Novella.
    Status: With CE. Release date to come.
    Romance featuring a several-times widowed Preshea and the gentle Scottish captain who could change everything. (Gail’s first foray into hybrid land.)
  • Romancing the Inventor ~ A Supernatural Society Novella.
    Status: First pass edit.
    LBGT romance featuring a parlormaid bent on seducing a certain cross-dressing inventor whose too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?

Gail Carriger’s Scribbles! 

 The Custard Protocol Series (1890s ~ ongoing)
 1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence (July 19, 2016)


 $0.99 short stories (ebook only)
My Sister’s Song; Marine Biology; Fairy Debt;
The Curious Case (featuring Alessandro Tarabotti)

Book News:
Hodderscape named the Parasol Protectorate series one of “Friday Favourites: Books Set in London.”

Quote of the Day:
“It’s all I’ve ever wanted, really. Someone to make tea for. To know how they like to drink it, and share some pieces of time with them at the end of long days, and short ones, good days and bad, and everything in between.”
~ Waiting for the Flood by Alexis Hall

Want Gail in you inbox once a month? Get the Chirrup!
Gail on Facebook & Twitter & Goodreads & Tumblr.
Gail’s fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!

Coop de Book Review To Play the Lady by Naomi Lane

Posted by Gail Carriger

 

Last month’s book pick was To Play the Lady (Sevalian Chronicles Book 1) by Naomi Lane. This was my second time reading this book. Below I’ve collected some rather stream of consciousness thoughts. For which I beg your forgiveness, Gentle Reader.

There is something about this book that I really love and it’s incredibly hard to articulate. It has an innocence about it, not only in the story but in the prose style. Perhaps nostalgia is a better word? It pulls at exactly the same strings in my psyche as Pierce’s Alanna books. It has similar flaws, too. (At this point in my writing career, I can recognize that a series I’m incredibly passionate about – like Song of the Lioness – has flaws from an author perspective.) For example, Lane uses a lot of modifiers, both in language tags and in description. (Honestly, I’m not sure if I find modifier use annoying because I have been taught to do so, or if they are actually annoying.) I know, I use them myself, but never doubt me, Gentle Reader, I always know that I’m doing it. And wonder at myself. And now here I am, entirely hypocritically, wondering at someone else.

This is why I believe most authors make pretty abysmal book critics.

Anyway…

I had a harder time reading this book a second time and forgiving it for small sins. However, I still really enjoyed the story. I like all of the tropes that are being used, from a tomboy trying to become a lady, to a young girl disguising herself as a boy, to high court and magic, to themes of young love, friendship, and isolation that always go hand-in-hand with boarding schools (whether that be a castle, or a Herald Collegium or a school for bards…).

I like Lane’s magical system, although when I first read the book I thought it was going to be more on the warrior end of the Sword and Sorceress spectrum. I do wish the main character were a little less sparkly special. That said, I believe that she is prevented from becoming a Mary Sue, because she is intrinsically quite flawed. She can’t keep her mouth shut, plus she is too bold and too aggressive for the nobility and for politics. This makes the romantic connections she forms with the princes in the book ultimately untenable by nature of her own personality. I do wonder where the writer is going with her romantic arcs as a result.

I also picked up and read the second one, To Serve the King, which didn’t answer any of the above questions, but did take the story in a new and interesting direction.

This review might sound a little hesitant, and I assure you that it’s not. I’m enthusiastic about this series and despite minor flaws the editor eye identified, I was still up late addicted to finishing them (the AB was most annoyed “didn’t you just do a readathon?”). Lane clearly gets me as a reader in some intrinsic way. I eagerly await the next one, with a full understanding that I might have to wait another four years. In which case, I will happily reread these first two again. And frankly I have dropped many a series for less. I’m hoping Lane will wrap up the Sevalian Chronicles in three books, although the way these are headed it does have the feel of Pierce (in terms of being at least four long). Since we go into the desert next I’m expected The Woman Who Rides Like a Man. Which means there is still Lioness Rampant to go. If you see what I mean?

Next up, I have chosen another reread for me.  Although this is one that I haven’t read in well over a decade: Powers That Be by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough. This is a complete switch from Lane: adult sci-fi meets fantasy (yes, it is really both) co-authored by two very experienced genre writers. I look forward to the reread and I hope you will join me. Also you can go in knowing, safely, that the rest of the series is complete. So it you like it, read on! Althouhg if memory serves, the first stands alone quite well.

In other news, The Harper Hall series is finally available in e-book form. If you like To Play the Lady you will probably like these books. The first book, Dragonsong, is one of my favorite books of all time. Or at least it was when I was 14 years old. (I understand from the reviews that the formatting isn’t great, but I’m still delighted to see any of my favorite blacklist make it onto my ereader.)

Read on my dears!

{Gail’s monthly read along for May is Powers That Be by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough.}

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Fashion plate, 1877, France. shwwhosorshipscarlin tumblr

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Lesbian Historic Motif Project: Lesbians and the Fantastic in History

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

PROJECT ROUND UP 

  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. In production. Releases July 19, 2016 in print & eBook to US.
  • Poison or Protect ~ A Delightfully Deadly Novella.
    Status: Working copy edits, proof pass, formatting. Release date to come.
    Romance featuring a several-times widowed Preshea and the gentle Scottish captain who could change everything. (Gail’s first foray into hybrid land.)
  • Romancing the Inventor ~ A Supernatural Society Novella.
    Status: First pass edit. Chasing cover art photo.
    LBGT romance featuring a parlormaid bent on seducing a certain cross-dressing inventor whose too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?

Gail Carriger’s Scribbles! 

 The Custard Protocol Series (1890s ~ ongoing)
 1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence (July 19, 2016)


 $0.99 short stories (ebook only)
Marine Biology; My Sister’s Song; Fairy Debt;
The Curious Case (featuring Alessandro Tarabotti)

Book News:
My not-so-secret-love for Gail Carriger’s Books

Quote of the Day:
“To the old saying that man built the house but woman made of it a “home” might be added the modern supplement that woman accepted cooking as a chore but man has made of it a recreation.”
~ Emily Post

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Gail on Facebook & Twitter & Goodreads & Tumblr.
Gail’s fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!

Readathon Report

Posted by Gail Carriger

 

Accountability, Gentle Reader, is a dangerous thing.

So I committed to this readathon as soon as I found out it existed. I did a warm up post and during the event on Saturday I also conducted a mini challenge give away (one lucky person won a copy of Soulless limited hardback).

It was fun and, schedule permitting, I’ll do it again next year.

Gail’s Results!

  • Skim/rereads: 6
  • New read: 2
  • Samples read & rejected: 8 (3 because of formatting issues, reminding me that formattign must be excellent)
  • Audio short story: 3
  • Stretching sessions: 5
  • Cups of tea: 4
  • Breaks: 7 (lunch, category sorting, dancing round living room with the AB, cutting Lilliput’s nails, picking #readblock winner, dinner, groceries)

Total hours read: 11

Fuel & Encouragement included:

 

 

So yeah, I didn’t even get to half the 24 hours (which was my personal goal), but still that’s pretty darn good for me.

A recommendation based on my day of reading will be in the next newsletter.

Random thoughts of annoyance.

Someday ereaders will allow tagging, and show book summaries at a click (without leaving native), and my life will actually be complete. It’s frustratingly hard to locate a specific book on my device (I never remember title or author) and even more annoying to have to look up book information online and wait the interminable spin of a slow processor and refresh rate. Reminds me of the 1990s. Is it so hard to build an e-ink device where you can locate what you want, and check a back cover blurb easily?

And for those of you who cutely wish to comment with a “just read a paper book, Gail” might I remind you I fly almost 30 times a year? With all their faults, ereaders are still a way better option for frequent travelers.

Plans for next year’s readathon.

I think I really need to isolate, if possible, and not try to do this at home. Too many distractions.

{Gail’s monthly read along for April is To Play the Lady by Naomi Lane.}

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Le Bon Ton Thursday, July 1, 1858 Item ID-  v. 39, plate 116

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

A very Lord A tapestry

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Steampunk Hands Around the World 2016 ~ Official Link List

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
Editing Hacks

PROJECT ROUND UP 

  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. In production. Releases July 19, 2016 in print & eBook to US.
  • Poison or Protect ~ A Delightfully Deadly Novella.
    Status: Editing. Cover art reveal to come. Release date to come.
    Gail’s first foray into hybrid land, romance featuring a several-times widowed Preshea and the gentle Scottish captain who could change everything.
  • Romancing the Inventor ~ A Supernatural Society Novella.
    Status: Awaiting first pass edit. Chasing cover art photo (failing miserably, help me)
    Gail’s second foray into hybrid land, LBGT romance featuring a parlormaid bent on seducing a certain cross-dressing inventor who’s too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?

Gail Carriger’s Scribbles! 

 

 The Custard Protocol Series (1890s ~ ongoing)
1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence (July 19, 2016)

 
 $0.99 short stories (ebook only)
Marine Biology; My Sister’s Song; Fairy Debt;
The Curious Case (featuring Alessandro Tarabotti)

Book News:
My short story, Fairy Debt, is making an appearance in this anthology: Funny Fantasy (print to follow soon)

Quote of the Day:
“Such an easy thing, to be liked. All you had to do was make sure people didn’t know you.”
~ A Gentleman’s Position by K.J. Charles (I love this series)

Want Gail in you inbox once a month? Get the Chirrup!
Gail on Facebook & Twitter & Goodreads & Tumblr.
Gail’s fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!

The Bleeding Editorial Eye ~ Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon

Posted by Gail Carriger

 

I’m participating in Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon on Saturday April 23, 2016. It’s going to be fun and I am super excited about it. I’ve never done anything like it before (not intentionally). I’m not doing it for the full 24 hours, because I’m kind of a wimp. The older I get, the more missing even one night of sleep derails me for weeks. Instead, my plan is to read from about 9am to 11pm. I’ll be nattering away online when I take breaks to let you all know how it is going. You can participate too, of course.

Anyway, I said I would do a bit of a warm up piece for the organizers and here it is!

The Bleeding Eye of a Professional Author… Reading

I have a confession to make: I enjoy editing. Not every author will say this, some of my friends hate editing more than any other part of the publication process. I rather love it. I like to print out the manuscript, grab a red pen, and see how much I can make that novel bleed.

Suffer little story! Suffer!

OK. I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. I promise this will all be about reading soon.

But first, a prologue (to establish atmosphere):

In case you haven’t guessed already, I’m one of those rare and lucky creatures ~ a full time professional author. I write commercial genre (and proud of it, thank you very much) SF/F and romance, occasionally with a bit of mystery and suspense thrown in. I’ve been mostly traditionally published, but I’m turning hybrid this year. I officially started this lark in 2009 with my debut Soulless, and quit my day job to go full time in 2012. By some standards that makes me a baby author.

Goo.

But I have edited to production 7 adult novels, 5 YA novels, 3 graphic novels, and 4 short stories during the past 7 years.

Some of my books on display in the office

I’m also a voracious reader. Not by everyone’s standards; I close in on 100 books a year. Before I went full time novelist it was about twice that.

Here’s the tragedy. That editor who serves me so well, happily wielding the vicious red pen, never turns off. She bleeds all over written words, be they mine or others. Reading isn’t the same anymore.

On a recent panel at Emerald City Comicon this topic came up with fellow authors Lisa Mantchev and David Levine. We were lamenting the fact that when we read for pleasure that inner critic, the one that is so useful when working on our own stuff, never shuts up.

These days when I read I can’t suspend disbelief. I’m constantly being shoved out of the story. It could be for any reason from “Why is there no oxford comma?” to “Very nice turn of phrase.” to “I see what she’s doing there, clever girl!” Be it positive or negative, there’s a part of my brain always paying attention to the writing: from plot, to pace, to characterization.

Books I read and loved before I turned pro are sometimes exempt. I can go back to an old favorite and memory overrides the bloody tide of correction. I can be carried away by a trusted familiar story, and the inner editor goes to sleep. Although not always.

Some of my old favorites.

And very occasionally a new book comes along that manages to leave the editor in the mud. A book so good it picks up and carries the reader-me away from the writer-me. Those books get me SO EXCITED. I turn into a raving loon ~ constantly talking about them, recommending them to anyone who will listen. They may not be the most popular of the season. They may not even be comparatively good by critical standards, but some indefinable thing turned my editor brain off and that is a reading state I hunger for more than anything. So I love them unconditionally. (Recently Court of Fives did this to me.)

It’s not a horrible thing. I can still enjoy reading. As Austen would have it ~ there is no enjoyment like it. Occasionally, the editor is a friend. “Oh, look at that little trick there? Isn’t that nifty? You should try something like that.” She helps me to enjoy a book on an intellectual level. The floating transformative side of reading may be absent, but I appreciate a story differently, for its skill and uniqueness.

Just a word of caution: if you are a reader who hopes to become a professional writer, this material change in your reading personality may occur.

You have been warned.

I sometimes wonder if this is what distinguishes editors, agents, and critics from true readers. It could explain why some books sail in from (apparently) nowhere on the tide of popular opinion and grab readers up, taking them floating on a puffy couch of imagination while we – the industry professionals – remain confused and mired far below.

“But,” we cry, “it’s just another hero’s journey. It’s just another boarding school novel. It’s just vampires. Again. We’ve seen it all before. Can’t you see the quality of the writing is poor? Why do you like it?” It’s the plaintive cry of the skeptic; upon whom magic has no effect.

It’s not really us calling out. Not the reader-us. It’s our bleeding editorial eye that has cursed us to sit on the shore, grumbling to ourselves.

The reading nook in my office.

Look: if you’re reading a book, and you love it, and it carries you away, then revel in that feeling. If you’re transported by a story, you are one of the lucky ones. The opinion of others shouldn’t impact your enjoyment one iota. Especially not the opinion of professionals. If critics call it crap, the trick is to feel sorry for them. Pity us, please? We spend our reading lives bleeding all over everyone’s pages, even when they are not our own.

I, for one, am going to hunt down a bandage and keep trying for that elusive puffy couch. Keep a spare cushion warm for me, OK? And if you’re tempted to edit, try not to bleed all over the hassock.

{Gail’s monthly read along for April is To Play the Lady by Naomi Lane.}

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

via @DrLivGibbs  Spring (Jeanne Demarsy)
by Édouard Manet 1881 (@GettyMuseum)

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
The Demise of the Damsel in Distress: The Badass Women of Science Fiction

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
To TK or Not to TK?

PROJECT ROUND UP 

  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. In production. Releases July 19, 2016 in print & eBook to US.
  • Poison or Protect ~ A Delightfully Deadly Novella.
    Status: Working developmental edit. Cover art reveal to come. Release date to come.
    Gail’s first foray into hybrid land, romance featuring a several-times widowed Preshea and the gentle Scottish captain who could change everything.
  • Romancing the Inventor ~ A Supernatural Society Novella.
    Status: Awaiting first pass edit. Chasing cover art.
    Gail’s second foray into hybrid land, LBGT romance featuring a parlormaid bent on seducing a certain cross-dressing inventor whose too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?

Gail Carriger’s Scribbles! 

 

 The Custard Protocol Series (1890s ~ ongoing)
1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence (July 19, 2016)

 
 $0.99 short stories (ebook only)
Marine Biology; My Sister’s Song; Fairy Debt;
The Curious Case (featuring Alessandro Tarabotti)

Book News:

Sandelio de Rabiffano “Biffy” character sketch.
Let’s be honest, flirting Biffy is my favorite Biffy.
by ace-artemis-fanartist tumblr

Quote of the Day:
“For, indeed, Thomas never can resist saying exactly what enters his head. Sometimes it is diverting, of course. In fact, it is always diverting to Thomas. But often very awkward for the rest of us.”
~ Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer, Sorcery & Cecelia

Want Gail in you inbox once a month? Get the Chirrup!
Gail on Facebook & Twitter & Goodreads & Tumblr.
Gail’s fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!

April’s Book Group Pick: To Play the Lady

Posted by Gail Carriger

 

This month’s book pick is: To Play the Lady by Naomi Lane (ebook is $2.99), it’s a young adult fantasy in the style of Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness Quartet.

OK, I agree, this cover is NOT GOOD. Sigh. Naomi meet Starla,
Author, heal thy book cover.

So, Gentle Reader, I read this book a little while ago and really enjoyed it, and then was crushed to find the second one not yet available and no apparent sign of it being so (author’s Amazon Page and blog hadn’t been updated in ages). The book being self published, I figured something had happened to distract the author or gone wrong with her life.

Never-the-less, I tried to get hold of her, found an email, and reached out to urge her to write the next book. We had a nice little exchange, I met members of her family in Boston, and eventually…

She did!

I haven’t read number the second Sevalian Chronicles yet. I wanted to reread the first one before doing so. So I decided to pick it for the book group this month. (Aren’t I horrible and self serving?)

Well, also, I like to choose the occasional book that has fallen off everyone’s radar.

This little self published YA fantasy gem may be a surprise to some of you, and it contains many of my favorite tropes. It’s a steal at $2.99 (it is Amazon exclusive, I’m sorry for those of you who can’t get it).

I have a feeling this one may generate no little discussion, so lets get to, shall we?

{Gail’s monthly read along for April is To Play the Lady by Naomi Lane.}

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Le Follet Date-  Tuesday, August 1, 1848 Item ID-  v. 33, plate 50

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Is There Such a Thing as Octopus Sign Language?

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
The 17 Most Popular Genres in Fiction – and Why They Matter

PROJECT ROUND UP 

  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. In production. Releases July 19, 2016 in print & eBook to US.
  • Poison or Protect ~ A Delightfully Deadly Novella.
    Status: With developmental editor. Cover Art Commissioned. Release date to come.
    Gail’s first foray into hybrid land, romance featuring a several-times widowed Preshea and the gentle Scottish captain who could change everything.
  • Romancing the Inventor ~ A Supernatural Society Novella.
    Status: Awaiting first pass edit. Chasing cover art photo.
    Gail’s second foray into hybrid land, LBGT romance featuring a parlourmaid bent on seducing a certain cross-dressing inventor whose too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?

Gail Carriger’s Scribbles! 

 

 The Custard Protocol Series (1890s ~ ongoing)
1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence (July 19, 2016)

 
 $0.99 short stories (ebook only)
Marine Biology; My Sister’s Song; Fairy Debt;
The Curious Case (featuring Alessandro Tarabotti)

Book News:
Meanwhile on Twitter my characters are stalking me…

 

Quote of the Day:

From my agent, Kristin Nelson

 

Want Gail in you inbox once a month? Get the Chirrup!
Gail on Facebook & Twitter & Goodreads & Tumblr.
Gail’s fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!

History, Fantasy & Funny ~ Coop de Book Review of Sorcery & Cecelia

Posted by Gail Carriger

 

March’s book read along was Sorcery & Cecelia and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I always do, Gentle Reader. (I reread it at least once a year, sometimes more.) I’m sorry I wasn’t as available for the discussion of this book. I happened to be traveling half the month.

Frankly, I’m not wild about any of these covers. 
I have the original which feels very 1980s fantasy cover dated.
The black and white one looks amateurish. 
So I guess the silhouette one is my favorite, but it looks a bit messy to me.

 

Here’s my official review of  Sorcery & Cecelia…

One of my all time favorite books, Sorcery & Cecelia started out as a letter game between two brilliant writers. The authors clearly enjoyed themselves and the resulting novel is blast to read, both as a story and as a window into the fun experienced by two marvelous writers.

Set in Austen-like 1817 England, which just happens to have some very polite magic rolling around, the plot is largely driven by excellent characterization, two strong heroines, and a great deal of humor. There are several ditty-like romances, and a tidy little ending that makes for an amuse-bouche of a read – tasty and bite sized. There are two follow up books, however, this one stands beautifully alone. Highly recommended!

Other thoughts…

I read this book first in high school and it changed my life. That summer the BFF and I engaged in our own letter game, while I was in England visiting the grandparents. Now, of course, I have come to learn how very difficult epistolary fiction is to execute well. (Yes, I have the letters. No you can’t see them. They are awful.)

I don’t think I was consciously thinking about Sorcery & Cecelia when I wrote Soulless, but I suspect it informed my work. There isn’t a lot of modern-written comedy set in this time period, or the Victorian age following it (particularly not genre) so it has always stuck with me as hugely original. I think it’s never gotten the credit it deserved, not because it changed the world of genre writing as we know it, but because it is the foremost example of gaslight fantasy written in a lighthearted manner.

What Sorcery & Cecelia told wanna-be writers like me is important:

  1. That fantasy could be set in the 1800s.
  2. That historical fiction could be lighthearted.
  3. That women could write funny.

So you know what? Given that set of actualities, there is a good chance that without Sorcery & Cecelia there would be no Parasol Protectorate, or Finishing School, or Custard Protocol.

So I owe this book a lot.

Strangely enough, perhaps because I have such love for the first one, I never go into the remainder of the series. Although I know some out there love them.

Here’s A Chocolate Teapot, Short & Stout

{Gail’s monthly read along for April is To Play the Lady by Naomi Lane.}

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

loumargi-tumblr Hugo Salmson 1843-1894

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Tracing a Ceramic Tea Jar’s Journey from Factory to Fame

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
Offence vs. Offense: What’s the Difference?

PROJECT ROUND UP 

  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. In production. Releases July 19, 2016 in print & eBook to US.
  • Poison or Protect ~ A Delightfully Deadly Novella.
    Status: With developmental editor. Cover Art Commissioned. Release date to come.
    Gail’s first foray into hybrid land, romance featuring a several-times widowed Preshea and the gentle Scottish captain who could change everything.
  • Romancing the Inventor ~ A Supernatural Society Novella.
    Status: Awaiting first pass edit. Chasing cover art photo.
    Gail’s second foray into hybrid land, LBGT romance featuring a parlourmaid bent on seducing a certain cross-dressing inventor whose too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?

Gail Carriger’s Scribbles! 

 

 The Custard Protocol Series (1890s ~ ongoing)
1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence (July 19, 2016)

 
 $0.99 short stories (ebook only)
Marine Biology; My Sister’s Song; Fairy Debt;
The Curious Case (featuring Alessandro Tarabotti)

Book News:

Quote of the Day:
Goodwin asked with frightful patience. “She d’serves a treat.”
I looked at her, shocked.
“Don’t worry,” Tunstall reassured me. “She’ll get over it eventually.”
I hoped so. I couldn’t have Goodwin changing her nature on me from day to day. I liked to know where I stood with people.
~ Terrier by Tamora Pierce

Want Gail in you inbox once a month? Get the Chirrup!
Gail on Facebook & Twitter & Goodreads & Tumblr.
Gail’s fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!

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